Left-Wing Ideologues Trash Classic Comics for Lack of Sophistication


The Atlantic spoke about the three new Penguin Classics books spotlighting Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Panther, asking whether comicdom’s actually been accepted into what appears to be a canon of mainstream, even though that’s still utterly disputable. It begins by citing a few notable leftists:


The slow embrace of the comic-book medium by elite audiences is a history with its own particular milestones, each marking a moment of sudden approbation by previously disapproving constituencies. George McManus received a congressional dinner and warm words from Franklin D. Roosevelt in celebration of his comic strip, Bringing Up Father. Mid-century-modern artists like Roy Lichtenstein adapted (okay, lifted) images and panels from comic books. Art Spiegelman received a special Pulitzer citation for his graphic novel Maus, first published in book form in 1986. That same year, this magazine featured a story titled “Comic Books for Grown-Ups”—an early entrant in a genre of journalism so pervasive, it’s sometimes known to fans by the acronym CAFKA (as in, “Comics aren’t for kids anymore”). Another Pulitzer, 2001’s fiction prize, went to Michael Chabon for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which suggested, alongside books like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, that comics, particularly the branch of the medium dedicated to superheroics, were a useful basis for high-culture novelistic meditation.


I’m wondering what’s so special about these left-wing ideologues that they deserve citation here? The latter’s actually worse, since he went out of his way, as a producer of Star Trek: Picard, to deliberately alienate core audiences with revolting material. And much as I love the superhero creations of the past, they alone shouldn’t have to define high-culture when there’s scores of other sci-fi and fantasy creations that can do the same. Besides, it’s become pretty apparent the PC crowd will only seemingly accept the medium if it’s watered down, as the recent state of Marvel movies that’re laced with wokeness makes clear. The article later says:


One of Lee’s achievements—one born of his role as company man and editor of the line, not, or not just, as writer—was to play Odysseus, singing for his supper and making sure the stories went on. And on and on: These volumes offer sparkling forewords by the current practitioners Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, and Nnedi Okorafor—who have all, in various ways, taken these decades-old characters (Captain America, being a generation older, is closer to a centenarian) and shown how they resonate today. They’ve done so by telling tales that are generally written for older, more sophisticated audiences than those first stories, and that are, for this reason among others, frequently more thematically, intellectually, and characterologically nuanced. And, at the same time, they are in continuity—in the general and comics-specialized senses of the term—with these first stories, building from them, interrogating them, deepening and enriching them. Is classic quite the word for soil that rich? If not, it’s not too far off.

That said, some of Lee’s writing has dated—and grated—the most in these stories. He manifests a jocular comic style borrowed from Catskill shtick that can, at times, feel as broad as a barn door, relationships between men and women torn from the pages of the melodramatic romance comics he used to write and edit (with more than a whiff of standard-for-the-time-but-no-less-regrettable ’60s sexism).


Oh, they just had to be a wet blanket and say Lee’s work is as dated as the PC crowd wants practically everything else to be. Lee’s work may not be perfect, but it’s far more entertaining than what’s come down the pike since the turn of the century, yet they have the gall to lavish praise instead upon some modern leftists who’re more into this for ideological goals – one more reason why it’s disgusting the stories are considered canon – and then they have the additional gall to say the modern stories are written for more sophisticated audiences? It’s also very cheap to accuse Lee of sexism in his older stories when the Atlantic’s writers themselves obscure what Brian Michael Bendis did with Scarlet Witch nearly 2 decades ago in Avengers: Disassembled. They don’t even consider that Lee made efforts to portray Sue Storm and the Wasp as more serious combatants within time, seeing how he gave the former invisible force field powers about 2 years after the Fantastic Four’s debut. But then, what do you expect from “journalists” who aren’t really serious about coverage for the craft?


And this is a sad sign of what the press is bound to do in the forseeable future – dismiss Lee’s work, along with plenty of other, far better writers/artists, while making the more modern PC writers/artists look far superior by contrast. They never truly respected Lee as an adventure craftsman, and never will in the future either.


Originally published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1