Anti-Americanism In Comics, Cap, And Escaping To Manga

As many people have already covered, including Brainster (and he's got links to several of the others), Marvel has finally gone and done it. They've killed off Captain America.

I'll admit from the start that I wasn't much of a comics junkie as a kid. Not from any dislike of the medium mind you. It was more of a matter of what was around to read, which was generally more along the lines of Tolkien and Lewis. Still, a friend of mine was, so I eventually got to go through significant portions of his collection.

It's a strange thing, to be at a point in your life where you're just forming your political opinions. It becomes exceptionally clear when people are disagreeing with those views, and what I was seeing in comics certainly counted. Now, it wasn't that I hadn't heard ideas like those voiced before, but I'd always considered fiction, with pictures or without, to be a realm unto itself, and the sanctity that I'd ascribed to it was being violated to an impressive degree.

Simply put, I don't get it. I'm not about to claim that America is perfect, but we've still got the best thing going in the world by such a long shot that it's not really arguable. I can put myself into a mindset where the problems that people like many comic writers exist, but I can't see how they get there from here. The view that this country is bad, evil, and the scum of the earth is so antithetical to reality that the disconnect can only be bridged by a suspension of disbelief more rigid than the one required for reading Crossroad.

Now, I haven't given up on comics wholly, but it's a near thing. Most of the particularly egregious examples that I can recall, and it's tough, since I have read much outside of 100 Bullets and Y: The Last Man in about three years now, are coming out of Marvel's comics lines.

Meanwhile, I've found my own alternative. While Brainster has mentioned that he's gone back to the golden and silver ages of comics (when heroes were heroes, villains were villains, and heroes thumped villains because it was the right thing to do, darn it), I've gone across the Pacific for my fix. Personally, I'm pleased with the results, though your mileage may vary. To me, it's going back to the day when a story was a story, rather than old favorite characters slapped on top of a political diatribe.

There may be something to be said here for the fact that characters in manga aren't forever, like they are in American comics. As I see it, there are only so many times the X-Men can fight off Magneto before a change of pace is needed. Rather than having a distinct starting point, a defined story, and a distinct end, the arcs simply blend and continue. And while there is something nice about having characters with a long history, having that long, involved history makes getting into some characters and stories more difficult. (Hence a lot of the re-launches of characters in the past few years.) So, instead of getting new characters, new villains, and new storylines, we get old characters, old villains, and old storylines, with a couple scoops of the political cause du jour on top to make it look different.

Well, if it sells, it sells, I suppose. Meanwhile, I'll just stick to stories for their own sake, and get my politics from the news sites.

P.S. - In the interest of fairness, there are questions about the presence of anti-Americanism in manga and anime. The best work I've read on the topic is here, at Hontou ni Sou Omou.

No comments: