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January 06, 2005



I'm not entirely convinced KC is as easily approached as a conservative work as you indicate (though I could easily be wrong, it has been a while since I have read it). Superman, throughout his comics, seems to me to be an embodiment of the liberal ideals of internationalism (argues for strong teamwork in the JLA), shows a great deal of compassion in helping nations throughout the world (particularly during natural disasters), and also displays a desire to use the minimum of force to bring about peace.

It seems to me that it is only when an arch-conservative approach to crime-fighting is employed by Magog that things fall apart. By being consumed by bloodlust in the name of vengeance and lowering oneself to the level of his enemies, Magog could easily be seen as one of the "nuke em all" crowd at various conservative boards. By breaking superhero (liberal) conventions about the primacy of life (even evildoers), Magog opens the door for the chaos that ensues. As a visible symbol, he gives explicit approval to violence and a "means justify the ends results" to problem solving. This can easily be seen as a parallel to the liberal argument that Americans must display higher moral integrity than out opponents.

I had some other thoughts, but maybe I'll save those for other topics, since they can be applied to a few other works like DKR as well.


Well, re-reading your post shows me that we may have some similar sentiments on this work than when I rattled off my post...no more posting late at night for me.


Yeah, I meant "conservative" in a "looking back to an idealized 1950s" sense rather than in a Republican Party sense. After all, one of the first groups that Superman takes down on his return is a band of American nativists who are about to attack a group of immigrants - so that kind of populist conservatism is the first thing that Superman needs to purge from the body politic.

That idealized 1950s would include not only traditional family values - as one of my students noticed, Wonder Woman at the end has been turned from a warrior into a mother - and respect for one's elders, but also a Cold War internationalism. Hence, isolationism leads to chaos (Bosnia, Rwanda); nativism betrays American universalist values; imperialism and unilateralism rots America's soul; only patient benevolent hegemony rooted in institutionalized cooperation can get the job done.

And about that whole "gods" thing... what are we supposed to make of the idea that Superman - America - is a "god" relative to "men"? Does Captain Marvel's sacrifice, and Superman's rediscovery of his human identity, suggest that America needs to stop putting itself above the rest of the world and start identifying with it?


Good point about Magog, by the way.

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