Action Lab Entertainment has announced it has to censor covers for the upcoming Athena Voltaire because Diamond Comic Distributors says so.
Actually, it is a little more complex than that. One the Athena Voltaire and the Sorcerer Pope #1 cover, Athena Voltaire is seen punching Adolph Hitler in an homage to Jack Kirby’s Captain America cover. While it is always okay to punch a Nazi, because f**k Nazis, the use of the swastika is what has Diamond Comic Distributors flagging the covers.
ATHENA VOLTAIRE takes place during historic WWII with the heroine fighting Nazis and punching Adolf Hitler on the cover. Diamond refuses to print cover art with a Nazi swastika, including historically accurate uniforms, and forced us to censor the ATHENA VOLTAIRE cover to be printed in Previews.
While there is no ban on hate symbols or Nazi symbols in the United States of America, other countries, like Germany, have banned the symbol, language, and propaganda. This happened in 1949 when the new West German government made laws to denazify the country.
“Our German law centers on the strong belief that you should hinder this kind of speech in a society committed to principles of democratic coexistence and peace,” Matthias Jahn, a law professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, told the Washington Post this week. (via Vox)
Bryan Seaton, CEO at Action Lab, commented on the decision, “We at Action Lab believe that this is one case of censorship goes too far. When we choose to turn a blind eye to the evil atrocities done in history and hide the symbols of that evil, trying to pretend they didn’t exist, we are only a short step from forgetting and allowing it to be repeated. We should not be glorifying these images, but we should never allow history to be forgotten. A period comic showing historically accurate costuming is not the place for censorship.”
I agree with Mr. Seaton’s comments, but this decision by Diamond Comic Distributors is purely a business one. If Diamond wants to distribute the Previews catalog in countries like Germany and Austria, the symbol has to be removed. This is policy that has been in place at Diamond since the 1990s.
This is not just an Action Lab Entertainment problem, DC Comics’ Earth-X is only called Earth-X because the swastika couldn’t be used for foreign shipping. In 2011, Image Comics’ Glory #23 had to be censored in Germany because of the swastikas on the cover. B.P.R.D. 1946 had an altered cover, and even Blade of the Immortal had artwork modified so the swastika looked like an X. One could even argue that Marvel’s rise of Hydra is in direct response to business repercussions featuring Nazis in their books.
So, how does this affect the shipping version of the comics? It doesn’t, at least according to Diamond. In an e-mail from Diamond, it is “not asking Action Lab to change the actual finished product. These will ship as intended. We are only asking them to be changed to be featured in the PREVIEWS catalog.”
When you are looking at the new Previews catalog and wonder why the cover is censored, you now know why.
We’ve reviewed Athena Voltaire multiple times, and it is a solid series, worth checking out. Athena Voltaire and the Sorcerer Pope #1 is scheduled to arrive in February 2018.
What are your reactions to this story? Is this story from Action Lab nothing more than a promotional stunt, something to be concerned about, or a great chance to learn a little about the comic industry? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts.
Also, it is still okay to punch Nazis.