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Tuesday, December 31, 2019 

What Entertainment Weekly's fawned over as "best" of the year

Entertainment Weekly's written up their own list of comics they think are best of the year, but which predictably include some politically correct recommendations. As expected, Jonathan Hickman's X-Men makes the list:
This X-Men story, told across 12 weeks this summer, is split into two interwoven comic miniseries: House of X and Powers of X, illustrated by Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva. It might sound like needless complication—born out of the fact that no human artist could illustrate a weekly comic for three straight months—but the two halves feed into each other. The House of X half marks a new beginning for Marvel’s mutants. Setting aside their differences with old enemies like Magneto, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men stun the rest of the world by declaring a new sovereign mutant nation-state on the sentient island of Krakoa. Powers of X, meanwhile, jumps around in time to show both the necessity of that decision (the dystopian futures awaiting if mutants continue fighting among themselves) and the possible ramifications (unity taken to its extreme).

The connective tissue between them is Moira MacTaggert, a longtime X-Men ally (portrayed by Rose Byrne in the most recent films). Hickman invests her with new importance: Anytime she dies, the world resets to the time of her birth—the only difference being that she can perfectly recall the events of her past lives. Thus, she knows it’s time for change. At her urging, Xavier sets aside his dream of peaceful coexistence with humans and starts making demands to secure mutants’ future.

The parameters of this new world are defined not just by Larraz’s and Silva’s dynamic art, but also by infographic “data pages” from Hickman and designer Tom Muller, taking readers behind the scenes of everything from the different properties of Krakoa’s flowers to the timelines of Moira’s many lives. It’s not just the X-Men who are changing, it’s the very structure of their comics.
That's the problem. Sometimes changes aren't for the better. Sometimes they can make things worse, and dampen the impact of earlier stories. Why, if they're isolating themselves on an island, isn't that just bouncing back on a theme of isolation Grant Morrison for one angled into when he was writing "New" X-Men for about 3 years? I don't think isolationism is a helpful idea at all. Nor is it helpful when EW's contributors sugarcoat Al Ewing's "Immortal" Hulk:
Who could have seen this coming? Even at the height of the Marvel zeitgeist, it’s fair to say the Hulk isn’t widely loved; the ascendant MCU doesn’t have room for a solo feature film because his first two bombed so badly. Yet in the hands of writer Al Ewing, Hulk has become the focal point of a new superhero classic in the making. That’s a testament to Ewing’s skill, glimpsed in short-lived past favorites like Royals and The Ultimates but now finally given a major Marvel character and a long-form series to work with. The Immortal Hulk is, among other things, one of the first comics since Watchmen that actually earns its overly literary epigraph quotes — mostly because they, like everything else, get twisted into new shapes by Ewing to fit his all-encompassing design. Almost every single supporting character and villain of importance from the Hulk’s past pops up in fascinating ways over the course of The Immortal Hulk, but you don’t need to be familiar with them to get engrossed in Ewing’s story as it starts with straight-up horror and then accumulates elements of black ops thriller, metaphysical meditation, far-future sci-fi, and more as it explores the nature of evil and duality in the most thrilling manner possible. But although we’re focusing on Ewing’s writing here, equal credit for The Immortal Hulk’s greatness must go to artist Joe Bennett, who appears to be doing the best work of his career right now.
I don't think it's "fair to say" the Hulk "isn't loved". The problem is just that Marvel's story merit collapsed in the early 2000s, Hulk's included, all because of Joe Quesada's machinations. And while past Hulk stories have had their scary moments, I've never considered it part of the horror genre by a longshot. So for Bruce Banner's alter ego to be dismembered in one story was honestly revolting, as was an attack made on white people and some transgender ideology support in a few others.

The magazine also takes a sugary look at an Image book called Bitter Root, written by somebody who'd worked for Marvel at the time Axel Alonso was EIC:
Bitter Root understands the destructive power of racism. Written by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown, the Harlem Renaissance-set series follows the Sangerye family as they defend the city from monsters — specifically people who turned into demons after their souls were corrupted by racism and fear. However, the book doesn’t just stop there. It also explores how the trauma of racism can have similarly disastrous consequences on victims, too. Yes, this is heavy stuff, but it’s also incredibly entertaining, especially thanks to Sanford Greene’s action-packed and scary art.
After all the harm Walker caused, including Occupy Avengers, I wouldn't trust this to be any better. When a freelance writer disrespects core audiences, it's a very bad sign and example. They also bring up a book called No One Left to Fight, written by Aubrey Sitterson:
We here at EW don’t read enough manga to intelligently include it in our year-end comic lists, but mainstream comics got a refreshing injection of manga/anime flavor this year with No One Left to Fight. So often described by writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Fico Ossio as “The Comic You’ve Always Wanted,” No One Left to Fight took classic fighting stories like Dragon Ball in a fascinating new direction. Sure, Goku and Vegeta can beat down any number of aliens and monsters, but what happens when someone who only lives for fighting hits their 30s? That’s the situation No One Left to Fight protagonist Vale finds himself in: Having beaten every villain, he now finds himself tormented by visions of what his life might have been if he had made other choices. The storytelling is very patient, with Sitterson rolling out world-building details bit by bit while Ossio hides indicative details in characters’ multi-faceted designs. But as tensions start to flare, Ossio’s colors really light up the place. It all culminates in the final issue (for now), when suddenly there is someone to fight again, and the pages practically explode with eye-popping action.
Any chance he's repentant for his own politically charged statements that cost him the GI Joe writing role at IDW, and maybe for his role in dumbing down the impact of the art there, particularly in the unfinished spinoff called Scarlett's Strike Force? Who knows? But recalling how alarmingly vicious he was with his own political visions is just why I wouldn't hold much confidence in this book either. And seriously, doesn't describing the book as something you've "always wanted" sound reminiscent of Sitterson's earlier promotional tactics like "best comic ever"?

They also fawned over Bendis' work on Superman. Surprise, surprise:
Superman’s future may be up in the air on the big screen, but he took on renewed relevance pretty much everywhere else in 2019. Just look at his eventful year in the pages of DC Comics alone. The Boy Scout helped reintroduce the Legion of Super-Heroes in Superman #15. Then only a few issues later, he revealed his secret identity to the world in #18 (by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis), which was surprisingly poignant and felt like a true game-changing development even though the publisher did something similar five years ago. DC also reinvigorated the world around him with the debuts of Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins’s Lois Lane and Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber’s idiosyncratic Jimmy Olsen. (There were some lows, though, like Superman’s confrontation with Doctor Manhattan in Doomsday Clock).

The Man of Steel also made an impact beyond comics, too. HBO’s Watchmen, a sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ landmark comic, powerfully used his origin story as one of the main ingredients of its exploration of race and superhero stories in America. Then over on The CW, the annual Arrowverse crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths” highlighted the 81-year-old character’s many dimensions with three different Supermen played by Tyler Hoechlin, Smallville’s Tom Welling, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Brandon Routh, who seamlessly stepped right back into the character’s tights 13 years after Superman Returns. And there’s hope for more Superman on TV next year because The CW is developing a Superman & Lois Lane pilot around Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch. Basically, the Man of Tomorrow’s time is now.
If only, but it's not. Such pretentious writers who have no true respect for characters and audiences, and all EW can do is fawn over the developing train wreck. No comment on Bendis' race-swapping of a Legion leader, or the rabid politics in Rucka's LL spinoff, and no objective view taken of shedding Supes' secret ID either. And what if the HBO Watchmen series is built on still more leftist biases, or if a planned TV show for Supes himself turns out just as bad as the Supergirl series has become? There's no hope if they go in that direction.

EW's just demonstrated why they're no better for comics coverage than the specialty sites like CBR supposedly are.

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You've gotta admit, race changing of costumed adventurers has a long history. Kato started off Japanese, became Filopino for the duration of the Second World War, turned Chinese for the 60s tv show, and was replaced by a Japanese woman in the 1980s comic for a bit. Blackhawk started off Polish, and became a generic American national before the end of the 50s. Catwoman became temporarily black in the 60s tv show.

Chuck Dixon did more race and gender swapping than any other comic book writer, at several different companies, but he was by no means the first to do so. It started before he was born.

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