Why Letting Superman Kill Kills Superman

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Will today’s mailbag be the final word on Man of Steel’s controversial ending? Hopefully! Are the Disney Princesses put in an absurdly violent scenario? You bet! Does a zombie baby question get taken too far? It most certainly does! Welcome to Postal Apocalypse!

God Loves, Superman Kills

Chris M.:

Mr. Postman:

I've been nerd-raging over Man of Steel criticisms for awhile now, namely in terms of people talking mad poo over Clark killing Zod and all of the destruction. It's as though these people's only view of Superman has been Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League/JLU where he's too busy getting shocked to kill guys.

Not only did Superman kill Zod in the Christopher Reeve version, but he's killed Zod in the comics for a grand total of three times that I know of. He's killed other guys in the comic as well, though not often and not without remorse. As for wrecking cities, I need only point to his battle with Captain Marvel (Shazam) in JLU.

Why do people seem to forget all of these instances? What else was Clark supposed to do in Man of Steel? There's no prison that could hold Zod. They don't have Red Sun prison cells, or Kryptonite. Given time for Zod to adapt to Earth and gather yellow Sun radiation, add in his superior Kryptonian training (and Clark's lack thereof), what you have with sparing Zod is a dead Clark and an enslaved/slaughtered Humanity. World of cardboard, remember?

I'm not trying to say Man of Steel was a cinematic masterpiece, but I think the criticisms are in the wrong place.


A well-articulated argument! As one of the biggest opponents of Superman killing, let’s see if I can do the same.

I have two problems with letting Superman kill anybody, whether Zod in Man of Steel, Zod of Superman II, or any of those other deaths you’ve mentioned (and admittedly there have been a few). The first problem is that it breaks the character. In Man of Steel, Superman has to kill Zod to keep him from murdering a family, right? Well, other villains like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Metallo and the rest also kill innocent people — why doesn’t Superman kill them during their evil plots? And then, since we all know Lex Luthor and all of Superman’s other bad guys are going to kill innocent people the next time they show up, shouldn’t Superman simply hunt them down and kill them now for that same “greater good”? Aren’t they always going to kill innocent people? If he’s killing Zod to save that one family, why doesn’t he kill all his other villains to prevent all those other future innocent people from dying?


If Superman is justified in killing one foe, then he’s justified in killing all of them. And while I doubt you or anyone would be fine with Superman going on a murder-spree of the DC Universe’s bad guys (although it does make for some fun Elseworlds tales, like the Injustice series) Superman killing anybody raises this issue instantly. Superman shouldn’t be about ethical dilemmas, it should be about Superman finding solutions even when there don’t seem to be any.

Now, as to why many comic characters can kill whoever they want and get away with it, but Superman can’t, that leads us to the second problem. Marvel characters, and most mid-tier and lower DC characters are simply people. They try to do good, sometimes they fail, they learn, sometimes they’re stupid. They kill people because they get angry, or by accident, or because it’s personal, or just because they can’t think of another option.


But Superman is a myth. He — and Batman too — are on totally different levels from these other guys, which means they have different rules. Just like Batman is always prepared, Superman always does the right thing. Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man all have personal problems. Do you know what Superman and Batman’s personal problem is? Evil.

Superman is especially the character that is supposed to inspire us to aspire to something greater. That’s his whole damn point. He is supposed to represent humanity at its best. He’s supposed make the right decision even when they doesn’t seem to be one. When faced with two impossible choices — like, say, killing Zod or letting an innocent family die — he’s supposed to somehow figure out a third option, so he wins without compromising his principles. That’s his greatest superpower — to always do the right thing.


When Superman fails to do this, he’s brought down to the level of any run-of-the-mill comic superhero, and he shouldn’t be. This is what puts Batman and Superman above all the other comic characters, and what makes DC's main heroes special. I don’t want to see Superman failing to live up to his m0ral code, or angsting over his actions, or even letting Zod win by forcing him to murder. I have every other comic character for that. I want to see Superman be... well, super.

PS — As to Superman’s other options in the Zod situation: 1) Cover Zod’s eyes with his hand. 2) Fly up with Zod. 3) Lean back so that Zod would be forced to look up. 4) Poke Zod in his eyes. 5) Use his heat vision on Zod’s head until he stopped. I could go on.


Space Is the Place


Similar to Waynestock, I had a dream granted to me by a mystical Indian. Or maybe just my own love for Toonami. But here's the point:

Toonami: Live!

A movie theater, providing us a three hour block. Maybe longer. We get one or two of the DJ's used for the music video segments on Toonami to do small live sets, in between some classic episodes, screened in their entirety. Obviously if Steve Blum or Tom the robot were there that would make it huge, but I think any special guest could act as emcee for fan attraction.

1) Do you think this is a terrible idea?

2) Do you think there is a chance of it happening if it were pitched to Cartoon Network?

3) If it were to happen would you go/be involved anyway?

I'd appreciate your thoughts!

1) I think it is an awesome idea.

2) I think there’s no chance in hell of it happening. Toonami is no longer an important brand to Cartoon Network, and we should thank our lucky stars a group of fans inside the network managed to bring it back on Saturday nights. Any Toonami event would have to be organized entirely by fans.


3) I would be there to give lectures about how insane the Gundam Wing pilots were and how fat little original Tom was the best Tom.

Family Movie Night


Dear Powdered Postman,

I have an issue concerning my in-laws. Is the woman that married my wife's cousin still called my cousin-in-law? Now say this woman (who is over quite often) sent a video to an ex boyfriend who then put on the internet and I happened to see it. To be honest, it took me many views to verify it was her but now Thanksgiving will be a little more awkward. How should I proceed?


She can be called your cousin-in-law, although no one ever calls anyone a cousin-in-law in this day and age so you probably shouldn’t bother. “Susan" is probably better nomenclature (or whatever her name is), because this situation is already awkward enough.

The bigger question is what to do with this knowledge. I’m going to take a wild guess that this internet video is naughty in nature, so besides the other issues you probably don’t want to leap up from the table in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner and yell “I WATCH A GREAL DEAL OF PORNOGRAPHY AND THE OTHER DAY I SAW HER BOOBIES!!!” and then point at your cousin’s wife dramatically.


Discovering her shitty ex-boyfriend uploaded a private video to the internet is going to suck, but you need to tell her so she has the chance to try to take it down. I wouldn’t tell the cousin, because 1) this is the sort of thing husbands traditionally get extremely upset about and 2) Susan’s day is going to suck enough when you tell her anyways. That said, if you’re embarrassed to bring it up to her — although I can’t imagine why — you could set up a fake email account and send her the link to the video. She doesn’t need to know who saw the video, but she does need to know it’s there in case she can do something about it.


No Shirt, No Surliness

Brendan B.:

Dear Mr. Bricken,

Your recent answer to "Defriended" about geek friendships based on similar hobbies came at a weird time for me. I was recently driven out of a library I regularly do my writing in by an increasingly annoying fellow patron. I was wearing a t-shirt that referenced Portal on it and because of that he assumed I wanted to talk to him. He read me geeky science based webcomics aloud, then proceeded to tumblr posts, and then even a Reddit AMA. I tried to drop the hint that I was working, but that didn't stop him. I could have told him to shut up, but somehow that felt rude. Because of this experience, I'm thinking of hiding my power level in the future by not wearing geek paraphernalia in public as so to not attract unwanted conversation. My question is this, Mr. Postman: are there better ways to deflect those who unwisely feel entitled to my attention because of a shared interest?


This guy sounds like a total weirdo, so I can’t imagine that you’re in too much danger of having this situation come up again. I would also hazard a guess that the more common interaction is having people make eye contact with you and give you a knowing smile because of your shared recognition that Portal 2 is an awesome game. Telling the guy to shut up would be rude, but a simple “I’m sorry, but I have to work now” is perfectly acceptable. Even better, start carrying the universal symbol of wanting to be left the fuck alone: headphones.


Babies R Ugh

Fletcher O’L:

Dear Postman,

I have recently started watching the Walking Dead, and have nearly finished season two and couldn't help but think "Gee, I wish Lori would just get eaten."

This - spoiler ahead - made me wonder about the affect of zombification on the pregnant.

The CDC guy said it could take as little as 3 minutes to return. That sounds like the kind of time frame that doctors sometime have to work with saving foetuses from car accidents, and so forth.

Could the foetus survive the death and turning of the mother to be a nice little snack when she's turned? (And yes, I am envisaging a pregnant zombie tearing out its own womb to get at the juicy baby. It's horrifying)

Could the zombie infection spread to the unborn and you get a terrifying zombie foetus nashing at you with no teeth?


A baby in the womb dies very quickly after the mother dies, because it depends on the mother’s heart to receive oxygen. In the three minutes it takes to turn into a zombie, the baby would die. Even if the baby was recently dead enough to be appetizing to its zombie mother, I don’t think the zombie would have the cognizance to recognize it has Little Debbie, Snake Cake residing in her womb. Besides, since everyone in The Walking Dead is infected, the fetus would morely likely turn into a zombie just a few minutes after mom, although it wouldn’t have the strength, teeth or fingernails to tear itself out, meaning it would have to wait for the stomach to decompose. And then it would probably still be attached by its umbilical cord so the mom would be dragging — you know, I'm done imagining this scenario.


Royal Rumble

Brian L.:

Dear Postman,

So my friends and I were talking about which was the best Disney animated movie, which natuarly lead to which is the best Princess, which evedently lead to which would win in a fight.

Now while that conversation didnt go much farther, but I wondered who would win in a Battle Royal/Hunger Games fight between Disney Princess (official only so Meg and Jane and other major non official princess stay out)?

At first I thought would be Mulan, who is armed to the teeth and has military training. But to make things less unbalanced we made it so that they would only use things that belonged to them which means she only gets to use her sword which unlike her armor and fireworks, she actually got to keep at the end of the film.

We also said no animal companions, or help from family or friends.

And while my friends all thought it would come down to Mulan or Merida, however I thought Rapunzel would win because not only has she shown she is more than capable of defending herself with a frying pan (and did it so well and entire army replaces is swords with them), she also has healing abilities and straight up let the person who raised her and thought was her mother for the past 16 years die. Im pretty sure Merida and Mulan spent the entire movie trying not to let their parents die.

So tell me Mr. Postman, who do you think would win?

This scenario is ridiculously elaborate, and I’m proud of you for going way, way too far with it. Okay, for those of you who don’t know, the 11 official Disney Princesses are: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel and Merida from Brave. (I should also mention the awesome Princess Fighter art is by JoshWMC.)


Here’s how the Disney Princess Hunger Games go down: With their actual soldier experience and weapons training, Mulan and Merida are indeed the ones to beat. They, along with frying pan-wielding Rapunzel, quickly take out the other princesses who have no discernable fighting skills. With the rest of the Princesses in a pile of corpses, Mulan’s experience wins out over Rapunzel’s natural talent, and Rapunzel is beheaded. Instantly, Mulan is riddled with arrows from Merida’s bow, as Merida has crept away from their fight to attack from a distance. As Merida celebrates her victory, Pocahontas creeps silently down from a tree and snaps Merida’s neck from behind. Pocahontas wins! But then Pocahontas remembers that even though she’s a Disney Princess her real life was horrible so the victory gives her no joy.

Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email thepostman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!