To Marvel Comics re: Secret Empire & Diversity

This is an actual letter I have typed up to send to Marvel Comics by priority mail first thing tomorrow morning. I encourage anyone who feels the same as I do to also type up a real paper letter and send it. I encourage anyone who sides with the Nazis to stay the hell away from me.

Hello Gentlemen of Marvel Comics:

I am writing to you on this new comics Wednesday, April 19, as a longtime reader.

How long?

The first Marvel comic I ever picked up was Uncanny X-Men #125 in the summer of 1979. That’s thirty eight years. Nearly four decades is nothing to sneeze at in terms of brand loyalty, as I’m certain your marketing team is well aware.

I have been a faithful fan and reader of Marvel Comics for literally the majority of my life. I can credit Chris Claremont’s X-Men with not only helping to broaden my already expansive vocabulary, but also with helping me make it through my difficult teen years and hang on to survive to adulthood. I am now, thanks to my love of Marvel Comics and the women of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a senior writer for a feminist comic blog.

I can also credit love of Marvel Comics as the reason I support the extremely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Spider-Man films and the X-Men films.

I have not been a passive fan, but an active participant in conversation with Marvel Comics over the years. My letters have made the letter columns of your comics.

  • My positive remarks on the original, pre-Venom version of the black Spider-Man costume after its first appearance in Secret Wars #8
  • My comments on Rogue seeking forgiveness and help in Uncanny X-Men #171.
  • The death of James MacDonald Hudson in Alpha Flight #12
  • I have won a No-Prize.
  • I began going to conventions to meet the creative teams.

I indicate these not only to establish my bona fides to you as what Marvel of my youth would have called a “Keeper of the Flame”, but because the responses I received to my youthful missives were kind, respectful, and thoughtful; I was not an adult for the earliest of those letters, and your editorial teams were mindful that they were dealing with impressionable kids. They didn’t sneer at me because I was a girl reader.

The Marvel I remember with affection and enthusiasm seems to have been lost in the multiversal cataclysm written in Secret Wars III, because I no longer see it in the Marvel Comics of 2017. As a result, I find myself facing a terrible, painful dichotomy as a reader now:

On the one hand, I love the opportunities for diversity Marvel has provided creators. I have followed them with great pleasure. Miles Morales: Spider-Man succeeded in bringing me to the Ultimate universe titles when nothing else had. I eagerly picked up Ms. Marvel and am currently following it faithfully. The same has been true for The Inhumans, The Uncanny Inhumans, Silk, All New X-Men, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Invincible Iron Man, Unstoppable Wasp, The Ultimates, Silver Surfer and The Champions. Storm, Mockingbird, Patsy Walker: Hellcat, and Spider-Woman have all unfortunately been cancelled, but I own every issue, and looked forward to each one while they were published. I cheerlead for these titles. I give them as gifts. At $3.99 a month and $12.99 for compilation trade paperbacks, Marvel Comics can see I am not a casual reader, and I spend significant money on the titles and events I follow.

I want to support writers like Kate Leth, Jeremy Whitley, and G. Willow Wilson, who are involved with the creation of these diverse characters, telling their stories, and bringing an exciting, different perspective to Marvel’s mostly white and mostly male-centric universe. I want to keep supporting these initiatives! I want to see Marvel support them when numbers indicate they’re top sellers. I want to see Marvel market these characters with the same zeal they do Captain America, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. I will gladly sing your praises to my readers as I have done already for Storm and Ms. Marvel’s titles. I am, to coin a phrase, an efangelist, and when a company produces content I love, I will shout it from the internet rooftops.

On the other hand, I really can’t support the current issues surrounding Captain America and Secret Empire. I can’t in clear conscience, just sit quietly while Marvel allows Nick Spencer and team to turn Captain America into a Nazi, then try to soften the blow and mitigate the damage by saying Hydra aren’t really NAZI-Nazis. I have too many Jewish friends in pain and dismay to turn a blind eye.

Marvel didn’t turn a blind eye when Ardian Syaf put Anti-Semitism in his art for X-Men Gold, but the company is determined not to give ground on this? Spencer wrote Sam Wilson: Captain America apologizing for protesting oppression and made fun of triggers, and of “Social Justice Warriors”. Now Sam has turned in his shield, so there’s no one in patriotic colors to stand against the evil Cap?

Hydra are Nazis. Marvel has said so repeatedly on your own pages. They have always been, right up until people began raising concerns on the internet. Marvel’s response to concerns has been “no, wait and see, it’ll be awesome” — but it hasn’t. Your responses to the appropriate and reasonable criticism has been to scoff and sneer at other loyal readers and fans, calling them out of touch or unwilling to handle a new edgy style of storytelling.

I can’t in good faith just wait and see what Marvel will do next to support these terrible choices. Captain America has now been a Cosmic Cube-altered secret Hydra agent from Steve Rogers’ childhood for a year. Rather than accept that the decision was a bad one and the sales were showing slippage in response as readers voted with their wallets, the company doubled down and has now released Secret Empire — a multiple title crossover event. History has been revised so the Allies lost World War II, effectively tossing out the sacrifices of the brave people who fought it, including your own Captain America’s original creators! Captain America was created specifically as anti-Nazi, anti-fascism, and for the sake of edgy, Marvel has perverted everything the character stands for.

Once Cap was a role model. No parent can walk into a comic store now with their child to bond over Captain America. He’s a bad guy now. The worst of the bad guys: a Nazi.

It feels like the company is cheerfully selling out the values on which they based Captain America just for shock. It looks like your company is blithely embracing anti-Semitism while denying it is anti-Semitism at all because it’s fiction. In this day and age when real life Nazis are trying to reclaim power, emboldened by the results of the 2016 Presidential election, this move seems not only poorly planned, but also actively hostile to every Marvel reader who comes from a marginalized or oppressed group. As if Captain America weren’t enough of a terrible path to go down, Marvel has also chosen to retcon Magneto — Holocaust survivor Magneto — into a Hydra villain.

I also understand that you killed two marginalized characters — lesbians — in the zero issue of Secret Empire and Thunderbolts #12 just as you killed a marginalized character in Civil War II.

To all appearances, Marvel is trying to serve two opposing concerns, one of which actively seeks the destruction of the other.

I want to defend Marvel because I have been a loyal reader effectively all my life, but it’s becoming impossible. I can’t say anything in defense of Captain America, Secret Empire or Magneto. They’re abhorrent; we fought a war to prevent Naziism and fascism from overtaking the world. I can only support the titles which do not embrace anti-Semitism, revisionist history, and further oppressing the already marginalized. Comic books are supposed to be escapism. There is no escape when the comics provide a twisted reflection that is too much like the worst the real world is already giving us.

I will not support with my hard earned dollars — and as a woman, I assure you they are hard-earned — any of the Secret Empire titles or storylines. I’m not buying the series or its crossovers. I am encouraging my friends, family and readers to withhold their support as well.

I can and will only support the comics that respectfully and thoughtfully provide diversity and representation.

I expect, given the cyclic nature of comics, that Hydra Cap will be about as permanent a change as Superior Spider-Man was; unfortunately you may have done your brand irreversible harm by then.

Thank you for your time. I’ll be here next new comics Wednesday, and next month, but only for the titles that don’t disrespect other marginalized people and myself.

Sincerely,

Indigo

reader since 1979

under duress since 2016

OK TO PRINT

cc: various social media

PS: After sending the paper copy of this, I read that April 19 is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Jewish Uprising, in which Warsaw Jews fought back against the Nazis trying to wipe them out on Passover eve, which makes this anti-Semitic series by Marvel a whole order of magnitude more disgusting and unconscionable.

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