United States Supreme Court decision No. 93-98

In the Ex Machina Special #3 (October 2007), Brian K. Vaughn and the rest of the creative team sum up the advantages and drawbacks of anonymity when fighting for a cause, even when the goal is inimical or positive. In the special, Mayor Hundred declines to forbid a racist rally, opting instead to promote a tolerance rally elsewhere in the city. He reasons that the hate group has a right to stage their rally and the tolerance group has the same right to do likewise, even though they will both probably choose to hide their faces for various reasons.

Click the images to make a talking point

While Vaughn has Mayor Hundred make a valuable argument about Martin Luther King and has the character of Hundred take a personal stand, I don’t agree with his sentiment fully and find it a bit dismissive in reality. Anonymity can be an important tool beyond the artificial courage it confers upon internet trolls attacking a feminist blog or skeptic forum. The anonymity his many pseudonyms afforded Benjamin Franklin allowed him to communicate in ways that otherwise would have created nearly insurmountable obstacles for him and the cause of liberty during a period of political and societal unrest in young America.

Often in history (and even today, see the ridiculous O’Reilly vs. DailyKos debacle for example) the small group that claims to be a majority and pretends to represent the beliefs and values of very nearly everyone but in reality does not, nevertheless holds an inordinate amount of power and influence due to connections and access to people through media. As we are all aware from events over the past seven years, telling a lie enough times with enough authority behind it has the result in the majority believing it to be fact. Any publicly known figure who dared to raise their voice in opposition, right or wrong, has been effectively destroyed.

Expanding the concept beyond Vaughn’s discourse in the comic book, many bloggers and pundits of today prefer to remain officially unknown and have their identities remain off the record to the world at large. When the primary tactic against a differing opinion is personal attacks and misinformation, anonymity is not only their right but a necessary protection given the mighty forces the faux-majority can wield against a person or organization of limited resources. Even positive blogging about an event, situation, lifestyle, public person or company has resulted in someone losing employment, being attacked or missing opportunities.

It doesn’t matter what mask the truth wears, it is still the truth underneath. The mask merely allows the facts to be told without worrying about getting tires slashed or livelihood threatened.


Comic Book PSA: People are People

According to this ethnocentric Comic Book PSA that appeared in The Brave and the Bold #39 (Jan 1962), in the dawn of humanity all people were Caucasian and of European appearance.

Like romance comic books that tried to be contemporary, sometimes the Comic Book PSA was a creative victim of social and cultural expectations of what the market would bear or what the old men in the Editorial offices thought would be acceptable.

I suspect that presenting early homo sapiens in a form that would more accurately reflect our actual genetic ancestry (currently scientifically accepted as having origins in the African continent) may never have even occurred to the creators of the PSA. The artist was probably tasked to draw cavemen and did so in the usual comic book manner. At least I hope so and that institutionalized racism was not in place in the DC offices.

This PSA is important culturally due to the feature presenting as fact all the various ethnic groups of humankind diverging from an already perfectly evolved modern Caucasian man. I thought it brave that even in 1962, in spite of the imagery, for DC to point out that all people are equal and none were superior to any other.


It’s time to take the funny back

Newspapers and other outlets across the country (a country which still has the tattered remnants of a Constitution by the way) are declining to run two installments of Berkley Breathed’s Opus strip due to content that may offend Muslims.

When did “may offend Muslims” become the euphemism for “will probably give psychos an excuse to riot, kill and blow stuff up”? Wait…Oh, yeah, I forgot. Call it what you want: Prudence, respect or whatever…it is just censorship in coward’s clothing.

Everyone with an internet connection should visit Salon on August 26th and September 2nd for the full Opus strips just to show all those newspapers how much ad revenue they lost over their decision. Even the worst of cowards gains a back bone once they get hit in the wallet.


Sleestak’s Picks of the Week

I really expected Mouse Guard Winter: 1152 to be my favorite comic out this week (I really enjoyed it) but like everyone else on the planet I picked as the Best Comic This Week: Batman #668 for the amazing art and fun story.

Holy freaking crap! This story could have been Sonic Disruptors #8 but with art like that who would care? Awesome all around. Fortunately the story holds up and the layouts and script complement each other.

Worst Comic This Week: That goes to X-Men #202. Is this a joke or something?

You tell ’em, Projectile Vomiting Cap! Each offering from Humberto Ramos is worse than the previous one. The story could be as fantastic as the first Dark Phoenix saga but sadly I can’t even read this. His style has devolved from exaggeration to ridiculous parody.

Honorable Mention: Thunderbolts #116. Is this foreshadowing?

If it were Steve Ditko himself and not just his social skills that were dead he would be spinning in his grave at what has happened to Speedball.

But I’m on the fence as to whether I hate or love what is going on with the character. Robbie is well on his way to becoming a major Super-Villain. He is getting more dangerous and violent and his powers are ramping up to scary levels. His back story is evolving logically in such a way as to give him believable motivation for his gradual change into a bad guy. His guilt is turning into anger and I imagine that pretty soon he won’t allow himself to be incarcerated and will be robbing banks to fund his army of goons bent on the violent overthrow of the Government.


The final word on the Batgirl cover controversy

Yes, it is sexist. But it is not sexist in and of itself and is definitely not meant as an insult to women, feminists or the cause of equality in media portrayals of women.

DC made the choice for the cover art one that accurately reflected the male-dominated attitudes and content of the 60s and 70s comic book stories. Imagine the blog storm if they instead went with something more empowering that was closer in style to the intelligent, capable Barbara (Oracle) Gordon of today? Readers expecting tales featuring a strong woman character that could hold her own with the Batman that were ahead of their time socially culturally would be disappointed, disgusted or shocked to discover THE COVER AND DC LIED and the actual content of the book was all about Bronze Age pandering to male expectations while pretending to feature a liberated woman, Babs getting rescued more often than not by Batman and Robin, cheesecake, utility-purses and stiletto heels.

DC chose well and went the correct route in telling consumers the truth in their cover choice instead of risking a backlash from angry fans upset that they were mislead about the thematic contents of the Batgirl collection. DC would undoubtedly be accused of misogynistic practices, treating fans with contempt and misrepresentation in this at least this one instance. The cover is plain old TRUTH IN ADVERTISING.

Now shut up.