David Brothers was one of the smartest comics bloggers on the scene a few years back when I was at my peak of following the industry, and he’s remained one of the few whom I still follow despite my current pull list being a shadow of its former self.
[Side note: Have to get to Midtown soon before they cancel my bare-minimum pull list again. Particularly looking forward to Joshua Dysart’s Unknown Soldier.]
He has a great post up at his site, 4thLetter, called SuperHHero KKKomics 200Hate: A Year In Review, an exponentially more substantiative response to the knee-jerk (but cleverly illustrated) 2008: The Year of Misogyny, that starts as a typical rant about the poor treatment of blacks in comics, but quickly becomes something much, much better.
Some of my favorite highlights of 200Hate include:
Barack Obama– leader of Dark Reign, gullible enough to trust Norman Osborn
Crispus Allen– killed his own son, has to have some old white lady re-ignite his faith in God after he tries to kill his best friend for being a lesbian, probably Pro Prop 8, forced to wear goatee as racial identifier, likely never-nude
Falcon– lost his best friend, hasn’t appeared in Captain America lately, was set on fire once
Manhattan Guardian– tossed aside the second a WHITE Guardian shows up
Martian Manhunter– murdered with a spear (martians count as black, see also Lil Wayne “We are not the same, I am a martian”)
Spawn– blows own head off in own comic, promoting the suicide of strong and proud black men
Spawn (Michael Jai White)– Killed by the Joker in The Dark Knight, movie goes on to make a billion dollars
Storm– taken from high profile X-Men appearances to be a supporting character in some lower-selling book, forced into arranged marriage, needs Emma Frost (who once enslaved her) to call her names just so she can feel like she belongs somewhere
Tyler Perry– still not invited to write a Black Panther story where T’Challa remembers how his big grandma was the one that scared him into following the path of the warrior, leaving untold the story of Bg’mama, the true power of wakanda
The full list is long, laugh-out-loud funny at times, and well worth reading; there are hints throughout of how serious, or not, Brothers’ purported outrage is, but his underlying point is sound:
These lists of brutalization and despair are absolutely worthless without context. Otherwise, you’re just left with hollow talking points. Matt Murdock is a cheating jerk? Hey, guess what he realizes (and mopes about) in the very next issue? She-Hulk was cancelled? Congrats, it sells just barely above the rest of Marvel’s cancelled books and shed a third of its readers over a year. Wonder Woman brutalized in Final Crisis, a story about the entire planet being brutalized under the heel of Space Hitler, corrupted, and forced into mind control? Really?
After an exhausting two-year campaign for President, and what will be an even higher-profile transition than 2000’s tainted fiasco, I’ve had enough of canned talking points to last me a lifetime, and uniformed outrage over ridiculous plotlines and badly written comic book characters just leaves me cold these days.
Most comics suck, superhero and otherwise. Period.
Want to read better comics? Then make the fucking comics!
Or, as Brothers concludes, if you’re going to write about comics, at least “do the barest minimum of research before trying to do any kind of analysis.”
One thought on “Outrage, Humor, Context”
Awesome point and article!
This reminds me of a near-argument yesterday with a co-worker (I’m a librarian) about whether or not Ezra Jack Keats’ “Snowy Day” was racist. I advanced that he wasn’t and she pointed out the stock elements that all of his critics did thirty years ago and since. I pointed out that there was a context missing. She’s got it all figured out, so whatever. Write your paper, honey.