Sunday, October 25, 2015

Captain America versus Fox News

I'm a bit late to the party here, as I picked up the latest issue of Sam Wilson: Captain America a week late, and I didn't get a chance to write about this until today. For those of you even slower on the draw than me, the latest adventure of Captain America seems to have some Fox News heads in a tizzy. Here's the video, in case you hate yourself enough to watch it:

They already start to lose me when their "expert" claims that comics are "struggling" lately. From my understanding, sales are pretty solid. Just like a lot of businesses, they have seen their highs and lows over the decades, and I know that they were predicting the end of them back in the 1990s. I certainly wouldn't think of the present as being one of the "low"periods. I also seem to recall reading that while most print publications are losing ground to electronic media, comics are one of the few that are actually up. So, yeah, that's Fox for you.

In the issue, Cap goes up against the Sons of the Serpent, a white supremacist group with ties to some classic Captain America villains with a similar agenda. The Sons are attacking people who cross the U.S. border with Mexico, and they speak in a lot of right-wing cliches:
"Also, you know how you make me press a one for English at the beginning of every call to my satellite provider? That is something I cannot abide!" 
"Look who it is, y'all! Captain Socialism is here to save the day!" 
"Are you really so far ahead on appeasing terrorists and apologizing for our country's greatness that you have the time to come down here and flout still more of our laws?"
Tucker Carlson describes the villain as being simply a concerned citizen who's worried about unchecked illegal immigration. He's a guy who attacks vulnerable people. What Carlson doesn't understand is that you can be a person who's concerned with illegal immigration and STILL view the Sons of the Serpent as being bad guys. The best villains usually speak a bit of truth. After all, isn't Poison Ivy, a Batman villain, just somebody who's concerned about the environment? Same with another Batman villain, Ra's al Ghul. He's concerned with the damage that humanity is causing.

But do you ever hear liberals coming forward and complaining that Batman is attacking liberals? Not from what I understand. That's probably because most people (including a lot of conservatives, I reckon, as these doofuses probably aren't the best representation of them) understand that it's not necessarily the motivation that makes a villain but the method. If Tucker Carlson sees a similarity between himself and the Sons of the Serpent, then that says more about him than it does the comic book.

The talking heads then go on to create a strawman, insisting that the message of the comic is that everyone in "the middle of America" is some kind of a small-minded bigot. That's hardly what's going on. Plus, they point out how the Sons cite the "crime and disease" of illegal immigrants as something that's actually a legitimate problem. Well, those are only concerns about illegals if you don't have your facts, as they are less likely to commit crimes. And call me crazy, but I'm more worried about diseases from anti-vaccination cranks who tend to be upper middle class white people.

Then you get a suggestion about how they should do a comic book on people guarding the border, supposedly keeping us safe. Do these people not realize that under a capitalistic society, such a comic book WOULD exist if anybody thought it would sell? Why should Marvel publish that? Since when is a business obligated to "tell both sides"? I realize that Fox likes to pretend that's what they do, but nobody's making them give equal time to the opposite of what they do, which would be giving actual facts.

It all gets wrapped up with the absurd notion that Captain America comics used to be free from politics, citing the front cover of the first issue where he punched out Hitler. Yeah, no politics there. I think that Trevor Noah has already covered this:

Then it ends with the completely daft "Keep politics out of comic books; that's what I say." What kind of crap is THAT? Do you read comic books, lady who is not Gretchen Carlson? Why don't you let the people who read them decide what goes in them and what doesn't? And they can decide with their wallets.

With all this said, as a fan of the comics, the first issue of this new series was a great read. I have had my misgivings about replacing Steve Rogers with Sam Wilson as the title character, but I've changed my mind. I said that I would change my mind if Marvel had the guts to make the story mirror the sort of freak-out that happened when Obama became President, and it turns out that's exactly what they did. And sure enough, I've changed my mind. Personally, I love the fact that they're pulling no punches when it comes to addressing politics and current events.

I also didn't make the connection when this series was first solicited that it was written by Nick Spencer, who's been doing some great work lately in general. His Superior Foes of Spider-Man was a hoot and a half, and he's actually made me care enough about Ant-Man to follow the new series. They definitely picked the right guy for the book, and while I liked Rick Remender's run well enough to read it all the way through, I haven't felt this excited about Captain America since Ed Brubaker was writing the series.

It also helps that artist Daniel Acuña is doing some great work on the title. I've always enjoyed his work, but this is probably the best I've seen from him. The one thing I loved about the last run with Remender was the top-quality art from Stuart Immonen (who's now rocking it on Star Wars).

While it still feels too recent since the last time Captain America was replaced, I'm on board for this particular direction. Even though we're not living in the 1940s, it seems to me that if you're going to switch Steve Rogers with somebody else, then that person has to be different. And while I still like Sam Wilson better as The Falcon, they're doing a good job of showing how things would be different with him carrying the shield.