Friday, February 12, 2010

No Apologies Needed


Marvel Comics (to whom we owe the above image), has come under fire for a recent edition of Captain America. In this allegedly controversial issue, Cap and his sidekick, the African-American hero, Falcon, were on a rooftop surveying a street protest as part of an effort to monitor white supremest groups. So when Marvel laid the spread illustrating this protest, they essentially portrayed a scene closely aligned to the Teabagging Love-In's of 2009: that street-theater manufactured outrage at government spending that has mysteriously only surfaced after we inaugurated an African American President.

Marvel Comics is a cultural icon for which I have the utmost respect. During WWII, Marvel used its comics as a conduit to vent an anti-nazi energies, often from the pens of Jewish artists. Into the 50's, 60's, and 70's - comics experienced an exultant commercial success. As the nation lived under the omnipresent specter of nuclear annihilation, Marvel responded with a host of heroes intent of thwarting the efforts of villains who sought control and power through the splitting of the atom.

In the 1980's, I started to collect and obsess about comic books. In this new era, there was a new villain. In the 40's it was Nazis. Afterwards, it was nukes. Now the dangers were greed and corporations. The specter of Armageddon was replaced with the snowballing threat of uncontrolled, unregulated pollution. Additionally, the wildly popular Mutant series spoke to the issues of homophobia, anti-immigration and cultural acceptance.

When 9/11 came to us, Marvel Comics was one of the first artistic responses I can remember. In Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2#36, 'Stand Tall', not only did Marvel pay tribute to those who lost their lives and those who toiled in the disaster area, but it also laid a poignant condemnation of Faldwell and Robertson's Taliban-like decree that the City of New York brought 9/11 upon itself. In the mid-2000's, an interesting series called Civil War, pitted heroes against one another in an interesting and unbiased metaphor for the complex moral dilemmas brought on by the Patriot Act.

Marvel Comics should stand tall now. They've done nothing wrong. They've never bowed to intolerance before and shouldn't now. I say Marvel should stay the course and artistically take on issues like this as they have always done so well in the past.

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