Review: Superman #28
By Andy Frisk
Aug 7, 2017 - 18:23
Writer(s): Peter J. Tomasi Patrick Gleason
Artist(s): Scott Godlewski
Colourist(s): Gabe Eltreb
Letterer(s): Rob Leigh
Cover Artist(s): Ryan Sook
Okay, spoilers abound, but, this article is more a commentary on than review of Superman #28, so it's discussed in length.
The Kents finish up their road trip vacation across America with a stop in Washington D.C. and Gettysburg. Along the way Lois and Clark introduce their son Jon to various monuments to events in American history that helped to define the nation, mostly internationally, but in some instances domestically. Early on in their trip to D.C. The Kents highlight the importance of free speech as an American value, and it's fitting that they do since it is under such attack currently in the real world and most likely their fictional one as well. War memorials, including a lengthy stop at the Korean War Memorial, fill up much of the rest of the trip to D.C. During the trip to Gettysburg, The Kents come across a private family celebration of the birthday of one of their ancestors who died in the Civil War. The family invites The Kents to join them, explaining that it's a family tradition since the young soldier who lost his life there never received a proper burial as his body was never recovered...
That is until Superman finds it with his x-ray vision, tests the DNA, and deposits the bones on the porch of said family with a note encouraging them to put him to rest. Yikes...
Anyway, before the left (of which I consider myself to be-and you would too if you've read any of my articles here) totally trashes the issue for whitewashing American history and glorifying it's wars, and before the right gets up in arms for not giving the Confederacy equal time and explaining their "heritage not hate" garbage, can't we all just get along and agree that this issue isn't about right or left, but about the progress America has made as a nation from isolated slave owning antagonistic neighbor states to (at least until recently) a progressive nation that has contributed much to civilization by way of progressive thought? (Yes, I know liberals, America sucks on the world stage right now and has been wreaking havoc in the Middle East for generations, but that's not all the country has done over the centuries).
It is a spirit of progressivism that fuels the story (again minus the creepy ending). Without the right to freedom of speech, nothing can be accomplished to make the nation better. This is the first lesson that Lois and Clark instill in Jon and it sets the context for every subsequent civics lesson they give him. Without this most important right, America would never have shed the evils of its past and progressed past the civil rights struggle, the War in Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and so on. Yes, there have been, and continue to be, sharp regressions like the actions of the entirety of current administration and the Iraq War, but the fact that we still have freedom of speech and of the press (they go hand in hand and are inseparable) lends the greatest of hope to the belief that this regressive time will be overcome as well, just as other dark times in America's history were overcome as Jon learns throughout the rest of the issue.
Herein is the most important aspect of Superman #28, clumsy as it is storytelling wise. Nothing in this issue, none of the wars won or ended through protest, as well as the final purging of the sin (if not the stain) of slavery on the nation could have been accomplished without freedom of speech and the press. Tomasi and Gleason honor this fact in and with this particular Superman story. Free speech and a free press must come first in importance, and be honored, respected, and understood, for any progressive society flourish.
So, while the issue is a little too much of a "rally around the flag" jaunt for some liberal readers, and is probably not nearly as nationalist enough for many conservatives, it isn't meant to be either. It's meant to be progressive, and on that front it succeeds. Subtly, let absolutely, Superman #28 is a welcome aside that reminds us what really should matter to America.
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DC Comics History: Superman (1964 - 1967: the New Look)
Review: Superman #28