Green Lantern’s sudden awareness of people suffering below the poverty line may seem almost farcical, but we can also choose to view the Lantern as a representation of the typical white middle-class young reader and to see in the politically engaged Green Arrow a “fiction suit” or mouthpiece for [writer Dennis] O’Neil, using art to open a few young eyes to some important facts of life.
from Grant Morrison’s awesome analysis of Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil and Neil Adams in Supergods.
Two weeks ago, I was talking with Francis about what superhero comic books can teach us about our cultural structure. We were talking about something completely different—probably politics—over our Six Point “Crisp” Ales at Hell’s Gate, and really getting into it. I was making the case that Superman and Batman represent the Cold War divide, before the war was actually initiated. Capitalism takes the form of Batman—a billionaire playboy whose parents were taken from him by a desperate criminal and in response he decides to beat down those low-lives creating a classic have vs have-not battle, and a dissection of capitalism made four-color flesh in the form of Bruce Wayne.
Superman, our beacon of social justice for rich and poor alike, stands for equal rights under the law or as Morrison writes—socialism:
“Superman made his position plain: He was the hero of the people. The original Superman was a bold humanist response to Depression-era fears of runaway scientific advance and soulless industrialism. We would see this early incarnation wrestling giant trains to a standsill, overturning tanks, or bench-pressing construction cranes…Superman offered another possibility: an image of a firecly human tomorrow that delivered the spectacle of triumphant individualism exercising its sovereignty over the implacable forces of industrial oppression.”
This is displayed in the first issue of the rebooted Action Comics when Superman holds Mr. Glenmorgan and threatens to drop him, but just before he does our new Man of Steel promises to release Glenmorgan “Just as soon as he makes a full confession. To someone who still believes the law works the same for rich and poor alike.”
I explained to Francis that Superman and Batman teamed together are called the “World’s Finest.” So, in typical brilliant thought while drinking I proposed the idea that if Batman and Superman are the World’s Finest (Capitalism and Socialism) when they are working together perhaps the finest form of government is both of these things together. Clearly, I shouldn’t drink and talk about comic books anymore.