I liked some bits of Superman #701…

§ July 14th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 11 Comments

…and then there was this bit which seemed awfully un-Superman-ish:

from Superman #701 (Sept 2010) by J. Michael Straczynski, Eddie Barrows & J.P. Mayer

Since when does Superman think it’s too bad some folks aren’t dead?

(Kevin Church has more to say.)

11 Responses to “I liked some bits of Superman #701…”

  • Doctor K says:

    Gandhi is dead because he was born in 1869. At 75, Manson is still younger than Gandhi lived to be. Even given the stupid premise of that speech, it’s a false comparison to boot.

  • Shelly says:

    OMFG. Seriously? I am so glad I’m not reading this. I checked out the page on Kevin Church’s blog and that’s just wrong. As if no writer ever tried and even succeeded in humanizing Superman. Sure, you can argue that the above panel is really saying that life is unfair, but that’s just how things are, but Superman is about hope, not about accepting reality. Superman is the best of us.

    JMS’s run is going to be pretentious and precious, isn’t it? Ack.

    I guess it isn’t just Wonder Woman who’s gonna be unreadable for a while.

  • Ron Hogan says:

    I flipped through the entire scene Mike references above, in which JMS spends SEVERAL pages on Superman trying to stop a woman from jumping off a skyscraper — a scene Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely perfected in ONE PAGE — and, as Shelley said, it’s pretentious and precious all the way through.

    It almost feels like JMS is treating Superman as a stand-in for Boomer Apologia: “I know we had the potential to change the world, and, you know, not so much as it turned out, but it’s not unfair. It just is.”

    (Also, to reference Kevin Church’s example of why #701 stinks: Hey, let’s give a man with an erratic heartbeat a MAJOR, JOLTING SURPRISE. Brilliant thinking there, Clark.)

  • David says:

    The Ennis story (on the Beaucoup Kevin blog) seems equally wrong headed to me–he dresses it up in nicer language but Hitman here basically says “the problem with America is the immigrants”. He never mentions the English, or the pilgrims or what have you, just the ‘problem’ minorities who came later hanging on to their old cultures, even specifically mentions Africans, most of whom weren’t brought over by choice. And Superman is all “huh, you may have a point there.”

    Even more absurdly, Superman is obsessed with Krypton. His secret hideout is a krypton museum, he takes anyone vaguely kryptonian into a special little family or they end up his mortal enemies–Zod, Brainiac, Doomsday. Superman’s totally the immigrant who can’t stop fighting the old fights.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Okay, the JFK/Castro comparison – yeah, I kinda get that given they were contemporaries and the whole Cuban missile crisis. But Lennon/Kaddafi and Gandhi/Manson – no, not really at all. And the phrasing of that last one is really disturbing to me. “Manson keeps hanging in there.” I can’t help but picture that annoying 70’s poster of the kitten hanging by its front paws on a tree branch. Except, you know, replace the kitten with a 75-year-old Charles Manson in an orange jumpsuit.

  • Jer says:

    It almost feels like JMS is treating Superman as a stand-in for Boomer Apologia: “I know we had the potential to change the world, and, you know, not so much as it turned out, but it’s not unfair. It just is.”

    If this is what he ends up doing, then it’s probably a good thing I’m not reading the individual issues. Because if he goes there I may have to track him down and punch him in the goddamn face for it.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    Looking at this panel (I’ve not read the context) I’m just wondering whether he started with the obvious word play and cut it, or just didn’t see it – instead of talking about fairness, he should be talking about justice. “It’s not justice. It’s not unjust, either. It just… is.”

  • Undeadboy says:

    I think you may have missed the point in this particular panel (and I HAVEN’T read the entire issue, my reply is based on this post alone). But Supe’s isn’t saying that it’s too bad some folks aren’t dead, he’s saying shit ain’t black and white. Matters of life and death are cloaked in a grey area and my impression is that that’s what JMS is striving to define here.

    Superman is DC’s Cpt America. He’s the symbol for you country internationally, whether you like it or not that’s how he’s perceived.

    So to have an American icon discussing those issues and interacting on smaller levels he is indeed humanising the character. It may not be the approach people wanna read, but it’s not a broad right turn from his stated direction.

    Heck this story could turn out to be a metaphor for the Middle East conflicts. Who knows?

  • David says:

    @Undeadboy–I dunno man, Manson’s “Still hanging in there?” Conjures up an image of Superman waiting to throw a party. I’m not even sure what Manson’s life amounts to in a world that has the Joker in it–why even mention him? Or the Libyan prime minister when Darkseid has a whole planet of super-god-terrorists?

    It’s such a symplistic view to frame living as winning and death as losing. Lennon and Kennedy are revered, their ideals or whatever we imagine they represent today are meant to be the pinnacles of what we can achieve. These other guys are scorned maniacs with heads filled with dying, nonsense ideas everyone but the select few under their thumb looks down upon. What’s more, if anyone is anti-death penalty, it should be Clark Kent. Superman rescues Lex Luthor time and again because he holds out hope for everybody, however naive that might be.

  • I’m still going to stick with the thesis I opined over on Polite Dissent:

    This is Clark Dealing With The Genocide of Krypton.

    This is Clark trying to remind himself that the Earthlings — the Americans — responsible for that genocide do not represent the whole of our species or our nation.

    To me, that choking, stream-of-consciousness, looking-off-in-the-distance Life’s Not Fair speech is Joe tapping into exactly that.

    So, yeah. Some of that Unshakable Faith is shaken. Some of his dialogue is going to sound confused, disoriented, out of character.

    And I’m fine with it.

    Because … any other reaction to the events of the last year and a half of Superman comics would be untrue to the character.

    He’s not going to go the route of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, though Rao knows he’s got more reason than The Plutonian at this juncture.

    He’s not going to go Justice Lord or Squadron Supreme, and take the reins of a world gone out of control For Its Own Good — if for no other reason than having seen his Tangent namesake do just that.

    But most of all — he’s certainly, certainly not going to do what everyone else seems to think he should do, which is simply pretend it never happened and go on with the Never-Ending Battle without taking some time to remember why he fights it.

    Me? I think #701 kicked ass, and that we’re in for a really terrific year of storytelling.

  • GQ says:

    I don’t want a Superman that shrugs his shoulders and says “Eh. Can’t be helped.” I want a Superman that stands up and fights to his last breath for what’s right. Fights to make the world the way it should be.