When Orson Met Clark

(DC Comics)

So I don’t know if I’ve talked about this a lot here-other than my Top 5 comics post-but I love Superman.

I know everyone says he’s corny, overpowered, irrelevant, or whatever you say, but I love him! I think its great that the character who invented the very concept of the superhero is also a character who does the right thing simply because its the right thing to do. I think that’s wonderful.

Because Superman has that quality of righteousness about him, I think that’s why many people became upset when DC announced in their solicitations for May that Orson Scott Card was going to write a story for the first two issues of the company’s new digital-first anthology series Adventures of Superman.

Now, Card’s written a lot of books but he’s best known for his Hugo and Nebula-winning novel Ender’s Game. He’s even written some comics before for Marvel’s Ultimate line. So why are people upset that an acclaimed, popular writer with comics experience is writing a Superman story?

Well, Card is, to put it bluntly, a homophobe. A conservative Mormon, Card sits on the board of directors for the infamous anti-equality organization, National Organization for Marriage. He’s also made past statements saying things like that there’s a link between homosexuality and pedophilia and if gay marriage is legalized, an armed upraising will be necessary. You can see why a lot of people are upset that he’s writing for the character some people have called “the Big Blue Boy Scout.”

Thinkpieces everywhere, from Comic Book Resources to NPR to the Guardian, have cropped up suggesting either Card should not be allowed to write the story, because of his values being incompatiable with Superman’s, or should be, given that freedom of ideas is one of the fundamental tenets of creativity. A petition on Allout.org begging DC to remove him has nearly 15,000 signatures, and several comic book retailers have said they won’t stock the issue when it is collected with another story and published in print in May. On his Facebook page, Martin Pasko, who wrote Superman comics in the 1970s, posted a long opinion on the issue in which he argued that both sides of this issue are equally right.

For their part, DC issued a press release stating that their creators are entitled to their personal views and that the company does not endorse them in any way. So what about me, you ask? Where do I stand?

Well, first let me explain some things. 1. I am pro-marriage equality. Over the past couple years, I realized that it just simply makes logical, ethical and moral sense. 2. The first gay person I ever knew in my sheltered Midwestern life was a comic shop owner.  I used to go into his shop every week and I always bought something no matter what. I remember over time, he told me the story of how him and his then-boyfriend once ran the store together, but when they broke up, he kept the business. This was around the time Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s revolutionary Batwoman stories in Detective Comics, which reimagined the side character as an ex-Army lesbian, was coming out and though we never talked about it, I could tell he loved comics just as much as I did and he really helped cement my tastes. When my first ever comic work was published online, I printed out a copy, gave it to him, and because he asked me to, I signed it. He helped me realize what comics can do and for that, I am grateful.

But I digress. Anyway, after reading many of these op-eds, contributing to the discussion on Martin Pasko’s Facebook page, and thinking it over, it was really Ty Templeton’s Bun Toon on the subject that drove it home for me.

I disagree with Card’s politics and his views enormously. His world is not the kind of world we live in now, hasn’t been for a long time, and hopefully will never be again. But just because I disagree with him doesn’t mean I’m not going to turn my back on a character that means something to me and to a whole lot of other people. I’ll be buying the stories. As someone who just recently got a smartphone and downloaded the DC Comics app right away, I’m excited by all the opportunities to bring comics to mobile devices. If this title sells well, there’ll be more stories by more creators.

Think about that: legions of good creators making Superman stories about whatever aspect of this rich character they want and doing it in a whole new medium. Just imagine the possibilities: heck, the other story slated to be published digitally and in print alongside Card’s (which is cowritten by Aaron Johnston and illustrated by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, incidentally) is by Jeff Parker, one of my favorite comic writers, and Chris Samnee, who drew that really damn awesome Superman picture up there. Who am I to punish these talented writers and artists because of one person’s views?

So I’m going to buy this, simply, because I think Superman transcends anything we can attach to him. Heck, as originally written by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman was a die-hard New Deal reformist and that center-left progressive stance is more or less encoded into his DNA. Add to the fact that there is no way on Earth that DC would let Card use their most popular character to spread his hate and intolerance and really, there isn’t much to complain about. So while I respect and understand the wishes of those who plan to boycott these issues, I’ll be buying them.

Because, in the end, I love Superman and one man and his noxious views can never change that.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s