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Tuesday, September 29, 2020 

SyFy Wire columnist sure has some weird ideas for whom to remain loyal to

A columnist at SyFy Wire asks whether fans are loyal to a creator, a character, or both. But he sure has some peculiar loyalties of his own that don't make his observations very convincing, since they seem politically motivated, and include some pretty overrated names:
To this day, there are still creators I will blindly follow because their track records have been worth the loyalty. In fact, the rise of the writer/artist in the 1980s, with Byrne and Frank Miller at the peak of their powers, helped snap me out of my devotion to a publishing house. Once they both made the move to DC Comics, I followed. I was still mainly a Marvel reader due to my attachment to characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, but now I was buying lots of DC and even Dark Horse titles.

The era of the superstar artist and Image Comics changed everything for fans. One of the biggest ways Image impacted comics was in showing future creators how to build a personal brand and cultivate a loyal following. No one has mastered that playbook better than Brian Michael Bendis. He went from doing Jinx at a tiny publisher to Image and a work-for-hire stint on Sam & Twitch that helped build his rep. He also launched his breakthrough creator-owned work Powers with Michael Avon Oeming, before going on to a legendary run at Marvel, and eventually jumping ship to DC. Bendis fans — I count myself as one — follow him wherever he goes because his track record speaks for itself.
Well, that's certainly blind fandom if I ever saw it. Bendis today is considered the ruin of Marvel, and now DC, yet this guy sees nothing wrong with his approach to writing, and, it would seem, is likely hiding more than a thing or two of what elements Bendis uses in his dreadful writing? That's why he fails to convince.
One loyalty I don't have anymore is to the publisher. Too many different editorial groups exist to have any consistent voice at Marvel or DC. We no longer have editors like Jim Shooter at Marvel, Paul Levitz at DC, or Karen Berger with the Vertigo imprint, who wielded the clout to determine the direction of an entire line of books. I think my overwhelming disappointment with most of the Big 2's "events" over the past few years also contributed to this.

Instead, I follow the folks who write and draw comics I like, and trust them to take me down another storytelling path I'll enjoy.

It's why I followed G. Willow Wilson from Ms. Marvel to Wonder Woman, and then Invisible Kingdom.

Why I followed Tom King and Mitch Gerads from The Sheriff of Babylon to Mister Miracle, and now Strange Adventures.

Why I'll read most anything Gail Simone, J.M. DeMatteis, Jason Aaron, Brian Azzarello, and Dan Slott do.

My loyalty lies with the creators. And I like it that way.
Even when they're crude, and their politics flood their work in some way or other, right? Given that Bendis was involved with a number of company wide crossovers over the years, it's mighty strange the columnist isn't disappointed with him. If Bendis wanted, I'm sure he could've steered clear of any involvement with crossovers, to say nothing of mishandling various characters in Avengers and X-Men. He could've also avoided obvious casting choices like Spider-Man and Wolverine for the former series. The columnist's support for King, Aaron, Wilson and Slott, among others, is additionally telling, along with what political leanings he's got. This was why J. Michael Straczynski got as far as he did when he was writing Spider-Man, and later Thor, though if memory serves, he left both that and Superman a lot sooner when he was writing the Man of Steel's series, out of disagreement with the editors (which is honestly surprising, considering what a bad lot Dan DiDio's bunch could be, ditto Joe Quesada and Axel Alonso's), in a precursor to Bendis' departure from the same franchise that's come sooner than expected. The problem with some of these overrated writers is that they develop a following of loyalists who join them on a title, but ditch it when the writer leaves, and follow them to the next regardless of how good or bad their writing is, because they don't think it possible for them to screw up, and their loyalty isn't based on how faithful the scribe's vision is to the best of earlier ones like Stan Lee. So merit's not the reason they remain faithful to writers like JMS. Rather, it appears to have something to do with their careers in films, even as sales for comics aren't very high no matter who's buying.

It's one thing to enjoy a particular writer's resume. But blind loyalty that doesn't take into account a real life writer/artist/editor's ability to make a mistake is another entirely, and ignorance of divisive political elements is certainly no improvement. This approach is why comicdom's suffered from so many modern disasters in terms of characterization and continuity.

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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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