War of the Supermen is one of the better comics I had read and very-likely the best of the Superman stories I have. But considering the scarce amount I have that isn’t saying much. One concept that the graphic novel demonstrates quite well is the idea of individual justice over retribution in a way that thoroughly rebukes John Locke’s theory of “Just War” from a Marxist perspective. In the story, General Zod launches a war on Earth after a mad general (Louis Lane’s father) destroys New Krypton murdering hundreds of thousands if not millions. John Locke would have us believe that now the Kryptonians are justified in turning Earthlings into slaves to repay whatever damage they’ve done – in this case, the damage of the utter destruction of a planet and the genocide of a people. How long would it take to pay that one back?
But of course it is not the fault of the citizens of Earth but of a few people in charge of the American military who must be put to death – even those who were just “following orders” of a madman. However, those military forces following order to protect human lives in the most immediate sense are removed from this damnation and are moral actors. Superman’s working within the Kryptonian military to monitor Zod and his heroism in general reminds me of the distinction between the ancient Cynics and the Epicureans.
The teachings of Epicurus are overall sound and very wise, and of course there is great wisdom in being a precursor to Atheism and believing that the Universe is nothing but atoms and there is nothing to be feared in death, for when death is we are no longer. However is “negative Hedonism” and general model of life always seemed to mellow and passive for my liking. There are many moral conundrums that he leaves out by leaving Athens and focusing on living the good life in his Garden. The Cynics however, are far-more expressive of my own temperament of being watchdogs of society and snarling and critiquing with a rapier wit any foolishness of contemporary politics or religion among a great number of things.
Superman may not be a criticizer of modern society, but he does defend it in the most immediate non-preventative sense – which is his main failing. He may see through some of the weaker points of Nietzsche, namely his urge of bloody retribution, but he lacks a Marxist essence to destroy the corruption of bourgeoisie Government and Capitalism that creates the crime he perpetually stops only a fraction of and makes the ideal of John Stuart Mill to have absolute liberty for all men, women and children seem a utopian day dream. The Government throwing marijuana users in jail are is acting far-more unjustly then some meth head stealing twenty dollars from a passer-by’s purse; if for no other reason because it is systematic.
Though Zod represents Fascist military aggression, the reverse of this is Louis Lane at the end representing a stupid gullible pacifist by not believing that her father should be shot on sight and instead should face justice of a corrupt court – even though he very-well will harm others and he will be claimed a hero now that the Kryptonians have killed millions of humans in retribution. In the end no character represents the true moral ideal because no character wishes to radically alter the system that allows this type of Nationalistic warfare, slaughter and suffering. It’s either the Fascist and Neo-Con route of vengeance in the name of security, or naïve unreflective pacifism that we see in Liberalism; represented in Louis Lane and Superman in not radically altering the Governments and other structures of the world which he could easily do. And on the criticism that this would be him being a tyrant and doing unpopular actions: The American and in-effect most other Governments are corrupt democracies that do not listen to their voters – such is the nature of Representative Democracies – and have very-little understanding of or rather little concern for individual liberty in many respects.
Even if they were truly democratic, to argue that evil should be tolerated and reason not implemented because it is not the will of the people to have such justice and potential for prosperity enforced is the stupidity and passivity of Liberal Democracies that allow Right-wing ideologies to prosper through the ignorance and psychology-altering plight that Religions and Capitalism manifest and maintain. Their ignorance of reality is what allows corruption to take place and religious fundamentalists and corporations to eat away at the reasonable and functional – functional in the sense that it serves the public interest – aspects of our Government. That is why the public opinion should be no concern for those who wish to act within the public interest. It may be convenient today for Liberals to point to polls in modern countries such as Europe and America to a lesser extent and say that they are Centre-Left, but the most abused nations of people have the most ignorant opinions and are the most awful, wretched religious people because of the evils that befall them and are corruptive of them. They will fight freedom and prosperity just as the ignorant backwaters Christian in America does. But regardless we must fight for reason, freedom and prosperity by any means necessary. Only in a Government where the resources go towards educating and aiding the People rather than profiting corporations can there be any enlightened people to govern and any real Democracy can exist. Until then we are perpetually in the twilight of Half-free and Half-slave which is the nature of Liberal Democracies.
Oh also the last comic provided in the paperback collection I have is one of the worst pieces of garbage I’ve read in my life. If you want some laughable dialogue that will remind you why most comics aren’t worth reading let-alone buying – read it. But I don’t particularly recommend doing so.