Comics

Robin Was a Red

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I wasn't sure it was possible to write an interesting, funny, and plausible (*) piece on the political preferences of superheroes, but Jim Henley has proven it can be done. A few samples:

Spider-Man: "find Objectivism on your political map; now go to the opposite spot."

The Silver Surfer: "the Surfer's a hippie. He dropped out of the war (finding planets for Galactus to eat) and tried to bring peace and love. Of course, recently he's gone back to finding planets for Galactus to eat, so, Yuppie I guess."

The Thing: "He's a Jewish New Yorker who has never written for Commentary. You have to assume he's a Democrat until proven otherwise."

[Via Rob McDougall]

* Within the boundaries of fiction, of course. Fantasy fiction about superhuman crimefighters with capes. OK, strike "plausible."

NEXT: Let the Games of the Milli-Vanilli Olympiad Begin!

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  1. Superheroes don’t vote; they level the building.

  2. Spider-Man: “find Objectivism on your political map; now go to the opposite spot.”

    This goes along with my tongue-in-cheek theory that Steve Ditko intended Spider-Man as an example of what not to do.

  3. Damnit. I hate when I forget to change my name back after a joke post.

  4. Iron Man – drunken arms manufacturer – GOP.

  5. Objectivism isn’t on a political map.

  6. The Invisible Woman – Libertarian

    After years of lurking, I come out for a cheap shot.

  7. Objectivism isn’t on a political map.

    There is no correspondence between the map and the territory, but that doesn’t matter. Objectivism owns *all* the territory.

    Or so they say.

  8. Henley’s takes are pretty good, except I’d never go with Milelr’s view of Supes.

    I’m going to be so gauche as to quote a USENET post on this topic I made last century:

    Here’s my take:

    Superman

    In the 30’s & 40’s he’s a New Deal Democrat.

    In the 1950’s he’s an Eisenhower Republican. (Hey, Ike was from
    Kansas!)

    In the 1960’s he’s a New Frontier Democrat, supporting Civil Rights.

    In the late 60’s and early 70’s he’s just confused. He’s somewhere on
    the “Rockefeller Republican to Scoop Jackson Democrat” region of
    the political map. “Working within the system” is important to him,
    even when he would like something reformed.

    Post-Nixon, Kal-el is pretty apolitical, as many Americans were.

    Before the Byrne reboot, Supes had adopted the attitude, prominent in
    the work of Denny O’Neill and Elliot S! Maggin, that as an immigrant
    alien, he shouldn’t try to overly influence Earth’s cultural and
    political development. (Sort of a Prime Directive he picked up from
    the Oan Guardians.)

    After the reboot, Clark, as an American born, if not bred, felt free
    to participate at any level. We even got a “Supes for Pres.” story.
    I do see him as a “middle-of-the-roader”, if for no other reason than
    the desire of the editors to allow the a majority of the possible
    readership to identify with him.

    Bruce (Batman) Wayne is a Big City Democrat or possibly a Silk Stocking
    Republican. (For the latter, think John Lindsay, 1960’s NYC mayor,
    or even Rudolph Giuliani or LA Mayor Riordan.) He’s pro-gun control,
    anti-death penalty, but still “tough on crime” and doesn’t support drug
    legalization. He favors “urban renewal” and job training schemes to
    fight the “root causes of crime.”

    Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen, has similar views, until he loses his
    dough. Then he becomes more of a Green Party type.

    Barry (Flash) Allen was a good Mid-western Republican. (Think Gerald
    Ford or Bob Dole.) Wally (Flash) West seems apolitical, maybe more
    of a swing voter. Probably would have backed Bush in `88, but Clinton
    in 1992. (Especially after he ran through his lottery winnings.)

    Aquaman: Royalist Atlantean. No US affiliation.

    Wonder Woman: Amazon Royalist. But: WWII WW was sent to protect America
    as the last hope of Democracy. Paradise Island as a constitutional
    monarchy, like Britain?

    J’onn J’onnz: Supports pols who oppose discrimination. Otherwise,
    doesn’t go in for politics. Of course, in some countries where he has
    alternate identities, voting is mandatory. Does he use his telepathy
    to “convince” officials that he’s voted, or just shape-shift into a
    form that has the “I’ve voted” ink-stamp on his hand?

    Vic (The Question) Sage either votes Libertarian or doesn’t vote at
    all, because the system is too corrupt! (Charles V. Szasz is a retcon I
    won’t dignify with comment.)

    Kevin

  9. PinkPowerVan,

    Sorry, but you have to pick a stereotype and stick with it. Either we are completely irrelevant or there are no women libertarians. Making us out to be a prominent and popular female superhero violates both.

    A better example would have been Moonknight, an obscure and non-exactly popular rip-off of the more famous and effective Batman (in this case Moonknight (lib) and Batman (classical liberal.))

  10. PinkPowerVan:

    I’m told that’s my fault.

  11. I wish I knew enough about comics to participate in this, but I don’t.

    However, it might be interesting to play “name the party/political affiliation” of the super villains as well.

  12. I’ll start: The Joker is a Max Stirner-style “egoist” anarchist.

    I can definitely see The Joker saying “the only limitation on the rights of the individual is his power to obtain what he desires.”

  13. Epi:

    Lex Luthor won the Presidency on the Tomorrow Party ticket.

    Kevin

  14. Most of the good supervillans would be Anton Lavey-style Satanists. Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law, etc.

  15. Let’s not forget to make it Zod in 2008!

    Kevin

  16. I would say that the Joker is chaotic-evil, whereas Max Stirner would be chaotic-neutral.

    Needless to say, Batman’s alignment is Batman-Batman.

    http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Alignment

  17. Henley’s takes are pretty good, except I’d never go with Milelr’s view of Supes.

    That’s Serrano’s take, not Henley’s.

  18. “[All] superheroes have the politics of whoever is writing them at the time, unless management at the corporation that owns them pulls rank. For instance, if DC hadn’t gone and killed off the real Question, I’d want to write him as Radley Balko: The Comic Book.”

  19. The gamer group I once hung with referred to Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil as “Lawful Awful” and “Chaotic Stupid” respectively.

    I can’t say I much disagree.

  20. The gamer group I once hung with referred to Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil as “Lawful Awful” and “Chaotic Stupid” respectively.

    LULZ NERDZ

    (pulls RuneQuest character sheet out of desk)

    Shit.

  21. “hung with”? Dude, you left your d20 over at my house when you left in tears over your paladin’s death.

    “hung with”. Pshaw

  22. Superman is a liberal, he works for the New York Times.

  23. Thanks for the correction, Jesse.

    More 4-color profiles:

    Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan: former Air Force, jet jockey – maybe a John McCain Republican?

    Dinah (Black Canary) Lance: JSA years, cop’s kid, WWII-era heroine, probably a big city Dem of the reforming type. The retconned BCII (Dinah, Junior) would be more of a modern liberal Democrat.

    Ray (The Atom) Palmer is a college professor. Outside of the business and engineering departments, Republican professors are as rare as hen’s teeth. Democrat.

    Azrael, Jim (The Spectre) Corrigan, Zauriel: theocrats. Probably happy with Brent Bozell III.

    Eel (Plastic Man) O’Brien: Early in his career he can’t vote, `cause the Eel is a convicted felon. After working as Plas with the FBI, he eventually earned a full pardon. FBI’ers and Republicans go together like #1 G-men and frilly dresses, so that’s a cinch. Woozy Winks must belong to the Monster Raving Loony Party.

    Aquaman, Prince Namor The Sub-Mariner, Princess Diana of Themyscyra/Wonder Woman, Thor, Maxima, and others are monarchists, constitutional or otherwise.

    Ambush Bug: “Papoon For President!”

    Kevin

  24. Wolverine is clearly a libertarian.

    He voluntarily altered his body and can’t get along with any of his teammates…

  25. Batman strikes me as a kind of progressive idealist–he takes on a persona to fight corruption, he contributes to politicians who promise to fight corruption, he probably supports efforts against whatever he sees as the root causes of societal decay. Sure, he has tons of money, but then so did many progressives.

    Oh, and the real chore isn’t figuring out the politics of superheroes, but their musical tastes.

    Reasonoids–get on it.

  26. The gamer group I once hung with referred to Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil as “Lawful Awful” and “Chaotic Stupid” respectively.

    LULZ NERDZ

    (pulls RuneQuest character sheet out of desk)

    Shit.

    Pttth, my klanth has a bladesharp 4 on it, bitch

  27. I’m all about ABBA.

  28. DC delves into the political leanings of its characters in the upcoming “Decisions” miniseries.

    http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/comics/?cm=10136

    I have difficulty with the existence of the Big Two parties in either of the Big Two comic-book universes.
    Both are regularly exposed to superbeings, powerful mutants, ex-pat extraterrestrials, and actual pantheistic gods. Their recent histories include multiple alien invasions and appearances by cosmic entities. That alone would derail the historical continuities that shape our world. Environmentalism would be a different animal in a world where the biosphere is known by all to be a sentient entity. Global warming would not be a number-crunching debate on an Earth that has been both hurled towards the sun and dominated by Frost Giants. Nationalism would short-lived in the face of pesky Atlanteans labeling us all as “surface-dwellers” and terrorizing our seas. Concepts of national security are dictated by super-terror-organizations with matching uniforms and massive flying war machines.
    I cannot see either party remaining intact when children and teenagers routinely acquire superpowers, private spaceflight is a common occurance, history-altering time-travel is old hat, and parallel Earths are not only common knowledge, but occasionally appear in the sky.

  29. Re: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    In the fourth season, super-soldier and romantic interest Riley renounces his military affiliations and declares “I’m an anarchist”. Buffy seems to have had a similar sentiment. But it’s not entirely clear whether they meant it in a lefty, Bakuninite way or more of a Lysander Spooner libertarian philosophy.

  30. Buffy (Vampire Slayer) Summers – votes for whoever is cuter (which means it’s Obama this go-around)

    Willow Rosenberg – Lesbian, Wiccan, Jewish… liberal Democrat/Green.

    Xander Harris – Can’t figure out the ballot and accidentally votes for Pat Buchanan.

    Anya – Republican of the conservative variety despite being a former demon.

    Oz – Tough call. Probably sees no point in voting, considering how laconic he is.

    Faith – Convicted murderer, so she can’t vote. Probably wouldn’t bother anyway.

  31. Where does Lobo fit in??

  32. Lobo’s attitude toward politicians is probably something like “I’ll eat the fattest bastiches first.”

    Al: We know that Ollie Queen likes cool jazz, Hal Jordan digs Dixieland, and Peter Parker has been known to sing an Elvis Costello tune upon occasion

    Kevin

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