Imagine that you grew up reading Iron Man comics books. You love anything with Tony Stark, but for some reason Marvel’s Brian Michael Bendis was given the green light to make him disappear like a terrorist taken to a CIA black site. You’re annoyed, but at the same time you want to be open-minded about the creative possibilities of an “A.I. Tony Stark” mentor to some young kid named Riri Williams. You open the book, and just like multiple other stories by Mr. Bendis, you’re served up a giant helping of racial politics.

Question: Would you continue to read the book?

If you want a better idea of why so many readers want nothing to do with Marvel these days, then check out my latest Youtube review of Invincible Iron Man. If the format resonates with you, then make sure subscribe for future installments on your activist-writers within the comic book industry.

Related: Invincible Iron Man #1: Civil War II delays mar Riri Williams debut

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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.

17 comments

    1. “I think Marvel is dead. Doubt it can be saved….”

      The one silver lining is that it seems as though there is growing number of fans who are rejecting this kind of thing and willing to talk about it on message boards. The Tumblr kids are obviously loud and draw a lot of attention in favor of the social justice stuff, but I think something has clicked in recent years. There is a backlash.

      Think about the countless people Dan Slott has blocked on Twitter over the past few years. Now, given all those blocks, he was still shocked at the amount of push-back he got after the presidential election Nov. 8. He was so dismayed by what he saw — often from comic fans — that he deactivated his account. That is a good sign.

    2. DC seems to have wisened up. I’ve been checking their Rebirth titles as of late and lemme tell you, those books are nowhere near as in-your-face political as the majority of Marvel’s schluck. I don’t know the inner goings-on with each of these two companies that’s making them approach storytelling the way they do, but I know which one shows more respectable tastes… and it’s not the “house of [dumb] ideas.”

    3. “DC seems to have wisened up.”

      My guess is that someone at the top said, “Listen, that’s fine if you’re a liberal or a progressive or whatever you want to call yourself. Do you stories, but just stick to broad philosophical ideas that are in the spirit of your personal politics without getting in the readers’ faces? Is that fair? Can you do that?”

      I’m not sure why this is so hard for Marvel to understand.

    4. ^ Pretty much what came into my head. So whoever is pulling the strings at DC, I gotta give them credit for maintaining a sense of dignity in their fictional stories.

  1. Can’t say I’m surprised. Like you said, Bendis started this nonsense with his first issue of the Miles Morales Spider-Man. And they wonder DC’s sales are better than theirs.

    “The one silver lining is that it seems as though there is growing number of fans who are rejecting this kind of thing and willing to talk about it on message boards. The Tumblr kids are obviously loud and draw a lot of attention in favor of the social justice stuff, but I think something has clicked in recent years. There is a backlash.”

    I’m glad there is. It’s taken a while, but I think some people are finally waking up. Back when I still had a blog, I expressed doubts that it would ever happen. I’m glad that people are speaking out.

    “Think about the countless people Dan Slott has blocked on Twitter over the past few years. Now, given all those blocks, he was still shocked at the amount of push-back he got after the presidential election Nov. 8. He was so dismayed by what he saw — often from comic fans — that he deactivated his account. That is a good sign.”

    Too bad Marvel won’t dump him. Personally, I think he’s an embarrassment to both the company and one of its flagship characters. He’s been on the title for eight years. I think it’s time for someone new.

    1. “Too bad Marvel won’t dump him. Personally, I think he’s an embarrassment to both the company and one of its flagship characters. He’s been on the title for eight years. I think it’s time for someone new.”

      Both Dan and Mr. Bendis seemed to be much more consistent in terms of quality years ago — before Twitter and other social media platforms really took off. I almost think they’re letting either a.) concern about online feedback, or b.) the desire of plaudits steer the creative process in damaging ways. I think if they both just signed off social media for a year or two that they their work would improve.

    2. “He was so dismayed by what he saw — often from comic fans — that he deactivated his account. That is a good sign”

      Dan apparently resurfaced on, of all places, BLEEDING COOL, to defend the editorial decision to ‘whitewash’ the cast of Hamilton in an issue of Silver Surfer.

  2. As a colored person, being a prop always sucks. There’s nothing like feeling your only value to others is how mean white people were to you.

    I guess it would be racist to point out that a majority of the racism I experienced growing up came from black people. Despite that, I never blamed black people as a race…and perhaps in liberal eyes, I went too far…refusing to blame whites for it either.

    You see a lot of that ‘liberal patronization’ in entertainment, where someone speaks for you, claiming they represent your issues and beliefs, and it’s really the most insulting thing you’ll ever see. What set me off on facebook: “If you voted for Trump, how do you explain that to your black, asian, hispanic, LGBT friends?” well…what if that’s my wife, my brother, my friend? Out of sheer respect, they owe me no explanation…does this phrase imply that they are racist? If that is the intent…than the writers of that phrase owe ME an explanation.

    My point about Bendis is that this is who he is. He made a decision a while ago to use his talent to change the world for the better. He never thought for one second what better is, nor how his work may actually infantilize and patronize the very people he hopes to defend.

    Like Riri, to Bendis we are all victims…even if we are brilliant, strong and upstanding, we are defined by our struggles rather than our triumphs. It’s crazy how people like Bendis don’t get it, but a lot of minorities have been screaming it for years: By showcasing how racism keeps the hero or protagonist down and trying to appeal to the audience’s sense of pity…they accomplish what they seek to undo: They show the minority as inferior, and incapable of reaching the esteem of their peers on their own merits.

    1. “Damn, just damn. Well said sir, I’ve never heard/read it explained that way and you’re spot on.”

      Now you know why I wanted Chuck to write X-Men reviews and post them here. 🙂

    2. “Like Riri, to Bendis we are all victims…even if we are brilliant, strong and upstanding, we are defined by our struggles rather than our triumphs.”

      And that is why “white privilege” claims bother me. When you boil it down, episodic instances of racism just fall within the category of “obstacle.” It’s a different obstacle than other people … and it could be big or small depending on where one grows up and what social class they are born into, but it’s still classified as “obstacle.” And EVERYONE has obstacles. Without knowing a person, it’s really impossible to know what they had to endure to get to where they are today.

      I’ll see rich black kids going to Yale, probably the sons and daughters of lawyers and doctors and other highly paid educators, and they’re complaining about “white privilege” in a Banana Republic outfit that probably costs $400. Am I really supposed to believe they had a harder life than some white kid from rural Alabama with a learning disability, whose dad was an alcoholic with a hair-trigger temper? How do you even quantify that kind of stuff?

      It’s one thing to acknowledge racism and to try and make the world a better place, but it’s another when practically every single slight — real or imagined — is used as a racial cudgel to beat others over the head.

    3. “It’s one thing to acknowledge racism and to try and make the world a better place, but it’s another when practically every single slight — real or imagined — is used as a racial cudgel to beat others over the head.”

      Especially when blatant double-standards are in full effect. I’ve read stories of the hard struggles of whites living in rural America, and I can definitely relate as they’re no better off than the downtrodden squatters that make up the majority in my country, and my own father came from such a background until he worked his way up through hard work and perseverance. “You’ve been given a brain. Use it and stop blaming others for your own irresponsibility.” as he always told me as a kid.

      I’ve seen leftists argue time and time again that poverty-stricken whites are entirely to blame for their misfortunes, yet certain PoCs are “inherently innocent” and only “victims of circumstances” regardless of the individual’s own actions. And every time, I feel the urge to faceplant…

  3. *Sigh*, it would seem Bendis, Slott, and the editors of Marvel learned nothing from this election. While the people who voted for Trump disagree with a lot of his policies, his message resonated with a lot of people because he message was it was okay to disagree with the left agenda and you were not a racist, homophobe, xenophope, etc if you dared to voice your opposition to their agenda. What I find so hypocritical, is the left who is supposed to be all about inclusivity is the most intolerant group I ever met if you do not accept their “gospel”. You’re evil and need to be silenced.

    People are tired of being lectured and labeled as a racist for disagreeing with the liberal agenda. What ever happened to having an open conversation listening to each others viewpoints. Get this straight Marvel the more you push your politics, and label them as readers for disagreeing with you the more you turn them off. I’m tired of being labeled a racist because I disagree with the current Presidents policies. What I do not need nor do I desire is to be told this by your writers and Editors. So please do us a favor leave the heavy handed politics out of the comics. You will only alienate more of your readers.

  4. Derek, it seems that your view are the same as many. Marvel seems to be taking a beating in sales for the last 3 months, this could be a fluke due to the hype for the competition or it could be due to several factors.

    1) Too many events, the sales continue to decline with events.

    2) People are getting sick of the character replacements. Using minorities for shock value and returning the original character after a short time is cheap and readers seem to be getting tired of it. People want real characters with growth, not temporary stunts.

    3) Marvel writer’s politics is getting in the way of stories and it is pushing readers away.

    4) Certain Marvel writers are so vocal on views that they are pushing away readers.

    5) Poor stories that lack any real growth or development due to points 1,2,3, for example just look at the Captain America character of the last 5 years. Dead, old, young but now Hydra agent, that is way off from the character and it is just as bad now with Spider-Man and Iron Man, Hulk, X-Men.

    6) No clear starting point with the continuous renumbering for a temporary push in sales, it is darn hard now to keep track of what volume and issue for each book due to the season methodology “AKA renumber cash grab”.

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