Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Still Grounded

Well, "Superman" #702 is definitely not as bad as #701. Although the racial politics of the series so far are beginning to become seriously problematic. In addition to trading on every black stereotype you could think of (drug dealers, lazy guy on the porch, street basketball players), now we have Superman telling a bunch of space alien refugees that unless they share their advanced technology, they're basically leeches and he's going to out them as aliens.


The basketball scene is fairly good, albeit very predictable. The bits with the aliens are, as I mentioned, more problematic. I thought I remembered something about this supposed to be bringing Superman back to his populist, champion-of-the-oppressed roots. Why is he lecturing a harmless group of secret alien refugees on giving back to the community? Especially when he's guilty of the same damn crime--or doesn't he still have tons of advanced alien technology holed up in the Arctic? I guess he figures that if you've got natural talents, you can afford to hide your technological candle under a bushel or something. It's an asinine position, that immigrants must somehow justify their presence, implying that natural-born citizens get a free pass to freeload.

It all works out: Superman meets an old guy who's watching an abandoned car factory, but the guy has a heart attack (or something), and so he forces the aliens to treat him with their advanced technology, then reopen the plants to start mass-producing that technology. It's suggested that the aliens will be hiring a bunch of the laid-off auto factory workers, but unless there's a lot of mechanization, I have a hard time believing that people could transition seamlessly from building cars to building hi-tech medical equipment with no apparent training.

In the meantime, we finally get some explanation of what Clark Kent is doing during all this, and Batman shows up at the end to look all menacing. On the other hand, we still have Superman sighing, acting smug and self-righteous, and putting his hand on his chin for extended periods of time. And then there's this, during the big robot battle:
Superman: Yes, I can be hurt. It's actually not that difficult. So the hard part isn't hurting me. The hard part is surviving me.

That bit of in-fight criticism would carry more water if Superman weren't in the habit of ensuring that his enemies survive. Because he doesn't kill people. Ever. And so surviving really isn't hard at all. It's a stupid thing to say, especially since it's all part of this world-weary "bored now" attitude Superman has been taking to just about everything in this storyline. And frankly, I have little desire to see Superman as Evil Willow.

It's a mixed bag, but that's quite a lot better than the last issue. That's praising with faint damnation, however, because this still features a Superman who acts like a douchebag. And that's not Superman.


mrjl said...

He doesn't mean the person attacking surviving him, he's talking about what they're attacking him with surviving.

I suppose "enduring" or "outlasting" also could have worked.

Tom Foss said...

Rereading the scene, I can see that interpretation, but it's by no means clear, and it's a poor choice of words at the very least. Heck "defeating" or "stopping" would have been better, clearer, and frankly, more apropos.