Ice Man Bobby Drake gayOne of my older brothers used to read X-Men and X-Factor when I was growing up in the 80s. Regular readers know that I’ve always been a Spider-Man fan, but I think it’s safe to say that I read plenty of stories with Bobby Drake. Now, after all these years, Brian Michael Bendis has decided that the character is gay. Why? Answer: Diversity!

The Verge reported Tuesday:

Bobby Drake, otherwise known as classic X-Men member Iceman, will come out of the closet this week. In a collection of leaked panels from All-New X-Men #40, due out tomorrow, Drake finds himself outed by fellow teammate Jean Grey. The revelation makes Iceman one of the most prominent (and powerful) LGBT superheroes in Marvel comics, and is in keeping with the company’s push for more diversity among its characters.

The circumstances surrounding the character’s coming out are unique, to say the least. Readers discover that the past, teenaged Bobby Drake, who has been transported to the future along with the original X-Men to help solve a crisis, is gay. Meanwhile, the present-day Iceman — who is still very much around — has had relationships with multiple women in the past. Apparently, that was an act.

A writer who thinks that a character with a long history of dating women can convincingly be turned gay over night is almost as embarrassing as the writer who tells a long and involved tale that ends “…and then I woke up!” Only a company with zero respect for its audience would allow such lazy and transparent pandering to happen. Marvel expects its fans to clap like trained diversity seals who care more about politically correct editorial mandates than sound storytelling. Given that comic industry journalists are little more than Marvel and DC propaganda arms, it’s a good bet you will soon hear the sound of happy seals.

Perhaps just as bizarre was Brain Michael Bendis lamenting the fact that the issue couldn’t come out and “just be. no press. no sensational headlines.”

Brian Michael Bendis Ice Man gayIf Marvel created a brand new hero who just so happened to be gay — or perhaps a gay, disabled, black and Muslim super-powered diversity-mutant — then that could have happened. No one really cares about introducing new characters, but they do care about arbitrarily making drastic changes to a character they’ve known for decades. They also care when legitimate criticism runs up against men like Dan you-support-Jim-Crow-laws-if-you-think-Peter-Parker-should-stay-white Slott.

Read through the comments section on the websites reporting on the suddenly-gay Bobby Drake, and you’ll see plenty of the “you just have a thing against gay people” mentality on display. It’s sad and pathetic, but it’s the kind of stupid partisanship Marvel needs in spades if it plans to continue these stunts.

After years and years of evidence to the contrary, readers are now supposed to believe that the way to melt Iceman’s heart is to have a Y chromosome. If you’re not a fan of Marvel’s diversity for the sake of diversity business model, then I suggest walking away from the brand and letting them know on your regular circuit of comic-related news sites. Only when it bleeds enough in sales will the company possibly get the message.

Hat Tip: douglasernstblog.com reader Eidolon.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

75 comments

  1. The thing is if I had not read this article I probably would have never known. I started reading comics with the X-men, but I haven’t read an issue of “New X-men” since they stated it was impossible to return them to the past. That’s when it went from an interesting idea to a gimmick Marvel was going to bleed dry. This will likely not bleed over into any other comics because the X-men are predominantly isolated and likely will not show up in X-men again other then some token boyfriend that Bobby will date some time in the coming months to hammer home the revelation.

    My question is will he be mistreated and ultimately dumped for someone else as he predominantly has been by the women he has dated and if not, is it chauvinistic to say that a character who gravitates to bad relationships would be treated better by someone of the same gender than he ever has by a woman? And what happens to the older Bobby who seems to have been on the brink of dedicating himself to a life of chaste introspection? Should this be interpreted as a statement by Marvel and Bendis that being an open homosexual is a greater achievement then a life of chaste introspection?

    Ultimately I think this sudden change and the premiere of Uncanny Inhumans adds credence to the rumor that Marvel is planning to slowly phase out X-men due to their inability to control the movies (such as was done with Fantastic Four).

    1. Good questions all around. I would like Bendis to discuss this in more detail, although the usual Marvel playbook entails telling readers to just shut up and like it. The weird thing is, even though someone like me has zero problem with the introduction of gay characters (Gay people exist in real life, so it would be strange if they didn’t in the Marvel Universe), the charge will still be thrown out there that I’m somehow “anti-gay.” Nope. Sorry. Nice try, though. I just don’t like lazy writing or politically correct stunts.

  2. So if he’s gay, and not bisexual, then all of the romantic relationships he’s had with women throughout his history were no more than acts? Way to spit on all of that, Marvel.

    1. Marvel is good at spitting on its own characters’ history these days. It’s not a talent I would take pride in, but its editors seem to have embraced the practice. 😉

  3. “If Marvel created a brand new hero who just so happened to be gay — or perhaps a gay, disabled, black and Muslim super-powered diversity-mutant — then that could have happened. No one really cares about introducing new characters, but they do care about arbitrarily making drastic changes to a character they’ve known for decades.”

    That is absolutely true. I think Marvel have really lost their vision in being able to create new characters to fulfill their diversity agenda. Do they not have the talent to invent such a character or a skillful marketing department to promote it?

    Was there ever a juxtapositional point to all this? Could Marvel even begin to show similarities or differences between a straight or gay Bobby Drake? I highly doubt it. It’s just a nominal token effort by Marvel to hijack a well established character and pin them with a diversity badge. It really is nothing more than diversity for the sake of diversity.

    I stopped buying X-Men related books by the mid 90’s. My collection runs right back to the 60’s. I found that I couldn’t keep up with the convoluted franchise any longer. It reached saturation point and that’s how I feel about some of Marvel’s output, especially the churning out of event after event, their crossover tie in titles and their diversity business model.

    Right now I’m only buying Fantastic Four and Avengers. Well Fantastic Four is finishing up and I won’t be buying the diversity teen Avengers book, so I guess I’ll just wait to see what books the new rebooted Marvel universe will have on offer.

    1. I stopped buying X-Men related books by the mid 90’s. My collection runs right back to the 60’s.

      This is incredibly telling in terms of what Marvel is doing to its fan base. I think there are many, many “Magnetic Eyes” out there, and for whatever reason Marvel is content to push you out the door. I think it is incredibly strange that its editors would go out of their way to upset men and women whose collections runs back into the 60s, but at the same time I don’t mind chronicling it all here on m blog. One day an intelligent crop of editors will be in charge at Marvel and they won’t be able to stop themselves from publicly saying, “Yeah. Those guys around 2015. No one knows what the heck they were thinking, but it’s over now.”

  4. This seems very bizarre to be honest.

    I’ve always perceived Iceman as being a bit of a ladies man in an idiotic sort of way. Iceman being gay seems very out of character and makes the retcon very awkward as a result. Making him bisexual would have been a bit more believable and realistic.

    In my opinion, the best way to do LGBT characters is to make them LGBT from the start as one of the character’s defining traits (e.g. Tony Stark having a robotic heart has been a defining trait of the character). I’d like to think retrofitting existing characters to be LGBT is a lazy and insulting way of approaching this (as it is in no a reflection of what happens in real life).

    The whole “why doesn’t marvel create new characters” argument is a good point. When you think about it all of Marvel’s most popular characters were pretty much created by Stan Lee in the 60s/70s. Marvel hasn’t really created many popular/long lasting characters since. In fact the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a much better job at creating new characters.

    It seems to me that Marvel needs to create new interesting characters instead of messing with existing characters that have like 50 years of established history. These “flavor of the month” type retcons will only end up being retconned back again in a few years’ time when the editorial direction changes (which in turn will just confuse casual fans into not buying comics).

    1. When you think about it all of Marvel’s most popular characters were pretty much created by Stan Lee in the 60s/70s. Marvel hasn’t really created many popular/long lasting characters since.

      I was talking to one of my brothers about this not too long ago. It’s actually rather embarrassing that so much artistic talent has passed through the halls of Marvel, but on the writing side they can’t seem to find anyone who is inspired enough to create a new cast of memorable superheroes.

  5. I pretty much stopped reading Marvel books in part because of stuff like this. Between these kinds of stunts, writers that viciously attack people online, and the utter mangling of Spider-Man, I can’t support the books in good conscience. Marvel only gets my patronage from their movies these days because I think they’re usually pretty good. However, if the movies also start to shamelessly pander like the books are, I’ll have to reconsider giving Marvel any money at all.

    What really gets under my skin is that this kind of thing almost never seems genuine or at least logical. I can buy Falcon being Captain America because that’s a natural place for his character to go, but characters like She-Thor and gay Iceman just come out of nowhere. And if we dare to question this, we get personally attacked and any real dialogue or criticism is instantly shut down. I find that very telling.

    1. I can buy Falcon being Captain America because that’s a natural place for his character to go, but characters like She-Thor and gay Iceman just come out of nowhere. And if we dare to question this, we get personally attacked and any real dialogue or criticism is instantly shut down. I find that very telling.

      Bingo. You’re not alone, Grant! 🙂 There are many guys and gals like us out there. Marvel’s editors can deny it all they want, but that doesn’t change the truth.

    2. I totally agree. I hate it because it’s bad storytelling, not because I’m a homophobe, but whenever I complain people jump down my throat.

      Also, Iceman coming out as gay seems kind of offensive to homosexuals in my opinion, because if the past Ice Man is gay and the current one is straight, that means he was somehow “cured” of his homosexuality.

    3. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Itai. I appreciate it. I’m looking at your IP address and I have to say, if you keep it up with those opinions then the Thought Police are going to come for you! 😉

      The more your peers jump down your throat for putting forth logical observations, the more you know you’re hitting a nerve. Keep thinking independently, Itai. It will serve you well moving forward.

    1. What’s next? We learn that all this time Cyclops was secretly a women?

      I think the plan is to have Cyclops randomly become transgender by the end of the year. 😉

  6. Marvel is an absolute mess these days. Axel’s statement today was “this is who the character is now. If you’ve always loved him, this will draw you closer to him, not further.” I’ve always loved Marvel, but this retconning of history that even a few LGBT individuals on the forums today were saying made no sense draws me much further from them. I’m just not sure what to do with Marvel post “Renew your Vows”.

    I feel as if when Marvel tries to introduce an LGBT character, or concept they try very hard to hit the reader over the head with it. They also try to intimidate the reader into going along with it and realizing that they don’t have a choice in the matter. A good example of this, is one of the first few issues of “Scarlet Spider” that came out last year. Kaine is talking to a guy who will go on to become a central supporting character. There’s a picture of him and another guy on a ship. Kaine asks innocently, “Who’s that, a friend?” and the guy angrily shouts back, “That’s my HUSBAND. You have a problem with that?!???!” Kaine, this guy we’re told is more ruthless then Peter, and actually just killed a Spider Queen who just turned New York into a giant web in “Spider-Island” shies away and says, “Um…no.” That’s a message to readers picking up the book saying, “we’ll have married LGBT individuals here. You have a problem with that?”

    We have a female Thor right now…and for 8 issues of your hard earned money, we are not even going to tell you who she is. But we WILL rip off the regular Thor’s arm and leave as a dangling plot thread why he lost his worthiness in the first place. Something changed within the Marvel brass that says, “Diversity at all costs”, which as an African American male I understand. But I want intriguing, new AA characters I can enjoy. I don’t want to find out that next week, Tony Stark or Hawkeye have actually been Black this entire time.

    That’s the problem with these types of retcons. You’re taking an established character who is popular and you’re short cutting because you feel the need to force feed the audience diversity instead of taking the time to create characters who will send a message as well as have longevity. The X-men have always been Marvel’s statement on the make up of the world. But here, You’re throwing these diverse concepts at characters and hoping to see what sticks. By making Iceman gay, you skip the process through which the fans actually care about him emotionally. Instead you’re told, that this is just another fact about him…we just never told you.
    Which insults the intelligence of the reader and says that Marvel doesn’t care that you spent your money for years on a character with this type of untruth.

    I think I mentioned before that I was making the difficult decision to cut back on ASM post Spider Verse and I definitely have done that. I think Secret Wars is my swan song to the whole Marvel comics for a while though I will keep up with the movies. There’s just this looming feeling that post Secret Wars, the Marvel landscape has nothing left for me. It doesn’t represent me anymore and it’s hard to connect to that universe. The question is, will it ever again?

    1. “There’s just this looming feeling that post Secret Wars, the Marvel landscape has nothing left for me. It doesn’t represent me anymore and it’s hard to connect to that universe. The question is, will it ever again?”

      That’s a very poignant question and one that echoes my sentiments exactly. I would sooner see the upper echelons of Marvel’s editorial staff cleared out of office, before the ushering in of a new universe with the same petulant mandates and sub-par writing.

    2. “I think Secret Wars is my swan song to the whole Marvel comics for a while though I will keep up with the movies. There’s just this looming feeling that post Secret Wars, the Marvel landscape has nothing left for me. It doesn’t represent me anymore and it’s hard to connect to that universe. The question is, will it ever again?” — The Orange Mask

      I wish every editor at Marvel would read this. While it’s incredibly sad, it is also a dagger into the heart of every editor who thinks that pushing guys like you away is a good business model. I was torn with many of the same feelings years ago. I don’t know why Marvel is doing this. It makes no sense. Then again, people who are blind partisan hacks are prone to doing nonsensical things.

  7. Here’s a question: would they ever, ever do this the other way? Would they have a character who’s always been gay turn out to have been straight all along? Why is it more credible to go the other direction?

    This is reminiscent of the push to put Cyborg in the original Justice League lineup in the New 52 so as to have diversity in there “from the beginning” (i.e. a year or two ago, retconned back to a long time ago). I don’t have a problem with the character, though I don’t really see anything in his history to put him at the Justice League level (or at least there are hundreds of characters equally viable if he is).

    As far as I can tell what’s happening is:

    1. Comic companies want to have more diversity so as to get more press and to please the SJW herd (who they probably mistakenly think are a far larger portion of the fanbase because they’re so vocal, and also they agree with them).

    2. They create tons of new “diverse” characters (probably every second character in the last 5 years is gay or bisexual).

    3. Nobody is interested in these characters because they aren’t that great and are far too defined by their sexuality (see the hilarious Batwoman sendup where all her dialogue is “lesbian”), plus there’s such a flood of them all of a sudden, it’s very off-putting. It’s like some really weird supervillain started dumping something in the water in the Marvel NYC.

    4. The new characters don’t get much traction, in large part because they were created to be “diverse” and characters like that never work. So they start thinking about how they can ensure that people are reading books with sufficient “diversity” so they can tout it in the media.

    5. The easiest way is to make existing popular characters more “diverse” so they can say that they have a popular character that fits that quota. So presto, suddenly there’s a gay Green Lantern, gay Iceman, gay Colossus, black Spider-Man, lesbian Spider-Woman, bisexual Wolverine, black Nick Fury, etc.

    A lot of it is so token and false. But it does come back to the failure to create and support compelling new characters. Jamie Reyes wasn’t just a diversity quota, he was a great character, but the good version is erased; Gravity or Toxin could’ve been good new heroes at Marvel but they were killed off for no particular reason; DC kills everyone and reboots everything; Marvel kills everyone and reboots everything. I love the Marvel universe, and I’m so depressed they’re doing Crisis on Infinite Marvels. Maybe they’ll finally take that opportunity to make Peter Parker a black lesbian or something.

  8. I want to point out something notice no one here is saying they don’t want diversity. The statements made say develop characters and stop with radical changes for marketing tactics. Diversity is additive not reductive, you do not have to “take” from one to have another. The whole argument about the iconic characters is really writers saying we can’t make a good character or we don’t care enough to invest the time and effort to make one. It is all about marketing a product and using shock tactics for publicity.

    I miss when we could read about a character and care about the “character”. The comic industry tends to forget it is the character not the powers or the hero name that matters to readers. For example “anyone can be Spider-man”, fine but many people read Spider-man for Peter Parker.

    The entire Iceman thing seems rushed and shameful at best. The character had decades of material showing that he was straight, was it an act…I doubt it. Why would someone that had lived his entire life filled with oppression of being a mutant be afraid to admit he was gay? The theory does not make sense. Maybe the character will turn out to only be gay in an alternate universe and not in the 616?

    With that said the key thing is that until DC and Marvel stop using minorities and other differences as marketing tools it will only come off as shameful tactics.

    1. See that’s been my thought. Bendis (read: Marvel) is going to have to say that the O5 that were picked out of time, had to be from an alternate timeline. Unless they decide to go the other route and argue that Bobby isn’t gay. He’s really Bisexual. Which if they had done from the start at least solves both problems of 1) not going against continuity and 2) satisfying the need for more diversity with LGBT patrons. But having him claim he’s “very gay” it alienates both groups of fans.

    2. Marvel can say all it wants that the older Bobby Drake was “in the closet,” but his history does not indicate that at all. As has already been pointed out, a guy who is already lambasted by society because he’s a mutant would really not care if his X-Men friends knew he was gay. By changing the character’s sexuality after decades, Marvel really just sends a message that sexuality can be flipped like a light switch — something that would probably make most gay-rights activists cringe.

      On multiple levels it seems like Marvel only succeeded in creating a public relations mess for itself. I suppose it may help sales for this one issue, but the long-term damage to the brand’s credibility continues to build. Sad.

    3. I saw a conversation in my Facebook feed yesterday that gave me hope. It’s interesting to see that even people who aren’t particularly political don’t feel right about these sorts of editorial decisions by Marvel. Sometimes you can tell that a person may be very much in line with Marvel’s politics on social issues but turned off by the company’s tactics.

      When Marvel goes from being a comic book distributor to an activist organization that just-so-happens to release comics, then it is a bad sign for its future.

  9. “Diversity is additive not reductive…”

    Truth… no, it really isn’t, unless you’re honestly going to tell me India is ‘additive’ with all the inner strife going on in there due in no small part to all of the diversity going on there. Place is barely a country at all.

    Diversity, LEGITIMATE, heart of the matter, BEYOND SKIN DEEP, diversity ALWAYS leads to places like India and the eventual collapse of large, multi-ethnic societies. Why do you think there’s now a Austria and a Hungary rather than a Hungary. Hell, why do you think we have separate nations at all?

    All these SJW’s calling for diversity ONLY WANT it skin deep and when it comes to actual diversity, desire a brutal mono-culture that everyone, whether colored or white, straight or gay, follows with rigid conformity. They’re just as imperialist as the Europeans once were, only they lack the balls to come out and admit it and enforce it with violence (at least, not yet) and because they lack the balls, they’ll ultimately lose.

  10. All this rhetoric about “pushing diversity” and “you’re just a repressed X” makes any action these companies take seem not very good-hearted at all. Is the comics market really so much of an oligopoly that Marvel and DC can pull stunts like this and not suffer any losses?

    “i wanted the issue to come out and just be”. Tall order when your consumers are some of the most volatile in the world.

    1. Can they get away with it? You tell me. Marvel is currently doing the She-Thor thing where the character openly carps about feminism and how anyone who disagrees is horrible, and even the villains agree, and a while back they had Captain America fighting Tea Partiers. I’m sure DC is guilty of plenty as well, such as the whole thing where they turned your avatar character into a permanently-roofied living sex doll. So in the sense that they do openly insult any customers who don’t agree with them about politics, good storytelling, or characterization, they can apparently get away with it.

      They’re now flush with cash from movies which pull from stories which mostly predate the modern “insult the customer to his face” era, which means they can keep going indefinitely based mostly on the talent of those who went before them — at least until the parent companies decide that these little comics companies which seem to be tangentially attached to their movie franchises aren’t very profitable and just shut them down. Or when the comic movies inevitably trail off in popularity, in which case no part of the business is profitable anymore so they might as well close the whole shebang.

      I don’t know how profitable stuff like Walking Dead and Invincible is in comparison, but it seems like that stuff should be able to survive when the TV shows and movies stop being made because it built a loyal fanbase by being consistently interesting. (Not speaking to whether Kirkman is a cool guy in person or not here, I’m not familiar with that. I know he got sued by his old Walking Dead artist but I’m not familiar with that situation, and while there’s at least a 50/50 chance that Kirkman is an outspoken liberal jerk on Twitter, I try not to look into that stuff. I like his writing and I probably don’t want to know.)

  11. And speaking of diversity, for every 5 new gay characters could we have one openly Christian one? I mean, considering that gay men make up somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5% of people while Christians in the US are supposed to be ~60-70%, you’d think maybe one notably Christian character might come to mind. I can’t think of one, though.

    Is there one? They had Nightcrawler lose his faith, that would’ve been the most prominent one. I assume Captain America was one at one point (or was assumed to be) but presumably isn’t anymore, what with the fornication and whatnot. Superman makes references to some Kryptonian god nowadays so I suppose he isn’t one. Daredevil hangs out at churches sometimes, is he still supposed to be Catholic or are they just borrowing iconic imagery? I know quite a few comic characters but I can’t think of one who’s explicitly Christian. I can think of at least three outspoken Muslim characters off the top of my head though. How’s that for white privilege? All those characters and not one WASP I can think of (who’s actually a practicing Protestant). Not even one practicing Jew either, for that matter.

    Am I way off base? Is my memory/current comics knowledge wrong?

  12. Maybe Seth saw the future… Still, this is awful, such blatant pandering. Marvel, I am sad. What happened with that company which brought so many memorable heroes? Now you are scraping the very bottom of the barrel. It seems that the company is run by clowns and writers with a inflated ego.

  13. “If Marvel created a brand new hero who just so happened to be gay — or perhaps a gay, disabled, black and Muslim super-powered diversity-mutant — then that could have happened. No one really cares about introducing new characters, but they do care about arbitrarily making drastic changes to a character they’ve known for decades.”

    Well maybe if fans would support original character who happened to be minority then there would be no need to change established character. What happened to all diverse book? Katana, Batwoman, Vibe, etc etc all cancelled.

    I know many people that are like “Gender/sexuality/race doesn’t matter to me!” and yet only buying Batman, Batman, Superman, Justice League, and sh*t ton book staring straight white male lead. “Well, it’s because there’s no good book staring minority lead!” Bullshit. There are many descent and awesome book staring minority lead (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, etc etc) but you all just to busy worshipping Batman and Superman.

    1. There are many descent and awesome book staring minority lead (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, etc etc) but you all just to busy worshipping Batman and Superman.

      What would be your reaction if I referred to a bunch of black people as “you all”? My guess is that it would be quite humorous, yet incredibly sad.

      Take your sob story somewhere else. I reviewed Ms. Marvel here: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: Like Kamala Khan, intriguing book doesn’t know whether to go big or go small.

      In your world, I guess the answer is to make Batman gay in order to force-feed people the kind of characters you think they need to be reading about.

      If Marvel editors and writers a.) start acting like professionals, and b.) write books that worth my time, then I’ll give a new characters more of a chance. Marvel reaps what it sows. I’m sorry if that fact escapes you.

    2. This whole move reeks of political correctness. As Hube noted over at Colossus, Iceman was in love with Lorna Dane/Polaris. I have several older X-men comics where he is in love with women and dates them. It’s ridiculous. It’s another PC move designed to kowtow to the rabid Tumblr SJW crowd. In the movies, Iceman dated both Rogue and Kitty Pryde. Making him gay doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

      And has it ever occurred to SJWs that maybe some books with minority and/or women leads don’t sell well because the writers are more focused on preaching than actually telling awesome stories? In my experience, that’s been the case. I can’t speak for Ms. Marvel, having never read that comic, but it seems that most readers are scared away from such books not because they’re minority characters, but because there’s preachy nonsense instead of a good story.

      And they need to start creating their own black/gay/female/Hispanic/others characters rather than change existing ones to appease the PC crowd.

  14. I think the reason they keep altering popular characters is that they have the most readers. Spiderman, Ice-man from X-men etc. Far easier to destroy Thor and add the female Thor to take his place, or make Jean grey a lesbian rather than create a new character and have his/her character bomb. Lazy writing to be honest and shows lack creativity. I hate the direction Marvel seems to be going because they keep destroying established past characters for the sake of “diversity”. If I was gay, i’d take more offence to them doing that rather than making a new character.

  15. As I mentioned before, I work with a guy named Josh at his YouTube channel the Hybrid Network. But one of the other guys that works for the site named Oscar (a close friend of mine from Sweden) is a big X-Men fan. And when he heard about this whole thing, he was pretty surprised, but even more so confused by how this played out according to the leaked panels. For one thing he mentioned the fact that “if the Bobby Drake of the past is gay, then why isn’t his present self gay as well?”, which is something that I think you already brought up. And he also called out Jean Grey as a bitch for how she literally poked and prodded him to spill the beans, in which case I completely agreed with. That and the dialogue… is so friggin bad that I almost mistook it for a piece of fanfiction that somehow escaped the darkest depths of DeviantArt.

    But what really confuses me, is to why this was done. I’m not exactly sure if this was true or not, but I remember someone mentioning that the All-New X-Men sales numbers were dropping recently (which given all the complaints I’ve heard about Bendis’s writing on the series, such as the Xavier coming back from the dead for a bit because… REASONS, issue). And assuming for a moment that it’s true, this whole event starts to make a lot more sense. It’s a classic tactic that tabloid trash pieces like People Magazine and others do all the time. Stir up a bit of controversy, and sales will ultimately get a rise from said spike. Which is more then likely what’s happening right now.

    I’ve said it before back when Slott decided to slander Spider-Man fans as racist, and I’m saying it again: diversity for the sake of diversity is nothing more then a politically charged PR stunt gimmick. Period.

  16. The 05 idea had merit when it began, but it really has just degenerated over time. They did’nt ACT like the 05 from Stan and Jack’s issues, no attempt was made in that regard to tie them to that era or the way they did things, and it further muddies the waters in just how seriously we’re meant to take 616’s current temporal climate, already a long-since-snapped rubber band. Teen Jean would never act the way she is here, she would be understanding and more nurturing regarding Bobbi’s orientation, not forcing him to trip over it and putting him on the spot. It’s this failiure to correctly stay on course with characters that frustrates me with the direction of this company. They want change for the sake of it, regardless if their heroes are outright assassinated for the cause of plot convenience. Bendis is usually one of my favorite people and writers, and I do prefer his X-Men work over his Avengers work at times, but this is one of his many misfires on the book (the other was the afore-mentioned Xavier time travel story)

    1. Teen Jean would never act the way she is here, she would be understanding and more nurturing regarding Bobbi’s orientation, not forcing him to trip over it and putting him on the spot. It’s this failure to correctly stay on course with characters that frustrates me with the direction of this company. They want change for the sake of it, regardless if their heroes are outright assassinated for the cause of plot convenience.

      That one cut deep. You’re right on the money. It seems like Marvel’s current crop doesn’t really care about history when the history conflicts with their wishes and desires. They don’t just make decisions that might cause minor squabbles — sometimes they engage in a total betrayal of the character because it’s the easiest way to get from Point A to Point B (e.g., Black Cat).

      Side note: Your “long-since-snapped rubber band” analogy was also a good one.

    2. Cheers, the rubber band bit was sort of parroting something similar I read on a CrawlSpace review of ASM some years back (and which has been immortalized in the Youtube video “Slott’s Dying Wish”), glad you liked it

    3. Whoa…I just watched this. I didn’t know ANY of this stuff about Slott!!! Sharing this video on all my Social Media.

    4. I’m glad you liked it, TheOrangeMask. 🙂 I don’t know too much about the guy who made the video, but he did a great job putting it all together.

      The follow-up is also pretty good.

    5. That was INCREDIBLE! Wow!!!! Thanks for the link!!!! Also, not sure if you saw it but I quoted your post in my last blog post.

  17. “A writer who thinks that a character with a long history of dating women can convincingly be turned gay over night”

    If you think it’s impossible for a gay man to spend decades telling people he’s straight and dating women, then you’re pretty ignorant of how a lot of real people behave in the real world. Might want to work on that.

    1. It appears you have a reading comprehension problem, theratshag. Did I say it was impossible to pull off? Let me save you the effort of reading again since it may be difficult for you. Answer: No.

      I also notice that you didn’t fully quote me. I wonder why. Here’s the full quote: “A writer who thinks that a character with a long history of dating women can convincingly be turned gay over night is almost as embarrassing as the writer who tells and long and involved tale that ends “…and then I woke up!”

      Indeed, it is possible for someone to date women for years and then eventually come out as gay. Unfortunately for you, Iceman isn’t a real person and writers have a responsibility to do a better job than essentially just saying, “Yeah, he’s gay now. Accept it.” All your snark can’t change how embarrassingly bad this switch was handled.

      Did you really think you could just chop up a quote of mine that leaves out important context as it pertains to responsibilities a writer has to his audience and get away with it — on my own blog, no less? That shows a stunning lack of foresight. “Might want to work on that.”

  18. Pingback: The Breakup – The Orange Mask
  19. I think the core of it is this: they wish they could change their audience from an audience that likes what they currently like to an audience that loves to read exclusively about gay/transgender/minority characters. They’ve tried introducing those characters, but they didn’t work. Their perspective is that this failure is a fault in their audience, i.e. the audience must still be full of bigoted hicks who can’t accept their brilliant progressive ideas.

    While they can’t make the audience choose to read about gay etc. characters, they can, to some extent, force them to be fans of gay etc. characters by forcibly shoving their favorites characters into those categories. And thus far that has stuck a little better than the first strategy.

    Basically it’s “you will like the things we tell you to like, no exceptions. Eat your vegetables and read about gay characters, whether you like it or not. Oh, you think you can avoid having this stuff shoved down your throat by only reading about existing popular characters? Nice try. Those characters are gay and minorities now too. We’ll modify and/or replace all your favorites until you have no choice but to like what we think you should like.” Or you just quit reading altogether. And if you don’t like this stuff they don’t even want you around, so that’s win/win for them I suppose.

    1. Good writing attracts customers. It’s not a comic book, but Brooklyn 99 is a great example. I watch that show ever week because I think it’s funny and I don’t give a rip that Holt is gay. If Marvel introduced new characters who just-so-happened to be gay — in a title that had impressive writing — I’d buy it.

      The other difference between Brooklyn 99 writers and Marvel’s creative team is that Brooklyn 99 doesn’t beat its audience over the head with politics. Holt is gay, but that’s not what defines him. When Marvel pulls these stunts, they shine a giant spotlight on the character’s race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc.

      Regardless, I agree with you in that Marvel’s editors and writers are totally misreading its critics. Because they are all insulated inside their little progressive NYC industry bubble, they can’t quite grasp the idea that someone who disagrees with them politically can have legitimate gripes. If someone like you criticizes a book then it’s automatically assumed it’s because you’re a backwoods hick who never obtained a high school diploma.

    2. You have more experience with these folks than I do. Would you say it’s more that they’re offended by the idea that people read their stuff who have ideas they don’t like, or that they want to go way off into crazy-land with books that are about nothing but their personal bugbears, but they can’t because people won’t buy those books? I’m sure it’s a bit of both, of course, but I can’t get a read on it.

      I know the Iceman thing is in part just a way to get themselves into the news, and clearly they care less about characters people are invested in than about publicity in cases like that. But there has to be a reason they did that particular thing, too. It’s obvious they did She-Thor and a black Captain America as an intentional thing; I can only assume those moves are supposed to be, in addition to more publicity, a thumb in the eye to imaginary sexists and racists respectively (make the most manly hero a girl; make the most iconically American and blond hero black). Do they think their own readers are bigots and they want to force them to accept their brilliant progressivism? Or is it a way of attacking straw-man versions of those flyover country hayseeds, “let’s all point and laugh at the idiots who have a problem with this”?

    3. I’m not sure if I have more experience. You seem to have an incredibly accurate take on these guys. I’d say that it’s not that you can’t get a read on it as much as it’s really just a problem with splayed roots.

      Some of the creators really do believe that the readers are racistbigothomophobes, which is why you get guys like Mark Waid literally telling customers not to buy their work. Others are like Dan Slott, who are blindly partisan hacks whose empathy skills are incredibly lacking. Because he can’t emotionally put himself into the shoes of a conservative, he is limited in the kind of stories he can tell. If you listen to him, you’ll see that he deals with those constraints by essentially referring to comics as “just” comics when he’s cornered. There is a positive correlation between the intensity of Dan Slott’s online tantrums and the quality of a man’s critique of ASM.

      I think our culture is increasingly lazy, and as a result writers go for the “easy” story (i.e., one loaded up with politically correct pap). Just like actors and musicians knew that the surest way to have critics put on the kid gloves from 00-08 was to bash George W. Bush, the modern Marvel Comics writer knows that comics “journalists” aren’t going to tear apart stories focused on gay Iceman or She-Thor. A writer who goes the politically correct route knows that a critic will think twice before he publicly dismantles anything.

      In terms of laughing at fans, that one is undeniable. Take a firm stance on any topic with Steve Wacker and wait for about 10 seconds before he goes into full mock-mode. One really could write a book on these guys. Their narcissism knows no bounds.

    4. Have you ever done a full retrospective or review on the whole Superior Spider-Man experiment as a whole? Those videos got me thinking about it. I’m a recent reader of this site. I ran through the archives some but I didn’t see anything that covered the whole run.

      I feel like you and a lot of others had a lot more problems with it conceptually than I did. I’m a lifelong fan of the character but I thought ASM #700 was really well done (if similarly abrupt to Ultimate Peter Parker’s death in his book). I thought the idea that Peter Parker would die a lonely, unmourned death was very appropriate. It’s almost more heroic that way — it wasn’t a big thing that everyone would remember, he wasn’t mourned by everyone as a hero, there was no statue to him like there was for Superman. But in the end he still made a difference — with his dying breath, he saved lives and made someone else a better man. That was poetic. What bothered me about SSM was that Slott utterly failed to deliver on the promise of Ock’s redemption. (Well, that and the fact that to keep the aforementioned “heroically died in secret” thing going he had to make every other character a moron.) Spider-Ock was nothing like what was described by Peter at the end of ASM #700, and he goes on to kill several people, in direct contradiction of what was said. He didn’t have to say that — he could still have been a hero without the “no killing” rule. But since it was said, if you have Ock go back on it then the whole premise is unsound. I’ve always liked Ock as a character, and I was excited about his redemption into a hero. I hoped maybe he could be made into his own heroic character going forward, like happened with Kaine (since we all knew Peter would be back). I didn’t like what Slott had done with Ock, with him getting decrepit and him dying and such, but reinventing him in that way could’ve redeemed all that for me. But Ock never was redeemed. Even his self-sacrifice seemed to be more to destroy an enemy that he couldn’t defeat himself than a real heroic act. And I felt like Peter’s return was very anti-climactic. By the time it happened I really wasn’t that invested in it, and it was very underwhelming.

      I guess the problem with both Peter’s death and return was that there was no thematic build to either. There was no thematic thread that was culminated in Peter’s death, and Ock’s actions really weren’t building to a heroic sacrifice. It was more petulant than anything, and the last time we saw him he was still clearly a villain, both in the last issue of SSM and in Spider-Verse. It was such a letdown for me, and there were so many interesting elements and touches that I enjoyed. For example, I loved the way the SSM suit evolved subtly, and without drawing attention to it. It’s such a cliche in comics to make a huge deal about each new iteration of a character’s outfit, the fact that Ock (not being a hero) was just tinkering with it, modifying it all the time, changing it each time a problem came up, and so it just changed continuously the way a tinkerer might keep messing with his tools. Stuff like that really teased the better book it could have been, and it’s frustrating that in the end it really had no point. Ock didn’t really change, didn’t become a hero, and Peter didn’t learn or grow from the experience, so looking back you just say “well, that sure happened.”

      Spider-Verse was similar in the poor execution but in that case I didn’t think it was a particularly interesting setup either. I never liked Morlun, and seeing more Morluns was the opposite of anything I wanted. I’d like to forget The Other ever happened, frankly. I thought he was boring, I thought his killing of Spider-Man was gross and unnecessary (did he have to eat his eyeball?) and the fact that Spider-Man killed him never seemed to come up again, despite that seeming to be a pretty big deal since I can’t think of any villain Spider-Man has ever directly killed. But there again I felt like the whole thing came to nothing, and of course it brought with it a lot of the nihilistic attitude that all modern comics seem to have. Of course we couldn’t let Mayday Parker ride off into the sunset joyfully; we have to drag her into grim’n’grittytown and kill her parents. Let’s just kill off tons of fun alternate versions for the heck of it, to the point where it loses all meaning. The finale was equally underwhelming, and led into ASM v2 becoming The Silk Show as you’ve well documented.

      Anyway I’m curious what your overall thoughts are about SSM. Let me know if there’s already a blog post on the subject.

    5. It’s frustrating that in the end it really had no point. Ock didn’t really change, didn’t become a hero, and Peter didn’t learn or grow from the experience, so looking back you just say “well, that sure happened.”

      That pretty much sums it up right there for me. I’ve said before that Dan Slott is sort of like a child playing with toys — if a story pops into his head he sort of runs with it without really thinking things through. He cares more about the inspiration for the idea than the execution of that idea, and then he gets upset when readers point that out to him. You’re supposed to just be happy that there were a ton of guys with spider-powers running around instead of picking apart the fact that the story was so convoluted that Dan Slott literally had to have a deus ex machina move Spider-Verse along…

      My biggest problem with Dan Slott is that he reminds me of the Celia Gimenez of the comic book industry.

      Mr. Slott has big ideas that require great attention to detail in order to successfully bring them to fruition, and then when he fails to do the grunt work and it falls apart he lashes out at critics. As you point out, Doc Ock wasn’t redeemed — so what was the point? Peter Parker went out like a punk (twice, for all intents and purposes), and then when Ock gave Peter back his body it was just that — Ock giving up for no apparent reason. The whole thing was a mess.

      Anyway, here’s a SSM post you might like: Dan Slott gives fans zombie Peter Parker — then counts his precious sales

      I suppose at some point I should do a Dan Slott retrospective now that you mention it. Maybe at the end of the summer? We’ll see. 🙂

  20. This isn’t even original. Peter David outed Shatterstar in 2009 and Scott Lobdell had Northstar announce he was gay in 1992. I’m not well-versed in those characters, but it’s my understanding that their orientation had been long hinted at. Other writers had expressed an interest in formally revealing it. (Northstar’s creator, John Byrne, was apparently prevented from outright revealing it back in the ’80s.)

    By comparison, Iceman being gay is like bad fanfic writing*. “Drop hints and take the time to develop a major change in a character? Nah! Let’s just do it as quickly as possible, retcon every contradictory detail, and get defensive when called on it. Hey, let’s also make Jean Grey an insensitive lout. We’ll just say Superboy-Prime punched a wall, right? Oh, wait, wrong company. Oh well.”

    * Actually worse. Bad fanfic writers don’t get paid for that they put out.

  21. 1. Marvel hasn’t created a successful stand-alone superhero character since Wolverine (Firestar was originally created for the cartoon, and Marvel legally adopted her). By that, I mean a character that everybody wants to read, and develops market recognition outside the narrow fan base. Every writer knows how Martin Goodman shafted Kirby and every other employee over the decades, and they don’t want to give Marvel LLC anything. Writers have every possible incentive *not* to create new hero characters for Marvel.
    2. The current Marvel regime is comprised of extreme leftists. It’s like reading stories written by Fundamental Baptists who grew up in Fundamental Baptist compounds and only have Fundamental Baptist friends, except in this case they’re all sexual-libertarian socialists. They have talking-points from the Democratic National Committee branded on their brains. Talk about NON-diversity. There is no mental diversity at Marvel. I bet you that Marvel would consciously not hire a traditional Protestant, Catholic, or a traditional Jewish writer.
    3. And yet so much of it is hypocrisy. The sexual objectifying of women in Marvel product is everywhere. Marvel talks big, but then the curtain sometimes drops away and you can see it’s a frat-house mentality.

    1. There is a part of me that wants to print out your comment and frame it, Jack! Great stuff. 🙂

      Every time Marvel’s creators are confronted with the company’s lack of ideological diversity, they do the equivalent of rubbing their right index finger back and forth over their lips to make a “blibberblubberblibberblubber” noise. Like you said, the frat-house mentality alive and well.

  22. Also, Marvel has been preaching sexual amorality for decades. There was an issue of IRON MAN years ago, where a female military character told IM (or maybe it was War Machine) “I like girls, OK?” (now there’s a stereotype — lesbian military officer with a short hair-cut). So they had Tony rant about how STUPID everyone is who thinks heterosexuality is a norm. These past facts of Marvel history waft away the fumes of nostalgia: when you go even farther back, you find Nekra (whose real power was to keep her black curly-q outfit barely glued onto her regions), and Marianne Rodgers, who was once depicted on an IM cover topless (except her up-raised hand covered one little key part of her anatomy **just so**).

  23. Doug, did you happen to catch Dan Slott’s interview with ComicVine recently? Aside from taking the time to troll Spider-Girl fans about killing her father off, he does bring up an interesting bit about writing MJ “without limits” for the Renew Your Vows event, and how writing her in 616 post-OMD was no longer “fun” because he couldn’t go anywhere with her relationship with Peter. Just wondered what your take on this was? I don’t think one needs to deconstruct MJ and put her on a bus just to ensure a relationship doesn’t happen, you can define her just as well without having the relationship aspect if that was the case.

    1. Zariusii, you’re going to force me to do a “Renew Your Vows” blog post before I’m ready! 🙂

      It’s nice to see Dan Slott publicly admitting that he’s incapable of thinking outside the box when it comes to Mary Jane. It’s refreshing, in a weird way.

      The thing is, if you strip away Dan Slott’s cartoonish behavior during the interview and pay attention to what he’s saying, it says so much about why he isn’t right for the book. I plan to come back to this interview if “Renew Your Vows” pans out like I think it will. It appears as though Mr. Slott’s reading of a married Peter Parker will be just as flawed as his take on a single Peter Parker.

    2. Some writers just have reliably bad instincts. The nearest analog I can think of is how Kevin Feige, seems to instinctively have exactly what Slott does not have. Feige “gets” what the characters are supposed to be. It’s as if Slott has a fun-house mirror in his imagination, and he can’t see any difference between that and objective information about the real character.

    3. That really is a good comparison, Jack. I totally agree. Feige really does seem to be able to hone in on a character’s core traits and stay true to them, even while changing certain aspects for the film medium.

      Slott seems to latch onto characteristics and history he likes while ignoring others. This produces the “fun house mirror” effect you’ve observed. When Dan Slott is called out on this, he either denies what any objective observer can see, or he goes on the offensive with red herrings and personal attacks.

  24. This might be why Feige is a successful executive — the mental qualities of emotional objectivity and fact-focus differ from person to person, and Feige seems to have both of those qualities in spades. In contrast, Slott seems to be ultra-ultra-subjective, more than the typical person. I notice that (as far as I know) no one has ever asked Slott to be an editor, or to be entrusted with any managerial authority. I would guess his co-workers also know that, unlike Feige, he does not have the emotional objectivity or fact-focus needed to run others.

  25. I haven’t read the xmen since the early 2000s. Being gay myself I do not understand Marvel’s and Dc’s jump on the bandwagon. I guess I could see iceman as being gay since he’s quick with the wit 😉 honestly, it’s ridiculous. This whole coming out of the closet with Jean letting him know seems like nonsense. What a waste. Make Rogue a lesbian if you need to have a gay character. You already killed her off. Just bring her back as a lesbian.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Booberry. I appreciate it.

      As you point out, there are ways to create a gay character that aren’t forced. I honestly have no issue with gay people being Marvel superheroes, despite what the comments section of certain websites might say to critics like me. It would be absurd to think that the Marvel Comic Universe had superheroes but…not gay people.

      I just don’t like lazy writing, and arbitrarily making a character like Iceman gay, as was done here, is just lazy. Marvel got its glowing press release and maybe a short-term sales bump. Cheers to them. At the end of the day, though, people only want to read solid writing. I think all too often these days the company sacrifices long-term credibility for short-term sales boosts.

  26. Quesada and Bendis have been relying on spectacle, controversy, and agitation to sell Marvel comics for the last decade. Nothing is sacred and no matter how big the train wreck it can always be retconned or rebooted. The fact they keep falling back on this approach to staying relevant is a sign of desperation and a acknowledgement that the current fanboys running the comic industry have no original ideas. They do not create new characters to usher in modern tastes but seem to have an endless “wouldn’t it be cool?” obsession with radically modifying or changing preexisting characters and/or story lines. You need a scorecard to track the last 10 years of their experimentation. So this approach gets a pop for a little while in sales and then fades away (similar to the 90’s #1/variant covers marketing strategy). In the end, no one cares about their characters or stories because they know it is temporary and will be something entirely different in six to twelve months.

    In contrast, those boring old guys who “created” all the characters that are being constantly remade are responsible for the intellectual property that is pretty much keeping the movie industry in business. Then to top it off, guys like Quesada and Bendis egotistically flip out on the fans when called out on the carpet that they are pretty much a bunch of hacks for doing this while wrapping themselves in the latest SJW nonsense. This will not end well for the comic industry, but the people running it seemed determined to damn the torpedoes and press on full speed ahead.

    1. Then to top it off, guys like Quesada and Bendis egotistically flip out on the fans when called out on the carpet that they are pretty much a bunch of hacks for doing this while wrapping themselves in the latest SJW nonsense.

      Boom. Your whole comment for the win, GLL. Good stuff, Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

      Side note: Even when Marvel makes one of these moves that make sense to me, someone like Axel Alonso has to go and ruin it: “‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ totally makes sense; Axel Alonso should shut up so he doesn’t ruin it”.

  27. I’d been out of the loop about Marvel comics until the movies really started taking off. My last comics purchase was probably during the Paul Jenkins/Mark Buckingham run on Peter Parker: Spider-Man back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s or so, after John Byrne did his best to crap all over the character himself. At this point, the Feige version of the characters on the big screen is the only thing that catches my attention and I’m looking forward to Peter Parker (sorry Miles fans, but not really) taking his rightful spot in MCU cinema where he belongs. As has been stated, there’s nothing wrong with diversity. I’m all for it, but not at the expense of radically altering characters with decades upon decades of established fan base. At that point, it’s shameless pandering, and I find it particularly telling when those intended audiences even agree with that sentiment.

    1. “…after John Byrne did his best to crap all over the character himself.”

      Haha. That made me laugh out loud. Those were some rough times for ASM. Rough times, indeed.

      “I’m all for it, but not at the expense of radically altering characters with decades upon decades of established fan base.”

      I’m not sure why this point is so hard to grasp for some people. They totally discount the fact that a huge number of people have read the comics for decades…and don’t want that character changing race/gender/sexuality over night. What makes it more insulting is that these moves are often done just to satisfy some kid on Tumblr whose attention span is so short he might buy two issues before looking for something new.

    2. Thanks for the response, Douglas. What gets me is it’s not just a small handful of characters that Marvel is doing this to. It’s practically every major superhero they have! The only one of the changes that seems interesting to me is Sam Wilson as Cap, so long as it’s a temporary thing while they find a way for Steve Rogers to regain his youth and retake the mantle. And don’t even get me started on the “Totally Awesome Hulk”, which sounds like something a five year old came up with. I was talking with a female friend of mine who loves the Marvel movies, and also happens to be engaged to another female, but doesn’t really pay attention to the comics. So she’s sort of the neutral, casual “diverse” fan who Marvel is presumed to be aiming for.

      Even she thinks the company has lost their damn minds. I found it very poignant that you had another poster, self-identified as gay who doesn’t seem impressed. I can’t imagine anyone, no matter what race, sexual preference, choice of religion, etc. who grew up with these characters previously gave two shits that Peter Parker was white or that Iceman was a ladies man. The only people Marvel are trying to impress are those irritating types who are always on the lookout for the next “cause” to back and have never read the comics and therefore don’t care about the fan base. I just don’t get it, period. End rant.

    3. I’m not sure how long you’ve been lurking Adam, but I too am on board with Sam Wilson as Cap: ‘Falcon can soar as Captain America, but Tom Brevoort crashes and burns as Marvel representative’. 🙂

      Also, just know that you are always welcome to rant on this blog. One of the main reasons I cover comic news is because it annoys me how websites scrub criticism that is too articulate… If your punches tend to hit the mark, certain websites don’t want you around.

    4. Ah, just been lurking recently since I learned of this nonsense. I appreciate others speaking out. Marvel is destroying their own integrity. I used to respect folks like Brevoort and Quesada. No more. Bendis? Bendis is several cards short of a full deck.

  28. If you read X-Men comics since the 60’s you can see thousands of situations pointing that Bobby is gay but is refusing to come out.

    1. Do you know why the Hulk is “The Hulk”? It’s really because it’s all anger that deep down he is really a woman. There are tons of issues in the 70s that indicate Bruce is transgender but refusing to admit it. Or not.

      Since there are “thousands” of situations, please give us the “Top 10” “Iceman is really gay” moments from the 60s era.

    2. My X-Men collection includes all of the 60’s books right through to the mid 90’s. To suggest there are thousands of situations pointing out that Bobby is gay is a total fallacy. It’s just wishful thinking on your behalf to deceitfully look for things that aren’t there.

      FACT: Stan Lee & Jack KIrby did not subversively create Bobby Drake to be a gay character.

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