A little over a year ago, then Presidential candidate Donald Trump shouted out Marvel Comics C.E.O Ike (short for Issac) Perlmutter during what was basically a paid infomercial for his presidential candidacy disguised as a fundraiser for war veterans. It was, at best, disconcerting. It was later revealed that Perlmutter had donated over $2 million dollars to a super PAC supporting Marco Rubio and $1 million to Donald Trump. At the time, I was like many who wrestled with the idea of continuing to support Marvel comics in the wake of the revelations. Ultimately, I decided that based on the quality of the comics and their adherence to progressive causes I aligned with, it was worth continuing my support of the publisher. Since then, Donald Trump has won the election to become President of the United States by the electoral college, while losing the popular vote by over two million ballots. Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has now been incorporated into the Trump Administration as part of the Veteran’s Benefits administration while his wife, Laura Perlmutter, was part of the Trump inauguration committee. On Friday of last week (1/27/2016) Donald Trump signed an executive order banning admittance for American visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days and banned all refugees from entering or receiving asylum in the United States for 120 days and banned Syrian refugees indefinitely while planning to give preference to Christian Syrians over Muslims when the ban would ultimately be lifted. With the action that the current administration has taken with the executive order, I can no longer use my platform here at Nothing But Comics to support Marvel Comics in good conscious because of CEO Perlmutter’s association with Donald Trump’s presidency.
As someone who’s chosen to write about comic books, I’ve always felt the decision to not cover Marvel Comics by some of my peers was a huge oversight in that I find it hard to write about comics in and of themselves without including the medium’s biggest producer. That’s further complicated by the fact that over the last five years, Marvel’s comics have not only been very good but moreover, very politically progressive. Though most self evident in the platform afforded to writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther and G. Willow Wilson on Ms. Marvel, down the line Marvel made a commitment to diversifying its characters in culture and gender. This initiative led to switching the race and gender of what were traditionally white male protagonist in Captain America, Thor and Spider-man combined with a dedication to launching ongoing series for more diverse characters like Powerman & Iron Fist, Black Widow or Mosaic.
They’ve certainly stumbled at points; however, the publisher has done and continues to make a sustained effort in diversifying its line of comics and the talent creating them. Furthermore, the talent creating Marvel comics has been mostly steadfast in their own support of progressive causes and in opposition to Donald Trump’s platform. Beyond the aforementioned Coates & Wilson, creators such as Mark Waid, Sana Amanat, Dan Slott, Greg Pak, Kelly Thomson, Nick Spencer, David Walker, Kate Leth and countless others have come out in support of equality and in defiance to Trump’s presidency. In a world where Donald Trump was just running for President, that felt like enough. In a world where he was the President elect, it felt acceptable. In a world where he is the President of the United States Of America signing executive orders banning a group of people because of their religious faith, my support for Marvel comics has become untenable because of their C.E.O.’s association with the current presidential administration.
I don’t begrudge you, the reader, for not joining me in this–even if you agree with my position on the ban. I don’t begrudge the creative talent or anybody that works for Marvel in doing so either. They’re trying to make a living and tell their stories to the widest audience possible within the medium, and Marvel is the best platform to do so. But as long as the Trump administration has this ban in place and Marvel’s C.E.O. Ike Perlmutter is a part of that administration, I cannot personally support the company either in my own purchasing habits or through my platform here at Nothing But Comics.
While I realize that I’m lessening my scope in coverage of the comics medium in doing so, what has currently happened has gone beyond my passion for the medium to impede upon my personal principles and I can no longer support an organization whose highest level of leadership is taking part in an administration that has created active political policy discriminating against a minority group. As a lifelong Marvel comics reader, and one who has been an enthusiastic supporter of their recent material, I’m crestfallen. But I know that I can’t keep pretending the material I’m consuming has no relation to the actions of its C.E.O. I’ll be happy to begin covering and consuming Marvel comics again if either, Perlmutter leaves the Trump Administration and publicly condemns the current ban, steps down as C.E.O. of Marvel Comics, or the administration reverses the ban. But as it currently stands, I refuse to support the presidential administration in any way possible if they enact or pursue policy of discrimination based on race, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. This encompasses all of their business ventures, including Ike Perlmutter’s Marvel comics as he currently stands as an adviser on the Veteran Benefits Administration.
Most nights I’d go home after work and read a Marvel comic; however, tonight I went to a protest instead. Whether we like it or not, we live in a new world and our actions have consequences. This is where I stand and I will continue to do so in support of all visa holders and Syrian refugees feeling the brunt of persecution from the current administration. Clearly comics are important to me, but they are by no means more important than human rights and equality or the Muslim Americans and immigrants I’ve had the privilege of knowing throughout my lifetime. The first Marvel comic I owned was X-Men #1 by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee. I’ve always identified with outsiders, even though I’ve never really been one by any meaningful measure, and the X-Men represented that to the utmost in superhero fiction. I’ve learned a lot about equality from comics, both in terms of the work itself in addition to the community around it. We are at a critical point in our history for those very principles. Thankfully, I’ve learned enough from the X-Men, Captain America, Daredevil and so many more Marvel comics to know not only where I stand but to do so, I can’t support Marvel Comics for the foreseeable future. Steve Rogers taught me to oppose fascism, this is the application of those lessons.