In a storyline that launches today with the historic Superman #700 (by J. Michael Stracynzki); Superman, feeling that he has lost touch with America, decides to walk across America to reconnect with his adopted home after a couple of years of cosmic hoopla. I really like this idea, in some ways it serves as a sequel/companion to the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" storyline. To help promote this story, DC Comics has launched a contest. The contest is simple- write an essay as to why Superman should visit your town, and your town will be featured in a future story during this series.
I like this idea. I think it's a good idea, until you get to the execution. The contest is limited to towns within 50 miles of Superman's planned itinerary...
Those towns are:
Salt Lake City
So in his walking tour of 'flyover country', he's missing a huge cultural chunk of the United States- the South.
Where is Norfolk?
Where is Charleston?
Where is Winston-Salem?
Where is Atlanta? Savannah? Tallahassee? Birmingham? Kansas City? Austin?
Where is Memphis? Or flood-ravaged Nashville?
Where, Joe, is New Orleans? Yes, she's falling out of fashion as a cause celebre, but still you'd think that she'd be worth a visit by the Man of Steel, wouldn't you?
I realize that in a finite story arc that it'd be impossible to visit every county in America (except he's Superman, for goodness sakes. Part of what makes him special is that he makes the impossible possible!
In a recent interview in Newsarama, JMS says:
"The America that Superman will be walking through, the path we've chosen for him, takes him through the best and the worst parts of us as a people and a nation. He will be going through pleasant suburban neighborhoods and blighted inner cities...through farmland and the rust-belt, where empty factories mirror the absence of hope...we will show our strengths and our frailties with equal honesty. This is not meant to be a bucolic, homespun paean to blinkered Americana...more like an exploration of the better and darker angels of our nature, in which Superman will find that there are some things he can fix, and some that are beyond even his reach."
I can agree with a good chunk of this, except for what it omits- if you can't find highs and lows in the American South, then you've just labeled the entire region mediocre. If you don't address the still lingering sociological scars from the attempted secession and Reconstruction, you are ignoring what may be the largest wound in American history. I'm not suggesting that ol' Clark Kent have a throwdown with Captain Confederacy over some pulled pork sandwiches, but I do think that they are guilty of some of the same thinking that they've accused others of- to wit:
"I've noticed an interesting disconnect (not with this one but) with some of the interviews that have been coming along in this regard. There's this sense from some in the media that if Superman goes into the heart of America, he's going into hicksville. One interviewer suggested that Superman would be out there listening to Arlo Guthrie and "jumping on trains with hobos," which I think betrays more of how they see Middle America than how Superman sees it."
Mr. Stracynzki, I'm afraid that you've revealed a huge blind spot as well. If America needs the symbol of Superman, as you state so eloquently in the interviews, does that mean by your choice of cities that you don't think that the South needs that symbol as well?
As an exercise for the reader, try paraphrasing Denny O'Neal,as he put it in the aforementioned Green Arrow/Green Lantern 'Hard Travelling Heroes' (Green Lantern #76)". Insert "Southern" in the appropriate places.
However, I seriously doubt DC will take this seriously- even though they tout this storyline as "important" and "re-establishing Superman's relevancy"- they have made it clear that they aren't interested in anything south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Well, if that's the case- as the ever-eloquent Lynrd Skynrd proclaimed: "A Southern Man don't need him around, anyhow."
G'bye, Superman. We'll see you later... when your bosses decide that Texans and Tennesseans, Georgians and Alabamans (Alabami?) are worthy of your presence.