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Sunday, June 13, 2021 

CBS fawns over PC revival of Milestone

CBS News is fluff-coating the new takes on the Milestone line originally co-created by the late Dwayne McDuffie, though it does tell some interesting details about how DC, who originally published the line under their banners, handled the material:
That same year, Milestone's founders signed a distribution contract with the famed DC Comics. But throughout the partnership, DC often became uncomfortable with the progressive storylines and artwork on the pages. The most well-known example: the artwork for an issue of Static, the group's most popular character and arguably one of the most beloved Black superheroes.

The artwork showed the hero, Virgil Hawkins, and his girlfriend kissing on a couch with condoms nearby. DC refused to print the cover, straining its relationship with the Milestone's founders. Both parties compromised by printing a close-up of the two kissing. Inside the book, co-founder Dwayne McDuffie wrote a letter addressing the controversy: "Static is a fun comic but it's never shied away from topics like gang violence, homophobia, and racism. It's not about to start now."
As much as I think his liberal view of homosexuality was ill-advised, I do think DC chickened out on allusions to sex. Espcially if they had no similar objections to graphic violence, and the Bloodlines crossover from 1993 was proof of this. I'm assuming this all had something to do with a far more commercialized approach to storytelling that was turning up in the 1990s, and it wasn't the least bit helpful. The biggest irony is that, not only did DC unreservedly publish the bloodiest moments in Bloodlines, this was a publisher overseeing Neil Gaiman's Sandman to boot, for example, and I recall reading one moment in the 11th issue where a male figure was urinating. Yet they got cold feet when condoms showed up as a backdrop feature? I wonder if they'd be less likely to publish the material seen in the 90s today?

But if McDuffie and company really wanted to push boundaries, as would I, if I were working in comicdom proper, what was the whole point of arranging for these products to be published by DC, instead of an independent outfit like Dark Horse? Why did he even want to sell DC the properties, as they did by the end of the century? It just doesn't make any sense. I'm not even sure if the Milestone line's ever been reprinted in paperbacks in its entirety since that time.

In any case, what's happening now ruins whatever value Milestone once had:
The comic book universe returned in February with the digital edition of "Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0," a preview into the universe and its upcoming books, with the physical edition releasing on May 25. The revival draws from the original books by reimagining the "Big Bang" event. This time around, the incident takes place at an anti-police brutality rally where police fire untested chemicals at protesters who gain superpowers.
And as noted before, this is more politically motivated than the original line of books, which drains away all sincerity, and doesn't reflect well on the writers' intentions. So if this revival doesn't last long, it'll be their fault if they end up alienating the audience. But if there's anything to learn here, it's that depending on the content and premise, DC definitely has no issues today with "progressive" writing.

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About me

  • 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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