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Wednesday, July 04, 2018 

Subtle sex-negative propaganda in a review of newest Fathom story

Comics Bulletin reviewed the first part of the latest take on Michael Turner's Fathom, and I couldn't help noticing this very puzzling line about the artist's rendition of Aspen Matthews:
Oum, with help from colorist Peter Steigerwald, redefines Aspen’s look. No longer does [she] look like a supermodel with an impressive tan, but a individual of Pacific islander heritage. However, this appears to be the only thing of significance to occur in this issue. While the conflict is set up, and Aspen gets a memorable introduction, there isn’t a lot for readers to chew on (or reviewers to comment on). The issue gives the series a promising start, though it is lacking in substance.
I think the review is lacking in substance, if this is what they're going to stoop to. Let's put aside for a moment that they're throwing ultra-leftist Ron Marz under the bus, along with the artist. Is that supposed to insinuate a Pacific islander or a Polynesian can't possibly look like a supermodel? What nonsense. There's Native/Indian American women and models who're smokin' hot, and plenty of Pacific islanders too. Why, does supermodel even apply here? What's that got to do with this anyway?

And what's this about Matthews not having a tan? Because if the following panel from the new book is any suggestion:
She does have a tan, or, if characterized as darker-complected, she's still very hot looking. There's certainly that. So what's their point? It sounds to me like a sex-negative stealth message they're delivering.

There's even older forms of propaganda on this site to consider, like this review of the new Witchblade from a few months ago:
The story picks up with Alex already as the bearer of the Witchblade. The artifact takes a familiar form as a bracelet affixed to her wrist. The Witchblade is also sentient, which is wonderfully showcased by Ingranata’s art. The struggle that Alex faces to remain in control of her own body is clearly presented, and it is horrifying. While we do not see the moment the Witchblade bonded with Alex, it is frequently revisited through flashbacks and dream sequences, which have taken on new meaning under the #MeToo movement. We see that Alex has been a victim in the past, and she must now [literally] carry a reminder of that around with her. How she manages to move forward is a strong narrative hook.

[...] Witchblade #1 kicks off a new era for Top Cow’s flagship title. With a new creative team and a brand new vision, the series looks to shed any lasting remnants of its 1990s reputation and become a bastion for strong, empowered female creators and characters. The artwork is fully engaging and lively without succumbing to the expected, exploitative depictions of women. This debut issue provides a strong foundation that Kittredge, Ingranata, and Valenza can hopefully build upon for a long, long time.
So they're implying the magic bracelet sexually assaulted the new bearer of the Witchblade artifact? Oh, just what we need, taking even that much flavor out of what looks already like a story undermined with liberal feminism. They make it sound like they're confirming the exaggerated assumptions of detractors back in the 90s, that Witchblade was wholly exploitative, which was hardly the case. On which note, if it were, why should anybody who thought lowly of it then care about it now? And if recent sales figures from the past months say anything, they don't.

Still, that serves as an example of how the comics press threw the late Michael Turner under the bus, no matter how leftist his own politics might've been when he was still around.

Even this newer review of Dynamite's Charlie's Angels adaptation, written by John Layman and drawn by Joe Eisma, reeks of social justice propaganda:
The very concept of Charlie’s Angels has always been intriguing, but never has it truly been executed in a manner where it reaches its full potential. The original show has an earnest campiness that makes it a fondly remembered product of its era, but still could not overcome its cultural limitations to be the landmark feminist statement it could have been. Then there are the early 2000s movies, which are comfortably at home at the bottom of bargain bins in various big-box stores. But now comes a new incarnation, updating the Angels with modern storytelling sensibilities while maintaining the setting (and style) of the 1970s thanks to writer John Layman and artist Joe Eisma. The result is a comic that is… okay.
So they're saying that just because the original series was produced at a time when Women's Lib was a big thing, it should've spoken to the same? I saw all 5 seasons and never got the vibe it was meant to be an outright political statement; just an escapist fare for people looking for something that wasn't overly violent.
The art by Joe Eisma fares a little better. Though remarkably different from [and less objectifying than] the cover art by David Finch, Eisma’s art possesses a consistency that can be found in most of his recent works. [...]
There we go with the sad addition of Wertham-like worries about "objectification" in almost every way.
Readers hoping for the next big thing for leading ladies in comics are going to be sorely disappointed. There are surely some that will point to the all-male creative team as a problem, but that really isn’t the case. The real problem is that the source material these creators are drawing from just isn’t very good. But they deserve credit for at least turning lemons into lemonade.
So I guess they never liked the source material at all, huh? And isn't that something - an all-male team poses a problem, not their personas/politics? Guess they have that low an opinion of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to boot, or even Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Well in that case, they might as well not even bother to review. What's the use if you can't show appreciation for past products with an understanding they were meant foremost for escapism and light entertainment? That's something I'm a lot of people missed in the past, and even now. If all they care about is gritty fare shrouded in darkness, it's no wonder showbiz has plummeted so badly. I think Comics Bulletin should cut out their sex-negative moralizing and learn to appreciate the better things in life, and not spoil it for everyone looking for decent escapism in an era where divisive politics have been ruining everything. The above examples are not helpful.

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