As noted by yours truly last week, legendary comics scribe Mark Waid was asked/forced to edit his Marvel Comics #1000 Captain America narrative as (according to io9,) the original version “felt out of place.”
io9 notes in the title of its report on the incident that Marvel is “doubling down on its misguided crusade to remain apolitical.” Only a self-absorbed progressive could come up with such a headline. There’s also that same old, tired whining and mischaracterization of the politics complaint:
The situation with the Marvel Comics #1000 essay appears to be another example of Marvel Comics censoring its creators in an attempt to be apolitical, to the detriment of the company and its audience. …
Trying to remain “apolitical” is an effort in futility in 2019. Art is inherently political. Saying you’re “not political” serves to uphold the status quo and hold back diverse voices who might open up the audience’s perspective to other points of view. Like, for example, how America isn’t perfect, and how fighting injustice is the American Way. Insulating your audience from the larger problems of the world, instead choosing to gloss over it all with vague messages about Captain America’s mask as a symbol, doesn’t do anyone any favors—especially in a world where the creatives behind Captain America, whether it’s Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson, are using Captain America’s status as a symbol of what America should be to actually question the nobility and ideals of what the nation and its people have become.
I don’t know any right-leaning folks who were, and remain, cheesed at the classic Cap “Secret Empire” arc by Steve Englehart which stopped just short of naming President Richard Nixon as the dastardly Number One.
Explaining ComicsGate could take over 15,000 including examples, but let me try to offer a handful of examples:
- Tales like “Secret Empire” work(ed) because folks on both sides of the aisle recognized what a creep Nixon was. After all, he would have been impeached and most likely convicted had he not resigned.
- Aside from 1960s Cold War anti-Communist stories (which, like the sentiment against Nixon, was bipartisan), there’s very little at Marvel that can be considered “anti-left.” In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was often portrayed as a buffoon (just off the top of my head there’s an issue of What If? where Reagan asks why the Vision is taking over all the world’s pewter — not computers — get it?), and conservative characters like US Agent were treated as mentally unbalanced.
- Beginning in the 2000s, Marvel’s (and others’) liberal bias became much more overt. Mark Millar blasted George W. Bush’s foreign policy in The Ultimates. So did J. Michael Straczynski in Supreme Power and his Squadron Supreme reboot. The Truth: Red, White, and Black portrayed the US’s collective morality as akin to that of Nazi Germany.
- Throughout George W. Bush’s two terms, creators treated him like the devil incarnate, mainly due to the invasion of Iraq. Image Comics went a step further and took a 9/11 Truther perspective in The Big Lie. And speaking of Image, their COO Erik Larsen once had his comic creation Savage Dragon punch the former president in the face.
Of course, despite what comics lefties will tell you, the Iraq invasion was, and is, a legitimate political debate (and I even happen to side with the lefties on this one), the fact remains that the initial resolution was overwhelmingly supported on a bipartisan basis.
And then … from 2009 through early 2017 we were treated to stuff like this:
Throughout the history of comics, liberal politicians have been treated as heroes, even as far back as FDR and JFK and all the way up until today, but beginning on January 20, 2017, however, ninety-nine percent of comic creators lost their collective minds when Donald Trump was inaugurated. Cute little hashtags like Kurt Busiek’s #IResist began popping up on Twitter bios. Comics arcs blasting the administration and American government began anew, arguably making the Bush years pale in comparison.
This is what folks are talking about when they say they want the politics “toned down.” We get that comics have always touched on political and social issues; however, when roughly one-half of the country is routinely trashed — and for legitimately debatable issues — there’s a problem.
I once joked that Marvel should do a sequel to Englehart’s “Secret Empire” focusing on Barack Obama’s spying on American journalists and weaponizing agencies like the IRS (which, after all, was part of the articles of impeachment ready to go against Nixon). I say “joked” because, of course, there was no way in hell that it would ever happen. Instead, over the last two and a half years, we get cute Donald Trump allegories like M.O.D.A.A.K. — a MODOK rip-off which stands for “Mental Organism Designed As America’s King.” Edgy, eh?
And, natch, compounding matters are creators’ shitty social media presences.
“Engage with fans in a professional manner? What?!?”
So cut the crap, io9, creators, and lefty fans. You know precisely what we mean when we complain about the one-sided politics in modern comics. Just for once, instead of doubling and tripling down, try taking a step back and to look outside your dogmatic bubble. If you can’t see there’s bias, then you’re either myopic or lying. Possibly both.