Glen Weldon, Writr

Writes about books & comics for NPR & elsewhere. Panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour. Unauthor, "SUPERMAN: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY."

Author of the forthcoming "THE CAPED CRUSADE: THE RISE OF BATMAN AND THE TRIUMPH OF NERD CULTURE," due 2015 From Simon & Schuster.

"In a grim coincidence —"

 

" … Adventures of Superman #596 (November 2001), which appeared in comics shops the day after the attacks, featured a second-page panel depicting Metropolis’s twin LexCorp Towers heavily damaged by the events of an intergalactic war, as smoke rose from them. DC informed comics shop that the books could be returned without penalty …

… In Marvel comics, the brace of colorful costumed heroes who make their homes in Manhattan responded to September 11 by showing up at ground zero to pitch in with rescue and recovery. Yet a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was one thing, a Superman quite another. DC was keenly aware that Superman’s Metropolis isn’t the real Manhattan, but instead a shiny, sun-dazzled version of New York City that routinely brushes off missiles and death rays and giant apes without a second thought. DC kept Superman far away from Ground Zero.”

"Yet he showed up there anyway, over and over again, in images posted online by grief-stricken amateur artists: Superman standing amid the rubble of the Twin Towers, weeping or screaming in outrage; Superman standing atop a pile of debris, wounded but resolute, while the American flag flutters and snaps behind him; Superman cradling the body of a firefighter. 

Whether kitschy or bitterly sardonic (Superman sitting at home watching TV while, outside his window, a plane hits the first tower), these images illustrate the extent to which the notions of Superman and the U.S. had become conflated in the minds of Americans. They express, with an unsubtle and uncomfortable plaintiveness, the paradox of an immensely powerful nation rendered helpless in the face of a nigh-unimaginable loss of life: ‘All those things I can do. All those powers. And I couldn’t even save him.’”

- From SUPERMAN: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, Chapter 11, “Faster Than a Speeding Mullet (1994-2001), pp.276-277.

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