Archive for gun control

Life With Archie: The Bravest Comic On The Stands?

Posted in book review, brilliance, comic books, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by vagabondsaint

AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I posted my last entry (Unhappy Trails:  A Farewell To “Scalped”, 12/13/12), I also had this entry in mind and had, in fact, planned to write it that night.  However, by the time I finished that entry, it was 4 AM, I was tired, and decided instead to write this article the next day.  That next day, I didn’t wake up until after noon Pacific Time.  As a matter of habit, one of the first things I do after waking up is read online news, and after reading of the events of December 14, 2012, I decided to delay this post. I think it’s been long enough now.

I’m going to go ahead and say this:  Life With Archie is the bravest comic book on the stands today.

Why, you ask?

Because they’re not afraid to take a stand on issues.

Take, for example, marriage equality.  (I don’t call it “gay marriage” because that implies an explicit difference between “straight marriage” and other types of marriage, and since all marriage is two people that love each other making a public, legal commitment to each other, I see no need for the distinction.)

Gay characters are not new to comics.  Underground comics have had homosexual acts and characters depicted since the late ’60s. . .but of course, that’s the underground stuff, and who pays attention to that?  Mainstream comics publishers largely ignored homosexual characters until the 1980s, when DC published their first obviously gay character, Extrano (“strange” in Spanish) for the mercifully short-lived series The New Guardians in 1987.  The biggest reveal, however, was that Marvel’s character Northstar, longtime member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight, was gay (because he’s already French-Canadian, so why not make him gay?), though his creator revealed later that he was supposed to have been gay from his first appearance in 1979 but wasn’t due to an anti-gay character policy at Marvel Comics.

After that, gay and bisexual characters fell out of the woodwork.  The Authority’s  Apollo and Midnighter were the world’s finest gay couple; Gotham City detective Renee Montoya, a major supporting Batman character, was outed as a lesbian by Two-Face; John Constantine of Hellblazer was revealed to be bisexual (though he mostly sleeps with women and is married to a woman);  Hulkling and Wiccan of The Young Avengers were a gay couple; the new Batwoman is a lesbian; and in revising their entire universe, DC Comics made Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-Two  gay (sorry, Jade and Obsidian, the guy who was your dad pre-revision is now gay, so I guess you won’t be coming back for the New 52). . .the list goes on and on.  By 2010, you wouldn’t think a gay character would make news anymore.

But it did, when Archie Comics, long thought of as the most traditional, wholesome, conservative, “safe” comics company out there, introduced an openly gay character named Kevin Keller in Veronica #202.  It made news worldwide that gay had finally come to Riverdale, and at that point, it was a surprising move but not exactly a groundbreaking one.

Until February 2012, when, in the pages of Life With Archie, Kevin Keller married his boyfriend, Dr. Clay Walker.  Gay kissing was still new to comics then; longtime homosexual Northstar had just finally kissed his boyfriend on-panel the year before (after almost 20 years of being out of the closet); although The Midnighter and Apollo had been shown kissing before then, Neil Gaiman had been exploring gay and transgender themes in Sandman, and John Constantine had been in several homosexual sex scenes, they weren’t as mainstream and being written by mostly British writers besides.  At that point, marriage equality was only the law of the land in six states and the District of Columbia, with many many more states having laws on the books specifically preventing same-sex couple from getting married, so it was a pretty bold move for “traditional, wholesome” Archie Comics to make at the time.

Just to add a little more controversy to Kevin and Clay, their story was that they met in the military, when Kevin was injured fighting in Iraq and Dr. Walker had been his medic. . .and this was just after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Archie Comics wasted no time jumping on that subject, and the issue containing the wedding (#16, if you want it; it sells for $20-$40 now) of Keller and Walker became one of Archie Comics’ fastest-selling issues of all time (which is no mean feat, considering they’ve been going for over 70 years).

But that’s not why I call Life With Archie the bravest book on the stands.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW.)

In issue #22 of Life With Archie, Clay Walker is shot while attempting to prevent a robbery. (Had to be the black guy, didn’t it, Archie Comics?) Luckily, he survives the shooting and the would-be robber is captured after being clocked with a hammer by the store’s owner.

In issue #24, Kevin discovers that the unnamed shooter was a previously-convicted felon who bought the gun from a licensed dealer through a “loophole” (it’s later stated that he’s talking about the gun show loophole).  Kevin then rattles off a few statistics (“gun-related homicides are more than twenty times higher than in other developed nations”) and announces he is retiring from the Army to do something about it. . .and his “something” is. . .

Wait for it. . .

Kevin Keller decides to run for the US Senate on a gun-control platform!

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) just proved in November that an openly-gay candidate can win a Senate race; she became our first openly-gay US Senator and was sworn in on Thursday, January 3, 2013.  So you could say the precedent has been broken. . .except that #24 came out in November and was solicited three months earlier (as all comics are), so the story was written before her election, when she was still running a very tight race against Tommy “I’m gonna kill me some Medicare” Thompson.  (It’s worth noting that Tammy Baldwin still can’t legally marry in her home state, though she can have her same-sex marriage from another state recognized in Wisconsin as a “domestic partnership,” so Kevin Keller’s still got one up on her.)

In issue #25, Kevin expounds more upon his gun-control views, states a strong view that the Second Amendment pertains to the right to bear arms for “a well-regulated militia” and asks “why do we need an estimated 200 million guns in the hands of this country’s 300 million citizens?”  (His number is actually quite low; the 2007 estimates are 88.1 guns for every 100 US citizen,which comes out to about 274 million guns in this country, a figure that has no doubt gone up, since there were massive spikes in gun sales every time a black guy got elected President.)

Now, I am sure that some of you are saying that it’s not such a big deal to jump on the gun-control bandwagon now, after what happened in Newtown.  You’d be right; that terrible tragedy has changed a lot of views on gun control for many people, as it and numerous other tragedies before it should have done.

And I’d agree if it wasn’t that Life With Archie #24 came out in November 2012, and #25 hit the stands (and my greedy little palms) on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. . .two days before Newtown.

And that’s why I call Life With Archie the bravest comic book on the stands today:  it took on marriage equality before the 2012 electoral sweep that nearly doubled the number of states with legalized marriage equality with a firm, unmistakable statement of support; it took a strong pro-gun-control stance before the tragedy that catapulted gun control back into the national conversation; and it’s poised to do even more with Betty-and-Veronica rival Cheryl Blossom having been ravaged by breast cancer and now starting up her own foundation to fight breast cancer.

I never thought I’d say this, but here it is:  I wish Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image Comics, and IDW had half the intestinal fortitude that Archie Comics does when it comes to addressing relevant social issues.

Life With Archie: the best-written and bravest comic book on the stands today.  Go read it, it’s brilliant.

VS – 1.6.13

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Travel Advisory: Tennessee

Posted in politics, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by vagabondsaint

WARNING!!!!!

The Federal Travel Advisory Board has issued the following Travel Warning for all prospective business and recreational travelers:

DO NOT GO DRINKING IN TENNESSEE!

It might seem like a good idea to go out for a drink after going to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry (or, more understandably, instead of going to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry) or perhaps the poverty-ridden desperation of Memphis might drive one into a bar, but the Federal Travel Advisory Board must give its strongest recommendation against doing such, worded thusly:  For fuck’s sake, don’t do it!

Yesterday, a new law was enacted in Tennessee that allows patrons of bars and other places that serve alcohol to carry concealed firearms into such establishments.  As Nashville bar owner Steve Smith stated in an interview with The Colbert Report (linked above), “. . .Alcohol and firearms and rednecks really don’t mix that well, inside of bars.”  While Smith’s comment demonstrates an uncommon mastery of understatement and an extreme willingness to state the blindingly should-be obvious, it is the opinion of the Federal Travel Advisory Board that rednecks, alcohol, and firearms do mix quite well on YouTube.

The new law does state that anyone who does carry a concealed weapon into a bar must not be served alcohol.  However, unless bartenders and waitstaff are prepared to start frisking people at random (they’re not), the word of the patron is all they have to go on when determining whether or not said patron is carrying a firearm and should or should not be served alcohol.  In saying that he trusts in the people to be honest and forthcoming about such things, Tennesse state Senator Doug Jackson is either more naive than a newborn or simply trying to drum up business for the funeral home industry.  Good luck in your new venture, Mr. Steve Smith!  Doug Jackson’s gonna help!

It is the firm belief of that Federal Travel Advisory Board that going out drinking in Tennesse is a dangerous activity for Americans, and should be avoided at all costs, most easily by simply not going to Tennessee at all.

If you choose to attend the state anyway, and simply not go to bars, remember this:  people that go to bars to drink with concealed weapons also have to get home from said bar, and it is unlikely that you will be able to completely avoid the path of these people since, in Tennessee, drinking is a full-time occupation.

If you choose to disregard this warning, which will make the Federal Travel Advisory Board very sad, ask yourself this:  do you really want to trust your life to the combination of alcohol, firearms, and these people?

Federal Travel Advisory Board

END WARNING

VS – 7.16.09

Dangerous Words

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Michele Bachmann, a Republican Representative from Minnesota, believes that Americans need to prepare for “orderly revolution,” in order to prevent President Obama from turning America into a Marxist society.  Her statement is, well, far-right-pandering bullshit.

Faux News host Glenn Beck and NRA President Wayne LaPierre warned viewers that President Obama is trying to erase the Second Amendment, by seeking to increase enforcement of already-existing laws on gun control in order to prevent the massive flow of weapons to Mexico, which is having a little drug-cartels-armed-with-American-weapons problem right now.  LaPierre goes so far as to say that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’s hard evidence that 90% of recovered cartel weapons in Mexico have been tracked back to American gun stores and gun shows (more about those later) is “a lie,” while offering no evidence of his own to support that claim (see link above).  Thanks Wayne, but I’m going to listen to the people with the numbers here, okay?

There have been others, of course, repeating the rhetoric that the Obama Administration is going to eradicate the Second Amendment, that the country is being taken over and turned into a dictatorship by a President who obviously cares alot more for the rule of law than, say, the previous President. This, in turn, has led to increased gun sales across the country.

Look, all the rhetoric is exactly that:  rhetoric.  It’s people that are scared of losing power and are playing to the base fears of small segments of the populace, to keep their support now that the majority of the country has turned against conservatives (see: the November elections).  I’m not even sure that these people truly believe what they are saying; I just know they’re saying it, and I think they’re trying to stir up a base of support for themselves by being provocative and controversial more than they are genuinely encouraging revolution or living in fear of an Obama dictatorship.  They just want power, be it by votes or ratings, and they’ll play to any fear necessary to get that, even the fears some people have of being left defensive against a cruel and violent world. . .you know, the people that fight like hell against any sort of attempts at regulating firearms.

But that rhetoric is dangerous.  It has a real-world cost.  And guns in the hands of the wrong people definitely have a cost on society.

When you play to people’s fears, for whatever reason, you gain their support for a moment, but you also make them more afraid.  People that are afraid, that view themselves as somehow being unfairly persecuted, are more likely to commit violent acts in what they perceive to be self-defense.   You tell them the government is trying to take their guns away, they go buy more guns. . .and they get scared of law enforcement, figuring the poor average cop, just trying to do his job of protecting society, is coming to take away their freedom, or that people around them, who are taking actions that might be intended to be helpful to someone or intended to protect themselves from that same person, are in fact their enemies.  You subsidize an uncontrollable paranoia when you play to fears.

I think that everyone, be it politicans, pundits, gun nuts, whatever, should be accountable fo the things they say in a public forum.  I own my words here; whether I mean them or not, I take full responsibility for saying them, and I don’t say irresponsible things or make claims, contrary to facts, that I can’t back up.

Bachmann, Beck, LaPierre, and others need to be held accountable for what they say.  Too many innocent people have paid for their words.

VS – 4.05.09