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Thursday, June 21, 2007


When the deplorable Abu Ghraib torture photos surfaced in 2004, a lot of people bought the line that this was the work of isolated M.P.s and not an officially sanctioned approach to the interrogation of detainees. After all, we're the good guys. The good guys don't torture -- officially. That's something the Nazis did in concentration camps and the North Vietnamese did at the "Hanoi Hilton."

Then, in 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney publicly endorsed the interrogation technique known as "water boarding."

We've all noticed a shift in the culture. I've read that the TV show "24" is full of torture -- I won't watch it because I can't stand Keifer Sutherland -- though my brother, an avid "24" fan, told me he's never noticed any torture on the program. I've certainly seen good guys torturing bad guys on "Lost," and more than once.

But when I opened DC Comics' "Superman/Batman" #35 recently, I couldn't believe what I saw on the fifth page of the story.

At "Blackgate Penitentiary, 20 miles outside of Gotham City," Superman is saying to bad guy Metallo, "I'm not going to ask you again." (Superman wants to know what Metallo was trying to steal from Waynetech.) Metallo is hanging by his arms, which are bound in sci-fi-looking restraints. Metallo taunts Superman, "Your threats'd have a bit more bite to 'em if you could get close enough to lay a finger on me. That is, without dyin' of Kryptonite poisoning." (Metallo has Kryptonite innards.) "I don't need to lay a finger on you, Metallo," Superman says as his eyes begin to glow red. He aims his heat-vision at Metallo's shoulder (it makes the noise, "ZZZZZZZZ") and burns off some of Metallo's flesh.

OK, it's synthetic flesh. And Metallo is a cyborg. And this is a comic book. I get that.

But Superman is an icon -- the first and greatest of the costumed superheroes. The character has been around since 1938. I'd wager that's before writers Mark Verheiden and Marc Guggenheim; artists Pat Lee and Craig Yeung; and editor Eddie Berganza were born. Take a look at that page and tell me if you don't see something sickening.


Anonymous gail jeanne mcgillicuddy said...

That's so twisted and wrong.

You expect something like that from the Soprano's. Not Superman.

1:33 PM, June 26, 2007  

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