What’s Marvel Doing? Conan is Watered Down & Hulk is a Gore Fest


Here’s two article from the Valdosta Daily Times sugarcoating Marvel’s continuing political correctness. In the first one, they describe the following about new Conan stories as published under Marvel’s banner, now that they’ve reacquired the license, and how veteran writer/illustrator P. Craig Russell’s interpreting Robert E. Howard’s adventuring creation:


Russell presents his own take of Howard’s character. Ever since artist Frank Frazetta on a legendary series of paperback covers and John Buscema in his famed run on the comic books, Conan has been a massively muscled barbarian that has the build of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger (which made him the perfect choice to play Conan in the 1980s movies).

But Russell’s Conan is a more tawny, lithe barbarian. No less strong but more like the character described in the Howard stories and more like what the world would produce from a character who is living a strenuous life but not one lifting weights several hours a day.

Readers aware of Russell’s style and history shouldn’t be surprised by a leaner, more graceful looking Conan. Russell worked on an early Marvel Conan comic with the equally legendary Barry Windsor-Smith back in the early 1970s. Smith was Marvel’s first Conan artist and he also drew a far leaner barbarian than the subsequent Buscema version that has since become the model for the character.


Depending how you view this, one could argue it’s an example of a male protagonist undergoing the same political correctness females have suffered of recent. And I do know this: in most of the Conan reprints I own, originally published by Dark Horse until recently, Conan may look muscular, but by no means a gigantic bodybuilder with almost balloon-like muscles, even if Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for his portrayal of the character in the early 80s. So why does it sound like a huge exaggeration to say Conan often looked like a towering force in the past renditions? Or, why does this sound like a subtle putdown of Buscema’s work?


I do remember reading a history book over 2 decades ago where C.C. Beck and Bill Parker were said to have wanted to make Captain Marvel look not necessarily muscular, but more athletic, and so they went with it in the Golden Age. But if Frazetta’s renditions, coming as they did at least a few years before Marvel licensed Conan, are any confirmation, he certainly began the depictions of Howard’s creation with huge muscles, and leanness doesn’t contradict being muscular, recalling that I once read a Dune novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson where the Baron Harkonnen was described as being “lean and muscular”.


So, this newspaper article sure smells fishy, like another example of PC at work. You can only wonder if it’s a sign of things to come with male protagonists, as the publishers must be trying to deflect criticism for how they’ve been dumbing down female portraits over the past decade.

In the second one, they talk about how the “Immortal” Hulk, under Al Ewing, continues to undergo PC as well, that being the gory direction he’s set it on, along with subtle politics in motion:

But for this story, the world has been led to believe a white, furry creature known as Xemnu is Hulk. With corporate backing, Xemnu has hypnotized the public into connecting him with a beloved childhood show that everyone recalls though no one recalls actually watching. And Xemnu has wiped away the memory of green and gray Hulks to think of him as the Hulk.

Ewing continues writing a Hulk title that is a horror book, with plenty of gore and viscera to match the genre.

Parents, be warned. “The Immortal Hulk” is not for kids.

And the columnist doesn’t sound disappointed that it’s graphic, and not healthy for adults either. Ironically, corporations, if Disney’s recent conduct with Star Wars is an indication, can certainly take corrupt directions with the products in their stables. But chances you’d see books like these admit to that, let alone that many corporations are run by ultra-leftists, are slim, and the logic they follow is that corporations = conservative, bizarrely enough.
So on the one hand, we have subtle putdowns of past fantasy artists’ renditions, while on the other, we have sugarcoatings of gore galore in Marvel books that may have been known for darker visions in the past, but weren’t known for doling out explicit horror elements the way these modern writers seem obsessed with. And it wouldn’t shock me if either these new items lack a sense of humor, or make it impossible to appreciate one that does appear, due to the PC elements shoehorned in.
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