Robot 6

Tempest in a teapot: Politics, apologies and Captain America #602

Captain America #602

Captain America #602

So we’ve seen this mixture before, even if all the ingredients aren’t always exactly the same. Take one dose of outrage, throw in some major media coverage, add an apology to the offended and presto — you’ve got the makings of a controversy. This week’s bruhaha, of course, is centered on a panel from Captain America #602, where an anti-tax protester had a sign that said “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!”

It’s been picked up by everyone from the New York Times and Washington Times to political and comics bloggers. Even MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann got in on the act on his show last night, quoting CBR’s interview with Joe Quesada even though he didn’t mention the source.

So let’s see what folks around the comics blogosphere are saying about it. A lot of the discussion seems to be centered on Marvel’s apology, so let’s start with Brendan McGuirk’s post on ComicsAlliance, titled “Why Marvel Owes No Apologies for Captain America’s ‘Tea Party’“:

It shouldn’t be entirely surprising that Marvel, now a multi-billion dollar subsidiary of Disney, would kowtow to the media behemoth that is Fox News. Marvel Comics are for people of all stripes and creeds, of course, and no one should be made to feel unwelcome for leaning one way or another politically. Brubaker, however, has established himself as the preeminent Captain America writer by deftly weaving modern real-world allegory with bombastic superheroics to powerful effect, and so there was something rather disingenuous about Marvel’s recant, as it seems to be missing the point; sure, you can remove the “Tea Bag the Libs Before They Tea Bag You,” sign, but are you really saying this story isn’t about the Tea Party movement? Isn’t that what makes the story so interesting?

The intermingling of real-world concerns with colorful theatrics has been huge factor in the success of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run. From its earliest installments, there have been seeds of the real world planted throughout this celebrated tenure, and that has been the lens through which we understand who Captain America is, and how he functions as a national hero.

Tom Spurgeon says that good art challenges people’s self-conception:

Marvel shouldn’t be pressed to apologize for inadvertently pissing people off — it’s art. Art isn’t there to support anyone’s self-conception, and a lot of the better art out there challenges that kind of thing every chance it gets. Everyone should learn to live with it. Not only should Ed and Joe and Marvel be believed when they offer an explanation, they shouldn’t have to offer one. They shouldn’t have to see their explanation interpreted as a broader apology, either, which is doubly unfair. In the end, they should feel free to have Captain America fight The Teabagger if that’s what they want. Or the evil twins Hope and Change. Whatever. I promise you the republic will survive. Also, it struck me as super creepy that Ed Brubaker’s tweets were dug up in this Fox News article not just as the interesting sidelight they’re portrayed as being but as a kind of broad implication that maybe he shouldn’t be believed when he says this specific thing was unintentional. How do you answer that? I suppose no one expects an answer. While someone out there will certainly suggest this proves comics’ relevance, I don’t think there’s any victory to be had in becoming the latest pile of chum feeding the snapping leviathans of American political churn. What a stupid story.

Johanna Draper Carlson also questions the need for saying they’re sorry:

Captain America (the comic) is doing a storyline where Captain America (the character) infiltrates a racist bunch of political extremists. This is exactly the kind of thing the comic should do to keep the character relevant — have him represent the best of the country’s ideals.

Well, another group of wacked-out political extremists, the Tea Baggers, found out and got upset. Instead of respectfully acknowledging the right to have a different opinion, editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and writer Ed Brubaker started casting around to throw blame somewhere else. Brubaker said it was added in production, and Quesada said the letterer just picked something up randomly from online.

Story continues below

Most ridiculous is that they are planning to change it when the story is reprinted. How silly, to kowtow to a bunch of ignorant loudmouths! What happened to the Marvel that used to chase controversy as free publicity? Or do those guts only apply when they’re tweaking their competition?

And Jennifer Smith at Fantastic Fangirls summarizes some of the things Marvel hasn’t apologized for in recent years:

What makes me angriest about this whole situation, however, is how starkly it contrasts with the list of all the things Joe Quesada and Marvel writers have REFUSED to apologize for in recent years – all the people whose legitimate complaints have been brushed aside derisively in the name of art or the almighty dollar. Let’s start with Jonathan Hickman’s use of the offensive slur “retard” in a recent issue of Fantastic Four, defended in the letter column as necessary to his art because “that’s what a three-year-old would say.” Let’s talk about how editors spent months defending the Chameleon raping Peter Parker’s roommate in Spider-Man without repercussions or even acknowledgment that it had been rape. What about all the times people have brought up the sexism or racism in certain comics and been brushed aside as crazy entitled fans, as if they were banging on the doors of the Marvel offices demanding the return of Deathlok? Marvel does not make a habit of apologizing, even when it probably should.

And if you’re looking for a bit of humor in this whole thing, over at ComicsAlliance Chris Sims imagines what else the protesters might have been protesting:

Ban Comic Sans

Ban Comic Sans

Now there’s a protest I think everyone on both sides of this debate can get behind.



Wow, politics in your country really has been f””ked by Murdoch, hasn’t it? And when someone from Northern Ireland pities the poor state of political discourse in your country, it means it really is banjaxed.

True, Mark, sadly true…

Joey Q shouldn’t have apologized for this one. Certainly not when OMD was far more offensive!

The Cap story was about the Tea Baggers, or at least another whacko group of mentally challenged zealots just like them. It’s taken from today’s headlines, and Bru’s done a wonderful job mixing real world politics into his run writing Cap.

BTW, I think it’s hilarious that they call themselves “Tea Baggers”… There’s another meaning to that term, and that one seems to apply to them too.

For me, I think the worst thing about all of this is that Cap just hasn’t been able to catch a break for whatever reason since Reborn started.

1. The whole “Reborn is ripping off Lost!” nonsensical BS that was happening during the beginning.
2. The ending of Reborn was ‘spoiled’ in about 3 other books (but then again, it was called REBORN, so it leaves little to the imagination).
3. Delays leading to the epilogue coming before the ‘proper’ last issue (which is what happens when you have Bryan Hitch doing anything really)
4. And then the people complaining about the book coming back and being $4 (despite every Captain America-related book being at that price since #50, with #600 being the exception at $5)
5. along with the Nomad backup strip (which is stupid to complain about since a) it likely wouldn’t have affected the price much, if at all and b) it’s the most fun you can legally have with a teenage girl)

So now we’re left with THIS mess. I remember reading this issue with elation, because it seemed to be a return to form. But now it’s all bickering about a poster, of all things, in the background. Give me a break.

People rarely apologize for using the slur retard. You can say you’re just copying how a three year old would talk but let’s face it, the three year old had to have heard that word somewhere. Sad how it’s not until a person with special needs enters your family that you truly get how offensive that word is.

More remarks from people who are way off bat. And I would love to have someone explain to me how a group of citizens who oppose insane government spending and speak out about it are ‘extremist’ and ‘wackos’ I seem to remember people saying it was Patriotic to oppose the government…

Just happened upon this. I’ve not cared about Joe Q’s opinion since he made his list of “promises”. I don’t know how many of you remember or even paid attention, but the big one of those for me was the 170 new titles Marvel planned on launching in the 12 months after Joe’s rise to EIC. To date, more than three-quarters of those titles have come out. Marvel hasn’t been about quality or caring for the reader in *years*. They show it through situations like this one. They show it through situations like Wolverine not smoking because it sets a bad influence on children, but it’s okay for Spider-Man to make a deal with the devil. They show it through continuity errors and miss-ships. Their website has at least one title a week that doesn’t ship, leaving Diamond to accurately tell you what Marvel book is coming out each week. The list goes on. As a company, Marvel’s operations are deeply, sadly, flawed. Fortunately, some of the artists and writers they employ are top notch. Writers like Aaron; artists like Perkins and Pelletier. If Marvel could get their operations cleaner, these creator-saviors could actually make Marvel money – so they wouldn’t have to rely on licensing to pay their bills.

BTW, I think it’s hilarious that they call themselves “Tea Baggers”… There’s another meaning to that term, and that one seems to apply to them too.

They don’t call themselves “Tea Baggers”. They refer to themselves as being in the “Tea Party Movement.”

@Mark Kardwell
Wow, politics in your country really has been f””ked by Murdoch, hasn’t it? And when someone from Northern Ireland pities the poor state of political discourse in your country, it means it really is banjaxed.

No mark, because of FOX news there is more debate now then there was 15 years ago. .

No mark, because of FOX news there is more debate now then there was 15 years ago.


keep drinking the koolaid mate. Murdoch has been the absolute worst thing to happen to our great country and reasoned political debate in this country happens in SPITE of FOX news.

@Eric & Mark

You’ve no idea what you’re talking about “mate.” If you’d break away, for one second, from watching the pitiful mainstream media that you’re so obviously watching, you’d actually get a glimpse of what’s being portrayed by FOX News or Conservative talk radio and you might actually learn something new, as opposed to the same old drivel that’s presented by some of the most liberally biased “journalists” on television.

I’ve never seen so much obvious bias, arrogance and corruption in my entire life.

Drinking the koolaid would have me believing in global warming… and wait, wasn’t that just proven to be a lie? Yeah, I think so…

Time to try some new sources for the “news,” because I knew that was a hoax for over a year… I mean, aside from common sense.

I still think everybody’s missing the mark. It’s the people of Boise, Idaho, who’ve been misrepresented as the sort who would tolerate a racist, anti-government militia camping out in the foothills they’ve elected to preserve, who deserve an apology.

Oh, and Boise isn’t rural or lily-white. But what do I know? I only lived there for 15 years.

@ Mark Kardwell

Don’t worry, Mark. Not all Americans buy into the “truthiness” that Fox and Murdoch’s other alleged “news” outlets peddle.

Just stumbled onto this article now, but what a biased cesspool this is. The Tea Party movement never referred to themselves as “teabaggers”, that was a vulgar term the left wing blogs cooked up to slander the movement and giggled about like little schoolgirls on MSNBC, the mouthpiece for the left. The Tea Party movement is concerned with tax and budget issues and Brubaker sought to portray them as militant racists as most left wing blogs were desperately trying to do at the time. It’s funny how Brubaker’s Captain America stood against the government during Civil War when Bush was President, but suddenly stands against anti-government protests when Obama is President. His synpathies couldn’t be more transparent.

The quotes you posted and the comments to this article are one sided B.S. Brubaker was using Captain America, a patriotic icon he has pissed all over like the rest of the left because of their insecurities with boyscout patriotism, as a tool to slander a real life group of Americans expressing political dissent he disagreed with. He was trying to be relevant, you need the facts and objectivity to be relevant, he was slandering those he disagreed with. All the people here attacking Fox News here are the ultimate hypocrites as they can’t accept ONE alternative voice in all of news media, it is the ultimate in intellectual intolerance.

What I will never understand is why left wing writers who find the idea of patriotism so dated and even dangerous, insist on molesting patriotic characters such as Captain America or Superman. Seriously, create your own U.N. Culture Club of heroes where everyone fights for Statism, One World Government, Redistribution of Wealth, Abolishment of Religion and Climate Change hysteria.

I suppose even more venom and hate will be spewed from this site though now that Obama was soundly rejected in the 2010 midterms and especially if he is ousted from office in 2012. If Obama loses in 2012, Brubaker will have Captain “America” bring in Black Bolt to scream in rage at the entire United States to level it completely and permanently. He had to destroy it, to save it, and his transformation to Captain U.N. will be complete.

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