badficwriter: Flying saucer-I WANT TO BELIEVE (Default)
[personal profile] badficwriter posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Been meaning to post this for a while. Felt inspired by ComicsAlliance essay on 'Grounded.' About 5 pages from a 17 page story.

The short story in this issue is sort of a prequel to Superman's introduction to Destiny of the Endless that I posted earlier here. That story is part of the transformation of Superman in the 1980s, from DemiGod who can push around planets and turn back time, to being merely superhuman--despite his powers and abilities, he is still as much a bug to them as any human. At the same time, the story is about the balance of being too 'above' and too much involved in the affairs of a race that were so beneath him as to be like pets.

Elliot S! Maggin's first story was called "Must There Be A Superman?" I first read of it in Maggin's introduction to Kingdom Come. Kingdom Come isn't kind to those ignorant of it's characters; it was a long time before I finally was familiar enough with them to actually get through the book. Once done, however, it blew me away. Superman 247, vol. 1, 1972, became the first book I sent away for. It was cheap enough since I didn't care about condition, just wanted to read it.

The Guardians of the Galaxy have asked Superman to save some galaxy or other, in the course of which, Superman is injured. He spends some time healing on Oa and after, the Guardians ask if he'd like a tour. The Guardians also gossip sneakily amongst each other--they intend to plant an idea in Superman's subconscious! (The Guardians were always evil. Always.)

They show him his adventure on another planet where Superman lectured the natives about the need to change their ways because it was their own polluting tendencies that had caused the crisis, and intergalactic heroes would not always be available.

Superman angrily asks why the rest of the group did nothing to help the boy. No one answers.

Superman takes the boy for a walk. The boy tells his story about seeking a better life, but Superman finds himself thinking of his own background as an immigrant. Clearly, he identifies with the boy and his courage.

At the boy's house, people overwhelm Superman with requests. He tells them what he's going to do.

Suddenly! An earthquake shakes the ground! Roofs fall in! Superman leaps to act immediately, mucking about underground.

Muhaha. They're rubbing their hands under those robes, you just know it.

A longtime comic book writer (the text I can't find right now) has stated that reaching out and helping people is how Superman feels like part of the world. It is the human values of good neighbors and giving back to the community that he was raised with. Restraining himself is literally alienating to him.

And from Gary Engle's essay, "What Makes Superman So Darned American?":

Like the peoples of the nation whose values he defends, Superman is an alien, but not just any alien. He’s the consummate and totally uncompromised alien, an immigrant whose visible difference from the norm is underscored by his decision to wear a costume of bold primary colors so tight as to be his very skin. ... .... ... Superman’s powers–strength, mobility, x-ray vision and the like –are the comic-book equivalents of ethnic characteristics, and they protect and preserve the vitality of the foster community in which he lives in the same way that immigrant ethnicity has sustained American culture linguistically, artistically, economically, politically, and spiritually. The myth of Superman asserts with total confidence and a childlike innocence the value of the immigrant in American culture.

The story is posted elsewhere in it's entirety online, but I can't find a legal right for them to do so so I'm not linking.

Not a popular story, despite it's importance. The focus on philosophy, the criticism of Superman...I also imagine most people disliked the subtext that they were depending on others/God to the point of letting those others/God control their lives to their detriment. (The epitome of this theme would probably be the Church of Superman.) My main disappointment is that though the cover and first splash page hint at a dramatic TRIAL! never shows up.

Date: 2011-02-01 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I'm not sure where assault legally ends and begins - or, at any rate, where it ended and began back in '72, when this was written. Does a slap count as assault, or does it have to be something more significant? I don't know.
I dug out my copy of 'The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told', wherein this is collected, to see if it would shed any light on the situation - and, er, it MIGHT, I'm not sure. There's a panel which isn't included here where the following exchange takes place:

Supes: "And as for YOU, Mr. Harley, the law will... "
Harley: "Let go of me - or I'll have you arrested! I'm boss here - I know my legal rights!"

This is... somewhat illuminating, but not much. It could be that Superman was saying 'that's against the law, you can't get away with that' and Harley was just blustering, or perhaps Superman was the blusterer, trying to frighten Harley into making amends somehow, and Harley was, for all his brutality, legally in the right - as I said, he seems pretty sure of himself. It could be read both ways.
Another factor here, as badficwriter pointed out above, is current events at the time this was written - Cesar Chavez was standing up for field workers' rights, which at that point weren't too great. It's possible that, at the time this was written, someone in Harley's position really COULD smack his workers around like that and get away with it, and it was the injustice of this sort of thing that Maggin was highlighting in the story.

Date: 2011-02-01 12:40 pm (UTC)
valtyr: (diana freaks out)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
I'm quite sure it's a crime. Try slapping and threatening someone and find out. (Don't try that.) Of course, crimes against oppressed classes are rarely treated with equal severity to those against oppressors.

If only young Manuel has some powerful ally who could provide impeccable witness testimony and draw media attention to the crime committed against him.

I really don't think there are laws against stopping a man from beating up his employees, even in the 1970s.

Date: 2011-02-01 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
It sure LOOKS like it should be a crime, I agree, but note that Supes does NOT end up flying away with Harley to take him to prison - a thing which would be very out of character for him, especially in a story like this, if, in fact, it WAS a crime. I dunno - I'm not sure what to think.

Date: 2011-02-01 01:16 pm (UTC)
valtyr: (Blue Emma)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
"Superman isn't arresting him because he's not breaking the law."

"How do you know he's not breaking the law?"

"Because Superman isn't arresting him."

Aristotle take the wheel.

Date: 2011-02-01 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
It's a philosophical quandary!

Date: 2011-02-01 10:22 pm (UTC)
valtyr: (cap facepalm)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
It's a philosophical quandary circular logic!

Fixed that for you.

Date: 2011-02-01 10:50 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
That works for a surprising amount of philosophy, anyway.

Date: 2011-02-01 11:03 pm (UTC)
valtyr: (no thanks)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
No, it doesn't. The fact you think it does means that either you don't understand the concept of circular reasoning, you don't understand 'a surprising amount of philosophy' or as I suspect, you don't understand either.

Date: 2011-02-01 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, I'll frankly admit that a good deal of the philosophy I've heard makes little or no sense to me, so it's probably number two. I DO understand circular reasoning.

Date: 2011-02-01 11:12 pm (UTC)
valtyr: (boo hoo)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
I DO understand circular reasoning.

Then why are you using it?

Date: 2011-02-02 12:13 am (UTC)
divi_d: Very old drawing of my old feline OC Rashida.  (Still my avatar of choice, though :-p.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] divi_d
To be fair, it's not unheard of for someone who understands the concept of circular reason to still fall into the trap from time to time.

By which I mean, I'm fairly certain I'VE falled into the trap of circular reasoning in the past, and I've understood the concept for awhile (and, somewhat ironically, have even been known to have a bit of an unfortunate knee-jerk reaction to it at times XD).

So yeah...

Date: 2011-02-02 12:16 am (UTC)
valtyr: (Tony is Doom)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
Well, yes, but if it's pointed out to you do you then claim it's a philosophical quandary and that a surprising amount of philosophy is circular reasoning anyway?

I mean, we all make mistakes. It's the defence of them that looks so silly.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
In this case, because I'm not sure how to break out of it. I don't know what the law regarding such things was back in '72, and without such knowledge, I frankly have no idea whether Harley was breaking the law or not. I'm not saying that Superman not taking him away is therefore proof of his innocence, legally speaking, but it IS interesting to note that he, someone who makes a career of flying off with the bad guy to put him in jail, did not do so this time - and in comics, that usually means that the bad guy, however bad, has not actually done anything illegal. For a relevant example of this, I would cite Green Lantern's confrontation with the foul slumlord Jubal Slade in the famous 'No Evil Shall Escape my Sight' story, a couple of years earlier - Slade IS, it ultimately turns out, a lawbreaker, but until GL gets proof of this, he can't do a thing to stop him, and has to fly away in a huff while Slade blusters about calling his lawyers. I'm not necessarily saying that the same thing is going on here - maybe Maggin just forgot about Harley - but in a story as loaded with topical relevance as this, it IS notable that nothing ultimately happens to the villain. My conclusion would be that either Harley ISN'T breaking the law, or he is, but Supes feels that it's not his place to deal with him, as the workers are more than capable of standing up for themselves. Maybe it's both.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:36 am (UTC)
divi_d: Very old drawing of my old feline OC Rashida.  (Still my avatar of choice, though :-p.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] divi_d
"... and in comics, that usually means that the bad guy, however bad, has not actually done anything illegal."

I'm not entirely sure of that, though. Often, writers simply don't know what the laws are, or don't even realize the law is what should be guiding the hero (or, in some cases, genuinely believe that heroes should be guided by something else, "better," and so write them that way). (The only reason I say "not entirely sure of that," is because I don't know the actual frequency of this, and as such, whether or not your use of the word "usually" is accurate or not.)

I coulda sworn that was largely the point of the debate here. That the writer might have either botched up, or somehow think Superman should follow stricter restrictions than the law itself, on account of him being more powerful than the normal humans who enforce the law.

On a side note, usually the way to break out of circular logic when it's the only thing you have to go by is to admit you don't know what you're talking about and withdraw (seeing as circular logic =/= information).
Edited Date: 2011-02-02 12:37 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-02 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, yeah, it's certainly a possibility that Maggin simply botched up, and legally speaking, Supes should have been hauling Harley's ass to jail.
And I have kinda been trying to do that - it's just that I keep sabotaging myself by coming up with new arguments just as I'm about to leave the table. It's a sickness, is what it is.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:43 am (UTC)
divi_d: Very old drawing of my old feline OC Rashida.  (Still my avatar of choice, though :-p.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] divi_d
"Well, yeah, it's certainly a possibility that Maggin simply botched up, and legally speaking, Supes should have been hauling Harley's ass to jail. "

Alright, there, see? Progress :-p.

"And I have kinda been trying to do that - it's just that I keep sabotaging myself by coming up with new arguments just as I'm about to leave the table. It's a sickness, is what it is. "

Well, for the sake of civility, I'm gonna admit right here and now: I've... been... there...


Date: 2011-02-02 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I think everyone has, really. And thank you for being civil.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:41 am (UTC)
valtyr: (Cap plays chess)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
Do you actually have any evidence that it was legal to beat people up and threaten them to make them work for you in the Seventies? Why on Earth would you think that?

"Assault is the act of intentional and voluntary causing of reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Actual physical contact is not necessary in assualt, rather assault needs only intent and the resulting apprehension. For example, weilding a knife or yelling the word “snake” to a person whom one knows is in fear of snakes, can be construed as assualt...
...Assault developed in common law, meaning it developed through usage, custom, and judicial decisions rather than from legislative enactment. Modern-day assault statutes closely reflect the ancient common-law definition."

How's that? Assault starts well before actually hitting people, and modern assault charges have evolved out of ancient common law. I hope you'll agree 'ancient' probably means pre-Seventies.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
You're quite right, I DON'T have any evidence to show it was legal. I was simply trying to give Maggin the benefit of the doubt, that's all.
Another possibility that I just thought of - perhaps Supes didn't haul him away because he knew the charges wouldn't stick. I mean, there has always been a fair amount of prejudice against migratory workers, and if Harley's their boss, he may be a fairly powerful man in the community - perhaps by 'I know my rights', he's basically saying 'don't waste your time trying to put me in jail - I'll be out in five minutes'.

Date: 2011-02-02 12:51 am (UTC)
valtyr: (cartoon cap grimace)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
As I said several comments ago, Manuel has a pretty powerful and influential eyewitness right there, and Clark Kent could certainly draw media attention to the case. Surely championing the victim of assault in a court case, and reporting on it, would be better than an inspiring speech and flying off?

Even if the charges were dropped or the case lost, that would still be a story about corruption, and I'm sure Superman could be available for interview on this miscarriage of justice.

Date: 2011-02-02 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, look at it this way - we have no proof that Superman DIDN'T ultimately do this. He does say 'we'll keep in touch' to Manuel, and threatens Harley with the law - one could read between the lines a bit and infer that, although for the moment he was in a 'hands off' mode, the better to encourage the workers' self-sufficiency, he was planning to come back later and see that Harley got what was coming to him. It's just a theory, of course, but...

Date: 2011-02-02 01:21 am (UTC)
valtyr: (Black Bolt)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
We have no proof Superman didn't go back and kill them all, ffs. You can IMAGINE whatever you like. Go post it on Don't present it to me and pretend it's some kind of argument.

You said Superman couldn't arrest the guy because he wasn't breaking the law. I pointed out this wasn't the case. I then spent far too long explaining to you that punching people in the face wasn't legal in the Seventies, because you are, as usual, clinging desperately to your poorly-formed and inaccurate ideas. Having finally gotten you to concede that maybe, actually, assault laws didn't spring into being in 1980, I don't feel like hearing your elaborate made-up saga of How Superman Did Some Really Important Stuff But The Author Didn't Tell Us About It.

Date: 2011-02-02 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Look, I SAID it was only a theory. I wasn't trying to say 'well, it's OK 'cause he obviously flew back and saved everybody afterwards', it was just a theory of what MIGHT have happened, not a replacement for what did.
Can we wrap this up now, please? I'm tired of arguing about it, and frankly, at this stage of the argument, I don't CARE who's right.

Date: 2011-02-02 01:32 am (UTC)
valtyr: (Burn)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
Perhaps if you stopped trying to uphold ridiculous positions, you wouldn't get so tired of it?

and frankly, at this stage of the argument, I don't CARE who's right.

I'm kind of horrified that you still can't tell.

Can we wrap this up now, please?

Well, sure, do I have to call someone and tell them to stop forcing you to reply to me?

Date: 2011-02-02 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I've kept replying to you because I was trying to wrap this up amicably. It's clearly not working, so fine, it's done, it's over with. End of argument.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] valtyr - Date: 2011-02-02 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex - Date: 2011-02-02 02:14 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] valtyr - Date: 2011-02-02 02:23 am (UTC) - Expand


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