Editorial: Orson Scott Card Writes for Superman, Stirs Controversy

Orson Scott CardYet another controversy for the Man of Steel has arisen.

DC has made the move to get reknowned science fiction writer, Orson Scott Card, to pen the Adventures of Superman. The first issue will hit the digital work in April and on paper in May. This has many people upset, because of the outspoken nature of Card in his political and religious views, especially that on his stance on gay marriage. He is a part of a group called the National Organization for Marriage, whose work is to try and stop the legalization of gay marriage, he currently sits on the board of directors. He is also a staunch Latter-Day Saint. It’s been said that a lot of his beliefs are laced throughout his works, but having just read Ender’s Game I cannot say that I heard anything that pointed to such beliefs. However, it also puts me at a disadvantage as Card hasn’t been on my radar before having read this book.

Zeus Comics in Dallas has refused to carry the physical comic in their store:

“Orson Scott Card has advocated our destruction multiple times – on marriage equality, relating origins to rape, abuse and pedophilia. Why would I carry someone’s comic book who has that opinion about me? And what’s to make us think that he’s not going to extend that to Superman? Where’s that line going to draw regarding homosexuality – that we’re all tragic characters, and we’re all doomed? That’s not what I want to read, or what I want kids to read, especially not from Superman.”

This is an interesting move for DC as they have been trying to add more LGBT characters into their stories. As closed as I have been to Card’s politics or views, apparently I am in the minority of not knowing. In the interest of fair play, here is an article discussing his views on the subject. I’m not huge on politics, so some of this comes off as a bit out there to me. Other people, whom might have a far better understanding of this, can translate. It starts off quietly enough, and then seems to go a little too far off the rails for me.

Now let me put out my views on the subject. I can’t say I’m Card’s biggest fan, but then I haven’t been fond of the decisions DC Comics have made in the past few years either. The New 52 has wrecked a lot of my understanding of who Superman is and what he stands for. He’s supposed to be the hero I know, but they have returned him to a point where he doesn’t have the Kent’s influence in his life. That was a major piece of things that changed him from the Golden Age persona to the hero I grew up admiring. So, the question then becomes: Why do I care?

Superman EvolutionLet me start off my answer with Superman.   The character evolves all the time.  He always has, and seeing how that evolution has taken place shows why he also got the monicker; the Man of Tomorrow.   The changes ruffle feathers, and eventually the writers find that happy medium with him that bring this true-to-heart version that can make someone believe that a man could fly.  I know before the comics ever showed me this, Christopher Reeve did it.  That assuring smile and the hand reaching out to save the day made me feel like Superman was real when I was a kid.  To this day, whenever I watch Superman: the Movie, I still have that reaction.  It’s because he was the quintessential Superman for the age.   Reading Roger Stern’s and Dan Jurgens’ Superman was a lot of that same feeling.  There have been several other writers over the course of my heavier reading days that I felt a certain loyalty to, but those two alone were a big part of what kept me coming back.  That classic look and a powerful story.   Then someone turns on their own agenda and makes the character their voice for something they want to say.   It always irks me when a writer can change Superman into their own personal spokesman.  I’ll get into that more in a minute, but the bottom line here is that Superman’s more than just a character; he’s a icon.

Now, when it comes to the views of a lot of famous people, I tend to push away the works that rub me the wrong way. Take for example, Mel Gibson’s anti-semitic and Holocaust rants. I do not agree with him on it, I do not like the way he handled himself, and I’ll never understand why he denies the horrors of what happened back then. Having said that, I am a huge fan of Braveheart. I also loved the Lethal Weapon series, and I found What Women Want to be a very funny movie. (Yes, I can be a strange fanboy sometimes). A good actor is a good actor, and I have seen that he can tell a damn good story when he wants to. Would I like to meet the man and shake his hand?  Hell no! I’ve seperated out the characters I’ve liked from the person that he is. That’s just a given.

Even more to the point, let’s take Michael Jackson.   This man has child molestation charges filed against him numerous times.  He was acquitted on some of them, and ended up paying a lot in at least one other.  The man’s strange personality turned quite a few away from him.   This is not a man I wanted to meet, nor would I have trusted him with a child.   That’s just me, some people maintain his innocence even to this day.   However, I will always enjoy his music.  There are some songs of his that I listen to repeatedly, because I had to seperate out the man from the music.   I know there’s a lot of his personal issues in there, but even so, I preferred him getting it out of his system that way than to pull some of the repeated antics he was doing on a regular basis.

In Card’s case, it’s the same thing. After reading some of his stuff and seeing just what sort of guy he can be, I don’t agree with his stances and don’t think I much care for the man. I have gay friends who do want to be married, and I support their right to do so. It’s a symbolism that joins two people together. I’ve never believed it to be so wrong to care about another person that just because they are of the same gender they shouldn’t have the ability to make it official. Then, this is just my opinion, for what that’s worth. Now, as far as his writing Superman, I am curious and, albeit, a little concerned.

Superman has a voice, and when utilized to its full potential, a powerful one. He can make kids see right from wrong, good from evil, and show the line between justice and revenge.  As I mentioned before, some writers try to use him as a political mouthpiece for their own beliefs. In Action Comics #900, such a thing happened when Superman renounced his US Citizenship to become a world figure because he didn’t agree with how America has handled itself. The story had him standing silent vigil over a protest, and because people thought of him as an American hero, the President of the United States felt that his presence sent mixed signals to the world. When that story came out, I was dismayed by the decision to print it, even as just a back up tale to the main book. If anything sent mixed signals it’s that while Superman may be viewed as a “Global Hero”,  he’s always fought for Truth, Justice and the American Way. If he’s no longer an American citizen, then does he still truly believe in that?   What sort of message does it send then?  If Superman doesn’t believe in the American way, then should anyone else?  An adult might cut through the lines and say it’s fiction.  Can you say the same thing of a child?  In real world politics, you can disagree with a war, and even have Superman disagree with it. You pull stunts like this, and it does have cause and effect problems depending on who’s reading it and what they take away from that. If this is what Mr. Card plans to do with it, then I would and will raise hell as to yet another misuse of an icon to further a political statement. That, however, isn’t proven yet to be the case.

If a writer is worth his salt, then he can put himself aside to write an established character as they should be written. It’s difficult, and can make it half-hearted, but then it’s a risk you run when you’re telling a story with a character that might not follow your own code of conduct or logic. However, it CAN be done. I believe in what Superman does, because he can be a voice for great change and something to aspire to. After listening to Ender’s Game, I didn’t immediately think that I’d love to see this man’s take on the Last Son of Krypton. I think he could do a good job with it, because he’s definitely got skills where it counts. I am wary of this, but then I’m wary of a great many things these days. Too many people placing their own dogmas into things not their own for the further advancement of an idealism. Again, I’ve been told that Mr. Card does this a great deal in his own works. I suppose I’ll have to read Ender’s Game again just to see if perhaps I’ll pick up on this. My hope is that DC has some shred of dignity left to have pulled back on the reigns and make sure that this didn’t become a problem.

For what Zeus is doing, I cannot blame them. They have the courage of their convictions to say that they won’t support someone who has gone and denounced a way of life as wrong.  I’m usually the first one to say that I won’t see or read something based on whatever fact or belief I have.  I feel that way about a lot of projects, but to a lesser extent than the owner of Zeus Comics. That is to say, my way of life isn’t being challenged. It’s more the way my favorite characters are being handled that I take umbridge to. In this case, I’m definitely taking the “wait and see” approach. I share in the concerns these days that certain characters are becoming a way of throwing a writer’s opinion around, but I’m hoping that Mr. Card’s professionalism towards this legendary property will keep him from doing so.  Until then, several people are protesting DC’s decision, and petitions are being signed to remove him from the book.    Only time, and Mr. Card’s, skills will tell how this will end.  For DC and Mr. Card’s sakes, I hope all goes well.