Many superheroes have conservative beginnings.
If men were benign there would be no need for superheroes. Life was simpler in 1939 when Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman. Batman’s motivation, like that of so many comic book good guys, was to right a wrong, in this case the murder of his parents.
Batman’s mission expanded to serving the cause of justice, which has always been a conservative idea. We are a nation of laws. Creators may not have consciously realized their characters had a conservative agenda, and in many cases, subsequent writers have expanded that agenda to embrace more liberal concerns such as intolerance and inequality.
That is not to say conservatives are not concerned about such things. As always, it’s a matter of degree.
When John Wagner created the British character Judge Dredd, he made him an American. In 1977 Britain seemed relatively law-abiding compared to the American Wild West. Judge Dredd addressed conservative frustration with a society and legal system that seemed to grant endless exemptions, caveats, and mitigating circumstances to horrendous acts.
One need only look at the description of Jihadist Major Nidal Hassan’s deadly attack as “workplace violence” to appreciate the frustrating and malicious nature of political correctness.
Judge Dredd cuts through all that by being judge, jury, and executioner. “I am the Law,” he declares, much like John Wayne before him.
Today political correctness runs rampant throughout the comic industry as it does in every branch of entertainment. Denny O’Neil, who reinvented Batman for the modern world, got the ball rolling during the 1970s with his famous Green Lantern/Green Arrow run in which the embattled superheroes addressed drug addiction, corporate pollution and the Trial of the Chicago Seven.
O’Neil also told me, “I sometimes wonder if sixties liberals didn’t create the atmosphere for today’s extreme politics and name calling.”
DC has since introduced Simon Baz, a Muslim Green Lantern. Marvel has recast Ms. Marvel as the daughter of a loving but strict Muslim family. It’s all good--Muslims have just as much right to their fantasies as conservatives and apolitical nerds and geeks.
When Steve Rude and I created Nexus we had one imperative: to entertain.
— Rare Comic Books (@MakeMyComicRare) September 25, 2018
We are not political creatures although we are both conservative by nature. We have no message we’re trying to spread. Our protagonist is conservative by nature. When we created Nexus in the eighties the Soviets were the bad guys.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, my friends kidded me about my skills as an oracle. Are not Futurists supposed to predict the future? Well no. They are to imagine the future, but let’s not lose the thread here.
The immutability of human nature is a bedrock of conservative belief. You can legislate until you’re blue in the face. You can impose draconian measures. But nothing will change human nature.
The Soviet Union may be gone, but what’s taken its place? Same old, same old. They just changed the name back to Russia.
Throughout the eighties I snatched stories from the headlines. Our condemnation of Islamic fundamentalism could not be plainer in the thinly disguised Cousin Lathe/Elvonic story lines. We did a two-part God-Con series which declared Christianity good. I wonder at my hubris in writing that. I wish I could take it back but I can’t. It’s out there.
I conceived Nexus as a reluctant executioner of mass murderers. Every time he entered the room someone was going to die. That is an inherently dramatic situation. That is the reason there are so many doctor, police, and military shows.
Justice is a common sense concept. In recent years, the left’s assault on the language had led to labeling concepts most people would regard as common sense, such as, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, “far right.”
Nexus deals with real life situations in a way most comics can’t, because their writers are more committed to the agenda and the narrative.
The writer’s first duty is to entertain. Jerry McNeely said, “You make ’em laugh a little bit, you make ’em cry a little bit, you scare the hell out of them, and that’s entertainment.”
Mike Baron is a two-time Eisner and Inkpot winner and creator of “Nexus” and “Badger.” He previously wrote for “Punisher,” “Flash” and “Star Wars.” He’s currently behind a Kickstarter project to bring us new adventures of Nexus in novel form.