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Superman Goes For a Long Walk… July 14, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Racism, Rants, Uncategorized.
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…and frankly, it’s ridiculously boring, preachy, and borderline racist. I’ll get to the borderline racism in a bit, but first, let’s deal with the boring preachiness of it all.

This month’s issue of Superman brings us the first installment of Superman’s walk across America, J. Michael Straczynski’s attempt to “ground” Superman and make him more relevant to mere mortals. The first couple of pages don’t seem to make him relevant to humans at all—he comes across more like a ginormous dick. Reporters are following him and asking him what’s going on. Here’s dialogue straight from the issue:
Reporter 1: So what’re you doing here, Superman?
Superman: Walking.
Reporter 1: I can see that, but–
Reporter 2: So why aren’t you flying?
Superman: I’m not flying because I’m walking. Are you sure you’re a reporter?

DICK. This is someone I’m supposed to look up to? A dickish, broody asshole who won’t stop for ten minutes and explain why he’s doing this self-indulgent walk?

Oh, but Superman goes from dick to full-on tool. Let’s take a look, shall we? (click to enlarge)

Fig. 1: I guess it’s not okay to be a dick to Superman, but it’s okay for Superman to be a dick.

So, let’s be clear here. If you’re a reporter and you’re questioning Superman, he reserves the right to fly you—at speeds that would likely kill you, mind you—to about 10,000 feet and scare the living shit out of you. Yeah, that’s what a real inspiring superhero does.

Oh, and here’s another thing—Superman lies. Yeah, he says he doesn’t, but let’s be real here: having a “secret identity” is lying. So for the years (decades in non-comic book time) that Superman tried to foil Lois Lane’s attempts to prove that Clark Kent was really Superman, he was lying.

But this isn’t really the worst part of this issue—even though that’s bad enough. The worst part of this comes when Superman goes to a diner and overhears people complaining about drug dealers in South Philly. Up till now, pretty much everyone who we’ve seen in this issue has been white. Let’s take a look at this three-page sequence and analyze the multiple levels of Superdickery happening here:
(click on each thumbnail to enlarge)

Figs. 2-4: Superman: Making your ‘hood safe…for white children.

After reading these pages, I seriously debated buying this issue. I eventually decided to buy this so I could blog about it–and I didn’t feel like trying to scour the web for scans of these pages. With taxes, this issue came to a tad over three dollars—so, I spent three dollars to read Superman being a ginormous dick to people whose job it is to question public figures such as himself…and to read him take a trip into “tha’ hood” and encounter a stereotype from a Steven Segal movie spouting dialogue like “Yo dude, whatchoo doin’ here?” Now, I am not expecting a drug dealer to speak the King’s English, nor would I expect drug dealers to be depicted only as white males…but if Straczynski shows Superman busting up a meth lab in Knoxville, Tennessee, I might cut him a bit of slack. In the meantime, we have this:

Fig. 5: The only thing missing here is a bone through the nose.

I can hear it now: “Skippy, you’re overreacting, looking for racism where none exists!” When you show me page after page of Superman interacting with white folks and maybe a token person of color thrown in hither and yon, and then, when Supes enters a “bad” neighborhood, all of a sudden, I’m in the middle of a damn blaxploitation flick from 1974, what the hell am I supposed to call it? Affirmative action?

I realize that comics require a great suspension of disbelief—however, this is a world wherein there are dozens, nay hundreds of superheroes. Many of these heroes have enhanced senses and a fraction of Superman’s power, but not necessarily Superman’s ethics. Does Straczynski really expect me to believe that in this world, where Superman has been operating the better part of a damn decade, that some street-level drug dealers would go out and physically taunt Superman? Are you fucking kidding me? Not only do we get to see black folks—let me rephrase: not only do we get to see black men characterized as drug dealers, we also get to see them characterized as unbelievably stupid.

And then, after Superman has vanquished the drug dealing idiots, a little white boy comes up to Superman and offers him candy. Superman then tells this kid to go tell these drug dealers that he will be keeping an eye on this particular area of Philly.

Um. I have a question.

Why the hell don’t you tell them yourself, Superman? You’re the one who’s bulletproof, not this kid! Where will you be when these dealers shoot the hell out of this boy? ARGH!

This clusterfuck of an issue ends with Superman quoting Henry David Thoreau at a random guy walking his dog. Again, a picture is worth a thousand dickish words:

Figs. 6-7: Only a smug dick would quote Thoreau and then walk away without bothering to explain why he did so.

So let’s review:
–Superman gets peevish with people when they question him and he nearly kills them.
–Superman walks into the hood and confronts the only people of color we’ve seen in two issues of JMS’s run…they just happen to be drug dealers.
–Superman doesn’t talk to so much as talk at a random dude. He also quotes Thoreau and walks away, smugly satisfied that he has confounded the hell out of this poor idiot.
You know what? Life is too short, and three dollars and some change is too much to spend on J. Michael Straczynski’s heavy-handed writing. I’m hopping off this ride until they get back to Superman being inspiring instead of being a dickish preacher.

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1. Superman Returns…And So Do I « The Skippy Review - April 26, 2011

[…] was diminishing. I wasn’t enjoying many of the storylines I was reading—such as my aforementioned rant about the horrible “Grounded” storyline in Superman—and I realized that I had better things to spend my money on. However, tomorrow DC Comics […]


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