Moore: We Need New Superheroes

Labor News

Photo: DC Entertainment The cover to "Action Comics" No. 1000 was illustrated by DC co-publisher Jim Lee.

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Benjamin Moore on July 8, 2018.

“Superman was the first superhero to introduce Americans to a new role for their government. Unlike the grandiose spectacle of the hero’s current cinematic iterations, Superman’s first appearance in 1938 showed him combating social issues,” writes Benjamin Moore in The San Francisco Chronicle. “In the debut issue of Action Comics, he saved a woman from death row who had been wrongly accused, prevented a domestic abuser from further harming his wife and stopped a gangster from blackmailing a senator.

“Delivering justice, protecting family and stopping corruption, Superman represented the newly expanded New Deal state. His immense power could seem threatening – after all, an unstoppable alien could just as easily be villain as hero – but Superman vowed to use his powers only to advance the greater good and fight pervasive social ills. He had an infallible moral compass and an unquenchable desire to make the world a safer and fairer place. …

“On comic pages, Superman and Captain America championed American self-confidence at a time of international uncertainty. The Writers’ War Board understood this well. During World War II, the US Office of War Information used comic books as propaganda tools to encourage brave and admirable depictions of America’s identity. On the cover of Captain America Issue No. 1, a fearless Captain delivers a knockout punch to Hitler, decrying fascism as ‘the menace of hate and oppression, of tyranny and evil which is sweeping over the world.’ Superman, in turn, sought to raise money for the war by encouraging readers to buy war bonds to ‘knock out the Axis.’

“These characters sold a particular version of the war and its aims: celebrating diversity, domestic cooperation between labor and business and an international role for the United States abroad. Contrasted against the evils of fascism, America became the antithesis to a gruesome ideology espoused by Nazi Germany and its contempt toward freedom, individuality and human rights. …

SF Chronicle OpEd 7/8

About Jeffrey Burman 3293 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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