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  1. #451
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    The argument made by Watchmen is that superhero stories cannot be political and continue telling superhero stories or being about superheroes.

    IF you were to do a truly political story about IRON MAN it would involve a lot of bits of him lobbying to ensure policies that harm or affect his company aren't passed, it would involve him making deals with China or Bangladesh or other countries to outsource manufacturing and so on. Likewise, if you deal with Tony automating his labor process and doing it home, you are going to have to deal with him laying off workers from manufacturing jobs.

    Tony Stark is based these days on Silicon Valley types and those are the real-world issues that involve them.

    Almost any hero if you apply real politics to them and their story would fall apart and no longer function.

    I think superhero stories can work as entertainment and social commentary but in terms of actual political insight or critique, the genre just isn't built for it.
    That's a pretty good point there, because superheroes mostly operate in a world of black-and-white, straightforwardly good-versus-evil, while politics is highly morally gray with no heroes or villains, regardless of how they may present themselves or be presented, just people opposing each other because they want different things, or maybe even the same things that can't be shared or distributed fairly.
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  2. #452
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    That's a pretty good point there, because superheroes mostly operate in a world of black-and-white, straightforwardly good-versus-evil, while politics is highly morally gray with no heroes or villains, regardless of how they may present themselves or be presented, just people opposing each other because they want different things, or maybe even the same things that can't be shared or distributed fairly.
    Something like HoX/PoX uses superhero stories to talk about state building, geopolitics, economics and so on. Stuff Hickman knows about. But it’s very allegorical and fantastic. In Krakoa money literally grows on trees.

  3. #453
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    I've never bought the "comics shouldn't be political" argument. They have *always* been political, and many of the most celebrated stories are, at their core, socio-political statements. Which is just one of Watchmen's many ironies I guess. And today, *everything* is political and comics can't ignore it. I mean, Fox News attacked an issue of Superman a while back because he saved some Mexicans from being shot. Covers have been pulled because there's too much T&A (a social issue turned into political lever). Reboots and adaptations change character's race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc., in order to catch up to modern social standards, which is then turned into a political issue by whichever party wants to capitalize on it. There is no avoiding it.

    Superman started off this entire genre by dealing with politics and social issues. The story about Roy Harper's heroin addiction is still pointed to as one of the most influential moments in comics (depending on the list). An issue of 90's Supergirl dealing with racism v. free speech was actually used by college professors as required reading in English (or maybe sociology?) classes. And early Marvel was nothing but fantastical allegory for real-world concerns.

    It's been done poorly of course. All the time. My gods, so many times. But there's also lots of really bad comics that aren't political too. So really, it's just a matter of there being a lot of crap books in the world, more than politics being a topic the genre can't actually work with.

    You just gotta do it right. And obviously not everyone can, and if you pull back the curtain too far the entire genre falls apart. But that's not a political flaw, that's just being fiction. No fiction withstands close scrutiny because none of it's f**king real in the first place.
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  4. #454
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    they could take it as a basic superhero story of good ultimately triumphing over evil or, if they chose, reckon with the social and moral messaging under the surface of that basic superhero story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    I think superhero stories can work as entertainment and social commentary but in terms of actual political insight or critique, the genre just isn't built for it.
    I think you two are onto something constructive. I accept that political elements be written into comics. At any time, though regarding what I think you two are trying to say, is that, in spite of the history superheroes have been through, and with all due respect to writers who write about politics in their stories, I think that when all is said and done, superhero stories are meant as fun/enjoyable pieces of entertainment primarily above all else. That's not to disrespect the complexities and kinds of stories superheroes can be involved in of course, but I suppose, at least in so far from what I've observed and I'm sure can be reasonable enough to say, that there's a difference between a superhero book with political elements and a political book.
    Last edited by Electricmastro; 12-07-2019 at 06:15 PM.

  5. #455
    Amazing Member Solid Snake's Avatar
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    From my standpoint, I see that the most of the US citizens are poor on knowledge when it comes to politics. Which is actually a good thing since everyday politics rarely affect their lifestyle, daily routines and wealth compared to some other countries that your world can be turned upside down by the government at any moment. And if your job is to write comic books, it is not mandatory for you to be more knowledgeable on the field than any other person. Being not is completely okay and I do not see any problem in having fun with some hot topics like Al Ewing does either. Giving some positive messages is also appreciated. However, if you try to make politics an integral part of your plot while you clearly are not qualified to overcome, it gets really hard to read that story.

    The first two writers that come into my mind in Marvel Comics are Mark Waid and Ed Brubaker. While reading some of their stories I really felt that I was listening to some guy who suddenly decided to take interest in the politics two days ago and already preaching on everything. The only writer that I liked reading these stories from was Nick Spencer while he was on Captain America and later I learned that he had a background on the field, not surprising. There were actually some parallel story points in Brubaker's and Spencer's Captain America runs and after I saw how Spencer was dealing with same topics in his run, Brubaker's take seemed even more miserable.
    Last edited by Solid Snake; 12-07-2019 at 05:56 PM.

  6. #456
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Something like HoX/PoX uses superhero stories to talk about state building, geopolitics, economics and so on. Stuff Hickman knows about. But it’s very allegorical and fantastic. In Krakoa money literally grows on trees.
    Yeah, and that's extended throughout Hickman's overarching Dawn of X series, which has been very fascinating to follow so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    I've never bought the "comics shouldn't be political" argument. They have *always* been political, and many of the most celebrated stories are, at their core, socio-political statements. Which is just one of Watchmen's many ironies I guess. And today, *everything* is political and comics can't ignore it. I mean, Fox News attacked an issue of Superman a while back because he saved some Mexicans from being shot. Covers have been pulled because there's too much T&A (a social issue turned into political lever). Reboots and adaptations change character's race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc., in order to catch up to modern social standards, which is then turned into a political issue by whichever party wants to capitalize on it. There is no avoiding it.

    Superman started off this entire genre by dealing with politics and social issues. The story about Roy Harper's heroin addiction is still pointed to as one of the most influential moments in comics (depending on the list). An issue of 90's Supergirl dealing with racism v. free speech was actually used by college professors as required reading in English (or maybe sociology?) classes. And early Marvel was nothing but fantastical allegory for real-world concerns.

    It's been done poorly of course. All the time. My gods, so many times. But there's also lots of really bad comics that aren't political too. So really, it's just a matter of there being a lot of crap books in the world, more than politics being a topic the genre can't actually work with.

    You just gotta do it right. And obviously not everyone can, and if you pull back the curtain too far the entire genre falls apart. But that's not a political flaw, that's just being fiction. No fiction withstands close scrutiny because none of it's f**king real in the first place.
    Agreed. Peter David wrote that issue of 90s Supergirl you were referencing, right? With Linda Danvers/Matrix, who eventually became some kind of angel? And yes, for the people opining that Superman is no longer relevant to modern audiences, all Warner Brothers would have to do is go back to those early stories you were referencing where he did crusade against those who felt their power entitled them to intimidate, brutalize, and oppress others with it. Given our current times, that would be incredibly relevant.

    Going back to Marvel, Spider-Man stories have tackled a wide swath of real-world issues such as adolescent social alienation, bullying, drug abuse, child and spousal abuse, corruption and/or bias in news media, homelessness, elder rights, mental illness, exploitation and abuse of women in entertainment media, corporate/political corruption, and more. Iron Man and Hulk stories have both critiqued the military-industrial complex from somewhat opposite ends, Iron Man as beneficiary and profiteer before mending his ways and the Hulk as unwitting creation/victim, allegorizing how the quest for military supremacy and profit has unleashed uncontrollable devastation and unmitigated suffering upon the world. The X-Men franchise is possibly the ultimate allegory in superhero comics for the destructiveness of bigotry and prejudice, and Captain America stories have frequently examined and reexamined what it really means to be a patriot and the difference between that and blind nationalism and jingoism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    I think you two are onto something constructive. I accept that political elements be written into comics. At any time, though regarding what I think you two are trying to say, is that, in spite of the history superheroes have been through, and with all due respect to writers who write about politics in their stories, I think that well all is said and done, superhero stories are meant as fun/enjoyable pieces of entertainment primarily above all else. That's not to disrespect the complexities and kinds of stories superheroes can be involved in of course, but I suppose, at least in so far from what I've observed and I'm sure can be reasonable enough to say, that there's a difference between a superhero book with political elements and a political book.
    Thanks. I appreciate the compliment, and I can somewhat agree with your viewpoint. Yes, superhero stories can (and perhaps even should) be used to help advance our understanding of humanity and society, but those crafting said stories should also remember to make it something their readers/viewers can engage with.
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  7. #457
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
    From my standpoint, I see that the most of the US citizens are poor on knowledge when it comes to politics. Which is actually a good thing since everyday politics rarely affect their lifestyle, daily routines and wealth compared to some other countries that your world can be turned upside down by the government at any moment. And if your job is to write comic books, it is not mandatory for you to be more knowledgeable on the field than any other person. Being not is completely okay and I do not see any problem in having fun with some hot topics like Al Ewing does either. Giving some positive messages is also appreciated. However, if you try to make politics an integral part of your plot while you clearly are not qualified to overcome, it gets really hard to read that story.

    The first two writers that come into my mind in Marvel Comics are Mark Waid and Ed Brubaker. While reading some of their stories I really felt that I was listening to some guy who suddenly decided to take interest in the politics two days ago and already preaching on everything. The only writer that I liked reading these stories from was Nick Spencer while he was on Captain America and later I learned that he had a background on the field, not surprising. There were actually some parallel story points in Brubaker's and Spencer's Captain America runs and after I saw how Spencer was dealing with same topics in his run, Brubaker's take seemed even more miserable.
    Also a very good point, come to think of it. If you're gonna take it upon yourself to write a superhero story as a political allegory, you should at least build up your base of knowledge on the topic(s) you're tackling before you commit to writing and getting it published. Can't enlighten people if you yourself don't know what you're talking about.
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  8. #458
    Amazing Member Solid Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    Also a very good point, come to think of it. If you're gonna take it upon yourself to write a superhero story as a political allegory, you should at least build up your base of knowledge on the topic(s) you're tackling before you commit to writing and getting it published. Can't enlighten people if you yourself don't know what you're talking about.
    Exactly. At the end of the day, it is just about good storytelling and bad stroytelling like everything else regarding comic books.

  9. #459
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    I mean, Fox News attacked an issue of Superman a while back because he saved some Mexicans from being shot.
    That's more a case of an issue or idea being politicized rather than the story being political. I mean depending on the context, Superman saving the Mexicans from being shot sounds pretty noble and in-your-face from an American perspective. From the perspective of the Mexican readers, it might be a simple liberal idea that projects a white liberal savior into their narrative or their suffering being used to give a corporate mascot some shine and sparkle. And you know, back in the '50s they ran stories of Superman unironically stealing land from the Native Americans (https://www.cbr.com/that-time-superm...st-metropolis/) while in the '40s a Superman Radio show denounced the Klan. I guess Superman's like his greatest enemy, Mr. Mxyzsptlk, to paraphrase, "I spent my first decade as a socialist, my second decade as a liberal, now I'm flirting with fascism, after that, I might feel guilty who knows, and the time after that, gonna go woke".

    A truly political story could imagine say, Mexicans organizing and protecting themselves to resist American imperialism and creating alternatives to American culture. Or trying to tell the perspective of the migrants from their POV. Or you know maybe say, a Mexican Superman. Bruce Timm did this quirky series of cartoons a while back that imagined Superman being raised by Hispanic Americans. It was pretty interesting though kind of questionable.

    Superman started off this entire genre by dealing with politics and social issues.
    Which is on the whole quite overblown and childish. Superman's New Deal flirtation with politics was interesting for its time but largely shallow and simplistic.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lszEmH6hkPY

    The story about Roy Harper's heroin addiction is still pointed to as one of the most influential moments in comics (depending on the list).
    Heroin addiction is more of a social issue than a political one. A political issue would look at say how the drug trade intersects with American policies in South America and with Mexico or the "war on drugs". Soderbergh's TRAFFIC it ain't. The same with Stan Lee's Drug Trilogy in ASM where Harry Osborn gets addicted to...LSD. That's pretty useless as a drug story since LSD isn't a habit-forming drug. It's a soft drug. It should have been cocaine to be even halfway realistic.

    And early Marvel was nothing but fantastical allegory for real-world concerns.
    Largely filtered through highly generational angst and feelings. Early Marvel in terms of politics was fairly centrist and wishy-washy. The Fantastic Four are anti-communist Cold Warriors whose rocket-trip was all about sticking-it-to-the-reds, Professor Xavier is an FBI asset who trains the X-Men to be narcs (a la The Mod Squad) on their community, the enemies are pure Eurotrash scum (Doom, Magneto), Iron Man was also a Cold Warrior. Stan Lee was personally quite apolitical and above-the-fray. On one hand, you can say that Marvel is situating stuff in the real world and so on, on the other hand it's also kind of glorifying and selling the American way of life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    I accept that political elements be written into comics. At any time, though regarding what I think you two are trying to say, is that, in spite of the history superheroes have been through, and with all due respect to writers who write about politics in their stories, I think that well all is said and done, superhero stories are meant as fun/enjoyable pieces of entertainment primarily above all else. That's not to disrespect the complexities and kinds of stories superheroes can be involved in of course, but I suppose, at least in so far from what I've observed and I'm sure can be reasonable enough to say, that there's a difference between a superhero book with political elements and a political book.
    And you know sometimes, top quality superhero entertainment in its own way can be politically forthright and compelling.
    -- Take Jason Aaron's "See Wakanda and Die". It's about Wakanda repelling an alien invasion by Skrulls and it's told from the POV of a Skrull General. Aaron humanizes the Skrull General and invader, making him talk like say any Roman General, any Colonialist general, any Nazi General would. The context of Wakanda resisting and defeating the Skrulls sure it might have a lot of political allegory about an African nation repelling an invader but at its core it's a wonderful action story, and it makes T'Challa into a Daniel Ocean type plans-within-plans-within-plans genius. To me that story tells me a lot about Wakanda as an Afro-Futurist fantasy and what it means to see representation like that in genre fiction.
    -- A story like "Doomed Affairs" by JMS in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is a pretty good anti-Iraq War allegory. That was written in 2003 and JMS was a vocal protestor against the Iraq War. In that story, it's a simple story about Peter and his wife Mary Jane connecting to each other again and fixing their marriage. And as a love story, it's very compelling but in the middle of that there's a terrorist attack at Denver where Latverian extremists try and kill Doom, innocent bystanders be damned. And Spider-Man saves Doom's life and then tells him that he should be brought to the Hague legally and be removed by his own people. That story is essentially about why violently attacking and removing a dictator isn't going to solve anything that it's possible that there are people worse than that Dictator, while also condemning terrorism even when that cause is "just" (i.e. toppling Doom). So it's a pretty interesting allegory there.

  10. #460
    Mighty Member Redjack's Avatar
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    there's no "should" when it comes to what creators put in the comics beyond what the company is willing to publish and what the creatives want to make.

    if you don't like a particular writer's politics and you feel you don't want to see it in the book he or she is writing, your recourse is o stop buying the book for the duration.


    and that's it.
    Last edited by Redjack; 12-08-2019 at 01:01 PM. Reason: spelling

  11. #461
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    My answer to that would be that in the cases of Iron Man, Daredevil, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the topics addressed therein were written in a way that the audience could choose to engage or not engage with the greater sociopolitical themes and ideas presented, that they could take it as a basic superhero story of good ultimately triumphing over evil or, if they chose, reckon with the social and moral messaging under the surface of that basic superhero story. The issue for a lot of people today, I think, is that they feel like their only choices when it comes to engaging with sociopolitical topics and themes in superhero comics are to either agree or opt out, and for people who don't (want to) agree with the premises presented by the comics or comics-based media they're consuming, it leads to a lot of resentment on their part, as they likely feel they are being called out by the media they are consuming as bad people for not agreeing with its messages. Just my take, though.
    There are two ways I can Winter Soldier taking backlash.

    1) if the movie had ended with Steve, Sam and Natasha fleeing to Russia after having just leaked government secrets to the public.

    2) if the Captain America in that movie had been Sam Wilson not Steve Rogers.

  12. #462
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
    The first two writers that come into my mind in Marvel Comics are Mark Waid and Ed Brubaker. While reading some of their stories I really felt that I was listening to some guy who suddenly decided to take interest in the politics two days ago and already preaching on everything.
    I get the same feeling when reading Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One and Chip Zdarsky's Daredevil.

  13. #463
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    There are two ways I can Winter Soldier taking backlash.

    1) if the movie had ended with Steve, Sam and Natasha fleeing to Russia after having just leaked government secrets to the public.

    2) if the Captain America in that movie had been Sam Wilson not Steve Rogers.
    Yeah, the first one would've been a little too on the nose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    I get the same feeling when reading Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One and Chip Zdarsky's Daredevil.
    What makes you say that about Chip Zdarsky's Daredevil?
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  14. #464
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Interesting commentary from Supermegamonkey regarding how Ann Nocenti wrote the politics in Daredevil #283 (August, 1990): http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chron...evil_283.shtml

    "The rest of the issue is a sort-of crossover with Captain America's Streets of Poison storyline. In that story, Cap is under the effect of a drug produced by the Red Skull, and is acting oddly. Cap is definitely acting oddly in this story, too, but in an entirely different way. And if you weren't following what was going on in Captain America and missed the blurb in the lettercol for this issue (which only says to check the Cap issues to find out "what the heck is wrong with Cap", then you might just think that Nocenti is just writing Cap poorly and inserting her own politics into the character."







    "But i find her insertion of politics here to be obtrusive. In part because a lot of it comes from Captain America. I think he should be an FDR liberal (but stronger on Civil Rights) but one that understands the power of the symbol he is and normally keeps his politics to himself. You can argue that this story is a case where the drugs are removing that inhibition, or it's a story where the drugs are just causing him to say things he doesn't believe. But it's still so different than how Captain America normally talks that it's jarring.

    And in any event, this story goes beyond Cap's views on race and economics and gets into a paranoid view of an auto-oil-military industrial complex that conspires to stop people from developing alternate fuel cars. And this story "proves" that is true in a very overt way, with various branches of government and the media literally coordinating to destroy the guy. I could see that sort of thing as a metaphorical shortcut if this were an alternate dimension or just a non-Marvel universe story, but in the "world outside your window" Marvel universe when you do something like this it feels like you're saying it could happen in real life. And that's crazy conspiracy theory territory."
    Last edited by Electricmastro; 12-08-2019 at 08:10 PM.

  15. #465
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post

    What makes you say that about Chip Zdarsky's Daredevil?
    The way he keeps using police corruption to deflect from the choice to have Matt continue to run free after having killed someone and have the other superheroes defend Matt when.

    Two particularly disgusting scenes are -

    1) Spider-Man giving an entire speech to Cole North about how superheroes should be above the law because they have super powers and "there's no rule book". Never mind the lack of a rule book is Marvel's own choice. You could be forgiven for reading this scene and wandering if Otto Octavius is running around in Peter's body again.

    2) The conversation Matt and Cole have in a diner after Matt has saved him. Cole talks about an incident in Chicago where he accidentally shot a kid thinking he was a drug dealer with a gun. Matt, a white guy, tells Cole, a black guy, that Cole would have never gone to jail because Cole is a cop, apparently ignoring the times black cops have indeed gone to jail.

    Even beyond that, the way audiences have swallowed up this argument genuinely revolts and frightens me. We have people calling Cole naive for wanting to bring Matt to justice and actually agreeing with Peter that superheroes should be above the law because of their powers. Apparently, that argument is only terrifying when it's coming from super villains.

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