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Thursday, December 14, 2023 

Polygon sees politicized titles as "best" of the year

So here's Polygon's so-called best of 2023 listings, and wouldn't you know it, they made sure to add at least a few politicized independent GNs to what they claim are the best on the market. For example, a GN titled Shubeik Lubeik:
Whenever Egypt comes up in Western art, it’s usually flattened and caricatured under the Western gaze. But what happens when you reverse the perspective? Deena Mohamed’s brilliant saga — a work by an Egyptian creator originally serialized for an Egyptian audience in Arabic — does just that. Her seminal comic is finally available in English, with Mohamed herself translating it, and with pages that read right-to-left just like any familiar manga, reflecting its origin.

Set in a modern day Cairo, the book pulls the reader into an alternate history wherein humanity can wish their dreams into reality — for a price. Following multiple characters from varied class backgrounds, Mohamed explores how a world shaped by Western colonialism and capitalist impulses even systematizes impossible powers like wishes and dreams — and what that does to the Egyptian people living in such a society. Deploying slick back-matter, infographic pages, charts, and transitions between color and black and white, this work of bold science fiction/fantasy reads like no other comic out this year, or any year.
Hmm, this sure sounds like a subtle attack on western values and capitalism. And probably Islamic propaganda too. And just what do they mean by caricatured? Something tells me they're not talking about how Copts are depicted, but rather, they're taking issue with how realist westerners view the Religion of Peace. Another fishy example here is a GN titled Do A Powerbomb, which is supposed to be about wrestling, but:
The story of Do a Powerbomb is that Daniel Warren Johnson got into professional wrestling for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is his love letter to the form.

The story within Do a Powerbomb is that a necromancer offers a spot in his supernatural wrestling tournament to one young wrestler from our world, where wrestling is performance. If she wins, he’ll bring her late mother back to life, but to do that, she’ll have to tag team with the masked wrestler who accidentally killed her during a fateful match. Twist! That masked wrestler is her dad. Twist! They have to fight God! Like, the Judeo-Christian God!
So this GN is an attack on Judeo-Christianity? Wow, and lefty Polygon's okay with that. As they apparently are with another GN titled 20th Century Men:
The clearest critiques of the United States flow easily from the pens of those who have lived outside of it, where the cruelty of the nation’s foreign policy exists in stark opposition to the fabulist posturing of its leaders. 20th Century Men does this with superheroes, spinning an alternate-history tale full of Avengers-style super-soldiers, genetic experiments, and patriotic figureheads in a battle for the soul of Afghanistan. Deniz Camp, Stipan Morian, and Aditya Bidikar have crafted a powerful, searing fable set in a version of the Soviet-Afghan War of the ’80s, where a Russian soldier with metal armor contends with a superhuman American president and his crazed cyborg weapon — and a determined Afghan woman struggles to build paradise for her people amid the plunder.

With the crushing juxtaposition of devastation and hope illuminated by the glow of sunsets and gunfire, Moran brings visual poetry to Camp’s fiery prose for a story that seeks some kind of absolution for the superhero metaphor, and struggles to find it. Maybe it’s just another American crime, a reminder that this country was not born from one original sin, but many.
Why do I get the dreadful feeling this is the kind of work that obscures the atrocities of the Taliban, and doesn't take issue with the USA based on the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan 2 years ago? Soviet Russia was a bad lot, but so too is any movement that governs tyrannically according to Islam. How can one find a soul if that's how things are going to be managed? And look how the columnist even slipped in subtle anti-American propaganda. Next is a GN titled Damn Them All:
Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara, and Aaron Campbell’s 2020 run on DC’s Hellblazer was one for the books: Urgent, clever, relevant, and very, very angry. It also ended too soon, canceled after 12 issues with so much more to say. Spurrier responded with Damn Them All, a creator-owned spiritual successor to his Hellblazer run that doubles as a fuck-you to the fates. Joined this time by The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, Damn Them All follows occultist Ellie “Bloody El” Hawthorn, the niece of a thinly veiled John Constantine stand-in named Alfie, as she must damn 72 freed demons back to hell itself.

Calling Damn Them All nu-Hellblazer does the series an injustice — it has its own concerns. Where Hellblazer was a scathing Gothic nightmare about post-Brexit England, Damn Them All focuses its rage on the wealthy technocrats of the world. Demons become a metaphor for the power to reshape the world simply because they have the boredom and the means. Ellie Hawthorne isn’t a hero, either, but a junkie who knows someone is trying to screw her, and has the know-how to try and screw them first. Through Charlie Adlard’s inky pen and jagged lines, Damn Them All is a story about being pissed in all kinds of ways, and having no problem with finding a few more.
So here, somebody decided to rag on Brexit, but apparently not on the UK government's fiasco in dealing with illegal immigration into the country, and likely won't be concerned about such ghouls littering the streets with anti-Israel demonstrations either, or the abuse of the Cenotaph monument. And the creators of this GN apparently were among those who've written portions of a DC title that'd once been under the now defunct Vertigo label. And this GN also seems to represent the viewpoint of somebody who'll never look for anything positive to be happy about, and argue in favor of emphasizing if it could help improve the state of the world. Or, put another way, it's an example of the sad staple of obsessions with darkness instead of seeking the light.

At least this makes clear that, if you know where to look, you'll find some pretty sad examples of independent comics that can emphasize all the worst directions possible to take, politically or otherwise. Stuff no realist should finance.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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