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!..it never shows up.

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Date: 2011-01-30 11:15 pm (UTC)
btravage: (Default)
From: [personal profile] btravage
I've said this before and I'll say this again, the best Superman stories are always about him getting told of. In his reaction we see the strength of the character.

Date: 2011-01-30 11:28 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Funny you should mention this. The BBC, through the auspices of prolific radio writer and producer Dirk Maggs (Yes, Magno of the post-Zero Hour Legion is named in his honour), actually did create a one-off drama called Superman on Trial which had the Guardians really putting Superman on trial for the same reasons discussed here; interference with human nature.

More details can be found here

Date: 2011-01-31 01:18 am (UTC)
domino_blue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] domino_blue
I hate to ask but do you know where can I buy this? It sounds awesome.

Date: 2011-01-31 02:17 am (UTC)
shanejayell: (Question)
From: [personal profile] shanejayell
Guardians of the universe, not "Guardians of the Galaxy." *lol* Not unless Superman is being put on trial by Marvel. :)

Date: 2011-01-31 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Yeah, this is a pretty good illustration of what superheroes are actually good for. They're NOT here to baby us through life and solve all our problems - they are here to lend a helping hand where it is needed. Most basic problems that plague humanity can be dealt with by those they happen to - not EASILY, necessarily, but it can be done. These are the ordinary things that require ordinary solutions. You don't need a superhero for that. What you DO need a superhero for is when extraordinary problems arise - natural disasters, supervillains, etc. No one expects your average person to be able to handle these things - this is why other countries send aid to places that have been ravaged by earthquakes or tsunamis. Sometimes, people need help - and THAT is what a superhero is for, to give aid where it's NEEDED, not simply where it's wanted. There is a distinct and important difference.

Date: 2011-01-31 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] arilou_skiff
Allow me to pointedly disagree :p

Once you have the kind of power Superman does, you'renot going to be able to sit back an say "Not my business." Yeah, you CAN say that there are things better left for people to figure out themselves, but that too is in a way an excercise of power (in that you're declining to intervene when you could have)

But if Superman sees someone dying that he could save, and does not, then he's responsible for that death. That' the fact of power.

He might argue that there are good reasons to let that person die (some could probably even be agreed with) but the responsibility for that decision is still his.

Date: 2011-01-31 08:13 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Well, he DID, sort of. That's more or less what his whole 'you don't need me to solve your problems' speech was about - he was saying that they had already been on the right road to solving (at least some of) their problems, and that if they'd stuck to Manuel's example and refused to back down, that particular issue might have been resolved without his help. Essentially, he was inspiring them to fix their own lives by shifting the praise to someone else - that sounds like 'acting as a man' to me.

Date: 2011-01-31 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I'm not saying that he should sit back and say 'not my business', I'm just saying that there are some places where he's needed, and others where he isn't. The dying man scenario that you mention would definitely be one of the former - that's what heroes DO; they're there to help. However, there's a difference between 'we're in danger! Somebody help!' and depending on outside assistance for things that really don't require it.
Take this example here. Supes shows up, and someone exclaims "Now you can solve all our problems!" ALL their problems. They want the boss thrown in jail, which is reasonable enough (although he can't do it, 'cause the guy wasn't breaking the law), but they also launch into requests for him to fix their leaky roofs and the like. In short 'make everything better, Superman!' But he CAN'T do that - he could do what they asked, but that's not solving their actual problem. Their problem is that they're poor immigrants being exploited by others, and what's he going to do about that? That's the sort of problem that, when you start fixing it, you can never stop - and that sort of fixing makes people dependent on him, which is a bad thing. When the earthquake knocks down their houses, that's different; it's only being decent to fix them up again - after all, what are they going to do if he doesn't? They're poor orchard workers; they can't afford new houses - but that's because outside forces were at work beyond his or their control, and it'd be unfair to leave them homeless due to such forces when he can restore the status quo. That's what he's good for - when they NEED help, simple, basic help, he'll give it. He can SAVE their lives, he can even help improve their lives, but he can't fix them - that's their job.

Date: 2011-01-31 09:25 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
The Rev. William John Henry Boetcker put together a list of axioms (usually, and wrongly, attributed to Abraham Lincoln) sometimes called "The Ten 'Can't's or "The Industrial Decalogue"

1 - You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2 - You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
3 - You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
4 - You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
5 - You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
6 - You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
7 - You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
8 - You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
9 - You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
10 - You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

9 and 10 are the cases in point here I think.

Date: 2011-01-31 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] arilou_skiff
Actually, the funy ponit is how wrong those are.

1 is wrong on it's face 2 and 3 are basically the same, 4 again depends on the situation, 5 true but only to a very limited extent, 6 is wrong.. It all depens on what you do with your borrowed money, 7 is true I guess, 8 depends if you're talking long-term or short-term and what other option you hve, 9 is debatable (what do you mean by "character"?) and 10 is a tautology.

But really, the point as missed: I'm not arguing that SUperman is neccessarily wrong in not helping those people: Just that it doesen't matter: Because he has the power, he's not really giving them a choice. (Which is the nature of power)

Date: 2011-01-31 09:46 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I should have added that I don't agree with all these points, but I can't agree with your assessment of some of them.

Not sure what's wrong with 1, as many Western economies have shown over the past couple of years, discouraging thrift leads to living beyond your means, which is never a good thing long term.

2 is incorrect ONLY in a closed system and is also true in context, bringing someone strong down does nothing to increase the strength of the weak, who remain as they were before.

3 is not like 2 at all (2is internal, 3 is external. "Strength" is your own, whilst "Help" implies someone doing good for you), and is correct, taking down the big boss does nothing for the little people directly

6 isn't wrong at all, again, as current economic crises will attest.

9 What does anyone mean by character? In this context, strength of conviction and adherence to ones personal principles.

In what way is 10 a tautology?

Date: 2011-01-31 09:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] arilou_skiff
"Living Beyond Your Means" is all depenant on what you're investing in.

2... Well, human society (and more specificaly, politics) IS a closed system. Power is a zero-sum game.

3. Depends on what the big boss is doing, no?

6. THe issue is with people investing in bad things, not in borrowing money. What we've had recently is a massive malinvestment (for various complicated and interconnected reasons)

9. I.. Really can't see that being affected either way.

10. The "shouldn't" part. It renders the entire statement meaningless. Yeah, of course you shouldn't do for people what you shouldn't do for them: That's inherent in the sentence-structure.

Date: 2011-01-31 10:30 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
1 "Living beyond your means" isn't a reference to investment, it's a standard term indicating that you are spending more than you earn.

2 No, "Humanity" is a closed system (at least until an alien society is discovered), human societies are not, as the plethora of countries and power blocs in our world prove. Politics is about relative power levels.

3 Not in principle, no. Taking down the big boss does nothing for the individual within themselves, it simply removes the big boss from the equation.

6 If you're stability is based on money you owe to someone else, it's not really stability per se, as the person you owe the money too has influence and power over your stability.

9 That's the point, if someone is doing everything for you, you'll have no incentive to develop your character, it's encouraging a dependent personality.

10 There isn't actually a "shouldn't" in that one, there's a "should", so, no tautology.

Date: 2011-01-31 10:37 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] arilou_skiff
1. Yes, and that is pretty much a prerequisite for most investment of any scale. (See. Credit markets, italian banking, mercantile revolution, the dutch, etc.)

If it was not phrased as an absolute (eg. "Living above your means is not guaranteed to bring prosperity") that's a different ball-game.

LOTS of people who have ended up filthy rich started out indebted over their ears.

2. Yes, that was my point: Power is a zero-sum game. (unlike say, prosperty or material goods or other stuff like that) If someone gathers more power, someone else becomes more powerless.

3. As mentioned, that depends on what the problem is. Sometimes the big boss IS the problem itself. Again, if the statement would have been qualified with "Not neccessarly" or some such there'd have been no issue, but the statements are absolute.

9. That depends on your convictions in the first place, no?

10. Yes, it's the same thing. You can parse the sentence into "You shouldn't do things that shouldn't be done."

Date: 2011-01-31 10:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thelazyreader
This theme has been explored many times in DC, not just in Superman. The best answer for me was the exchange Supes had with his fellow Leaguers in the Morrison JLA run.

Superman: Mankind must be allowed to crawl up its own destiny.
Flash: Then where do we come in?
Superman: To catch them when they fall.

Date: 2011-01-31 10:58 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
1 Except these are the precepts for dealing with "the little guy" not the one in power. Not the power brokers, but the power brokees.

2 But if someone loses power, the person beneath them doesn't actually GAIN power, usually that goes to the person who did the toppling.

9 IMHO Not really, no. :)

10 Fair point, but the point still stands and is the one most applicable to the OP. Fixing everyone's problems for them does not encourage them to do anything for themselves. It's overprotective parenting more than anything.

Date: 2011-01-31 11:01 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] arilou_skiff
1. If so then it's just meaningless: The powerless are just that, powerless.
2. That's true. Again, the problems with this little conservative screed could have been easily fixed by a few "not neccessarily".

Date: 2011-02-01 10:27 am (UTC)
valtyr: (cap close up)
From: [personal profile] valtyr
the guy wasn't breaking the law

Oh, beating kids who won't work for you is legal in California? Fancy.

Date: 2011-02-01 10:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, hey, I'm not defending the guy - he's a heartless brute, but I don't think bullying his employees is in and of itself a crime, or at any rate not one severe enough to be put in jail for. He certainly DESERVES a stretch in the cooler, but I'm not sure whether or not there would be a legal justification for putting him there. I mean, Supes must know the law pretty well by this point - wouldn't he have hauled the guy off to the pokey if he'd thought there was a chance of him staying there? Plus, when he angrily talks about 'knowing his rights', he sounds pretty confident.
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