“Preachy” Doesn’t Mean “Bad” in Superman 27

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“Preachy” is one of those words that I, as both a critic and a human being, hate using. Almost every narrative preaches in one way or another, meaning that the word largely ends up being used, much like “agenda” or “pandering,” only to describe concepts the speaker can’t stand. Yet, I can’t find a better word to describe Superman 27 than “preachy” — I mean, Lois and Clark spend the majority of the issue stating their beliefs almost directly to the reader in language that sounds straight from a dictionary, eliciting several eye-rolls from me. Thankfully, this doesn’t lead to the issue’s doom. In fact, it still succeeds because of three reasons.

The first is that Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason find powerful messages even as they enter more controversial territory. I have more than a few problems with patriotism and nationalism, the military, and the founding fathers, but through those institutions Tomasi and Gleason/Lois and Clark are able to champion justice (the story of Deborah Sampson), standing up for your beliefs no matter the cost (the continental congress), and empathy (Ryan Duffy), concepts that never go out of style.

Second is that Lois and Clark practice what they preach. It’s not just inviting Ryan Duffy to dinner, but standing up for him when the restaurant staff discriminates against him. That’s a pure Superman move — not just standing up for the oppressed, but his ability to inspire those around him to be their best selves as well. This issue isn’t just a soapbox for Tomasi and Gleason — the ideas they’re presenting are true to the characters as well.

Along that same vein, the third reason is that, even as they very specifically try to preach a message, the cast never lose their humanity nor their character. Lois and Clark gladly detour their very political vacation to allow Jon to surf Niagara Falls, and once Jon’s asleep, take time to flirt with each other as well.

The result is that, while this issue is obviously trying to impart a very specific message (and not always in the most graceful manner), it does so in a way that’s still interesting to read, and still true to the cast and core qualities of Superman.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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