One of the most common questions I get on my personal Tumblr goes a little something like this: “I’m new to comics, so I don’t get why a lot of people don’t like Rick Remender. Can you explain?” And my answer is always: with pleasure.
The Slip-n-Slide of Rick Remender criticism is a very touchy one, because those who raise concerns over the ins and outs of his writing tend to get shot down, ignored, or silenced by way of death and rape threats as well as threats to one’s personal security (because most of the comic readers speaking out against Remender are women, so rape threats come with the territory) (and they say misogyny is dead).
I’m not familiar with Remender’s writing on Uncanny Avengers, so admittedly I’m not the best person to ask about his writing on that title, though I would definitely like to remind everyone that Remender, after receiving criticism from fans over a scene he wrote, tweeted: “Heads up—If Havok’s position in UA #5 really upset you, it’s time to drown yourself in hobo piss. Seriously, do it. It’s the only solution.”
Ah, Remender. You may have deleted your disgusting cyberbully-ish Tweet, but screenshots live on.
My real beef with Remender is his stuff in Captain America.But I digress. My real beef with Remender is his stuff in Captain America, which I’ve read up to issue #16. I’m writing this article from a place of true love and appreciation for Steve Rogers and all that he stands for, as well as Sam Wilson and Sharon Carter, who both make appearances in the ongoing Cap comics. So believe me: I want to like the current Cap series. I want to be excited when a new issue comes out every month. But I can’t be, because Remender sucks.
And by ‘sucks’ I don’t mean his writing itself sucks – I mean he sucks in the misogynistic, racist, prejudiced, abuse-apologist, woman-fridging kind of way. His everything sucks. He has such a rainbow of writing offenses that I almost want to believe he’s some kind of sick experiment on Marvel’s part to see how much crap the fans are willing to put up with.
One of the first red flags that went up while I was reading his Cap run was that he retconned Joe Rogers, Steve Rogers’ father, to make him an abusive alcoholic. Now, to be fair, there’s plenty of canon that states Joe Rogers was, indeed, an alcoholic (this panel and this panel, for example) but he was never portrayed as physically abusive towards Steve, as exemplified in these panels. The way Remender retconned Joe perpetuates the prevalent and harmful assumption that alcoholism equals violence and abuse, which of course isn’t always true.
“Well, okay,” you say. “That’s small stuff.” To which I say: all right, then pick your next topic – Nazi memorabilia or blatant misogyny and disrespect of female characters.
Let’s do Nazi memorabilia.
As it turns out in this run of Captain America, Steve Rogers apparently kept a strange sort of shrine to himself in his apartment. There are pictures, banners, and even costumes from his days fighting in World War II. It’s a weird enough scenario, considering Steve has never been depicted as having any of this memorabilia to begin with, but it’s, again, not a big deal if he decides to keep this stuff.
Oh, right, except for the fact that he also hung up Nazi flags emblazoned with the swastika on them.
In what world would Captain America think it’s acceptable – nay, understandable – to hang up Nazi flags in his apartment? Steve isn’t running a museum out of his apartment, so it’s not like there’s a rationalization that he’s just ‘preserving history.’ The shrine is built specifically for Steve’s own involvement in WWII, a literal memento of and to himself. He has no need for the Nazi flags. None. And the idea that Steve Rogers would even think to keep those flags and hang them prominently in his home is beyond insulting, not just to fans of the characters, but to Steve himself. We know Steve Rogers, and we know he’s better than that. Smarter than that. If Remender had a single crap to give about proper characterization, he sure as hell doesn’t show it.
This leads me to my next problem with Remender: his lack of understanding about Sharon Carter, known as Agent 13, the grand-niece of one certified badass named Peggy Carter. Sharon herself is a certified badass – a take-no-nonsense fighter and agent Remender reduced to merely a love interest for Steve and then mercilessly killed her off for no reason other than to further Steve’s manpain.
Yeah, when Sharon comes to rescue Steve from the alternate universe known as Dimension Z in which he is trapped, she decides that the only way to save him is to jump on top of a giant Arnim Zola robot and blow up his battle station which her still on it (I guess Remender was trying to give her a ‘noble’ death). This happens in issue #10, and since then (remember, I read up ‘til #16), no character has really mourned her loss. Oh sure, Steve was broken up about it (remember: we need his angst for a good story), and other characters like Sam express their condolences to Steve, but that’s only because she was important to Steve. Nobody mourns Sharon just because she was Sharon freaking Carter, because she was a person in her own right. Talk about using women as objects and not as people.
There’s plenty more issues with Remender – like his fridging of Scarlet Witch and Rogue in the same issue of UA, or writing unsafe and non-consensual drunk sex between Sam Wilson and a female character who was originally underage – but honestly at this point, all I can say and hope for is that one day (hopefully soon), I’ll never have to see Rick Remender’s name attached to a Cap comic again. And it’ll be a beautiful, beautiful day.
Gabby Taub, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a recent graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading, writing, watching TV, and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore.
Looking for more Captain America? Check out Gabby’s recommendations of Captain America trade paperbacks you should check out.