It was quite the week for DC Comics, as John Constantine's returned to the DCU proper, a new Justice League International series was announced at the end of Generation Lost and an "Earth-shaking twist" happened to Doomsday. But it was a short story in the back of Action Comics #900 that really set the Internet on fire this week. Spoiler haters beware ...
In a nine-page story called "The Incident" by writer David Goyer and artist Miguel Sepulveda, Superman meets with Gabriel Wright, the fictitious national security advisor to the president of the United States. In a "ripped from the headlines" story, Superman visited Tehran, Iran to show solidarity with the citizens demonstrating against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime. Wright's upset that Superman caused an international incident, to which Superman replies that he's renouncing his citizenship.
"....I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship," Superman says. "I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy. 'Truth, Justice and the American Way' -- it's not enough anymore. The world's too small. Too connected."
He later adds, "I"m an alien, Mr. Wright. Born on another world. I can't help but see the bigger picture."
Whether or not Superman will actually follow through, though, is another matter. The New York Post has a statement from DC's co-publishers, Dan Didio and Jim Lee:
"Superman is a visitor from a distant planet who has long embraced American values. As a character and an icon, he embodies the best of the American Way," the statement said. "In a short story in ACTION COMICS 900, Superman announces his intention to put a global focus on his never ending battle, but he remains, as always, committed to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smallville."
The Post says the story isn't expected to have any repercussions on future Superman stories, but that hasn't kept people from talking about it.
ComicsAlliance editor-in-chief Laura Hudson posted about it earlier this week, and that post has more than 1,600 rage-filled (and rage-inducing) comments and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Laura's post has been picked up and linked to by many non-comicbook-y sites, such as CNN and The Huffington Post, among many others. There's also a post in CBR's forum on that has more than 700 replies.
Fox News also picked up on the story. Writing for their website, Cal Thomas said the story "sounds as if it was written by an acolyte of the Obama administration":
The occasional big (for comic book readers) word and a left-wing plot are what make me think someone has hijacked Superman. Perhaps Lex Luthor has found another piece of kryptonite, that rock from the planet Krypton that is the only thing that can weaken Superman. If not Luthor, then maybe someone who was educated by one of those leftover hippies from the 60s who now teaches at an Ivy League university, or at Berkeley.
The real Superman would never abandon America. Even though he was an illegal alien, he has done enough good to “earn” his citizenship. This story is new age pap.
Douglas Wolk at Techland also has issues with the story, but for different reasons:
Now, this is a poorly thought-out little story for a number of reasons. Since when, for instance, has anybody thought Superman was an agent of U.S. policy, rather than a private citizen, especially since he just spent a year living off-planet and commanding a New Kryptonian army? How is an entirely nonviolent demonstration of solidarity an "act of war"? Why was this story staged as a conversation with flashbacks, rather than showing us the more dramatic thing Superman tells us he's going to do tomorrow? Is this supposed to be the endgame of the still-ongoing "Grounded" arc that J. Michael Straczynski started writing and then largely abandoned--in which Superman decides to walk across America to get back in touch with his roots--or is it unrelated? Is this even a story that's going to get followed up on, given that Goyer doesn't seem to be writing any other comics any time soon? And, if it is, what kind of decent story can possibly come of Superman deciding he's "thinking too small"?
And the blog Law and the Multiverse looks at how one goes about renouncing their citizenship, saying it's fairly easy and pointing to the State Department's page on the matter, unless you're Superman:
But Superman renouncing his citizenship is a little more complicated than you or I doing so. At one point, he was an honorary citizen of every country in the world–which would seem to alleviate a lot of his justification for doing so now–but that may have been pre-Crisis, so its current canonicity is open to question. More than that though, what effect, if any, does Superman’s renunciation have on Clark Kent’s citizenship? Now we start to run into some of the problems of maintaining a dual and/or secret identity. We’ve talked about this at some length here and here. Kent is just a regular guy as far as anybody can tell. Not only does it seem a bit hypocritical to renounce citizenship with the persona that isn’t actually tied to a permanent address while maintaining one’s mundane existence, but flipping back and forth between the two could be problematic, not only logistically, but in a kind of “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of thing with legal rights, duties, and privileges.
And Comic Should Be Good's Brian Cronin points to a post he wrote a couple of years ago where he delved into the history of "Truth, Justice and the American Way" -- the "American Way" wasn't initially part of the equation.
So what happens next? Will this just be a blip on the radar, or should DC Comics jump on the zeitgeist of it all and have Superman follow through? What do you think?