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This place matters

Sunday, February 7, 2016

He doesn't like bullies. He doesn't care where they're from.

Sometime last year, the folks at Fox News started complaining about Captain American, because of freaking course they did. See, they don't like this "stunt" Marvel pulled when they had Sam Wilson, a character of color, take over the mantle of Captain America, and were deeply offended that this new Cap' fought to save the lives of a bunch of undocumented immigrants. What happened to Captain America punching Hitler, they wanted to know. Why do comics have to get political?
I had to laugh like hell... Marvel Comics has been indoctrinating children with liberal messages since decades before I was born, and grownups are just now noticing.
Captain America was introduced in 1941 by Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel. You think it was an accident that Cap's iconic accessory wasn't a gun or a sword but a shield?
Or think about Hulk's origin story. It's 1962, just a couple months before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bruce Banner's a brilliant and mild-mannered scientist whose experiments with nuclear radiation turned him into a mindless monster completely beyond the scientist's control. The Incredible Hulk brought chaos and destruction down on the good and the bad alike, and all because nuclear energy turned a good man into something beyond anyone's control.
The next year, the X-Men appear. They're Marvel's first super heroes who don't get their power from space or science - they're just born with powers. They're minorities feared and hated for something they can't even help. From the beginning, writer Stan Lee has the X-Men's leader, Charles Xavier, speaking more or less in direct quotes from Martin Luther King. That doesn't seem like a big deal now, but back in 1963, that was pretty damn subversive. The children of bigots were getting schooled in civil rights right under their parents' noses. Talk about political.
In 1991, the Incredible Hulk's best friend revealed he was HIV positive back in 1991, meaning that Marvel addressed the AIDS crisis before my grade school health textbooks did. The character Northstar came out of the closet in 1992, five years before Ellen did. Hiding in plain sight. 



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