Thursday, 28 February 2013

Politics and DC Comics

The decision of DC Comics to hire Orson Scott-Card to write a Superman story caused controversy for a while both inside the comics community itself and in wider activist circles. That dispute has now seemingly faded away. However DC Comics has now decided to establish some political context to its' fictional universe with two new titles announced in the Previews catalogue today.

Previously DC comics (and its major rival Marvel) have tended to avoid overtly political story lines, though DC did run an amusing plot with (then) businessman Lex Luthor running for President of the USA. This story was promoted with little badges (or buttons as the Americans call them) with the message Lex for President". He won of course but carried on with his nefarious plans regardless of high office, well until he was exposed by our heroes Superman and Batman!

Well what did you expect?

Marvel Comics ran a special edition of Spiderman in which Barak Obama appeared and got several reprints as sales shot up! Only one comic actually promoted Obama for president, that of Savage Dragon, a small circulation title (published by Image). The author/artist Eric Larson pictured Barak with the Dragon endorsing him on the front cover.

Usually politicians (in the real world) only get cameo appearances, with fictional ones occasionally being the villains of the piece.  In the X-Men (Marvel Comics) there is an underlying tale of anti-mutant prejudice used by politicians to make a name for themselves. An interesting fictional parallel with with real world racism, but a plot device none the less.

Probably the best known comic book interface with the real world is the use of the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, something regularly worn by "anti-capitalist" protesters, though whether they are aware of its origins are another matter.

DC has now announced two titles under the heading of the 1% and the 99% which takes up direct political themes within the universe inhabited by their superheroes. The first of these titles (The Green Team) is actually quite close to normal DC fare in that it is about rich kids with so much money that they buy their super powers and take on tasks.  They are the 1%.

The second title approaches politics from the left. The Movement appears to be inspired by the current wave of protest movements. The solicitation blurb states:

We are faceless. We are limitless. We see all and do not forgive. Who defends the powerless against the greedy and the CORRUPT..... When those who are sworn to protect us abuse their power, when toxic government calls down superhuman lackeys to force order on the populace.. finally, there is a force, a citizens army to push order BACK. ...We have our OWN super humans now. 

The two books together sound fun. And thoughtful. Worth looking out for in May.

Who says comics are just for kids*?
*A survey for Diamond Comics puts the average age of comic readers at 35.

DC Comics:

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