Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson took to Twitter to address some fans' perceived pushback about colonialism in the current Action Comics run.
Johnson wrote a thread clarifying his take on Superman in the "Warworld Saga" crossover story arc. "There was some noise earlier about #Superman being a colonizer/Warworld being Iraq in current #ActionComics," he posted. "I’m confident readers already know that's untrue, but with all the ruckus that followed, I think it’s worth a few minutes to talk about what Action actually is. Also: tons of people have been super supportive today, but sincerely, there’s absolutely no need to pile on anyone, I’m just taking a moment to clarify my own take on Superman and Action Comics. I’d like us all to walk away friends. Hashtag What Would Superman Do."
He continued, "This isn't just about today, but FYI saying comments LIKE those expose an almost cartoonish bias re: my work. Yes I am currently active duty, but even if your assumptions about my views were NOT wrong: I don’t use my work as a delivery system for that stuff. I’m a storyteller. Reading or hearing that I’m a soldier, and then proclaiming to Twitter that my work is problematic, dropping little 'consider the writer' comments, making super simplistic and reach-y parallels, etc. is not the thoughtful, progressive move that you think it is. Well over a million of us in the U.S. Armed Forces. If you think we all have the same values, I don’t know what to say to you. It is an extremely large and EXTREMELY diverse group. The people I work with directly every week are women, men, gay, straight, NB, trans, all ethnicities, read and pray and love and vote every kinda way. If you read 'active duty army' and think you’ve got me figured out, you are big wrong. Action Comics has NOTHING to do with my (or your) feelings on U.S. or global politics."
After further citing his work on Marvel's Empyre: Captain America, Johnson said, "Even though Action Comics/the Warworld Saga has nothing to do with politics or the Army, I admit: it WAS inspired by real-life experiences, although weirdly I didn’t realize it until I was pretty deep into it. The culture that Mongul has built on Warworld was heavily inspired by what I’ve seen doing anti-human trafficking work in Baltimore. As most creatives can attest, the things you care about tend to come out in your work, intentionally or not."
He went on to explain how a huge aspect of the "WarWorld Saga" is people being in chains/imprisoned. "Anti-human trafficking work is insanely hard and frustrating because often the victims don’t want your help, at least not at first," he said. "You work hard, you fill your head to bursting with painful information, you try to find people, and for months it feels like you’re just not doing a goddamn bit of good for anyone. THAT’s what the Warworld Saga is about. Mongul’s warzones and most of the other slaves on Warworld hate Superman, but they’re not the enemy... they’re the reason he’s there. Mongul alone is the enemy, but they’re ALL fighting him." Johnson concluded, "We (my co-creators, editorial and me) are telling a story we care so, so deeply about, and I don’t want it misrepresented. As always, monumental thanks to all the readers who have been so supportive of the book this whole time, please keep spreading the word! It’s always deeply appreciated."
Action Comics #1043 from Johnson and artists Will Conrad and Riccardo Federici hits shelves May 24. Action Comics 2022 Annual #1 releases May 31.