Superman Renounces U.S. Citizenship in ‘Action Comics’ #900

Apr 27th 2011 By: Laura  Hudson

Superman Renounces U.S. Citizenship in ‘Action  Comics’ #900

After  recently undertaking a journey to walk — not fly — across the United States in  the “Grounded” storyline and reconnect with the country and  everyday Americans, Superman appears to be taking another step that could have  major implications for his national identity: in Action Comics  #900…

…Superman announces that he is going to give  up his U.S. citizenship. Despite very literally being an alien  immigrant, Superman has long been seen as a patriotic symbol of “truth, justice,  and the American way,” from his embrace of traditional American ideals to the  iconic red and blue of his costume. What it means to stand for the “American  way” is an increasingly complicated thing, however, both in the real world and  in superhero comics, whose storylines have increasingly seemed to mirror current events and deal with moral and political  complexities rather than simple black and white morality.

The key scene  takes place in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900  written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults  with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman  appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against  the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in  the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC  Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as  the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not  reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to  renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to  continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective.  From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for  a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against  injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout  for the U.S. government.

While this wouldn’t be this first time a  profoundly American comic book icon disassociated himself from his national  identity — remember when Captain America became Nomad? — this could be a very significant turning point for  Superman if its implications carry over into other storylines. Indeed, simply  saying that “truth, justice and the American way [is] not enough anymore” is a  pretty startling statement from the one man who has always represented those  values the most.

It doesn’t seem that he’s abandoning those values,  however, only trying to implement them on a larger scale and divorce himself  from the political complexities of nationalism. Superman also says that he  believes he has been thinking “too small,” that the world is “too connected” for  him to limit himself with a purely national identity. As an alien born on  another planet, after all, he “can’t help but see the bigger picture.”

Do  you think the shift to a more global role makes sense for Superman? If he really  is going to renounce his U.S. citizenship in order to function as a more  international figure, how do you think it will affect the character?

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