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Monday, January 24, 2022 

Douglas Wolk continues to fluff-coat his alleged Marvel experience, and inject political bias

Liberal author Douglas Wolk wrote an op-ed in the UK Guardian all about his Marvel-reading experience, which he made the subject of a book, All of the Marvels, said to cover post-2000 comics as much as pre-2000, and keeps on with quite some fishy positions. Here's what he says about Master of Kung Fu:
The reading stage went on for longer than I thought it would. It turns out my brain can only handle so much gaudily coloured, hyper-violent soap opera in a single day. The high point may have been wrestling with the thoughtful, exquisitely drawn, yet problematic 1974-1983 title Master of Kung Fu, which introduced the character of Shang-Chi, who recently made it to the big screen. A taut, introspective espionage thriller whose antagonist is Fu Manchu, the series became, over time, both more impressive and – for its racist portrayals – more wince-inducing.
Wow, that's all we need to hear. That MOKF built on racial stereotypes, and that this undoes much of the series. As though we hadn't been told before. And all this from somebody who's probably not concerned about China's emerging on the world stage as a worrisome communist influence. Let's be clear. Of course there was a most unfortunate negative view of China more than a century ago, when phrases like "yellow fever" were around. But to say they're literally innocent when communism tragically took over the country in the late 1940s, and led to millions of deaths in the 20th century, is ludicrous. Maybe Wolk should argue it would've been better if Marvel's take on Fu Manchu had been scripted as a metaphor for commies? But, he doesn't. Another title he cited:
Or it may have been rediscovering writer Chris Claremont’s legendary 16-year run on Uncanny X-Men, whose freaky inventiveness and compassion for its cast of mutants and outcasts made it the comics equivalent of David Bowie’s career. Then there was the joy of reading Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s disarmingly tender The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series with my son. Its protagonist has the “proportional speed and strength of a squirrel”, but her real power is a knack for creative nonviolent conflict resolution, a rare quality in a superhero.
The newer take on Bill Mantlo's creation, not the old? Something's amiss here. And what if their take on Squirrel Girl is written at the expense of action-adventure themes, all for the sake of making a vapid political statement that doesn't solve anything? I remember when Grant Morrison exploited the X-Men for "pacifist" propaganda, and this take on Squirrel Girl doesn't sound like much of an improvement. Certainly not at a time when Russia might invade Ukraine. And then, look what Wolk says next:
The low point was definitely the week and a half I spent locking myself into a New York apartment, forcing myself to plough through 30 years of the blood-drenched adventures of my least favourite character, the Punisher, who has so far slaughtered upwards of 1,000 drug dealers, security guards and the like. (I counted.)
Oh my, this definitely sounds deliberate. And here, Wolk previously spoke of hyper-violence when he brought up MOKF. Hmm, I wonder what he thinks of Batman and Daredevil? No wait, what does he think of Lobo in his post-1990 incarnations, which rank more as an embarrassment for the DCU? Good question, but for now, here's something awfully contradictory:
I saved myself a fine dessert: the last title I checked off my spreadsheet was Thunderbolts, the long-running, constantly mutating, gleefully perverse series about a team of supervillains masquerading as heroes, who do very good things for very bad reasons.
Wait a minute. Isn't this the same guy who put down the Punisher because he used deadly force, yet here, if you view the main characters in focus as the villains they began as, isn't this running the gauntlet of villain worship? This sure is telling. Frank Castle metes out justice upon some of the most deserving criminals, which were murderers and rapists, and Wolk doesn't think that's something to appreciate? What's the world coming to? And then, Wolk offers up a political metaphor:
The last stage of writing went painfully slowly, during the awful months when the pandemic overlapped with Donald Trump’s presidency. But my immersion in the Marvel story had become a useful lens, even in that moment. It became clear that Dark Reign, with its interlinked storylines that appeared in 2009, had been unnervingly prescient, both about what a totalitarian monster rising to power in the US might look like (in this case, the ultra-wealthy, mediagenic, murderously cruel Norman Osborn, AKA Spider-Man’s old archenemy the Green Goblin) and about what might bring him down (the reunion of a fractured coalition, here in the form of the Avengers, as well as some smart reportage).
Let's see if I have this right. Wolk's calling Dark Reign a prophecy for Donald Trump's presidency?!? Just what we need, more anti-Trump bashing. And to make matters worse, Wolk's written this in a foreign paper rather than a domestic one, telling a far-left press company exactly what they want to hear. Even without that, his sugarcoated take on company wide crossovers is appalling, and exactly the reason why they've continued to see use mainly by Marvel/DC for years on end unquestioned. This is another reason why I don't want to buy Wolk's book. Because it's clear he doesn't have as much appreciation for classic Marvel as he'd like everybody to think he does.

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Squirrel Girl wasn't that bad in her first appearance, but then Slott came along and she's been revoltingly annoying ever since. And as for the Thunderbolts, I hate the Ellis series about them and feel that both Juggernaut and Venom would've been good fits for their line up.

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