Superman vs. the Cops

Superman has a cop problem.


Action Comics 42

In the summer arc for Action Comics, the long-running Superman title, the Man of Steel takes on the heavily armed police force of his fictional home city of Metropolis as the officers advance on his quiet neighborhood. The story, which builds to a dramatic showdown between armored cops and angry local residents, relies on visuals reminiscent of the August 2014 standoff between cops and protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of an unarmed black man there.

In Action Comics 41 and 42, a no-longer-invulnerable Superman is called back to Metropolis to stop an attack by an oversized superbeast. He arrives to find that law enforcement, armed with body armor, riot shields, and military transport vehicles, has begun transforming the city into a police state, forcing residents to submit to a battery of tests for alien particles.

With Superman distracted by the beast, the cops move toward his recently gentrified block. A standoff ensues, and nearly leads to violence-until Superman arrives to break it up by reminding everyone that he's what connects them all. It's a corny, earnest tribute to urban community that elides the real issues of police militarization, use of force, and cop-community relations that helped spark the Ferguson protests it so clearly alludes to.