The leftist Polygon is up their usual propagandizing again, this week discussing the alleged differences between DC/Marvel on how they handle politics in their books, though it’s pretty clear both companies are as left-wing dominated as can be, and just as noxious from a modern perspective. At the start, it tells something odd about Frank Miller’s Black Label Superman tale:
In the final issue of Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s 2019 DC Black Label miniseries Superman: Year One, there’s a framed newspaper on the wall of the Daily Planet offices. Squint and you notice the headline: “MAN BITES DOG: MSM BLAMES TRUMP.”
This didn’t come out of nowhere. Over the last 30-odd years, Miller took a public turn from the beloved Mickey Spillane of comics, with The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City, to the right-wing crank who once described Occupy Wall Street as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists.” (He walked the statement back in a 2018 interview).” See also 2011’s Holy Terror, initially pitched as a Batman project, and dubbed Islamophobic by critics upon publish.
If Miller’s reverted back to leftism, that’s why you can’t count on the likelihood he was attacking the MSM, but rather, right-wing sources, like the Media Research Center. A real pity, then. It does beg the query, though: does Miller still stand by Holy Terror’s viewpoint?
The past year has shown a pattern of writers giving overt voice to their political opinions through superhero comics, or for controversies where they were prevented from doing so. Marvel and DC, the most visible publishers, are at the center of the ideological debate. Based on the decision-making, the two companies appear to have distinct approaches to talking politics in their paperbacks.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum from Superman: Year One, and one that’s in DC continuity, is Lois Lane, by Greg Rucka, Mike Perkins, Paul Mounts & Simon Bowland. In the series’ first issue, released this past September, Lois faces off with White House Press Secretary Lee-Anne McCarthy, an amalgamation of former Trump administration press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and senior counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. The confrontation rests on a Daily Planet story, penned by Lois, that reveals evidence that administration members are profiting off of, as Lois puts it, “quote-unquote tender care camps,” at the border. The parallel is blunt.
The scene plays as triumphant, and it mostly works. As a journalist who’s faced harassment over things I’ve written (though, being a cis white dude, I’ve faced far less than others), to read a scene of comics’ most prominent journalist calling out monsters in power who, among their many other sins, have contributed to delegitimizing an already-embattled profession into the ground, is pretty inspiring. It’s a fantasy, but a nice one.
But what all this says to me is that, when it comes to certain creators and certain books, DC Comics is happy to allow political subtext become text. This sits in contrast to Marvel Comics.
Oh, this is ridiculous. Even after nearly 3 years of C.B. Cebulski as Marvel’s EIC, they’ve still got rabid leftist politics plaguing their comics, if you know where to look. The Muslim Ms. Marvel books stand out as a notable example based on their normalizing of Islam, while other major religions are treated as undesirable. There’s also the recent transgender propaganda they produced to ponder, along with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take on Captain America. Even some of poor artwork still in production comes as a result of their machinations. But, if there really is meat to this argument, the answer is surely because Marvel’s done everything they can to maintain outstanding public relations and garner press attention, so it brings them a lot of attention that ultimately wasn’t for the better by the time Secret Empire came out, and everyone witnessed Steve Rogers reduced to the repellent role of a Hydra-Nazi. Along with decreasing sales.
On which note, let’s hope most readers have woken up and realized buying all these company wide crossovers is still as much a waste of time as it was several years ago. It’s also appalling the writer of this piece is turning to victimology as a journalist, and acting like his being white somehow makes him less susceptible to “harassment”.
And if these overt politics are still prevalent in DC, the answer could be because, for better or worse, DC has not managed to maintain the same kind of press relations Marvel did, and simultaneously, when they want to, they can operate under the radar, recalling the late 2000s Power Girl series contained apologia for Islamic terrorism when Judd Winick was writing it. That said, much like with Marvel, the MSM will serve as their apologist too, and dismiss all detractors of anything offensive they’ve done, no matter how sexist, racist and violent it could be, and that obviously hasn’t changed with Rucka and company’s manipulations of Lois Lane to suit his own liberal agendas.
After giving superficial citations of Art Spiegelman and Mark Waid, the journalist goes on to state the following about Chuck Wendig, who was given the pink slip at Marvel for writing offensive posts on social media:
Similar incidents can be tracked through the years. In October 2018, Marvel fired author Chuck Wendig — who’d penned a miniseries about the superhero Hyperion and an adaptation of The Force Awakens for the company, in addition to the Star Wars Aftermath novel trilogy — and canceled his upcoming miniseries, Shadow of Vader, a mere seven days after announcing the project. As Wendig put it on his blog, Terrible Minds, his firing was “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring […] It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”
Wendig is notably outspoken and profane in opposing the Trump administration on Twitter, and has been since before his first work at Marvel. Waid and Spiegelman are also no stranger to controversy themselves: Waid was heavily criticized over the racial aspects of his and J.G. Jones’ Strange Fruit miniseries; Spiegelman, over his unwavering support for the Islamophobic cartoons of Charlie Hebdo.
Each of these incidences of Marvel asking creators to tone down “political speech” have ignited public controversy, and reminded fans of a key player in the publisher’s business: Marvel’s CEO, Issac Perlmutter, who has close and public ties to President Donald Trump.
In 2018, ProPublica reported that the reclusive billionaire is one of three Trump mega-donors (known collectively as the Mar-A-Lago Crowd) who are unofficially running the Department of Veterans Affairs as a reward for their loyalty. It’s understandable that readers might ask: Is this push for the “apolitical” a top down order from someone with extensive ties to the very figure that Spiegelman sought to critique?
Gee, I wonder why Perlmutter is still such a big deal? He never did anything to improve Marvel’s comics and return them to a state of continuity coherency, and has mostly been marginalized in his influence since, as Kevin Feige took over as the main producer in charge of the movies. Come to think of it, Perlmutter never exactly did favors for Republicans in the past decade either; that’s why you had so much bile piling on in Marvel’s comics when Axel Alonso was EIC. If Perlmutter didn’t stop it then, and I’m sure he could’ve if he wanted to, then he’s not stopping it now, as the continued employment of moonbats like Saladin Ahmed, Sana Amanat and Ta-Nehisi Coates makes clear.
And the journalist’s parroting of the “islamophobia” label is sure telling, 5 years after the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo’s offices. He also pretends any backlash is via the “public”, but not the press, as was the case with at least one other leftist site who attacked Marvel for all the wrong reasons. In other words, when Marvel avoids rabid politics, the public allegedly raises an outcry en masse. But when they turn Captain America into a Hydra-nazi, they don’t? Tell us more, please. And no mention’s made of anybody who says Marvel’s doing the right thing to tone down potentially alienating politics in their comics, so you know where the buffoon who penned this is coming from.
While DC Comics hasn’t had controversial edits hit the public eye, political text shines through. The company published Superman: Year One under the Black Label imprint, touted from its unveiling as a place where creators can tell whatever story they want to with DC characters, free of age or continuity restrictions. But Black Label also put out December’s The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child by Miller, Rafael Grampá and Jordie Bellaire, in which a Trump-a-like runs for governor as part of a plot by Darkseid. It’s a plot point more reminiscent of Miller’s work in the 1980s, when he created characters like Marvel’s Nuke, and framed him as a mentally unbalanced Vietnam vet used as a destructive tool by military strongmen from all over the world.
Similarly, while Lois Lane is spinning out of the in-continuity events of Superman and Action Comics, it’s meant, at least partially, to appeal to fans of Rucka’s stellar work for DC in the early 2000s on titles like Wonder Woman, The Question and Gotham Central. In both cases, if this trusted creator was found by readers to be censored in any way, there’d be backlash.
Since when hasn’t DC met with controversy for anything? It’s actually the other way around. Rucka caused controversy when he got a WW cover drawn by Frank Cho censored over the sight of Diana’s rear end, something that was quite visible in the Golden Age when Bill Marston and H.G. Peter drew it up. And DC did cause controversy in 2004 with Identity Crisis and its misogynist structure, and that was mainly the audience who raised the issues, no matter their political standings. They also caused controversy with the Batman crossover War Games, which saw Chuck Dixon’s creation, Stephanie Brown, tortured to death with a drill by Black Mask, and Infinite Crisis, whose prelude, Countdown, saw Blue Beetle Ted Kord gunned down by Max Lord, who’d been forced into the role of villain. All for the sake of bringing about a Latino Blue Beetle instead. Did I mention 2 of the 3 examples had liberal political metaphors slipped in? More recently, Dan Jurgens exploited Superman for Islamic and illegal immigration apologia.
And all the while, press sources like Polygon either turned a deaf ear and blind eye, or played the role of apologist, as they’re doing now with Rucka. And that’s exactly why DC’s been all but able to get away with their antics – because some people are just so lenient, but also because, whether intentionally or not, DC takes a very under-the-radar approach in foisting their atrocities on the audience.
After they cite David Goyer’s own exploitation of the Man of Steel for worthless politics, their next defense is:
And this wasn’t Goyer turning Superman into a political figure; the character has been that way since the very beginning.
In the first issue of Action Comics, published in 1938, Superman beats up a wife-beater, saves an innocent woman from execution, and forces a corrupt senator to confess that he’d stirred up a South American war because he was in bed with the arms industry.
Here, they fail to make distinctions: unlike today’s writers, Siegel/Shuster and company weren’t going miles out of their way to support Islamic propaganda and minimize jihadism, nor were they promoting transsexual ideology at the expense of mental sanity. Why, they weren’t even explicitly attacking conservatives the way today’s leftists are. Is the above supposed to imply spousal abuse is a genuinely political issue? I don’t think so, yet that’s what the clown who penned the article seems to think. Back in the Golden Age, it was a challenging subject, though by the mid-40s, publishers largely moved away from such issues, at least until the 70s came about. And is it appropriate to profiteer from war and innocent casualties? Of course not. The journalist’s just grasping at straws. And for somebody as leftist as he is, it’s awfully strange he goes on to say:
Flash forward to 1961, and the dawn of the Marvel Age of Comics, with Fantastic Four #1 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. A flashback to the origins of the superteam sees Ben Grimm angrily point out to Reed Richards that he has no idea what the cosmic rays of space could do to them. To which Sue Storm melodramatically replies, “Ben, we’ve got to take that chance…unless we want the Commies to beat us to it!”
Back at the time, even the left wasn’t always soft on communism, and I get the feeling the journalist just brought it up as a cheap defense, even as most of his ilk today are practicing the same ideas as the commies did at the time, today alternately known as social justice tactics. By today’s standards, it’s all but become taboo to attack communism the way Stan Lee did in the Silver Age, and if he tried to launch FF today, chances are he wouldn’t be allowed to cite communism as a bad example.
The only reason anybody younger than 50 knew who Green Arrow was before Stephen Amell climbed a salmon ladder is due to Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams making him an out and proud liberal who crossed the country with Green Lantern as the “Hard Travelin’ Heroes,” busting bad guys and debating political philosophies along the way. Comics have always gone there.
They may have always gone “there”, but it was never in the heavy-handed way various modern comics have sunk to. There were allusions to what you could consider political issues in 50s and 60s, but the difference is that then, they were often more metaphorical, with the Qward dimension in Green Lantern serving as a stand-in for regions like the USSR, and Doctor Doom’s Latveria in FF a stand-in for communist/totalitarian-run regimes. If the journalist can’t make distinctions, or recognize why the anti-conservative propaganda seen in today’s offerings is offensive and alienating, he hasn’t accomplished anything.
Balking at a few political references in the name of preserving corporate standards sits in contrast to the history of superhero comics, an industry that came to life thanks to two Jewish kids from Cleveland in the ‘30s. When the Big Two lean into the political aspects of their creation instead of running away, we all benefit.
Again, he fails to make any clear distinctions, or acknowledge that back in Siegel/Shuster’s day, they weren’t whitewashing Islamofascism from coast to coast, normalizing sexual deviance or even drug addiction. If it’s such a big deal to him though, does he find it disturbing Marvel would employ a rabid antisemite like Ardian Syaf turned out to be a few years back, before the exposure of his antics led to his dismissal? Despite the valid issues to be found in a subject like that, Polygon’s know-it-all didn’t mention anything about it, so what’s the point of exploiting Siegel/Shuster’s good names for the sake of justifying his shoddy idiocy? Once again, Polygon is hopeless, and fails to recognize that, whether the press takes a negative/apologist stance towards either Big Two, they’re both equally capable of churning out the shoddiest left-wing politics from a modern perspective that even their predecessors in the Golden Age weren’t so hell-bent on shoving down everyone’s throats.
Originally published here.