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Friday, November 04, 2016 

What's really wrong with Chelsea Cain's Mockingbird solo book

It's time to bring up the real reason anybody could be steamed at Chelsea Cain's take on Mockingbird, and Bleeding Cool happens to have a very good explanation why: because the 8th story retcons away the Phantom Rider's rape of Bobbi Morse and makes her look like a cheating murderess instead. The following panel says everything:
So instead of the original tale, where Phantom Rider drugged and raped Bobbi Morse, it's twisted it all around, with Bobbi set up as a cheater, made to sound as though Clint Barton was trying to convince himself that Bobbi was drugged and wasn't betraying him. What's so empowering about this retcon, let alone "feminist"? It's pretty obvious now that the whole claim of online harassment was merely intended as a cover for some of the worst storytelling in modern times.

While we're on the topic, the UK magazine What Culture chimed in, and while they seem to damn the Gamergate campaign (though I could be mistaken), they do admit that the whole Chelsea Cain case is pretty much all a hoax:
Does the comic book industry have a women problem? Of course, the problem of sexual harassment among comic professionals - a conversation that few of the comic book journalism outlets want to have in earnest. It seems that for every Karen Berger in the industry there’s a Valerie D’Orazio. But apart from that, the List of Female Comics Creators on Wikipedia contains names of women who were active as far back as the 1800s, so it’s not like women in comics is some new and revolutionary idea, no matter how some commentators choose to spin it. The way that some people make it sound, the first woman in comics was hired two years ago and male comic readers have been grabbing pitchforks and torches ever since. Just a cursory glance at the long, long list shows there have been at least twenty women associated with Marvel and DC titles in the modern age alone.
See, that's the most bizarre part of these media distortions: they act as though there'd never been any women contributing to comicdom in any way over the past century, if at all. Yet I believe there was one woman who scripted Wonder Woman in the late 40s - possibly Dorothy Woolfolk - and she was definitely an editor at DC back then. In the early 20th century, there was even a French comic strip published in 1905 called Bécassine, the earliest I know of with a lady protagonist, set in Brittany's town of Finistere. Ladies in the lead and scriptwriting are nothing new in any medium for over a century now, and if the audience has a problem with them, it's for the same reasons they'd have problems with today's male writers - they're forcing politically charged agendas down everyone's throats, with Spencer, Slott, Rucka making notable examples. None of which is any concern to the modern leftist commentators whose devotion to being part of the readership is under a question mark.
Some very loud voices have declared that fandom is broken, perhaps beyond repair. It is taken as a fact that privileged males hate women and will chase them from the medium if given even the slightest excuse. Even though there are and have always been successful women in the field who have not been harassed, we are told that women just aren’t welcome in comics or geekdom in general. #Gamergate is a movement that has become synonymous with online harassment; it was either created with the specific goal of targeting certain female video game designers and critics or was corrupted by bad apples from within and was originally focused on ethics in video games journalism. Whatever your personal views on the subject, it’s practically accepted everywhere that it is a hate movement, born of male entitlement and misogyny. It seems that some people are anxious for another easily-dismissed-as-sexist movement to take hold of comics fandom. The horrible abuses that definitely all women and minorities are totally experiencing all the time is “the new Gamergate.”
But as has been long apparent, the press all wanted the Gamergate campaign to be just some "sexist" movement, because, sadly enough, it would seem they actually want the problems to not only exist, but prevail. Which is no way to solve or prevent them.
The narrative is that the recent increase of characters like the woman Thor and Muslim Ms. Marvel are seen as an attack on whiteness and maleness (and I suppose white-maleness) by ignorant fanboys. It’s a nice story to tell oneself, especially when it casts you as being a righteous crusader for equality. It turns liking a comic book into a political act. However, the criticism that many fans are leveling at these developments are being dismissed as the result of sexism and racism when a lot of these complaints are not about the characters themselves but the overall cynical attitude of the publishers involved. It’s very clear that they (Marvel moreso) are exploiting the current popularity of social justice issues to make headlines and earn media coverage. Rather than releasing good books with good stories, they rely on controversy and outrage to drive sales.
That's exactly what they're doing, and they have all these equally cynical writers and artists backing them up. The complaint to make about a book like the Muslim Ms. Marvel is not that it attacks whiteness (especially considering that the main followers are white themselves), but rather, that it whitewashes a religion that's hurtful to women. As a result, it's not like such books are telling talented stories to begin with when, as the magazine notes, they've turned it all into a politicized affair. Not that it's making them any sales in the true sense of the word though, since, let's remember, there's only so many pamphlet books today that sell dismally at just a few thousand, as can only be expected when you stick with such an outmoded format and marketing.
When commentators set out to generate clicks with the story about Mockingbird’s cancellation and subsequent “bullying off Twitter” of writer Chelsea Cain, it benefits them to make it seem like this book was a beacon of hope that someday female superheroes will be accepted by this cruel fanbase. Is it really outside the realm of possibility that this book wasn’t that great? Looking at the September sales charts, there are over ten female-led titles that sold more than Mockingbird, which came in at #144 out of over 300. Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Superwoman, and Batgirl at DC all sold more copies and Marvel’s own Thor, Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel, Gwenpool, Captain Marvel, A-Force, Spider-Woman, and Scarlet Witch outsold Mockingbird. Several of these titles are written by women, so I guess those horrible comic fans aren’t entirely misogynists. It’s almost like there have been popular female characters and creators for decades! If a new Gamergate is brewing in comics, how could these titles be successful?
And as any in-the-know person can tell you, there's been plenty of stories spotlighting women for decades, ever since the Golden Age, and before. Will Eisner and Jerry Iger's Sheena: Queen of the Jungle was an early example of a lady protagonist who earned fame in history, making her debut in the late 1930s. Vampirella was co-created by a woman in 1969 (Trina Robbins). There's been tons of female creations that have long been accepted for years on end, and plenty of past writers/artists who were too. Again, it's only the politics that are a problem, and something tells me whatever far-left audience is out there won't be the ones making complaints about how things are currently done.

At the end, however, they say:
There is no concentrated effort to abuse women in comics fandom like there is in video games.
I may not be a video game player today, but there's no effort to abuse women there either, since even in that medium, there's been plenty of contributors since the late 70s-early 80s (again, Centipede was developed by a woman). That's the only fault with this article. I took a look at some of the reader comments, and here too, I find stuff that's of interest, such as:
It reminds me of the third volume of Red Sonja being cancelled a few months ago. Apparently, some overzealous people claimed that the sales collapsed because Sonja wasn't wearing her chainmail bikini anymore and because it was written by a woman (Marguerite Bennet). And while the new costume was awful (Specifically the cape, the armor itself was fine), the real problem was that it was very poorly written, completely twisted the Hyborian setting and made Sonja a blatant extreme-feminist mouthpiece (To be clear, I have no issue with feminism, just with extremists who have to call every decision about women sexist for one reason or another.)
In fact, if the cancellation of Red Sonja V3 after 6 issues was due to sexism, why did Volume 2, written by a woman too (Gail Simone) and often featuring Sonja wearing actual armor instead of her bikini managed to last for three trade paperbacks?
As for Mockingbird, I quickly read the first few issues after reading this article and... it's just boring. It's no surprise that it's been cancelled. As pointed out, other female-lead comics are currently selling well and aren't getting cancelled.
All this has been obscured by the press, and suggests Cain and/or Marvel manufactured all this just to try and boost sales by crying wolf. What's said here about Dynamite's alterations to Red Sonja are also appalling, and Simone's take on the Robert Howard-inspired heroine may have started all that before Bennet's volume actually did, certainly towards the end of her run. So is any wonder that was cancelled? I guess not. Their corruption of the Hyborian/Hyrkanian origins doesn't help either.

And that, in a nutshell, is just why so many books like these are selling badly today, in sharp contrast to movies, music, and even text-based books like novels.

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Dynamite has announced another Red Sonja series, this week, and, visually, looks good, but we'll see with the writing. Amy Chu will be writing it, and I don't know if that's good or bad. What was said about the six issue volume three, I'm glad I didn't get around to reading that, especially if it was that political. And I refuse to read Gail Simone's volumes, albeit for outright political reasons. (I suppose with "liking a comic book into a political act," then not liking a comic book can be a political act, too.)


As for What Culture's critique of Gamergate, it's a shame as Gamergate's original intent of criticizing corrupt video game journalism and the SJW takeover of the industry -- to the point of journalists actually sleeping with the people they're supposed to cover and/or they're getting a better product than what paying customers got -- got lost in the Left's frankly effective smokescreen of "but-but-but sexism." And it may never be undone, but we can still try. Already lost comics to these people, shouldn't have to lose video games, too.

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