First of all, please tell me you all saw this Washington Post story yesterday: Nazi Raccoons. Seriously. It begins, “In 1934, top Nazi party official Hermann Goering received a seemingly mundane request . . .” It also includes this line: “British tabloids have warned that it’s only a matter of time until the ‘Nazi raccoons’ cross the English channel.”
Given the evidence of this story, by my reckoning the entire world will have become a Silver Age DC Comic by 2012. I await the glorious transformation.
So, I returned this weekend from a work-related trip to Boston, where I was, almost immediately upon arrival, treated to a scene involving a skanky woman in grimy and ill-fitting clothes standing in the doorway of a Burger King and shouting that someone inside was a “caacsucka.” Preconceptions: validated. The rest of the trip was pleasant and much less eventful, and though I didn’t make it to see Colonel Shaw’s statue, I did hit the well-stocked and knowledgably-staffed Newbury Comics and Comicopia. At the former I grabbed up a copy of Tomorrow Stories Special #2 that was just sitting out with the new stuff, and at the latter I was able to finish out my Nextwave run and pick up the latest issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle.
I also got the latest issue of Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier’s Fantastic Four (#546). McDuffie continues to delight, taking advantage of the seriality of the superhero comics genre by drawing upon continuity classic (Dr. Doom steals the Silver Surfer’s power!) and obscure (Black Panther has a Galactus Contingency Plan!)—and in either case weaving it seamlessly into the flow of the story without descending into, as the kids call it, “continuity porn” (though continuity porn, like the other kind, is devilishly difficult to define, and subject to community standards).
There are a couple of story elements that I think McDuffie doesn’t explain clearly enough—like, um, how the resolution works (If shooting Galactus full of any old energy is enough, then why does he have to go around eating planets? Oh, you say, this is special energy. Well, maybe someone could clarify that…). I can concoct an explanation that makes sense (though I’ll spare you having to read it) given just a minute or two of thought, so it’s not a particularly big deal, and it’s more than outweighed by the issue’s many strengths. It’s the sort of comic that offers a glimpse of my never-to-be-realized dream for superhero comics, in which history is respected but characters’ stories are allowed to move forward without being persistently rebooted to the most licensable version of their status quo.
All that aside, McDuffie’s run on the title has inspired strong and bizarre reactions from some segments of comics readership, many of whom object to the Black Panther ever doing anything awesome. I dunno, maybe I just don’t waste enough time trawling the comics nuttosphere to realize how ordinary such debased discourse has gotten—Fanboy Rampage, you are much missed. But the vehemence of this comment caught me off-guard, mainly because it’s from a poster on Dwayne McDuffie’s own forum:
Y’know, I was pissed off with the last issue because I liked your work and I couldn’t understand why someone I believed was a decent writer who deserved high profile work would get it all so wrong.
But this… this is so bad I can’t get pissed off with it. I can only laugh. Stardust, who destroyed planets in his fight with Beta Ray Bill, who held off a blast from Galactus himself, gets dispersed.. by a lightning bolt? From Storm? In SPACE? How could you get that so wrong? The character’s only had about 4 appearances! Galactus cowers and whines like a bitch before T’Challa, asking why the mean humans want to hurt lil’ Galactus? Your dialogue is atrocious. But I get it; you’re doing this intentionally, with a wink and a nod at the reader, right? You don’t mean for your work to have any credibility or make any sense. This is like that issue of GLA when Slott wrote Squirrel Girl beating Thanos. Its just a big joke, right?
I’m not going to waste any more of my time or money on filth like this. I had high hopes for you, and really, REALLY wanted you to do well: it would great to have a talented, coloured writer in Marvel. Thats clearly not you.
I hope your return to comics is a shortlived one.
I think what grabs me there is “filth”—the notion that the story isn’t just bad but also somehow immoral. And y’know, I’m generally reluctant to credit the theory that those who are down on Reginald Hudlin or McDuffie’s depictions of the BP are motivated by (latent or overt) racism, but then I read this comment on Comicboards, in which a poster expresses his desire to form a “lynch mob” to take out McDuffie. I suppose one could write an essay on how striking it is that these comments are inspired by Black Panther defeating a man whose only costume is his pure white full-body sheath (silver, technically, but almost always rendered white), and, in an earlier instance, by a reference to the previous BP’s defeat of Captain America, but honestly, doesn’t that essay pretty much write itself?
And then, when I think back upon this conversation, I think that perhaps none of this should surprise me . . .
(Note: most comics readers are not racist nutjobs. I think.)