For decades, one of Superman’s mantras was “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” so perhaps it’s only fitting that the Man of Steel recently made an appearance (in illustrated form) during an incoming California congressman’s swearing-in.
Robert Garcia, a Democrat who was formerly the mayor of Long Beach, is a lifelong comic book fan. He moved to the United States from Peru at the age of 5 and credits Superman with helping him learn to read and write in English.
It wasn’t just any comic book that Garcia used during the ceremony on January 7 – it was a rare copy of “Superman No. 1” from 1939, borrowed from the Library of Congress and returned under Capitol Police escort. This is the first time a comic book has been used for a swearing-in ceremony. For the oath, Garcia placed the comic book, along with his U.S. citizenship certificate and a photograph of his mother and stepfather (who both died from Covid-19 in 2020), under a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
There is no law prohibiting new members of Congress or other elected officials from taking the oath of office on a non-religious text. In fact, the Constitution specifies that there should be no “religious test” to hold office. Though many incoming politicians use a Bible, some have been sworn-in on religious texts from other faiths or none at all. For example, in 1825, President John Quincy Adams took the oath of office on a law book, emphasizing his belief in the separation of church and state.
From "Champion of the Oppressed" to "Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow":
- Garcia is the first openly gay member of Congress who is also an immigrant. He has described himself as a “comic book nerd.”
- The early Superman comics are known for their emphasis on values any politician should aspire to uphold, exemplified by Superman’s first epithet, “Champion of the Oppressed.”
- Today’s Superman comics notably reflect the modern world and strive to better represent the people who read them. In 2021, DC Comics replaced the “American Way” catchphrase (which originally came about to boost morale during World War II) with “Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow.” Also in 2021, Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s son, Jon Kent, who recently took on the Superman role in the DC Comics universe, came out as bisexual.