4.30.2011

i have something in common with superman

Some months back, I learned I have something in common with Keith Richards: Keith wanted to be a librarian. Recently I've learned I have something in common with Superman, although the Man of Steel has gone a step farther than me.
Superman announces that he is going to give up his U.S. citizenship. Despite very literally being an alien immigrant, Superman has long been seen as a patriotic symbol of "truth, justice, and the American way," from his embrace of traditional American ideals to the iconic red and blue of his costume. What it means to stand for the "American way" is an increasingly complicated thing, however, both in the real world and in superhero comics, whose storylines have increasingly seemed to mirror current events and deal with moral and political complexities rather than simple black and white morality.

The key scene takes place in "The Incident," a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults with the President's national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

. . .


It doesn't seem that he's abandoning those values, however, only trying to implement them on a larger scale and divorce himself from the political complexities of nationalism. Superman also says that he believes he has been thinking "too small," that the world is "too connected" for him to limit himself with a purely national identity. As an alien born on another planet, after all, he "can't help but see the bigger picture."
I don't read comics, and I mainly know Superman as either George Reeves or Christopher Reeve. But eschewing nationalism for a broader, global perspective on justice, that I like.

10 comments:

johngoldfine said...

You have more in common with Superman than being a citizen of the world! You are also a mild-mannered type (librarian stereotyping...), but put you in sight of he nearest phone booth and you are liable to switch quickly into a crusader for fairness, decency, and justice.

laura k said...

Thanks, John. Most people would not describe me as mild-mannered, although I've become more mild, and more mannered, as I've gotten older. :)

allan said...

I wonder if anyone out there wondering what a "phone booth" is.

laura k said...

I wonder if anyone out there wondering what a "phone booth" is.

I hadn't thought of that!

Perhaps it should go on anachronism list, along with "pencil it in" and "dial the number". I like those.

johngoldfine said...

I always tell my students to 'get it down on paper' as we sit there at the computer.

opit said...

Of course people know what a telephone booth is ! Remember the Tardis !

laura k said...

Remember the Tardis !

I imagine that is some sci-fi reference that I know nothing about.

John F said...

Opit was referring to the TARDIS, the space/time ship disguised as a police call box that carries Doctor Who around.

laura k said...

Thanks, John F. If it's a Doctor Who reference, then I'll stick with lots of younger people not knowing what a phone booth is!

John F said...

Also, the real police boxes that the TARDIS mimics were phased out in the UK during the 70s. Our anachronisms are becoming recursive.

Hmmm. I am now stuck with the image of the TARDIS materializing, its door opening, and Superman flying out.