Paty Cockrum’s recent column “Down in Flames, you Bastards” left gaggles of comics fans dropping e-post-its across the information super-sewing-circle regarding her accusations that certain Marvel employees are part of a secret cabal. Is there really a conspiracy at Marvel to de-Jew the characters, some of you asked? Or is Paty the new mayor of Crazy Town? Perhaps the whole the thing is a hoax on the order of “Paul is dead.”
Of course, those of us in the know understand this as but a detail in the grand scheme of the Elders of Marvel. It’s all on the down low, shtumie?just follow the money. A wink is as good as a nod to a blind man. In the immortal words of Stan the Law Giver, “Nuff said.”
Apparently Joe Quesada (real name, Quesadowitz) isn’t in on the plot. At least he didn’t seem to be when he phoned me yesterday afternoon (they may have debriefed him since that time…) “Give me a little of what Paty’s smoking!” said Joe, irate. “I mean, c’mon Cliff! This thing she wrote is completely fabricated! Avi Arad never stormed into anybody’s office. And I never pulled a coup d’etat.” Of course, I believed him right away. Joe can’t even spell coup d’etat.
Paty’s column accuses Marvel writers of attempting to de-Semitize Magneto. And because it’s happening on Joe’s watch, one might assume that Joe is in on the character cleansing.
“The Magneto in Grant Morrison’s story isn’t even Magneto,” Joe explained. “It’s someone pretending to be Magneto.”
“Aha!” I said. “So you admit that!”
“Cliff, I’m Hispanic and my father raised me to be very sensitive to these things. Magneto is one of the few prominent Jewish characters?we all know that. No one here would do anything purposefully anger our Jewish readership. And the two highest guys in the company are Israelis!”
Joe was a little hurt and a little shocked and a lot frazzled. And I can’t say I blame him. Ten years ago, when Peter David told me my story “I, Gezheh” (Strange Kaddish, Aardwolf Publishing) seemed anti-Semitic, I was floored.
“I’m Jewish, Peter!” I said.
“So?” he replied. “That doesn’t mean the story isn’t anti-Semitic.”
So I read it again. In fact, I just read it again now. It’s still not anti-Semitic. But anti-Semitism is sometimes in the eye of the beholder of the stick that’s poking it.
Of course, Peter himself ran into this same pathology when he named a few villains in one of his stories after items on the Passover Sedar plate: Charosis, Moror, etc. The reaction of some fans was equally shocking to Peter who is, after all, equally Jewish. I was even tempted to call Pete, a well-tenured Marvel insider, and ask him if he was in on the Protocols, but he just would’ve answered in that surly tone he sometimes uses, “And what protocols would those be, Clifford?” and I’d have winked and he’d have wondered if I was gay.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and by that I refer to Paty Cockrum’s apologia at http://www.screamifyouwantit.com where she promises us that Rabbi Quesada is not now nor has he ever been a Jew hater. Whether he’s in on the Protocols or not.
Sadly, the full truth will not be known until Michael Netzer is revealed as the comics’ messiah. Until then, it’s just a matter of semantics.
And we don’t want to be anti-semantic.
© 2004, Clifford Meth