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Friday, September 18, 2015 

Blastr fawns over Rick Remender as a "hero"

The Blastr website interviewed Remender, who's now left his work at Marvel and resumed independent work. At the beginning, the reporter begins with this fluff-coated boast:
Rick Remender is one of the few comic-book writers whose work I will pull regardless of the description. With Fear Agent, Black Science, Uncanny X-Force and my latest favorite, Deadly Class, under his belt, Remender has risen to hero status in the comic-book world and continues to release issues at a rate that is to be admired. He’s the writer I recommend to friends looking for adrenaline-filled comic that doesn’t let off the gas and just goes.

So when news of his break from Marvel to focus on creator-owned comics was announced, the news felt a little bittersweet. I was first introduced to Remender through Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force, which is still one of my favorite Marvel stories of all time, but quickly fell into a much deeper love with his creator-owned series, especially Black Science and Deadly Class.
Did he by any chance happen across Remender's Avengers work too? Including some of the combined X-Men/Avengers stories where, even if it was only temporary, Scarlet Witch and Rogue were killed for shock value? And there was even the time when he retired Steve Rogers as Captain America, but in a very awful way. Which is worse, the diversity stunt or the tarnishing of Steve's background? How can Remender be considered a "hero" with cheap tales like those in his resume?

Then, there's his latest comic called Tokyo Ghost to ponder. It sounds like an attack on the Gamergate campaign:
His latest, Tokyo Ghost, takes place in the technology-ridden isles of Los Angeles (the city has turned into a host of islands after the water levels have risen) as mayhem rules the streets and people are only concerned with entertainment and drugs, in the form of Nanotech that gets injected in their blood, changing their emotions. His artist and collaborator, Sean Murphy (The Wake, The Fade Out), crafts a bleak world that screams in its intensity as the protagonists, a couple of constables bound by love as well as co-dependency, try to contain a madman named Davey, who lost touch with reality through his videogame obsession.
The interview goes on with the following:
Can you talk about the villain in the first issue, Davey, and his role in the Los Angeles you described?

Well, Davey is the millennial nostalgiast who sees reality as a videogame. Only this is a character in a world in 60 years from now, so for him, the millennial attitude and culture is pure nostalgia, like rockabilly dudes who are immersed in the 1950s today. It’s one of those kind of things. Davey sees no distinction between the Internet and the real world. To him, if he was playing Grand Theft Auto and mowing people down as a game or doing it in real life, there’s no difference. His mind has become so immersed in the Internet and in fabricated reality that everything’s a videogame to him. The isles of Los Angeles is just a game level that he’s trying to beat, and he wants to get to take out the big boss, who just happens to be Mr. Flack, the man who runs the entertainment conglomerate that runs the city. Flack sends out his constables, Len and Debbie, to stop Davey. So it’s taking things that we see that are problematic and just magnifying them to the nth degree to have some fun with. The commentary is there, but at the same time, you’re having a lot of fun watching this insane Inspector Gadget/Joker-like character that views the Internet and reality as the same thing.
As I said, it sounds like he's conceived his own take on the Gamergate campaign, making its constituents out to be people who can't distinguish between fiction and reality. The irony is that there may be some would-be comic readers out there who can't tell the difference between the two planes.
In many of your comics, drugs have a major role in the plot and development of the characters. Can you talk about how drugs impact the characters in Tokyo Ghost?

Well, in Tokyo Ghost, the drug is the iPhone or Internet, and it has been magnified to a point where that is projected constantly in front of you. Also, your blood is full of Nanotech, which, if you read on futurism sites, they say we’re not far off from being able to inject nanos into your blood that will release chemicals to change your mood. I think it’s another step towards our desire to remove all bad feeling or things that are uncomfortable from life. It’s an examination in terms of how far we will take that. And so the drug in Tokyo Ghost is really technology, and I also like examining the idea of the co-dependent who is stuck with someone who is addicted to technology the same way that most alcoholics or drug addicts are being propped up by a co-dependent in their relationship, someone who is enabling them to continue their destructive behavior by paying their bills or raising their kids. I wanted to examine that with Len and Debbie, where you have Debbie, who’s a straight edge that doesn’t have any tech, propping up Len, who has completely fallen into the Internet, and he’s no longer there. And she recognizes that if she quits propping him up he’d die, so that’s an interesting dynamic to examine.
What does that mean? That he's a technophobe? I'll agree that too much TV viewing can be hurtful, but to say that technology as a whole, computers or otherwise, is all bad sounds taking it too far. How would we develop automobiles and machines for agriculture if we didn't have tech, including the iPhones? How could we develop scientific programs to help humanity? How could we be informed of what goes on in the world without computers and internet? How could we even read the very interview Remender gave if technology were only a "drug"? I don't deny there can be problems the same way TV could be, but I don't buy into the notion that's all tech amounts to either. And if his story is based on distortions, then that only makes it all the more useless.

He also said the following earlier about Wolverine:
There was once a letter written to you in an issue of Black Science about how you construct your comics. You said the best thing to do when creating any story is to start with the characters and write about them, who they are, who they love and hate, where they came from and anything you can think about from them. Write pages and pages' worth. Get to know them and the story will just sort itself out. Can you do that the same with licensed characters, or does that only work on creator-owned characters?

No, you can’t. Let’s go back to Wolverine. Wolverine has been in a million comic books. Now, I’m a purist. I’m a Chris Claremont, Frank Miller kind of Wolverine fan, with a little Larry Hama in there. But, to me, that’s the era that the character really clicks, maybe because it’s when I was a kid. Once you’ve got bone claws and his origin has changed, then he’s stopped being the same character for me, relative to when I read the character. For other people, that could be completely different. But you have all of this history that other people have written, and if you tried to make perfectly logical sense of all of it, any character is a jumbled mess. Chronologically, he’s been a thousand things. So, what you have to do in those situations is, you really have to take the things you like best, and for me it was Claremont, Miller and Grant Morrison. You try to acknowledge everything else if you can, but to acknowledge all of that continuity and history leaves you shackled, and in many ways with little else to be discovered about that character. There’s no way to go back and read the million comics with Wolverine and make sure that you’ve fallen in line with every single version that’s ever been written of the character. It’s insane to think every line written ever is a part of the character. So inevitably you’re going to have somebody who’s a fan of Scott Lobdel’s story angry with you because on a comic 23 years ago Wolverine said he doesn’t eat steak and beans on Tuesdays, he eats eggs, and that pedantic joylessness makes the job less fun. Whereas in creating my own character, I’m filling in those gaps. I’m creating the character’s backstory, taking them to the next step in their lives. What I want to say is pure in its intention.
Why does he specifically cite Lobdell, who's hardly a fan-favorite? (And with such low sales throughout the medium today, who can truly be?) He was one of the worst writers of the 90s, with very little on his record worth reading. And of the million comics featuring Wolverine, I figure more than half of those were tales written since 2000, when quality was on the wane and continuity was falling apart courtesy of Jemas and Quesada's machinations. Indeed, many of those particular stories (like Bendis' take on Avengers) just featured Logan based on his popularity in imagery, and did not involve any talented writing. And many of those specific stories would be better off ignored, because they don't have the impact Claremont, Miller and Hama's stories did years before. This is just what Remender won't even consider, and given how poorly he dealt with Scarlet Witch, how can he call himself a purist? Nor will he be missed at Marvel and DC, because he really didn't have anything much to bring to the table to begin with.

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