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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
I have a hate-fascination with Nick Spencer. I’ve read his comic Bedlam and thought it was just about the best comic he was capable of writing because creator-owned Image publications tend to be quite a bit of insight into the creator.
Now if you don’t know about Bedlam it’s a comic where a maniacal, Joker-esque villain known as Madder Red terrorized a city until he seemingly died in a final fight with his heroic adversary. In truth he was captured by some mysterious organization that “reformed” him through questionable means. And suddenly he is working along with the police force to try and stop other villainous maniacs while constantly being on edge with whether or not his reform actually worked.
An inherently evil man, secretly reformed, infiltrating the side of justice he once worked against, in order to maintain law and order. The sort of thing which had it happened with a Red Skull or a Joker people would (rightfully) lost their shit because the moral event horizons for the characters are so far removed from the concept of reformation in reality we wouldn’t be able to accept it.
I read Bedlam at the time and was fascinated by a dark inversion of what the only “end point” for undeniable evil in a comic book world could be, but I was also in my very light, very short “dark and gritty” phase of being an 18 year old life long comic reader.
What I’m getting at is that since then I care a lot more about the motivations of why people choose to write such stories and frame them the way they do than I did when I was younger.
My next hate-fascination with Nick Spencer wasn’t other indie titles like Morning Glories (which I missed the boat on) or his run on Ant-Man (which I skipped because I haven’t had a huge relationship with the character), but with his involvement with the “Superior Spider-Man” storyline Dan Slott was penning, Spencer writing Superior Foes of Spider-Man. If you don’t remember, that was a storyline where Doc Ock was dying so he switched brains with Peter Parker and left Parker to die in his old body but decided to be a pompous asshole version of Spider-Man and outdo his predecessor culminating in an issue where he dates Mary Jane briefly so that Slott could continue to fuck with MJ fans and have an issue where the cover had MJ in her underwear. Classy.
Spencer obviously didn’t have a lot to do with this main storyline (though the current parallels tells me a lot about the values Marvel puts in maintaining the concept of what superheroes even are), but he wrote the ancillary book that was allotted by a lot of fans and critics that turned the Sinister Six into a Suicide Squad/Secret Six-like morally questionable-to-bankrupt protagonists whose exploits you come to hate yourself for cheering on as gleefully as you do, especially in the face of inevitable defeat.
Humanizing and giving voice to the side of the people comics have traditionally used as hatable enemies easy to root against.
The next bout of hate-fascination I’ve had is with this tire fire that has been his run with Captain America and what we’ve seen as the moral collapsing of the entirety of the Marvel Universe. A world where the Nazis were supposed to win WWII and the Allies decided that the MU as we’ve known it, as crafted by Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and many others (mostly Jewish creators), was actually a FALSE reality crafted by the Allies after-the-fact where they made sure to defeat Hitler, but allowed the Holocaust to happen. A fact that REALLY can’t be overlooked considering what a vital role it plays in Magneto’s life and his descendants’ lives, not to mention the parallels of the struggles of the X-Men in general.
But, apparently, people still don’t get it because everything’s cyclical and comics will return to normal by the end of the summer yatta yatta let’s ignore that three months ago there were actual Neo-Nazis including Tila Tequila holding a party in DC where leaked footage shows hate speeches and actual Nazi saluting to “Hail Trump” and the fact that a high level Marvel executive is now a paid member of the Trump White House that also has Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.
Let’s instead look at what this says about Nick Spencer as a writer. The man is a professed Liberal, a huge Hillary supporter apparently during her campaign, and also a man baby who takes offense to everything on Twitter Dan Slott-style, and apparently has an inability to reflect upon his own body of work and see the trends that are glaringly obvious to me just through this short overview.
Nick Spencer is a white, male neo-Liberal suffering from a morbid fascination with the macabre fascism and atrocities of reality, who is just being ‘real’ and ‘edgy’ by making drawn out portrayals of these ideologies, and saying “implications and moral grandstanding be damned” because (for reasons that he pretends to be oblivious to) this sort of villainous humanizing and morality postulating world where “Social Justice” terms can be hurled by careless, strawmen “actual bad guys” and Black characters who suffer racist abuses in- and out-of-universe apologize to their white friend sells to the white, male 18-35 demographic.
Is Nick Spencer a neo-Nazi or support the real world fascism he uses in his stories? I don’t know, I don’t really care.
But I know why he’s using it to sell comics, and I find that fact unforgivable both for him and for Marvel. And for him to act like he’s being attacked for “simply writing good, controversial stories” while he and his buddies claim that the REAL PROBLEMS at Marvel right now are diversity and that damn DC putting out content people are gravitating toward instead of shitty comics where Captain America and the whole world are actually Nazis the whole time, shows me where convictions of his sort really lie.
You can stamp your “I’m With Her” stickers all over your forehead and lambast Trump tweets all day, Nick Spencer, but like most white, male neo-Liberals I have met in my life it doesn’t really make a difference because your nose is still stuck up the assholes of the people you actually relate to because other communities you “champion” for are harder to understand and more complex to portray the humanizing elements of compared to moral quanderies of “punching that guy who kinda looks like me and had a life like mine just because he has a stupid haircut and talks about the symbolism of Peppe the Frog while proclaiming the superiority of the White Race makes us just as bad as Hitler, guys”.
Yeah, it’s easier. Just like it’s easier to say you’re pro-Diversity, pro-Women, pro-LGBTQA+, pro-Progressive ideals to avoid being called out or questioned, but much harder to write with a conscience perspective for those groups while playing to your actual target audience.
So my hate-fascination with Nick Spencer has come full circle. He’s ironically hit his own moral event horizon. And he’ll possibly make himself and Marvel lots of money while doing so. But it won’t be from the demographics that are actually growing in America and worldwide. It’ll be from the one that’s been shrinking for 20 years now and, historically, already lost this war once.
Not that Nick Spencer’s current Nazi fever dream likes to admit that they actually lost it.
I’m going to declare my hate-fascination with Spencer over. Not because I think his career is over, not because I don’t think he’ll make some other big waves with some other stupidity (probably on twitter) later. But because he’s finally reached the apex of this little journey in his writing career. And it’s boringly average white fanboy fare in the big picture of comics.
Characters and comics are immortal, writers and artists are temporary, but the shame of this douchebaggery is hopefully going to be immortal.
It will be for as long as I’m blogging, at least.
Questables!: A Comedic Fantasy Webcomic
Launches April 25th PST!
Questables is a webcomic adventure following a dwarven monk, Robin, as she embarks on her first big quest! As she travels she meets plenty of folks on the road, and soon enough her one-woman mission turns into a tight knit family adventure.
Questables is filled with good vibes and domestic moments, and pays homage to many classic tabletop RPG elements in a comic strip format. Its full cast of six adventurers are all LGBT and POC, featuring genderqueer, asexual, aromantic, gay and bisexual characters. It aims to be a source of positive representation and will always take constructive critique from readers.
Support the artist on Patreon to access bonus drawings and concepts of the characters, plus early access to every strip! Pledging directly supports the creation of LGBT content by a queer creator ♥︎
Follow on Tumblr to share updates and extras!
Follow on Tapastic for high res viewing!
aaaaaaaaah Gravity Falls.
Damn, I loved that serie. The weird feeling, the mysteries and all the characters were awesome. (and they put 2 to 3 references to David Bowie, so basically, they gained my total devotion).
I tried to do a mixte between Mike Mignola’s art style and Gravity Falls characters because I really think a crossover would have been possible, as the two series have this…weird strange atmosphere. I really like the Hellblazer look of insane-Ford too.
(and hey look, i put two pine trees)
and remember; reality is an illusion, the universe is a hologram.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)