Marvel’s ‘Clerksification’: Dante Spencer’s and Randal Zdarsky’s effect on comics

Over 20 years have passed since director Kevin Smith made Dante Hicks and Randal Graves famous. Clerks put him on the Hollywood map and endeared him to a generation of young writers, but there is no doubt that many of them learned the wrong lessons from his 90s “slackers.” Two contenders include Nick Spencer and Chip Zdarsky, who are guilty of what I’ve deemed the Clerksification of Marvel Comics.

To give you an idea of what my latest YouTube video is about, consider the tagline for Clerks, which goes as follows:

“Just because they serve you doesn’t mean they like you.”

Indeed, Marvel creators these days make no secret of their disdain of long-term customers, and will even tell fans not to buy the product during political disagreements. To better understand what’s going on, we must examine Mr. Smith’s work and how its sensibilities continue to reverberate in the minds of Marvel’s employees.

If you read through Secret Empire and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, then you should see the creative fingerprints of Mr. Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and a slew of others. Unfortunately, instead of Pulp Fiction-quality work fans received Hydra-Cap and Hipster Spider-Man.

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Iron Man #10: Bendis’ Ri-regime change symbolic of hostile Tony takeover

Question: When is regime change acceptable in the Marvel Universe?

Answer: When It’s a Ri-regime change written by Brian Michael Bendis, or a self-serving effort by Dan Slott’s version of Peter Parker.

Yes, dear reader, writer Brian Michael Bendis is ten issues into Invincible Iron Man and the book’s protagonist (note: It’s not Tony Stark), is toppling problematic regimes, declaring herself queen, and then issuing a number of demands that must be met before she steps down. Meanwhile, the so-called genius has never spent one second trying to find the men who killed her best friend and stepfather.

If you think this is downright strange, then fans of the book will inevitably called you a “raaaaaaaaacist.” We’re living in strange times, but if you’re like and want to chronicle this era for future comic book fans, then check out my latest YouTube review for the full rundown.

Mister Miracle #1: Tom King’s gem for DC spotlights Marvel’s fall

It looks as though comic book fans have a frontrunner for the best story of the year: DC’s Mister Miracle, written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads.

If you want to know why DC is churning out successful projects like Rebirth, The Button, Metal — and know Mister Miracle — while Marvel is … turning Captain America into a Hydra goon, then all you have to do is look at each company’s business model — DC is consciously focusing on the craft of writing while Marvel embraces partisan politics.

If you want to see how to save the comics industry, then pick up a copy of Mister Miracle #1. Companies that think big and shoot for the starts will be rewarded. Companies that pander to partisan activists while demonizing fans, in the long-run, will be punished. It’s really that simple.

Marvel’s Slotto Blocktavius melds with Judge Dredd, hurts sales and industry

It was just one year ago that I made the leap to YouTube and began a channel with the intention of providing honest reviews of comic books and the industry at large. I met up with a small group of individuals who sought to counter the Marvel-approved content that was published by mainstream websites, and before long we started to gain traction.

I knew it was only a matter of time before our collective efforts struck a nerve, and July seemed to be the first of many industry-wide screams by its ideologues.

My latest YouTube review covers the reaction by Dan Slott of The Amazing Spider-Man to guys like Diversity & Comics and Captain Cummings. His obsessive blocking of fans and critics on social media has even earned him a new nickname: Slotto Octavius.

Tune in for all the details on Slotto Octavius, the decision to liken his efforts to Judge Dredd, and the Twitter hashtag #BlockedByDanSlott. As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below. I’m always eager to hear what you have to say.

Editor’s Note: I’d like to say a big thanks to Mr. Dystopian for the artistic compliment below!

Douglas Ernst Fan Art

Marvel’s Stephen Wacker weirdly claims victory over stated enemy — people who buy comics

Many years from now there will be business courses on Marvel Comics’ bizarre decision to demonize large swathes of its fanbase as a means of securing sales. Common sense tells objective observers that Marvel’s downward sales trajectory is tied to hostility towards the fans, and yet guys like Stephen Wacker, VP for Current Series and Development, continue to double and triple down on insulting loyal customers.

As has been said before, the “House of Ideas” has become the “House of Ideologues,” but if you need further evidence then check out my latest YouTube video. Mr. Wacker declared victory over the fans in a war that he has cooked up in his own mind, but he did so while preemptively blocking yours truly on Twitter.

Indeed, I am so utter defeated by men like Stephen Wacker and the Marvel’s Gate cult that I must be blocked from seeing what the victor is up to on social media. Never mind the fact that I have never made contact with him on the platform, either directly or indirectly.

Anyway, check out the video, subscribe if the format is up your alley, and make sure to leave your two cents in the comments section below. Unlike Mr. Wacker, I want to hear what you have to say.

Heather Antos: Marvel’s manufactured milkshake drama for fragile tea cups

Those who follow the comic book industry witnessed a Marvel-wide “milkshake” meltdown over the weekend, which is emblematic of everything that is wrong with the company. The whole story is incredibly bizarre, but it boils down to this:

Gwenpool editor Heather Antos saw three tweets that she didn’t like over the weekend and decided that random insults are the equivalent of harassment.

Despite the fact that a random insult is not the same as harassment or a human rights violation, the industry’s writers and artists acted as if she had barely dodged an acid attack by Taliban thugs in Afghanistan. Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort put on his daddy pants to let her know that everything would all be okay; he then told her that tens-of-thousands of fans who are tired of partisan politics at the company are “racist turds.”

There is more to the story, but for that I suggest checking out my latest YouTube video. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Brevoort for his overreaction, which netted me scores of new YouTube subscribers and Twitter followers.

Fun fact: Guys like me are not “racist turds.” Every time you criticize us, people check out our work and realize, “Hey, this seems like a pretty nice dude. I want to hear more of what he has to say.”

My suggestion for Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso would be to concentrate on good stories instead of partisan hackery, but at this point I don’t see him listening to reason. Given that, I will continue to make videos as the House That Axel Alonso built implodes.

Editor’s Note: Twitter user GoodEggJoe sent me this image today, which I told him was pretty darn good and worthy of being included on a blog post. His work shows that there are numerous ways to put pressure on the comic industry’s activist-writers. One doesn’t need a blog or a YouTube channel to have their voice be heard.

GoodEggJoe

Kaare Andrews, Marvel’s iron-fisted censorship goon, is ‘SJW 4 Life’ in SJW-13 gang

There used to be a great show called Get Smart that aired in the 1960s. I used to watch reruns as a kid, and I think it’s safe to say that I had a crush Barbara Feldon… Regardless, there was a running joke where the main character, a spy named Max, would attempt to use “the cone of silence” with his boss. It never worked, and they had to abandon the device to just talk to each other like normal people.

The point of this tale is that writers and artists at Marvel Comics want their own “Cone of Silence,” and they will go to great lengths to create it. This cone requires censoring voices that don’t agree with their partisan politics, and doing so in petty ways.

Check out my latest YouTube video for the full rundown, and as always let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: Regular readers may also smile when they receive a blast from the past regarding writer Dan Slott’s weird threats of legal action against me over at ComicVine.

‘Peter Parker: The Chiptacular Zdarsky-Man’ more clown than hero

There was a time not too long ago when I was excited about Chip Zdarsky’s take on everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man gave fans hope that Marvel would get back to basics and away from Peter Parker: The Not so Spectacular Tony Stark Clone.

Sadly, it appears as though Mr. Zdarsky’s take on Spider-Man continues Marvel’s obsession with turning the character into an immature man-boy. The superhero is most certainly a funny guy, but he isn’t a total goofball.

Readers should never wonder if Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive clown instead of a radioactive spider, but that is unfortunately the case with PPSSM #2.

Check out my latest YouTube video for a more extensive run-down, and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Editor’s Note: A YouTube subscriber asked me to share this image on the blog for future reference. Critics often say that guys like me are imagining things when we say Marvel writers and editors use the books to push an agenda. 

Spectacular SpiderMan 2

Marvel’s ‘America’ tries to ‘slay the patriarchy,’ kills last bits of Axel Alonso’s credibility

The past couple of years have been rough for Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso. People got sick and tired of having partisan politics jammed down their throats, and as a result they withheld their cash. DC Rebirth showed the world that sound storytelling has the strange ability to win over people who like … sound storytelling, but that hasn’t changed Mr. Alonso’s mode of operation.

Exhibit: Z-971 is America #5, by Gabby Rivera. Instead of “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” covers, Marvel now has its characters talking about ways to “slay the patriarchy.” Each month this book brings forth new and unexpected ways to add to its badness. It seems as though this book inspires a never-ending string of creative missteps, and for that reason it will be chronicled.

Behold! One of the ill-conceived Marvel comics is before us, dear reader. Check out my new YouTube review of the title and then let me know what you think in the comments section below. And, as always, if you enjoy the format then make sure to subscribe for regular updates.

‘Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?’ Blogger learns his von Balthasar-esque ideas are quite controversial

Dare We Hope

Roughly four years ago I was in a late-night discussion with a Baptist friend when our attention turned to the subject of hell. I wondered aloud what would happen if a soul in hell legitimately turned to God with a contrite heart and pleaded for forgiveness. My assertion was that it is entirely possible that exceptions could be made by an infinitely merciful and loving God who dispenses perfect justice.

My friend (in a tactful way) said that I was being absurd and cited numerous biblical passages to buttress his point.

Enter stage right, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, author of 1988’s Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?

As Fr. Robert Barron says on the back cover of a 2014 reprinting:

“Critics contend that von Balthasar espouses universalism, the idea that all men will certainly be saved. Yet, as von Balthasar insists, damnation is a real possibility for anyone. Indeed, he explores the nature of damnation with sobering clarity. At the same time, he contends that a deep understanding of God’s merciful love and human freedom, and a careful reading of the Catholic tradition, point to the possibility — not the certainty — that, in the end, all men will accept salvation Christ won for all. For this all-embracing salvation, von Balthasar says, we may dare hope, we must pray and with God’s help we must work.”

Perhaps the impetus for my conclusions come from repeated dreams with a friend who died in an ATV accident. We were raised Catholic, but it was my understanding that he drifted away from the Church and somewhere along the line decided that he did not believe in God. In my dreams he comes to me, and when I tell him that he is dead he gets a frightened expression on his face and runs away — often exploding in a ghostly mist when he hits a nearby door or wall. (Note: I get chills when I think or write about these dreams.)

My reaction to these experiences has always been to pray for my friend’s soul because at the end of the day I have zero knowledge about his ultimate fate. If he is in hell, then do I have an obligation to pray for him? If he is consigned to eternal separation from God, then may I pray to ease his suffering?

I do not believe that God would send me on a fool’s errand; therefore, I have to believe that the urge to pray for my friend’s soul — whatever has become of him — has deep meaning.

Furthermore, it seems to me as though Søren Kierkegaard offers an incredibly wise blueprint for how a Christian man should think:

“Telling other people … ‘You are eternally lost’ is something I cannot do. As far as I am concerned, the situation is that all the others will, of course, go to heaven; the only doubt is whether I shall get there.'”

What he says is something that is perpetually at the forefront of my mind: No matter how hard we try, at the end of the day we are all unworthy to stand before God. Pure justice in the earthly sense of the word would require all of us to be banished to hell; it is only God’s infinite love and mercy that saves. Given that, why would I ever tell another man that he is destined for eternal damnation?

It seems to me that when a man constructs a moral pedestal high enough to proclaim that others are destined for hell that all he has really done is create a personal high-dive into “the lake of fire.”

Von Balthasar puts it far more eloquently than I could when he observes:

“It can be taken as a motif running through the history of theology that, whenever one fills hell with a massa damnata of sinners, one also, through some kind of conscious or unconscious trick (perhaps cautiously, and yet reassuredly), places oneself on the other side,” (152).

Additionally (and I believe this is of utmost importance):

“The strong Christian would have to endure the tension and ‘prepare himself seriously for the possibility of himself being among the rejected. Love of God first shows itself in its full purity only when one affirms God’s will even though it destroys one’s own happiness,” (155).

There is much more to say, but for brevity’s sake I will simply recommend reading Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? if this post has piqued your interest. It’s a fascinating book for all Christians — and those non-Christians who honestly want to better understand the faith.