Thursday, October 23, 2014 

Marz frames Ottawa terrorist attack as a gun control argument

He's made a comment about the attack and near infiltration of a government office in the Canadian parliament by a jihadist, discussing the topic as if it were something a lot simpler:

Here we go again. This was not a simple matter of a crackpot with no serious political leanings attacking politicians. This was a case of a Muslim convert who was influenced by the Koran (although his father was already a Muslim who'd taken part in Libyan jihad). Does Marz also think the massacre at Fort Hood was simply a superficial case of gun violence? The reality is that it's a case of homegrown jihadism that's eating up countries like Canada and Britain. It should be noted that it was thanks to a RCMP member with a gun that the filthy jihadist in Canada was stopped before he could enter an office where a lot of politicians were gathered.

Here's also another tweet by Marz about Gamergate:

Ah, but does Marz understand that books like Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled are built on misogynistic components? Does he even come to terms with how degrading Emerald Twilight is? Sure, he's written a few books in the past with female leads, and co-stars who were just as prominent, at companies like the defunct Crossgen, and now at Top Cow/Image. But he's occasionally given signs he hasn't fully learned his lesson since the time he'd written Emerald Twilight and the fridge scene (like when he wrote the finale for the Kyle Rayner run in Green Lantern), and that makes it hard to be certain he really understands these issues as well as he could.

And what if mine/your girlfriend/wife/relative is somebody who doesn't care much for computer games, and when she decides to look into the topic further, finds it's more about biased, politicized journalism involving petty arguments on the least problematic elements like T&A, and a belief that partisan politics should be injected into computer games? What then? What if she also decides the 3 women involved aren't people she'd want to hang around either, or even some of the folks against Gamergate? And what if she couldn't care less that Intel decided to remove their ads from Gamasutra and had no interest in reading that dopey website anyway? Marz shouldn't assume every women takes the same position on video games, not even other leftists, some of whom could also be part of the Gamergate movement. But then, does that mean he does have a problem with leftists in comicdom who've tolerated misogyny? Unfortunately, he's never written an op-ed in the same vein as Chuck Dixon did about the industry complaining about issues like that, and it doesn't look like he'll ever try to speak out against bad things happening at the Big Two seriously, so I honestly don't know why he's bothering to lambast Gamergate.

Okay, I'll offer some advice. Don't act like journalists are incapable of doing something bad and making mistakes. Besides, what were J. Jonah Jameson and Bethany Snow created for? And tone down all that leftism. Even some of Marz's fellow leftists may have done that already, and if they did, it could benefit comicdom better.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 

More commentaries on Fantastic Four's cancellation

There's been some reactions by a few mainstream sources to the news FF will be put to rest. For example, a writer for IGN thinks it's good Marvel's canceling it, but his reasoning is awfully weak since he avoids the hard questions why it's come down to this:
It's been a persistent rumor all year that Marvel is planning to cancel their Fantastic Four comic as part of an ongoing feud with 20th Century Fox over the franchise's film rights. Sure enough, Marvel confirmed the series' cancellation at NYCC last week. While we can only speculate as to the motivations behind the decision, clearly things aren't looking up for the World's Greatest Comics Magazine.
And they haven't been for over a decade now. Somebody needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
I like the Fantastic Four as much as anyone. They were the first big franchise to come out of Marvel's 1960's renaissance. So many vital pieces of the Marvel Universe sprung out of that original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run. The FF have emphasized family and exploration and the thrill of adventure even at times when the rest of the superhero genre was mired in darkness and bloodshed. It's not that their comic wouldn't be missed, but right now, a hiatus might be just what the Fantastic Four franchise needs.
I can agree with that last part for as long as Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso and Dan Buckley are running the show behind the scenes. But I think it's absurd to assume the FF never fell victim to darkness. In fact, during Mark Waid's run, he sure came pretty close. And darkness itself isn't the only problem that could hurt the FF: there's also bad leftist politics forced in by out-of-control writers (I vaguely recall Waid may have gone that route in 2004), and the aggravation caused by crossovers, which the FF are not immune to - even they were involved with Civil War. Of course there's people who'll be missing the FF when it ends, but at this point, I don't think all of Marvel fandom sees this end as such a bad thing, meaning they won't miss it when there's a lot of better tales from past decades they can read if they hadn't yet, and get to know what real adventure is like coming from Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, and several others.
That's not to say I support the idea of cancelling the series to spite Fox, assuming that's actually what Marvel is doing. Yes, Marvel made some bad movie deals in the 1990's that have prevented them from being able to bring the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-Man franchises back under one umbrella. Thanks to those deals, there's no telling when or if we'll ever get to see Wolverine standing alongside the Avengers on screen and helping them battle Doctor Doom. But those movie deals are pretty much the only thing that saved Marvel from bankruptcy. Who knows what state Marvel or its films would be in now if that hadn't happened? I wish the current Marvel leadership would just accept the decisions made by past regimes and stop stonewalling licensees every time they want to put Galactus' face on a T-shirt. But that's their call.
Is the guy who wrote this aware Marvel's increasingly bad storytelling during the 1990s, coupled with their departure from bookstores and the speculator implosion, precipitated the verge of bankruptcy? We could also add their failure to reformat and make themselves more accessible to bookstore preferences, taking the next plausible step for comicdom, to move away from monthly pamphlets to something more easily managed by newer readers. But that wouldn't jibe well with the insular PC advocates now running the show, who want to keep things as is so they can foist their brand of politics and insular storytelling laced with bad fanfictions onto an audience that lacks common sense or ability to make distinctions between the good and bad.
Ignoring all that corporate squabbling, the Fantastic Four comics need some sort of overhaul. Looking strictly at the sales figures of Fantastic Four and its former sister series, FF, it's clear the reader interest isn't where it needs to be. Fantastic Four is hardly Marvel's worst-selling book, but it also doesn't sell nearly enough copies every month considering the pedigree of the franchise and the caliber of talent Marvel brings on board. It's been a steady stream of A-List writers over the last decade, from Mark Waid to J. Michael Straczynski to Mark Millar to Jonathan Hickman to Matt Fraction to James Robinson. Waid and Hickman are responsible for the greatest FF runs of the modern era. And yet, the FF books always lag well behind the X-Men, Avengers, and Spider-Man franchises in sales. Even Marvel's cosmic books are pulling ahead thanks to their newfound Hollywood momentum.
Or are they? I've looked at their receipts and any boost they get from the movies is pretty short, so I can't see what his point is. And those writers? I must very seriously disagree. Straczynski proved himself just as pretentious on FF as he was on Spider-Man, and Millar went around the bend long ago. Robinson is one of the most overrated, and he's done nothing to prove himself a masterpiece scriptwriter these phonies want him to be. He comes onto the FF, and one of his first steps was breaking up the FF, even if it's only for a short time. If that has to be done, it shouldn't be all at once. He missed a chance to try more for serious character drama involving guest performers.
It certainly doesn't help that the FF haven't had a decent movie to piggyback from. But the more fundamental problem is that the franchise has struggled to evolve and grow with the times. The main quartet have become awfully stagnant over time. Mister Fantastic is always struggling to reconcile his scientific obsession with the need to devote time to his family. Human Torch is always the cocky youngster who needs to learn to grow up. The Thing is always the brooding loner. Invisible Woman is always caught in the middle as the frazzled den mother of the team. This has always made for a solid family dynamic, but at some point every family needs to grow and change. This family is stagnant.
And he knows whose fault that is, doesn't he? It's the writers, right down to those he cited. Well, doesn't he know the writers are responsible for stagnant feelings in the tale? I also disagree Human Torch is always a guy who doesn't mature; he faced Doctor Doom and several other supervillains more than enough times in the past to know why it pays to be awake.
The FF comics have been trapped in a cycle where our heroes are torn apart by some tragedy (be it The Thing's death or Civil War or Human Torch's death) and reunited again (be it The Thing's resurrection or a post-Civil War reconciliation or Human Torch's resurrection). Even now, the current series is exploring what happens as the Richards clan is torn apart and then brought back together again. Reading the comics in recent years has been like watching a pendulum bounce back and forth. Even if the individual stories are great, the larger tapestry is growing increasingly repetitive.
Wait a moment, didn't he say he thought Waid, Straczynski, Hickman and Robinson's efforts were stellar? Now, all of a sudden, he's acknowledging just what's wrong with today's efforts, especially the crossover connections. The individual stories have become awfully pretentious for many years now, as Marvel no longer feels like Marvel anymore, but even "individual" stories don't last particularly long, when crossovers come driving around the corner pretty quickly afterwards.

Another site commenting on FF's end is NY's Vulture section. They have some interesting notes to make, but ultimately get caught up in PC lunacy too:
Marvel Entertainment has done what Dr. Doom, the Skrulls, and even the world-devouring might of Galactus couldn't do: killed the Fantastic Four.
More specifically, a gaggle of modern charlatans calling themselves writers, artists, editors and publishers have done what the FF's rogues gallery couldn't accomplish.
During a Sunday-afternoon panel at New York Comic-Con, Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso and current Fantastic Four writer James Robinson confirmed what observers had suspected for months: the company is closing up shop on its longest-running series after a world-changing 53-year run. The news has been met with a collective shrug of resignation among the comics community, but attention should be paid. This is no small event in the history of superheroes. It's a premature ending, and it was most likely borne of the comics economy's worst tendencies in the age of blockbuster superhero flicks.
Well that's saying something. Yes, I'm sure sales are so bad for everything, they decided FF would make the perfect sacrificial lamb. But there's a lot of other titles out there selling as badly or even worse, well below 50,000 copies, so it doesn't make much sense they should abandon Marvel's breakthrough of the Silver Age when there's other stuff that could be dropped too for the same reasons.
A rep for Marvel said the company has no comment on the reasoning for Fantastic Four's cancellation. But a glance at the Fantastic Four's licensing situation starts to tell a very plausible (and disappointing) story leading to the end of the series. Before the superhero-movie renaissance, a struggling Marvel sold the FF's film rights (along with those of the X-Men) to 20th Century Fox at terms very favorable to Fox. Fast-forward to now: Fox is rebooting the Fantastic Four film franchise and Marvel gets hardly any money out of the movie, unlike the insane cash it makes on flicks made by its own studio (Avengers, Captain America, and the other titles in that universe) and the Spider-Man franchise (owned by Sony, who cut a good bargain with Marvel a while back). Reports have long circulated that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter despises Fox for not playing ball, much less returning its various properties to Marvel.
Perlmutter certainly isn't going the right way if he arranged to have the FF cancelled just because he resents Fox not returning the movie rights to them. Besides, if I were in charge of Marvel's publishing arm, I wouldn't have a problem with that. What matters to me is the core comics and if I could have enjoyable tales written, which the current staff certainly aren't. It's not so much the licensing that's a problem, but the state of Marvel's overall scriptwriting that is. No wonder a lot of fans aren't very bothered it's ending. There's nothing to be excited about anymore.
The X-Men have become so essential to the Marvel Comics universe that Marvel would never do mass cancellations of its various X-titles (although there's periodic speculation that Marvel is trying to somehow minimize X-Men characters). But the Fantastic Four only star in one monthly series, ever since their second series got canceled a few months ago. Sales of the book have been decent, but not spectacular. They're an easy target in the war between Fox and Marvel. With the new Fantastic Four movie on the way in the next few months, Marvel has very noticeably taken FF characters out of its promotional materials.
But how does that keep the movie from being successful? It doesn't, if the moviegoers judge the film on its own terms. Whether it winds up as a dud, that doesn't justify cancellation. All they're doing is making it look like they're blaming the source material when it's the filmmakers who'll have to take the blame if the movie flops.

By the way, they already decided to minimize the X-Men cast, more than a decade ago, first in Grant Morrison's stories that saw Genosha massacred by Sentinels, and later Brian Bendis depowered some others. I believe Dani Moonstar was among the latter group who underwent this depowering. But honestly, what's the point? All they have to do is put some of the mutants they think are excessive in limbo, not kill them like they're doing now with Wolverine (and it's not even the first time). As a recurring civilian cast member, Moira MacTaggart was another victim of the same mentality.
And now, with little fanfare, the series is on the chopping block. We don't know the specifics of how the so-called first family of the Marvel Universe will disappear, and it seems likely that at least some of the characters might remain in published Marvel series. For all we know, the series could be back sometime in the near future. But everything we know about the wrap-up of the series indicates a near-total end to the FF's adventures. Robinson said the team is "going away for a while" and alluded to killing off characters in an interview. Marvel made no effort to assure fans that the FF will still show up in other titles. The final story line will be called "The End Is Fourever." A solicitation for the collected edition of the story line describes it as "the closing act on the First Family of the Marvel Universe." Combine all of that with the business disputes, and it all adds up to a pretty stark picture.
A cancellation isn't something you'd want to build fanfare over. Rather, it's the release of a new book you hope everybody likes where you want to do something like that.

That link above is only to a brief telling they have a longer interview with Robinson in store. If I ever find it, I'll try to comment on it, because I'm sure he's got quite a snoozer of a story to tell them.

As terrible as writing's become today, it is sad the FF have to meet such a bitter end, with no guarantee there'll even be any miniseries or prestige format specials turning up in the future. But those who love the FF know Quesada and his flunkies are the guilty part here.
...perhaps most important, the FF haven't lost their relevance. To put it bluntly: This is an execution, not a mercy killing. I've been talking about the historical importance of the early Fantastic Four issues, but that's only the beginning of the team's significance. It has a core idea that never gets old: the struggles, compromises, joys, and agonies of being in a family. Over the ensuing five decades of the team's history, their adventures and tribulations have produced some of superhero comics' greatest story lines and characters. There was the Galactus Saga of 1966, in which a massive alien visitor almost devoured the Earth, giving us the highest-stakes comics story ever told to that point (and giving us Galactus, who's been used to great effect dozens and dozens of times ever since). Or writer/artist John Byrne's incredible run in the early 1980s, which fleshed out Sue Storm and introduced heartbreaking conflicts between her and Reed over work-life balance and gender roles in a marriage. Or Mark Millar's gripping and horrifying Ultimate Fantastic Four, an alternate-reality tale from the 2000s about a younger FF facing truly horrifying threats. Or Jonathan Hickman's run from the early 2010s, or Matt Fraction's run on Fantastic Four and its short-lived spinoff series FF just two years ago. The list goes on and on.
More precisely, the older stories pre-2000, IMO, haven't lost relevance. But the newer ones by Millar, Strazcynski, Hickman and Fraction have none to speak of, so I believe the guy writing this piece should've woken up and smelled the coffee. Depending on your view, this is a mercy killing, in a way, as it all but saves the FF from falling victim to more writers with nothing but contempt for the famous Foursome, not the least being Robinson. Yet it's still an execution simultaneously, except it already happened, a long time ago, thanks to political correctness by the editors and complacency by the audience, many who failed to understand why boycotting the books is the best way to send a message.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014 

Some tweets by comic writers about the GamerGate issue

I haven't paid as much notice as I could've to the GamerGate topic of the past month or so, probably because video games today are not something I really care for any longer outside of Tetris, though I did read a few items by a blogger called Cranky T-Rex, who's probably one of the better on this along with a British guy named Milo Yiannopoulos. But, upon seeing a couple comics writers weigh in with rather predictable wording on Twitter about this issue, I decided I'd have a go at it. First, here's another screenshot of a retweet by Kurt Busiek of one by a former writer for Comics Alliance:
I went to research deeper into the news they talk about, and Utah State Today said:
“USU police, in conjunction with several teams of state and federal law enforcement experts, determined that there was no threat to students, staff or the speaker, so no alert was issued… Throughout the day, USU police worked to assess the level of threat with other local, state and federal agencies, including the Utah Statewide Information and Analysis Center, the FBI Cyber Terrorism Task Force, and the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. After a careful assessment of the threat, law enforcement officials determined that it was similar to other threats that Sarkeesian received in the past.”
If what they're saying is correct, then it sounds like some kind of fakery was at work here. I have no doubt there are cases of misogyny in the game industry, but if this is correct, it sounds like she let selfish agendas get the better of her, under the confidence the leftarded press wouldn't give a clear picture on anything. Actor Adam Baldwin also found these claims disputable. And the Inqusitr's noted the Gamergate movement also happens to include minorities who've also come under attack:
The Gamergate movement has largely been described as being while males. While no one knows the exact demographics for certain, Gamergate supporters say there is a good percentage of fellow members who are female, non-white, and LGBT. The oddest accusation of all is that one of the Twitter handles run by the ISIS terrorist group even started tweeting in opposition of Gamergate. In addition, it’s claimed that at least 30 individuals have been harassed in various ways, and Gamergate supporters accuse the media of ignoring their plight.

For example, a transgender person named Alexander Wuori was outed publicly and called over the phone. Wuori describes the experience, saying, "I was pretty much shaking in my boots at this point." Then a specific threat was made by the unknown caller.
Read more at the link. I'm not surprised there could be blacks, Latinos and Asians involved in the movement; they play plenty of games too. Besides, so many games are designed in Japan, it only figures they'd make up a sizable portion of players. Here's a woman writing for Maryland's Diamonback who additionally notes it's not a male-only movement. As for Sarkeesian, here's something else bizarre:
She was on campus to speak against the way women are depicted "as damsels in distress or background decoration in many video games."
What?!? Is this serious? As someone who grew up in the Pac-Man era, I may not be as big on video games as I used to, but I am well aware they've evolved a long way since Ms. Pac-Man became one of the first female video game protagonists. Since then, they gradually expanded to add more to the action, like with Ninja Princess, Flashgal, Athena, Psycho Soldier, Devil World, Gate of Doom, Wizard Fire, a game based on GI Joe, another based on Sailor Moon, Tomb Raider, and the list goes on. Even comic book games count. It's been anything but a window dressing issue for over a quarter century now. I've got a feeling even Sarkeesian doesn't believe a word she's saying. Just like everybody into video games knows Pac-Man, they also know all about Ms. Pac-Man. And if Sarkeesian's got a problem with hot women in games, I think it's time to quote Yiannopoulos:
There's an assumption in these feminist critiques that this is somehow a cause for shame or outrage. It is not. There's nothing unnatural about male gamers enjoying attractive female characters. What's unnatural is trying to police it. Feminist campaigners such as Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian won't like this comparison, but what their mission represents is a new kind of sexually dysfunctional authority clamping down on the sexuality of the great unwashed, like politicians and some churches throughout history.
And not all women have a problem with that either. In fact, that wasn't really the problem with some of the worst comics from the 1990s. It was that they had very weak storytelling, like Scott Lobdell's worst work on X-Men. One woman who clearly doesn't have a problem with T&A is Gail Simone, interestingly enough: she just told how she's fond of the Dead or Alive series from Tecmo-Koei (and movie). I wonder what her male counterparts who're opposing GamerGate must think of her now. Boy, it must soooo embarrassing one of their fellow leftists won't side with their cause here. But it does prove there's more than enough leftists out there who play the very same games rightists do, and aren't happy when nutcases come along and make petty arguments about all the wrong things. Indeed, this is hardly a political divide issue at all.

On that note, here's some items by a few others, like Ron Marz:

As noted above, it wasn't.

Hey, maybe it wasn't a great idea to start telling all about her, but she did cause a development group a lot of aggravation, and that was bad.

Somebody else needs to grow up as well.

So he doesn't think J. Jonah Jameson and Bethany Snow were about journalistic ethics? What was the point of reading Spider-Man and New Teen Titans then?

And I linked above to a college reporter who pretty much did the same by noting there's women who've supported Gamergate too.

And I suppose that means he sides with the positions espoused by J. Jonah Jameson and Bethany Snow in the Marvel and DC worlds years ago? Again, not sure why he'd read Spider-Man and New Teen Titans years before if they portrayed journalism so negatively.

What Marz needs is to just let the subject go. Besides, isn't he writing a comic based on Skylanders now?

And then we have Dan Slott:

As the info I provided tells, it's uncertain there ever was any credible evidence to back that up. Now I know why I can't find much of anything Slott says very credible either.

If Slott really cares, then does he find this a concern?

The language seen in that screencap by a dissenter with Gamergate is very horrific. Has he by any chance seen that before? What business does a guy who wrote a story where Dr. Octopus commits sexploitation of Mary Jane Watson have commenting on this issue? Even women who don't support Gamergate could feel disturbed when they realize what Slott spent the past year writing in Spider-Man. Here's more tweets he wrote:

It's long past mirror time for a man who's got causes of his own, and not good ones at that. Next up:

Look who's talking! The same man who gave free ad space to Brad Meltzer. I don't think most women would be very happy if they knew he was supporting a "novelist" whose credits include a misogynist screed. As for Raw Story, oh, are they ever a great source to consult about "ethics".

Well does he also think it's ludicrous and harmful to stuff political agendas into one's reviews of video games and falsify accusations, if any such thing was done? And most innocent people who own guns usually carry them for personal and family protection. All that aside, I think Sturges, a guy with questionable work in his portfolio, might want to consider whether he's qualified for commenting on this. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air addresses the subject a lot better than I could.

Whatever point she's trying to make is dampened when she parrots the same lines Sarkeesian used, saying "The sometimes blunt misogyny of video games—a fantasy realm where female characters have often been pigeonholed as prostitutes, helpless princesses or pinups" without acknowledging any of the kind of games I cited, not even how Simone is writing a comic based on one of them for Dark Horse. Asselin featured a screenshot of some threats that were made against one of the developers, but there's something strange: the user's name reads as "chatterwhiteman". It seems rather odd whomever committed obscenities would use that kind of a name, since misogynists would surely be capable of committing racism too and using name handles to that effect. Do I sense some kind of deliberateness took place? Good question.

Also, a note about Hudson. I just remembered that 3 years ago, after Frank Miller condemned the Occupy movement, she wrote the following item that's pretty vicious:
...let’s get real: the problem here is Miller and the things he has said and done, not the fact that other people have failed to protect him from the consequences of his very public and deliberate actions. Millar’s defense confuses the symptom with the disease, and the sadness of seeing a very gifted creator’s reputation dragged through the mud with the even sadder truth: that he did it to himself, and that it has made many people realize he is not the man they thought he was.
Not only is it crude, what's really puzzling is why somebody who's siding with the anti-Gamergate bunch turned her back on victims of serious crimes at the time. So Miller's the problem, but not the Occupy thugs who caused only so much pain and aggravation for everyone? What would she say if they drove people away from her favorite restaurant and it had to close down? It's a shame, because I recall Hudson rightly panned Identity Crisis at least 4 years ago, and now, she's unfortunately letting her leftism get the better of her again. Too bad.

I'm sure there is hostility to women in gaming, but if anything in this affair was trumped, that does not help women's causes one bit. And being a journalist doesn't make you a saint. I don't care much for video games now, but I do care about honesty in the journalistic profession that isn't based upon politics, and any so-called reporter who twists things up like pretzels doesn't help their industry either. Also, as Noah Dulis says, supporting Gamergate doesn't make one a bully. I think most of the people involved would do better to take a look at the comics medium, because it's a lot easier for misogyny to find its way into an overlooked industry where nobody has any clue how to research the effects. Just don't expect any knee-jerk comics writers to avail in asking for better journalistic integrity for comicdom.

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Monday, October 20, 2014 

A tweet and retweet by Kurt Busiek about health issues

Here's a screenshot of both a tweet and a retweet by Busiek, so close together I figured it was worth band-boxing both of them in one picture:
The first, which is the one below, is his retweet of somebody's accusation the GOP intercepted the surgeon general nomination. Are these two aware the guy current running the position failed to comment on the Ebola crisis in the past few weeks, and last week the UK Mail (also via Breitbart) said he was still not working on it? It makes little difference whether the GOP prevented an appointment or not (and that was probably because the nominee wanted to further the Obamacare disaster), the one who is currently holding the role has not proven he's up to the task.

The second, by Busiek himself, is a silly claim Twitter's getting him to following more people daily, and he can't stop himself, which is absurd. If he doesn't want to follow a certain feed, he doesn't have to. He seemingly blames Obama for this, but thinking about it some more, I think that he was probably being ironic and joking. Based on what he retweeted before, it's pretty apparent he doesn't view Obama negatively.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014 

Vox distorts the history of the original Ms. Marvel

Vox wrote a sugarcoated article about Kelly Sue deConnick's work on the only true Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, who's been turned into the new Captain Marvel, and doesn't start off very well:
[...] She's best known for turning Marvel's Captain Marvel, a character previously known for being sexy window dressing on The Avengers, into a hero whose courage and leadership stemmed from her experience as an Air Force pilot.
In all the older material I read, she never came off as just window dressing. Obviously, they never read the first solo book from the late 1970s, published alongside the first Black Panther solo, where they put Danvers to good use as her own person, and even in the Avengers, there were some good moments. But for anybody familiar with that era, yes, it's long known how she was all but dropped from the series in some peculiar editorial fiat and after a short stint as Binary, she wasn't used much again until the late 1990s, at which time she got put to better use again as Warbird.
Even though there has been a push in recent years for more female characters and more female heroes with solo series, and even though the female readership in comics has been growing steadily, there are still pockets of animosity and resentment from men who consider themselves comics gatekeepers, men whom the industry has traditionally catered to. DeConnick, alongside Marvel editors like Sana Amanat (Ms. Marvel) or the legendary Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six) at DC Comics are role models female comic fans can turn to when faced with this adversity.
Ironically, some of these "men" would actually agree with Amanat's stand on Islam, and despite what they're saying, now that I think of it, most professional women into writing haven't taken this type of resentment as much as the critics have.
What makes this doubly puzzling is that comics, as long as they have existed, have (though the industry far from perfect) been stories about outcasts, often read by people considered outcasts (until very recently). They have been about understanding and appreciating outsiders. Yet, the bullied become the bullies — and turn this supposed safe space into a place where they have to prove their worth.
Yes, the bullied have become bullies, and interestingly enough, they're the editors who not only do little or nothing to condemn sexism from the audience, they have - and still are - greenlighting the works of writers who've taken sexist slants. And ignoramuses who only care for soulless entertainment buy these useless vehicles no matter what, throughly disinterested in story merit, and some are even influenced by the bad stories. Yet Marvel and DC's staffs will never come to terms with how they've been facilitating these mentalities for quite a while now. Towards the end, they turn to the Muslim Ms. Marvel and say:
Marvel's increased diversity and increased awareness of its female characters have also had a positive effect on readership. Ms. Marvel, a reboot of Danvers' original title and comic, now follows a teenage, Muslim, Pakistani-American girl named Kamala Khan (who has her own movement called the Kamala Korps). Written by the talented G. Willow Wilson, and edited by Sana Amanat, Ms. Marvel recently went into its sixth printing (a first printing is like a first edition; a sixth reprinting signifies massive success) — virtually unheard of for a comic, let alone a female-led comic.
And how many speculators are buying some of those copies in hopes they'll be collectors items in demand by museums one day? Why, how many are sitting in bargain bins now? The claim of increased diversity is disputable given they won't do anything to promote the new Fantastic Four movie, which may be built on "diversity", and awareness of its female cast is also questionable, since they recently got rid of Scarlet Witch and Rogue in Uncanny Avengers. Sure, they may resurface eventually, but if they subject them to that kind of startling abuse, then it's uncertain they really have an awareness. Let's also remember this is the same company that's marginalized Mary Jane Watson for several years now, and got rid of Karen Page in 1998 when Kevin Smith was writing Daredevil. They also say that at the convention:
There were also new comic books too. Ms. Marvel didn't exist a year prior. Neither did Storm's solo series, nor were the Black Widow and She-Hulk books. [...]
The claim the latter 2 didn't have books prior to this year is rubbish. Natasha Romanoff and Jennifer Walters had a few miniseries and ongoing titles in the past 2 decades, and they can only do short-range thinking? Figures. Some of these sites just aren't up to the task of researching past Marvel/DC history.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014 

What kind of female cast does Five Thirty Eight expect?

Five Thirty Eight wrote about women in comicdom and the alleged efforts to get more into the medium. But after reading this, it occurred to me their expectations are ambiguous at worst, and there's just so much they're missing:
To say the comic book industry has a slight gender skew is like saying Superman is kind of strong. Comic books — much like the film industry they now fuel — vastly under-represent women. The people who write comic books, particularly for major publishers, are overwhelmingly men. The artists who draw them are, too. The characters within them are also disproportionately men, as are the new characters introduced each year.

The big two comic publishers, DC Comics and Marvel, have taken note of this disparity and are trying to diversify their offerings. Marvel just published the first issue of a series introducing a new, female Thor, and the science fiction blog io9 recently praised DC Comics for upgrading Batgirl’s costume to “the best damn superheroine outfit ever.”
I wonder why they've got nothing to say about DC's throwing Cassandra Cain out the window and putting Barbara Gordon back in the outfit, seemingly for commercial reasons, but truly because they don't have what's needed to develop newer characters whose introductions could've been handled well.

And Marvel's not trying to "diversify" so much as they're seeking publicity at all costs, under the confidence the mainstream press will accept their steps unquestioned and without judging the stories on their own merits. It's already guaranteed they'll never comment how laughable it is a corrupted version of Nick Fury causes Thor to lose his worthiness by ways of a mere whisper (and I suppose what he hissed to the Odinson was "you're not worthy"? Mark Waid, Kieron Gillen and company should have a good long look at themselves, because they stopped being that long ago).
But these recent advancements don’t make up for the fact that women have been ignored in comic books for decades. And they still don’t bring women anywhere close to parity: Females make up about one in four comic book characters.

Among comic-creators, the numbers are even more discouraging. Tim Hanley, a comics historian and researcher, analyzes who’s behind each month’s batch of releases, counting up writers, artists, editors, pencilers and more. In August, Hanley found that men outnumbered women nine-to-one behind the scenes at both DC and Marvel. He also estimated that 79 percent of people working on comics this year were white.

Part of this strong skew towards male comic book characters — and male writers — may be due to whom publishers have perceived their audience to be. Jason Aaron, who has been writing “Thor” for about two years and is heading up the new female-led series, explained that the comic book business painted itself into a demographic corner. “Over time, we started to appeal to the same, dwindling fans,” he said, adding, “I don’t say that derisively, because I’m at the heart of that dwindling group of fans, and always have been.” (Aaron is male, white and 40 years old.) During the 1960s and ’70s, comic books moved from grocery store newsstands to specialized shops, which mostly catered to a young, white, male audience. Once that happened, Aaron said, the industry lost a way to attract new fans.
This is truly misleading. I think the whole notion shops only cater to whites is ridiculous. As if blacks and Latinos don't know where to find them and buy there! The only problem here is their departure from newsstands and bookstores, a process which occurred later, more during the mid-80s. And they've failed note how Marvel just recently pulled out of a few bookstore chains once again, something you couldn't expect Aaron to acknowledge while he's still working for them.

As for lack of female contributors, today that can be attributed partly to their mandates that deprive creative freedom, save for a select few like those working for them now. If a woman who likes the Spider-marriage and the Super-marriage comes along and wants to restore all that, along with various other continuity aspects and characterization, then, as I've said before, the current editors/publishers will not allow it. That same mindset is also what led to Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled, but predictably, that doesn't matter to them.

Then, when they get around to discussing online sales, what do they think to cite as an example:
“Digital becoming the new newsstand for us has been huge,” Aaron said. “You see a book like ‘Ms. Marvel’ doing so well digitally. That book has great digital sales. Clearly it’s reaching an audience we haven’t been reaching before through our longstanding distribution system.”
And just what figures do they have? Without giving exact sales figures in money/download per issue, even for digital, I'm not sure that counts any more than pamphlets.
“Ms. Marvel,” created by G. Willow Wilson, frequently comes up in talk about how the industry is changing. It stars a Muslim Pakistani girl living in Jersey City named Kamala Khan who becomes an unlikely superhero. Even more unlikely is the series’ success.

“I think when we were discussing the creation of this character, she was the trifecta of death,” Wilson said. “She was a new character, and new characters do not tend to do well. She was a girl — female characters do not tend to do well. And she was a minority, and minority characters do not tend to do well.”
And with the kind of belief system applied, that's a real reason this isn't doing well. Interesting they don't cite the real Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, now portrayed as a new take on Capt. Marvel, as an example.
Wilson and the rest of the book’s creative team went into the project thinking they’d be lucky to get seven issues out of the character. But the book has developed a devoted following online, and has posted solid numbers for a newcomer. [...]
And when you click ahead to see those numbers, you see very laughable ones ranking at little more than 32,000 copies for the most recent issue, and that's mainly for those sold to stores. Some of which may still be sitting around unbought.

They continue to talk about how they looked for data on how many female cast members are in both Marvel and DC worlds. But here's where I noticed something telling about their approach:
Miller says one possible reason we see DC with a slight advantage over Marvel in the raw character counts is that DC was more willing to create female counterparts to its well-known heroes — Batwoman, Supergirl, etc. — while Marvel avoided derivative characters early on. When Marvel did start creating female versions of its mainstream heroes in the 1970s, it was for strictly financial reasons. For example, Spider-Woman and She-Hulk, Miller said, “were eyed as attempts by Marvel to stake out trademarks.”
Nowhere in this article are supporting casts without superpowers mentioned. No mention of Lois Lane, Mary Jane Watson, or any other co-star who once mattered. Only superheroines seem to count. I think this article was written for strictly financial reasons too, and commercial. Indeed, where's the emphasis on the importance of talented writing? And why can't they criticize the inability to introduce some new heroines as their own protagonists without taking over a male hero's role proper? And, if further proof is needed where this piece is going:
Women and men were almost exactly equally likely to have a secret identity in the Marvel universe (49.4 percent of males and 49.5 percent of females), while in the DC universe 51 percent of males had a secret identity and 45 percent of females did. While it’s not a perfect stand-in, we can also infer that men may be slightly more likely to be superheroes or villains — rather than just normal, unpowered side characters — than women in the DC universe.

In both DC and Marvel, women were of neutral allegiance at a higher rate than men. Men were also more likely to be bad in each universe — in fact, bad-aligned men alone outnumbered all women combined. In other words, there’s something of a paucity of female villains.
Oh, that's what matters to them? As a matter of fact, if the past decade is any indication, that's mostly changed: Jean Loring was turned into a villainess, forced into the role of a new Eclipso all for the sake of it, as part of DiDio's decision to denigrate the DCU's best co-stars, and Scarlet Witch was turned into something pretty similar at the time for the same reasons in the MCU. Even Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson underwent similar treatment. The idea villainesses are such a big deal is insulting, and is only going to guarantee more based on what both publishers think they can get away with for starters.
Publishing houses have also sought to introduce more gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters into their stories. In some cases, both DC and Marvel have retroactively categorized a longstanding character as LGBT. But in recent years, a number of explicitly gender- and sexual-minority characters have been introduced. While it’s barely a blip in the whole data set, the chart below shows the recent introduction of LGBT characters over time.
Ah, and this is another example of diversity at all costs, but only based on skin color and sexual orientation, and not ethnicity/nationality. No comment on whether it was embarrassing and tasteless to turn Alan Scott gay either, I notice.
The work to get more women in comics — and more women creating comics — has been going on for years. Decades of scholarship have looked into how women are portrayed on the page, and thriving communities are discussing each and every one of these points and more.

And while it’s not too surprising that so few women appear in comics today, people are talking about characters like the new Thor and Ms. Marvel because they feel change is happening in an industry and community that for years has had unwelcoming attitudes toward women.
And still does. Those who are welcome are only there on a selective basis. Wilson's apparently not somebody who has a problem with erasing Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage, nor is Kelly Sue deConnick. If they were, they might not have been hired, even with their politics. Women with right-wing leanings are far less likely to get jobs now. In fact, as mentioned before, Louise Simonson wouldn't get a job writing Thor, the title her great husband Walt scripted back in the mid-80s, because she'd want to do it all in a way that's respectful and consistent with past history, and that's not what today's editors are interested in. All they care about now is "shakeups" rather than serious character growth for heroes and co-stars.
Wilson said attitudes among creators have come a long way over the last decade, too. In the early 2000s, she said, open misogyny, and pornography, generally ruled creator forums, and discussions about gender were promptly spiked. [...]
It's still a serious problem in scriptwriting as much as in public forums, as Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled should make clear, but that's not mentioned here. I wonder why they're getting their info from Wilson, given how she's been acting as apologist for such an awful religion? I'd rather hear from somebody like Simonson, who might have a better understanding. Even Karen Berger might be a better source on the issue. A poorly written article this was, with no genuine concern for co-stars, who make as good - and maybe even better - pathways to diversity than costumed heroes do.

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Friday, October 17, 2014 

A followup to the first Civil War will accompany the new Secret Wars

As if the first - and downright awful - Civil War crossover wasn't enough, now Marvel's got some kind of sequel in the works for next year to double every unwitting buyer's expenses:
It seems that Secret Wars won't be the only comic book event that Marvel Entertainment revives in 2015. In a pair of new images released over the past couple of days, the publisher has additionally teased returns for Civil War, Age of Ultron and Marvel Zombies.

[...] The original Civil War was a storyline which ran from 2006 through 2007 across a number of series, with Iron Man and Captain America leading opposing factions of heroes and villains over the issue of whether or not superheroes should register their identities with the U.S. government. The best-selling storyline, which may form the basis of 2016's third Captain America movie [10], led to Tony Stark becoming director of SHIELD and Captain America's temporary "death."
And that's what they think makes a great premise for a movie? Again, I honestly think any moviegoers who buy into the finished product will be making terrible mistakes. I certainly wouldn't want to give products of Brian Bendis a stamp of approval.

The Inquisitr says a movie drawing from Civil War probably won't be the same as the comics. But what if it is? And even if it isn't, the emphasis on heroes-vs-heroes isn't very appealing. They say at the start:
If you’re a longtime reader of Marvel’s comic books, the announcement of a coming cinematic Civil War might have made you pee a little. You’re right to be excited, but you’ll want to dial it back a bit: Marvel’s movie Civil War will not be the Civil War from the comics.
But I'm not excited, haven't been for a long time, and I'm sure there's some people by now who aren't very excited either. And there's more who might be turned off further if they knew the story synopsis:
Reports emerged over the weekend that Robert Downey Jr. will make an appearance in Captain America 3 in 2016, and the initial report held that Marvel would be trying to translate its 2006-2007 Civil War crossover storyline to the big screen.

That storyline saw the Marvel Universe’s superhero community split in two by the announcement of a Superhero Registration Act. The Act spun out of a tragedy which saw a group of young heroes’ irresponsibility result in the deaths of hundreds.
That would be the New Warriors he's talking about, IIRC. But why is the audience at large supposed to be impressed with a story where a bunch of heroes unintentionally leads to the death of several hundred people? It's supremely embarrassing, and no way to find an audience for the New Warriors.
As a result, Congress required that all superpowered individuals register with the government and join what was essentially a national police force. It had the backing of Tony Stark, who drew a ton of heroes to his side. Captain America, though, resisted and went underground, taking a good group of heroes along with him.

This, of course, resulted in a number of battles and some deaths here and there. Eventually, the rebel heroes actually wound up standing down when Captain America, astounded over the damage the two sides’ fighting had caused, surrendered himself to authorities.

It was one of Marvel’s better multi-comic crossovers, with more than 100 single comic issues from different series crossing over.
This is where they really blow: if the readers must spend tons of money to get every possible link to the crossover and can't understand it without doing so, is that a good thing? "Better" is a lie - it was one of the stupidest and disrespectful, yet there's only so many lemmings out there who bought it out of disturbing addiction.

And I just thought of something else: the plot is vaguely reminiscent of X-Men's Days of Future Past, where a disaster involving mutants led to a war-ravaged future with Sentinels. But even that wasn't built upon the kind of cynicism this new balderdash drew from.
And you’re very unlikely to see anything resembling it on screen.

That’s because of a couple of reasons. The biggest one is sheer number of heroes involved in the comic version of Civil War. The original brought in Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the New Warriors, the Avengers, Namor, X-Factor, the X-Men, the Young Avengers, the Runaways, the Punisher, and more.

Half of those characters – X-men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man – Marvel doesn’t even have the movie rights for. Many of the others haven’t yet been introduced on screen, and Marvel seems unlikely to introduce a vast wave of characters without having the time to explore them.
Oh, that could all change if they feel like it. They only mention it fleetingly in a caption, but Civil War was also the miniseries that laid out the groundswork for One More Day in Spider-Man, one of the worst excuses for erasing a marriage no sane person was objecting to.
One thing does seem almost certain, though, it will have to end in a way totally different from the comics. Whereas the comics saw Captain America turning himself in and a new order established in the Marvel Universe, Marvel seems to have mapped out a different plan for its movie universe. With current speculation pointing toward a Guardians of the Galaxy crossover with the Avengers, we’re probably likely to see Civil War ending in the way that most big comic crossovers do: the heroes have to put aside differences to fight a world-ending threat – Thanos, the Mad Titan.
Oh sure, that could happen. But any emphasis on hero-vs-hero still takes away impact, and could take up too much time in a movie that would probably be nearly 2 hours long. And it could signal how a PC idea of what superheroes are all about is now finding its way onto the silver screen under the flawed perception all audiences really want to see that instead of heroes fighting villains.

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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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