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Sunday, January 08, 2012 

Too much liberalism harming comics

Bleeding Cool offers one of very few conservative opinions on their site arguing how leftism is only leading to the collapse of comic books. One of the most alarming examples presented is how Hank Hall of the Hawk & Dove duo is turned into a maniac:
You pick up another comic book featuring a superhero team you used to really enjoy and there’s a member on the team who shares a lot of the same socio-political views you do, but he doesn’t articulate them very well (by design, you can tell) and gets everything wrong (again, by design) and you realize that he’s the “team jackass” precisely because he is supposed to represent you. (Another Brightest Day example of this; issue #7 where Steve Ditko creation Hawk says he wrecked a restaurant’s juke box because it was playing a Dixie Chicks song. Hawk was created to represent conservatism during the Vietnam War era, but today he’s apparently a reckless caveman who doesn’t understand the very conservative idea of private property rights.) So you put that comic book back on the shelf and if you haven’t walked out by now, you’re sure to get at least three more experiences like these before finding a superhero comic that is, at best, not very political.
Anyone who's going to depict Hawk as being so willing to destroy private property rather than just make a quiet exit from the restaurant clearly doesn't have much respect for the character. I've sometimes wondered if the real reason Hank Hall was turned into Extant after Armageddon and Zero Hour was because, as a perceived conservative, he was viewed as expendable. In other words, it had nothing to do with changing the identity of the character originally claimed to be the target of turning into a villain for publicity's sake. Rather, it just had to do with easy targets.

And it gets worse:
We see this all the time, don’t we? Black Canary just happens to make a comment about how supposedly unsafe SUVs are while pursuing a villain in one in the pages of Birds Of Prey. Over on the Marvel side, in the pages of Alpha Flight, a Canadian man parks in front of a fire hydrant while attempting to vote and he’s given a ticket for doing so. The man accuses the cop (Snowbird’s alter ego) of voter suppression and how she’s “harassing the patriots who are trying to change things”… to which she responds “Please, sir. We’re Canadian.”

It even extends outside of comics into animation. In the Justice League animated series episode “Paradise Lost,” Superman and Wonder Woman are investigating a shopping mall. Wonder Woman looks at the interior of the mall and likens it to a temple. Superman replies “Yes, for those who worship their credit cards.” Now, what are we supposed to make of this? Superman clearly doesn’t think very highly of shopping malls, at the very least. (This is odd considering that the character once symbolized something called “the American Way” of life, which was defined by, among other things, capitalism.)
Yes, those are equally galling examples, since they depict "patriots" as disrespecting even simpler things like parking requirements, and even insult shoppers who're buying what could be helpful household utilities. It's the same in Europe, Africa and Asia, where tons of people consume everyday, with or without credit cards, so I don't see what the makers of those cartoons are driving at either. What it does tell is that even the animated cartoons based on DC are becoming disturbingly flooded with political nonsense.

Unfortunately, it's a rare voice of reason in a site that's otherwise fairly leftist (it can't be said they were particularly kind to Frank Miller), and one of the site heads went to far to prove that by disagreeing with the conservative writer the following day, claiming that conservatism could be hurting comics (!):
As for the politics, Darin Wagner is really arguing that any injection of politics, liberal or conservative, divides an audience and thereby reduces it. I disagree entirely. The best selling superhero comic books of recent decades have often been highly political, often quite radical, they’ve just so happened to have multiple points of view in them. But rather than injecting the conservative superhero with a liberal friendly oil rigging disaster as Darin Wagner mentions, they satirise the very conservative nature of the superhero. And then show real change.
All I can give in reply to that claim is a yawn. "Satire" seems to be the classic excuse at times to cover up for an otherwise limp foray into leftism, and it does nothing to improve on an already overly politicized spectacle. Civil War was one of the most dreadful examples of an overly political comic book "event". And maybe they don't realize, but if what they say is satire of superheroes' conservatism is being done anywhere, it only proves the point of just how little respect the leftists now long dominating the industry actually have for the rightists. Worse, they're suggested that supposedly big sales are more important than good storytelling.
Mark Millar injected a more obvious political treatment into Marvel’s Civil War, and increased sales on all sorts of books, to ludicrous degrees in some cases, that far outstrips modern sales. He set all the Marvel superheroes against each other in a battle between Freedom and Security, or Anarchy and Fascism, whatever you like. And everyone took a side… and found their own political ideals reflected in the side they took. One of the most political books Marvel has ever published, even if the positions taken are very cartoonish, and that actually seemed to reflect real change rather than the illusion of change, even to a jaded audience – and sales rocketed. There hasn’t been a followup to match it from Marvel and sales have reflected that. But then none of those followups were quite as political as Civil War.
And until Avengers vs. X-Men, none have quite depicted the Marvel heroes fighting each other instead of the villains so blatantly and only for the sake of good guys vs. themselves. And if it really reflected "change"...it was only a bad sort.
Conservative comics, those that try and preserve what went before are often considered boring. “Dad comics” Both DC and Marvel Comics encountered a spiral of decreasing sales the past few years, lurching from event to crossover, each time hoping to bottle a little of what came before, each time receiving decreasing returns. Because there was rarely real change, there is too much invested in corporate characters to risk that. People could see through the illusion of change now. And then the DC Relaunch happened, the very definition of the successful illusion of change. And this time it was accepted, people bought into the comics, the market was lifted, even Marvel’s sales began to rise on the back of it.
Oh really? One of the first examples of this relaunch was Mr. Terrific's depiction of Republicans as anti-science, so it's not like much has "changed". On top of that, they don't seem to comprehend that the definition of conservatism that I thought was in focus here was of the political sort. Specifically, that superheroes are not allowed today to espouse conservative ideals, and rightist writers are almost completely blacklisted (Chuck Dixon, whose own site forum brought this up, is a prominent example).

At the same time, it's not too surprising if they're suggesting that conservative idealistics are "boring". What about all those attacks on capitalism of late, not to mention the depiction of conservative figures like Hank Hall as violent screwballs? I find that kind of approach not just boring, but also offensive and it certainly won't win over many other conservatives either.

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I love that comment that radical leftism is what makes the highest selling comics "successful." Yeah, real successful to see your sales at a fraction of what they were when you weren't doing this nonsense. It's like taking pride in being the last person to drown on the Titanic.

Any time you alienate at least half your audience, you're an idiot whose business model is likely doomed to failure. Period.

Yeah, I know that constantly having my moral and religious principles mocked got me to buy a lot of comics. I had no idea I was reading boring comics as a kid. And my reprints suck, too; thanks for telling me. Viva deconstructionism and all that.

Oh, and here's the old 'liberal=change' BS. Just 'Change' in some abstract sense, doesn't even matter what it is. Sentiment and slogans over prudence and wisdom. Tear down society, who gives a damn, as long as its 'different.' It's philosophical ADHD.

And how does the counter-argument make sense? It boils down to 'Comics today offer various points of view, and then trash on one side.' Is that supposed to satisfy a critic?

Civil War sold more books because it was a torn-from-the-headlines gimmick. It's easy for circulation to get a %bump when it was negligible to begin with. And then things went back to the way they were. Congratulations Millar, you're the tallest midget.

Please, please get the damned politics outta here. I don't give a crap what Matt Fraction thinks about anything, and he's being pretty presumptuous to think that I would care. If you wanna give an opinion, write some indie garbage, don't hijack the X-Men. Clean up the sex n' gore and give us plain old comic books.

I define conservatism a lot differently from say, Big Hollywood and this Wagner guy, but they have the right idea in a general sense.

Wow. If you avoid the comments on that (a perfectly reasonable thing to do; there's nothing unpredictable or insightful there), you'll miss this gem from Peter David:

I wrote an issue of "Supergirl" in which Steel is shown explaining why it was not only acceptable, but desirable, to shut down a scheduled speaking engagement at a college by someone who was perceived as a racist. Liberals complained I was trying to make Steel look bad. Conservatives asserted that I was trying to make conservatives look like racists. This, despite that Steel's remarks were lifted from position papers from black academic scholars, and the speaker's views on blacks were only slight paraphrases from a newly published book by a conservative writer.

So, you create a "racist" character, lift quotes from a conservative commentator to put in their mouth, and this is proof you haven't shown hideous bias... how? Because some lefty doesn't like your story?

I don't want propaganda. I don't want cheap shots. I don't want straw men. All these are insulting. Show me a comic from the big two with political content that doesn't do those.

Wow, I used to watch the Justice League cartoon all the time when it was on Cartoon Network and never once did I pick up on that little bit of anti-consumerist message.... it's not surprising that it would leak into the DC's animated versions as well, given that many of the same people who have steadily ruined DC such as Didio and Johns call the shots when it comes to their animation department as well. And as for Civil War, it was, like Kookaburra said, a ripped-from-the-headlines sales gimmick; to me, it was the worst crossover ever written, and was to Marvel what Identity Crisis was to DC: an awful, "game-changing" crossover that has been allowed to dictate the direction of both universes ever since then.

The whole statement that radical leftism makes comics successful is quite laughable. It's what ruined comics for me, and is why I only buy the classic comics because they provide me with a sense of escapism. Whatever happened to traditional superheroes, who were good and fought against supervillains? That's what I'd like to know.

Carl

I can't top what everyone else said, except there is one key difference -- I can view or watch other things. Back then, Marvel and DC (and to a lesser extent, Image) were the only game in town. Now, we have tons of independent comic companies to go to. We don't need them anymore.

Yet, it is amusing that they're alienating the audience and then blame the audience for being alienated. (Or, they hate that we're finally talking back.) And it's coming from ones who, y'know, came to be tolerant and "enlightened."

That Peter David quote surprised me, but I suppose it isn't a surprise, now, is it? (Or I wasn't aware of David's apparent leftism.) Oh, well, just another hack writer, right?

"Yeah, I know that constantly having my moral and religious principles mocked got me to buy a lot of comics. I had no idea I was reading boring comics as a kid. And my reprints suck, too; thanks for telling me. Viva deconstructionism and all that.

"Oh, and here's the old 'liberal=change' BS. Just 'Change' in some abstract sense, doesn't even matter what it is. Sentiment and slogans over prudence and wisdom. Tear down society, who gives a damn, as long as its 'different.' It's philosophical ADHD."

Kook, I definitely agree, as the Left loves to deconstruct everything, but God forbid you take one of their beloved instituions. I've been reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, which is probably the best book on the old and modern Left's mindset and their compulsion to deconstruct everything they see. Either that, or it's like they want to have their cake and eat it, too, when it comes to such arguments. Or, it's simply that they don't know how to argue for their own ideas, so shut down the competition and there -- no need to think and hurt them brain cells, anymore. How sad.

First if Liberalism sells you cant complain for the companies to sell It, is a free market so you compete or you die. Second there is a lot of racism, sexism and homophobic views on Comics so a little bit of liberalism could help.

What needs to change is the political Right, is full of religious people, pro-life, etc. Only when the right acept libertarian views It can grow into something serious, How can you vote for a party that still have creationist.

Right wing is poisoned by the "traditional conservativism" like the ants on a house, if you dont stop them the house would fall down. Traditional Conservative views are an enemy of Libertarianism and an enemy of a real succesefull right wing polítics

This comment has been removed by the author.

It's just a lump of tissue, maaaaan. A scientist dude on MSNBC told me, and they're totally scientific and righteous and stuff. Heey maaan, is that Freedom Rock?

Silly statements deserve silly retorts.

Liberalism sells? Didn't realize that. Fraction's ramblings on gay rights and Millar's on fascism or whatever the hell he was bitching about totally sold more than they did in the old days with those bad horrible Code books.

Yeah, and git rid of them damn people who don't like kids being chopped up. They're like, totally stupid.

Those libertarians and Democrats, how could you vote for a party that still has people who think jamming scissors into a childs head is ok? Or people who think being attracted to another man's anus is a rational and medically sound practice. Or...oh hell, why bother? You don't try to think through your analogies, so why should I even try.

Ants on a house? You mean termites? And are you Gerardo of Rico Suave fame? He doesn't have much to do these days either. You made a wrong turn at the Nerds for Ron Paul site.

Liberalism sells?

Funny how as the Big Two have gone bitterly left, they've shed a huge portion of their audience.

And once you've lost the trust of your customers, they ain't coming back. I wouldn't let my kids come near any comic with Quesada, Alonzo, Didio, etc.'s name attached, and I wouldn't bother picking it up to read it, either.

If liberalism "sells," then why have both Marvel and DC sales gone down in recent years? Overpoliticized storylines, no character drama, and basically shoehorning everything into a crossover.... that hasn't helped comics one bit. Also, what happened to self-contained storytelling? Prior to the 1980s there was more of it and even into the 1990s it was still there before everything was editorially mandated to tie in with a crossover.

Carl

I think the only time Hawk & Dove ever had personalities was on JLU.

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