Following the Russian Revolution, Joseph Stalin began consolidating power in what became known as the Great Purge. Military officers, prominent Bolshevik actors, and political dissidents among the citizenry were executed or sent to the gulag. Leon Trotsky, a major figure in Marxist Theory, fled to Mexico where he was assassinated in 1940. It is believed that 1.7 million were killed and several others erased from history. After Stalin’s death, his successor Nikita Khrushchev condemned the Purge and spent his time in office releasing prisoners and clearing names from one of Russia’s darkest moments in history. Marvel Comics is having its own Great Purge and I could not be happier.
The politicization of entertainment has persisted for about three years now. Creators and committees have infected movies, videogames, and comics with politics and PC dogma. Left leaning opinions, fake diversity, and anti-Right sentiments can be found in a variety of media. There were the casting choices of Rogue One and Star Trek: Discovery, the Social Justice takeover of MTV, and lionization of fictional characters based on race and gender. You cannot escape politics because it is everywhere. What we used to forget the world is now a constant reminder.
Of course, I appear bias in my assessment. I have on several occasions made jokes at the expense of Democrats, Blue-Hairs, and Post-Modernists. I imagine you think if more media leaned Right I would be satisfied, but you are very wrong. Politicization from any side of the isle would be ignored, regardless if I agree or not. I consume entertainment to be entertained. I will not watch, play or read pro-gun or pro-capitalist media because I do not need a reminder that both those things are awesome. If I wanted propaganda, I would seek out propaganda. I want to be entertained and I almost gave up on Marvel Comics because I was not being entertained.
Following Jonathan Hickman’s exceptional Secret Wars event, the Marvel universe was reset. This is nothing new as events are a chance for comic publishers to realign their continuity and introduce new stories. At the start of 2016 Marvel Comics began to trickle out a host of books with a twist. Familiar characters were changed in terms of gender, race, and put in new situations. Again, this is standard practice and no one had a problem with any of the changes. I was interested to see how Falcon would fare as Captain America, Iron Man as a 15 year-old black girl, and Jane Foster as Thor.
And then people started reading these books.
Most of the titles I am about to mention I have not read. Comics are an expensive hobby depending on how many you pick up. Thanks to politicization, however, the number of titles I buy can be counted on one hand. I knew ahead of time what to avoid and have enough information to explain why these books have been excised from the roster. The following three stories are no longer in circulation or the characters have changed writers since my reading.
My first experience with politicization was the “Unsolicited opinions on Israel” line in Angela: Queen of Hel. The titular heroin encounters the character Bor who spouts off insults. His dialog is blacked out with descriptors like “A lot of misogynist filth” and “Red Pill MRA meninist casual racism” written over them in white. What the author is trying to say is male characters opposed to a female hero are motivated by misogyny. It has nothing to do with having different beliefs or conflicting ideologies. It is just good old fashion sexism.
The biggest perpetrator of politicization was Nick Spencer’s run of two Captain America books. Aside from his blatant misunderstanding of the character (a trend among these hacks), Spencer used his position to sermonize Progressive politics. Rather than continue where Steve Rogers left off, Sam Wilson was made into a “crowd-funded hero” beholden to the community. There are themes of the plight of the African American, Wilson questioning if Rogers actually stood for the people, and a villainous group called the Americops (how subtle). Spencer also made the new Steve Rogers Captain America an agent of Hydra, leading into the failed Secret Empire event that was an allegory for the election of Donald Trump.
There were many more examples of politicization, but I had the good sense to avoid them. However, there were others who bought these books just to criticize them on YouTube. Thanks to Diversity & Comics, Razorfist, and Micah Curtis, I have more than enough information to make my point. I am only scratching the surface because there is a lot more to this problem than bad stories. The following books have both political elements and show symptoms of the greater disease.
America follows the exploits of America Chavez, a dimension hopper. Seen in Young Avengers and the new Ultimates, America is a decent character with an interesting power set and attitude that sets her apart. In her own book, she was narrowed down to being gay, brown, and a vindictive bitch.
Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, was my new favorite hero until she was not. The character had a decent run with writer Kelly Sue Deconnick. When Deconnick left the mainstream, Carol was given the illusion of depth in a new book. She caused the Civil War II event and was put in command of Alpha Flight, but rather than explore how this affected her character, Carol was relegated to sitcom antics and sermonized about refugees. Good idea, author Margaret Stohl. Take a former Air Force captain with superpowers and put her in the Big Bang Theory.
Iceman is about X-Man Bobby Drake being gay. That is it.
Mighty Thor is about Jane Foster becoming the new god of thunder after Thor’s fall from grace. I actually did not have a problem with this change. I wanted to mention it because someone reading this might wonder why I did not include it. There was one line about feminism, but I think it was isolated and everyone just overreacted. Jason Aaron remains one of Marvel’s best writers.
After Civil War II, Riri Williams, a 15 year-old wunderkind, replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man. Her characteristics include being a girl, black, and borderline sociopathic. Her friends and family coddle her and always say she is a genius. As a result, Riri is a Mary Sue who is not allowed to experience conflict because some people might get offended a person of color can be a character.
And that is what I am trying to get at.
None of these books and characters has anything to them. They have been boiled down to basic traits that a minority of a minority of people will care about. Do you think anyone gives a shit that America Chavez is gay or Carol Danvers has a vagina? Nobody reads comics for the superficial. I did not read Captain America or Invincible Iron Man because the characters were straight white men. I read them because they were cool stories. Comic readers want narratives that put the characters through their paces, but I guess we are not good enough to see them struggle. What could be interesting and a great read is nonexistent because these characters are not allowed to work hard. They are special snowflakes and must be praised for doing nothing because we do not want to make someone sad.
The lead-up to the Great Marvel Purge is not a lesson in avoiding politicization, but in miscalculation. In an attempt to appeal to Blue-Hairs, Marvel Comics alienated its core audience. They transformed beloved characters into sock-puppets for Z-tier authors to prove their Gender Studies degree was worth becoming a debt slave. The people Marvel has tried to appease do not read comics. They are two-dimensional thinkers and accept the superficial over depth and complexity. They prefer simplicity, a character narrowed down to their skin color and whom they like inside of them. Blue-Hairs, Soy-Boys, and Post-Modernists care only for what fits their basic and illogical criteria, disparaging the normal or anything that questions their sensibilities.
And Marvel learned the hard way that such thinking does not sell comics.
Following the departure of Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, his replacement CB Cebulski looked at the monthly sales figures of Marvel’s books. It was clear that politicized and/or underperforming stories were not meeting their quota to warrant continuation. Cebulski had not choice but to pull the trigger. In early December it was announced that America, Iceman, Luke Cage, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Gwenpool, and Generation X were cancelled. Some of the writers took to social media to express their dismay. Gabby Rivera, the writer of America, chose to have a tantrum instead.
It is unclear if other books will last through 2018. Only the numbers can say and it is not looking good. As of November 2017, Champions, a political lite book sold 21 thousand copies, Captain Marvel 15, and Ms. Marvel, a pro-Muslim book that used to be good sold 15 thousand. There is no better proof of the failure of politicization than the numbers; no emotion behind it; just plain facts.
Blue-Hairs, Soy-Boys, and Post-Modernists do not operate on fact. They think based on feelings and seeing books they never read cancelled drives them into a frenzy. They do not care about real art with nuance and complexity because it does not fit their worldview. They prefer the obvious, relish the simple, and cherish superficiality. To them, a character is not defined by who they are and a story is not conflict. To them, a character is what they are and a story is meant to reaffirm that the character is perfect in every way. All you get with that kind of thinking is failure and Marvel Comics has a long way to go before it can recover.
I am not one to praise a communist, but I am sure Stalin had only Russia’s best interests in mind when he slaughtered millions. I am being sarcastic, of course. The man was a paranoid psychopath who was desperate to hold onto power. As a writer, I cannot imagine what the authors and artists of those cancelled books must be going through. They probably devoted every waking hour to planning out issue after issue to fit within the limits of the medium. Believe me, that is hard work, and it was all for naught. Thousands of words and hundreds of pages of art will be lost in the Great Marvel Purge. They will be remembered as a tragic misstep in the publisher’s history to remind us what happens when you stop caring about telling good stories. I should feel bad for those artists and writers, but as Malcolm McDowell once said, “They started the fire; they can burn in it.”
(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)