Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Agent Liberty Coming To The Supergirl Show



Continuing my coverage of the upcoming Supergirl Season 4, I thought I'd do a quick review of Agent Liberty.

The announcement about Liberty's inclusion on the show was announced a week ago, naming Smallville alum Sam Witmer as playing the part. Here is a link and a blurb.

http://ew.com/tv/2018/07/17/smallville-sam-witwer-supergirl-season-4-agent-liberty/

In the show’s interpretation on the character, Agent Liberty is the ruthless and terrifying founder and figurehead of Children of Liberty, a hate group that supports a human-first world order. According to a description from the show’s producers, he’s “a brilliant orator in the guise of a family man” and the scariest thing about him is how easily he can convince people that he’s right. Given that Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and the DEO tend to be pro-alien integration, it’s definitely fair to assume they won’t get along with Agent Liberty and his Children of Liberty.

As I said in earlier posts and reviews, political stories are often delivered in a ham-fisted way on the show. So it is a shame that Agent Liberty, a star-spangled hero, is the terrifying founder of a hate group. I'm not denying the existence of hate groups. I am not saying that some of these groups hide behind patriotic iconography. I'm just saying that I wish that shows wouldn't add to that twisting.

Supergirl and Superman fight for truth, justice, and the American Way. They defend the flag and its ideals. I don't want kids to be watching a show and learning to hate the flag and America. Hopefully, the writers and Supergirl will present a solid counterpoint. That the Children of Liberty aren't representatives of what America means. Give me one shot of Supergirl standing hands on hips with the American Flag flapping in the wind behind her ... pretty please?

Anyways, onto the DC character.



Agent Liberty first appears in Superman #60 from 1991.

Here is his image from the DC loose leaf Who's Who 1993 Update #1 by Dan Jurgens.

Despite the name, he isn't draped in the stars and stripes. If there wasn't the blue and red shoulder straps, I'd say he looked more like Hourman than a patriot. I suppose give his modus operandi, it makes sense. At least the shield gives him a little Captain America cred.


His back story is an interesting story of a good man perhaps made into something terrible.

Benjamin Lockwood was a CIA agent of impressive skills who joined the black ops group Sons of Liberty. He was outfitted with his super-suit and a back-up team. In that role he helped with a variety of adventures, protecting Metropolis from social unrest and Brainiac.

Unfortunately, Sons of Liberty wasn't squeaky clean. Lockwood followed orders, assassinating someone who was going to turn evidence. Changed by this experience, Liberty went rogue, killing the very leaders who forced him to do evil.

I like a redemption story. So this story of a hardened soldier trying to do good but tainted, now trying to right his wrongs was a solid hook. There was something here, waiting for the right creative team.


Unfortunately. Liberty is an early victim in the New Krypton storyline.

In Action Comics #873 Liberty is investigating dealings between Lex Luthor and General Sam Lane, Discovered, he is killed by Superwoman. Who is Superwoman? What are her powers?

Well, all that came out in the wash. But for readers at the time we knew one thing, she certainly wasn't a good guy.


That mystery of 'who killed Agent Liberty' was a plot which ran through Supergirl's main book. In Supergirl #39, just a handful of issues into the Gates/Igle run, we see Inspector Henderson trying to add it all up. Liberty's body had washed up in Metropolis.

Later, we see the last thing Agent Liberty's armor recorded, Superwoman sporting the red angry eyes of death.

It was a last straw for Kara who then confronted Superwoman as an enemy, not a potential friend.

In the wake of the original's death, the Agent Liberty persona was picked up by an unnamed woman.

Alas, the suit seems to be something of a target. In War of the Supermen #3, we see her battered and beaten body in the clutches of Ursa, standing before the demolished White House. I don't think she survived. And I don't think we have seen an Agent Liberty since.

At the very least, the death of Agent Liberty II led to one of my favorite images of War of the Supermen.

So will the show's Liberty be a soldier with his heart in the right place? Or a horrible bigot wearing the flag like a priest's robe? I just hope the show won't use a sledge hammer approach to the stories they want to tell us. Because even a C-lister character like Agent Liberty deserves more than that.


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your MAGA hat is showing.

Stop watching and find something else to masturbate to - the show is officially not for you anymore.

Anonymous said...

"Your MAGA hat is showing.

Stop watching and find something else to masturbate to - the show is officially not for you anymore."

His... WHAT?????

First Anon, stop being a rude troll and find something else to do than stereotyping and harassing people. Anj -who is a nicer and definitely more respectful and politer person than you- watches the show because he loves the character of Supergirl and wants her series to be a good one.

Anj's concerns are legitimate and well-founded, and his analysis on the character has been pretty informative (I only knew Agent Liberty from reading Sterling Gates' run). On the other hand, your post has been nothing but insults and strawmanning.

By the way, you know who else is annoyed at Agent Liberty being a bigoted villain? Its creator Dan Jurgens.

Anonymous said...

By the way, you know who else is annoyed at Agent Liberty being a bigoted villain? Its creator Dan Jurgens.

Ah, yes, the same Dan Jurgens who compared having to sit next to a fat person on an airplane to being raped on Twitter. Surely, he's someone whose opinion is super important.

Martin Gray said...

Great recap. I’d forgotten there’d even been a second Agent Liberty. The first one has a great look, it’s a shame the TV version of the costume looks to be the typical black rubber number - Jurgens’ design was terrific.

‘...a brilliant orator in the guise of a family man’ - who writes this stuff, it’s not like one precludes the other? ‘I’m a super-speech maker, I need a disguise!’

On previous form, this will indeed be heavy handed as heck. Who knows, though, maybe they’ll get some fresh writing talent in, maybe bring Sterling Gates in from across the hall.

And Anj, don’t listen to an anonymous troll who’s never shown any interest in your superb site previously, they’re just stirring, they know nothing about you.

Anonymous said...

From an Anon Who Isn't Trolling...

Thanks for the background on Agent Liberty, Anj. Admittedly I only knew of the character from the World Of
New Krypton series as well -- I don't recall that particular panel of Ursa holding a battered and beaten
Agent Liberty, I'll have to reread the whole arc again -- but thanks for sharing that panel again of Supergirl
rushing towards Ursa. Oh, to see it brought to life on the screen someday!

> I just hope the show won't use a sledge hammer approach to the stories they want to tell us.

+9000 to that sentiment. Last season's "clunky writing" I'm HOPING TPTB manage to learn from and will improve.

Thanks again for your genuine love of the character of Supergirl in all forms, and all your work to share that, Anj!
And to fellow Supergirl fans elsewhere as well!


Regards

Martin Gray said...

Apologies if I gave the impression that I equate anonymous with troll – I’ve never know a site get as many nice Anons as this one. I can’t keep everyone straight :)

Anonymous said...

"Ah, yes, the same Dan Jurgens who compared having to sit next to a fat person on an airplane to being raped on Twitter. Surely, he's someone whose opinion is super important."

Thank your for ignoring the rest of my post, therefore proving me right.

Thank you, too, for lying about what Jurgens actually told. You've once again proved you are nothing but a strawmanning troll.

Thank you, once again, for claiming a creator's opinion on his own work has no validity, and disregarding his complaints about his creation being turned into a xenophobic loon. The fact you think his outrage is irrelevant shows you're trolling.

"And Anj, don’t listen to an anonymous troll who’s never shown any interest in your superb site previously, they’re just stirring, they know nothing about you."

Seconded, Martin.

KET said...

"By the way, you know who else is annoyed at Agent Liberty being a bigoted villain? Its creator Dan Jurgens."

He has a right to his opinion when the show's episodes actually air. But a knee-jerk-reaction from an abbreviated character blurb in a new actor's casting bio? Probably not a smart idea coming from the guy who created one-note villain Doomsday. Anj has a much more detailed and nuanced bio of Agent Liberty and his Supergirl comics connections than was actually in the press release.

Not gonna get into those 'xenophobic' or 'clunky writing' cliché rants, because they're both stupid and ill-informed. However....

"Who knows, though, maybe they’ll get some fresh writing talent in, maybe bring Sterling Gates in from across the hall."

Seems like Gates is more comfortable writing for The Flash. His Supergirl penned episode from Season Two inadvertently caused enough of a negative response from female fandom (which accused the series of forcing misogynistic tropes down on the heroine) that he got moved over to the other show. Not really his fault, but there it is.

KET

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I’ll have to track down the Agent Liberty Special, an Issue I don’t have.

Anonymous said...

*Shrug* I think we are gonna have to reconcile ourselves to the prospect that almost all our discussions about the show going forward are gonna have the potential for political brawls. On the other hand, as a "differently winged person" I certainly do not "Drive The Times" so given that, I can only note that accordingly to the current definition in every single way, Superman and Supergirl (and a host of other DCU characters) are indeed "illegals". Multiple people broke the law to keep both of them in this country as function superheroes per their respective storylines as a metacontext, Berlanti et al, are almost forced to confront the issue quite frankly or risk sinking into a morass of stupifying irony. My only wish is they did a better job of it...if they did then maybe the consequent discussions would be worthwhile.

:)

JF

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your continuing dedication anj.

I don't know if Supergirl should be running with the American way tagline. She currently stands for values that are more global/humanist than American. The values associated with a flag are not constant, they are a product of the countrys actions in the presence. It is ever changing.

In the eyes of the world, since the last year the American flag no longer stands for humanitarian values. The Supergirl show does its share to change that, but in the present moment, putting Supergirl in front of the American flag is more likely to associate her with acceptance of current US actions than the other way around.

Supergirl wont change what the American flag means, the American people are the only ones with that power. Supergirl might at best inspire people to follow those values. I don't think she would have wanted children of the world to follow where the US is currently heading.

I think season 4 is all about encouraging people to take charge of changing the narrative to what the flag means, no matter where you live.

Anonymous said...

^ Well stated and observed. Yes, Supergirl and Superman stand for "the American way" as an ideal, a principle, what we are at our best. They don't, and must not, stand for a jingoistic, uncritical embrace of America at its worst.

Put another way, many real-life "Ma and Pa Kents" helped elect the current administration. The Kents who raised Clark never, ever, ever would have.

Anj said...

It is true that she stands for hope, help, and compassion for all.

I would just love for her to say something akin to ‘you don’t represent the America I believe in’. That’s all.

Anonymous said...

That would be great Anj

Anonymous said...

Seems like Gates is more comfortable writing for The Flash. His Supergirl penned episode from Season Two inadvertently caused enough of a negative response from female fandom (which accused the series of forcing misogynistic tropes down on the heroine) that he got moved over to the other show. Not really his fault, but there it is.

Just want to clarify something: I was not "moved to the other show." Viewer response had nothing to do with me getting hired on The Flash.

I wrote a freelance episode of Supergirl. It did a .7, which was consistent with the ratings of that season. Six months later -- during normal tv staffing season -- I was asked to join The Flash writing staff.

I was happy with my Supergirl tv show experience, and enjoy my current job on The Flash.

Thanks,
Sterling

Anonymous said...

Omg Sterling on these forums!

Thank you for letting us know and thank you for your amazing work on both shows!

I really hope we can see you write some episode or comic for our favorite maid of might again soon.

Keep running (writing Flash) til then

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the background information on "Agent Liberty," Anj. I'll admit I've never heard of him before now and assumed he was invented for the show. I don't understand the crippling need to include C-List characters AND then reinvent them out of new cloth. If you want to bring someone's favorite character back, just do the character justice. If you need a new nationalist hate group, give them a brand new leader for the show! The only people who seem to care about deep cut references like Agent Liberty are, well, fans-- the very people who will hate (in all likelihood) a poor portrayal or reinvention of the character.

Anyways, I used to be able to log in using my LJ account but it looks like Blogger no longer allows that? So I'm an anon.

-Oblique

Anonymous said...

P.S. Also, don't listen to the trolls! I'm sorry that you received any flak for your analysis; like you said, I'd be very happy if Supergirl confronted the Children of Liberty and showed them how your country can live up to its wonderful ideals.

-Oblique

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Someone please convince me they aren't doing a Titans-like tone twist on Supergirl now. I'm sick of all this dark gritty bullcrap DC has been pulling. If I want dark and gritty I'll turn on the news. As for DC, I think I'll apply Robin's Batman statement to them instead. I'd you need me I'll be in the Silver Age.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

"Give me one shot of Supergirl standing hands on hips with the American flag flapping in the wind behind her...pretty please?"

Okay. Go to YouTube and under "search" type in "Adventures of Supergirl opening titles (1951)" and tell me what you see.

Anonymous said...

Anj, was your reference to the Agent Liberty Special the first mention of it? It seems you are responding to something.

I kind of like it that existing characters get repurposed. That happens all the time in DC comics themselves. It's mind-bending to read Wikipedia histories of some characters (which are longer than my own life history would be - fortunately I'm not yet that old!). Characters take on new origins and roles with each reboot, more or less. Characters get written out of continuity, only to come back with a new age, personality and backstory.

For instance, who the heck is Aquaman? That depends on what decade you are in.

dc.wikia.com has to figure out how to organize character histories, or footnote some with "much of the above history has been altered."

Ever see the wikia page on Kara (Zor-El, Zor-L, Jor-El, Kent, Gordon, In-Ze, etc.)? Pretty amazing. She's in the "K" section. I think they list around 80 versions.

http://dc.wikia.com/index.php?title=Category:Female_Characters&from=K

If the character is a totally obscure one, then I look forward to a well-informed comics historian like Anj to write about it. This leads me to discover more about DC characters I didn't know or remember, even if I'm learning about a different take on the characters. That's fine - I learned something.

For people who don't know any of the history and/or don't care, the new stories stand entirely on their own - as they are intended to, surely, for most of the TV audience, many of whom probably weren't alive when a comic-book variation of some characters last appeared.

But meanwhile, there's a reference, an easter egg, for long-time readers to enjoy - sometimes a reference that resonates with the character's original presentation, and sometimes that's even the opposite. Or sometimes a character is an amalgam of multiple characters.

There were tons of characters in Smallville that I never bothered to research, but if I had, I'd have discovered they were repurposed from the comics. Whether I knew or didn't know, the show swam or sunk on its own merits.

It's all fair game. It's fiction, it's creativity, and who knows what Earth in what multiverse this Supergirl lives, vs. where the comics are now, or were pre-Flashpoint or pre-Crisis or pre or post anything else?

I remember some of Agent Liberty from the New Krypton story line, tended to confuse him with Guardian (I don't remember why - did their costumes have some similarity?), and didn't research his backstory. I survived!

Anonymous said...

Anj, I am sorry that you of all people have to face these anon trolls. Just don't pay any attention to these jerks.

I think it will be better if we just discuss the comics here and keep the episode discussions on Twitter. There no one can hide behind trolling anonymous messages.

As for Dan jurgens, I am torn between respecting his Creators status and the fact that he clearly overreacted. And Dan hasn't got a spotless reputation when it comes to Supergirl so I would advise him to stay in his lane a bit.

Also STERLING GATES in here! I wish he was a permanent writing staff of Supergirl instead of The flash. But nonetheless, I enjoy both.

As for agent liberty, I think its a wait and watch game for all. Eric carrasco had sarcastically commented on Dan's statement on Twitter. Right now I would much rather we keep it light in here and talk about that atrocious suit. I wanted pants but not like this. There better be some CGI work in there. Also a cape!