Batgirl variantWhen you live in a country where college campuses have to issue “trigger warnings” any time a discussion might challenge a few worldviews, it’s only a matter a time before hyper-sensitive millennials bring their crybaby-dictator personalities into the real world. The most recent example can be found with DC’s decision to pull a variant cover of Batgirl 41. Joker is apparently no longer allowed to be Joker if he’s interacting with women.

Here is what artist Rafael Albuquerque had to say after a campaign started by “Feminist Batman” picked up steam.

“My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled.”

Since when was it the artist’s job to produce art that doesn’t upset someone’s sensibilities? Since when did artists begin torpedoing their work when it was deemed offensive to feminists and Gender Studies majors on Tumblr? At what point are we allowed to tell “Feminist Batman” and her friends that they’re acting like whiny kids who need to grow up and behave like a adults?

Ms. “Feminist Batman” said on Tumblr:

There are a lot of potential Joker variant covers that would have been amazing. I would have loved to see Barbara stepping on the joker’s face after punching him to the ground, perhaps using that iconic camera of his to take a selfie. But a violent, bloody cover of a weeping Batgirl as the man who molested her smiles by her side is sickening. It’s disgusting. And I am tired of her scenes in The Killing Joke being referenced while the serious issues involving her assault are casually ignored.

The great thing about art is that you can produce as much as you want. There is a 100 percent chance that Feminist Batman will find future covers and variant covers to her liking, so it seems incredibly bizarre for her to act as if this one variant cover somehow negates whatever progress her favorite character has made since the publication of 1988’s The Killing Joke.

As Patrick Bissett pointed out for The Daily Caller on March 17:

The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book villain whose raison d’être is to cause mayhem, to injure, to hurt, and to provide the Yin to Batman’s oftentimes complicated Yang. It doesn’t make sense to find the actions of a fictional character offensive, especially when those actions are central to the personality of that character.

Sadly, for every Mr. Bissett there is a Joshua Rivera out there who simply doesn’t get the big picture.

Mr. Rivera writes for Entertainment Weekly:

There are those that aren’t pleased with this decision, who think we’re seeing art being censored because it’s offensive. The claim of “censorship,” however, is objectively false. The art was never suppressed. You can look at it all you want—in this article, even! The fact that the creators themselves were involved in the cover’s cancellation is further proof that this is a move for artistic integrity—the people making the book have a vision for it, and the cover did not match that vision.

Josh can’t see that what is happening is worse than censorship — we now have artists who actually think it’s their job to produce art that doesn’t offend contemporary culture. We now have artists who will scrap their projects when the shrieks of politically correct kids reach a high enough decibel level. The artist willingly capitulates to the caprices of fickle feminists, online bullies, and ideological censorship clowns who inadvertently remind us that the seeds of tyranny exist within all of us.

If you’ve ever wondered why the comic industry seems to be in dire straits, then look no further than DC’s decision to pull its Batgirl 41 variant cover. The scope of what artists and writers can create these days is incredibly narrow because one wrong move results in an “off with their heads!” campaign, which only serves to stifle muses and crush imagination. Coddling the likes of “Feminist Batgirl” and her online allies may make Rafael Albuquerque feel good for a few days, but it does long term damage to the industry he loves.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

31 comments

  1. Seems like every week, the crybaby Tumblr SJWs are freaking out about something. Ugh. We’re truly becoming a nation of babies. Makes me embarrassed to be a Millennial.

    1. I’m doing well. I’m getting my anxiety under control and feel pretty good.

      Yeah, every week they’re whining about something. I can’t fathom what it’s like being constantly on the lookout for something to whine and moan about. It’s not a healthy frame of mind. This whole Batgirl cover “controversy” is just the latest SJW freakout and shows they don’t really understand the DC universe. The Joker, being a villain, is evil and does evil things. Do they think that he and Batgirl are going to get together and play Scrabble? No. The cover is a reference to the Killing Joke, in which the Joker paralyzed Batgirl and after that she became Oracle. I see nothing remotely “sexist” about the cover and the SJWs whining about it need to get a life.

      Also, sort of related. One of the more liberal comics commentators, Chris Sims, who I believe has whined about “all men being sexist” in the past, has been accused of harassment and cyberbullying. If true, it’s another case of liberals eating their own:

      http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/03/17/valerie-dorazio-on-chris-sims/

    2. Valerie D’Orazio was diagnosed with PTSD and has flashbacks because some dude was hyper-critical of her online? I don’t want to touch that one with a ten-foot pole, but I will remember that the next time someone says we should go away from an all-volunteer military…

    3. “Valerie D’Orazio was diagnosed with PTSD and has flashbacks because some dude was hyper-critical of her online?”

      Yeah, it sounds to me like it’s just a case of someone who’s unwilling to take criticism.

      Back to the topic of the post, I don’t like how these creators kowtow to the SJWs. When you do that, the SJWs win. They own you. They should never apologize to them.

    4. Exactly. If DC is willing to pull a single variant cover because Tumblr feminists are annoyed, then why would they not back down on a whole host of other issues? The list of demands never ends for the SJWs. They will be back again, and louder than before now that they know they can get results.

  2. “The worst kind of censorship is SELF-censorship. Because then you have to stunt whatever artistic growth you may have otherwise had.” – Dennis O’Neil, writer/editor of Batman for DECADES.

    He of course at the time referred to the Comics Code Authority, which banned killing and excessive violence as well as sex and drug use. However when that died in the 1970s, little did comic readers know that in 45 years, a NEW Comics Code Authority would take its place:

    1. You cannot have any artwork or writing that depicts excessive violence or sexual content that demeans women, gays, or people of any colour.
    2. You must always empower these characters over the long-standing white male characters.
    3. If at all possible, to make it “more diverse”, change long-term white characters to POCs to draw new readers, even if it pisses off your long-term readers because they will continue to buy anyways.
    4. You may use sexual violence, demean, devalue, or brutalize the Straight White MALE, and the more you do, the better.

    I swear us nerds who see this should really be calling out creators on this torrential bullshit at conventions. I feel sorry for the artist to feel the need to censor himself because a bunch of numb-fucking-skulls in MY generation happen to, well, be numb-fucking-skulls. And then we have people like Dan Slott just stoking the fire thinking he can be included on “the winning team.” That said, I DO observe the people who scream the loudest are straight-white-male neckbeards pretending to be deep and “avant garde” when in actuality they are white-knighting so they can score brownie points with the hot and sweaty cosplay chicks who frequent conventions (even though most of them already have hot sweaty neckbeards to screw once they get off the floor.)

    I mean if I want to write my hero as a straight white male? Well guess what, I will. There is an audience for it and that is the beauty of comics: You -SHOULD- be able to tell ANY kind of story in it. So I say vote down the New Comics Code Authority, because it holds no sway over me as a creator OR as a fan.

    1. Matt, I have to say that your analysis of the white-knight had me laughing quite hard. I have always gotten a similar vibe from them. I remember once being in a room with a guy who was rather conservative, but for one night he turned into the most liberal guy in the world because he was trying desperately to hook up with this granola-ish girl who was kind of cute. I lost all respect for the guy after that. As I told my wife…I can deal with guys who maybe tone done their beliefs so they don’t look needlessly argumentative, but to totally sell yourself out for a potential one night stand isn’t cool. It’s sad.

  3. Whatever it is, there is someone, somewhere, who will be offended by it. (Or who will claim to be offended by it, just to push an agenda or to collect a settlement.) Whether it’s porn, or gardening, or eating three meals a day. The SJW crybabies reflexively scream epithets (“racist,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” “Islamophobe”), and threaten boycotts and lawsuits, every time someone allegedly breaks wind in the wrong direction.

    In the 1980’s, Gladstone reprinted a 1930’s Mickey Mouse (I say again: Mickey Mouse) strip. Later, they printed an angry letter from a parent complaining about the bad grammar, drug use, and gambling depicted in the story. (Gamblers try to fix a race by doping Mickey’s horse. Of course, the crooks talked in stereotypical gangster movie slang, “youse guys,” etc.) The editor’s reply tried to explain that the gamblers/dopers were the bad guys, and, of course, they ended up going to jail at the story’s conclusion.

    National Review commented on the current controversy, and writer Katherine Timpf pointed out basically the same thing. That is, villains do bad stuff, because they are bad people. And the audience is supposed to sympathize, and identify, with the heroes who defeat the villains. The SJW’s, like the person who complained about that Mickey Mouse comic, need to learn the distinction between “protagonists” and “antagonists.”

    That said, it’s getting harder to make such distinctions in contemporary fiction, including comics. “Heroes” are so flawed that it’s hard to tell them from the villains. And villains often seem like the protagonists. They are portrayed as being more interesting than the good guys (if and when there are any good guys). That would have been unthinkable in the Bronze Age and earlier, when the Comics Code prohibited portraying criminals in such a way as to inspire emulation.

    The Batgirl 41 issue is part of DC’s “Joker month.” And then there was the story by Scott Snyder in 2012, who described it as “a love letter to everything I love about the Joker.”

    Yeesh. Can you imagine Timely/Marvel doing a “Red Skull month” during WWII? Or DC publishing a “love letter” to the Joker or Brainiac in the 1960’s?

    And that Batgirl variant cover is too close to gore porn and rape fantasy for my taste. Yes, heroic fiction has always included images of women in danger. But it usually glorified the hero rescuing the victim. St. George saving the princess from the dragon, or Superman rescuing Lois Lane when Luthor tied her to railroad tracks. A lot of comics today seem to revel in images of women being brutalized, and I get the creepy feeling that some writers and fans want to cheer the villain while he’s torturing some female victim.

    I don’t advocate censorship. But there is such a thing as self-restraint. Not to appease professional crybaby SJW’s (who will always make up another grievance, anyway), but to avoid offending reasonable people.

    But, once again, maybe I’m just turning into a prude and a curmudgeon in my old age.

    1. I don’t think you’re a “prude” or a “curmudgeon,” Tom! 🙂 I think you’re right on target in terms of the way our culture has been warped like a fun house mirror so that its difficult to differentiate the heroes from the villains. Again, Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man is a great example of how moral relativist modern writers contribute to cultural decay. I still laugh (and then cringe) when I think of the time he asked if Doc Ock (Mr. worldwide genocide) was really all that different from … early Hawkeye.

  4. Good Lord, with the current spineless mentality at DC, they’d destroy every copy of Dini and Timm’s “Mad Love” (the origin story of Joker’s manipulated and abused girlfriend, Harley Quinn) in a heartbeat if one person complained. How soon before the Joker killing people is considered too offensive? Heck, there are so many ways the SJWs can start complaining about, anyway.

    “The Joker’s always wearing white make-up. Is DC trying to offend women… or crossdressers with that?”

    “His pets are hyenas. Quick, call PETA!”

    “The Joker never works well with Two-Face or Killer Croc. Is it because of the color of their skin?”

    “He used a gun! DC is pushing an NRA agenda!”

    “The Joker attacked Lucius Fox! Is that a slam on Obama?”

  5. Now that I think of it, this story reminds me of when Joe Quesada described Stan Lee’s writing as quaint and corny in one of those Spider-Man movie DVD bonus features. The irony is, Stan had more guts than most of the people currently in the business. Years ago, when he wrote the drug storyline for “Amazing Spider-Man,” the Comics Code Authority refused to okay it. Stan published it anyway in what had to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) acts of defiance against the Code up to that point. Stan was a rock in the face of genuine pressure; today’s comic creators roll over because of a few mouthy whiners on Tumblr. ‘Nuff said.

    1. Wow. Awesome post, spiderterry84. I never heard about Quesada’s comments on Stan Lee’s writing. That’s incredibly telling.

      I think that stories can have a good heart while telling dark tales. You can tell that Stan Lee has a good heart. Many of today’s writers just seem bitter and angry. They bring their own personal baggage and divisive politics into their stories, and when they’re called out on it they predictably lash out. But hey, what do I know. Tom Brevoort said that fans need to just take their “medicine,” even if that “medicine” is Peter Parker cutting deals with the devil. 😉

    2. Are you going to comment yet on what Slott said about Renew Your Vows? His interview when promoting it likened it to Charlie Brown kicking the football (“once you kick the football..it’s over”)

    3. Haha. It’s funny you should mention that. I’ve been debating on whether or not to write a blog post on Mr. Slott’s latest comments. Maybe this weekend? Leave it to Dan Slott to try and pass off a false analogy as evidence that he has a handle on Peter Parker…

      Update: Ask and you shall receive.

  6. On one hand, I think it does go slightly against the new, more breezy light-hearted tone of the book, at the same time however, the book just got done with a big storyline about Babs fighting a rouge computer intelligence that she created in a period of great depression when rehabbing from the shot she took to the spine. Babs convinces the intelligence to shut down by reminding it that she is not in that dark corner of her life anymore, that she’s grown past it.

    So the variant actually had more in common with the story than people think. A horrible moment in Babs’ life and that it sets everyone moving on from it off, but the STORY, the actual SUBSTANCE, has the triumphant message that, “Yes, we ARE moving on from that now”

    “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” has never been so apt

  7. Look, I respect Rafael Albuquerque’s decision to pull the cover in question as a way to calm the waters. But with that said, I seriously believe the people who criticized this (a.k.a. SJWs), obviously took the appearance of the cover WAY out of context. It was obviously meant to be a homage to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, nothing more.

    But with that said, thanks a lot people (SJWs) of the Internet. Great job at lambasting a guy’s creativity.

    Also special thanks to Bleeding Cool for over exaggerating the situation. We appreciate your idiocy. *Sarcasm*

    1. I respect his right to pull the book, but I definitely don’t respect the reason he gave. That’s the thing: he might think he’s calmed the waters, but he did the exact opposite. The wave broke and the water is pulling out to sea for a moment, but the next one is on its way and it’s going to be bigger because of guys like him.

    2. Exactly. I hate the idea that we have to censor other people’s creativity just because of the slim chance it might offend people. Which reminds me of a quote Stephen Fry once said that quite honestly fits this situation:

      “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.” -Stephen Fry

    3. I think that’s a pretty clever response to professional whiners.

      There’s been very few times in my life where I had a visceral reaction to a comment that was totally out of line. I can probably count the times on one hand. I remember once, only days after a guy’s mom died, this other jerk said that he was going to dig up her bones and “skull-f**k her.” It was pretty much the meanest thing I’ve ever heard one man say to another in person… Regardless, my point is that I don’t really buy it when most people say they’re “offended.” It’s like you belong to a special club if you’re offended by the right things, so the practice of announcing how offended you are feeds on itself and grows.

      Whereas you and I might hear something and say, “Well, that’s dumb” or “You’re a jerk” or “I totally see things differently,” the SJW crowd screams about how offended they are. They claim to be strong individuals when, in reality, they do nothing but telegraph their weakness.

  8. Doug, let’s not forget, however, that Marvel, DC, other comic publishers, and their writers and artists vehemently oppose censorship. That is, any censorship of themselves, their views and utterances (utterances such as those of Slot, Larson, Simone, and Waid detailed in your recent blog on Quesada), and of those who agree with their social and political beliefs. We don’t have to imagine it; we’ve seen it whenever a person who holds traditional convictions objects to anything done by comic creators. But wait! If comic creators do something that conflicts with the approved list of sensitivities held by virtually all of today’s comic industry, that’s something else all together (the profit motive will partially blunt this for some). The uproar over the Batgirl cover and DC’s retraction gives an indication of how this works in practice. (And Marvel’s reaction to Manara’s Spider-Woman cover also comes to mind.)

    Imagine, for example, criticizing comic creators of any comic publisher over the fact that men are regularly beaten, eviscerated, decapitated, bludgeoned or otherwise mauled in comics. In entertainment today, including comics, it’s rather typical to see women punching, slapping, kicking or otherwise engaging in physical violence toward men, and this is all supposed to be taken nonchalantly. It’s considered comical, an emotional reaction, or otherwise deserved by men for their conduct. Do you think comic creators or the entertainment industry would consider for a moment retracting any of this if someone were to express concern? Sorry, friend, this isn’t on the approved list of sensitivities.

    Also, consider someone objecting that traditional Christian characters, when shown in comics at all, are uniformly portrayed as monstrous or psychotic or are lampooned in ways that are fairly described as bigoted? And the same could be said of people who hold conservative social or political views. If persons of a conservative persuasion dare to protest against any of this, they risk being excoriated by comic creators online, in letters pages (with usually the most extreme example shown as typical), or of being accused of censorship — that’s why the comic industry so urgently needs a legal defense fund to fend off the hoard of retrogrades who want to encroach on comic creators’ freedoms.

    So, comic publishers capitulate to censorship? Never! They would never censor anything that offended the sensibilities of traditional Christians or social and political conservatives. Never!

    1. Thanks for the reply, Alltoohuman. Your point about women punching men and the reactions to possible criticism from the comic industry made me think about the time Dan Slott said that white people should shut up about racism hurled in their direction because they have “a bigger slice of the pie.” Ironically, he was replying to a fan who said that sexist remarks could be made to men in an debate with a women! According to Dan Slott, if you’re white and you’re in a reverse racism scenario, then you should “move on” because “you can take it.”

      MrXBob: There’s also such a thing as sexist remarks when in an argument with a male comic book fan. Neither are good.

      Dan Slott: No. That’s like white guys complaining about racism against THEM. Move on. You’ve got the bigger slice of pie. You can take it.

      This is actually how these people think! Do you laugh or do you cry? What if you’re a poor white kid growing up in a predominantly black community in, say, Philadelphia? Are you supposed to “take it” because Dan Slott said so? It’s not about whether someone can “take it” — it’s about what is right and what is wrong. You would think the guy writing The Amazing Spider-Man would understand that, but no. How pathetic is it that he’s the guy who is in charge of writing Peter Parker?

      If the son of a black doctor had to get gas while he was on a road trip, and during a pit stop a man sent racial invective his way, would it make sense to tell the black guy to “move on” because he “has a bigger slice of the pie” and “can take it”? Of course not. But in Dan Slott’s world, it’s all about race, class, and gender — and bizarre little pie charts that he sees in his mind’s eye.

      You and I act on basic principles of right and wrong. Dan Slott has his idea of what right and wrong is, but he thinks it’s okay to put his thumb on the scale to favor certain groups over others. He’ll excuse bad behavior by a black guy today because of what some dead white guy did 300 years ago.

    2. Sadly incredible, Doug. I don’t follow Twitter or any such feeds for comic writers, so the material you post never fails to amaze me. This is yet another example. First, does Slott personally know that the respondent has “a bigger slice of the pie”? Certainly Slott has a “bigger slice of the pie”; I don’t doubt that he’s paid quite well for what he does. But what does he know about that person to permit him to make such a generalization? Or is he stereotyping? Moreover, does the fact that he has “a bigger slice of the pie” prevent him from criticizing what he deems unjust? Second, his comment is non sequitur; it only distracts from the issue at hand. I dislike using labels, but however inadequate they are, it sometimes seems we can’t avoid them. In this case I must say that his response is stock ideological left. The issue is that of double standards and the selective and hypocritical application of those standards. But the left shuts any such conversation down, as Slott does, by saying, “You’re a man so your input doesn’t count.” (The left uses this tactic in many other areas to stifle and shame critics, evade difficult questions, and control the conversation.) Third, Slott is uninformed; what he says here regarding men and “a slice of the pie” is vacant cant. I think here of the work of Christina Hoff Sommers, and much work since that has substantiated her research. But as you say, it’s not about equitable, reasoned moral standards applicable to all. These aren’t standards, but retribution or reward categories based on the left’s ideological vicissitudes. The basis of judgment is race, class, gender and whatever other classification will over time be added to the theory.

      As an aside, for a guy who most definitely does have “a bigger slice of the pie,” Slott might follow his own advice. Yet he deems it necessary not only to respond caustically to his critics but to seek out persons who make the most innocuous comments about his work to berate them (both instances raised on your blog: the woman who thought the concept of the Superior Spider-Man was silly; and the man who made a simple comment about sell-through of SSM; as well as apparently on other occasions). So of Slott it can be said, Physician, heal thyself: “Move on. You’ve got the bigger slice of pie. You can take it.”

      Also, I want to correct myself for my last post. I don’t think I can say that traditional Christians are depicted in a bigoted way in comics, at least not so much in Marvel and DC; I can’t address other comic publishers as much. I was thinking there more of the larger entertainment industry, such as movies and TV in which this is much more the case. Certainly conservatives are portrayed negatively in comics, which is no surprise given the political views of the creators in the industry. But I think it can be fairly said that in comics traditional Christians are largely invisible, non-existent. Marvel and DC, especially Marvel, have made much recently of “expanding the bounds of diversity in comics.” Yet though I would surmise that there are a substantial number of conservative readers of comics, including conservative Christians, Marvel and DC have to date excluded a sensitive depiction of any such person from the scope of their “diversity.” The omission, I infer, is probably intentional. But who knows. (Nightcrawler was a Roman Catholic for a time, which was prominently shown in one of the X movies not under Marvel’s control. But I think Marvel may have since retconned out that dimension of the character?)

    3. Bravo, Alltoohuman! Bravo! I wish I could shake your hand for that one. Well said. Well said, indeed.

      Speaking of religious characters, there is also Daredevil. Recently Tom Brevoort was asked about Murdock’s Catholicism:

      Question: When is the last time Daredevil went to church for religious reasons or discussed his faith?

      Tom Brevoort: Last Sunday. But it was just an ordinary mass, and so not noteworthy enough to take up a couple of pages of his comic book.

      As I said at the time: Daredevil: The Man without Fear…except when it comes to discussing his Catholic faith.

      A fan asks a very legitimate question, and Mr. Brevoort’s decision is to once again go to snark and condescension. Telling.

      This is a stunning example of how Marvel’s lack of ideological diversity hurts it from telling good stories. Because Marvel’s ranks are filled with a bunch of secular leftists who think they know what you “need,” they’re blind (no pun intended) to the fact that a conservative Catholic comic book writer could probably write some amazing Daredevil stories. A conservative U.S. Army veteran could probably write some classic Captain America tales. But we can’t have that, can we? So Marvel’s comics division will continue to plod along because the movies are where the money is at.

      By not having a writer on board who could really tell some tales that tie into Matt Murdock’s Catholic faith, Marvel’s self-imposed handicap makes objective readers cringe. Tom Brevoort should be embarrassed at the ship he’s running. Marvel pats itself one the back for its cursory diversity — it has a female Thor and a few new superheroes with brown skin. Congratulations, but that’s not what will keep people reading books for the long haul. It’s good storytelling that motivates customers to continue handing over $4.00 per issue over the course of a decade. Is Marvel doing what it needs to in order to have robust sales over the long haul? I’d say the answer is no.

      Marvel goes out of its way to alienate readers like us, and as a result we are dropping books all together or significantly curbing our spending habits. Great business model you have going there, Tom Brevoort. On some level I just feel sorry for these guys.

  9. Hi i’m an italian guy with an interest in comics and it’s the first time that i’m commenting on your blog (nice website,especially the commentary on comics). I agree with the majority of what have been said both in the article that in the comments but there is something that i want to share for the sake of discussion. I’m talking about this:http://i.newsarama.com/images/i/000/142/468/original/BM_Cv39_1_25_var.jpg?1422481908 , quite gory isn’t it?
    So i’m asking my self considering that both covers were creepy,explicit and gory why only the Batgirl one has generated this enormous tide of indignation? It’s torture social acceptable if the victims are men?

    1. Welcome, Fra Moretta. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

      As you astutely point out, there is no outrage (or should I say faux outrage?) over covers where male superheroes are at the mercy of a villain. To you and I, it seems quite logical that if you get into the superhero game, then there’s a good chance that you will meet an untimely death. To feminists comic book readers, apparently the comic must be a vehicle solely for female empowerment (defined, coincidentally, by “social justice warriors”).

      It’s funny that this whole thing has been exposed by a character linked to Batman and Joke because, as they say, “the inmates are running the asylum.” It’s ridiculous that DC gives these professional whiners so much clout.

  10. Doug, Ha! I love your comment about Marvel’s determination, as Tom Brevoort patronizingly expressed it, to give you what you “need” (without regard to what you want). Yes, we’re all grateful that Marvel gives so much thought to what we “need.” What’s that old saying, “You’ll take it and like it”?

    I had almost forgotten Matt Murdock’s Roman Catholic faith. I loved that run of Daredevil, because it was so humanizing. There was conflict between Murdock’s super-heroics as Daredevil, what he felt he had to do in that persona, and what his religious beliefs suggested. It was done extremely well. There was nothing preachy about it; it was just part of his character. Marvel did well with that for a time with both Daredevil and Nightcrawler.

    Marvel’s recent tendency, however, has been in the opposite direction. As shown in your blog on the new Ms Marvel comic, Wilson succeeded in that issue at some levels, but at others was ham-fisted and displayed all the subtlety of a bludgeon. Supporting characters were stereotyped foils, the stuff of propaganda, and nothing more. Good writers, such as accomplished novelists, set up these contrasts and dynamics in thought-provoking ways. I just don’t see this in today’s comics. Of course, I can’t speak to Wilson’s whole run, but with expensive comic prices and time constraints, you can’t buy or read everything.

    That touches on your other point. You’re right about buying habits. The advent of the 3.99 comic was hard enough to take. As I perused the latest issue of Marvel Previews I was alarmed by how many books are now hitting the 4.99 mark (with extra pages–for now; that’s how a new price point always starts). And, yes, it doesn’t help that so many of Marvel’s comics today seem to be explicitly or indirectly becoming platforms for advocating the social ideology of Marvel’s writers. That has caused me to curtail my buying habits (and I know of others who have cut back drastically), though I still buy plenty.

    My guess (and all that follows is just a guess) is that Marvel is trying to appeal to a different demographic, one that it believes shares its basic, monochromatic social and political outlook; and it thinks that this is where its future audience lies. Marvel cares little about long-time fans. If these fall by the wayside, that’s unfortunate but of little concern. Marvel’s wants to attract new, youthful fans in the hope of getting them addicted to the comic buying habit. It remains to be seen just how much of an audience is out there and will stay for the long term, whether for the print or digital format, especially with the escalating price of comics (and digital books are no less expensive). Today Marvel regularly relies on events and reboots to stimulate sales, because the sales of established titles drop rather rapidly–none of this is a good sign. How long will this work? And once the movie franchise inevitably declines, which has slightly bolstered sales for some characters and brought in some new readers, what will happen then? Who knows.

    You’re right. Given the state of comics these days, it really makes little sense to go out of your way to alienate part of your readership. Some real variety in the perspectives of its writers would be nice. But that is not going to happen. And that, I think, speaks to the disposition of Marvel’s current regime.

  11. Random thought.

    Feminist Batman says she would have preferred it if Babs “[stepped] on the joker’s face after punching him to the ground”, perhaps taking a selfie in the process. That is empowering to her. It upsets the power dynamic presented in the original Killing Joke, where the Joker was completely in control.

    Wouldn’t it be much more satisfying to see Batgirl weasel her way out of trouble and sock it to the Joker, as opposed to just trampling him from the beginning? Stories are driven by conflict and suspense. When you don’t have any your narrative, even one as short as a comic book cover, rapidly deteriorates into boredom.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. The covers of more than a few Tintin books feature our hero in some sort of distress:

    Uh oh, angry Indians!

    Uh oh, belligerent not-Soviet spies!

    Uh oh, lost at sea!

    Uh oh, being chased through the jungle!

    Obviously we know that Tintin always triumphs in the end, but if he had been shown having the upper hand on the cover, would reading the story itself have the same emotional impact?

    1. Yes, agreed. The list of antagonists and the types of situations the protagonists can confront thins out considerably when you’re always walking on eggshells owing to the hyper-sensitivities of your this-ist and that-ism audience. As you said, it makes for poor and insipid storytelling. On other hand, as Fra Moretta pointed out with that Batman/Joker cover, which, if anything, is worse than the retracted Batgirl cover, you can still abuse male characters as much as you want. In fact, since you can’t do anything with female characters, ratchet up the abuse of male characters. And where are the complaints? Absent, of course. If it’s insensitive to have the Joker with his boot on Batgirl’s head, then so is the opposite. It’s all nonsense and hypocrisy. Marvel and DC should concentrate on writing good stories and quit trying to appease the never-ending sensitivities of a PC audience. But, hey, Marvel and DC don’t mind offending. As long as the sensibilities offended are conservative.

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