By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.
Political and theological ideologies strew comic series like blood flows through the veins. Marvel Comics, once my childhood favorite, has long fallen from my grace as a result of those differences. But most unfortunate was when they messed with my Spider-Man. That was where I drew the line, resulting in a near 7 year comic hiatus…that was actually pretty swell.
Honestly, I have been at odds with Marvel since the early 2000s. As a young tike, I was immersed in comics. I drew pictures on the daily and made my own superheroes on the fly (I made enough to have my own franchise universe comparable to Marvel, no joke, I had time back then and an over-acting imagination). The problem was that Marvel began to hire (or promote) writers and artists who were fat more leftist than I could take even as a child. I remember being introduced to homosexual superheroes, which even as I kid I found to be strange.
Just because it felt totally random.
Now, I had been around gender nonconforming people for years. In 2nd grade I remember a young boy my age being allowed to have girls as his bathroom buddy by the teachers (which I am pretty sure was illegal…even then it was strange). I was once caught in the restroom with a woman who for some reason brought her young daughter into the restroom a year later. Same school. (I later found out that the woman was also my, now former, classmate’s mother). Yeah, she may have just been experimenting at my elementary school…which now people get the federal government to do.
Scary times. Anyway…
I remember reading a panel where some characters had it out over the sexuality of one hero. I liked it. Marvel was being Marvel, showing some reality to how we react to differences that we are forced to confront. It’s why I loved Marvel as a kid. But then, the conversation took a weird turn that was supposed to have been the solution, but to me was just foolishness that fell short of an actual solution. Like sudden train stops, the conversation ended when one person compared their sexuality to the other’s skin color and another’s odd superpower. And suddenly everybody entered understanding.
I’m sorry, but first off, comicbook superpowers are fake. And my skin color and yours are very real. The same went for my classmate. And his girlish behavior was real too. But his skin was paler than mine, so that even in that public elementary school full of rich doctor’s and lawyer’s kids, he was only partly ostracized for his odd girlish ways. Whereas I, being in the gifted program, was ostracized on the daily even by some teachers (ot all by far, sometimes I got ostracized because I was boyish…that actually is a separate problem in our education system). Even then as a young kid, I experientially knew that this wasn’t necessarily right…and that behavior and bodily appearance are different categories of attributes.
I wish Marvel would stick to showing how real life works, which was the reason why I loved Marvel over the happy-go-lucky and politically correct labeling named heroes of DC (Black Lightning? Come on now, do better). Some people have true reservations about homosexuality, but have no problem treating homosexuals well. My classmate who I mentioned, I talked with him. Now, he hung around a weird crowd of girls so I wasn’t vibing, but I was still able to speak with him freely when we met up again in middle school. By then he was a homosexual. But Marvel trying to push the political narrative of the leftists living in New York and Los Angeles as the mainstream is totally disingenuous. It’s like the DC Universe (pre-new 52) that I described, but the leftist-edition.
And then Marvel screwed up Spider-Man with the weird Superior Spider-Man arc. Now, I had long not been subscribed to Marvel Age Spider-Man and it’s replacement Marvel Adventures Spider-Man by then. But seriously, Marvel had systematically stripped me of my old heroes.
Wolverine was no longer the conflicted warrior plagued by a berserker fury that he tried to overcome with human nature. Wolverine was someone I could relate to because I had anger issues growing up. Wolverine attested to the fact of my experience that even when I matured and overcame my barriers, the inner rage was never really destroyed, but just tamed, restrained. And the fear of wondering was: for how long? And since God is primarily restraining me now by His wisdom and love, but inside I still can feel the rage building, what if I lose control again? Surely a bound man who rescues himself was never truly bound, but I certainly was.
That is Wolverine. But now they have turned him into some serial maniac who has no problem even gutting other heroes for some myopic vision of “peace.” And they killed him off…in the corniest way. And replaced him with his woman clone. I think this was a nod to Anita Sarkeesian somehow because it read just like how she talks.
Leftist politics of identity and religion run comic books, been that way for years, sure; but now they have gotten as leftist, totalitarian, and ridiculous as the leftist ideologies of today. May I suggest an easy solution by honoring the character’s historical core essence, but also allowing for the various heroes and characters to represent the voices of dissent and right-of-left lifestyles that real people live?
Heck, even their Muslim heroes nowadays remind me of jaded mid-day talk show hosts with their blatant cosmopolitan values. I know of maybe one Muslim friend who genuinely views life that way, but a few that I know just try their best to avoid those discussions because people who have liberal and taboo lifestyles are often the first people to defend Islam socially (for some reason). I have no problem defending Muslims, I’ve done that before on here several times, but defending Islam is a totally different subject for me. Just being honest here. I don’t have to do that, and don’t want to. The portrayal that I see in comics in general for Muslims, though better than post 9-11, is just a tad awkward to our reality on the ground.
And Spider-Man, the hero who really is a representation of youth but also the everyday struggle to succeed in life, but who always had the sense of his missional conviction and the person who he was to make it through every storm, they turned into a dumb person with so much identity crisis that he actually lost his identity…to Doctor Octopus? Man…how could anyone not have seen that scheme coming when Doc Ock was involved, and isn’t Peter Parker a genius rivaling Tony Stark?
But they brought Parker back from the “dead,” and with it come some things that I have long waited for. For one, I do consider Spidey to be one of those heroes whose costume shouldn’t change much. He is to much of an icon, heck, besides Wolverine Spider-Man could be the face of Marvel’s brand. But still, couldn’t the nerd turned scientist make a costume not made out of polyester so that he’d have better times fighting Scorpion and Morbius? I mean, sheesh bro, aren’t you tired of getting torn up all over the place while your enemies update their costumes and weaponries? And no, I’m not talking the occasional weird one-issue armor costumes or the symbiote. I mean the threads.
But now, Parker got an upgrade, thanks to Doc Ock, but hey, it works. He’s the CEO of Parker Industries, which anyone who grew up on the 90s cartoon like me should see as the logical development of his character. But Spidey has been known for this mantra: even when he wins, he always loses. I think it was even said by someone to him. Don’t remember.
Now this issue run still has some weird things in it. But what I like so far is that they haven’t made Spidey homosexual, or a woman, or some closet emo guy like what seems to be the latest “progressive” stunt in the comic world right now. Spidey is Spidey. And frankly, compared to what I have been getting for the past decade (and refraining from reading)…
I can dig it.