In reality, I’m sure that the Internet ruined comics long before now but this past week was my personal tipping point.
In case you’re unaware, these past two weeks were not particularly great for women in comics. The Riri Williams variant cover controversy was bad enough. Then the Mockingbird #8 cover controversy made the Riri scandal look tame by comparison. It’s Comic-Ghazi.
Let’s start with Riri. On the Jeff Dekal variant cover of Invincible Iron Man #1 Riri looks like a normal human. The much-maligned J. Scott Campbell variant cover features Riri doing her best impression of Simone Biles in a skintight, low-cut clothing. Why is this cover problematic? First of all, the cover only portrays Riri as sexy. Not a child prodigy; just hip and sexy. It’s only slightly better than the infamous Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover. Secondly (and most importantly) Riri is 15 years old. 15. She’s a minor. Marvel retracted the cover, but Campbell’s apologists yell “What’s wrong with finding an attractive woman attractive?” and “This stifles creative expression!” What’s wrong is that she’s a child. This cover says “I’m underage, but still sexy and voluptuous!” Is that the message you want your daughter to hear? Is that the message you want your daughter sending to the world?
That’s enough on Riri for now, because we have more fish to fry.
Oh man, this Mockingbird #8 cover is great. It says so much with so little. This set Twitter ablaze. The comic’s author, Chelsea Cain, left Twitter because she received an inordinate level of harassment which, in her view, derived from either Cain being a woman or the existence of feminism in Mockingbird. People accused Cain of ruining their favorite character and pushing a feminist agenda. Cain might never write another comic.
Can I just ask something real quick? What on earth is wrong with these people?
The people decrying political correctness because it stifles artistic expression are the same people yelling at a bestselling author for exercising her creative expression on Mockingbird. Really, comics fans? This is how you want to spend your time? Is there literally no other endeavor more important to you than lashing out against women and forcing all viewpoints you disagree with off of social media? How fragile is your masculinity that you are threatened by a comic that was literally already canceled by the time the issue dropped? Is this really the hill you want to die on?
Yes, I know what you’re thinking.
Yes, you are entitled to your opinions, but if you harass and bully people I’m entitled to call you out.
No, it’s not just as simple as hitting the block button. People should not need to use the blocking features. You should act like a responsible gorram adult.
That’s the problem with you, Internet trolls. “Oh, it’s just one little tweet, what are you, a crybaby?” Multiple harassing tweets from over 1,000 people (at an extremely conservative estimate) is a lot of abuse, especially when
some many contain death or rape threats. Therein is the other problem with Internet scum. You hide behind your precious, gross oversimplification of the first amendment to absolve yourself of any possible wrongdoing. Just because you can say these terrible, degrading, awful things to people does not mean that you should say them. It’s called being a decent person. Try it sometime. If you take some time away from abusing people online like cowards, there’s a book that I suggest you read. It’s called Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. It deals with this whole “can I?/should I?” question very neatly. It even uses small words and sentences of reasonable length.
The Internet is not responsible for the actions of disgusting jackasses, but it certainly enabled abuse to permeate every aspect of geek culture. Frankly, I’m sick of it and I am sick of apologizing for it. This is an epidemic in geek culture. People have opinions and a platform, so they feel obliged to
share it bludgeon everyone over the head with it. No. That’s not okay anymore. Decent people don’t treat each other like that. Everyone who graduated kindergarten understands that.
Go ahead. Call me an SJW (social justice warrior). Call me a white knight. I’ve got a nickname for you too. GOD Complexers. For everyone who wants society to go back to the Good Ol’ Days, back when women were objects and minorities only existed as parodies of themselves.
Internet culture, you’ve ruined a thing I love. I feel dirty calling myself a comics fan because being a fan means accepting the good and the bad. That means, as a man, I need to fight off assumptions that I’m a card-carrying member of the He-Man, Woman Haters Club. Shut up, yes, that’s exactly what everyone thinks male comics fans are. Being a fan who supports feminism and diversity in comics also means that I have to withstand abuse. I’ll probably get more abuse for writing this article.
I have been a comics fan my entire life, but I can no longer justify being associated with the fandom. This is my rock bottom.
With the big exceptions of Saga and Paper Girls, I canceled my pull list at my comics store. I dropped Green Lantern, a hero I idolize, all because of you. I deleted every bookmark to every comics news site and unfollowed every person on social media who’s in the comics world. The most I will do is watch the movies and the TV shows. I will ask friends for recommendations since I won’t know what’s worth reading. When I find cheap paperbacks on Amazon or a $5 bin at Emerald City CC, I’ll pick up copies of current GL, Wonder Woman, Daredevil, and Captain Marvel. I don’t care anymore. I refuse to be associated with what my fandom has become.
The Internet ruined comics for me. This fandom used to give me great joy. Now it just makes me sick. I hate that I defended it for as long as I did, and the good parts of being in this community no longer carry the same weight as they did before. Maybe once the Internet grows up, we can all be friends again. Lose your GOD Complex. Until then, have fun inside the burning building; I’m glad you’re warm in there.
Dante is the resident comic book savant of The Geek Embassy. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s a librarian he gets to advocate for comics in libraries and get paid for it. He’s also a tabletop gaming fan, especially those that involve cards, with favorites including Sentinels of the Multiverse, Magic: The Gathering, Bang!, Smash Up, Star Realms, and 7 Wonders. Dante is a library professional at Portland Community College in Hillsboro, OR.