Saturday, May 10, 2008

Superman: Red State or Blue State?

I hate to do another comic book related post so close to that last one, but this pisses me off:

Newsarama has reported that DC is doing a book where all the superheroes supposedly declare their political ideology.

No, this is a really stupid idea that has the potential to alienate half their readership. You know there are people that will throw a tantrum because they find out that their childhood hero is of the opposing party of themselves.

Superman Red or Blue?
And what happens when DC's Trinity declares their party? Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are DC's flagship characters and their over-saturated icons. Whatever way they fall will certainly bare scrutiny from the fans that that's the way DC or Dan Didio (Editor of DC Comics) falls.

Dave's Long Box did a pretty good job with guessing superhero political parties last midterm election. For the most part I agree with him on everything, but the people in his comment section bring up quite a few good points that could just as easily go against what Dave Campbell had posted.

Since Superman has had so many different writers over the 70 years he's been in creation, each with their own personal politics and image for the Man of Steel, it's not a surprise that there has been so much evidence to push Superman either way on the spectrum.

The Golden Age version of Superman can be argued to be socialist (for the time), but probably would be regarded as a Moderate Democrat today. In his first issue, Action Comics #1, Superman,
Stops an execution,
Beats up a wife beater,
Dictates what should and shouldn't be in the news,

Tries to clean up Senate corruption,
And scares the shit out of a lobbyist.

And that's only by page 13!

When John Byrne took over Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths he had Superman execute three criminals from the Phantom Zone (including General Zod). PhotobucketThis is the Superman that Dave Campbell mentions in his blog as a Moderate Republican who supports the Death Penalty. Many thought that was out of character for Superman at the time, and it is refuted by Campbell's commentors (quite a bit actually) that Superman, despite this execution, is actually very against the death penalty. DC Comics eventually gave into the pressure and removed the execution and all previous General Zods from continuity during the events of Infinite Crisis (personally I think it should have stayed because it was quite an important part of Superman's characterization and ethical code).

When Joe Casey took over the book in the early 2000s he made Superman a full on pacifist who hated throwing a punch. This is probably the most liberal leaning Superman has been since the Golden Age.

Currently I'd probably say Superman is that Moderate Republican that Dave Campbell talks about, regardless of the execution. His small town values mixed with his big city styling kind of push him that way. I don't think Superman would declare himself to a political party though. He'd probably give a speech that he's not for only Democrats or Republicans, but that he's for all Americans, in fact, he'd say he's for all humans and creatures of the world. Superman hates partisanship and division, and he doesn't really consider himself to be of one country (despite the fact that he wears Red, White and Blue).

Now that I think about it, can Superman even legally vote? He's an illegal alien. He's from the planet Krypton; an adopted child of earth. Sure Clark Kent could be passed off as an earth native...he could even possibly have a Social Security Card...but with the public knowledge that Superman is an alien, would his endorsement of a candidate or political party have much weight, or even be asked for? And with Superman's personal ethics, knowing that he himself is not of earth, and therefore would not be allowed to vote in an election without proper citizenship authorization, do you think that Clark Kent votes, even though he technically can? Would he not vote on purpose just to be fair to all American citizens? To make him just as equal as the others? Maybe that's the inner socialist in him after all?

I was going to talk about some other heroes and their political ideologies here, but I might hold that over for another post because this one is getting too long. I do want to say one more thing though: Superman is an odd case for his time period. If he was to be this anti-authority socialist hero in the 30s and 40s then that was a direct opposite to all the other heroes at the time who were jingoistic, America-loving, Nazi-bashing, patriots. Superman definitely stood apart from fact, unlike all his contemporaries, he never actually fought in the War! This probably has something to do with Superman's creators: Jerry Shuster and Joe Siegel. Yes, they certainly would have been anti-Hitler and would certainly have wanted Superman to fight the Third Reich (which I'm not saying Superman wasn't anti-Hitler, I'm just saying he didn't stand along side The Flash, Green Lantern, Manhunter, Robotman and the others in the All-Star Squadron on the European Front), but they also were urban liberal Jews from poor families. Photobucket
There was no way Superman was going to represent a WASPy sentiment. He was going to be what his creators wanted: a savior for the poor Jewish people of the time. And at the time, that savior was looking more and more like socialism.

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