Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 7, 2014

I Can Barely Comprehend This Fire Rick Remender Article, Let Alone Understand Its Necessity

So I guess there was an article a few days back here calling for the firing of writer Rick Remender for things that he's written in the Captain America series he's currently doing for Marvel -- that was the one that launched with the artist John Romita Jr. and featured a more Late Kirby-like man vs. monsters scenario that broke sharply with the super-spy status quo of the last decade.

imageThe article claimed, both on its own behalf and as representative of Internet reaction, that a recent sex scene between the Falcon character created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan and a character from that recent storyline named Jet Black was not-consensual sex between the adult Falcon and the asserted-to-be underaged Jet Black based on the author's reading of the storyline -- even though the character's age of at least 23 was explicitly stated in the script. The anti-Remender case was compounded -- at least in the article -- by other accusations of uninspired writing such as the plot driven murder of a kid character (since shown alive) and the apparent plotline death of a longtime supporting (and no doubt many times thought dead) character Sharon Carter.

So what we have, unless I'm totally missing the point, is basically a letter to the editor given extra weight by asserting the creator's endorsement of statutory rape.

That's unsettling. In this case, I think it's aggressively unreasonable. I actually read those comics, and it never occurred to me that the character in them would be less than the age of consent, to the point I had to go back and re-read them to see how that claim could be made. I'm still confused by this claim. There was a widely linked-to Internet debunking of the youth argument here. At best -- at best! -- the argument would be the equivalent of saying that all of those television soap opera kid characters that go away to school for a couple of years and come back 19 years old and gorgeous are being raped, too. I have to say, though, this doesn't seem convincing to me at all even by those rock-bottom standards, and I'm baffled that anyone would run with it.

The debunking post notes that you could indict the recent storyline for its depiction of alcohol-fueled sex between two consenting adults, which I guess is true, but neither party involved objected at any point about which we're made aware and given the relentless violence of superhero comics it seems an odd area to get into that every choice characters make be entirely free of problematic circumstance. And even just typing that last sentence you see the weirdness that can be involved with something like this, because I could now be accused of endorsing blackout sex -- which of course I don't -- by virtue of not being as against it as I could be.

Remender received a great deal of support from fans and fellow professionals, as acknowledged here.

I'm all for people holding art to its expressed beliefs and consequences. I'm not for embellishment and assertion that reads like making shit up to give that argument juice. The worrisome part of this as I see it here and as I've seen it in other places is an underlying value in play that authorial intent doesn't matter at all and that all of the traditional employments of narrative and artistic messaging don't matter either in the light of anything that can be said to check off certain boxes. That seems not only wholly unnecessary, but potentially devastating to art and culture as we've come to value them. I hope these contributing factors won't be dismissed as part of an untethered, aberrative flourish of comics and Internet culture.

Update: This article digs into the notion that the controversy, such as it is/was, can be traced back to a fan with multiple, more standard objections to plotting and scripting decisions made by Remender.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

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