The latest installment of the Superman comic features a cameo from an unexpected guest: Russian President Vladimir Putin. To the surprise of no one, he is portrayed as evil and aggressive.
DC Comics’ “Doomsday Clock” is an ongoing, limited-edition series that brings the dark themes and characters from Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” into the world of Batman and Superman.
The same issue takes a jab at Russia a few pages before – referring to a child whose parents were “gassed by Assad, the Russians’ puppet”. And it features the likeness of Putin to show how tensions between the US and Russia escalated into a shooting war.
After American superhero Firestorm accidentally turns a crowd of Russian civilians into glass, Putin is more than a little mad. Appearing in front of the Kremlin, flanked by tanks and soldiers, Putin declares that he will “NO LONGER tolerate America’s lies!” and promises retribution, believing Firestorm to be working for the US government.
Enter Superman. Somehow respected and admired in Russia as in America, Superman sets out to explain that the incident was all a big misunderstanding. Firestorm didn’t mean it, and he can use his powers to unfreeze the rigid Russians.
When Firestorm arrives with a Russian child he’s brought back to life (don’t ask), the trigger-happy Russian soldiers open fire and the tanks advance on their own frozen citizens. Superman intervenes to save the child and Putin rushes away from the scene. What happens next? Tune in for the next episode!
While writer Geoff Johns certainly appears to have binged on a diet of CNN and Hollywood, the comic almost presents the Russian leader in a more favorable light than prime-time US news shows.
The fictional Putin of DC Comics is a reasonable man, willing to listen to Superman before ordering violence. Meanwhile, the fantasy Putin of US mainstream media is a diabolical, election-meddling mastermind who controls everyone from President Trump to socialist Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), and is the force behind every divisive movement in the West, from Black Lives Matter to Brexit.
Maybe that’s by design? After all, Superman’s moniker “Man of Steel” literally means “Stalin” in Russian.