Last week's uproar over Captain America's anti-tea party agenda has, for one right wing commentator, turned into a condemnation of the entire comic medium. Meanwhile, now the left wing commentators are complaining about Cap's behavior, but for different storylines...
Warner Todd Huston, one of the first people to be upset over the accidental tea party scene in Captain America, has responded to comic industry comments about the issue, by... well, taking off the kid gloves. Referring to his critics as "poor, Peter Pan Syndrome suffering folks" with "mental incapacities," Huston then goes after comic books themselves:
[T]o imagine that comic books offer anything other than lowgrade entertainment is laughable. Comics are not high art (in fact, most of them are horrible even as graphic art) and they most certainly do not equal anything of the sort of deep, consequential literature. Comics are a childish, formulaic, lowest common denominator form of entertainment. It doesn't make them evil or useless or bad necessarily. It just makes them low-end, fun. They are nothing to be taken seriously. If you are someone that lives for your next comic, or you want to claim that comic books are "art" worthy of serious consideration… you need to get out of your parent's basement a little more often.
Where does all this bitterness against a storytelling medium come from? Personal disappointment, apparently:
At one time I had 5,000 titles in my collection... As it happens, the left leaning of comics made me tire of them and I stopped collecting heavily around the same time that the left-wing comic book series called "Watchmen" came out in 1986.
Alan Moore, you broke this man's heart, and now look what's happened to him.
In related news, while Marvel Comics are being accused of being too left wing by the right wing, they're also under attack from progressive left bloggers like Spencer Ackerman:
In the ‘Civil War' storyline, Iron Man responded to a superhero-wrought tragedy by coming out for a Superhuman Registration Act, which would allow the government to register and regulate heroes and give them training. Cap and a band of likeminded heroes fought this - literally - and Cap died. But what Iron Man was really saying was no different than the uncontroversial principle that the state needs a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. When Cap launched his "the government will pick the supervillains" monologue, I was surprised that someone - like She-Hulk, who's a lawyer - didn't reply, "Wait, no. We have laws criminalizing certain behavior. We'll have to follow those laws. That's why the cops and the firefighters and the military and the intelligence communities don't just go around legally killing members of the out-of-power party. Why would we be any different?"
And the problem was that the guy making this dubious case wasn't Yellowjacket or Goliath (RIP) or Daredevil (a really bad lawyer, evidently). It was Captain Fucking America. A walking American flag and war hero who still manages to find Nazis to beat up. If that's not an editorial thumb on the scale, I don't know what is. Cap's right because he's Cap. It's downright un-American when you think about it, but there it is. Now Marvel's trying to renege on how Iron Man turned out to be (tragically) right by having Norman Osborn displace him and assume all the power Tony Stark accrued. But no deal! Iron Man was still right and Captain America crossed the line from libertarian into anarchist during ‘Civil War.'
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein agrees:
I'm not even sure what the case for the other side is, and the libertarians I've asked haven't been able to come up with one. If the state has any legitimate function at all, it's to train and regulate people who could accidentally kill everyone in a hundred-mile radius.
If there's a lesson to be learned here, it may be that Captain America can never please anyone... Or maybe it's that superhero comics aren't the best places to try and enter into a political discussion. Marvel may have learned their lesson by now, but we're still looking forward to some discussion about whether or not the Dark Avengers are superheroic analogs for Fox News before this is all over.