Saturday, January 14, 2017

Through the darkness... Hope: The fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way

I've been off the blog for a while. There are a couple reasons for this. I've mentioned before, if you know me personally, you know I am politically active and the election results hit hard. Further than that, everything that's been happening since then - for someone who studies and writes espionage for fun - has been insane. That being said, the election actually threw Patriot-1 Book Two into hiatus... because whatever happens, the world has changed and I kind of want the book to reflect that. I've also started a new book with a new character that is more a response to the rise in hate crimes and America's always troubling past with racism and hatred. I've also been trying to organize some projects for 2017, including The Atomic Thunderbolt. I've been prepping a post about the post-election haze and where my writing is taking me, but then I saw something this morning that gave me hope.

It's a really small thing, it might seem trivial or trite, but when I saw it... for the first time since the election I felt relief. It may only be momentary... it may just be meaningless... but for me personally it was something.

If you know me, if you read this blog, you know Superman means a great deal to me. I've written extensively about Superman, what he means, stands for, his portrayal and more. In 2011, DC Comics launched the New 52 - a line-wide reboot. It was a polarizing move and to me, Superman became almost unrecognizable. It was an attempt to make him edgier and more conflicted but it moved away from what made him great.

Then there was Man of Steel... oh, there was Man of Steel, which in my opinion did a great deal of damage to not only the character, but the overall brand. That continued with Batman v. Superman. Those two films, though it sort of seems pointless now, divided pop culture and fandom like nothing I've ever seen.

However, in 2015 and 2016, I started to notice a shift. In the comics Superman started to seem more like Superman and eventually, DC Rebirth was announced. This would see the return of a more classic Superman from before the New 52 and the ultimate demise of the New 52 Superman.

All of this means nothing to non-comic readers, but DC Rebirth has been a rousing success and the Superman books have been widely acclaimed. It's classic Superman in just about every sense. He's humble, he stands for the moral good... he's the altruistic hero we all know and love.

When DC launched the New 52, they redesigned Superman's costume. The red trunks on the outside were gone and the costume became armor - I always hated the armor aspect. Since then, there have been a number of new designs... Man of Steel... Injustice... even Rebirth... they all brought iterations of the classic outfit, but none of them felt definitive.

And then he appeared on the CW's Supergirl. When the first pictures leaked, it looked like Superman. Tyler Hoechlin looked the part. The suit was the best post-New 52, no red trunks version I had seen. All classic elements with a red belt with yellow accents. It looked like Superman. Then the two-part episode aired and Hoechlin was immediately the best live-action version of the Man of Steel since Christopher Reeve - I would argue better. I wrote about how much I loved his performance.

Fittingly, that was my last blog post before and since the election. Between getting bogged down at work, trying to figure out my own projects and being completely enthralled by the Tom Clancy novel playing out in the news, I just haven't been here for the blog.

But that changed this morning. For a brief moment, I forgot everything. I forgot about the uncertainty of the real world. I forgot about my frustrations of where we are as Americans and as humans at this point in our existence. I opened up my social media feed and there it was.

DC Comics announced they were once again shifting course with Superman, by all analysis restoring a true classic version of the character and they were changing the costume back to essentially the classic outfit without the red trunks.

I am in love with the costume. It echoes the Supergirl look, but it also, for the first time since 2011, feels like Superman in true comic form. The one aspect of the Rebirth costume I wasn't a huge fan of was the blue boots. Coincidentally, last night I tweeted how much better the Rebirth costume looked with red boots as portrayed in Justice League/Power Rangers.

But it was this image, a simple drawing of a classic Superman in what I can describe as a definitive modern costume.... it just made me feel a moment of hope. This image just screams Superman. It reminds me of what he represents both in fiction and in real life... an ideal to strive towards.

As Americans we are flawed, we are imperfect, we are a country and a nation that flows against the river of tribal human nature, but America as an idea... that's worth preserving, that's worth fighting for. I saw this iconic image of this fictional character and I was reminded of what we can be not only as Americans, but as human beings.

During President Obama's farewell address, I was reminded of a famous Superman quote: "You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun."

We face a time of great uncertainty. A literal espionage war is unfolding in front of our eyes, people are losing hope as healthcare is gutted instead of improved upon or replaced, people are concerned about their rights and their well-being and there are some - many - worried that this is the end of liberal democracy in America, and we're seeing the rise of authoritarianism and fascism. Some have likened the man to Lex Luthor - which I find insulting to Lex - or a super-villain.

When I came back to reality after seeing this image of Superman, I thought to myself that while yes the world is changing and there's a great deal of uncertainty... we can still strive for that ideal and we must stand and fight for three simple things:

Truth, Justice and The American Way.