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Saturday, January 06, 2018 

Van Sciver's argument with SJWs would be more convincing if he admitted the mistakes in his own portfolio

I looked at a discussion artist Ethan Van Sciver was having with a social justice preaching freelance artist named Tim Doyle, which runs as following:

Umm, not so long as any SJW aspect is still prevalent at DC, where he's working, including the man who engineered a lot of it, Dan DiDio (and even Bob Harras). I've noted before I cannot and will not accept continued use of the SJW-pandering Atom instead of Ray Palmer, and if they're still using the SJW-pandering Firestorm, Blue Beetle and Alan Scott retcon, I must object to that too. If we don't approve of Marvel's forced mistakes (and IDW's in GI Joe and Jem & the Holograms), we shouldn't approve of DC's either, because then, how will we be able to maintain a convincing stand? If Van Sciver doesn't recognize that, then he can't expect a problem to be solved.

When Doyle argues "Because any business that appeals only to 50 year old white men without bringing in a younger, diverse base will find themselves out of business in 20 years." Van Sciver says:

Very astute in itself. But there's just one little problem: if we take the Green Lantern and Flash Rebirth miniseries as examples, which Van Sciver illustrated, he is guilty of collaborating in exactly what he accuses the other guy of advocating, and it's not leftist politics per se posing a problem (which would be mainly Geoff Johns' fault, as he certainly demonstrated later), but rather, his own willingness to shove jarring violence down the audience's throats. In the GL miniseries, for example, this was a problem, including, IIRC, a reference to Identity Crisis. And in the Flash miniseries, the problem certainly was pushing darkness down the audience's throats. If a hero cannot have a decent origin devoid of the kind of monstrous retcon Johns forced in, then that is exactly the problem I have been trying to make clear for years already. If this happened with the Fantastic Four, which was far from having the problems seen in Johns and Van Sciver's work when first launched, it would be just as bad. And it makes no difference whether the retcon was in-story (the Reverse-Flash changes Barry Allen's history); it's still an example of what's wrong with many DC comics today, and Marvel too - an obsession with too much darkness. I'd be damned if I failed to remind everyone of that. One of Van Sciver's early works was a Flash special called Iron Heights, and some of the most disgusting ideas to ever litter the Fastest Man Alive's stories were set up in there. Also, he might want to consider what the higher echelons at DC once said.

In this 2009 CBR interview, they brought up another atrocity Van Sciver worked on:
How much collaboration was there between Geoff and yourself when it came to “Green Lantern” and events leading to “Blackest Night?” Does he bounce story ideas off of you? Do you offer ideas to him?

Geoff and I created the spectrum late one night. I ventured the idea to him, starting with yellow and green being next to each other on a rainbow, and violet being kind of already established. There are probably other colors to fill in the rest of ROY G. BIV. And he and I just talked it through, at first for fun, and then it seemed to make more and more sense. He came up with Black Lanterns towards the end, and “Blackest Night.” I offered other ideas, what certain elements of GL lore symbolize, etc. We talked about “Blackest Night” and what should happen. He had a rough outline very quickly.

I do suggest things to him all the time. Sometimes he agrees, and sometimes he doesn’t. I fought very hard for what the Black Lanterns should look like, and I’m still not sure I won that fight. They must be devoid of all color. Like black and white images on television. Things that are past. Color suggests being part of the spectrum, of life. But then I saw that Aquaman has an orange shirt! So I’ll wait and see the book with everyone else.
Wow, why am I supposed to be impressed with a story that references "nostalgia" in a very ugly way? I remember discovering that Johns may have even put in a line that was meant as an insult to anybody who disapproved of what Identity Crisis led to (turning Jean Loring into a demonic entity, for example), or cared about the characters it desecrated, and it goes without saying that's trolling the audience. Who says Marvel's the only one? Must I also note the serious problem with company wide crossovers is but one more error bringing down superhero comics? There's more:
You joined Geoff Johns on another “Rebirth,” this time with the Flash. Did you think Barry Allen needed to return? Do you think there should ever be a time where characters that have died should stay dead?

Yes, Bruce Wayne’s parents should stay dead, because without that, there’s no Batman. Wait, Bruce Wayne is gone now, isn’t he? Time to bring back the Waynes. Barry Allen didn’t **need** to return, in my opinion, but if he was going to, it was certainly time and we are the team to do it. We have a big story, CBR, that requires Barry Allen. We can’t do this without him. And the idea will lead to a better understanding of what The Flash is, and the destiny of his family and friends.

I do believe that “The Flash” has all of the potential of “Green Lantern,” because they’ve always been brother books. We’re using “Rebirth” to explain who Barry is and why he’s back, but also to get our ducks in a row for what’s to come.
Except that they didn't; what came since looks pretty pointless, and even changed the background of Wally West for the sake of social justice. It's not like a Flash series with Barry Allen is burning up the sales charts today. Some fans are probably feeling embarrassed they ever absurdly asked at conventions when Barry's coming back, and then look what happens; you get buyer's remorse, because they just couldn't do it without turning his background soiled. A most dumbfounding moment was when Iris West Allen left Barry shortly after he was resurrected (or had the marriage obliterated altogether in the New 52), all so Patty Spivot could become the new girlfriend. In some ways, it's not all that different from what Marvel did to the Spider-marriage. Here, it was acting as though what came before suddenly didn't matter; only a PC direction for the sake of it did.

Let's be clear. I disapprove of the SJWs Van Sciver's had problems with. Unfortunately, I cannot endorse or support his work in superhero comics either, and the sad part is that, while his artwork itself may be impressive, most of the stories he's been assigned to illustrate are not. This includes the aforementioned X-Men propaganda he illustrated, and that he'd work with writers who've gone out of their way to whitewash an ideology that's forced a lot of conservatives to take a stand is quite honestly a show of weakness. You could reasonably argue some of his past products were a precursor to the social justice propaganda we've seen in comics of recent. And that's surely the biggest irony: the comics he worked on with Johns - and Grant Morrison - were meant to appeal to the PC crowd now causing people like him problems. In other words, his past slate came back to bite.

None of this is something I'm happy to say. But if nobody on the right calls out a purported right-winger who may have erred, who will? Chuck Dixon's made mistakes too. So has Mike Baron. Hey, even I've made mistakes in the past! Which included reading some of Johns' early sensationalized atrocities, not the least being an insulting tale he wrote in Avengers during his brief stint at Marvel laced with anti-American propaganda (Red Zone). He's not all that different from Brian Bendis, who's now going to work alongside him at DC. They're a leading example of the mindsets Van Sciver says cherished superheroes need to be protected from. If these are the kind of people whom Van Sciver's unreservedly working with, then he won't guarantee any improvements for superherodom.

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Hey, Avi. I found my way here though an EVS response tweet. You seem to have a lot of knowledge and interesting opinions on the subject matter at hand. I'm only a casual comic reader myself, so I'm a little lost on all the details. I will note that I enjoyed Jaime Reyes, Kaldur'ahm, and others in the Young Justice cartoon, so I'd argue, and I think you'd agree, that the issue isn't "minority" characters so much as it's the sidelining of classic fan-favorites for political reasons as well as violence and, I think, the pedaling of immorality.

Because of this, I'm very grateful to EVS and Geoff Johns for bringing, for example, Barry Allen back. Even without being an avid Flash reader, I recognize that he's the original Flash, and that makes me want him around. I was drawn a while back into the New 52 Flash book by some amazing art on one of the covers and starting from the beginning of the run up to what I think was then current. I was irritated at the time at being forced to root for the breakup of what was being portrayed as Barry’s perfect romance with Patty Spivot. (Now that you mention it, she does seem a bit synonymous to Spider-Man's Carlie Cooper in being seemingly designed as “perfect” for the protagonist in order to detract from the character’s actual soulmate.) I was also irritated by the sort of ground-leveling of the world and supporting cast, which would all have to be reintroduced as new, along with the ethnicity-swap for the iconic Wally West for seemingly no reason. In addition, it also gets hard for someone such as myself with traditional moral beliefs to put up with all my favorite heroes having sex, or in the Flash’s case, at very least co-habituating with, again, a perfect woman I was forced to root against.

I also found the Flash and Green Lantern rebirths to be a little ugly in some ways, including gruesome deaths or dismemberment that didn’t seem necessary, but I do at the same time respect them for what they did in introducing new concepts and depths while restoring beloved characters to their proper place in their universe. I personally would very much like to see comics moderate themselves in such a way as to remove graphic violence and immorality, but I also believe that an artist’s say in all this has its limits. Even within such limits, I realize that no creator is going to agree with me on everything. I do support EVS for his great artistry, his interaction with fans, and his politics, and I’d be happy if you could find your way to doing the same on some level. Either way, feel free to fire back, or not—as you wish. :)

Thanks for your reply, Borvoc. When I first wrote this post, it was with a heavy heart, but I'd recalled that VanSciver had been involved in some directions at both DC and Marvel that I just couldn't approve of, and left me with a bad aftertaste. He wouldn't be the first guy of a right-wing background whom I, as another right-winger, felt I'd have to take issue with. Even Bill Willingham came under my scrutiny in past years, because of his role as a writer in the Batman: War Games crossover, where he willingly participated in the slaughter of Chuck Dixon's creation, Spoiler/Stephanie Brown. In some ways, he actually did worse, because he later insulted fans on the Fabletown message board he ran, and I don't think he ever clearly apologized for it. It's very sad whenever a purported rightist takes part in a direction conceived by leftists, because it doesn't reflect well on their resume.

Personally, I would like to support something Van Sciver's illustrated, but at the moment, I figure it would have to be a product he created at a smaller company. Like say, a GI Joe comic. I'm sure his art style could work well on something like the Real American Heroes, and maybe even the Transformers comics. But save for a number of Impulse issues he'd drawn early in his career, there's little he's illustrated for the Big Two I find appealing.

Anyway, thanks for visiting, and let me assure you that your thoughts on the topic are welcome and fully appreciated.

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  • 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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