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Critiquing Comicsgate

By Michael Miranda

Over the past few years, there has been this movement called Comicsgate, and like its predecessor Gamersgate, it aims to kill off political dialogue and diversity in comics, and instead further perpetuate the narrative of the straight white male being the hero complete with all the antiquated sexism and patriarchal hierarchies involved.  A lot of modern comic creators have also been ousted thanks in part to the #MeToo movement, giving people the support and encouragement, they need to finally talk about the deep-seated sexism and rape culture prevalent in comic book companies.  

The comics we know and love today, haven’t always been what they are although they’ve been around for quite a while longer than Superman has.  However, I think that comics as pulp entertainment started with Superman and have only gotten better. But even in the very beginning, comics were a political medium, and helped tell the story of the people in that particular time period.  They expressed their fears, their joys, their political affiliations and their political outlooks.  Some were more obvious than others, but they all had a political point behind them.  

I think that these are important steps being taken to truly make comics an all-inclusive form of media; like they should be.  Comics shouldn’t take the form of the dominant gender and social groups in society, if anything, comics should be for the underdog, the people being tread on by an uncaring government.  That’s what comics were in the beginning.  Superman wasn’t fighting aliens, and multiversal threats in the beginning.  He was fighting corrupt businessmen, politicians, war profiteering, Nazis etc.  He was fighting for those and speaking for those that cannot speak for themselves, and when they do, they aren’t listened to.  

Even as he was being created – by two Jewish kids right at the beginning of the Second World War; Superman is an unregistered alien, on a hostile planet.  He grew up being taught that everyone has the right to life, and that no one is better than any others.  He used the teachings his father Jonathan Kent taught him to stand up for those that are subjugated and taken advantage of.  He was written and drawn as the epitome of the American Dream, the morally black and white character who always did what was best, even if it wasn’t easy. 

Batman was the same way. He wasn’t facing off with Darkseid right away, and even when he was, Batman has always been a street level fighter.  He faces off against corrupt cops, politicians, bank robbers and the like. Batman and Superman are steeped in political undertones, people just refuse to acknowledge them.  But I have a secret: the politics of a story and a character don’t just go away because you refuse to acknowledge that they’re there.  

I urge you to really LOOK at the comics you read; the themes present themselves clearly enough.  A good example of diversity has always been and will always be the X-Men.  Really, when you take away all the pomp and splendor of being a mutant, what is Charles Xavier’s school, but a school for children with Special Needs who are taught how to function in a society that sees them as pariahs?  Do you need further proof? Their classes are taught by adults who aged out of the school, and the dean of the school is a paraplegic. 

Look, I’m not going to sit here and try and convince you that politics are political, they have been since before most of the people reading this were born. What I am trying to point out, is that the political themes in comics will always be there, and ignoring them just because they challenge your sexist, racist, ableist, patriarchal worldview does not and will not make them disappear.  Guess what else? Crawling into your own perpetual circle jerk with people that think like you do doesn’t change that either.  

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