As part of their goal of revealing the liberal bias in every corner of the media, Fox News has taken on a new target: Superman. Yeah. The Big Blue Boy Scout of Truth, Justice, and the American Way is now apparently part of the liberal agenda. Down he must come!
In an article published on July 31st, Fox News writer Brian Henry reveals how in “the latest of Action Comics,” Superman has shifted his focus from combating Lex Luthor to fighting police. Now, technically that is true. Action Comics #42 is the latest issue of the series but it also nearly a month old (having been published on July 1st) so it took the team over at Fox a LONG time to figure out their angle here.
It is also true that Superman fights some cops in this issue. Why? Has Superman given up fighting bad guys in order to take on the establishment? Is Superman convinced that the police are part of the problem in our society and he’s out to fix it? No, that would be Batman who routinely deals with corrupt police offices.
The problem with Mr. Henry’s analysis is that Superman’s mission in life is not defined by who he fights. Superman does not go out into the world to fight Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Doomsday, or the ephemeral concept of ‘crime’. Again, that’s Batman. Superman is not defined by fighting against anything. Superman, the identity adopted by Kal-El of Krypton, exists to protect. And in this issue he is protecting protesters from an over-zealous police officer who has a personal grudge.
Superman protects innocents no matter who is trying to harm them. Again, I cannot stress this enough, Superman does not want to fight against anyone. He only fights for, in his own words, everyone.
So why does Superman (currently lacking most of his powers) duke it out with riot gear-attired police? Because the officer in charge hates Superman. The protesters have gathered peacefully to show their support for Superman (who, in addition to losing most of his powers has recently been outed to the world as Clark Kent). The government of Metropolis has not extended a welcome hand to Kent, instead they have basically branded him an outlaw vigilante (not unreasonable). And the officer sent to head up the police in dispersing this protest has a major itch on to “break” Superman.
Superman does everything he can to prevent violence. He holds a massive chain between the riot police and the protesters. He doesn’t jump down (he can’t fly anymore) and start whipping those chains at police. No. He stands there and he takes verbal and physical abuse from this shitty police officer trying to keep the peace. He can’t. He does, as the officer goads him to, fight back when it becomes clear he can’t hold the line passively any longer.
So the Fox News article. You can read it, it’s linked above. They get quotes from a comic shop manager and the president of the NJ State Benevolent Policeman’s Association (that seems like a mis-match to me. Maybe ask the author about the intent?) The police Association president (Patrick Colligan) laments that, “We are once again painted with the very broad stroke nobody wants to be painted with.” I disagree there. Just because a single police officer is shown being a power-abusing dick doesn’t mean that the message is intended to cover every single police officer. Hell, the comic goes to great length to show that Superman has a deep respect for the police and the job that they do. How is it that no one complains whenever Gotham PD officers are routinely depicted as corrupt? When Flass (Gordon’s partner in Batman Begins) is shown taking bribes, and when the entire PD is characterized as inept, corrupt, and useless nobody complained about police being shown in a bad light? Because people realized that the message of Batman Begins was not about police being the problem. It was about those police being a problem.
That same thing is happening in Action Comics #42. It is not in the least arguing that police are evil or bad. It is arguing that that police officer was bad, that he was abusing his power, and that Superman was going to stand up to him because the innocent civilians behind him couldn’t. It did not encourage violence against police. It showed Superman doing everything in his (diminished) power to prevent civilian-on-police and police-on-civilian violence. Because Superman is not about fighting against anyone, Superman is about fighting for everyone.