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  1. #1
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    Default politics in comics

    The Jim Shooter thread somehow turned to the subject of politics in comics. Rather than further derail that thread, I am posting my responses to the political questions here.

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    The real "issue" with politics in comics is that people are older now and we have social media so there are more voices in our faces. The stuff back then was pretty blatant and would've angered a lot of people if it happened now. People just don't like politics they don't agree with showing up in comics.
    My view on this may be skewed, as I have a background in politics.

    I am fine with political ideas (emphasis on "ideas") in comics. If nothing else, superheroes are just about the best analogues for power one is likely to find in fiction. But, the writers need to have something to say, or have a better way to handle something that has already been said. "Superman: Red Son" is one of the most articulate cases against creating the moral hazard (aka "nanny state" or "tragedy of the commons") around. Gruenwald's "Squadron Supreme", for all of its Bronze Age baggage, is a respectable case against benign tyranny. Both stories are about ideas.


    What I do not want are "ripped from the headlines" polemics, especially when the writers have nothing new to add. Generally, anything in those comics has already been covered (likely with more insight) in a newspaper or magazine.



    In essence, trades are now just oversized single-issues, while the floppies are more like chapters (or, in some cases, paragraphs) of the stories.
    But, those single issues read and look better than the "done in one" stories of previous decades.


    The litmus test, I feel, is whether a young child with little or no political understanding can still enjoy the story. In the case of Golden Age stories, the answer is "yes."

    When we get to Modern Age stories, wherein the story is often in service to the political point, the answer is "not so much."
    But, why are we going to read the comic pitched at little kids?

    I am not against kiddie books. But, not many adults (myself included) are going to buy them.

    If nothing else, if an idea is worth writing about, it is probably worth writing about well. Pitching to kids diminishes the idea.


    USAvengers has been political, and it's been a delight.
    I have found the politics in Ewing's work to be a deterrent.

    Ewing has technical skills as a writer. He he can write with ideas (beyond OCD plot-points about minutia, though he handles minutia well).

    But, Trump analogues (such as the Golden Skull) are a waste of page space. Ewing is not saying anything useful or insightful about the President (then-candidate), especially compared to some of the better critiques that are available in non-comic media.

    If Ewing or Gillen want to write about Brexit on their own, that is one thing. (And, given where they live, it is completely appropriate.) But, they should not be talking about Brexit or Universal Basic Income in comics.


    I don't even think most superhero comics need to be like that. But I think some should be. I think there is absolutely a place in Big Two cape comics for books that are passionately political.
    Given the scale and resources (infrastructure and intellectual) that the big two have, that idea could work as an imprint. If nothing else, the imprint would make it easier for the "comics need to be simple and easy" crowd to avoid.

    But, the idea has merit. Get real commentators or experts (Spencer, Peters, Friedman, Henninger, Rove) to come up with concepts and plots. Then, if needed, get writers like Bendis to make it readable. (Actually, the guys I listed can write. But, you get the idea.) Politics, economics and technology are obvious subjects for superhero comics. Comics are a good vector for the sorts of thought experiments that those topics warrant.

    Comics could contribute to the market of ideas without being polemical.
    Last edited by CentralPower; 11-29-2017 at 12:09 PM.
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  2. #2
    Mighty Member Valamist's Avatar
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    OK, I am just going to come out and say it. If a comic I am reading is pro-lefty, anti-trump/right wing, then I am.. am going to love it. I was hooting with joy when I saw the Trump/MODOK villain in Spider-Gwen. I just feel as if such 'politics' fit the comicbook/superhero world more. Admittedly, I would not be too happy if I read a pro-Trump/right wing book, but then I would just stop/not read it. I think what I find odd is the examples given off 'Politics being shoved down our throats!' seems so... petty? I mean, the examples that come to ind most is from Sam Cap, where he was stopping immigrants from being attacked. I mean... it should not matter if said immigrants where illegal or not, Sam, Steve, heck any superhero worth their salt would have done the same, yet then you have Fox news etc claiming that this was some sort of attack against the right? It just seems so... there are more important issues in comics that needed to be talked about. Didn't a Superman book have the same issue? I kinda want to read that now...

    Funnily enough, I have seen Secret Empire/HydraCap described as both an attack on the right/Trump, and a Nazi fetish right-wing dream. All I know is, its a story both classic (Hero turns bad, examination of what it means to be a hero) and a timely warning of how evil can sneak into modern life (Turn on American News...)
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  3. #3
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    The people who called "Secret Empire" a right wing fantasy did not read anything beyond the early issues of Spencer's run.


    Spencer is too extreme an example of what I am talking about.

    However, Modok/Trump is a good example. It adds nothing. To be blunt, it is stupid enough that it might actually help Trump. At the very least, it shows why entertainers need to stay out of politics. "Hoop, hoop, derp, derp...Trump has a big head....."

    It is not funny. It does not actually demonstrate insight about Trump. (Fun fact: Some of the best critiques of Trump come from the right.)
    Last edited by CentralPower; 11-28-2017 at 03:52 PM.
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  4. #4
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    No problem with politics on comics or any form of fiction, for that matter. Laziness is the only problem.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Kintor's Avatar
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    I've said as much in other threads but I'll say it again now. I don't have a problem with politics, per se. What I have a problem with are boring stories. When politics is the cause of those boring stories I'm going to call out Marvel over it.

  6. #6
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    I only take issue with it when it's stupid, or lazily written. Which, unfortunately, is pretty often.

    e.g.
    'MODOK = DRUMPF amirite', repeated ad nauseam - not funny, or clever
    that joke from the Two-in-One #1 preview comparing Trump's orangeness to The Thing - quite funny

    There's obviously a limit. Most people don't pick up a superhero comic in order to hear the author's partisan political ideals, so spending an entire issue slating a politician is dumb. But done with sensibility, and a respect for the readers on the other side of the political spectrum to the author, politics in comics isn't always bad.

    Marvel's current strategy, which seems to be to let some of their writers run wild with banal, uniformly liberal opinions seeping into their books, is very unappealing. For a brand that places such importance on 'diversity', it would certainly be nice to see Marvel expand its universe's Overton Window a little.
    Last edited by Cloudman; 11-28-2017 at 03:55 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloudman View Post
    Marvel's current strategy, which seems to be to let some of their writers run wild with banal, uniformly liberal opinions seeping into their books, is very unappealing. For a brand that places such importance on 'diversity', it would certainly be nice to see Marvel expand its universe's Overton Window a little.

    And who is to say they didn't do all that?

    We have had far too MANY folks trash books that they have never looked at beyond preview or the book being announced.

    And beyond lets face it Nick Spencer's & Coates books-what other books are supposedly guilty of this? I will give you Miles Morales's Civil War issue-for a guy who can vanish-he shouldn't fear a set of cops pointing guns at him. Especially when he's vanished to escape from them before certain events in Ferguson and other places.

    Because you got folks who think Moon Girl and Riri William being SMART is liberal.

    Luke Cage being married is liberal.

    Women being on their own is liberal.

    Showing a black hero with a father or explaining where one came from is liberal.

    Showing a hero that was not straight white and male have a huge or meaty role in an event from heck is liberal.

  8. #8
    Ultimate Member Tycon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valamist View Post
    OK, I am just going to come out and say it. If a comic I am reading is pro-lefty, anti-trump/right wing, then I am.. am going to love it. I was hooting with joy when I saw the Trump/MODOK villain in Spider-Gwen. I just feel as if such 'politics' fit the comicbook/superhero world more. Admittedly, I would not be too happy if I read a pro-Trump/right wing book, but then I would just stop/not read it. I think what I find odd is the examples given off 'Politics being shoved down our throats!' seems so... petty? I mean, the examples that come to ind most is from Sam Cap, where he was stopping immigrants from being attacked. I mean... it should not matter if said immigrants where illegal or not, Sam, Steve, heck any superhero worth their salt would have done the same, yet then you have Fox news etc claiming that this was some sort of attack against the right? It just seems so... there are more important issues in comics that needed to be talked about. Didn't a Superman book have the same issue? I kinda want to read that now...

    Funnily enough, I have seen Secret Empire/HydraCap described as both an attack on the right/Trump, and a Nazi fetish right-wing dream. All I know is, its a story both classic (Hero turns bad, examination of what it means to be a hero) and a timely warning of how evil can sneak into modern life (Turn on American News...)
    Quoted for the goddamn truth.

  9. #9
    Incredible Member Dreaded Porcupine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloudman View Post
    I only take issue with it when it's stupid, or lazily written. Which, unfortunately, is pretty often.

    e.g.
    'MODOK = DRUMPF amirite', repeated ad nauseam - not funny, or clever
    that joke from the Two-in-One #1 preview comparing Trump's orangenes to The Thing - quite funny

    There's obviously a limit. Most people don't pick up a superhero comic in order to hear the author's partisan political ideals, so spending an entire issue slating a politician is dumb. But done with sensibility, and a respect for the readers on the other side of the political spectrum to the author, politics in comics isn't always bad.

    Marvel's current strategy, which seems to be to let some of their writers run wild with banal, uniformly liberal opinions seeping into their books, is very unappealing. For a brand that places such importance on 'diversity', it would certainly be nice to see Marvel expand its universe's Overton Window a little.
    Couldn't agree with you more here. One of the reasons I read more DC these days.

  10. #10
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    For better or worse, it was the political allegories that got me interested in Marvel Comics as a younger man. The X-Men pretty much stood in for various oppressed and marginalized groups that were discriminated against, persecuted, and alienated by society for immutable traits intrinsic to their very beings. The mutant struggle for survival, if not also acceptance by and coexistence with humanity, paralleled so many ongoing struggles in real life where a minority group would assert its right to basic human dignity and the majority group would push back for fear of losing the security it believed came with its dominance over the minority group, and that captivated me.

    Civil War in the 2000s was what really got me back into Marvel, though, the idea being presented of what happens when a society lets fear in the face of terror and tragedy dictate its future course and compel others to sacrifice freedom for what they think is security. Following that, though, Dark Reign is what happens when the system birthed by Civil War turns out to be so thoroughly corrupt that it lets an absolutely pathologically unfit, unstable bastard, i.e. Norman Osborn, take charge of the whole damn thing and turn it into a means for personal profit and power and to punish everyone he views as his enemies. I'll leave the question of whether that bears any resemblance to happenings in real life to everyone's personal judgment and discretion.

    As for contemporary Marvel, to be honest, I liked that Marvel at least tried to reach out and expand its readership beyond the usual or typical demographic, that it tried to create and empower heroes that would in turn empower people who felt excluded or marginalized or "not really welcome" in comics fandom or in general society because of things that should be inconsequential, but are still very consequential today. Maybe it could've been done or handled better, but I'd really like to see Marvel not completely cast aside its efforts, rather instead refine their methodology so that it's clear to people that there's room for heroes and characters of all different origins and nobody is being pushed aside or forced out to promote someone else.
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  11. #11
    Astonishing Member dan12456's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valamist View Post
    OK, I am just going to come out and say it. If a comic I am reading is pro-lefty, anti-trump/right wing, then I am.. am going to love it. I was hooting with joy when I saw the Trump/MODOK villain in Spider-Gwen. I just feel as if such 'politics' fit the comicbook/superhero world more. Admittedly, I would not be too happy if I read a pro-Trump/right wing book, but then I would just stop/not read it. I think what I find odd is the examples given off 'Politics being shoved down our throats!' seems so... petty? I mean, the examples that come to ind most is from Sam Cap, where he was stopping immigrants from being attacked. I mean... it should not matter if said immigrants where illegal or not, Sam, Steve, heck any superhero worth their salt would have done the same, yet then you have Fox news etc claiming that this was some sort of attack against the right? It just seems so... there are more important issues in comics that needed to be talked about. Didn't a Superman book have the same issue? I kinda want to read that now...

    Funnily enough, I have seen Secret Empire/HydraCap described as both an attack on the right/Trump, and a Nazi fetish right-wing dream. All I know is, its a story both classic (Hero turns bad, examination of what it means to be a hero) and a timely warning of how evil can sneak into modern life (Turn on American News...)
    Same. While some readers don't want politics in comics, it is clearly a niche that exists.
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  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member jackolover's Avatar
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    Well, it’s nice to poke the bear now and then.

    Marvel ran with something in Secret Empire, and it was something that struck a nerve and was controversial. I think it was worth the exercise to show how sensitive the General community can be, me included.

  13. #13
    Concerned Citizen Citizen Kane's Avatar
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    The more comics try to stay "current" the more dated they become. It's a pathetic trend that needs to be squashed.

  14. #14

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    The thread title should be Politics in Marvel because its more clear and fits the forum. Politics in comics is fine because if its a story you created you have the right to say what you want (relatively).

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valamist View Post
    OK, I am just going to come out and say it. If a comic I am reading is pro-lefty, anti-trump/right wing, then I am.. am going to love it. I was hooting with joy when I saw the Trump/MODOK villain in Spider-Gwen.
    Considering Trump's policies would actually be disastrous for comic book writers, along with being generally horrible for everyone, I'm surprised more comics haven't taken shots at him.

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