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Saturday, April 30, 2011 

Jonathan V. Last blows it again

If there's any writer for the Weekly Standard who's really disgusted me, it's Jonathan Last, who's given his support for Identity Crisis. He's written about Superman's giving up his American citizenship, and sabotages everything when he says:
Or in Darwyn Cook’s New Frontier, when Superman is fighting in Vietnam as an agent of the U.S. government. He is partnered with Wonder Woman, who shares none of his fealty to America. At one point, Wonder Woman goes AWOL and when Superman finds her, she has taken control of a Vietcong prison camp and turned the female captives loose on their jailers. While Superman is startled by the carnage, Wonder Woman—who is, after all, a warrior princess—rejoices in it. As Superman wrestles with the moral contradictions, Wonder Woman says icily, “Go home, spaceman.” Heck, in Brad Meltzer’s fantastic Identity Crisis, Superman barely has ten lines of dialogue. But the story is shaped largely by the other heroes tip-toeing around Clark, because they know he wouldn’t tolerate their morally questionable actions.
Tragically, that's the stand he's taken, in support of DC's insult to women's rights, and clearly, he hasn't learned anything since. His shocking double-standard practically discouraged me from appreciating any of his alleged comic book fandom, and does he really want the heroes of the DCU to be considered the wrongdoers instead of Dr. Light after he raped Sue Dibny? As inappropriate as it was to depict Dr. Light that way, it's even worse if Last considers the rape trivial and the "lobotomy" the real problem in its stead. Just what kind of conservative does Last think he is anyway, and does he really see nothing wrong with destroying popular fiction for the sake of such a grimy story? Did he even think the punch to Zatanna's tummy and the near asphyxiation of Black Canary was "fantastic"? Shudder.

And did it ever occur to him that Identity Crisis could be a variation on 9-11 Trutherism? It certainly is a variation on blaming the victim. How is it he couldn't comprehend that?

This is exactly why, if there's any conservative I can't recommend on issues like these, it's Jonathan V. Last.

Update: for a better take on the subject, here's James Hudnall's posting at Big Hollywood, where he certainly avoids making the same kind of mistake Last did.

Update 2: I decided to really let Last have it - specificallly, I answered a post direct on his blog, and will also recopy the text of my reply right here:
Mr. Last, it’s sad that I have to do this, but there’s a conservative here who finds something very distasteful hidden in your piece. Something that detracts very greatly from what impact it could have.

First, if it matters, I’m an Israeli citizen. I live in Jerusalem. And I’ve read plenty of comic books too for many years. And I was very, VERY angry to discover, that you actually condone DC’s grimy little misogynist screed called “Identity Crisis” (and I read those 2 earlier posts you did nearly 4 years ago), which, as people like Peter Sanderson have noted, is almost exclusively male in its viewpoint, tarnishes several characters both major and minor, and even resorts most disgustingly to shock tactics.

What exactly do you consider “fantastic” about that POS? I assume you consider Deathstroke’s causing Zatanna to vomit fantastic? Do you think Slade Wilson’s cuffing and near asphyxiation of Black Canary is fantastic? Is Slade’s stabbing Flash fantastic? Do you think the humiliation of Sue Dibny is fantastic? Do you even think Jean Loring’s inviting her ex-husband to hit her, and the suggestion that she was molested in prison was fantastic? And, do you even consider making the Justice League into scapegoats – shades of leftist Blame-America tactics – while trivializing the crime committed by Dr. Light, fantastic?

But even if the story didn’t have such disturbingly subtle left-wing allusions to 9-11 hidden underneath, would the misogynist manner it’s written in alone be legitimate? No way jose. And that just underlines how irresponsible you are even on that level. What you did there doesn’t just clash seriously with your concerns about Superman and American citizenship, it’s also an insult to victims of rape and wife-beating. Have you ever considered what a woman who was raped by Islamofascists, whether in the middle east or Europe, might think of you if she found you endorsing a sick book with an approach that was offensive to their plight? What would even Lara Logan think?

As for the minor players misused in Identity Crisis, do you really see them as so expendable that you’re even willing to applaud as they’re disgraced in such an awful manner? And if Lois Lane were the victim or culprit, would you have stood for that? I don’t make a difference between superheroes and supporting casts based on popularity rank, I base my view on the story quality, and my fandom for one doesn’t come at the expense of another.

Mr. Last, I’m sorry to say, but you’ve done a grave disservice just as bad as Bill Kristol himself after he attacked Glenn Beck for his concerns that the Islamofascists in Egypt intend to establish a modern day caliphate. And I question whether you’re really a comics fan, if you have such a low opinion of the DCU that you’d be more than willing to stand by idly as they maim what’s in their ownership. Not to be a curmudgeon here, but let me ask you something: if Dr. Light were depicted in that book as a racist, and Sue Dibny and Jean Loring were members of minority groups, and Light attacked Sue out of a hate crime, and that too were trivialized while the “lobotomy” was deemed far more important, would you have stood for that? Would you have even approved if the white DC heroes and their supporting casts were called “white crackers” by the villains?

Maybe that’ll give you something to think about. I hope you’re happy at how Dan DiDio and company destroyed other people’s childhoods and worse, insulted women’s rights with their grimy, perverted miniseries. If that’s the kind of stance you’re going to take, regardless of whether there’s moonbat messages hidden inside it or not, you are not qualified to make an argument on Superman’s giving up US citizenship.
That's what I told him, and I'm not sorry I did. If he's going to tarnish his argument by trivializing and even embracing another form of prejudice, then he deserves to be panned in full.

Update 3: sad but no doubt predictable: on July 21, 2011, Last reviewed Grant Morrison's "Supergods" in the Wall Street Journal, and has he ever made my teeth gnash in disgust:
Comic books aren't what they used to be. Begun as pulp mythology, the medium has matured in recent years. A comic such as Greg Rucka's "Whiteout" (1998), about a U.S. marshal solving murders in Antarctica, has more in common with Donald Westlake than the Archies. Sometimes the genre reaches even higher: Brad Meltzer's "Identity Crisis" (2004), about how superheroes deal with a horrific crime, combines classic noir with genuine analysis of the liberal order.
It's sad but not unexpected that he would remain unchanged, and continue to embrace that misogynist screed. "Classic"? And if he's trying to cover his tracks by suggesting that a book that's basically a metaphor for blame-America tactics is some kind of critique of liberal order, my advice to him is to just stuff it. Mainly because, how can it be any kind of analysis if it floods itself with an exclusively male viewpoint and trivializes rape, and tampers with established characters? Why, if he really believes what he says, then he should explain why the good guys - the Justice League, of course - are made to look bad here. His pathetic defense falls flat on the earth in the face of that.

I'll put this as simply as possible: Jonathan Last really disgusts me as a human being.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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