Comic books have always been political. They are a reflection of what is happening in the world at the time of their publication. They were born in the build-up to WWII and were massive pro-American propaganda instruments during that conflict.
There were no “Avengers” in WWII, but Captain America was part of a group known as “The Invaders.” At DC Comics, home of Superman and Batman, there was the Justice Society that worked in close concert with none other than FDR.
As time has moved forward comics have tried to remain “relevant.”
In the turbulent time of the Sixties and Seventies, youth sidekicks became heroin addicts. Green Arrow became a hippie in tights paired with the conservative, militaristic Green Lantern. In the Eighties, Richard Nixon gained dictatorial powers over the nation in the dystopic and seminal “Watchmen” mini-series. At the heart of Watchmen and the vastly influential “Dark Knight Returns” was a re-examination of the relationship between the superhero and the government. Comics returned to their old WWII form with the election of Barack Obama – at least for a while.
Political opinion in comics has always been obvious. But, even in disagreement it has always been done with respect for the nation and its offices. But no more. This morning, in the kind of niche, target marketing that only the internet can provide, I was greeted with ads for tee shirts, mugs, etc. bearing this image.
The offer was not from a comic book publisher and I have no clue about whether the purveyors of this stuff have the permission of Wonder Woman’s copyright owner, but I do know that to my rather extensive recollection of comics this is the first time a super hero has ever been depicted attacking the actual and legitimate POTUS. There have been a few fictional ones so-attacked – all of whom gained the office through questionable means – but never the actual, sitting president. As such this is a not a policy disagreement but an attack on the legitimacy of Trump in office. Hardly the first, but certainly the one most steeped in popular culture.
The biggest single problem facing the nation at this moment is not a matter of policy, but that simple fact. A significant and highly vocal segment of the country genuinely does not think the Trump presidency legitimate. No one has yet presented any evidence of such illegitimacy, but apparently evidence does not matter in this instance. Even the birther movement had a refusal to produce evidence implying actual evidence, but this stuff is made up from thin air.
Mostly I mourn for the medium I have loved for a lifetime. This is past political disagreement or commentary. This is disrespect for the nation, its founding principles and the laws it uses to elect its leadership. No one should stand for this. DC Comics and its owner, Time Warner, should see to it that these products are immediately withdrawn from market, and that this image never again sees the light of day. It’s not a matter of censorship – it is a matter of citizenship. Frankly, given some of Trump’s alleged behavior, I would laugh at a comic depicting women queuing up to take a shot – but the image of Wonder Woman means too much to the culture and the nation for this. And by the way – doesn’t Bill Clinton deserve a shot too?
Addendum 24 hours later: Now that wonderful niche, targeted marketing is not longer trying to sell my these Wonder Woman items, rather they are the same items with an image of The Incredible Hulk punching POTUS. Again, no indication of the publisher or copyright holder being involved and the extraordinary efforts the purveyors have taken to limit the time of sale and not allow me to download the image indicate they may be operating without the publisher/copyright holders permission. Hulk is owned by Marvel Comics and it’s parent Disney. They should do the same things I opined yesterday that DC/Time Warner should do.