Superheroic Leadership Vol. I * No. 2
What’s So Funny about Truth and Justice?
Superheroic Leadership is a light-hearted examination of what superheroic figures have to teach about leadership and what I have learned from their adventures.
They say that Superman is a hard character to write. This is a common mantra among those who follow the Man of Steel. He’s too clean cut. He’s too powerful. He’s too good.
He’s boring, especially in the context of the “real world.”
In the 1990s and early 2000s, anti-heroes were all the rage, heroes who did not force themselves to adhere to moral codes, heroes who would cross any line to serve their vision of justice. The X-Men, exemplified by their banner character Wolverine, were an example of this. The Authority was a team of almost omnipotent characters who were brutal and violent and just. Even the Avengers were recharacterized in this fashion in an alternate universe book called The Ultimates.
How does Superman fit into this world?
But Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo presented a story in Action Comics #775 that underscored why Superman IS Superman.
In this landmark issue, Superman is confronted by a group of “heroes” calling themselves “The Elite.” These characters kill their adversaries, relish in their power and complain that Superman is hopelessly behind the times. They blame him for all the damage caused by villains the Man of Steel has left alive, villains who inevitably escape prisons and wreak havoc on the world. They say Superman is afraid to do what is necessary to protect the world.
Staging a televised showdown with the Elite, Superman appears to unleash violence as only he can, appearing to kill each member of the team (though he secretly saves each right before their “death” using his super speed) and terrifying both the Elite and the world, illustrating the evils of violence unchecked and power uncontrolled. As only Superman can, the hero reclaims the high ground, reaffirms his commitment to his moral code and has the world cheering for him in the process.
What’s so funny about truth, justice and the American way? Nothing.
Superman stands as an example of light not giving way to darkness. He refuses to cross lines and compromise his morality. He is upstanding. He is good.
We need more of this kind of good in our world.