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January 27, 2005


Transitional Man

If the superman actually did exist, his or her government would attempt to eploit them. That much is a given, If you could count on a Superman or Dr. Manahattan to fight your society's battles then no pressed society could afford to ignore the possibilities such an individual provides. Whether such an indifdual would be known as a hero or vlillain would depend very much on perspective.

But the government would also be terrified by superheroes. At the end of the day, the government holds the moopoly of force within it's own society. That force may be bound by constitutional and legal means, but it is important to remember that at the end of the day the government always holds the power. If it does not, it no longer governs.

So imagine the challenge a Clark Kent might pose to society today. We pass laws that bind our governement and citizens in a mutual web of rights and obligations. But what obligates the Superman? Can the police hope to restrain such an individual? Can the army kill a Kryptonian? This is particularly difficult if you don't want to kill lots of innocents along with the rogue superman.

The superman therefore poses a real social challenge. If he can be co-opted with confindence, great. IF not he or she poses a mortal threat, for their power permits them to essentially write their own rules and ignore those of the larger society.

If superheroes are common, then one could be played off against the other, but that also implies the risk they will team up and decide to rule themselves. I suspect that any government composed of the unpowered would be extremely suspicious at best of the supermen among us. IF a power and clear external threat existed, the supermen would be embraced, at least until the menace was defeated. But without it the supermen themselves might become percieved menaces, if out of jealousy if nothing else. I suspect that in any such society at least a covert research program aimed at developing means of killing/containing your own supermen would be an ongoing process.

Second, war changes people. Some become inured to killing. People become callous and angry or they may break. A superman back from a long and victorious war may show little patience with 'business as usual'. His or her sacrifice may leave him with a feeling of entitlement. A group of combat veterans, loyal primarily to each other, might not show much patience for the 'chickshit' behavior of politicians at home.

I think a national super-team is possible, particularly during wartime. But not afterward where their potential will be seen as threateing. Perhaps a society blessed with such individuals might neeed a Eurasia and Oceana to war against, in order to keep the superman gainfully occupied, and thus unlikely to think hard on ruling himself.

Steven M. Bergson

Since this posting is past mid-June, I don't know if anyone will even be reading this until classes start in the Fall.

Interesting topic, but I was actually looking for a discussion of the reverse, i.e. "Genocide in the Age of Superhero".

The timeline I was considering was this :

- 1945 (reality) : The world learns of the death camps, which killed millions, including 6 million Jews

- 1955 : Bernard Krigstein's "Master Race" (Impact #1) portrays the Holocaust in a classic 8-page story

- 1966 : Kirby & Lee introduce Galactus (Fantastic Four #48), who can devour an entire planet, killing all life on it

- 1972 : Funny Animals #1, which contains the 3-page "Maus" Holocaust story by Art Spiegelman, which would evolve into a 2-volume graphic novel

- 1985 : DC 12-issue series Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which multiple universes are decimated. An entire universe is destroyed within the first half of issue 1 alone.

My question is this : Is the killing of "mere" millions, as happened during the Armenian genocide, the Shoah, the Rwandan massacres, Kosovo, etc. being rendered banal / insignificant in the minds of readers of comics, who have "witnessed" the fictional genocides of cities, countries, planets and even entire universes? In their attempts to outdo each other in fictional slaughtering, are comics writers making death, murder and genocide seem commonplace?

Rich Syn

The greatest superhero ever is Batman. I have been a Batman fan for the last 30+ years and even built a web site with every type of Batman collectible out there.


I like the name of your hero. Post your feed on http://www.comic-books-store.info or just email any new material and I'll stick it in...

Joseph Lira

Well to me, the best is superman, I know it is a classic but it inspired me as a kid, I like your post, will tell my firends about it.

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