As a personal goal, I try to keep the tone of Mighty Marvel Monday in keeping with what I feel the tone of Marvel is itself–self-aware, slightly irreverent, but above all, fun.
This week has not been fun for Marvel, nor has it been fun for supporters of Marvel, and I would not want to appear as out of touch as Marvel by ignoring what’s happened, so here it is–
Last week Valerie D’orazio bravely spoke up about the effects of online harassment that occurred when she was working for Marvel by a current employee of Marvel, Chris Sims. She continues to speak up about her time at Marvel, including today’s bombshell that does not cast Marvel in a particularly flattering light. (Really, Marvel? You thought that was the best approach?)
I absolutely support D’orazio speaking up. I also don’t care if it’s bad PR for Marvel, because people will always be more important than corporations, and branding should be the furthest thing from Marvel’s mind right now, and yet, the only official response from Marvel was by Axel Alonso in the Axel-In-Charge column on ComicBookResources.Com, where he claimed ignorance of the harassment and dismissed the entire surrounding controversy in a neat paragraph before moving on.
What’s worse is that in the next section, Alonso (on behalf of Marvel), completely dismissed Ronald Wimberley’s incredibly powerful comic published last week on The Nib. In the comic, Wimberley relates how his Marvel editor asked him to lighten the skin of Melita Garner, who is of African and Hispanic heritage, which caused him to wonder about the potentially racist (although potentially unconsciously racist) motivation for asking him to do so.
Alonso missed the entire point by responding that Wimberley was simply one of many artists in that book and he was being asked to match their work. In the next paragraph, he expounded upon Marvel’s virtues in terms of their diversity of characters and in real life.
That’s also bullshit. It’s also one more paragraph than D’orazio received.
So, what’s a Marvel fan to do?
For me, the answer is to not keep silent, to not dismiss the criticisms, and to remember that my criticisms of Marvel do not make me any less of a fan than those who choose to dismiss or to remain silent. Fandom 101: You can love something and still be critical of it. Perhaps I am a naive optimist, but I sincerely hope that one day Marvel will understand that the only way to be the hero in this story is to accept that you were wrong and to be better. Surely the corporation that is the home of Tony Stark can understand that narrative?
If you’ve stuck with me all the way to the end, thank you, and I hope this small offering of the usual Mighty Marvel Monday fare is to your liking. The pop-artist known as Butcher Billy released a series of artwork featuring 80s musicians and Marvel heroes that has been all over my social media. This one is my favorite: