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Sunday, April 11, 2021 

Sugarcoating of the month's releases in Entertainment Weekly and Book Riot

Entertainment Weekly's posted a list of what they usually call "best" comics for the month, even though they could just as well turn out to be the worst. For example, James Tynion's Joker book:
Given how much you hear about the Joker these days, it feels only right for the Clown Prince of Crime to finally get his own ongoing comic book. But there’s always a danger in taking a character who works so well as a looming threat and putting them center stage so we can get inside their head. For one thing, the Oscar-winning Joker movie from 2019 already did that. So writer James Tynion IV takes a different approach. This Joker series is told from the point of view of Commissioner Jim Gordon, who has decided to forgo retirement and hunt the Joker across the world in the hopes of finally putting an end to this smiling menace.

We all know Joker is Batman’s greatest adversary, and he’s obviously become a primary foil for his ex-girlfriend Harley Quinn in her new solo adventures, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s also done quite a few heinous things to Gordon and his family over the years — such as when he crippled the commissioner's daughter Barbara in The Killing Joke, still one of the most infamous Joker stories ever.

"I feel like Barbara has had a cathartic moment about The Killing Joke every four years since the comic was released, but Jim Gordon hasn't, and Jim Gordon was actually the center of that story," Tynion told EW during a recent conversation about his conspiracy theory comic The Department of Truth. "Jim Gordon vs. Joker has a deep history. Gordon has always existed in this strange moral gray area of recognizing the system is broken but still wants the system to exist, while the Joker is a figure who exists outside of all systems."
It only feels wrong to lavish way too much attention on all that is Batman's villains, and even if Jim Gordon's spotlighted here in pursuit of the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime has been the kind of villain who's been kept around for far too long, far too emphasized. Much longer in focus than the titular villain in Tomb of Dracula, now that I think of it, and even that Bronze Age Marvel masterpiece illustrated by the late Gene Colan is a far more interesting adventure than this new Bat-connected book is bound to be. And getting inside a particular character's head? I heard that one before 2 decades ago, when J. Michael Straczynski was assigned to Spider-Man.

And the next example decidedly most unfortunate here would have to be the Women of Marvel special:
Whether you enjoyed that moment of "girl power" from the Avengers: Endgame climax or found it an inadequate piece of representation, the new two-part Women of Marvel comic series should have what you’re looking for. Women of Marvel presents some of the publisher’s most iconic female heroes (including She-Hulk and Captain Peggy Carter from the timeline where she took up the shield) told entirely by female writers, artists, and editors.

Some of these creators — such as Natasha Alterici, writer and artist of the lesbian viking comic Heathen, and Anne Toole, one of the award-winning writers on the video game Horizon Zero Dawn — are making their Marvel debuts here. Others are longtime Marvel luminaries; the comic features an introduction from editor Louise Simonson (co-creator of Apocalypse, among others) and a cover by Sara Pichelli (co-creator of Miles Morales, among others).
A truly awful, sloppy cover, as noted earlier, but they go the Emperor's New Clothes route and don't admit it. Does assigning the author of Heathen signal where this book could be headed ideologically with some of its storylines? Good question. If the cover's that badly illustrated, you can only wonder what the inside is like at this point, based on Marvel's modern track record.

And then, here's also some Book Riot buffonery where they gush about alleged must-reads in space-based comics, and one such example is Vagrant Queen, written by the overrated "Mags" Vissagio:
Elida is a queen on the run. Well, former queen, that is. As a child on the throne, she was overthrown by revolutionaries who want to see her dead. Now, she’s wandering the galaxy on her own. But when a frenemy from her past claims to know the whereabout of Elida’s mother, she’s forced to return home to stage a rescue in the very last place in the galaxy she should be.
One can only wonder why they think this title written by whom Richard Meyer called the "dude in a wig" is worth citation, considering it was a failure in TV adaptation, and in addition, Vissagio himself has largely vanished from view in the past year or so, apparently blacklisted due to his own tiresome troublemaking. So why do they think anybody's going to care?

They also bring up Sea of Stars, written by the similarly overrated Jason Aaron and Dennis Hopeless:
A long-haul shuttler and his son are separated during an accident that destroys their ship. Both of them should be dead. But the father is determined to find his missing son, and the son, Kadyn, has developed mysterious new powers after touching an ancient museum artifact in the ship’s wreckage. Now, an alien race believes he is the reincarnation of their most powerful god — and they’re willing to do anything to ensure they can get him back.
And after all the trouble Aaron caused at Marvel, I don't see why we should finance his indie ventures any more than his mainstream embarrassments. But that's probably still nothing compared to what comes next, the site's recommendation of G. Willow Wilson's Invisible Kingdom, which has a pretty laughable premise:
The brilliant writer behind the creation of Ms. Marvel is now bringing us a corporate-fueled space adventure where religious sects and intergalactic businesses control everything and hide terrible secrets. An acolyte fleeing her religious order and a captain going against company orders discover an ongoing conspiracy their groups would do anything to protect. Found family in space and complicated political/corporate/religious dynamics? You just know this is my jam.
I'm sure those religious sects in focus aren't metaphors for the Religion of Peace, though. Given that Wilson was writing comics for companies owned by corporations, I just don't understand her point here. This is, quite simply, a joke, based on her own track record.

They also provide a description of Kelly Sue deConnick's Bitch Planet:
Your compliance is required. That is, if you’re a woman, anyway. And in this near-future dystopia, any woman who doesn’t comply with her patriarchal overlords is shipped off to the nearest penal planet to serve out her sentence. Now they just have to survive corrupt guards, hidden agendas, and the deadliest game on this — or any — planet.
And I guess this is bound to be male-bashing baloney? I certainly don't expect left-wing males - patriarchal or otherwise - to be the focus of deConnick's criticism here, and probably not women who wrong other women either. A real shame when the indie market's exploited for political statements as much as the mainstream market now is.

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