At Least a Pyrrhic Victory Would Still Be a Victory

There’s been a development in the ongoing saga of the Orson Scott Card Superman story. The artist for the story, Chris Sprouse, announced yesterday that he was not going to do the art on it. DC’s response was to say that the story will be pulled from the first issue of Adventures of Superman and rescheduled once they find a replacement artist.

Almost immediately Twitter erupted in praise for Sprouse’s “brave stance” and people rejoiced that they could now buy the comic, guilt free.

I feel like I’ve missed something. Really? This is a triumph? This is a big win for tolerance? I wrote and tweeted a scathingly satirical one-act play of the situation:

DC shows absolutely no awareness that there’s any issue here. Nothing really changes, except that Card’s story gets delayed. Some opined that DC can now back out of the Card mess and save face by just never rolling with the story, but let’s not forward them that much credit at this point, given what else has gone on. Do you really think DC can’t find an artist who gets to work with a name brand writer on a high profile story about a flagship character and who can also claim they’re doing it for free speech?

And let’s look at the heroic act of Chris Sprouse. Here’s him talking about why he backed out:

“It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story,” Sprouse said in a statement released Tuesday. “The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with.”

See, the media was making a big deal out of the whole thing, painting it in an uncomfortable light. Never mind what the big deal was or whether the light should have been uncomfortable. People kept pointing out that the hateful bigot was being a hateful bigot and it was getting in the way of telling yet another goddamned Superman story.

I’m not hating on Sprouse, whose work I really like. I know he was put in a difficult situation, and the tenuous position of being a comic book artist — even a highly talented and praised one — made it even moreso. But man, what a mealymouthed exit. I don’t know who can read that and go, “What an amazing heroic action! Surely there’s a Medal of Honor he can be rewarded for this!”

The whole thing is a ridiculous little dance that, at best, lets DC off the hook without having to say that maybe hiring proudly gay-hostile assholes isn’t the best idea, no matter how many books about hero nerds they’ve written. At worst, it merely delays the exact same obnoxious event by a few months.

But hey, geeks get to buy a comic book they wanted, so hooray, I guess.

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