MODAAK Trump Marvel

It was only one month ago that activist-writer Nick Spencer turned Red Skull into a Donald Trump stand-in. Objective readers wondered just how deep Marvel’s well of partisan hackery might go. Spider-Gwen Annual #1 by writer Jason Latour offers the clearest evidence yet that it is deeper than anyone can imagine.

Comic Book Resources reported Saturday:

In this week’s “Spider-Gwen Annual” #1, writer Jason Latour and “an awesome assemblage of artists” offer a tour of Earth-65 with a collection of short stories that includes She-Hulk as a pro wrestler, the origin of Koala Kommander, and an all-too brief showdown between Captain America and M.O.D.O.K. — wait, make that M.O.D.A.A.K. (Mental Organism Designed As America’s King).

Illustrated by Chris Visions and colored by Jim Campbell, the two-page sequence depicts M.O.D.A.A.K. as an orange-skinned, tiny-handed villain sitting in his floating chair, leading the forces of A.I.M. near the United States/Mexico border. There he declares, “If American will not act — M.O.D.A.A.K must!”

However, just as he begins to utter a familiar slogan (“Must make America–“), he’s cut off by a well-placed shield throw from Captain America. Crashing to the ground, M.O.D.A.A.K. leaves us with a parting threat (and a jab at Trump): “Crush you … in … my … powerful handsss …”

Regular readers of this blog know that I have no love for the billionaire’s campaign, which is why it pains me to have to defend the man. Although, truthfully, it’s not really about Mr. Trump. What this is about is Marvel Comics filling its ranks with pathetic partisan trolls whose bright idea for keeping the company afloat is to cultivate loyalty with the lowest common denominator.

Note to Jason Latour, Nick Spencer, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort, and everyone else within Marvel who thinks dividing people is a great business model for long-term growth: The internet exists. When you create stuff like Trump-M.O.D.A.A.K., those stories end up in news feeds next to ‘White House reveals number of civilian deaths from drone strikes.’

CNN reported Friday:

President Barack Obama’s administration estimated Friday that between 64 and 116 civilians have died during the years 2009-2015 from U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the same time span, the administration said between 2,372 and 2,581 militants had been taken out by drones. …

Human rights groups, however, were unsatisfied by the government’s disclosed figures, which came in far lower than independent estimates of civilian causalities.

Selective moral outrage and Marvel-approved hypocrisy are easy to expose thanks to the internet. Whether one loves him or hates him, Donald Trump has never dropped bombs on 116 civilian heads.

President Obama decided long ago that he would rather splatter suspected terrorists into a blood-red mist than capture and interrogate them like George W. Bush, but yet it is Mr. Trump who gets the M.O.D.A.A.K treatment. Telling.

Readers get what is going on, which is in part why Spider-Gwen had estimated sales of a whopping (drumroll please) … 33,797 copies last month.

The moral of the story is this: There are many, many, many readers who are fed up with immature antics of writers like Nick Spencer and Jason Latour. We do not have an affinity for Donald Trump, but we also don’t want to see him turned into a de facto Red Skull or alternate-universe M.O.D.O.K. (Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing).

Superhero comic books were once used to unite readers of all ages and from all walks of life, but these days Marvel employees work to divide — and that is one reason why so many life-long customers no longer care and are walking away in droves.

Related:

Red Skull

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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.

21 comments

  1. A reason you don’t see this kind of hostile hackery in the MCU is because they need to make a great deal of money to keep the movies rolling. In contrast, I don’t think the publishing arm needs to earn as much to stay more or less solvent. So they can crank out trash like this, with minimal backlash; and if something crashes, they just replace it with a new Avengers title.

    It might also be that Kevin Feige isn’t as self-indulgent.

    1. “A reason you don’t see this kind of hostile hackery in the MCU is because they need to make a great deal of money to keep the movies rolling.”

      Exactly. When you’re dropping $200 million into a movie, you realize the old Michael Jordan adage is true: “Republicans buy shoes, too.”

      “In contrast, I don’t think the publishing arm needs to earn as much to stay more or less solvent. So they can crank out trash like this, with minimal backlash; and if something crashes, they just replace it with a new Avengers title.”

      Agreed. The guys with the deep pockets probably are just glad if one or two decent stories comes out every couple of years that they can turn into a movie or a video game.

      “It might also be that Kevin Feige isn’t as self-indulgent.”

      Kevin Feige has a good thing going. I would be shocked if he altered the equation at this stage in the game. 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine this plays to substantial numbers. The Furious D Show blog called it the Offend/Bore Matrix for various movies with a political bent. Pro-Trump people (however few of them there are) will be offended and won’t buy the comic, while anti-Trump people will be bored by the lame take thats and also not buy it. Y’know, a presidential candidate should not be immune to criticism or mockery; you can have some fun with it or craft a substantive allegory. Remember Captain America’s “Secret Empire” storyline? It was a deliberate Nixon/Watergate allegory, but it didn’t beat you over the head with that; you can leave your politics at the door and just enjoy an adventure story, while the story doesn’t age badly. These knocks on Trump are gonna age as badly as a cartoon referencing the latest Internet meme.

    And it’s transparently lazy. It’s no different than the way Palin carried on yesterday towards #NeverTrump; it’s juvenile and just makes the attackers look foolish. Like a lot of people on the Right and Left, I don’t care for Trump and will not vote for him under any circumstances, but this hardly encourages me to buy the damn comic book. Trump hasn’t earned my vote and Marvel hasn’t earned my money. This is like someone tried to frame a story around Marvel staffers’ Twitter feeds. I don’t like reading that crap for free; I’m not gonna pay money for it.

    1. “I can’t imagine this plays to substantial numbers. The Furious D Show blog called it the Offend/Bore Matrix for various movies with a political bent. Pro-Trump people (however few of them there are) will be offended and won’t buy the comic, while anti-Trump people will be bored by the lame take thats and also not buy it.

      Correct, but what I’m talking about is the long-term erosion of readership. This sort of behavior, over time, has driven a ton of fans away. You also have guys like me — I spend a fraction of what I used to on Marvel books, and if I wasn’t writing reviews for this blog it would be even less. I’ll buy the work of guys like Charles Soule, but I’m not going to be purchasing Jason Latour’s work anytime soon.

      “Y’know, a presidential candidate should not be immune to criticism or mockery; you can have some fun with it or craft a substantive allegory. Remember Captain America’s ‘Secret Empire’ storyline? It was a deliberate Nixon/Watergate allegory, but it didn’t beat you over the head with that; you can leave your politics at the door and just enjoy an adventure story, while the story doesn’t age badly. These knocks on Trump are gonna age as badly as a cartoon referencing the latest Internet meme.”

      I spoke with Captain Frugal about “Nomad” on one of his podcasts (36:20) and said that I was perfectly fine with that story. As you mention, there are ways to write a political story without being a partisan hack.

      “And it’s transparently lazy. It’s no different than the way Palin carried on yesterday towards #NeverTrump; it’s juvenile and just makes the attackers look foolish. Like a lot of people on the Right and Left, I don’t care for Trump and will not vote for him under any circumstances, but this hardly encourages me to buy the damn comic book. Trump hasn’t earned my vote and Marvel hasn’t earned my money. This is like someone tried to frame a story around Marvel staffers’ Twitter feeds. I don’t like reading that crap for free; I’m not gonna pay money for it.”

      Don’t get me started on Palin calling #NeverTrump “RAT” yesterday. 😉 I almost did a blog post on that. I agree — it’s juvenile, mean-spirited rhetoric that is useful to no one.

  3. This is why I stopped reading Marvel. I mean, there are so many other wonderfully written comics out there. Why read a company’s books that regularly insult and divides its readers then insults anyone who has legit criticisms? I’ll take Gotham Academy or TMNT over Spider-Gwen these days.

    1. “This is why I stopped reading Marvel. I mean, there are so many other wonderfully written comics out there. Why read a company’s books that regularly insult and divides its readers then insults anyone who has legit criticisms? I’ll take Gotham Academy or TMNT over Spider-Gwen these days.”

      You’re not alone, Conner. If I didn’t have this blog, then I doubt I would spend any money on Marvel comics these days. I grew up with the company and didn’t see any of the industry websites calling them out for this kind of garbage. Its never going to change unless more people shine a spotlight on the problem.

      Side note: I might have to check out Gotham Academy. Thanks for mentioning it.

  4. @Douglas I’ve read comics off and on all my life, until I could finally afford to get more into it back in 2009. The one regular in my reading was Amazing Spider-Man and even that I’ve ended up dropping. I don’t know if I was just unaware of it as I was still technically new to the comic community back then, but things seem to have gotten worse in recent years.

    And yeah, Gotham Academy is pretty good. It’s sorta this supernatural/occult/mystery series set at a school in Gotham. The main characters are mostly all female, but unlike some comics it doesn’t beat you over the head with that fact constantly.

  5. Quesada and crew were hired to rescue Marvel Publishing from the 90s, but they have deteriorated down into their own version of the 90s.

  6. This seems like something that would be in a Mad Magazine Marvel comics parody or something, not in a regular comic book. I guess part of world-building in the spider-Gwen comics is to make that universe’s MODOK a one-note joke. If they really want to make a Trump joke, there are better and more subtle ways of doing it than hitting your readers over the head with a neon orange wooden plank.

    By making this MODOK a parody character, they are making the universe they are trying to create purposely silly and it kinda distracts. It seems to show they care more about taking creatively lazy pot shots at people they don’t like than creating a good comic.

    The worst thing is that is wasn’t funny or clever or creative, it was a super lazy way to say “Hey, this guy we don’t like is a big meanie head and we are making fun of him! Look how clever we are, better get the burn ward ready!” And the response isn’t the sound of laughter or applause, but crickets. Unenthusiastic crickets. Boring.

    1. “By making this MODOK a parody character, they are making the universe they are trying to create purposely silly and it kinda distracts. It seems to show they care more about taking creatively lazy pot shots at people they don’t like than creating a good comic.”

      Exactly. Well said.

  7. I looked at Jason Latour’s Twitter… he’s using the “it’s satire!” excuse to try and deflect criticism. Marvel’s insult-the-fans business model really is pathetic.

    1. “I looked at Jason Latour’s Twitter…he’s using the “it’s satire!” excuse to try and deflect criticism. Marvel’s insult-the-fans business model really is pathetic.”

      I’ll wait for Mr. Latour to start tweeting examples of his Obama satire, given that we have eight years worth of public policy that is ready-made for the Latour-treatment. Oh wait…Magic 8 Ball is telling me “Not Likely” to happen — ever.

      NSA wiretaps, “How I came to love the drone” foreign policy, and the Libyan bombing campaign seems like something that would get instant Latour-satire if the guy in the White House had a last name that rhymes with “Rump.” Maybe it just slipped through the cracks…since 2008.

  8. A little over a month ago, when we lost the great Darwyn Cooke, I decided to go back and re-read DC: The New Frontier, which is for my money easily a Top 10 book when it comes to lists of the greatest superhero comics. There is no true “main character” in The New Frontier, but it’s kind of universally agreed that it is an important story for Green Lantern more so than any of the other featured heroes.

    One scene which stood out as particularly significant to me in these times was the true moment of Green Lantern’s origin, when a dying Abin Sur passes on his power ring to Hal Jordan. The dialogue unfolds as such:

    ABIN SUR: The ring chose you, Hal Jordan. A man of pristine courage. A man entirely without fear.

    HAL JORDAN: But that’s ridiculous…during the war they branded me a coward. I’m no hero.

    ABIN SUR: Courage takes many forms, Hal Jordan. There is the courage of conviction. To stand for what you believe in despite the personal cost. THE COURAGE TO AVOID PARTISAN THINKING, and value the existence of all. The courage to act decisively when survival is at stake.

    Darwyn Cooke was a man who believed that to avoid partisan thinking was courageous on a level that would be recognized by the most powerful force in the universe. The day he died there was a flood of tweets and statuses posted by professionals from all corners of the comic book industry, mourning his loss, complimenting his character and affirming that he was a true master of his craft. It’s a shame that for all they apparently loved and admired Mr. Cooke, nobody in the industry had the time to crack open one of his books and reflect on the values he taught through his work.

    That being said, I place a lot of the blame for Marvel’s partisan hackery on EiC Axel Alonso. Axel strikes me as the type of hypocrite who would lecture you at length on the harmful and problematic fall-out of “cultural appropriation” and then in the same breath explain that, “Early comics were written as a hobby by old white guys” before announcing a continuance of his plan to appropriate “old white guy” culture by replacing the traditional characters with women, minorities and homosexuals. Axel is a man who originally applied for a job at DC not because he had a love or appreciation for the medium, not because he had a life-long vision or a plan to save the art form from ever dwindling sales and public interest. Axel Alonso originally applied at DC because he “thought it would be fun”. His twitter is full of tweets about basketball and early nineties Bay Area rap music, with the occasional tweet promoting Marvel’s new Nighthawk comic (featuring the Squadron Supreme version of the character, who is a racist black militant by the way). You can’t expect much order on the Marvel ship when the captain doesn’t really give a damn about the mission.

  9. I read Manga for my Comic fix. Even with that I’m pretty picky. I think you have another regular here that mentions doing the same thing.

    Just on the culture difference alone the lack of american political atmosphere is refreshing. You always get the feeling that the writers didn’t get the memo for today about how to write a story to make CBR, democrats, or college age professional protesters happy.

    It’s good to vote with the wallet, and in my opinion, the only way to break the entrenched nature of modern superhero comics malaise is for it to collapse.

  10. Personally, I am #Neither. This thing could be funny — except that Marvel has been hateful toward Christians, traditional Jews, and conservatives of all degrees for a long time. So there’s a pattern of slander pouring out of Brevoort, Alonso, Slott, Waid, et.al.

    1. “Personally, I am #Neither. This thing could be funny — except that Marvel has been hateful toward Christians, traditional Jews, and conservatives of all degrees for a long time. So there’s a pattern of slander pouring out of Brevoort, Alonso, Slott, Waid, et.al.”

      That’s the problem — the company’s track record makes it clear that these guys revel in mocking, tearing down, and demonizing very specific groups. Their political attacks all go down a one-way street.

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