DC Comics announced Wednesday that Enders Game author and sci-fi grand poobah Orson Scott Card is set to write a new digital series of Superman comics titled Adventures of Superman. This is a controversial move for DC (which is already in trouble in some places for not being inclusive enough), given Card’s outspoken anti-gay stance. Card has said that gays and lesbians have no place in civilized society and, as a member of the National Organization for Marriage, has claimed that gay marriage will mean “the end of democracy”. Already an online petition objecting to Card writing Superman has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures. The petitioner’s objection, and mine, to Card is centered on their belief that Superman’s values and Card’s values are at odds (to put it mildly). Or, to put it not-so-mildly, Superman is a champion for everybody and Orson Scott Card is a big fat homophobe.
The Adventures of Superman line is not likely to delve too deeply into sexual politics, however. At most, the title will be lacking in any LGBTQ characters whatsoever (making it no different than 99% of comics).While having Card write a Superman line is certainly insulting to a group that already gets precious little coverage in comics, it might not be too big of a problem in terms of content. Personal politics matter little in mainstream comics where, for the most part, characters and storylines are governed by strict editorial oversight.
The larger problem is the appearance that DC is deliberately courting controversy in order to get attention in the press. The sad thing is, it’s working. LA Times’ Hero Press writer Oliver Sava went so far as to say that “DC Comics has thrived on controversy since Bob Harras took over as editor-in-chief, beginning with The New 52, which started off strong but has turned into a mess of crossovers, cancellations and creative team shifts.” Some press, however, is bad for business. This move, for example, might serve to alienate a sizable portion of their own readers.
What nobody seems to be talking about is that Card’s comic book work has been so-so at best. His run on Ultimate Iron Man, while as inventive as anything else he’s done, was boring, aimless, and ultimately did nothing to develop that character. Given his comic history (and his spotty record over all) I’m not exactly waiting on the edge of my seat for his next offering.
Whether you think this is simply an attempt to get a big-name writer to pen a new series, or a more cynical move by the folks at DC, this announcement has gotten the press mainstream and nerdstream alike, buzzing.