Superman and Batman. They go together like peanut butter and vigilante justice, but these two famous friends are so much more than that. Both the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel have been with us for three-quarters of a century. Their rise and falls have been indicators of our own culture and history, and they have even affected our world as much as our world has affected them. Superman’s optimism and heroics are often contrasted by Batman’s anti-establishment trust and darker overtures. Each has their place in our cultural pantheon, and each rises in popularity during different times of public opinion and events.

Reign of the Superman
Clark Kent is the All-American boy. He is the modest and loving farm-boy who just wants to do right in the world. He wears a colorful costume, not so much to hide his identity, but to give us a symbol of hope. Superman is the person we all want to be, all-powerful, but also all-good. So, it is probably no surprise that the Man of Steel’s fame started way back in 1938, when the Depression era America was starting to relish the effects of the New Deal. It was a time when everyday Americans were starting to hope for something better, something that they created themselves, like a small boy from Kansas leaving his farm to become something greater and bigger. Superman was born in the era of the Depression, created by the sons of immigrants hoping for a better world.

Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s Superman enjoyed his golden heyday. With a comic strip that ran continuously from 1939 to 1966, and the Adventures of Superman radio show, which enjoyed an 11 year run, from 1940 to 1951, the Man of Steel was never far from the public’s imagination. It was in these two mediums where a lot of the Superman’s most famous tropes and cast were developed, Lex Luthor, Kryptonite, Daily Planet, Metropolis, etc. From 1941 to 1943, Fleischer Studios and later Famous Studios produced animated Superman features. In 1948, Columbia Pictures came out with a 15-part Superman live-action serial, followed by a second one in 1950. George Reeves took over the role in 1951 with Superman and the Mole Men. In 1952, he continued the roll into the Adventures of Superman TV show, which ran until 1958.

Culturally, this make sense. America, starting in the 1940’s, was looking for a hero who embodied our better angels. Superman started his career by punching Nazis, but after the war the United States was left as one of two superpowers in the world. We wanted to see ourselves the way we saw Superman, powerful but as a force for good. Also, with the American economy booming after the war we had a lot of opportunities as a society to be optimistic. Those kinds of feelings lend themselves to a hero like Superman, who stands for truth and justice. Even George Reeves believed in the hope that Superman offered. After being cast in the role Reeves quit smoking, because he was afraid children might see him on the street and try to emulate his behavior. Yes, the early days of comic heroes were good for Superman. The same, however, is not necessarily true for Bruce Wayne.

The Darkest Knight
In 1939 and in response to the popularity of Superman, Action Comics wanted more superheroes, and Bob Kane and Bill finger answered that call with the first Bat-Man comic book. The anti0thesis of Superman in every way, Batman was colored in gray and black. He was a vigilante without superpowers. He was  a detective and his comics got pretty violent at times. His stories were darker than that of his colorful counterpart. This was not the golden age of Batman, though. The Dark Knight’s first comic strip did not debut until 1943 and only lasted until 1946. There was a Batman serial created in 1943, which was notable for (1) its inclusion of Robin -who had been introduced by Action Comics in 1940- and for (2) its uncomfortably racist overtones. A second serial was not made again until 1949.

During this time Batman enjoyed enough popularity to become a household name -in thanks to his two serials- but he never reached the heights of popularity that Superman did. Batman’s popularity didn’t really peak until the 1960’s. Hippies, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and all sorts of social problems exploded to the forefront of our national consciousness. The time of the rule-following Superman was over. No longer did we see ourselves as the all-power and all-good nation we once did. No longer were people feeling good and hopeful about the future. Into this fray, entered Adam West who donned the cape and cowl in the now famous Batman television show, and exploded the name of Batman all over the counter-culture.

The Batman portrayed by West was not the dark gritty caped crusader of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, nor the one we know today. This TV version was a knowingly campy mockery of all the tropes of the dark knight and his rogues gallery. It was a formula that not only entertained children, but adults during a time when American society had lost faith in the ideals of the American Way. It was a perversion of Batman, and yet it was also a faithful direction for the character. Ultimately, Batman is a foil for Superman who represents more establishment values and systems, and the same could still be said about the Adam West version. The wackiness of the show illustrated the absurdity of superheroes and their moral superiority and authority -and by extension that of the American government. These ideals -though played down for a younger audience- also bled over into the campy fun of 1973’s Super Friends cartoon.

On Donner, On Burton
Superman, never fully left the American cultural pantheon, though he was dormant in popular culture for a decade or two. He resurfaced in 1978, with Richard Donner’s Superman. It was a movie that leaned fully and sincerely into the tropes and hopefulness of the Man of Steel. Christopher Reeves came to embody Superman for a generation of people, and the movie itself kicked off a revival of Superman for people of all ages. The 1980’s were coming and a so was a New Morning in America. The Cold War was starting to cool down, the Oil Crisis was ended, and Ronald Regan would soon be peddling a new sort of hope for the country. Change seemed to be on the winds and America was waking up to new possibilities. It was a time ripe for people to believe that a man really could fly.

Of course ten years later, that hope was already beginning to wane… Bruce Wayne. Despite more material wealth, unemployment in the 1980’s had never been steady, and the decadence of that era did not affect everyone equally. In 1986, Frank Miller published the Dark Knight Returns, a comic book which served to criticize the American Dream, cast doubts on the pristine image of Superman, and reintroduce the world to a dark and gritty Batman. It was a land mark event, which directly led to Tim Burton’s 1989 movie, Batman. The movie brought the idea of a dark and brooding caped crusader back into mainstream cultural awareness and kicked off a 90’s anti-hero craze in the comic world. Even to this day it still influences how we see Batman.

Unfortunately, both the Batman and Superman movies led to some fairly sub-par sequels in later years, -Ice to meet you!- but perhaps those are the inevitability of success. While Batman began to dominate in the grunge and generation-X-ish times of the 1990’s, Superman moved to the small screen, with Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1993, and later with Smallville in 2001. Both these shows are notable, because they deviate from how we normally look at Superman. No longer were we concerned with the Man of Steel, but instead we began to examine Clark Kent and his relationships with those around him. In a way, it was a revisiting of how we looked at Superman. In the 1990’s America was the world’s only superpower. So what does a nation do when it still wants to claim that it is good and hopeful, and yet it is also solely powerful? It examines itself through the eyes of the everyday mild-mannered citizen. Essentially, we started to associate not with Superman -who was godly- but Clark who was a man trying to figure out what to do with that godliness

The Disappearance of Superheroes
In 1992, Batman: The Animated Series debuted. it was followed by The New Batman Adventures, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and more. Batman TAS, is by far a classic and perhaps one of the most formative cartoons of the Millennial generation. It was a vehicle to sell to toys, but it also blended classic quality Batman storytelling with beautiful animation and excitement. It, along with the Superman TAS set teh high-watermark standard for superhero storytelling -and especially Superman/Batman storytelling- which DC has been hard pressed to match, even to this day… Perhaps we are a little biased.

Batman’s quality continued into the Nolan movies, starting in 2005 with Batman Begins, and disregarding Dark Knight Rises, because Nolan phoned that one in. In 2006, Brandon Routh was recast as the Christopher Reeves version of Superman, and despite it being a faithful recreation it did not go over too well. People were not looking for that kind of movie in the wake of 9/11. Maybe it was terrorism, or modern day cynicism, or stomach indigestion, but in the mid-aughts, Superman  could not keep up with the caped crusader. Batman was the clear winner in a society who had again begun to distrust their government, with Nolan’s movies touching on issues of surveillance, unending Middle Eastern wars, and what it means to do the right thing in a mad world.

This set the stage for our modern day DC dilemma. Batman, became the standard for DC and in 2013, -and mostly in response to some other comic book company’s movie franchises- Warner Bros. released the Man of Steel, but featuring a version of Superman who was less perfect, less colorful, and less good. He was more Batman than Superman, and despite DC following up with movies titled Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Just Another Washed Out Hero Flick, and Justice League of Mediocrity, the DC universe, Superman, and Batman have never been the same. We could go on… and we have… but the biggest take away is that both the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton are at low points in cinema, but maybe they are just victims of their own success.

DC is doing great things on the small screen. Their cartoon movies are always done with quality, and shows such as Arrow, Flash, Black Lightning, and even Supergirl have a sincere fan base. What those things have in common is that Batman and Superman only ever mentioned  in reference or given parts as cameos. In the case of Supergirl, the show has given us possibly he best Superman featured on big or small screens in the last two decades. That is because he can exist as a supporting character without having to carry all the weight of our expectations, while still fulfilling all the needs of a complex main character.

We have reached a time where Superman and Batman work better as reference points instead of characters. Maybe the two big boys have become so mythologically ingrained in society that no one can do them justice any longer. They are like Greek gods, who are best used in stories as supporting characters. Superman and Batman have become ideals we know inside and out. They have become standards of our culture, reflecting our good and bad times, and we each have or own ideas of who and what they should be. They will never go away completely, but perhaps we really do need a break from their stories… for a bit. After all, it has been 80 years.

President Luthor

This week marks one year since the inauguration of Donald Trump, and its been quite a year. And, quite frankly, we’re sick of writing about it. So we have decided to ignore the Donald -if only for one day- and turn to the story of another billionaire business magnate turned President of the United States, Lex Luthor. However, we don’t want you to see this tale as some sort of veiled reflection on our current commander-in-chief. After all, President Luthor was a supervillain, who put his name on buildings, committed multiple federal offenses, colluded with known enemies, and was obsessed with destroying only one or two reporters from the Daily Planet… Quite frankly, we don’t even know how you could draw any comparisons between the two?

43rd President of the United States
The story of President Lex Luthor began after a major crisis in Gotham City. The New Jersey city of Gotham was hit with a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which severed its connection with the outside world, and plunged the people into utter chaos. In response, the US Government destroyed all bridges and highways leading to the city in order to contain the growing madness inside its borders. The government, and especially the President were criticized heavily for the move, and it was Lex Luthor who stepped in and started buying up land to restore. He began rebuilding the city and reestablishing order. Under the direction of Luthor, Gotham ended its hellish six months and rejoined the rest of the United States.

By stepping in to help the forgotten man and rallying the voters that the people in power had abandoned, Lex Luthor was able to ride a populous wave into office. During the campaign, the Man of Metropolis made huge promises about furthering the technological advancement of the country, creating jobs, and protecting it from all alien invaders. Lex Luthor was elected by the common people who believed his words, and a new era began in American politics. Yet, despite his popularity he did have his detractors, most notably Lois Lane of the Daily Planet.

President Luthor made some noteworthy appointments during his time in office, especially Pete Ross as Vice President, and Jefferson Pierce as Secretary of Education. However, he also made some questionable appointments. Among them, Sam Lane as Secretary of Defense and Amanda Waller as Secretary of Metahuman Affairs. Overall, the reaction to President Luthor was mixed. The superheroes of Earth were not happy with his election victory, but remained silent on the issue. The Justice League even forbid any of its members from trying to unseat Luthor. Even Superman found himself bowing to the will of the people, despite Luthor’s already proven history of being a criminal and a con-man.

Crisis of Infinite Presidencies
Early in President Luthor’s term the Imperiax attacked Earth, destroying Topeka, Kansas during the initial salvo of the conflict. Lex Luthor was able to coordinate the United States Armed Forces, Earth’s superheroes, and a number of alien allies -including Apokolips and Warworld- to successfully fend off the attack and defeat the Imperiax. Vowing to keep the USA and the Earth safe from illegal aliens, President Luthor heralded the end of the conflict as a success of his Presidency and made the prevention of more incursions a chief priority of his administration -probably through the construction of some sort of space wall.

However, behind the shining persona, it was eventually proven that President Luthor was responsible for corruption, collusion, and general criminality, all meant to enrich his own pockets. The earthquake that rocked Gotham was Luthor’s fault, caused so he could buy Gotham real estate at reduced prices in an attempt to buy up a majority of the city. When his deceit was discovered by Bruce Wayne, he covered it up and framed Wayne for the murder of the billionaire playboy’s current girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild. During the Imperiax War it was proven that he was aware of the invasion in advance and let Topeka be destroyed so that he might heighten his own status as President. He then traded weapons of mass destruction -a creature named Doomsday- with Darkseid in order to secure the tyrant’s aid during the conflict, as well as several pieces of beneficial technology for his private collection. Lastly, he framed Superman for the existence of a Kryptonite comet that was on course for Earth, and the death of the supervillain Metallo.

During the crisis it was further revealed that President Luthor began injecting himself with a serum made up of Kryptonite and the Venom steroid. The concoction had slowly been making the President lose his rationality and objectivity. It heightened his paranoia and his sense of ego. Any altruism or rationality quickly disappeared, and in the end Lex decided to let the comet hit Earth so that he could rule over whatever was left of humanity. When Superman and Batman finally confronted him, President Luthor injected himself with the rest of the serum and donned an Apokoliptian battle-suit, which he also secretly secured through his collusion with Putin… err Darkseid.

The Impeachment of a President
After Lex Luthor’s mental state, his corruption, greed, and his schemes became public. Superman and Bruce Wayne were cleared of all wrong doings and the President of the United States was impeached and brought up on criminal charges. When all was said and done Lex Luthor served about three years of his term as President, and Vice President Pete Ross took over in his stead to finish his last year. Yet his election will forever be remembered in US history as a time when the electorate put an actual supervillain in office. Moreover, his Presidency will be forever marked by his insanity, his obsessions, his ego, his greed and corruption, and also that he was willing to let a comet destroy three-quarters of humanity rather than admit he was wrong. And so, his term as President ended with jail time and the loss of his precious business.

Now, again, we caution our readers to not try and find any parallels between the story of President Luthor and Donald Trump. After all, one is a two-dimensional-comic-villain whose own ego was so big that he was prepared to let America suffer and fall to dust and ruin rather than admit his own flaws and faults. The other -of course- is Lex Luthor.

Doctor Superman

With recent reports that Justice League is an unwatchable mess, on par with DC’s last unwatchable mess: Batman v Superman: This is a Long Title, we here at The NYRD thought it might be high time to address one of the biggest blue and red elephants in the room. DC’s new Superman is garbage, but that’s not entirely the new DCEU’s fault. Hollywood has never known how to deal with Superman on the big screen. Yet, the answer to fixing the man who stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way may lie with a Doctor in a blue box living right across the pond.

What do You do with a Problem like Clark Kent
The core trouble with Superman is that Hollywood producers want to see him punch things, and in movies like Man of Steel he punched nearly $2 trillion worth of things, and cost the lives of more than 129,000 fictional people. Hollywood essentially tries to shoehorn Superman into an action movie, but at his core, the story of the Last Son of Krypton is not one of violence and explosions. There is a reason that finding a villain who is a physical threat to Superman is hard. He can punch a hole in the fabric of space-time. Writers have long been perplexed how to write a Superman movie, he is too powerful, too perfect, too good, too “everything,” for a compelling story. So instead we have gotten Lex Luthor buffoonery, Earth-rotational reversions, dark gritty uber-violence, and a Martha-plot-device.

So what can Superman learn from the Doctor? Well, they are both god-like beings that came to Earth to save humanity. They are both orphans of now extinct-ish races, they are both effectively immortal, and they have both been essentially adopted by two powerful countries, the US and the UK respectively. Granted there are differences, (the Doctor tends to pick up with whoever happens to be wandering the streets that day, and Superman is a one woman guy,) but at the core of their mythologies their similarities are undeniable.

The Lonely Gods
The Doctor hides it well, but there are flashes of moments when we see the true demons of the great Time Lord. His/Her race is dead, his/her planet is banished in time, and he is the only one left to wander the galaxy. Normally the Doctor hides the pain among a whimsical exterior, but in those briefest moments you see a person in deep personal pain and anguish. Those cracks in the armor not only make the alien more relatable, but they also deliver the appropriate amount of emotional impact. It makes the Doctor more endearing and yet more complex at the same time.

We are not saying that Superman should emulate this kind of behavior -exactly. Superman at his core could never be that dark, but whenever writers do give us a peak beneath the boyscout exterior we tend to get a person who comes off as whiny and who wanders the Earth with a homeless-man-beard for thirty minutes of a movie. Clark Kent will always be somewhat defined by his status as an orphan and an outsider, but unlike the Doctor he never knew his planet or his people.

Instead, Clark Kent had a loving family who raised him and cared for him as their own. Despite his secrets and his pain he still has very real and very powerful love in his life. Playing up the “lonely orphan,” angle  only serves to make him more two-dimensional. Talk to any adopted child, and there are certainly moments of pain, transition, and what ifs, but the greater moments for Clark and those like him are spent with the people who raised him, loved him, and protected him. This is not to say that there is still not an element of pain and longing, but it is a longing for a world he never knew and a life that never was. Superman is a great man whose heart’s desire is to be average, and to make his pain the focus of his story is a disservice to the character and to the fans. So let’s take a note from Doctor Who and leave that pain buried, except for those small special moments of vulnerability when we get to see the man behind the steel. For a really good example of how this should be done, I highly recommend Alan Moore’s: For the Man Who Has Everything.

A Need for Humanity
One of the things that makes the Doctor so appealing is an obvious need for humans, not just in the form of companions, but on the much grander scale as well. With Gallifrey destroyed you get the sense that Earth is now the closest thing the Doctor has to a homeworld. He cares about its inhabitants and the trajectory of its history and future. On the more personal side, its the human companions that keep the Time Lord stable and grounded.

For example take the end run of the tenth doctor, without a companion at his side he lost it. The 10th Doctor tried to play god and paid for it. The writers on Doctor Who seem acutely aware how important these human relationships are for our alien friend. Its a mutual dependency that balances the show and the Doctor. Superman, like his Time Lord counterpart has human companions too, a fact his writers sometimes try to ignore.

Granted it is going to be unrealistic if Jimmy Olsen -no one likes you Jimmy- were to pull Superman’s blue behind out of the fire in the same way that we so often watched Rose Tyler save the day. Yet, we sometimes forget that Superman is Superman because of the people around him. His parents raised him to be a good and caring person. His love of Lois adds a further driving factor to the story, and even more so than the Doctor, Earth is his homeworld while Krypton is just a memory. He fights to defend the rights and freedoms of the people on this planet because he not only has a deep caring for humans, but because they have a deep caring for him. Writers try to isolate Superman, but that is wrong. He’s not Batman, he doesn’t need tragedy and brooding loneliness to do what he does. He fights for humanity out of love, like the love he experiences from his family and friends, -Batman included- You can’t have a Superman story without his supporting cast. They made him and they keep him grounded, same as the Doctor. For some really good examples of the power of Superman’s supporting cast check out John Bryne’s limited series: Man of Steel.

Nobody is Perfect
Whatever you want to say about everyone’s favorite two-hearted Time Lord, he is still just human. Though it doesn’t happen often, he makes mistakes, but his mistakes aren’t like yours and mine. When the Doctor screws up timelines get changed, worlds get altered, and people die. Whether it is something as simple as leaving the TARDIS door open or shutting down a satellite that halts the progress of Earth, the Doctor has been known to make a mess of things, in big ways. Partly this is due to the fact that he is the last of the Time Lords, and all the responsibility is left on his shoulders. He is often forced into situations where he must make snap decisions to save lives. Most of the time he makes the right call, but every once in a while he does something that comes back to haunt him in bad and horrible ways. From a writer’s perspective there is a power to the fallibility of the Doctor. He is the last of a race of beings who used to pride themselves on managing timelines and keeping order in the universe. Now there is only one man left to do that and he’s not perfect.

This, above all else, is desperately needed by the Superman franchise. Superman is always perfect. He always does the right thing. He always makes the right call, but why? He acutely feels the responsibility on his shoulders, even more than the Doctor. He often gets forced into situations where he must make quick decisions, but he never screws up. Now, TV watchers, and movie goers have an expectation of Superman saving the day, but how impacting would it be to see Superman make a decision that saves a hundred lives in the short term, but has unforeseen consequences in the long term? How driven would he be to correct that mistake? How far would he go to absolve his guilt? Would he have to win back the trust of the people of Earth?

Having the morals, powers, and responsibilities of Superman are easy when everything is going great, but its in times of tragedy and self-doubt that those things are really tested and conflict is created. If Superman is a god, than his mistakes will be bigger and much more far-reaching than our own. The innate justice that guides Clark in all things needs to be tested by conflicts that are more important than punching Darkseid in the face. Maybe this is what Snyder was attempting to do with Man of Steel, but it came off as flat and Superman simply appeared uncaring. For the closest example I would suggest turning to the DCAU episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Legacy Part I & II.

Noble Sacrifice
When we talk about a noble sacrifice, we are not talking about the Doctor and Superman giving their literal lives for others -though they both have on a few occasions. For aliens who can regenerate or are near-immortal comic book heroes, sacrificing their lives is the least they do. The greater sacrifice is giving up something personal, which cannot be found again. We see this a lot with the Doctor, when he stands on a beach proclaiming his love for Rose Tyler and knowing that he sacrificed it for the greater good of two worlds; or we see him tearfully wipe the memory of his friend Donna Noble so that she will forget him and be safe. Time and time again we watch the Doctor rip out his own heart just to safeguard his friends and the people of Earth.

Superman, on the other hand, feels very little consequences for his role as savior. We hardly ever see Supes give up something or someone that is part of his long standing history. The closest thing we get, is the sacrifice he makes by hiding the “real” Clark Kent beneath a bumbling exterior. We need to see Superman make the kinds of decisions that require deep personal loss.

For instance, what if he was faced with the decision to save an alien world or Jimmy Olsen? What does he decide? Each will have consequences, both personal and far reaching. What if he had to watch helplessly as Batman went willingly to his death to protect the world? What if Superman had to give up Lois’ love to keep her safe? These are the type of emotional scars that would not only make Superman more compelling, but bring a new layer of storytelling to the same old mythos of the Man of Steel. It might be a little harder for these kind of sacrifices to happen among a cast of characters that has been so fixed in time, but for a good example look at what Nolan did with the Batman/Rachel Dawes relationship. That was new and interesting.

Everything is Going to be Alright
There is an essential feeling that comes from the arrival of both the Doctor and Superman. Its that feeling you get inside -way down in your chest- when the world is turning to hell, everything is out of control, and you realize that there is nothing you can do about it. Then you turn your head and out of some blue box steps the Doctor, or down from the sky comes Superman, his cape flowing out behind him. It’s that moment you want to cheer and leap up, because suddenly you know everything is going to be alright. Its almost a religious experience, as if God himself were to step down from the heavens to battle space monsters and Cybermen. It’s the feeling that we’re not alone, that the universe makes sense, and that for all the bad and horrible crap that’s out there, there is at least one shining beacon of hope.

Maybe more than anything else that is what is lacking in the DCEU’s portrayal of Superman. He does not inspire hope in us. In Batman v Superman: Seriously Who Thought of This Title? He seems to save people with an almost grim and gritted determination, like a factory worker just trying to get through another day. The movies try to tell us that his arrival inspires hope in people, but the audience never feels it. Its not believable in the context of what we know about him. Yet, that is exactly how we should feel when he walks onto the screen.

Both the Doctor and Superman are near-omniscient alien characters, but Doctor Who does a better job at humanizing their lead. The DCEU needs to take a note from their playbook. Superman, after all, is also a man. He can make well meaning mistakes, be haunted by a dark past, have moments of weakness and sacrifice, but in the end he must always be Superman. That is why the Doctor is so powerful, he goes on. Superman should be more like that, flawed but still determined to do the right thing. In Doctor Who, good always wins but it’s not always a clean victory. It’s okay for Superman to not always win, so long as he keeps going on, and keeps inspiring us. A Superman movie should not be about how strong he is or how far he can punch the bad guys. No, it should be about how he refuses to bend, even in the face of his own weaknesses.


Superman is dead, and it looks like the Justice League is on its own.

The American Century is over. We’re going to get a lot of hate for saying that, but the way we see it, it’s a little like climate change: It’s a global shift that is big, has a lot of moving parts, is uncomfortable to think about, and will definitely be something that Trump supporters will deny. When it comes to Europe, the Paris Accords, NATO and more, the world is on its own. We seceded our position as world leader the moment that a minority of us elected a self-invested, egotistical, narcissistic, car salesman with questionable mental stability as President. Most people thought our decline would be gentle and gradual, like an old dog slowly dying in the comfort of its home, but last week Donald Trump brought that old dog out behind the shed and decided to put it out of its misery.

Justice League of Nations
The United States’ position as a superpower and a leader in the free world has been in decline for a while. Factors like globalization, the rise of the European Union, our drop in STEM related fields and education, the accessibility of information and technology, and many many other factors -many of which we initiated or put into motion- have doomed our sole position of dominance. Donald Trump did not cause the decline of American power and influence in the world. That was going on long before he ever put his tiny hands on any piece of legislation, but the factors that got him elected are inexplicably linked to that decline: ignorance, fear, bigotry, scapegoating, corruption, ignorance, and ignorance.

It has become abundantly clear that our of President no longer deserves the title of “Leader of the Free World,” nor does he seem to want it. He wants to be the leader of “Pittsburgh not Paris,” but by doing so he has made America less safe… again. Global cooperative treaties, like NATO or the Paris Climate Accord loose some of their power without the United States, and our country will not survive as a lone ship on the sea of coming change. In the past two weeks, The Donald has gone out of his way to alienate allies, embrace global controversy, and deny even the most basic niceties of international diplomacy. Unsurprisingly, the only country still applauding his efforts is Russia.

We could make some joke where we compare Trump to Lex Luthor, but that would be an unfair comparison. At least Lex Luthor had a plan. Trump is led solely by his impulses and his need for complete self-importance. He berated NATO allies for owing “massive amounts of money,” –which is untrue– and made several statements that prove he may not fully understand what NATO is or how it works. He then made sure to physically push aside the Prime Minster of Montenegro, refused to listen to advice from other world leaders, and forgot to reaffirm Article 5 of the NATO treaty… which is kind of the point of the NATO. Article 5, is the article that assures mutual defense of all allied countries. Of course it came out later, that he may only have failed to endorse it because he just made up his own speech as he went along.

Paris Climate According to Trump
After Trump spent a week arm wrestling our closest allies, and posing like a real-freaking-to-life-super-villain, he then announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. He cited several misleading and incorrect statements about the historic international accord, but basically admitted that he pulled out of the Paris Agreement because he thought people were laughing at us. For the record, Paris is a non-binding agreement that held no penalties or international sanctions, and was signed by almost every country in the world, including China, Russia, and North Korea. Despite what Trump claims, experts believed it would have actually grown the US job market. There are currently 374,000 people in America employed in solar energy, compared to the 160,000 currently employed in the coal industry. Trump is mistakenly focused on saving an industry that employs less people in America than Arby’s restaurants.

By snubbing Paris and the EU, Trump is only hurting American leadership in the world. China, has already begun to take the lead on green energy initiatives, and that is great for the environment, but bad for the US economy. Renewable technologies, resources, and energy are going to be the industries of the future, and by clinging to old ideas, the US is conceding future jobs and influence. One of the reasons for America’s success has always been our ability to invent the future. Planes, cars, telephones, the Internet, smartphones, and a thousand other common everyday items were all first created in America. We created the modern world and that put us firmly in charge of it. Now, we will be playing catch-up, and in ten years the world may be buying solar panels manufactured and invented in China.

The Last Moron of a Dying World
Trump has this fascinating -and dangerous- ability to make decisions in service to two personal deities: narcissism and greed. Any choice he makes seems aimed at stroking his ego or padding his wallet. Yet, he only has a rudimentary understanding of diplomacy, politics, and history. He operates with a very narrowed perception, mostly focused on himself, and that is a dangerous way for any leader and diplomat to make decisions. Take his withdrawal from Paris as an example. He incorrectly perceived it as an economic sanction, and failed to weigh all the other factors surrounding the agreement: environmental, defense, political, and more. Europe and the world will now turn toward China for leadership, which is something that American Presidents have been trying to avoid for decades.

Remember the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty? Think what you will of the TPP, it was not perfect, but it also was not the terrible deal that Donald Trump made it out to be. First of all, it was very good for American farmers, but part of the power of the TPP was not in its economics. It strengthened trading alliance between friendly Pacific nations, while keeping westernized Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea, from needing to rely heavily on China for imports. The TPP weakened China’s economic hold and social influence over Asia, but without it our allies have no where else to turn, which makes them more susceptible to Chinese influence in international political and military decisions. The TPP is also a little moot, as it was dead in Congress before Trump ever took office, but that did not stop him from signing his jagged name to a worthless piece of paper to confirm it, all for some cheap applause… which he loves.

A lot of Trump’s grandstanding on his past international trip seems aimed at his supporters back home: his tough talk with NATO, his pulling out the Paris Agreement, and even his manhandling of world leaders. He was not thinking about what those things would do on the global landscape, he was thinking about how they would play to Joe and Jane Smith at his rally in Ohio, or Missouri, or Mar-a lago. Do you know what other world leader talks tough, rattles sabers, and threatens other nations, all in the sole name of domestic popularity? Kim Jong-un -also any strongman dictator in history- but North Korea is the most obvious modern-day example.

The Daily Planetary Crisis
FDR once said that Americans have nothing to fear, but “fear itself.” Donald Trump tells us we should be afraid of everything, terrorists: the news media, refugees, and basically the rest of the world, but that is absolute bullshit. The United States of America is not a country built on fear. We are the risk-takers, the home of the brave, the land of the rebel. When did we become a country that jumps at its own shadow? When did we become a country that hides behind bans and border security? When did we become a country that kicks our friends and throws out the “huddled masses,” all because we are afraid? That is not America. That is not the America we want to live in, but that is the American vision that Donald Trump offers: A paranoid, fearful America who only sees the rest of the world as enemies or suckers.

Trump has no understanding of “cause” and “effect.” To him it is like the world began on November 9, 2016. We need a leader who brings people together, and not one that gets into fights with city mayors who just suffered terrorist attacks. We can no longer survive with an “every man for himself” attitude, nor can we survive by being petty and mean-spirited toward our allies or our enemies. Superman is not a hero if he only considers his own interests -as we saw in Batman v Superman- because when that happens the Justice League is better off without him. So, maybe -for the time being- the world is better off without us.

In the comics Superman dies a noble death and comes back again a hero. We are suffering an ignoble death, but if we continue on this path there may be no coming back for us.

Science Denial

Kypton was a planet of peace and prosperity. It’s technology was unrivaled, its philosophy beyond thought. It was truly a paradise for the just and a haven for the curious. Yet, among all that knowledge and advancement there was still a blindness. Jor-El, one of their greatest scientists warned of the chain reaction collapsing the planet’s core. The people of Krytpon had pushed their home to the limit. Their utopia was built upon sand and denial, and when Jor-El pointed out their imminent doom they chose to close their ears to the truth. A society that values science chose to deny the findings of their most prominent scientist because they were inconvenient. Krypton paid the price for their silencing of science, so what chance does our planet have?

The Ranting Zone
As you may or may not be aware, this past week Donald Trump and his administration imposed a gag order on several US Government agencies, prominently the EPA, USDA, and the National Parks Service. The order prevented the agencies from sharing things like science findings and climate data with the public. Almost intermediately, most of -if not all of- the gagged agencies created unofficial twitters and rebelled against the order, but that is not the point we are talking about. What is worrisome here is the unprecedented and coordinated move by General Zod… err Trump and his conspirators to silence the scientific community. In fact, the order was so egregious that enough scientists actually rebelled. Now, we do not want to paint all scientists with a broad brush, but politics is not exactly something most scientists willingly engage in. This newest move, however, does not exist in isolation. It comes on the heels of the Trump transition team’s McCarthyian call for the names of people at the Department of Energy who had worked on Climate Change.

What all of this paints is a picture of a Presidential administration that is actively and personally opposed to science. Unfortunately, this tacit and willful misunderstanding is not anything new in American politics. Politicians have been known to deny everything from evolution to Climate Change, but what this new administration brings is a sort of denial-first policy, as if Donald Trump is immune or indifferent to objective facts. This stance would be an incredibly dangerous one for a high school teacher to take, let alone the leader of the free world.

The leaders of Krypton denied the findings of Jor-El, when he brought them proof of the planet’s imminent destruction. They, instead, chose to silence him, and disregarded his findings and his recommendations. When it turned out he was right, it was too late, and only one person survived -well maybe more depending if we’re counting Supergirl, or Krypto, or that stupid monkey. The point is that denying verifiable and quantifiable data has the potential to lead to disaster. Ignoring science and silencing scientists is a road toward ruin and bad SyFy spinoffs. Having a President that doesn’t even want the public to hear the opinions of science agencies because it might contradict what he believes to be fact is the first step toward a scientifically uniformed society. By the way, it is also the first step toward a society that is easily controllable.

The Bottle City of Denier
So, why would an administration or a planetary society want to ignore science? What would they gain from doing so? For Krypton, the answer was peace of mind. According to Paul Applebaum, former head of the American Psychiatric Association, “Denial is the deliberate, often psychologically motivated, neglect of information that would be too upsetting or anxiety-proving to allow into one’s belief system.” For example, look at climate denial. The idea of Climate Change is incredibly scary and an incredibly large issue. As one person, living a comfortable life, it is almost mind-mindbogglingly daunting to think about, let alone begin to make sacrifices for. It is the sort of nebulous boogeyman that most people would simply rather pretend was not hiding under their bed, because the alternative would be too incomprehensible and terrifying. Quite frankly, it is also hard to blame people for their denial. If you’re mind is full of momentary worries: paying the bills, keeping your journalism job, making sure the government doesn’t find out you’re secretly an alien visitor from another planet, etc… It’s hard to keep such larger and uncontrollable worries straight in your head. Its much less taxing to deny that they even exist.

The rulers of Krypton didn’t deny Jor-El’s findings because they were stupid or they hated him. No, they denied what he said because to do otherwise would have meant being force to change from their daily routine. Remember Krypton was a paradise. The people were happy. There was no want or discomfort. It was a utopia and that’s a hard thing to give up, especially in the face of vague threats you can barely perceive. Jor-El wanted the Kryptonian people to evacuate to the Phantom Zone, to leave their luxurious and easy life behind for the harsh unknown of a hostile dimension. When faced with those two choices the Kryptonian rulers chose to simply reject Jor-El’s findings. “He’s highly overrated. Very Sad,” they might have said. “He is not smart. I’m the smartest. I think the best thoughts. I know better,” another might claim. It’s easier to discredit the source than integrate the findings into your own mindset. That is just how denial works. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

The Last Son of a Denying World
Of course, intelligence is hardly a concern in Trump’s America. Anti-intellectualism has been on the rise in this nation ever since Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a fondness for the “wisdom of the common man,” then through the administration of the barely literate Andrew Jackson, and now culminating with the Trump presidency. There has been a myth in America that the college educated elite somehow do not have the best interest of the country at heart, and this label of “elites” very much includes scientists. That is why Trump is now able to do as he wants, including ban Muslim immigration and refugees, which also include foreign scientists and doctors.

Now, we are not saying there is anything wrong with the folksy wisdom of the common man, but there also must come a point where we acknowledge that the prominence of the United States is not built upon the gleeful deniers of science. No, the promise of America -our technology, our accomplishments, our prosperity, the fact that we were able to land humans on the moon- was made possible because of science. In fact, the very concept of America, our Revolution, our way of life is a product of the Age of Enlightenment. We are a country created by college educated elites, and in some ways we have been running away from that fact ever since.

Trump’s attack on the US government science community -and Climate Change in particular- is just another in a long line of science denial. Heck it is almost an America tradition, but it is one we can no longer sustain. This particular tradition needs to be discarded if we are to break the bonds of our self-imposed ignorance. Krypton ignored the findings of their top scientist and it cost them dearly. Their people died along with their planet, but for the United States the end will not be that quick or that painless. No, our fall will be much slower and more prominent. We will slide from the national stage, our leadership and innovation replaced by that of Germany or China. We will become more insular and less willing to accept the criticism of others, holding desperately to the belief that we alone are correct, and that we alone hold the answers to all questions. We will delude ourselves into believing that we are the bearers of absolute truth and anyone who says otherwise will be ridiculed and demonized. In a sense, the country will come to embody our thin-skinned, barely literate President. That will be the new orange face of America if we continue silencing scientist and denying what is in front of us.

Yet, unlike Trump our willful ignorance will catch up with us. The world will warm whether we believe it or not. Sea levels will rise regardless of how much we hide our heads. Then we will finally become like Krypton, nothing but a memory written in the stars of a distant world… With Donald Trump in charge maybe its time we start investing in rocket technology for our infant children.


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Young Justice

We’re going to level with you, on this one. DC Comics hasn’t exactly been hitting home runs the past few years. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Too Long of a Movie Title sucked worse than that time the Batmobile lost its wheel and the Joker escaped because of it. The New 52 comic reboot went so poorly that DC rebooted it again this past year, and quietly whispered a “we screwed up,” so low only Kryptonians could hear it. Even Suicide Squad, their best and halfway decent movie only gave the world a pointless plot and proof that Jared Leto has a blurred sense of reality and propriety. That is why this past week when it was rumored that Netflix was in talks to create a third season of Young Justice, the beleaguered DC fans of the world rejoiced. Unfortunately, that promptly turned out to be a falsehood taken out of context, and that may be the cruelest trick DC has played on us yet.

Gone in a Kid Flash
For those of you unaware of the existence of this amazing gift that is Young Justice, let us be the first to tell you about. If there is one thing DC has always done better than Marvel it is animated cartoons. From the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series to the Justice League DCAU to their cartoon movies, DC has always shined when it came to animation projects. It is probably the one battleground they have yet to yield to Marvel and their lackluster Disney-esque cartoon shows. DC animation has never been shy about bringing in comic story lines, making epic story arcs, delving into characters’ darker motivations, and doing it all with visual flair. However, all of that pales in comparison to Young Justice. If you like superheroes, this is a cartoon that is so good we don’t even recommend that you finish reading this article. You should just call out sick from work, run to your Netflix, and binge the first two seasons right now… Go…

For everyone else still here, Young Justice, took established characters and made them fresh. It even did the impossible and made sidekicks fun again in a mature and well-written manner. The premise of the show is that Robin, Aqualad, Speedy, and Kid Flash start a young Justice League -hence the name- and as they go forward their roster expands and contracts as they confront hardship and triumph. This includes the expectations of their mentors, and all the complicated emotions that come with them. Young Justice has the wherewithal and the impressive ability to create a universe that feels true to DC comics, but is also compelling enough to be believable. These traits are what made it so beloved by fans. Unfortunately, studio executives thought they were the wrong kind of fans… Prepare to get mad.

Young Justice was cancelled at the height of its popularity for several reasons, but mostly because, “girls liked the show.” According to the executives at Warner Bros., serious superhero cartoons were not what they wanted. They wanted wacky and weird superhero shows like Teen Titans Go, shows that better resembled Adventure Time or Regular Show. Their belief was that boys only wanted action and fart jokes, but what put the real nail in the coffin was the explosion of avid girl fans that fell in love with the show. Young women and entire families were suddenly sitting down to watch. It makes sense, considering that Young Justice gave examples of a lot of powerful, confident, and complex female heroines dealing with issues that many girls can relate to: family, relationships, body issues, etc. Unfortunately, for Warner Bros. they were an undesirable demographic, believing that girls would not buy actions figures or other merchandise. So after two seasons, Young Justice was cancelled, even though it was succeeding in the ratings.

Robin from the Rich
As much as we enjoy the humor of shows like Adventure Time, we would also argue that it is not the irrelevancy of that cartoon’s jokes which make make it a success. We also believe that there is room on a child’s cartoon pallet for ridiculous fun and serious action. Kids cannot live on fart jokes alone. Unfortunately, this whole thing only goes to show the true purpose of cartoons in the entertainment industry, to sell toys. Apparently, it does not matter if a show has a great plot, a bevy of amazing characters, or enough heart to make a linebacker cry. It all comes down to merchandising, and that is pretty damn depressing… Also, it explains Michael Bay.

Young Justice was full of bold ideas and incredibly creative characters. It may have been too serious for Cartoon Network and the WB, but its first two seasons have now found a home on Netflix. The online streaming service has been doing a lot to create interesting and worthwhile kids programming. Over the summer they released Voltron: Legendary Defender -and we recommend that you check that out too. A show like Young Justice would fit right in on Netflix and it would be a huge boon to the streaming service, and -quite frankly- to the struggling DC Entertainment company that has not been having a good year.

All we’re saying is that you should definitely watch this cartoon. Maybe if enough people were to stream it that might convince Netflix that it was worth the investment of a third season. Either way, we promise you won’t be disappointed.


In traveling across America there is one thing we are finding more and more of, and we’re not just talking about a patriotic sense of self satisfaction. No, we’re talking about Superman. Yes, it seems like the big blue boy scout is everywhere -of course it helps when you go looking for him, as we have. However, there is something strangely appropriate about the ability to find Superman in the very fabric of America. After all, the Man of Steel is as American as apple pie or red, white, and blue bathing suits.

Cleveland Loves Superman
20160714_153447Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel were born in a poor Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. Both the Shuster house and the Seigel house still stand today, even if they are no longer owned by those respective families. Yet, the current residents and the city of Cleveland have not forgotten their two favorite Sons of Steel. Each house is decorated with Superman figures, artwork, comic panels, and more all in honor of “The Birthplace of Superman.” Even the street signs are emblazoned with the famous “S” symbol and the city erected a placard declaring itself the “Home of Superman,” which is a title worth displaying.

After all, Superman, much like Shuster and Seigel embodied something about the American spirit. The two creators were born the sons of immigrants as Superman himself was born an immigrant. It is a crucial part of the Man of Steel’s identity, but also a crucial part of the American identity. All three left their lives of relative obscurity and made a name for themselves in the big city. Shuster and Seigel eventually landed in New York and Clark Kent eventually left Smallville and ended up in Metropolis.

Metropolis, Illinois
20160718_090454We also found ourselves in Metropolis, though not in the DC universe. We took a detour to pay homage in Metropolis, Illinois, a small town with a big love for Superman. The town square is adorned with a giant Superman statue and surrounded by a Superman museum and tons of memorabilia. The town even holds an annual Superman Celebration, which had often been visited by actors such as George Reeves and Noel Neill, who played Clark Kent and Lois Lane on the original live-action Superman TV show. There is even a statue erected to Noel Neill’s Lois in honor of her frequent visits and love for the small town.

This is an important aspect of Superman, he inspires us to be better. In many ways he is the American dream embodied in a red cape. Whether you live in New York City or a small town named Metropolis, you can look to the example of the Man of Steel as a hero we all want to be. He is something greater than a man, greater than a fictional character. He stands for something, much like the American flag or the ideal of America itself. When a town erects a statue to Superman, they are not honoring a comic book superhero, so much as they are recognizing a symbol that has become so important to so many people.

Maybe the greatest irony of all this is that Metropolis, Illinois is closer to Smallville, and the birth place of Superman, Cleveland, is closer to Metropolis than Smallville. Yet, none of that matters. Because the fiction of Superman has help influence and inspire what it means to be American. Clark Kent may not have been around in the times of Washington or Lincoln, but he has had an impact on the fabric of this country as much as any historical figure, but the true is also opposite. For even as art influences art it also imitates it and as much as the Last Son of Krypton has influenced our world, America has also inspired Superman and his super friends.

The Hall of Cincinnati
In Cincinnati sits the Hall of Justice… well not the real Hall of Justice. You see when the boys working on the old Justice League comics were looking to create the Hall of Justice -home of the Justice League of America- they used the Cincinnati Union Terminal’s art deco styled building as inspiration. Now the real Union Terminal is visited by thousands of nerds every year who want to cosplay and pretend to be their favorite heroes, including Superman. Currently the old Union Terminal has become the Cincinnati’s Museum Terminal and still stands to this day.

The very popularity of the building and the bulk of visitors it receives every year is just another example of how the adventures of Superman and others have shaped our American experience. We look to our heroes not just because of their powers, but because of the examples they set and the lessons they teach. We visit such sites because we want to pay homage to all they have inspired in us and because we strive to be like them. They are beacons of freedom and liberty, and none more so than Superman.

Traveling along the dusty long highways and byways of America it is hard not to encounter the Man of Steel, not just in Cleveland, or Cincinnati, or even in Metropolis, but in all of America. His story and his spirit is something we all share. We as a country and a people want to keep striding to do the right thing, to be better, and to make a better land where everyone can be free and safe. He is the immigrant, the country boy, and even the responsible news reporter. Superman is all of us and none of us. He is the country and the ideal, not because of his powers, but because of who he is as a person and a leader.

Until next time, keep watching our adventures on SnapChat at thenyrd.

Today marks the opening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Just Another Attempt at Cashing in on a Comic Franchise. In preparation for the upcoming movie we have been bracing for the worst, while also trying to stay quietly and irrationally optimistic. Unfortunately, this movie has a tall building to leap in a single bound, and much like Man of Steel and its jaded and sepia toned hero, everything we have been seeing so far does not actually give us any hope.

The New Shifty Too
We here at The NYRD want to have high expectations for this movie. For many of us DC Comics was our first Springtime love. It was our first nerdy kiss, and like a first kiss it probably seems better in retrospect. Yet, it has gotten harder for DC defenders over the years, and that is saying something. Advents like the New 52 and the DC Cinematic Universe are not quite matching up to their Marvel counterparts. Criticism against the parent company of the Justice League is nothing new, but these days it is getting harder and harder to disagree. People have always liked to say that Superman is too powerful, too perfect, and too boring, and we can take that. Yet, the current problem is that one of those people is apparently named Zack Synder.

DC Comics has done everything they could to “improve” the character of Clark Kent, both under the direction of Snyder and in the New 52 comic universe. They have made him angrier, more tragic, and with a super scowl that could melt steel. The bright colors are gone, and is it just us or does Superman look naked without those red briefs? By altering the classic and iconic appearance of the Last Son of Krypton in order to fit into darker sensibilities, DC and Snyder have altered the character, more than they realize. Yet, that is simply a symptom of the larger problem, because what we get in Man of Steel is a bastardized version of Superman who is striving to be nothing more than a Bizarro reflection that wants to hang its foreign frame on the skeleton of Nolan’s Batman. For Hollywood the philosophy of “rinse and repeat,” is often their only strategy. Opening weekend box office sales may have gone “up up and away,” but DC needs to decide if the product they are giving us is truly representative of their past standards or just a momentary knee-jerk reaction to grab some quick cash.

After all, now that you have built a darker world where Superman -a man who literally is supposed to wear hope on his chest- is monotone and brooding, than what is the role of Batman? The great thing about Bruce and Clark is not their similarities but how they balance one another. Similarly their best moments rarely come when they are fighting, but instead when they are working together. Naming a movie Batman v Superman is such a juvenile transparent corporate profit stunt that it is barely made less ludicrous by the fact that they couldn’t even take the time to spell out “versus” or even at least abbreviate it to “vs.” It feels like the movie equivalent of a 5 year old ramming two action figures together and calling it a day, but then again, what else can you do when you have created a universe where your two main characters have the same depressed and violent personality.

The Last Straw of Krypton
Let’s get the obvious complaint out of the way first: Superman kills Zod, and as egregious as that is, it is only the beginning of the problem. In fact, we are a little surprised that Snyder didn’t slow down the reel so we could revel in the violence just a little longer, like Leonidas hacking a Persian to bits. Mr. Synder, we understand  you want to make a grittier and darker version of Superman, but sometimes tarnishing something that is supposed to be shiny and spotless makes that thing into something else entirely. This isn’t Sparta, and Superman is not Batman.

The Man of Steel is meant to be a boy scout. Bruce calls him that all the time, and it is meant as a term of endearment. It’s part of what makes him who he is. You lost a lot of people with that particular head-snapping-stunt, including Mark Waid, who explains, “Some crazy guy in front of us was muttering ‘Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…’ and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, ‘THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,’ and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out, and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after the neck-snapping, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.”

Snyder defends his position saying that this act will be the origin for why Superman doesn’t kill, but that’s not really the point.  That one final act just neatly crystallizes a larger problem. This Superman shows very little regard for human life throughout the entirety of the first movie. Yes, he saves people, but those are all scripted moments. They felt like peace-token offerings meant to placate audiences so that Snyder had an excuse to blow up buildings in the third act, because when the shazbot really does hits the fan we find a Superman who not only ignores the plight of innocent bystanders, but actively disregards the consequences of his destructive battle on the people caught in its path. We can understand the impracticality of stopping mid-fight with the major villain of the movie to try and save bystanders, but it would have been good to see Superman attempt it, despite the impracticality, maybe even because of the impracticality. If we had more examples of Superman trying to hold up a falling structure as people fled, only to be thwarted by a Zod counter-attack, then we might even have felt a little more urgency and even understanding when it came time for Superman’s fateful and final decision.

Superman: Birth Defect
In a non-Synder universe Clark becomes Superman to protect people. He wears a big goofy and bright outfit so people won’t be afraid of him. He does it because he feels this need to make the world a better place and because he is tired of hiding who he is. He does it to bring hope to people and to make his parents proud. In Man of Steel, Clark Kent becomes Superman because Zod forces him into the decision. He doesn’t begin his career as a savior, he begins it as a flying alien who would rather punch things, than stop a few fighter jets from crashing into the downtown area of Smallville.

Ultimately, that is people’s biggest problem with Snyder-man. The Man of Steel that we know and love from comics, cartoons, video games, and Richard Donner movies is a protector, not a warrior. That’s Wonder Woman’s job. Superman should be a beacon of hope who catches falling planes, not a dark avenger who hunts criminals. That’s Batman’s job. That is why the three of them work so well together, they are different shades of the same idea, but if Man of Steel taught us anything it is that DC believes their cinematic universe can only have one bleak and washed out shade of color. Superman shouldn’t need a reason for not killing. He knows how strong he is and how easy he can break things and break the people around him. The real Superman always understood that his powers gave him the responsibility to not do harm, but maybe in Snyder’s universe we can blame this particular flaw on the parents.

In Man of Steel Jonathon Ken expressed a real concern about his son exposing himself to the world, and any parent can understand that. However, you tend to lose audiences when he starts telling Clark that maybe he should let people die. More than the ending, that moment is the biggest let down of the movie. It was a metaphorical neck-snap of the entire Superman mythos. Pa Kent, a man who Clark always admired and revered and wanted to make proud, is reduced to a damned coward. As an aside, it is also worth mentioning that Clark Kent could have easily saved that dog from the tornado while walking at normal human speed. There was absolutely no reason Jonathon Kent had to sacrifice himself, especially because… again… Superman is not Batman. The Man of Steel never needed dead parents to motivate him, if anything it has always been his living parents that kept him grounded and happy.

We cannot be sure what Batman v Superman will add to the mistakes of Man of Steel. It is possible that this movie will hit the mark in ways we cannot even fathom and retroactively justify every decision made in the first movie. Unfortunately, with what we have been reading lately, that hope may be as long gone as Krypton itself. Despite the fact that DC still has award winning cartoons and enjoyable -if not a little campy- TV shows, heroes like Superman have always been easy targets for critics, but this time around we DC apologists may find ourselves facing another indefensible pile of CGI, jumbled plot lines, and frustratingly missed opportunities. For now, we’ll just have to console ourselves over a pint of ice cream and settle for rereading Superman: Birthright and watching old episodes of Justice League Unlimited.

Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a flying illegal immigrant. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has been a hot topic issue for over a decade, but with the upcoming election it is gaining new prominence, thanks in part to our own toupee-wearing version of Lex Luthor. Donald Trump has proven his obsession with immigrants in much the same way that the bald CEO of Luthor Corp both hates and fears a certain undocumented worker at the Daily Planet. Both men even enjoy putting their names on the side of buildings, but this article isn’t about Trump or Luthor or any other super-villain running for President. This is about looking at how modern immigration works for both legal and non-legal residents, because when you start to look at the paperwork, the rhetoric, the costs, and the red-tape, you begin to understand that even the Man of Steel would have problems leaping through them all in a single bound.

The Golden Age of Immigration
The immigrant story has always been a core part of who Superman is, a being come to live in a place where he never feels as if he belongs, but striving to do all he can to help his new home prosper. There is a reason for this. Both Joel Shuster and Jerry Siegel were the sons of Jewish immigrants. In fact Shuster himself was originally from Canada. They created Superman in the late 1930’s, at a time when Jewish immigrants were trying to escape Germany and the encroaching horrors of the holocaust. America -still emerging from the Great Depression- was torn on whether or not accept them. Thus, in 1938 Superman arrived on the scene, an immigrant with extraordinary abilities. We’re not claiming that Superman was created as some sort of political statement about immigration policies, only to point out that we are not the first nor the last generation of Americans to struggle with questions of immigration.


For much of the 18th and 19th century, this country had a fairly open policy when it came to migrants, whether they be German, Irish, or Kyrptonian. It was not until after the Civil War when economic hardships forced states to pass their own immigration laws that things started to become more complicated. In response, the Supreme Court ruled that only the Federal Government could regulate immigration, and regulate it they did. They created laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act, which did exactly what it sounds like. From that point forward laws governing citizenship and immigration grew more convoluted and biased, until 1965 when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act. It ended a 1924 quota system, which heavily favored Western European immigrants over all others, and aimed at bringing skilled workers to the United States whatever their ethnic backgrounds.

The Migrant of Steel
Essentially, the 1965 law ended immigration preferences based on race, sex, or place of birth. It also heralded a rapid decline in white European immigrants. In 1965 European and Canadian immigration made up 60% of the migrants entering the USA. By 1970 that number had dropped to 20%. The total non-Hispanic white population in America declined from 85% in 1965 to 62.2% in 2014. Certain politicians -like Lex Luthor and his orange real-world counterpart- use fear and bigotry as a justification for closing our borders, often claiming Mexicans and other illegal immigrants are coming to take Americans’ jobs, but really we have not been talking about illegal immigration up to this point. The changing racial and ethnic make-up of America is not due to people here illegally, but because of those that came through the proper channels. In fact, undocumented residents make up a very small proportion of the people who enter the United States every year, but you would never know that by the rhetoric of some politicians.

Would it also surprise you to know that only 81% of illegal immigrants are from Latin America? Did you know that the illegal migrant population has actually declined from 12.2 million in 2009 to 11.3 million and has remained steady ever since, or that Mexicans only make up 49% of the undocumented population? When most people think of illegal immigrants they have a clear picture in their heads, and the Lex Luthors of the world often exploit those stereotypes to put blame particularly on Mexico for sending us their “criminals and rapists,” who burden the good people of America.

Superman is an illegal immigrant, and far worse Clark Kent lives each day under a forged birth certificate and a falsely issued social security number. Most undocumented migrants do not have that luxury, but the Man of Steel, on the other hand, is eligible for healthcare -not that he really gets sick- and social security benefits, -not that he really ages- but we don’t think of people who look like Kal-El when we think of undocumented residents? Maybe we forgive Superman because of his abilities, but what if that is not the only reason? What if it has less to do with his heat vision and more to do with the color of his skin? There has always been an ugliness to the American immigration system, one that is often lessened for white immigrants. The more you examine the history of US Immigration policies the more racial and regional biases become apparent, and that is doubly so when it comes to illegal migrants.

Faster Than a Speeding Green Card
You might be saying, “Why don’t they just come here legally, like everybody else?” Current American laws are complex and take a lot of time and money. Not everyone has access to either of those things, especially when trying to escape violence, drought, or starvation. In many cases the people that would benefit most from immigration are the ones that simply cannot do it.

The legal immigration process is fraught with more obstacles than a deathtrap designed by the Riddler. There are only four conditions under which a person is allowed to legally immigrate to the United States:

  1. Already have a family member who is a citizen;
  2. Marry a citizen;
  3. Have a valuable skill set; or
  4. Be a refugee fleeing from a country.

Each of those four criteria come with their own host of problems. For example, marrying an American citizen is not the “easy-street” process that movies and hilarious sitcoms make it seem. Not only do you still need to go through the regular channels of immigration, but your marriage will be evaluated and tested by the government at every turn. Being a refugee is not much easier either. America accepted less than 80,000 refugees last year and the paperwork, inspections, and background checks could take years, even for people in urgent need of relocation. Normal immigrants could wait literally decades to be allowed to enter into the country, and the process takes a lot of money. Medical examinations, interviews, legal consultation, and more interviews. The process is far from straight-froward and the paperwork is often confusing. Mistakes are common and that could mean delays, more legal fees, and even starting again from scratch. Most people will find themselves paying thousands of dollars and could be left waiting for up to 20 years to be accepted. There are over 1.3 million Mexican immigrants waiting on backlog to come to America legally, right now.

We at the NYRD are not excusing illegal immigration, but when your home planet is exploding you don’t always have the time to fill out the proper paperwork. When you live in a place where drug cartels behead people and your child has to subsist on diseased water you probably cannot afford to wait two decades. Where does that leave Clark Kent? An argument could be made for refugee status, or foreign adoption, or even that he has a unique skill set. After all, the immigration policy literally says that they are looking for “aliens with extraordinary abilities.” Yet, Jonathon and Martha Kent followed no legal channels. They forged documents and created false records, offering sanctuary to a literal illegal alien. Does that put them in the wrong? What about Jor-El? Should we demonize that Marlon-Brando-wannabe for not going through the proper channels before sending his baby to Earth? Is the plight of Kal-El so much different than the plight of a child from Honduras or Mexico, whose parents can only hope that they are doing everything they can to send them away to a better world?

Believing a Man Can Fly
Lastly, it is worth dispelling certain notions that people have about illegal immigrants. First off, 69% of Americans, are actually against deporting the undocumented whom are already in this country, and maybe that is because those people understand that illegal immigrants are not “taking American jobs” or “sucking dry the welfare system.” When you logically think about the argument, it seems more absurd than that time Superman flew backwards around the planet. By definition undocumented immigrants are undocumented. That means they do not have a social security numbers or even a birth certificate. They don’t have the proper paperwork to get a driver’s license let alone apply for unemployment, food stamps, medicare, or any of the other systems that certain people claim they are overburdening. Illegal immigrants are already here and they are already contributing. In fact, illegal immigrants only make up 3.5% of the US population, but they make up an estimated 5.1% of the US labor force, and not because they are taking people’s jobs as doctors, lawyers, or journalists with the Daily Planet. Many have to work multiple low-income, highly physical, and hour intensive jobs just to support their families. Another recent study found that illegal immigrants actually pay about 11.8 billion in taxes, with no chance of receiving any of that money back through refunds or services.

Of course, this situation does hurts the rest of us as well. Some estimates say that illegal immigrants cost Americans residents 100 billion each year, but not in the way you think. Illegal immigrants can’t drive because they don’t have driver’s licenses, but on the rare occasion they are forced to drive -whether for work or due to an emergency- and they hit your car, then guess who will have to pay for all the damages. Undocumented residents also tend to avoid hospitals because they are afraid of being deported, which means they only seek medical help for the most dire of problems. Unfortunately, they are not eligible for healthcare, so the cost is shouldered by the hospital who then shifts that burden to other patients. Deporting Clark Kent and other illegal immigrants is not the solution either, as the deportation process is lengthy and costly. The irony here, is that the best course of action is to actually give these 11.3 billion migrants legal status so they can contribute and work in our nation in legal and meaningful ways, because if Superman is meant to teach us anything it is that people can be extraordinary if they are given the right chance.

There have been more than a few studies to prove that immigration works. Immigrants, of any color or creed, help revitalize areas like Detroit. Many do work that native residents often shun, while others start business and bring fresh ideas to boost the economy. Migrants also help keep our country young at a time when modern and developed countries are facing an aging crisis. Places like China and Japan are looking at an aging population, while we will continue have a fresh workforce and young taxpayers. Immigration has shaped this country for the better, but we need to move beyond those old fears and bigotries. America has always been about taking in the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free the rays of a yellow sun that will make them stronger here then they were at home.

Yes, we 100% need to reform the immigration system, but we cannot close our borders, nor forget the people who are already here. To do so would mean a chance on missing out on the next Einstein, Shuster, Siegel, or maybe even the next Superman.

We here at The NYRD are geeks through and through, but we have often resented the fact that geeks are not supposed to like sports. On the contrary, we could not be more excited for the coming football extravaganza taking place this weekend. In fact, we are so excited about our Sunday of nacho dip, over-the-top commercials, and friendly -though technically illegal- betting, that we decided to show our love through comics. Hey, we’re still geeks.

The world of DC Comics is full of fantastic and “super” heroes, but with an equally “super” football game coming up, we here at The NYRD though it would be fun to take some of those fictional DC cities and envision what their football teams might look like. Our artists designed eight helmets, drawing from the DC Comics New Earth timeline -because of course- and they even made a few original teams inspired by some of those fictional hometowns of your favorite superheroes. Click on the gallery below to check out our newest creations as you get ready for this Sunday’s big game. See if you can spot the inspiration for each team’s football logo, and if you like what you see don’t forget to check out The NYRD Shop to find some more inspired football and DC mash ups.

Game on!

The world of DC Comics is full of fantastic heroes and heroines, but even they had heroes of their own, both on and off the gridiron. Every city in the DC Universe has its own flair and feeling, and their own sport’s franchises that captured the imagination of prepubescent superheroes. Now you can be like young Clark, Bruce, Barry, and Hal, and purchase one of four vintage shirts from the Detective Comics Football League. Choose whether you want to support the Metropolis Metros, the Gotham City Wildcats, the Central City Cougars, or the Coast City Sharks. All four teams are from the New Earth timeline of DC comics. So now you can show your colors and support the hometown of your choice. These are the shirts that your favorite heroes wore as they played catch with their fathers in the backyard… except for Bruce… and Hal… Actually, come to think of it, father’s don’t tend to last long in comics.