When I saw #FireRickRemender trending on Twitter, I was a little confused. To the best of my knowledge, Rick Remender hadn’t done anything controversial. The latest issue of his Captain America run came out last week, but it was a little on the dull side. I didn’t think it contained anything that would rile up the masses.
Apparently, the masses and I don’t see eye to eye.
In the comic, Falcon spends some time with a character named Jet Black. The two share a few drinks and wind up having consensual sex. The problem? Jet Black was underage at the time she was introduced. A few angry tumblr posts later, and people were convinced Falcon was a statutory rapist.
This sort of manufactured controversy can be found on any corner of the Internet. Everywhere you look, there are people angrily ranting about games they haven’t played or articles they didn’t read. Knee-jerk reactions are an inescapable part of the online world.
Comics make it especially easy for people to form these snap judgements. It only takes a minute to share random, out-of-context panels, and the confusing nature of comics allows someone to misrepresent a situation entirely.
If someone sees a picture of an obviously young Jet Black, and sees another picture of her getting it on with Falcon, they’re not going to assume she grew up in a dimension where time passes more rapidly. They’re going to assume that the person calling Falcon a statutory rapist is telling the truth, and they’re going to get mad about it.
People shouldn’t be calling for someone to lose their job when they haven’t read the issue in question. Still, I understand why people are so quick to anger, and so reluctant to investigate the situation.
Superheroes are more popular than ever, and people who have never touched a comic have tremendous affection for these characters. At the same time, comics are notoriously difficult to get into. It’s easy to see why someone would think tracking the Falcon tag on tumblr is a better option than picking up a few new issues.
I mean, I wouldn’t recommend Captain America #22 to anyone, let alone a new reader. People shouldn’t have to spend $3.99 on a mediocre comic to find out whether or not something offensive happens.
Everyone who’s angry about this scene could be a comics reader, but thanks to this misinformation, they probably won’t be. Jet Black’s age doesn’t matter. People believe Marvel would make Falcon a statutory rapist, and that’s more than enough to alienate them.
Marvel and DC should be doing everything they can to engage these would-be readers. They should be putting out solid stories with easy jumping in points, and they should be offering them at an affordable price. More importantly, they should be working to change the perception that comics are a sexist, inaccessible mess.
Companies can’t stop people from spreading misinformation about their comics, but they can give them compelling reasons to actually read them. If Marvel and DC can convince people to give their comics a chance, it’ll be much harder for hashtags like #FireRickRemender to gain traction.