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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Right Renounces Superman Renouncing U.S. Citizenship


In Action Comics #900, on sale this week, Superman decides to renounce his U.S. citizenship and predictably enough, the right-wing of American politics experiences a collective conniption over it.

Now, the story featuring such ideological blasphemy doesn't appear in the main story featured in the DC Comics series starring Superman, which was written by regular series writer Paul Cornell.  Neither does it appear in the following backup story by Lost series writer Damon Lindelof, nor the one after that by Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini, nor even the one after that by DC's Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns.

No, the statement in question doesn't appear until the fourth backup story, "The Incident," by David S. Goyer, writer of the Blade and Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films.  In the story, Superman is called to Camp David by the President's National Security Advisor, Gabriel Wright, who sharply criticizes the Man of Steel for standing around in the middle of a very real world-based public protest against the Ahmadinejad regime currently controlling the nation of Iran and using his mere intimidating presence to discourage violence.

So right there, you're probably wondering something like "Wait...Ahmadinejad bad, Superman good...What's the problem here?"  Well, the Iranian government accuses Superman of acting on the President's behalf, calling his interference an Act of War.  Realizing his actions (or inactions, as the case may be) were "foolish," Superman informs Wright that he intends to speak before the United Nations and tell them that he's renouncing his United States citizenship so that his actions will not be construed as instruments of U.S. policy.  "Truth, justice and the American way," he says, "It's not enough anymore."

In the immortal words of Carl Lewis...Uh oh!

Faster than a speeding bullet, word of this one plot point in a small backup story by a non-regular Superman writer circulated throughout the neocon-sphere, hitting major conservative media outlets such as Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show.  This, of course, caused very sane and rational comments such as these from their followers:

"Well the bass tard is an illegal alien.  Deport him to Krypton."

"I won't buy another superman comic.  I'm sick of this leftist, liberal, PC garbage."

"And just one more bit of Americana that the self-loathing liberal cretins have ruined.  Just like everything they smear their slimy hands across."

My take on all this drama?  Personally, I find it absolutely ridiculous to see comments resembling "I'm outrageously outraged and swearing off Superman forever" from people who haven't read comic books in at least twenty years (if ever) and seem to think that Marvel Comics publishes Superman.  Enough of them apparently, to make Tom Brevoort, Marvel's Senior Vice President of Publishing, go on Twitter and post "Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship, and Marvel is bombarded with angry e-mails. What's up with that, @DCNation?"

Also, the story in question took place in a self-contained backup written by David Goyer, who isn't even writing a monthly Superman title for DC Comics.  That means the citizenship issue has little to no bearing on the book and the issue of Superman being an American citizen rarely comes up anyway, making this essentially a non-issue for the character. Besides, just because Superman renounced his citizenship doesn't mean that Clark Kent did.  If anything, this could potentially help Clark keep his secret identity a little better, by using the citizenship difference to distance himself from his Superman identity.

In the meantime, I don't think Superman fans have heard the last of this.  Rush Limbaugh has yet to weigh in on the matter, since conservative political commentator Mark Steyn has been filling in for him the past two days.  And where Limbaugh goes, so do the neocons traditionally, so if nothing else, it should give friendly neighborhood comic shops some extra sales over the controversy and the writers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report some fresh and entertaining material.

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