This week, we’re going to talk about identity politics and geek culture. One of the themes (or, perhaps, lessons learned) of this political season was about people who feel left out. These are the folks who aren’t really climate change deniers and certainly most aren’t bigots. But they are folks who feel like no one who is talking to them, listening to them or speaking up for them.
Clearly, some bristled when women and minorities jostled past them to assume positions of power and responsibility in their workplaces and communities. They might have big hearts and a welcoming mindset when they meet new people who don’t look like them or act like them… but they get a bit resentful and preoccupied with cultural differences. It’s the little things, like when they notice there are so many with kids “strange sounding” names in their grandson’s 2nd grade class.
Many of these folks tuned into the message from a candidate who promised to make them feel more comfortable in their own hometown.
That’s all clearly a generalization, but I see the same thing happening in Geek Culture. I hear many older fans lamenting that comics today miss the mark. They are uncomfortable with the new stuff and the changes to the old stuff.
I find this so hard to understand, as I do believe we are living in a Pop Culture Renaissance. There are so many innovative and brilliant comics being produced that just keeping up with the really excellent choices has become a Sisyphean task.
I hear fans, and some comic shop owners, complain that Marvel doesn’t get it. They are frustrated that new characters have taken on the mantles of their favorites like Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain Marvel and even the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Much like corporate America in the real world, these title roles used to be occupied by white males, but now they are held by women and minority characters.
Last week in The New York Times, Nicolas Kristof wrote about a Bernie Sanders’ identity politics quote. Basically, Sanders was saying that it’s less about the person’s background and more about the job they do.
I wish it was that easy, but it’s not. So many of us want to see a certain person in the job role and then want that person to do the job our way. Some of us want to see people just like themselves, while others, like me, celebrate the strides made and appreciate and applaud diversity.
I visited a comic shop last night. While there, the owner talked about how Marvel is still producing comics that his customers don’t want to read. The one recent win he mentioned was a new comic called The Unworthy Thor. In the Marvel Comics mythology, a woman has taken over the mantle of the Thor, and this new series puts the traditional Thor character (a white Asgardian or Norwegian – take your pick) back on center stage and in the title role.
It’s a tough balancing act. On the one hand, a publisher wants to appeal to our better angels and invite new people to the party, and on other hand, they need to appeal to what some of their original long-time consumers say they want.
There are no easy answers …not in the Geek Culture Club House nor on America’s political stage.
And folks on both sides might be talking about this upcoming issue of Sam Wilson: Captain America.
As I write this (Friday), the Suicide Squad movie has grossed $318, 779,276 domestically and $413,000,000 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $731,779,276. It’s been playing since the start of August and, in the U.S., it’s still on the top ten list.
It has now out-grossed the first Iron Man film. It has also out-grossed Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk. It has also out-grossed all of the X-Men films, the Wolverine films, and The Amazing Spider-Man films.
And Suicide Squad did not access to the #2 market in the world, China. (Why won’t the Chinese let it in? Beats me.)
It means that not only a lot of people have seen the movie, but many have seen it more than once. (I’ve seen it three times so far but you’d probably guessed that I would.) I know it’s still in at least one movie theater in my remote vicinity.
This is for a film that rates a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I still don’t understand. Did these disapproving critics and fans see the same film I saw? That all these other people saw? Yes, I know it’s not the Citizen Kane of superhero flicks; I know it’s flawed and I could recite some of those flaws. But, as I said before, I’d give it a good solid B. It’s a fun summer popcorn entertainment and it’s just different enough from other superhero films to deserve the attention it gets.
I saw at last one online poster sniff that, yes, it has had a lot of customers but, then, so does McDonalds. I’d hasten to point out that there are food critics who have praised McDonalds french fries. The fact that something is popular does not mean it isn’t good. (Ook. Two negatives in one sentence. Ah well.)
There are things that are different in the Squad film – I heard one millennial cite the coloring, the use of music, the pacing, and the central idea of bad guys being made to do “good” (“good” being a relative term). It is something different.
It’s something that the younger generation seems to be hooking into. The ad calls them the Worst. Heroes. Ever. – and they are. You wind up rooting for them anyway. As twisted as it is, the central romance in the film is Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The film is a different take on the superhero genre.
Look, I’m not going to try and tell people that their opinion of the film is wrong. They react according to who they are and how the film strikes them. I might suggest, however, that they might want to give it another chance. Sure, I’m biased and, yes, I have a (tiny) vested interest in the Squad’s success but I think the movie might be better than some people give it credit for.
So get a ticket, grab some popcorn, and meet me at the Cineplex while the Suicide Squad is still playing. I’m ready to go see it again.
Yesterday, I awoke to the news that the should-be city of Brooklyn was honoring the 75th anniversary of Captain America with a 13-foot tall bronze statue, to be planted in Prospect Park next month after visiting the San Diego Comic Con. “Pretty cool,” I said to our cats, who I believe responded with “Yeah? Does he have a pro pass?”
Then I saw the sketch. In case you haven’t seen it, look to the left.
That is not Captain America. That’s the guy who starred in the past several movie adaptations. That one hasn’t been around for 75 years, but he has been around for over five billion dollars.
I really hate it when the media adaptations are conflated with the “real” thing. The biggest event in the history of comic books should have been the marriage of Lois Lane and Superman. Instead, it was just another episode of Lois and Clark – an afterthought that was unceremoniously (comparatively speaking) ported over to the comic book. Getting rid of that fiasco actually justified one of DC’s many, many reboots.
Not all stories work out, no matter what the medium. Movies and teevee adaptations are made for their times. This is understandable when a $200 million budget is on the line. I don’t get angry when they “get it wrong” as long as the end result is an entertaining experience. That’s why it’s called an adaptation. But I do get concerned when the adaptation becomes canonical.
There’s a reason why Captain America has lasted 75 years (admittedly, with a couple years off during the 1950s and 1960s). There’s a reason why Superman and Batman have lasted almost 80 years each. Quite frankly, there’s a reason why the reboots of Doctor Who and James Bond worked so well: both were extremely faithful to the source material. Neither character became somebody or something else. Their re-creators understood what made those characters work.
That’s why I feel it was a mistake for Marvel Comics to replace the Lee and Kirby version of Nick Fury with the Samuel L. Jackson version in their mainstream comics universe. I’m certainly a very strong advocate for diversity in comics. That’s why I asked Joe Corallo to do a weekly column here at ComicMix covering that very issue. But SHIELD is an organization that employs about a zillion people and presumably is a diverse place; coming up with another Nick Fury to track the movies wasn’t necessary.
Statues are likely to last a long while. There’s still a statue of Andy Gump in downtown Lake Geneva Wisconsin – in fact, when some drunken idiot smashed it to pieces in 1967, it was replaced with another. Andy starred in a popular newspaper comic strip called (of course) The Gumps. It ended in 1959 and today very few people know of either the strip or the character. But that statue lives on. It is nice to think it inspires some to Google the name and learn a thing or two about comics history.
Captain America? The movies will be with us in one form or another pretty much forever. The comic book? Sad to say, that’s somewhat less likely – but, clearly, over the course of time more people will know Cap from those movies than from the comics.
Honestly, it’s been hard for me this past week to think of something to talk about that isn’t the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub massacre that took place on Latin night in Orlando, FL in the early hours of June 12th which was a targeted attack against the queer and Hispanic communities using a Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle. This semi-automatic rifle has been the weapon of choice for many a mass shooter. That fact was not lost on the crowd of thousands that we attended the vigil at Stonewall Inn here in Manhattan’s West Village last week.
Despite this fact, no one really expected anything to be done about gun violence. After all, we’ve experienced so many mass shootings these last few years and our government has done next to nothing about it. Certainly on a federal level. And besides, it’s an election year. You know how politicians get during election years.
Then something unexpected happened. And it’s sad that it was unexpected. Democrats successfully launched a filibuster for gun control legislation. We’ll find out just how successful it was in the weeks and months ahead, but it’s a start.
All of this got me thinking about how this issue has been handled in comics. The comics medium hasn’t shied away from political topics or national tragedy in the past. Marvel Comics have tackled subjects like September 11th, 2001 in The Amazing Spider-Man, and the political climate in the United States for Marvel’s Civil War comic. Spider-Man teamed up with Planned Parenthood once to stop the villainous alien, Prodigy, who was trying to get as many teen women pregnant as he could so he could steal the babies back in the 1976. Hell, Captain America even took on the Tea Party at one point. However, you won’t find much, if any, commentary on gun violence being in and of itself an issue and an appeal for gun control with that.
DC Comics doesn’t fair much better. After the Aurora, CO shooting at a movie theater playing The Dark Knight Rises, quite a few outlets wrote about Batman being against using guns, like this piece in The New Yorker. Though it’s great that Batman and many other superheroes don’t use guns, and many situations involve them defeating villains with guns, that’s different than actually taking on our gun culture and the NRA.
The closest we may have gotten was in Alan Moore’s The Saga of Swamp Thing #45. In that issue, titled Ghost Dance, a small group of people find themselves in a house haunted by all those who have been killed by a Cambridge Repeater Rifle. It’s really wonderful commentary on the issue and if you haven’t read it you should, or at least read up more about it here.
Many smaller comics and graphic novel publishers have not addressed this issue. In fairness to many of them, this is a uniquely American issue and many smaller publishers are based outside the United States or at least publish books written outside the United States. One area of comics you do find gun violence and gun control commentary being addressed is in political cartoons. I know we don’t often think of them in the same way as we do comics, but they are part of this medium and have been around well before Marvel or DC were even being conceived. Even before The Yellow Kid.
There have been some great, some interesting, and some incredibly cynical political cartoons dealing with this topic recently. You can find some of them here. They range from liberal to conservative, from sensible to radical, and from welcoming to xenophobic. Whether you agree with the particular political cartoons you see or not, the important thing is that they are keeping the discussion going.
The comics medium needs to be a part of that discussion, just like every other communications medium. The real danger isn’t the conversation we don’t like to have, but not having that conversation at all.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a vigorous discussion among people who create and/or love comics about the relationships and responsibilities of creators and fans. This is nothing new — fans have been demanding certain kinds of stories that authors don’t want to create at least since Conan Doyle was forced to bring Sherlock Holmes back from the dead — but the internet brings so many more people into the conversation.
And too many of these people on the internet don’t understand the difference between a discussion among people with different points of view and a unilateral demand for submission.
The specific irritant this time is the big reveal that Steve Rogers, our beloved Captain America, is and always has been an agent of Hydra.
Now, I don’t read Cap. Nothing against him, just not my jam. Still, when I read a commentary from the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz declaring that Cap’s creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, wouldn’t have approved because of implied anti-Semitism, I found it interesting.
Interesting. Not canon. Not a papal edict. Interesting.
Apparently that story, while critical of Marvel’s editorial decisions, was an outlier. Many more fans took up keyboards to proclaim their displeasure and demand that things go back the way they used to be. Here and here you can read intelligent analyses of what happened.
I think it’s important here to draw a distinction between someone who says “I don’t like this,” and someone who says, “I don’t like this and you suck and I’m going to find out where you live and kill you.” There is also a difference between someone who says, “I don’t like the start of this story, and I’m not going to read it” and someone who says, “I don’t like the start of this story, but I’m going to read a few more issues and see if it gets better.”
Some stories, written by people I like, drawn by people I like, just don’t do it for me. Some stories, written and drawn by people I haven’t liked in the past, break through my previous assumptions and I enjoy them. Sometimes, because of specific things that have happened to me, a story will provoke an association in my mind that is different from what the authors intended.
I can make connections that are interesting to me even if these ideas are different from what anyone else sees. Years ago, when I read Kingdom Come, I remember telling Mark Waid that the story seemed to be an allegory for the Democratic Party at the time, with the ideals of New Deal Democrats coming face-to-face with the new reality of Clinton’s New Democrats, which diluted and militarized FDR’s dreams.
Mark, of course, looked at me as if I was crazy. Maybe. Still, it was an entertaining conversation to have. At least for me.
Do I think Nick Spencer, the writer, and Marvel, the corporate entity, are deliberately trying to offend fans and insult Joe Simon and Jack Kirby? No, of course not. I think they are trying to tell stories that will entertain enough people to make a profit. At the same time, I think fans who buy comics and don’t like the story have every right to say what they don’t like.
Politely, and within the accepted parameters of comic book criticism (which I would define rather broadly). In other words, you can say the story sucks. You can say the writing/art/editing suck. You can say that corporate ownership of intellectual property inevitably decreases the value of that property. You can make an analogy to what has happened to Captain America since the Kirby/Simon days and what’s happened to Harlem since gentrification.
But you can’t make physical threats against people.
At the other end of this conversation, we have people who object when someone who created a beloved body of work continues that body of work. I’m talking about J. K. Rowling and her new Harry Potter stories. Apparently, there are fans who are upset that Rowling authorized and contributed ideas for a play about grown-up Harry and Ginny, their children and friends. To these fans, anything beyond the original books is heresy, and Rowling should do something else.
If Rowling somehow went back and erased all previous editions of her books and the movies based on them, maybe these fans would have a point. That isn’t happening. Those stories are still there. Fans can continue to read and re-read stories about Harry as a student at Hogwarts.
Just as they can continue to read and re-read the Simon/Kirby Cap, and any other issues they liked. In a few years, there will be a new creative team on the series, and I would bet money that this Hydra story will disappear.
At least, I hope so. I’m really hoping that this run of Wonder Woman will be forgotten as soon as possible.
Last of the Mohicans, by James Feinmore Cooper, is a great American classic. My parents had a Book-of-the-Month copy in their bookcase with illustrations by Newell Wyeth, Andrew’s father, and I first read it at about age 8. Today (Sunday), I watched the 1992 Last of the Mohicans, the one starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline Stowe, and Wes Studi. Great, great movie, also a favorite of my buddy and fellow columnist Johnny O’s; in fact, it was John and Kim who turned me on to this particular cinema adaption, oh, those so many years ago at their home in Norfolk, Connecticut. I was familiar with the 1936 version, which starred Randolph Scott, Bruce Cabot, and Binnie Barnes, which was pretty good, but director Michael Mann’s adaptation is a gothic work of art, boasting beautiful cinematography and a romantic and haunting soundtrack.
I’ve also been blissfully gorging on Season 2 of Outlander, Ronald D. Moore’s magnificent – im-not-so-ho – adaptation of the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Scottish time-traveling romance and adventure series. As the season continues to build to the 1745 tragic and final confrontation between King George II’s British troops and the Jacobite rebels who followed “Bonnie” Prince Charles Stuart in the failed attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy, Claire is suffering from what we call today Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Jamie is taking on more than a veneer of the hated British army’s discipline and attitude, going so far as to flog his troops.
Thanks to the oversight of Moore and his team, including his wife, costume designer Terry Dresbach, and the lush cinematography of Neville Kid, not to mention the remarkable cast, Outlander is far more than a variation of the “bodice ripper” genre; it is a gripping tale of a culture that now exists only in books, films, television shows, Renaissance Fairs, and museums.
I know that my buddy Marc Alan Fishman is demonstrating the mature side of the argument, taking a “wait-and-see” attitude, but as for me – well, there is so much that is wrong about Captain America: Hydra Agent that all I can say is:
No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! But I do have a better candidate for Hydra membership.
Donald Trump Suggests Muslim Judge Might Also Be Unfair. Candace Smith, ABC News, June 5, 2016: “Donald Trump, already facing bi-partisan backlash for his comments suggesting a judge of Mexican descent is unfit to preside over a lawsuit filed against Trump University because of ‘bias,’ has gone further, suggesting that a Muslim judge would also not be able to treat him fairly…”
Trump Plays GOP for Suckers – Calls Climate Change ‘Bullshit,’ Then Submits Plan For A Wall To Protect His Golf Course From Global Warming. Page 4-5. New York Daily News, front page, May 24, 2016: “The notoriously fickle Republican huckster, who at various times has labeled climate change a ‘con job,’ a ‘hoax’ and ‘bullshit,’ has reportedly applied to build a wall along a luxury golf course that he owns in Ireland that is threatened by rising seas caused by climate change.
Perhaps it is Donald Trump who is the Hydra agent.
Deep inside a bunker, equidistant from MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and Univision, the remaining candidates vying for President of the United States secretly meet. Please note they do this every couple of days.
Lowly PA: Sirs, Madam, I wanted to bring this item to you, as you may be handed some softball opinion questions in the next news cycle. That is if Donald hasn’t spouted off something racist that needs to be covered.
The Donald: Not this week, you loser.
PA: Thank you, sir. May I have another sir? Anyways… So, Nick Spencer – a comic book writer – has penned a recent issue of Captain America wherein Steve Rogers has turned out have been brainwashed by Hydra for decades. This rewrites whole swatches of his origin, potentially. But I should note the story has only just –
The Donald: Weak! Pathetic! What a loser. I mean, look, are there some great yuge stories about Steve Rogers? Yes. But none by this guy. Who, not that I’m saying anything wrong here… but Spencer is a Mexican. I personally gave over 12 million dollars to Marvel to stop this. But I think they are being run by… well… the guy is named “Alonso.”
Hil-Dawg: *Cackling Laugh* Oh, Donald, you slay me! But I think we should all take a minute or two to come to a consensus about how we’ll react to this.
Comrade Sanders: Hilary, Donald… I think this is indicative of the fat-cat Wall Street Mickey Mouse Militia out to push an agenda to usurp more powah’ for the one percent! Furthermore –
Hil-Dingo: Just so you know, it actually doesn’t matter what you answer. I’ve already won. This opinion question. The nomination. And the Presidency. But I recognize your right to continue…
Bernie waves an angered hand from his rumpled Men’s Warehouse Special towards the Secretary of State.
Don Juan DiRacist: Look. I love Marvel Comics. Marvel Comics loves me. That they could let this baddy bad badness to occur is just another reason we can’t have Crooked Hilary or Crazy Bernie in charge. Steve Rogers should be a Trump University graduate who fights ISIS and beats them. You’ll see that when I’m President.
Hil-Django: It’s a nice thought. But just like tickets on Trump Airlines, I’m not buying it. I think the smart money says we stay conservative about this Captain America issue. When my husband and I were President in the 90’s, Captain America was an unwavering success. It’s clear that this is just another attempt by the GOP to get in the way of the rights for characters to have retconned background stories for the sake of new fiction.
Burning Man Sanders: Mista’ Trump? Steve Rogers is from Brooklyn. Like me. He fights for the 99%. Miss Clinton? In the 90’s, you’ll denote I wrote many a’ bill to try to stop things like Captain America’s laser shield, Heroes Reborn, and several other complete mishaps during the time President Clinton should have been reconsidering Glass-Steag –
Hilary pulls out an air horn from her purse and honks it angrily at Senator Sanders.
Lowly PA: Gentlemen, Mrs. Clinton… We really need to come to a consensus here. Meet the Press is going to ask each of your communication directors about your stance on this topic in just an hour or two! And the people of America are screaming bloody murder! Some people are livid that there would be such a retcon to a seminal staple of the American spirit. Others are just casually awaiting the arc to end before jumping to conclusions.
Drumpy-Dumpty: Nate Spicer is a Mexican. When I’m President, we’re going to destroy these copies of the book, rewrite the backstory, and make Captain America great again.
Feel The Burn: I think Mr. Spencer is a good writer. Would I have taken such a drastic step in the first issue of a long arc? Potentially. But I think it’s key that we hear the complete story, and work togetha’ to ensure that Captain America doesn’t allow Wall Street to be too big to fail!
Hilarious Clinton: It’s clear to me now, that I feel the same way as any woman would at a time like this. When the country needs to still be this divided over a male-centric issue? It’s a shame. And one that I’ve been fighting against for years. And I’ll fight it more… over the next four years. When I finally take my throne as promised.
The three candidates get up from their seats. They exchange pleasantries and perform the ceremonial secret handshake. Donald Trump then puts on his traditional Latverian tunic, finger-extending gauntlets, and sorcery-empowered armor. He seals his craggy orange facade behind the mask of Doom, and flies out of the cave, to an awaiting mass of white supremacists. I mean… Latverians. Hilary Clinton gets into her Goldman-Sachs’ LexCorp Power Armor™, hugs an awaiting Loki, and promptly teleports back to her secret Harlem think tank. Bernie Sanders tears away his Robert Hall Special revealing a more frumpy Mervyn’s, and plinks away at his 2005 Blackberry. He calls to ensure his greyhound tickets are in order, and takes the stairs towards the street-level shelter to await his bus back to California.
Nick Spencer remains secluded in his own private bunker while the baby boomers all get their death threats in order. He reminds himself that it’s just fiction, he does have an editor who approves his scripts, and, thanks to Doctor Doom, the compelling feeling that there really is no bad publicity anymore.
For all you mainstream comic fans, last week was a doozy. If you’re in that tiny minority of people that somehow avoided all the craziness last week, haven’t read the new Captain America or DC Rebirth but still plan on it, maybe it’d be best if you did before you read on. I’m totally going to spoil things.
Now that we’re all caught up let’s start with the less controversial DC Rebirth #1. Other than my own personal issues with it being far too heavy on the exposition through narrative (come on people, it’s a visual medium!) the most striking thing to myself and seemingly many others was the introduction of Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame into the main DC continuity.
Watchmen has been an odd property at DC ever since it premiered, never quite being in the DCU but also not being allocated to one of DC’s smaller imprints. Damn near very comics fan is at least somewhat familiar with Alan Moore’s falling out with DC Comics. People higher up in DC like Paul Levitz did try to respect Alan Moore’s wishes in so far as pushing back against others within the company from trying to use the property in other projects. However, after Paul was no longer corporate president, plans were quickly put in motion to capitalize on Watchmen’s success with Before Watchmen.
Before Watchmen was met with mixed reviews and comparatively disappointing sales. So after Before Watchmen flopped, why would DC want to try to incorporate Dr. Manhattan into the main DCU? Did they feel like they haven’t annoyed Alan Moore enough recently? Incorporating Watchmen into Rebirth seems like it’s not only a bad idea, but a bad idea with a recent proven track record of being a bad idea.
We’ll get back to that in a bit. Now onto the more controversial comic from last week, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. In case you did not heed my earlier warning and are reading this without having heard what happened, live firmly under a rock with no Internet access and someone was kind enough to print this column out for you, Captain America has come out as a Hydra agent. You know, that Hydra. The bad one. The one that has caused the Internet to argue over exactly what degree of Nazi that Hydra is.
Newsflash: if you’re arguing about how Nazi a thing is, said thing in question is probably already too Nazi.
I’m not going to get into too many of the details here as it’s been explained and editorialized into oblivion since last week. I do fall onto the side of the argument that goes: maybe don’t do this to a beloved movie franchise character that children look up to. And I will add that some people I’ve seen compared this to Superior Spider-Man, and while I under that it’s tempting to compare the two the reality of this fiction is that we all knew Superior Spider-Man was Doc Ock from day one.
Although both of these events last Wednesday seem radically different from one another, they are really both different parts of the same problem. The mainstream comic book industry, Marvel and DC, are uniquely trapped by their intellectual property and this problem has not and is not being addressed properly. I’d argue that reboots are absolutely necessarily for these companies. The problem is that they keep trying to reboot the characters and stories, but what really needs to be rebooted is the corporate culture.
We live in as world where if you create new characters for Marvel or DC you have no ownership of them. They could be a huge hit and a cash grab for a generation or more, but you won’t see much money from it, if any. Hell, our own Denny O’Neil wrote the Iron Man story that was borrowed heavily from to create the movie that launched Marvel Studios and saved the company. Try to find a producer credit for him.
No one expects every idea to take off and be a mega hit. And comics is a very collaborative medium where it can become difficult to figure out exactly who gets the credit, especially in the years before this was taken more seriously. However, a creator is not going to be nearly as motivated to use the best ideas, create the best characters, and give Marvel or DC the chance of getting big crossover hit. They can just take those ideas to Image or another creator-owned publisher.
You see it all the time now. Indie creators getting some buzz, Marvel or DC scooping them up and helping build the creator’s fan base, then said creator takes a chunk of those fans with them when they decide they’ve gotten enough out of Marvel or DC and focus on their creator-owned ideas. Just look at Rick Remender, Alex Kot, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Ed Brubaker. That’s just off the top of my head.
I get that it’s not an easily solved situation for Marvel and DC. I understand how these are complicated problems that involved multiple departments and corporate entities. However, the way both companies are handling their properties right now with the constant reboots, reshuffling, shooting for short term profits and ignoring (at least publicly) long term solutions, the only reboot they really need to concern themselves with is in their legal departments.
As I mentioned last week in this space, Captain America: Civil War rocked!! Well, if you stick bamboo slivers under my nails, I will admit to having one nitpick with the film, but I don’t want to go into it right now because of the off-chance that you haven’t seen it yet. That’s almost a tough pill to swallow, since (a) I don’t think you’d be here if you weren’t a lover of comics and geek culture – with a nice healthy dose of politics thrown in; and (b) Civil War has topped the $1 billion globally, with domestic gross profits adding up to $347,390,153 – and the weekend isn’t over yet as I write this. So I’m going to wait until next week to talk about that one nitpick, in case I forget, which, knowing me, could be quite likely – so somebody remind me, ‘kay? And overall it’s a very small, tiny, minute, nano-millimeter pick of a nit.
And because of that off-chance that you haven’t seen it yet, and because, unlike me, spoilers annoy the hell out of people – they just whet my appetite to actually see the action play out on the big or small screen – I’m not going to attempt to review the movie; though I heartily recommend you go over to my friend Emily S. Whitten’s column and to Arthur Tebbel’s review. Let me warn you now that Em’s column is a bit spoilery, though im-not-so-ho, she does a great job of, uh, whetting the appetite. Oh, and also check out those Twins! Geeks! Tweeks!, in which Anya brings up a problem with superhero movies that she and many other people have – including my daughter Alixandra – which is actually quite legitimate.
I only know one person who saw the film and went “eh,” and said she didn’t like it. When I asked her why, this individual said “Too much talking. Not enough fighting.” I don’t agree with her at all; Civil War is the epitome of what makes the Marvel cinemaverse – and that includes the television and Netflix shows – so successful and DC movies, well, suck big time (on the other hand, the DC “televerse” does “get it,” so I don’t understand what goes wrong with their big screen attempts). Others have said before me. “Marvel gets it.” Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spidey, et.al. aren’t four-color heroes transcribed onto the big screen. They are Steve, Tony, Clint, Natasha, Peter, and et.al. And before they put on their fightin’ clothes and become the Avengers, every single one of them, to “mis”-quote Emily, “bring the emotional heart of the movie to the forefront.”
As for the Man In Orange, here’s this week’s suggested reading in Trump-A-Rama:
Gail Collins, The New York Times, “Meet Deadeye Donald”“Donald Trump has a permit to carry a gun. ‘Nobody knows that,’ he told a gathering of the National Rifle Association on Friday. Well actually, it’s pretty hard to not know since he brings it up all the time….”
“The billionaire showman has been the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for only a couple of weeks, yet his general election strategy is already becoming clear: hope for a mass nationwide outbreak of short-term memory loss. His top strategist, Paul Manafort, has said that the ‘part that he’s been playing is evolving.’ But this isn’t evolution – it’s reincarnation… That call Trump made ‘for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’? Turns out that was ‘just a suggestion,’ he now says.
“The federal minimum wage increase, which he repeatedly opposed? Now he’s ‘looking at’ an increase, he says. “The massive tax cut he proposed during the primary, which analysts said would add $10 trillion to the federal debt? Never mind! He’s hired experts to rewrite it in a way that cuts taxes less for the wealthy. “Those tax returns he promised ‘certainly’ to release? Not going to happen, he says now.
“Remember all those companies Trump blasted for sending jobs overseas? Ford was a ‘disgrace,’ Disney had ‘outrageous’ practices, Carrier deserved higher taxes, Apple should be boycotted because it didn’t help the FBI in a terrorism case, and Trump’s never eating an Oreo again because Nabisco outsourced. Financial disclosures last week showed Trump has invested in all of the above.”
“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the
country. They love anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my
my numbers would be terrific.” – Donald Trump, People Magazine, 1998
“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” – Benito Mussolini
Perhaps this is “bad business,” but before you do anything else, I want all of you to go over to Michael Davis World – yes, that Michael Davis, who happens to be my loooong time friend and fellow ComicMix columnist – and read Martha Thomases’s latest piece, entitled “Trump Card.” Then sit and think. Then read it again.
Then be afraid. Be very afraid.
I know I don’t often get political – oh, c’mon, who the hell do I think I’m kidding? – but this time I have to tell you that I am more consumed with fear for this country than even when the Bush administration sold the American public a bill of goods, the Brooklyn Bridge, a mule they swore was a horse, and lied us into the Iraq War. Which, if you understand history and current events, you’ll be able to follow the timeline that has brought us to the cliff on the edge of the abyss that is Donald Trump.
Ronald Reagan was called the “Teflon President,” but never in all my life have I seen a truer description of the “Baby Man,” as Jon Stewart calls the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate – no matter what he says, no matter what he does, no matter what is revealed, nothing touches Trump; criticism and truth slides off of him the way a well-cooked omelet slides out of a sauté pan, be it insults, lies, racial slurs, gender insults, religious attacks, or back-tracking.
No matter what they have previously stated on the record about never endorsing Trump, just about every Republican still in office or up for re-election in the fall is falling into line behind him, forgetting their oath to this country to protect it “against all enemies, “foreign and domestic.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan hems and haws and hems and haws, and I am actually disappointed in the man. Although I am unlikely to ever agree with his policies, there is no denying that Mr. Ryan is not stupid. But instead of having the balls to stand up and say “there is no way I am ever going to endorse this guy, there is no way this phony in an expensive suit is suitable for the office of the President of the United States, there is no place for a loose cannon like Donald Trump in the White House,” Mr. Ryan, like too many of his fellows, looks only to his own future. He could have simply laughed at the suggestion that Trump will fire him from the position of Speaker of the House if Ryan doesn’t go along with him – that alone shows how ignorant Donald Trump is about the workings of our government, as the Speaker of the House is not a contestant on “The Apprentice,” and cannot be fired by the President. He can only be fired by his fellow Republicans in the House… if they maintain the majority in the November election.
There are Republicans currently in office who are refusing to support Trump:
John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) being the two biggest names, though both claim it is because he does not have “conservative bona fides.” Of course McCain is obviously worried about the Hispanic and Latino vote in Arizona, as he’s running for re-election in his Latino-heavy state. Hey, while I’d rather hear them both say it’s because he’s a loon, I’ll take it. However, there are more conscientious Representatives and Senators out there:
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) loses points because he is planning to retire at the end of his current term, but he did send a letter out to his supporters which urged them to vote for anybody but Trump: “My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgment, temperament and character needed to be our nation’s commander in chief. Accordingly, if left with no alternative, I will not support Trump in the general election should he become our Republican nominee.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said, early in the campaign “This man does things and says things that I teach my six- and three-year-olds not to say. I could never look them in the eye and tell them that I support someone so crass and insulting and offensive to lead the greatest nation in the world.” You go, sir! That’s what I want to hear! Representative Curbelo has also said that he will back either a third-party candidate or a write-in.
And yes, there are many Republicans whose names are not familiar to the national public, but are on the inside of Washington politics who are open about their opposition, such as Elliot Cohen, counselor to the State Department during George W. Bush’s administration, who tweeted “…I will oppose Trump as nominee. Won’t support & won’t work for him for more reasons than a Tweet can bear.” He also wrote an open letter to Trump, signed by 60 members of the GOP National Security committee which said: “Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.”
Max Boot, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, and a fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations told the New York Times that “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump. There is no way in hell I would vote for him. I would far more readily support Hillary Clinton, or Bloomberg if he ran.”
I don’t know if the “Republicans for Hillary” movement will gain any ground, at least in public, but I do think – and many people have derided me for thinking this – that a lot of them will quietly take advantage of our “secret ballot” system to indeed pull the lever or push the button or pencil in the box for the Democrat who would be our first woman President…or will “feel the Bern.” Maybe this isn’t brave of them, as they will be protecting their own Republican asses, but at the least they will be doing the right thing for the country. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I wouldn’t be afraid to bet that the Bushes (all of them, including the wives, kids, and assorted family members old enough) will be voting the Democratic Presidential ticket, whether it’s Hillary or Bernie, though I wouldn’t bet that on that outcome when it comes to their Senate, Representative or local races.
Last February the website Gawker punked Trump by sending him quote by Benito Mussolini, the fascist Italian dictator, which Trump retweeted. The quote was: “It is better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a sheep.” When confronted about it by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet The Press, and if the candidate wanted to be associated with a dictator, Trump said:
“Chuck, it’s OK to know it’s Mussolini. Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. It’s OK to – it’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote, and I know it. I saw it. I saw what – and I know who said it. But what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else? It’s certainly a very interesting quote… I want to be associated with interesting quotes. And people, you know, I have almost 14 million people between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all of that. And we do interesting things. And I sent it out. And certainly, hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”
That answer is pure Trump.
As for those 14 million followers on “Instagram and Facebook and Twiiter and all that?” As I told our editor Mike Gold today after seeing Captain America: Civil War, “Those yahoos think Trump is talking about a pizza parlor in New York called ‘Mussolini’s’.”