The bad news: He’s supposed to be an immortal symbol of truth, justice, and the American way. Or at least he was before that line got written out of the script in order not to offend foreign audiences. The good news: Isn’t he … an illegal alien? Since when did we start admitting people from Krypton, anyway? Ah well. More work available now for American patriots like Batman and Spider-Man.
I’m actually not sure what to make of this:
Goyer’s installment, with tense art from Miguel Sepulveda, steals the spotlight in Action Comics No. 900. When Superman drops in on an Iranian protest to stand with demonstrators in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, the U.S. government takes him to task for acting as an instrument of national policy. Superman responds by renouncing his American citizenship and proclaiming himself a citizen of the universe…
In an age rife with immigration paranoia, it’s refreshing to see an alien refugee tell the United States that it’s as important to him as any other country on Earth — which in turn is as important to Superman as any other planet in the multiverse.
The genius of Superman is that he belongs to everyone, for the dual purposes of peace and protection. He’s above ephemeral geopolitics and nationalist concerns, a universal agent unlike any other found in pop culture.
Comics Alliance describes it this way:
The key scene takes place in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.
Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.
The idea of the White House standing by and doing nothing while protests rock Iran is, admittedly, extremely plausible. So is the idea of a superhero suddenly breaking ties in an act of conscience: That was, after all, the basic storyline of the “Civil War” series in which Captain America was assassinated after opposing the feds’ anti-secret-identity registration law. (He was later resurrected and went on to heroically battle the tea party.) Comics writers have also toyed with Superman’s image as a quintessentially American hero, most famously in the “Red Son” alternate reality. This is a more modest tweak on that idea, and intriguing insofar as his disaffection stems from American paralysis towards Middle East tyrants. I wonder how Supes felt about Saddam.
Exit question: Isn’t the real travesty here the fact that Superman somehow ended up facing off nonviolently against Iranian fundamentalist goons? Regime change ain’t going to happen with sit-ins, baby. You’re invulnerable; throw some boulders at them or something.