Comics of the Weak Comics of the Weak

I Totally Forgot To Get Mad At That Remake of Total Recall

Nate Bulmer, holding it down.

There was supposed to be a column last week. In fact, some of what you're about to read was actually written for that column, but then there wasn't a column. Why? I blame Lawrence Wright, whose new book on Scientology is so hideously addictive that your trusty columnist honestly did nothing but read it over a 20-hour period of time that may or may not have been a time during which he was supposed to be sleeping and/or eating, and when it came time to write about comic books--the comic books that you and I love, the comic books that have rightfully taken the place wherein my affections for family and friends once resided--all that could be mustered up was the regurgitation of bizarre anecdotes about Gold Bases and Going Clear and OT Levels, to say nothing of Tom Cruise tales. A man could live off Tom Cruise tales. I have all the evidence right here, in my heart which still beats after spending last week living off nothing but tales of Monsieur Cruise. So allow me to apologize, and then let's check in with ABHAY KHOSLA, who has something to say about Orson Scott Card, a man who is being allowed to write Superman comics despite the fact that he wears cream-colored suits, and people who wear cream-colored suits are, if I'm being frank, human shaped garbage that would benefit mostly from wholesale extermination. I don't mean to ruffle feathers, but unless you're a drug dealer in the '80s or a slave trader in the Civil War, you shouldn't go cream.

Creative visualization time: imagine Colonel Sanders tapping an orchestra stand with a severed horse cock embalmed in amber. He opens his mouth, his wet, red mouth and you see that pink quivering thong of a tongue that old buzzard used to famously lube up his dirty birds. He licks his lips, and then he smiles all nervous, he grins real quick. Then:

"Take it away", he says. "Take it away, Abhay."


So, DC hired a hate-monger and a leading member of an organized hate movement to write Superman comics a couple weeks back. Comics didn't have one of those, yet, a "leading member of a hate group." What else could DC do? Comics has the crazy woman-hater. The science kook with the "Earth is breathing" insanity. That guy who pretended to be a war hero or whatever the hell that was. It's got Frank Miller-- there's a whole lot going on there. There have been some retailers who murdered people, right? So, murderers. Solid there.

Now, finally, finally, it's got "leading member of hate group" covered. So, where does that leaves us, Breakfast-Club-wise? Can comics get one of those doctors who switch all the sperm in a sperm bank with their own population-pudding, and then all the kids wind up looking like Dr. Spunkfingers? Let Dr. Spunkfingers write Power Pack or The Fantastic Four... after he washes his hands. Old ladies who put razors in Halloween candy-- are those people real, and if so, can they write Nightwing? Would they want to? Putting razors into snickers bars-- there's at least an art to that...

Can mainstream comics hire the Green River Killer? Is the Green River Killer willing to demean himself by working for Marvel or DC?

The hatemonger in question is Orson Scott Card. Here's a fun thing: one of Card's longtime friends is lesbian recording artist and author Janis Ian, who was married in August 2003 (and who has defended Card in the past): "We got married because we could.  As a couple, we wanted the same rights and the same social recognition as our heterosexual friends have." Card writing about gay marriage in February 2004, six months later: "So if my friends insist on calling what they do 'marriage,' they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is. Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage. They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes."

In his spare time, when he's not shitting on the happiness of his friends, Card hates Larry David, David Letterman, Magnolia trees, pet turtles, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen. As many people have noted, he's also called for the violent overthrow of the US government, though... I mean, haven't we all at this point? I call for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government every time I'm in line at Subway. Obviously, in the wreckage of society that ensues, the droogs and the wasteland dwellers would be more open to my ideas on forced sterilization and I think we could really make a positive difference. Look, you've been to Subway; you know what I'm talking about, no need to belabor this.

But that's just his personal life-- professionally, he's a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization denounced by, among others, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP (for also being pretty racist)(surprise!). I live in the state of California, where they've damaged the quality of life for countless people and burdened our court system with years upon years of nonsense, thanks to money from ... well, from Orson Scott Card.

However, on the other hand, he wrote some books about robots or some shit, so ha ha, here we are. When do you separate the art from the artist?, thoughtful people asked, thanks to the guy who wrote a book about robots dressing up like dinosaurs to seduce unicorns while Bigfoot watches from a closet and jerks off his Bigfoot-dick. At least, that's what I'm guessing. Leader of active hate-group damaging actual human lives right now right this second in the world we live in vs. a story about cyborg elves using the puddle of Bigfoot-semen to glue leprechaun pubic hair to their faces so they have weird leprepube-beards, or some bullshit -- it's a moral quandary for the ages.

But DC issued a statement siding with Card's "freedom of expression": "As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself."

It's good to know that mainstream comics supports the freedom of expression regardless of one's beliefs, creed, philosophy, politics, political activities, hate speech, leadership in organizations planning to use the divisive powers of race to promote hate, or traitorous beliefs that the government of the United States should be violently overthrown. Even if you're campaigning against basic human rights or dignity, including of other people DC has worked with in the past like Phil Jiminez, Chip Kidd, or the late Neal Pozner. Even if you hate Annie Hall or Goodfellas? Mainstream comics will support you no matter what.

Just as long you're not a black guy. They don't hire those.


Batman Incorporated #8
By Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Jason Masters
Published by DC Comics
Although you have to take it with all the "it won't last" caveats your trembling hands can contain, this death-of-a-super-hero character story is a ripping yarn, or a solid read, or a good 'un, whatever positive turn of phrase you like. All of these recent Batman Incorporated comics have been that, actually, good Batman comics about a big bad plot and a funny little sidekick, all laced with people kicking and punching and attacking and yelling about loyalty and trying. Burnham's action drawings are weird piles of bodies, flailing around in triangular panels and for every one that doesn't totally make logical sense, there are three in a row strong enough to force involuntarily chuckles. It's a funny melodrama, and while it closes on a tragedy whose drama is now so overdone as to be drained of oomph, the emotional punches that do work (Damian desperately protecting his adopted brother against his monstrous twin, the moment when he looks at the reader and, in Morrison's voice, says that he doesn't care what any of us thought) are as well executed as anything in the guy's catalog. No one--not a single person--is interested in reading another series of Bruce-Wayne-in-mourning comics though, so hopefully, we'll get to the Lazurus Pit sooner rather than later. Ignore the hype, try to forget the personalities. This, the comic itself, was an actual fun thing, and there aren't many of those.

Captain America #4, Punisher War Zone #5, Daredevil #23, Thor: God of Thunder #5
Published by Marvel Comics
One could write separate notices for each of these comics, in fact, there are websites so devoted to doing so that they now consider themselves worthy of actual human contact, and will often appear in public places, usually to complain about the lack of respect they receive for their 7 stars out of 10 reviews whenever they try to get press passes for toy conventions. Hell, some of those craven death-worshiping fascists have gone so far up their own asses that they actually think they have something to say that needs saying, when the reality of all their work is that they are merely water carriers for an industry that is composed off the fact that, 1 star or 10, they are a bunch of dumb motherfuckers who would buy a flipbook of their baby sister getting bludgeoned if it were in continuity and Jonathan Hickman drew a graph that bridged the confusing sequences. There's absolutely nothing spectacular about the four Marvel comics listed above, but they were all relatively tolerable ways to pass the time when the time needed passing, and they were all competently drawn with some occasional flourish. Would they keep you from killing yourself if you were hell-bent on doing so? No. But you can bet a lot of people ate bullets during the original Galactus saga, so that isn't a very good thermometer in the first place.

Justice League of America's Vibe #1 and Justice League of America #1 VERSUS Uncanny X-Men #1 and Guardians of the Galaxy #.01 
By Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg, Pete Woods, Sean Parsons, David Finch, Dale Murphy, Francisco Cabrera, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza,  Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, John Dell, Justin Ponsor, Sonia Oback, Jeromy Cox
Published by Marvel and DC Comics

This is kind of interesting? Bendis and Johns are the two most dominant writers at their respective companies, and both of them seem to have ended up in a place in their careers where their bag of tricks is no longer that new and interesting, and both of them are making some pretty major (for superhero comics) moves in terms of which versions of superhero they will use to ply their trade--Bendis by leaving the Avengers for the X-Men, and Johns by quitting Green Lantern and expanding his Justice League duties.  And from a certain perspective, these comics have a bit in common--both JLA and the Guardians are comics with heavy film interest, and both have rocky sales histories--while Vibe and Uncanny X-Men come bearing the faintest whiff of successful alpha males trying to prove they can be successful at difficult tasks, like pleasing the most irritable fanbase in comics (X-Men) or resuscitating a character who has no fanbase whatsoever (Vibe). Other than that, these comics are sort of exactly what you'd expect these guys to do. JLA consists of two people talking about their favorite superheroes in a room, and then they reveal they have made up a new team for their favorite superheroes to be on, and there are moments of super-intense violence that are kind of strange and over-the-top. All of that--characters obsessing over the perfect line up of super-heroes the way a hardcore fan would, those super-heroes being super violent--is standard Geoff Johns. Bendis' stab at Uncanny X-Men also steals from other other Bendis comics, with the conceit being that its actions are being described from the point of view of some guy who isn't revealed until the end of the issue, which leaves Bendis with a nice cliffhanger and a free pass to have multiple pages of people sitting in chairs and talking. Neither are very special comics, all tied up as they are in preparation for later stories, which any longtime reader of Bendis can tell you will never actually come. In that department, at least Johns has unpredictability going for him.

Turning one's eyes then to Vibe: what? A character whose greatest influence on the culture is that he historically served as an excellent example for what it looks like when people who only know stereotypes try their hand at writing non-white characters, in an industry where one of the most notable African-American characters is an ex-con who they don't even depict in a costume anymore, because they've decided "being a black guy" is enough? Hell, I even like this character--he appeared in the second comic book I ever read, and I'm not about to shit on those happy memories--and I still know that he doesn't have anything to offer. It's no surprise to see Johns (who has already quit the book) and Kreisberg writing like a couple of guys who woke up from a drunken weekend only to realize they'd signed a contract without reading the fine print, and are now hoping that a generic "clean up the neighborhood, get revenge for my family" spin around the block will get them to church on time. Over at Guardians of the Galaxy, the generic mill is running even hotter, with the only major difference being that there's less queasiness involved in the character's origin ... or at least, there was before you get to the seventh page of this comic, when it becomes about how some alien that looks like Ryan Gosling impregnated some farm girl whose house he nearly destroyed before flying away and leaving her to die at the hands of a couple of aliens, who are then blown away by the product of that impregnation, who grows up to be a superhero who hangs out with Iron Man. You can't be too harsh on a comic that's a 0.1 issue--well, you can, but it's sort of like yelling at yourself--because being a 0.1 means its as unnecessary as it gets, and whatever happens will be efficiently recapped in about a sentence. In fact the "grows up to be a superhero" part described above is actually handled in just that fashion, with the hero going from a 9-year-old who just killed the aliens that murdered his mother to a dude talking to Iron Man in the course of a sentence. We'll give up on these two with the same brevity they gave up on themselves. Here's a dead mom for you:

So yeah, this is a cage match with a question mark. No winners to be found.

The Superior Spider-Man #4
By Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Edgar Delgado
Published by Marvel Comics

This is as disappointing as the third issue was a pleasure, which is too bad considering that Giuseppe Camuncoli remains one of the more interesting Marvel cartoonists in a long while. He's a good egg, this dude, but the only time he had anybody decent coloring him was on some throwaway issues of a comic called Dark Wolverine (featuring Daken, Wolverine's illegitimate mohawked bisexual son with tribal tattoos), and that was probably because nobody was paying attention. Ever since they started paying attention to Camuncoli--putting him on Spider-Man, having him be the launch artist for the aforementioned Daken when the character was given a short-lived ongoing--he's suffered tremendously, a victim of that shiny digital coloring that has to be one of the most bewildering of the many things super-hero comics readers tolerate. He's also an artist who is confusingly ill-served by Dan Slott--Camuncoli's work on Mr. Fantastic and the Daken character in Dark Wolverine was an excellent showcase for how super-hero artists should depict acrobatics, and there's no greater Marvel vehicle for acrobatics than Spider-Man comics. And yet here, it's clunky posturing framed from dizzied points of view. It's an ugly comic, and while that gives it an aesthetic parallel with its terrible plot--a mass-murderer named "Massacre" escapes, killing his way through multiple innocent people, including one character who first loses her eyeball--the end result is a nasty embarrassment.

Red Team #1
By Garth Ennis, Craig Cermak, Adriano Lucas
Published by Dynamite Comics

One of the most interesting bits of 2012's End of Watch is that, while its a supremely violent movie about South Central Los Angeles police officers, it's not actually about corrupt cops, but valiant true believers whose aw shucks fuck-you posturing works to conceal two near-cartoonish portrayals of overgrown Boy Scouts. It's a choice that seems impossibly difficult to have made, until one takes a step back and remembers that today's anti-hero fetish is a fad, a temporary flavor. (You get a point, marketing, but I'm onto you now.) It's relatively difficult not to immediately think of other forms of cop fiction while reading Red Team. The characters here are painted in the broadest of strokes, and the settings are all stock locations--the backyard beer conversation with the team was previously seen in The Shield's pilot episode, and the framing of an off-panel I.A. interrogator to present the narrative in flashback is so generic its difficult to think of a  time when it ever did work--and the dialogue never fails to be cheap, obvious, or both. It's not a travesty--there's a brief scene here depicting the relationship between a couple of older cops that has possibility--but this is a pretty dismal effort from all involved.

Thunderbolts #5
By Daniel Way, Steve Dillon, Guru eFX
Published by Marvel

Adventure and superhero don't quite fit, so we'll just call this one an okay little violence comic. It's about a team of anti-heroes or outright bad guys put together by the Red Hulk, who is still some sort of military authority due to the fact that he used to be General Thunderbolt Ross and Captain America trusts him. I don't really understand either of those things. I was always under the impression that a consistent go-to thing in Hulk comics was that the Hulk wouldn't cause any problems if you left him alone, and General Ross therefore represented the destructive nature of humanity when we refused to compromise our rules, and were therefore responsible for the Hulk's destruction. There was always a general sense of Apocalypse Now going on with Ross too, the way he went after the Hulk like the world could die as long as the Hulk went with it. There was an entire comic book series that featured Ross as the Red Hulk and probably went deep into his motives, so it's possible that all of these sorts of questions have been dealth with--questions admittedly based on a imagined memory of what I think Hulk comics have been about, and not necessarily based off what they actually were about. But this Thunderbolts comic also prominently features The Punisher as a core member of the team, and is in fact at its absolute best when focusing on that character's actions or on the way that character's maniacal zealotry for slaughter affects the other members of the team, and yet this version of The Punisher behaves nothing like the Punisher character that has appeared in the last five years of Marvel Comics, and actually only makes sense if you view him as coming directly from Garth Ennis' "Welcome Back Frank" storyline, a silly black comedy of a comic from 2000 that was also drawn by Steve Dillon. Actually, nobody in this book--the Flash Thompson Venom, Elektra, the Punisher or the Red Hulk--behaves anything like what you might have seen in recent Marvel Comics. Deadpool, the one exception, is a fourth-wall-breaking meta-character whose entire post-Liefeld Marvel existence has been one of unreliability and taking the piss out of Marvel. The image above, while not tremendously funny, is an example of this, with Deadpool filling in the role of mandatory recap page, which, until this point in the story, the comic did not have. That inconsistency is really at its most amusing in the following example:
Not everything in that cover is inaccurate--the Punisher does make a face like that when he kills people, and Elektra, Deadpool and Venom at some point do hold weapons in a menacing fashion before using those weapons. But the Red Hulk doesn't roar, and the Leader--who is also Red now, although I have missed the part where that was explained--does not in fact wear a red hoodie and spit crazy fresh rhymes in the fashion in which he is depicted doing so on the cover.

See? His hoodie is green.

63 Responses to I Totally Forgot To Get Mad At That Remake of Total Recall

  1. Kit says:

    Where does Daniel Way think pineapples do grow?

  2. I would be offended at your comment about those of us who write about comics and think our thoughts matter, but I know mine don’t. That, and I never hesitate to insult companies, press passes be damned. Most importantly, I don’t give scores out of 10, I do it out of 5. Therefore, you aren’t talking about me…right? RIGHT? I’m going to go cry now at my website/blog’s minimal importance.

  3. mateor says:

    Pineapples are tubers, dummy.

  4. Jim Treacher says:

    “So, DC hired a hate-monger and a leading member of an organized hate movement to write Superman comics a couple weeks back.”

    I thought Mark Waid went to Marvel?

  5. R. Fiore says:

    I don’t believe in blacklisting, period. If someone had written an anti-gay Superman story that, well, that would be weird, but anyway, if he’d written an anti-gay Superman story that would be one thing, but to just try to bar him from writing Superman stories because he’s just existentially anti-gay is bullshit.

    Personally, I don’t think I’ve bought a Superman comic since one of the Alan Moore ones from years and years ago, which wasn’t very good.

  6. mateor says:


  7. Jim Treacher says:

    Has anybody compared it to John Wayne Gacy’s paintings yet? I hope somebody compares it to John Wayne Gacy’s paintings.

  8. Tex says:

    Card is writing Superman comics? This better not interfere with his hate work.

  9. Bonus ick points for use of the phrase “content creators”

  10. Eric Reynolds says:

    I think the bigger question about this Orson Scott Card fellow isn’t whether consumers should buy his Superman comics, but why DC would even want to hire him? What editor at DC was thinking, “You know, I don’t give a shit about the massive public relations shitstorm this is going to cause, I just really want to work more closely with Orson Scott Card! He’s AWESOME!”

  11. Pallas says:

    Nobody cared when Marvel hired him to write Ultimate Iron-man or when Marvel did the Ender’s Game comic, as far as I remember.

    It seems the real issue is he’s going to put words in the mouth of “Comic Jesus”. That confuses the rubes who have an idolatrous relationship with Time Warner properties.

  12. R. Fiore says:

    Obviously they didn’t expect such a shitstorm. (“Nobody expects the massive public relations shitstorm!”) If this issue didn’t arise it would have been a good get for them, though getting well-known genre writers to write comics doesn’t have a spotless record of success. It’s less a matter “it’s okay if it’s Iron Man” as who writes Superman gets more crossover interest than who writes Iron Man, though the “Comic Jesus” thing is also close to the point.

  13. Andrew Taylor says:

    I do remember there being minor outcry about Card writing Iron Man, which is how I learned about Card’s views on homosexuality in the first place. Before, all I knew was he wrote Ender’s Game, a book I kind of liked. That was before the movie, though, so nobody other than comics-types cared.

  14. Strangefate says:

    Well, the same guys who hire anyone who once sold a lot of books/had a hit movie/appeared briefly on the cover of Teen Beat/whatever, with the understanding that basically any success in the entertainment business is a hundred times better than being a professional comic book writer or artist. Even if Orson Scott Card is a hatemongering loon whose one fluke success belied a career of laughably unreadable horseshit, he’s still not, you know, Jeph Loeb or Gail Simone. He still gets an honorary ‘real writer’ credit unlike your average comic hack. The only people DC/Marvel have less respect for than their readers are the people who waste their lives working for them.

  15. R. Fiore says:

    Incidentally, if you would like to hire someone but you refrain from doing it because it’s bad public relations, you’re blacklisting him.

    What little of Orson Scott Card I ever read left me totally cold, but one thing I did notice about his prose was its genuine crap-through-a-goose readability. “Unreadable” is the one thing you can’t hang on him.

  16. plok says:

    That’s not what a blacklist is. It isn’t when you would like to hire a person (for the sake of argument: just “would like” to, as a desire entirely divorced from any other real-world considerations, like marketing, at the outset), but their current unpopularity makes it a stupid idea for you to do so; it’s when you control a large enterprise and inform your underlings that a certain person may not be hired, should they happen to come in through the door.

    Totally different.

  17. Dave says:

    Damn, this article actually made me want to read Thunderbolts.

  18. Daniel says:

    I was flipping through that Guardians of the Galaxy and got to that last page where he’s talking about the most exciting aspect of his origins. Talking. Instead of showing. “How I would’ve done it” is no critical evaluation butttttt I will say that the story of an astronaut who inherited a raygun from his spacedad and then meeting said evil spacedad might have been a far more interesting narrative than how making sex on ladies=baby Ryan Gosling and bullies are cowards when you confront them (not remotely true in real life.) Anyway he was trying to do indie film sci-fi movie when Empire Strikes Back would’ve been preferable in a Marvel fucking Comic.

  19. patrick ford says:

    Well, if you consult the O.E.D.

    Definition of blacklist
    a list of people or products viewed with suspicion or disapproval.

  20. plok says:

    I guess I might agree with that if I thought there was such a thing as being “just existentially anti-gay.”

    What is that, exactly? Are you born with it, or is it a choice?

    R. Fiore, I am used to long-form, thought-out, non-bullshit critiques from you. The “just existentially anti-gay” thing here wouldn’t pass muster with you if someone else had said it. Do you need to be informed about Card’s very public actual campaigns against LGBT people? That roaring in your ears is the artist shouting “do not separate me from my art, I don’t want you to…!”

    So he’s not Ezra Pound, and this isn’t Inherit The Wind, and what you think personally about Superman comics doesn’t have a damn thing to do with any of it, so what exactly is your point, R. Fiore? Should protests against dyed-in-the-wool bigots be milder, when they work in a shittier part of town? “Hey, this guy’s a queer-basher, but he shouldn’t have to lose his part-time job over it, so go easy on him, after all Superman’s just a corporate cash-cow anyway, in fact I don’t remember the last Superman comic I liked”?

    If you hadn’t said it’s “bullshit”, I wouldn’t be taking such exception to your comment. In fact this is the key area in which I disagree with you: it ISN’T “bullshit”.

    In fact it’s bullshit to say it’s bullshit.

    Unless there really is such a thing as being “just existentially anti-gay”, which I personally doubt.

  21. plok says:

    There was an outcry about Ultimate Iron Man, which is how I learned about Card’s shittiness as a human being too! Though I don’t know how minor it was if it reached me, a not-very-plugged-in guy at that time, and managed to change my reading habits.

    Pallas seems to believe that the anti-Card protestors are mainly rubes who don’t want real-world issues to sully their oh-so-clean Superworship…but maybe Superdisdain is an altar that demands as much polishing? Lady, methinks, protest.

    Would it really be so bad, even though superheroes are trash and their readers are moronic children, to say that we don’t want publicly-activist bigots to write them? Shit, when you think what good people get fired for at the Big Two…!

    We shouldn’t even be talking about this without mentioning ageism in hiring practices at Marvel and DC, should we?

    I swear.

  22. R. Fiore says:

    It’s exactly the same thing. To give some examples, John Hubley was the heart and soul of the UPA animation studios, but they had to fire him when his Communist Party ties became an issue; their distributor would have dropped them if they hadn’t. Bill Scott, who would later be the voice of Bullwinkle, was not political at all, but had to quit because he was too closely associated with Hubley. Marguerite Roberts, who post-blacklist would win an Academy Award for the screenplay of the first True Grit, was one of the most prized screenwriters at MGM in the 40s. She was not political at all, and only joined the Communist Party because her husband was a member, but she was an unfriendly witness before HUAC and was forced out because of it. In this case DC didn’t blacklist Card, they hired him. To answer Eric Reynolds’ question above, I assume if they thought it was going to be an issue at all, DC thought it would be like the controversy over Before Watchmen, a big stir on the Internet but something the majority of comics readers would be unaware of or indifferent to. After all, just about every bookstore that sells science fiction sells Orson Scott Card books, and they don’t get picketed for it.

  23. Abhay says:

    The Hollywood blacklist was in response to the HUAC hearings! You’re ignoring the HUAC hearings! It also coincided with the interests of the studios, Walt Disney and whoever, to suppress organized labor movements. In other words, the word blacklist has a historical context. This isn’t about government suppressing dissent, or corporations trying to reinforce a status quo that favors their profit margins, making the application of that term to this situation a little dubious.

    Plus: as your own examples point out, what made the blacklist so pernicious is that it frequently involved people punished for their private political beliefs– wheras Card’s beliefs aren’t private; he’s a public actor, a board member for an organization that’s had an actual and pernicious political impact. i.e. Card isn’t being punished for being “existentially” homophobic, but for being an active culture warrior.

    The closer analogy you perhaps want to make is to the Dixie Chicks situation, where the right-wing was taking a tractor to Dixie Chicks CDs and preventing them from receiving airplay, what, 10 years ago. But even that analogy would seem highly questionable given the drastic differences in the speech at issue: the Dixie Chicks mildly criticized a WAR, whereas Card is simply the ever-present voice of the majority wanting to suppress a minority population and deprive a minority population of its right to happiness. Card’s is the same voice of repression that gave rise to the blacklist to begin with, making any suggestion that he should be cloaked in the sympathy that word invokes … well, I’m reluctant to agree.

    If a person wants to be in favor of speech of every kind having no consequence regardless of content, or to say “even if there’s differences in a speech, a principal is a principal and my support of the Dixie Chicks means I must support Card,” that’s a fine and respectable position to take. But I don’t think other people not wanting to join in that position makes them anti-voice-of-Bullwinkle and/or pro-Hollywood-Blacklist.

  24. patrick ford says:

    There might be some confusion between the historical Hollywood blacklist and the way the word blacklist has come into common and accepted usage as a noun and verb.

  25. plok says:

    There is no way the word “blacklist” has come into common and accepted usage as a noun and a verb, that doesn’t have to do with the Hollywood blacklist! I don’t know where you’ve been living, but we don’t sit around saying “this party’s blacklist” or “that girl’s so hot she’s blacklist”, when we say someone’s on a blacklist the reference is not to 5th-century China…you can’t abstract the way we in North America use “blacklist” from the Hollywood blacklist, and actually R. Fiore doesn’t, it’s the first place he goes to when challenged!

    In that, at least, he’s not wrong.

  26. plok says:

    To not really paraphrase Voltaire: I may disagree with your views, but I’ll defend to the death your right to oppress a minority while using them as cover!


  27. Did you guys know that they used to lock up homosexuals just for their sexual behaviour??? That’s why we shouldn’t lock up chimos today, just for being existentially chimos; locking up chimos is bullshit.

  28. R. Fiore says:

    People are so ill-informed about this. There were any number of private red-baiting organizations “helping” HUAC with their work, and they weren’t restrained by parliamentary procedure. Getting named in Red Channels could get you blacklisted just as easily as getting called before HUAC. The government didn’t blacklist anybody, it was employers that blacklisted people, under the threat of public pressure, not government action.

    There is no argument Orson Scott Card has ever made on any subject that couldn’t be answered with “That’s a load of crap.” For one thing, any argument that depends on God’s opinion goes nowhere with the courts. I wouldn’t defend to the death Orson Scott Card’s right to breathe, but I will say that he has as much of a right to get a job writing a Superman comic book as anybody. If persuasion is working for you what do you need strongarm tactics for? It only makes you look bad in the end.

  29. Scott Grammel says:

    Actually, Mr. Weatherbee is a principal. But a principle is a principle.

    I think that it may, in fact, be important to be on some kind of list to justifiably speak of blacklisting. Otherwise we’d have to defend every loudmouthed, moronic, evil-espousing dirtbag in these situations. What we’re supposed to have learned from McCarthyism is that we should defend all future McCarthys?

    That can’t possibly be right.

  30. plok says:

    That’s an incoherent load of crap, and I think it just set off my Libertarian Bullshit Detector to boot. What on Earth do you mean, you wouldn’t defend to the death Card’s right to breathe, but you’d defend his right to write Superman? That’s all the worst kind of backwards, and I find it impossible to take seriously.

    But it’s not as ignorant as this: “if persuasion is working for you what do you need strongarm tactics for? It only makes you look bad in the end.” Yeah, LGBT activists…PIPE DOWN, you’re a mess for God’s sake.

    No point talking about minority issues with libertarians, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

  31. tnarcejac says:

    Re: Abhay
    I agree with you that its completely legitimate to organize a blacklist. It’s not Mccarthyism as long as its not enforced by the power of government.
    So how about we start a new Comics Code as the next step. I’m sure you’d approve of a new CCA to make sure that comics are sufficiently “Pro-Gay”? As long as we are creating a blacklist we might as well start labelling comics again to make sure they meet specific “Politically Correct” standards.
    And should we add more names to the blacklist? How about some of the more Left Wing comic creators who have expressed anti-gay sentiment (I can think of three right now).

  32. R. Fiore says:

    Never play ping pong with someone named “plok”.

  33. First off, Guardian’s 1st issue–excuse me–.1 issue wasn’t terrible because it had Bendis writing a single individual character, which he has proven he can do with his amazing Daredevil run and underrated 12-issues of “Moon Knight”. The thing is, we now will be moving into the realm of a team comic and if Bendis’ years on Avenger’s titles are anything to go by we are going to get some miserable stuff. Then again his “New X-Men” has been surprisingly good so far…who knows, maybe things will work out?

    Also, if I cared more about the character of Superman I might have a stronger opinion about Card writing him. As it is I just don’t care about ol’ Supes by himself. That said, he is a hateful moron.

    Lastly, considering how Morrison makes such great comics it is disheartening how when he opens his mouth to speak in real life about anything other than his stories the man can come off as a bit of a dick–e.g. talking about Siegel and Shuster.

  34. James W says:


    plok = RYU
    Abhay = KEN
    R. Fiore = BISON

    This comment section = HADOKEN

  35. Advocate says:

    Yeah this is stupid. “Hate speech” is the defacto term that throws sand in the eyes of anybody who just happens to occupy a traditional conservative viewpoint.

    The media savvy left-leaning cats can’t seem to figure out that little freedom of speech thing. Instead of pushing for common decency and the agreement that saying things is bad, they’re just going to try to censor everyone. (Which is like, fascism, man.)

  36. Advocate says:

    “Bigot” is one hell of a word to throw around, pal. Moral conviction is not a crime, and you’d better hope it never becomes one.

  37. Joe Bradshaw says:

    You know, the lack of imaginative thinking which almost always attends discussions of the relative quality of superhero comics vis-a-vis their “competitors” in the world of indie should really be what’s under discussion, here.

    Anyone with a sliver of intelligence is going to find it repugnant that a homophobic asshole like Card has been hired to write one of the most important characters in the history of democratic and secular values. What I’m really sick of are so-called “radical” thinkers, who happen to read comics, fueling their intellectually stunted rage at the evils of capitalism and something called “commodified culture” (oooh, spooky! Smells like alienated labor in here!) through a sublimely limited analysis of the more-or-less predictable actions of two corporately-controlled publishers, Marvel and DC, who just happen to be at the helm of the greatest, and only, secular mythology ever devised.

    Why is it that Card’s addition to the DC stockpile of witless bromance is used as an excuse by the comix literati to add more leverage to their bullshit David / Goliath metaphor, which has limited their vision of superhero mythology for so long? Why is no one defending Superman’s honor, here?

    Superheroes stand alone in contemporary fiction as exemplars of what John Dewey called “moral artistry,” the ability to see and use one’s imagination as the central moral faculty. Yes, imagination. Not a childish piety which expresses itself as an attachment to senseless rules, or an overly sentimental addiction to the romantic feelings conjured up by a sober examination of minority populations in relation to their “oppressors.” We’re talking about people who dress up in colorful costumes and try to make the world less cruel than it is. However, rather than pursuing this line of thought (which includes the possibility of positive, intense theorizing as to the social function / value of superheroes), we time and time again hear a lot of cliched garbage about the differences between the ways that Superman and Wonderwoman usually pose on the covers of their respective titles, leading to tedious platitudes about patriarchal values being filtered through overly-masculinized archetypes with little-to-no social value.

    Hence the general feeling that Card’s addition to the DC roster is a generally predictable move by a monolothic purveyor of bad idea and bad comics. No one wants to defend the heroes who may suffer as a result of letting an anti-secular insurrectionist take the helm of their most cherished spokesperson. No one wants to talk about how the very methods by which DC and Marvel’s shared universes are constructed mirror the democratic patterns of thought and behavior seen in our culture, and no one wants to talk about how important superheroes are in terms defending and justifying the *best* values of that culture – rather than the shitty ones that unimaginative people are constantly focused on. Values like those shared by people like Orson Scott Card, Bill Willingham, Frank Miller, and Scott McDaniel.

    Why? Well, probably because your trite and unimaginative feminist theories teacher taught you to think that way. Or maybe Foucault and Marx. Maybe a subtle combination of all three, with some Butler thrown in for good measure. But don’t you people ever get tired of the same self-congratulatory drivvel pouring out of your mouths from the same hyper-hypothetical, uber-academic premises?

    Card is a problem for Superman. Not homosexuals, or America, or anything else. Just Superman. And that’s still quite a problem, from my perspective.

    More intelligent readers should give superheroes credit for being highly important to the effort of building a secularized culture, filled with people who pride themselves on being sensitive to the needs of unfamiliar, minority identities and the populations with which they identify. Intellectuals, especially comic-reading ones, use a highly uninspired theoretical lens (usually learned from a brief forray into feminist / radical politics) to discredit the notion of their importantce to a culture they’re too unimaginative to classify as anything but brutal, racist, homophobic, and jingoistic.

    Superman should be a character *immediately* recognized for his inclusivist stance on just about everything. He should be the sort of character a homophobe like Card *wouldn’t approach in the first place.* In other words, the pubic’s reaction should be along the lines of: “Why the hell are they letting a homophobe write a character who champions the rights of the LGBT community to the extent that Superman does?”

    Admitting that, especially since Geoff Johns took charge, it’s been a glorified frat party over at DC, it’s more criminal that *intelligent readers* don’t get involved in making sure that superheroes are in the fictional arsenal of leftists and liberals, rather than opposed to their aims. Am I completely out of my mind, here?

  38. James Wall says:

    Wait what did Mark Waid do?

  39. plok says:

    Ya want me to say it again?

    Check your dictionary, “pal”.

  40. No, you’re not out of your mind. I invite you to Sunday service at the Holy Church of D-Man, Count Nefaria and the U-Foes, where we worship all the great gods of our secular mythology.

  41. Pallas says:

    We must boldly go where we haven’t gone before. Secular mythology rocks!!!

  42. Andrew Taylor says:

    Why is it considered “moral conviction” to promote bullying, hatred, and fear against a group of people based on a false belief in the definition of marriage (that is, as a religious tradition that has always been defined as between a man and woman, when in fact it was a civil institution with no religious connection for thousands of years before the existence of Christianity, and even in Christian circles often saw men with multiple wives, and concubines on top of that)? Why is it considered “moral” to promote those things through lying and racebaiting (the methods NOM used to get Prop 8 passed in California)?

    I’m honestly curious about this.

  43. irwin schwab says:

    Something that Jim Treacher didn’t like, I guess.

  44. Briany Najar says:

    “[…} Marvel and DC, who just happen to be at the helm of the greatest, and only, secular mythology ever devised.

    “No one wants to talk about how the very methods by which DC and Marvel’s shared universes are constructed mirror the democratic patterns of thought and behavior seen in our culture,[…]”

  45. Briany Najar says:

    So, how long exactly have Marvel and DC been at the helm of Rock ‘n’ Roll?
    When did they take responsibility for celebrity culture in general?
    At what point did they seize control of the news media?
    When did the political narratives of our age – and the popular versions of sociopolitical history – come under the executive editorial management of Marvel and DC?
    Or, can it be that the greatest (and only) secular mythology is actually only really partaken of by a bunch of dedicated fans/hobbyists, rather than being something ubiquitous and almost unanimously deferred to (as if it were more real than their own lives) by the general public?

    Are dedicated fans of Marvel and DC Superhero™ entertainment actually the advance guard – an underground priesthood – who will one day be celebrated as martyrs, trampled under the bloody feet of the tyrannical readers of indie/alternative comics?
    Are you, yourself, a priest of the coming aeon?

  46. patrick ford says:

    I always though Santa Claus was the greatest secular mythology ever devised and that DC and Marvel were a gigantic load of crap. But that’s just me I guess.

  47. Don Druid says:

    Freedom of speech isn’t blah blah blah

  48. Don Druid says:

    Obviously they didn’t expect such a shitstorm.

    Then they should probably read all those blogs and forums they’re always bitching about. All the people who cause shitstorms have been shitstorming about Card for a while because his involvement in hate groups is so egregious.

  49. Don Druid says:

    Yeah – I usually see DC and Marvel riding along breakneck and horrified in these little red wagons behind the culture car.

  50. Don Druid says:

    The movement against Card seems pretty grass-roots. People who buy comics find out this guy is an ardent board-of-directors-level hate-freak from a blog and they screw up their faces because most people under 35 nowadays don’t think that gay people marrying emits clouds of poison gas that kills their flowerbeds.

    I honestly don’t know enough history to know how this measures up as a “blacklist” – I assume there was a lot of populist support for anti-Red witch hunts – but I also don’t know anything about American Hollywood Communists actually trying to shut down, like, I don’t know, churches in court or whatever the Red equivalent would be of what NOM does with its frivolous lawsuits. The claim back then, IIRC, was that the insidious propaganda that those Reds would sneak into their films was Moscow-directed and would infiltrate U.S. society and weaken it. I think it would be a lot more blacklist-y if people started boycotting Fables or something because of fear that Willingham’s stated conservative agenda in writing comics was warping fragile minds.

    Because the difference really does seem to be Card’s place on the board of NOM. If it turned out Frank Miller was running as MP for the BNP or something I think people would start caring a lot more about how they respond to how he portrays Muslims.

  51. Don Druid says:

    Why? Well, probably because your trite and unimaginative feminist theories teacher taught you to think that way. Or maybe Foucault and Marx. Maybe a subtle combination of all three, with some Butler thrown in for good measure. But don’t you people ever get tired of the same self-congratulatory drivvel pouring out of your mouths from the same hyper-hypothetical, uber-academic premises?

    Perhaps you should reexamine your premise that you have in your hand a list of known impractical theorists?

  52. Joe Bradshaw says:

    I realize that my post was a little hot off the collar, and very muddled. Just want to clarify what I mean by secular mythology: superheroes play the same role in our culture that “gods” have in past ones – they personify our most cherished ideas, and parade them through a highly creative viewfinder. This is a cliched thing to say, and Grant Morrison has done a good job at burning it out. Unlike Morrison, I’m interested in how superheroes are to be differentiated from gods and priests, not related to them. My use of the term “secular mythology” is roughly coterminous with the phrase “mythology which draws primarily on the natural sciences and democratic values, instead of supernatural forces, to account for its folklore.”

    The two-dollar phrase is “the hero’s calling.” There’s nothing like this happening with the most visible superheroes. Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man are strictly nonreligious characters. No great, non-human force summoned them out of nowhere to fight a battle they were previously uninvested in, and their powers are explicable through the natural sciences (or some wonky version of them), just as their values are explicable through those of democratic societies (or some wonky version of *them*). They are highly coloroful, experimental, genre-hopping symbols of secular hope in ways that Thrash, Chris Matthews, and Jennifer Aniston simply aren’t.

    So if you’re saying something along the lines of “well, all of secular society, as we know it, is a type of mythology due to all the pappy crap we’re forced to endure through unduly apologetic political narratives, talking heads, and Teen Beat magazine,” you’re missing my point. If you’re saying “your post was muddled, angry, and ill-considered, and pretty off the point of what was said previous to it,” point taken, and all apologies.

  53. Joe Bradshaw says:

    I think you’re quite right.

  54. Briany Najar says:

    OK, it seems we just have different ideas of what “mythology” means.
    For instance, I don’t see mythology as purely being about hope or cherished ideas. That sounds, to me, more like certain specific monotheistic religions. When someone says “mythology” my mind immediately goes to paganism/pantheism and the related narratives, such those which were/are generally adhered to in Mesopotamia, Classical Hellenic Culture and much of Asia.
    I also think if you want to find contemporary mythology you need to look at what the average Jo/anna adheres to. Not ideology though, but the more persona-narrative based stuff.

  55. Briany Najar says:

    And the Celts. Shouldn’t leave them out. Plenty of non-hope-based mythology there.

  56. Lightning Lord says:

    Jesus fuck. I guess bashing superhero comics is the purest, most important activity on this planet, so who cares about some shitbird unreadable science fiction writer who actively hates gay people and campaigns to deny them rights? Fuck those Iron Man comics, I hate them so much!!!!

    Plok you’re good people.

  57. yo what says:

    yo where are you Tucker Stone!? I need your satirical/ too-disappointed-to-be-angry insight into shitty comics that I’m addicted to. Come on! please

  58. Please don’t tell me you’ve been cancelled from the site or something! I need the sarcasm of this segment to keep me going!

  59. Adam Witt says:

    This shit is blacklist as hell.

  60. Ed Gauthier says:


    ED: About the only thing I recall about Card was that he sounded awfully pretentious, adding the Scott to his name as if it was going to prevent him from being confused with the dozens of other supposed Orson Cards out there.

    STONEY: Ya, that was pretty stupid of him. I think there was also something from a few years ago where he was given some big sci-fi or mystery writing award, but then he went off my radar shortly after that.

    ED: So why the heck do the Big Two comics publishers have any interest in this fat old anti-gay grunt, anyway?

    STONEY: Hey, don’t even bother trying to figure it out, man. It’s New York.

  61. Allen Smith says:

    I’m assuming you mean comics when you mention Marvel and DC as having the “greatest secular mythology.” Things like Lord of the Rings, and more recently the Harry Potter series, are great secular mythologies, too, although not created in the comics.

  62. Allen Smith says:

    Either Marvel and DC superhero fans are martyrs, or they’re moronic nerds clinging to an infantile genre that’s basically dwindled down to almost nothing, as far as comics are concerned. The Marvel and DC of today are ads for movies.

  63. Allen Smith says:

    Sorry, meant to say: They’re moronic nerds clinging to an infantile genre, whose numbers have dwindled down to nothing, as far as comics are concerned…..”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *