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Wednesday, October 18, 2006 

A babbling buffoon

Last year, A. Dave Lewis, who's a contributor to Broken Frontier and may be a comics writer in some capacity himself, wrote two columns in which he attacked Michael Medved and Michael Lackner's critique of Marvel's destruction of Captain America in 2003. Lewis wrote a pretty leftist rant, and what really surprises me was that anyone of his standing could still have cared by 2005, when here, the Marvel Knights series had already been stopped due to the flopping sales caused in part by the swing to anti-Americanism, and Cap had been restored to the regular MCU, though as Civil War now proves, it sadly wasn't that long before Marvel boomeranged back on the Chomskyism again. Meanwhile, let us dissect the first column Lewis wrote for starters: first, here's Lewis's response to the part where Medved and Lackner wrote that the Defense Dept. (Pentagon) must face international terrorism, “without the aid of a celebrated hero of past victories – comics figure Captain America.” Lewis says:
That is an extraordinary statement: That our real-world DOD must contend in the modern era without the renowned Marvel Comics character as an asset.

...look again at the opening line – because it is a subtle, yet remarkable admission. The modern U.S.Government must fight “without the aid” of Captain America.

Can a fictional character truly have such importance? Perhaps so – perhaps enough, at least, to serve as cautionary tale for what the authors of this “Betrayal of Captain America” document believe to be a much larger issue: “the deep cultural malaise afflicting our nation in the midst of a significant war” that one “might expect […] from Hollywood activists, academic apologists, or the angry protesters who regularly fill the streets of European capitals (and many major American cities).” But this stance is not expected from superhero comics – not, at least, by the FDD nor, most likely, by much of middle America.
Oh really, is that so, Mr. Lewis? Tsk tsk tsk. First, Lewis's reaction there reminds me of one made by another moonbat, who took the part about having to fight terror without the aid of Capt. America literally. May I point out that the beginning bit was not meant to be taken seriously? The rest of the article is, though. Secondly, just who is Lewis to determine that nobody expects Captain America to do his part in battling terrorism in the fictional world of comic books? And who is he to determine that nobody would appreciate it? Or applaud it? Please, this man needs to learn more about respecting public opinion by looking at the polls.
For it remains the comic book industry’s legacy to be viewed as juvenile literature, “aimed largely at children and teenagers,” despite any wealth of demographic information and coverage to the contrary. For certain, the major publishers such as Marvel and DC Comics are struggling to regain and expand their consumer base with an influx of younger readers – all to only limited results, such as Teen Titans Go! or the latest all-ages Marvel Heroes fare. Regardless, few outside parties will debate that it is America’s youth, many “of age to serve in the Armed Forces,” that are “precisely [the] demographic group that is targeted by the comic book industry.” The majority of America still would not blink an eye at that statement, unfortunately.
Sadly, it will remain the legacy of comics to be viewed as juvenile literature, so long as they stick to anti-Americanism and gratuitous violence as a means of making sales. Most insulting is how Lewis confusingly uses the low turnout of the kiddies at the stores as a defense for Marvel's publishing this abomination, ditto the quote about the ones old enough to serve in the army while simultaneously ignoring the fact that they too can fall prey to indoctrination. And whether or not the majority of America would blink an eye, that doesn't mean there isn't a sizable number out there who wouldn't find the MK rendition offensive. Alas, Lewis would rather determine than to say more clearly what he personally thinks.

Lewis then seems to exonerate the book's scriptwriters by implying that it's the good Captain who's at fault in this confusingly written paragraph:
As such, in Werthamic fashion, this is Captain America’s perceived power lies: He is betraying us by misleading the next generation of Americans.
Whoa, not so fast! Since when was a fictional character the guilty party? Isn't it the writers and the editors who're responsible for the character's actions? And this is the one who scoffed at the earlier part about the Pentagon having to go to war without the good Captain!
The actual target audience of Captain America comics is debatable, and the character’s “aid” in past wars is likewise questionable. In fact, Captain America’s post-World War II Commie-bashing exploits were retconned away as those of a stand-in hero when the “original” Captain America, Steve Rogers, was awoken from suspended animation in the modern day. Further, he had very little active participation in the Vietnam War, largely staying on the homefront and, in fact, briefly abandoning the Captain America identity for “the Nomad” when strikingly confronted by government corruption in the wake of Watergate.
Sounds like Lewis is blurring things up yet again. He seems to be trying to say - very confusingly too - that it's only Steve Rogers' goal and nobody else's. Or, he's trying to separate between man and costume and say that it's just the COSTUME'S goal! LOL. Man, just how bizarre can these moonbats get?

At the time this was written, Lewis even linked to a page from Wikipedia, which is unreliable as an online encyclopedia because anyone, good or bad, can go in there and edit what's available, that said:
In the 1980s, a similar story was written by Mark Gruenwald when Rogers chose to resign his identity rather than submit to the orders of the United States government and took the alias of "The Captain" instead. This extended story arc was intended to illustrate the difference of Captain America's beliefs from his replacement who was intended to illustrate the jingoistic attitude that the popular movie character Rambo embodied and which Rogers did not share.
Uh oh, UH OH. Sounds like an anti-war activist must've snuck in there and made quite a mess out of poor Steve Rogers' beliefs (and Lewis took it all at face value). Since when was Captain America literally the pacifist that this Wiki propaganda implies? (As of this writing, it seems to have been edited again.) It all depends on who's writing, but if Steve Rogers were really a pacifist and opposed to "jingoism", I find it hard to believe that he'd ever have fought in WW2. Lesson number one there, everyone, don't rely on Wikipedia, because what you write there one day will be drastically altered the next!
For the most part, Rogers has since come to accept the corrupt officials as part of his modern existence, though by no means the widespread rule that “The Betrayal of Captain America” might suggest. “Senior U.S. officials, including members of the Cabinet, are portrayed as arrogant and hostile villains,” rather than discrete individuals. In particular, the FDD specifically notes U.S. Secretary of Defense Dell Rusk “with the same initials as Donald Rumsfeld” as a “government official[…] revealed to be a vicious, lawless thug.” After the publication of this white paper, however, Rusk was revealed to be the arch-villain the Red Skull, an anagram of his alias, undermining Captain America, his teammates, and America from the inside.
First, just because it turned out to be the Red Skull doesn't mean the character from the Avengers storyline spoken about from 2002 wasn't an attack on Rumsfeld. Second, what Lewis forgot to mention is that, at the same time that Red Skull was unmasked, he mouthed off most bizarrely by saying, "I love America." Believe it or not, there is something very unpleasantly cynical in that line, because, while the Skull does want to conquer the country, he still hates America and the values it's meant to stand for. I feel awful about this next part, but, Lewis also didn't mention that the Skull either tries - or does - salute the flag, and whether it was intended as an insult to the Old Glory or an analogy of Americans to nazis, the scene was in grossly poor taste. The Skull later tries to say that Black Panther came up with the poison chemicals the Skull was using against tourists at Mt. Rushmore, and while it may have just been the Skull lying to try to gain some advantage by turning hero against hero (I didn't stick around to find out how exactly it ends), that too was enraging. That Geoff Johns, who wrote the story, went and shilled for Marvel's Truth mini at about the same time as he wrote his own story, didn't help matters.

At the end of Lewis' column, he asks:
...is there an obligation on the part of Marvel Comics and its creative teams to handle him differently during “the War on Terror?” In fact, is there a mandate to do so or, worse, a benefit?
Well, he's lost me there. Does that imply that he didn't want a mandate or a benefit? I don't know, he's just too hazy with this one. And it doesn't get any better with the followup he wrote the next month, in which he goes along and thanks at least two other apologists for railing against Medved's right to free speech two years earlier. One of those two is leftist Steven Grant, and the other is a guy by the name of Scott Slemmons, whom I never really heard of, but whom I do think I'll dissect later on. Until then, Lewis continued to babble, more so than the title of his column:
In the previous column, I took a wide approach focusing on the bizarre, metaphysical responsibility or use a fictional character has to a real-life crisis. This time, however, armed with Grant and Slemmons, it’s worth grounding the discussion in Medved’s argument itself, putting aside that more abstract argument and frankly asking: What are the charges against Captain America?
Hello, earth to A. Dave Lewis! Isn't that "what are the charges against the writers/editors?" Poor Lewis sure knows how to turn the whole argument inside out! He really seems to want to believe that, no matter what Medved and Lackner have to say, that they pointed an accusing finger at Steve Rogers or whoever else wore the costume, and not the scriptwriters. Yeesh, this dude Lewis sure needs help. And please, don't you go around arming yourself with just leftists alone. What you need is a good ice cream cone!
To take issue with Cap’s status as a “popular symbol of nationalism” cycles back, to a degree, to last month’s discussion; he is a trademarked character of a private company, not the American bald eagle or Uncle Sam (who has been himself the subject of numerous comics, actually). But, putting that aspect of Medved’s objections aside, a more concrete – or perhaps more rhetorical – question comes to the fore: How do objections 1-7 add up to conclusion 8?
Is that supposed to mean that Cap was never a popular symbol of nationalism, not even back in the 40s, when he first began? Boy, Lewis sure doesn't sound like he approves of what people like me think, that's for sure! And, he can only think to take the company's side, not the audience's, nor does he have the courage to admit it.
Even if all of Medved’s suppositions are correct, does this truly transform Cap into “a handy bludgeon for America-bashing,” a “politically biased assessment of the war on terrorism,” a “bizarre abuse” of the legendary hero? No. If these indictments are at all true, it only changes Cap from an icon to a character – a man just as he was found in Avengers #4, out of synch with the present and struggling to understand both his place and his views on modernity.
Sigh. Poor Lewis. He continues to be as unwilling to accept the facts as ever, and worst of all, he seems to consider Cap's patriotic stance a robotic one at that. And if that's what he considers Cap as a character, I can only wonder what his standing is on only so many other MCU characters as well.

I think the following should pretty much spell out just how much Lewis needs to get back in touch with reality:
Medved equates the current W.o.T. or S.a.E. to the grandfather of all inspiring American military acronyms: WWII. “Captain America,” says his opening paragraph, “the patriotic superhero whose comic book exploits inspired the nation in World War II, now feels uncertain about his nation’s cause.” Truth be told, Medved might not be wrong here; what is erroneous – or, rather, cunningly disingenuous – is the suggestion that Cap’s role is not only to support America faithfully as he did in the 1940s, but to never cease doing so. To question America-now is to question America-then. Thus, when Cap sees modern terrorist bombings and relates them to Dresden in his mind – “History repeats itself li[k]e a machine gun,” reads the caption – Medved implies that this is a desecration of both 9/11 and WWII. He rules out the possibility that, perhaps, destruction is just destruction to the war-weary Captain America, regardless of in whose nation it takes place.
Dear dear dear. Did it ever occur to Lewis that this is exactly what he did when he wrote this slop? Put another way, he questioned using Cap to fight any war past/present. And, he implies that the WoT, in contrast to WW2, is unimportant.

And while Steve Rogers should be more than just a yes-man for the government, and recognize when there's corruption abound, that doesn't mean he should stop supporting America at any time. Because it's not really the government he's serving, but the citizenry. If it weren't for him, there'd probably be a much worse crime situation on the streets of America, and a lot of the murders, robberies and organized crime syndicates he's foiled over the years, ditto all the deadly plots masterminded by Cold War villains and supervillains, would've gone unchallenged and resulted in disaster. But Lewis, in all the arrogance he showed when he wrote this piece, doesn't make the distinction between government and citizenry. Here too, his assertions are so bewildering that it's a wonder he's even working in comic books.

And as for the part about the desecration of 9-11 and WW2, to be more clear, it's a desecration of the memory of the victims of the nazis and al Qaeda both in the 1940s and in 2001. It's also a desecration of the memory of the brave soldiers fighting against evil both then and now. Unfortunately, Lewis, in all his arrogance still, doesn't seem to realize that, nor that he's being insulting himself. Then, when commenting on Medved's discussion about the moral equivalence in the MK book, Lewis comes up with a bizarre moral equation of his own: when Medved asks why blur the differences between America and nazi Germany, Lewis responds:
To point out that both sides kill, both sides lost lives, and neither side left the field of war unbloodied.
I think this ghastly blurring of good and evil by Lewis speaks for itself. Then, our baffling columnist asks:
Does Medved have a problem with Cap or a problem with reexaminations of World War II?
Mirror check, please. Howzabout you, Mr. Lewis? Oh, and who's side are you on, by the way?
The war is not only “different now,” but so is the public’s awareness of world politics and military history.
Yep, thanks to the internet, but not to you, Lewis.
Even if Cap were written as a pro-war, staunch conservative federalist – certainly, as legitimate a way to write him as any – the problem would still be in his strict adherence to approved standards. At one moment in the paper, Medved chides Cap for not arguing more strongly against the (poorly written) terrorist leader Faysal Al-Tariq – while he’s violently pounding him. Then, later, when he does reply to accusations leveled at America, he “meekly admits” according to Medved that “We’ve changed. We’ve learned.” There seems only one, precise route for patriotism acceptable to the critic, and Cap is not following it. Perhaps it is so precise that he cannot follow it.
*AHEM* Medved did NOT chide Cap, he chided the writer for characterizing Cap as a man who sends out two different messages laced with moral equivalence. And what approved standards are we talking about here? That aside, what Medved was put off about this book for was that Cap was depicted "admitting" to things that America either isn't guilty of, or that are hugely exaggerated, such as that the US is actually responsible for the terrorist's being victimized by supplying weapons to their "enemies". And that, worst of all, Cap actually buys into the terrorist's sob story.

Then, Lewis does a separator trick:
The only true threat to Captain America, the property of Marvel Comics, is lack of sales, not lack of morality.
Correction: without good morality, there will be no sales, and nobody with common sense will pay for this mess, and didn't.

Then, Lewis says:
...it cheapens Captain America as a rich protagonist to have to sell the company line with the War on Terrorism; he’s bigger than that. Or, perhaps, simply as Steve Rogers, he’s much, much smaller...
A double-bladed insult if there ever was one. If it cheapens Cap to sell with the WoT, then it cheapens him by selling him even with WW2, the war against Communism, and even the war on drugs. And to imply that Steve Rogers out of costume is too small to do his part in the fight against terror, or other evils! Shudder.

Lewis can say what he likes, but to separate as he does between the war on terrorism and the war on other evils devouring the planet is not only foolish and removed from reality, it's offensive. And, it proves him no genuine comic book fan.

Open trackbacks: Blue Star Chronicles, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Clash of Civilizations, Random Yak, Third World County.

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About me

  • 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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