Thursday, January 5, 2012

How Liberalism Started The Comic Book Industry: A Rebuttal.

SOURCE: How Liberalism May Be Hurting Comic Book Sales

I was sent this article, written by a gentleman who believes that the reason the comic book industry is in such dire financial straits is because the writings of liberal writers are driving off conservative readers. Specifically, he cites the following stories.

1. Brightest Day #5, where Aquaman spoke about the dangers of deep-water drilling while combating an oil-spill.

2. Brightest Day #7, where Hawk smashes a jukebox because it is playing a Dixie Chicks song.

3. An issue of Birds of Prey, where Black Canary makes a comment on how unsafe SUVs are.

4. An issue of Alpha Flight, where a superheroine/cop dismisses complaints about her oppressing voters by ticketing him for parking in front of a fire hydrant while voting, saying “Please, sir. We’re Canadian.”

5. The Paradise Lost episode of Justice League, where Superman made disparaging remarks about Capitalism after Wonder Woman compared a shopping mall interior to an Amazon temple. (“Yes, for those who worship their credit cards.”)

To this, I would like to say the following:

1. It is silly to criticize Aquaman for being outspokenly against things that risk polluting the oceans for much the same reason it would be silly to criticize Batman for being outspokenly in favor of mandatory gun registration.

2. I've read the issue in question and Hank says nothing about precisely why the sound of Dixie Chicks music made him break a jukebox. Maybe he was offended because the Dixie Chicks are a group of outspoken liberal women, as Mr. Wagner suggests? Or maybe Hank is a man of taste who doesn't like modern music? Lord knows I've felt like destroying the radio every time I've heard Nickleback. In any case, there is a precedent in many other comics for Hawk losing control of his temper in high-stress situations, independent of his political beliefs. And seeing the woman that he's somewhat conflicted over (Hank and Dawn's relationship is complicated, to put it mildly) growing closer to Deadman while leaving him on his own probably qualifies as a high-stress situation.

3. While I don't know the safety statistics about SUVs compared to other vehicle types off-hand, I would dare say we can take Black Canary at her word. Nobody knows safety like a woman who routinely rides a motorcycle at highway speeds without a helmet or properly padded clothing.

4. I'm not an expert on either Canadian traffic regulations, but I do not believe the rule of law allows for exceptions. Not even in Canada. While one might be forgiven for speeding when taking a pregnant woman or a severely injured person to the hospital, voting is not an emergency situation. Impeding the ability of firemen to do their job, on the other hand, very well could be.

5. There is a world of difference between Capitalism and Consumerism and Superman is clearly decrying the later in this instance. Shopping malls, for the most part, are devoted toward the sale of non-essential goods. And while capitalism does cover the sale of all goods, I'm fairly sure that Pa Kent would have taught his son early on about the difference between the things we want and the things we need. In fact, I dare say that Superman's message here could be interpreted as a conservative one - decrying people buying things they can't afford and don't really need on credit.

All that being said, I still can't get behind the idea that a liberal bias is the sole cause of plummeting comic book sales. While I know a lot of people - myself included - who quit reading Spider-Man after The Powers That Be decided to destroy Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson, I believe that decision had less to do with Marvel spitting upon the sanctity of marriage and more to do with the reasons behind breaking up the marriage being phenomenally stupid. But I digress. My point is that I can't believe a sudden outspoken liberal bias is responsible for driving away conservative readers... because the American comic book industry has always been dominated by outspoken liberals.

Mr. Wagner himself noted Superman's original roots as a socialist champion of the working class - roots he recently returned to in Grant Morrison's Action Comics. But it goes much deeper than that. Most of the founding fathers of American comics fought were fairly progressive fellows.

* Granting that he originally drew the character in an offensive Sambo-style, Will Eisner did create the sidekick character of Ebony White for The Spirit in order to depict a heroic African-American. Eisner also drew Sheena: Queen of the Jungle - the first comic book to headline a female superhero.

* Joe Simon and Jack Kirby depicted Captain America fighting Nazis well-before the USA got involved in World War II. In fact, the duo had to be given police protection due to repeated death-threats by Nazi sympathizers.

* William Moulton Marston was a prominent feminist philosopher, who was brought into the comic book industry after he wrote a column about the great educational potential of comic books while criticizing how male heroes dominated the superhero genre. Publisher Max Gaines took the column to heart and hired Marston to create a character. Wonder Woman was the result.

* Stan Lee depicted student-protesters in a positive-light during his run on Amazing Spider-Man. And we can't forget that The Man was almost singlehandedly responsible for destroying The Comics Code Authority by - ironically enough - publishing an anti-drug comic.

And that's just the ones I know off the top of my head. I'm sure many of you can think of other examples of how liberal the founding fathers of American Comic books were. Feel free to give some examples in the comments below.

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