In the past 36 hours or so, a lot of us have felt like we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us and that someone we have loved and trusted–some of us for all our lives–has been used against us to cause us pain. All for the sake of shock value and money.
There has been a lot of pain and suffering and we know Cap would want better for us and he would rather die than let anyone down like this.
Especially his Jewish fans.
What has happened with Steve Rogers Captain America #1 is horrifically antisemitic and spits on the legacy of the two Jewish men who created him to get the American population to care about Jewish lives in a time when no one really did. A genocide was happening and America did nothing. Around the world,antisemitism is on the rise again and Marvel is now having its own hand at it. If this enrages you–and it should–then you must want to do something.
Nick Spencer and Marvel Executives want you to think that since this has already been published and has apparently been years in the making (which is a stretch, to say the least, they said this started in 2014), the conversation on this is over and our anger is meaningless. I’m here tell you, this isn’t true–as a collective, we can force Marvel to change.This conversation is not over until we let it die out.
We may not be able to stop this run of Steve Rogers Captain America from completing but we can influence Marvel in two meaningful ways: we can make sure that no matter what, this is not permanent, and we can make Marvel consider what will happen if they continue this trend of antisemitism and bigotry, of ignoring the important legacy and impact of their characters.
Marvel is afraid of what we do and don’t spend our money on. Marvel is afraid of what we say to our friends, what we encourage our social groups to read and not read.
Marvel is afraid of irrelevance
If you are on twitter: Nick spencer is @ nickspencer, Tom Breevort is @ tombreevort, Marvel is @ Marvel, and Disney is @ Disney. Tell them you will not be buying any comic in this run or any future Captain America comics until this is resolved. Tell them this is antisemitic. Tell them you are disgusted. Tell them you no longer trust their products.
Through email: email@example.com. Again, tell them if you are a new fan who thought they’d be a lifelong fan or an old fan. Tell them you are now reconsidering every purchasing their merchandise or attending their movies. This does not have to be true, just spend a month or so not purchasing their official goods. PLEASE MARK YOUR EMAIL “OKAY TO PRINT.”
Comment on articles that only remark on how “shocking” this is and make jokes about this. Educate them and let them know how antisemitic this is. Let them know Cap’s true legacy. Let them know your anger.
SPREAD POSITIVITY FOR JEWISH FANS:
This post: outlines a potential day to create fanworks celebrating Jewish charactrs and headcanons. If the comics can’t be a safe space anymore, let us make fandom safer.
Most importantly, stay angry. Don’t let this moment pass.
We, as a fandom, are not powerless. We may not have superpowers, we may not have the individual wealth or social power to make a difference on our own, but we have the power to come together and let Marvel know we won’t stand for this. We will not passively stand by, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby would not want us to.
Captain America would not want us to stand by and let this happen.
Jack Kirby contributed illustrations of cosmic Superbowls for Pro! magazine over the course of a few years, from 1973 to 1975. Here are all the images I’ve managed to track down from avarietyofsources.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are both of Jewish decent.
They’re Jews. What’s with this “Jewish descent” wikipedia crap? They’re both Jews, admitted and acknowledged as such.
The term “Jewish descent” only really applies when someone with partial Jewish ancestry who has not self-identified as Jewish is talking about their ancestry. This is not the case for either Lee or Kirby. And yet this “Jewish descent” garbage proliferates all over the place online. As if someone being just straight up Jewish is undesirable and they need to be distanced from it.
Jack Kirby made custom Hannukah cards for crying out loud.
And Stan Lee said the following: "To me you can wrap all of Judaism up in one sentence, and that is, ‘Do not do unto others…’ All I tried to do in my stories was show that there’s some innate goodness in the human condition. And there’s always going to be evil; we should always be fighting evil.“
Yes, they de-Judaized their names because of the prejudice they faced in the eras when they began their important work in the comic industry. That doesn’t make them not Jews or lesser Jews for it.
Ever since I came across this 2010 interview several years ago, I’ve always had conflicting feelings about it. Don’t get me wrong, in this short three minute interview, Dr. Peterson nails a plethora of problems with the comic book industry - most of which all come back to not enough black writers having the opportunity to write about black characters. What we get instead is a distorted form of “blackness” as imagined through the eyes of a white person who has never experienced racism, and who may not have ever heard of the Tuskegee Experiment. And when blackness is depicted through such a lens, with no reality based reference point, stereotypes and racial tropes are almost unavoidable.
Except with Jack Kirby. Somehow, even though a deeper critique reveals that Kirby was also another white man bound up in some of the racial politics of his day, somehow despite that fact, Kirby still managed to get so many things right with the Black Panther.
When I was a kid, one of the best things to happen to me was when I came across some of my father’s old comic books. From the moment I saw Kirby’s artwork, I was hooked - at first on what I initially thought was a weird style of art, but later as I began drawing myself, I would come to learn just how solid his art really was, and from there, my appreciation for the man himself, his artwork and his rather tragic life story began.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Jack ”the King” Kirby created the Black Panther, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Silver Surfer, the X-Men, and hundreds of others, including quite a few notable DC characters, like Darkseid and the New Gods. But due to non-existent ownership rights for artists, and the laws of the time, Kirby was not always credited with all of the comic book characters he created, and this injustice would lead him into such a depression that at one point in his life, he was emotionally incapable of even walking into any place that sold comic books, sold toys, or showed movies about the characters he himself created. Like I said, his backstory has enough triumph and tragedy that his life is worthy of it’s own Marvel movie. (SN: If you’re a comic book collector and you ever get a chance to visit a Jack Kirby exhibition, do yourself a favor and go).
But, getting back to Dr. Peterson’s analysis…I understand the desire to have black characters in media represented in a positive light to combat centuries of negative stereotypes, and perhaps help undo generations of racist tropes. That’s a problem white characters simply do not have.
Black criminals are representative of all black people, but non-stereotypical, idealized black heroes are “exceptional.”
A bad white character is an individual who does not represent their entire race. When white characters are jokers, mass murderers, gangsters, or virtually any type of criminal, they are never representing their entire race, as is almost always the case with black characters who are flawed or criminals. That individuality is the benefit of white privilege. White characters who are bad actually get sympathy that black characters don’t. Dr. Peterson nails that down too, noting near the end of the interview that ultimately, more of our stories being told is the solution.
When enough black characters get to be written by black writers and represented in a myriad of well written, fully fleshed out roles, and as we humanize ALL manner of blackness, only then can we escape that nagging need for all of our characters to be portrayed as Kings and Queens or “respectable” doctors and engineers. Only then will we be able to be more complex individuals who, just like anyone else, gets to have good and bad attributes, without being seen as a stereotype who doesn’t exist until the plot calls for a white character who needs an exotic, one dimensional “black friend” to spice up their otherwise bland existence.
Initially I said that I was conflicted about Dr. Peterson’s analysis, but that was a mistake, because at first I took it for dragging Luke Cage with just a pinch of respectability politics added in. But that isn’t what it was. The critique was all about taking white writers to task for their obsession with stereotypical, trope-ish portrayal of most Black male comic book characters. He was critiquing the stereotypes of Black masculinity, not necessarily the Luke Cage character, nor black men who have been wrongfully imprisoned. And again, as Dr. Peterson hinted, the answer is more stories, more access, and more representation at all levels. More black writers and more black artist and more black colorists, telling more stories about all kinds of black people, with more diverse roles filled with more black characters and actors.
And that’s just covering the black male characters. If you want to get an idea of how badly Black women are represented in comics, then without using Google, try to name just ten Marvel superheroes who are Black women. Go on, name them. I’ll wait. Lol, not even Google is going to help you find ten Black Marvel super heroines in comics, because unless you start counting “they just showed up for that one story arc” or the Jr. sidekicks of Jr. sidekicks, there aren’t ten, and that’s sad.
If you want my hot take on Luke Cage, there’s a little more beneath the cut.