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Monday, January 21, 2019 

Tom King channels Geoff Johns in a Walmart Superman special channeling Marvel's Ultimate line

Looks like Heroes in Crisis isn't enough for the vastly overrated King to put nasty maltreatment of superheroes and co-stars on display. Now, he's written up a story published in Superman Giant #7, a special publication sold primarily through Walmart, where, in scenes reminiscent of Geoff Johns' work on the Flash in the early 2000s, Lois Lane is repeatedly subject to horrific violence, in a book that's allegedly marketed for younger readers much as Marvel's Ultimate line supposedly was, until Mark Millar's contributions to Ult. X-Men and the Ultimates put the lie to that notion, much like King's disgusting little roach of a Superman story is now. Here's two panels from the issue itself:
So in one page, she's shot in the head, and in another, Lois is subject to throttle-holds and being devoured by a monster? Oh yeah, what colorful storytelling have we here. Even if it's all in Superman's mind, it's still gross, especially when viewed in light of what's been seen so far in Heroes in Crisis. In the Flash stories featuring Johns' flaccidly written take on the Reverse-Flash, Linda Park was struck by the cardboard villain, initially terminating her pregnancy until time-alterations changed everything (though that's since been erased yet again for the sake of Heroes in Crisis). Before we get to that, however, the whole scene was basically repeated in a way, and it goes without saying that we shouldn't have to be hammered with obnoxious shock value in order to get to the allegedly good news. Also, it doesn't excuse the egregious allusions to sexual abuse mainly seen in Flash #213 where the Turtle showed up. Now, here's what the linked article says:
The latest Walmart exclusive 100-page giant comic book, Superman Giant #7, is stirring quite a bit of buzz on the internet, but not with excitement for the Tom King-penned story. Instead, it's the repeated torture and murder of Lois Lane across the issue's pages that have fans in an uproar.

The issue, which officially went on sale in select Walmart stores today, sees King paired up with artist Andy Kubert on a Superman story that sees the Man of Steel languishing in an intergalactic waiting room. While there, his mind begins to wander to some dark places -- presumably out of anxiety. How dark are those places? It seems that the issue contains 12 pages of Lois Lane's brutal and graphic murder over and over again, including an opening splash page that sees Lois gruesomely shot in the head by Lex Luthor.
It sounds like King is not only mimicking Johns' shock value approach, but like he's come up with another cheap excuse for depicting a fictional superhero in some kind of forced trauma situation. Which, needless to say, is disgusting, and it also goes without saying he's again exploiting other people's creations for the sake of supposedly exploring his idea of "trauma".
The idea of violence in comic books itself isn't what's at issue, though. For most of those speaking out on Twitter, the issue lies in two specific places: the intended audience for the book and the fact that it's a female character's imagined extreme suffering being used to further the pain of a male character -- a variation of the women in refrigerator trope. As many online have noted, the Walmart exclusive books are intended as entry-level books for readers many of which are children. The books are merchandised in most of the store that carry them alongside child-friendly games, such as Pokémon cards and many of the reactions on Twitter are coming from parents who don't feel they can share the issue with their kids. One reader even referred to the issue as "a 12 page Lois Lane snuff comic" -- something they do not want their child to see.

As for the concern as to it being Lois who is tortured and murdered repeatedly, others felt like it was an inappropriate way to work through whatever issue King is trying to explore as there are other ways to do that or, at a minimum, it's better left in something other than a child-accessible Walmart exclusive comic.

These criticisms of Superman Giant #7 aren't the first that have come up for King's works in recent months. His work on Heroes in Crisis has also drawn a bit of backlash from readers and to an extent for similar reasons. The series, which was billed as being an exploration of mental health with superheroes, utilizes the brutal murder of superheroes to further that aim. Most recently, a controversial cover for Heroes in Crisis #7 that featured a dying Poison Ivy leaked and the outcry prompted King to ask DC to pull the cover.
And again, I'm sure that particular matter with Poison Ivy was all a stunt intended to try and draw attention away from the most challenging issues surrounding the abomination, possibly to make King look like a victim and trick Comicsgaters into supporting him in protest of censorship or something. Well I'm sorry to say, King, but...NO SALE. Nobody who's taken offense at this miniseries before is being fooled now. When the story is as bad as it is, there's no use wasting any more money and time on it.

All that aside, what's most interesting here is the dishonest marketing of this Superman special, supposedly for children and/or families, and now, parents are the first to spot the nasty deception in motion. I'd strongly advise all concerned, parents or otherwise, to stay away from King's writings, based on what's been seen so far, and to also consider that Dan DiDio and Bob Harras, as the overseers, have to be held accountable for these atrocities. Who knows, maybe the discoveries by the parents shopping at Walmart will help see to it that DiDio and Harras wind up having to take responsibility, and resign their posts at DC. Though it'll surely still be too late to save the Big Two, alas.

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