While many of our favorite superheroes might fight for truth, justice, and the American way, not all of them were born on American soil. In fact, comic books often celebrate the diverse backgrounds of their superheroes, be they aliens from another planet or from just across the border. And one artist thinks it's high time we considered deporting them.
No, Neil Rivas doesn't actually advocate the fictional deportation of the US's superheroes. But he does want to use superheroes as a way to reframe the discussion about immigration. His series Illegal Super Heroes, currently on display at SOMArts in San Francisco, displays a superhero with the text "Illegal" and a phone number that lets you "report" the hero to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When you call the number, you'll hear the story of that particular superhero. For example, if you call Superman's number, you'll hear:
Hello, you've reached the Illegal Super Heroes Department for the San Francisco Immigration Customs Enforcement Field Office. This is the report hotline for illegal super hero Superman.
Superman, perhaps the most notorious of all illegal super heroes, is known to have entered the U.S. countless times illegally since his first appearance in Action Comics #1 (1938). He was born on the planet Krypton and has resided illegally in Smallville and Metropolis.
He is suspected to currently be illegally present within U.S. borders. To make a report, please leave a detailed message after the tone.
Thank you, and God Bless America.
Rivas explains to Colorlines that he grew up reading superhero comics, and while there was always much discussion of the characters' often extranational origin stories, there was little discussion of their freely crossing borders. He hopes that the nostalgia and affection so many people feel for these characters will cause viewers to have a powerful emotional response upon viewing these "Illegal" posters.
Photos from SOMArts.