Captain America: Rightbloggers' New Enemy of the People
A recent case in point: The inclusion of some Tea Party taglines in a Captain America comic book.
Even casual readers of comics may have noticed that superheroes have been tackling controversial topics since the 60s at least -- remember the groovy Green Lantern/Green Arrow racism and heroin story lines? -- and, as Skulls in the Stars points out, since being thawed out of his block of ice in 1964, Marvel's Captain America has been no exception. But till now, such adventures were mostly hotly debated only by comics nerds, rather than by the political kind.
In a new book, in the course of investigating (while out of uniform) a survivalist militia called the Watchdogs, Captain America comes across a rightwing rally, which includes signs bearing obvious takes on Tea Party slogans (e.g. "Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU"), which the Captain identifies with the Watchdogs' "'hate the government' vibe." His partner, black superhero The Falcon, observes, "I don't exactly see a black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry white folks."
Tea partiers protested and got Marvel to say it was all a mistake which would be corrected in future editions.
Rightbloggers were especially exercised by the fleeting topical reference.
Liberal Whoppers found the Captain's project a waste of government resources ("With all the problems in the world, Captain America is going after people who disagree with the government's fiscal policy"). "Disgusting," said Nice Deb. "You'll note that one of the signs says, 'Teabag the libs before they teabag you,' as if a tea party protester would ever use the liberal media's insulting and scatological term," apparently unaware that the slogan is question had been used at such a protest. (When this was pointed out to her, Nice Deb rejoined, "Unfortunately every large group of people is going to bring out a few weirdos" -- except, apparently, in comic books.)
Heavier glosses were provided by Doctor Bulldog and Ronin ("Since Captain America is most noted for his fight against Nazism, I do believe that Marvel Comics is calling us Tea Party folks, 'Nazis'"), Conservative Scalawag ("Cause you know, Tea Party folks are just as bad as Nazis"), and Avid Editor's Insights ("The jihadi loving libtards are perverting Captan America to show people standing up for liberty as being evil... It seems they are transforming old symbols of liberty into tyrannical propaganda").
A popular line of attack was that it is offensive to have a comic book character named Captain America -- we feel compelled to remind our readers that this is a comic book character we're talking about -- side against a conservative cause.
"The Leftist Scum at Marxist Comics has joined the friends of the NATIONALIST SOCIALIST DEMOCRAT PARTY," said the Massapequa Tea Party, "by pissing on Captain America."
"Captain America is going to fight an 'anti-tax, anti-government' movement," marveled Hunting Muses. "What's next? Captain French is going to fight wine makers?... Hey, I remember an anti-tax, anti-government from around the late 1700s. They had some real rebels in there with names like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock, etc etc. How about after this Cap beats up on today's tea-party movement, he go back in time and beat up those protesters?"
Along with this implication that a comic book character who speaks disparagingly of tea parties would like to beat up George Washington, Hunting Muses brought up what became a common theme: the threat of boycott, sometimes prefaced with the disavowal of a threat of boycott. "I'm not even going to protest Marvel or advocate a boycott," he wrote. "... However, some estimates put the attendance at the various tea parties at close to 300,000 people... is it a wise business practice to alienate that many people (plus any sympathizers) and ENSURE that they won't purchase your comic?"
(We must applaud a Hunting Muses commenter who explained, "Remember this is not the real Captain America. This is the Winter Soldier [aka Bucky] who was reprogrammed by the communists. The real Cap is Steve Rogers who would be on the front lines defendind the Constitution, not some absurd socio-comm-liberal liberty stealing pastiche of lies perversion.")