Don’tcha just love a good title?
When a couple of grandstanding politicos (and a none-too-bright NY Post columnist) were railing about a 6-page Superman story — which, clearly, none of them had read in full — re: Superman’s citizenship, I decided to write the below project pitch.
It seemed to me, the best response to the Superman “renouncing his citizenship” nonsense was to change the dialogue. In the story, Superman is the leader, the beacon. His relationship with the U.S. is, fittingly (and metaphorically), strained. This out-of-continuity mini is approached with the complexity of a political thriller, told, like a film, in 3 acts, with Superman in a real-life world which is still part of the DCU.
It will show Superman CAN be global without forgetting his home.
The story returns to an old-fashioned mystery format inspired by the old Siegel and Shuster stories. (Although Superman is the investigator rather than Clark.)
Like the title which is meant to gain attention, there are portions which are risqué and meant to provoke a reaction. This is all calculated.
All characters © and TM DC Comics and Warner Bros. (until otherwise decided in a court of law…ahem). Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster. Batman created by Bob Kane (& Bill Finger for frig’s sake). Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston (very possibly for all the wrong reasons).
We meet Lois Lane, working a story on corrupt city government—something torn from headlines—not only bringing Jimmy along but asking him to do some breaking and entering. It’s immediately clear she sees nothing wrong with a little corruption for the sake of justice. This will certainly bite them both in the ass. (After all, how can Lois cover corruption in government when she herself is being corrupt?)
She gets into trouble, is saved by a Batman-family hero (e.g., The Question) looking for The Man of Steel.
Superman is off-world. A superhero team (TBD [Omega Men?]) has recruited his help, flying him into deep space to help stop a war. A war, they say, which was begun by a Green Lantern. The Lantern (Kilowog) is present, but his outfit looks somehow wrong. One of the heroes of the team which called Superman in explains, “It’s like their whole world flipped, became a mirror of what it was.” As this team and Superman all dive in to help, even Kilowog—who’s affiliation seems uncertain—suddenly disappears. Everything begins to right itself.
Superman heads back to the nearest JLA satellite to check in before returning to Earth. There, he finds a recording from Batman telling him to head back home and demand to see the President. Supes had planned to check in with Hal Jordan but decides to give this odd and foreboding message precedence.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Olsen has been caught breaking into the government facility. He’s read his rights and carted off as Lois watches, hidden.
Superman heads to Washington D.C., following Batman’s advice…and is met with a great deal of resistance—more than he should. Sensing something’s amiss but not interested in pushing it further, he retreats, reaches out to Batman. Bruce tells him his hunch: “The president is gone and the administration is covering it up!” He implores, “Haven’t you learned anything from me in all this time?” And so, taking a page from Batman’s book, late that night Superman stealthily re-enters the White House…and comes face to face with a wary Chief-of-Staff, who soon reveals the truth: The President of the United States has gone missing, presumably kidnapped.
Superman wants to call in the League and all reservists…the Chief of Staff does NOT want this, tells Supes he’s not being officially sanctioned…but could, off-the-record, tackle it on his own. “For the first time in many years,” the Chief of Staff explains, “you’re really fighting for truth, justice, and the American way.”
Jimmy’s in jail. While he hasn’t explicitly said Lois asked him to break into a government facility—much the way Batman had Superman do the same—Metropolis officials generally know of the the reputation of the Daily Planet’s team of Lois and Olsen, who are often paired up together (and they know she’s trying to find something).
Lois thinks the D.A. will drop the charges if she digs up something on these officials—but she’d have to do it fast.
Meanwhile, the D.A., influenced by the officials Lois is investigating, is happy to let Jimmy off if he’s got something to give them, something big enough…preferably on Lois or her hubby Clark—the two most troublesome reporters in Metropolis.
Superman is travelling to known terrorist camps and dictator-led countries across the globe, strong-arming people for information, but all he’s finding is a growing list of missing leaders. And he’s starting to re-think his approach, since he’s not liking what he’s turning into.
Superman goes back to the World’s Greatest Detective and is met w/several others from the Batman family and other detective heroes (J’onn J’onzz, Green Arrow, Elongated Man and more). It’s a roundtable conversation where everyone has checked their sources; some of their info conflicts and nobody agrees on next steps.
Superman requests this “detective squad” meet back in 12 hours. He’s going to ruminate on all this.
Heading home, he performs a great Superman feat—a kind which will inform us on his state of mind and weigh on the story at large (TBD).
As Clark Kent, he heads home to Lois; they discuss what’s going on and chat about Jimmy as well.
Jimmy on the other hand is getting beaten by another prisoner in the holding cell he’s in…and soon makes a decision: He may have to give up some info he has on Clark Kent.
After just a couple of short hours of needed rest, Clark heads out as Superman again, this time charging into Luthor’s supposed hideaway. But Luthor is somehow aware of what’s happening with the world’s leaders and his only presence at this hideout is on-screen. Superman and the evil genius discuss the goings on.
The Chief, Perry White, shows up at the jail and bails Jimmy out; they discuss Jim’s situation.
Lois realizes she’s made too many enemies to get the info she needs, so what she has to do is find the enemies of her enemies.
Jimmy and Lois reunite. Understandably displeased with her, he’s uncertain what to do….
Superman meets with the Chief of Staff again who warns: Word is getting out, they’re going to have to make an official announcement within the hour about the president’s whereabouts. The press has been alerted. The Vice President is ready to take the oath. Before Superman flies off, the Chief of Staff warns that, in partnership with their allies, there are Black Ops missions taking place across the globe
. . . he then adds some of these missions are without the help of, and even against, allies too.
Superman meets w/the Detective Squad. Everyone’s come up empty-handed. Superman tells them to gird themselves for what’s about to come—havoc. He also tells them he’s privy to some information that he cannot divulge, but “knowing who the enemy is is about to become very difficult.” (Due to the planned move by the U.S. against its allies to find our prez.)
The Justice League and reservists are called in and head out around the world as uprising’s occur and as the news hits airwaves and the Internet about the missing leaders. The heroes have agreed to work in shifts.
Special Forces units are moving in around the world at the same time. Armies are readying themselves. Distrust grows amongst allied countries.
Before Superman himself is deployed, he, Batman, Wonder Woman and an uninvited Green Arrow have a tête-à-tête. Batman scolds Superman for not divulging the details of what he knows, that National Security isn’t his job, but the safety of his teammates on the JLA is. Superman counters that it’s not just about National Security, it’s about being guardian of an adopted world…and that it’s far more complex than he’s acknowledging. WW wants the best for the peace; “if the information will guarantee fewer casualties, on all sides involved, then it should be divulged…but perhaps at top levels only.” Arrow disagrees. And reminds them they’re not meant to control everyone’s fate…”even if you all can.”
All of the above has been interspersed with scenes from around the globe w/action playing out, leading to extended scenes of Earth’s heroes fighting and guarding and doing their best to keep the peace. We’re also seeing glimpses of info posted on the Web, and T.V. news anchors releasing pieces of info as they get them. Then, of course, there are the pundits and politicos, who are using this crisis to their own ends.
Some political leaders are spinning the info, targeting the biggest names of the superhero community for attention, to further their own ends, to justify their own means. (Perhaps we’ll have a Superman family member act as an emissary in all this. Steel? Maybe J’onn [not family but an alien]. Perhaps Lex will appear “live via satellite” and give one of these people a piece of his mind.)
Skirmishes between Special Forces units and possible enemies of ours across the globe are resulting in no information, and reports are getting back to the Chief of Staff. Some of these reports are making no sense—including signed documents, a treaty between the U.S. and an enemy state in the Mid-East, which one soldier explains, “Looks like it’s signed by President Nixon. . . circa 1963.” Something is clearly amiss.
Elsewhere, the ever-focused Lois continues her work amidst this world crisis and has dragged Jimmy along, promising today’s the day they’ll get to the bottom of the corruption. But Jimmy stops her, explains he doesn’t want to have a trial, doesn’t want to fight this particular battle…and he’s willing to give up information he has on Clark to get the D.A. to back off of him.
The presence of the heroes around the globe is debated, and Superman is continually called away from one location or another. It seems that no matter where he is, the local and U.S. government fear his presence is going to be misconstrued.
Eventually Superman’s shift ends; he is forced to leave a scene at the insistence of Wonder Woman. The two U.S. flag-clad heroes discuss the idea of being seen as the symbol of one country—and why Superman must maintain that façade even when his focus is more broad.
At the Planet, Jimmy tells Perry he’d prefer not to continue working with Lois.
In his Metropolis apartment, Clark has drawn the shades and has a Kryptonian device accessing his Fortress’s resources via a holographic hookup. He’s tired, worn out. He performs work from his Metropolis apartment in anticipation of Lois’s return home.
Accessing his Kryptonian databases and equipment, he seems to be following some advice he received from Lex Luthor: Do what you do best.
Lois arrives wanting to talk to him about Jimmy but realizes he’s got enough distractions. She casually mentions that everything in the hologram image of the Fortress looks reversed, and Superman realizes he’s not looking in on his own fortress…and has an epiphany. He knows what’s happened here—and who’s behind it all!
Superman gets in touch with Batman, tells him they need to change their tactics. He asks Batman advice on how best to embed themselves into the villain network, explaining Lex seemed well aware of what was going on. Now Superman has figured it out and understands why the supervillains have been laying low during this crisis. Superman, however, steadfastly refuses to divulge details; Batman still doesn’t like the secrets yet hesitantly gives Superman the benefit of the doubt and gets onto his assignment.
Superman also gets in touch with the team of heroes seen in space earlier, asking them to back him up on a mission. When they arrive, he casually questions them, getting more detailed info about what happened in outer space.
Elsewhere, a man named Matches Malone gathers info from low-level muscle; he thinks about the info he just gathered and we cut to: two women heading up to a penthouse apartment; they seem to have received Matches’ information. The women look like “ladies of the evening” and converse about how best to get out of a life such as the one they apparently live. They seem awfully smart and strong-willed for their apparent stations in life. As the women enter the well-guarded room, it’s clear they’re something more—they take the guards (robotic and otherwise) down with ease. The two are soon revealed as Wonder Woman and Black Canary…and they’re there to get info out of a wily Riddler holed up in the suite.
Wonder Woman telepathically (yes, telepathically…trust me…) sends the info she’s just gathered to yet another villain, General Zod, who is about to make Black Manta kneel (hey, why not) and then takes down the Reverse Flash—beating both with ease. Having gathered the info he wanted, Zod flies out at top speed and, once clear, transforms back into J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter.
J’onn telepathically informs Superman he’s confirmed his fears. Superman requests he “stand by.”
In a dimly lit Situation Room we’ve seen earlier, Superman is face-to-face with the Chief of Staff again. Superman asks him simply, “Do you trust me?” The Chief of Staff hems and haws over this, giving a litany of reasons NOT to trust him (iterating more about the world’s response to the citizenry issue). Then the Vice-President enters.
The V.P. tells Superman he doesn’t trust him. Explains that his actions of late have caused further crises, crises of faith in justice and in him. He adds that “a strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” should be aware “he’s going to be a symbol for whatever home he’s adopted. In this case, the U.S.”
Superman responds, telling the Vice-President, quite simply, that when he’s not in the red and blue, he does have a home, a rural home, a city home. “I’m a little bit one coast or another, and a little bit breadbasket. But in the suit…I simply have to belong to everyone—so that I can guarantee safety for loved ones here and across the globe. And mete out justice as is needed.” (This may be too heavy-handed, and I will feel it out w/in the context of the actual story.)
The Vice President tells Superman he’s wary of him. Superman says wryly, “Good. Wary is healthy. I’m wary of you.” Supes moves for the window. “We’ll be talking again very soon. For now, end all your overseas operations. Or my team’ll do it for you.” Superman exits.
Superman later tells J’onn to relay to the others his thanks and that what he’s about to do may endanger everyone…they should stay on guard. Batman wants to know where he’s headed. Superman warns, “Stay out of it, Bruce. You’ll see what’s happening along with everyone else. Just stand down.”
Lois is at her wits’ end, she’s uncertain what Jimmy’s super-secret is, and, perhaps nearly as bad, she’s realized she’s damaged a valued friendship w/the young photog. The intrepid reporter finally recognizes she may need to give up on this. Just then, Superman—on his way elsewhere—zips past, leaving her w/flowers and a note which reads “No matter what you’re about to see, trust me.”
As the Vice President of the United States takes to the airwaves, he appears: Superman. And he doesn’t look happy. He threatens the Vice President and explains that the president and the rest of the world’s leaders are “somewhere safe—for now” and that as of tomorrow 0-600 hours, he is declaring himself Ruler of Earth. And anyone “who dares challenge him,” can feel to try and do so. But before he can finish his last sentence, a person we’ve glimpsed only barely throughout the speech speeds from his perch and tackles Superman.
It’s the person behind all of this—Ultraman. Superman’s twin, his evil equal and opposite number from a parallel world. And the last thing Ultraman wants is to have worked so hard only to have someone else take the credit…and take from him the world he was about to sublimate!
They battle (of course!). . .
Superman quickly takes the battle away from Washington and from any crowded areas. The fight is HUGE.
We learn Ultraman destroyed the other villains on his world, destroyed the people, its resources. He took and took and had no interest in giving. And, it seems, rather than learn from that, he was more content to move on to another world when he realized the destruction of highly advanced weaponry was periodically opening holes into the other worlds. (The details here will explain Kilowog, the off-world issue at the start of the book, the mirrored Fortress, etc.)
In the end, Superman will have defeated Ultraman, but not without the help of Batman, and will have learned something about his dedication to his home planet, and his country—namely, that if he wants trust, he has to work for it. And if he’s going to work as a global hero, he’s going to have to take responsibility for that and accept any consequences as they come.
Green Lantern and the Omega Men (TBD), with the help of the genius of Ray Palmer, find the world leaders in a pocket universe—the rescue is broadcast to the world.
Elsewhere, Lois too has learned to take responsibility, letting Jimmy know that he doesn’t have to reveal what it is he knows about Clark, that she’ll bear the responsibility on this. It’s not long before the D.A. drops the charges against him and, since she’s lost her story, the city does not press charges against her.
Jimmy admits to Clark that he knows a secret about him, and that he was going to irresponsibly share it with others to selfishly save himself. The secret is not what we’ve been led to believe: All Jimmy knows is that Clark knows more about Superman than he’s let on; that he clearly works in concert with Supes and Jimmy’s knows this is how Clark gets most of his scoops…that it’s not the hard work Clark pretends it is. While none of this is illegal, Jimmy explains, “We all know how this goes. A newspaper has a scandal on one of its most trusted reporters and its reputation is tarnished, just enough to hold off any impact of any negative stories on either local or national government officials might have—for a while anyway.”
Clark tells him the pursuit for truth takes many forms and he should always look at the big picture. And, as if on cue, Lois appears with a headline from a competing paper (via an iPad-like device): The enemies of her enemy spoke up, condemning the government official she was trying to take down and providing proof to his years of wrongdoing. So while Lois lost the battle, justice has won out.
Soon, Superman visits the White House, first apologizing to the V.P., and tells the president he’s glad he’s back to help to lead and be a shining example of the American Way. And, in a scene reminiscent of the Chris Reeve movies, Superman promises to keep a closer eye on the president and not to “ever let [him] down again!”