Monday, August 19, 2019 

Doppelgangers don't mend the damage

For the so-called redemption of Wally West in Scott Lobdell's miniseries sequel to Heroes in Crisis, DC's idea of making things better is to cast an otherworldly clone of Roy Harper:
DC's solicitation for Flash Forward #3 reveals Wally West will meet a version of Roy Harper/Red Arrow that's much different than the one he knew on his Earth.

As revealed in DC's solicitations for November, Flash Forward #3 will see Wally meeting up with the Roy Harper of Earth-43, where the archer is a vampire hunter. The series serves as something of a redemption arc for the speedster following the events of Heroes in Crisis, in which he was responsible for several high-profile deaths. Roy was among those who died as a result of Wally's actions.
I don't see how a doppelganger on a parallel world ensures Roy will be resurrected, and thus, Wally redeemed. So far, I've seen nothing to guarantee resurrections of the real deals among the Titans and other DCU characters who bit the bullet will take place, and that's just the problem here. If they really meant to apologize, they'd have revealed resurrections in store already. So, nothing to see here, apparently, and in any case, it's best to avoid this junk regardless. Only when Dan DiDio is let go, so long as DC's still around, and somebody with a more respectable personality is hired, can resumption of readership be considered.

I'm not sure if I took note of this CBR interview with Lobdell and Brett Booth from 2 months ago before, but he sure didn't give any reason to feel optimistic:
Which is where Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth come into the picture. In September, the writer/artist team launch Flash Forward, a six-issue miniseries that will reveal the next chapter in Wally West's story as he attempts to put his life back together. It's a big challenge, but according to Lobdell, that's what made the gig so appealing.
Not if he can't offer a clear good-news ending, it's not.
"Often when you read about the marketing of an event, you'll see a variation of, 'After this issue...nothing will ever be the same!' But then the next month's issues come out and -- everything is the same," Lobdell told CBR. "Reading Heroes in Crisis, it was very clear that Wally's story couldn't end on the ninth issue. So much had happened to him over the last year, and going back to Rebirth and going all the way back to the New 52 and Flashpoint... everyone agreed we'd be doing a huge disservice to a character that it could easily be argued is one of the greatest fan favorites in all of comics."
This falls flat on its face when you consider Heroes in Crisis already was a huge disservice in itself, and not just to Wally, but to the Titans victimized in the story too.
"Trust me when I say Brett Booth wouldn't let me do anything other than write a love letter to his favorite character."
On this: if Booth doesn't push for and ensure a reversal of the fates, then he's got no business claiming to be a Wally fan either. Come to think of it, he can't even say he's a fan of co-stars like Linda Park.

Above all, it's vital to consider that all this could've been avoided, and instead, they drag it all out with a pathetic event/crossover approach that doesn't connect with wider audiences, and has only been dragging down comicdom for over 30 years since Secret Wars came about. And again, doppelgangers don't prove anything.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019 

Art Spiegelman withdrew essay from Golden Age Marvel collection because they didn't want attacks on Trump inside

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman is famous for his Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus from the 1980s. Unfortunately, he's also a boilerplate leftist who believes rightists are the root cause of all evil, including Donald Trump, and recently wrote an essay that was originally to be included in a collection of Golden Age Marvel reprints, but the editors balked because of his use of a slang that's been associated with Trump, and as a result, he had it published in the far-left UK Guardian's pages instead. Here's the paragraph in question from the essay itself:
Auschwitz and Hiroshima make more sense as dark comic book cataclysms than as events in our real world. In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America. International fascism again looms large (how quickly we humans forget – study these golden age comics hard, boys and girls!) and the dislocations that have followed the global economic meltdown of 2008 helped bring us to a point where the planet itself seems likely to melt down. Armageddon seems somehow plausible and we’re all turned into helpless children scared of forces grander than we can imagine, looking for respite and answers in superheroes flying across screens in our chapel of dreams.
And at the end of the essay, it looks like he had some addendum specially for sources like the Guardian:
I turned the essay in at the end of June, substantially the same as what appears here. A regretful Folio Society editor told me that Marvel Comics (evidently the co-publisher of the book) is trying to now stay “apolitical”, and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance. I was asked to alter or remove the sentence that refers to the Red Skull or the intro could not be published. I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, but when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull I realised that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.

A revealing story serendipitously showed up in my news feed this week. I learned that the billionaire chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, is a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s, an unofficial and influential adviser and a member of the president’s elite Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. And Perlmutter and his wife have each recently donated $360,000 (the maximum allowed) to the Orange Skull’s “Trump Victory Joint Fundraising Committee” for 2020. I’ve also had to learn, yet again, that everything is political... just like Captain America socking Hitler on the jaw.
Let me put it this way. I happen to find Perlmutter dismaying because he showed no interest in improving Marvel's comics themselves, and he may have expressed disrespect for Stan Lee, startlingly enough. All he seemed to care about was building up the movie brand, which looks to be receding in terms of success now. But if Spiegelman's just attacking him because of his political standings, that's incredibly dumb. And it would only become dated in less than a few years down the memory lane. And no, not everything is political, but his fellow left-wing travelers sure seem to want it that way. Here's the same paper's news report on what happened:
Art Spiegelman, the legendary graphic novelist behind Maus, has claimed that he was asked to remove criticism of Donald Trump from his introduction to a forthcoming Marvel book, because the comics publisher – whose chairman has donated to Trump’s campaign – is trying to stay “apolitical”.

Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer prize for Maus, his story of the Holocaust, has written for Saturday’s Guardian that he was approached by publisher the Folio Society to write an introduction to Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949, a collection ranging from Captain America to the Human Torch.

[...] After submitting the essay in June, Spiegelman says he was told by the Folio Society that Marvel Comics was trying to stay apolitical, “and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance”. Neither publisher responded to requests for comment from the Guardian, but Spiegelman claims he was asked to remove the sentence referring to the Red Skull or his introduction would not be published. He pulled the essay, placing it instead with the Guardian.

[...] Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949, which now carries an introduction by Marvel editor Roy Thomas, is published in September.
Well I gotta hand it to them - they certainly made a good choice for who to develop an introductory essay instead. A comics veteran who's mostly conservative himself, but usually far from political in the same way Spiegelman sadly is.

But Spiegelman doesn't think he's especially political? Back in the early to mid-2000s, he published another graphic novel called In the Shadow of No Towers, and the left-leaning Sequart describes it as such:
Spiegelman’s second original page (as numbered as ten) depicts Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush standing over a sleeping Spiegelman, depicted as one of the mice from Maus; Osama Bin Laden carries a bloody saber, George W. Bush a U.S. flag and a revolver. A caption reads “EQUALLY TERRORIZED BY AL-QAEDA AND BY HIS OWN GOVERNMENT…” The image — which Spiegelman notes in his introduction “had made some editors visibly shudder” (perhaps with reason) — strikes me as almost a stereotype of the liberal response to 9/11.
The problem is that, not only does it reek of moral equivalence, but it practically does echo what some leftists at the time thought of right-wingers; not just merely Bush himself. The bizarre notion that al Qaeda was working for the US government, a conspiracy theory since come to be known as 9-11 Trutherism. Surprisingly enough, though the writer has a negative view of people like Bush for all the wrong reasons, he does admit this GN is mediocre, if not pan it altogether:
Spiegelman’s obviously straining here, and not only to produce political commentary in a tumultuous time. His narrative starts with his experience on 11 September 2001, then increasingly gets distracted by anti-Bush commentary. Spiegelman himself seems to recognize this, writing in his introduction that “new traumas began competing with still-fresh wounds and the nature of my project began to mutate.” He recalls how he’d planned at least three additional sequences depicting his experience on 9/11 and shortly thereafter. His narration of his day, on 11 September 2011, is good enough that one can regret that he didn’t stick to his original plan and complete that story. Yet by the fifth page, he abandons his narration of that day completely. It returns briefly on page six, as if he’s trying to steer his story back on course, but page six then jumps forward to an unrelated incident, and then Spiegelman surrenders completely to his passions. The A-plot of 9/11 disappears, not unlike those towers, and all that’s left is the wild B-plot of flailing political commentary.

Addressing Bush, Spiegelman writes, “You rob from the poor and give to your pals like a parody of Robin Hood while distracting me with your damn oil war!” Criticizing Bush as anti-progressive or harsh on the poor is certainly fair game, although the alarming gap between rich and poor Americans didn’t start with the current administration. But thinking Iraq an “oil war,” although conventional, shows a remarkable lack of contemplation: the U.S. could have opened Iraqi oil through the U.N.’s oil-for-food program, and oil companies routinely disdain destabilization of oil-producing countries while generally not caring that the stabile government selling oil oppresses or kills its people.
There's just one problem here: the oil-for-food program was corrupt. That aside, I've got a feeling Spiegelman would've been just as opposed if the Bush administration had declared war on Iran, their own nuclear warfare and violence-prone regime notwithstanding. His claim Marvel wants to be apolitical isn't true either: Saladin Ahmed currently stands out as the most political writer they're still employing. But, I'm guessing the reason they may have avoided making the introduction to their newest Golden Age archives politically charged is because they're not marketing that to the same audiences Ahmed seemingly is, and realize more sensible people are bound to notice and object. So to remain under the radar with what left-wing ideologies they're still forcing down everyone's throats, they may avoid putting such things in most of the older archival material they publish.

It's really too bad Spiegelman's got to be such a political firebrand in his own way, and otherwise maintains an ignorant view of Islam and Saddam Hussein's evils in Iraq. If leftists were to become less politically active, it could help make improvements.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019 

A Green Lantern member's been sacrificed on the alter of sensationalistic deaths

The GLC member, Jessica Cruz, a recent creation, was knocked off by none other than Darkseid in Justice League Odyssey as part of DC's long-running modern custom of killing off characters they may not want to pay residuals on, or just decided to throw under the bus:
There's just no way to keep a supervillain like Darkseid out of power for long, and he's finally returned to full power in DC's comic universe. A point made perfectly clear which by killing one of Earth's fan-favorite Green Lanterns... and from the looks of it, she won't be coming back.

It's a shocking thing to see any Justice Leaguer murdered, even if Darkseid's betrayal beforehand was a bit easier to predict. From the first announcement that Darkseid would join Justice League: Odyssey's heroes, fans suspected that his mission to repair the DC Universe would serve some ulterior, villainous motive. That's exactly how the story unfolded, with Darkseid regaining his power and dominating the other League members... all of them except the Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. But even a power ring has its limits, where a blast from Darkseid's Omega Beams do not. [...]

Unfortunately for her... this is Darkseid. Taking the hit, before swatting Jessica away like a simple space cop pestering a literal God, Darkseid knows her power has run out. Acknowledging that Jessica's overflowing willpower and courage would have made her a worthy lieutenant in his new regime, her failed attempt to defeat him helps Darkseid make his final decision. With eyes glowing red to fire his signature attack, the Omega Beams lance forward towards the Green Lantern... and reduce her to a pile of ash and bones.
On the contrary, it hasn't been shocking for years to see any DC character killed because DC editorial so decreed. But I've got a feeling they'd never have done this with the Islamic GL, Simon Baz, who may or may not be in this story, because of what his background was built on, and to do otherwise would violate their own PC standards. So instead they take the easy target and throw her out with bath water.

But was Cruz really ever a "fan favorite"? Her origin story was pretty tasteless, and the audience's dwindled so badly, it's clear there aren't even many left who'll clamor for her to be brought back, if at all, assuming she's going to remain that way:
There is always a chance that Jessica's story can continue beyond her death, as it did when Hal Jordan died to defeat Sinestro--and continued on into the afterlife reserved for fallen Green Lanterns. In fact, the final tease of "Afterlife" may give readers hope that is exactly what twist will arrive next. But until then, fans can pick up the issue to process Green Lantern's death for themselves.
Umm, I think that would be ill-advised, if only because it would fill the coffers of Dan DiDio, and besides, no matter how this turns out, they count on gullibility of the audience to keep the sales going. Based on that, this is exactly why you shouldn't even pick up these books if Katma Tui's brought back (as far as I know, she's still in the DCU crypt) because DiDio's still bound to pull these reprehensible stunts, as he already has with Heroes in Crisis, and we can't give him the satisfaction of thinking his contempt for fans will pay off. He is, as I've noted before, the single biggest problem with the face of DC today.

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Rocko's Modern Life is a prime example of children's cartoons serving to foist propaganda on unsuspecting youngsters

Entertainment Weekly ran an article on the cartoon called Rocko's Modern Life, first aired on Nickolodeon and today is also on Netflix, whose producers are now concocting a transgender yarn with the intention of shoving an agenda upon unwitting children:
In July 1996, Nickelodeon aired an episode of Rocko’s Modern Life called “Closet Clown,” featuring a story of Mr. Bighead desperately trying to hide his secret identity as a clown from a town that hates these red-nosed jesters. Series creator Joe Murray confirms this was meant as an allegory for a gay person’s coming-out experience at a time when TV shows couldn’t just come out right and say it. “We were still playing by the rules, so to speak, and still trying to interject those situations [into the cartoon],” he tells EW over the phone.

With Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling, a new TV special coming to Netflix this Friday, times have changed. In the 45-minute continuation of his original series, Murray is no longer operating with restrictions and is instead inserting a prominent trans story arc for the Bighead family through the character of Rachel, EW can exclusively reveal.

Rachel, the child of Mr. and Mrs. Bighead, was known as Ralph in the ’90s cartoon and Rocko needs to find her.
We the audience, on the other hand, don't. If anything, this confirms the original dimwittery was already a propaganda vehicle no decent parent need have let their kids watch. And now, regarding modern times:
“When I started writing [Static Cling], I really started latching onto the idea of change and how society has changed and what’s gone on in the last 20 years and the development of our characters and how they would react to change,” says Murray, who returns to voice Rachel after voicing the original character for years on the show. “It felt natural, because it was not only about change, about somebody finding who they are and making that courageous choice to go through that change.”

The story line marks a strong push for more trans visibility in G-rated entertainment, which continues to grow its inclusion of LGBTQ characters. In its report card on the 2018-2019 TV season, GLAAD specifically pointed out Steven Universe (creator Rebecca Sugar debuted a same-sex wedding on the Cartoon Network series). For trans representation, Amazon’s Danger & Eggs, co-created by trans showrunner Shadi Petosky, featured trans stories and characters. (The show has since been canceled.)
Probably because nobody cared about D&E's agenda-pushing. Here's the pathetic explanation given for why kids cartoons simply must spotlight transexuality:
Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of transgender representation who consulted on Static Cling, tells EW over email how important it is to show LGBTQ people existing in the world. “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling tells a beautiful — and hilarious — story about accepting change,” he writes. “The younger characters accept Rachel immediately; recognizing she’s still their friend. And while Rachel’s father is slow to accept change within his own family, even he realizes that loving your child should be unconditional. This story of inclusion and acceptance is so needed in our current climate.”
If it's really so important, do it in news articles, not in showbiz vehicles whose alleged purpose is escapist entertainment. As the above notes about the original 90s cartoon verify, however, it was anything but. What's particularly galling is how he says we simply must accept ideologically driven nonsense, and not consider it a form of mental insanity in any way.
Adams and GLAAD got involved in 2016 at the suggestion of Nickelodeon. “When I read the story outline, I was happy to see that Rachel’s gender was treated as a non-issue by Rocko and his friends, and that Rachel’s father finally realized that he loves and supports his daughter,” Adams writes. “I worked with the show’s creators to ensure that Rachel was drawn in a respectful way, so that her femininity wasn’t a joke. We also talked about how to portray the moment Rachel reveals her transition to the boys so that it wasn’t sensationalistic. From story outline to storyboards to animatics, to the final show, Nickelodeon kept GLAAD updated every step of the way.”
In other words, the man served as a "purse puppy" for the staff, or, this was practically a whole propaganda project collaboration. But don't believe their assertion this isn't sensationalized. Given how they want to push their beliefs onto children and just about everyone else, that's just why it is. It certainly doesn't excuse the lecturing angle.

Will this serve as a wakeup call for parents? Depends. Some, tragically, are so indoctrinated themselves these days, they'll accept it to the fullest. Others will hopefully avoid giving it viewership. For now, it demonstrates how some people in the entertainment business didn't get into it because they wanted to offer up real escapism without being preachy. Rather, they got in for the purpose of indoctrination, shoving their twisted beliefs on unsuspecting masses. And now, we see the results.

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Friday, August 16, 2019 

In DC's Year of the Villain, heroes become evil

And even that idea's been done to death long ago. According to this superficial Hollywood Reporter article:
A new line of special issues will showcase heroes who have been transformed into evil versions of themselves, beginning with Shazam!

Corruption is spreading across DC’s comic book universe — and across DC’s publishing line, as well.
It already did. Years ago. Judging from this news, it doesn't sound like they're interested in ensuring Billy Batson appeals to the moviegoers who watched that movie a few months ago. Oh, and look who one of the writers assigned to this project happens to be:
Launching in November, a series of special issues under the banner The Infected will showcase the six heroes across DC’s fictional universe who have been transformed into their own worst nightmares. The releases begin with The Infected: King Shazam! by Sina Grace and Joe Bennett on Nov. 6, followed by The Infected: Scarab by Dennis Hallum and Freddie E. Williams II on Nov. 20, focusing on Shazam! and Blue Beetle, respectively.
The same Grace who followed Brian Bendis and turned Iceman inside out over at Marvel? Just goes to show that, if Marvel can hire some of DC's SJW bunglers for their output, so too can DC vice versa. Turning heroes evil has been done already, even with co-stars, and I'm sure there's an example or two out there of Lois Lane being brainwashed into criminality. Marvel also did this more than once with Scarlet Witch, most notoriously during Avengers: Disassembled. And some of the worst examples from DC would have to be Emerald Twilight in 1994, and Geoff Johns' early JSA issues wherein Obsidian was turned into a cardboard baddie for the sake of it, and murdered his stepfather. The disgusting tale was inexcusable. The thinking seems to be that, because heroes supposedly aren't interesting, it works far better to change them to villains, even though that's little more than an excuse to avoid the challenge of character development and drama. With that kind of mindset prevailing at DC and other such companies, is it any wonder their creations lost impact? Another example that should never have seen print was 1992's Eclipso: The Darkness Within, where the titular villain, spawned from the solar scientist Bruce Gordon via a cursed black diamond, infected dozens of superheroes in the DCU. Even that was just a waste of paper, leading into a brief series that saw Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite's two proteges, Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel, killed off.

It goes without saying DC's practically given everybody a good reason to avoid this crossover even before it reaches the stores, as they note Supergirl's among the infected, and it looks like Hawkman and Blue Beetle are too. Everyone who realizes these crossovers are in such bad faith should keep their wallets in their pockets and not buy the upcoming book.

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Marvel hires another pretentious SJW for one of their books

The pretentious Zoe Quinn, who first worked in video games, had initially been hired to write Goddess Mode for the now collapsed Vertigo imprint at DC. Now, in another show of nepotism, Marvel's hired her to write a Hellcat story for a new anthology called Fearless, which is supposed to be written almost entirely by women and starring women too. In this on-site interview Marvel ran with her, she said:
"What I love about Hellcat is how she’s been through hell, literally, and instead of being bitter or mean, she’s still sweet and cares more about helping people than she does punishing them," said Quinn. "It’s been really fun to write for her because in addition to her own awesomeness she’s got this really excellent supporting cast of other really relatable street-level supers, gig economy workers, and actual dang demons."
This is so superficial, I get the feeling she never read much of the past stories featuring Patsy Walker, and is only going by what she supposedly "knows" about the character, or she would've referenced the time she'd first appeared as a romance story star in the Golden Age's Miss America magazine and her own eponymous title in the Silver Age, before being added to the MCU proper years later, along with Patsy's affair with Daimon Hellstrom. And Quinn's never apologized for her nasty political rants, mainly because DC obviously never told her to. Her Vertigo book never sold well, and based on the reputation she's built, it'll be no surprise if this fares no better.

That's another demerit to C.B. Cebulski's record, hiring writers with poor etiquette and reputation, and no proven record of success in the entertainment business.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019 

Garfield becomes corporate property

As somebody who grew up reading the daily Garfield strips in the newspapers, I'm a very unhappy camper to see what was once the 2nd most popular newspaper strip after Peanuts become another cog in the circuit of a corporation and/or conglomerate. Namely, Nickolodeon:
Garfield, the lasagna-loving comic-strip feline, has a new owner.

The lazy cat has for more than 40 years been the property of owner Jon Arbuckle, a socially awkward fellow who must indulge his pet’s debilitating laziness and constant sarcasm. But in weeks to come, the character will become one more element in Viacom’s vast Nickelodeon portfolio of intellectual property, taking his place alongside SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora The Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Viacom has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Paws, Inc., the entity that holds all global intellectual property rights to both “Garfield” as well as “U.S. Acres,” another Davis creation, including corresponding rights related to content, consumer products, and location-based experiences. The acquisition is expected to close in the upcoming weeks. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the character is said to generate millions of dollars a year in merchandise alone.

“I’m delighted that Garfield is going to be placed in the capable hands of the folks at Nick,” said Jim Davis, the character’s creator, in a prepared statement. “They know how to entertain and will be great stewards for the franchise. I am also excited to continue to do the thing that gets me out of bed every morning…the comic strip!”
I think Davis is a talented cartoonist, but I must firmly disagree here. This is the same Nickolodeon who've allowed IDW to abuse Ninja Turtles for their own denigrating agendas. I realize Davis will continue to draw his own strip, but I think at this point, the Nicktoons channel is too corrupted to trust with a famous creation. What if they take whatever new cartoon series they're planning, and use it to push crude agenda-driven jokes?

It's a terrible shame when fine artists sell out their creations to what's decidedly dumbing down entertainment in the modern world while pushing politically driven agendas: corporations and conglomerates. Now that I think of it, a case has to be made why the time has come to buy back famous creations and manage them under ownership of smaller business entities with more sense of responsibility. Corporations are not the answer, nor should they be. It's regrettable Davis had to fall under delusions and give Nicktoons the keys to the merchandise based on his famous feline, and maybe even the comic strip itself.

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The Hulk becomes a transgenderism supporter

Marvel's political agendas continue unfazed, as now, in the 22nd issue of Immortal Hulk, which CBR's fawning over, Bruce Banner, or his big green alter ego, or both, voice his favor of transgender ideology. The article begins with some predictable sugarcoating:
Gender and sexuality are are being addressed more frequently, not only in superhero comics, but also in their adaptations. The Young Justice animated series, for example, recently followed up on the comic book portrayal of Aqualad as gay, while Halo has been portrayed as gender fluid and bisexual. Then, of course, Batwoman will headline her own live-action television this fall.

As for transgender characters, there's DC's Alysia Yeoh (a friend of Barbara Gordon), Coagula from Doom Patrol, Ken Shiga from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl at Marvel, as well as various indie characters such as Braga, the transgender Orc from Rat Queens. The point is, it's a much more progressive and diverse time we live in, with trans creators also working with the Big Two. And while it's a bit unexpected, it turns out someone who's vocal about transgender rights is the Hulk.
From what the panel uploaded on the side seems to depict, it's Bruce Banner sporting the Hulk personality (or one of them anyway, recalling there were times in the past when multiple personality disorder was established as one of the problems Bruce suffered from, channeled into his Hulk shape). Fascinatingly enough, the reporter he's talking to is named Jacqueline McGee, presumably an allusion to the Jack McGee character on the 1977-82 TV series played by Jack Colvin. Which suggests they intentionally "gender swapped" rather than think up a name that wouldn't sound like an attempt to be controversial.
Joe tells her he's on the fence, but he respects her a lot. He actually spent quite a bit of daytime reading articles online, especially her opinion pieces, to get a better sense of her character, which led to his positive judgment. The piece that turned his head was her story on transgender rights, and Joe admits it won him over because he connects with it, as it revolves around the overall concept of "the other."

He calls the trans rights piece "real good," and lauds her slant of people wanting to be themselves
, because, after all, that's what these Hulk personas want. The parallel doesn't exactly hold up, but you can see where Joe is coming from, and he balks at the comments responding to Jacqueline's article saying, "You sure know how to piss off the puny humans."
I take it that line serves as an allusion to right-wingers and others objecting to the foisting of all this propaganda into everyone's lives. That the writer would say being the gender you're not is "being yourself" is just hugely dismaying, and is little more than lecturing the audience.

I gotta wonder, have any store retailers complained how this kind of political/ideological pandering has the potential to cost them customers as much as Marvel's attacks on conservatives in the past several years did? I have no idea, but if they keep this up, it's bound to precipitate Marvel's eventual demise as much as DC's own ideological pandering will theirs.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019 

Salon and Darick Robertson bring up his far-left politics

While discussing the new TV show based on The Boys in an interview with far-left Salon, artist Robertson had plenty to say in leftist political terms as much as anything else, and so too does the interviewer, come to think of it:
I recently spoke with Robertson about the creation of "The Boys" TV show and the original comic book series, the obligation and responsibility of artists in the age of Trump to tell the truth, and his choice to be public and vocal about his own liberal and progressive political values in a moment when many other comic book writers and other creators have chosen to be silent.

Robertson also reflects on collaborating with comic book icon Garth Ennis on their celebrated and lauded run on the Marvel Comics series "The Punisher." We also discuss his beloved cult-classic comic book series "Transmetropolitan," his new Image Comics series "Oliver," as well as the challenge of writing an unbelievable real-life character such as Donald Trump.
Well this sure tells much of what we need to know about what these two think, where they stand and where they're going. What makes Trump unbelievable, but not Clinton and Obama, or even Carter? I just don't get it.
Unlike many comic book writers and graphic novelists you are very vocal and outspoken about your politics. How did you make that decision?

A sense of obligation. I'm known for a character in my graphic novel "Transmetropolitan" who is a journalist. Working on that book with Warren Ellis really woke me up to many issues. He knew more about what was going on in American politics than I did — and he was from London — and that made me feel ashamed. This was during the 1990s under Clinton and it was easier then to not pay much attention to politics. But in hindsight I think that was an illusion. It was willful ignorance.

I was very vocal during the Bush years. Obviously, I lean left so I did not have as many problems with Obama
. But with Obama I also did not see as many obvious machinations and untruths being circulated as what took place when Cheney and Bush were ginning up war in Iraq. With Trump it feels like we are living in a post-truth society. Am I afraid to speak out? No. I feel like it is my obligation as an American to do so. I think everybody should speak out. That is what freedom of speech is for. Am I going to alienate my audience? Well I think my audience likes "Transmetropolitan" so I doubt it.
Would it have been willful ignorance to remain oblivious to what lay behind the 1993 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, which was managed by followers of Omar Abdel Rahman, and occurred at the time Bill Clinton was president? The sad thing is that Robertson probably wouldn't think so. I do wonder though, what he ever thought of the disgraced Gerard Jones, since Robertson illustrated a number of issues from at least a few books Jones worked on during the 1990s (Prime, Justice League Europe, Wonder Man). Depending how much anybody working with Jones during that time knew about his personality, it would've been willful ignorance to turn a blind eye to his mindset at the time, and anybody who did should be ashamed of themselves.
Do you believe that artists have an obligation in troubled times to tell the truth?

That goes back to citizenship. It is important to be informed. I work alone most of the day so I enjoy having the opportunity to engage people in conversations about politics on Twitter. I try not to attack people because they disagree with me. I try to keep it focused on the facts: Did this happen or didn't it? If you cannot agree on basic facts then we're lost as a society. As historian Timothy Snyder has been pointing out in his books about authoritarianism the moment we cannot agree on what truth is then all resistance is futile.
If he believes in the vitality of being informed, would he agree it's important to be informed about the contents of the Koran/Hadith, for example? If not, what's the point of arguing on what he describes as "basic facts"? So many leftists like him seem to deliberately ignore many pressing issues, and as a result, the argument on being informed tends to fall flat, because all they care about is what they consider important, which could be the notion only conservatives are the problem, and nobody else.
At what point are the American people complicit? Because Trump is who Trump is. There is nothing subtle about him.

Trump is basically flaunting it all the way. It's amazing to me. I grew up in a home with Reagan Republicans, a Christian evangelical, right-leaning military, law enforcement family. Those are my roots. In the beginning this moment with Trump looked very familiar to me. It was as if my family dysfunction became national dysfunction. But I don't believe my father would have liked Trump. He didn't like Nixon. At the same time, people who claim to be evangelicals are also saying that they don't believe in healthcare or being helpful to the people seeking help at the U.S.-Mexico border. That is contradictory to me. I read the Bible as a kid. I was baptized at 13. I know what is taught in the Bible and what we are seeing now with how right-wing Christians are behaving is not it.
And I guess he fancies himself the black sheep in the family. He blurs the distinctions between actual refugee and actual criminal, and ignores what violent crimes quite a few of the actual interlopers over the USA borders brought in. Yet he slams conservative-leaning Christians as the guilty, and doesn't think anybody believing in civility should take responsible stands. A terrible shame we have here a guy who won't distinguish clearly on serious topics.
Do you think that if you sat down and wrote a fictional story about Trump's America that anyone would even believe it?

I've said this a number of times. If this moment with Donald Trump was fiction you would get laughed out of the room for writing it. The idea that America took a man who pretended to be a success on television, and then put him right in the White House is laughable on its face. But when you see beyond that scenario it is laughable until you start to cry. I guess that's when they win.
My my, so he doesn't believe Trump was ever a success, his background in real estate, hosting The Apprentice on TV and managing showbiz contests like Miss USA notwithstanding? What a shame. That Robertson only sees what he wants to is laughable on its own.
Your work is center left and very pragmatic. How did you break from your family's political views?

I'm not anti-conservative. A lot of those beliefs are ingrained in me. But I have to balance that out with mercy, and in some cases, common sense. We do live in a world where it is not shaped just around your own limited needs and ideals. We all have to share, because whether or not you'd like to live in a world where there are no immigrants, immigrants are still there. Whether or not you'd like to live in a world without Democrats, Democrats are still there. So the idea that you're just going to have it all your way and that might makes right leads to some very ugly outcomes.

What hope is there for us as a society that is supposed to be the "number one country in the world" as so many people like to proclaim, but then you look at the facts, the statistics on issues such as health care and other topics, and America is not doing very well at all?
So in other words, we all have to allow people to just merely enter the country regardless of their personality and whether they have a criminal record of any sort. With no distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants, not even real refugees from anti-Christian persecution in Muslim countries and even Europe, for example. He says he respects Christianity, but then he turns a blind eye to the horrors they face today in the Islamic world and even in China? Good grief. Regarding healthcare, does he accept that Obama's policies damaged it, along with the economy at the time? If only Trump matters, then his argument's for naught.
Today's Republican Party and conservative movement are not "conservative." They are destructive, revanchist, and backwards looking radicals in the worst sense. Donald Trump wants to be a tyrant. He has never lied about that fact. America in the age of Trump is in an existential moral and political crisis.

Donald Trump was completely honest when he said, "I'm greedy, greedy, greedy." It all works out for him — and is really the ultimate goal of his machinations. If it's working out for Trump and he is getting away with what he wants to do, then everything's fine in his world. For Donald Trump it really does not matter what is good for America. None of that seems to enter into Trump's plans.
Well in that case, we shouldn't be shocked if he and the interviewer think Obama was the more successful one, even though Trump's policies have improved the economy considerably. And they don't think Trump could possibly be joking either. For them, kidding is a liberal thing only.
If you were going to import Donald Trump into either "Transmetropolitan" or a new comic book series or graphic novel, what would you do with him?

As far as entertainment goes, Donald Trump is definitely the best show in town. I don't know that anybody would believe it. Even during the campaign and up to the election the reporters and journalists and pundits were in denial and laughing about Trump's chances. And yet here we are living in the reality of President Trump.

So as not to demonize people, I would say this, I think that there's a point where everybody who believed what Trump was selling wanted something good for the country. But anybody that really dug a little deeper who wasn't willing to put on a Trump t-shirt or a red "MAGA" hat would see that Trump has been a con man most of his life and it's all unraveling around him as we speak. It's bubbling to the surface so fast. There are some people who are just hateful and Trump speaks their hate for them. I don't want anything to do with those people.

It is like George Orwell's "1984" where Trump's people do not believe in the truth or reality as it actually exists. This is as Orwellian as it gets. People are complacent and we as a country keep rolling along where every norm gets shattered and then by the next news cycle it is all somehow OK. That is the part where it makes it hard to imagine how a writer could take what is happening with Donald Trump and make it into fiction.
But Obama couldn't possibly have been anything of the sort, could he? Not even when it comes to his relations with Jeremiah White? I gotta wonder, have leftists like Robertson ever met other leftists they didn't like? Good question. He won't even ponder whether he's resorting to Orwellianism himself. But pretty amazing if he'd rather not create negative metaphors for Trump in fictional books like Transmetropolitan. Speaking of which, here's where the interview turns to the comic book side of Robertson:
How do you manage being creative for a living?

It's changed over the years. I've done this for a long time. I started drawing comics right out of high school when I was 17, and I've been doing nothing but for most of my life, and I find that creativity ebbs and flows. Tom Petty used to sing, "Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks." I love cinema so I try to draw the movie that I imagine in my head or the comic book I would like to read.

So it helps to be a fan of what I do. I still love comics. I still think they're very underrated and are an art form that's just starting to find its footing. There's a lot to be said for the genre as a medium. A lot of people confuse the superhero genre with being indicative of all comic books. They don't realize that Senator John Lewis did a comic book about his days in the Civil Rights [movement] and won awards for that, and how Art Spiegelman was able to take the story of his father's Holocaust survival and turn it into an incredible graphic novel that won the Pulitzer Prize. And sometimes that nuance can get lost on people who don't understand that words and pictures can work together. As Neil Gaiman said, if you take great writing, it becomes prizewinning literature that you preserve in museums. You take great art, you put it in museums and people line up to see it at the Louvre, but if you put the two together, it's only for children. So it is dismissed.
What if some of these people lean to the left just like him? If it turned out he thought right-wingers were the only ones taking such a narrow view, that'd make his views all the more laughable.
How did you fall in love with comic books?

My dad was an airline mechanic and my mom was a homemaker. I didn't have any kind of clear path into being an artist. I just liked it. I drew since I was little. I got positive attention for my art as a child. At a young age I was able to draw Snoopy and Tweety Bird pretty well, so my cousins or whoever would be like, "Hey, draw me a Tweety Bird," and my mom would have me sign my name to the pictures.

I was around 10 when I think I discovered comics and it was a "Hey Kids!" comics spinner rack at my local pharmacy. Up until then I remember comics coming into my life in a way that people would just give them to you. My dad's barber, for example, would have a stack of comic books and as soon as they started taking up too much room he would pull them off the shelf and just hand me the stack. I would go home and read them. Or I'd inherit my sister's hand me downs which would be like "Richie Rich" or "Archie." And she liked romance comics too, which is interesting because I was too young to care about the romance, but I did love the storytelling. I didn't know at the time that many of the superhero artists were working on those romance comics.

I really just loved how I could follow the pictures and it would create a sense of motion in my mind. I knew that I was doing the work mentally and that those panel gutters were breaking time. Then I discovered George Perez's work early on with "Teen Titans" and he would do incredible things with the page layouts. And then Frank Miller was doing "Daredevil" at the time and also the "Wolverine" series. "Dark Knight Returns" comes out right when I'm 14 or 15. Then I am ready for the mature comics. And then of course "Watchmen" came on the scene.
I wonder what he thinks of the time Miller turned right-wing, at least in theory, and wrote/illustrated Holy Terror? Good question there too. I wouldn't be shocked if he was quite fine with Marvel blacklisting Miller today, as Tom Brevoort once implied.
The Punisher is my favorite comic book character. Your work on "The Punisher" and especially the "Punisher: Born" limited series as well was very special. How did you approach the character?

With "The Punisher" I worked with the best Punisher writer ever, Garth Ennis. What I liked about what Garth brought to "The Punisher" was that his Punisher said very little and did a lot, and I think that that's where the character is the most interesting. The Punisher is a calculating smart guy who goes after his objective without a whole lot of dramatic nonsense in the middle. I approach "The Punisher" the same way that I approach every comic book. I did a little acting when I was 18 and really loved it. But I never saw any future for myself in it. As I said earlier I also love cinema and bring those sensibilities to my comics and graphic novels.

I tried to put my acting into the character. Rather than the Punisher being in the room, I tried to get into the Punisher's head. I try to imagine what he would be thinking or what his facial expressions would be like. I am trying to perform through my pencil.

I did a tremendous amount of research for "Born" to get the backgrounds and the details about the Vietnam war as accurate as I could. I had one of Marvel's assistant editors at the time — his father was a Vietnam vet and actually served on a fire base like the one I drew in "Born" — loan me his father's personal photo albums. So some of the the little details that were in the background are taken from candid personal photos and not documentaries or other traditional reference materials. I wanted to bring that authenticity to the story. It weighed very heavily on me. "Born" was not just entertainment. It was about the Vietnam War. People fought and died and lived in that war. And if we were going to do a Punisher story that dark I wanted it to feel authentic. This was important for me, we had to show the proper respect.

Beyond that, "Born" was also a story about somebody going crazy. The best idea that Garth posited in that story was, "Is the Punisher a regular guy who went crazy when his family was killed or was he a crazy guy that was looking for a reason to become a vigilante?"
Personally, I wonder if he believes Frank Castle's family should've received any kind of justice after losing their lives to mobsters in NYC's Central Park. If any of the other innocent victims of crime Frank avenged deserved justice. Why all the obsession with portraying Frank as just some one-dimensionally insane guy? It's very sad, right down to the almost cliched claim he wanted to "get inside the character's head", which J. Michael Straczynski may have stated for Spider-Man. And if Robertson shares the same despising view of superheroes Ennis has, we can only wonder what more of his books are like.
Your comic book series "The Boys" is now a TV series on Amazon Prime. How do you feel?

"The Boys" has been a really interesting journey. I'm so very excited about the show. The creators have been so great with including me. I have gotten to be on the set and meet the cast. I have seen the scripts. They let me see a rough cut of the pilot early on. Eric Kripke, who is the writer and producer of "The Boys," has been extremely dedicated to making sure that we're happy. He talked to Garth. He talked to me. He asked what was important to me, what I wanted to see in the show and it is in there. They're doing their own thing with the TV show so I have to let go at a certain point. "The Boys" TV series follows a different timeline, but where it counts in terms of adapting the comic book, it is all completely there. The creators of "The Boys" TV series completely understand the property.

When I went to the set, for example, I walked in and the front doors of the offices where they run the whole production were covered in my artwork. I'm walking down the hallways and everybody has got a picture next to their name — and it's a picture from the comic. I meet the cast and they are wearing costumes based on my designs. They hired me to do some artwork for the show. I feel very respected and appreciated as a somebody who created the comic book. Even the viewers who do not know the original comic book are going to love the TV series. It's been very exciting. As a kid, this is what I dreamed of. I had always hoped I'd create something that would grow into something bigger than me and it's happening with "The Boys" for sure.
Of course, given his politics and what the book's built upon, it's no wonder he'd be so excited. By contrast, look at how books with far better ideas like Mike Baron's Nexus haven't been considered great for adapting to the silver screen, if at all.
Do you feel successful?

I think the moment that I really felt it, and it was very emotional moment for me, was they had a chair on the set of "The Boys" for me with my name on it. Seeing my name on a director's chair on an actual sound stage that was built around my comic was a huge experience: wow, OK, I've done something right. But most days I do not feel successful. I'm afraid to let myself ever feel too successful, out of fear of letting it corrupt me. I think creatively, once you feel like you've crossed the finish line, you either get lazy or you stop, and I don't intend to do either anytime soon. I've worked with some amazing writers, publishers, colorists, inkers and editors, all these different people made my life and my creativity possible. So it is hard for me to take a victory lap all by myself.

I don't want it to sound like false modesty. I recognize that I've been successful. But all the things that were successful are the things that were supposed to fail, and all the things that I thought were going to be huge are the things that didn't work out so well. It's been a weird game that fate has played with me.
Umm, if he and his colleagues really were successful, their comics would've been selling in the millions long before. But he has been corrupted by something, and that's leftist propaganda. Heck, he's practically created it in The Boys. The irony is that, despite being adapted to TV, it's still a failure in comics in its own way, if very few actually buy and read it. And from an artistic viewpoint, it's not something that works out so well either.

It's no surprise Robertson could be so cynical, but it's disappointing all the same.

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Monday, August 12, 2019 

Japanese police crack down on illegal manga hosting sites

The Japan Times tells of an operative for an illegal manga pirating site who's been arrested for his crime:
A 37-year-old man was arrested Saturday for allegedly engaging in the management of an illegal manga-viewing website that hosted copies of “One Piece.”

Wataru Adachi is suspected of uploading unauthorized image files of the megahit comic in May 2017 on Mangamura, a website that allowed visitors to read pirated comics.

The suspect has neither admitted nor denied the allegation, saying he wants to speak with a lawyer.

Romi Hoshino, 27, the head of the website’s operations, was detained in the Philippines last month and Japanese police are set to arrest him on suspicion of copyright infringement for running the website as soon as he is deported to Japan.
This is but a step the Japanese authorities are taking in stopping manga pirating, which is unfair to the mangakas whose works are being posted to these crooked sites at the risk of costing them residuals for the hard work they've done. As this shows, the authorities in Japan can be pretty efficient in tackling crooks like these.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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