Superman will join a climate strike in an upcoming comic. Superheroes—they’re just like everyday people.
DC Comics released details on Friday for all its comics set to publish this January, and one of the covers depicts Superman holding a sign that says “School Strike for Climate!” The Man of Steel (well, technically the son of the Man of Steel) can be seen walking across an ominous-looking bridge with other young people holding similar signs, surrounded by looming tentacles coming from the water. The upcoming installment is part of the Superman: Son of Kal-El series, which follows Clark Kent’s son Jon as he takes over the Superman role from his dad, who booked it off Earth indefinitely (smart).
The news was a bit overshadowed by the announcement that Jon is bisexual, actually, and has a boyfriend (who is in the new art as well, holding a “skolstrejk för klimatet” sign, a direct callout to Greta Thunberg’s iconic sign). The Son of Kal-El series has dealt with climate change-themed storylines before. Jon Kent saved people from a supercharged wildfire in the first installment in the series released this summer. The climate strike imagery makes it clear climate change is going to be a big issue for the young half-Kryptonian moving forward.
The original character has always been oriented towards social justice (remember when he renounced his American citizenship after joining a demonstration in Tehran?). Basically, Superman’s always been cool, so it’s a no-brainer that he’d start thinking seriously about this whole climate change thing.
Greta Thunberg has, in many respects, done more to make people pay attention to climate change than anyone in recent memory; she’s sort of the closest thing we have to a climate superhero (so much so that she made a cameo in a Batman comic). Joining a group of people agitating for systemic change is one of the handful of things us normies can do to fight climate change.
No shade to Jon for wanting in on that. Superman turning out in solidarity is great. But let’s hope he does more than carry a sign. After all, while Greta has superpowers that have gotten more people to engage in protest, Superman can fly and take on evildoers directly in ways no mere mortal can.
According to the comics, it’s possible that Jon Kent’s human-Kryptonian background could make him even more of a beast than his dad. So our message is: dream big, dude! There’s no shortage of climate villains Superman could turn his attention to directly. Among the truly dastardly ones are corporations that misled the public for decades and that continue to buy off politicians and prolong inaction in order to line their pockets. Superman, they’re right there: you know who to fight! Nor are there no shortage of good deeds he could undertake to speed up the clean energy transition in a socially and ecologically just way.
With that in mind, here are some things Superman could do with his super powers that might be more effective than joining a climate strike:
- Tie up the Line 3 and Keystone pipelines into fancy bows, cutting off the flow of oil;
- Pull oil rigs out of the ocean like radishes out of dirt and fling them into space;
- Fly to another planet with super-reserves of lithium and bring some back to Earth, solving issues we’re facing with supplying renewables technology;
- Singlehandedly (and delicately, to not disturb ocean life) plant hundreds of huge wind turbines off the Eastern Seaboard, enabling us to tap into the incredible possibilities for wind power in that region;
- Use his strength to build (well-sited, environmentally sound) hydro projects with ease;
- Use his ice breath to keep permafrost in sensitive Arctic areas cooler during the summer, slowing the feedback loop from the melting;
- Fly over the Permian Basin and other fossil fuel fields and use his special vision to identify methane leaks, then intimidate* the owners of those facilities into fixing the leaks;
- Intimidate* Joe Manchin into doing the right thing for once in his goddamn life;
- Intimidate* oil and gas executives into turning themselves in at The Hague;
- Intimidate* world leaders into actually reaching productive compromises and agreements on climate.
* Not advocating violence against anyone, but Superman’s muscles sure are big!
I mean, just spitballing here, and it remains to be seen what’ll actually happen in the comic—maybe the writers will give us some pleasant surprises. You do you, Jon Kent.