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Monday, March 23, 2020 

The biggest phonies tell Polygon about the decade's most defining moments

Here's a whole article Polygon wrote last month where they got the commentaries of several writers and artists who could only think to sugarcoat the past decade, and the SJW identity politics that came with it. For example, Al Ewing, who said:
The ’00s felt like the “Hollywood Decade.” “Widescreen” and “cinematic” became the new normal in terms of style, and the content became a strange mix of the grown-up and the childish, an attempt to get in tune with the new political zeitgeists while trying to compete awkwardly with the internet as a source of fetish porn. So many things felt “ready for the movie,” subconsciously getting the plots and costume designs and casting in place ahead of a world where the movies were finally ready to close the distance and become comics, complete with shared universes, crossovers and line-wide events. But at the same time, there was no shortage of diamonds amongst the lens flares — some of the great masters of the field doing career-best work, alongside the first shots across the bow from those who were cresting the hill, ready to take their place in the sun.

[The ’10s marked a] return to psychedelia and love, pitted against the last helpless gasp of the Olde Ways, with the dread Social Media fighting on both sides like Two-Face, always ready to ally himself if the coin-flip is right, but never to be mistaken for the hero. The story of the tens is a story of young people of all ages, all sick of grandad’s wanky lads-mag solipsism, all aching to throw their shoulder to the wheel and tell stories that speak to them and for them and the people they know. And — slowly, against some particularly creaky and cobwebbed resistance — it feels like the wheel has turned, at least a little. Not that there isn’t a lot still to be done — speculation is once again nibbling seductively at the load-bearing beams of the industry, and the culture war that’s been on seemingly as long as I’ve been alive is still raging away, with the stakes getting higher all the time — but at least when it comes to this one genre of this one medium in this one quite small section of the world, I have hope that things are getting better. If the ’00s involved the first introductions to the people who shaped superheroes in the ’10s ... well, we’re getting some great introductions now.
It's funny he seemingly complains about attempts to match political zeitgeists, even as he was doing the same in some of the Marvel stories he's been writing, like the Hulk, where, as noted before, he shoved in an attack on whites, and support for LGBT propaganda, along with horror thriller elements. Of course he must think things are getting better, for his agendas. An introduction we don't need. Then, there's Amanda Connor:
I can only speak for myself, because I worked on Harley since 2013. And in 2009 and 2010, we had worked on Power Girl, and I feel [that] this decade a lot of female superheroes came to the forefront. It was a very, very girl power decade for comic books. Also, and this has like been going on for the past 20 years, is that when I first started working in comics — and even when I was reading comics as a little kid — there were really not that many girls reading comics.

You would go to a convention in the late ’80s and the early ’90s and the only girls that you saw at comic book conventions were usually being “burros.” They were pack mules for whatever guy was the comic collector — and it was their mom or their girlfriend or their sister or their cousin, Hey, come to this con with me, I need you to carry all this crap for me while I get it signed. And every once in a while there would be an actual female comic reader. Now girls read comics across the table and it’s great. It’s really good. There’s more female creators, there’s more female readers. I feel like this decade has been a very, very girl power decade, which is great.
But they're not buying superhero titles en masse, and not from the Big Two. And if she's implying Captain Marvel paved the way, that's hilarious, considering how it turned a character who could've been admirable from a feminine icon into a masculinized freakshow for a few years, before Marvel finally realized it wasn't working, and partially backed away. But they wouldn't give Carol Danvers back her Ms. Marvel mantle, because a Muslim star became mandatory, and Carol's own stories within 2 years have continued to rate abysmally. In fact, why does Connor's claim girls were acting as water-carriers for male customers sound awfully farfetched? I wouldn't have asked my girlfriend to lug stuff that could be awfully heavy for her, and I say this as someone who's sometimes carried heavy books around in a shoulder bag. Then, there's Brian Bendis, who comes off sounding Orwellian:
The ‘00s: Truth. I know a lot of people will say diversity, in voice, experience and perspective, and that is true and I am so happy to have part of it. But it came in the form of everybody bringing their personal truth to their work. A lot of people saying: You know what i am NOT seeing reflected in my comics… and just doing THAT! So you had perspectives and experiences we’ve never seen reflected in popular superhero literature before sometimes coming at us simultaneously.

The ’10s: World building. Almost everybody I know is either actively publishing or about to release a brand-new world or universe that is different than the one we are living in right now. Obviously a reflection of our times in that you want to live somewhere else or in a better place or in a different place.

Also, you can feel some of our audience is more traumatized and stressed out about the real world than they ever have been before and they come to us sometimes for total escape. I can feel it with my Superman readers. Take me to a world where the good guys win. I think about that … a lot.

I’m also seeing a great deal of creators from almost all walks of life pushing themselves to see how far they can push the medium. That’s a very good sign for things to come.
What he doesn't think about is merit-based writing, which he lacks. That's why he's effectively led to plenty Superfans departing the Man of Steel's books than before. Just who are those creators he speaks of and what are they pushing besides leftist social justice? The following by Bryan Hill is also fishy:
I think the ’00s in comics are largely defined, like a lot of media, by living in a post 9/11 world. How do you tell stories about superheros when the real world seems to be absent of the ones we need? I think fiction had to catch up to that. In the ’90s we were very safe. We were in this Clintonian economy where — we were so safe that you could make a movie with Ed Norton about how Ikea was the biggest problem in your life. That felt safe. I shop at Ikea, so I need to get punched, you could make that movie.

I think when you look at the ’00s, you see a lot of the deconstruction of the archetype. I don’t think it’s a mistake that [the Borne films were] a major cultural influence, because it was a deconstruction of the sense of safety that government can provide in military action. And I think with comics, comics took a beat to grieve. The rest of the world was grieving and comics was kind of the same thing. But I think born out of that [was a] need to reexamine and deconstruct our relationship to these archetypes and to really examine what heroism means. I think we saw a rise in emotional depth when it came to these narratives. The emotional victories became as important as the plot victories in the ’00s.
If he's justifying deconstructionism, and using established corporate properties to do so, he's hugely disappointing. That's exactly what brought down superheroes, and during the 2000, none of the majors ever offered a valid look at combating serious issues like Islamic terrorism. So what's the use of arguing about what real life lacks if he won't/never has confronted challenging issues? Next comes C.B Cebulski:
For me, comics are always boil down by the talent who makes them, and it was an increased focus on the talent that defined these two decades of comics in different ways. In the ’00s, for Marvel, our talent management group was formed to streamline recruitment and placement of writers and artists; give our talent the options and tools they need to help them build their creative careers, both for Marvel and their creator-owned books; help drive our stories and art forward with the best creators on the characters they wanted to be writing and drawing; and be a personal and professional resource for creators to answer any questions they may have to help them deliver the best work possible. This was a vast change from the previous system of each editorial office controlling and managing their own writers and artists, and offered more opportunities for the creative exploration while building a more cohesive Marvel Universe. Other companies have since looked at our efforts and started managing their talent in similar ways.

In the ’10s, it’s been an amazing time for discovering new talent; never before have we seen so many “ready for prime time” new creators writing and/or drawing comics, both independent and mainstream, from around the globe, adding a diversity of new voices to storytelling in both the print and digital mediums. And there’s no slowing down ... comics will only get more exciting, entertaining and enriching as talent from all walks of life across the world begin and continue telling their stories.
But will be willing to hire any new talent if they're right-wing? Or if they hold visions contrary to Marvel's social justice agenda? It's a foregone conclusion the answer is no, and the MCU remains incoherent as it was since Quesada came aboard in the early 2000s. Whatever excitement comes won't be from Marvel. Now, here's one by Colleen Doran:
[In the 2010s, girls became] a big part of American comics. I’ve been in comics since, well, longer than I care to admit, and this has never been a thing in my lifetime. There were a few women in comics, but it was really a queen bee set-up, and it wasn’t necessarily very welcoming. Now, women and girls in comics are not just becoming the norm, but a major creative and financial force. Without the financing, without the economic power, it was always going to be stops and starts. But women creators now make up a major financial segment of the market, and have some of the best selling books in both the direct market and the retail trade.

I didn’t feel welcome or even normal in comics until the last few years.
Oh, for heaven's sake. If we talk about the majors, neither woman nor man are proving influential under the current conditions. Even after Dan DiDio's gone from DC, this doesn't look like it'll change one bit. As for indies, the problem is that they don't sell in millions any more than mainstream does. I'd say this is an awfully naive view of the situation. Something Gail Simone takes too:
I think [the ’10s are] the era where we sort of gave mainstream comics back to EVERYONE. There was a time when girls comics sold in huge numbers, where kids comics competed with Batman directly and often won. Somewhere along the line, we focused SO MUCH on the core superhero customer base (not talking about independent comics, here), that we sort of abandoned those other audiences. In other countries, this wasn’t the case.

So, yeah, it’s been a couple decades of great superhero comics, but also, the rise of people like Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marjorie Liu and G. Willow Wilson and it shows … print is struggling all over, but most of the breakthrough titles have been very welcoming to newbies. Which I love. I have devoted a huge chunk of my life to comics, I want it to be open for everybody.
What breakthroughs? Captain Marvel and Muslim Ms. Marvel? Tell us about their sales figures, if you please. All this from somebody who's not open to conservatives. Why, how much did Simone's own Domino series sell, what with its dreadful art? It's been a long time since she wrote Birds of Prey, and whatever talent she had's dwindled since. As for Geoff Johns, he's never had any at all, but he sure likes to pretend otherwise, as seen in the following:
It’s tough. I got into the business — really my career has been in the ’00s and this decade. So it’s hard for me to have a clear macro view of what the eras are defined as.

I remember specifically for me in the ’00s, I was really excited about a lot of the new voices coming up, like Brian Bendis and Greg Rucka. [After the ] ’90s where it was really flashy, over-the-top superheroes, and colorful, [the ’00s] was a bit of a grounding from that with some of that work. The work I did in the ’00s was — I call it — it’s like neoclassic, right? The JSA, Wally West/The Flash, I started Green Lantern in the mid-’00s. I really liked going back to the basics of what the concept was, while pushing them forward.

Like the JSA, I always loved the idea of the Justice Society having roots in the ’40s in a first era, but really progressing and evolving and having legacy — because it’s such a huge part of DC Comics — and exploring that, but keeping the rich history. I always loved the rich history of the DC Universe, so I always wanted to hold on to it. I never wanted to just reboot everything and start over. In the ’00s, I really remember that.

But I just remember creators I really loved from that era. And the ones that stood out, where the voices felt so new and fresh, were Bendis and Rucka. Those were two of my favorites. And obviously I love Grant Morrison, he was around in the ’90s too. But I look at that era — and that revitalization of Marvel, when [Joe] Quesada came in and they did Marvel Knights for a while and the Ultimate line started and there was a lot of interesting books out there. I just don’t know how you could summarize that in a couple of sentences. I’m not sure what that is.
I think this says all you need to know about Johns too, and what they'll surely say about him in return. Next come both Dan DiDio and Jim Lee:
DiDio: The weird part about right now there’s the same level of [generation] gap in discussion that there was in the late ’60s and ’70s, that I think we’re starting to get into. And if we’re smart, we’ll find a way to tap into that and really be able to explore it in a way that increases story.

My fear right now is the world is so nostalgic. Everything is nostalgia-based and therefore we’re almost feeding our own tail right now, in the sense that the nostalgia is what’s driving the conversation more so than looking forward. So it’s important for us to break free of that nostalgia feel and start to really carve a path moving forward.

Jim Lee: When did Spider-Man come out? It was 2002, I think? To me, [the ’00s were] the rise of superhero pop culture. It was comics moving out of being the source material of this media, and the characters themselves taking over pop culture. I think with the ’10s, it’s the rise of social media and that way that’s impacted how comic book creators create their stories, interact with their fans; the influence of populism and the voice of the internet.

When I think about the ’00s and Spider-Man coming, out X-Men movies and all these things, the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the expectation for what superheroes are, everyone embracing the characters but not necessarily ... Sort of the rise of superheroes becoming a cornerstone of pop culture. I know that’s not necessarily the comic books, but I think it plays into the story of “We didn’t rise as that water level rose.” Right?

I think since then publishers have been challenging themselves with [the question of] “How do we catch this wave?” How do we get out there on the periodical side and capture so much of the obvious passion and interest in these characters. And a lot of the stuff we’re doing, YA [books], the [DC Universe] subscription service, Black Label is all part of that strategy.

Dan DiDio: [In reference to the “I Read Banned Comics” sticker on my notebook] We were talking about “I Read Banned Comics,” you gotta remember in the ’50s all comics were going to be banned. It wasn’t about a particular character or story, it was about a medium that they were trying to shut down. So it’s an intriguing question because, ultimately, we were the counterculture and now we’re the pop culture. That’s the weird shift for us, because in order to maintain our identity, we still have to push against the norm in some way. That is, I think in some ways, necessary.

Jim Lee: I remember in 2005, Dan was the executive editor of DC and he was pushing me and Frank [Miller] to get All-Star Batman and Robin out to time it with Batman Begins. It was a struggle because I was kind of burnt out from having just done 12 issues of For Tomorrow. But again it was this notion of “What can we do on our side of the business to tie in to this growing love and obsession with the superhero movies?” So that’s what frames my narrative for that decade.

Dan DiDio: The reason why I did that, we had to put something out and I’ve had the same importance that the movie did. I didn’t want the movie to be driving Batman. And the only way we can put out something that would be comparable to that was to put out Frank Miller and Jim Lee together. So that way we stay relevant.
Says somebody who's become irrelevent since last month. Because of these two, comics have become less cornerstone than they used to be. DiDio had the same importance as movies? That's actually the problem - both were clearly more concerned about appealing to moviedom than comicdom. And tying in to movies, till this day, hasn't worked out. Nor does the following by Kieron Gillen:
[What defined the ’00s?] Two words: The Authority. Coming in the lead up to the decade decade it defined the visual trends (“widescreen”, objective presentation of action, the distant shot on action), the emotional tone (a lot of snarkers) and how its heroes were organised. For the last, I think of the era as the paramilitary age of superhero comics. The Authority were a military-cell of anarchists, but when its moves were lifted over to the Ultimates, you increasingly had a period where superheroes were primarily government workers. Everyone ended up in the Avengers, which means that everyone ends up working for the government. As a trend across the decade standard tropes like secret identities were downplayed in favour of moving the centre of interaction to be the workplace - the Bendisian Avengers breakfast scenes aren’t like the 1980s X-men ones — they’re firefighters eating at the firehouse. All this mixed well with the the other major defining trend of ’00s comics — namely, the return of the crossover, bigger than ever. Between those two aspects, you created the intellectual backdrop to the Marvel cinematic universe.

If you separate the still-continuing elements of the ’00s above, the most defining elements of the ’10s is the increasing diversity in the books. I don’t just mean the cast or (as the decade went on) the creators, but in terms of the sort of stories you could tell. There’s a lot of what I’ll describe as quirkpop books, which tended to find their audience in trades rather than the traditional marketplace. Hawkeye and Squirrel Girl are two which leap to mind, but the playfulness of Ms Marvel is simultaneously new while also being a pure statement of elements which were definitive to the earliest Marvel superhero books.
Something's wrong when somebody fluff-coats company wide crossovers, ignoring how they've almost entirely taken over mainstream superhero narratives, along with Bendis himself, who played a significant part in foisting them onto Marvel/DC. And when he sugarcoats the Muslim Ms. Marvel, along with all the blabber about diversity, which remains selective. He doesn't even admit downplaying secret IDs wasn't done organically. Now here's a troubling item from artist Liam Sharp:
I really struggled in the ’00s” to figure out where I might be relevant. So much had changed and it seemed the industry itself was still recovering from the trauma of the ’90s and the huge collapse of the industry. There was definitely a lot of bleak views around! That said it did lead to a rise of creator-driven books and even publishing companies. Mam Tor, the company I co-founded, opened the field up to a slew of anthology titles with Event Horizon volumes 1 and 2. Image bloomed, and diversified. Comics based on computer games were top sellers — and again I got to be part of that with Gears of War, which was the biggest selling title of 2008 shifting 400K units. As for the superhero comics? It seemed to me they lost a little nerve, becoming slightly more pre-’80”s, with all that deconstruction, and a little safer, less bold creatively, while at the same time the productions values increased — along with costs. In some ways superhero comics seemed to be returning to a more traditional approach I think, though there was also the rise in long-form storytelling — stories that once occupied a single issue were now running over a whole year. We did see some masterworks too, like The Ultimates. And the move from the page to the screen also came of age. The movie-pitch as comic mini-series was absolutely perfected by certain creators in this era!

The ’10s saw the rise of digital comics - again something I contributed to when I co-founded the progressive digital storytelling company Madefire. Comixology absolutely changed the way we consume comics. But for me it was my chance to finally return to the superhero comics I loved when I got to work on Wonder Woman: Rebirth with Greg Rucka. It was also the decade when comic fandom got toxic on Twitter, creating new tribes and new camps. Some felt it had become too progressive and screamed for comics that resembled precisely the era they most loved growing up — usually the bombastic excesses of the ’90s”. But many others enjoyed the growing diversity, the rise in the number of female creators, and the moment Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel became arguably more relevant than they had ever been. The writers continued to dominate the medium in terms of name recognition for the second decade in a row, and bold storytelling came under siege if it was perceived to have strayed too far from the canonical and sacrosanct rhythms and rules of past times. Comic couples were now part of shipping wars. Batman stopped being a playboy — such unreconstructed modes now passé and out-of-step with an increasingly progressive world-view. To some the comics were growing up, to others they were getting too woke and politically correct. Creators began to second-guess their creative visions, while fandom started to feel it could back-seat drive the entire industry via the medium of Twitter.

My hope is that Twitter stops having such a negative impact moving forward. Creators need to take risks and sometimes break hearts. No creator should be hounded or threatened for daring to challenge the norm — it’s what art is meant to do! That does not mean it cannot also be an amazing story! I want my art cutting edge, and upsetting and even furious. I do not want a Groundhog Day of endlessly repeated tropes and cycles. We have to grow. We have to change
.
If he'd allude to how leftists acted toxically on Twitter, he might make sense. But all he signals is somebody from left who can't stand valid criticism of declining art standards. And if he wants to take risks and break hearts, he'd recognize sometimes it's best not to associate with the left so much. Modern liberalism's been destroying art, and they won't admit it. They're hostile to conservatives, refuse to recognize Captain America co-creator Joe Simon was one, and all they care about is pushing ultra-leftist ideology non-stop. Next is Tom Brevoort:
More than anything else, I’d say [the defining movement of the ’00s] was a deepening of the concept of the “world outside your window” and the willingness of the various creators and companies to tell complex and sophisticated stories about the world we live in and the real world events therein. This all really started in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, when comics were among the first entertainment media (due to our speed of production) to be able to effectively and emotionally deal with the aftermath of those attacks and the psychic scars that everybody was feeling. From there, as the decade went on, such stories with greater emotional depth became far more commonplace, and the biggest stories also tended to be those that were the most hard-hitting in terms of their story content (even though that content was often expressed through allegory.)
If they really wanted to present the world outside our window, now complicated by Coronavirus as it is, they'd show how Islamic terrorism is a serious threat. Instead, they almost immediately set about after 9-11 turning Captain America into an unreadable mess making the US into a scapegoat, laced with apologia built on conspiracy theories that 9-11 was an inside job. Last is Steve Orlando:
To me, the ’00s were a time of transition in superhero comics, kicking off with the release of the X-Men movie, and the industry’s struggle to react accordingly. This was the time that brought us New X-Men, with uniforms in black and yellow to welcome potential new readers from the movie, but also with Morrison and Quitely at the wheel, the book pushed forward the mutant concept in bold and innovative ways — though it was one of the first books to react to a film, it also did it the best out of the gate, summing up what we would come to know is the challenge of working on a comic while the characters appear in other media: we must welcome readers from outside comics, but we also have to be bigger and bolder than film, tv, or video games, we have to offer that much more creativity to show them there are things they can only get in a comic book.

We’d push forward and fall back on this concept as the decade went on, but the ’00s to me were a time of transformation, where more attention than ever was on superhero characters, but the comics themselves struggled to adapt and find their new identity to meet and reward that attention. In many ways, we’re still working through this now. But the ’00s put more eyes on superheroes than there had been in decades, mainstream eyes, and comics had to go through a period of change, its own secondary mutation, to maintain its place as the home of creativity and innovation. Film and TV raised the bar, and in the ’00s, comics got smarter, bolder, wilder, and more innovative ... all to raise the bar in return.

I think the ’10s will be defined by diversifying not just mainstream superheroes, but the formats in which those characters are offered. With mainstream attention has come new voices and new folks who deserve to be served by these iconic heroic narratives, as well as have the chance to step behind the scenes and craft them themselves. This was a natural and good result of superheroes going more mainstream into TV and Film, where more people can find out about them just like folks did back when superheroes were on newstands. The ’10s, then, were also about a transition, but in this case it was the slow work (slower than it needed — or needs — to be at times) of updating our heroes to meet the modern moment. Diversity in creators, diversity in characters, and also in format — more YA and Middle Grade OGNs, more digital access, pushing back into stores outside the direct market. The attention of the ’00s showed us more people than ever love these heroic narratives, they demand, and deserve, to be the star, not the supporting player. In the ’10s, that fight for representation took center stage, and it’s ongoing now. I think we’ll look back on this decade and see the progress we’ve made, but we’ll also look back and see we could’ve made a lot more if we’d been less precious and gotten out of our own way as an industry.
This is a head-shaker. For nearly 2 decades, heroism's been insulted by leftist narratives, and he has the gall to whitewash that? Nor did the comics succeed in drawing in moviegoers, many of whom aren't even interested in the zygotes to begin with. Those he believes should be served by iconism are ideologues pushing beliefs that simply aren't compatible with heroic ideals. That kind of social justice pandering is the "progress" he speaks of, all the while not paying any attention to how it hasn't brought any success in sales to comicdom.

But, these are the kind of people whom Polygon considers valid, and none of those who disagree with how poor their SJW visions really are.

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