"What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?": A group of metahumans calling themselves the Elite - consisting of Manchester Black, a psychokinetic; Hat, who has a supremely powerful magic hat; Coldcast, with power over subatomic particles; and Menager
- Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul, I swear... until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share -- I'll never stop fighting. Ever.
- — Superman
Synopsis for "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?"
A group of metahumans calling themselves the Elite - consisting of Manchester Black, a psychokinetic; Hat, who has a supremely powerful magic hat; Coldcast, with power over subatomic particles; and Menagerie, who is covered with symbiotic creatures - suddenly appear on the world scene and proclaim themselves "super-heroes". They are able to stop a terrorist threat in Libya involving a giant genetically enhanced ape, but not without killing the perpetrators, and not without huge and unnecessary loss of civilian life. Upon learning about the Elite from reporter Jack Ryder, Superman heavily disapproves of the Elite's lack of morals and their willingness to kill. However, much to his dismay, many people tend to agree with the Elite's brutal methods, as they see it as the only way to deal with increasingly dangerous criminals and evil-doers. During a conversation he has with Steel after learning this, he wonders if the world has moved on without the need of Superman.
Superman soon properly encounters the Elite after a battle against a Japanese super-villain team, who are slaughtered by the self-proclaimed "heroes". After being brought aboard the Elite's inter-dimensional ship called "Bunny", Superman argues with the Elite over their actions. Manchester Black counters that life isn't "like comic books." Reality is bloodier than that. Black tells Superman that his days are over, and as Superman begins to protest, he finds himself teleported out of the ship.
Superman (as Clark Kent) later travels back to Smallville and talks to his father regarding his encounter with the Elite. Pa Kent tells Clark that the Elite won't last. And if all else fails, Pa tells Clark, Superman can defeat them.
The next day, Superman battles with two rogue DEO agents and a pair of aliens, subduing them without harming anyone. As he approaches the four, the Elite suddenly materialize. Superman tells them that they should follow his example. Manchester disagrees, and then tells Hat to kill them and their families. Superman, enraged, knocks Hat to the ground. However, Superman's provoked assault gives the Elite "just cause" to challenge him to a fight to be held the following day.
That night, Lois and Clark lie in bed together. Lois is scared and she doesn't understand why Clark doesn't call in the Justice League for help. But Clark argues that he needs to stand up for the people, to show them that someone is willing to die for them.
On the day of the showdown, Superman requests that he and the Elite hold their battle on Jupiter's moon Io so that no one else will be injured in the crossfire. Hovering cameras are also present in transmitting the battle to Earth. Initially, Superman tries to offer his adversaries an easy surrender, which is refused with the Elite making their moves. By appearances, Superman is on the verge of defeat and ends with Coldcast detonating Superman in a huge explosion; after which the dust settles to reveal Superman's tattered cape. Just as the Elite stand triumphant, Superman's voice suddenly speaks to them by thanking them for showing him what he needs to do. Without any warning, Superman starts to kill each member of the Elite: Menagerie is blown apart, causing her symbeasts to leave her; The Hat is entrapped in a vacuum that suffocates him; Coldcast vanishes in a super-speed blur. Black is then confronted by a bloodied and beaten Superman, who ignites his heat vision and fries the part of Black's brain that granted him his powers, thus leaving him powerless. In a fit of panic, Black turns to the cameras and decries to Earth that Superman is no better than they are and he isn't anything special.
Superman then turns toward the cameras and addresses Earth. He admits that he probably scared the people of Earth with his savagery when he crossed the line. However, he doesn't like or believe in violence. In a surprising twist to everyone, he reveals that the rest of the Elite are actually alive and well and that he took advantage of the fight being recorded to make it appear as though he "killed" the Elite by relying on his speed, and that Black himself has only been hit with a form of localized concussion that temporarily disabled his powers. The Justice League are called on to apprehend the incapacitated Elite members so they can be tried for their crimes.
After hearing this, Black is enraged and tells Superman that if he thinks that it is over then he is living a dream. To Black's response, Superman calmly replies that he wouldn't want it any other way, and that dreams like the ones he gives to Earth are what make life worth living.
Appearing in "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?"
- The Elite (First appearance)
- Department of Extranormal Operations
- Samurai Roshu (Only appearance; dies)
- Atlantic Ocean
- Fortress of Solitude
- Washington, D.C.
- "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?" is reprinted in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Volume One and Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
- DC's 14th animated feature film "Superman vs. The Elite" released in 12 June 2012 is based on this issue.
- The Elite are clear analogues of The Authority.
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- DC Comics Presents (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 2)
- Superman (Volume 3)
- Superman (Volume 4)
- Superman (Volume 5)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- Superman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Superman: Son of Kal-El (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Steel (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Volume 1)
- Superman/Wonder Woman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
Links and References
- What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way? at Wikipedia.org
- Action Comics #775 on Superman Homepage
Superman: The Man of Steel #110 2001/12
Superman (Volume 2) #167 2001/14