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

July 20, 2014

Go, Read: National Review On Marvel’s Thor Comic Book

Here. I was a crazy obsessive National Review reader at about the same time in my life I was last a reader of Thor comic books, so I wanted to read this one. It made me nostalgic for eighth grade study hall, but that's about it.

The American conservative movement has never been able to muster much of a fight in any sort of cultural war, perceived or real (it's sort of both). An elitist's position was probably available to them a few decades ago, but they're sort of rigorously anti-intellectual now. What's left is sneering and rolling your eyes, which this writer, Jim Geraghty, admirably avoids for the sake of exploring the basic context from which a decision like this might develop.

Two major problems with the piece should be familiar to readers of articles about comics that appear in non-industry media. First, it treats the superhero comics companies as the entirety of the industry, as opposed to a dominant market force in one of that medium's industries. Second, it treats segments of that audience as having monolithic taste. I'm not sure if National Review falling in line with most mainstream media treatments is a step forward or a step back. It's been a while.

Women have always been a significant part of comics' wider readership. I suspect the difference we're feeling now is the growing voice of many women within specific elements of a variety of focused, engaged readership groups. That's a different although equally welcome thing. In the wider view, there are few secrets as to making comics that appeal to a broad audience, and very few of them involve the almost arcane moving around of cultural elements with which Marvel is engaged. Many are just about making great comics exploring a variety of views, employing a variety of identifiable characters, and freeing the resulting entertainments from outright hostility and pandering to creepy elements which might actively repel giant swathes of a potential audience. Companies like Marvel and DC are latecomers adjusting to a wider industry standard more than they ever define one.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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