Superman: Truth and justice for all, not just the U.S.

To say the least, Superman always meant more to me than just fighting for “truth, justice and the American way.”  Recently he proved that.

In the latest Action Comics No. 900, the “man of steel” says he intends to address the United Nations in order to renounce his U.S. citizenship. He pledges to continue to fight crime globally. Superman’s announcement has sparked controversy.

I grew up reading Superman comic books and his whole story is one that resonates with fighting for ordinary working people worldwide especially given the fact that he too was an immigrant, or an “alien” from another planet.

“I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy,” Superman says. “‘Truth, justice and the American way’ – it’s not enough anymore. The world is too small, too connected.” He adds he “can’t help but see the bigger picture.”

Superman’s remarks come after a U.S. Secret Service agent, sent from Washington, reprimands him for supporting a non-violent protest in Tehran against the repressive Iranian regime. The Iranian government, however, believes Superman was sent by the U.S. and considered his support of the protest an act of war.

Superman first appeared as a comic book character in 1938 and has always had a long association with the U.S. Born on the planet Krypton and as its last survivor, Superman landed in Kansas and was unofficially adopted by a local farmer and his wife. The rest of his well known story until now is part of America’s folk myth.

However, with his announcement in the latest issue, right-wing commentators are claiming Superman is “rejecting America.”

But what did Superman really represent? And even more, what is he really rejecting?

I never imagined reading Superman as a teenager, and even now as an adult, that he represented the wealth and greed of this country’s notorious fat cats. To me, Superman was always more than just a token fighter for American foreign policy.

In fact , he was always a global figure and true citizen of the world. I think it’s about time that the world’s most famous super hero detach himself from the grips of the ruling class’s “super Americanism” and false patriotism.

We should be thankful that a hero as popular as Superman was rooted in this country and is now mature enough to recognize his mission on this planet is more than defending the interests of one country’ rulers, especially one that has unilaterally and militarily dominated nations for decades.

Yes, it’s true Superman was created as a hero to fight against fascism and later as force for anti-communism.

However, whether on television during the Cold War years or in Hollywood movies, Superman was construed as a metaphor. Keep in mind that even metaphors have class content. I know that Superman’s heart and moral values were more about saving people all over the world from evil, including the special interests and global tentacles of U.S. imperialism and its capitalist greed.

In a recent joint statement, DC Comics Co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio downplayed the so-called anti-American rhetoric being spewed lately about the red-caped hero.

“In a short story, Superman announces his intention to put a global focus on his never ending battle, but he remains, as always committed to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smallville,” they said.

DC Comics says it plans to unfold an emerging story that will lay the grounds for an “insanely epic story” that starts this summer.

I for one welcome the news about Superman’s recent epiphany. Reading about comic book super heroes as a kid gave me hope and allowed my imagination to see a world where the greater good is worth fighting for. Never did I allow my comic book world and all its magical characters, both male and female, to be limited to narrow and shortsighted viewpoints or dogmatism. My heroes both in the fantasy world and in real life always believed in truth and justice for all people regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion or creed. And that is what Superman always stood for.

Photo: Actor Christopher Reeve is shown as the action-hero Superman in the 1981 sequel “Superman II.” (AP Photo)




Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.