Saladin Ahmed: Marvel writer spews bigotry, blames others for blowback as EIC C.B. Cebulski silent

Saladin Ahmed Christmas tweet

There once was a time when Marvel writers and artists didn’t use the Christmas season to go on bizarre and bigoted rants against “white” people. Saladin Ahmed, however, is a sterling example of the “House of Ideas” (or was it the House of Ideologues?) under Sana Amanat and editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski.

Mr. Ahmed — for years — has publicly offered his “white people” lamentations, and yet he is a.) rewarded for his bigotry by the company’s top brass, and b.) plays the victim with a straight face.

This weekend the Marvel scribe must have watched your friendly neighborhood blogger’s live-stream on his disgusting rhetoric because he came into work on Monday with fresh rants about “right wingers” who are “trying to get me fired.”

Saladin Ahmed RW

Given that Mr. Ahmed is obsessed with white people, it is perhaps fitting that a White Stripes song spotlights what he does after professionally embarrassing himself on social media.

From Jack White’s Effect & Cause:

Well, first came an action
And then a reaction
But you can’t switch ’em ’round
For your own satisfaction
Well you burnt my house down
Then got mad
At my reaction

Well in every complicated situation
Of a human relation
Making sense of it all
Takes a whole lotta concentration, mmm
Well you can’t blame a baby
For her pregnant ma
And if there’s one of these unavoidable laws
It’s that you can’t just take the effect
And make it the cause, no

Take a bow, C.B. Cebulski. While you tweet about your “Air Supply” dreams, Marvel writers are doing everything in their power to alienate readers with bigoted Twitter accounts.

CB Cebulski Twitter AS

Check out my latest YouTube video for a more extensive look at what is permitted at Marvel on Mr. Cebulski’s watch.

The White Stripes’ Effect & Cause:

 

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Civil War II No. 7 perfectly explained by Miles Morales: ‘This is weird. Even for people like us’

Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II #7 is finally out, although the “summer” event still has one more month to go. On deck is Marvel’s Inhumans vs. X-Men. If you want to know what the company’s obsession with hero vs. hero tales means for our cultural mosaic, then check out my latest YouTube video below.

If you like what you see, then make sure to subscribe for future reviews. And, as always, let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Civil War II #6: Brian Michael Bendis gets political when fans want escapism

Marvel’s Civil War II #6 is out, and Brian Michael Bendis could no longer contain himself. It was only a matter of time before his cautionary tale about racial profiling featured a “Hands up, don’t shoot!” or an “I can’t breathe” moment, but on some level it’s hard to be too annoyed because it was so predictable.

Anyway, check out my latest YouTube video and let me know what you think about the issue in the comments section below. It seems as though Marvel is so obsessed with scoring political points these days that it has forgotten that many readers turn to superhero stories as a form of escapism.

Civil War II #5: Team Stark v. Team Danvers throw down

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II #5 hit stores this week, and someone must have slipped something in his drink because he dedicated the entire issue to a massive brawl between Team Stark and Team Danvers. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? You’ll have to check out my latest YouTube video to find out.

After you’re done watching, let me know what you think in the comments section below — particularly you’re thoughts on the Inhuman Ulysses’ latest vision.

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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Spider-Man #7: Bendis writes strong tie-in to Civil War II

Hulk kill

Brian Michael Bendis’ Civil War II has taken its lumps in terms of fan interest and sales, but the story is helping to define Miles Morales. Spider-Man #7 features the young man trying to determine whether he will stand and fight alongside Tony Stark in a war over the Inhuman named Ulysses, or if he will sit on the sidelines and let the veterans sort it out for themselves.

Here is what you need to know for Spider-Man #7:

  • Miles is having nightmares about the potential future he experienced, where the Hulk goes completely off the deep end (even by the Hulk’s standards), and kills everyone.
  • Miles’s parents cannot sleep. His mother knows that private investigator Jessica Jones is keeping information about Miles from her. Jones had to use her superhuman strength to carry Rio out of her office…and send a message to stay away.
  • Miles’s father wants the investigation (launched by his mother-in-law) called off, but the two parents seemingly don’t have the power to make it happen.
  • Miles web-slings around New York to clear his head and runs into Lana Baumgartner, aka Bombshell. After she stops a robbery by blowing up a van, Miles says her behavior is symbolic of a lot of other superheroes: “You stopped a robbery, but you started a fire.”
  • The two teenagers talk about the upcoming war between superheroes and Lana says that Miles is being manipulated by the “rich white dude” known as Tony Stark to do something against his will. Her reasoning — that’s what “rich white dudes do.” (Note: Don’t expect Bendis to ever have Miles Morales sarcastically reply: “You mean like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Elon Musk?”)
  • Miles has a nightmare during class and is forced to leave the room. He goes up onto a roof as Spider-Man and is confronted by Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

All things considered, this was a pleasing issue for Bendis and it was made even better by strong work by artist Nico Leon. Whether one likes Civil War II or not, one of the long-term benefits of the tale is that it serves to define young characters like Miles.

SpiderMan Bombshell

The challenge for Bendis, however, will be to adequately show the “now what?” — the follow-through that often seems missing from his work. The writer has a habit of toying with big ideas and then placing them aside to focus on something else.

Whether Bendis is writing Tony Stark in Invincible Iron Man or Miles Morales in Spider-Man, in many ways he keeps them in a holding pattern. He occasionally dips and swerves the plane to the left or the right, but at some point in time his passengers realize that they have been deceived — they’ve just been flying in circles.

After seven issues of Spider-Man, readers want to know “Who is Miles Morales?” While it is true that he is a young character who is finding his voice — and part of the fun is going on that journey with him — it seems as though Bendis is being stingy with key aspects of the hero’s personality. Either the writer doesn’t yet know what the character really represents, or he is scared that readers will not like what they hear.

If you planned on checking on Spider-Man, then Bendis’ seventh issue is a good jumping-on point. Potential customers just need to know that  Miles Morales’s character development has been frustratingly slow since the series first launched. Perhaps the conclusion of Civil War II will change that.

Bombshell SpiderMan

Amazing Spider-Man #15: Dan Slott’s Regent took down a god, then falls to … Mary Jane

Mary Jane Iron Spider

It is a good bet that when Marvel writer Dan Slott was a kid that he was the one who always changed the rules of whatever game he was playing with friends. The Amazing Spider-Man #15 is a perfect example of a story crumbling into a schizophrenic mess because the writer altered established realities to get to a desired end.

Readers last left their beloved web-slinger knowing that he and Iron Man were defeated at the hands of Regent. The same villain who defeated a god — She-Thor — Vision, Wolverine, Captain America, Daredevil, Deadpool, Human Torch and countless other superheroes (and villains), also took down Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Regent has been established as a force to be reckoned with, right? Keep that in mind as we move forward with this review.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #15:

  • The Avengers are defeated. Heroes everywhere are missing. Regent is on the brink of victory.
  • Mary Jane decides to suit up in Peter’s old “Iron Spider” costume because … she once wore an old Iron Man suit and temporarily had spider-powers. Her plan is to take on Regent by herself.
  • Harry Osborn Lyman, captured and contained in one of Regent’s holding tanks, uses new Webware technology that he “just had Clayton [install]” (how convenient) to escape. Sound waves from Harry’s glorified iWatch shatter glass that can hold She-Thor.
  • Peter, encased in a bubble, distracts Regent so Iron Spider-MJ can sucker punch him. The distraction bursts his psychic bubbles and the previously defeated and fatigued Spider-Man springs into action. The three have a déjà vu moment.
  • Spider-Man leaves to save Harry while M.J. and Iron Man continue to fight.
  • Miles Morales is freed and his instant-win venom blast takes out Dr. Stillwell.

Miles Morales ASM 15

  • An army of superheroes are released and Regent acknowledges defeat. He is then confined within his own prison.
  • MJ, Tony, and Jarvis have a private party with champagne (Tony, understandably, does not drink).
  • Peter, the billionaire CEO of Parker Industries, throws a party for his friends … at a coffee shop. Bobbi Morse is introduced to Aunt May and Jay Jameson collapses after coughing up blood.

ASM #15 fails because Dan Slott sets precedents and then disregards them when it suits his needs. He pens stories for an older-skewing audience, but then expects the average reader to accept deviations from established rules like a child.

Regent SheThor

To add insult to injury, fans of the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane are punched in the gut at least twice.

  1. Spider-Man tells Tony: “[Peter] only realized he’d lost MJ after she moved on. You better not make the same mistake.”
  2. Peter essentially introduces Mockingbird to Aunt May as his new girlfriend (Whatever happened to the girlfriend who tried to murder him?)

The fact of the matter is not that Mary Jane “moved on” — it’s that Marvel’s editors and Dan Slott are telling readers to move on.

The message is clear: “Stop spitting up Tom Brevoort’s medicine. Take it. The beatings will continue until morale improves!”

If you want to see some stunning cover art by Alex Ross, then make sure to buy ASM #15.

If you don’t require a writer to stick to his own set of rules as long as characters are punching each other and “zany” hijinks ensue, then buy ASM #15.

If, however, you expect writers to offer creative cohesion and linear logic, which can easily be traced to acceptable premises, then you might want to read Charles Soule’s Daredevil instead.

Spider-Man #5: Bendis gives Miles new power … because god-like Miles

Miles SM3

Brian Michael Bendis wants “Spider-Man” readers to know that Miles Morales, one day, will be the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe. How do I know this? Because the kid can take down anyone with a single touch, turn himself invisible, regenerate limbs, he’s (allegedly) immortal, and now he can randomly project giant bursts of energy.

It’s dumb, lazy, and just screams, “My Spider-Man will be the best Spider-Man ever and you will respect him!”

Spider-Man #5 exemplifies everything that is wrong and everything that is right with the title. On one hand Mr. Bendis excels at planting seeds for future conflict, but on the other his efforts are negated because there is no conflict with an immortal being with an endless string of powers.

The situation is so embarrassing that Marvel Wikia lists Miles’ one weakness as … inexperience.

Translation: Miles Morales is Marvel’s Big Dog — and and you, dear reader, just don’t know it yet.

Miles Morales powers

Here is what Bendis said in a recent interview with CBR about criticism about Miles’ powers:

I already got an e-mail tonight from somebody in England who gets their comics a day early b****ing to me, and I was given this a little bit in the last volume too, that some people don’t like when Miles wins a fight with his venom blast. They think it’s bulls**t.

That’s like saying you’re mad because Thor won a fight with his hammer. I don’t understand that criticism. He has a tool and he used it. It’s not like the readers didn’t know he could do it. We’ve known since the character’s first appearance. So I’m calling bullshit on people calling bulls**t on this particular thing. It’s a very weird criticism.

Note to Brian Michael Bendis: The validity of your argument is not positively correlated with the number of times you say “bulls**t” and “b***h.”

If Miles Morales only needs to touch an opponent to beat him (e.g., the demon Blackheart, Hammerhead), then he becomes boring.

If there are no chains that can hold Miles Morales because he might decide to become a levitating burst of god-like energy, then it is kind of lame.

When the message is: “You cannot defeat Miles Morales — you can only hope to contain him!” then the book becomes a snooze-fest. That is not “bulls**t.” That is the truth.

Here is what you need to know about Spider-Man #5:

  • Miles Morales is held in a warehouse by Black Cat, Hammerhead and his crew. He uses a Venom Blast on one of the goons and Hammerhead before projecting an “energy burst” to escape.
  • Miles’ annoying grandma decides to hire a private investigator, Jessica Jones, to figure out what the teenager does when he is not in school.
  • “Goldballs” takes Ganke up on the offer to live with he and Miles.
  • Black Cat tells Miles not to interfere with her “business.” She threatens to “ruin” his life if he crosses her.
  • Maria Hill meets with Miles’ father. There is an agreement made to look after the boy and she says, “Welcome back to S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Am I interested in seeing what happens when Jessica Jones tails Miles? Sure.

Does it pique my interest to know that Miles’ father is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent? Sure. I think it’s weird for a husband to have giant secrets from his wife and son, but for entertainment purposes I suppose it works.

Miles Morales Grandma SM

The problem Spider-Man has, however, is that it appears to be trying too hard to establish Miles Morales as “the” Spider-Man. Unfortunately, just adding power after power after power to the kid actually ends up doing him a disservice.

When it becomes apparent that a writer is desperate to have his pet creation immediately enter the upper echelons of Marvel greatness, it becomes a turnoff for readers. This reviewer may be jumping off the book soon if the trend continues for much longer.

Dan Slott’s Amazingly Immature Spider-Man makes protégé Miles Morales ‘ashamed’ of the costume

ASM13 SpiderMan IronMan fight

It would be incredibly hard for any comic book to steal headlines from Marvel’s Hydra-loving Captain America these days, but the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man gives it the old college try in terms of defiling a great character. It’s true that Marvel’s editors have not made Peter Parker admit to killing Uncle Ben — yet — but Dan Slott does turn a grown man into an immature loser who puts civilians’ lives at risk. Worse, Peter’s own protégé looks at his behavior and can barely keep his lunch down.

Before we continue on, here is what you need to know for ASM #13:

  • Harry Osborn and Betty Brant get ready to go to lunch with “the old gang.” Harry weirdly tells Peter that he isn’t invited because he’s “the big boss man” and Peter sheepishly replies, “Um…okay.”
  • Harry tells Betty he didn’t want to “risk” an awkward encounter with Mary Jane attending the lunch.
  • The three of them look at one of Betty’s Daily Bugle articles and realize that Augustus Roman is Regent.
  • Peter takes off as Spider-Man for a “Big Brother batting cage playdate” with Miles Morales, aka young Spider-Man.
  • Tony Stark arrived before Peter and soon ribs him about the quality of Parker Industries’ technology. Iron Man has also provided Miles with new web-shooters.
  • Spider-Man goes nuts and begins a street fight with Iron Man in front of parents and their children.
  • Miles Morales throws his hands in the air and says he’s “ashamed to be wearing this costume right now.” He leaves unnoticed and is immediately captured by Regent.
  • The giant explosion that takes down Miles stuns Spider-Man and Iron Man. The charge towards the blast area.

Ask yourself this question: If a writer claims to love Peter Parker, then why would he have the character behave in a way that causes a derivative version of himself to be “ashamed”?

The job of a writer is to make the protagonist shine in his own unique way as much as possible, yet Dan Slott’s Spider-Man has New Yorkers running for the hills as he acts like a clown.

“With great power comes great responsibility” — unless Tony Stark acts like Tony Stark, in which case it’s time to destroy public property and scare everyone within a half-mile radius. Perhaps J. Jonah Jameson was right all along…

ASM 13 SpiderMan IronMan

Regular readers will note that Peter Parker had a bizarre fight with Human Torch in ASM #3 and with Iron Man in ASM #12. He is actually regressing in terms of tact, professionalism, and maturity as the series goes on, so much so that his teenage protégé storms off in disgust. 

ASM 13 Miles explosion

“It was me. This is my fault,” Spider-Man says as he searches through wreckage for Miles. That may be true within the context of the story, but fans are left thinking, “No, this was Dan Slott. This is his fault.”

Long-time Spider-Man fans need to be told the following since they will never get it from websites like Newsarama: Dan Slott uses ASM #13 to elevate Miles Morales by making a mockery out of Peter Parker.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis did the very same thing in SM #2, which is why readers must pay close attention. There is a concerted effort to chip away at Peter Parker’s credibility until Miles usurps him in popularity, and it will certainly happen unless readers push back — hard.

If you want to see the slow-motion destruction of Peter Parker, then run out and buy ASM today.

If you want to see writers knee-cap the original Spider-Man so that Miles Morales wins the long-distance sales race, then check out ASM.

If you want to show Marvel your displeasure at what it’s doing to both Captain America and Spider-Man, then keep your hard-earned cash for better products. Charles Soule, for instance, is running creative laps around his peers as the moment. I highly suggest checking out his version of Daredevil.

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Spider-Man #4: Bendis reveals Morales’ secret identity — to ‘Goldballs’

Miles Ganke

Superheroes tend to place a high value on their secret identities, and Miles Morales is no exception to the rule. Unfortunately, the fourth issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man shows the hero losing it due to a decision by his best friend Ganke. He spills the beans to ex-X-Man “Goldballs” of all people. (Yes, Goldballs.)

Like the surface-to-air missiles that target Miles after Ganke’s betrayal, this issues misses the mark.

Before we move on, here is what you need to know:

  • Miles and Ganke argue in the school lunch room whether it’s harder to be a black teen in America or an overweight asian (groan).
  • Ganke wants Miles to talk to the new kid, Fabio Medina (aka: Goldballs), because they both have superpowers.
  • When Fabio accidentally launches one of his “goldballs” into Ganke’s food, the three young men start talking and Ganke inexplicably reveals his friend’s secret identity.
  • Miles storms off and while web-slinging through the city he is targeted by four heat-seeking missiles.
  • Spider-Man is knocked to the ground due to the concussive blast of one of the missiles. Hammerhead steps out of a vehicle and says it’s time to call Black Cat and collect his bounty.

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The decision to explore a best friend’s betrayal in a book involving high-school kids is appropriate, but it seems quite a stretch for someone like Ganke to suddenly reveal Miles’ secret identity. A writer should spend a lot of time setting the stage for game-changers, but readers sadly did not get it this time. As a result, half the issue didn’t ring true.

Making matters worse is the fact that Miles says, “I have actually never been this mad at anyone about anything,” but we never see his anger. He web-slings around the city for a few moments and then his spider-sense alerts him to incoming missiles.

Try this out: Think of the angriest you’ve ever been in your life. What did you do? How did you react? Did you just say, “I’ve never been this mad” and then walk around, or did you punch, kick, yell or scream?

A few years ago an old Army buddy of mine said, “Do you remember that time that you got so mad at [insert name of horrible squad leader here] that you burst into our room, slammed the door, screamed, flipped your entire bed, and then took off for the motor pool?” 

I do remember that — and that isn’t the most angry I have ever been.

People do not think clearly when they are livid. Given that, it seems like a no-brainer for Miles’ to have been so upset that he didn’t notice his own spider-sense going off until it was nearly too late. Maybe he could have even kicked a garbage can as he exited the school and sent it flying 100 yards down the road. Something — anything — would be better than just telling readers that Miles is angry.

After the heat-seeking missiles magically miss Miles while in “cammo mode,” he decides to lure them to parts of the city where detonations will pose the least amount of risk to the civilian population.

Miles Parker Industries

Miles chooses to destroy a Parker Industries sign, which is funny given that Arachno-Rockets” (See ASM #9) filled with liquid hydrogen are stored inside the building.

We’ll just say that it was by the grace of God that Miles didn’t kill scores of people…

Spider Rocket

Our hero’s luck runs out and he is seemingly incapacitated at Hammerhead’s feet. Besides wondering how a has-been underworld thug like Hammerhead got his hands on some SAMs and then deployed them in the middle of New York City, readers must now ask the following question: Is Spider-Man worth it? The jury is still out for this blogger.

  • If you like Marvel’s new take on Black Cat (I don’t), then Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like Hammerhead (I don’t), then Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like Goldballs (Huh?  Why, Marvel?), then I guess Spider-Man #4 is for you.
  • If you like best friends who act irrationally, then Spider-Man #4 is for you.

Spider-Man certainly has potential, but as of right now it still feels as though Bendis’ search for Miles identity within the 616 Universe is coming through in the title.

How big is his stable of characters to pick from? If Bendis is forced to use Goldballs and Hammerhead this early in his run, then it doesn’t bode well for the future. Perhaps he is limited one what villains he can use because Dan Slott needs them for The Amazing Spider-Man. Whatever the case, Bendis needs to settle into a groove soon our readers will move on.