The December MKE Comicbook was one with a fun topic – “Controversial Comics”, and was very well-attended! Since we had some new faces, we started out with introductions, with people sharing their current favorite comicbook. Here’s what they shared: Dillon – Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl, Molly – Black Panther, Jihann – Detective Comics, Amber – Moon-Girl and Devil-Dinosaur, Chris – Spider-Woman, Andy – Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Luke Future-Quest, Jony – Order of the Stick, Emilio – Tales to Astonish 48 (first appearance of Pocrupine-Man), Don – No Mercy, Saugat – BESERK (a Japanese comic with “one of the most bizarre, horrific plot twists.”), and me – also, Spider-Woman!
As for Controversial Comics, we had a lot to share!
Jihann brought the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories – those that dealt with racism, poverty, and drug use – including the “My Ward Is a Junkie” cover,
-Rob Liefeld’s early Youngblood work (with its atrocious anatomy and bad storytelling, and
–Judge Dredd – “my favorite facist”, and its weird tapestry of a dystopian future, making fun of nuclear war at a time when the US and USSR were actually close to it.
Don – had an interest in mixed-bag of controversy to share, from the 1980s to now – from editing decisions in Batgirl of Burnside that raised claims of transphobia, to Havok’s “M-word” speech in Uncanny Avengers, to The Shadow (1986) by Howard Chaykin that raised the hackles of his estate holder, Conde Nast, to the issue of Action Comics where Superman gets compelled to be part of a porno film!
Amber suggested the personality-switching The Superior Spider-Man because “I loved it and everyone else hated it!”
Jony had two books to share – the first issue of X-Factor (1986) which featured the “resurrection” of Jean Grey, a decision that irked many, many fans of the X-men franchise. The second book was the 20— revival of Howard the Duck, in Marvel’s “MAX” line – their more “mature” line of comics. This book, written by Steve Gerber, the character’s creator, was actually done to try and tick off Marvel, but they actually published the story – which happened to feature Howard the DUCK getting turned into a MOUSE – as a shot against Disney, and then Howard meeting God, who happened to be a moose!
Andy had one suggestion, but it carried plenty of controversy on its own – Dynamite’s The Boys – in which Garth Ennis and his artists manage to skewer pretty much every superhero trope there is.
Chris, a big Spider-Man fan, mentioned the infamous Clone Saga, which he said, actually had some good and some bad in it (though the storyline was pretty prime-time-90s).
Emilio shared the comics-changing X-men graphic novel, “God Loves, Man Kills”. While there was much to be disturbed by, Emilio recalled it being particularly shocking because it was the first time he saw children killed in a comicbook. Looking to more modern comics, Emilio brought in volumes of Marvel’s The Ultimates, which he “found disturbing on a number of levels”, which is hardly surprising when you consider that he works for the ACLU.
Molly shared the Ratqueens, a popular book whose story didn’t cause controversy, but rather one of its creators: the artist of the book was kicked off due to an arrest for domestic abuse.
I brought a few books to share: Miracleman, which caused controversy for its realistic depiction of childbirth; Hellblazer, which featured a story-arc in which the character is suggested to have had …relations with a dog (off-panel); and Shade the Changing Man, which had a story-arc that dealt with a character trying to decide whether or not to keep a pregnancy.
The night’s discussion was a good one, and it was very interesting to see what sort of topics the comicbooks tackled. Having this evening definitely showed that pretty much any topic can be covered in a comicbook – they’re not just about people in tights smacking each other around. The night wrapped up with another fun trivia contest from Don, with prizes from our favorite local comicbook store, Lost World of Wonders!