Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ms. Marvel's Cow Mouth, Fat Ass, And Whore's Heart

from Mighty Avengers #11

Look, I love Marvel and I have enjoyed a number of Brian Michael Bendis-penned comics. But, this type of stuff has completely alienated me from the two main Avengers titles. To the point where I never buy them anymore, I just buy the Initiative book. I know Doctor Doom is a dick -- I get it. But, I still don't want to read stuff like this. And from the standpoint of Doom being a Marvel character that is licensed across a wide range of products, both for adults and children, it's just not smart. There were other ways to show Doctor Doom is a bad guy besides calling Ms. Marvel a whore. Ask Stan Lee when you have the chance.

As Steve Bennett of ICv2 writes:

"Anyone wishing to argue that his language makes the situation more "realistic" should be advised that if it were realistic, Dr. Doom would just shoot everyone in the head and we could all go and sell stamps or something."

(with a tip of the hat to Journalista)


  1. I don't really mind bad language in comics, I just look forward to some equity. I mean, if Doom has no problem in calling Ms Marvel Cow or Whore, I don't expect him to be shy on racist and other derogatory terms. Some Retarded, Zionist pig, even one Stinky gypsy or two, things like that. Aw, how I long for a spanish superheroe visiting Latveria "Back off, idiotic Spaniard, to that latrine of country you live in. Begone!"
    I mean, if he is going to be un-PC, let him be wholly un-PC.

  2. Cow mouth, sure. And yet her camel toe goes unremarked upon.


  3. Actually, I came over here to say that Doom-as-a-dick was needed since he was kind of sympathetic in his interior monologue & he needed to be hilighted as a bad guy, but alvaro's point is a very good one. I think now that Doom's speech would have been a decent one if yes, he had tossed out a few other less printable epitaths. But in a mainstream comic, where racial slurs are tabboo, gender slurs should be too. Huh.

  4. alvaro has a good point --

    what if a racial or ethnic slur was used instead of a gender slur?

    Does anybody know (and I'm not being sarcastic here, I'm being serious) if any of these mainstream supervillains ever referred to characters using racial or ethnic slurs? I mean, just the number of super-nazis in the Captain America mythos alone...

    Further, would a character like The Joker or Lex Luthor or Green Goblin be the type to use slurs?

    Also, has it been established that Doom has a misogyny thing going on? Has he had a pattern of hating women, is that something that was built into his character?

    I think if you substituted Stewie from Family Guy instead of Doom, that panel might work.

  5. Yeah, I was a big F4 back when I was a kid. And back then, the cool thing about Doctor Doom was that he was evil but he had honor and class. And that was more fun. Now he's just a boring old dickhole.

  6. I think I've heard Baron Zemo use an ethnic slur or two. And the original Captain Boomerang wasn't shy about it in Suicide Squad, from what I recall.

    There might have been a character or two in All-Star Squadron who did, too.

  7. ...haven't read the comic yet, so I feel like I shouldn't judge, but man that is so out of character.

    And yet, I know a friend of mine, a regular Bendis reader (as I am), one that I even hooked on comics, will be quoting that for months to come.

  8. Planet Heidi, you are mistaken - he's only a boring old dickhole when written by Bendis. Almost every other writer handles Doom well.

    Bendis...he just doesn't get him.

    Val - I seem to remember something said by the Red Skull to Falcon during Geoff John's Avengers run a few years back but can't remember what it was.

  9. It's been made pretty clear that Doom has a history of hatred for women.

    In Ed Brubaker's "Books of Doom" he sexually assaults a woman while going to "State University" in the US. That's what him kicked out of college.

    Recently he cast a spell on his former girlfriend, ripping off her skin and turning it into leather for his new armor and banishing her soul to hell for all eternity.

    And he calls Sue a cow whenever he gets the chance, which is pretty much every other weekend.

    No, the dude doesn't think very highly of the ladies.

  10. Agreed.

    Personally I don't see Doom as the sort of person to say this kind of stuff, nor would the Great Victor Von Doom sully his hands by shooting them in the head. He'd definitely either insult them using far more erudite language or have them killed by one of his minions, but THIS? No flippin' way...

  11. "I think if you substituted Stewie from Family Guy instead of Doom, that panel might work."

    Actually, thinking about it, I think replacing Dr. Doom with Stewie altogether might be a blast.

    "Blast! Damn you all!"

  12. "In Ed Brubaker's "Books of Doom" he sexually assaults a woman while going to "State University" in the US. That's what him kicked out of college.

    Recently he cast a spell on his former girlfriend, ripping off her skin and turning it into leather for his new armor and banishing her soul to hell for all eternity."

    I think I just vomited in my mouth a little

  13. Yeah, that just seemed to come out of nowhere. I can see Doom insulting Carol, sure, but with a lot more finesse.

    As far as issues with women, the two that stand out in my mind are losing his mother's soul to Mephisto -- more an issue about her, I guess -- and losing the love of his life, then revisiting her and using her skin to create a new suit for himself.

    The latter doesn't seem like it stuck around canon very long.

  14. Didn't Doctor Doom cry over the events of 9-11?

    I would have no problem with Doctor Doom's sexist language IF he also said degrading things about people not just based on their sex, but on their race or ethnic background. The fact that he is allowed to be a misogynist but not a racist is what bothers me. I would look at this differently if he was an equal opportunity offender.

    You don't see him calling Luke Cage the n-word.

  15. Doctor Doom sounds kind of stupid there. Isn't he supposed to be a genius? Evil genius, sure, but still a genius. He can't find a more erudite way to be sexist?

  16. They allowed me to use the slur "kraut" in Avengers Classic #11. Cap is speaking to Spider-Man about kids in WW2 who couldn't wait to get to the front line for a chance to "kill some krauts." Cap knew those kids would never make it back alive.

    I think, and this is me thinking here so stand back.. but I think that if Doom truly hates women this much, it could stem from the fact that he'll never have a woman admire him the way Sue Richards admires Reed.

    Remember, Victor was a handsome man. It was easy for him to find women to satisfy his needs. After the accident, he was disfigured and he knows he'll never have that power over women again. To lose that advantage is something that drives Doom insane.

    I think beautiful women would trigger a rage in Doom that he couldn't control. But I think that has to be established before having him go into such a rage. The more he's attracted to a woman, the more intense the rage and he cannot control it.

    Just my thought.

  17. The only way those words make sense to me: If this Doctor Doom lives in a trailer park and Ms. Marvel is his 300-pound wife, whom he beats on a regular basis.

    Hey, maybe this kind of dialog IS more realistic for villains than the stilted, affected speech of the past. If so, then it's time to leech out some realism. Those words are utter garbage and reflect far more on the writer than on the villain being portrayed.

  18. Rick... I think Doom could easily be a racist. I mean, racism is based on ignorance and Doom, despite his genius, is quite possibly the most ignorant character in the Marvel universe.

    However, to use the word "nigger" would be too easy for him. Anyone can say that to Cage. It would be beneath Doom to use a word like that.

    It's far more empowering for Doom to simply ignore everything Cage would have to offer in a conversation, as though it was beneath Doom to include Cage in it. He'd make Cage feel as though he were invisible.

    I believe Doom would talk to the Avengers, look at Cage and say "you may wait in the other room." That would set Cage off more than Doom using the word "nigger." Doom wants to see the slow boil in a person.

  19. Hey, maybe this Doom is a Cylon. Err, Skrull.

  20. Aaron.. those words would make sense if you had a scene where Doom tries to calm himself down in private, while still enraged that a woman can so easily set him off. It would show a weakness in Doom that is almost embarrassing to him to such a degree that he, himself, recognizes it.

    And, for the record, Doom would never have cried over 9/11. Never.

    He would've admired the simplicity of the plan, to the point of being slightly envious. He would've phoned the Red Skull and said "Can you believe that worked..?"

    You can't keep taking Doom and switching him from villain to valiant back and forth. He's a villain. One of the greatest villains they have. The more we show him helping someone save the world (without ulterior motives) and show him tearing-up over disasters weakens his story potential.

  21. If comics were realistic, Dr Doom would be on Fox News every night at 8, just like in Earth 1218.

  22. The sentiment is certainly offensive, but I find the manner of it's delivery even more so. I always pictured Doom more eloquent than that. Here he sounds like someone who is trying to sound lordly, while the Doom that I've known would hand out some patronizing back-handed compliment when a woman really galled him.

  23. Sorry to come over all nerdy here, but what actually struck me was that Doom never refers to himself in the third person, despite stating that Ms Marvel means nothing to him - this would normally be a moment of self-aggrandising arrogance typical of the character.
    Here, it just makes Bendis look like a teenager trying to shock people more than a writer with serious female issues.

    Again, just a nerdy complaint, rather than a contribution to the misogyny debate. For my two cents, Bendis is used to working in the crime genre - one traditionally unkind in its portrayal of women - and moving the trappings to a superhero setting is a little jarring and maybe makes some of the fem-bashing look a little more suspect than it is.
    I think bendis is just imitating disparate elements from elsewhere and the end product is simply an unfortunate mosaic to some.

    Although - aren't there supposed to be editors to catch potentially-offensive material?

  24. I do remember the Red Skull using racial slurs in Avengers, and since he's a Nazi, it makes sense.

    And the "Ms. Marvel is fat" thing isn't limited to Bendis. Its hinted at in her solo title as well, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

  25. Anonymous2:02 PM

    This actually looks alot like one of those Photoshop dealies where bloggers put dirty dirty words in characters mouths.

  26. Jack West -
    hey, that's true about not using the 3rd person. Maybe this Doom IS a Skrull...

  27. Tom: Sure, I was employing a bit of hyperbole and perhaps Doom muttering such graceless tripe to himself could make sense.

    Then again, I remember a Doom who would never use such language, even when enraged, and even when alone, because it would be a loss of control he would find anathema. During the Byrne Age of FF, IIRC, Doom recorded his every utterance for posterity. Such a Doom would suffer great anguish knowing that the words in the above panel came out of his mouth, even if no one else heard them and he erased them immediately from his recording device.

    I believe the panel represents laziness on the part of a writer who probably found amusing the idea of Doom using the "Ms. Marvel is fat" (clearly ridiculous) in-joke in a tirade.

    I'll note for the record that I'm not at all a Bendis hater. I've read the first 100 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man several times and Alias might be the best "adult-oriented" comic every produced by Marvel (almost certainly the best one that has become mainstream continuity).

  28. @Álvaro: Doom is of gypsy heritage, I don't think he would call her a stinky gypsy

    @Valerie: On his misogyny, it was canon until recently that he treated woman as inferior to him, but only because everyone is inferior when compared to Doom ;) This woman hating thing is recent, Books of Doom was just part of this idiotic trend.

    Actually he would say something like "silence peasant" instead of "shut your cow mouth". Bendis is (or at least was) a good writer with particularly strong (even if too long) dialogue skills, this kind of writing certainly puzzles me (OTOH I don't read anything newer than a year from Marvel so things may have changed).

    @Tom: Doom did cry on 9/11, in the Spider Man 36 issue, page 9. There's an image here.

  29. Doom is not racist.
    Doom is not misogynistic.
    Doom is not mysandric.
    Doom is DOOM.
    EVERYONE is inferior to him. Matters of color or gender or preference are irrelevant because they're all inferior on the single basis that they're NOT DOOM.
    Doom is eloquent and lordly and honorable but not sporting.

    This is a doombot. A very GOOD doombot, but a doombot.

  30. Just replace anything you don't like him saying with DOOM! and you get instantly better dialog, lol.

  31. Anonymous4:18 PM

    "Doom is not racist.
    Doom is not misogynistic.
    Doom is not mysandric.
    Doom is DOOM.
    EVERYONE is inferior to him. Matters of color or gender or preference are irrelevant because they're all inferior on the single basis that they're NOT DOOM.
    Doom is eloquent and lordly and honorable but not sporting.

    This is a doombot. A very GOOD doombot, but a doombot."

    WORD WORD WORD to what Lewis Lovhaug said.

    Ugh. That's the problem with your rich and complex characters; too many crappy writers come along to screw them up.

  32. I didn't even know there was an in-joke that had gone on involving Ms. Marvel's weight (the counterpoint to the in-joke about Power Girl's chest?)

    I wish Carol Danvers would get a little more respect. Sometimes I feel she is like the bad-luck Avengers "fall woman." I think there is so much potential with this character.

    And she is Marvel's female namesake, after all.

    Does anybody know if the naming of her "Ms." Marvel was to make a statement about feminism at the time, in the 1970s?

  33. I didn't think it was sexist as it was driving the point home that the ball was in his court a little too hard.

    Personally I felt like Doom could have stopped at the second speech bubble as long as he left out "fat." Sometimes a concise response is the best response, even for Dr. Doom.

  34. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Wasn't Carol Danvers an Air Force Colonel when she got her powers? I guess she wasn't allowed to outrank Captain Marvel as Colonel Marvel.


  35. Valerie: I believe Ms. Marvel was originally intended as a "cash-in" or "sop" to feminism, but they certainly never made a significant effort in that area. At most, they substituted a sort of coldness for feminism in the original comic.

    The bottom line, though, is that Ms. Marvel couldn't have been a strong feminist statement at the time since Marvel a) made her a female counterpart to Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell if you're into that kind of thing) and b) made Carol Danvers unaware of being Ms. Marvel, which undercut a lot of the character strength she should have had from being a former pilot, former intelligence officer, former head of security at NASA. Oh yeah, and then they had her write for a magazine, because that's a logical next step for a woman leaving the military.

    Of course, her treatment over the years by the various Marvel writers didn't help, either, making her a rape victim (mind control counts!), a mental rape victim (what, Rogue wasn't always a sweet, confused Southern Belle?), a victim of Brood experimentation ("I know! Let's give a human the power of a star. THAT couldn't backfire on us.") and finally an alcoholic (because Carol absolutely needed another problem to drive a wedge between her and the Avengers).

    And now, what, she's insecure about her looks? It would be funny if it wasn't such a sad commentary on how much trouble comic book writers have with female characterization.

  36. I don't know the context, but it didn't even read in character. It doesn't come off as aristocratic at all.

  37. Re. Ms. Marvel,

    yes, I think there probably was a bit of topical social commentary with naming her Ms. Marvel (a heritage they apparently want to embrace because they did not let the renaming to "Warbird" stick).

    She's had a lot of problems, partly, I think, because they tried to hard with her. In the beginning she had a somewhat unfortunate slogan - "This Female Fights Back!" (meaning that other females don't?) and a bad costume based on Captain Mar-Vell's red and black one, only they gave her a bare navel and some scarf-type things (so her belly was hot and her neck cold?), which was replaced by the Cockrum-designed black number shortly before the end of her original series. Then they kept reinventing her - she started out with a split human/Kree personality à la Rose and Thorn, which they later overcame, later Chris Claremont de-powered her as a prelude to amping her up to cosmic-level Binary, then Busiek went all retro and out of nowhere decided to make her an alcoholic. And of course before that she had been in what must rank as one Marvel's ickiest storylines ever, giving birth to Immortus' son Marcus and then leaving as his "bride"... Add to that her complicated Carol Danvers history (in Captain Marvel with latterly retconned additions involving Wolverine and Mystique), and it is no wonder she's such a mess of a character.

  38. Val,

    Fat joke notwithstanding, I'm not sure if Carol's overall luck isn't improving. After all, in the post House of M world, she's leading one of the Avengers squads and she got her own title. Granted, she was suspected of being a Skrull in said title ...

  39. I just got this email from someone named


    Your petty objections to Doom's language would never have reached Doom's imac screen, had it not been for Susan Richards, who insists on focusing solely on Doom's bad side.

    Doom was taken COMPLETELY misquoted in said comic book. Doom never used the words 'fat piece of furniture' nor 'shut your cow-mouth'... let alone 'whore's mouth.'

    Doom DID however mention that Ms. Marvel should pull her costume out of her buttocks if she insists on being taken seriously.

    Doom is not sexist. Doom is not racist. Doom is not a raving lunatic. Doom is not... well, okay, Doom may be a BIT of a raving idiot... but is it not Doom's job to BE so??

    Doom was also misrepresented on Doom's reaction to 9-11. Doom merely cried because Doom thought the Red Skull had beaten Doom to the punch. Doom was relieved to discover it was Al Qaeda.

    Doom was also amused to see how your president handled the incident. Comedy gold.

    Doom has also NEVER been asked to walk through a metal detector. The one person who attempted to have Doom go through one of those was FSHHAMM'd into dust. Doom follows no one's orders.

    Doom never flies commercial, so Doom is confused why Doom was shown walking through security. Doom is baffled by this.

    In closing, Doom would take this opportunity to apologize to Ms. D'Orazio for any misunderstanding. Except Doom, being Doom, would never apologize to a commoner.


    V. Doom"

    The email had a link to cow porn... whatever the hell THAT is.

  40. Anonymous5:44 PM

    The more important point is that is NOT the kind of language used by...DOOM.


    Has this guy ever even READ any comics with Doom in them? That better turn out to be Kristoff, a malfunctioning Doombot, or someone in a Halloween costume to even REMOTELY make sense.

    I'm not actively boycotting Marvel, but I don't buy it either. I buy the stuff that seems interesting to me. If Marvel puts out such a book, I'd buy it. Instead, they'll keep cranking this crap out.

  41. That is so far out of character that he has to be a Manhunter. Aw crap. I meant to say "Skrull."

  42. Actually, the double-secret surprise is that the Skrulls turn out to be Manhunters.

  43. Ok, I just checked out the column you linked to, Val, and what got me was the panel after Doom's remark, with Carol's internal monologue: "That actually hurt my feelings." Say What?

  44. I agree with what others have said. Not only is this out of character for Doom but that slurs against women shouldn't be taken as somehow more acceptable or okay than ethnic slurs and stuff :\

    I <3 the Captain Picard and Ryu facepalm pics tho :D

  45. I wouldn't be surprised is Doom was misogynist or racist, wrapped up in what I think of as his general misanthropy. He's convinced himself of his own superiority to everyone on the planet.

    But I don't recall a time when Dr. Doom made such poorly parsed insults or threats of violence. That's the most "tin ear" dialogue I've read in a while.

    I'll come out and say it- I'm no fan of Brian Michael Bendis. I think he's an excellent plotter who knows how to throw a twist or a surprise in there, but I think his characterizations are often suspect or too much in service of those plot twists. The whole Mighty Avengers thing with Ultron taking over Tony Stark and remaking him into a female-appearing robot...

    That's fine and dandy, a really bizarre event but left out of the whole story equation is why Tony Stark was acting so out of character prior to the event that even another hero remarked on it. To me, that was setting up a further twist that Bendis then dismissed with some torturous expository dialogue as the storyline wrapped up.

    And what are the further ramifications of Tony Stark's bizarre metamorphosis? That's something that logically and dramatically now HAS to be explored. You just don't go through something like that and make a smart-ass joke or two about it an issue later then file and forget it.

    So I'm left thinking the real reason for Stark's initial oddness is Bendis is something of a lazy writer, which is odd to say considering his voluminous output.

    After reading that, I'm not surprised he'd mishandle Doom. To a certain extent Bendis seems to view characters as constructs he must manipulate in order to make his story points, rather than as individuals with distinct voices and points of view.

    That's just bad dialogue. Bad characterization, lousy lousy dialogue.

  46. Wow, Bendis has been hitting new lows each month. It's like a train wreck. Maybe he's gay and don't even know? Or has some other issue? This kind of mysoginism makes me think.

  47. I think claiming Brian's never read a Marvel comic is a BIT of a reach there. The guy has written a TON of books for Marvel and his track record, to me at least, has been stellar.

    I will say that, as a writer myself, it seems as though if you make one mistake in this business, no matter what you've done in the past, the internet is so quick to label you a hack. It really is insane.

    I could guess that this push at Ms. Marvel's weight could be something to set up a loss of self-esteem, which could lead to her hitting the bottle.

    Just a guess.

  48. I wish Carol Danvers would get a little more respect. Sometimes I feel she is like the bad-luck Avengers "fall woman." I think there is so much potential with this character.

    And she is Marvel's female namesake, after all.

    I love Ms. Marvel D: Much like how I love Supergirl, but both are never written very well lately :( I rly DO want to like Ms. Marvel, she flies, she has awesome powers and like... it just seems like she could RLY BE A FORCE and an inspiration... and I keep trying to get into comics with her in it hoping to see that potential be realized but it never has been so far :(

  49. Blogger may have eaten my previous post, so you can just delete this if the original one turns up...

    What really frustrates me, not as a reader but as a member of the comics community, is how short the average reader's memory can be. Here we are, facepalming this latest development (rightfully so), and you have all these people so surprised by Bendis' latest fubar... but hasn't this been going on for years? When it wasn't Ms. Marvel, it was Tigra, or the Scarlet Witch, or Jessica Jones; when it wasn't Doom sounding like a reject from Grand Theft Auto, it was every single character in "Ultimate Spider-Man" speaking Poor Man's Mamet.

    Of course it's stupid - and obviously so - but it's also been this way with Bendis for a very, very long time. And yet people still act like it's a rude awakening?

  50. I don't think it's fair to act like this is the first time people have called Bendis on poor writing.

    I've thought he was singularly mediocre for just about his entire career. Not just recently, but for quite some time.

    I've never seen the charm or the interest anytime I've picked up one of his comics and read it. Although as I wrote earlier, I do admire his ability to throw a twist in the story. I just wish everything else weren't so slapdash and square-peg-fit-into-round-hole.

    Especially characterization.

    I'm just more than a little gratified others are finally coming around on that point, too.

  51. There's another way to read this - when I read Doom's speach bubble I too was shocked with his use of language, not shocked because OMG Doom is a sexist but because Ms Marvel had managed to frustrate the absolutely unflappable BatGod of Marvel that is Dr. Doom; I read it as Doom, annoyed that he had been so thoroughly, as the kids say, pwned by the Avengers, and then had to marshall his resources to fight back, calling in big favours, to such a massive extent that had bruised his ego enough to make him go all childlike and Stewie. I actually thought it made Ms. Marvel look stronger.

    That being said, I could go a few issues of New Avengers without masturbatory Bendis insertion characters threatening to rape oh sorry I meant kill Tigra every few pages.

  52. But don't you think it's also a reflection of the audience as well? Because I remember writing WEB OF ROMANCE and that book got RAVE reviews from the critics because of my treatment of Mary Jane and how positive the script was and you know what..?

    Not too many readers bought the damned thing. I would hear a lot of "couldn't find it" meaning their retailer didn't take order it... or they'd say "I heard great things about it, but I wanted to get (put comic name where woman is decapitated here)."

    I don't think that book broke the top 100. It doesn't diminish the charm of the story, or the pride I had in writing it, but... c'mon people, where were you when that book came out??

    But make a book where Tigra gets raped or Ms. Marvel is called a "fat cow" and sales go through the freakin' roof. So the message the fans sent to the publishers was, "give us more of the stuff that bothers us, and don't give us the stuff we could've had."

    And when you're sending messages to publishers about content... it ain't the words that will sway them, it's the sales. Or has there been a sequel to WEB OF ROMANCE that I don't know about..?

    I mean, I agree that women should be better represented in comics. I have a wife who enjoys reading them and I feel awkward when the only thing I can offer her are women in thong-wear who are treated in a horrible fashion.

    But if that's the only thing that's there to offer, it's partly (and notice I used the word "partly") because readers don't support the books that show women in a positive light.

    Darwyn Cooke's "The Spirit" is a great example of writing female characters. Hell, EVERYTHING he writes is positive to women. And I'm glad he's supported.

    But (and I'm not tooting my own horn here, just making a point) with every issue of TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD, I've yet to pass 1500 sales. For twenty-eight straight issues, I've hovered between 1200 and 1400 sales.

    Six Eisner nominations and great reviews cannot get people to at least try my book. Great female character, nothing offensive and enjoyable stories and nobody supports it.

    Hell, the only reason I make this book is to honor my wife. It's not to make money, because there was one issue where we made -$400.

    We have a TSSTG OMNIBUS getting ready to ship and you know what the preorders were for this..? 992 copies. A book that's both positive and has strong female characters... again, multi-nominated for the Eisner... over 520 pages for just twenty fucking dollars... and they'll probably lose money on it. That's a shame to me... whether I did the book or not.

    Guarantee you that when this Doctor Doom scene gets put into a trade paperback or hardcover... the sales will go through the mother-fucking roof.

    So, yeah... it's a shame that Brian can't meet the demands of some of you, but let's face it... you all buy the work and then complain about it, while not supporting the books that should meet your needs.

    Okay, just had to vent a bit. Don't take this post as anger... it's more about frustration in trying to do something good and not seeing the type of support the offensive books get.

  53. Tom Beland -
    sorry to hear so few people bought WEB OF ROMANCE, even though it makes me feel I'm belonging to an elite of Marvel readers for buying it and recommending it whenever an opportunity presented itself. I for one would love to read another Peter-and-MJ story from you, maybe it would be possible in the pages of Spider-Man Family, where they're now starting a Mr. & Mrs. Spider-Man back-up series? Or maybe when the current reign of error at ASM ends...
    (Also love Bendis' writing on Ultimate Spider-Man, though).

  54. But, to clarify, I stopped buying Mighty Avengers some time ago.

    Menshevik (one of the few, the happy few, the band of brothers and sisters who support WEB OF ROMANCE)

  55. Bad language/more distasteful evil doesn't bother me in general. I understand and actually kind of appreciate the trend because frankly, I find the insistence upon making everything "kid-friendly" or reliance on on the "CURSES! I SHALL GET YOU NEXT TIME, RICHARDS!!!" school of dialogue kinda patronizing. Times change and as the medium evolves (yes, I do believe that the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby stuff was not the most perfect embodiment of the genre) it does get closer to capturing the essence of reality. And I believe this is a good thing at heart.

    Also, I don't this doesn't have to exist alongside more kid-friendly versions of a character. It's why we have things like Avengers Classic or those kid Spiderman books (which, in addition to less extreme content, are also less bogged down by complex continuity). As with movies or literature, I feel the responsibility lies on the parents for teaching context and instilling values which help children evaluate these types of things and allow them to choose the version they prefer.

    A good example of this in action I think is Ellis' Thunderbolts, a book that, while nauseating in terms of being basically a parade of varying shades human garbage kicking the shit out of heroes and getting the shit kicked out of them in return (which i think is the point), seems to convincingly and semi-realistically show these guys to be, for one reason or another, terrible, terrible people (except Songbird and Radioactive man).

    However, I don't really see this as part of that evolution because it seems contrary to the character. It makes Doom, who is supposed to be, what, the second smartest guy on EARTH (the dude's gotta be smarter than Hank Pym, I mean, look at the Yellowjacket costume. It has giant shoulder wings and a yellow bumblebee on it!) seem like an easily rattled, easily flustered guy when he is TOTALLY IN CONTROL of the situation. I mean, Doom IS kinda a dick, but it's not like he's some 16 year old kid who just lost as Wii tennis and starts mouthing off.

    This might all be part of the Secret Invasion "everyone's acting all wacky!!" thing, but personally, I'll be delighted when SI is all over and everything has all shaken out so we can see where "OMG, Bendis has been planning it all along!" ends and "OMG Bendis isn't doing a very good job writing these characters" begins.

    p.s., if I've already posted this like a million times, please feel free to ignore this. I accidentally posted it in your other SI post, and am just putting it where I meant to. Long story short, I think blogger is a skrull. A fat, whorish cow of a skrull.

  56. Well, the skrull-cow connection is well documented.


    Holy cow, is the comment actually a CLUE???

  57. "Well, the skrull-cow connection is well documented."

    it's clearly a riddle wrapped in an enigma

  58. A riddle wrapped in an enigma smothered in tainted dairy products...

  59. Tom: But another way of reading the commercial success is this - which books sell? The books that are hyped by their publisher as Being Very Important.

    Actual quality can never be measured by the direct market, because the direct market is a blind gamble: retailers get certain bits of information months in advance, and order sight unseen. And that's how it works for the readers too: we've been told, over and over, that Secret Invasion is going to be a Huge Deal, so naturally #1 is going to sell through the roof. And if it turns out to be a complete crapfest, well, the money's already in the bank, isn't it?

    That's why Bendis, Millar et al always resort to the "it sells" defense whenever anyone criticizes their writing - because, really, what else could they say?

  60. I think you're going overboard in saying the DM is a blind gamble, Diana; it's more like an educated guess.

    There are some books, when hyped to the sky, still won't sell huge numbers. Others will sell well, and can capitalize on the hype better.

    It's not a total fluke that Bendis and Miller sell, and it's not just marketing either. Something in what they write speaks to the audience, or else they wouldn't be coming back for more again and again.

  61. It should be mandatory that any writer working with Doom as a character should run the dialogue in their head as recited by Christopher Lee. If it doesn't sound natural, chuck it.

    Doom to me is head-and-shoulders above most of the conventional Marvel villains in that he truly doesn't see what he does as in any way morally wrong. He views himself very much as a heroic figure and cleaves to a code of honor, however warped it might be.

    When done well, as in Byrne's run on the F4, it makes him look fearsome and regal. When mishandled (as in this work and in Waid's Unthinkable arc) it makes Doom sound completely off-pitch.

    Simply put, Doctor Doom is not the Wrecker. He doesn't lose his cool. Ever. He will hold himself stiff-backed and imperious when facing Galactus, do you honestly think anything is going to crack that polished veneer?

    If anything, Doom would be anything but misogynistic. The loss of his mother, his love for Valeria and even his Dark Lady, Morganna Le Fay (which was a bit of business I loved from this arc) contribute to the image of a man who--while vicious--is nonetheless a chivalrous figure. For God's sake the man went into Hell to rescue his mother's soul. That doesn't indicate to me he'd be the kind of guy to call a woman a cow.

    Just my $0.02.


  62. This may have been said already, but I always thought Doom had more class than that. I mean, yeah, he's a murderous tyrant and all, but that sort of language seems a bit crude for him.

    At least, that's my take on it.

  63. Rob: I think you'll find that even much-hyped books that don't sell huge numbers still do much better on the market than books that aren't hyped at all (see: COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS versus CROSSING MIDNIGHT).

    The point of contention, for me, is when you have genuinely (and obviously) talented writers like Brubaker or Carey lagging behind lesser-qualified folk - and while Bendis and Millar may have their fans, I seriously doubt anyone would argue the merits of CIVIL WAR trumping CRIMINAL on a purely story-based evaluation. It's just that the former is designated by Marvel as a Rilly Big Deal, so naturally, that's where the sales - and the success - go.

  64. This conversation is pointless if it turns out Doom IS a Skrull. I just think you have to have the story play out before you critique it so. If he is, then the dialogue is perfectly fine.

    It's like trashing the pitching staff of a baseball team just because the first pitch of the season was high and outside.

  65. Doom... a Skrull?

    Well, he did say "cow." And the very first Skrulls we encountered in Fantastic Four were turned into cows. Coincidence? Or more of Bendis' brilliant groundwork?

  66. I see your point, Diana -- but I think your examples aren't doing you any favors. Civil War and Countdown also trump Crossing Midnight and Criminal in subject matter among the existing Direct Market customer base. Marvel could hype Criminal all it wants to that base, but it would never sell as well as all of their super-heroes fighting each other. That's not just hype -- it's what the customers want.

  67. Rob: Well, there's a school of thought in advertising that the customers want what you make them want - the superhero genre didn't become all-consuming on its own, it was marketed to the point of excluding anything else, and that's the market we have today. Doesn't mean circumstances can't be changed with the right tactics.

  68. There is a difference between bad language and bad dialogue. What that quote shows is a very good example of the latter.

    The fact is, that quote is something that would have been cut if it was proposed for a script. It's a line that is rather childish, but one that isn't imaginative. It's shock value doesn't come from the line itself, but from the source of it. And, honestly, couldn't most 10-12 year olds come up with a better insult than that?

  69. Anonymous7:50 PM

    Forget what I said and just read Stacy's comment. That's right on.

  70. Stacy: I totally agree with you re: Doom, though I've always thought Waid's "Unthinkable" arc was a natural progression of the character - for all that he has a certain code of conduct, he's nevertheless dedicated himself to destroying Reed Richards' entire family on the basis of a school rivalry. And after being endlessly frustrated, it made sense to me that he'd finally resort to something drastic, something that was indeed "unthinkable".

    (As an aside, that's actually the one thing I wish Marvel had preserved from the Jemas administration - the feeling that the old-school villains like Magneto, Doom and the Kingpin were finally done with the conventional status quo and were making their last stands, all-or-nothing.)

    The problem with Doom being written as an honorable character (in his own way) is that readers then interpret him as an anti-hero, in the same way they read Venom during the '90s. Which, to me, completely misses the point of the character: whatever lines he won't cross, he's still a villain.

  71. Bendis is a severely overrated writer who, unfortunately, fails to grasp little things like "realistic conversation" and characterization. Doom has thrown out the occasional high and mighty type put downs in the past, but this was a whole new level of debasement that made me wonder what all of Bendis' fans actually SEE in his work. Outside of Daredevil, there's not a SINGLE Bendis book I've enjoyed for those and many, many, MANY other reasons.

  72. Venom was the biggest mistake Marvel ever made. I can't stand that character and his popularity confuses me to no end.

    Because he doesn't kill. They make him out to be this death machine and nothing happens.

    It's like the IDEA of WW Hulk was promising, but in reality, you KNOW he wasn't going to kill anyone because the company would never allow that.

    I like the Von Doom who would fry a Latverian because he looked at him funny. Byrne did an awesome job with him.
    Ugh. Hate Venom. H.A.T.E. him.

  73. Valerie:
    "Recently he cast a spell on his former girlfriend, ripping off her skin and turning it into leather for his new armor and banishing her soul to hell for all eternity."

    - Which is pretty similar to what Morpheus does to someone right at the beginning of Sandman, but he remains a sympathetic character because the enemy in question was a guy?

    Agreed on Venom - the Mac Gargan/Venom in Ellis' Thunderbolts is the way the character should be portrayed IMO.

    Ok, so Doom wouldn't call his mother a whore, and wouldn't call Morgan Le Fay a whore (unless they negotiated first), but he might call someone he hates and would quite happily kill a whore. Just sayin'.

    CAVEAT: Don't like Bendis much at all, I'd say people read his books because of character loyalty, which is a factor in comics sales but not so much elsewhere. People would buy Mighty Avengers if it was written by Brubaker or Fraction, because they'd buy it anyway; incidentily, it would also be a better comic.

  74. I have to say, I agree with you and most of the other commenters.

    Doom would never use such base language. He'd be far, FAR more eloquent, and meaner. He is, as a character, far more precise with language than that.

    ...Maybe Doom just loses it now and then. Perhaps he drinks.

    Hell, EVERYTHING [Darwyn Cooke] writes is positive to women.
    That reminds me, did anyone read that Wonder Woman story in "New Frontier Special"? Where Diana and Canary go to the Playboy club to tell the patrons about equality? And they see Bruce Wayne there, and he makes excuses? And Diana jumps out of a cake and tells the men to respect women, but the men throw glasses at her, so she beats them all up? And Hugh Hefner says "It's a man's world!" and tries to set her on fire? And she takes her top off and smacks him with her breast plate? And Gloria Steinem gives the audience a Clark-Kent-wink? ...What was the story getting at? I was so puzzled.

    using her skin to create a new suit for himself
    ...Huh? Is this "Silence of the Lambs"?

  76. Steve Bennett's position, while understandable for someone who grew up in the old age of comics, no longer has any place in a post-Watchmen comics environment.

    No one will buy the notion of a straight arrow, moral guideline of a hero anymore, not when our sports stars are abrasive, juicing jerks, our politicians corrupt greedmongers and film celebrities nutty cult members. It's unbelievable, it's undesirable, it's a lie.

    Pardon, i'm commenting here somewhat because there's no option on the linked article to do so. Regarding the actual scene in question, it seems rather atrociously out of character for Doom, whom I had always imagined as the type of character to remain completely calm even in the face of utter oblivion, though I confess to never having followed his exploits too closely.

  77. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Allow me to provide a counter-thought for the purposes of a well-rounded conversation: What if Doom had been speaking to a male character and used slurs which disparage the male persona? What if he'd called Peter Parker a "muscle-headed, small-membered, couch-sitting, impotent neanderthal"? Would that be less offensive because Peter Parker is a straight, white male? Or would people just be busting up with laughter that Dr. Doom called Spider-Man "impotent"? Either we accept that the man is a villain and understand that he's prone to saying things which non-villainous people will find offensive, or we insist that he be characterized as a villain who goes out of his way not to offend anybody.

  78. I don't think a man insulting a woman means the same thing as a man insulting another man (or a woman insulting a man, for that matter). It ought to mean the same thing, but it doesn't. The situations are not equal.

  79. Anonymous2:31 PM

    I agree. The situations are not equal. But the point of discussions like this is about a hypothetical equality that we all seek because of our better natures, even if it does not exist in the real world. So while we cannot change the inequity of the situation, we can control our own minds and hence our own viewpoints on the things we complain about. In other words: if we wish to complain about one situation being a mistreatment of a person or group, we should seek to open our minds to when other groups are victims of similar unfairness--even if we're not part of those groups.

  80. I think anyone looking to make comic books a battleground for identity politics will lead a very frustrated life.

  81. Also, I don't understand how Doom being sexist AND racist is preferable. The idea of the "equal opportunity offender" is just as odious as "political correctness."