Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taking the coward's way out

Several years ago (early-to mid ‘90s) So youngster got his hands on a Marvel trading card for the Red Skull that identified him as a Nazi. Well being a bright and curious lad, he asked his father what a Nazi was. Well, surprised and shocked the father took exception to Marvel having the audacity of using something so innocuous as a trading card and supervillain to teach his precious, and innocent youngster about the worst villains from the 20th Century (especially something that he would eventually learn about in history class), and complained to Marvel.

Well, as you can imagine, Marvel chose to — instead of standing on principal and who the character had been for half a century — chose instead to whimper and cower in the corner. They issued an edict that — moving forward — The Red Skull would simply be referred to as a really bad man, and any trace of his former atrocities would simply be wiped from his history.

Well, move forward 20 years and, yep, it is happening once again, and (interestingly enough) once again in the pages of Captain America:

In issue No. 602 of Captain America, the hero and his ally the Falcon find themselves at a rally where protesters hold signs that read “Tea Bag the Libs Before They Tea Bag You!” and “Stop the Socialists!” Captain America remarks that the assembly appears to be an “anti-tax thing,” and the Falcon, who is black, says he probably would not fit in with “a bunch of angry white folks.”

The sequence incited complaints from Tea Party officials who say it is an unfair criticism of their movement. In an interview with, Michael Johns, a board member of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, called the characters’ apparent jabs “juvenile,” adding: “The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans. Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines.”

Some irate Cap fans have pointed out that during his heyday, Cap’s comic upset members of the German American Bund (in 1941). At that time everyone from publisher Martin Godman (who was usually given to flight rather than fighting when profits were involved), to NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia encouraged creators Joe Simon & Jack Kirby to stand their ground and not compromise.

Unfortunately, these days the company has chosen to swallow its corporate and creative pride over what amounts to a single throwaway panel that (save for the accurate spelling of all the words on the various protest signs) accurately depicts the sentiments and slogans of the Tea Baggers.

One can only hope that Stephen Colbert (to whom Joe Quesada himself once Captain America’s fallen shield), will become aware of this, and lampoon it for the idiocy that it is. Go get ‘em Stephen!

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