Comic book writer Chuck Dixon and artist Paul Rivoche have penned a recent article on the Wall Street Journal decrying the rise of liberalism in comic books. Titled "How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman: A graphic tale of modern comic books' descent into moral relativism," the article cites the infamous scene from Action Comics #900 where Superman renounces his American citizenship as one of the most prominent symptoms of the medium's slide into moral relativism.
Following this infamous scene, the Nu52 Superman in Grant Morrison's Action Comics run eschewed conservative values further by beating up job creators and wearing his underwear inside his pants.
So besides bad comics, what's the result of this ideological shift, in Dixon and Rivoche's opinion?
Our fear is that today's young comic-book readers are being ill-served by a medium that often presents heroes as morally compromised or no different from the criminals they battle. With the rise of moral relativism, "truth, justice and the American way" have lost their meaning.
Dixon and Rivoche link the beginning of the decline of conservative views in comics, and the forcing out of conservative-minded creators, to the death of the Comics Code Authority:
The 1990s brought a change. The industry weakened and eventually threw out the CCA, and editors began to resist hiring conservative artists. One of us, Chuck, expressed the opinion that a frank story line about AIDS was not right for comics marketed to children. His editors rejected the idea and asked him to apologize to colleagues for even expressing it. Soon enough, Chuck got less work.
The superheroes also changed. Batman became dark and ambiguous, a kind of brooding monster. Superman became less patriotic, culminating in his decision to renounce his citizenship so he wouldn't be seen as an extension of U.S. foreign policy. A new code, less explicit but far stronger, replaced the old: a code of political correctness and moral ambiguity. If you disagreed with mostly left-leaning editors, you stayed silent.
The writers invite readers to check out their graphic novel adaptation of journalist Amity Shales' book The Forgotten Man, a history of the Great Depression, and encourage their fellow conservative comics creators, along with "free-speech liberals," to "take back comics."
On the one hand, it does seem taboo to express conservative viewpoints lately, and censorship is never good. On the other hand, a lot of conservative viewpoints are fucking stupid - I'm talking about the social issues here, like gay marriage and abortion - and what publisher wants to be associated with bigotry? And in any case, can censorship by a giant corporation really be anti-conservative? Aren't you just censoring the free speech of those corporate persons if you censor their censorship? The whole thing makes my head hurt.
When it comes to perpetual global war and serving the interest of 1%ers and big business, both liberal and conservative politicians tend to behave the same way (as lapdogs for plutocrats, in case you were wondering). Me, I'd like to see all the Republicans and Democrats lined up for the guillotine, so perhaps I'm not the best judge of this stuff.
So what do you think? Do Dixon and Rivoche have a point?