Wednesday, July 23, 2014 

Ron Marz thinks liberals couldn't possibly be disappointed with publicity stunts

Marz is acting as apologist for Marvel's publicity stunt mentality, using the Cap/Thor news as an excuse for attacking conservatives:


Wow, what makes him think that? Personally, I perceive Cap having the same patriotism as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the latter who was a Republican supporter, by the way. They were the creators, and they ascribed the specific traits he carries. Interesting how Marz is pushing the notion conservatives are the only ones who can't recognize a fictional character when they see one. Oh, and was the sentiment during WW2 "knee-jerk"? If not, then he'd do better not to imply it is when somebody wants to help turn around countries where slavery is still prevalent, like in north Africa and the UAE, and even wants the Armenian Holocaust (Medz Yeghern) during WW1 recognized nationally.

No, they won't, but it does make me wonder how Marz would react if a Bulgarian-American character became Cap instead of Steve. And I can only wonder what he thinks of The Truth: Red, White and Black with its alarmingly stereotypical artwork, woefully inappropriate for a serious issue.

As mentioned before, Falcon as Cap might've worked once, but under Quesada and Alonso, it's pretty apparent by now it's got publicity stunt written all over it, as judged by the way they babbled about it in the MSM, and Remender's done something to Cap that's easily worse than what Marz did to Hal Jordan, making it harder to credit this current story. What particularly bothers me about how the female Thor's been hyped is that they won't reveal who's taking the role until the issue goes to press. If it's Valkyrie or some other lady with blonde hair, all they have to do is say so, which would probably inspire more confidence and trust. These "surprises" have only proven either mediocre, and in the worst cases, truly awful.

And isn't that nice of Marz to claim righties think Cap is one of them, when it's been pretty clear for years that lefties like him consider mainstream superheroes "their" property only, and it makes little difference if Simon was conservative, or Steve Ditko was the same. A pretty possessive form of thinking.

Yeah, as if not a single leftist could recognize the publicity stunts, nor how these changes aren't based on the quality of writing. Or like no leftists exist who haven't read comics, not even the titles he's written (and if they knew what his GL work was like, some of them would probably feel glad they didn't). There's several million leftists in the USA and more elsewhere who either haven't read comics, and if they did, they've long abandoned the mainstream, since even they find all these retcons and character denigrations unbearable, ditto the editorial mandates.

How about every time a character's background is tarnished, like what Remender's done with Steve's? If it weren't for all those stealth tactics most of the comics and mainstream press seem determined to ignore, it'd be much easier to embrace these "changes". But these are publishers who've developed obsessions with harrassing the intellect of their fans, something Marz seems quite fine with too, and the continuing purchase by speculators and other mindless addicts is only encouraging their continuation down this path.

Marz also brought up a certain musician that raises eyebrows in light of his dislike for Orson Scott Card, who, as noted earlier, was long a Democrat:

Well now, isn't that saying something. The same man who dislikes Card because of his disapproval of homosexuality sees nothing wrong with associating himself with an anti-Israelist like Waters? Tsk tsk. Pretty tacky, I'll say. Of course, it's clear that if Card were Muslim instead of Mormon, he'd have no beef whatsoever. Oddly enough, he still has no issues with Chuck Dixon...

...as his promotion of Winterworld suggests. As I know, he and Dixon collaborated on a Green Lantern/Arrow crossover in 1996, and maybe that's what keeps him from fully turning against Dixon despite his own disapproval of homosexuality as a positive example. Even so, I have to wonder how Marz would react if Dixon were the guy writing Ender's Game, and getting an adaptation for movies.

That said, I don't think Marz ever came to Dixon's defense after he got exiled from DC, and if not, that should tell something about how respectful he is towards a guy he'd once worked with.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 

The Daily Beast thinks diversity is more important than talented writing

The Daily Beast's written a biased, ambiguous article comparing Marvel and DC diversity tactics, clearly favoring them and lamenting that DC supposedly hasn't tried:
Despite what the knuckle-draggers in comment sections would have you think, America is beginning to care about diversity in comic books. Look at the media explosion which erupted this week when Marvel Comics announced that both Captain America and Thor would undergo some radical changes as part of their new Avengers NOW! series. Sam Wilson, an African-American hero also known as Falcon, will be taking up Captain America’s mantle after the Captain loses his super-soldier abilities. And when Thor Odinson is deemed unworthy, his hammer (and the Thor title, it seems) will pass on to an unnamed woman.
The clown who wrote this sure doesn't look at sales figures, which prove America's main concern isn't diversity.
The Internet erupted into a chorus of fanboy kvetching in the wake of this news, with some fans up in arms over “political correctness gone mad.” Others applauded Marvel for providing some much-needed variety to their stable of white, male heroes. As superhero juggernauts DC and Marvel enter the 21st century, the debate over diversity in comic books is picking up steam. A black Captain America and woman Thor are just a few of Marvel’s many triumphs in what’s been a banner year.
How can a year in which Tony Stark's being turned into a monster count as banner? The writer of this article is not interested in talented scripting, editing, continuity and coherency so much as she is in politically correct advocacy. And for someone lauding the replacement of Thor with a woman, curious she's not interested in getting Mary Jane Watson restored to the glory she once had as Peter Parker's wife.
So why is DC lagging behind?

It’s not as if DC isn’t trying. They’ve vocally espoused a commitment to diversity, and made headlines in 2006 when they announced that their new Batwoman, Kate Kane, was an out lesbian. However, in recent years they’ve come under fire for racial and gender homogeneity both on their creative teams and within their comic books. The missteps range from white-washing characters of color during Black History Month to refusing to allow Batwoman to marry her fiancée. This last decision resulted in the resignation of Batwoman editorial team J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, one of the most critically-acclaimed partnerships in DC’s history, and seemed to cancel out any remaining goodwill the company had earned.
I'll have to agree, that IS peculiar they'd change the racial backgrounds of characters who were created with black ancestry or mixed background, like Connor Hawke and Onyx, while the white protagonists like Wildcat/Ted Grant (and Wally West, as recently seen in the Flash) are those getting their backgrounds drastically changed. But that just proves that, if they go by the perception nobody cares about the white third-tiers, then obviously, they're counting on the chance nobody cares about the black and Latino characters either. Proving minority heroes/co-stars were never safe from their nasty ideas any more than white ones were. We've learned an important lesson there.

As for nixing a story where the new Batwoman would have a lesbian marriage, while I don't approve of homosexuality, I do admit it's strange they didn't want to go ahead with something they still favor regardless, since, on the surface, they could get away with it just as easily as Marvel did with their Northstar marriage by ways of an "ignorance is strength" tactic, and they've lost the family audiences long ago. Likewise, they could seemingly get away with banning heterosexual marriages too while gay marriages remain acceptable to their modern mindsets. Perhaps the simple answer is they're deliberately hoping to run their book business into the ground, close it down and just concentrate on the movies they may not know how to craft either. Something Marvel is bound to do too.
Meanwhile, Marvel is setting the gold standard. A year before DC dropped the ball on the Batwoman wedding, Marvel’s Northstar married his boyfriend in Astonishing X-Men #51, complete with a splash cover featuring the two men embracing. Titles like Ms. Marvel, which features a Muslim teen girl hero, are critical darlings and best-sellers. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has confirmed the company’s commitment to expanding its fanbase, saying, “While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie. If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.” And instead of choosing to drop the Thor bombshell at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con, Marvel revealed the change on The View. When you think of a stereotypical comic fan, Whoopi Goldberg probably isn’t who you had in mind.
And when they do bring up titles starring women, again, it's those where they blow everything over ideology. I wonder why the writer's not disappointed they shoved Carol Danvers out of a great codename and exploited it for the sake of normalizing a religion no sane woman can relate to?

And while there are more women reading comics today, how many are reading the Big Two's superhero output? Without market research, Alonso can't claim they're getting more female audience, and he shouldn't act as though they're not worried about good writing, or don't care about the Spider-marriage.
Comic books are a fundamentally stagnant medium. Any slightly unconventional decision—from casting Heath Ledger as the Joker to putting pants on Wonder Woman—is met with a level of feverish debate normally reserved for schisms within the Catholic Church. When Avengers NOW! launched, the Internet predictably collapsed into a flurry of venomous pearl-clutching. Some wondered if a female Thor now meant that “feminists” would try to also rewrite Jesus as female. The equivalence between comic books and Scripture is telling of how seriously canon is taken by these fans. To violate the status quo is akin to sacrilege.
I wonder why this writer has no complaints about Rick Remender killing off Scarlet Witch and Rogue in Uncanny Avengers? Despite what she says, I'm not so sure canon is respected by the remaining "fans", if they keep on buying books that disrespect the heroes' grip on morale and show them acting out of character. In any event, what's wrong with upholding canon? There's Iron Man fans who'll object to turning him into a villain as Marvel's setting out to do right now, and they'd be right to balk, so what's the Daily Beast writer trying to prove anyway? She doesn't get that superhero comics today are an artistically stagnant medium, because all the staffers care about are either tedious changes to costume designs, or forcing character traits upon established casts that don't make sense and are truly reprehensible.
The irony is that a format characterized by the boundless scope of imagination is ultimately extremely conservative when it comes to risks with character or story. Major developments like deaths or marriages are almost always undone, via fantastic contrivances ranging from deals with the devil to time travel. Characters are de-powered, murdered, raped, aged up and down, and yo-yoed between universes with an alarming lack of fanfare. It’s the same problem suffered by long-running soap operas, where catastrophes are regularly smoothed over or forgotten in order to keep the premise going. At least on soap operas, actors leave over contract disputes or pass away. In comics, the stories can go on indefinitely. As such, the limitless nature of comic book fantasy is used, by and large, to keep limits in place.
Say what? When wasn't Identity Crisis published with tremendous fanfare by some of the most awful people to dominate the medium now? Speaking of which, how come she doesn't comment on said miniseries despite the headline of her article, and why is she wasting so many kilobytes talking about diversity instead of taking DC and Marvel to task over some of the worst stories they've published over the past decade that did a huge disfavor for women?
Both companies understand this—and handle it differently. DC Comics uses a slavish adherence to the status quo to prevent anything socially progressive from taking place on its pages. Co-Publisher Dan DiDio insisted the Batwoman wedding controversy wasn’t homophobic. The wedding was barred because DC heroes couldn’t have “happy personal lives.” Apparently, audiences will believe a man can fly. They just won’t (or can't) believe two women can be happily married! Policies like DiDio’s are not only detrimental to character and narrative development—they also make the company seem backwards and out of touch.
Gee, how come she didn't say so back in 2004 when Identity Crisis debuted? Besides, despite rejecting a lesbian marriage, signs point to their otherwise condoning both gay and lesbian marriages alike, via their leftist standings. DC's also the same company now approving a gay retcon to Alan Scott, even as they deny it's a retcon.

The part about slavishness is pretty laughable since it misses another picture: they're not very slavish about some of the better ideas from past continuity, nor about the best characterizations that worked for their casts. And if they're already approving homosexuality on their pages in a positive light, then it can hardly be argued they're not "progressive".
When DC restored Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl’s) ability to walk in 2011, many fans were devastated. Barbara’s post-paralysis identity as Oracle was an accepted and beloved aspect of the DC canon and iconic in the disabled community. DC, however, decided that having the “classic” Batgirl was more important to the brand’s success, with DiDio saying, “We didn’t want to turn our back on the diversity issue, but she’ll always be the most recognizable [Batgirl.]” He also argued that the same New 52 event which restored Barbara’s mobility acted as a “reset button” for the whole DC Universe. But characters introduced after Barbara’s paralysis, such as Harley Quinn, continue to headline best-selling titles. What DC views as being recognizable and comfortable to fans (and consequently profitable) seems to trump any lip service they pay to what DiDio calls “the diversity issue.”
Being handicapped is different from homosexuality, and I'm skeptical even that Daily Beast writer considers it diverse in the same way she thinks homosexuality is. But what DiDio's quoted telling easily translates as "the most commercially marketable Batgirl", indicating Barbara's walking was restored for fully commercial reasons, much like Barry Allen's resurrection, even though they don't seem intent on making movies centered around Batgirl anytime soon.

And say, how odd the writer suggests she's bothered Harley Quinn has a solo book, because I thought she wanted diversity, even for potential crooks!
Marvel, on the other hand, seems more than willing to challenge readers. The visual impact of replacing blond, blue-eyed Steve Rogers with the African-American Sam Wilson is enormous, both in what it says about who can represent America in 2014 and in what it says about Marvel’s willingness to push their audience’s expectations. Marvel trusts their audience to support a Captain America who is not immediately “recognizable.”
No, they trust the diehard collectors to support the series, no matter who the star is. If they really wanted to challenge readers, they'd focus more on entertaining, coherent writing, not visually-based marketing, and they'd move DC/Marvel's state back to what it was like circa 2000 or earlier, eschewing many of the bad storylines. But then, she goes on to say:
And the same pressures of the status quo which seem to dictate every one of DC’s moves are absolutely present for Marvel—as others have pointed out, it’s improbable that Sam Wilson will remain Captain America for long or that male Thor will remain unworthy of the hammer. If Captain America can come back from the dead, then his current convalescence is only a temporary derailment.
Well doesn't that prove these are only publicity stunts, throwing ideas at the wall to see if they'll stick, despite the pretentious scriptwriting guaranteeing short-term sales only? In that case, what's the point of lauding Marvel if their stunts are otherwise brief?
It’s also highly likely that Marvel will capitalize on next summer's release of Avengers: Age of Ultron by featuring the most iconic (i.e. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth) representations of those characters in the comics. As with DC, the universe’s status quo will ultimately reassert itself once again as overwhelmingly white, male, and hetero-normative. Where DC and Marvel differ is that while DC uses this as an excuse to erase anything challenging or progressive, Marvel sees it as an opportunity to challenge their audience’s view of who a hero can be. The titles are reduced to their purest elements. After all, being Captain America isn’t about being a white man. It’s about being a patriot dedicated to American ideals of justice and freedom. Sam Wilson fits that bill, so he gets to wear the star-spangled suit. In a medium where the only roles afforded to women or people of color are often specifically linked to their race or gender (Black Panther, Wonder Woman), this is huge. For once, the boundless nature of comic story-telling is actually being used to cross boundaries.
Oh, I don't agree at all that minority members in comicdom have roles linked with their status, and I don't think it was the case with Luke Cage and Black Canary, but those kind of heroes and heroines mean nothing to an incoherent reporter like the one who wrote this article. As mentioned before, Sam Wilson's taking Steve Rodgers' famous role might've been a big deal once, but not with Joe Quesada behind the scenes it's not.

The part about who a hero can be is annoying, because what if she's hinting she sees nothing wrong with making heroes out of hardcore marxists, or turning real heroes like Tony Stark into villains? And DC's never wiped anything "challenging" or "progressive". They even introduced a gay teenager in their recent Teen Titans renditions called Bunker, apparently their idea of what a religious person should be like.
Despite this, Marvel’s efforts might not feel like enough. Why not launch titles starring independent black or female characters instead of having them temporarily adopt another’s mantle? But the sad reality is that the comics industry is too insular to foster any kind of radical change. It still remains incredibly difficult for new comics and heroes to get a stronghold in the marketplace. Most new titles are cancelled within a matter of months. Especially as comic prices rise, readers seem to be sticking with the titles they know and love. Consequently, Marvel is working within the system (and to be fair, it’s a system which they helped create) to introduce a wider variety of heroes to the consumers buying familiar titles like Thor.
Well at least this is making sense. But the reason the titles she wonders about don't get launched (and if they do, are cancelled soon after) is because they're almost always being launched as ongoings, not as miniseries. That's why Birds of Prey originally succeeded before it got destroyed post-2004, because Chuck Dixon first wrote a couple of miniseries/specials, determining the potential for success based on how receptive audience was of one-shots. Unfortunately, in the current environment, not many miniseries starring 2nd and 3rd tiers are launched anymore, if at all, as the publishers no longer have a clue how to set up a successful path for minor players.
It’s a Trojan horse strategy, sneaking in African-American or female heroes one book at a time, for a few months. It’s also a low-stakes method of taking risks, particularly when one considers the scope of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Marvel superhero films have dominated the box office for the last few years, and a Black Widow movie would provide exposure to a much wider audience than the blinkered world of comic book readers. Yet all but two of their upcoming 11 films will feature white, male leads. Of the two major characters of color, Zoe Saldana’s skin will be digitally rendered green for Guardians of the Galaxy. The Fantastic Four reboot’s casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm (a canonically white character) sparked a massive outbreak of racist fanboy aneurysms. The response to Jordan’s casting in particular highlights how Marvel’s diversity initiatives, for all their good, are still calculated marketing moves.
If would-be fans did react racistly, that's bad. Besides, as I've said before, when it comes to the movies, these changes in race aren't always a bad thing; it's only when these changes are forced back into the comics at all costs that it's appalling. As discovered during the release of the Dark Knight Rises, there was a shocking case of pseudo-fans who nastily attacked several critics just for being negative. But what if she's distorting information, and it turns out there are some fans whose criticism was rational, along the lines of finding it absurd that racial backgrounds have become more an emphasis than talented screenwriting? Must that be discounted? Of course not.
Comic books are a low-cost venture. It’s much easier and cheaper for the company to take some chances without a billion-dollar budget at stake. And the sobering fact remains that a black Captain America is still considered to be such a risk in 2014 that it could only be executed in this low-impact format. The superhero medium is so staid that temporary exposure to a black lead is considered groundbreaking. Marvel is taking a gamble on the strength of their brand.
Oh this is ridiculous, and ignores the publicity stunt mentality prevailing at Marvel/DC. Is she implying the public wouldn't buy superheroes with different racial backgrounds? Honestly, that's ludicrous but maybe not unexpected from a leftist. I think that, if the Big Two wanted, they'd replace Steve Rogers in the movies too. The query then is whether they'd have good screenwriting to accompany the move.
While DC wants to protect recognizable characters by keeping them in NRFB condition, Marvel is willing to chance that a tentpole property like Thor will retain his iconic status, even if a woman wields the hammer for a while. They believe that fans are not going to stop buying Captain America comic books because Sam Wilson is behind the shield. Readers are smarter than that, and Marvel knows it.

After all, they made a similar gamble before. In 2011, they replaced Spider-Man’s Peter Parker with the half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales. Miles remains one of Marvel’s most popular characters, but only in the alternate Ultimate universe. In the central Marvel continuity, Peter Parker is still swinging and still white, after apparently bouncing back from his latest brush with death. Status quo, after all, remains king.
How convenient of them to leave out all the distortions to past continuity that make her line about status quos a joke. And how can Miles be one of the most popular characters if the Ultimate line's not selling through the roof?

The line about DC's wish to "protect" recognizable characters is also laughable, because even Superman hasn't been immune to the worst writing of the century, like the time when Straczynski did his Grounded story. And if certain characters allegedly aren't recognizable, isn't that the fault of publishers with no idea how to market and promote? Regardless, it's still no defense for taking steps that do more harm than good even to minor characters.

As for Captain America, of course readers aren't going to stop because Sam Wilson takes over the role. Rather, it's because of Remender's insults to Steve's background that they could or will, and if those horrific retcons are what Marvel thinks is great writing, then clearly, it's long past time to quit modern Marvel products and stick with the old.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014 

Tony Stark will become an Iron Madman

Mashable reported that Marvel's staff is going to corrupt Tony Stark's personality, while forcing him into a series with a name much like the one given to the series starring Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man's body:
Tony Stark has always possessed an inner darkness — now he's unleashing it on the world.

Marvel is on a character transformation tear, first announcing a female Thor, followed by the revelation late Wednesday of a black Captain America. Now, as Mashable can exclusively reveal, Tony Stark's massive ego is about to boil over, causing Iron Man to unleash a version of his volatile Extremis technology on the entire population of San Francisco.
It sounds vaguely similar to the setup from Inferior Doctor Octopus, and probably is more so than this suggests. Obviously a continuation from the premise used in Original Sin, and another effort by the staff to abuse and tarnish a fine creation. What do they even mean by "massive ego"? That he's some kind of crazy capitalist and a greedy millionaire?
Beginning in November, Superior Iron Man will take the place of Marvel's Iron Man comic book for an indefinite run, with Stark relocating to the City by the Bay. The storyline has Stark releasing a mobile app — a version of his Extremis tech that was largely the basis of the film Iron Man 3 — which offers users the promise of beauty, perfection ... and possibly immortality.

Those things will, of course, come at a terrible price — and throw Stark's status as one of the good guys into question. In fact, Stark's mad-genius move will pit him against Daredevil, also a recent transplant to San Francisco, as the "Man Without Fear" won't take kindly to Stark's vision.
What's so great about SF anyway that they have to set the story there? Yeah, I know they have a few notable technology firms there like Twitter, but so do Texas and Florida, so why not set it over there?
"What we’re doing here is a little different — it’s Tony Stark, the one and only Tony Stark — and in the aftermath of the Axis event, he will surrender to his id and his legendary ego," Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso tells Mashable. "You’ll see Tony in a new place spiritually and intellectually."
Marvel's staff already surrendered Tony's true ego - which was nothing like what they say - on the alter of contempt for classic storytelling. And he's already been to these new places Alonso speaks of for over a decade now, and it didn't help one bit.
And this new Tony Stark isn't an "alternate universe" creation, nor is he being replaced or mind-controlled, like Spider-Man was (by arch-enemy Otto Octavius in the book's spiritual predecessor, Superior Spider Man, the 2013 title that was initially met with nerd-rage but lasted a whopping 31 issues.)

"Yes, this is Tony," Alonso said. "What you're seeing in Superior Iron Man is a Tony Stark who’s seen both his worst and best impulses all let loose. It is Tony, but he’s going to be in a zone now where he’s never been. He's more ambitious, cunning, egotistical ... all of those quantities are unharnessed. He has a vision for the world. I like to think his position is defensible — controversial, but defensible."

And this new, hubrissed-out Tony Stark won't just be confined to Superior Iron Man — he'll show up in crossover Avengers titles, rub shoulders with Captain America and make his special brand of trouble all the other Marvel titles with which he's involved.

"Don’t look for anything to contradict this Iron Man for the foreseeable future," Alonso said.
On the contrary, this take on IM contradicts everything that made it such a fun, admirable adventure decades ago. They've already set a new status quo, where Tony is no longer the true son and heir to Howard and Maria Stark, and this looks to be their direction for as long as people like Joe Quesada and Alonso are pulling the strings. Now, they're going beyond the pale and turning Tony into a rich madman, probably to make him look unworthy as heir to the company, yet at the same time villifying millionaires all for the sake of it.

One of the page commentors said:
I don't like it. Tony Stark is a hero, and turning heroes into the "dark" side of themselves is terribly old-hat in comics right now. Talk about major uncool 1990s-think. Come on, Marvel, you can do better than this.

Added to that, Tony Stark is a good guy to MILLIONS of kids around the world, and yes, he's turned "dark" before (in the "Civil War" universe, which I like to think of as an "alternate universe"), but this seems a bit too much - endangering millions of people's lives just because of his supposed ego?

If anything, Tony Stark's portrayal by Robert Downey Jr. in the movies has given him an endearing and engaging humanity and deep-down goodness, not to mention vulnerability -- and Marvel has to recognize that THOSE are the qualities audiences and readers want to see. Not hubris and egotism - that's not the core of what Tony Stark is all about. Or not any more.

Ah, well, this will be a storyline in a few comic books that won't sell a lot, and then Marvel will slap it the "Superior Iron Man" run into a hardcover book or two, which will languish on a few fanboy shelves. And it will never make it into the movies.

And then Marvel will keep wondering why comic-book sales continue to decline. Really, folks. You wonder?

And the Marvel Studios Avengers movie series will continue bring in billions of dollars because they portray our heroes as we all really WANT to see them - positive, complicated, vulnerable, recognizable, flawed yet human (aside from the occasional god or alien), GOOD exemplars that kids can admire and look up to, and adults can enjoy as our modern mythology.
What's ironic is that some of the very same people working in the movies may the same ones denigrating all that was great back in the comics too: Quesada's been elevated to a higher rank in the production outfit built for making movies out of their comics, and Brian Bendis has some involvement with the Guardians of the Galaxy film. I'd say the disconnect between approaches for comics and movies have something to do with a decision they've made that when it comes to movies, they'll go a more commercial route, at least on the surface. But back in the comics, which they clearly hold a possessive view over, they see perfectly fit to wallow in reprehensible plots that'll please none but the most obsessive collectors.

I agree that turning heroes into villains is definitely a 1990s mentality that never left, and is still prevailing. Tony was already put through the wringer in a similar tale that saw him replaced by a teenaged version of himself, and look how far that got. Unfortunately, unless more people are willing to vote by wallet, I've got a grave feeling they'll keep this new setup in place out of spite while laughing at all the mindless collectors they're taking advantage of.

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Friday, July 18, 2014 

The Falcon takes over as Capt. America

First it was a resurrected Bucky. Now it's Sam Wilson, the Falcon, only this time, it's more in the name of diversity than authentic storytelling. I'd almost forgotten to post about this, but now, here's an article about the latest Marvel stunt:
Continuing the trend of diversifying their lineup of heroes, Marvel announced on last night's episode of The Colbert Report that the next Captain America will be Sam Wilson – currently known as The Falcon.

Through an interview with Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Stephen Colbert broke the news that because current Captain Steve Rogers will have his powers drained, Wilson will have to pick up the star-emblazoned shield.
So, that awful man who destroyed the Spider-marriage for the sake of nothingness is still around, much like Dan DiDio? I think that's reason for people to avoid this rendition. If this had been done back in the 1980s, it might've been worth reading. But with people like Quesada pulling the strings? Nope, I'd say it's only reason to give pause. Unsurprisingly, they're also going to relaunch this series, and:
The new series will be called All-New Captain America. [...]
How original indeed. When DC pulled a diversity stunt like this with the Atom, they also called that book "The All-New Atom", yet it went nowhere fast. This is no improvement, because with Quesada clearly in charge, it only makes the publicity stunt more obvious.

And since Falcon can fly, doesn't that seem kind of outlandish for whoever dons the Cap suit, since Steve Rodgers doesn't fly, just does amazing acrobatics? Sam Wilson really deserves his own series as the Falcon, yet once again, Marvel's editors can only prove their disinterest in selling specific characters on their own terms based on the writing quality. Speaking of which, is Rick Remender still going to be the writer? After the repellent ideas he injected into Cap's current volume, that's one more reason why not to recommend this latest step, yet the news sources writing about this have no interest in bringing that up.

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Jonathan Last sounds like he wants Archie comics destroyed

The Weekly Standard's pretentious columnist Jonathan Last addressed the impending "death" of Archie Andrews, and again gives signs just how unqualified he is to talk about the state of comicdom:
...it makes you wonder: Didn’t they get the memo at Archie Comics? Gay is yesterday. The future is trans! You have to wonder why the transphobic writers and artists at Archie are happy to include well adjusted homosexual characters, but have no room for trans-characters in their stories. It’s this sort of cis-gender bias which is holding back sales of comic books and keeping them in their ghetto subculture. It’s not like the character of Jughead hasn’t been silently signaling her true gender identity for years with her tiara. If only they’d be more inclusive.
If that's supposed to be funny, I'm not laughing. Their publishers could easily take that as an argument that they should start featuring transsexuality in as positive a light as they do homosexuality, and both subjects are pretty synonymous. It's bad enough how they've taken to glorifying homosexuality, but adding transsexuals whose lifestyles are depicted just as positively won't make things any better, nor will they encourage any parents to buy their books for their children. Despite what Last is insinuating, you can be sure Archie's staff is anything but opposed to transsexuality, and for as long as they're still around, they might proceed to explore just that (in fact, I think Gail Simone wrote a story involving a transsexual in Batgirl last year).
The lesson we can all take from this, I think, is that the people who run Archie Comics are small-minded bigots and that Archie got what he deserved.
Now just a moment here! I may not have been interested in their products in a long time, not since my childhood. But does that mean the redheaded star "deserved" having all this political correctness dumped on him and the rest of the cast? Of course not! This is just another invoking of the insane mentality of damning fictional characters rather than how they're written. It's enough to wonder if Last never really enjoyed reading comics in his childhood, and is so vindictive he's happy this is happening if that's what it takes to destroy the company altogether. But all he's doing is proving yet again why he was never qualified as a comics commentator. Would he say the same about Superman and Spider-Man getting what they "deserve" because their publishers could have been liberal too? Or that Richie Rich "deserved it" after Harvey Comics went out of business 2 decades ago? That's a very stupid thing to do, and fails to take into account the modern staffers who're truly responsible for reducing these famous creations into obscurity. One of the main culprits in the damage to Archie is publisher Jon Goldwater, whose parents/grandparents like John L. Goldwater, Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne would surely be embarrassed if they saw how militantly leftist their successors became, betraying their tasteful, kid-friendly visions for the sake of modern PC. Shouldn't Last be criticizing the junior Goldwater for denigrating his forefathers' creations? Yet all he does here is tear down on their products while letting the real villains off the hook. The current staffers at Archie might be bigoted - that is, against conservatives and family values their predecessors used to respect - but that doesn't mean the creations they're in charge of should have to meet a miserable end just because the modern staffers have no respect for what's in their care. All that does is slight the original founders and make Last look as bad as the junior Goldwater.

And why doesn't he consider that by going along with this, Archie is throwing away any chance they have of regaining the family/children's audience that once made them a success? The real problem besides that is their failure to change the long outdated pamphlet format and switch to something bookstores would be more comfortable with like paperbacks. Yet they continue to inexplicably remain fixed on an outmoded model of business because of the widespread mentality that an insular business approach is preferable to one that pleases a general audience, and possibly because they think that's the perfect way to let loose with their politics.

While we're on the subject, Newsbusters found Goldwater's been promoting his leftist politics on two different TV/radio networks. On CBS, he said:
MASON: But a nearly 75-year-old comic book needs to stay relevant.

MASON (on-camera): Are you trying to make a political statement with this comic book?

GOLDWATER: No. Gun violence is too prevalent in this country, and we should do everything we can to prevent it. So am I making a political statement? Absolutely not. But should Riverdale be a safe and secure metaphor for every city in the United States? It absolutely should.

MASON: Goldwater insists it's not a sales gimmick. [...]
However, in an earlier interview on NPR, they said:
STEVE INSKEEP: The politician [friend of Archie] is a veteran, who is pushing for better gun control in Riverdale. The publisher of the comic books, Jon Goldwater, acknowledges that this end might seem a bit political.

JON GOLDWATER, ARCHIE COMICS (from phone interview): Frankly, we do have a point of view here.
So, why is he so timid about admitting he's making a political statement? I guess when Goldwater realized his slip of the tongue, he panicked and turned to the denial tactic instead during the next call he made. Also, that part from CBS about needing to keep "relevant" makes little sense if they can't specify how, or won't use a wider range of ideas than what they're heaping into their output already. It's a classic defense for using political correctness, and inability to accept simpler storytelling methods as legitimate. Yet Last ignores all this and can't bring himself to complain about how younger audiences are being distanced from comics that used to be great for them, even when they did deal with more sophisticated storytelling. If Last really cared, he'd be taking issue with the publishers and writers for their poor faith. Instead, all he can think of doing is resorting to the very tactics that help destroy good creations, by acting like they should literally be allowed to self-destruct as though they weren't good to begin with. IMO, that's not what a true fan should be thinking.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014 

Marvel staff tries - but fails - to explain why replace Thor with a woman using same name

Time interviewed the editors and writer for Thor about why they're replacing him with a woman:
TIME: Why make Thor a woman instead of creating a whole new female character in the series?

Wil Moss, Marvel Comics editor of the upcoming Thor series: We can’t give away all the story details now obviously, but once the story is out there, it becomes clear why there’s a new female Thor. It’s not about filling a certain quota. It’s about providing a shot in the arm to the Thor titles definitely, but it’s something that’s a natural part of where this story and the Thor title is going.
With no more coherency or continuity, it'll be anything but "natural". And by giving a shot in the arm, what they really mean is a stunt to boost sales, that's all. The reason they won't spotlight a different character in her own role is because that's not good enough for them, and at this point, they've made it exceedingly hard to appreciate if they did, because of the writing quality, which wavers between so-so and plain awful.
TIME: Has there ever been a female Thor before?

Moss: There have been occasional alternate universe stories where there have been female Thors. And there have been occasional stories where a female has picked up the hammer; like there’s an X-Men story where Storm picked up the hammer. But there’s never been a female Thor.

Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief: She wields the hammer because Thor can’t. This is different because for reasons we can’t disclose quite yet, Thor is unable to pick up the hammer. There are a number of women in Thor’s life, and we’re going to tease out for quite awhile the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor’s life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor.

There’s only one Thor in the Marvel Universe. The character we know as Thor will not refer to himself as Thor anymore.
Ah, I can guess now. It's Valkyrie who'll take over Thor's role, since, unlike Sif in the MCU, she does have blond hair. Or it could be.
TIME: How do you think this will impact fans who have been following the male version of Thor for such a long time?

Jason Aaron, writer of the Thor series: If you’re a long-time Thor fan you know there’s kind of a tradition from time to time of somebody else picking up that hammer. Beta Ray Bill was a horse-faced alien guy who picked up the hammer. At one point Thor was a frog. So I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.

Alonso: There really is this one Thor for an extended period of time for which we have no real exit plan.

Moss: The male Thor—he’s still going to be around. He’s still a character.

Aaron: I’ve been writing Thor: God of Thunder for about 25 issues now. This is in some ways a continuation of everything that I’ve been doing on that. We’re not throwing out everything that’s come before.
But they have thrown everything out. At least a decade ago, with bathwater. Avengers: Disassembled was the last straw. Sure, we could accept a woman using the Uru hammer, but that was a long time ago, and it passed since. Besides, I don't think Beta Ray Bill ever replaced Thor per se, and Eric Masterson didn't either; he just served as a human host.
TIME: There are a lot of female comic fans who are excited about this because they always love to see characters and superheroes who look like them. Is Marvel conscious of trying to engage with its female readership more?

Alonso: Yes, we absolutely are. We see fans of all shapes and sizes and genders in comic stores and at conventions. And we perceived there to be a real thirst for characters that reflect what we see in the mirror. From Miles Morales, the African-American Spider-Man, to the new female Thor, our goal is to make our characters reflect the outside world.

Right now we have eight titles that are anchored by female leads where it’s that character’s name on the masthead. We’re definitely committed to growing that audience.
Well good luck with that, because judging from sales, they haven't. I think both magazine and editor are insulting the intellect of the female audience, acting like they're not interested in quality writing, but in adding a female lead at all costs.

Time also wrote a piece by somebody who thinks changing the star to a woman makes sense:
Thor, in the Marvel Universe, isn’t just a character: He’s also an intangible idea. And Thor’s power, which most notably includes the ability to summon up lightning to layeth the smacketh-downeth upon his foes, isn’t really embedded inside him, per se. It’s in his hammer, Mjolnir — to mix comic book universe metaphors, he’s more like Green Lantern, who derives his power from a ring that’s charged by a lantern that’s charged by a planet.
Oh that's it? I'm afraid this is ridiculous for more than one reason: in the Norse mythology, it is a male deity who was conceived in remote times, and the son of a prominent one named Odin. That's where there's a difference between Thor and GL, because the GL Corps by contrast was something that came up more in modern times, developed by aliens combining technology and magic to create energy construct weapons. And while replacing one GL on Earth with another is not a bad idea in itself, they fail to consider that doing it as a publicity stunt that doesn't come clean about who's going to be the replacement and acting as though it's the boldest, most awesome idea regardless of scripting quality. Only if the writing effort is convincingly good will it count as bold for real. Which was definitely not the case back when Emerald Twilight was published. At the end of the article, they say:
Of course, a female Thor won’t really address another problem facing the comic book world: The lack of original, well-advertised female superheroes, particularly at the movies. None of the upcoming DC or Marvel films, for example, feature a woman — no Wonder Woman from DC, no Black Widow flick from Marvel. The best we’ve gotten so far are Elektra and Catwoman, both total flops. Both companies will need more than a female version of a top character to fix that issue.
Do they realize the Elektra and Catwoman movies were duds because the writing was terrible? Granted, they have a point about the lack of original heroines, but that's because they won't sell them as their own protagonists and ask the public to judge the results on their own terms. Nor will they make a serious advertising effort. They're also wrong about no Wonder Woman making an appearance in a movie; Gal Gadot is supposed to play WW in the Batman vs. Superman film in production. But unless the screenplay turns out to be enjoyable, it could all be a botch. And even then, as said before, David Goyer's given less reason to look forward to what they have in store.

To make matters worse, former Marvel editor Danny Fingeroth actually agrees with their current MO, and says:
...the challenge for comics is how to retain the existing audience and also grow new readers. How do you keep the attention of someone who has read thousands of stories and also take advantage of the visibility and familiarity that the movies and TV shows have brought to the characters? (Interestingly, in recent years, more girls and women have started reading superhero comics again, perhaps lured to the comics by the popular movies and TV series.)

One of the answers is to make seemingly radical changes in a character, such as having Thor become a female (or to have a black man become Captain America). The Internet buzz indicates that as many fans are outraged by the gender switch as there are those who are intrigued. And the very fact that The View and many other media outlets that generally don’t cover comics have picked up the story means that people who may have forgotten about comic books, or who never knew much about them to begin with, now know that to read about how Thor becomes a woman, they will have to go to a brick-and-mortar or online comic book store in order to find out the inside scoop.

So Marvel’s comics division—the source of the much-better-known media versions of the characters—has scored a major publicity coup. Outraged longtime Thor readers—and many lapsed ones—will buy the comic to see if their worst fears or best hopes for the storyline will come true. New readers, who otherwise would never have ventured into a comics shop, will go out of their way to find the issue, and may be induced to try some other comics they find there, as well. Thor comics sales will temporarily rise, and perhaps some of the sales increase will become permanent if readers enjoy what’s in the comic’s pages.

Now the cynics among you may say, “By the time Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in May 2015, starring hunky Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the comics will no doubt have Thor back to being a guy so that the comics and movies are in sync.” That may well be true. But by that time, the female Thor will be established as part of Marvel’s pantheon of heroes and—“if she be worthy” (to paraphrase the inscription on Thor’s hammer)—may one day have her own movie, TV series, video game and lunchbox. So in the end, Marvel and its followers will have one more—hopefully—cool character.
The only way she'd be worthy is if the writing is the same, and that hasn't been the case in a long time. Fingeroth's claim more women are reading superhero comics now is also disputable given the low sales figures, and he should consider that women have opinions too, judging whether a book has excellently or badly written. And why does he risk insulting the audience by implying they're "outraged"? Disappointed is more like it, because changing race and gender alone doesn't signal good writing, and only suggests they're trying to boost sales with gimmicks. He doesn't seem to understand that visual gimmicks instead of character drama is just the problem with today's marketing, and how does he know old and new people will go out of their way to find a comics store to check out the quality level? Most of these gimmicks have gotten moldly-oldy pretty fast. Yet he's right that sale jumps are bound to be brief. In fact, that's been the case for years now, as it was with the company wide crossovers. What they're really doing is taking advantage of readers, hoping they'll be addicted enough to buy the books regardless and by doing so legitimize their dismal efforts. And that's something today's audience has to quit doing, not just because of the increasing prices, but also because the publishers are going to laugh behind their backs, all the way to the bank.

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Wall Street Cheat Sheet lists 6 not-so-shocking deaths of heroes

Wall Street Cheat Sheet listed 6 character deaths they claim are shocking, but since nearly all featured are recent, that's why they're not so shocking at all, except for how the publishers can care so little about the properties they're entrusted with. The oldest example is the Death of Superman from 1992. The most recent is the "death" of Archie taking place this summer. Curious why these leading papers/websites want to list recent examples and not older ones, ditto why they have no objective opinions to offer whether they think these deaths of heroes were done in good taste or not.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014 

Thor is getting a sex change operation

Seriously, that's what it sounds like here:
Forget David Cameron's much-heralded move to bring more women into the cabinet. Marvel Comics trumped No 10 on the same day by announcing that one of their most established male characters is changing sex.

[...] It's hard to imagine a more masculine character than Thor, who is based on the god of thunder of Norse myth: he's the strapping, hammer-wielding son of Odin who, more often than not, sports a beard and likes nothing better than smacking frost giants.

However, Marvel says that a new series written by Jason Aaron with art by Russell Dauterman will re-cast Thor as a female character. The comic, launching in October, is billed by Marvel as "one of the most shocking and exciting changes ever to shake one of the 'big three' of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor".
There they go with their long outdated obsession for boasting. How many times does one need to note that it stopped being exciting and shocking long ago? And their claim that Thor's "often" grown a beard is pretty weak; it was only in the mid-2000s when he really grew one, as Odin was shuffled out so he could be lord of Asgard.
Marvel editor Wil Moss said: "The inscription on Thor's hammer reads, 'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.' Well, it's time to update that inscription. The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute – she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"

Jason Aaron said: "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before."

Marvel says that this, their eighth title to feature a lead female character, "aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for superhero comic books in America – women and girls".
In that case, why don't they emphasize Sif, the goddess who's long been Thor's sweetheart since his childhood? Sure, she might actually be the character to take up his costume, but that's the problem; we could have another case of one character shoehorned into another's established role instead of being marketed in their own.

Moss says this she-Thor is "worthy", but what about the writing? Aaron is another modern writer whose talents are questionable at best, and if the son of Odin is getting his sex changed, then what they'll really be doing is asking a female audience to automatically buy into the notion that this man makes a great woman. It's as mind-boggling as it sounds.

And why would most women care to buy the works of a company they may remember as the same one who broke up the Spider-marriage and marginalized Mary Jane Watson? Judging by how low their books are selling already, it's clear not many women care. The editors say this isn't temporary, but unless they intend to remain adamant despite decreasing sales, chances are it won't be, as the changing of race and gender gimmick becomes a snoozer.

Update: over at Hot Air, they make an interesting point:
[...] a Twitter pal makes a good point: If you look closely, you’ll see that Thor’s iron breastplate inexplicably yet conveniently ends right below the bra-line, leaving some skin exposed squarely in the center of her midsection. Looks like Trans-Thor is less concerned with protecting her sternum than with giving her male opponents a peek. So much for female empowerment. It’s going to hurt when Loki calls her “Whor.”
And if Thor's really been given a sex change, that only makes it all the more mind-numbing.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014 

Constantine won't be bisexual in NBC's upcoming adaptation, but will smoke cigarettes

In the Hellblazer comics (certainly by the time the Vertigo line was launched), John Constantine was depicted as bisexual. But that won't be the case in NBC's upcoming project, interestingly enough, though he'll still be smoking:
Plenty of comic book fans have been left baffled after discovering that the character Constantine in NBC's upcoming adaptation of the same name will not be portrayed as bisexual, contrary to his graphic novel depiction. It has been simultaneously revealed, however, that the DC Comics character will be shown to be a smoker, true to the original stories.

At the TCA press tour on Sunday, the network attempted to play down the decision. "In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time," executive producer Daniel Cerone said, via Variety. "Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he's seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans," he added.

With regards to Constantine's smoking, executive producer David S. Goyer said "He is a smoker in the show, we're not shying away from it, but we're not glorifying it."

"It's like, look, he's a smoker," added Cerone. "We're on network television, so we're limited to what we can do and what we can show. But within that framework we're going to be very honest to the character. I believe Constantine has a very healthy sex life, we're not going to see that on TV either."
Well that suggests they got the message homosexuality doesn't sell, as the failed sitcoms that tried the themes should make clear. But network TV limits their options? Come on, it's pretty apparent by now the major networks have flung the doors open wide, even if nobody cares. Although, this does suggest they're going for a far more family-friendly level, even if the short-lived Flash series did feature a sex scene between Barry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) and Iris West.

In any case, I'm still not enthusiastic for a project with David Goyer attached to it. Not after the poor example he set a few months ago. It'll be interesting to see how the lefties react to this news, despite all the signs pointing to his being a leftist as well.

And why do they say Constantine's got a healthy sex life? If he practices homosexuality in the comics, that's hard to swallow. If the TV show did follow that setup, chances are they would glorify that, making it hard to understand why they think smoking, by contrast, isn't good.

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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 do not know if I'll ever be as good as him, but I do my best.
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