Monday, August 25, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Mocking The Prez

Recently, on our message board and in last weeks “Words of Questionable Wisdom”, John Babaos discussed JLA #83, its “subtle as a brick” political commentary and the general ill-advisedness of comparing President Luthor of the DCU to the man living in the White House today, George W. Bush.

While I agree with John that the issue was less than wonderful and decidedly biased, I do disagree with a few of the points that he made regarding the arguments behind the issue. Kelly’s story is heavy-handed and one-sided, but I believe that his heart, if not his head, were in the right place.

With John’s words “ideological criticism of government is a sign of a healthy democracy” in mind, I would like to address some of the points that he makes from the other side of the fence. I think I have a unique perspective on this, being an affirmed liberal who has lived in Texas for the past 15 years and had the benefit of seeing Mr. Bush rise from partial owner of a baseball team to governor to the presidency.

  1. Many of the opponents of action in Iraq were / are either the disgruntled anti-Dubya crowd, with others, presumably smaller than the preceding group, opposed to military action of any sort in any situation.

I’m sure there are a few people who hold the Groucho Marx “Whatever it is, I’m against it” attitude in regard to anything George W. Bush has to say. Then again, there are just as many people who refuse to believe anything that I say. Ignoring our comparable levels of fame and media coverage, the problem is the same; you can’t get everyone to like you.

Still, that is not to say that there are people who had legitimate reasons to question our going to war. Indeed, the current evidence suggests that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found and that the United States and their allies jumped the gun in their handling of the whole affair.

  1. It is very difficult for readers to give Kelly's view point a fair shake when the President of the United States in the DC Universe is a super-criminal - Lex Luthor. By even making this comparison, Kelly is indicating that President Bush is a criminal That is outrageous

If George W. Bush knowingly got us into a war using information that was false, than I can think of no better definition of a criminal act. I think it far more likely that incompetence, not malice, was the defining force in getting us where we are. At least, I hope that we were depending on bad information rather than willingly ignoring the evidence to start a war for reasons I’d rather not speculate on.

And the idea of George W. Bush as a criminal is not so outrageous, nor implausible to many of the residents of Texas. Particularly the city of Arlington, my home town, where many people suffered at the hands of some very Lex Luthorish business deals that George W. Bush was a part of. For more information on this, and several other alleged crimes of George W. Bush while he was Governor of Texas, I recommend this site. ( )

  1. If Luthor’s Vice President, the boyhood friend of Clark Kent (Superman), Pete Ross had assumed the presidency for whatever reason, then readers could absorb, digest, and think with more clarity about what Kelly is trying to say about the Bush administration’s actions. Luthor as President hinders his message. Ross as President would have seemed less biased.

Here, I agree completely with John. Having Luthor as the President in this kind of story does bias it a bit towards the anti-war argument that I’m a part of. Everyone knows Lex Luthor is a bad guy. So he must be wrong… I mean, he’s the bad guy, right?

Still, I prefer to think of this not just as a bad political story… but a just plain bad story. While I appreciate the attempt to address the issue and indeed admire those writers who attempt to comment upon modern politics and society in their writings, Kelly really missed the mark here by trying to draw upon the current situation in Iraq.

Realistically, the problems we had with the Iraq should have been a non-issue in the DC Universe. Think about how many superheroes could spot check for weapons of mass destruction. True, most of them would have ethical issues with spying on another country. I’m sure Superman wouldn't x-ray the entire country looking for bombs and the Martian Manhunter wouldn't become invisible or shapeshift into the identity of a weapons inspector. (Although one of his secret identities could be one- now there’s a story idea!) but there are plenty of them who would do it and damn the consequences. Heck, even though their title was canceled, I’m sure the Suicide Squad could be sent in.

Setting the story firmly in the real world also firmly shatters the classical morality play tone of the story. Picture it with Luthor as the Devil, Superman as Everyman and Batman and Wonder Woman as the Angels and you'll see what I mean.

And ignoring all the many moral and political subtext, I have seen nobody who has discussed this book mention how horribly out of character
Lois Lane was written. Lois Lane, from personal experience, has a few hundred reasons not to trust Lex Luthor any further than she could throw him as well as a few hundred reasons to ask her husband to throw him into the sun. Owing to her past with Luthor and whatever information she can gleen from Clark, his superhearing and his connections as Superman to say nothing of her own connections in the media, her keen mind and tough-as-nails Army brat personality… do you think she'd HONESTLY be walking around a supermarket in a panic looking for baby powder and canola oil? Unless it's Thursday Night and she forgot to prepare for the "special treatment" from Clark.

(What? He makes really good Itallian. It's in some back issue. Really.)

Hell, if nothing else she can wait it out in the Fortress of Solitude. She'd probably refuse to, but she could.
Lois Lane is about the last person on the planet who ever has to worry about an end-of-the-world occurrence. If nothing else, even if Lex does wind up causing doomsday, Clark can fly them to another planet.

Still, John is totally right about one thing; though we may disagree, it is important that we discuss these differences in a civilized, intelligent fashion. And I intend to do that next week, when Looking To The Stars takes a detailed look at some of the most famous political comics of all time.

Finally, and on a less political note, keep an eye out on the website, folks. Our New Fall Lineup premiers in one week!

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website.

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