Everyone is in a Media Tizzy Over This?

I worry about the mental state of a world that puts at such importance the decisions of fictional characters in regards to their legal citizenship.

Yahoo.com's main page 'trending' searches as of two weeks ago, just after the release of "Action Comics" #900 on April 27th.

Maybe I'm just being cantankerous. I can see how, to the general public, the idea that Superman is now fighting for 'Truth, Justice, but NOT the American way' is shocking. But Superman's writers had long ago deduced that if Superman, as a character, was purely an American man the balance of power would be tipped unfairly and DC universe's American politicians would attempt to use him as a weapon, either literal or propagandistic. That was one of the many lessons of Alan Moore's and Frank Miller's respective late-Cold War epics of 1986: "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight". "God exists, and he's American." ("Watchmen" #4) Nobody would take this naively anymore. The solution was to stress him as a world-wide protector of all human life. Renouncing his American citizenship was implied as a done deal a long time ago. That makes this recent move not tremendously newsworthy from an insider's perspective.

It is ONLY interesting as a nudge-in-the-ribs version of 'Hey look! These aren't your Papa's comic-books!' Something more dramatic is needed. We need to put interesting comics in front of people, not just tell them about one single incident of a single comic with some mild ramifications related to the public's retro-active understanding of certain mainstream characters. Last night after seeing the "Thor" movie adaptation in Times Square I stood on the street and watched the jumbotrons play the movie's trailer as well as the trailer for "X-Men: First Class" and lots and LOTS of other things: Martha Stewart. Good Morning America. Lady Gaga. Coca Cola. The Simpsons. Sit-com television.

The comics industry needs to concentrate less on 'stunts' and more on making comics themselves as visible as the things I saw on those huge screens.

And, well, if we're going to get technical? Clark Kent has a social security number. Superman doesn't. Superman is not a legal US citizen and therefore can't renounce his citizenship. Does that really need to be pointed out?

~ @JonGorga


  1. Exactly. As far as everyone knows, Superman's only legal residence is in the North Pole. How he has an American citizenship to renounce is beyond me.

    And yes, we need actual interesting stories. This whole stunt crap ain't cutting it.

  2. I totally disagree, Jon. This is the first I've heard of Superman renouncing his citizenship, so I checked it out immediately, and I've given it some thought. Though this particular story bit is likely just a stunt, this idea of "de-Americanizing" Superman you've presented is unsettling. Ultimately, I see Superman as an American icon, as much as Captain America or Abraham Lincoln. He represents the best in the common American citizen.

    Of course, he helps out the whole world. He's always been a citizen of Earth, in that respect. But while doing it, he always strongly self-identified as an American. He's based out of America; his family and most of his friends are Americans. Actually, being a citizen of a country is very like being a part of a very, very large family. And what DC has had Superman do here is, essentially, say "I don't want your last name anymore." And that's kind of a hurtful thing.

  3. Interesting, David, that you find these various efforts at making Superman less American unsettling. I find just the opposite to be true: the idea of someone as powerful as Superman identifying strongly with ANY one country is truly unsettling.

    Have you encountered the stories that present a zealous/jingoistic Superman? "Watchmen" and "Dark Knight" as I mentioned in the article... but also Mark Millar's "Superman: Red Son" mini-series from 2oo2 or so. It depicts a world in which the little rocket from Krypton lands in the farmlands of Russia in 1938 and Superman is raised to believe in Truth, Justice, and the Stalinist Regime. Emperor Superman.


    I prefer my fiction to have enough logical decisions and reactions among its character as to feel like it's populated by real people. After reading those three comics, and seeing firsthand the way Europeans (as one example) reacted to the American show of power that was the second Iraq War, I can't imagine a world in which people globally accept an American Superman with open arms. Personally, if I want to read Superman stories in which Superman can hold his head high, I have to imagine him as a non-citizen, existing outside of political affiliations including citizenship.

    That's my two cents.