This week’s issue of Action Comics was always going to be one that got people talking, but it turns out it wasn’t just for the reasons people expected. While the main hook of the issue is the reveal of Mr. Oz’s identity after years of speculation and mystery, a relatively normal scene of Superman protecting a group of factory workers has got right-wing pundits up in arms.
Due to the assumed undocumented nature of the issue’s factory workers, there are some people that would rather have seen Superman stand aside and do nothing to save them, but that fundamentally misses the point of Superman and shows us just why we need him now more than ever.
The main crux of the issue revolves around Mr. Oz inflaming the prejudices and worst impulses of people all around the world, causing a chain reaction of violence and carnage. One of those individuals is a recently laid-off factory worker who blames undocumented immigrants for stealing his job. The man — who wears an American flag bandana — purchases a gun and returns to the factory to get what he sees as his revenge, but Superman intercedes, saving the immigrants and handing the attacker over to the police.
It doesn’t seem like too controversial a scene — Superman saves people all the time — but Fox News host and columnist Todd Starnes took exception to it and wrote an article for FoxNews.com lambasting DC Comics for “turning its stable of iconic heroes into political pawns.” The civilians Superman saves aren’t even necessarily undocumented immigrants, not that it matters in the Man of Steel’s eyes. The only time their citizenship is mentioned is by the story’s racist attacker. Starnes’ insistence that they are “illegal aliens” proves the issue’s point, that racists and bigots will find any excuse to blame a person of color for their problems and justify violence towards them.
The last time Superman made waves among right-wing pundits was when Action Comics #900 was released in 2011, and the hero renounced his US citizenship. The short story, by David S. Goyer and Miguel Sepulveda, shows Superman supporting protesters in Tehran, and when the Iranian government sees it as a sign of American aggression, Superman decides to renounce his honorary American citizenship so that his actions are not seen as that of US policy. GOP activist Angie Meyer criticized the story as having “a blatant lack of patriotism, and respect for our country” and “belittling the United States as a whole.” In actuality, though, the story was about Superman allowing the United States government to operate freely without worrying about what Superman was doing, who he was saving and where.
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