The harbinger in the disruption of economic systems in the 21st century appears to have fully revealed itself to changes in distribution systems with the proliferation of advanced consumer technology, especially in the retail sector. Consumers prefer to pay less money and/or do as little work as possible in acquiring product. As such, the distribution of wealth has shifted to services who can provide that for consumers. A job that would’ve been at a Barnes and Noble or Best Buy store is now going to Amazon, an opening for a business operations analyst at Olive Garden is now more likely to be a programmer for Seamless, someone that would’ve been a driver for a traditional taxi company is now a driver for Uber. Whether you think this is wrong or right, it is undoubtedly a central tenant of our reality and the price of doing business in a free market capitalist system. It’s also a bitter pill to swallow for anybody that at one time or another had benefited from said free market capitalist system when said system now appears to have turned it’s back on them through no fault of their own. It is even more disjarring for anybody who believed that “if you work hard, you’ll succeed” was a unequivocal truth of the systems they were operating in as opposed to the best possible outcome. A search for reason and questioning of self worth is a natural reaction to finding one’s self in said situation. Often times, an actor with an outsized role in that economy will in turn, have an outside role in that economies disintegration merely as a byproduct of doing business. Any company that exists to make a profit is ultimately abholdent to only that and as such, will do so at the detriment of it’s own industry simply as a matter of function. This is all pretty obvious for any objective observer but in these types of situations, no one is objective because everyone’s livelihood is at stake. If you want to look back further and find a central tenant of Western Civilization, it’s that often in these situations, participants will villify an “other” as the scapegoat for why the system has failed them. For example; here’s Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel explaining the publishers continuing slump in sales that seemed to have coalesced in their most recent publishing initiative from the fall of last year “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.
We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked”
Forget changes in purchasing habits for consumers across the broader economy as a whole, forget the archaic nature of the comics retailer market and forget about any of Marvel’s business practices; diversity or the “other” are killing the comics industry; not the inherent illogical of the direct market in 2017 or Marvel’s many exploitations of that.
Looking back on last month’s article, I came to the realization that I tend to add more books to a list than I’m actually able to read and, in may cases, afford. There are only so many hours left at the end of the day to tackle my pull list, and, while they are a passion, comic books are not my only hobby. On top of that, I’ve been reading a lot more “older” stuff lately. This list will be more realistic, conservative towards what I think I’ll actually read. If I get to more, great! I’d love to read every good book out there.
The Black Panther first appeared in a 1966 Fantastic Four two-parter (#52 & #53). Not long after that (1968) he joined the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Black Panther’s time with the Avengers raised his profile, yet, also largely ignored one of his most prominent features: being king of Wakanda. Other superheroes in the past had either been monarchs or had ties to them, most famously Princess Diane, daughter of the Queen of the Amazons. The overlap between Wakanda and Themyscira is intriguing, as they are both technologically advanced cultures created and maintained by minority populations. In his original Wonder Woman stories, William Moulton Marston used Paradise Island as an example for what human civilization could aspire to being, if only women were allowed to live to their full potential. Similarly the scientific glories of Wakanda represent what African minds can achieve when free from the bonds of oppression. Unlike Wonder Woman, this concept was dormant throughout T’Challa’s earliest adventures. His Avengers period kept him in New York, far removed from the tribal politics of his homeland. It was not until the Panther received his first solo stories that creators began tapping the full potential of Wakanda.
After an almost three year hiatus (the last post came out on 4/30/14), I’ve decided to bring back my column “The Haul.” At its inception, I vowed to write something once a week. Not only did that not happen then, but I will not even pretend to make that claim again today. However, what I can promise is to pop in at least once a month for this new endeavor. When “The Haul” first debuted, it was meant as a place where I could talk about whatever was on my mind that week in the world of comics. Having that freedom was nice, but this next iteration will have better specified boundaries. By dropping a lens over this column, I can provide a clearer focus on what it is readers can expect.