April 18, 2016

Marvel's "greatest" political jabs?

Thanks to my buddy Doug Ernst, this article by Wired offers up what it thinks are Marvel Comics "greatest" political swipes. As you might imagine, there's nary a jab taken at a political liberal, and we're going back a ways here.

Coming in at #10 is a conversation featuring Hank Pym in The Ultimates. It was only 2002, but already writer Mark Millar was bashing George W. Bush for his administration's post-9/11 reaction.

#9 is this picture of mutant children for the Mutant Registration Act. But as we've noted several times here at Colossus, making analogies using mutants as a stand-in for, say, homosexuals or other minorities is pretty dumb. Gays, blacks or the handicapped don't have the ability to destroy an entire city with, y'know, a wave of their hand.

#8 is one of the non-partisan choices from Howard the Duck (1977) showing how superficial presidential politics are.

At #7 we see the president of the United States as Satan. Of course, it's Counter-Earth, not Earth proper, but considering the publication year was 1974, well, you know who was in office then (at least through August).

#6, like #9, attempts to use mutants as a stand-in for a lecture on civil rights. In an issue of 2009's Uncanny X-Men the public gets a chance to vote on "Proposition X" -- whether mutants should have to undergo mandatory treatment for their "X" gene. Again, sexual orientation, etc. does not equal the ability to kill thousands/millions with a wave of the hand.

#5 is directly related to the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War and deals with restrictions on superheroes due to their immense power (similar to mutant registration). Of course, our modern creators are overwhelmingly for gun control in the US, yet they'd have you believe wanting to register 1000-times-more-powerful-than-guns super-beings is a legitimate civil rights violation.

#4 is surely one both sides can agree on -- that is, that Marvel heroes should have obliterated: The Sons of the Serpent. Patterned more or less after the KKK, modern creators have used the group to send out anti-Donald Trump border wall messages. As if illegal immigration isn't, y'know, a legitimate political matter.

Ronald Reagan literally turns into a snake for the #3 moment. Writer Mark Gruenwald had the then-president, like many others in Washington DC, transform into a lizard after the Serpent Squad (no relation to the Sons) puts a toxin in the city's water supply.

#2 is probably the most famous (or infamous) set of political comics panels of the Bronze Age: Captain America unmasking the Secret Empire's Number One -- who turns out to be Richard Nixon. Well, we don't actually see that it's Nixon, but writer Steve Englehart's implication couldn't be any less subtle.

And the big #1 is from a mere six years back -- when Capt. America and the Falcon infiltrated that "dastardly" Tea Party. Writer Ed Brubaker really overstretched with this ridiculous nonsense, which included the all-too- typical blurb that a "black guy couldn't fit in with a bunch of angry white people."

WHAT WIRED MISSED:

The Ultimates volume 2: The aforementioned Mark Millar lectures the US (well, the G.W. Bush administration) about its foreign endeavors by having a coalition of outlaw states' "super"heroes invade the US.

What about Truth: Red, White, and Black which posits that the US government began testing a version of the lost formula that turned Steve Rogers into Capt. America on black subjects? It's pretty damn political when you compare our government's actions to that of something akin to Nazi Germany.

J. Michael Straczynski's Supreme Power and Squadron Supreme, like The Ultimates a reaction to the G.W. Bush presidency, features a new take on the Justice League analogues -- one which, yes, lectures the US on foreign entanglements.

Keep in mind, too, that right-leaning individuals in Captain America have been shown to be mentally unstable.

In Steve Englehart's original run, he explained the Cap of the 1950s -- a fan of the original Cap who then used an imperfect version of the super-soldier serum. This turned him (and his "Bucky") into lunatics who, it just so happens, also became bigots.

Mark Gruenwald did the same thing with John Walker, who replaced Steve Rogers for a time as Cap in the 1980s. After Walker's parents are killed by a fanatical right-wing terror group, Walker's sanity slowly ebbs away. Walker, a very pro-US individual, formerly played the role of Super Patriot.

Posted by Hube at April 18, 2016 09:03 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Ugh, I'll be glad when we've forgotten the tea party thing.

That Wired article was... bad. I mean "Captain America’s been standing up for the American dream since day one" - the American dream like having a say in your taxes?

I mean from the article title down to everything mentioned in it they just flat spell out how lopsided Marvel is on the political jabs. Not even the comment deny how lopsided it is.

Posted by: Nate Winchester at April 19, 2016 06:55 PM

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