Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Captain America Kerfluffle

This may all be old news to you, but I just learned about it bear with me.
It seems that while I was wallowing in nostalgia for the comics of two decades ago, a comic published just last month provided the catalyst for a bit of a brouhaha in the comics blogosphere.  
It seems that a right wing blogger by the name of Warner Todd Huston took offense at a scene in Marvel's Captain America #602 that he believed portrayed the so-called Tea Party movement in a negative light (as if their recent convention and its keynote speech by Sarah Palin weren't bad enough for their image).  This  little rant can be read here.
Next came a reply to Huston's nonsense on  the Robot 6 blog at Comic Book Resources in the form of Carla Hoffman's "An Open Letter To Warner Todd Huston," which, in turn, elicited not just one, but two responses from Mr. Huston in which he not only hurls a buttload of standard issue right wing vitriol at Ms. Hoffman and liberals in general, but brazenly attempts to establish his geek cred by stating he had collected comics from the mid-60's until about 1986 and once had a collection of over 5000 comics while at the same time disparaging the entire medium as "low grade entertainment" and "horrible even as graphic art."
The whole flap even attracted the attention of the non-comics media, such as this opinion piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  And of course, FOX "News" just couldn't resist a story like this.
At first I didn't think I should write about this, because the controversy appears to have blown over, and I wasn't sure there was anything new that I could add to what's already been written elsewhere.  Most of the points I would have made are addressed in this post by Bill Reed that went up last Monday on CBR's Comics Should Be Good blog.
However, and you probably aren't going to catch any other comics blogger admitting to this, I will grudgingly concede that Huston has a couple of somewhat valid points, not in his original screed, which is pure right wing scandal mongering, but in his repies to the "Open Letter..."  I do, in fact, detect more than a slight note of condescension in Ms. Hoffman's tone throughout the piece.  Moreover, concerning Marvel's "apology" for the one panel that offended Huston, Marvel Editor In Chief Joe Quesada's "it was the letterer's fault" excuse strikes me as more than a little weaselly. This should not be construed as a defense of Huston's posts, as these minor points are overshadowed by his overall smug and self-righteous attitude, and, despite his feeble protestations to the contrary, quite obvious lack of knowledge of modern comics, as well as the fact that everything else he says in these posts is a big steaming, stinking truckload of crap.


  1. Ray,

    I just spent a good chunk of my morning reading every link you have posted here, learning about this Cap'n Kerfluffle for the first time. All I can take from it is this: There is just no pleasing some people.

    Maybe Hoffman was being a little condescending but I detect no overt malice in her responce. Sure, it was a really dumb move on her part to assume Huston had never read a comic before Cap 602, but we all know what happenes when you assume... Anyway, that little bit of ignorance on her part doesn't justify the explosion of venomous belittlement which subsequently erupted from the keyboard of Mr. Huston. I forsee a Dick Cheney-sized series of heart attacks in this man's future if he doesn't learn to relax and let go of his anger.

    The only part of this fiasco that bugs me is Joe Q's refusal to take responsibility. Even if his excuse about someone mis-using reference is true (which it very well may be) he could have better stood behind the creative staff who crafted this comic. Promising to change the panel when this story gets reprinted is a particularly cowardly move. Knee-jerk reactions to conceed are what give hot-heads like Huston the power they have. Refuse to cowtow to an irate blogger and said irate blogger will find someone else to bully.

    I think Quesada would have been better advised to welcome the controversy than in trying to weasel out of it the way he did. Who knows? With all this mud-slinging that one detail of one panel of one issue has generated, sales for Cap might spike for a few months, generating more potential long-time readers! Versions of Cap 602 with the unedited tea bag sign might become collector's items!

    If superheroes are about courage in the face of oppression, then Marvel comics ought to show a little more spine when it comes to angry nay-sayers who are never going to be happy, no matter how you try and placate them.

    - Jonathon Riddle

  2. Captain Kerfluffle sounds like a great name for a superhero doesn't it?