Nazi Raccoons and the Fantastic Four

faked by Monday, May 28th, 2007

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.)

5 Responses to “Nazi Raccoons and the Fantastic Four”

  1. gorjus says:

    I’ve not subbed to their comics yet, but I’ve been reading the FF on the stands and I gotta say—I’m getting a kick out of it. I’m a little wary of T’Challa just being a Marvel version of the Grant Morrison-JLA’s Batman, but there’s so much potential there. He is a fantastic character—and I’m really surprised at the vitriol being tossed about.

    I guess I don’t have the concrete love for the FF—I think it’s a great idea to have Reed + Sue on an interstellar honeymoon—and while I’m still not too sure about Storm (she seems a bit of a cipher, still), I’m thinking about picking this up monthly.


  2. gorjus says:

    Oh, and Cousin Sims over at the all-new, all-different ISB calls the newest ish of FF the best of the week!

  3. brd says:

    First of all, raccoons are not a political animal. Second, given the right environment, they will hold your hand. Third, if properly fed, i.e. Meow Mix, they will not trash your trash. These things are photographically verified on my own blog, so I won’t say much more, except, that it was an interesting article. Oh, and also according to the comments on my youtube site, the existence of raccoons in Europe is a point of debate.Conotube v. djbeady “I wish a had a raccoon in my yard, but we don’t have raccoons in europe!” and “there is actually raccoons in europe, germany is full of them and they have also started spreading to other parts, even as far as france. The only reason we dont have them in england is that they find it a bit hard to swim the channel. But dont worry, they’ll be here one day, just round about the same time england has a rabies epidemic”


    PS Your preconceptions about Bostonians et al were validated. It’s kind of enjoyable though, isn’t it? Did you have any doubt about her opinion of the person in Burger King? No, you didn’t. The cards are on the table. That’s what I like about it.

  4. lo says:

    If only the masked bandits of teeming freedom were somehow related to the the American Indian Movement, we could be well on our way to a Bronze Age beauty. That and they rode motorcycles.

    Other possibilities, a little more anthropomorphic and twee, manga, or as a familiar for an earnest young South American (the monkey had it coming), mid-90s Ted Turner propaganda.

  5. Chris Sims says:

    Originally I was just going to drop by to confirm that I totally love McDuffie’s FF, but holy buckets, that “lynch mob” comment knocked me speechless.

    I mean… Just… Wow.