Reign of the Supermen #421: OverCorp's Superman

Source: Action Comics vol.2 #9 (2012)
Type: Alternate EarthIn Grant Morrison's latest issue of Action Comics, the Superman of Earth-23 (in Reign next week!) faces off against a Superman from another Earth (number pending). Here's its story in a nutshell: On a high-tech Earth, Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen build a machine that networks their minds and creates solid thought movies. They decided to make a messiah out of it called Superman, who lasted all of 24 minutes and gave them a tear-inducing ethical code to live by they forgot as soon as he disappeared. So they went to a big corporation for more funding, and sold out the inspirational Superman "brand". By networking 500 "experts", this new corporate Superman would be whatever the zeitgeist wanted him to be. Sadly, they wanted a monstrous anti-hero who conquered other dimensions and ate superheroes.
So what is Morrison saying with this? The metaphor isn't difficult to decipher, is it? Siegel and Shuster as creators, selling an inspirational idea that becomes a global marketing icon, one transformed, corrupted and denatured by a committee. As someone who has just re-imagined Superman, isn't he one of the 500? Or should we perceive some kind of dissent in this story (after all, only issue 9 and already taking a break from the official Superman character)? Not quite as clear as Chris Roberson's breaking with DC over creators' rights issues. Will there be similar repercussions? Or is Morrison too big to burn?

I'm reminded of another story about the way big companies treat characters - the Cerebus/Spawn crossover in Spawn #10 by Dave Sim and Todd MacFarlane. I even did a piece on it a few years back.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I also had the idea that if Clark, Lois, and Jimmy had kept their character, the idea would have simply been stolen from them. I don't keep up on all the comic news, and my impression was that the nu Superman was going to meet President Superman. Perhaps editorial changed that and Morrison was arguing both for S & S as well as himself. That is, they give him the Action title and are already taking control from him. On first read I immediately thought of Seigel & Shuster, but after reading your post--and the Spawn link--I'm wondering if Morrison has been told to approach things differently, as well.

Great Gene Ha artwork. And an all-black Justice League. Odd, but still an interesting take that there are so many black/Asian/etc. heroes with so few being spotlighted in the nu52. Cyborg's sole reason for being in the JL seems to be that he can create boom tubes.

MrCynical said...

Yeah...I dunno. I think Morrison might be in more trouble had he not given those interviews a while back about how good it was that Superman was "Freed" from Siegel and Shuster. So this whole story struck me as insincere and lacking in credibility as far as I'm concerned.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@MrC--possibly Morrison had to do a lock step with the others who got the plum jobs? But I really did see it in a different light after reading Siskoid's post. I think DiDio, et. al., are making him stick to a certain script, and this was his reaction.

As you say, it may have been more "the committee" vs. Morrison instead of vs. S &S. But I'd say a little of both. Great post, Siskoid.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@MrC--I worded the last part badly. If Morrison was mentioning being "freed" from the S&S Superman (which seems odd, as the first few issues had him as liberal activist Superman), I don't mean to imply your opinion of who was being hurt, the estates or Morrison, is you own. I was more saying that Morrison stating that he was freed from restraints and might now be seeing them himself. Hell, I don't know if that's any clearer.

MrCynical said...

Wayne: Yeah, honestly, I don't think the interview is Morrison being a "company man" and toeing the line. I'll grant you that you do have the option of believing which is true: Either he was covering himself then and this is his true feelings, or the other way around. My point is that we will never know for certain. And given that, I'm going to choose not to see him as having credibility on the issue AT ALL.

Siskoid said...

To me, there are two ways to fight inequity in a system/corporation.

Protest it or change it from the inside. I'm not saying Morrison is doing the latter. I'm saying there's more than one way to express your integrity and working for DC is not necessarily an unethical thing to do.


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