Dead Babies Are Fun: Swears, Squares, and Comic Ratings


Warning: the following tirade contains graphic imagery and may not be suitable for some readers, while at the same time having “E”-rated language. Viewer discretion is difficult.

Doggone it, sometimes these flamin’ comic book people really tick me off.

I think of myself as a reasonably together son of a gun, but then I imagine everybody does. Just like everyone thinks they have a sense of humor, even that prig you work with who responds to every joke with “I don’t see what’s so funny” or “that happened to my brother, and I assure you it is no laughing matter.” The biggest buzzkill you know thinks he knows funny because he’s chuckled at the fricking monkey on Friends.

In that same way, no one living or dead has ever uttered the words, “I am an enormous prude.” In fact, it is virtually guaranteed that the biggest prude you’ve ever met has said on at least a dozen occasions, “I’m not some kind of prude or anything,” usually before finishing with something like, “I just think anyone using the word ‘job’ that suggestively on television should be fined and jailed.” Even the most self-aware among us has a hard time realizing these things about ourselves, much less accepting them; “I’m not easily offended” is the thing you say only immediately before describing a thing that effortlessly offended you.

I had all of this in mind this week when I returned from the comic shop and took a long, unblinking look in the mirror and asked it, “Am I not as ‘hip’ and ‘with-it’ as I think of myself? Am I easily offended? Am I, in fact, a prude or something?”

Then I thought about it for a minute and said, “No, I’m totally right. Everyone else is crazy.” Like you do.

While I was shopping, you see, I couldn’t help noticing that there’s a new Marvel Zombies series coming out! Oh, boy! Just like farmers know it’s going to be a bad winter when the caterpillars are really fuzzy, you can tell weeks in advance that a new flipping Marvel Zombies book is hitting the stands when comics that have fudge-all to do with zombies start zombying around with their covers. (In case you don’t know the drill: Marvel Comics likes to promote their zombie series by zombying up the covers of their other books. People just love it. People loved mechanical bulls once. Don’t listen to people.) As much as I hate covers that have nothing to do with the contents of the book, I hate zombie covers that much more. The cover relates to the book in no way and I get the added bonus of seeing Captain America, symbol of everything noble about my country, feasting on a lady’s leg bone or something. Hip hip, hooray! If only they could have been putting out zombie covers when I was nine and my mom could have seen them; today, I would have longboxes full of rare coins and stamps in my closet, and I might have spent some of my adolescence actually reading the classics. Is a zombie cover what happens to a book when you spray New Reader Repellent on it? Awesome work, everybody.

Anyway: in the past, I have always just gritted my teeth and moved along during Back-To-Zombie Cover season. The first Marvel Zombies was a runaway grass-roots hit, and fifty million Elvis fans can’t be wrong. Besides, they keep telling me, the series is all tongue-in-cheek (and tongue-in-eye-socket, and tongue-in-shattered-skull). It’s gross-out fun, you humorless prude! This week, though, I was shopping for an issue of Cable when I got to see this:


Yaaay! Surprise! Dead baby! Rated “T”!

 


I looked at it on the floor where I’d dropped it and wondered, “Which part is the most fun? I can’t decide. I think the fly feasting in the festering ear-hole of the rotting one-month-old is the most fun. Oh, or is the funnest part the way it makes me think of the baby I have at my house until that knotted feeling starts in the pit of my stomach? Wait, no; the most fun is the part where I had no vote in whether or not I got to see this, because it’s on the mother-loving cover of a random fudging book that doesn’t have sugar to do with fudging zombies. All I wanted to do was shop for Cable.”

(Is it just divine punishment for wanting to buy Cable?)

What is and isn’t “appropriate” is something I’ve been thinking about for years, especially since I came back to comics to find Peter Parker in his ninth consecutive year of marital problems, and I opened Alias #1 to find that comics characters had gotten some vocabulary lessons in my absence along with a copy of the Kama Sutra. Far from being bothered by all this, I appreciated the fresh adult take on the genre and the caliber of writing that I was seeing. I’m not easily offended or anything. I’m not some kind of prude.

But I do have my line. Marvel Zombies found my line and spat bloody entrails over it.

I have this thing: I like life. I like being alive. I like the other people I know to be alive. I like knowing that people I don’t know are out there staying alive. I sort of like like the song “Staying Alive.” When people stop being alive, even fictional people, it bothers me. It occasionally bothers me quite a lot. When some random guy gets blown away in an action movie, I imagine somebody having to call that guy’s wife and ask her to come down and identify the body. I know, I’m neurotic; I’m upset by death. So yeah, when characters that have meaning to me– characters that represent the ideals that I arguably learned from them years ago– are depicted as rotting corpses lusting for gore, that ticks me off, by golly. And when those rotting corpses begin to cavalierly rend the flesh from their loved ones and innocent bystanders? Well, holy shinola. If that’s funny to you, good news: you don’t know very many people who have died yet. Not a lot of time in hospice for you so far, ya lucky so-and-so.

See? I sound like that “I don’t see what’s so funny” guy from work. I sound like I should be wearing a bowtie, don’t I? I should be picketing someplace people go for fun. Maybe an arcade.

But never mind my completely justified, totally right complaint. What about people who get this upset by saucy language? Or sexytimes? Or just Young Avengers being gay? Marvel has adopted their own ratings system to address concerns like these, but as posted it is vague to the point of gibberish. Their MAX line is no-holds-barred, but it has always had prohibitions on the more popular characters appearing between those pages. Spider-Man cannot even be seen associating with potty-mouths, much less uttering a dirty swear himself. The word “Marvel” appears nowhere on a MAX book; the name of the imprint might as well be UNCLEEEAN.

From a panel a few years ago:

Asked whether Wolverine would be getting a MAX book, now that he has two titles, Quesada quickly dismissed it. Characters like Spider Man and Wolverine, he said, are “like crack for kids.”

I get this. I understand that Marvel does not want to do anything to sully the family-friendly image that has been cultivated for Spidey or the serial killing mutant whose super power is having murder weapons in his hands. I never gave the policy a second thought until I saw this.

Somebody has that on a shelf in his house.

People wanted to kill this guy, you understand, but I never heard word one about the statue above.

Eventually I decided I wanted answers, so I actually went and — why do I do this? why do I ever do this? — bothered to post my question to Joe Quesada on a Q and A. It went exactly like this:

Q: Jimski 04-27-2007 12:09 PM

I have a question that has driven me bug-nutty for a year now. Whenever a question is asked about the possibility of Wolverine or Spider-Man appearing in a MAX book, the answer is always the same: the “name” characters are “like crack for kids” and we don’t want to put them in a story that would be inappropriate or damaging to young minds. If Jessica Jones wants to meet Spidey, Alias has to become The Pulse.

What, then, is the deal with Marvel Zombies — page after page of “name” heroes’ animated corpses with flesh rotting off of their exposed bones, tearing into people with their teeth? Did I really see a statue of Spider-Zombie holding the body of his wife with a huge gash in her neck?? I’m a grown man, and that’s profoundly disturbing. What’s the official explanation for this apparent contradiction?

JQ: Jimski, in my world, there’s a big difference between a monster movie and a movie in which characters get to say #@$% and $#!@ and we get to see lots naughty, naked bits and stuff.

Same thing in a comic book.

And that was his entire mother-fumbling answer. I was finding bristles in my underpants three days later, so thorough was the brush-off of me and my question. I felt like I had brought some real food for thought to the conversational potluck, and that answer was the guy who says he’ll “bring the drinks” and shows up with a two liter of Coke Zero.

Was I really so off-base? Am I a lone voice in the wilderness? Is there a nuance I am missing between my fuddy and my duddy? I am willing to accept the possibility that I’m just a dainty buttercup.

One person posted a follow-up that made Quesada go into a bit more detail, and in that answer he said, “…here in America, violence is much more acceptable than sexual issues. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but that is the world we live in whereas in places like Europe, the exact opposite is true.”

And there you have it. “Whoof. Violence, man. I don’t know. [shrug] Whaddya gonna do? Dead babies!” Interestingly, this give-the-people-what-they-want shrug for undead heroes doesn’t apply to smoking heroes. Spider-Man can pull out Aunt May’s throbbing jugular with his teeth in full color, as long as he doesn’t have a cigarette afterwards. But that’s Joe Quesada’s line.

I guess I’ll have to settle for that. We all have our lines; if yours comes up against the marketplace, you lose unless you get editorial control of the company. The fact that they’re on volume 3 of Marvel Zombies tells you everything you need to know about how well attuned I am to conventional wisdom. Until something happens to make zombies uncool, I am doomed to fiddle with my bowtie and sputter, “Well, I never–!” like the old woman who gets a pie in the face in a Three Stooges short. Still, now that I have a live baby of my own, I can’t help wishing I could take her to a store where they sell “T” rated comics without a blindfold on. Whatever the fudge “T” stands for.

 


Strangely, Jim Mroczkowski loves The Walking Dead, but that’s a story for another time. He can be seen otherwise outraged at Twitter or Jimski.com.

 

Comments

  1. Joe Quesada never makes any sense to me.  We have to break-up Spidey and MJ, with the devil because a divorce wouldn’t make sense; we have to keep Mr. Tracer McPorno-pants because it would be mean to his family to not use this hack; and now, this.  He has done a lot of good at marvel, but the man has also done a lot that amkes no sense.  I am still for his ouster and bringing in fresh blood–hell, let Bendis run the thing for a few years.

  2. I guess I’m a member of the Dainty Buttercup League as well.  I’ve got nothing against horror, I like my Walking Dead, World War Z, and Sam Raimi just fine… but as an over-reactive parent I wonder about a company that carefully decides how to handle sexuality in Ultimate Spiderman in one hand, and throws graphic, disemboweling zombies at kids with the other.

     I can have a decently experienced discussion with my kids about sex, but I am somewhat limited in explaining the finer points of removing someone’s spleen with my teeth.

  3. As a parent, there is pow, smack, bam kind of violence, and then there is dead gross zombie baby and spidey eating mj.  I liked Alias, but wouldn’t give it to my 9 year-old, nor would I give them Marvel Zombies.

  4. I bet this issue can split down "party lines": those with kids and those without. Now that I am "married with children" stuff like this bothers me more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I like zombies, ‘adult’ fare, and Zenoscope girls like every other red-blooded American…just not for my kids. I hate when babies are used like this…to me that’s just…wrong. The worst scene in any movie that I have seen in the past 20 years involved the baby in Trainspotting. If you’ve scene that movie, you know what I am talking about…

    I’m skipping Marvel Zombies 3 not because of subject, but because of content. It’s played out and No Kirkman….

  5. It’s weird to think but the U.S. cares more about sexual themes in any media then violence. Look at the comic book films that came out this year, especially Dark Knight. A lot of Teen rated violence or (gasp) people actually dying in a scene? That doesnt seem to actually scare a lot of people. But for some reason any other film that has any ties to sexual suggestions like: showing two lovers embrace or anthing that has ‘American Pie’ in the title, people sorta get worried on what the film will be like.

    I got no problem with the two, but it’s just weird that this is the case most of the time in America. Look at Janet Jackson from the Super Bowl, we couldnt shut up about that for months…Yet we were fine watching football players knock the crap out of eachother to win a title. Double Standard.

    Oh and like you Jimski, I was totally sick in my stomach noticing the kid in the Cable cover. I thought it was kinda cool because they actually did detail by putting the baby in it….Then I got horrified thinking that a baby died and decomposed on Cable’s chest…*shudders*

  6. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The bristles line.  Just…

  7. I think target242 may be right – I’m a childless husband and really see no problem with content. Not that I’m running around showing 8 year olds copies of Alias or Preacher, but it has to become a partnership of parents and entertainment companies. Entertainment companies of all ilk have to offer guidance to parents via ratings and such, but parents also have to take responsibility here as well – something IMO that parents have gotten away from in recent years. If you plan on giving your child a certain comic (or watch a certain movie or listen to a certain album), it is the parent’s responsibility to read or watch or listen to it first. It’s irresponsibile parenting to not to screen a child’s entertainment content. I get the whole ‘you can’t be everywhere at once’ argument, but really, if your child comes home pretending to be a zombie Spider-Man and begins biting siblings, you need to start asking questions.

    I’m not saying anyone here isn’t doing this – I don’t know. I’m making generalities via the whole ‘you need to raise my child’ mentality I see all over the place.

  8. @target242, you’re probably largely right about those party lines, but I feel compelled to mention that I personally had this particular stick up my butt way, way before I had a kiddo. Never mind not wanting kids to see it; I don’t want to ####ing see it.

    The kiddo certainly has not desensitized me, though.

    For some reason, the idea of "Dainty Buttercup League" t-shirts is very appealing to me right now.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    It would be so much creepier if the baby were alive and well, juxtaposed against the zombie Cable.  

    In all honesty I’m not offended by the image, but I’m also not a fan of it.  I don’t categorize it as cool.  I guess I just sort of dismiss it.  I can’t begin to guess how I’d react to it if I did have a child.  I may never know as I’ve signed several contracts with scientists and government officials, promising to never reproduce.   

  10. As an American, I’m not afraid to admit I am totally fine and okay with the double standard on sex and violence.  But that’s just me.  Don’t ask me to explain it because I really don’t know why I don ‘t care about violence but get uncomfortable about sexuality in a medium (specifically sexuality that has no point to the plotline).

    That being said, was Marvel Zombies REALLY that popular?  More so than the runaway money trainwreck that was Civil War or Millar’s Ultimates or something?  Can someone explain to me why in the heck I still see "zombie variant" cover for everything two years or so after that stupid series ended?  Oh, it’s just an excuse to make variant covers so some poor sap will buy multiple copies of the same story?  That’s what it is?  Oh, nevermind then.

    Still, if the baby were still alive and kicking it perfectly fine on Zombie Cable’s chest, it’d probably downplay the creepiness and punctuate the ridiculousness of the whole zombie thing better, yes?  Yes?  Okay, maybe not…

  11. I agree with Jimski about the cover of Cable, that was all kinds of wrong.  IMO, the zombie covers are just not interesting anymore.  They have become a novelty that has over stayed its welcome.  While the first Marvel Zombies was a good story and the covers on the original and reprints were interesting, this is done in bad taste.  A good rule of thumb is that dead babies in any context are not fun, funny, or a good way to get new readers!  The sex and violence debate can go on forever.  However, this cover just crosses the line.  

     

    On a side note:  I would really like to know how the person with the zombie Spider-Man statue explains it to people that come over?  Statues in the living room, office, or bedroom are tough enough to explain to non comic book fans. That statue has to be tough to explain for even comic book fans. 

  12. Jimski, this article is the mother-fudgin’ sugar! 

    I’m tired of Marvel’s cover marketing scheme, be it zombies, skrulls, apes, or Marvel Opossums, but more so for the fact that it doesn’t convey anything beyond a "Hey look at me!’ kind of attitude. The baby zombie is the worst kind of example of that.

    As for the actual content of MZ, though, I have to say that if you haven’t read it then aren’t you a little like the zealots who boycott and protest movies or books they’ve only ever heard about? (Maybe I’m wrong, but i get the feeling you haven’t read it.) The first MZ actually had something interesting to say. It wasn’t exactly anything pleasant, but it was a valid piece of work, not just a publicity stunt.

    If you’re aggravated by the chronic invasion of MZ onto the covers of your books, don’t buy those versions. i encourage everyone not to buy those versions. Tell Marvel that you want covers that actually reflect the stories in the books. Or else all the covers are going to turn into Greg Horn pinups. 

  13. I’m going to venture a guess you didn’t care for Crawlspace: XXXombies.

  14. You know, I was thinking about this same thing last month with the last issue of Wolverine.  It’s an all ages title.  No swears mind you, but it shows a dude’s head being ripped off by a shotgun.  I thought, "Man, if I bought this for my kid because he likes Wolverine and then saw this, I’d be &$($%)$ pissed off."  It’s not that the gore bothers me.  It’s the fact that these are "supposedly" the kids books that Marvel is trying to hook new, younger readers with, but they have very adult content.

    Even with my comic book library for my students, this has been hard because some books just have too much in them.  It’s hard for me to justify to a parent why its appropriate for a guy’s head to be ripped off in an all "T" rated book I would let a student borrow.  I know for a fact that some of my students show their books to their parents because they’re trying to monitor the content in them.

    I think it’s lazy to just do the shoulder shrug.  It’s the "Well, that’s just the way it is" shoulder shrug that keeps us from bettering ourselves, or in this case, bettering the medium.

  15. I want to Dan, i am not looking to Marvel or Dc, or WB, or anyone else to raise or set standards for my kids, I just don’t think it makes sense to say, kids, we think it would be wrong for Spidey or Wolverine (who is the best there is at killing folks) to appear in Alias, but they can be shown in other books completely in grotesque and violent situations–it doesn’t make sense to me, but I am not looking for guidance from Joe Q or anyone else in the entertainment industry. 

    The most offensive thing here is that the whole concept has been PLAYED since around Marvel Zombies vol 1, issue 2, and they still keep shoving it down our throats. 

  16. me not write so good: I wanted to say, "I want to agree with Dan." but evidently after several years of college, I still can’t proofread a simple text.

  17. I will say Marvel and DC needs to better display on its covers its content rating for books even if they fluctuate between arcs.  I have no problem with mature content in Spider-Man or Wolverine but if a parent accidently overlooks something while flipping through it and their kid walks in an hour later and asks what Norman Osborn’s doing to Gwen Stacy to make her head arch back in pleasure like that or how you can cleave a guy’s head with the butt of a shotgun, that’s a problem.

  18. @ itsbecca- I  enjoyed Crawlspace XXXombies, but I stopped reading after the third issue because of that scene in the nursery.  There’s over the top, and then there’s just feeling wrong about yourself for having just read a comic book.

  19. First of all, another gem by Jimski.  I find myself looking forward to his articles more than any other on the site, I think.

    Secondly, I hate zombies.  I stay well away from them.  I hate Marvel zombies, and I won’t touch a copy of "Walking Dead", no matter how "good" people tell me it is.  This cover is disturbing, yes, and inappropriate in every way, but is anyone surprise?  There is almost no envelope that will go unpushed in the realm of Marvel Zombies, all under the pretext of "Hey, it’s cool.  They’re zombies."  I’ll take my "Dainty Buttercup League" t-shirt in a "Large", please.  If the a big Marvel event is every a "Zombie" event, or the Marvel Zombies ever completely enter 616 continuity, watch me switch to exclusively DC and Image faster than you can say, "Braaains!  Braaaains!"

    It also disturbs me that "Cable" is still being published.  But that’s an entirely different article.

  20. I personally don’t have a big problem with the dead baby.  I DO however, have a problem with Joe Q’s answer.  All of the Marvel higher ups seem to skirt around the tough questions and just try to pretend you didn’t ask them in the first place.  I understand that they have to be diplomatic and they have to try not to offend anybody, but just tell us the truth.  Tell us the investors have a problem with A and B, but  if it was up to the editors we would allow it.  I don’t know, just don’t dick around with fans. 

  21. OH!  And one more thing… yeah, the storylines with the monkey were a big mistake, but "Friends" is one of the best shows (and best written shows) in television history.  Comic fans WISH Marvel and DC paid as much attention to continuity as the writers and producers of "Friends" did.

  22. "If that’s funny to you, good news: you don’t know very many people who have died yet."

    How many people do I need to know who have died before I stop finding it funny? 5?  10? 

    What number gets me to that mystical nirvana where I realize that things the things I used to like were due to my naivete?

     (I can’t believe I’m defending Marvel freakin’ Zombies here)

  23. Both those statues are dumb to me.

  24. I take issue with the fact that the perception is that these are "Zombie-for-no-reason" covers when its obvious that the zombification is to celebrate halloween. Yes, the zombie thing is tired and they could change it up with Marvel Vampires or Werewolves (hell, Cap was one before and that’s canon). I don’t blame Mavel for going to the well another time however because it makes them money, and thats what they’re in business for. As far as having a baby corpse, as sad as it is the fact remains that babies, like all living creatures, can die. Maybe seeing this can serve as a reminder to be thankful for our loved ones lucky enough to still be among the living.

  25. Um, the Zombie covers are always variants, so far as I’m aware.

     

    The fact that I own that Cable issue without that cover is, I believe, proof of that.

     

    That being said: the cover is abosolutely gross, no doubt. I would think they’d avoid things like THAT in their Zombie covers. 

  26. I’m not a prude, but. . . oh, wait, there’s no way to say that effectively anymore, is there?

    You make some really good points here.  I’m really not a prude, I can deal with dark or violent content, and often enjoy it — but I just don’t get the ‘why’ of this.  Quesada’s answer is a copout.  He’s not a slave to cultural standards; he’s somebody who is in a position to affect them — as you make an excellent comparison to the handling of smoking in Marvel comics. 

    I will say, though I’m hesitant to re-open this can of worms, that I’m not sure about comparing the furor regarding the MJ/laundry statue to the lack of outrage about zombie stuff.  My impression is that the MJ reaction was largely fueled by people who aren’t necessarily part of comics fandom (outside agitators!), because of the perception that this is all-too-typical of gender portrayals in comics.   If that image had appeared in an issue of Spider-Man, I doubt it would raise an eyebrow, and that’s the point.  Now, portrayals of actual *sex* in comic books still seem to make some people squeamish, but women walking around with the cleavage hanging out aren’t exactly unusual.

    @RaceMcCloud — Ironically, the ‘Cable’ book has been pretty good, and this was probably the best issue yet.  It really didn’t deserve to have this done to it.

  27. I’ve always thought "prude" referred to one’s view of sex, not violence. I guess I learn something new everyday. In any case, Jimski, you aren’t a prude, you just have good taste. Zombie covers are in bad taste…isn’t that the point?  I think it’s ironic that such a detestably gross concept is, in fact, aimed at immature pre-teens…or adults with similarly immature tastes. ZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!  (The extra "I’s" mean people can’t get mad at me for saying that.)

  28. I Agree that this is over the line. This was a serious thoughtful, consideration of something that’s odd to consider. I don’t know whether a infant zombie is apropriate at all, but if it is used, one would hope that it has some sort of story purpose and that it isn’t simply gratotious.

    IF anyone has or will read the book, could you please be so kind as to tell us wheter it does serve a story purpose.

    It’s interesting to consider thid issue in light of the photoshopped root beer on the cover of this months Action. This situautions aren’t  completly analogous, but it seems as though we have the problem of extremes. Action was an example of editorial overstep, wheras zombies seems to suffer from the a lack of editiorial sensitivity.  

    Why is it always covers? You never hear about a particularily offensive panel etc. Honestly though, I’d have a dificult time as publishr/editor maintianing a barometer on a level of apropriatness. I’

    Id like to say if if I were Joe or the editor of the series, I would have pulled the plug, but I honestly can’t say. Who knows what else thorugh the cracks if the only thing one has to go on is personal barometer of apropriatnenss.

     Thanks, for the thought food Jimski

  29. That Cable cover is pretty tasteless.  Couldn’t it just have been Cable and not include the dead baby?

    I also totally forgot about that MJ statue that made people flip their lids.  It’s interesting how that was totally on CNN and news channels but no one even thinks twice about MJ getting her inside torn out.  It’s incredibly interesting to me. 

  30. @DaveCarr  I’m reading the ‘Cable’ series — as I mentioned above, this was a really good issue — and the cover isn’t related to the content.  The ‘baby’ is actually a 2-year old at this point (time travel!) and Cable isn’t even using that carrier.  I actually wouldn’t have known this cover existed if Jim hadn’t written this article.  My shop doesn’t put rare variants on the shelf, and I didn’t notice it being displayed.

  31. Both things are annoying – people that don’t like to see comic book violance, and people that don’t want to see sex.

    I find both are a bit childish and a bit hypocritical.

    Maybe cable saw a baby, picked it up and now he is saving it from a nuclear disaster…

  32. @chlop  Why hypocritical?

  33. Someone seeing a violant cover or a sexual cover in a comic book store thinks about not being able to take his daughter to that store, but couldn’t care less about violence which is prominent all over the world.

    People want to be able to watch the news and get disgusted by the latest child killing but won’t move a finger to stop it – just talk about how it effects the children.

    I watched sexual content and violent content when I was a kid but I didn’t understand the sexual content as a filthy thing until I reached puberty and then I didn’t need sexual content to help me.

    I was violent without the help of violent content.

    Someone being bothered by a rating and a cover of a comic book because of children but won’t think for a second why that is happening and how he can stop that or reduce it (violence) is a bit hypocritical (I don’t know the writer of this article – I’m basing those words on what I see around me).

    People cared about blood diamonds just after they were labled that, but don’t care some foreign company mines the natural resources of a poor country and also uses its abundant cheap labor and that they will leave as soon as there aren’t any resources left but it’s ok as long as they are not labeled blood diamonds. The fact that people need to work for 20 years to buy the small house they rent it okay.

    Having violence is okay but seeing it is not. Having and liking sex is okay but seeing it is not.

    People don’t usually bother looking at themselves or thinking about why people do violent things but as soon as something that depicts the ugly face of the world is in front of them they don’t like it. People prefer to cultivate a fantasy that kids are born innocent and that they are innocent and that seeing violent content or sexual content will damage that fake innocence in some way.

  34. Well said.

  35. @chlop  I don’t think that commenting on content in the media means you don’t care about those things in real life.  I don’t see how that follows.

  36. As I said, I’m basing that on what I see around me. People that are quick to comment on violence and crime and sexual content usually don’t think for a second about how to stop it.

    Example: We went on vacation to a nice hotel and my parents to save money didn’t count one child in the reservation.

    After we went to our rooms my dad and I started a conversation for some reason about something that evolved to stealing – he said it doesn’t take much to steal in a disgusted tone like thiefs are low lifes but didn’t think for a second about him lying to get a better price for the hotel room.

    People that are quick to comment on small things like that, from what I saw, usually don’t bother with the big things – seeing a dead baby is bad but thinking about where such things are happening is rarely done.

    Making the environment kid safe is important but just as far as their eye can reach – making sure people aren’t being exploited in other places isn’t important.

    A cover of a comic book is more important than the fact that kid houses in india – houses that support and house children temporarily when parents need financial help are being used as places to get kids that will get adopted by US citizens for a nice chunk of change isn’t important as long as you can’t see it.

    Someone seeing a baby dead on a cover and thinks about is how disgusted he is and that he can’t take his kid to said shop tells me he doesn’t really care about real life atrocities.

    Which is worse? the guy that ignores the homeless person begging for money, or the guy that gives him 10 cents and walks away? 

  37. I apologize; I didn’t solve homelessness before being upset by a picture of a dead baby. Next time, I will end labor inequity in the Third World before I think zombies are gross. I always seem to leave one thing off my Wednesday to-do list.

  38. @chlop  I think you’re making a lot of assumptions based on arguments people aren’t making.

    That’s not to say there aren’t hypocritical people who object to media violence, but I don’t see that as a reason not to talk about it.

  39. I didn’t say people shouldn’t talk about that. I said it’s a bit childish and hypocritical in my opinion – being disgusted by fake violence and sex while practicing it without noticing (myself included).

    I just want people to notice real life more than fake lifes.

    @jimski – I use widgets. 

  40. @chlop~  I think you bring up good philosophical points here, but I think mainly what we’re looking at here is just what defines poor taste and hypocrisy within the comic media.  Joe Q is in a place to take that cover off of the stands as it is not in good taste.  Nor is much of the zombie stuff.  And Jimski has a point in that, if mainstay Marvel characters can’t be in a MAX book then it shouldn’t be appropriate for them to be eating people.  

    Yes, we all want to keep children innocent and safe from the cruelties of the world.  What parent or right minded person wouldn’t.  Those people living in the real attrocities would want the same things for their children.  We’re all lucky enough to be in a place where we don’t have to worry about things like that, and so, we definitely can be in the habit of turning a blind eye.  But we can still comment on things that are readily inappropriate on the newstand.  It’s a completely different ball game.  

    I think to assume that we should focus our efforts on solving those problems is a noble idea, but at the same time, none of us are in a place to change it.  We speak by voting and talking to our leaders.  You are talking of things out of our general control.  People are only really concerned with what they can see because to carry the burdens of the world on their shoulders is not a reasonable thing.  Does that sometimes make us hypocritical?  Absolutely.  But does it also make us completely human?  Definitely.

    In my mind, what you’re talking about and what Jimski is going after is apples and oranges.

  41. @chlop~  Your last comment makes me think you think most people are puppy killing rapists.  I know that out there in the world there are babies dying.  And for some reason, there are dead babies in my comics.  Just because one’s fake and one’s real doesn’t mean that it makes one more right than the other.  Comics are art.  Art can be used to inform and make us think.  There are creators out there who write wonderful, true life comics that can illuminate these real things going on in the world.   

  42. Sorry to keep posting here, but I just had a thought.  Remember like last week or two weeks ago when Superman couldn’t hold a beer bottle?  It’s interesting to think if a "zombiefied" hero would ever grace a DC book…

  43. @chlop  Umm, I can’t speak for Jimski, but I don’t eat brains.

  44. I don’t think people are that bad – just that they are hypocrites and that they should pay attention to that. I don’t expect anyone to carry a burden or think about those things – just be aware of the hypocrisy.

    Cable has guns… he shoots people. A rating based on age is useless and condesending and a change of rating wouldn’t change the cover. 

     

  45. @chlop  The cover didn’t magically get there.  Somebody chose it, and on a website critiquing comics, it’s legitimate to question that choice.

  46. While I’m not offended by it, I did think it was odd the cover got to published status. On some level the cover is clever, in that the plot of the book is that people want to kill the baby. Though, I don’t think it’s "funny."

     

  47. It’s okay……Because…….Wait for it………It’s just a comic book.  I hate the idiots who buy crap……If there weren’t retards out there who ate this stuff up there would be no market for it…Besides, if there really were zombies in reality, i’m sure they would eat babies…So……Ya know…….It’s really just good writing.

  48. It just keeps getting worse is my problem. Eventually we’ll see blood soaked kids having sex with goats.

    It gets worse with each generation is what worries me.

  49. I feel like we’re going to have to start passing out rocking chairs and whittling sticks soon.

  50. Is that a patented Conor oblique ambiguity?

  51. I just look at Jimski’s whole argument from this perspective:  How far away are we from kids hiding ALL AGES comics like Playboys from their parents?

    It’s one thing if the book is labeled for mature audiences, and parents still buy them for their kids/allow their kids to buy them.  That’s just lazy stuff.  

    But what about kids who are like I was, buying comics after riding my bike to the store.  Sure, I would still buy them if my parents weren’t there, and the retailer let me.  But then comics would become this secret thing that I bought that my parents didn’t want reading because of zombies, limb and head ripping off, excessive blood, etc.

    I’m not saying to completely censor all the books.  It’s just that there should be some sort of line between a teen book and a mature one that’s not just nudity or swear words.  I’m completely serious when I say that the current Wolverine arc, while being completely awesome, is NOT for kids.  Yet, there is no warning or label to say otherwise on the book. 

  52. I am uncovering the secret stuffy librarian that lurks just below the surface of the iFanbase. I knew I wasn’t alone.

    Again, I don’t want to give anyone the mistaken impression that I’m a good parent. That line about taking my kid in the store is there because I needed something to end with; mostly, I’m just wigged out by pictures of dead babies. Because I have a soul.

    Anyway, in terms of my kid, TV is going to shake her like a paint can well before she gets her hands on any comics. They cut off the top of a corpse’s head right in front of me on House last week.

  53. I hate ratings – it’s EC all over again.

    If maybe they won’t use an age based rating it would be better, but then maybe we’ll get Watchmen Babies on V for Vacation.

    Watchmen: Violence, Death, Graphic Violence, Smoking, Jay Walking, Attempted Rape, Bad Grammar, Masogony

    Those kids will grow up killers I tells ya!

    Is there swearing in Watchmen?

    Gulliver in Gullivers’ Travels pisses on a castle, gets molested by a human looking creature, talks to horses (promotes narcotics).

    In Mortal Kombat a character says "come".

    In the cartoon TMNT – they beat up people.

    In the bible (the hebrew bible) a girl gets raped by almost all the people from that town – she is a mistress of a guy that finds her on his doorstep in the morning, tells her to get up, when she doesn’t he takes her and rides with her and then chops her up to twlve pieces and sends each one to each tribe and tells them that about what the town people did and they get mad and attack them.

    He gets away free and I don’t think there is a mention of him ever again.

    Choose your battles – if you don’t want graphic covers start a petition, if you want the stupid rating to consider the cover start a petition, if you want the stupid rating to change start a petition – what do you care more about? violence is worse than swearing, graphic violence is worse than violence? masogony is worse than graphic violence, rape is worse than masogony?

    What are your goals? the graphic or the actual acts? And do you think shielding kids from content like that will make them better people?

  54. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Do you really think the House example is harmful?  

  55. @chlop  Whether you like content standards or not, they exist.  Comics have lots of them — characters can’t smoke in Marvel books, DC won’t let Superman have a beer, no nudity or swearing in the main line of comics, no guns in Marvel Adventure titles.  The point I take out of this article is that those standards are hypocritical.   I think it’s possible to point that out without being a Wertham-level hysteric. 

  56. @PaulMontgomery I have no idea. It’s all new territory. The clinical setting is probably a lot less disturbing and easier to explain than what Sylar was doing to Claire on the Tivo last night, but I would still rather save the brain removal footage until at least grade school. But remember: I am lobbying for Dainty Buttercup League t-shirts.

  57. You’re reading violent comics, so when voilence is graphic don’t get surprised.

    You watch a show about doctors so don’t get surprised when someone gets operated.

    You watch a show about a serial killer so don’t get surprised when you see someone dies in a graphical way.

    Again – what is it that disturbes you? the graphical element (you want comics to not have blood or sweat) or the acts themselves? or the fact a crappy rating system doesn’t work?

  58. Hello, Just thought I’d comment when I saw the hit from your link (my blog is the one linked with this text: posted a follow-up that made Quesada go into a bit more detail).  Just to clarify: my post didn’t make anyone respond to anything, I just posted excerpts from some interviews I found on the web.  

    Also, about this issue in particular…I posted a tiny bloglet (which is all I’m really doing for comics these days)…but the more I have think about it, I think the cover will be the thing that finally pushes me not to buy this title anymore.   Although, I was sort of looking for a reason, as it’s not particularly interesting and the "evil Bishop" thing still comes off as stupid.

  59. @chlop~  It’s the rating system, and the strange hypocritical things that happens because of such things.  It’s two fold in that it makes editors look like complete boobs and it also sets up the industry to put itself into the same position the gaming industry got into before the ESRB.  Before rating are mandated, the industry should step up and set standards and guidelines to help with consumer purchases.  The last thing you want to do is alienate people who you are trying to attract to you media.

  60. Firstly, people need to realise that kids arn’t mindless putty that are molded by the first bit of violence they see. I watched the last 10 minutes of Day Of The Dead (i.e the bit where everybody gets ripped apart) when I was 9 and that didn’t instantly give me a craving for human flesh. There’s a difference between gore and violence. Chances are that if you gave an 8 year old MZ the reaction you would get would be a "aw cool! Look how gory it is!". It’s cartoony violence. There’s a difference between Zombie violence and Martin Scorcese violence.

    For me,The cover was more creepy then offensive. To be honest I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if my little brother picked it up.

  61. @BoneMachine~  You have an absolute valid point.  Seeing something violent doesn’t immediately make someone violent.  But it’s the context in which the violence and gore is viewed, and if that context isn’t provided, it can be misconstrued by younger audiences.  I think of it like the first time a little kid swears.  It’s something they’ve heard and picked up, yet they don’t understand it.  But when told, "Hey, you don’t say that." then they’re given the appropriate context.  

    From my point of view, in many different media, we simply give the shoulder shurg response about violence without really trying to make sure there’s some consistency.  What Jimski’s bringing to light is that there is this consistency, and this cover is a great example.  Cable can’t smoke, but he sure as hell can carry around a dead baby.  These are the inconsistencies.  

  62. I dunno. It’s like food. What you shove in your face affects your body. What you let into your eyes affects your brain. It’s just common sense.

    It’s a "tell me what you read/watch and I’ll tell you who you are" kind of thing.

  63. @Neb~ I agree with that. It’s I just that I read a comment by someone near the top saying that a kid after readin MZ could start trying to bit people. People need to give kids more credit and not be so smothering. But like you said without the right context, Kids might take things the wrong way. 

  64. People will always be disturbed or offended by certain things, it is a fact of life.  But, people will push the line to sell merchandise.  So, we have two things that will never stop.  

     The easiest solution is to ask the local comic shop owner to move the violent variant covers to the MAX or adult section of the shop so your passing by child won’t catch a view.  

    When dealing with issues like this I prefer to keep quiet and not purchase said item (personally I have nothing against the cover) because writing an article will just give the item more press and make more people want it. If you just don’t buy the comic, the studio making in the case Marvel will stop doing zombie variants because they aren’t making enough money and they start making other variants…maybe turning their characters into monkeys (like that turned out well).

    To conclude covers like this will always exist, but all protesting does is let more people know about the material.  And in many cases the material you were attempting to protest makes more money because of it.  So boycott silently, then it will actually affect sales.  

  65. You are an enormous prude. 

    And yet I’m still willing to read whatever you write.  I guess I’m just an ignorant and unappreciative bastard.  

    I think your reaction to the dead… items in question… on the covers of comic books is only fitting revenge for every movie maker that ruined my bachelorhood movie-going experiences by having babies.   And then immediately started stultifying their work with midget fuzzy wuzzies with spears or photoshopping guns into walkie-talkies.   G-dangit, I didn’t have to put up with that crap when I was ten, why do i have to for the sequel years later, or the dvd release?  I turned out fine, didn’t i?

     Or wait, maybe I didn’t, cause I don’t mind seeing dead… things on the covers of comic books.  

  66. Oh, man; I just watched that remastered E.T. again for the first time in five years last week and got mad all over again.

  67. Dead babies (specifically zombie babies) aren’t a new thing. Remeber the Dawn of the Dead remake? Zombie Baby!