There was quite a bit of hubbub in the media last week because, in Action Comics #900, Superman renounces his American citizenship. The story got coverage everywhere - from The New York Times to Fox News - and the internet is awash in comments of support, shock, and derision.
For those of you who might not be sure, let me point out that Superman is not real. He does not exist. He is a fictional character.
Back in the early 1990s, when the DC editorial team decided to kill the Man of Steel in a monumenmtal battle with Doomsday, the media got hold of the story on a particularly slow news day and it sparked even greater outrage. Protesters picketed outside the Time-Warner headquarters in New York City (which was not the building where DC Comics had its offices), media pundits and everyday folks alike condemned the move, and the creative team received death threats.
At the time, I was approached by a casual acquaintance who knew that I had something to do with Superman and presumed I was the one behind his death. She was outraged at what was happening and wanted to know how we could do such a thing. I replied that I was not the writer of the particular story, though I was pretty sure I had killed Supes in one I'd written some years earlier, and also pointed out that "Superman is not real. He does not exist. He is a fictional character."
Superman was dead, but he got better. This was not because of the protests, the media pressure, or the death threats to the staff. This was because it had been the plan all along. DC killed the Man of Steel to sell comic books... because that is what they are in the business to do. All the free publicity the story generated enabled them to sell millions of copies, making everyone involved quite happy.
In the years since Superman's demise, the media has jumped on other comic book "events" in a similar frenzy. The publishers love this because it means they sell more copies and that translates to more money in their pockets. If Superman renouncing his citizenship results in more sales of the $5.99-priced issue, you can be sure the folks at DC will be smiling.
But to those people who are debating this -- on TV, in print, and online -- you need to be reminded of something: Superman is not real. He does not exist. He is a fictional character.