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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s security as pacification! Security as Pacification in Superman Red Son

Meg D. Lonergan[i]

Cultural criminology acknowledges that criminology is not only produced by all participants in popular culture.[ii] This field asserts the importance of theory in practice and in the cultural imagination.[iii] Mark Neocleous and others argue that there continues to be underdeveloped connections between everyday life, insecurities, and socio-cultural theories of power by criminologists and other scholars.[iv] Neocleous asserts that scholars are forcing models that do not actually fit or which are based on missed connections, like thinking of crime-fighting and war-fighting as distinct, instead of one in the same.[v] While Neocleous and George Rigakos brought a critical theorization of security as pacification to the table, I have tried to go beyond the edges of security studies and demonstrate key elements of this theorization through a more accessible medium, the comic book Superman Red Son.[vi]

Keywords: Superman, Security, Criminology, Culture, Political Economy

[i] I would like to thank George Rigakos, Garrett Lecoq, Meag Bell, and Megan McGooey-Smith for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Thank you as well to Morgan Oddie and Michelle Smith for their encouragement! I am grateful to the reviewers for their helpful feedback and to the editorial board of Panic at the Discourse. This project was funded in part by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.
[ii] Nicole Rafter and Michelle Brown, Criminology Goes to the Movies: Crime Theory and Popular Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2011), ix.
[iii] Ibid., x-1.
[iv] Mark Neocleous, “‘A Brighter and Nicer New Life:’ Security as Pacification,” Social & Legal Studies 20, no. 2 (2011): 192.
[v] Ibid.
[vi] Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, and Killian Plunkett, “Superman Red Son,” Red Son 1-3, Revised edition, DC Comics (April 2014).

Meg D. Lonergan is a Collaborative Ph.D. Candidate in Legal Studies and the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. She holds a Master of Arts in Gender Studies from Queen’s University and an Honours Bachelor of Social Science in Criminology and Women’s Studies from the University of Ottawa.