Superman vs. American ideals?

Action Comics #987
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic 
Colorist: Michael Spicer
Inkers: Viktor Bogdanovic and Jonathan Glapion
Cover: Nicholas Bradshaw
Publisher: DC Comics

Confronted with a crazed man with a gun and nowhere to go, a group of men are saved when Superman swoops in at the nick of time.

The latest issue of Action Comics — #987, released Sept. 13 — started the first part of “The Oz Effect” story arc. What should have been a continuation of the critically and fan acclaimed series since its 2016 relaunch in DC Rebirth, steered toward controversy and outcry from conservative commentators and media outlets.

In the issue, Superman sores from one location to another doing what he does, saving the innocent. In one encounter, the Man of Steel shields a group of Latino looking workers from gunfire. The gunman is a white man wearing an American flag bandana.

“Stop this!” Superman shouts at the man. “Why?!” the man replied. “They ruined me! Stole from me!”

The last son of Krypton then grabbed the man and says: “The only person responsible for the blackness smothering your soul — is you!”

This issue hit comic book store racks about a week after President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals will expire March 2018. The program, enacted in 2012 by executive order, allows undocumented immigrants brought into the country by their parents before the age of 16 to get a temporary deferment from deportation, and permits them to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses.  

While many — including myself — see this as another instance of the original comic book superhero protecting the powerless using a modern context, others perceived it as DC Comics pushing a political agenda.

“Where once the hero touted the ideals of ‘truth, justice, and the American way,’ like a good leftist, Superman is now a ‘citizen of the world,'” Warner Todd Huston wrote in a Sept. 13 Breitbart column.

So is Huston suggesting that the American way is to shoot the defenceless? Or that Superman should only protect American’s and say to “Hell with everyone else?”

“I reckon it’s only a matter of time before DC Comics unleashes other superheroes in its corporate quest to defend the alien invaders,” Todd Starnes wrote in a Sept. 13 Fox News column. “So don’t be surprised to see the Flash rushing Mexicans across the border or Wonder Woman using her lasso to round-up Texas ranchers trying to defend their property. It’s unfortunate that DC Comics is turning its stable of iconic heroes into political pawns – hell-bent on indoctrinating our kids.”

Superman was protecting a group of individuals who were about to be shot by a lone gunman who had no legal authority to do so. I’m all for having a dialogue about the limits of immigration and how the U.S. government should approach dealing with the millions of undocumented immigrants. But is Starnes suggesting that because the workers aren’t U.S. citizens that the gunman had a right to shoot them?

Regardless of your political ideology, I don’t see how one can be against Superman protecting unarmed men by an individual with no legal authority and attempting to kill others simply because they’re undocumented immigrants. Do Action Comics’ #987 critics think rather than deporting undocumented immigrants, the easier, more efficient alternative is to shoot them on sight?

Notice how Huston said Superman use to tout for the “American way,” but neglected to acknowledge one of Clark Kent’s most common nicknames that I noted earlier, “The last son of Krypton.” The original concept of Superman was an immigrant who comes to the U.S., without documentation, and makes this country his home. Superman contributes and makes the most of the opportunities the nation provides him. He was created for immigrants, as well as minorities, to relate to.

This concept makes sense given Superman’s creators’, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, backgrounds. Both of whom were Jewish, according to a June 2013 article from The New Yorker, and Shuster immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, from Toronto, Canada, according to American National Biography Online.

Now, it’s true that Superman’s origin was retconned in writer and artist John Byrne’s “Man of Steel” series so that, despite being conceived in another planet, he was born on Earth, which is a whole other complex story that I won’t get into. However, I doubt that Action Comics #987’s critics know about that and that is beside the point.

While not my favorite, I have and always will view Superman as the ideal American immigrant who used the opportunities this country provided him and is know giving back by protecting the powerless. He is undeterred and incorruptible in accomplishing this mission, and that is precisely what this Action Comics #987 does.

Written by Eric Bradach

Photo Courtesy DC Comics

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