Like many people involved in the cultural libertarian movement this image showed up on my twitter timeline a few days ago amid considerable lulz and hubbub and like many people who saw it for the first time I was confused as to exactly what was going on. Was this a localized comic that had been censored in certain regions? Perhaps something that was posted to tumblr? Turns out what you are looking at is the original panels, in all their intended and ridiculous glory, or lack thereof.
This is a page from Angela, Queen Of Hel, written by Marguerite Bennett. So basically this is what a feminist comic looks like. Needless to say the [UNSOLICITED OPINIONS ON ISRAEL???] bit got a few laughs and inspired a slew of memes which were shared on the twitter. Here’s a few of my favorite:
I obviously enjoy these way too much, and could keep going, but let’s move on. Apart from propagating dank memes, cultural libertarians were quick to point out further examples of obnoxiously heavy handed social commentary creeping into the pages of Marvel…
That’s some cringe worthy stuff, right there. I mean some this shit reads like what I would expect from fan fiction on deviant art. Like it’s not enough to have female superheroes, or to have female superheroes fighting male villains, no, we need female superheroes getting hit on by entitled creeps that pull out a shotgun in the face of rejection, as you do, because masculinity so fragile. I will say, however, in all fairness, that Wonder Woman has always been a bit of a feminist icon, and that comics have always had a tendency to tackle social issues.
The real question, or at least the question that interests me, is are these issues really being served up in a way that has become so heavy handed that it’s pushing the core fanbase away, in exchange for a new, theoretical fanbase that doesn’t actually exist? Is this misguided pandering going to kill of the comic business or help them reach a new audience? One thing we can be sure of, the SJW crowd can’t complain that Marvel isn’t trying. These panels are just the tip of the iceberg. They have been modernizing and diversifying comics for years. Iceman came out as gay, for one thing.
Later in that same issue, Iceman fucks his younger self, which is actually kind of edgy, but not gay, when you think about it. I mean hell I fuck myself all the time and that doesn’t make me gay? Right? But seriously, we’ve also had a slew of known characters get diversified versions, at least temporarily. From female Thor to black Captain America, all of our representation are belong to everyone.
Of course we would be remiss not to mention Pakistani American Muslim superheroine Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Wow. That’s gotta build up some goodwill, right? It’s not like the progressive media would shit a brick over having a villain that isn’t white, right? Riiiight. Fucking guardian.
The guardian article is a perfect example of why pandering to progressives probably doesn’t work for certain markets, at least not in the long run. Because these people are never satisfied. That’s the whole problem with SJWs. That’s why they annoy me so much I had to start a blog to complain about their bullshit. They don’t have goals. They don’t have anything they are trying to achieve. They just like policing everything. They live only to point out shit that you are doing wrong and to pounce on you for it.
That’s why, sooner or later, SJWs always eat their own. That’s why, even when you have the most progressive comic company to ever progress, they will still burn all your product and call for boycotts if you donate to the wrong charity.
The best thing about the Jay-Dubs, is that they have so much integrity. That’s why they hate Donald Trump in the first place. That’s why they would never misrepresent a situation like someone donating a million dollars to veteran organizations as donating to Trump’s political campaign…
Summary: @Marvel's CEO donated a massive amount to Donald Trump, heavily indicating racism. Stepping down is the only acceptable move.— Peter Coffin🌹🔑 (@petercoffin) January 29, 2016
You should not not give a cent to anything @Marvel until their racist, Trump-supporting CEO steps down.— Peter Coffin🌹🔑 (@petercoffin) January 29, 2016
Support for Donald Trump needs to be treated as support for white supremacy. Because it is. Unacceptable. @Marvel— Peter Coffin🌹🔑 (@petercoffin) January 29, 2016
Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter giving Trump campaign $1 million.— Claire Atkinson (@claireatki) January 29, 2016
Bad with representation? White supremacy? Boycott until he steps down? I hate you people. I hate you so much. Fucking hell.
Still, the question about the bottom line remains. We know pandering to these people can work. So does it work with comic books? A recent article on bleeding cool has been pointed at as proof of the failure of this tactic. Some retailers are complaining about drooping sales recently. Is it because of the ham fisted feminism? I’m not convinced. For one thing, comic book sales are actually up in 2015, 7% more sold than 2014. No matter how you feel about Angela, this should be considered good news for comic fans.
Looking at the actual list, the top sellers are what you would probably expect. Star Wars, DARK KNIGHT III, IRON MAN…All of the top 10 are “number ones”, a gimmick that never gets old. When they killed Archie he took a bullet for his gay, gun control promoting senator friend, and that comic sold out it’s first run. But, to my knowledge, that’s also the first time they killed Archie, which would be a fairly big event even without the political pandering.
Ms Marvel #1 took 150th place on the top selling list, and #2 took 427, so it’s not like there’s no interest in these comics. The best selling new comic of 2015 was Image comics paper girls, #147 on the list. A story set in 1988 Cleveland, OH, as seen through the eyes of four young paper delivery girls, billed as Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds. I’m not gonna lie, that, uh, that sounds pretty damn readable. I’m gonna check that out.
Another comic I’ve been keeping my morbidly curious eye on is Valiant’s faith, the story of a “plus sized” super hero that works at buzzfeed. The January sales figures aren’t out, but I suspect it will do well, considering it’s been hyped with mad coverage over the last year. I’m also pretty they did a limited run. Valiant is not a huge operation and their comics tend to sell in the 8-12 thousand range, not the million plus that you get out of something like Star Wars. Faith is also only currently planned as a 4 issue limited series, so it doesn’t really have to worry about having staying power. Personally, this comics does not inspire the same interest as something like Paper Girls.
My conclusion here is that tales of the comic industries death may be greatly exaggerated. But why is it that panels like what we see in Angela and comics like Faith cause the type of reaction that they cause? Why is it that people seem legitimately offended by this stuff, when they could simply choose not to read it? While it’s easy to write of people who seem upset about this as angry white nerds that don’t want their space invaded, there may be a bit more nuance to it then that. Maybe the question isn’t if the books will sell or not. Maybe the question is, are these stories any good?
This is my theory, so hear me out. I think that the best art comes from people who are trying to create something that they think would appeal to themselves. They aren’t trying to push an agenda, or signal their virtues, or change the world. They are just asking themselves, what would be interesting or exciting or unexpected, etc. That’s how you get books like Sandman and Preacher. Now, I can’t say that the people who make Faith or Ms Marvel aren’t writing comics that they personally would like to read. It’s not exactly that, it’s just that they seem to want to read stuff that caters to their ideological beliefs, rather than being primarily concerned about wanting to read a good story. That’s my theory, anyway, but what do I know? I’m just a…