The always polite and friendly Tom Brevoort was asked a question on Tumblr about Red Wolf, one of the characters that appeared in a promotional banner for All-New All-Different Marvel NOW!.
"Hey Tom," asked Anonymous. "I think bringing Red Wolf into prominence is a great idea, and will fit Marvel's sense of diversity in the future. I do have a question about this though: was there ever a concern that the character might be viewed as a stereotype, or met with a similar controversy to say, the Washington Redskins? Well, thanks for your time and keep up the good work!"
It's a reasonable question. After all, Red Wolf does look a little bit... outdated:
Shirtless, wearing war paint, wearing buckskin pants, wearing, inexplicably, a loincloth over the buckskin pants, wearing a necklace made out of animal teeth, and holding a bow and arrow, Red Wolf looks a little bit stereotypical. Maybe there's a good reason for this. Maybe it totally makes sense in the story and Red Wolf will be the most inoffensive character ever created.
But looking at that image, which Marvel produced and released for the purpose of getting readers excited about All-New All-Different Marvel NOW!, it's a perfectly valid response to ask a question, right? It's something that's been discussed recently in the national media in response to sports teams using stereotypical images of Native Americans as mascots, so it's clearly relevant. We can all agree that asking questions is okay, especially when raised in the respectful and non-confrontational manner as Anonymous did?
Well, not according to Tom Brevoort:
No concern, in that we thought that when people read the story, as opposed to judging wildly from a piece of promotional art, they would understand the character.
Really, Tom? Did the person asking the question "judge wildly?" Is any kind of response other than blind devotion considered "wild judgement?"
This kind of attitude is indicative of the smarm that permeates the industry and parts of fandom. If the marketing pumped out daily by Marvel gets you excited and in the mood to buy their comics, that's a perfectly accepted response. But if you criticize it? Well, mister, you should wait until the book comes out before passing "wild" judgement! That promotional art is only for people to fawn over and place their preorders. Criticism isn't allowed around here. How dare people "wildly" judge Marvel by the promotional art Marvel itself creates and publishes?! Who do you think you are, comic book reader, to question the House of Ideas?
Oh, Tom Brevoort, you wonderful, abrasive, hypocritical bastard. If Marvel's promotional campaign isn't sending the message you want, have you considered that the problem might lie with the communicator of the message and not the receiver? It seems to drive certain industry personalities "wild" that fans and bloggers have a platform to express their opinion about Marvel outside of Marvel's control. The world has changed, Tom. I'm afraid you have to put up with the unwashed masses talking out of turn, whether you like it or not.
Marvel isn't exempt from criticism just because their movies make a lot of money. In an industry where the success of a book is often determined before the first issue hits stores, with fan excitement leading to retailer orders leading to sales numbers, promotional art is exactly what we have to judge the books on. Especially when, as Peter David points out, if you until after the book is out to form an opinion, it may be too late to save it from cancellation (which is also, somehow, the responsibility of the fans and not the publisher).
In no other industry on the planet do the executives of global corporations regular go on social media to berate fans. But berating fans and bloggers seems to be one of the primary reasons for the existence of Tom Brevoort's tumblr, or Stephen Wacker's message board accounts, or a multitude of creators' Twitters and Facebooks. If you're looking for fans to give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe you could not respond like an asshole when a fan asks you a legitimate question in a polite manner, rather than blaming them for getting the "wrong" impression from your own marketing campaign.
Maybe Red Wolf will be the greatest representation of a Native American character in the history of the comic book medium. I wouldn't know though, because I make it a point not to buy things from people who act like shitheads to their fans. That has nothing to do with a promotional image, and everything to do with how Marvel representatives consistently present themselves on social media.
Being a comic book executive isn't a royal entitlement, Tom. Don't you have anything better to do with your time than telling off fans on Tumblr in response to handpicked questions from "anonymous" readers. Maybe it's you who could stand to adjust your attitude.