This is going to be a bit long, but please bear with me. After reading Bill Sienkiewicz’s lengthy diatribe about #Comicsgate recently, along with several other pros coincidentally weighing in around the same time, I felt I had to offer a reasoned response…
To Bill Sienkiewicz and comics pros in general:
Let me begin by saying something you all clearly needed to hear.
YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT COMICSGATE IS ABOUT!
This is a big blow to your point of view, I’m sure. You want to believe that Comicsgate is about hating minorities, or women, or ‘non-binary’ people, whatever the latter may be, as it seems illogical to me.
Firstly, no. It’s not.
What Comicsgate IS about is trying to tell you, the comic book companies and those who work for them, that you’re ALIENATING long-standing readers. Not because you have minorities or women in your books, but because you are pushing identity politics over good storytelling.
Are you ready for another mind-blowing concept?
COMICS HAVE NEVER LACKED FOR MINORITIES IN THE BOOKS OR ON THE CREATIVE TEAMS.
This may be a stunning revelation to some, I know. So, I hear you asking yourselves ‘how can that possibly be true in Current Year’?
Go back and look at some of the people who write comics or ink, letter, or draw for them. Many of them have been minorities and many have worked on titles featuring major, well known characters; Captain America, Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, The Hulk, Iron Man, Batman, The Justice League, Superman, etc.
Likewise there are SEVERAL major comic book characters in comics who are themselves minorities:
- Apache Chief (Native American)
- Alicia Masters (Blind)
- Amadeus Cho (Asian)
- America Chavez (Latinx)
- Apollo (Homosexual)
- Aqualad II aka Kaldur’ahm (Homosexual, Black. Member of fictional race: Atlanteans)
- Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Mixed race: Human/Atlantean)
- The Arabian Knight (Literally in his name. Middle Eastern)
- The Atom, Ryan Choi (Asian-American)
- Batwoman (Jewish, Homosexual)
- Ben Grimm (Jewish)
- Black Adam (native/ruler of Fictional Middle Eastern nation— Qurac)
- Black Lightning (Black)
- Black Manta (Black)
- Black Panther (Black)
- Black Racer, New Gods (Black)
- Blade (Black)
- Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes (Hispanic)
- Captain/Citizen Cold (Homosexual)
- Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau (Black)
- Captain Steel (Filipino)
- Catwoman (Bisexual)
- Deadpool (Bisexual)
- Dr. Doom (Fictional minority— Latverian)
- Doctor Light II (Asian)
- Doga (Indian)
- Doghead (Latino)
- Elektra Natchios (Greek)
- Falcon (Black)
- Firestar (Mutant)
- Firestorm (Jewish, Black, Asian, possibly middle eastern — all due to this being a fusion of various duos)
- Gabe Jones (Black)
- Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes (Mexican-American)
- Goliath, Bill Foster (Black)
- Green Lantern, Alan Scott (New 52 Earth-2; Homosexual)
- Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz (Mexican-American)
- Green Lantern, John Stewart (Black)
- Green Lantern, Simon Baz (Arab-American)
- Hercules (Greek/Immigrant)
- Hippolyta (DC Comics; Bisexual)
- Jubilee (Chinese-American)
- Karma (Asian)
- Katana (Asian)
- Kitty Pryde (Mutant, Jewish)
- Luke Cage (Black)
- Magneto (Jewish / Mutant— also a Holocaust survivor)
- Meteor Man (Black)
- Midnighter (Homosexual)
- Mister Terriffic II/Michael Holt (Black, Bisexual)
- Misty Knight (Black)
- Moon Knight (Jewish)
- M, Monet St. Croix (Bosnian)
- Danielle Moonstar (Native American)
- Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan (Pakistani-American)
- Night Thrasher (Black)
- Northstar (Homosexual)
- Obsidian (Homosexual. Fictional minority: Metahuman)
- Pao Fu (Asian. Later made a Spirit of Vengeance. Technically undead)
- Prime (Jewish)
- Prodigy (Black)
- Professor Charles Xavier (Mutant, paraplegic)
- Psylocke (Japanese -- originally white. Bisexual.)
- The Question, Renee Montoya (Spanish-American)
- Ra’s Al Ghul (Chinese Nomad. May have Middle Eastern heritage as well.)
- The Ray (Homosexual)
- Red Wolf (Native American)
- Robin, Damian Wayne (Multiple mixed race. White/Chinese/possibly middle eastern)
- Shakti (Indian)
- Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu (Chinese)
- Silk (Asian-American)
- Spawn, Al Simmons (Black)
- Spider-Man, Miles Morales (Black/Puerto Rican)
- Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara (Mexican/Irish)
- Starfire (Fictional minority/fictional alien: Tameranean)
- Storm (Black/Immigrant/Mutant)
- The Sub-Mariner/Namor (Mutant, mixed race: Human (Mutant)/Atlantean)
- Sunburst (Asian)
- Sunspot (Brazilian/Black immigrant. Mutant)
- Superman (Minority/Fictional extraterrestrial: Kryptonian— technically an illegal immigrant)
- Thunderbird (Native American)
- Vibe, Francisco “Cisco” Ramon (Hispanic)
- War Machine (Black)
- Warpath (Native American)
- White Tiger I (Hispanic)
- White Tiger II (Actual tiger who became anthropomorphic)
- White Tiger III (Black)
- White Tiger IV (Hispanic)
- White Tiger V (Hispanic)
- Wolverine, Logan (Canadian)
- Wonder Woman (Greek/Immigrant— possibly bisexual)
- Jimmy Woo (Asian)
This list could go on and on, but as you can see, there are far more minorities in comics than many would want us all to believe. So if that is true, then why are people in Comicsgate “all of the sudden” upset about ‘minority’ characters? Well, here’s something that will shock you: they aren’t.
What they are upset about is the fact that these minorities only exist TO BE MINORITIES.
Confused? Let me try to explain.
As seen in the massive, but incomplete, list of minorities above (whether that be due to real life minority status or a fictional form of minority exclusive to comics), there is a glut of characters who aren’t male, white, straight, or Christian. But you notice that nobody complains about them, right? The reason for that is twofold.
1. These characters are well written.
Compelling stories will get readers invested. To have compelling stories, you have to have compelling characters. Good writing goes a long way to making that happen. If the character is a minority, great. It doesn’t mean the stories being told suddenly dive off on tangents to emphasis how much of a minority they are. If the fact that they are minorities comes up, it comes up during the course of the story, rather than being the story itself.
2. Their minority status isn’t their sole reason for existing.
Tying into my first point, these characters don’t constantly bring up their minority status. It’s simply part of who they are. There are a few exceptions. Magneto, for example, acts out in the ways he does because he sees mutants being treated the same way the Jewish people were during the Nazi regime. His behavior is informed by living through the horrors of the Holocaust. However there have been times when he has been more concerned with just being a PERSON, rather than harping on about his being a Mutant or a survivor of one of the most horrific times in modern human history.
This has been problematic however, in that Magneto’s response has often been to treat EVERY human as being just another Nazi waiting to do harm to mutants, conveniently forgetting that not everyone is anti-mutant, even if they have a less than stellar opinion of how mutants may choose to use their powers. While he’s had times where he has been a part of a heroic group or faction (The New Mutants and some various versions of the X-Men, mostly.), he often reverts back to this ‘all humans are Nazis who are just waiting to gas us’ mentality. In many ways, he’s become emblematic of the modern behavior of some people on both the political left and the political right. Mainly because both sides are fringe extremes, constantly willing to dehumanize and ignore any issue the “other side” may have, because to listen to someone with an opposing viewpoint has somehow come to be viewed as ‘giving in to the “enemy”’ instead of, you know, trying to find common ground. In a country built on compromise and finding middle ground where we can try to all live together, Magneto has often been a good example of how NOT to do so.
Like Magneto, Ben Grimm and Kitty Pryde and the recently rebooted Kate Kane (Batwoman) do not constantly speak about the fact that they are Jewish. While Kitty is known to wear the Star of David at times, she doesn’t get up in anyone’s face about it. It’s just part of her character. Ben wasn’t even revealed to be Jewish until the early 2000s, as he is apparently a mostly secular individual, not really practicing his faith or addressing his Jewish ancestry in public, or even bringing it up. As such it was a complete surprise when he was revealed to be Jewish. Again, not a single person complained. This is due to the fact that the writers did not make this the sole thing that defines him as a character.
As for Kate, her Jewish heritage is touched on, but it doesn’t rule her existence as a character. Nor does her reinvention as a lesbian (In her Golden Age incarnation, she was straight, and had a romantic interest in Batman, remember.) define her as a character. It is acknowledged that she is a lesbian in the books, but her life as a superhero does not depend on who she is attracted to. Nor does any other facet of her life in her civilian identity as Kate Kane depend on her being lesbian or Jewish.
White Tigers 1, 3, 4, and 5 are Hispanic or Black, and none of them define themselves by their skin color. It’s just something that is part of them. They don’t harp about it. They don’t use their skin to attack anyone who doesn’t have the same color skin, and they don’t blame everything and/or anything that goes wrong in their lives on someone else’s skin color. Being a minority does not mean the world is out to get you. Especially since there is also the issue that minorities in one country are not minorities in all countries.
Bear in mind, I say this as a man of mixed heritage myself. My father’s side of the family is Jewish, while my mother’s is white with a few other ethnicities possibly as part of her ancestry. My stepmother is also of mixed heritage, though as she is not a blood relative, it’s largely irrelevant to my point. I am largely secular in my behavior as I do not favor one side of my heritage over the other. Though I do try to at least do my best to respect both sides of it. Whether by dumb luck or not, I come off as more white in appearance than anything else.
Ironic, as my father and grandparents on his side of the family are closer to a lightly olive skin tone, indicating they may have some middle eastern or Greek heritage somewhere in the family tree. Thus, I ‘pass’ for white. Take that for whatever you wish. I simply know I am of mixed race ancestry. As such, I am more open minded than most whenever the subject of race comes up, no matter which way someone wants to take that discussion.
In the past, character such as Storm, The Black Panther, Luke Cage and the Falcon, among others, did not make their skin color the only thing about them that we were supposed to care about, nor did they engage in any kind of racist sentiment against anyone of different skin color, be it white, latino, etc.
However, that was in the past. Because it is NOT true of Storm, Luke Cage, or Black Panther in a couple recent comics, as there is rampant racism in the stories featuring them. Black Panther and the Crew is a blatant example of this, as there is a high degree of racism towards white people written flagrantly into the books, in addition to racism against the black characters whom the book centered on, in which they define themselves and the people around them SOLELY through the color of their skin. They are also engaged in a form of hypocrisy in the title.
How? Well for one, they act as if the borough of Harlem was always some homogeneous area of the city of New York that was solely populated by black people and which is being ‘invaded’ by white residents. This is far from the truth. Harlem was originally a DUTCH town, and was mostly white in it’s early days, though not exclusively. At some point, the black residents of the city began to congregate there, giving it it’s largely black population demographic. However Harlem was never all just one color or another.
In short, they are defining themselves and others solely by their skin in that book. Reducing themselves purely to their melanin count. This is part of why the book was canceled after only the first issue, though it did somehow get up to issue….four or six, I forget which, for reasons I flat out do not know.
On the subject of racism. In the aforementioned book, the black characters act as though Harlem is it’s own country and should ‘keep immigrants out’, depicted as being upset that there are not only white people already IN the borough, but that others are moving in.
This seems to echo an ongoing discussion about whether or not immigrants should be allowed to come to America, doesn’t it?
For the record, I am all for LEGAL immigration. Yes, it’s something that takes time. Yes, it means you have to wait until you’re legally processed and naturalized. It’s a pain in the ass for anyone who wants to come here ‘right now’. But legal immigration is meant to protect those who want to come here. It gives them legal citizenship, which grants full and equal protection under the law.
It means you cared enough— wanted to be a citizen enough— that you put up with the time and effort that goes into it that you wouldn’t just break the law. And whether one likes it or not, immigration laws ARE in fact, LAWS. FEDERAL law, in point of fact. Part of the system of laws that we as a population agreed to when we decided to become a singular nation, as opposed to a collection of states formed from a group of colonies that were once lorded over by the British Isles.
It may suck, and many will be quick to throw the term ‘racist’ or ‘white nationalist’ or some other bullshit at me, but let me ask you this:
If people from other countries should be allowed to come here just because they want to, then why can’t anyone who is already a citizen here go do the same with any other country?
For example, I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. Not necessarily to live, but just to visit. By their laws, I am required to have a visa, even if I just want to go there for a short period of time. If I wanted to move there permanently, there are several laws and hurdles I’d have to deal with. Seems pretty straightforward, right? The law is the law. I shouldn’t get to break their laws just because I want to go there, no matter what my reasoning is. Maybe I think my life would be made better if I lived there. So I should just get to move there, regardless of their immigration laws, right? I should be able to be an illegal immigrant or “undocumented” citizen, right?
No. No I should not.
If I do what I just suggested, then I prove that of I’m willing to break ONE law there, even if it’s just one that most people take for granted, I am by definition, a criminal. I’m not a refugee. I’m not seeking political asylum. If I decided to just up and go there and park my ass in Japan I would be FLAGRANTLY saying that I don’t care about their laws by disregarding their immigration laws. I would deserve to be treated like a criminal if I did that, because I would BE a criminal.
If I don’t respect their immigration laws, would they be insane to assume I would respect any of their OTHER laws? Hell yes they would. Because if I’ll disrespect one law by ignoring it, what’s to stop me from ignoring others? What’s to stop me from doing what I want there? The Law? I just proved the law would mean NOTHING to me in that scenario. The police? Well, if police are ‘racists’ or ‘government puppets’ here in America, why are they not that in other countries? Just because they’re not this country? Sorry, that doesn’t make any logical sense.
ALL LAWS need to be respected. Not just the ones we like. If we feel a law is unjust, then we have to get involved as citizens to get our elected representatives to change those laws. And yes, that includes immigration laws.
This actually brings me to RiRi Williams, a recently made character who popped up in Marvel Comics about two years ago, who has seen considerable backlash. However, the comics industry seems to have deliberately misunderstood WHY she is disliked in an attempt to claim that anyone who dislikes her is somehow a racist or worse. So let’s talk about RiRi a bit.
RiRi was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato in 2016. Her first full on appearance depicts her engaging in theft.
Let me repeat that:
Her first full on appearance depicts her ENGAGING IN THEFT.
The powered armor suit she designs, which resembles that of Tony Stark— better known as Iron Man— is created from STOLEN COMPONENTS, taken from the campus of MIT. Bear in mind this is a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL, who has somehow managed to get into MIT at an absurdly young age due to being one of the various ‘genius level’ characters in the Marvel Comics universe. Prersumably, she either came from a wealthy family or else got in on a scholarship due to good grades in school, right? Well as it happens it’s the latter. No surprise really. Someone smart enough to put together advanced tech like a knock off Iron Man suit at the age of FIFTEEN is probably pretty damn high up on the IQ charts, right? Of course. So why is she stealing? Honestly, I have NO clue.
RiRi was claimed to be as smart as Tony Stark, and also claimed to have done exactly what Stark did in creating the original Iron Man suit.
I’m sorry but I don’t buy the latter. Is she as smart as Tony? Maybe. Stark himself apparently got in MIT at the same age as RiRi. But did she replicate Stark’s creation of the Iron Man armor? HELL no.
What many people forget is that Stark DID NOT CREATE IRON MAN ALONE.
He didn’t even create Iron Man because he wanted to be a crimefighter.
Iron Man was created, in part, TO KEEP STARK ALIVE.
In fact, Stark’s armors are based on technology created between two men: Tony Stark himself, and Ho Yinsen, The two were held prisoner by a group led by a Chinese warlord called Wong-Chu, who wanted them to develop a super weapon for him. Instead, they created the earliest version of the Iron Man armor, with which Stark fought his way to freedom after Yinsen’s apparent death. The central chestpiece of the armor would be both where it’s power source was kept as well as being the location for a hyper powerful magnet, designed to keep a piece of shrapnel from piercing Stark’s heart and thus killing him.
A modified version of this story was told in the first Iron Man film, with the miniaturized Arc Reactor taking the place of the original magnetic chestpiece.
Stark and Yinsen had considerably less advanced tech with which to create the first Iron Man armor. By today’s standards, Stark’s first armor and its weapons weren’t just archaic, they would have been eaten for breakfast by the modern tech of today, with room left over for a mid-morning snack.
By comparison, RiRi stole highly ADVANCED tech FROM the MIT campus itself.
How did she do it? Well, Marvel would have us believe she just did it out of the blue.
I don’t buy this idea.
Well, there’s the fact that the Iron Man technology has been leaked before. Hell, it was the entire starting point of the first Armor Wars storyline. Stark’s designs were stolen, and multiple people began to develop their own armor and technology based on those designs. At which point Stark went on a personal crusade to reclaim his tech, kickstarting the titular ‘Armor Wars’, which he carried to the extent of attacking INNOCENT PEOPLE who were using armor based on his tech in order to keep legitimate maniacs from Marvel’s roster of supervillains contained in a specialized prison called The Vault, and then no less a person than CAPTAIN AMERICA himself during the course of this.
Something similar occurred in the early 2010s in a storyline in which Stark’s technology once AGAIN ended up being spread across the world, this time via the internet.
As many will tell you, next to NOTHING ever leaves the Internet. Did RiRi get her hands on plans for Iron Man tech? Can’t prove she didn’t, can’t prove she did. But the possibility does exist that this is how she put together the tech for her own powered armor.
Though this does bring up the question, again, “why she was stealing from MIT for the purpose of doing this?” I don’t know if that has ever been answered.
Things get more bizarre when we learn that RiRi actually WANTED people around her to be bigoted and racist towards her in order to validate her desires in life.
I fucking shit you not.
She actually said this.
In Invincible Iron Man #8, we are shown RiRi as a child in elementary school. In this flashback, she reveals that she wants to be an scientist. Her teacher not only says it’s a good thing to strive for, she seems to be complimenting her on her choice of career path, even if she might change her mind later on in life. (She was…what, five or so in this flashback?)
RiRi’s LITERAL RESPONSE to this encouragement?
“No, you’re supposed to say ‘You mean like a nurse’.”
I wish I was making this up.
Her teacher, completely confused about this, asks Riri why she would think that she would say that.
RiRi’s response to this?
“You’re supposed to tell me that nursing and teaching are noble professions and that people like me don’t get to grow up and be scientists.”
RIRI WILLIAMS, folks, not the teacher, RIRI WILLIAMS, is the one saying this is what her teacher should have said. This is literally a FIVE YEAR OLD telling her teacher “BE RACIST TO ME.”
It gets WEIRDER.
You know what she says when her teacher asks her ‘why would I say that?’
I shit you not, she responds with “That’s what they said to the first African-American female astronaut.” While pulling out a picture of said astronaut.
Her teacher, clearly not sure why her student expects this, points out that this kind of racist bullshit happened a LONG damn time ago and RiRi can do or be whatever she wants.
And I swear to God RiRi’s response is as fucked up as it is chilling.
“I was kind of hoping you’d tell me the opposite so I would have something to inspire me to prove you wrong.”
I wish to God I was making that up. But no, that’s in the book. Word for fucking word.
Did I mention her teacher was white? Yeah, think about that for a minute.
Anyway, this gets even STRANGER. You know what happens when her teacher says ‘sorry, I can’t help you.’ when Riri literally asked her to be racist to her?
RiRi proceeds to spend THREE FUCKING PANELS on the remainder of that page, and two more on the next, STARING at her teacher with an extremely angry expression for it.
Let me repeat this.
RIRI WILLIAMS GOT UPSET THAT SHE WAS TOLD SHE COULD BE A SCIENTIST IF SHE WANTED TO, AND THEN GOT PISSED OFF WHEN HER TEACHER REFUSED TO BE THE RACIST THAT RIRI WANTED HER TO BE.
Think about how disturbing it is that a character has to ASK someone to be a bigot just because they can’t feel validated or inspired to do something otherwise.
Part of this comes, I think, from the constant stereotypes that a) all white people are racist and b) somehow ONLY white people are racist.
In other words, someone told RiRi this was the way it was supposed to be. That white people HAD to put her down because she was black. That white people would NEVER support her dreams because they’re white.
When this did not happen, she proceeded to stare at her teacher angrily until her teacher threw up her hands in disgust at RiRi’s own inherent racism and said ‘okay, you’ll never be….Tony Stark.’
Again. Let me repeat this so it sinks in.
RiRi Williams got pissed off that her teacher isn’t a racist, and spent at least five panels across two pages (presumably intended to show that she did this for several MINUTES) until her teacher literally gives her what she wants.
This is a FIVE YEAR OLD BLACK CHILD DEMANDING A WHITE PERSON ACT LIKE A RACIST AND STARING AT THEM LIKE A SOCIOPATH WHEN THEY REFUSED.
Stop and THINK about that for a moment.
THIS is part of why RiRi got backlash.
There was no great tragedy that motivated her to become a hero.
She didn’t grow up poor. Hell, the school she’s depicted in is pretty damn idyllic looking from what I could see.
She didn’t become a hero because she saw Iron Man doing good and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
She literally became Ironheart because she BULLIED HER TEACHER FOR NOT BEING RACIST.
How screwed up is that?
This is what we mean when we say that identity politics have been shoved into comics. RiRi Williams is a PERFECT example of this. The first few pages of that issue show her doing this. Right before that, she’s doing this odd video journal of herself talking about how people are offering her stuff.
Her only problem, as she sees it, is that she’s TOO GOOD AT THINGS, and somehow this is overwhelming her. MIT, which she STOLE FROM, are making her offers of some kind— seriously, she says this right on the first page of the issue, which makes me legitimately wonder why she was even running from them after stealing from them at this point— and Tony Stark’s mother is offering her Stark’s labs for her personal use.
SHIELD has apparently been watching her since she was a kid and at one point wanted to recruit her.
I’m not kidding. There’s a point later in the same issue where she is flat out TOLD this by Sharon Carter, a longtime member of SHIELD.
….Ok, so if RiRi has NO interesting backstory, has NO consequences for theft, and literally just decided to become Ironheart out of racist spite after bullying her teacher because her teacher was SUPPORTIVE…..
Why the HELL are we supposed to like this character?
Are we supposed to like her because she’s black?
Sorry, I’m not going to support a racist, I don’t care what color she is. I’m damn sure not going to just say she’s a good character because she’s black. Her behavior in this issue alone makes her seem certifiably insane.
I grew up reading about not just Tony Stark, but also Jim Rhodes, aka “Rhodey”, and got to know the latter as a character. He never hid behind his skin as a reason for readers to like him. He was well written, interesting, and LIKABLE. When he was put into the Iron Man armor for the second time (the first being in the late 1970s-1984, one year before I started reading comics), nobody raised any fuss. Nobody cared that he was black. They liked him as a successor to Stark because he was well developed, had a good rapport with the readers, and was the logical and popular choice.
We knew Stark would be back eventually. Most comic book characters always come back from the dead. It’s practically a law of the industry. It damn well didn’t stop people from enjoying his second run in the armor, nor did it stop him from being well liked enough to get his own comic for awhile. It wasn’t racism that ended his own book, either. It was lackluster stories that did that.
Are we supposed to like her because she’s a girl?
Again, I’m sorry to say that that argument doesn’t fly either. When they announced that a fifteen year old GIRL was going to be Iron MAN, people were left scratching their heads at the absurdity of it. Not because of sexism, but because the entire concept was incompatible. If Marvel had said that RiRi was going to be a new character who had become a costumed hero who would be taking part of the focus of the Iron Man books using the codename Ironheart for the time being, most people would likely have been less skeptical of the announcement, since THAT would have been the truth.
But then RiRi was written with not only virtually NO flaws or hardships— literally everything seemed to be handed to her on a platter— we learn that her backstory is more in line with what we traditionally see from comic book villains. She was basically written as the proverbial mary sue.
Again, why are we supposed to like her?
Why are we supposed to connect with her as a character?
What’s supposed to make her compelling?
Marvel simply threw her at the readers, and assumed she would be instantly loved. Whether they assumed her sex or her race would be what made it so I have no clue. Maybe they just assumed she would be liked because she was co-created and written by Bendis, who has had hit or miss success with them. Whatever their reasoning was, it was clearly faulty. RiRi is written as a minority solely to BE a minority. It’s the only reason she was made a black girl. You know how I know this to be the case?
When the criticism of the book and character came, the response was almost ludicrously predictable:
“You’re all just sexist.” “You’re all just racist.”
This was literally the way Marvel’s staff responded when people mentioned what I’ve already pointed out; that she was badly written, handed everything on a platter, and had nothing to connect her with longtime readers.
What makes matters worse is that if she had been given her own book instead of taking over Iron Man’s, she might have not gotten hit with quite so much backlash.
She’s not the only character that Marvel or, more recently, DC have done this with. But she is one of the more prominent examples, as she’s often brought up by those who are ‘anti-Comicsgate’— Or perhaps ComicsHate would be a better term for those who try to use this defense of her and other characters like her— when the flaws in her character and the writing in her books is brought up.
Surprised I said this? Well, I can think of at least one character created in the last thirty years who proves this theory.
I can hear the hew and cry now; ‘But he’s white!’
He was a completely new character. Nothing connected him to any pre-existing character. He stood entirely on his own merits. Marvel clearly did SOMETHING right with him. He lasted four years before his book was brought to a close. Marvel took a chance with him, and the gamble paid off for long enough that they made money off him. He wasn’t politicized. He wasn’t presented as “Hey look how (insert the skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. of your choice here) he is! Buy the book or else you’re (insert the ism/ist/ic of choice here)! Support this character or else you’re a (insert the politically and/or racially motivated insult/shaming tactic of your choice here)!”
Did those quotes make you feel uncomfortable?
Because that’s the way many comic book companies have been treating their longtime readers. They have put skin color, orientation, religion, and whatever personal identity they want a character to be (or are themselves) out there in place of good storytelling. They have literally told readers “Who cares about the story? This person’s skin/religion/sexuality matters more than giving you something to read for fun.”
There are comic book “pros” who have literally said that anyone who wants story over identity politics or religious politics is a Nazi, or a misogynist, or any other word you have for bigots. They have literally told readers “I don’t work for you.”, “I don’t owe you entertainment.”, “Your opinion doesn’t matter, now buy this or you’re (x)”.
You know what the response to that has been?
Sales are down.
Comic stores are CLOSING because they can’t pay the bills due to the fact that sales are down.
The backlash online has continued to grow.
Case in point; A number indie comic creators have decided to go through different methods of getting their work out there, appealing directly to readers who have been pushed away by the very industry that DEPENDS on them to buy the books they make. Others have teamed with more open minded indy comic imprints, eschewing, and often lambasting the larger companies, leading, once again, to lower sales and more closed comic shops.
The reason they felt that this had to be done is because the gatekeepers at marvel, DC, etc. have bullied and harassed them. those who support such gatekeeping have ignored it or attempted to defend these actions. So they’ve taken their work directly to readers and used crowdfunding to get their work made, while keeping a good rapport with the fans.
So to those who keep making the misinformed claim that ComicsGate is about hate and bigotry, I will always respond with ‘No’. For a very simple reason.
Comicsgate isn’t about hate.
It’s not about bigotry.
Comicsgate has never been about bigotry, outside of some very far flung fringe elements.
It IS about trying to get it through the heads of people obsessed with identity politics that they are KILLING the industry by squelching the love that longtime readers have for their work and books.
We don’t want to read about idiots wearing shirts talking about feminist agendas.
We don’t want to read about black people wanting white people to be racist for their personal gain or to validate their desire to seem oppressed.
We are more than just “white people”…
We are Jewish. We are Asian. We are Black. We are Latino. We are mixed race. We are straight. We are Gay. We are Bi. We are Male We are Female We are Trans. We are young. We are old.
We don’t MIND new characters and we don’t MIND minority characters.
We want to read about characters who aren’t defined solely by their race, religion, sex, or orientation, etc.
We don’t want these new characters to take the place of classic, beloved characters who have established themselves in these heroic personas. We want these new characters to establish NEW personas of their own, and to become classics themselves on their own merits.
If you have to throw a new character into the established persona or codename of a previous character, do it because the character is dead or retired. Not because you think it’s the only way anyone will take that new character seriously.
Do it because it’s organic, not because they can’t stand on their own.
So no, Mr. Bill Sienkiewicz, Comicsgate isn’t about hate.
Comicsgate is about love. Love for old hands, and new faces. There is room for old and new.
We can see that. So why can’t you?
Hey, as an aside, I’m trying to get to New York Comic Con. Hoping some people will be willing to give me a hand with it. I have a GoFundMe set up for it here.
I’m also trying to raise money to have a language created for a book series I’m working on. Anyone willing to do so can do it here.
Thanks to everyone who read my rebuttal, and to anyone who donates to my GoFundMes, a hearty THANK YOU in advance!