Last week, Marvel Comics announced that they would be publishing more than fifty Hip Hop variant covers, as we covered in very accurate detail here. The covers kicked off criticism that Marvel was engaging in "cultural appropriation," because while they were mass-producing variant covers based on classic hip hop albums for sale at great profit, oops, they kind of have a bit of a shortage of black creators working on their actual comics. To make matters worse, Marvel Executive Vice President of Sticking His Foot in his Mouth, Tom Brevoort, responded pithily to the criticism on his volatile tumblr blog.
But fear not, true believers! To address all of the complaints, Marvel sent its two most executives to CBR's Axel-in-Charge column, the weekly infomercial disguised as an interview where Marvel's Editor in Chief holds court weekly to answer pre-approved softball question. Alonso was joined by Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada.
But the pair of execs weren't there to conduct business. They were there to settle. And you know what that means. Straight outta the executive washroom, it was our favorite recording artists, rapping Axel Alonso and Joe Q, back for one more turn on the mic!
"Axel Alonso in the hooooouuuuuuussse! Joey Q! Gimme a beat!" Alonso shouted! Quesada happily obliged.
"Yo, my name is Axel and I'm here to say," Alonso began, "I've been into hip hop since back in the day. And if you still think I'm not down, gentlemen; you should know that I'm a Mexican American."
"Yeaaaaaahhh", Quesada punctuated. "And I'm Cuban, B."
"Yes," Alonso agreed. "Cuban B."
Together with Quesada, Alonso rapped about how he first discovered hip hop when he heard The Sugarhill Gang at a place called the Doggy Diner in the classic hip hop city, San Francisco, and how it was a transformative event. Ever since, Alonso has been inspired by hip hop, and maybe one day, it will inspire him to hire a greater number of black comics creators. In the meantime, Marvel has showed the covers to several black people, who thought they were nice.
"They said we got no black writers!" Axel continued.
"Yo, that's wack!" chimed in Quesada.
"Here's the names of several people that I know who are black." Alonso retorted.
He then rapped the names of prominent black comic book creators and musicians to whom he had shown the covers, including Reggie Hudlin and Denys Cowan. Alonso explained, through blistering rhymes, that some of the artists doing the 50 covers actually work for Marvel or have worked for them in the past, and that, hey, some of them may end up working for Marvel in the future."
"The October solicits may not be so diverse," rapped Alonso, shrugging. "But hey, if you think about it, things could be worse. We'll try out these covers and see how it goes. Maybe these guys can work for us later; who knows?"
"Certainly not us! It's not like we have anything to do with that!" Quesada added. Alonso glared at him in silence.
"Uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh," Quesada beatboxed, breaking the tension.
"So all you sucka MCs who dissed our covers," Alonso jumped back in, really fired up now. "You're about to get put in your place, mutha--"
"The Disney corporation doesn't approve of such language," Quesada hastily interrupted.
"Sorry," Alonso apologized, before continuing. "Well, to show you that your criticism simply won't stick, here's a single example that I handpicked."
Alonso then rapped about an editorial in UK's The Guardian whose author didn't know that some of the cover artists were black. Alonso pointed out that this therefore invalidates all criticism of the covers, settling the matter once and for all. He refused to acknowledge stronger criticisms, such as David Brothers' widely cited essay, which made many salient points about the problems with Marvel's covers contrasted with its poor record of hiring black creators.
"I've said all I'm gonna say. Yo, that's the truth," Axel rhymed. "Huh? What was that you said, homie? Uh...? David who?"
He glanced at Quesada, who gave him a thumbs up, signaling that Axel was very convincing. Alonso continued to spit fly rhymes, painting all of Marvel's detractors as uninformed and justifying the whole thing by claiming that it helps start a conversation about diversity.
"And if that don't prove that it's all good, look," Alonso concluded. "We're even gonna publish a Black Panther book!"
"That makes us even," added Quesada. "You're welcome."
The two exchanged a congratulatory high five, and then, to show how hip they really are, went down low as well.
"Phew! I sure am glad that's over with," rapped Alonso, changing the subject. "Now let's talk about the new "Secret Wars: What If?'"
"Four ninety nine!" Quesada barked, then folded his arms.
Alonso then handed CBR a stack of exclusive art previews and the execs bolted out of the interview room, jumped into a waiting Escalade, and sped off. Read the full account of their performance here.