Political Image vs. Political Issues in a Four-Color World

DC Universe: Decisions #2

DC’s superheroes are still trying to track down the telepath who’s mind-controlling people into trying to kill the four presidential candidates, and Green Arrow’s endorsement of one of the Democratic candidates has thrown a spanner into the works. Not long afterwards, things get worse when Guy Gardner endorses one of the Republican candidates, and after that, the floodgates are opened, as just about every superhero starts endorsing their favorite candidates — Vixen, Power Girl, Wildcat, Hawkman, and Plastic Man lean Republican (though Plas is mainly exercising his libido in endorsing the lone female candidate), while Dr. Light, Beast Boy, and Firestorm favor the Democrats. There are still more attempts on the candidates’ lives, and there’s one more surprise endorsement, as Bruce Wayne announces his support for one of the Democrats.

Verdict: A little from Column A and a little from Column B. On one hand, I’m enjoying the story, with everyone trying to track down the would-be assassin. Character interactions seem pretty good — the fight between Green Arrow and Green Lantern is familiar, but it hits all the right notes. And the art for this issue is provided by Howard Porter, one of my fave DC artists ever since he drew Grant Morrison’s “JLA” series. (And speaking of Porter, here’s a really interesting interview about why his work has been so hard to find lately.)

So what are my quibbles about this issue? Well, the entire point of the story is supposed to be about politics, and just about everyone has really shallow reasons for supporting their candidates. Plastic Man likes one of the Republican candidates ’cause he’s a horndog. Beast Boy cites a candidate’s “gravitas” while Wildcat praises another’s toughness. In most cases, all they’re talking about is the candidate’s image — which is, of course, how a lot of folks really do pick their preferred candidate — picking the guy with the best slogan, who looks best on TV, who has the best public relations flacks.

But most of these characters aren’t saying they support a candidate because they agree with their political platform. No one says, “I’m pro-choice, so I support Candidate X” or “I dislike gun control, so I support Candidate Z.” People care about politics because they care about issues, and most of the superheroes don’t appear to care about any issues at all. The closest we get are Hawkman, who prefers his candidate because he has a military background, and Firestorm, who favors one candidate who has experience in international matters.

And one more thing that particularly irritated me — Power Girl’s reasoning for supporting her candidate is “He’ll keep us safe.” That’s a perfectly legitimate reason for someone to support a candidate, but it just doesn’t make sense coming from Power Girl. She doesn’t need a presidential candidate to keep her safe — she’s superstrong and bulletproof, so depicting her as someone who’s been suckered by the “Candidate X will keep you safe” routine is just crazy.

Heck, in Comic Book Land, who keeps you safe? It ain’t a strong military that repels alien invasions, it’s superheroes like Power Girl. Someone launches a nuke at New York? Power Girl’s up there swatting it down. It’s a minor point, sure, but it’s another piece of poor characterization that shows that the writers weren’t really thinking that hard about the sound bites they had the characters spouting.

I reckon I’ll keep reading this series, because I am enjoying the story, but the political content is, so far, just plain dorky. I hope the next two issues improve some in that regard, but I suspect they’ll remain fairly embarrassingly poor…

No Comments

  1. Eric Stark Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 2:36 pm

    I think it might be a telling point about the actual plot then the story itself, that the heroes are only giving superficial reasons for their support.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they’ve been effected by the sought after telepath that is mind controlling people. Said telepath could be trying to influence the heroes into a heated political confrontation. Because other than sex and religion it is the most likely to cause a fight.

  2. scottslemmons Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

    That’s a fairly plausible possibility — it does seem odd that a telepathic assassin wouldn’t try to mind-control the superheroes into doing his dirty work…

  3. Samuel Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

    scott, when are you going to write about this?:


  4. Scott Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

    Well, I wanna read the issue first… 🙂

    There’s tons of interesting comics-related political news out there right now. I’ve been hesitant to put too much political content on the blog right now, but with less than a month ’til the election, I reckon I should start indulging in a bit more political stuff…

  5. Samuel Said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

    I’ll bake you some cookies if you can find a comic with Sarah Palin on it. You betcha!

  6. scottslemmons Said,

    October 9, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

    Actually, I know of a comic with Palin’s picture on the cover! I’ll look around for it at the comic shop this afternoon. If I can find it, I’ll review it; if I can’t, I’ll at least spotlight the cover before next weekend.


  7. Hero Sandwich » The Distinguished Candidates Said,

    October 10, 2008 @ 6:40 am

    […] on a related note, yesterday, Samuel said in comments: “I’ll bake you some cookies if you can find a comic with Sarah Palin on it. You […]