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Saturday, February 24, 2018 

NY Vulture calls Valiant's villainous bigwig Toyo Harada a "sympathetic socialist"

NY Vulture wrote about an upcoming storyline in the new Valiant's universe, about the corrupt businessman Toyo Harada, and the way it's put doesn't sound great. In fact, it sounds awfully propagandistic:
Very often, the best antagonists in superhero fiction are the ones who just might be right. Dr. Doom probably would be pretty good at running the world. Ra’s al Ghul and Poison Ivy are both pretty much on the money when they say human beings are destroying the ecosystem. As we’ve all learned in the past weekend, Erik Killmonger makes solid points about racial injustice. And Valiant Entertainment’s superpowered mastermind Toyo Harada? “He’s essentially a socialist living at the height of capitalism,” says Valiant editor-in-chief Warren Simons. “He’s a socialist with a cause. He’s going to bring peace to humanity by any means necessary other than war.” In an age of forever wars and growing global income inequality, there are more than a few comics readers who might find such a villain more than a little persuasive.
Oh please. Since when do villain who could be comitting murder and violence be making good points if they wind up contradicting them with their criminal actions? It vaguely reminds me of how Geoff Johns depicted a few villains when he was writing the Flash in the early 2000s: he would make them look like they could be sympathized with, then destroyed the ability to do that by making them look crude and revolting. It was utterly pointless and stupid. And it's insulting to the audience to suggest they'd literally find a villain persuasive, even if most villains with the best of scripting don't commit crimes like sexual assault. It's also offensive how they resort to propaganda like "forever wars" without considering any of the corrupt politicians who bring these wars about, rather than actually trying to find the cause of the wars and put an end to them. That's precisely why Islamic terrorism's been able to prevail.

And this planned storyline is supposed to be an "event", as if we didn't have enough of that already with Marvel:
The Life and Death of Toyo Harada is one of the first major “event” comics to be announced in the DMG era, after this summer’s Harbinger Wars 2, but the former won’t be a formal sequel to the latter. Indeed, both Simons and Dysart emphasize that Life and Death is intended to be accessible to folks who’ve never picked up a Valiant comic in their lives. “To the uninitiated reader, it’ll come off as sort of a maximalist epic, complete with global politics and huge doses of character-driven pulp sci-fi,” says Dysart.
Sorry, I can't buy that excuse, which was used before with some DC/Marvel crossovers. Besides, are their books nearly 4 dollars? Just another reason the time has come to go exclusively paperback en toto. Events and crossovers are not what the industry should be touting after recent ones have proven unsuccessful. Interestingly, writer Joshua Dysart told what his influences were for this tale:
The subsequent narrative has been heavily influenced by Dysart’s travels in crisis zones around the world. “Since writing him, I’ve engaged more with the geopolitical landscape,” he says. “Spent more time in the Islamic world interviewing people and hearing their stories, places like Algeria and Pakistan. I saw the birth of the migrant crises while I was in northern Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014, and also watched a government in meltdown crisis in South Sudan as I traveled the length of it in 2016.” Though he’d been writing Harada since the early part of the decade, he says such journeys made him think about how the character needed to evolve: “His anger became more acute, his actions more desperate, his vision more utopist. He’s really turned into a kind of dark fantasy of mine.”
I'm sure he has nothing critical to say about the Religion of Peace itself, and the politics they're hinting at only compound the perception this could be dreadful. The part about south Sudan is also fishy, because they run friendly relations with Israel, which has even provided them with humanitarian aid, and south Sudan even supported the USA's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol. At the end of the article:
That’s all well and good, but the big question is: Will Harada actually die, as the title of the series implies? Neither Simons nor Dysart gets into details. (“Josh came up with a pretty crafty ending that will be fodder for stories for some time,” says Simons.) Either way, Dysart seems energized by the chance to take one last spin with his muse. “I give [Harada] my most radical politics. Then I take my absolute worst fears,” he says. “They are that democracy doesn’t actually work, and that there is no progress without violence. I’m not saying I believe in those things, I’m saying I fear those things are true. Then, I make him believe those things fully. Lastly, I move him to action in a way I could never do myself. I might believe in something, but I’ve never found an idea worth killing for. Harada doesn’t have that problem. He’s my bleakest angel, my own inner dictator. And when I’m writing him at his most honest, or maybe my most honest, I can’t really say he’s wrong.”
It doesn't make much difference what he says he believes. His visions seem to obscure the evils committed under autocracies and totalitarian regimes like Iran. If we don't recognize the hows and whys of a totalitarian government's ability to commit and enable evils, there's no point in worrying about democracies, even though corruption can occur under a democracy.

And the aforementioned crossover they're going for is certainly a mistake for now.

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