Fandoms can be hard to be a part of, they’re often full of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and as such people will can have vastly different opinions and takeaways from certain films, TV shows, and any other form of fictional entertainment. One area where these kinds of divides are some of the most obvious are in the world of comics.
You don’t have to go very deep into the comic book fandom to find divisive views, even something as simple as ‘do you prefer Marvel or DC?’ can spark debate, and even full scale arguments between fans of the medium. The latest argument that seems to be taking over the comic fandom at the moment follows a tweet made by Cable artist Jon Malin made on Sunday evening.
When Malin tweeted about a recent live-stream interview he had taken part in, saying:
“In depth discussion of SJW insertion of identity politics into mainstream comics, the damage done, how to correct it and why modern art and Andy Kaufman suck.”
When another twitter uses responded to ask “Aren’t the X-Men LITERALLY Social Justice Warriors?“, Malin responded with the following;
“X-Men are closer to Jews in SJW Hitler’s Germany fighting for freedom because they see ideologies rising, silencing them, weaponizing hate, racism and socialism against people they claim are the root of social ills. SJWs are not Nazis but Nazis were SJWs and X-MEN aren’t SJWs.”
As to be expected from such a polarising response, the reactions on Twitter were extremely mixed.
Some users were quick to point out that Malin’s views seemed to go against the core nature of the X-Men, a group of heroes that have been a metaphor for downtrodden and targeted minorities for decades, a group that very much stands for equality and acceptance.
Co-host of the ‘Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men’ podcast, Jay Edidin, wrote: “Social Justice is a FUNDAMENTAL VALUE of Judaism. Fundamental. The reason you weren’t seeing a lot of discourse about it in WWII Germany is because Jews were FIGHTING TO SURVIVE. Holding up that forced silence as an ideal is beyond horrific.”
Other users retweeted the statement made by Malin, tagging Marvel Comics in their response to urge them to look more closely into his comments, feeling that someone that equated those striving for equality to Nazi’s to be problematic for an X-Men title.
Despite a large amount of outrage over the incident, many others came forward to support Malin, claiming that he is correct in his view that ‘Social Justice Warriors’ have ruined the comics industry, and Marvel in particular.
“Much respect Mr Malin, bought my first Cable book in over a decade today in support,” one user tweeted, whilst another said: “You are a legend.”
Malin went on to add fuel to the argument by tweeting:
“Glad to expose the vipers nest that is the growing SJW infestation of this industry that is killing creative voices that politically differ, afraid to take creative chances for fear of the slightest offence including attacking a 95 YO Stan Lee & closing comic shops everywhere.”
The attack against Stan Lee that Malin mentioned in his tweet is referring to allegations of sexual misconduct made against the creator by his nurses, claims that Lee denies.
So far the arguments have yet to end, with very clear lines forming online between those supporting Malin, and those who feel that he has stepped out of line by voicing such opinions.
Whilst I do not agree with Malin, and find his views go against everything that the X-Men stand for, he is entitled to have his own opinions. He’s also entitled to voice his opinions, as anyone is. But when you are working for a company such as Marvel, with a huge fanbase, should he be held accountable for voicing such opinions?
Some people have argued that as this is Malin’s own personal Twitter account he is allowed to post whatever he likes, and should be free to express his political and social beliefs. However, I find myself agreeing more with the other side of the argument, that as someone working on one of Marvels projects he becomes a voice for Marvel.
Anything expressed by those working for Marvel, or any comic book company, should be carefully considered and thought through before being said, as those words can have an effect on the company. If a writer or artist of a particular book were to express homophobic, racist, or sexist views, for example, it could damage the sales of those books. Marvel know this, and have in the past held its creators accountable for the things they say and do that could negatively affect them, as such it baffles me that Malin not only made these comments, but continues to do so, apparently with little to no fear that it may impact his employment.
Many fans have expressed their opinions that someone who compared those fighting for justice with Nazis shouldn’t be working for the company, and have made calls for him to be fired.
Whilst Malin may have been able to ‘get away’ with his initial comments if handled correctly, his doubling down of inappropriate comments makes it appear more likely that he will receive some form of reprimand from Marvel, possibly even losing his position with them.
After making his tweets he appeared on a Q&A on Youtube with DC artist Ethan Van Sciver, where he told the audience that comics had begun to reject creators because of their political views.
“The next guy like me, its going to be even more hard. These people are getting further and further into control of these companies, and when they find out you’re a Trump supporter, you’re gone.’ He said, before moving on to express his frustration with the current creative talent within Marvel, effectively insulting his colleagues. ‘We keep pulling these people from these indie markets that are drawing airplane manuals. They don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know anything about comics. The writers, do not understand the intricacies of writing a plot so you can really build a story from panel to panel to panel.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first occasion that Malin has caused a stir amongst fans, as last October he was accused of overly sexualising the X-Men character Blink, putting her in a costume that barely covered her breasts, and making her breasts larger than her head.
When fans asked Malin to make the character more appropriate he first denied seeing anything wrong with the character, before going on to complain that those who were speaking out never complain about how men are represented in comics, leading to criticisms that Malin was taking a sexist stance.
It is interesting to note, that Malin was amongst the creators at Marvel who was in favour of artist Ardian Syaf losing his job with Marvel for placing religious messages within the art of ‘X-Men Gold’ #1.
Whilst I rarely wade into these kinds of arguments, especially on social media platforms such as Twitter where things can get extremely heated very quickly, I can’t help but feel disappointed by Malins comments.
The X-Men have often been used as a book to comment on many of the injustices in the world, including segregation, equal rights, discrimination, and even genocide. The X-Men have been harassed by bigots, been targeted by government officials, and even had campaigns of extermination made against them.
These are all areas that ‘SJW’s’ have fought against. Organisations that have been dedicated to combating racism have been slurred as being SJW’s. Those who have decried homophopbia and transphobia have been accused of pushing a SJW agenda. People fighting against sexism and coming forward with sexual assault revelations have been called SJW’s. To compare people who are the real world equivalents of the X-Men to the people that tried to exterminate an entire people is deplorable.
As a trans woman I’ve been on the receiving end of prejudice more times than I can count. I’ve lost jobs, been driven from my home town, been spat on in the street, I’ve had threats of death and sexual assault made against me. I identify with the X-Men. I see the kinds of pain and suffering that they go through, the hate and fear that they face and I recognise that in my own life.
But they never give in, they never let that hate beat them. And that’s inspirational. They’re telling us that those who stand up for what’s right, those who fight to be seen as people, to be accepted and loved even when the whole world is telling you you’re a monster are heroes.
I don’t know if I’d be the person I am today without the X-Men. They taught me such valuable lessons growing up, and instilled me with morals that inspire me even to this day. Someone who fails to see that, who compares those who fight the way they do with people who commit genocide is not the right person to be working on an X-Men book. I just hope that Jon Malin can see that and learn from this mistake.