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  1. #1
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Default "Blame it all on the monster" Action comics #43 (focused discussion)

    Okay so I know Action Comics #44 is coming out in no time at all, but I'd like to take a step back and look at a very specific idea in issue #43. The idea I'm talking about is obviously the fact that the bad cop Sargent Binghamton appears one of the shadow monsters. Not only that but it seems that city hall is run by these shadow creatures too. There's been mixed reactions to this with the most prevalent complaint being that it took away from the emotional realism of the more universally liked (as far as I could tell) issue #42. The thought was that the shadow was a cop out (no pun intended) and now it's devolved into "Superman beats the bad shadow guys back from where they came". Binghamton's hate on for Superman? He's an evil shadow guy that's what they do. The city allowing all this stuff to go down? It's run by shadow creatures, and all the good infallible humans are away on holiday or something.

    But I don't think that's what the issue was saying at all. In fact I think the issue went out of it's way to let you know that. We start with Superman realizing that he still lost his cool and hit that cop. For all intents and purposes that was still a cop and all Superman was doing was feeding a riot. Then there's this nervous shame and relief that comes over everyone in the situation. The cops turn and fire on Binghamton. They now have a scapegoat to put them back on the side of the angels. Most of the police men and women where ready to rundown that whole block full of people and beat Superman down to do it. Superman himself isn't even absolved. He was ready to knock out an officer of the law and continue to fan the flames of an already bad situation. He still laments on how he feels the shame of what he'd actually still done monster or not. He let that guy get to him

    Then officer Petruzzelli puts the fine point on this comic. She went through the academy with Binghamton. She says he was a good cop and that he cared about the city. She talks about the other side of the argument and how rioters knocks gas back at the cops. It seems to her that the mayor and thus the city has turned it's back on them. When a fellow officer says "well he did turn out to be a shadow monster" she says something that flips the whole scrip: it's no crazier than Superman.....the alien. I thought that was a fantastic idea to bring up.

    I don't think this addition of shadow monsters effects the real ideas and emotions that these issues were dealing with. It's still about community, corruption, gray lines, discrimination, and a bunch of other very real very strong ideas that we must all deal with in life. What this comic is doing though is working with it's medium (superhero comics) and it's avatar, Superman to express these ideas. Now the only thing is how do Pak and Kuder follow up to a satisfying conclusion that respects the implied complexity of this situation? It's really not easy to be honest and I don't at all envy them, but I have faith in them.

    But anyways what did you guys think about this idea in particular? Do you see it from a new perspective now or are you unchanged? And if you liked it or not what's it gonna take to sell this ending?
    Last edited by Superlad93; 08-30-2015 at 03:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    Her hypocrisy irked me - but then it irks me in the real world, too.

    I understand it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it


    Thing is, he didn't hit him that hard - Clark knew that as angry as he was he was still pulling his punch. Now, it's arguable that because of loss of power and him having to adjust to it and having to put 'more' effort into his attacks etc, that he may not have held back enough...but the thing is, Superman has hit non-powered humans before. Love-taps, finger flicks...a young Clark broke someone's jaw even though he was holding back...so him punching the T-1000-wannabe-violence-inciting 'cop' was something I didn't have any issue with, all things considered.

  3. #3
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Yes but the point isn't how hard he did or didn't hit Binghamton, but the fact that he punched out a cop at all. Superman himself said that Binghamton being a shadow monster was just an out and he still felt shame for his actions. In fact they all did in some from or another.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlad93 View Post
    Yes but the point isn't how hard he did or didn't hit Binghamton, but the fact that he punched out a cop at all. Superman himself said that Binghamton being a shadow monster was just an out and he still felt shame for his actions. In fact they all did in some from or another.
    Like I said, he's done it before in other continuities. I don't see an issue with it.

    Heck, he knocked out secret service agents over in Superman/Wonder Woman and didn't express any shame over that.

    Why is one act more shameful than the other?

  5. #5
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adkal View Post
    Why is one act more shameful than the other?
    Likely because he didn't want to be just another person in the crowd throwing punches because they were mad, scared, and confused. Superman "called in his chips" and put it on everyone at the riot (cop and civilian alike) to do the right thing and stand down. He, like Lee, was trying to be an example of non violent protest and steel will. But in the end his shame came from knowing that he was just playing into Binghampton's provocations. He cracked.

  6. #6
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    I don't think Superman would think twice about punching a bad cop out. He punches criminals out all the time. Lex Luthor, after all, is just a man.

    I think the issues were a major disappointment mainly because they were pretended to be playing with something really serious, police brutality and corruption- something that is a huge deal right now, and "wellllll just shadow monsters folks here come the good cops!"

    All the cops pretty much immediately turn "good" once the shadow monster at City Hall is discovered. I mean it's simply that DC will never have Superman face real world issues head on like that because it would upset a lot of people, but it is ironic because that's what the character did at the onset. A more creative writer could have found a way around this, could have made something weird and interesting. Something weird and funky where the stakes still mattered. Here they don't really mean anything.
    Last edited by Flash Gordon; 08-30-2015 at 02:24 AM.
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  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Dispenser Of Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    I don't think Superman would think twice about punching a bad cop out. He punches criminals out all the time. Lex Luthor, after all, is just a man.

    I think the issues were a major disappointment mainly because they were pretended to be playing with something really serious, police brutality and corruption- something that is a huge deal right now, and "wellllll just shadow monsters folks here come the good cops!"

    All the cops pretty much immediately turn "good" once the shadow monster at City Hall is discovered. I mean it's simply that DC will never have Superman face real world issues head on like that because it would upset a lot of people, but it is ironic because that's what the character did at the onset. A more creative writer could have found a way around this, could have made something weird and interesting. Something weird and funky where the stakes still mattered. Here they don't really mean anything.
    But the whole second half of the issue is one big "just because this one dude was a shadow monster doesn't change the situation". Between Superman grumbling that the cops who assaulted the protesters will get off because they were 'just following orders' and the cop ranting about how, yeah, it was a shadow monster, but still TOTALLY was in the right to attack the crowd, and Superman even giving a speech on how he and we (we, the people in the crowd, but implicitly we the readers) want to believe it's just a few bad apples, but the rot goes far deeper, it's clear that this is just a way to set things in motion. Pak and Kuder are going out of their way to make clear what the real story is, and why the circumstances don't change that.
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  8. #8
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    I don't think Superman would think twice about punching a bad cop out.
    But he would think twice about stoking the fires of an already tender situation (like a riot). It wasn't just punching a bad cop out.

    I think the issues were a major disappointment mainly because they were pretended to be playing with something really serious, police brutality and corruption- something that is a huge deal right now, and "wellllll just shadow monsters folks here come the good cops!"
    But I think the issues are still dealing with that stuff and could still deal with it more in the next one. It really wasn't "here come the good cops". It was more "wow I can't believe we all did that shadow monster or not". That monster seems to work as a personification of corruption (like the physical manifestations of concepts that the new gods are). How it's played with after will be the true test, but I think the set up is there

    All the cops pretty much immediately turn "good" once the shadow monster at City Hall is discovered.
    But again that was addressed. They didn't turn "good". Everyone, including Superman, felt the awkward shame of what they did (of their own free will). Hundreds of officers lined up for their of their own free wills and marched to the order "we've got a black to burn". They've gotta live with that.

    I don't think the end take away message will be "shadow monsters are bad and we're all good". It doesn't read like that at all. I just feel like yourself and others are just put off by the visual of these supernatural beings in a story you envisioned as being more photo realistic.

    I mean it's simply that DC will never have Superman face real world issues head on like that because it would upset a lot of people, but it is ironic because that's what the character did at the onset. A more creative writer could have found a way around this, could have made something weird and interesting. Something weird and funky where the stakes still mattered. Here they don't really mean anything.
    How don't they mean anything? Really valid questions are still asked and all the same themes are still explored. I mean what do makes cops and people get into altercations like this anyway? It's fear, corruption, bigotry, and misunderstandings. The shadow monster was presented as an "out" but we quickly learn that it was people who made those choices in the end. I think that's pretty clever personally. It might not have been what you personally envisioned but I think it hits all the right notes.

  9. #9
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispenser Of Truth View Post
    Superman even giving a speech on how he and we (we, the people in the crowd, but implicitly we the readers) want to believe it's just a few bad apples, but the rot goes far deeper, it's clear that this is just a way to set things in motion. Pak and Kuder are going out of their way to make clear what the real story is, and why the circumstances don't change that.
    This was my favorite part of the issue. It took me a second pass over to even get it fully to be honest with you. I had this "oh sh!t, did Greg Pak just get all meta on me" moment that made me smile (it's been a while since the new 52 Superman has called on me for help). This makes makes me even more curious on how this thing will wrap.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member adkal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlad93 View Post
    But he would think twice about stoking the fires of an already tender situation (like a riot). It wasn't just punching a bad cop out.
    But not twice about knocking out secret service agents? Is it because that was done away from public view?

    All the cops pretty much immediately turn "good" once the shadow monster at City Hall is discovered.

    But again that was addressed. They didn't turn "good". Everyone, including Superman, felt the awkward shame of what they did (of their own free will). Hundreds of officers lined up for their of their own free wills and marched to the order "we've got a black to burn". They've gotta live with that.
    Petruzzelli didn't seem to be expressing any 'awkward shame'. She was all 'guy was a good cop and now the city/mayor has turned its back on him' and a hypocrite in dismissing his 'otherness' while highlighting Superman's on the basis that she went to the academy with Binghamton 'so it's okay that he lied about his shadow-other-freaky-stuff because he's good police' but not for Clark Superman Kent, no no. Clark Kent is an alien, Binghamton is Police.

  11. #11
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlad93 View Post
    Okay so I know Action Comics #44 is coming out in no time at all, but I'd like to take a step back and look at a very specific idea in issue #43. The idea I'm talking about is obviously the fact that the bad cop Sargent Binghamton appears one of the shadow monsters. Not only that but it seems that city hall is run by these shadow creatures too. There's been mixed reactions to this with the most prevalent complaint being that it took away from the emotional realism of the more universally liked (as far as I could tell) issue #42. The thought was that the shadow was a cop out (no pun intended) and now it's devolved into "Superman beats the bad shadow guys back from where they came". Binghamton's hate on for Superman? He's an evil shadow guy that's what they do. The city allowing all this stuff to go down? It's run by shadow creatures, and all the good infallible humans are away on holiday or something.

    But I don't think that's what the issue was saying at all. In fact I think the issue went out of it's way to let you know that. We start with Superman realizing that he still lost his cool and hit that cop. For all intents and purposes that was still a cop and all Superman was doing was feeding a riot. Then there's this nervous shame and relief that comes over everyone in the situation. The cops turn and fire on Binghamton. They now have a scapegoat to put them back on the side of the angels. Most of the police men and women where ready to rundown that whole block full of people and beat Superman down to do it. Superman himself isn't even absolved. He was ready to knock out an officer of the law and continue to fan the flames of an already bad situation. He still laments on how he feels the shame of what he'd actually still done monster or not. He let that guy get to him

    Then officer Petruzzelli puts the fine point on this comic. She went through the academy with Binghamton. She says he was a good cop and that he cared about the city. She talks about the other side of the argument and how rioters knocks gas back at the cops. It seems to her that the mayor and thus the city has turned it's back on them. When a fellow officer says "well he did turn out to be a shadow monster" she says something that flips the whole scrip: it's no crazier than Superman.....the alien. I thought that was a fantastic idea to bring up.

    I don't think this addition of shadow monsters effects the real ideas and emotions that these issues were dealing with. It's still about community, corruption, gray lines, discrimination, and a bunch of other very real very strong ideas that we must all deal with in life. What this comic is doing though is working with it's medium (superhero comics) and it's avatar, Superman to express these ideas. Now the only thing is how do Pak and Kuder follow up to a satisfying conclusion that respects the implied complexity of this situation? It's really not easy to be honest and I don't at all envy them, but I have faith in them.

    But anyways what did you guys think about this idea in particular? Do you see it from a new perspective now or are you unchanged? And if you liked it or not what's it gonna take to sell this ending?
    Your thoughts pretty much sum up mines. While I can understand why someone would have prefered the situation to be more "realistic", I don't feel like the "revelation" absolved the cops of anything, and frankly, I don't "get" how someone could read the book and think that all the cops suddenly turn "good". I mean, it's specifically noted within the book that the "monster" allow the cops to wash their hands on the whole thing despite not having changed at all. Come on, guys. That's not "turning god", that's finding a scapegoat to blame your evil actions on. If anything, it's the exact same prejudice that made them turn against Superman that made them turn against their Sergeant.
    I wouldn't be as hard on Superman as he was. I mean, he was really, really provoked into doing it and if anything, I admired how long he tried for a peaceful resolution, despite facing a guy that clearly just wanted a fight.
    Also, I don't even feel like the "revelation" changed anything regarding the character of Binghamton.
    Let's look at the facts:
    -Binghamton is a Shadow Monster.
    -Despite that, he's well known by his fellow officers (has been in police school with Petruzzelli)
    -We also know that the mayor of Metropolis is responsible for putting the Shadow Monsters in the police, and we know that she chooses real persons who already dislike Superman for it.
    All of this tells me that Binghamton was almost certainly a real regular cop who probably accepted the "corruption" on his own, and whose stated motivations in issue 42 are genuine (if maybe exagerated by said corruption). So basically, a regular bad cop, but with superpowers. Just like Superman is a man of the people, but with superpowers.
    Hold those chains, Clark Kent
    Bear the weight on your shoulders
    Stand firm. Take the pain.

  12. #12
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adkal View Post
    Petruzzelli didn't seem to be expressing any 'awkward shame'. She was all 'guy was a good cop and now the city/mayor has turned its back on him' and a hypocrite in dismissing his 'otherness' while highlighting Superman's on the basis that she went to the academy with Binghamton 'so it's okay that he lied about his shadow-other-freaky-stuff because he's good police' but not for Clark Superman Kent, no no. Clark Kent is an alien, Binghamton is Police.
    Petruzelli wasn't there, though. She probably just chooses to believe the 'rioters striked first" story because it's simpler that admitting that her collegues and friends (one of them anyway) crossed a line. And because she resents Superman and want him to be the bad guy.
    Hold those chains, Clark Kent
    Bear the weight on your shoulders
    Stand firm. Take the pain.

  13. #13
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adkal View Post
    But not twice about knocking out secret service agents? Is it because that was done away from public view?
    I'm only speaking from the confines of this run and this issue. How other continuities or even other books handle the character doesn't really hold much weight in the confines of this book unless specified (IMO). The reason why he felt shame over punching Binghamton is spelled out clear. Superman let this bad cop get to him and he could just as easily have become part of the confusion and mayhem as he let his (rightful) anger compromise him. I mean did you not see the big as life smile on Binghamton's face when Superman charged him? He even says 'finally'. He knows this will validate what he's doing. He know this will give him a free pass to spin hate and vitriol about Superman and the people that support him. Superman gave in and it could have ended a lot worse for him and those people. That's why he feels such shame.

    Petruzzelli didn't seem to be expressing any 'awkward shame'. She was all 'guy was a good cop and now the city/mayor has turned its back on him' and a hypocrite in dismissing his 'otherness' while highlighting Superman's on the basis that she went to the academy with Binghamton 'so it's okay that he lied about his shadow-other-freaky-stuff because he's good police' but not for Clark Superman Kent, no no. Clark Kent is an alien, Binghamton is Police.
    Well she wasn't one of the cops I was talking about in that particular moment. I bring her up in my first post actually. She brings up the point that a shadow monster cop and an alien reporter aren't all that different if you think about it. She has her bias and need to protect one of her own. You see it all the time on TV when a cop who did something awful is being defaced, and some of his/her fellow officers come to the defense. They know they're wrong and only making strawman arguments but at best but they do it because that's one of their own. I thought it was a smart idea for Pak to add that in there.

  14. #14
    AT EASE, LOO-SUH! Superlad93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    If anything, it's the exact same prejudice that made them turn against Superman that made them turn against their Sergeant.
    Wow I hadn't even thought of that. Nice catch!

    I wouldn't be as hard on Superman as he was. I mean, he was really, really provoked into doing it and if anything, I admired how long he tried for a peaceful resolution, despite facing a guy that clearly just wanted a fight.
    Do you mean me? I hope you guys didn't take my writing on Superman punching the cop as how I felt about it. No! Dear lord NO! I nearly jumped up out of my seat in joy when Superman decked that fool in the mouth. What I was writing about was how Superman himself felt about the situation as presented in the comic. Superman wasn't happy or cathartic that he gave in to his anger.

    Also, I don't even feel like the "revelation" changed anything regarding the character of Binghamton.
    Let's look at the facts:
    -Binghamton is a Shadow Monster.
    -Despite that, he's well known by his fellow officers (has been in police school with Petruzzelli)
    -We also know that the mayor of Metropolis is responsible for putting the Shadow Monsters in the police, and we know that she chooses real persons who already dislike Superman for it.
    All of this tells me that Binghamton was almost certainly a real regular cop who probably accepted the "corruption" on his own, and whose stated motivations in issue 42 are genuine (if maybe exagerated by said corruption). So basically, a regular bad cop, but with superpowers. Just like Superman is a man of the people, but with superpowers.
    Agreed on all counts.

  15. #15
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Do you mean me? I hope you guys didn't take my writing on Superman punching the cop as how I felt about it. No! Dear lord NO! I nearly jumped up out of my seat in joy when Superman decked that fool in the mouth. What I was writing about was how Superman himself felt about the situation as presented in the comic. Superman wasn't happy or cathartic that he gave in to his anger.
    No, I meant him. Superman. Basically, I think he feels shame because he puts himself on a higher standard (in fact, Pak's overall take could be summed up as "a genuinely good person trying to be worthy of the symbol he is made off by others"....which is brilliant if you think about it), but objectively, I think he's blaming himself too hard, 'cause really, he's the victim here.
    Hold those chains, Clark Kent
    Bear the weight on your shoulders
    Stand firm. Take the pain.

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