Whenever Tom Brevoort speaks about a comics controversy, we know we're in for a real treat. The completely un-self-aware Marvel executive never fails to provide the most condescending, dishonest, and rude response possible to whatever issue people are mad at Marvel about on any particular day. So when we saw that Brevoort was filling in for Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso on CBR's weekly promotional fluff interview column, Axel-in-Charge, we were delighted to click on it.
It was everything we hoped for, and more. So much more, in fact, that we found we didn't even know where to start in rebutting it. Instead, we decided to filter it down to only the top ten ways in which the interview totally sucked:
10. Holy crap, what's with all the ads?
Clicking on the article brings you to CBR's homepage, which is gaudily covered in a Scooby Apocalypse site-skin full page background advertisement. But that's not enough, because a few seconds after the page loads, a massive video popup ad covers the entire screen. If you manage to click the X on that and get it to go away, you're treated to additional ads in the middle of the article.
9. Seriously, that wasn't enough ads?
All of the ads are apparently not enough for CBR's new owners, Valnet Inc., because unlike any past Axel-in-Charge column, this interview is broken up into two pages, so you have to click the "NEXT" button at the bottom of the page to read the second part and go through the whole ad thing all over again.
8. No, seriously, that still wasn't enough?
At the end of the article, readers learn that this is only the first half of the interview with Brevoort (which isn't even very long), and they'll have to come back on Monday to read the rest... and click through all those ads again.
7. Brevoort is a fucking liar (part 1).
One of the themes of Brevoort's article, which is also a common theme in his many Tumblr posts blaming everyone for misinterpreting Marvel's message, is the idea that people are only mad at Marvel because they heard information second- or third-hand, usually filtered through the reporting of some nefarious blogger, and these people don't even actually read the comics. As an example, Brevoort refers back to Superior Spider-Man:
I think another good parallel to what's going on right now is pretty clearly "Superior Spider-Man" -- particularly at the outset, where there were plenty of readers who were aghast at the idea that we would kill Peter Parker and Doc Ock would take over his body and be Spider-Man. And then in similar games of telephone, and people not looking at the comics but looking at the reporting on the comics, or what have you, it turns into "Spider-Man is raping Mary Jane, because Mary Jane doesn't know he's Doc Ock, this is terrible, Marvel is promoting non-consensual sex." The story wasn't any of that, and what drove a lot of that was just, people felt so strongly for Peter Parker, and were just afraid that he was going to be gone and ruined forever, and they'd never see him again.
Here, Brevoort is intentionally distorting the truth. People didn't say Superior Spider-Man was rapey because some reporter lied about it. They said it because Doctor Octopus, disguised as Spider-Man, literally stole a kiss from Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man #700, and then to top it off Marvel released promotional artwork showing a panicked Mary Jane recoiling from Spider-Ock as he forcibly kisses her.
That's actual rape being depicted in artwork Marvel created, and that's why people were upset, not because Bleeding Cool made something up. But then, this isn't the first time Brevoort has scolded fans for reacting to Marvel's own promotional artwork.
6. Brevoort is a liar (part 2).
Brevoort continues with his Superior Spider-Man sermon, and he goes on to draw the conclusion that people weren't really mad about Marvel's rapey Spider-Man imagery at all, but instead were just so distraught at the idea of Peter Parker being dead forever (as we know death always lasts forever in comics) and couldn't handle not knowing whether he'd be okay. Seriously:
Once the storyline was closing, and once it was over, suddenly all these people materialized -- some of them the same people -- who were like, "Wow, that was the greatest thing ever, what a roller coaster ride." Part of it was, they could now feel comfortable to approach the story on its own level, because they didn't have to be worried about the ending -- they knew it would be OK. In essence, this is the argument of, "People want to have spoilers. They want to know how the movie ends." I don't really believe that; I think that's just a facile argument used by people who want to make a buck by spoiling things for other people. But there's some truth to the underlying idea that people can get so emotionally worked up about a story that they're experiencing that they can't actually enjoy it until they know everything turns out OK in the end.
Notice Brevoort also tosses in another dig at the comics media, who Brevoort absolutely despises unless they are in the business of constantly kissing Marvel's ass, like CBR. Brevoort, and Marvel in general, believes the job of the comics media is to help Marvel sell comics, and when they don't play along, Marvel and its acolytes like Brevoort and Dan Slott become downright hostile.
5. Brevoort has nothing but contempt for fans and press.
Brevoort's vitriol for anyone who dares to criticize Marvel isn't limited to the press. He dislikes any fans who question Marvel about anything, and assumes they are either out to get him, or just completely shitty people.
You don't want to put out an issue of any comic, and have people turn up their noses and sniff, "It's only temporary." That sort of jaded, knowing cynicism doesn't help anybody.
Where the fuck does Tom Brevoort think people get that cynicism from? It couldn't possibly be Marvel's own fault for putting out universe-altering, status-quo destroying events twice a year that are completely undone within six months by a line-wide reboot, could it? It couldn't be because Marvel is currently teasing, in addition to it's Civil War 2 super-mega-crossover event in which A HERO WILL DIE (AGAIN), another death in the upcoming Death of X event, at the same fucking time as EVERY PERSON TO EVER DIE IN SPIDER-MAN COMICS COMES BACK TO LIFE in Dead No More. No, it's because people are jaded assholes. They're just born that way, we guess.
4. CBR seems like they're walking on the thinnest of ice with Marvel.
Is CBR afraid that if they ask too many tough questions, Marvel will pack up and head to ComicBook.com for their weekly handjobs? Don't get us wrong, Axel-in-Charge is usually loaded with softballs, and when a serious topic is addressed, it's normally to give Axel Alonso a platform to cherry-pick the least convincing argument possible and use it as a straw man for all arguments that disagree with him. But just look at how Albert Ching had to tiptoe around asking Brevoort about this Captain America Nazi thing:
There's been a spectrum of reaction, from those just genuinely surprised, to those a bit more jaded about it, and also people who are legitimately let down by the development. I've seen the interpretation of those making a connection between Hydra and Nazis -- likely at least in part because of the connection between the two in Marvel Studios films -- who are concerned that Captain America now in some way represents anti-Semitism. Have you seen that reaction, and if so, do you have a response?
That's a lot of fucking words to ask "why is Captain America a Nazi?" isn't it?
3. Brevoort is a fucking liar (part 3).
Brevoort uses that question above, of course, to launch into a bunch of barely disguised contempt for Marvel's own customers and, of course, the press:
We've certainly seen that reaction. There's plenty of email that's coming in, a lot of which, quite honestly, is form letters -- somebody has written a basic form letter that people can add their name to, almost like a petition. The feelings behind those form letters are genuine, though. The whole situation is very representative of the way information is reported and consumed these days.
Brevoort is basically saying that Marvel's readers (kids these days) are too dumb to think for themselves and too lazy to even compose their own email. They're just filling out some kind of online form letter to express their displeasure. Of course, this ignores all the commentary on social media and blogs, but Marvel never acknowledges those, unless they can find one that's completely misinformed and claim it represents all of the internet.
2. Brevoort is still a fucking liar.
Brevoort insists, multiple times throughout the article, that the only reason people are angry with Marvel is because they aren't reading the books, they're just reading some dumb blog, and they're mad about stuff that isn't actually happening. Watch Brevoort build a straw man:
The actual contents of that comic book, and the revelation that Captain America says "Hail Hydra" at the end and is a Hydra guy, gets turned into, "He's a Nazi," and then that gets turned into anti-Semitism. Obviously, there is a very strong feeling about anti-Semitism. That's a genuine, real-world issue, and that's not what we're doing in our story. I can also see how people, particularly if you're just reading the news accounts or hearing about the accounts, or reading somebody summarize the news accounts, how it can play into the game of telephone; to go from what's actually in the comic to Captain America the anti-Semite Nazi. But it's not actually that at all.
Except, nobody thinks that Captain America is walking around his comic in a Hitler mustache talking about killing the Jews. The criticism has been wide-ranging and nuanced, but it has more to do with Captain America's creation, by two Jewish creators, during World War 2, but before America entered the war when there was actually alot of pro-Nazi sentiment in the US, as an act of defiance against Nazi-ism. Saying that Captain America has, in fact, always been a part of an organization that is closely related to the Nazis and is Nazi in origin, is disrespectful to the character's origins. That's just one of the criticisms we've seen, and one of many, and we're not even saying it's objectively right. But Brevoort doesn't even address something like that, doesn't try to thoughtfully and introspectively respond to it, because he can't just blame it on bloggers and hand-wave the criticism away. Brevoort is both a liar and a coward.
1. Did we mention that Tom Brevoort is a liar?
The whole interview was basically Brevoort lying about why people were mad and defending against things no real people actual said:
I get this response. I totally understand it. I can't say I was specifically ready for it -- I don't think it particularly crossed our minds that people would say that this issue of "Captain America" contains anti-Semitic undertones. But again, I can see how people get to that conclusion, and I can totally understand how people would be upset about it. That said, these charges are based on huge intuitive leaps concerning the material. Marvel would, under no circumstances, condone anti-Semitism. If people want to conclude that this is what we're doing, that's their prerogative, but there's a story to be told that will challenge that assumption.
Marvel are the victims here, but they're turning the other cheek. It's your prerogative if you want to believe Nick Spencer wrote KILL THE JEWS in the marginalia of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. Marvel didn't do that, but go ahead and believe it if you want. What's that? You actually have a more complex, nuanced complaint? Na na na na can't hear youuuuu.
In the end, Brevoort just wants everyone to know that it's not Marvel's actual readers who are upset, but only these fake fans who don't actually read the comics. Movie fans, TV fans, or worst of all, of course, blog-reading fans. People who read the comics love everything Marvel does, but unfortunately, according to Brevoort, all these non-readers are always making too much noise on the internet:
A lot of the mail that we're getting is coming from people who are not reading our comics, but who are fans of the character from the films, or animation, or just seeing him on toy shelves and so forth. They're tending to have a skewed vision of what's happening in the book, based on either the reporting, or just the headline of the reporting, or just what they've been told about what the story is. It's unfortunate that it's made so many people so upset, but I think the actual story that we're telling is something that we can stand behind.
But it's not something they can stand behind enough to address the actual criticisms people have thrown at it. And CBR doesn't bother to press that issue either. As usual, Marvel is allowed to use the Eisner-winning website as a platform to refute straw man arguments unchallenged.
We can't wait to see what happens when Brevoort returns on Monday. Will CBR have the guts to ask him about any of the things brought up here? We highly doubt it.