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Saturday, June 04, 2016 

Why Forbes is wrong to serve as apologist for Nick Spencer's take on Steve Rogers

Forbes movie writer Mark Hughes may have written some commentaries in the past I could agree with, or even respectably disagree with. But with this recent essay of his, where he claims Captain America fans are wrong about Spencer and Brevoort's retcon to Steve Rogers, I think I'm going to have to reevaluate what I think of Hughes. He says, for instance:
Certain segments of fandom have always been too quick with knee-jerk overreactions, grossly exaggerated claims, fauxtrage, and the sadly all too common resort to threats and vulgar accusations (which is NOT to say all negative reactions to this Captain America story or other stories are reactionary exaggerations, I’m talking specifically about the most overstated and melodramatic behavior dominating discourse about the comic this week). And of course Internet culture encourages the myopic resort to perceiving everything we dislike as “worst thing ever” versus “best thing ever,” and all choices as “love it or hate it” with no option in between. But this sort of extreme environment often found online is infantalizing, perpetuating a trend toward ever-worse intolerance and increased exaggerated reactions, because exaggerated reactions are what get attention. The Internet is so filled with such ever-increasing hyperbolic expression, the next instance of outrage requires even greater degrees of fury, accusation, and resort to “this is the worst thing ever” framing techniques.

So generally speaking, we should instantly be skeptical of extreme claims from fans in general, particularly when the reactions are rooted in “this change to a character is bad” framed as “this insults fans and ruins the character.” We’ve seen this sort of reaction from fandom enough times to know how often it’s short-sighted, melodramatic, and typically a mischaracterization that eventually looks silly in hindsight. In that way, it’s not dissimilar to fan outrage over movie casting, which is usually extreme and filled with exaggerated claims, and which usually turn out to be totally wrong. Meaning when we see such reactions, we should not be drawn into them and should instead look more closely at what’s going on and how it reflects history, and where it falls in the larger context of comic storytelling.
*Ahem.* It's not like the new rendition literally ruins the character. It certainly doesn't change past storytelling since it's just fictional writing on paper. But Hughes is missing the point that the conduct of the editors and writers is what really torpedoes this whole mess, because they basically said they wanted fans to come away feeling insulted and despised, no matter what the staff's true intentions are. If he wants "fauxtrage", he should ponder the reaction some leftists might have if a story that doesn't jibe with their visions were published. Maybe even something that angers SJWs who don't like beauteous imagery. Wouldn't that make a better argument concerning overreactions?
Those more histrionic reactions have a side-effect, though. They create such an atmosphere of extreme feeling and overreaction, they shift the tone of the discussion and increase intensity of feelings overall. They tend to generate an impression that the situation is more impactful than it really is, both in the short term and long term. If you are already upset about something, then you might be likely to feel more upset and perceive the emotional condition as more intense and longer lasting if you’re surrounded by other people who are screaming and otherwise reacting in an extreme manner. And you might be inclined to misinterpret the situation and perceive more malicious intent, or to take things too literally, when those around you encourage such literal interpretation and accusations of malice.

When writers say they wanted to provoke strong emotional reactions, they tend to mean they want fan engagement on an emotional level and that we should indeed feel bad about bad things happening. Writers also know fandom well enough to know that overreaction is common, and so they surely expect such extreme discontent over a major change. But this is all an extension of the desire to write stories that engage readers and make us care about the characters and stakes, to make the story come alive off the page and stand out in an endless sea of content vying for our attention. And make no mistake, EVERY SINGLE STORY wants to grab your attention, so it’s not a sin to seek reader reaction.

Nor is it a sin to have a reaction, of course. The key is to avoid overreacting, and to react in a way that doesn’t cloud judgment and override the ability to engage others in a serious, informed, and useful way. Nor should having a reaction lead to animosity toward a writer for telling a story and wanting it to get noticed, and for being honest about the need for stories to have emotional impacts on readers.
That doesn't mean anybody's overreacting, although I'd like to make one vital point: if they're only doing this because it's Captain America and not, say, a minor hero like Ant-Man or Moon Knight, then I'm honestly quite put off and hugely disappointed, because minor recognition does not make it valid to exploit a particular character for revolting directions. On which note, let's also cite minor DC cast members like the original Star-Spangled Kid, Sylvester Pemberton, who was co-created by Jerry Siegel (and later renamed Skyman during Infinity Inc's run in the mid-80s). As a guy whose costume, much like Cap's, was comprised of American flag designs, it would be in poor taste to exploit a character like Pemberton for crazy propaganda too.

And while I won't say the reactions were all polite - and I'm sure there were some that weren't - the objections in themselves are valid. Point: when we're dealing with fictional characters created as people to admire, flaws or not, we don't read about them to see their components twisted inside out and rendered throughly unrecognizable. Similarly, we don't want to see super-villains with honorable characteristics turned into totally loathsome stuff like rapists and child-molestors, as DC did with Dr. Light in 2004. (I think Ed Brubaker or some other writer pulled a similar stunt with Dr. Doom a short time later at Marvel.) There are certain limits to what a sane person wants/expects from pop culture.

As for seeking reaction, here's a challenging question to our knee-jerk Mr. Hughes: suppose Marvel engaged in explicit, deliberate race-baiting? (In fact, I think they did with The Truth: Red, White & Black miniseries in 2003.) Would it be sane to do that and deliberately seek to enrage groups like Blacks and Latinos, doing everything possible to prompt their justly angry reactions? I guess that never occurred to him.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty details. The newest Captain America story posits that Steve Rogers has secretly been a sleeper agent for Hydra all along. How did this happen? Well, there’s a Cosmic Cube involved and a restoration of Cap to his younger, stronger self, so the likelihood that Cap literally has always been a Hydra agent are pretty low. History and time have clearly been altered, in other words. Flashbacks show a woman who clearly knows about Steve’s future as Cap, and plenty of phrasing with double meaning about “the right moment” to “change the world forever.” The Cube’s existence and central position in the story. The goal of reshaping the world for Hydra by using the Cube. The hints are plentiful and apparent. And there’s also the potential for a double-double cross, with Steve as a sleeper agent pretending to be a sleeper agent.

The point being, right now the story that has everyone so freaked out is only a single chapter into the reveal, ambiguous as to the origins of the changes, and has lots of room to go in any number of directions. The fact Cap has had his past altered and retconned many times, has revisited his history and replayed outcomes or changed them, has lost his powers and regained them a few times, has quit being Captain America and taken up the mantle again, and has existed in a larger universe of reversals and changes large and small, should all give us pause in accepting anything at face value or in allowing it to upset us based on limited assumptions about something that seems easily explainable and very similar to lots that’s come before.

The latter point is significant, indeed, since many of the most shocking changes and retcons of Cap’s past involved stories and reveals that at first enraged many fans and were said to be ruining some part of Cap’s legacy. And yet some of the most significant and long-lasting changes of this sort wound up being among the greatest additions to Captain America’s canon. And those that weren’t great were fixed and re-reworked to avoid any damage to the character or his history. But I’ll get to those examples in a moment, after I say a few more things about the nature of change like this in comics.
Not before I have my say about this establishment tool. Even if time was warped by the Cosmic Cube (probably without even a plausible explanation), does that make the writing in the finished product any good? This is a key issue Hughes curiously hasn't brought up - just how good or bad is the writing in even a single issue? Whether it's one part of a story or a whole, the quality of writing surely has to count. Again, this brings us to the marketing approach: why must the publishers irritate everybody with their flaccid mystery-story tactic? If they're writing Steve going undercover, then all they had to do was say so. The secrecy approach where they keep everything hidden up to a point has long become offensive and stultifying.
In one of the finest Captain America runs of all time, Steve Englehart retconned every Cap story post-WWII and through the decade of the 1950s, turning that Cap into a supervillain and a white supremacist. It retconned 47% of Cap’s history at the time — nearly half the time he’d existed in comics — into an evil equivalent of an American neo-Nazi. That story DIDN’T get erased later, and became the official canonical truth for Cap’s history to this very day. It’s a brilliant story and perfect solution to keeping all of Cap’s stories in the canon yet removing them from the Cap we know and love. [...]

Many fans were unsure or outright unhappy at the time, either with the retconning or with the portrayal of Cap as villainous. Because yes, this story overtly implies that the Cap from the post-war period and throughout roughly 15 years of history was not just a fraud but was literally crazy, that his stories as a “Commie-Smasher” reflected hatred and bigotry and insanity. How do you think all of the fans who read and followed and loved those Cap stories felt, being told it was an evil depiction and a demented, Nazi-like Cap after all? Some readers, particularly those who liked and agreed with his hardline Cold War sentiments and who were against desegregation or who opposed progressive movements of the 1960s, were particularly upset at Engelhart’s depiction of bad-Cap’s politics and behavior.
I think this is still a matter of opinion whether it's a classic. What's bothersome is how it implies that an anti-communist is nothing more than a supremacist himself, as though anti-communist positions were inherently wrong. No, what's wrong is the approach senator McCarthy used in the 1950s, which was so overbearing and obnoxious it wound up damaging the fight against communism for years to come. Another bother is that anybody thinks a particular story has to be canon at all costs, even if it's poorly written. Assuming those early 50s tales were badly scripted (as far as I know, they didn't sell well), wouldn't it be better to just leave them out? As I've noted before, it's unclear why the readers cannot be allowed to judge for themselves, or why so much effort needed being put into retconning the 50s stories into something involving such questionable steps. If that had to be done, why not make it a simple dream sequence somebody had where they dreamt Cap and Bucky were battling commies? And did it ever occur to Hughes there's victims of communism from Russia who could also find the retcon insulting?
Serialized storytelling by nature REQUIRES catching attention with cliffhangers, twists, surprises, and other techniques that upend our expectations and challenge the status quo — even though their ultimate outcome is very often a return to the status quo, and indeed by nature a reaffirmation of that status quo. Cap as a villain who represents everything he first stood against — which is true not just of a Hydra Cap, but also of Englehart’s crazy neo-Nazi-like Cap — functions precisely to hold up the contrast between what we know Cap is, and what he fights against. Taking a symbol and making us perceive it differently, reversing its symbolism in ways that reveal not just contrast but potential what-if dangers lurking inside the symbolism itself, is valid and important in storytelling about iconic figures and ideas that largely remain unchanged over time even as their core values are tested and forced to reexamine themselves.
Oh, does it really? Well I think that's to be disputed too. This obscures whether entertainment in itself matters. It certainly shouldn't matter less than "twists, surprises, status quos and cliffhangers".
Cap has ALWAYS been at his best when confronting the comparison and contrast between the American Dream and the American Reality. One of the most consistent, best examples of such storytelling involved the 1950s Cap who represents hatred and the threat of intolerance and authoritarianism that so often lurk under the surface of democracy and the fight for supposed liberty. Possibly the single greatest Cap story reflecting what he represents and the nature of his heart is What If? issue #44, a comic story by Peter Gillis about the real Cap remaining on-ice while the 1950s Cap took his place throughout modern history, leading to a totalitarian state in the USA with the evil Cap at the head of a neo-Nazi movement. The real Cap eventually is thawed out and leads a revolution against the racist dictatorship and defeats the fake Cap. It’s amazing storytelling, and speaks eloquently about the ideals that form the core of Captain America’s character. That comic probably symbolizes everything I love about Captain America more than any other single issue of a comic.
He's actually hinted at just what this new story is: a protracted issue of What If? But then, how come they couldn't just publish this idiocy in a simple miniseries instead of making it sound like Steve-as-Hydra-terrorist is suddenly canon? Hughes even tries to defend his stances with the following revelation:
There have also been some ugly accusations of anti-Semitism, with the worst claiming that this new Captain America comic insults the victims of the Holocaust. My family has Jewish ancestry, with relatives decades ago having to cover up their history and background amid virulent anti-Semitism in Europe in the early 1900s. It sadly became a “family secret,” something that was not talked about. In the Jewish community in England, my family were quietly welcome and the secret was upheld due to the family’s wishes. I say this so you know that when I reject the accusations of anti-Semitism toward the Captain America writer and Marvel, I am not in the least unaware of nor personally insensitive to the reality of anti-Semitism in our world. But the attempt to link Captain America’s altered past and his association with Hydra to the real-life horrors of the Holocaust, and to say this story insults the memory of those who suffered and died during the Holocaust, is a terrible accusation with awful implications, and is not the sort of accusation to make lightly against someone.
Umm, not necessarily. See, Hydra was first founded by a former Nazi agent named baron Wolfgang von Strucker. And according to this info:
Strucker conceived of HYDRA as a strongly ideological fascist organization heavily influenced by Nazi philosophy. HYDRA's very name, a reference to Greek mythology, attests to the major role Strucker had in shaping the organization even before he became its leader. Its salute, "Hail HYDRA!", is an obvious variation on "Heil Hitler!" The full form of the salute reflects the fascist near-religious idealization and of submission to the power of the state, or, in HYDRA's case, the organization: "Hail HYDRA! Immortal HYDRA! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb and two more shall take its place! We serve the Supreme Hydra, as the world shall soon serve us!" In keeping with Nazism's male supremacist ethic, HYDRA restricted its membership to men. Only decades later would Strucker's HYDRA permit exceptions to this rule, most notably. Laura Brown, daughter of Imperial Hydra Arnold Brown, and Madame Hydra, who was later known as the Viper. Strucker created a cult of personality about himself as the Supreme Hydra, comparable to that of Hitler's in Germany. There was a heavy ideological emphasis on the anonymity of other HYDRA agents, who generally remained masked whenever they were among one another, and were usually ed by numbers.
(Note: Arnold Brown may have originally been depicted as the leader of Hydra, and this was later reworked so Strucker was more the main founder than Brown was.) If we consider the above about Hydra's development, should it be any surprise that people could find turning Steve into a Hydra terrorist offensive to Jews and other Holocaust victims? Since Hughes brings it up, let me point out that my grandfather, from the dad's side of the family, served in the US military during WW2 in their artillery units, and my family wouldn't find this new direction appealing either, since it's as much an insult to everyone fighting against nazism as it is for victims. It'd also be offensive - maybe even more so - if civilian co-stars of the heroes - whom we expect to be as heroic as the costumed heroes they star with - were depicted as monsters.

This also made me think of something: suppose the Steve Rogers debut issue ended with him taking a woman hostage and visually raping her? Suppose Steve were turned into a child molestor? Would Mr. Hughes think that was in good taste, even if mind control was a given explanation for the out-of-character portrayal? If the answer is a firm "no", that only begs the query: why is it wrong to depict superheroes as sex offenders but okay to depict them as potentially murderous terrorists and fascists and establish that as canon? Why, above all, must he even act as apologist? What makes this story so special it has to be defended at all costs, let alone told?

Speaking of mind control, there was a story decades ago by Kirby and Lee in Tales of Suspense 67 where Red Skull tried to brainwash Steve into serving nazi interests. The stark difference is that back then, they had the audacity to advertise it just as it was - a story concerning mind control. That's what distinguishes the old tale from Spencer's modern one, where the direction they're taking is far less clear.

Interestingly enough, Hughes is willing to be honest about the past of the Democrats, though I cannot say he's being open about their MO today:
I would ask if everyone remembers that during the 1930s, the Democratic president of the USA spoke in positive terms about fascism, and the USA traded with fascist nations, as did other European democracies. I’d point out that it took direct conflict with America’s allies to cause the USA to actively oppose Nazism, after years of largely ignoring the persecution of Jews. The U.S. turned away Jewish political refuges fleeing the horrors of Nazi Germany. The Allied powers refused to bomb railway lines that were used to transport Jews to death camps. All of this took place under a Democratic administration, over a period of more than a dozen years. Later, Democrats in the south fought to maintain racial segregation, and maintained links to neo-Nazis and white supremacists well into the 1960s and 1970s (and likely some of them maintained such links even longer).

Those are real events, real harms, real fascism, real racism, and real death. Do those who say Marvel is anti-Semitic and who call this story an insult to victims of the Holocaust vote for Democrats today? Does the direct demonstrable link between the Democratic Party and those awful deeds and policies and inactions of the past weigh less and count for less than an imaginary story about a super-person having his past altered to make him possibly part of an evil super-villain team that has links to Nazis (without literally being a Nazi group itself per se)? What of communists and socialists, many of whom — and many such self-proclaimed governments — have at various times allied with Nazis or neo-Nazi rulers? Can we rightly say that being a communist or socialist is equivalent to being a Nazi, due to such alliances?
Okay, so he's willing to acknowledge that the Dems of the time did some very reprehensible deeds, including the Syphillis virus project that The Truth: Red, White and Black allegedly drew from for its tale depicting the Super Soldier Serum as nothing more than a product of racial guinea pig experimenting. But what about the harm Jimmy Carter's done when he was president, and even Obama/Clinton's conduct on issues like Benghazi? If he won't admit modern Dems can make bad mistakes just as much as older ones, then he's accomplished little. He even seems to suggest he doesn't think communism is a terrible influence, despite how many victims' lives it robbed, and is potentially oblivious to how "nazi" is acronym for National Socialists.
My point is that the history of Hydra in comics shouldn’t be taken as more serious, more literal, and more offensive than the true history of a party that today is widely popular with anti-racists and progressives precisely because in fact it doesn’t really represent that shameful past. Hydra has been like most any other super-villain group, changing with the winds and allying or being led by various totalitarian leaders. It’s a comic book villain group used however a writer feels it’s convenient to use them at a given time, and they’ve been portrayed in many ways over time. Captain America being some sort of agent (maybe) of Hydra does not equate to him being a Nazi (especially since this comic story rather glaringly shows him personally at odds with the Nazi-leaning sentiments of some Hydra members), and is not a slap in the face to the character’s creators, and is not trampling the memory of Holocaust victims. Such painful, awful accusations are the stuff of extreme emotional reactions and speak to the importance of Captain America’s legacy to so many people, but that doesn’t make it true or right or acceptable to hurl those accusations publicly against the writer and publisher. Indeed, there are Jewish people to whom I’ve spoken who are more offended by those accusations than by the comic story.
My position doesn't count? Ask me what I think, and as I've said, I find the whole premise cheapjack and disgusting. And again, if Steve were turned into a rapist or a chainsaw murderer who turned people into a bloody mass on the floor, would that not be repellent and deserving of condemnation? I still don't see any opinion given on the finished product - whether it's splendidly or badly written - so I fail to see the use in his apologia. Say, if Steve were turned into an al Qaeda terrorist, wouldn't that be offensive to victims of 9-11? Or do they not have permission to take offense either? Besides, if Steve's really shown disagreeing with any Hydra members over their nazi influence, then how come he's shown joining them at all, when, as noted, the whole organization was founded by a former nazi, and built a lot of their ideology along the same lines, including male supremacy?

Furthermore, even if Jack Flag turns up alive after Cap threw him off the plane, it won't make any difference if Steve willingly tried to murder him. And even if he was under mind control, that can still be embarrassing.

Lost in all this apologia, of course, is Spencer's use of Red Skull to represent his vision of conservatives, critics of Islamofascism, and opponents of illegal immigration. That's surely the worst part of this controversy: turning Steve into a member of a terrorist group has almost perfectly succeeded in obscuring the portrayal of Red Skull, and even Hughes doesn't seem concerned about it. Makes you wonder...

At the end, he says:
I dare say, a Cap whose stories lack such reimagining and challenging and shocking reversals would be a Cap in danger of being perceived as “boring” and “outdated” by a world of readers who have only seen the idealized portrayal for so long they take it for granted and aren’t forced to confront how much Cap means to them, and how much his betrayal and loss reveal how important his ideals always are for this world.
Oh, so he's resorting to a ludicrous defense that it's a necessary evil to turn Steve evil no matter the cost. That IT JUST HAS TO BE DONE NO MATTER WHAT. Umm, I'd rather he be a goody two-shoes than see any superhero/co-star victimized by such easy-peasy fan-baiting. What is this supposed to mean? That he's a real person? Point: fictional characters make something far better for admiration, because they don't exist in real life, and thus it certainly wouldn't be their fault if a story like the above were written where they turned into criminals overnight like some onetime celebrities who committed criminal offenses. If Tom Swift, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were all turned into violent felons and set as canon, would that automatically make for a tasteful story? Of course not. No less disturbing about Hughes is some of the comments he made to readers, including this one, which show just how selfish and biased he's become:
It stuns me that so many people — a great many of them not Jewish nor having their own families having suffered persecution, anti-Semitism, or other horrors of Nazism — making these offensive insistent claims that Hydra is no different from Nazis. If anyone cannot grasp the difference between made-up cartoonish generic evil villains and real-life Nazis, they need to stop trying to talk about this subject entirely. Because it is rather more insulting and offensive to say such nonsense to some of us.

And for those posturing as if they know so much of Cap’s history and legacy and are so concerned about how his creators would feel about this portrayal, maybe go look up some of the stories and images of Cap standing before Hitler doing the Nazi salute in old comics from Kirby. Maybe consider the many OTHER times Cap or his image were used for Nazi propaganda in the comics. It happened precisely because of the meaningfulness of that switch in meaning and feeling.

Cap is a made-up imaginary person who — among other things — was drawn in his original stories engaged in race-baiting against the Japanese, with horrible renderings and rhetoric encouraging racist hatred of Asians, later becoming a shrill opponent of free speech who was like a flag-wearing McCarthyite for a decade. He has had many portrayals, including by his creators, that were pretty bad and undermined his supposed representation of idealistic sentiments of freedom and equality. Those things were a slap in the face to a lot of people, so do you feel you’re perpetrating racism and persecution and slapping victims of that propaganda in the face when you endorse the early Cap and his legacy? How serious would you consider such a condemnation of the character overall, and of you and others holding up his history and creators despite their racist portrayals of him and the later harmful portrayals during the 1950s etc? Would it be fair to insult you with claims you’re supporting racism? Or would that seem like misplaced, dishonest hyperbolic attention-mongering?

The answer is rather obvious, I should think.
Oh yes, and it's that Hughes fails to make distinctions, or comprehend WHY the writers would allegedly "race-bait" against Japanese. Hasn't this guy ever heard of Pearl Harbor and the Rape of Nanking? Let's be clear: when a country's subjects by and large commit a violent, repulsive crime, you cannot be surprised if somebody wants to truly smash them with gale force. Mr. Hughes, there were some damning portrayals of Germans in the Golden Age based on their own criminal offenses against Jews and other innocent Europeans, and if you have no issue with that, I don't see why you seem to think the Japanese weren't asking for some kind of punishment in any way. I've seen this kind of PC talk here and there over the years, where some leftist types seem only interested in making the Golden Age out to look inherently racist, yet never have any complaints to lodge about the way Memin Pinguin was handled in Mexico. And what harmful portrayals during the 50s is he talking about? If he's implying communism itself wasn't a serious issue, that's disturbing. As for Hydra being different from the nazis, they may be a fictional gang, but considering their main ideological components when first developed, that's why it's seen as ludicrous. Now another Hughes comment, where he posits apologia for Brevoort:
He said it would be LIKE a slap to the face, in terms of being unexpected and shocking, creating a visceral reaction. That is NOT the same as the way “slap to the face” is being quoted by people trying to disingenuously imply he admitted they were doing something to disrespect fans or Jewish people or the original creators. The misuse of that term is among the many reasons the reactions are glaringly disingenuous and wrongheaded.
I'm sorry, but Brevoort's wording does not prove he wasn't trying to fan-bait. If Hughes were more of a realist, he'd know they've been doing this for a long time, and Spider-Man's One More Day was a definite act of contempt for Spider-fans, and Mary Jane Watson fans. Why make fans angry instead of happy? If they wanted to, I'm sure they could've done the opposite of what took place in 2007. There's something Hughes hasn't explained. And wait'll you see the following stupefier:
Captain America is a fictional comic book character, and while he has had a particular importance for many people he’s also been a symbol of intolerance — from his very creation, if we count the fact his comics were so overtly racist during a time the USA was interning Japanese-American citizens — and has a history of being a symbol of McCarthyism as well, a symbol of the establishment and flag-waving at other times, and his very costume happens to make many people unhappy since it is a flag of a nation that engaged in the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, and other things that offended and in fact killed hundreds of thousands of people. Whether you agree with those sentiments or not, that’s the fact and reality of his history and how a lot of people have perceived him over the years. Acting as if he is above reproach or somehow needs to be treated delicately, too fragile to withstand the complexities and examination that’s okay for other superheroes, is not just wrongheaded in a general sense, it happens to fly in the face of all of the BEST ideals Cap represents.
What?!? Good grief, he's flying off the handle now and degenerating into a mind-boggling rant! I don't think there were ever any stories published where Cap was seen justifying McCarthyism in every way, shape and form. Hughes is running the gauntlet of hinting he has a weak view of communism too. He also teeters on attacking America for all the wrong reasons while excusing the crimes of the Vietnamese commies and Iraq's Islamofascists, implying that the US military was squarely responsible for every bad that happened while obscuring any felony committed by commies/Islamists. What, doesn't he like the Old Glory flag?!? I don't get it. But I may recall Hughes giving signs he's a hardcore leftist, so maybe it figures he'd be this shallow. He risks implying the USA cannot redeem itself for any wrong it committed past/present/future, and letting commies/Islamofascists off the hook for theirs. And how come he's telling in his comments that there were bad stories in early times, but not willing to admit the architects of this newest item are capable of screwing up too?

Until now, I may have thought Hughes had some good insight on the medium up to a point, and would've hoped he'd go on to do meat-and-potatoes analysis of many subjects. But after this, I've concluded it was a mistake to think he'd have any value, if all he can think of doing is knee-jerk apologia, and act like DC/Marvel can do no wrong. Indeed, that's just the problem with Hughes' approach, and now I realize he's just not the kind of person who's willing to stand up for the little guys in fandom. That's not saying fans can't make mistakes on their part. But if he won't recognize that bad stories are quite possible in modern times as much as in the past, then he's not fit to speak on behalf of famous creations. A real pity he has to be so knee-jerk.

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