Cit­i­zen of the world Su­per­man turns his back on the ‘Amer­i­can way’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

The lat­est sign of the end of the “Amer­i­can Era” or just a comic book pub­lisher’s pub­lic­ity stunt?

In a new story line, Su­per­man re­nounces his U.S. cit­i­zen­ship be­cause he is “tired of hav­ing my ac­tions con­strued as in­stru­ments of U.S. pol­icy.”

The Kansas farm boy turned su­per­hero, long con­sid­ered a pop-cul­ture em­bod­i­ment of small-town patriotic val­ues, makes the an­nounce­ment in last week’s is­sue of Ac­tion Comics, telling the pres­i­dent’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser that “truth, jus­tice and the Amer­i­can way” is not enough any­more.

“I in­tend to speak be­fore the United Na­tions to­mor­row and in­form them that I am re­nounc­ing my U.S. cit­i­zen­ship,” a frus­trated Man of Steel tells the Amer­i­can of­fi­cial.

DC Comics on April 28 re­leased a state­ment that seemed de­signed to quell the grow­ing furor over the story, say­ing Su­per­man “re­mains, as al­ways, com­mit­ted to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smal­lville.”

But the shock­ing de­vel­op­ment left fans and many in the comics in­dustr y scratch­ing their heads.

Rich John­ston, a Bri­tish colum­nist and blog­ger who cov­ers the comic book in­dus­try at Bleed­ing­Cool.com, said DC Comics may have un­der­es­ti­mated the im­pact of Su­per­man’s com­ments about cit­i­zen­ship, which take place in a short story that ap­pears in the back of Ac­tion Comics No. 900, a spe­cial an­niver­sary edi­tion.

“As soon as I saw it, I knew this was go­ing to be big,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s any hint of a con­spir­acy here. There’s re­ally no sense that this is part of a mar­ket­ing scheme or a pub­lic­ity stunt by DC.”

He said it’s not even clear whether the story, writ­ten by screen­writer David Goyer, who penned both of the re­cent block­buster “Bat­man” movies, is part of the on­go­ing con­ti­nu­ity of the char­ac­ter or just a one-shot take by a big-shot Hol­ly­wood writer.

“It’s pos­si­ble that it’s just an in­ter­est­ing story that David Goyer wanted to tell,” he said.

In the story, Su­per­man flies to Tehran and po­si­tions him­self as a silent peace­maker be­tween armed se­cu­rity forces and prodemoc­racy demon­stra­tors. Though he takes no ac­tion against po­lice, the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment turns the su­per­hero’s sym­bolic in­ter­ven­tion into an in­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent, claims Amer­i­can in­ter­fer­ence and calls Su­per­man’s pres­ence an act of war.

Steve An­der­son, owner of An­napo­lis, Md.’s Third Eye Comics, said mod­ern comics of­ten fea­ture po­lit­i­cal sub­texts, but he points out that even the 1930s ori­gins of the Su­per­man char­ac­ter are in­ex­tri­ca­bly in­ter- twined with the im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ences of his Jewish-Amer­i­can cre­ators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shus­ter.

“Su­per­man’s story is the ultimate im­mi­grant story,” he said.

The su­per­hero’s de­ci­sion to dis­tance him­self from his adopted home­land, how­ever, is fu­el­ing a fierce de­bate on­line, with many in­ter­na­tional fans cheer­ing the move.

One French fan of Bleed­ing­Cool wrote: “As a non-Amer­i­can, I agree with the de­ci­sion of Su­per­man. He is more than an Amer­i­can. He is a sym­bol of peace, jus­tice and hu­man­ity. He is no more the pup­pet toy of one coun­try.”

But the Man of Steel’s cold feet left some Amer­i­cans fu­ri­ous: “He was never a nat­u­ral born cit­i­zen any­way. [. . . ] Go back to Kryp­ton,” one dis­ap­pointed fan wrote on Fox News’ web­site af­ter the story broke.

DC COMICS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Truth, jus­tice and the Amer­i­can way” is not enough any­more for Su­per­man, though DC Comics says the su­per­hero from the planet Kryp­ton “re­mains, as al­ways, com­mit­ted to his adopted home.”

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