Marvel flinches on hack writing after backlash, but actions speak louder than words

Iron Man 7

It appears as though sagging sales, fan backlash, The New York Times dropping comics from its “bestseller” list, and a general consensus that Marvel has lost its way has finally pushed the “House of Ideas” to return to its roots. Bleeding Cool reported Feb. 6 that a back-to-basics approach will take place in 2018.

The website said:

“Last week’s Marvel creative summit I am told by well connected sources who have proved themselves in that past there was more of a focus on what DC Comics internally called “meat and potatoes” comics that preceded their doubling down on the popular characters and bringing back old favourite takes with DC Rebirth.

I am told, as Marvel brings back the X-Men line with a bang, to expect a return to more of a status quo for titles such as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and more. A more familiar looking Marvel Universe by the autumn – although, just as with Captain America, as classic-look-characters return, expect new characters to keep a number of their books. …

I am told to expect that Secret Empire will be a bit of a last hurrah for this kind of [politicized] storytelling from Marvel for a while. A little how Marvel writers were told to get the use of the Marvel 616 dimensional nomenclature out of their system before it was done away with for good…”

Twitter, YouTube, and other social media websites were abuzz — in a positive way — with this news, but your friendly neighborhood blogger would like to remind everyone that actions speak louder than words — and Bleeding Cool reporting.

While it is true that Marvel has flinched in the face of a growing number of fans who are sick and tired of political preaching shoved into their books, it is also true that its writers and editors only made the right decision when all other options were essentially taken off the table.

If Marvel had to hemorrhage fans to DC Comics for months on end before its top brass decided to retreat on their social justice crusade, then it stands to reason that they will return to their old ways as soon as possible. Even Bleeding Cool’s report indicates that this is merely a tactical retreat by the New Puritans.

At this point in time Marvel has done nothing tangible — I repeat, nothing — to engender good will among the fans it has alienated for years.

There has not been any admittance that loyal customers were treated like dirt while classic characters were needlessly dumped upon for the sake of diversity.

Now is not the time to let up, but to stay increasingly engaged in terms of holding the publisher accountable for partisan or sloppy writing. Until Marvel and its creative teams consistently deliver the goods and extend an olive branch to those who were told to “eat a bag of d***s,” then they should not be patted on the back.

It is time to be cautiously optimistic, but it most certainly not the time to shake hands with writers and artists who have rarely missed an opportunity to sucker punch long-time readers.

David F Walker Twitter bag

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Whedon Watch: Political radiation turns Joss into ‘rage’ monster

Question: What happens when a man plays with political gamma radiation for far too long?

Answer: Just like Hollywood director Joss Whedon, he turns into a rage monster who will destroy anyone in his path to achieve ideological ends.

I covered Mr. Whedon’s slow-motion descent into partisan madness on this blog for years, but a new segment on my YouTube channel has officially launched with the name Whedon Watch.

If you’re interested in seeing how talented men often go from artistically inspired to hulking partisan hacks, then check out my latest YouTube video. Given that Mr. Whedon shows no signs of pulling back from a poisonous void, I fully expect there to be many episodes of Whedon Watch in the years to come.

Bendis nicely sets up ‘Champions’ in Spider-Man #8, but classic heroes turned into giant goofs

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Brian Michael Bendis is one of Marvel’s key writers, but in a previous life he may have been a circus juggler. Spider-Man #8 somehow manages to move the title’s plot forward, set the stage for Champions, and seamlessly tie into Civil War II. Technically, Mr. Bendis hits all of his marks. Creatively, however, SM #8 once again shows why many older Marvel fans are fed up with the company.

Here is what you need to know for SM #8:

  • Jessica Jones and Luke Cage confront Miles Morales on a rooftop and say they know his secret identity.
  • Miles is upset to find out that his grandmother hired Jessica Jones to spy on him, but he is glad to hear that his mother tried to pay the investigator to cancel the contract. He agrees not to say anything to his family after the older heroes tell him to get his act together.
  • Miles is summoned to the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, by Tony Stark. A large group of superheroes are informed by Stark and Captain Marvel that everyone will confront the Hulk about Ulysses’ vision of him killing everyone.
  • Bruce Banner is killed by Hawkeye, as previously shown in Civil War II #3.
  • Nova, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel are stunned by what happens and the two young men publicly state their allegiance to Tony Stark. Ms. Marvel breaks down into tears because her role model set the stage for Banners’s death.

This sounds like a great issue, right? Well, sort of. One’s enjoyment or hatred of SM #8 really hinges on his or her opinions on Civil War II. Bendis — and artist Nico Leon — do an admirable job showing young heroes who struggle to find their place in an “adult” world, but at the same time it all comes at the expense of classic characters.

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There is a scene after Banner’s death where the three kids come together to comfort one another that is incredibly poignant, but the feeling disappears the moment one realizes that Captain Marvel and every superhero who sides with her has taken on a goofy position to make Civil War II work.

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In short, Mr. Bendis has nicely set up an “us against the world” dynamic for the future “Champions” that will also serve Spider-Man well, but in many ways he is doing so at the expense of icons like the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker.

If you are an older reader, the best way to show your displeasure is to withhold your wallet for any title that engages in character assassination of the heroes that made Marvel what it is today.

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Civil War II # 3: Bruce Banner goes out like a punk during superhero amateur hour

Marvel’s Civil War II #3 was released today, which means Bruce Banner is officially dead (until he’s alive again). Your friendly neighborhood blogger might do up a write-up in the future, but I figured the occasion offered a good excuse to experiment with uploading my first real YouTube review.

‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ totally makes sense; Axel Alonso should shut up so he doesn’t ruin it

Amadeus ChoMarvel announced Friday that the world was going to get a new Hulk: Amadeus Cho. The move follows a whole host of odd decisions by the company — diversity for the sake of diversity’s sake — but this one actually makes sense. The only problem is that the guy who should be able to properly promote the story, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, can’t help but stick his politically correct foot in his mouth.

Consider the difference in language between writer Greg Pak and editor Mr. Alonso in their Entertainment Weekly interview. First we have Mr. Pak, who serves as a fine ambassador for his upcoming project:

PAK: I actually co-created Amadeus back in the day, 10 years ago — it’s coming out around the 10th anniversary of the character’s first appearance. And Takeshi Miyazawa was the artist and I was the writer, and we introduced this Korean-American kid into the Marvel Universe. It’s been a blast to write ever since. We did a lot of stuff with him over the years in the Hulk universe. This is also a character, by the way, who has a long history with Banner and the Hulk. He basically started out as Hulk’s number one fan because he’s a crazy teenager with as little impulse control as the Hulk, so he kind of identified with him. But the character always meant a huge amount to me. When I had the opportunity to create this new character, I realized there aren’t specifically that many Asian-American characters at this time in the Marvel Universe, and it was sort of a niche. I also wanted to write a character who talks a lot. I was writing a lot of Hulk stuff, I was writing very closed-lip surly characters. But it’s been tremendous. I go to cons and people come up to me dressed as Amadeus Cho, and that blows my mind. And then the character’s also been picked up in some of the cartoons that Marvel puts out, and in one of the DVD movies they did. It’s kind of tremendous when anything you work on kind of resonates with people and goes on to be used by other creators as well.

The other thing is that this felt like a natural next step for both the Amadeus and the Hulk stories. It wasn’t what we imagined 10 years ago when we created the character, that this is exactly where he would end up. But just given the character’s history, it makes total sense. And the story is totally true for both the Hulk story and the Amadeus story, so it’s a lot of fun when those kinds of things can naturally come together for something this big.

Indeed, it does make total sense. At least it did until Axel Alonso weirdly had to emphasize that the character isn’t simply a Hulk, but the Hulk.

Readers can’t simply enjoy a story that makes sense — they must be beaten over the head with a message that Tumblr kids with low self-esteem want to hear. Marvel does not inch closer to Diversity Utopia unless the language used to discuss the new Hulk arbitrarily elevates him to a status at or above the classic white character.

Alonso: I also want to say that he will be the only Hulk in the Marvel Universe. He will be the Hulk, the green Hulk, that will be him. Just like there’s one Thor in the Marvel Universe and she’s a she, there is one Hulk and it is Amadeus Cho. But I also want to say that there is a story to be told for Banner. Banner’s story is not over. And I don’t want people saying, “Oh, these guys hate Banner, and they don’t like him and they’re sick of him.” No — we love Banner.

Why was that necessary? It wasn’t, unless you are either a.) some obsessive-compulsive diversity activist, or b.) seeking to please obsessive-compulsive diversity activists.

Mr. Alonso takes a rhetorical dump on Bruce Banner and the character’s fans to score points with the social justice crowd, and then he says “No — we love Banner.” It doesn’t work that way. He “loves” Bruce Banner like people say they love Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on Monday morning, which means that he merely has appreciative love.

Greg Pak should be given a pat on the back for the work he’s done at Marvel. Mr. Alonso, however, might want to consider locking himself in the closet any time someone asks him to comment on upcoming projects. There are many readers who want to give writers like Greg Pak a chance, but refrain because guys like Axel Alonso are in monomaniacal pursuit of political activists’ approval.

Exit question: If there was a Tumblr campaign started to create “The Totally Tubular She-Hulk” — and make her a lesbian black little person who liked to surf, what are the chances that Axel Alonso would take it seriously?

Totally Awesome Hulk Marvel

Joss Whedon: Now that I poop $100 bills, let’s embrace socialism

Joss Whedon directed the newest Avengers movie, which has pulled in roughly $1.5 billion around the globe. He has enough cash to flush buckets of it down the toilet, if for no other reason than because he can. Having attained success beyond his wildest dreams, he now denounces capitalism. Classic.

Joss Whedon has so much money that when he has a bowel movement hundred dollar bills come out of his butt. When he has diarrhea, mutual funds and bonds and other liquid assets now end up in his gold-plated toilet. And so, having reached such a profound level of critical and financial success, he is now comfortable telling the rest of us that we should either board the socialism-train-of-dignity, or consider ourselves “off the reservation.”

“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he told the [Comic-Con 2012] audience.

He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”

Whedon was raised on the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1970s, an area associated with left-leaning intellectuals. He said he was raised by people who thought socialism was a ”beautiful concept.” …

We have people trying to create structures and preserve the structures that will help the middle and working class, and people calling them socialists,” Whedon said. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal […] it’s some people with some sense of dignity and people who have gone off the reservation.”

To be clear: If you look at $16 trillion of debt and think to yourself, “This is going to end really, really badly if we don’t get this under control,” Joss Whedon probably doesn’t think you have much dignity. Whedon says that capitalism is destroying itself, and yet the Congressional Research Service has admitted that there are so many federal regulations that it can’t even tally them upThe masterminds in Congress (of Joss Whedon-type sensibility) have managed to create so much red tape that even those tasked with keeping track of it are reduced to guessing games.

The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to 4,000 by 2000 to over 4,450 by 2008. …

Scores of federal departments and agencies have created so many criminal offenses that the Congressional Research Service itself admitted that it was unable to even count all of the offenses. The service’s best estimate? “Tens of thousands.” In short, Congress’s own experts do not have a clear understanding of the size and scope of federal criminalization.

Last week I detailed how Christopher Nolan creates more jobs than Barack Obama, but perhaps I should have substituted the Batman franchise with Whedon’s Avengers, so that the message may have penetrated into his socialist skull like a blast of gamma radiation.

Joss Whedon advocates on behalf of Keynesian economics, never realizing that a more expansive federal government means more crony capitalism. More rules, regulations and centralized power begets more lobbyists and corrupt politicians and backroom deals (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry leading up to the passage of Obamacare) — and yet, the Avengers director blames corporations for acting on the incentives that the federal government creates. It’s like making deal after deal with Loki, and then blaming Thor for the calamities that ensue.

As I said before, our debt is at $16 trillion. And counting. We are dealing with a basic math problem here, and at some point in time the accounting tricks will run out. When they do, we will have few options. Those include:

  • Repudiation (see Greece and Spain for a preview)
  • Massive cuts to entitlements within a short amount of time
  • Inflation
  • War

All of the above are likely outcomes of an out-of-control federal government that has stolen the wealth of future generations for the sake of a few votes at the ballot box. The savings of the elderly will be slashed through inflation. The standard of living will be lower for your children and grandchildren. People will have to put off major life events like getting married, buying homes and starting families — and none of it will be because of the decisions of Disney or Warner Bros. or Apple or Microsoft.

It will, however, be because of bloated governments with an insatiable appetite for spending other people’s money.

Having made more cash than he could have ever imagined, Joss Whedon will be shielded from the impact of financial collapse like he was using next generation Stark technology. Oddly enough, he’ll probably continue to blame corporations and write leftist rhetoric for his movies. That’s okay though, because conservative comic nerds have econ’s Professor X — Milton Friedman — on our side.

Hat tip for this blog post: Carl’s Comics

The Avengers: Did Joss Whedon ‘Assemble’ liberal propaganda?

Avengers director Joss Whedon has shown his cards, and he’s holding at least one liberal joker (or was that a Loki?). Whedon essentially told the New York Times he has a scene that could serve as a commercial for the Democrat Party, but ditched it because it slowed down the movie. But that begs the question: What kind of claptrap made the final cut, Joss?

Remember when the director of Captain America went out of his way to say Cap wouldn’t be “a flag waver”? Remember when Marvel then changed the title in Russia to “The First Avenger” to make a few extra bucks? The movie succeeded, despite Marvel’s efforts to sabotage a good thing.

The Avengers opens in two weeks, and it looks like conservatives once again must be wary. Joss Whedon, who up until this point gave me nothing but confidence, has shown his cards—and there is at least one liberal joker in there (or should I say a Loki?). Hat tip to the fourcolormedia monitor:

New York Times: What would be an example of something you didn’t figure out until later in the process?

Joss Whedon: One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, Guys, we need to lose this. It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what’s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that (emphasis added).

Why? Why must every liberal writer feel the need to beat their audience over the head with statism? I wouldn’t mind as much, but Joss Whedon has everything historically ass-backwards. Captain America was frozen after World War II, before Medicaid and Medicare even existed. Social Security morphed into something entirely new and different than the “Social Security” that FDR signed into existence (i.e, much more expansive). Hundreds of billions have been sunk into individual entitlement programs since their inception and, in fact, the “loss of community” Whedon frets over is due in large part to many of the programs liberals shill for. When the federal government usurps the important roles local community leaders, family and faith-based organizations play in society the result is more poverty, out-of-wedlock birth rates and the destruction of the family unit.

What’s worse, Whedon didn’t cut the bit because he realized it would be a bone-headed move to insert blatant liberal claptrap into Cap’s mouth—he did it because it slowed down the rhythm of the movie. Who knows how many other leftist talking points made it into the film.

Let’s be honest: The idea that Captain America would be anything other than a conservative (if we’re going to play that game, Joss Whedon), is a joke. Let’s go down the list, shall we?

  • Captain America is a guy who literally wraps himself in the American flag. Leftist American professors would hold classes titled “The Jingoism of Captain America” each semester, they’d write a new chapter for the textbook each year, and then they’d make their kids buy the latest version for $50 a pop. Couple that with Cap’s blonde hair and blue eyes and college campus Progressives would have entire campaigns dedicated to demonizing him.
  • Steve Rogers is a big Boy Scout. He’s a straight arrow. I can’t imagine he would have been at Woodstock, if given the opportunity. He would have been a West Point guy (hence, Captain America), and West Point doesn’t churn out too many liberals.
  • Captain America is a super solider, and one who would undoubtedly live his life in accordance with The Seven Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage. Ask the guy who has collected unemployment checks for 99 straight weeks, Joss Whedon, what he thinks about each of those words. My suspicion is that the psychological profile that manifests itself would look nothing like Captain America’s.
  • Good soldiers don’t make excuses; they “adapt and overcome.” Do you want to know who does make excuses? Liberals. In fact, even speaking about “personal responsibility” is considered racist code language.
  • Ask yourself whether Captain America would have a worldview more like American Sniper Chris Kyle, or Sean Penn. That’s what I thought.

The list can go on and on. The fact is, Steve Rogers is Captain America, not Mr. America. He’s a military man. An infantryman. He stared down the Nazis, but yet liberal writers would have us believe he’d side with liberal moral relativists in the year 2012? Give me a break.

Regardless, I don’t even want to play this game, but liberals at Marvel keep making these things an issue. When I go to see The Avengers I don’t want to get a campaign commercial for Barack Obama or the Democrat Party. Stop. Please. You’re embarrassing yourself, and ensuring that guys like me don’t defend you when Democrats turn their social engineering on the comics industry due to studies on violence.

Dear Joss Whedon,

Watch Thomas Sowell for a bit. Learn something. You can thank me later.

Update: The results are in, and it looks like Whedon denied his urge to overtly politicize the film. There are very interesting ideas to explore in The Avengers, but Joss never goes out of his way to tell his viewers what to think. Smart move.

Pelosi seeks ‘windfall profits’ tax on Avengers ticket sales

If House Democrats have their way, your favorite Marvel superheroes will be hit with a "windfall profits" tax once an arbitrarily defined level of success has been met. Republicans argue that this will result in fewer superhero movies making it to the market.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to find an 11th hour solution to Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, which is primed to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Sources close to producers Avi Arad and Jon Favreau have confirmed that the California Democrat has been in touch with Marvel Studios, and that a “windfall profits” tax will be in place before Friday, May 4 if Democrats can cobble together enough votes.

The Associated Press received the following from Pelosi’s office late Monday:

“Investments.” “Risk.” “Reward.” Such is the language of the Republican Party. Extremists. The GOP would have you believe that it was a “risk” to set up an Avengers movie with a series of films based on many of the individual characters: Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. They would have you believe that an Avengers movie was no sure bet, and that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these movies and their marketing campaigns by no means guaranteed success. Rubbish! It’s high time Hollywood paid its fair share. If Democrats have their way, Marvel Studios will be the first to pay a windfall profits tax on its flagship characters, in addition to their corporate taxes (which also need higher rates). Warner Bros. will then follow suit in August, when The Dark Knight Rises takes number one at the box office. Behind every Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark movie are greedy Hollywood producers; that will change starting today.

The Hollywood Reporter seems to back up the Minority Leaders predictions, at least in this isolated case, although the philosophical debate is something that will have to be settled inside the Beltway on on cable news airwaves:

Avengers also is tracking better than Lionsgate’s blockbuster The Hunger Games, which posted a record March bow of $152.5 million to score the third-best opening of all time behind Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Dark Knight, respectively.

According to first tracking, unaided awareness in Avengers is 13 percent, compared with 10 percent for Dark Knight and 11 percent for Hunger Games; first choice is 23 percent, tying with Hunger Games and higher than the 19 percent for Dark Knight.

Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for Dark Knight and 74 percent for Hunger Games; definite interest is 61 percent, versus 62 percent for Dark Knight and 54 percent for Hunger Games.

Asked to comment, House Majority Leader John Boehner set up a stark (pardon the pun) contrast between Republicans and Democrats:

“The windfall profits tax proposed by Democrats will go nowhere because Americans want more Marvel movies, not less—and taxing Marvel Studios will result in less movies. Let me tell you what House Republicans will do to this bill in a way that Marvel fans—and fans of The Hulk—can all understand. BOEHNER SMASH!

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Americans

Pop Quiz: Name a movie with characters who could have only been created in America. Answer: The Avengers.

There’s a new Avengers trailer out, and as momentum builds towards its release it’s probably a good idea to discuss what makes this particular team of superheroes so fascinating to its fans. The director, Joss Whedon, has accurately identified and attempted to address one of the core creative challenges for the project: the team’s diversity.

Reporter: I imagine the other hard part about that is balancing a god and who can create lightning, and a guy with a bow and arrow, and giving them both the action that brings out the best in them.

Whedon: Yeah. Well, I feel like we pulled that off. At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the god. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though — as we have known from the first issue of ‘The Avengers’ comic — there’s no reason for these people to be on the same team (emphasis added).

Just as the American Experiment wrestles over how to deal with its diversity (How the heck do all these different people with different heritages and temperaments come together into a cohesive force for good in the world?), The Avengers must do the same. Americans come together because the country is founded on an idea—that free men are granted inalienable rights by their Creator—and that governments, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, have a duty to uphold those rights. The Avengers come together because there are some problems that require anyone with an ounce of honor to put aside their ego and do the right thing.

The Avengers are also great because they are very “American”:

  • Captain America: The ideal solider and a boy scout with the strength of 100 men (yet very much an individual)
  • Iron Man: Entrepreneurial, highly individualistic, successful and smart without ever apologizing for it
  • Hulk: A force whose only desire is to help and heal, but who nonetheless has awesome power to destroy when angered
  • Thor: A man (or should we say country?) with godlike power, who must have humility before realizing his true potential
  • Hawkeye: He’s brash and cocky, but he always hits his mark
  • Black Widow: The Russian spy who defects to America (i.e., the immigrant who leaves oppression for freedom)

Notice a trend? All very distinct personalities. All from very different backgrounds. All very individualistic. And yet, they come together for a common purpose. The Avengers is a comic book that could not have been created in Communist China, Islamic police states across the Middle East, or countries on cultural life support throughout most, if not all, of Europe.

So this summer, take joy in a creative endeavor with a cast of characters only America could have produced.