Guy dressed as superhero with star on chest and big A on forehead mask standing against stormy sky saying in a word bubble "Hail Hydra"

How about no?

For the last several years, Marvel Comics has been getting things (mostly) right. While DC has been stopping lesbian marriages and wallowing in nostalgia for the days when Batgirl was assaulted and crippled just to make Batman mad, Marvel has been putting out some relatively progressive books. But now, after years of popular additions to their character lineup, they’ve decided it’s time to walk that back. Because, according to Marvel’s Senior Vice President David Gabriel at the recent Marvel Retailer Summit, “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity.”

That’s come as a surprise to anybody who has been watching the internet embrace characters like Kamala Khan, a Muslim girl who took on the mantle of Ms Marvel and whose book is written by an actual Muslim woman, and Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic boy whose run as Spider-Man in the alternate Ultimate universe was so popular he was brought into the mainstream continuity.

But the catch to those characters is they’re very popular with people who aren’t traditional comic book readers. While Columbus is lucky enough to have some very open and welcoming comic shops, in many areas they’re still very much a bastion of unchecked white male privilege. So sales of those comics have been primarily trade paperback collections in traditional and online bookstores and through digital services like comiXology.

Marvel didn’t have a Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and comiXology Summit. They had a Retailer Summit, and they listened to the men who run those comic book shops, and what they heard was a Gamergate-esque tale of hurt white male fan feelings. And they decided to listen to that.

It goes deeper than that, too. This talk of poor sales for diverse characters – something hard to confirm or refute, since comiXology doesn’t release sales numbers – rings hollow once you realize that Marvel’s CEO, Ike Perlmutter, donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s campaign last year, and he’s been seen eating steak with him at Mar-A-Lago. He’s also been reportedly advising the president on veteran affairs. He’s thrown his lot in with the Alt Right, and that gives all this talk of poor sales the feel of “alternative facts.”

So what does this mean for the actual comics? Look to the recent work of strikingly tone-deaf writer Nick Spencer, whose recent work on Captain America has been worthy of a punch from Jack Kirby himself.

Spencer has taken to Twitter to explain to us all that Hydra, the villainous organization that has always been Basically (and frequently Literally) Nazis, are totally not Nazis, and also Captain America is and always has been their leader thanks to some reality warping. It’s an awful lot like the totally-not-Nazis we’ve seen from people in our government who are giving a wink and a nudge to white nationalists.

Will this actually help sales? Probably not. Response to Spencer’s upcoming Secret Empire crossover event has been cold, with many retailers refusing to participate in a marketing push asking employees to dress in Hydra T-shirts. At a time when our country is in an actual white nationalist crisis, playing Nazi isn’t edgy, it’s irresponsible.

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