Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Action Comics #9 Back-Up Story

Last week was a very heavy week for reviews here at Comic Box Commentary and so I am quite late in my review of Sholly Fisch's back-up feature in Action Comics #9. Fisch has been doing a great job in these back-up stories filling in some of the gaps of the main story or giving us a more character driven story to flesh out the supporting cast of the Superman Family. So we have seen the Kents, Steel, and the Smallville crew in a brighter light thanks to these stories. In particular, the Kents and Smallville stories have placed a bit more bricks in the foundations of Morrison's Superman, helping us know how he became the young man in Metropolis.

Actions Comics #9 solely concentrated on the Superman of Earth 23 so even the back-up story  belongs to him. In my review of the Morrison piece, I overlooked the fact that this version of Clark Kent is the President of the United States, using robot duplicates to help run the political affairs while he is off super-heroing. As I stated in that review, Morrison says the E23 Superman is 'superman done right' so I wonder how much of the vibe of this back-up story comes from some edict of Morrison, or how he would think Superman would achieve a global agenda if he truly existed.

It is a somewhat realistic look at what politics would mean in a world where unstoppable super-human agents work for a government.

It starts with President Kent calling the dictator of Qurac to discuss the four nuclear power sites hidden within Qurac, sites undiscovered by a human team of inspectors.

Remember this is President Kent, not Superman. Their is some early bravado by this presumable despot but that all goes away quickly. You see President Kent is Superman and so he can say with authority that all 4 sites are being shut down by 'natural disasters', a euphemism for plausibly deniable super-human acts.

But this is a political debate between the leaders of nations. So while as Superman, Kent (and Wonder Woman) are destroying one of Qurac's nuclear facilities, President Kent is also talking about sanctions that Qurac will incur should they try something like this again.

And these are sanctions with a definite super-human bite. Markovia could lead to the land literally upheaving. Atlanteans can seize the water supply. Amazons could invade. These are not idle threats.

This isn't just brinkmanship though. There is more than just cold-blooded threats. Kent/Superman then invites Qurac to join an alliance of nations, to become part of the global solution rather than a problem.

My guess is this is how Superman would want things to happen, as a peaceful mutually satisfactory global community rather. He isn't just shutting down the 'bad guys', he is inviting them to the table.

Still, this is more pro-active than any Morrison Superman I have read to date. This is the same man who had Superman say in JLA #4 that the League wasn't there to control man but to lift him up when he falls. I don't think that Superman would be vaporizing nuclear material or engaging in politics.

So which Superman does Morrison think is Superman done right?

This approach isn't without its problems. And Wonder Woman calls Superman on it. Being President Kent and secretly Superman is duplicitous at best. At some point the truth will come out.

Moreover, while doing things like shutting down a dangerous nuke program in Qurac seems like the 'right thing' what will Superman do if people no longer agree with him on what is right? Will he take over? Isn't a benevolent despot still a despot?

We have seen these stories and topics played out on bigger stages. Even that early JLA story looked at the Hyperclan taking over. So a thought provoking back-up after a thought provoking main story.

Cully Hamner, one of my favorite artists, provided the art for the back-up feature. Great stuff there.

Overall grade: B+

Still, after this philosophy lesson, I am ready to read more about the E1 Superman.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Wonder Woman does bring up a valid point, how long can the President use his superhero allies to enforce foreign policy before being seen as a dictator? Do the ends justify the means?

Anonymous said...

Dangerous nuke program in Qurac? Sounds laughable, considering the "weapons of mass destruction" Iraq didn't have and the amount of money we wasted on a war to enrich the war profiteers, It also sounds laughable when America has the largest and most dangerous nuke program and we are the country most prone to using weapons of mass destruction.

bill said...

A new generation of Dc comics say no to racism. Im a fan of comic stories but i'm not good at drawing.

Anonymous said...

Earth 23 Superman is called Calvin Ellis, not Clark Kent. And although Morrison may deny it, this version of Superman looks a little like and is most likely inspired by President Obama and the various humorous comparisons made between Obama and Superman.