Ashbury's father, Dirk Armstrong, was a columnist at the Daily Planet. A transparent pastiche of Rush Limbaugh, Dirk was a chubby loudmouthed conservative (who, in flashbacks, was just the sort of hippie who would name his daughter "Ashbury") who wrote a regular column about how terrible superheroes were. Clark and Lois didn't care for his politics, and his daughter didn't care for his overprotectiveness and distaste for her big blue buddy, but he developed into a fairly nice, if pompous and oblivious, guy, trying to be a good father in a crazy world.
I liked this little cast, enough that my first e-mail address was named after Scorn. I've often wondered what happened to Dirk and Ashbury and Metropolis's biggest bluest resident, since they've clearly been consigned to the section of Comic Book Limbo reserved for "supporting cast who didn't make an editorial transition."
Well, if the 52 website is any indication, at least Dirk hasn't fallen prey to Superboy-Prime's Retcon Punches.
A Steel TrapSee, this is part of why DC is so awesome. Rather than creating a new character for their website's anti-superhero columns, they went and dug up someone who hasn't been seen in years. Things like that really serve to flesh out the universe. Kudos, DC.
by Dirk Armstrong, Daily Planet Columnist
METROPOLIS, September 20 —
Was it too much to hope, when Superman went missing five months ago, that his disappearance would signal the end of the Age of Super Heroes? Apparently, it was. There seems to be no end in sight to the stream of super-powered busybodies seeking to fill the void left by the "Man of Steel." Thus there is no hope for normal humans to regain control over our own destinies any time soon. You don't believe me? Just look at the recent actions of the man called Steel.
His involvement in fighting a blaze at a midtown Metropolis apartment building this week has been covered extensively. But let's look at it a little closer, shall we? Our ever brave-and very human-firefighters struggled valiantly to put out the fire and, thankfully, managed to evacuate everyone inside the building. Steel showed up, his presence neither expected nor requested, and proceeded to enter the building and hold up three stories in his bare hands, delaying its inevitable collapse. An impressive display of strength, to be sure, but was it truly necessary?
It is clear that Steel's refusal to leave the building after it had been evacuated nearly took the life of Metropolis Fire Department Lieutenant Dennis Caruso, who went back into the inferno to convince Steel to get out. Lieutenant Caruso escaped by the narrowest of margins.
We must ask ourselves: Can we be sure the firefighters would not have been able to get the job done without Steel's involvement? What happens next time? Should our firefighters simply wait for him to arrive and not even bother trying to complete the job themselves?
Super heroes answer to no one but themselves and are therefore unreliable. Overdependence on them can and will lead to disaster.
In the aftermath of the fire, Steel reportedly told Lieutenant Caruso, "Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, all of them gone. It's time all of us did our part."
You can do your part, Steel, by stepping back and letting us normal humans try to take care of ourselves. We may stumble here and there. But the only way we will grow as a species and as a civilization is if we don't have godlike beings stepping in to nursemaid us at their whim.