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Superman No More?

3:25 PM, Apr 28, 2011 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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All of these stories work because Superman believes in, and is part of, America. Once he’s a “citizen of the universe” what, exactly, will he believe in? Heck, what does “citizen of the Universe” even mean? Will Superman now adhere to the Tamaran code of honor? Will he follow the Atlantean system of monarchy? Does he believe in liberté, égalité, fraternité, or sharia? Does he believe in British interventionism or Swiss neutrality? You see where I’m going with this: If Superman doesn’t believe in America, then he doesn’t believe in anything.

And if an invulnerable demigod doesn’t believe in anything, then what he really believes in is himself—his own judgments, foibles, preferences, and partialities. At which point he is drained of every last bit of dramatic interest. He’s Doctor Manhattan and all he can do is exile himself to the moon and let the little people carry on with the hurly-burly of earth.

Like I said, there’s no reason to make too much of this. Captain America renounced his country once, too. And, like with Superman’s death, this will almost certainly be temporary. But for those of us who still hold some small lingering affection for DC Comics, it would be nice if they showed the teensiest bit of intelligence in the handling of their important properties.

(Thor, Captain America, and X-Men First Class are coming soon.)

Update: Alert reader G.C. emails,

Is Superman really an American citizen? I don't think he's ever actually released his birth certificate, and I don't know whether we should assume that the whole born-on-another-planet story is even true. But if it is, then he's not a natural-born American citizen. Was he ever naturalized? Has anyone seen the naturalization papers? What is he trying to hide? If I were Donald Trump I would be on the inside back page of The Weekly Standard saying that Superman can't renounce his citizenship if he never was a citizen to begin with and that he could put an end to the entire controversy just by producing the documents. 

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