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From Comics Alliance

Its official – DC comics have sold out.  Not simply the entire run of Action Comics 900 which is set to reprint due to exceptional demand but if you believe the pundits in America’s media and politics, the entire nation.

What on earth has caused such a furore?

Well it seems that the latest line in the long running comic book saga has Superman renounce his American Citizenship.  And this has fairly hit the fan in America.  The New York Times no less has felt moved to comment, and was followed in no particular order by an unseemly scramble from Huffington Post, The Drudge Report, Boing Boing, and thence out into the mainstream through Fox TV and “The O’Reilly Factor”.  Even Mike Huckabee, never a man to wear his underpants over his trousers, had a say –  though strangely I can never remember anything he says.

Americans take their comics seriously.  Very seriously, and they make their characters national models of virtue or evil.  They are marketed not just for kids, or spotty lonely adolescents with no friends and an onanism habit, but as main stream entertainment for adults.  A huge film industry has pumped out entire franchises of Spidermen, X-Men and Fantastical Fours.

In America there are any number of these comics, all competing in a huge industry.  This is not the land of “The Beano” or “The Dandy”.
A simply visit to the web site Comics Alliance will show the sheer variety of subject matter and skill of the artists.

But Superman – the Man of Steel- (does anyone else see Stalinist overtones here?) saying he is no longer willing to be seen as a spokesman for the American Way has fairly got establishment knickers in a twist.

Grand Old Party activist Angie Meyer was particular incensed.  “Besides being riddled with a blatant lack of patriotism, and respect for our country,Superman’s current creators are be-littleing the United States  as a whole. By denouncing his citizenship, Superman becomes an eerie metaphor  for the current economic and power status the country holds world wide”

Bryan Young in Huffington Post was moved to grander thoughts “If the American Way“ he thundered “is to survive it needs to globalize and raise itself to a higher level. Hopefully, Superman can help lead us here.”  Good grief! Comic books as vehicles of the Monroe Doctrine whatever next?

So why does Superman stand out?  Well, he is all that America once thought itself was, and still half hankers for.  Superman is an alien immigrant, as all Americans once were, an orphan cast upon the hospitality of others, the archetypical stranger in a strange land.  As with all immigrants he has to battle with two conflicting identities and the problems of assimilation which were the problems of so many others who would identify with him.  It always struck me as a very Jewish sort of morality tale.

His cape which thrusts from his shoulders folds like angel’s wings, and his real name Kal-el even sounds like a Jewish Angel.  Mick-el or Dani-el etc?  An avenger for the powerless.

His journey too was that of so many Americans from the farm to the big bad city.  He remains stoically a defender of the faith, and an old fashioned romantic, uncomplicated lover.

He even espouses that most American fad of personal mobility, a veritable Jack Kerouac of the skies completing the American journey from Mayflower to starship.

So when the writers play with him they play with something that has become central to the psyche of an awful lot of Americans.

It is clear that some loud and vociferous Americans do not like their cartoon heroes playing politicians!

Maybe they prefer their Politicians playing super-heroes.

Copyright David Macadam 2011

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