The final issue of DCU Decisions was released Wednesday, completing a cliffhanger from #3. As I’ve written, the series started with at least some potential for breaking interesting ground, but then methodically failed to live up to that potential. The second half of the series is even more disappointing and forgettable, leaving one wondering what if anything this book was intended to accomplish.

In #3, the melodrama of super-hero endorsements continued, as Wonder Woman offered a very cogent argument to right-wing candidate Bob Ridgeway about why she shouldn’t endorse any candidate, being a diplomatic representative of the Amazon nation (never mind that her nation currently has zero population)… but then, after a brief and hackneyed speech about “American greatness” from Ridgeway, she agreed to do so anyway. The series throughout has badly mischaracterized Diana, subsuming all other aspects of her worldview to her supposed status as a “warrior,” and this drove the point home with an anvil. (Whichever one of the book’s co-writers handled her scenes clearly either never read, or just didn’t understand, the classic runs on the character by George Pérez, or Phil Jiminez, or Greg Rucka, or… well, anybody, really.)

But wait! She didn’t actually endorse… because it was then revealed that she, and Bruce Wayne, had only feigned their endorsements (as if the public could tell the difference?) in order to gain access to inside information from the campaigns that might help them solve the mystery. (Of course, this makes no sense, since the candidates’ own lives were at risk and they had every incentive to share information anyway. It also does nothing to make sense of which candidates these characters chose to align with. It moreover suggests a remarkable willingness on the heroes’ part to distort and undermine the very democratic process to which the book gives lip service.)

That’s all moot anyway, though, since this aspect of the story is then unceremoniously shuffled to the back burner in favor of resolving the case. That is achieved in #4 (via a gimmicky plot device) in perhaps the most anticlimactic way possible, ultimately incriminating quite literally nobody in particular, and moreover failing to provide any motivation for choosing politicians as victims in the first place.

After that we get a platitudinous speech from Superman about why super-heroes shouldn’t take a role in politics, since they have to be trusted to serve and protect no matter who wins. First of all, this is uncomfortably akin to the argument applied to military officers, begging the question of to whom heroes are accountable, and how subservient they are to authority. Second, while it’s perhaps consistent with the current take on Clark’s characterization, it doesn’t really even explain his own personal history: what, he avoided taking a public stand against President Luthor because he wanted to make sure Luthor trusted him? That ship had sailed long ago.

The actual political aspects of the story are pushed more and more into the background as it progresses; at no point do we learn who actually winds up winning the DCU’s presidential race, or even the nominating contests. If DC editorial wants to attempt at least approximately to mirror a real-world setting in the years ahead, they’ll probably wind up going with Obama surrogate Davis Brewster, but I’m just guessing. The story provides nary a clue.

So: it fails as a mystery, and it fails as an exploration of politics. It all ends with the equivalent of a public-service announcement reminding everyone to vote on November 4. That seems exquisitely irrelevant in this context… since anyone who wouldn’t find their intelligence insulted by this story is almost certainly too young to vote anyway.

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4 Responses to “DCU Decisions staggers to a conclusion”
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  2. Andrew says:

    It’s good to know that time solves most of the problems, as this one has been dealt with … one way or another.

  3. ADDENDUM: As of Superman #691 (Oct ’09), we finally learn the results of this election, as a minor plot point names and shows Martin Suarez as the new president. (If this information has appeared anywhere earlier, I missed it.) That result was in no way foreshadowed in Decisions, but then it doesn’t seem very important to the Superman writers either… so perhaps we should be thankful anyone even took the trouble to look back to this series and choose one of its candidates, however arbitrarily.

  4. I wonder if it was really intended as anything more than an adventuremystery yarn in political debate clothes to begin with.

    Lost potential, though, is a fair concern to many.

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