Comic books are an incredible piece of escapist art. When I'm thumbing through new issues of SUPERMAN or ACTION COMICS or SUPERGIRL, the 20 or so minutes that I'm consumed in the story contained in those pages are so special. The outside world fades away with an almost pixilated quality and all that remains is that of Metropolis, or National City, or any other fictional place in the DC Universe. And in this day and age, we could all use a little bit of escapism to keep ourselves sane. It's all about self-care!
But this month, I was shocked at how much I appreciated Brian Michael Bendis throwing out the script on what escapist fiction should be. When I cracked open ACTION COMICS #1004, the title page absolutely blew me away. I'm not sure how many of you out there pore over the title page each month like me, but I always love seeing what tiny pieces of information and Easter eggs are tucked away in the hot mess of the desk space of Clark or Lois (those Post-It notes always give me a chuckle). And this month held quite the message for us eagle-eyed fans who do, thanks to Lois Lane's open laptop.
Usually issues of Action Comics include the same generic explanation of Superman's origin story. But this month, instead of the usual introduction about Superman being a beacon of hope and fighting for "TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY," we got a heartfelt and honest message about how Superman's mission has evolved in 2018—and not just in the pages of the comics, but in our real world as well.
If you didn't pause to read the tiny Word doc draft on the laptop screen on the title page, do yourself a favor and read it now. I'll wait.
Done? Good. What Bendis did with just a small space on a title page of all things is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. Under the thinly veiled guise of Lois' new book draft, he put out a call to arms, not about politics or anything divisive, but rather about doing the right thing and fighting for truth, justice and the American way.
No matter your personal beliefs, this is something we can all agree on. Because if the words, "regardless of political affiliation, truth no longer stands as a universal concept everyone agrees on," didn't cause a shiver to run down your spine, then you haven't been paying close enough attention to the real world.
As a journalist, the past few days of news have been downright terrifying. People who have dedicated their lives to uncovering the truth for ordinary citizens have been targeted by those who have been radicalized by lies. And many of these lies are told by officials we're supposed to be able to trust. These are scary times, and we don't have a Superman in real life to save us all from this kind of evil that permeates the hearts and minds of everyday people.
So, while Superman is supposed to be a form of escapist entertainment, I'm not mad at Bendis using his platform to inspire the Superman in all of us. Sure, this was a month in which I wanted to take my mind off the horrors of reality more than usual, but sometimes you shouldn't avert your eyes. Sometimes the heroic thing to do is to keep focusing on what makes you uncomfortable, and facing it with compassion, empathy and patience instead of anger.
Lois said it best: "Even if everything were to rewind back to 'normal' by the time you read this, which it won't, but even if it did, these ideas have been so abused and manipulated that the healing, the attempt to find our compass in this modern age will take years."
There isn't some big climax battle that we can win against evil in the real world. The fight for truth, justice and the American way is fought on smaller fronts, every minute, all across the country. It's in the personal moments between friends who disagree, or strangers on the street. It's doing the right thing, no matter how hard it may seem, every moment you're faced with a tough choice.
In times like the one we're in now where our lack of power can seem hopeless, it's important to remember that our voice still matters. Use yours in a way that would make Superman proud. I know I will.