That didn’t take long. Oh, I suppose it was always part of writer Nick Spencer’s plan to have TWO Captains America, one black and one white. In fact I’m pretty sure it WAS his plan, as the scenario offers lots of potential story ideas. Two guys running around with the same superhero name, two guys that don’t see eye to eye politically, one of them black and one of them white. Yeah, I can see that, sure. But I am skeptical that it was Spencer’s idea to bring Steve back from his geriatric retirement (He devolved to his natural age after the Super Soldier Serum was leached from his body by a villain.) quite so soon. I expect a force greater than a writer’s outline is at work here. The big “S.” Sales.

As interesting as the story arc with Sam Wilson subbing for Cap might be, it’s still just that. Sam subbing for Steve. Steve Rogers is Captain America, regardless of who else might wear the costume and wield the shield. Readers want Steve, and Marvel is gonna give him to them. But they’re also going to keep the substitute Cap story going, so fans get to have their red, white, and blue cake and eat it, too. My only complaint is that I don’t care for the new costume they have for Steve. Granted it isn’t radically different, but the one the Falcon is sporting right now is a far cry from the traditional Cap costume, so why not just have Steve go back to that one? And what is up with that shield?

Remember the 90’s? If so, if you’re a comics fan, I’m sorry. I sympathize. It was a bleak, depressing time, a time perfectly defined and symbolized by Image Comics. Not the Image that’s still around today. Back then the company was a different sort of animal. Basically what happened, for you Millennials who missed it, is this: a bunch of Marvel’s hotshot artists, pissed off at the House of Ideas, broke away and started their own company, where they would enjoy full autonomy. Which sounds well and good, but the problem with a complete lack of regulation is that there’s nobody around to tell you “no.” The artists thought they could write their own comics, featuring characters they themselves created. Again, sounds good. But those “original” characters were by and large blatant rip-offs of Marvel characters and those artists couldn’t write their ways out of paper bags. Image ended up signifying the low-water mark of the comics industry, producing some of the worst comic books ever printed.

Why would I dredge up this unpleasant history? Only to make a point. Neal Adams is one of the greatest artists in comics history. I love his work. But he is not a writer. When he got to write his own Batman series, it was gorgeous to look at but at times painful to read. And now they’ve given him Superman to play with. Oy. I HOPE he’s gotten better at it. We’ll see.


I am major stoked over this one. CIVIL WAR remains one of my favorite comics epics of recent years, and this follow-up seems poised to be just as awesome and just as important. The original story really changed comic books, the way that Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN changed comics two decades before it. It forced us all to stop seeing just bright-colored pictures of people in outlandish costumes doing fantastical things and instead look at the comics medium with a serious eye, showing that comics can and should address serious matters. The central question it raised—to what extent should superheroes be overseen and controlled by the government—is a genie out of its bottle. Never again can a superhero wage his/her war against crime without it rearing its head. Never again will such benign super-powered vigilantism be accepted de facto. The funny papers, like the issue itself, aren’t just black and white anymore.

This new storyline looks to be just as highbrow in concept, asking another difficult question: If precognition were possible, is it morally justifiable to act to prevent a crime before it is committed, by taking action against the criminal? Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the man who, more than any other, has done his part to forge the modern Marvel Universe, it’s guaranteed to be good. And I’m excited that Iron Man gets to be the good guy this time!

Guess I just gave away whose side I was on last time, didn’t I, and whose side I’m on this time?


The writer of this linked article, Donna Dickens, wins today’s S.T.F.U. award. Get your britches out of a twist, woman. Your argument is silly. Taking Marvel Studios to task for “whitewashing?” Suggesting that it is perfectly acceptable for Marvel to cast black actors, or Asians, or whatever, in roles of characters that are established as being Caucasian, but deriding any attempt to do it the other way around, when no one has been doing that? Grousing that the story of DR. STRANGE is that of “yet another rich white man finding superpowers.” No doubt you’ll find something to whine about when BLACK PANTHER gets his own movie. He probably won’t be “black” enough to suit you.

What has Dickens and her ilk so riled up? In the comics, the “Ancient One,” the character from whom DR. STRANGE obtains his secret knowledge, was depicted as Asian. Looking back at those stories from the 1960s, Marvel Studios recognized that, by today’s standards, those depictions could be seen as stereotypical. Thus they decided to change the character, making the Ancient One a woman instead. Oh, but they went and cast a WHITE woman! That’s the problem. Now the PC sentinels like Ms. Dickens are squealin’ like gutshot hogs, whereas, if the actress cast in the role had been black or Asian, they would have said nary a word. Making such an issue out of skin color is a sort of reversed racism. We as a species can only be truly without prejudice when skin pigmentation no longer matters at all. Sadly, people like the PC Police, despite their good intentions, are doing their part to prevent us from reaching that state.


Stanley Lieber, more commonly known by his pen name, Stan Lee, really needs no introduction, does he? If you are reading this post, you know who he is. Join me, then, in singing his praises, and in wishing him a happy birthday. Seven years shy of being a centenarian, Stan “The Man” is living proof that cool has no age limit. The word “legend” falls short. The world of Comics, and now the world of Cinema also—I would argue the entire world of popular culture, and even Culture in general, as the man’s work really is that prevalent—as we know it/them would not exist today if not for Stan Lee.

Spider-Man. The Fantastic Four. The X-Men. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers. Daredevil. These are just a sampling of your many creations, the progeny of your fertile imagination. The highbrows can no longer dismiss you as just “that comic book guy.” Your mark on civilization is too evident, your effect too pervasive. Thou hast conquered, Lieber! If your legacy doesn’t meet the snooty definition of “Art,” as some nimrods would suggest, you have simply redefined the word. A modern-day Homer or Ovid, weaving a new mythology; such is the stuff of which icons are made. In short, Stan, you rock. Happy birthday, and may you have many more!