UPDATE: and Brett Schenker has traced the whole thing to a reader with a vendetta against Remender.

In last week’s issue of Captain America, #22, two characters were shown having a few glasses of wine and tumbling into bed only to wake up the next morning wondering what happened. The characters in question were Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, one of the few prominent African-American characters in both the Marvel comics and film universes. The woman was Jet Black, aka Jet Zola, the daughter of Arnim Zola. Although she runs around in a skimpy costume reminiscent of Leeloo from The Fifth Element, this is perhaps explained by her having been raised in an alien dimension. Although she was born only a few years ago in real world time, she has aged more in comics time.

However, one blogger on Examiner saw it as the Falcon banging a 14 year old and over the weekend—even though a panel in the comic explicitly states that she is 23 years old— a #firerickrememnder hashtag spread across the viralnets saying that he had a beloved minority character commit statutory rape. Remender has been in hot water a few times before, so this found some purchase.

Now, I’m not am expert on current Marvel continuity, but apparently a reader named Khat is in a detailed tumblr post, it was explained about parallel dimensions and time and aging and other stuff. Anyway, maybe Falcon made a mistake, but at least she was of age.

The outrage itself spawned more outrage, especially among comics pros who are sick of being held up to political level scrutiny, and for calls for the man to lose his job over a storyline they objected to for erroneous reasons.

Former Marvel editor Tom Brennan even blogged about this:

I understand there are complications to this scene that some offended comic book fans would use to argue that the scene was somehow an instance of statutory rape or that it degraded the Falcon, a major character in comics who finally got his due in this year’s Captain America movie.  I appreciate how these people feel.  I also think they’re wrong in their understanding of the book.  The scene definitely made me uncomfortable – but that’s because it’s drama and sometimes drama makes you uncomfortable.

But arguing the story is not what I’m interested in doing right now.  What bothers me – and should bother *everyone* — is that people are calling on a company to fire someone because of something that company asked him to do.

There seems to be a grave misunderstanding in today’s protest-hungry world of entertainment fans into how far their opinion should really matter.  You don’t like a story? That’s fine – don’t read a story.  But unless that massive dislike leads to a nosedive in a book’s sales (which has not occurred, despite how much comics journalists like to spin the numbers), then you not liking someone is not equal to a moral judgment.  And to call for someone to be fired for doing a story that was approved by a group of very good, very talented and very smart editors, editors who represent the interests and opinions of a broader corporation, is offensive.  Imagine saying a police officer should be fired because you don’t like that he gave out parking tickets, or if a teacher was fired for teaching a sex ed curriculum approved by a school – that’s what these people are demanding.  Rick’s not writing in a vacuum here, not with a character as important as Captain America.  Like the stories or hate the stories, they’re not just Rick’s stories, they’re Marvel’s stories.  A fan who demands one person lose their job because they don’t like a story is a fan who has demonstrated a severe lack of understanding of how any of this really works.

It’s no secret that internet outrage is a constant these days, over matters great and small. And sometimes, as with real issues of harassment and discrimination, it’s a powerful tool. (The Skyler Page incident is an example of a real problem being played out in real time on social media.) But a lot of people just troll around looking for something to be outraged about. And there are powerful psychological reasons for this:

A 2013 study, from Beihang University in Beijing, of Weibo, a Twitter-like site, found that anger is the emotion that spreads the most easily over social media. Joy came in a distant second. The main difference, said Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who studies anger, is that although we tend to share the happiness only of people we are close to, we are willing to join in the rage of strangers. As the study suggests, outrage is lavishly rewarded on social media, whether through supportive comments, retweets or Facebook likes. People prone to Internet outrage are looking for validation, Professor Martin said. “They want to hear that others share it,” he said, “because they feel they’re vindicated and a little less lonely and isolated in their belief.”

I’m all for social justice, and when someone says something stupid these days they get called on it in about seven seconds. But as the above study suggests, internet outrage can also be part of a mob mentality. And mobs aren’t particularly informed or sensitive to nuance.

This wasn’t the first misplaced outrage comics mob, and it won’t be the last. And #notallmobs. But still, come on, people. It’s better to use your energy trying to make a difference that matters than running around looking for something to be mad about.

Via Robot 6


  1. I can almost guarantee you that a small handful of my customers are going to walk through the door this week, armed with misinformation about this. It’s easily one of the smaller problems involved with this, but it’s also indicative of the behaviour on the internet.

    What makes my stomach turn the most, is the fact that people are once again levelling threats against the person (or persons) who started this. That’s not an appropriate action, and it sadly mirrors and fuels the similar reactions when a person armed with opinions and FACTS is torn down on the internet for… I don’t know, being female and having opinions? This is just a bad situation, with people having bad reactions on all sides, and sanity will unfortunately be drowned out for some. Ugh.

  2. Shame on you Heidi. First of all, trying to blame this all one one reader with a so-called “vendetta” – when a quick search of tumblr shows that there are hundreds and hundreds of us who are uncomfortable with what happen in CA #22 is ill-responsible and I can’t believe you of all people have written this article without actually researching what happened.

    Shame on you.

  3. “there are hundreds and hundreds of us who are uncomfortable with what happen in CA #22”

    I know. How dare Marvel Comics publish a story in which two characters in their 20’s have sex. It’s totally inappropriate and unrealistic and tears at the moral fabric of American society.

  4. Did anyone notice that we only get to know her age because she had to explicitly state she was? Was this known to readers before hand? I mean, how did the editor approach this with Rick do you wonder? “Hey, last we knew about Jet, she was a teenager.” “No problem, I’ll tell the readers, it’s okay on the next panel.” I’m see fan grudges on both sides of this issue (albeit an issue that shouldn’t be) and it’s an embarrassment for everyone else.

  5. First of all, Remender should have done a better job as a writer establishing that Jet was in her 20s. Complaints have been level at the book for nearly a year over her hypersexualization with regards to her age, so the fact that much of the audience assumed she was still a teen is not a surprised to Remender or Marvel. And sticking a throwaway line about her birthday on the same page such a hamfisted way of them trying to cover their asses that its embarrassing.

    Second of all, this isn’t two characters in their 20s having sex. This is one character (Jet) getting another character (Sam) drunk to get them to agree to sex – which is is a situation that is all too realistic for many readers.

  6. I just (right now) went to tumblr and did a search for both #firerickremender AND Captain America #22. The TOTAL of those searches brought up 50 items (and two tumblrs – the less said about the better).

    I could be I’m completely unfamiliar with a search function after all these years, but I”m not finding your hundreds and hundreds. Perhaps you and the great mind behind rickhobop*** are the vanguard of a great silent majority. It’s been a while since one of those has come through.

  7. The problem is you’re trying to do a tag search. That will only give you new posts that have been specifically tagged “firerickremember” or “Captain America #22”. A better tag to search would be “Wednesday Spoilers”. You also need to look at how many reblogs these posts are getting. And finally there are many people talking about this but aren’t tagging their posts because they saw how many woman are being accused of being ‘fake geek girls’ and how many are been threaten with rape on Twitter.

  8. @S Rue – then what people should be complaining about is how they did a Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome on Jet (which amounts to some sort of retcon at best) to make her the age of 23+ IT CLEARLY SAYS ON THE PAGE THAT SHE IS. Anything else is illogical.

  9. Ham fisted? Right, because statutory rape and bad writing, are two issue that are totally interchangeable and you totally aren’t just looking for something to complain about.

    Also note, apparently it would have between better writing if they had totally left out her age, so our statutory rape accusation could hold, so we could continue to be dingleberries, etc., etc.

  10. There are plenty of people complaining about that. Listen, if Jet had made some comment about being 23 sometime prior to Captain America #22, there would still be lots of anger over the issue, but we probably wouldn’t be having is discussion right now.

    I’m sure that Remender’s editors thought that they were covering their asses by having her state her age on that page, but all it does it highlight the fact that they were aware the whole scene was sketchy and allowed it to go through.

  11. She’s 23 and very clearly physically and mentally of age. There’s also nothing wrong with a woman in her 20s being sexual and enjoying herself.

  12. I’m still upset about Alex Summer’s trying to retcon the fact that he’s a mutant. #firerickremender

  13. Apparently Digital Jedi it never occurred to you that people have different complaints about this issue. The statutory rape reading is one complaint. Another complaint is that Remender had his OC date rape Sam. Another complaint is this is just another example of Remender’s terrible writing for the title.

  14. @S Rue – it doesn’t matter if they ever established it before. They did establish it. Right there on the page. So no room for complains about statutory rape. As for date rape, a) they were both drunk and b) we don’t know how Sam feels about it. I imagine he might have a problem with sleeping with someone he didn’t know any better, but I doubt he feels violated about it. And if he does, then we have another story to tell, which is fine too. You can’t just have these rules where “Person A got Person B drunk and then they had sex therefore it’s date rape.” There are details to every situation.

  15. I wonder if the high prices being charged on eBay etc. for the Howard the Duck Omnibus will ever lead Marvel to reprint it? I am very sorry I missed out on it.
    I’m also eager to see the Nexus Archives reprint series continue; it has been quite a while since the last one.

  16. @Glenn Simpson – Yes right there on the same page where she’s about to have sex with an older man. The whole thing is very ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ skeevy and that is what have pissed off a lot of people.

    As for the date rape aspect of the story a) we don’t actually know if Jet was sober or not b) Sam’s initial reaction when he woke up was not positive to say the least. But here’s the thing. I know and you know that Remender isn’t going to treat what happened to Sam as date rape. And I know most male readers aren’t going to treat what happened to Sam as date rape. But to a lot of female readers, especially female readers who have gone through something similar, this reads as date rape.

  17. “Sam’s initial reaction when he woke up was not positive to say the least. But here’s the thing. I know and you know that Remender isn’t going to treat what happened to Sam as date rape.” On the very next page or so, Falcon and Jet are very clearly canoodling and ready to go at it again. Neither of them are showing any amount of disgust/shame/victimization at what happened the night before. Just the opposite. Sam’s “not positive” reaction was, as he *explicitly* states, because it’s like wading into an workplace romance.

  18. First of all… as a writer…. I’ll write whatever the hell I want. And F anyone for trying to tell me otherwise. If I say these characters act this way… then they do. The writer is the god of that universe/story and if you don’t like then don’t read it. This is America. This is 2014. No mob and ESPECIALLY not an INTERNET mob has ANY RIGHT WHATSOEVER to tell a writer what they can and can’t do. The only ones who do have that right are the people who write the checks…. if you’re writing for pay that is. If I’m writing a story and I decide the Stay Puff Marshmallow man is going to have sex with King Kong, and the bosses let it happen… it’s going to go down. Because of freedom.

    Second of all. Two fictional characters in a comic book in their 20s had sex. WHO GIVES A Sh *t!? I’m going to forget about this controversy about an hour after I write this. Because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. You think anyone is even going to remember this a few years from now? No one will.

  19. I applaud Spencer Carnage for his honesty.

    The rest of you: You’re fooling no one. And Marvel doesn’t owe you a firing because you think a writer was mean to your imaginary friends.

  20. I read and enjoyed the story without knowing of the controversy.

    I heard about the controversy after the fact and assumed it must be about a different issue that I hadn’t yet read.

    I learned more about the controversy and now more than ever I think basic reading comprehension should get more focus in our schools.

  21. I don’t see the controversy unless someone actively chooses to ignore the established story. It might be silly and stretching credibility, but um… Superheroes? Not known for their adherence to the real world.

    But I love how, as soon as the statutory rape issue fell apart, suddenly date rape appeared. That, to me, is much more deserving of a firing than what Rick wrote!

  22. So are these people who find it unsetting Jet magically aged a few years as it were also upset when a 10-year-old on a soap opera goes off to camp for the summer and comes back as an 18 year old? Because the soap opera needs more consenting adults for its storylines? Do they flip out and contact the producers that this is somehow statutory rape when one of those characters has sex? Because that’s all that happened here. They aged her a little so they could do a particular storyline. That doesn’t seem “skeevy”, it seems like something that happens all the time.

  23. @David Taylor – oh, I don’t doubt that. It’s just that if these people were confused about it before, and then learned that she was 23 on the page, then that must have *seemed* like they aged her just for this situation, and that action is being criticized. However, again, this goes on all the time in soap operas. So my point is, even if someone was confused, they still shouldn’t have been that upset.

  24. Interesting how, just a week ago, facts didn’t matter in the David Finch case. It was all about people reacting to articles reacting to reactions of two lines in an interview. Not even in a comic. But now, “facts are important! Context matters! These are just imaginary people!”

    Oh really? Why was none of this the case when it comes to Wonder Woman? Why was it character over creator in that case, but this one is all about protecting the creator, right or wrong?

    This is what is wrong with comics fandom these days.

  25. @Mikael – I’m not sure it’s the same people in each case…

    This situation is a gross mis-reading of the actual work, but at least it is about the actual work.

    The Finch situation wasn’t even about the work, it was about something the person said, that may or may not translate poorly into the work.

    At the end of the day, my opinion is comics fans need to generally shut up and either read the comics or don’t. If you don’t like what they are doing, send the publisher a letter. But don’t stir up poopstorms on the Internet over insignificant stuff (in both cases).

  26. You are an idiot if you call for someone to be fired when they had to go through layers of approval to do anything (i.e., EDITORS). If you don’t like someone or the way they write/draw/color “your” character (get it? they aren’t yours), suck it up and move on to something else. Change the channel, in other words, until you find something you like, or turn off the TV and wait til something else you like comes on. Or maybe stop being a passive (aggressive) person and create something of your own to put out into the public eye. We’ll see how thick your skin is for other people’s freely expressed opinions of your efforts, as opposed to being an anonymous douche on the internet.

  27. @henry barajas – You’re on a site that discusses comics, so pulling the OMG THERE ARE HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE COMICS card is kinda weird given THIS IS A SITE THAT IS DEVOTED TO COMICS. There are ALWAYS going to be more important things than comics.

  28. “And to call for someone to be fired for doing a story that was approved by a group brown nosing, corporate flunky editors like Axel Alonso and Tom Breevort who are more concerned with keeping their jobs instead of ‘telling good stories the Marvel Way’, is offensive”

    Fixed that for you, Heidi.

  29. To Torsten Adair,

    Please do not link to “Top 10/15/whatever” articles that are designed to generate ‘clicks’ for the website in question rather than report actual comic book news.

    There’s a reason why I read this website instead of Newsarama.

  30. Sue, when people are calling for someone to get fired over something that happens in a comic book, they’re OBVIOUSLY stepping beyond the mere discussion of a storyline. It makes complete sense to step back and remember that this is really not an issue, and that a man shouldn’t have his livelihood threatened over it.

  31. Actually, Sue, I think Henry’s point was that if you want to TAKE ACTION against injustice, there are many things in this world to fight. The #firerickremender hashtag was more than just commenting on the latest comic book doings, it was a call to action. And as calls to action go, it was stupid. I’m a firm believer in “think globally, act locally,” so attempting to clean up or improve one teeny tiny corner of the comic book industry is probably all that anyone reading this will ever be able to do in one lifetime.

    I agree that Neymar pointing out the pain of his broken back to Harrison Ford does not alleviate the pain of Ford’s broken leg. One shitty thing doesn’t get negated if there is something shittier going on. But is it asking too much for comics readers to act like rational human beings more of the time?

  32. @Chris: “Did anyone notice that we only get to know her age because she had to explicitly state she was? Was this known to readers before hand?”

    We know her brother was 11, so I would have assumed she was about 14-16. She is written as immature or unfamiliar with the ways of the world because she was created by Anim Zola and her mind brainwashed.

    Remender played up the child abuse angle in his series. We learn Steve Rogers was physically abused by his father, which comes out as he raises Ian Zola for 11 yrs. Jet Black was mentally abuse by her “father,” and is the only one that understands when Steve Rogers destroys all of his trophies in order to bury his past. She is also trying to heal herself, and Steve Rogers takes her under his wing, because he understand her.

  33. There are ACTUAL women in the comics industry still being treated terribly, and THIS is what people get mad about?

  34. I’m a long time Cap reader and I was shocked when I got to that page.

    Shocked because it was unexpected that Jet and Sam had an interest in each other. But comics should do that from time to time: give us what we are not expecting. Good on Remender!

    Clearly, the Jet Black character has been drawn as an adult for several issues. And I didn’t look at the booze as date-raping Sam but the booze lowering both’s inhibitions and letting their true feelings and passions out. For both characters.

    Personally, I found Remember’s recent “Iron Nail” storyline a little boring and dragged on too long for my tastes. But I just read the first four issues of WINTER SOLDIER: A BITTER MARCH last night and they were wonderful and, perhaps, ties in nicely as a backstory to the recent Cap storyline along with a homage to the old Connery Bond films. And a villain that looks like an albino David Bowie. Gotta love that!

    So, if you are going to fire Rick Remember, hired him back with a raise!! Following Brubaker’s run is a tough gig but the guy is doing just fine.

  35. I come back today to see if we can continue carrying on a half-way decent conversation about this but apparently not.

    All I will say is A+ job throwing female comic book readers and their concerns under the bus Heidi. A+ job.

  36. S Rue I am not “throwing female comic book readers and their concerns under the bus” — I am questioning ONE single ill-informed and erroneous campaign by ONE person. If you don’t understand the difference, I begin to see why there is a problem here.

  37. @heidi – Heidi same difference. When you live in the comics bubble it’s silly to ever pull the “but about the real problems in the world” card about any issue whether it is this incident or a people pissed an actor got cast as Batman or anything else.
    @daniel I have no idea where you’re going with that one. I didn’t comment on the issue at hand AT ALL – my comment is that pulling the “But what about the REAL problems” in a discussion about comics is silly no matter what the topic.

  38. A lot of people are gonna be drowning in hobo piss today!

    – Credit to The Outhousers. That’s the only comment we need about this story.

  39. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m perfectly capable of having opinions on comics and reading a newspaper at the same time. That said, a little frame of reference never hurts to help put things in context here.

    Besides, it’s not like trolling a comment thread makes you a modern day John Lewis. But that’s the beauty of slactivism. It allows you to pivot constantly and raise awareness about multiple issues from local to global.

  40. I don’t even like Marvel, but I’m going to my comic store to buy this issue because Remender is fucking awesome.

  41. “I’m all for social justice”

    Then you are in no way any better or different than these nutjobs.

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