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Saturday, March 11, 2023 

Kurt Busiek and Gail Simone actually complain about lack of civilian cast members in modern superhero comics

Who would've thought people who did little to mend an ailing situation 2 decades before would actually be complaining now about a dearth of civilian cast members in modern superhero fare? But that's what both Busiek and Simone have done in the following tweets: Well in that case, how come he continued to "go with the flow", and had no issues with getting rid of one of the most significant civilian co-stars in comicdom, Mary Jane Watson, from Spider-Man's main cast? Point: many of the writers and artists who may be complaining about mainstream decadence now did almost nothing to turn around a dire situation even then. Here's another post: And maybe that's the problem. Busiek conceived some special guest characters, but did he make a serious effort in the 90s to develop civilian co-stars, or recurring cast members, that could have a long ranging impact? Not from what I can recall, and he certainly didn't complain, as Chuck Dixon may have, if Marvel/DC got rid of characters he'd worked hard to create. That said, if memory serves, the characters Dixon spoke of losing to bad editorial mandates were villains seen in Nightwing, which isn't exactly the same thing, and it's worse if the editors banish honest and law-abiding characters than crooked ones, or easily worse, turn the goodies into baddies in the worst ways. Noticing he mentions Harry Osborn, one must wonder what he thought of One More Day's illogically bringing Harry back to the living world after he'd originally been portrayed dying in 1993 (more recently, OMD was retconned away as yet another android/clone idea, and even then, it was all spoiled by coming at Harry's expense), even as Gwen Stacy of Earth 616 continued to rot in the grave. Even before that, when J. Michael Straczynski was writing Spider-Man, he made very little use of Spidey's supporting cast, if at all, save for Mary Jane and aunt May, and that's but one example of how, since the turn of the century, mainstream superhero comics were becoming increasingly mediocre. Yet he dislikes Mary Jane, a character whom Stan Lee drew ideas for from his own wife Joan's career as a model, and I recall reading a sequel to Marvels from the late 2000s where any appearance by MJ was muted at worst. Busiek stopped the story in 1987, at a point that could be considered prior to Peter Parker and MJ's marriage, and it was in this story where Phil Sheldon passed away. So, Busiek apparently so disliked having Spidey in a marriage, he didn't want to explore any further potential in a nostalgia-based tale, and that's one of the most disappointing things about Busiek's approach. Mainly, that he'd rail against a fictional character instead of how she was written, or anything. Of course not. But again, Busiek must think Mary Jane Watson doesn't have to be in a marriage with Peter Parker, and IIRC, he's not in favor of the Superman/Lois Lane marriage either, so why is he lecturing us when he leaves out significant characters?

Here's some extra from Simone: This is but one thing that led to the watering down of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew adventures since 1959. Besides the PC involved, they apparently thought too much character drama undermined the more action-oriented sequences. But IIRC, when Simone was writing Birds of Prey, she did little to develop any new supporting civilian characters, if at all. So what's her point, any more than Busiek's, if she didn't make a serious effort as a writer to bring more to the table? But, if she made no effort to pan Joe Quesada for dissolving the Spider-marriage and alienating the audience, what's the use of stressing this? Oh, she's upholding the Ant-Man sequel at the movies? A movie that's riddled with wokeness? Sorry to say, but that's doing little to improve a dire situation, since the way the movie's written stems from the kind of mindset that led to less co-stars. So this backhanded statement only dampens her argument. This reminds me of a recent Flash storyline, where Linda Park West suddenly develops speed power of her own, not to mention Moira MacTaggart in the X-Men retconned into a mutant herself, which, again, makes the creations into more of a mockery, when they're changed into full-fledged super-doers themselves. They don't have to be turned into superhumans in order to take part in a battle, and canonizing the powers they now have is lazy. Gee, this gives her whole argument a backhanded feel, when those "game-changing" stories she says she loves were a huge part of the problem.

I also noticed another writer named Patrick Gerard respond with the following: And even when they are these days, the trouble is that it's all kept very superficial and severely limited to just a few tropes: skin color and LGBT ideology. No serious effort is made to emphasize civilian co-stars and guests with Ukrainian ancestry, for example (so it's mystifying why some of the aforementioned writers are making use of Ukraine's flag symbols in their profiles). Mainstream publications are particularly damaged as a result of this PC approach to storytelling.

It's one thing for a professional writer/artist to complain about what's gone wrong with superhero comics. But if they did nothing to mend the situation at a time it might've counted, they're just as responsible for the downfall of the medium.

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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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