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SuperHHero KKKomics 200Hate: A Year In Review

December 10th, 2008 by | Tags: , ,

I was going over Google Reader and saw an interesting post on When Fangirls Attack. The text just said “2008: The Year of Misogyny,” so, being a fairly bright and curious fellow, I clicked on through to see what was what.

The post opens with a cheesecake motivational poster and then outlines all of the terrible things that have happened to women over the past year. I’ve seen it linked in a few spots, so I figure it’s a Thing. It’s a pretty gruesome list, and a little hard to read. Shabby treatment of female characters, female characters getting brutalized, and so on. The author asks “Aren’t you angry? If you aren’t, then why? And if you are, what are you going to do about it?”

Well, let me tell you something. After reading it, I was pretty angry. I was angry and fuming and thinking and realized that, as a race blogger, I owed it to my people, black and american and both, to examine the plight of black people in comics in 2008.

As you can tell by the title of my post, I am not happy! The list below is non-exhaustive, as I’m sure worse things have happened, but these are the ones I know of or have read. You may wish to listen to this song or this one in order to make it through this terrible list.

Barack Obama- leader of Dark Reign, gullible enough to trust Norman Osborn
Barracuda- tried to save a white baby from a known mass murderer, was chopped into pieces for his good deed
Bishop- arm ripped off, viewed as “evil” by his former teammates, just trying to do the right thing
Black Captain Cold- terrible character, makes bad puns about black people and cold weather (self-hating racist)
Black Glove - has only one actual black person in it, making it more of a blackface glove, beaten up by a Rich White Male
Black Lightning- subjugated, enslaved, transformed into a Space Uncle Tom and forced to hunt a freedman (Tattooed Man)
Black Racer- killed in his hospital bed, god of death, looks ridiculous (when have black people ever skied?)
Black Nick Fury- arm ripped off (see also Bishop)
Blade- Wesley Snipes sent to prison
Brown Bomber- white man who turns into a black man, possible blackface?
Crispus Allen- killed his own son, has to have some old white lady re-ignite his faith in God after he tries to kill his best friend for being a lesbian, probably Pro Prop 8, forced to wear goatee as racial identifier, likely never-nude
Falcon- lost his best friend, hasn’t appeared in Captain America lately, was set on fire once
Flippa Dippa- jive talkin’ stereotype, murdered
Gabe Jones- 3/5ths of a person, member of SHIELD (a disgraced military/espionage organization)
Goliath- no longer called Black Goliath (removing racial identity), was not revealed to have been a Skrull when he died, still buried in a giant hole
Icon- drawn by Ed Benes
Haunted Tank- upstanding black man forced to contend with racist Confederate general (racial harassment)
Honor Jackson- Homeless, subordinate to Batman, drug addict, forced to sleep on paper bags, reminding him of the shame of failing a paper bag test
Jakeem Thunder- uncontrollable sexual deviant who lusts after each young classy female in the JSA, permanently stuck in ’90s fashion
Jezebel Jet- boyfriend freaked out and tried to beat her up, then possibly killed by boyfriend’s creepy stalker ex-girlfriend
John Henry Irons (Steel)- beaten up by Atlas, subordinate to Superman, not as smart as Lex Luthor
John Stewart- forced to “stay black and die” (???)
Lex Luthor- black on the award-winning cartoon, white in the comics
Luke Cage- beaten into a coma, aliens invade on his watch proving him to be a crap leader, shown that he can’t protect his own child when child is kidnapped by space aliens, previously runs off to be a superhero and leaves his wife alone with a baby
Manhattan Guardian- tossed aside the second a WHITE Guardian shows up
Martian Manhunter- murdered with a spear (martians count as black, see also Lil Wayne “We are not the same, I am a martian”)
Misty Knight- Afro cut, symbolizing the destruction of her racial identity and history
Mother’s Milk- big, strong black male, obvious stereotype, possible mandingo
Mr. Terrific- atheist, wears blackface, forced to live in the arctic (black people don’t do well in the cold), killed girlfriend to take control of evil robots
Natasha Irons- book canceled after her uncle calls her by the wrong name, disretrospecting her
Noh-varr (Marvel Boy)- Not black, would have been awesome if he was
Ron Troupe- possibly never married or divorced Lucy Lane, appears once every six years
Sentences- Not everyone read this book
Shades & Comanche- didn’t appear in comics in 2008
Shilo Norman (Mister Miracle)- killed twice, resulting in the idea that black men can never, ever escape their status without being killed/imprisoned
Spawn- blows own head off in own comic, promoting the suicide of strong and proud black men
Spawn (Michael Jai White)- Killed by the Joker in The Dark Knight, movie goes on to make a billion dollars
Static- evil, brainwashed, appears in Terror Titans
Storm- taken from high profile X-Men appearances to be a supporting character in some lower-selling book, forced into arranged marriage, needs Emma Frost (who once enslaved her) to call her names just so she can feel like she belongs somewhere
The Third Batman- evil, satanist, repeatedly beaten up and threatened
Tyler Perry- still not invited to write a Black Panther story where T’Challa remembers how his big grandma was the one that scared him into following the path of the warrior, leaving untold the story of Bg’mama, the true power of wakanda
Vixen- name suggests sexual immorality, has “animal” powers, suggesting that she’s little more than a savage
Vykin the Black- killed off panel by a white dude
War Machine- turned into a machine, in a stunningly cruel and racist reversal of John Henry vs the Machine, suggesting that the Black Man is inferior to the Machine and must use violence to get by like some kind of spear-chucking savage

Do you see how insane this is? All of this happened in the past year, maybe in the past year and a half or so. It’s terrible, isn’t it? All of these terrible things. My only regret is that I left out the one thing that Michael Paciocco left out of his post as well. Well, I also left out pithy motivational posters, but there is one more thing-

Context.

These lists of brutalization and despair are absolutely worthless without context. Otherwise, you’re just left with hollow talking points. Matt Murdock is a cheating jerk? Hey, guess what he realizes (and mopes about) in the very next issue? She-Hulk was cancelled? Congrats, it sells just barely above the rest of Marvel’s cancelled books and shed a third of its readers over a year. Wonder Woman brutalized in Final Crisis, a story about the entire planet being brutalized under the heel of Space Hitler, corrupted, and forced into mind control? Really?

I’ll give you White Tiger, though. That miniseries was dire.

Basically, my question is “do you read comics or do you just skim through it?” Luckily, Michael answered my question before I even asked it.

I really don’t buy anymore, prefering to get the pictures and stories via Scans Daily and other outlets.

Now I understand why there was no context, no information, and just a list of women who’d been “degraded and brutalized.” It’s because he hasn’t read the comic, so he doesn’t know the context.

Racism, sexism, and pretty much every other ism out there isn’t black and white. Not even close. It’s muddied and ugly and deeper than “he did a bad thing.” This surface level approach doesn’t even remotely cut it.

“Brian Azzarello and Garth Ennis use the word ‘nigger.'”

“Adam Warren draws black people with big lips.”

These statements are technically true, and I’m sure I could use it to convince some people to never read a work by those guys again. However, it’s missing context. Ennis and Azz both use nigger in situations where actual people would use it. Ennis in particular is good at writing both racists (casual and overt) and black dudes. Adam Warren draws black people with big lips, but hey look at all his other characters- big lips. Also? Awesome looking, and they work in his style.

Discussing this sort of thing without context doesn’t go anywhere at all. It’s just a list of meaningless acts that contribute to nothing but fearmongering and sensationalism.

The story matters and to leave that out of a discussion about comics is backwards. Whatever point you had just gets buried under the fact that you didn’t do the due diligence. Before you talk about something in public, pump your brakes and make sure that you know what you’re talking about.

I’d also like a moratorium on things like “ugh these creators of fanboyish virgin morons who probably have never even seen or talked to a woman in their entire lives” because a) it’s untrue, since most of these guys are old and married, b) their personal life is no one’s business but their own, c) it’s dumb, and d) it’s tired. However, it isn’t Christmas yet, so I think I’ll just settle for people to just do the barest minimum of research before trying to do any kind of analysis. Comics blogging and criticism is bad enough without that.

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65 comments to “SuperHHero KKKomics 200Hate: A Year In Review”

  1. Vixen also was just from “Africa” and spoke “African” in the DC Halloween Special, and was apparently white in some Justice League issue where people decided she looked too light-skinned. She was also drawn by Ed Benes.

    And as someone who read Sentences, I think it should be added to your list; the things the creators of that book put the black protagonist through were awful!


  2. Don’t forget that they canceled Barack Obama’s comic after ONE ISSUE! The hell is that about?! It couldn’t have been the sales because my store sold out of it twice.


  3. Terror Titans should just be the goddamn gold medalist for this with fucking over Static and Natasha Irons’ characters.

    (Yes, I realize this was written for commentary’s sake, not actual complaint, but damn.)


  4. Steel – was awesome when Morrison wrote him, is not currently being written by Morrison

    Nat Turner – killed at the end of his story, likely due to editorial pressure from Dan DiDio.

    My favorite part of that brainbox’s post is where he cites Misty Knight, White Tiger, Night Nurse,and Siryn as if they were headline stars in blockbuster books, and then removed to all act as sidekicks for Woozy Winks.


  5. Terrific post! This really made my otherwise awful morning, much much better. Thank you!


  6. [...] has a great post up at his site, 4thLetter, called SuperHHero KKKomics 200Hate: A Year In Review a exponentially more substantiative response to the knee-jerk (but cleverly illustrated) 2008: The [...]


  7. Great post! Some of that list is crazy, particularly Crispus Allen and Storm.


  8. Awesome point.

    This reminds me of a near-argument yesterday with a co-worker (I’m a librarian) about whether or not Ezra Jack Keats’ “Snowy Day” was racist.


  9. You had me at “Barracuda tried to save a white baby,” sir.


  10. I bet you could do a version of this list for gay characters. You know, if there were any.


  11. @HitTheTargets: Marvel used to have a mess of them before that homo hater Peter Milligan killed a bunch.


  12. Perry Moore already did “the gay list”, it’s about as accurate as David’s list:

    http://perrymoorestories.com/content/hero.asp?id=superheroes


  13. So, do sites like “When Fangirls Attack” and their ilk ever discuss anything other than what an evil misognyst / racist / homophobe the current target of the week is and how the industry is horribly treating its minority characters?


  14. Wait a second…context?
    You can’t possibly be asking that these stories be examined in context. That would render virtually all of these discussions irrelevant. It would put WFA out of business.
    And besides, you’re missing the even larger point, the linchpin of virtually all feminist kvetching (as it relates to comics):
    It doesn’t matter what the context is. If I am offended by it, it MUST be offensive. If I think it is sexist, then it IS sexist. If I think the writer is a misogynist, then he IS a misogynist. Context doesn’t count. The writer’s intentions don’t count. Simply writing a story about a character who engages Wonder Woman in fisticuffs is enough to prove misogynist intent on the part of the writer. Unless that writer is Gail Simone, who can do no wrong even when she’s writing C-/D+ Wonder Woman stories.

    Now,if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write a letter to Barack Obama, demanding that he fire his speechwriter.


  15. Is Pedro serious about Peter Milligan? The Peter Milligan who wrote Skreemer and Enigma?


  16. Tucker, did you see how many gay people Peter Milligan killed in X-Statix?!

    The man’s a monster. A monnnnsterrrrr!


  17. NeoKefka — Why do people who lack to the creativity or the initiative to add anything positive to the conversation comment complaining about the negativity of others?

    And a who are you, with a link to THAT livejournal, to complain that anyone else is negative?


  18. @NeoKefka: Actually, WFA is probably my favorite linkblog. I think I’ve been introduced to more interesting blogs via WFA than by pretty much any other place, including Cheryl, Ragnell, Kalinara, and a bunch of others.

    They link everything, be it good or bad. That’s kind of their point, as seen here. I see stuff I agree with, stuff I don’t agree with, insane crazies, and reasonable people. I never got the feeling that they’re just drumming up outrage.

    Also, Tucker– I have it on very good authority that Pedro once tried to kiss Peter Milligan on the mouth. That’s why he can’t attend comic conventions any more. His wife, and the Great State of New York, will not let him.


  19. Oh, and let me head this off at the pass– You’re an idiot and probably shouldn’t open your mouth if you think my point is “WFA sucks” or “feminists are dumb.” Re-read what I wrote and find where I told people to stop trying to make comics better with regards to whatever -ism is their cause.


  20. “So, do sites like “When Fangirls Attack” and their ilk ever discuss anything other than what an evil misognyst / racist / homophobe the current target of the week is and how the industry is horribly treating its minority characters?”

    They also spend time boosting mediocre-to-crap comics solely on account of the authors’ gender.


  21. mad bro fist props to my man Jim Rhodes.


  22. as a person who wrote a response to that and has at least flipped through most of the books mentioned I have to feel there is a certain context. Several times in the final Crisis mini the anti-lifed women are the complete focus of a panel, done as a reveal. The first thing the Flashes see or stepping out of a shadow. THat says to me that this is a SHOCKING reveal. So women being mistreted is seen as shocking. I personally don’t like it when something is done to a character purely for shock value, prefering a logically evolving character progression. So I don’t like it when women are used for shocking twists.

    Plus it really shows a blind spot. Tell me James Gordon stepping out of the shadow with glowing eyes wouldn’t have been ten thousand times more shocking than Maggie Sawyer.


  23. And another thing about War Machine! They’re replacing him in the next movie with another actor. So, what, all black people look alike to Favreau? It’s sickening, is what it is!


  24. @Gavok:

    go post that on IMDB and watch the shitfit.


  25. Tell me James Gordon stepping out of the shadow with glowing eyes wouldn’t have been ten thousand times more shocking than Maggie Sawyer.

    We had that. It was in Revelations.


  26. @Jason for the entire run of Gotham Central (the book Rucka co-wrote focusing on Montoya and Allen) Maggie Sawyer was the head of Major Crimes and their direct boss. Commissioner Gordon barely appeared at all, and was ‘retired’ for most if not all of the run.

    Sawyer (and if you want to extend it, WOMANKIND) benefited from being portrayed as strong capable leaders for 40+ issues of Gotham Central, so it’s only natural (not shock tactics of misogyny) that Sawyer is used rather than a dude when the Anti-Life Equation leads your higher-up to go evil.


  27. I found it interesting that in the final issue of “SS: Mister Miracle”, Shilo kills himself in front of a poster showing himself with a pimp-coat and pimp-cane, along with the word ‘FREE’ spelt out in chains – symbolic of how despite having gained freedom in America, the black man is still imprisoned by modern stereotypes no matter what he does?


  28. Also, i will put to you that even in-context, Paul Dini’s writing is incredibly sexist. See also: the issue where Poison Ivy spends the entire time showing off her body or getting raped by a giant plant. See also: Zatanna, supposedly one of the most powerful beings on the planet, being reduced to ‘Batman’s Girlfriend’. See also: The Ventriloquist – a character whose entire deal is how pathetic he is, compared to his alter-ego, Scarface – being replaced by a ‘dumb blonde’ woman whose only other notability is that she used to date Hush.


  29. Okay. I’m sorry. I made a stupid, misinformed blanket statement. It’s a bad habit of mine and I’ll try to reign it in the future. Again, sorry if I offended anybody.


  30. Personally, I must say I’m extremely offended. Not by the supposed discrimination towards these black persons but because of the politically correctly racist double-standards. If a white man is subordinate to a black man, it’s OK and not humiliating. It’s only wrong and humiliating when it’s the other way around. If a black character dies, it magically becomes a huge deal. There are probably plenty of white characters who died and nobody cared…not even white readers, and if they did care then it wouldn’t be for racial reasons. Furthermore, you complain about stereotypes and then reinforce them yourself. For example, you point out that black people do poorly in low temperatures. Furthermore, A black man loses to a white man, and it’s humiliating…even if that white man is Superman or a “lily white Thunder God”. You heard me, a GOD. So…”white” is now an insult? You’re using the name of my race as an insult, like it’s literally the Mark of Cain, and then you’re complaining about racism? I suppose you think it wouldn’t be humiliating for white characters to lose to black ones? And you think that it’s bad that some characters aren’t black. Like being white is bad and wrong. Yeah? Well, I think Steel should be white. If you had your way, Thor would be an effeminate, subservient weakling who gets his “white ass beaten” by black characters who are so low-powered they can’t even threaten an *average* Asgardian. And if you couldn’t have that, then you’d probably have Thor changed to be black. Thor, a friggin’ Viking deity.

    And this “white male” bashing…it’s just politically correct discrimination. Socially acceptable sexism-racism. As a white male, I’ve experienced nothing but discrimination my whole life. Not towards blacks, not towards women, but coming from those people and directed at MY people. I’ve done nothing to harm your kind or any woman. Yet somehow, I’m magically the Devil and everything wrong in the world somehow becomes my fault. First, being born a white male is not my “fault”. Second, it’s not a “fault” at all. I’ve met, seen and heard plenty of sexist and racist people, but they sure as Hell didn’t have penises and light skin. And then you dare to think you have the right to expect any sympathy from me whatsoever. It seems more like you’re the ignorant, hateful source of all my problems, not the other way around.

    It sounds like you’re the real racist.


  31. Dear Big Bob:

    Black people rule, white people drool.


  32. Hahahahahahahahahahahahhhaahahahahahahhaahahhaahahahahahahhaa, just when I think the Internet has reached new lows of cluelessness, my mind is completely blown again.


  33. Dear White People,

    We won’t hold Big Bob against you, but you all should take care of him since he’s seriously bringing down the tone. He’s making you guys look really bad, so if I was you guys, I would take care of him. Soon.


  34. Damn. Now I wish I had that Preacher scene with the “where is your chin?”.

    And I never thought I’d long for the subtle writing of Ennis.


  35. God, I’m so glad somebody finally described exactly how I feel! Thanks so much Big Boy. It’s been so goddamn hard for me, getting up everyday, getting paid more than black guys, getting a chance to blame all my relationship problems on “crazy bitches”, not being bothered by the cops when i was holding weight because I was clean shaven and wearing a Jason Mraz t-shirt, just knowing–oh man, i’m so fucking discriminated against. All the time, I’m just knowing that all the black guys and asian chicks I meet just view me as the enemy, that every single Muslim I talk to views me as a devil. It’s like I can’t just go out and be me, you know what i’m saying? I just can’t be ME, and then they let these “black guys” and “spanish dudes” and “vietnamese painters” write whatever they want on the Internet, and it’s always–even when it’s not–it’s always about me, and how “i fucked up their life.” I can’t even have a conversation with non-whites anymore, because I just know they’re thinking about me, thinking about my whiteness, my spindly fingers and my dirty white penis, and it’s just not fair! I mean, can’t “those people” just think about something else besides my whiteness? I know it’s hard for them, to focus on something besides my glorious, strong white body, my creamy, milky flesh, but seriously! Try!


  36. @Jason The first thing the Flashes see or stepping out of a shadow. THat says to me that this is a SHOCKING reveal. So women being mistreted is seen as shocking. I personally don’t like it when something is done to a character purely for shock value, prefering a logically evolving character progression. So I don’t like it when women are used for shocking twists.

    I would love to know who you think would have been better choices for the Female Furies in this story (a more than well established Fourth World posse). I think it’s pretty ‘logical’ that two of the biggest female characters DC owns (WW and Catwoman), a character who is going to be playing a prominent role in the Bat-universe thanks to Greg Rucka (Batwoman), and a giant, work pretty well in the context of looking like a bunch scary motherfuckers.

    Also, Big Bob, please get a clue.


  37. We are all Big Bob.


  38. I deny that I am Big Bob! I don’t have bitch tits!


  39. Dear Pedro,

    Sorry about Big Bob. He’s here because bosses will chose a qualified black person over his unqualified ass. He’s here because he has to wait in line behind hispanic people who got there first at even white-run stores. He’s here because he has to press 1 for English. He’s here because women refuse to date him. All of this combines to a heavy feeling of rage and entitlement because his parents told him he could be President someday, but instead of applying himself he sat home and played with himself. As a result, he never developed the skills necessary to make it on merit even in a society that’s weighted towards his demographic. So he spends his time wandering the internet and harassing people so he can pretend he’s better than someone else. We’ve yet to figure out a way to stop these guys from doing this. We’re working on it, because we don’t like talking to these idiots anymore than you do.

    Sorry about the inconvenience.


  40. @Stig: Your name is Robert Paulson.


  41. @david brothers: …What, Raphael from TMNT? Or Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask? Because I think I’d prefer the latter.


  42. @Stig There was this little known book and movie called Fight Club…


  43. @David Uzumeri: I did happen to read the book. I was making a clever joke by twisting you in another direction.

    You should read Palahniuk’s “Non-Fiction”. It’s scary, what happened to him when the film came out.


  44. Kaare Bivin-Pederson- how about just the original Female Furies?


  45. best end of the year list, ever. took me a few minutes to get the point, but that’s probably because i’m a girl ;)


  46. @janna: Thanks :)

    @Jason: They’re all dead, and have been incarnated into new bodies.


  47. david- then dress up the new bodies as them and use them as what they are.


  48. I don’t think that you understand what Final Crisis is about. It’s about, at its heart, corruption. Why would a story about evil taking over re-use those characters? That’d be missing the point of what Darkseid is doing.


  49. Umm … “atheist” is a terrible thing terrible to happen to Mr. Terrific? As an atheist, I was wondering if you’d like to rethink that.


  50. @Scott Anderson: I’d ask you to reread the article.


  51. As an atheist, have you ever had to deal with a person who was really into their religion?

    Now imagine that person says they’re a god, and have the miracle working power to prove it. So annoying. Yeah, that’s great Gog, you’re here to end war & enrich life for all, but can’t we have one conversation that doesn’t revolve your beliefs?


  52. @Illvillainy:

    Is there a particular part of the article you’d like me to reread? Was there something somewhere about atheism not being a terrible thing for a person?


  53. Scott, you’re really missing the point of the article and instead focusing on one thing that’s buried in a list of faux outrage, exaggerations, and outright lies.

    I listed atheism next to “wears blackface,” “not everyone read this book,” “forced to stay black and die,” and a comment that says Lex Luthor is black in the cartoon.

    As the author of this piece, I do not need to re-think anything. I thought about it the first time, when I was writing up a list of things I either intentionally exaggerated or do not believe in in the style of a post I hated so that I can make a point about how important context is when discussing things that need to be talked about.

    For Pete’s sake, dude, I make jokes about how blacks don’t do well in the cold right after I ding Black Captain Cold for being a self-hating racist for making jokes about how blacks don’t do well in the cold. What does that tell you about the accuracy of this list, and my feelings about each entry?

    I think you should re-read the post, particularly the part about how context is vital.


  54. Wesley Snipes going to prison is truly the most racist thing that has ever happened, not just this year but in all previous years.


  55. Dude, you’re asking NotDrScott to NOT be pedantic and anal…

    DAMMIT. Now I’m just feeding your having more comments than poor, poor Gavok…


  56. @david brothers: Ah. I see. Thanks. I’m slow.


  57. Given the context, I think Big Bob might be sarcastically mocking the sort of bigoted reactions the linked list usually gets, rather than the nuanced criticism seen here? Though a few people missed the joke so you never know.


  58. You know, if the original Guardian’s granddaughter in Gotham decided to take up her hereditary mantle, we’d have more Black Guardians than White ones…and one for all three cities!


  59. [...] 2008: The Year of Misogyny: A look at the shabby treatment female characters get in todays world of comics. While were at it, here’s on on the mistreatment of African Americans in comics. [...]


  60. I get the impression comics are written by white men for younger white men and teens. Because they’re the majority of the readership, and they write about what they know. I understand the classic male fantasy is that he has a secret identity. I’d guess that fantasy does not involve being a black man, or a woman, or having anything but the most superficial relationships with them.

    If egalitarian comics could make a buck, the ‘stands would be awash with them. Comics are a brutal business. Like the rest of the arts.


  61. “Black Captain Cold- terrible character, makes bad puns about black people and cold weather (self-hating racist)
    ….
    Black Racer- killed in his hospital bed, god of death, looks ridiculous (when have black people ever skied?)”

    lol


  62. @edc:
    but barack and osborn is awful, unless of coarse obama actually PUNCHES his green goblin ass!


  63. [...] talked about context before, but I want to revisit it with a slightly less flippant tone this time around. Do read that post, [...]


  64. BTW, david, Lex Luthor was not actually black in the Superman 90’s cartoon.

    The animators of the cartoon series made him tanned-skinned, not black.


  65. @Frostbite883: Yes, I know. That was the joke.