Comicscape - January 12, 2005 (Mania.com)

By:Tony Whitt
Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Welcome to another fun-filled week at COMICSCAPE! Last week I asked you to write in with your thoughts regarding Marvel's hiring of Orson Scott Card to write ULTIMATE IRON MAN. The problem, according to many gay and lesbian comics fans, is that Card has written several anti-homosexual articles over the years, and their worry is that such attitudes will find their way into the comic - which, by the way, features the rather obviously gay Jarvis, the butler. In fact, one reader, Phil Nobile, addresses that question, and brings up another that no one else seems to have considered: "Is this Ultimate Iron Man meant to be the same Stark that appears in THE ULTIMATES? In Millar's first run of THE ULTIMATES, one of the more interesting touches was Jarvis' frequent hints that playboy Tony Stark was, with his high-profile philandering, trying too hard to act straight and was in fact a closeted homosexual. It wasn't overdone, and could have been ribbing on Jarvis' part, but I found it more interesting as legit character exposition. Where does all this hullabaloo leave that particular question? In the dustbin, I'm guessing, which is a shame." Yeah, I'd say it's in the dustbin for sure, Phil or at least, in Card's series it probably will be. But as to the question of whether Card should have been hired at all or not, what surprises me about the responses I received is not the quantity but the fact that so many of you agreed with each other if not with the gay and lesbian fans...



The most overtly negative response to those concerns comes from Chad Fletcher, who writes, "This entire argument is ridiculous. Why is it okay to have some beliefs and not other beliefs? We live in a country that is supposed to protect all beliefs, whether we like them or not. We see it all the time - conservatives who want to keep homosexuals from voicing their opinions, and liberals who want to keep conservatives from voicing their opinions. In this country (the media in particular), it is perfectly acceptable for a black person to publicly insult white people with stereotypical insults and slurs. However, it is not acceptable for the reverse to happen. It is acceptable for gays to insult straights, but it is NOT acceptable for straights to publicly insult gays. There is a massive double standard in today's media, and to deny it is ridiculous.



"Homosexuals and those who support homosexuality tend to think that everyone should be screened for 'wrong viewpoints' before any job is taken that might influence the public. If you are a homosexual and you buy a car that was designed by a homophobe, would you sell it immediately even though you have tricked it out, spent countless hours modifying it with love and an attention to detail that made it truly your own? Of course not. Not unless the car company came out and said 'We hate gays!'



"Who cares if Card is a homophobe? I don't. Unless he makes Iron Man a Red and Gold hunk of Gay-Bashing Metal, then why should it bother you? What will happen if he has a character in his comic who is a blatant hater of gays? Will you quickly cry 'HOMOPHOBE!' and launch into a hysterical fit? If the character became the hero of the book, you would have an argument. However, if it is a minor character, would people complain?



"Here is what I think would happen if a homophobic character were introduced into Iron-Man: If the character was a homophobe, and was quickly put in his place and suffered an embarrassing defeat or was beat down, it would lauded as a 'great lesson in tolerance.' Of course, if the homophobic character happened to be powerful enough to beat Iron Man (or was Iron Man himself) the entire book would be labeled as 'a mouthpiece for the homophobic everywhere.'



"Both of these ideas are foolish. Marvel (and any other company in any medium that is available to the public) must keep the interests of its viewers and readers in mind, and must protect those interests lest they lose business. If five percent of their readers don't like an author, while 95% love him/her, do they fire the author? I understand that companies don't want to be identified as 'hateful' on anything. The Braves smashed John Rocker for his statements years ago. Does he have the right to voice his opinion? Absolutely. Did the Braves have a right to tell him to shut up because he was a representative of their team? Absolutely.



"This whole argument is maddening, typical of this entirely politically correct era. Everyone is America is prejudiced in some way or another, and everyone has an axe to grind. To suggest otherwise is arrogance defined. Simply put, if you don't want to listen to someone, don't. But they have a right to say it.



"I am a Christian. I believe homosexuality is morally wrong, according to the Bible. That does not make me a homophobe. Legally, do whatever you wish or are allowed to. If you were alongside the road and needed help, I would help you. If you needed any assistance, I would do my best to lend a hand. If you were my child's teacher, I wouldn't care. I would be as good a witness as I can be. It doesn't matter to me - if a person needs help, they need help. I don't give them a screening examination before I lend a hand. 'Let's see here. You're trapped in a burning car that's getting ready to explode. But before I reach in and pull you out, are you a homosexual?'



"Ridiculous."



I don't think anyone is suggesting that Card would do otherwise, Chad, but you do make a good point about the double standard in public discourse regarding what whites and straights are allowed to say about minorities and what those same minorities are allowed to say back. Thing is, if Card were to make such obviously hateful statements in ULTIMATE IRON MAN, then he'd never be allowed to continue writing it. Also, I'm not so sure that we gay and lesbian fans are worried that a homophobic character will appear in the book they have a tendency to crop up in comics from time to time, you know but that Card might make Tony Stark that 'mouthpiece' you talked about. And again, I'm not sure that would be allowed, either. Whether this renders the argument 'ridiculous' or not, however, is still up for debate...



Another person of faith, M. Ryan Croker, makes an interesting point about the views of an older lauded author in this letter: "I am writing this to you as both a devout Mormon and as a fan of Orson Scott Card's fiction. I think that the issue of whether he should be allowed to write a comic book because he happens to hold strong opinions about a particular topic are absurd. I have read many of his essays and stated opinions on many things, and I do not agree with him on a variety of topics. That has never stopped me from reading and enjoying his work, however. He is a man of conviction, and whether he be right or wrong should he be punished for having an opinion? If there were a person who was a rabid anti-Mormon who were to be hired to write a comic book, would we hear about it? There are such people in the world and for the most part they are ignored. Take Arthur Conan Doyle, for example. He was an outspoken opponent of the Mormon Church, and one Sherlock Holmes story is nothing more that an attempt to discredit Mormons. Yet if he were alive today and still writing, would his opinions be an issue? In fact you can find most, if not all, of his works in the Brigham Young University Library.



"Orson Scott Card has very strong opinions on homosexuals, yet he does not advocate violence toward them or any sort of inhumane treatment. If his opinions (and they are only that, opinions) come from a basis in our religion, one must understand that ours is a very difficult lifestyle. It is not one undertaken lightly. In our belief system, anyone engaged in a homosexual lifestyle is in sin. However, this could be said of anyone engaged in sexual intercourse outside of a husband/wife marriage. For us, anyone who drinks alcohol or smokes as a member of the church would not be considered a 'good Mormon'. So do not judge him too harshly; he is not simply singling out homosexuals out of hatred or intolerance, he is defending his opinions against what he perceives as an attack, or an attempt to have a narrow-minded set of beliefs about homosexuality foisted on society.



"The issue of homosexuality will not go away any time soon. There will most likely be differing opinions about it forever. To stifle one man simply because he disagrees with you is the worst kind of bigotry and oppression. And seriously people, it is only a comic book. Orson Scott Card is mature enough not to turn it into some sort of political platform. Agree with him or not, let the man write. He's not making you read it."

To be honest, Ryan, I had completely forgotten about Doyle's anti-LDS stances, even though I'd been informed about them back in '96 when I went to BYU to present a paper at the annual science fiction conference. Yes, folks, there are many surprises in Utah, and one of those surprises for me was meeting gay Mormons. Granted, they lived a good bit of their lives in fear of being found out by the church leadership, but it proves one of the points made by Ryan's letter: not all Mormons are the same or hold the same views, and Card is expressing what constitutes 'the party line' in those articles I linked to last week. But whether he would go on doing so in a comic meant to be read by Mormons and non-Mormons alike is hopefully unlikely.



Yet another Mormon reader, Kimball Morejon, writes, "The first image that popped up in my mind regarding Mr. Card writing a character such as Jarvis (and please forgive any negative connotations this may imply) was Jack Nicholson's line in AS GOOD AS IT GETS when he says I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability' in response to a woman asking how he wrote women so well in his novels. I guess my point is that you don't have to be the most staunch defender and loyal devotee to something in order to write interesting and compelling stories about it. So what if Mr. Card disapproves of homosexuality? I imagine many well-loved writers of the 20th century didn't look favorably on homosexuality; you mentioned Orwell as an example. While I'm not aware of any specific examples, I can imagine that Tolkien and C. S. Lewis (both staunch Christians) probably thought of homosexuality as sinful. It didn't stop the wonderfully talented Ian McKellen from playing Gandalf.



"Why then should Mr. Card authoring Iron Man be a cause for gay groups to cause such a ruckus? If gay groups are going to ask for tolerance and respect from those that disagree with them, aren't they also obligated to act in a similar manner? Do these groups gain by boycotting Marvel, whose comics as far as I'm aware aren't a bastion of homophobic intolerance, for hiring
Mr. Card? I don't want to sound absurd, but if you take them literally, does this mean that they ultimately want Mr. Card to never write again for anyone? Hypothetically, does this mean that if after he was financially broken and penniless he got a job at McDonalds as a frycook, would they boycott Mickey
D's too?



What about Mr. Card writing the ADVENT RISING video game trilogy? Does that mean that these groups are going to call for boycotting Xbox and Microsoft? (How will they read your website without Windows and I.E? Firefox maybe? ha ha) Does this mean that that if these groups get their way that any person opposed to homosexuality, even in the slightest degree, should be blacklisted until 'converting?' Or that the business
they work for should be boycotted until they were fired? That would put a lot of people out of a job real quick, even Bill Gates!



"I rather suspect that this controversy is a lot of hot air propagated by only a handful of the overzealous. Marvel probably isn't complaining about the extra press it has caused, though. I'm sure there are more people than not that are going to be curious about what Mr. Card winds up producing for Marvel. But in the end, isn't this really a business issue? If Mr. Card writes a compelling and credible story, the comics will sell, Marvel will make money and most people will be happy. If he underperforms, then no one will buy the comics and nobody will care. Except Mr. Card and his agent."



The question of gay tolerance of Card's views will be coming up several times in the letters to come, Kimball, but one point you've made here should stand out namely, that because of the press this issue has received (of which this column is part), the sales for the first few issues of ULTIMATE IRON MAN will probably be stronger, not weaker, because people will be buying it to see whether Card's views on homosexuality actually do make it into the book. Probably not the outcome that any of the protesters had hoped for, but there you go. The other point you brought up is what the protesters ultimately want: is it simply for Card to be removed from the book, or is it for his work never to be read again? The first is still an open possibility if fan reaction to the book is negative enough, but the second is, again, highly unlikely. Those of us who went to grad school for English still read Ezra Pound, for instance, even though during his own lifetime he was reviled for his fascist views and his anti-Semitism. Proponents of New Criticism would argue that an author's work should be completely divorced from his or her biography for that exact reason: the work can stand on its own, and in the case of authors with personal views we might find reprehensible, like Card, Pound, and Orwell, the work must stand on its own. Due to that ability, the work will continue to be read. Besides, I doubt Card's going to go penniless overnight because those of us who disagree with his views on our sexuality stop reading him...



Rob Steel brings echoes Chad Flecther's concerns about the issue and especially critiques the use of the term 'homophobia' and one reader from last week's letter: "It seems apparent that Robert Jones Jr.'s not-so-between-the-lines message lumps Christians in with Nazis, fascists, and the KKK. If that's not an ad hominem attack, what is? The suggestion here is that OSC should not be allowed to work on a Marvel comic book because of his open personal beliefs - or to put it more succinctly - because of his conservative religious beliefs. Heaven forbid someone actually have the ability to have conservative religious beliefs and be an artist in a secular environment. Apparently keeping your sexuality in the closet is bad but keeping your religion locked up nice and tight is good. That's what's commonly called a double standard.



"It is plainly evident that OSC is a great science fiction author. That is what he is known for, and not for creating the world's first Mormon proselytizing superhero or a Latter Day Saints science fiction epic. I've read five of his books now, and it wasn't until after I read them that I became aware of his beliefs at all. So then, if Orson Scott Card were trying to use his art to win believers... he has failed miserably. However, I do not believe Card was trying to use his art to win people to his religion. Why then should he
start now with comic books? Because comic books are so much more widely read? Hardly. If he were making an effort to try to reach converts, there are a thousand ways better to do it than writing concealed proselytizing messages and to create 'evil' gay characters in comic books. If Card were known for proselytizing through his art, then this debate would be completely justified. He is not known for that and this debate is not justified. Neither is it justified that he be compared to Hitler, fascism, the KKK, or any other hate group.



"It's also disconcerting to see how quickly and casually the term 'homophobe' is used to discredit people that are actually making a concerted effort to voice their reasons, convictions, and religious beliefs without malice through an appropriate forum. Whether you or anyone else agrees or not with Card's conclusions or religious views, it seems clear to me that his reasons for his beliefs are based in his religion and not in fear, contempt or malice (which, please note, actually is the 'textbook definition' of
homophobia.)" I take your point about the 'textbook definition', Rob, but while I agree with you that comic books probably wouldn't be the most efficient launching point for religious proselytizing, I'm not sure I entirely agree with you about the tone of Card's articles. To anyone who is open-minded, conservative, and not gay, those articles probably sound decent and rational but for someone who is gay, reading those articles brings forth the same sort of shuddering outrage that reading some article on "Godhatesfags.com" would do. It's hard to divorce the emotional feelings that such writings invoke from the intellectual and spiritual impulses that led them to be written in the first place else this debate might never have sprung up.



Another reader of faith, Samir Abdel-Aziz, has this to say: " Personally i don't see any problem hiring a man because of his religious/political views. I mean, if Marvel hired a Muslim writer (they might have already, as I don't really follow who writes what, i just read the issues) who absolutely hated Christians or Jews but kept such disdain from his work (as much as he was capable), then it would be fine. Same thing with Christians or Jews who didn't like Muslims. People have beliefs we don't agree on. Right or wrong, they shouldn't be persecuted for it. For example, I read in ULTIMATE X-MEN how Shadowcat's mom hated creationism. Maybe the writer felt the same way. Am i going to boycott Marvel because an idea I actually agree with strongly is mocked? Mind you, if Card did show any hatred in the Iron Man title (once he starts writing) towards gays, then he should be fired. No question. But hopefully the man is smarter than to play towards expectations. I imagine him knowing full well that a percentage of fans are wary of his intentions and I'm sure he's gonna play it safe for a while. If he's unsure of how to write Jarvis, then maybe Jarvis will be in the background for a while till he can find the right way to write the character in a respectful manner. I myself plan on being a writer (probably not a very good one but hey who knows!), and if I have a character whom I don't agree with for whatever reason, I still write to the best of my ability to reflect the character in the best light. Maybe all the parts that make Jarvis Jarvis can be best be described even if (shock) the fact that he's gay is downplayed?



"[For example,] Tony Whitt is gay, but when I read this editorial I don't see him as a gay man. I see him as a man who loves comics who just happens to be gay. He doesn't bring up 'I'm gay' every time I read his editorial just like I don't go "Oh, I'm religious, or I'm Arab" every time I speak to people. As a conservative Christian with views that are , how shall we say...not popular with society in regards to homosexuality, I can sympathize with Card. I don't agree with what he wrote in many ways, but I get him for the most part. I mean, should we start carding people ahead of time to see what they believe in before we hire them? If you're an atheist, you can't work here? If you're a Christian with strong beliefs in what the Bible says, you can't work here? If you're a Christian with only liberal beliefs and no trust or faith in Scripture at all, get out of here, you're not welcome? People might want to compare Card to Hitler, but blacklisting a man for his beliefs is more like Hitler than just having those beliefs. I say so long as Card isn't writing anything anti-gay, then leave him alone. Let him do the job he was hired to do. If he crosses the line then yes, get rid of him, but until then live and let live." I agree in spirit with a lot of what you're saying here, Samir, but I have to wonder whether this question would have come up at all had it been solely one of religious belief. The fact that all this involves Card's specific views on homosexuality puts things in a different light, if only because we still see job discrimination based on sexuality while we don't see it as often based on religion. The US government, for instance, has been known to discharge otherwise extremely highly qualified translators of Arabic from its intelligence branches solely because of their sexuality at a time when the need for such work should transcend such concerns. This isn't to say that Card should not get a job as a comics writer for anti-homosexual views simply because there are gays and lesbians who can't get or keep jobs once their own sexuality is revealed but you have to wonder whether there's not something to do with all that buried deeply within this debate for some.



Dewey Yeatts writes in to clarify a few things that he feels came off differently than he intended in last week's column, and to explain why firing Card would set a dangerous precedent: " First, I was not 'bewildered' by gay fans being upset with Card's hiring. I read enough to know that he was against homosexuality in the Church. (I guess I should have read further - some of the other excerpts provided made my stomach turn.) I was just surprised that such a reaction had made noise. I first read about it in Rich Johnston's 'Lying in the Gutters' column.



"Second, I am still unsure that ULTIMATE IRON MAN is going to be a forum for any particular views. I am sympathetic to the writer who noted that someone like Card holding such views may find a way to bring some of his views in to the book. But to me, it is not like the man is writing ALPHA FLIGHT (insert your favorite joke here.) I know a lot of folks hate Chuck Austen, but at least he confronted Northstar's sexuality head-on, and put it right in X-Fans faces. (Heeeyyy, maybe that's one reason why Austen is so vilified...)



"Third, there are some folks that maybe are flying 'under the radar' in regards to this topic. For every Judd Winick or Chuck Austen, you have a Chuck Dixon - who holds views very similar to Card's. Dixon continues to get plenty of work, and in the superhero field. Maybe he has not been as public as Card, but he is definitely 'sitting in the same pew.'



"Four: Flash Thompson is gay? Did I miss something? (I think they mean in his ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN incarnation, Dewey, though I'm pretty mystified by that one, too. I'd be willing to claim him if he came out, mind you... TBW)



"Understand that I hate homophobia, and my sympathies are with most of your writers in the column. But even if I decided to boycott Card's comic work, I wouldn't boycott the rest of Marvel's titles (for example, I am not reading the Iraqi War book - I refuse to give a nickel to any neo-con.) Why not a company-wide boycott? I think you'll find that most of the folks at that company are probably pro-gay and not anti-gay, and that the writers there fall more into the Greg Rucka mold, instead of Card's. This is a tough call, and in light of all this uproar, I am reconsidering my interest in Card's work. But a company-wide boycott just won't do. But Marvel should be aware that people are upset - not just by Card but the Zinsmeister book, too.



"We just have to be careful - the winds can shift. If we boycott Card (or Zinsmeister) for their political (or religious) beliefs, it is possible that a liberal writer, or a pro-gay writer, could be subject to the same treatment. Silence is not an option, but free speech cuts both ways. In closing, I'll say this: Mark Millar, you go and make Jarvis even gayer in THE ULTIMATES VOL. 2. That'll show 'em!" And he certainly has that option, Dewey hell, if Wolverine can have a different personality depending on which book he appears in, why not Jarvis?



Arne Schmidt writes in, also concerning the question of "reverse tolerance" and why a company-wide boycott would not be wise: "Thanks for presenting that article in such an objective way. I realize that the issue of Card's political views is a serious concern to many people. But I have to ask, is Marvel discriminating against him for his views any better than his discriminating against homosexuals for theirs? Those of you objecting to Marvel's hiring of him are being just as intolerant as he is. Like it or not, in America he has the right to be a bigot and not lose work he is obviously well suited for because of it. I have read a large number of Card's books, and until this controversy began I had no idea that he held any anti-gay views. What does his view on homosexuality have to do with writing science fiction? The answer would seem to be nothing so long as he does not use the work as a forum to preach these views, which he has done in none of the books that I have read. If the answer is nothing, then why should he be denied work on the basis of personal opinions that are unrelated to his job.



"I'm sorry, but it sounds like many of your readers are actually in favor of the very discrimination that they're so up in arms against. It's okay to discriminate against someone for his personal views as long as they're a homophobe. Of course, for the homophobe, it's okay to discriminate against someone as long as they're a homosexual. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. Either you don't discriminate based on personal views and choices unrelated to the work, or you do. This applies to bigots as well as homosexuals. That being said, that doesn't mean that anyone has to be happy about it or support his work that doesn't want to. Don't buy ULTIMATE IRON MAN if you don't like Orson Scott Card. But taking out your anger on Marvel as a company is inappropriate. They are the only ones in this little story who aren't discriminating against anyone." As their own letter reprinted last week seems to suggest, Arne. Thanks for your input!



Mark G. Homewood puts the question of the implications of firing or not hiring Card in even more specific terms: "What I find chilling about this whole situation is that punishing Card for his published views (regardless of what they are) allows the level of discourse about any 'hot' topic to be diminished. If I am a prospective comic book writer (and thankfully I'm not), should I have to worry about every stupid op-ed article or letter to the editor that I may write? I've always enjoyed Card's writings in spite (or maybe because) of his religious beliefs (I am an atheist). Writing, learning, political discussions, etc is a contact sport. If we have to worry about writing to pass PC muster, I'm afraid that much less interesting material will be written." Sadly, Mark, that's one of the realities of the conflict between political viewpoints and art as soon as the former is allowed to take too much power, the latter suffers.



Biff Ellis also points out that Card is being tried before he's actually done anything, and why readers should still be on the lookout: "While I've had a certain contempt for the man since I first encountered the articles you cited, he is being judged a lot in advance of having committed any crime within Marvel's pages. Considering that he's kept his views from tainting his written work (at least so far as I'm familiar with it), people should extend him the benefit of the doubt. This isn't to say, however, that readers shouldn't be vigilant. If an anti-gay message is promulgated in the Iron Man title in a non-negative fashion, that is when complaints should be directed to Marvel, just as should happen for any other writer whose homophobic beliefs might not be as well known to the audience. (Of course I fully expect that the editors at Marvel will be keeping a keen eye on his submissions, now that his publicly-stated beliefs have been brought to their attention, thus rendering moot much of the issue.)" Let's hope so, Biff they'd certainly be foolish not to be looking at his work a bit more closely now...



Alexandre Winck also advocates a "wait and see" attitude, even though he takes Card to task for the way in which he couched his views: "I think the best judgment we can make about the Orson Scott Card issue is when the comics come out. If he makes obviously homophobic statements in the story, it would be a case for anyone who feels offended by that view to drop the book. On the other hand, people should be careful when reading it, because if you look for it, anything can be read as a homophobic message. Sometimes subtext can be pretty obvious, but sometimes people will see something else where there's nothing because that's what they're looking for, like that obsession with Satanist messages in Rock songs in the seventies. As Freud would say, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But, if his beliefs don't show in his stories, they wouldn't be a reason to exclude him as a writer. If we were to exclude every writer or artist whose personal beliefs we disagree on, a lot of the classics would be thrown into the toilet. Picasso was a chauvinist who treated women like crap, but his paintings have some of the most interesting portraits of women ever conceived.



But keep in mind that I say that if his writing doesn't become a way to spread a message of hatred and intolerance. Writers do pass messages in their writing and, while we can still appreciate their craft, we can't totally ignore the content, especially for a modern writer. You can argue that George Orwell was homophobic, but keep in mind that George lived in a day when being against homosexuality was the absolute social order, and it didn't show in any clear ways in his writing. Even if it had, it would still be understandable giving the climate back then.



"A man who's clearly intelligent and educated like OSC, in this day and age, should know better than defending discrimination against people for their sexual preferences, and try as he will to deny it, some of his statements are clearly indicative of that. Religion is a life philosophy that you choose, when he embraced the Mormon system of belief he knew what it was about. Following a religion doesn't mean it's an excuse to be blind to beliefs this religion condones that might be a defense of hatred and discrimination. Mr. Card clearly plays a dual game in his statements, trying to sound a defender of compassion and tolerance but making statements that clearly lead otherwise. That is the worst kind of religious person: the hypocrite."



Alexandra Erin writes in about why she will not be buying the title, citing how Card's views do indeed creep into his work: "I guess my perspective on Orson Scott Card should be fairly balanced, as I'm both a tremendous fan of his body of fiction, and queer. I was shocked when someone told me about some of Card's positions, but not as shocked as the person was when I said I intended to keep reading his ENDER'S GAME universe novels as they came out. Why not? They are, by and large, good books... they were good books before I knew Card was a vitriolic religious-based homophobe, and they didn't magically change by virtue of my new knowledge, did they? Well, then, in SHADOW PUPPETS, he turned one of the major premises of the series on his head, when his genetically engineered hero abruptly realizes that his decision to let his flawed, dangerous genes die with him is wrong as everybody is naturally inclined to find a biologically appropriate person and make babies, this is the point of life... and anybody who tries to deny this, and tries to find love and happiness in a different arrangement, is going to be unhappy and unbalanced. The word
'gay' never comes up, but it's pretty implicit. He made his character into a mouthpiece for the views he's outlined elsewhere, turning everything that's been established about the character (except his vaunted superintelligence, which I suppose is the source of this insight) on its head.



"Worse, this is the character he spent so long setting up as having
superhuman intelligence and insight and being pretty well neutral about everything except his own self-interest, which makes me wonder if this isn't a clumsy attempt at giving the author's views instant credibility with his fans. That last part is just speculation, of course... but if this is the sort of thing we can expect from Card, then I think the uproar is justifiable. It's not just that the man has political views, and it's not even the fact that they tinge his writing. It's the fact that he allows his political views to destroy his stories. He is somebody who will take an established and beloved character and twist them into a mouthpiece for his own views to the detriment of the story. Maybe
he'll be better behaved when the beloved character in question isn't his creation... but we'll see. In the meantime, I'm certainly not going to pick up ULTIMATE IRON MAN off the stands, nor will I buy a trade paperback without reading it first... a step I never thought I'd have to take on an Ultimate book. I read SHADOW PUPPETS in the library in hardcover while waiting for it to come out in a more affordable edition... which I never did purchase. I will buy the stories of somebody I disagree with, but I won't pay to read his latest editorial diatribe." As an occasional fiction writer myself, this is the sort of argument that holds a lot more sway with me than simply not hiring someone because they disagree with me on a particularly emotionally charged issue I would be somewhat more annoyed at seeing this sort of "backdoor proselytizing" than I would at seeing something more explicit, if only because an explicitly anti-gay statement can at least be argued with and critiqued openly. As you point out, Alexandra, this sort of thing is harder to make a case for, and to take something that Alexandre stated above, it could just as easily be dismissed by the other side as "seeing homophobia everywhere". I've heard other fans of Card's work say that this sort of thing happens more often than is generally known, too, and that gives me pause, personally.



Timothy Grow states his reservations even more strongly: "Should Orson Scott Card and Marvel's ULTIMATE IRON MAN be subject to a boycott because of the writer's personal beliefs? Absolutely. If you consider a writer to be an artist, then he or she should also be considered an entertainer. When an entertainer makes a public statement about his or her personal views, even one outside their chosen medium, it can often cause a polarizing effect on the public. A writer should not be treated any differently. In our culture and our country, the only power that is truly respected is the power of Money. Several years ago, Rush Limbaugh did a commercial for Pizza Hut. When I saw the commercial, I wrote a letter to Pizza Hut and told them that I would no longer by a product from a company that chooses to use Mr. Limbaugh as a spokesman. I received a polite return letter that didn't really say anything. But, after a week or so, I didn't see that ad anymore.



"Freedom of speech does not guarantee a freedom from repercussions. I firmly believe and support in Mr. Card's right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. But it is also my right to speak out against those that threaten my freedoms and existence. I've never read Mr. Card's work, and knowing what I do now, I never will." Good point, Timothy although Card shouldn't be barred from working, his previous statements are going to have understandable consequences, and thus a boycott of the title by those who disagree is a fitting move.



Marc Shapiro feels similarly: "The problem is: we cannot have it both ways. It's somewhat reminiscent of the recent 'do politics belong in comics' debate, because the answer is the same. As long as we consider comics an art form, anything goes. We separate the art from the artist (I'm a Jew, but I
really dig Wagner), and we do not censor. To say that Card should not be denied a forum for fear that he espouse his 'dangerous viewpoint,' as articulated by one reader, is to use the very same McCarthyian argument that Hollywood used to blacklist suspected Communists in the 1950's. The point is that this is America, and, despite what the current administration would have us believe, we don't get to choose which speech is free. Of course, Marvel, as a private entity, is not subject to that particular constitutional requirement, but the principle that counts. If, on the other hand, we look at comics as a
business, the answer remains the same. Marvel made a business decision in hiring Card, despite his obvious and shocking bigotry. Hopefully, if enough of us refuse to buy the title, Marvel will make the only prudent business decision, and replace him. I, for one, as I have already told the good people at Marvel,
choose to vote with my feet, er, wallet, and will not buy this title as long as Card is involved." Well put, Marc! You also have clarified a point that other readers have hinted at but have not stated it may be erroneous to call Card a homophobe, but it is not erroneous to call Card a bigot. A bigot is defined in THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY as "one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ." While it could be argued that those calling for Card's dismissal fit under that same definition and that it's hard to find anyone who doesn't fit under that definition these days, when you think about it Card himself most definitely does, and if we disagree with his views, then we have the right not to buy the book.



And finally, at least one reader's attitudes towards Card's work have changed as a result of Card's views (and my article, it appears!), as Derek Bartholomaus writes: "I was first introduced to Orson Scott Card through a friend's recommendation of ENDER'S GAME. I loved that book and the continuing series of books including the ENDER'S SHADOW series. During the past year I have been saddened by the discovery that such a great writer is such a reprehensible human being. The last ENDER book is coming out soon, entitled SHADOW OF THE GIANT, and this will probably be the last thing of Orson Scott Card's that I will ever read or purchase. I have never read any books outside of the ENDER series and I did not know about him being hired by Marvel until reading your article today. I read all of the articles you linked to and it just disgusted me. If I hadn't been waiting for two years to know how the ENDER series was going to end I probably wouldn't be considering buying the new book.



"As for whether Marvel should keep his contract, I am on the fence. Nothing in Card's books seems to reflect his personal viewpoints, but ENDER has never dealt with homosexuality and apparently IRON MAN does (I have never read IRON MAN so I am unfamiliar with the history of the character or companions in the stories). (To clarify, Derek: although the original IRON MAN series didn't address these topics, the Ultimates line tends to do so, and thus we would expect ULTIMATE IRON MAN would also address such issues if Card decides to, that is. TBW) It is this which concerns me more. I have no idea whether it is appropriate for his public statements to remove him from writing ULTIMATE IRON MAN, but it definitely makes it less likely for me to read any future works of his."



I'm sure debate on this topic hasn't ended here and probably won't end for quite a while now but I think we've spent more than enough time on it for now, don't you? My thanks to everyone who wrote in! If you still have comments about the Card question, send them to me either here or here And as always, don't forget our discussion boards! Next week, I'll be interviewing writer and artist Phil Jimenez about his upcoming series OTHERWORLD and about various other things as well. In the meantime, here's this week's listings:



THIS WEEK:



Treat your underage DC fans this week to either the horrifying machinations of Scarface and the Ventriloquist in THE BATMAN STRIKES! #5 ($2.25) or the even more horrifying acts of a group of horror movies fans in SCOOBY DOO #92 ($2.25)!



Meanwhile, the Impossible Man makes his début in MARVEL AGE: FANTASTIC FOUR #11 ($2.25). So, why can't he appear in the "adult" series, too? Answer me that, Mark Waid!



Everybody's favorite super-dog makes an appearance in ACTION COMICS #823 ($2.50). Change that number to 123 or 223, or it's just like the old days, isn't it?



Sub

Aquagirl makes an appearance in AQUAMAN #26.

Diego gets a bit more dystopian and not just because Aquagirl is now on the team in AQUAMAN #26 ($2.50).



I'm not quite sure what makes the ARANA VOL 1: HEART OF SPIDER DIGEST trade paperback for $7.99 "teen-friendly", apart from the price, but there you go. Besides, any time you can get six issues of a series collected in a nice volume like this, and in color, it's a bargain.



The trip down Memory Lane continues AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES #5 (OF 8, $3.50). Makes you nostalgic when the only other Avengers title you have to look forward to features Wolverine, doesn't it?



In the Bat-titles this week: Riddler's transformation from a joke into a deadly mastermind goes on in BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #187 ($2.50); the BIRDS OF PREY: SENSEI AND STUDENT trade paperback collects issue #s 63-68 of some series or other for $17.95; Catwoman becomes the prime suspect of a crime, meaning Ed Brubaker is writing her again, however briefly yay! in GOTHAM CENTRAL #27 ($2.50); and that other writer with views we don't like, Chuck Dixon, begins a "Year One" storyline NIGHTWING #101 ($2.25) and now completely gay-free!



The BLOODHOUND has to deal with painful memories that have suddenly been unblocked in issue #7 ($2.95). Yeah, those memories of wedgies in the playground and being called "neo-Calvinist" can be awfully damn debilitating when you're fighting crime...



MODOK experiences amnesia probably because he doesn't want to remember how he got into this series in the first place in CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #11($2.99).



From Dark Horse this week comes yet another issue of BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, #97 ($2.99) sorry, but for a monthly, it seems like I'm always seeing this title in these lists and SHI JU NEN #3 (Of 4, $2.99), which don't see nearly as often. Odd, that.



The

GAMBIT #6.

first story arc ends even if his obsession with that stupid looking coat hasn't in GAMBIT #6 ($2.99).



The new artistic team of Tom Fowler and Rodney Ramos début with GREEN ARROW #46 ($2.50), as Kukla, Fran, and Ollie go to visit the Teen Titans. OK, maybe not the first two...



A jailhouse wedding goes horribly wrong in HARD TIME #12 ($2.50). There are so many things wrong with that sentence I can't even begin to process them...



From Image this week comes two long-awaited titles well, it's technically three - with DARKNESS/SUPERMAN #1 (Of 2, $2.99) and WANTED #6 (Of 6, $2.99), which appear to also be available in a collected graphic novel edition for $19.99. I say "appears" because the Image site isn't too cooperative about reporting this stuff...or sending me preview copies, dammit...



It's another Alexandro Jodorowsky joint (try saying that one five times fast) from Humanoids this week as the INCAL VOL 1: THE EPIC CONSPIRACY trade paperback hits the stands for $19.95. And there's art by Moebius, too! Speaking of joints...



The Crime Syndicate impersonates the JLA to bring disgrace upon the team in issue #110 ($2.25). Wow, this storyline really is a throwback to the Silver Age, isn't it?



The JSA

Alex Ross paints the cover for JSA #69.

must convince...um, the JSA to return to crime-fighting in 1951 in issue #69 ($2.50). Again doesn't this just scream Silver Age to you? Or at least it would, if it were the JLA doing the convincing, instead...



The FF meets Billy Idol in "Eyes Without A Face" Part Two (ok, you got me, they actually meet someone far more hideous and terrifying, believe it or not) in MARVEL KNIGHTS 4#14 ($2.99), while the MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 VOL 2: STUFF OF NIGHTMARES trade paperback for $13.99 doesn't feature Billy Idol, either. And while it makes sense that Billy Idol should be revealed as Aunt May's abductor in MARVEL KNIGHTS: SPIDER-MAN #10 ($2.99), he isn't. Nope, not even close.



Iron Man and the Hulk team up well, actually, they don't, they just happen to be in the same story arc for this issue in the wildly inaccurately named MARVEL TEAM-UP #4 ($2.25).



NEW THUNDERBOLTS #4 ($2.99) guest-stars Wolverine this week oh, go on, like you were surprised!



The aftermath of the "Secret War" continues in PULSE #7 ($2.99) and no, the Beyonder is nowhere to be seen, dammit.



Although it did not make the Top Ten list for 2004, SHE-HULK really should have. If that's not enough to make you pick up #11 ($2.99), then knowing that gamma hunk Doc Samson is guest-starring should!



Yet another walk down Memory Lane begins as Dan Slott writes about the early days of Marvel's most famous team-up in SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH #1 (OF 5, $2.99). Look, Ma no Wolverine! Isn't there a law against that?



Yup,

STORMBREAKER: THE SAGA OF BETA RAY BILL #1.

ever since Asgard went bye-bye, you knew it was going to happen eventually: STORMBREAKER: THE SAGA OF BETA RAY BILL #1 (OF 6, $2.99). Oh, Michael Avon Oeming, what hast thou wrought?



And yes, Frank is still in Russia in THE PUNISHER #16 ($2.99). I wouldn't have approved his exit visa, either.



Oh, look - THOR: SON OF ASGARD #12 ($2.99) is the last issue of this series. Ever since being beaten up by Superman and Michael Avon Oeming, that old Thunder God just can't keep a book afloat, can he?



The mystery of who leaked the team's secret continues and our favorite bald mutant Charlie Xavier makes a guest appearance in ULTIMATES 2 #2 ($2.99).



From Vertigo this week: a major story arc ends in 100 BULLETS #57 ($2.50); a search continues in ANGELTOWN #3 (OF 5, $2.95); nostalgia continues in the ANIMAL MAN VOL 1 trade paperback for $19.95; barnyard madness continues in FABLES #33 ($2.50); blatant motion picture promotion continues in the JOHN CONSTANTINE-HELLBLAZER: RARE CUTS trade paperback for $14.95; and reprint craziness continues in the TRANSMETROPOLITAN VOL 2: LUST FOR LIFE trade paperback for $14.95.



Things change for Wildstorm character MAJESTIC when he gets his own series after returning from a few months slumming in the DCU. Betcha didn't know it was that easy to get a series, huh? Anyway, issue #1 is out this week for $2.95.



Diana teams up with Batman though not in the way the makers of the JLU animated series would no doubt like them to in the WONDER WOMAN: BITTER RIVALS trade paperback, reprinting #s 201-205, for $12.95.



And

X-23 #1.

finally, there's a double shot of Marvel's most mutant-ridden district with DISTRICT X #9 ($2.99) and the DISTRICT X VOL 1: MR M trade paperback for $14.99; the New Mutants finally find out what's haunting the Xavier Institute (apart from the ghost of Chris Claremont) in NEW X-MEN #8 ($2.99); and Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost continue the story of the character who (surprise, surprise) has ties to Wolverine from NYX in X-23 #1 (OF 6, $2.99).



Show your buying power! Boycott ALPHA FLIGHT today! (Oh, wait, that's not...oh, never mind, it's still a good idea...)



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