Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 2nd, 2011 at 3:23 am,

superman action comics 900 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

So by now, unless you’re embarrassingly behind on your incredibly important pop culture news, you’ve probably already heard: Superman’s not an American anymore! Stop the presses! Call the fire department! Or – or – or something! However, the truth, as with most everything, is far murkier.

This whole ordeal arose from the nearly 100-page issue of Action Comics #900 that was released on Wednesday. Being a celebratory issue – indeed, 900 comics are a whole lot of comics – in addition to the main storyline by Paul Cornell, there are several back-up stories by various writers and even a storyboarded screenplay by Superman: The Movie director, Richard Donner.

The 9-page back-up story that set off the controversy in question, “The Incident,” was written by Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer (who has also had at least some involvement with films like Nick Fury: Agent of Shield starring David Hasselhoff, Blade, Blade 2, Blade 3 (bleck), Batman Begins, Jumper, Ghost Rider, and so forth) and drawn by Miguel Sepulveda.

Here’s what you need to know about Goyer’s story before you decide whether or not to be livid about it:

  • Superman, not Clark Kent, stated his plans to renounce his American citizenship
  • Superman, not Clark Kent, stated his plans to renounce his citizenship because he doesn’t want his world-saving/interfering ways to be used against America anymore.
  • This was a back-up story written by David S. Goyer –  not a typical comic book writer.
  • This will probably never again be referenced, by Paul Cornell or anyone else at DC.
  • This back-up story might not even be in continuity.

superman renounces citizenship Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

If DC Comics wanted to actually change Superman’s citizenship in a serious, line-wide fashion, they wouldn’t have let David Goyer write it and it wouldn’t have been nine pages in the back of a milestone issue. They would’ve had one of their go-to writers do the job – maybe Paul Cornell, maybe Geoff Johns. It would’ve been its own storyline with every single major character (Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and so on) making an appearance to say something about, I don’t know — America.

Now, in my opinion, Superman is unequivocally an American icon. It doesn’t make you conservative or right-wing to believe this, because I’m about as liberal as they come and I believe it. By the same token, I don’t believe this was some leftwing conspiracy for Superman to reject America and all of its values; it would be hard for you to thoroughly examine the issue, the story, what was said by Superman, and come to that conclusion.

That said, the story in and of itself – “The Incident” – is pretty flawed. Controversy notwithstanding, it’s one of the more insignificant and arbitrary Superman comics I’ve read in a long while, and that’s saying something if you’ve read JMS’ short-lived Superman run from late last year about the man of tomorrow walking across America. David Goyer’s story references the Iranian protests from 2009 as if they happened yesterday (implying to me that it was written by Goyer back then and has been sitting around his apartment ever since). And yes, I’m aware that there have been Iranian protests since then, as early as two weeks ago even, but this comic seems to explicitly reference the 2009 protests.

Apparently, Superman reads the news, and he can’t stand seeing the Iranian leaders treat their people so deplorably. Fair enough. So, as an act of solidarity, he flies to Tehran and stands between the soldiers and the protestors for an entire 24 hours, letting them throw whatever they want at him in the process.

superman renounces citizenship 2 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

Long story short, the U.S. gets a lot of crap for this move. It’s perceived as an American-sponsored act, because obviously Superman represents “Truth, justice, the American way,” and so forth. Superman tells the President’s National Security Advisor that he plans to go to the U.N. and renounce his citizenship post-haste – this, he hopes, will free him up to do whatever he feels is necessary in the future, and in the process not have his actions reflect poorly upon the good, old U.S. of A.

After reading this story, my primary thought is this: Comic books creators just need to stop shoehorning real events into their comic books in an effort to make them more “important” like the “real world.” It’s rarely, if ever, done in any interesting or satisfying way and it almost always trivializes the events themselves. I’m reminded of the time Doctor Doom shed tears at Ground Zero after 9/11:

111 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

Amazing Spider-Man #36 (Doctor Doom) as drawn by John Romita Jr.

It’s a silly notion to suggest that Superman would go to Tehran and involve himself in the protests in any way whatsoever.  Superman is smarter than that. Hell, he’s got an advanced Kryptonian brain – he would know better than to wade into such a delicate situation without a second thought. In the end, the Iranian government doesn’t give-in to the protestors’ demands - an ending we already knew because it happened in real life. Regardless, as Superman’s flying away from Tehran, he spots a protestor reaching out with a flower in hand toward the soldier in front of him. The soldier takes the flower (oh, symbolism!), and Superman takes credit for this small but amazing development – he even brags about it to the National Security Advisor, which is, again, something Superman would never do in a million years.

superman renounces citizenship 3 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

superman renounces citizenship 4 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

In sum, the media, the Internet, everybody everywhere, have blown this whole situation way out of proportion. This isn’t (in my humble opinion) DC’s attempt to de-Americanize Superman as a character, and there’s no evidence that this story even belongs in DCU canon. I mean, just check out the visual progression of Superman through the years as drawn by Brian Stelfreeze (below) that appeared in the very pages of Action Comics #900. The rightmost iteration of Superman (in the style of the awesome Gary Frank) is the most modern of the six, and he’s the one waving the massive American flag. If David Goyer’s Superman renounced his Americanism, doesn’t this counteract that?

Click to enlarge:

the evolution of the man of tomorrow by brian stelfreeze 570x429 Did Superman REALLY Renounce His American Citizenship?

Instead, “The Incident” is just a terribly ham-fisted tale written by one David Goyer that fell flat on nearly every page. Frankly, we should be more concerned with the Man of Steel writer’s ability to write the character of Superman than whether or not he’s currently American.

Action Comics #900 has already sold out and will likely go back to a second printing. Overall, it’s pretty good – especially Paul Cornell’s work on the issue.

Follow me on twitter @benandrewmoore.

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TAGS: superman, superman man of steel

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  1. daphnie…

    What the…?!?

    Are you actually forming words???

    That was just bizarre…

  2. Ben Moore, I couldn’t disagree with you more about your belief that comic book writers as you put it,”should stop shoehorning real events into thier stories to have them taken more seriously!” (I’m paraphrasing your words, somewhat)

    One of the major reasons why i stopped watching Smallville after season eight, was b/c much of what Clark was doing, his ‘Trials’ or whatever you want to call it, had very little to do with anything approaching the crisis and perils that plague this planet and its inhabitants.There was next to nothing that resonated with me.The writers of Smallville seemed content to produce nothing more than mindless distractionary programming.And in point of fact, the Superman, that Seigel & Shuster created, stories and adventures were very topical, ‘ripped from the headlines’ as they say.What has ever fascinated me about Superman is that it is a brilliant ‘thought experiment’.It is one of the GREATEST, ‘What if’s’ of all time.His name may be Kal-el, but he mirrors Immanuel, which means: God with us or you could say “A god among us.”

    Some say Superman is like Moses or Jesus or that his story is a metaphor of the immigrant expeierence.I personally think it is a modern day telling (in some ways) of Gulliver’s Travels.For on the planet Earth, Kal-el is like Gulliver among the Luliputians.A giant among men.One of my all time favorite Superman Graphic Novels is Superman: Peace on Earth.A favorite episode of the Superman WB Animated Series of mine is,”The Late Mr.Kent” When Clark was dealing with a real world concern, an innocent black man in prison for a crime he did not commit.I guess you perhaps have never heard of how the Superman Radio Show helped fight against the KKK, like wayyyyy back in the 50′s.

    There are really only two worlds.The world without Superman (which we inhabit) and The World With Superman.I seem to recall on 9/11, many a person i spoke to that day said something like, “Wouldn’t it be great, if Superman were real, right now.”

  3. “More to say”

    You see if Marvel and DC Comics superheroes did not suppose to inhabit the same plane of existance that we do.For instance if they lived in a ‘self- segragation as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter does, than they would be exempt from rebuke or criticism, The Boy Who Lived and company don’t get involved in Muggle Affairs, they have enough on thier own plate in there own parallel dimension to deal with as it is ;)

    But Spider-Man and others live, laugh, love, fight and die in New York ( as Captain America did) and other real places.They call it a ‘shared universe’ well that implies that our problems, what we face, is also what they face.I think it would be very interesting to see what someone like Prince Namor’s reaction would be to the BP Oil Spill.

    To get back to Superman, something that i have found kind of odd for some time now is that why on earth would Clark have some undying love for a country, that as Ma and Pa Kent have often said,”If the U.S. Government found you, found out what you could do, they would have taken you from us!” In other words his government sponsored upbringing would have been very different.Also, if Superman truly does fight a never-ending battle against crime and corruption and if he ‘never looks the other way’.How is it possible that a person who is supposedly as good and virtuous as he; would not be outraged at the eroding of so many human rights and civil liberties in this country.As Naomi Wolf points out in ‘The End of Democracy’.Oh but wait, i guess George W. Bush was never ‘The Decider’ in DCU.

    But hypothectically speaking, Superman in all probability might distance himself from America based solely on its ‘Post 9/11′ behavior.For if Superman fights for truth and justice.How could he stand by and do nothing about the injustice of something like ‘Rendition’, Detainee Facilities and the unjust War in Iraq.

    As Professor Dumbledore said,”It takes far more courage to stand up to one’s friends than foes.”

  4. Hi to all old hands, and especially Stan Lee. Much obliged for past effort with the Wiley definition of “Soup to Nuts.” Still seems to fit here, for nobody has included the history of the original Superman comic character. Attempt to popularize GOD by Schuster and partner. And perhaps that renunciatory comic should be pursued, if anyone is trying to use him to convey from general US citizens private expressions of their honest majority sentiments toward others. Many of us feel that we are not just citizens of the US, but also of Spaceship Earth. I also advise someone to sound President Obama on this, and maybe he would want included in the final book too. Note that he has apparently been abroad trying to somehow handle not only US concerns but international ones. We might, since the Star Trek franchise now seems deceased, seek the right to throw in either Leonard Nimoy or Spock and however many classics still survive (original cast). Leonard is involved in APN and definitely getting very close to finally achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, and somehow the acceptance of the two-state solution, as you probably at least know from US mail, and it was shipped globally and also online via APN relay.
    Since God himself is the original Superman, and is definitely global, and does not necessarily favor one particular land over any other, this seems right. However, none of our national leaders should try to become an informal Antichrist character from the NT Book of Revelations and sell out those of his own land and responsibilities toward them. Leaders, shepherds and pastors of individual flocks have their duties by each separate one, all being taxed, and definitely legal citizens with the right to expect full representation of those interest. For the time being.
    It is the best humans are able to do right now globally.
    And I do not appreciate the cleavage on the Wonder Woman sketch. She was never meant to be a slut!!! She was from Africa, Paradise Island, almost invisble on the SE tip on a map. Very hot clime, and the young women there all dressed like that, in the home of the Amazons. Eric Moulton, the downed RAF pilot who ditched near that island, got shipped to England, possibly London, where the REAL one was his nurse. And fell in love with her, but she would have no part of the lecherous advances, etc.
    He highly admired her SOUL, and therefore did a permanent tribute, but also tried to make her highly appealing to men. Alas, as only a lecher could!!! And if ALL guys are this way, something is wrong. Maybe medically, something like cancer of the adrenal or reproductive tract, or a tumor, booting their hormones. Or maybe “tomcats” prowl because they are born hormonally imbalanced and hot to trot. However, I am aware of two such cancerous adrenal studs in my past, and am passing this on all over right now. I suggest sketching them all, with Wonder Woman in Diana Palmer like top, leading some current fictional “slutwalk” somewhere on the Earth. These slutwalks are global protests since in Toronto some gal got raped and apparently out of the blue, with word that a lot of gals are being highly nerved up by guys staring at T&A and apparently some go completely gung ho and rape!!! And a Toronto cop stated to college kids who reported it that if gals don’t dress like sluts, they won’t get raped.
    Unfortunately, if this cannot be resolved, we may as well wipe out females and let you fellows clone yourselves in test tubes, and then at the right time, put the fetuses in your abdomens surgically, where they can incubate, from what I read long ago. And forget all about trying. Or is there any interest in the fact of the fuller development of the female brain lobes, etc.? From her estrogen? And maybe she is not neurotic or psychotic from overdevelopmental based causes, but from high abuse and the destabilizing effect it is definitely known to have. A highly enough abused person, sexually or otherwise, can definitely swing exactly like a very bad, rapid cycling Bipolar2. And a guy can be that way too, if he sits a little godalmighty know it all inviting all the world to loathe him right and left. And GUN for him all out flat and hard. I sit definitely aware of my late dad, Howard J. Smith’s situation for my first 22-25 years at least. And I love that gesture from those nine pages with that rose. I wish we would learn to try getting Superman to play Mother Theresa globally, too, perhaps. Roses are nice, but how many, pray tell, are starving now? While food can be thrown prematurely into dumpsters unspoiled by the thoughtless who might instead try giving it away if it does not sell. And I have tried to mail Obama that perhaps surplus crops might be moved to remote places by cargo jet and railroad with very short short-hauler local trucking filling gaps here. Much more creativity in picture than can cover here. But US should NOT carry world on its back, either. Some come to rip us off as an easy coaster gambit, rather than try to solve problems in their HOME lands, but end up HOME with our dole handouts and so forth. Which has definitely impacted on the current economic front in the US. And as a Dem receiving DCSS emails too, I am sure you fully know what is going on. And I am aware only of my emails and email home pages as news souces, at this time, but others state it is receiving coverage in the news too.
    Anyhow, this is my full opinion about both for the moment. And in the 1960′s over the Bay of Pigs, DC did some comic that JFK approved and went along with. Story where he got in a fix, where he had to be in the same place at the same moment in both identities or definitely end up without undercover status for good. So, he turned to JFK, fully briefed him, apparently, and the Clark Kent that everyone at the Planet saw was actually JFK in a rubber mask. If we could bring in JFK, why not anyone else from real life, somehow, and maybe convey some of his/her honest sentiments and beliefs?

  5. Apologies to Stan Lee for faulty memory. Johnny Hart is the AFL-CIO cartoonist who used to kick back with my US mail definition and to whom I referred the former Oval Office. However it was achieved, the gambit was to give Johnny a day off and see the same definition click back as a reminder to me not to go at it all at a dead run, due to a need for the real movers to check things, figure new matters out, and etc. So, that definition of Wiley’s in “B.C.”, which does no longer matter, due to improbability I am going to ever buy papers regularly again, is “Soup to Nuts: Lunchtime at the Asylum!!” No egotism meant, but thought it might give the country a laugh for a while, and it possibly has puzzled many too.

  6. “I knew bringing this rose to the protest was a good idea! you all laughed at me! don’t you feel foolish now?”

  7. I stopped after the Doctor Doom tears. Why would superman ever involved in inmovent people getting treated like crap by their govenment? Hmmm a boy who was raised ny good hard working people, taught all the best and loving values of what it means to be and American and good person, who also happens to be for all human intents and purposes, indestructable, supersonically fast and refuses to kill under normal corumstances. Yea he would definitely get involved.

    Lets look at this from a deeper point of view. We all love superheroes. My favorite being spiderman: I was, like millions of other similar youth idenitified with the struggles Parker faced growing up. Dont we all as comic book fans? Now that im older, maybe a bit wiser, but definitely more globally aware, I like superman way more. He represents the will do good for others because we can, to the best that we can. Altruism incarnate. It has elements of every major faith system, which is precisely why he is from another planet, and is sp pure hearted to reflect this notion that as an intelligent dominant species on the planet, we still have not proven we can grasp. We all live on the same planet, what the hell are we fighting for? We disagree on ideologies? Rock paper scissors and move on

    Superman is a symbol of doing good deeds. Thats why he says the Ameican way. America despte flaws present in all Nations, despite all the lies, spying, corruption and government abuse, has and continues to do alot of good in this world. Why? Because we feel we should. How? Because we can

    Take 10 pure hearted child and give them Supermans powers and watch what happens in 7 days. Why? Because helping people is good. You dont raise your children to be depressed and apathetic right? Of course, bcause we feel the next generation will always be and do better

    And you know what? If Superman did exist he would have ALOT of issues with America or any country as freedom isnt strictly American, it was just pioneered here.
    Only a real American who loves this country, and wants to see us better for generations to come can admit this. And I dont care if you disagree. Our National symbol is still endangered. Problem

    As a walking physical representation of a deity’s imperviousness, what the hell else should he be combating? And remember, superheroes wete created to gove children hope in a world that isnt perfect and has issues and challenges. If as Superman, Superhero, and comic book fans you can’t understand this, then you have unfortunately outgrown youre hope and dreams. Have fun retiring in a crappy house pretending that the world can’t become better.

  8. I stopped after the Doctor Doom tears. Why would superman ever involved in inmovent people getting treated like crap by their govenment? Hmmm a boy raised by farmers, to be a good American, a good person who also happens to be indestructible. Yeaah i think he would go for protecting the innocent

    Lets look at this from a deeper point of view. We all love superheroes. My favorite being spiderman: I was, like millions of other similar youth idenitified with the struggles Parker faced growing up. Dont we all as comic book fans? Now that im older, maybe a bit wiser, but definitely more globally aware, I like superman way more. He represents the will do good for others because we can, to the best that we can. Altruism incarnate. It has elements of every major faith system, which is precisely why he is from another planet, and is sp pure hearted to reflect this notion that as an intelligent dominant species on the planet, we still have not proven we can grasp. We all live on the same planet, what the hell are we fighting for? We disagree on ideologies? Rock paper scissors and move on

    Superman is a symbol of doing good deeds. Thats why he says the Ameican way. America despte flaws present in all Nations, despite all the lies, spying, corruption and government abuse, has and continues to do alot of good in this world. Why? Because we feel we should. How? Because we can

    Take 10 pure hearted child and give them Supermans powers and watch what happens in 7 days. Why? Because helping people is good. You dont raise your children to be depressed and apathetic right? Of course, bcause we feel the next generation will always be and do better

    And you know what? If Superman did exist he would have ALOT of issues with America or any country as freedom isnt strictly American, it was just pioneered here.
    Only a real American who loves this country, and wants to see us better for generations to come can admit this. And I dont care if you disagree. Our National symbol is still endangered. Problem

    As a walking physical representation of a deity’s imperviousness, what the hell else should he be combating? And remember, superheroes wete created to gove children hope in a world that isnt perfect and has issues and challenges. If as Superman, Superhero, and comic book fans you can’t understand this, then you have unfortunately outgrown youre hope and dreams. Have fun retiring in a crappy house pretending that the world can’t become better.

  9. I stopped after the Doctor Doom tears. Why would superman ever help defenseless people.

    Lets look at this from a deeper point of view. We all love superheroes. My favorite being spiderman: I was, like millions of other similar youth idenitified with the struggles Parker faced growing up. Dont we all as comic book fans? Now that im older, maybe a bit wiser, but definitely more globally aware, I like superman way more. He represents the will do good for others because we can, to the best that we can. Altruism incarnate. It has elements of every major faith system, which is precisely why he is from another planet, and is sp pure hearted to reflect this notion that as an intelligent dominant species on the planet, we still have not proven we can grasp. We all live on the same planet, what the hell are we fighting for? We disagree on ideologies? Rock paper scissors and move on

    Superman is a symbol of doing good deeds. Thats why he says the Ameican way. America despte flaws present in all Nations, despite all the lies, spying, corruption and government abuse, has and continues to do alot of good in this world. Why? Because we feel we should. How? Because we can

    Take 10 pure hearted child and give them Supermans powers and watch what happens in 7 days. Why? Because helping people is good. You dont raise your children to be depressed and apathetic right? Of course, bcause we feel the next generation will always be and do better

    And you know what? If Superman did exist he would have ALOT of issues with America or any country as freedom isnt strictly American, it was just pioneered here.
    Only a real American who loves this country, and wants to see us better for generations to come can admit this. And I dont care if you disagree. Our National symbol is still endangered. Problem

    As a walking physical representation of a deity’s imperviousness, what the hell else should he be combating? And remember, superheroes wete created to gove children hope in a world that isnt perfect and has issues and challenges. If as Superman, Superhero, and comic book fans you can’t understand this, then you have unfortunately outgrown youre hope and dreams. Have fun retiring in a crappy house pretending that the world can’t become better.

  10. I agree with everyone else here. You sound like a classic patriotic —– whos trying to hide the fact that a lot of your pride and identity is drawn from abstract notions like nationalism. I cant stand Rtards who insist that things shouldn’t evolve or that fiction has no right to take on real world issues. You feel this because it challenges you to think differently, don’t be such a little —–, observe the message and instead of trying to argue for some kind of ideological consensus, make your own mind up and move on.

    • Fiction has a right to take on real world issues. Comics have a right to take on real world issues. Comics shouldn’t take on hot button real world EVENTS in an extremely heavy-handed way. There’s a way to talk about 9/11 in comics without having Doctor Doom cry at Ground Zero.

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