New Superman 'Action Comics #41-42' Takes on Police Brutality

Thursday, 02 July 2015 - 4:18PM
DC Comics
Superman
Thursday, 02 July 2015 - 4:18PM
New Superman 'Action Comics #41-42' Takes on Police Brutality
Action Comics #42 came out yesterday, and it concluded a Superman plotline that took on an extremely hot-button social issue: police brutality. With increasing unrest all over the country regarding the police's treatment of minorities, most notably in Ferguson and Baltimore, many have shied away from commenting on the issue, as the topic has become highly contentious. But DC Comics faced the issue head-on in their most recent Superman story, seemingly referencing incidents like Ferguson in the process.

After losing access to the Fortress of Solitude in the spring, Superman is all but de-powered. He still has super-strength, but that's about it, and he is far more vulnerable than usual when his secret identity is revealed to the world. Many are thankful for his good deeds, but some police officers take issue with the fact that he attracts supervillains and it falls to them to "clean up after his fights." In the last issue, the conflict comes to a head when the police raid a "Welcome Home" block party for Superman:

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

From the very beginning, the police's actions are overkill, as they break up a peaceful block party in full riot gear. Superman isn't there, as he is off fighting the shadow monster, but they're already geared up for a fight, and it only takes a small mistake to escalate things:

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Superman then comes back just as the police are about to march on the mostly peaceful resistance with their batons, and in a poignant moment, he admits that he can no longer fight for these people, but he "can still stand with them":

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

But the police take no notice, and they continue on their march, beating the citizens and even an officer who objects to the brutality, an event which is photographed by a horrified Jimmy Olsen:

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Superman makes a personal appeal to the police officers, but is ultimately pushed to his breaking point and is forced to fight back:
 
Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

Action Comics 42 Takes On Police Brutality

This issue is remarkable for its political overtones. Superman attempts peaceful resistance, only to eventually fulfill the police's desired narrative of the "aggressive" alien, but only after he is sorely provoked. It's a powerful, and possibly risky, commentary on recent events.

It could have been problematic to focus on Superman, as he has not historically been lacking privilege in any way. And even now that he is de-powered, he's still better off than any of the other citizens in this situation. But his experience of being de-powered makes him see how harsh the world is for those less privileged than him, and by showing this, the writers have both taken advantage of Superman's "alien" status to draw a parallel to real-life minorities and examined the effects of his privilege.

Action Comics #42 is now out in comic book stores.

Via Business Insider.
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