Monday, November 12, 2007

The Revolt of the Comic Books

America's superheroes take on preemptive war, torture, warrantless spying, and George W. himself.

from The American Prospect

Perhaps the most interesting thing about these stories is why they fail. For as much as they seek to tease out the complexity and moral ambiguity of their themes, the authors of most of these tales clearly mean to convey a liberal or civil libertarian message. So much so that in 2003, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies released a screed titled "The Betrayal of Captain America," by right-wing pundit Michael Medved, decrying leftist infiltration of comics; that same year, professional bluenose Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center condemned Superman as a Ba'athist sympathizer. Yet when these stories go beyond leftish imitations of a previous generation's simplistic propaganda comics, the allegories tend to collapse under the weight of their own internal contradictions. There are, of course, openly conservative comics -- ranging from the ludicrous Liberality for All (starring a cyborg Sean Hannity!) to Bill Willingham's brilliantly layered Fables. But there is often a strong (if unintended) neoconservative subtext even in stories by left-leaning authors.