Category Archives: Comics

New Project: The Laughing Magician

I’ve started a reading guide / journal of sorts for Hellblazer over here. I’ll still be updating this blog semi-regularly like usual, and I’ll be updating The Laughing Magician 2-3 times a week. Tell your friends! The first post in on The Sandman #3, site of my first encounter with John Constantine.

“Who Are You Pretending To Be?” John Blake and The Dark Knight Rises

ImageMy favorite character in The Dark Knight Rises was John Blake, the police officer played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. At almost every stage of his young life, Blake has been let down by institutions supposedly designed to serve, protect, and provide for Gotham City’s downtrodden and impoverished. He’s almost a cartoonish embodiment of many of the institutional critiques present across all five seasons of The Wire (What if one of the boys at the center of season 4 grew up to become McNulty?), only he’s got the good fortune of inhabiting a heroic narrative with a happy ending.

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Flying Away From The American Way: Superman and National Identity

(Image from Comics Alliance)

I just read Comics Alliance’s description of the latest issue of Action Comics, and apparently Superman has renounced his American citizenship. While I have never been that taken with the writing of David S. Goyer (the Blade trilogy, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), he may have redeemed himself with this little bit of “ripped from the headlines” superheroics, Here’s Laura Hudson’s recap of the moment in question:

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.

The timing of this moment could not amuse me more (it also, consciously or not, critiques another current  Superman story that began with the character walking around the country and aligning himself with crude, absurd caricatures real American folks from the flyover states). I’m sure smarter people than I will justify President Obama’s decision to engage so directly with the birthers, but it is also a little depressing to see a comic book so handily make contemporary political discourse look so cartoonish. While the world at large (and Warner Brothers) will surely regard  Superman as a cultural icon (and a brand) firmly aligned with American iconography and ideals, it’s great to see Goyer and the Superman team wrestling with questions of national identity.

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