By Jeff Girod
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a flying super hero of indeterminate citizenship. Yes, after 73 years of fighting for truth, justice and the American way, Superman has decided that the good ol‘ U.S. of A. isn’t good enough anymore.
“I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. Citizenship,” Superman says in the latest issue of Action Comics. “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy.” Hey Superman, aren’t we all?
And is that dialogue taken from a comic book or C-SPAN? What happened to the snappy banter from comic books I grew up with? Simple phrases such as “Blam! Zip! Pow!” or “Nice comeback, Bazooka Joe!”
In case you’ve missed the last 899 issues of Action Comics (sorry, I’ve been a little busy since 1938) . . . Superman flies to Tehran during a demonstration to show his solidarity with protesters. That’s when Iran accuses the Man of Steel of being an agent of the United States and asserts that his support of demonstrators is an act of war. At that point, Superman decides he must renounce his U.S. citizenship to avoid further diplomatic fallout.
Solidarity with protesters? Diplomatic fallout? Does Superman even wear a cape anymore or does he just walk around in Birkenstocks with a guitar playing Jack Johnson songs?
What happened to the days when Superman used to super punch giant mush monsters or jump over tall stuff in a single bound? When did he start caring what the international implications of his actions were? “Gee, I probably should plug this bursting dam with my super thumb, but how will it be received in Greenland?”
That this latest plot involves standing in silent solidarity with protesters tells you everything you need to know about today’s comic books. It’s called Action Comics, not Silent Protest Comics. If I wanted to read 40 pages of somebody painting and holding a picket sign, I’d—actually I would never buy that comic book.
After 900 issues of Action Comics they have obviously run out of ideas. It reeks of desperation. What’s next, a mauve-colored jumpsuit, a super perm, Superman and the other Super Friends doing trust falling exercises at the Hall of Justice?
Maybe the word “super” isn’t inclusive enough. Maybe Superman should change his name to something more accepting such as “We’re All Winners Guy” or “You’ll Get ’Em Next Time/Here’s a Fifth-Place Soccer Trophy Dude.” (That may not fit on a cape, but you get the idea.)
Superman is supposed to be super! He’s better than you and me. He can kick the ever-living crap out of Aquaman. But importantly, he’s an American. He was raised in Smallville, Kansas, and even though Smallville is completely made up, Kansas is a real state. (I mean, as far as I know, because there’s no way in hell I’m actually visiting Kansas.)
Everything about Superman is American. His suit is red, blue and yellow, which are roughly the same colors as the United States flag—give or take—especially if you’re grading on a curve. And if you know anything about our educational system, you know Americans love grading on curves.
Superman was invented right here in America. Sure, a Canadian invented him. But everyone knows that someday Canada will be annexed by the United States. Just think of Canada as America’s spare bedroom.
Don’t tell me Superman isn’t an American. He’s as American as George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain and that nervous kid on Smallville.
Superman is woven into the fabric of our nation. And I’m reminded of how American Superman is every time I open my front door for trick-or-treaters, or try to win a cheap scratchy doll at the county fair, or whenever I exit the freeway and see the old guy selling blue and red dyed throw blankets out of his camper shell.
It doesn’t matter what some jerkwad writes in a comic book. Superman is bigger than a comic book. The latest issue of Action Comics will cost you $6 anyway, and for twice that I can get an “S” Tshirt at Spencer Gifts.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.