Tag Archives: stan lee

Nuclear Family banner ad

Those Two Geeks Episode 113: Talking Comic Book History With James Caudill

Alex and Joe talk with history teacher James Caudill about comic book history, and the books we’re currently reading. You can find James @teachcaudill on Twitter, and his writing at Comics The Gathering.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on Twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

People’s History of the Marvel Universe, WandaVision Special: The Difficult question of Jewish and Romani Representation

The following is originally a Tumblr post from a couple years back (as you can see from some of the contemporary references) that I held back from publishing because I wanted to have a Roma sensitivity reader take a look at it first, and then never got around to finishing when other things came up despite their very kind assistance. However, the popularity of WandaVision brought back some pre-existing discourse around Elizabeth Olsen’s casting as a non-Romani actress and Joss Whedon and pre-Feige Marvel executives’ decision to reimagine Wanda and Pietro Maximoff as radicalized Sokovian nationalists rather than Romani.

This reminded me of the unfinished post I’d written about the difficult question of Romani representation in comics rooted in problematic decisions made during Marvel’s Silver Age and its particular relationship to subtextual Judaism in the work of assimilated Jewish creators. So after the break, I’ve posted an edited and elaborated version of my original post.

One comics related question, Victor von Doom is Roma, a poor Roma in his origin at that, but he has “Von” in his title? Is it that Lee-Kirby never consulted the Almanach de Gotha, a reference to Erich von Stroheim (who was after all a Jewish haberdasher who passed himself as a aristo in hollywood and popularized the “von” concept)? But more importantly how does Doom being a proud Roma with a fake Junker aristo name work as a concept? Is Doom appropriating the Nazi-aristocratic culture?

Ok…this is a tricky topic, because I really don’t want to undercut any of the people pushing for better Roma representation in comics, especially with everything going on with Secret Empire and Peter Alan David’s rant at NYCC. However, Silver Age (and later) comics creators hadn’t usually done much cultural research with regard to the Romani, and tended to base their portrayals in the kind of tropes set out by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Universal Pictures’ Wolfman films. These tropes tended to traffic in both Romantic exoticism and anti-Romani stereotypes, and (as I’ll explain when I get into some examples) were used by Marvel creators in a way that arguably involved ethnic erasure, which raises questions about how we think about these characters as positive or negative representation.

To answer the original Tumblr ask, with Victor Von Doom, honestly I think the process didn’t go much further than: repeated Vs sound good and while Doom makes no sense as a last name that would exist in reality, there’s the repeated D’s of Doctor Doom, and “von” sounds Junkerish and (thanks to American propaganda from WWI and WWII) we all know the Junkers are bad guys – without any real reference to the sociocultural meanings of European naming conventions and ethnicities.[1] Then Stan Lee and Jack Kirby probably moved on from a name to the character concept of Victor Von Doom as a tyrant (in the original Greek sense of the term) who overthrew the traditional order; why would Victor hate the old order, well he was persecuted, what’s a group that’s persecuted, Romani are persecuted, so go with that. In Von Doom’s case, things get even more problematic, because von Doom’s Romani heritage was used as a way to explain why Doctor Doom has mastery over magi as well as super-science:

Where I think things become even more complicated is when we get to characters like Magneto, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. Because whereas Romani identity probably wasn’t a major element of the character creation process for Von Doom, here I feel like Romani was used as a background as a way to bring up Nazi racial ideology and the Holocaust without explicitly labeling anyone as Jewish. Despite the fact that Magneto, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver’s creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were Jewish and had (Jack more so than Stan) progressive anti-Nazi politics, there was still something of a tendency in pop culture of that era to keep Jewishness subtextual to which the original generation of comics creators was no exception – something that is explored in excellent detail in Abraham Riesman’s True Believer.

Thus, it wasn’t until the Bronze Age of comics where a younger generation of Jewish creators like Chris Claremont took over the franchise that Magneto was revealed to be Jewish. As a result, some awkward retconning took place, such that Erik Lensherr (or Magnus or Max Eisenhardt) now had escaped Auschwitz and joined a Romani caravan, where he met Magda and then fathered Wanda and Pietro and then left. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t Romani of Jewish faith or people of mixed Jewish/Romani ethnicity, but given that what little use of Romani cultural identifiers there is in these cases – which generally boils down to the stereotypical caravans of painted wagons, men wearing vests, and an ill-defined state of persecution – makes no reference to the Zhutane Roma, I don’t think that’s what Lee and Kirby were going for.

Rather, I think creators reached for Romani backgrounds because these creators thought that Roma shared tropes associated with European Jews – Eastern European origins, oppressed minority status, an “otherized” cultural difference from the perceived mainstream – so that they could stand in for Jewish, without running into the problems with either management or the consuming public that Jewishness was believed to run afoul of, while adding exoticized elements that might move more sales units.

And it’s this assumed sameness and safeness I have a problem with, because embedded in there is an assumption that Romani aren’t a real living people and culture, that they are instead a stock trope of fairytales and Gothic horror and thus can be used as a costume, whereas Jews are a real people and culture and thus it would be inappropriate or bad business to depict them directly.

That’s always stuck in my craw when it comes to some of these characters because I’ve never been quite sure whether Erik, Pietro, and Wanda are really supposed to be Romani representation or whether these characters are Jews in Romani-face. Making it all the more complicated is the fact that Marvel doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the situation either; hence the large number of retcons that have taken place that revolve around Wanda and Pietro’s parentage and Magneto’s own ethnic heritage. Are Wanda and Pietro ethnically Romani, or merely adopted? Are they the biological children of Magneto or not, and what does that mean for their Jewish identity? Is Magneto himself a Jew from Warsaw or a Sinti Romani from Gdansk? It all depends on when and which creators one asks.

This uncertainty, however, leaves some significant questions unresolved: is it better, given the fact that almost no minority-group representation in comics (Silver Age or no) is that good to begin with, to have bad representation or none at all? How do we deal with situations in which members of one minority group are appropriating the culture of another to smuggle their own experience into the dominant narrative?

In the end, I think that it can never be satisfying for either Jews or Romani to have one group play-acting as the other – but the real issue is that neither should have to settle for that simply because there’s so little representation for either group that the two groups find themselves fighting over scraps. The answer is that comics companies need to commit to more robust representation both in quantity and quality, such that we don’t have characters having to shoulder the entire weight of being “the” representation for an entire group, let alone more than one.


[1] The Junker class were hereditary landed nobility in Prussia (more specifically from the north-eastern regions of Prussia) who had something of a lock on military and administrative positions, first within the Kingdom of Prussia and then within the German Empire of 1871-1918. The Junkers tended to be actively pro-monarchist and anti-democratic, and bitterly hostile to both free-market liberalism and Socialism, and because of their dominance within the German Army became stock figures (think buzz cuts, monocles, and dueling scars) of German militarism in both WWI and WWII. More to the point, a Junker would always have the noble title of “von” in their last names, no Romani would ever have been allowed the honorific under the pre-Weimar monarchies, and the Junkers were generally pretty hostile to Romani in much the same way that they tended to be hostile to German and Polish Jews.    

Preview: John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man Artisan Edition

John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man Artisan Edition

(W) Stan Lee (A/CA) John Romita
In Shops: Apr 14, 2021
SRP: $39.99

Jazzy John Romita was for many the definitive artist on the Amazing Spider-Man. His sleek line work brought the web-slinger to life for a generation of fans. This volume collects issues 67, 68, 69, 71, 75, and 84 in their entirety. Additionally there is a beautiful gallery section of Romita extras.

Like all of IDW’s award-winning Artist Edition style books, each page has been painstakingly scanned from the original art to ensure the finest possible reproduction, mimicking the experience of seeing Kirby’s hand-drawn pages-it’s the next best thing owning the art! While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art-for instance, corrections, blue pencils, paste-overs, all the little nuances that make original art unique.

John Romita's Amazing Spider-Man Artisan Edition

Preview: Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1

Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1

(W) Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby (A) Various (CA) Steve McNiven
Rated T
In Shops: Mar 17, 2021
SRP: $6.99

Captain America celebrates 80 years of battling tyranny this month! And what better way to celebrate than by having a cadre of Marvel’s best artists redraw and modernize Captain America’s origin and the debut of the Red Skull from CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 as well as Cap’s return in the Marvel Age from AVENGERS #4! The legendary stories that changed the course of comic book history are presented in an all-new way for the current generation of Marvel fans!

Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1

ComiXology Features 7 New Releases Today from Marvel, Yen Press, and Harlequin

There’s seven new digital comic releases today on comiXology. You can get new comics from Marvel, Harlequin, and Yen Press now. You can start shopping or check out the individual issues below.

Avengers: Kang Dynasty

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Brent Anderson, Alan Davis, Kieron Dwyer, Manuel Garcia, Ivan Reis
Cover by Ariel Olivetti
Purchase

Collects Avengers (1998) #41-55, Avengers Annual 2001.

The warlord known as Kang the Conqueror returns – and this time he’s enslaving the entire Earth!

Avengers: Kang Dynasty

Un Si Petit Mensonge

Written by Nancy Warren
Art by Tomoko Takakura
Purchase

Le fait que Jane porte une bague à son annulaire gauche n’est pas anodin. Du fait de son physique avantageux, ses collègues masculins lui courent sans cesse après, au point qu’elle décide de démissionner. Cette bague lui sert à présent d’excuse pour faire croire aux autres qu’elle est déjà mariée. Sa meilleure amie essaie de lui faire comprendre que c’est une mauvaise idée, elle lui demande d’ailleurs ce qui arriverait si elle tombait un jour sur l’homme idéal. Et en effet, Jane n’imaginait pas que le grand amour puisse frapper aussi vite à sa porte… Dans la nouvelle entreprise où elle a été embauchée, elle tombe amoureuse du PDG, alors même qu’elle a menti sur son statut marital. Elle prétend avoir un mari génial qui ressemble à Tom Cruise, et il est trop tard pour revenir sur ce mensonge !

Un Si Petit Mensonge

A Deal With Demakis

Written by Tara Pammi
Art by Richi Okada
Purchase

Lexi meets world-famous Greek tycoon Nikos Demakis after her ex-boyfriend, Tyler, loses his memory in a serious accident. Tyler has been dating Nikos’s sister, but Lexi is the only person he seems to remember. She quickly agrees to Nikos’s plan to help Tyler recover from his amnesia. Little does she know that Nikos’s real motivation is to break up Tyler and his sister, with the ultimate goal of gaining the CEO position at his company. What he doesn’t bank on is his uncontrollable desire for Lexi…

A Deal With Demakis

Marvel Visionaries: Jim Steranko

Written by Arnold Drake, Stan Lee
Art by Jim Steranko
Cover by Jim Steranko
Purchase

Collects Captain America (1968) #110, 111, 113, Uncanny X-Men #50-51.

A deep dive into the masterful work of Steranko including a classic Captain America adventure, guest-starring the Incredible Hulk, and an all-time great X-Men story.

Marvel Visionaries: Jim Steranko

So I’m a Spider, So What? #50.3

Written by Okina Baba
Art by Asahiro Kakashi
Purchase

He’s just a nasty old guy nobody cares about, right…? WRONG!! This! Means! War! Read the next chapter of So I’m a Spider, So What? at the same day as Japan!

So I'm a Spider, So What? #50.3

Spider-Man: Quality Of Life

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Scott Sava
Cover by Scott Sava
Purchase

Collects Spider-Man: Quality of Life #1-4.

Spider-Man squares off against the lethal Lizard in this spectacular tale.

Spider-Man: Quality Of Life

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web Vol. 1

Written by Garth Ennis, Peter Milligan, Greg Rucka
Art by Duncan Fegredo, John McCrea, Eduardo Risso
Cover by Glenn Fabry
Purchase

Collects Spider-Man’s Tangled Web (2001) #1-6.

In “The Thousand,” Garth Ennis and John McCrea tell the story of a man tries to reproduce the accident that granted the wall-crawler his amazing powers… with horrific results! Next Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso climb inside the mind of a soldier in the Kingpin’s army… who’s been called before the fat man to explain his mistake. Finaly, Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo spin the tragic tale of the villain known as the Rhino.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web Vol. 1

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Around the Tubes

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1

We’ve got lots coming at you this week with reviews, previews, news, and so much more! While we get things rolling, check out some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

iO9 – Neil Gaiman Stars as Neil Gaiman in an Audible Original About Neil Gaiman – Well ok then.

CBR – When the United States Government Asked Stan Lee to Ignore the Comics Code – Some interesting history.

CBLDF – Bangladeshi Cartoonist Ahmed Kishore Released from Jail – This is a good thing.

Reviews

Collected Editions – Batman Vol. 2: The Joker War
The Beat – ENIAC #1
The Beat – Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1
CBR – Suicide Squad #1

ComiXology Featured 5 New Releases from Marvel and Harlequin

There are five new digital comics on comiXology now from Marvel and Harlequin. Get a little action and a little romance to read. Start shopping now or check out the individual issues below!

Cable Vol. 1: Shining Path

Written by David Tischman
Art by Igor Kordey
Cover by Igor Kordey
Purchase

Collects Cable (1993) #97-100.

A new direction for the mutant soldier! Ever since the apparent defeat of his lifelong nemesis, Apocalypse, Nathan Dayspring has lost his focus. Now, Cable regains the role he was born into, that of soldier, traveling the world, infiltrating political hotspots from Asia to Europe to Africa! His first mission brings the former X-Man to South America where civil war is erupting and peace is a shattered illusion!

Cable Vol. 1: Shining Path

Cable Vol. 2: The End

Written by Darko Macan, David Tischman
Art by Mike Huddleston, Igor Kordey
Cover by Igor Kordey
Purchase

Collects Cable (1993) #101-107.

The one-man-army known as Cable heads to the world’s hotspots to spread peace – and he’s not afraid to back his message up with bullets!

Cable Vol. 2: The End

Double Identity

Written by Annette Broadrick
Art by Eve Takigawa
Purchase

Carina has lived a very sheltered life with her wealthy family, but that hasn’t protected her from hardship entirely. She lost her fiancé in a car accident, and it turns out another woman was in the car with him when it happened! Ever since, she hasn’t been terribly interested in men, until one night when a famous socialite and playboy by the name of Jude approaches her. He’s the third son of a wealthy Texan family and he’s very handsome. Just when she’s starting to think that Jude can help her break out of her shell, it becomes clear he has ulterior motives…

Double Identity

Le Retour Imprévu

Written by Catherine George
Art by Riho Sachimi
Purchase

Rose, propriétaire d’une librairie, trouve une rose devant sa boutique, accompagnée d’une carte dont le message la bouleverse : « Une rose pour une Rose ». C’est un message que James Sinclair lui avait déjà envoyé autrefois. James était un homme parfait, admiré de tous et éperdument amoureux de Rose. Mais quand il a su que leur amour de jeunesse n’était pour elle qu’un jeu, leur histoire a tourné au drame. Une erreur impardonnable a été commise – saura-t-il lui pardonner ?

Le Retour Imprévu

Marvel Visionaries: Gil Kane

Written by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, Stan Lee, Jim Shooter, Dan Slott, Roy Thomas
Art by Gil Kane
Cover by Gil Kane
Purchase

Collects Tales To Astonish #76, Tales Of Suspense #88 – #91, Captain Marvel #17, Daredevil #146, Marvel Premiere #1 And #15, What If? #3 And #24, Amazing Spider-Man #99 And #123, Marvel Comics Presents #116.

A lifetime retrospective of the legend’s greatest work for the House of Ideas! Joining the immortal Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and John Romita in the annals of The House’s history is one of the industry’s most gifted artists: Gil Kane! With his fluid pencils, Kane brought a loving familiarity to Mighty Marvel’s most popular characters in a body of work reprinted for fans new and old alike!

Marvel Visionaries: Gil Kane

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Around the Tubes

Generations Forged

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

The Hollywood Reporter – Roy Thomas, Former Marvel Editor, Pushes Back on New Stan Lee Biography (Guest Column) – Another opinion of the ongoing debate.

The Root – From Blackest Night to Brightest Day: How the Present Has Seen the Glorious Rise of the Black Superhero – A solid read.

The Alestle – ‘We are no longer the nerds’: How comic book culture has evolved over time – Interesting article. What do you all think?

Reviews

Games Radar – Generations Forged #1
The Geekiary – Nubia: Real One

There’s Big Surprises in Store for the Fantastic Four to Celebrate 60 Years

The Fantastic Four, the very superheroes that kicked off Marvel Comics’ Silver Age are celebrating 60 incredible years! Home to concepts and characters that revolutionized comic book storytelling, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved creations have enjoyed one of the most memorable sagas in comic book history. Now, get ready to see what’s in store for Marvel’s First Family this year in all-new teaser artwork by Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia. This epic piece foreshadows the Fantastic Four’s action-packed year, giving fans a hint at the deadly threats they’ll be facing and a look at an unexpected new arc that kicks off in May by Dan Slott and R.B. Silva!

Keep an eye out for announcements about the other exciting things Marvel Comics has in store for the Fantastic Four’s milestone celebration.

Fantastic Four 60th Anniversary teaser

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee with biographer Abraham Riesman

“I’m not damning Stan Lee, I’m living with ambiguity” says Abraham Riesman of his essential new Stan Lee biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. No matter where you stand on the debate of who gets credit for Marvel comics, you MUST read this book.

It’s past time for a serious work of history like this one examining the conflicting stories behind one of most imporant cultural forces of the 20th century. Abe has done completely new research into the Lieber familiy’s history in Romania and the Romanian Jewish mileiu of Stan’s youth. He’s interviewed the journalists who wrote key pieces around Stan’s life and times at Marvel. He’s gotten everyone to talk, from Stan’s brother (cartoonist Larry Lieber) to the vultures who plagued Stan at the end of his life.

Abraham Riesman is a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other outlets. He is the author of TRUE BELIEVER: THE RISE AND FALL OF STAN LEE and the forthcoming RINGMASTER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF VINCE MCMAHON. He lives in Rhode Island with his partner, the journalist SI Rosenbaum. His website is abrahamriesman.com and his Twitter handle is @abrahamjoseph.

For more from me on Stan Lee, listen to my episode with journalist Spencer Ackermen upon Lee’s death.

Fish Kill side ad
« Older Entries