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Wednesday, December 09, 2020 

If only superheroes could get a happy ending, but real life is different

Entertainment Weekly, predictably enough, ran some fawning choices for the best of 2020, and as you might've guessed, they put Tom King's writing at the top of the list, with the Batman/Catwoman tale the title in focus:
For many years, certain passionate fans have argued that the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of (if not the) greatest Batman movies ever made in any format. Those fans are now validated because celebrated Batman writer Tom King’s return to the character involves the first-ever comic appearance of that film’s central character, Andrea Beaumont. As the title indicates, the core of this 12-issue series is the romance between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, so it makes sense to bring in another legendary Batman love interest for some tension and danger. The fact that the story moves between three timelines (the past, where Batman and Catwoman are rivals; the present, where they are in a committed relationship and Andrea asks for their help; and the future, when an older Selina is tying up loose ends after Bruce’s death) means you might have to read the issue twice before fully getting it. Maybe it won’t fully make sense until we have all 12 issues in hand, but the first issue is plenty tantalizing on its own.
I expected no less coming from such an overrated showbiz review magazine. They won't acknowledge King's acted irrationally as of late, inciting against an artist for no good reason and resorting to McCarthy-ish guilt-by-association tactics, among other reprehensible acts, not the least being his own downbeat approach to writing. It figures they wouldn't mention that, because how else to peddle a negative direction embraced by the establishment these days? Another item cited is Marvel's MODOK:
Usually it goes the other way. Marvel movies start by using the comics as a jumping-off point, but then do their own riffs on the material. If their changes become popular enough, they then get incorporated back into the comics in a feedback loop. But even though Hulu’s stop-motion M.O.D.O.K. series hasn’t premiered yet, the show’s creators (showrunner Jordan Blum and star Patton Oswalt) have teamed up to present their take on the big-headed supervillain ahead of time.

As you may have heard, the show is premised on M.O.D.O.K. (the funniest-looking supervillain in Marvel history, a floating psychic head with tiny little arms and legs) having a family consisting of a human wife and son, plus a daughter who resembles his unique features. These characters have not appeared in the comics before, so M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games is working to reconcile the differing interpretations of this character. In this story, the M.O.D.O.K. we know suddenly finds himself beset by visions of a family he doesn’t remember. How will this turn out and/or tie in to the TV show? The next three issues promise revelation, and based on this fun start it should be a good read.
Well if this series was produced just to concoct a story aligning with the TV show's premise, I think that's reason enough to avoid what sounded ludicrous enough anyway. As though it weren't bad enough they make it sound like MODOK was always little more than comedic, which is the umpteenth insult a major press source could lob at Stan Lee, after all the hard work he did to introduce MODOK in the pages of Captain America's adventures.

And jumping-off point? They don't know how right they actually are about that. Many Marvel books have long become a jumping-off point for new readers as much as old ones. I'm not sure what they mean by changes becoming "popular" enough to apply back to the comics, considering it's all been done at the expense of past setups, and never helped boost sales for the comics at all. Another example presented here is the awful Mark Russell's Second Coming:
What if Jesus and Superman were roommates? That was the incendiary premise of Second Coming, perhaps the single most controversial comic from the format’s top modern satirist Mark Russell. But while we all know the story behind Jesus, the backstory of Sunstar (the book’s Man of Steel analogue) is unexplored territory so far. This second miniseries promises to shed more light on Sunstar’s origins and how they differ from Superman’s. Knowing Russell, it should be a head-spinning journey.
Considering what a reprehensible attitude he's got, they don't know how accurate that really is. If being a satirist is their defense for his beliefs, it falls flat too. This is precisely why Russell doesn't need an audience.

There's a question in the EW headline about whether superheroes get a happy ending. The sad answer, based on real life conduct in editorial divisions, is "no". When Dan DiDio was DC's editor, he said he believes - and practically mandated - superheroes weren't allowed to have happy lives, and I'm sure he was shocked at how his directions weren't bringing in the masses. Joe Quesada pretty much did the same thing when he was Marvel's editor. If the new Batman book comes anywhere close to their viewpoint, you know they're sticking with a vision that's brought down corporate-owned superhero comics, till the day they close their office doors.

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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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