March 28th, 2015
No, Wall Street Journal, Comic Books Are Not Descending Into A Liberal Chamber Of Horrors
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal makes the complaint that comic books are currently descending into liberalism, while conservative themes and ideas are being stamped out. As always when conservatives play the victim, this is not accurate.
The editorial is co-written by former Batman writer Chuck Dixon, who makes the complaint that “Batman became dark and ambiguous, a kind of brooding monster.” Dixon notes in the biography under the editorial that he “helped create” Bane, the Batman villain.
Bane is probably the high water mark for 1990s comic book nihilism. He was, like Doomsday who killed Superman, created at the height of the speculative boom in comics as a plot device to push product. He broke Batman’s back and sent the Caped Crusader into temporary retirement in a cynical ploy to sell comic books. Batman was replaced by Azrael, who unlike Batman had little moral restraint and actually killed people.
It was you all along, Chuck Dixon.
The complaint that comic books are disavowing patriotism is also false. The authors cite a Superman storyline that earned a lot of attention a few years ago for depicting Superman “renouncing” is citizenship. But as was pointed out at the time, the story appeared in an annual anthology, with stories that had no effect on the “official” canon. Superman is still as American as apple pie, and as he explained in the recent movie depicted by Henry Cavill, “I hail from Kansas.”
I also submit the cover of the recently published Adventures of Superman #16, featuring a giant American flag – because as surveys have often shown, one of the most closely aligned figures with the idea of Americanism has been Superman, and that hasn’t changed.
This assertion is further destroyed by the idea that we are just months out of a blockbuster movie featuring Captain America, in which Cap stood up against the idea of a surveillance state and in favor of an individual right to privacy. Captain America is also one of Marvel’s hottest characters right now. The patriotic superhero is featured as a lead character in several titles: The Avengers, The Uncanny Avengers, The Invaders, Captain America, and more. If Marvel was doing the dirty work of liberalism by acting ashamed of arguably the most patriotic character in fiction, they’re doing a poor job of it.
So what is the real point of this unfortunate editorial? Dixon and co-writer Paul Rivoche are hawking a graphic novel adaptation of Amity Shlae’s re-writing of historical fact, The Forgotten Man, which is something of a novel of alternate reality where Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal hurt America. Think of it as Depression on Earth-2.
The merits of the graphic novel aside, Dixon and Rivoche found a major publisher – Harper Perennial – for their book, so the conservative blacklist isn’t working that well either.
Dixon claims he was booted from comics for his conservatism, but a guy who made a lot of his mark during the 1990s, widely considered the bottom of the barrel for comic book creativity over the last half-century, probably just has a hard time finding work because “the guy who broke Batman’s back” is worse for comics than any left or right wing ideologue.
Comic books have not purged conservatives. If a conservative-themed storyline is interesting and engaging, comic book fans will buy it. But complaining about comic books being used as a liberal tool is just a deception, something unworthy of true villains like The Joker or Green Goblin.
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March 28th, 2015