Friday, October 19, 2018 

A magazine tore down on Marvel's early 90s swimsuit specials

I found an article in Mel magazine from about a year ago, with a negative view of the Marvel Swimsuit Specials from the early 1990s, which were written and illustrated almost like a storybook combined with Life magazine, and were meant as a tongue-in-cheek venture for simple escapism. None of which seems to matter to the propagandist who wrote this piece:
Full disclosure: I’m a comics nerd. I’m also a big fan of oral histories. With this in mind — and working at a site whose mission is to investigate evolving masculinity and sexuality, occasionally through a pop culture lens — it seemed a no-brainer to mash it all together in one glorious article: The Oral History of Marvel’s Swimsuit Editions.
Let me take a moment to ask why masculinity matters, but not femininity? Yes, seriously. Considering that the specials focused as much on the menfolk of Marvel in beach gear as the women, that's why the notion only masculinity is an issue here isn't a good start for such a pretentious article. IMO, it sounds like a social justice advocate is implying something's wrong with masculinity, and that's what made me suspicious, though maybe not as much as what's to follow:
That’s a great idea, right? The entire story of the so-bad-they’re-good, cheesecake-stuffed comic books published during the mid-1990s, as told by the people who made them. Why did the famed comics company decide to put out whole issues containing pictures of their most popular superheroes in thong bikinis? How did they decide who to feature, and what they’d wear? Who wrote those amazingly awful blurbs for each pic? Who decided the Punisher needed a set of skull-themed Speedos?

We had so many questions.

But tragically, we got so few answers.

Now, I’ll relate the sad story of why.
You might first want to relate the real sad story: why you can't seem to grasp that those blurbs - or captions, as they pretty much are - happen to be humorous? Ghost Rider made an appearance in one of them, accompanied by a joke caption, and I enjoyed quite a chuckle at how they stated he was showing quite a bit of bone. As I said, the whole idea was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and the first of the specials was supposed to be set in Wakanda, with busloads of characters invited to a special event. And using the term "so bad they're good" is more like a put down, because the swimsuit specials were some of the most charming ideas they had in a decade where story quality, sadly enough, was beginning to decline. But unlike the clown who wrote this, I wouldn't put the swimsuit specials in a bracket for bad storytelling, mainly because they're not meant to be written in same way as the MCU itself, and were basically outside of regular continuity.
It started out well enough: I found a writer with solid connections to the comics industry (a published comics writer and artist, in fact) and told him what I wanted. He was stoked: This was late March — he’d have it to me by early May, he promised.

By late April, we still had nothing. Conventions were a problem, publicists and agents told us. Chicago’s C2E2 was eating up everyone’s time, and with San Diego Comic Con just a couple short months away, finding time for talent to speak was getting harder with each passing day. At this point, my Spidey-sense began tingling. Convention season traditionally meant a glut of famed comic artists and writers being paraded out for interviews — the fact no one was biting was troubling.

By mid-May — around the time we had originally planned to publish it — my fears were justified: The writer threw in the towel and admitted, frustrated, that it was best I reassign the piece. No one wanted to talk about it, he told me: Unlike some other major comics milestones of the 1990s, the Swimsuit Editions weren’t works that creators were terribly proud of.

Fond reminiscence, it seemed, was entirely off the table.
This honestly sounds fishy. Why wouldn't any artists who'd worked on the 5 specials be proud of their art? I took a look on Twitter, and turned up this item by Adam Hughes, who had some early work published in them:

IMO, it sounds like Hughes has pride in his work, and by all means, these were something to feel great about illustrating. So the whole notion nobody wants to talk about it is honestly bewildering, because there's artists like J. Scott Campbell who take pride in the variant covers they draw, and if he published early work in the Marvel Swimsuit specials, I'd expect him to reminisce fondly about them.
Still, I was determined to have my oral history, so I found another writer, this time one with even deeper, more friendly connections to the industry, particularly Marvel. Things began looking up almost immediately: Interviews were scored with former Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco and X-Men writer supreme Chris Claremont, titans of the industry and two of the most influential voices in comics at the time. Neither of them had anything particularly nice to say about the Swimsuit Issues, but still, I held out hope.

Legendary artists George Perez and John Romita Jr. soon gave their takes on the issues and more interviews, the writer assured me, had also been arranged and conducted, and needed just to be transcribed.

It was finally coming together.

Then, in early June: Disaster. The writer’s laptop — with all the recorded interviews — was stolen from his car. None had yet been transcribed.

The writer valiantly attempted to try again, but largely struck out. Perez had a stroke shortly after the first phone call, and was unable to complete a second. Other creators, after some reflection, decided they weren’t willing to speak about the infamous issues after all, with multiple writers and artists admitting, off the record, that they simply didn’t want to be associated with them. One went so far as to laugh and hang up the phone when initially asked for an interview.
Let me get this straight. He left his laptop in his car unguarded, and didn't upload any of the material to Dropbox? I don't know why, but this sounds awfully farfetched, ditto the notion everybody's ashamed from A to Z. The "infamous" part also sounds suspect.
By late September, it was clear that we had nothing close to a comprehensive oral history. Claremont and DeFalco were kind enough to weigh in once more, but their discomfort with the subject matter was palpable, meaning any chance of a fun, nostalgic romp was dead in the water.

“Right from the beginning, the magazine was problematic and plagued by the inherent disadvantage female characters face, always,” Claremont told us. “We were trying to tell engaging stories in the comics. Meanwhile, they were slapping this thing [together] at the last minute.”

While not quite as critical of the project as Claremont, DeFalco was less than enthusiastic. “Something like the Marvel Swimsuit Edition probably wouldn’t happen today,” he admitted. “The world was very different in those days. Marvel Comics basically lived or died on how would the comic books were doing: We had a small licensing program. We had an animation studio that was constantly struggling. We couldn’t give away our movie licenses. We lived on the publishing. The idea of having a swimsuit issue kept coming up because in those days, the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was one of the hottest selling magazines each year, so we decided to have a Swimsuit Issue, too.”

Despite being a clear attempt at a money grab, DeFalco felt that, if nothing else, the male and female characters in the specials received equal treatment. “Unlike other Swimsuit Issues, we had both male and female models. One of the guys came in and was like, ‘We should have the guys in speedos if the women have to wear bikinis!’ At the time, that was very sexualized for a male hero. We did break a lot of walls in terms of sexualizing some of the male characters. Comic books are always accused of sexualizing women and idealizing women, but the truth is we sexualized everybody.”
Assuming Claremont, the guy who had Storm take nude baths early in his X-Men run, and even had some other ladies don hot outfits too, actually said this, it's peculiar. Did he suddenly become "woke"? Did deFalco do the same? I don't know. Something's just not right about this piece, though at least Tom did make clear that the men were as sexualized as the women in the specials. Including the Hulk and Rick Jones, as they spend time in the sun with Betty Banner and Marlo Chandler! By the way, did I mention the alleged statement from deFalco is actually unclear, and it could just as well be he's sad such a project may not be possible today under Marvel's social justice-advocating overlords? That's why I'd better try to give even Claremont the benefit of the doubt here, because it's possible both guys had their words twisted and used against them by an ingrate.

And is sexualizing/idealizing women an inherently bad thing? I'd say no, and they shouldn't be caving on a project that was simply meant for escapism and showcasing fabulous art. And if the writer's implying they did something merely for money, that's insulting too. I get the vibe that what Claremont really spoke about was the sans-adjective X-Men beginning in 1991, which was pretty last minute, and underwent editorial mandates he wasn't happy with, since he'd departed after just 3-4 issues, and left the X-Men altogether for at least 7 years. And when he returned, it didn't look like he had a firm grasp on the casts he'd left behind several years prior anymore. Given how far his skills had fallen, why should a stand-alone swimsuit project annoy him so much?
For Claremont, one of the biggest failings of the project was that they didn’t tell any kind of story, giving them even less justification for existing. “If I had a choice of how to portray the Swimsuit Issue, my instinct would be to showcase the characters and occasionally catch the readers by surprise [with skin]. That would be a way of telling the reader that it isn’t just a sequence of gratuitous images, there’s something here. If you get this book, you’re gonna learn some neat stuff about the characters, so you’ll have to buy it even if you don’t want to look at swimsuits.”

Alas, as anyone who’s read them knows, this isn’t what happened.
Well gee whiz, it wasn't meant to happen as Claremont allegedly put it. Seems like everybody completely misunderstood that it wasn't intended to occur within Marvel continuity proper, and was just meant as a goofy tongue-in-cheek product that wasn't supposed to be taken seriously. Something many SJWs refuse to comprehend. And why does all this matter so much to Claremont, if he'd really said that, but not his own fumblings that even showed up prior to his departure from Marvel in 1991? The sans-adjective X-Men may have seen nearly a million copies printed, but many of them gathered dust at the store level back in the day. If deFalco really threw all involved in the swimsuit specials under the bus, that's hugely disappointing too, confirming he caved to modern PC.
Eventually, to my immense shame and sadness, the piece I had eagerly pitched way back in February was thrown on the scrap heap of abandoned story ideas in early October. The Swimsuit Issues had failed to save Marvel (who filed for bankruptcy in 1996, bailed out only by a slew of suddenly highly profitable movie deals), and they’d failed to bring together the top talent of the time to minutely discuss their awesome terribleness.
For crying out loud, the swimsuit issues aren't the only thing that mattered! What about any and all of their ongoing comics proper? How about the fact the X-Men slid into mediocrity by the mid-90s, and Spider-Man met disaster with the Clone Saga? Or that Tony Stark was replaced by a time-displaced past teenage edition of himself in the Iron Man armor in late 1995? Or, the dreadful Heroes Reborn quartet, 2 of which were drawn by the awful Rob Liefeld? Swimsuit art specials alone aren't going to salvage a once fine company if the quality in the rest of their work is sinking. Just look where they are now. Also, the word "terrible" pretty much gives away where the writer apparently stands.
It was all over — the everlovin’ end, true believer.

With the piece clearly a no-go, I asked the writer to mail me the old Marvel Swimsuit Issues I’d had him buy off eBay to art the story. If nothing else, I thought, I’d be able to expense a fun memento of the project.

The package arrived two days later and was promptly stolen from the doorway of our building.

The curse of the Marvel Swimsuit Issues is still, it seems, a long way from being lifted.
Why does this part also sound hard to swallow? Does this kind of mail theft - which is a federal offense - typically occur? Besides, there's just so much of this material available on the web that you wouldn't even need to buy the issues through eBay to decorate the article, let alone for research purposes. I'm sorry, but with not one, but two thefts alleged here, something about this article sounds so farfetched, so surprisingly negative underneath, that I can only conclude it was contrived for the sake of putting down one of the more tasteful ideas from the 90s for the sake of a modern leftist social justice agenda. One that Claremont and deFalco, if what the article claims they said is true, have sold out to at the expense of their own writings in the process (but again, rest assured, I realize it's possible their words were taken out of context. Certainly the latter's).

Oddly enough, the left-leaning Women Write About Comics' contributors seemed to recognize what the Swimsuit Specials were, over 3 years ago, and one of those cited in this article said:
Sarah R: I second everything Megan said about the context of sexualization in comics. The swimsuit special was incredibly tongue in cheek; everything about it was ridiculous and over-the-top, and that was the whole point. The men and women are treated as equals with various combinations of playful and pouty poses, and it’s fun because the “models” are obviously having fun. I don’t believe it was ever featured in a swimsuit special, but my favorite example of this is Joe Jusko’s gorgeous poster of She-Hulk on Muscle Beach, where she’s featured in a bikini and lifting what I estimate is a kajillion pounds over her head while reading a romance novel. It’s empowering and sexy without feeling exploitative, and her muscular body is seen as attractive and feminine.
See? My thoughts exactly. It also differs considerably from J. Michael Straczynski's 9-11 Spider-Man issue 36, which was blatantly political and where putting villains like Dr. Doom at Ground Zero without opposition definitely did not make sense. If you have to put villains in the same setting as heroes, then the way Marvel Swimsuit Specials did it, with crooks like the Kingpin spending time at the jungle/seaside paradise, works far better, mainly because there was no political agenda slipped into its proceedings. Of course, the above was written at least 3 years ago, so who knows where WWAC stands now on the subject of fun-in-the-sun projects inspired by modeling procedures?

The Marvel Swimsuit Specials, as mentioned before, were decidedly some of the better ideas of the 1990s, and DC, Image and at least a few other companies also produced at least one similar project of their own at the time. In fact, a lot artists working on variant covers today would be far better served if they'd reserve their masterpieces for ideas like the swimsuit specials, where it'd all be much more effective. Now, look where we stand, when even DC and Image have increasingly lost their way, eschewing entertainment and what makes it for the sake of SJW-influenced censorship and political correctness. Under the current management, which is unlikely to be changed at ease, Marvel would never allow swimsuit specials or capitalize on what Sports Illustrated made an art form out of anymore. In any event, most important, lest we forget, is that story merit's gone out the window along with continuity in the regular universe titles to boot. Which is why I reiterate my belief that the best way to mend all the damage is to buy out all these superhero properties through a business with responsible management, which is certainly a lot more than can be said for how Disney oversees their own business assets.

Anyway, while we're on the subject, I think, for the sake of defending the concepts of freedom and escapism, I'll post a few more examples from past swimsuit specials and variations, such as the following, which includes DC, Image and even Zenescope:
If the picture from Zenescope's Grimm Fairy Tales is more recent, I gotta give them credit for upholding some of the best ideas you can put to use in the comics medium. Now, here's a few more from Marvel's 90s classics:
This is one of the reasons why to read and make comics, if not the only one - for entertainment, escapism, and to cherish the basic concepts of freedom, inspiration and wish fulfillment. And I'll be really happy if more artists working in the industry can show they have what it takes to stand up for and defend these ideas, which are good for women as well as men too.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018 

Despite how revolting his online behavior was, Chuck Wendig gets backing from the usual bunch of baddies

Wendig may have been fired by Marvel from their new Star Wars adaptations for his obscenities on social media, but it means nothing to a familiar crowd of freaks whom the entertainment industry, comics or otherwise, would be better off without. Here are some sample tweets they wrote in support of a man who lacks chivalry:

Anybody who studies Meltzer's resume under a magnifying glass will understand why it's hardly a surprise he'd join the bandwagon of Wendig backers. And look at how Simone not only refused to answer a guy's query whether she approves of Wendig's revolting comments, she even muted or blocked him altogether. Another Orwellian "ignorance is strength" approach that doesn't reflect well on her MO. Conway's no improvement either, nor is Soule.

And this is why any company employing these freaks could risk losing customers. Marvel and DC's managements might want to take a good look at what their other employees, freelance and interns, are saying as well, if they don't want anybody to think they're only booting out writers because they were assigned to write high profile movie material adaptations. Everything has to count, and not just at a time when a movie based on a comic is screening in film auditoriums.

And on that note, the news just came out that Wendig's planned SW miniseries has been canned altogether:
Marvel Entertainment released the official list of January 2019 comic book product this week, and one title was notable by its absence: Shadow of Vader, the five-issue comic book series written by Chuck Wendig, the writer Marvel fired last week because of his social media use.

[...] At the New York Comic Con panel, the series was officially announced as launching in January, with the series replacing the current Star Wars: Darth Vader title on the schedule; the latter series releases its final issue Dec. 19. However, the full list of Marvel’s planned January 2019 releases doesn’t include Shadow of Vader.

It’s unclear whether the series is on hold while Marvel addresses Wendig’s firing, or if it has been quietly killed altogether. In a blog post about his firing, Wendig expressed uncertainty about what was going to become of the work he’d already completed on the book.
He's written at least a few novel adaptations of SW as well, and after this scandal, it remains to be seen if Disney/Lucasfilm will continue to employ him to that extent. At this point, he'd be considered such a PR catastrophe, that to keep working with him could spell trouble for their finances. Who ever knew that the guy could be so much more influenced by Darth Vader's dark visions than by Luke Skywalker's?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 

Mojo gets the fans' words put in his mouth

The writers of X-Men: Black (specifically, Zac Thompson and Scott Aukerman) exploited the special spotlighting Mojo so the villainous variation on a TV game show host could spout the valid arguments of the superhero fans:
In addition, it's clear the third panel presented is an allusion to the US government's fight against illegal immigration and interlopers exploiting children who may not even be their own. What really irritates me about the Mojo dialect is how the writers are declaring the audience sick, twisted villains, in a way. As a result, if there's any X-Men title this year that should be boycotted, it's this one.

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Monday, October 15, 2018 

It sounds like CBR wants the unpopular deaths in Heroes in Crisis to be permanent

No surprise, honestly, if they do. Here's a CBR puff piece from several days ago which begins, most irritatingly, with the headline, "Tom King Indicates the Heroes in Crisis Deaths Are Permanent", which on its own sounds like they're quite fine with throwing Wally West and company down the memory hole. Of course, it still confirms King actually does support that position:
When Heroes in Crisis #1 by Tom King and Clay Mann released in September, it kicked off with the murder of multiple superheroes at Sanctuary, which was intended to help superheroes deal with the stress that comes with the job. Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman now have to figure out who killed the heroes and why. Now, writer Tom King has more or less said those killed are “dead” dead.

This weekend DC’s New York Comic Con panel, King was asked by a fan if any superheroes would be resurrected. After all, superheroic deaths don’t always take, and revivals are something fans have become used to over the decades. However, King said that his story wasn’t really about bringing those fallen back from the dead.

“We tell these stories not about death, but about our lives,” King said. Of the many killed, the most controversial were Roy Harper–who in the Red Hood comics had said he’d be going to Sanctuary for rehab–and Wally West, the second Flash whose return kicked off the DC Rebirth continuity Heroes is currently set in.
Whose lives, exactly? I've seen defenses like these before, and they leave me unimpressed, and more than a bit disgusted. Exploiting other people's creations to serve your narrow idea for entertainment, or worse, "education", by turning them into sacrifices for political propaganda, disrespects everything they were meant to be about. Besides, it's already pretty clear character study and drama isn't the focus of this rock-bottom stunt.
As far as Wally’s death is concerned, that will supposedly be dealt with in an upcoming Flash annual, though writer Joshua Williamson has yet to clarify what exactly that will entail. If and when those killed do come back, it may not be King who revives them.
Actually, it'd be far better if he didn't, because his attitude is so cynical, and he's so full of himself, it'd be better if he wasn't the writer tasked with resurrections, which had better come soon in any event, because they've already angered plenty of folks for no good reason.

One of the commenters, interestingly enough, said in response:
I’ve held my tongue simply because I feel I’m probably in the minority. But I really dont like the whole concept of “Heroes in Crisis”. It’s just a little too reflective of the real world. As one who has been diagnosed and treated for PTSD, I don’t want my comic book heroes dealing with such a real concept. I want them to live in a comic book world where their pain is a motivator and not a problem to be dealt with or overcome. Sure - we all know Batman has been traumatized but I’d rather see him simply use the trauma as a motive to fight crime. I go to the comics to escape into a world where heroes are stronger than the rest of us mere mortals and they don’t feel the effects of things like PTSD. I know it’s not realistic but neither is the sole survivor of Krypton flying around in his underpants. And please don’t tell me how wrong I am on this. I recognize it is my on personal hangup. Maybe I should stick to reprints from the 40’s.
Now what does this show? That there's other people out there who did suffer traumas, but recognize why it's unhelpful to exploit fictional creations solely to serve what was a phony "agenda" long before it went to press. To do so would contradict their fandom if they're readers per se, and even if we weren't, it would be completely unfair to the fans proper to exploit notable characters for the sake of a revolting stunt, instead of creating new ones to serve the purpose. And another said:
You are not wrong. I agree with you. I’ve enjoyed DC since Rebirth started, but making a series focusing on PTSD, that impacts the rest of the line is disheartening. I’m still holding out that the deaths are reversed somehow, but I won’t be supporting this series with my money anymore.
Then, another said:
So...DC craps on Wally West for 10 years, even wipes him from existence for a lot of it. Spit in the face of the fans by creating "a" Wally West when they realized the fans weren't going away, but that too backfired because you can't just NAME a character with the same name and expect people to treat him or react to him, or for him to BE that character the fans want. He's finally brought back to start Rebirth and bring hope and legacy back to DC, but right after he gets back DC starts dumping on him again and treating him like garbage. Took his wife, kids, and gave him a pacemaker at one point...holy crap. Then when finally gets one win: being named the true fastest man alive, he has a nervous breakdown over all of his losses and is killed. WHAT!? This is shabby treatment of the character, the fandom, and was done only for shock value. This is a dick move, DC, King, and Didio, and the worst part is that you don't even give a damn; just trying to increase revenue. Screw this and screw DC.
And it's about time fandom sent the message they should've sent back in 2004 after a certain anti-female screed that made light of serious issues was produced. Interestingly, the latest sales reports tell that Heroes in Crisis only debuted second to the Return of Wolverine from Marvel. For now, that's good news in a sense, suggesting the audience has wised up to DiDio's contempt, as well as Joe Quesada's at Marvel. I hope this can serve as the beginning of a campaign to have DiDio/Quesada ousted from their positions, but the sad part is that, by the time it happens, the Big Two are bound to be shuttered, having driven out much of the audience, casual, regular or otherwise.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018 

Marvel was thankfully willing to fire Chuck Wendig for inciteful comments on social media

Here's one amazingly positive step Marvel took to get rid of PR catastrophe from their list of contributors, though they still have a lot more to do if they want to prove they employ decent-minded folks, freelance or otherwise:
A writer for Marvel comics and the Star Wars extended universe has been fired from his job after posting a number of explicit tweets attacking Republicans and the GOP over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

Chuck Wendig, the author of a number of Star Wars novels and the current Star Wars comic book published by Marvel Comics, has been fired from Marvel following his explicit-laden tweets about conservatives, Republicans and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In a series of tweets, Wendig stated that he was fired from writing the remainder of the Marvel Star Wars series: “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring… It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”
The offending comments in question can be seen in the screencaps provided here (and at the link):

Plenty use of the S-word, F-word, among other colorful forms of dialect, I see. Dear dear dear. Anybody who dives that low into the mud cannot be surprised if it torpedoes sales and dwindles audience in the end. Chances are nobody's going to buy even the issues not written by Wendig.

But wouldn't you know it, the guy unfortunately has his sympathizers in the mainstream press, with Indiewire writing up one of the most dishonest pieces of all, alleging there's "more" to the story:
The story goes deeper than that, however, as Wendig says he’s been targeted by abuse from angry readers who disapprove of him introducing the openly gay character Sinjir Rath Velus to the world of “Star Wars.” That led to a flood of negative reviews even before most people had gotten the chance to read “Star Wars: Aftermath,” the 2015 novel in which Velus first appeared.
Looks like they're trying to divert attention from the seriousness of Wendig's postings with allegations of homophobia, all without providing any screenshots of the offending tweets in question. Another leftist tactic that's tiresome. Even Deadline Hollywood seems less interested in what he actually said and more in what he's claiming now. Which only leads nowhere.

Certainly Wendig's dismissal is a positive step, though the question remains whether Marvel did so because he's seen as a lesser member of their favored pool of closed-shop writers whom the publishers decided was expendable, or because he was assigned to adapt a highly recognizable franchise from Lucasfilm, and Disney can ill afford to sink the Star Wars brand any more than they already have with the social justice pandering Kathleen Kennedy turned to. The challenging query now is whether the publishers are willing to let go of more writers, artists and editors who led to PR embarrassments on social media, including Mark Waid, David Walker, Dan Slott, Richard Pace, Saladin Ahmed, Ramon Villalobos, Mike Deodato and even Mike McKone. Last time I looked, the latter drew variant covers for one of the current Spider-Man series and even one for Dynamite's Dejah Thoris adaptations. It'd be strongly recommended Marvel, DC, along with their smaller counterparts, distance themselves from any of the offending contributors, at the very least, by not renewing any contracts they may have. And that they avoid making distinctions between who's white and who's not. What matters is not race or ethnicity, but whether the contributors in question have engaged in offensive dialect and other awful behaviors online, and how it can damage their sales more than need be.

Wendig's ouster from Marvel is justified. But it cannot be simply a token dismissal. There's many other people in comicdom, freelance and interns alike, who've embarrassed their employers with revolting attitudes on social media, and not only is a set of guidelines required, it has to be enforced as well. So far, Marvel's coming off looking better than DC, if only because the former threw out an offending contributor while the latter hasn't lived up to the guidelines they issued but didn't follow up on with affirmative action.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018 

Some mainstream creators have hopefully learned why it won't pay to attack Comicsgate

As I've noted before, there haven't been as many articles about Comicsgate as there were a few years ago about Gamergate, but, here's a few more that came out recently, such as this item from the Canadian Global News, and yes, bias can be detected here, along with ambiguity:
Generally, it’s an online thing, a discussion that frequently turns ugly virtually and in real life; Comicsgate pushes the idea that the comic book industry — mainly laser-focusing on “biggie” creators DC Comics and Marvel — is motivated solely by political agendas, and as such it’s aiming to transform its long-running tradition of featuring white, heterosexual male comic-book characters into a more diverse spectrum. Think: more black characters and characters of colour, or increased gay and trans inclusion.
Yep, keeping fudging up the exact complaints, please. No willingness to admit it's because Marvel - and DC - sought to replace their white heroes in the same costumes or starring spotlights with the diverse creations they speak of. For example, Riri Williams in Iron Man's armors instead of Tony Stark, Sam Wilson/Falcon in Captain America's star-spangled outfit instead of Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner replaced as Hulk star by an Asian guy named Amadeus Cho who becomes an Asian variation (and makes comments like "totally awesome Hulk"), and Thor replaced by Jane Foster in the same role and name to boot. Even well before that, shortly after the repellent Identity Crisis, DC preceded Marvel's moves by replacing Ronnie Raymond as Firestorm in the fiery head suit with a black teen named Jason Rusch, Ray Palmer in the Atom costume with an Asian named Ryan Choi, and Ted Kord in the Blue Beetle suit with a Latino named Jaime Reyes. I even recall they introduced a female Manhunter around that time named Kate Spencer, in 2005. Anybody wondering where most of this social justice tactic began would be strongly advised to take a look at any steps taken by DC during the mid-2000s. And, let's not forget how they turned two heterosexual protagonists gay overnight - Alan Scott, the 1st Green Lantern, and Bobby Drake, Iceman.

They also regurgitate propaganda by pretending there'd always been white male heroes only, which practically obscures the most famous heroine of all, Wonder Woman. No mention of Black Lightning, Black Panther, Storm, Falcon, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Sunfire, Sunspot, or anybody else who counts as black, Asian, Latino, let alone female. Nor is there any mention of the attacks on fans within the comics pages proper, as Jason Aaron did at one point when he was scripting Jane Foster as Thor.
Diehard comics fans who ascribe to this belief are vehemently against the diversity push, saying that the demographic Comicsgate aims to please isn’t interested in comics anyway. So essentially, the comics industry is kowtowing to people who don’t even buy their wares. That’s the gist, anyway.
Well first off, nobody's against diversity so long as new characters are created to fill this purpose, and veteran characters are allowed to maintain their dignity. But they're right about Marvel/DC catering to a phantom audience that didn't even buy the early examples from DC. A vital point: these projects are badly written on an artistic level, and even if they weren't, the SJWs are nothing more than troublemakers trying to make fools out of the Big Two - who are tragically more than joyous to comply - and still won't buy their books.
Most folks in the world of comics will tell you that Comicsgate isn’t even really about comics, per se, but rather an extension of the current political divide.

“Comicsgate is the political culture war come to comic books,” said Liana Kerzner, the former co-host of TV show Ed and Red’s Night Party, and creator of Lady Bits, a YouTube show about women in video games. “I know I’m supposed to be super-serious and sombre about this, but the whole thing is pointless on so many levels. Comic books are a relatively small industry, so readers personalize things to a degree that’s difficult for consumers of mainstream media to understand. Everyone who is a fan of comics has read a book that they felt was written just for them, and it’s like a drug.”

“Its inherent pointlessness is what seems to make it so heated,” she continued. “Comic-book readers have revolted over other stuff before — outrage over Dark Knight 2 not being very good, for instance; this nerd fight has caught the attention of the mainstream because it intersects with politics and our current collective fascination with the alt-right.”
If anything's difficult to understand, that's because the MSM goes out of their way to make damn sure they won't. But it's also a shame Kerzner, whom I thought was in favor of the prior consumer revolt, Gamergate, seems to be taking the opposite stance on Comicsgate, and makes it sound like comic books are expendable. That's an awfully poor approach to take, mainly because literature, IMO, is even more important than video games. Though there may be a point made that the leftists are way too obsessed with "alt-right".
Comics writer Ryan North agrees, saying it’s only garnering so much attention lately because the majority of people within the comics community want to distance themselves from the movement.

“It’s having a bit of a moment because several comics creators have come out recently and said, ‘In case there was any doubt, these guys are misguided, hostile, and don’t represent me at all,'” he said. “That’s drawn some attention to them, but they remain a small minority, given outsized attention because of their beliefs and aggressive tactics, particularly against women, cis and trans.”
Again, all valid arguments about story merit are obscured in favor of a "bigotry narrative" that applies to critics and audience only, and not to creators in the medium proper. Some creators have taken it so far as to risk losing audience and sales because they can't stomach the notion anybody would complain about lack of quality and substance. And it only gets worse with this:
Is this mostly about women in comics?

While some people might deny it, the majority of posts and social-media references to Comicsgate involve the depiction of women in the medium. Put simply, the “old school” comics fans, whoever they might be, resent the increase in the inclusion of women.

The majority of tweets, unshareable here due to vulgarity, refer to women as interlopers in the comics world — and that’s putting it nicely. The only positive is Comicsgate supporters, for the most part, are relatively invisible, hiding online or anonymously posting to sites. There is a strong contingent of anti-Comicsgate folks too, butting against the movement every day.
I don't know if they realize this, but to insinuate fans, old or new, detest inclusion of women runs the gauntlet of making it sound like the fans are all homosexual men! Seriously. And predictably, no valid points are allowed in this drivel about how absurd it was to have Thor replaced by Jane Foster for the sake of liberal feminist propaganda, and Tony Stark with Riri Williams as the star of Iron Man. Or how it's stereotypical to have a black protagonist depicted as a delinquent, and with an Afro hairstyle that largely went out of style since the early 80s.

And it's not about women, but about virtue-signaling agendas and publishers so desperate for attention and phantom sales at all costs, they're willing to throw established creations out the window, as DC just recently did with Wally West, Roy Harper and even black hero Isaiah Crockett, alias Hotspot, who appeared in the late 90s Teen Titans volume written by Dan Jurgens.

Besides, there was never a dearth of women in the shared universes. They just want to push that false narrative, when the fandom for Wonder Woman should prove that's not so, ditto the 2017 movie with Gal Gadot.
Within the comics community, North said, most people don’t think about Comicsgate until it impacts them in some way. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but at least, he asserted, he hasn’t seen much advocacy for it.

“Being able to ignore something isn’t the same as that thing not existing,” he said. “I’ve been aware of [Comicsgate supporters] for a long time — mainly because I wrote a comic starring a woman that was also drawn by a woman — but I can count on less than one hand the number of working professionals I know who have voiced any sort of support for them.”
Look, pal, if you're not turning the Big Two's superhero books inside out and stuffing them with politics left and left, we got no beef with you. And what if the Comicsgate supporters happen to like and promote your work? In that case, you should be flattered, not bothered. Besides, they are far from the sexist/racist idiots your ilk seem to want and hope they are, so why not tone down your rhetoric for a change, eh?

One of the reasons why there's not much advocacy within the medium is for the same a lot of conservatives are afraid to be open about their standings - the thought freelancers could be blacklisted by and large. Interns could fear the same, to be sure.
There’s always division over something in comics, agreed Kerzner, but in order to fully understand it you need to be a part of that world.

“You have to realize that there’s an identity component to fandoms, but it goes deeper than that,” she said. “For a lot of years, people who weren’t white men were kept out of jobs by systemic stuff. For instance, no woman could work on a Superman book because the editor was a serial sexual harasser. DC decided he was more important than any woman who wanted to write or draw Superman, and just didn’t hire women to work with him. They didn’t do anything about him until #MeToo gave them no other choice. I think you can see how resentment forms in conditions like that.”

“Of course there’s the other side too,” she continued. “Guys who felt like comics were a safe place to be a nerd, who felt it was a place where their opinion mattered, now feel like that’s been yanked away and they feel aggrieved. Some would respond ‘too bad’ to that, but I’m giving you the structural circumstances that led to Comicsgate being, essentially, a huge fight over nothing terribly important. There’s a psychological connection that geeks have with their media that’s really hard to understand unless you’re a geek.”
Well now we're getting somewhere better with Kerzner for a change! (Well, almost, as the second paragraph suggests.) She's alluding to the Eddie Berganza scandal, which men like Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz, when he was still an executive with DC, could've cleared up if they'd wanted to, but vehemently refused until it finally made mainstream headlines. Why, so long as the protectors are still there, should we even feel the need to finance their new output? Heck, another reason why Berganza got away with his antics for a long time was also because, as was the case with Harvey Weinstein, much of the comics press refused to speak out and demand Berganza's dismissal from the payroll, or were so half-hearted and abandoned the subject soon after, hardly ever bringing it up enough to count.

But then, she spoils everything by say it's nothing that important. In that case, the video games she was willing to defend in the past few years are nothing important either. What good is the pop culture scene if you place that a low value on a different medium as opposed to your own? Video games have their high points, but as noted, I think literature, including illustrated, is just as important and maybe more, because book literature came long before video games, and could be around long after.
In February of this year, Comicsgaters released a public blacklist of names for followers to boycott, and almost all of the people on the list are left-wing, women or people of colour. It was allegedly made for “educational purposes only.”
If memory serves, it was only one commentator who actually brought it up, and Ethan Van Sciver argued against it, after which it was dropped. So please quit droning on about it, though when it comes to leftists, they're actually raising a workable point. And might I note some people on the Comicsgate side, like Mike S. Miller, are POC? So let it go please. And you might want to consider that, even if Chelsea Cain doesn't support Comicsgate, she doesn't support Marvel at this point either. But, we can probably guess why they don't focus on that.
“You are advised not to engage in any harassment/doxing/Twitter trolling with these people,” read a statement by Comicsgate proponents. “The list is meant for all concerned with the state of comics to see who the main contributors are to the declining quality. The players in #Comicsgate are not responsible for your actions if you DO NOT take the advice of the above statement. If you want to hurt these individuals, do it with your wallet. Don’t buy their products. Do not give the false reporter any clicks. Use for any ‘reporter’ links.”

Needless to say, many Comicsgate people didn’t follow those instructions.
Needless to additionally say, Global News hasn't provided any examples.
Is this at all affiliated with Gamergate?

Gamergate — yes, another “gate” — is an online-born controversy that started up in 2014, predating Comicsgate. Gamergate supporters believe there is a strong influx of females and feminism inundating the gamer world, another perceived vestige for white men. Additionally, supporters say there’s unethical collusion between the media and said feminists, along with others pushing for diversification.

The pro-Gamergaters are known for their ruthless online harassment of people they perceive to be pushing this agenda. That includes doxxing, the release of one’s personal information (real name, address, etc.) into the public sphere. To make things even more complicated, Gamergate supporters usually deny the harassment took place or accuse the victim of manufacturing the abuse.

With some similarities, it seems like the two are intertwined; Kernzer says they are, but only “kind of.”

“There are some participants in common, but Gamergate did have some seeds of valid concern regarding ethical journalism and corporate practices,” she said. “They just got swallowed up by the culture war. Comicsgate is all culture war.”
So there's no valid concerns raised by Comicsgate? Man, this lady really sold out, just as the news site regurgitates all the accusations about Gamergate without any valid examples provided, and no questions whether the anti-Gamergate bunch ever committed the very felonies they speak of, including that case of Devin Faraci, who had to resign from Alamo Drafthouse's online news site staff after he was accused of committing sex offenses.
“The other disturbing thing about Comicsgate is how involved creators have been,” she continued. “Most video game developers wisely stayed out of Gamergate. The ones who did engage rarely got down in the muck with the culture warriors. I think Comicsgate is being driven by a lot of behind-the-scenes feuds between creators coming out in the open, and there’s an ugliness to it which indicates that the comic book industry, as a whole, still has a lot of growing up to do. Some of the stuff I’ve seen has just been juvenile. We’re very lucky to work in some pretty fun industries and fighting with people all the time is a great way to show you’ve lost sight of that fun.”

Global News reached out to at least a dozen comic book writers, creators and artists for their opinions about Comicsgate, and the majority of them turned the offer down flat. The reason? They didn’t want to give Comicsgate any press or coverage. Indeed, for the most part, the comics world just wants this to go away.
I think there's something good about the writers refraining from making any comments to this site's would-be reporter about Comicsgate: it largely backfired on them already, and, as the case of Mike McKone should make clear, some did take their coordinated attacks way too far, making full-fledged fools of themselves, when they could've followed the example a lot of video game producers did and kept quiet. The knee-jerk negative reaction by leftist creators to Comicsgate is a textbook example of how not to convey disagreements, and demonstrates how badly educated quite a few of them are, to say nothing of what happens when a whole medium otherwise ghettoizes itself, as they've been doing as far back as the early 90s. I almost feel sorry for McKone, who may never be able to attend a convention again (and he may have cancelled an appearance in Georgia due to his idiocy online) without worrying about whether somebody will raise the issue or shake their head in disbelief at how a guy can stoop so low to make clear his disdain over a consumer revolt he doesn't agree with. If they really wanted to prove sincerity, they'd stay off of social media and concentrate first and foremost on their work and family life, I might add.
“The whole ‘gate’ suffix is ridiculous,” said North. “It doesn’t mean anything: there’s no scandal here. Watergate had a break-in. ‘Gamergate’ at least had the (thoroughly discredited) idea that there was something fishy around ‘ethics in game journalism.’ ‘Comicsgate’ has nothing — no scandal, no event, nothing to prove and nothing to deny — beyond ‘I don’t like some comics and would like for them not to exist.'”

“My opinion of Comicsgate is that there are no winners in it and never will be,” agreed Kernzer. “It’s much more productive to praise the books you enjoy to give them word of mouth publicity. That way, other people will sample them, and the market will reward good work. No fighting on the internet required!”
Wrong on the first. The winners are a lot of the crowdfunding artists who've supported it, and got bundles to help finance their creations. And what, is North insinuating journalists in video games or comics cannot tell a lie, or clog their biases into their work? Please. But right on the second. That was what the #MoveTheNeedle hashtag on Twitter was about, in basic terms. However, the way most comics are formatted as pamphlets to date is outmoded and should be retired.

Next is an article from the Rochester Institute of Technology, which, while it does have a narrow view of its own, does surprisingly bring up a better subject like the demise of the pamphlet, though again, not without bias involved. First though, is what they say about a mountain made of a molehill:
On July 28, 2017, Heather Antos posted a selfie. She is an assistant editor for Marvel Comics, and her selfie depicts herself and her colleagues sharing milkshakes to honor the memory of Marvel’s Senior Publisher Flo Steinburg. What was meant to be a respectful gesture towards the passing of a beloved friend was instead received with vitriol and hatred as angry comic book fans took up their keyboards.

People attacked the group for being “false geek girls” and made comments about their appearances, one even commenting that Antos looks like the "'false rape charge' type." This is only a taste of the toxicity that seems to be bubbling over in a dark corner of the internet known as Comics Gate.
How many people, exactly? I agree the comment they do allude to, which I did see, was vulgar, but it was only a handful - not thousands upon thousands - and they make it sound like it was. But while I do think etiquette is vital in education, I do think making such a fuss over just a trickle of crude comments only makes things worse, and does exactly what the cybertrolls would want. It also points to a larger problem of "pros" not having a thick skin to deal with all this nonsense properly. That this is never raised as an argument just demonstrates how poor PR's become in entertainment.

It's also never explored as to whether the cybertrolls in question are even Comicsgate supporters to begin with. Some could be posing under multiple names on the same social media platforms, yet this is never questioned either.
Worden shared some insight on the nature of comic book publishing, and how the sales statistics presented are rarely enough to draw conclusions about the success of titles. [...]
Well at least this itself points to the most laughable matter about comics pamphlet sales today: they sell so low compared to other mediums - mainly because publishers refuse to go paperback/hardcover only - that it's turned the whole medium into the ghettoized farce it now is. Even publishers whose contributors are more decent make me shake my head in disbelief at how they go into the biz yet stick firmly with this format.
Even Marvel’s own vice president of sales, David Gabriel, points the blame at diversity, insulting their readers by claiming that "people didn’t want any more diversity" when asked about slumping sales. Not only is this assumption offensive, but with the successes of independent titles like "Saga" and "Lumberjanes" created by and featuring women and/or POC, it’s factually incorrect as well. So, what’s the deal?
Here they go again, blurring differences between corporate-owned superhero worlds and creator-owned projects, which, while obviously not free of leftist bias, at least demonstrate a better example of how to present all this diversity mishmash by not forcing it on other people's creations.
Meaning, there is very little information that discloses the amount of trade paperbacks or graphic novels that are being sold in bookstores, a market that may be much more diverse than the die-hard comic book fans that patronize comic book shops. Not only that, but the sales numbers that are reported are the number of issues sold to retailers, not how many of those comics make it into the hands of individual readers. So, there are no stats that talk about the sales of trade paperbacks in bookstores or digital copies, making it hard to gain a full picture of the market Marvel is selling to. The most identifiable portion of the market is that of the comic book store, and that is where most Comics Gate supporters come from.

Comic book stores must make safe choices when choosing to buy their inventory, because once they order their books, they cannot return any of the copies that do not sell.

“It used to be that if you did have old merchandise, you would put it in a warehouse somewhere, and ten years from now it’d be worth something. And that had gone away,” Worden stated. This risk may drive retailers to buy less of the books that are pissing off such a large portion of their specific market.

Single-issue comic books have been on a steady decline for years now, as less and less casual fans are willing to spend $4.00 or more on only 20 or so pages of content every week, when they can pay less money for more content in trade paperbacks and graphic novels. And gatekeeping and toxicity from Comics Gate isn’t making it any more inviting.
Wait a moment, are they using Orwellian parroting, and claiming Comicsgate wants to be gatekeepers, and not the leftists in comics proper? Yeah, it figures they want to scapegoat Comicsgate and rightists at every chance they get. At least they admit the single-issue format with ads inside has long been an outdated concept, but may not admit even Comicsgate advocates feel the same way. I myself would rather buy as trades these days, for some of the reasons they state, and even some commercial bookstores can offer them for decent prices too.
“I think ultimately that if single-issue comics are going to die, it might be because of the Comics Gate stuff,” said Worden. “Ultimately, people will just get tired of dealing with that in their day-to-day life and they’ll migrate towards other forms of comics.”

So, it looks like single-issue comic books may be on their way out the door. The gatekeeping and toxicity of the Comics Gate movement is pushing away talented creators who want to breathe new life into the industry, and, ironically, their stubbornness will only accelerate their demise. Comics Gate needs to stop devoting so much energy to harassing creators that they don’t like, or who create stories that aren’t for them, and start working with them to save the industry that is clearly valued by everyone on all sides. Otherwise, the future may look bleak for local comic shops everywhere.
Umm, Bob Layton also stated he's dismayed at the continued use of the single-issue pamphlet format, and now this stupid college paper is trying to uphold an outdated format for the sake of scapegoating Comicsgate?!? Very sad. They don't even make clear who or how these "creators" they speak of are talented, or how they make great successors to the writers/artists of yesteryear like Ramona Fradon, Gardner Fox, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, or even David Anthony Kraft, whom I remember wrote the early She-Hulk stories after her creator, Stan Lee, began things with the premiere issue in 1980. Nor are there any points made about how company wide crossovers are another factor in the demise of corporate comics.

If there's anybody who's precipitating the demise of comicdom in any format, it's the ultra-leftist creators themselves, including Bill Sienkiewicz, who's still wallowing in awful moonbattery. And, let's not forget McKone. When a creator starts acting so noticeably vile, is it any wonder fewer and fewer people want anything to do with them? All that aside, what a shame it appears this university publication apparently doesn't want to improve anything about comics storytelling or even pricing, throwing it all to the winds by blaming it all on Comicsgate, and even Gamergate. When they do that, it only makes clear they're not interested in merit-based development at all. I just hope most leftist creators now realize it won't do their reps any good to pursue the matter any further.

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Friday, October 12, 2018 

Bendis criticized for a book line lacking women's involvement

Looks like more SJWs are turning against their once precious representative, Brian Bendis, as he launches a special line of books at DC called "Wonder Comics":

So this guy, who's worked as a reviewer for the AV Club, is concerned that there's no women working with overrated Bendis - whom he actually admires - but not with the poor story quality of modern superhero writing, which Bendis has to shoulder some blame for, yet none of that matters to him. Why is he taking notice now, years after Bendis didn't really work with any women on his Marvel projects, wrote stories that were insulting to women, including the superficial restoration of Scarlet Witch's "craziness" from 1990, the scene where Tigra gets bashed up by the Hood, and even the tasteless misuse of Jean Grey? All that said, there's a certain fascination in seeing the SJWs turn against Bendis, their stated fandom notwithstanding.

Since we're on the issue, the dreadful IO9/Gizmodo's got more on this line of books he's overseeing, which includes a new take on the Young Justice series originally written by Peter David in 1998-2002, and it involves another writer who may have already drawn attention for the wrong reasons:
While Bendis will “curate” the line, he won’t be involved with every book in the initial roster. He’ll co-write Naomi with David Walker, featuring art from Jamal Campbell, a new series based on a new young hero. Meanwhile, Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne will lead a new reboot of the Wonder Twins, the first time Zan and Jayna will be seen in DC’s post-Rebirth continuity. Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones round out the extra teams with a new take on the classic Dial H for Hero book, described as an “updated take on the Silver Age classic” about a magical dial that could let ordinary people temporarily become superheroes in times of crisis.

That leaves the heaviest hitter of Wonder Comics, the new Young Justice book. It doesn’t build on the animated series (which got its own short-lived comic series in 2011); rather, it’s the original Teen Titans continuation after that team was aged up and rebranded as simply Titans in the late ‘90s. The new Young Justice—written by Bendis and with art from his Action Comics partner Patrick Gleason—will reunite the original team. Given that it’s in-continuity with DC’s current comics, that makes for some interesting returns. Tim Drake’s Robin and Donna Troy’s Wonder Girl will be reunited with both the Connor Kent version of Superboy and Bart Allen as Impulse, as well as a new character for the series dubbed “Teen Lantern”—a young girl who hacked a Green Lantern Corps power ring to use for her own.
Say, is that the same Walker who attacked conservatives during his Nighthawk writing, and exploited Avengers for Occupy Wall Street propaganda? Some of the people Bendis' working with do seem to be recruits he brought over from his Marvel days, and that could explain how they now turn up working on some of the books under his new imprint lines too.

As for a revival of Young Justice, I don't expect it to retain the same tongue-in-cheek humor David gave his incarnation before it was cancelled by editorial fiat, all for the sake of Geoff Johns' take on Teen Titans, which was illustrated by the morally bankrupt Mike McKone, who's since made a PR embarrassment of himself. And that series had the additional problem of being overshadowed by joyless darkness and a forced sense of humor that stunk of desperation by phonies trying to prove their work was worth every dollar wasted. Even Bendis' humor is very weak, and the notion a man whose past work was "adult" in a very immature way would be suited to work on books spotlighting young teen protagonists is simply dismaying. There's a reason why no sensible woman should want to work on comics alongside Bendis. Something that's lost on the AV Club writer, I guess.

Also, Comics Beat ran a fawning interview with Bendis and artist Nick Derington over their current DC work, and this annoying part came up about Green Lantern:
Dar: That’s really funny to hear because you’ve been playing with Green Lantern’s friendship with Superman in those books.

Bendis: Green Lantern doesn’t have a normal relationship with anybody. And I got to the point where he just realizes it. He goes, “You’ve never been to my house!” And Batman goes, “I’ll come to your house.”
It sound juvenile already, and since when doesn't GL have normal relationships with anybody? Or, what makes GL's relations and interactions with anybody so different from many of his fellow superheroes? Hal Jordan didn't have good relations with women like Carol Ferris and friendships with Tom Kalmaku? I'm not impressed with what Bendis says, which implies Hal Jordan is a real person, and doesn't specify this is a fictional character who's had either simple or wacky relations with anybody in past decades of his existence, and what he thinks is the best rendition overall. If that's how he runs his business, that's precisely why he was never suited to write superhero comics at all.

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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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