Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spoiler Saturday--Why I'm Done With The Superman Books (Again)

So, what are the people of Metropolis, the people of DC Earth, like?

Here's one version:

That is from The Essential Superman Encyclopedia (2012), by Robert Greenberger and Martin Pasko.

Boy, are they naive idiots.

Here's one of the examples of criminals trying to tarnish heroes they talked about: the post-Crisis mini-series, Legends:

Of course, the public's turning on heroes was short lived, as it was soon revealed that Darkseid (and Glorious Godfrey) are behind it all:

But of course that didn't take, and that series served to relaunch the Justice League, and establish the role of heroes  in the new, post-Crisis universe. No, seriously, people really loved their heroes!! Go figure!!

Today's DC, though? They've decided that they prefer the "before" to the "after," as they try to make their universe as unfriendly to heroes as the first issues of Legends were.

For example, from this week's Action Comics #45:

Yes, that's why I read comics...for the disapproving public opinion polls on heroes.

Even after Superman saves a bunch of people from a storm...

It's not just the man in the street, either:

Oh, Perry White, you damned jerk.

Now, the last few weeks have revealed that there is some nebulous being called Wrath in the background, making everyone angry and, well, wrathful. The nu52--for those who thought Jack Kirby's villain names were too subtle!!

Another point we should note is that all of this (recent round of) public hatred of Superman is not just because he's an alien--that's been pubic knowledge for awhile (and how could it not be, with every other villain having "ties" to Krypton).

No, people are upset because they found out that Superman had been living amongst them, "posing" as a mere human.

Now, it seems to me that a lot of fear and distrust could be cleared up by Clark giving a TV interview--to Oprah, say--explaining that he wasn't "posing," he was living with the name he was given and raised with by his human foster parents--he's always been Clark Kent, and Superman was the assumed identity. Not for nothing, this goes back to the Legends era, because that was the punchline of Byrne's Man Of Steel relaunch:

But instead, DC has chosen to base their universe on the fever-dream paranoia of Pa Kent from the Man Of Steel movie, where Pa chose to kill himself rather than allow a hint that Clark existed, because he was convinced that society would hate him and try to destroy him. So congratulations, fulfilled the prophecies of a man who though Clark maybe should have let a busload of kids die, because being a hero is a really bad idea.

Speaking of the Kents, well, there was one more effect of Lois doxxing Clark:

Yeah, because that's the universe I want to follow--where the fearful government digs up the corpses of old couples because they're so terrified by the concept of someone who actually does good because it's the right thing.

To be fair, though, it's possible it wasn't the government that exhumed the Kents' bodies. No, maybe they just burnt up from the friction of spinning in their graves when they heard their son did this in last week's Superman #44:

Yeah, I bitched about that last week. But it does show that Kal-El himself has lost the mission in this dour and wretched reboot.

So that's why I'm dropping the Superman books. Even the "good one," Action Comics, is forced to wallow in this dire plotline. Superman blackmailing erstwhile allies and blowing up hideouts? Clark without most of his supporting cast? An entire universe turned against heroes, not just as part of a mini-series to redefine what heroic is for a "new universe," but as a permanent condition? The news leads with polls showing him having lower public opinion polls than Donald Trump? The man who has saved Earth Rao knows how many times is wanted, despised, hunted? Former staunch allies turned on him? (Hey, Perry, if what he did is so bad, when are you giving back the Pulitzers the Daily Planet won for covering Superman?!? Huh?)

I don't mind anti-heroes, even if I don't care to follow most of them. It's a big fictional universe. But I do mind when an entire fictional universe becomes anti-hero, and the people are portrayed as merely a collection of our baser instincts. I object when Superman is supposed to inspire others to be better, to do the best they can, and that message is rejected, forcefully, by the government, by his friends, by the vast majority of the American population.

That's the Anti-Life Equation, folks. That's the world that Darkseid was trying to create in Legends. And the folks running DC have given it to him.

So I'm hopping off this trolley. I'm not asking, or expecting, anyone else to do the same--I'm just trying to explain why I'm not buying these books anymore, and why you'll be reading a lot less about nu52 Superman around here for awhile.

In the meantime, perhaps you can ask yourself, which version of the DC Universe do you prefer--the one described in the paragraph I reprinted at the top of this post, or the one we've been given today?

[For a fuller, and much better, review of Action #45, please go check out Anj's post. He's probably more rational than I am.]


SallyP said...

One of the things that always distinguished the DC Universe from that of marvel, was that while the citizens of the Marvel universe were cynical, jaded and hateful, not to mention fearful, the citizens of DC actually LIKED their heroes! Heck, Flash had his own museum!

Superman and Batman were friends. The Justice League were friends. When one super hero ran across another, they didn't have a big fight before teaming up. The DC universe had Captain Marvel and a talking tiger in it for Pete's sake!

Now apparently having anything that isn't relentlessly dark, grim and insanely depressing is considered childish. And that's just sad.

Dale Bagwell said...


I've personally been off the DC trolley for a good while now. I did stray back during the Convergence tie-ins, and still despite knowing ahead of time that they wouldn't really matter, I allowed my own sense of nostalgia to be used against me, and got suckered into buying a few. Some of them were were pretty good despite themselves. The others? Well they're only good for fire kindling.

And honestly any quality or decent stories that were accidently allowed to be written about these characters have just totally been non-existent lately.

And then this happens.

First Batman, and now poor Superman. He truly is unrecognizable to both longtime and causal fans now. And I wonder why? How does DC and the main corporation that owns them, benefit in any shape or form by radically changing such an iconic and beloved institution. I'm more of a Batman fan myself, and always will be, but damn, even I feel sorry for the former Man of Steel, and what's been allowed to happen to him, and all in order to give us "A more human and identifiable hero."

He already was to an extent. Plus he was a living symbol meant to inspire, not be downgraded to be the lowest common denominator of us.

Darkseid has indeed won. He allowed Dan Didio and his cronies to be hired, or you like, had them possessed by his own minions, 'cause none of this makes sense to me.

Ingonyama said...

I ran as far away as I could from DC during the 'New 52' reboot, and haven't given it a second look since...and this just tells me I was right to.

I grew up as a fan -- nay, even obsessed -- with the X-Men. During the 80s and even into the 90s and early 00s, you got the impression that, hard as the X-Men fought, even in the "world that hates and fears them" there was hope. By doing the right thing enough times, by saving enough lives and protecting Earth enough times, they *could* change the minds of a few, and that would change the minds of a few more, and a few more, and that would be how they'd overcome the anti-mutant prejudice.

And that was X-Men, from the "cynical" Marvel Universe.

Superman was always the flip side of that coin, to me, far more so than the Avengers. People considered him a god among men, not just because of his power, but because of his heart, his nobility, and his ability to inspire the best in others. Marvel does not have an equivalent to him -- I know people will tout Captain America for the morals or Thor for the powers (and being a literal god), but neither of them could ever inspire faith and trust the way he could.

Superman didn't just win over people, he won people over, through his commitment to truth and justice in the purest sense of both words, and that was one of the most important parts of his character.

None of this is represented anywhere in his current depiction, and what's really ironic is, DC doesn't seem to grasp that that's totally unrealistic. People are never 100% for or against someone or something, there will always be naysayers to the universally beloved (I can't stand most depictions of Batman, for example), and champions of the universally despised (Try being a Gambit fan in the late 90s, you'll see what I mean!). The Internet's shown us that. You can't give Superman a 23% approval rating without showing us that 23%, or the whole thing seems futile.

And I won't even start on his Batman-style threat speech.

Superman isn't 'human' or 'identifiable' because people hate him now. He was 'human' and 'identifiable' because he faced moral and ethical dilemmas, rather than physical challenges. His best stories always involved him trying to get through his life while being as committed as he could to staying true to himself, as well as figuring out who that self was. But we're probably not going to see THAT Clark Kent any time soon.

Madman said...

Amen to this. Who was the brainiac (so to speak) that decided to de-power and de-secret-identity Superman, and make him threaten his enemies? Even worse, who was the total moron who said "Yeah, that's a good idea -- let's run with it"?

Nate Winchester said...

You are not wrong.

It almost makes you start appreciating the '86-'99 era of Superman all the more.