Opinion: Superman’s Decision in Action Comics #900

Comic Books, ComicsBox, Opinion

I shouldn’t spend a lot of words on this, because there’s a side of me that finds the situation to be very irrational (my big pet peeve) and unnecessarily sensationalist. After all, the controversy concerns something a FICTIONAL CHARACTER did in a FICTIONAL STORY. Not a true story, mind you.

Last week, DC Comics released Action Comics #900, a milestone issue of one of their earliest publications, a periodical that began in 1938 with the debut of a certain character by the name of Superman.


Superman, the ‘original Golden Age superhero’, was created by writer Jerry Siegel, of Jewish-American descent, and illustrator Joe Shuster, a Canadian-American. An historic fictional icon, there’s really no need for me to rehash the character’s history.

So, the recent controversy is in regards to the lastest issue of Action Comics where Superman, an alien from another planet called Krypton, decided to denounce his ‘American citizenship’. Keep in mind that this is a fictional character protrayed in a dramatic situation…you know, a STORY.

Some people are up in arms about the decision. Now you could say that this is exactly what DC Comics (who get their butts kicked in sales monthly by their longtime rival, Marvel Comics) wanted to occur in the wake of their first ever landmark 900th issue of one of their publications. Heck, Marvel has been gobbling up the headline-generating storylines regularly since at least 2006’s superhero Civil War storyline, when Spider-Man unmasked himself to reveal his secret identity, for example (which has, naturally, been reversed).

So this gets DC Comics some much-needed press and an opportunity to garner more sales on one on their lesser selling titles. That’s a good thing. They are, afterall, a profit-generating company using art for commerce. Nothing wrong with that.  There’s also nothing wrong with a fictional character previously thought to be ‘An American Icon’ denouncing his American ‘citizenry’ in a story that could lead to some interesting plotlines.

But, you know how people are. They’re not happy unless they have something to rally against, right? So a lot of people are up in arms and decrying the move as ‘anti-patriotic’ and being irrational about a fictional character in a fictional event.


Really, people? Spend your energy on the mistreatment of human beings in a third world country, rather than cry foul over a comic book…a piece of art that harms exactly no one.  I could rant so much more on this, but I don’t have the time as I need to start getting ready for work (thus, the reason this post won’t have but one hyperlink for now). So restraint is in order here.

Over at Newsarama, some comics professionals were asked for their opinons. I found many of them to be very sensible (my favorite word). Check out these examples:

The question was:

What is your general reaction to the announcement by Superman that he wants to renounce his U.S. citizenship — and do you think today’s news about Osama Bin Laden’s death affects whether or not it fits the current culture?

Some answers:

B. Clay Moore: I’ve always thought it was a little silly that Superman would adhere to “the American way” in a modern context, so his status as a citizen of the world makes perfect sense. That’s not a knock on the United States, I just think it’s just a more logical, inclusive perspective.

And I’m not sure I understand the implication in the second part of the question. Does the killing of bin Laden somehow make the United States superior to the rest of the world? I would hope bin Laden’s death doesn’t translate into new waves of jingoism and xenophobia. Job well done, yes. But there’s a global perspective at play here, too.

I think the correlation is strange, personally, and I don’t think it would have much long-term resonance in relationship to anything Superman does.

Cary Bates: To my way of thinking, Clark Kent is the U.S. citizen, not Superman. In recent times I think Superman has been more widely portrayed as a “citizen of the world” anyway, with less emphasis on being a symbol for America. This trend has been going on for a while. I remember some critics taking issue with 2006’s Superman Returns, because the signature slogan “truth, justice and the American way” was truncated when Perry White asked if Superman still stood for truth, justice and “all that stuff…”. With respect to Osama Bin Laden, he was an enemy to the entire free world, not just the U.S, though it’s only fitting that it was our Navy Seals who took him out. I’d like to think Superman would have approved.

Ron Marz: Osama bin Laden’s death is a serious event with real-world consequences. Superman’s citizenship is much ado about a make-believe person. Honestly, even mentioning them in the same breath is ludicrous. The people using the Superman story to further their own political agendas — Breitbart, Huckabee and all the rest — should’ve been ashamed of themselves last week, and should be even more ashamed of themselves today. I’d prefer to praise the real-life heroes who carried out the bin Laden mission, rather than waste time debating the citizenship of an imaginary hero.

Kurt Busiek: I haven’t read the story, so I haven’t seen the announcement, just other people describing (and usually fulminating) about it.

As such, I don’t have any reaction. I do find it amusing that the people who are most up in arms about this seem to be the people who most want to keep illegal immigrants out of the US. Apparently, when they come by rocket, it’s OK?

When I was a kid, though, Superman was a citizen of all nations, and I never had any problem with that. He’s not just an immigrant to the U.S., he’s an immigrant to Earth. That works for me.

I’m out of time and should really be going. But this controversy had some legs. Naturally, news outlets, particularly the conservative Fox News and their correspondents, had a field day with it. ‘Nuff said on that.

I don’t know. I just find it all to be a bit ludicrous.

All right, I’m out for now….

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