Fox News Loses It After Comic Shows Superman Defending Protesters From Violent Cops

For decades, Superman has fought for “truth, justice, and the American Way,” but according to some conservatives, that shouldn’t include standing up to violent cops.

In the comic book series Action Comics, Superman recently found himself squaring off against an army of riot police who came to his neighborhood to crackdown on peaceful protesters. It doesn’t take much of a leap of imagination to draw a comparison to similar real-life examples including the highly criticized police response to protests in Ferguson after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer. As Kotaku explained weeks ago, the storyline mixes the anxieties of current events with the more fantastical stuff comic readers know and love:

Part of me was worried that the confrontations with Metropolis’ police would feel like a cheap grab at topicality, one that would stumble despite being well-intentioned. But it doesn’t.

Clark’s neighbors don’t just stand there and endure the verbal and physical abuse that the cops—commanded by an officer previously shown to be talking to some mysterious off-panel manipulator—are dishing out. They react like real people, intentional echoes of the citizens who’ve been marching and protesting in the aftermath of recent controversial police-involved deaths. Superman acts like that, too, here. The Man of Steel doesn’t swoop in with a lecture that saves the day. He can’t.

What he does do is punch a cop – but only after the police began indiscriminately attacking the protesters with the types of military-grade “non-lethal” weapons we’ve grown accustomed to in jarring images from Ferguson and beyond.

While most readers probably understood the underlying message – the police are meant to protect and serve, not rule with the bottom of a steel-toed boot – Fox News was predictably outraged. Having positioned itself as the media source most sympathetic to the police, no matter what the circumstance, the network understandably felt defensive about seeing the symbol of American ideals stand with protesters and not with the armor-clad riot police.

In a piece originally titled “Superman Literally Bashes Police In New Comic” and quickly changed to the slightly more neutral “Superman fights the police in new comic paralleling Ferguson riots,” Fox’s Brian Henry clutches his pearls good and tight as he walks terrified readers through the storyline. Notice the way he finesses the narrative to make it sound as if the protesters brought the brutality on themselves:

The downtrodden hero returns to a town that is fearful of him. Although a group of his supporters decide to celebrate his return, the police department soon arrives to break up the party. One of his supporters gets unruly, the police get angry, and before long, a full blown riot breaks out. The comic ends with Superman punching a police officer in the face.

Despite it being a work of fiction, Fox asked the NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association to give his thoughts on Superman’s actions:

Patrick Colligan, president of the NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, told FOX411 the comic is disgraceful.

“They want to sell comics,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s at the expense of some very great cops out there every day protecting the public.”

Still, seeing a police officer portrayed as a villain didn’t come as a shock to Colligan.

“We are once again painted with the very broad stroke nobody wants to be painted with,” he said.

It’s extremely telling that Colligan is so quick to identify with the violent cops in the story, rather than sympathize with the victims’ point of view. Some might say that defensiveness, even from “good” cops, is what makes it so hard to get real change to happen in police department’s across the country. Acknowledging the problem is the first step towards addressing it.

Colligan’s solution is that Superman should stop commenting on real-world problems and stick to silly villains and jokes:

“Comic books are taking on social issues lately and maybe they should get back to taking on superheroes and making people laugh,”  he said.

This, of course, ignores the long legacy of comic books being used to comment on the social issues of the day. Like it or not, comics have always served as a microscope in which to explore its readers modern anxieties. During the Cold War, for example, Superman fought Communism (and it’s hard to imagine Fox News would have told him to “stay in his lane” then). Recently he’s begun to delve into social issues, as Americans do the same.

As to be expected, Fox News readers were equally upset about Superman’s lack of respect for authority, however unjust. In what has become an all-too common reaction, many threatened to boycott DC Comics.


Some wished for Superman to die at the hands of police.


And one commenter left other readers (myself included) wondering what he was referring to.


The Superman “protest” narrative is on-going so it is unclear how DC’s writers will choose to end it. Hopefully they come across some answers. Hopefully we all do.

Feature image DC Comics via Kotaku