Friday, 29 April 2011

Moaning about Action Comics #900

Action Comics #900 was out this week.   I generally like to stay as positive as I can about the comics I buy, but this issue really, really bugged me.  This is of course the issue where Superman decides to revoke his American citizenship, stating that "Truth, Justice and the American Way" isn't enough any more.  As you can imagine, this story has caused quite a bit of controversy, but for me it's not the most controversial part of the issue.  There was another part of the issue that annoyed me far more than an unpatriotic Superman.

David S. Goyer's The Incident is an interesting story that's undermined by it's daft conclusion.  The story depicts Superman flying to Iran to get involved in the riots in Tehran.  While there he protects those behind the uprisings from the Iranian government’s army through an act of non-violent protest.  He is then chastised by a US government official for causing an international incident for America.  This then leads to Superman's decision to renounce his citizenship.  The U.S government guy quite rightly points out that Superman presence didn't make a blind bit of difference to the people of Iran.  Superman concedes that on a "macro scale" he didn't seem to have been much help, but he had witnessed a protester giving a soldier a rose, which the soldier accepted.  

Rather than a touching scene demonstrating Superman's ability to inspire people, this seemed to me more like something you might see in a cheesy, cliché ridden film about civil unrest and hippie culture in '60s America.  As for Superman renouncing his citizenship, I don't think it's really that big a deal.  This was a one off back up strip that will probably never be mentioned again, and it seemed like a story Goyer wanted to tell rather than something that's come from the top.  At the same time, I do wonder if this story really needed to be told.  I felt the same as I did when Frank Langella's Perry White asked if Superman was still fighting for "Truth, Justice..all that stuff" in Superman Returns.  Why be embarrassed of the "American Way"?  People are intelligent enough to separate the ideals on which a country is founded from the actions of any particular government.  Also, Superman is famously an American icon, us non-Americans won't get offended if he occasionally mentions that he quite likes the country in which he was raised.  

This story however, wasn't my major problem with Action Comics #900.  I've just sent DC Comics an email regarding the issue, particularly the conclusion to Paul Cornell's Lex Luthor tale, The Black Ring.  I present to you now a copy of the email, so that you all may witness my impotent fanboy rage!

Dear DC,

I must confess I'm absolutely baffled as to your thinking regarding Action Comics #900 and the finale to The Black Ring.

The Black Ring has been such a fantastic story, and until #900 it was shaping up to be the ultimate Lex Luthor story.  Paul Cornell was able to give us such a clear picture of Luthor's motives and personality that I really found myself rooting for Lex.  Not only that but the story was fun too! Mr Mind vs. Cowboy Lex! Gorilla Grodd with a giant spoon! Gun-toting, robot Lois! The Black Ring was a hoot!

And then you guys made the utterly bizarre decision to tie the finale into a Doomsday story that hasn't even finished yet!  This is the grand finale of the best Lex Luthor story ever and it's clumped together with the midway point of a mediocre Doomsday story! Why?!  It completely robbed the finale of its momentum and power. Lex Luthor has the power of a god, he's got Superman in his clutches and we have to keep switching back to Steel, Eradicator and the rest running through some corridors!

Sorry to be so negative but it just seems to me that you've shot yourself in the foot here.  You had the final part of an epic story that could have gone down in history as one of the greats and you deliberately sabotaged it by crowbarring in a completely unrelated story.

What a shame.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cornish


  1. "Also, Superman is famously an American icon, us non-Americans won't get offended if he occasionally mentions that he quite likes the country in which he was raised."

    That's pretty much my thoughts on it, Paul. I think the controversy that came after it is way out of proportion. But then again, this is the Internet.

    What I want to know is how Superman got American citizenship to begin with. He lives in the north pole and all his known relatives are Kryptonian.

  2. I originally wasn't sure if I was going to stick around with Action Comics after Luthor's story was done, but seeing the ending get completely hijacked like this made a book I was loving far too much far too easy to drop.

    Duy: I've noticed Rich Johnston and a few others mention President Kennedy giving it to him. (Though I have no direct proof whatsoever)

  3. I completely agree that the citizenship issue is just a storm in a teacup AND that the Doomsday stuff broke the rhythm of the Black Ring. In an issue with multiple stories anyway, it should have gotten its own section and left the BR finale alone. Heck, I want to rip up and reorder the issue to see how it would play.

  4. Duy and MisterSmith - I think it was Kennedy who granted him citizenship but I don't know if there's a modern equivalent of that tale.

    Siskoid - I wonder if they'll cut the Doomsday bits out for the trade?



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