Secret Empire #0: Nick Spencer pens love letter to postmodernism

Marvel’s next big event, Secret Empire, has arrived with issue #0. For those who wondered over the last year if writer Nick Spencer could craft an interesting Hydra-Cap tale, the answer appears to be “yes.”

The problem, however, is that once again a hero’s legacy is offered for sacrifice at the alter of postmodernism.

Just because a man could do something, it doesn’t mean that he should. While I must admit that Mr. Spencer is an intelligent and organized writer, at the same time he is rightly being criticized by fans who are disgusted with the idea of turning a cultural icon into a tool of Nazi Germany. No matter how much Marvel protests the Nazi-angle, there really is no denying it.

There’s much more to say on the topic, but for a full run-down I invite you to check out my latest YouTube video. As always, feel free to sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below.

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J. Michael Straczynski: Partisan writer hits the block button because douglasernst.blog is effective

JMS1

Regular readers of this blog know that on any given day there will be an honest comic book review or a post that exposes the hypocrisy of partisan writers within the industry. If a book is good — like Renew Your Vows — I’ll say it. If a book is bad, like Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man, then readers will know exactly why. Certain Marvel scribes have tried to claim over the years that this blog is irrelevant, but a strange thing keeps happening to me: Writers and editors who I never even talk about block me on Twitter. That seems like an odd action to take for someone who is not effective…

Consider J. Michael Straczynski, for instance. I never talk about the man in my blog posts, never tweet the man, and in the rare events I have mentioned him in my comments section I have been extremely kind. He was the last writer on The Amazing Spider-Man who got me excited about the book after years of mediocre writing. He “gets” Peter Parker, and if it weren’t for weird “Gwen-rape” stories then I would have even more nice things to say about his work.

Why, then, did he block me on Twitter? Tonight I ran across his name in a follower’s feed and thought, “Hmmm. JMS. I wonder what his tweets are all about,” before getting Twitter’s classic “you are blocked from following…” message.

I tweeted, “I guess he’s not a fan of limited government?” before checking it out via another account, and what do you know? I was right!

JMS Melania

Just like most of the other industry writers, J. Michael Straczynski is such a petty man that he turns First Lady Melania Trump into a vehicle to attack her husband — because it must feel so good to get dozens of “likes” or “loves” on social media for rage-tweeting.

Whether it’s Hydra-Cap writer Nick Spencer talking about the “myth of the good Republican” or ASM writer Dan Slott telling Christian supporters of Hobby Lobby to go to “Christ-Land,” this blog has consistently called out their mean-spiritedness and hypocrisy. And because it has a growing number of readers here and on YouTube, guys like Mr. Straczynski have taken notice.

Given this latest development, I will once again reiterate to you, dear reader, that if you want to see someone expose the self-proclaimed “tolerant” comic writers for the intolerant ideologues they are, then you have come to the right place. And since Mr. Straczynski was so concerned about what yours truly might find in his Twitter feed, I will give it extra attention going forward.

Stay classy, Mr. Straczynski.

Exit Question: How long will it be before Mr. Straczynski starts using weird comments about Barron Trump to attack his father?

With apologies to Jeremiah Wright, Marvel’s ‘chickens come home to roost’

Fans have been scorned, taunted, and belittled by comicbook creators on social media for — politely now, mind you — daring to ask questions about altering long-time characters and stories all for “diversity’s” sake.

You know the routine by now. Doug, myself and many others have written about it ad nauseam.

Still, the creators have continued in their snobbish, egomaniacal ways.

However, now there is this from Newsarama (emphases mine):

According to David Gabriel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Sales, Print & Marketing, a sales downturn at the publisher that accompanied a “big shift in the entire industry” beginning in October 2016 came as a result of many factors, including, according to the executive, the market “turning up their noses” at any title not featuring a “core Marvel character.”

Suggesting the answer to the question of why people’s tastes suddenly changed was better answered by Direct Market retailers, Gabriel told ICv2 that “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.”

“We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against,” he explained. “That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”

Dan Slott Renew Your Vows

And Jon Del Arroz’s (love that name) article from a couple of weeks ago is spot-on:

Marvel has a diversity problem.

In that they have none in terms of diversity of thought. They are a pure social justice propaganda arm. This is dangerous when it comes to creating art, as if you have everyone thinking in lockstep, unable to get outside the box, you’ll have creative stagnation. More than that, when you turn children’s adventure fiction into adult message browbeating, you lose any semblance of fun that a product formerly had. It’s no wonder that sales have dropped by about half, when they have an entire writing core of every single one of their monthly writers hell-bent on a crusade of alienating half of the country in some social engineering through comics.  I don’t exaggerate my numbers either, and I did some leg work for you all so you might better make educated purchases, or lack thereof, of Marvel Comics. …

According to marvel.com, there are 18 writers on the current releases. I went through each and every one of their twitter accounts to give you a summary of where they spend their time on social media in terms of politics. I don’t mind people getting political occasionally, or even necessarily holding left wing views, but when it’s constant beating the drum of anger and hate, that’s what makes an SJW, and that’s where one needs to stay away (and is a primary reason for Marvel’s steep sales decline in recent years).  Here’s a brief summary of the writers’ twitter feeds, as I’ve gone through all of them for you:

Mike Costa – Constant Anti-Trump posts.

Jason Aaron – Anti-Trump, has #resist greenpeace retweet from inauguration. However, he doesn’t post politically very often, not pushing some anger crusade all the time.

Brian Michael Bendis – Anti-Trump posts, but posts so much it’s not a large percentage of his tweets.

Cullen Bunn – Rabid anti-Trump.

Becky Cloonan – a couple of snarky anti-Trump posts pre-election, but no political posts since. From the feeds, appears to be the sanest of the Marvel staff.

Gerry Duggan – Constant Anti-Trump posts, retweets Bernie (he can still win!).

Al Ewing – British, and doesn’t seem to post a lot of American politics, but very heavily steeped in globalism in immigration “rights” in his posts. Anti-Western civilization. 

Roxanne Gay –  Constant rants about feminism, anti-Trump posts. 

Zac Gorman – Complains about Republicans as “joke”, but only one recent post as such. Low percentage of political tweets.

Derek Landy – Anti-Trump, not overwhelming in political posts. Mostly sticks to posts about writing.

Kate Leth – Regular anti-Trump posts. Constant complaints about some boogeyman “privilege”, rambles at racist, sexist, etc., “white dudes”.  Rants about queer issues.

Stuart Moore – Regular posts anti-republican, anti-Trump.

Greg Pak – Complains about “representation” of different races. Lots of anti-Trump posts.

Dan Slott – Anti-trump rants all the time. 

Charles Soule – Constant anti-trump rants.

Nick Spencer – Rants about trump/republicans and calls anyone who disagrees with him flat out evil.

G.Willow Wilson – “Muslim” Ms. Marvel writer, rants anti-Trump posts all the time.

Chip Zdarksy – Constant anti-Trump posts.

That is  … “100% […] extreme left-wing ideologues who hate half of the country [and] have nothing nice to say about the USA or its president ever,” Del Arroz continues.

Comic fans of goodwill, those with nary a racist/sexist/homophobic etc. bone in their bodies, have been blasted as just that by creeps such as Dan Slott, et. al. all because they’ve asked simple questions regarding characterization and stories.

Many, like Doug and myself, have pointed out that Marvel’s permissive attitude towards horrendous creator behavior on social media is hardly an appropriate business model.

I feel like going on a Randy Quaid-in-Independence Day-style rant: “I’ve been sayin’ it. I’ve been sayin’ it for ten damn years. Ain’t I been sayin’ it? Yeah, I’ve been sayin’ it.”

I — we — knew all this nonsense was unsustainable. We knew the chickens would be seeking out that proverbial roost.

Marvel’s Nick Spencer defends rule of law from mob that his rhetoric creates

It is probably safe to say that most people with a Twitter account on Inauguration Day saw video of white nationalist Richard Spencer getting cold-cocked in the face by a protester. The same individuals who lit a vehicle on fire and smashed the windows of businesses in Washington, D.C., also decided that street beatdowns are now acceptable for political opponents.

Marvel writer Nick Spencer entered the social-media stage and rightly defended the rule of law. His own followers predictably lashed out for the heresy, but at no time did it dawn on him that his regular rhetoric helped create the mob monster he now fears.

Check out my latest YouTube video, where I break down exactly why the Captain America scribe should take a step back and acknowledge his own culpability in terms of creating our worrisome political landscape.

Marvel’s Nick Spencer plays SJW long-ball with Captain America

The was once a time when comic book writers were able to weave tales that turned characters like Spider-Man and Captain America into cultural icons. Creators may have touched on politics, but in general those who penned Marvel’s adventures transcended partisan hackery. They delivered work that resonated with multiple generations, which is one of the many reasons why Marvel Studios is an industry force to be reckoned with in 2017.

Somewhere along the line it was decided within the Mighty Marvel Offices that superheroes should be transformed from modern mythological figures into vehicles for forwarding a political agenda. They were diminished into little more than tools for political manipulation, and for evidence of that one needs to look no further than the work of Nick Spencer, writer of Sam Wilson: Captain America.

My latest YouTube video covers Mr. Spencer’s savvy strategy and tactics for influencing culture through comic books, which seems a bit similar to those employed by comedian Jon Stewart. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section blow. I’m always interested in hearing your opinions on the writer at hand or the industry as whole.

Marvel’s zero-sum politics needlessly damage the comics industry

The partisan politics of modern Marvel Comics creators is a mainstay of this blog, but for the most part it is usually discussed within the context of whatever “red state vs. blue state” argument makes headlines each week. Today, however, I’d like to dig a little deeper into the zero-sum politics of these writers and artists. In short, they act as if any positive development for “Character A” means that “Character B” is negatively affected.

For instance, Tony Stark’s existence as Iron Man was problematic for writer Brian Michael Bendis’ to introduce Ironheart — Riri Williams. Normal people have no problem with a young girl named Riri flying around the Marvel Universe while Mr. Stark does his thing. That is not the case for Marvel writers these days. In the mind of the modern Marvel creator, Mr. Stark needed to be hurt or sidelined or have his reputation sullied in some way so that a minority female character could succeed.

This line of thinking has poisoned Marvel’s decision-making from the top down in recent years, and as long as it continues the industry as a whole will needlessly suffer. For more details on this, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video on the subject. Then, if you like what you’ve seen, be sure subscribe for regular updates.

As always, make sure to let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Nick Spencer demonizes police for Marvel: Racist ‘Americops’ target minorities

Americops Marvel

Marvel writer Nick Spencer, the guy who uses his Twitter feed to say all Republicans are “evil,” recently made national headlines with the company’s “let’s turn Steve Rogers into a Hydra agent” gimmick. He somehow managed escape the media radar with his tenth issue of ‘Captain America: Sam Wilson,’ which creates a nameless, faceless group of racist cops — ‘Americops’ — for hunting down minorities.

SW10 Americop

The end of the issue even features “Rage,” who tells a group of black kids that it’s “time we start hitting back” against the racist, left-hand saluting police patrolling their streets.

Ask yourself this question about Marvel Editor Tom “capture the zeitgeist” Brevoort as the nation comes to grips with the Dallas shooting of 12 police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson, which killed five: Why is it off limits to “capture the zeitgeist” of Islamic terrorist groups — real evil — in Marvel comics due to fears about how it will reflect on all Muslims, but yet it is fair game to create “Americops”?

SWCA10

The vast majority of cops are good men and women, and yet every single time someone like Alton Sterling is killed in Baton Rouge or Philando Castile is killed in Minneapolis, the Nick Spencers of the world use the moment to rhetorically slime over 12,000 local police departments across the country.

Dallas Police WFAA screenshot

Here is another question for you: Have you ever seen an issue where Nick Spencer’s Sam Wilson must combat super-powered gangs of black kids in Chicago or Detroit who deal drugs, murder innocents, and make life a living hell for the majority of good citizens (and cops) in the city?

Answer: Of course not.

David Brown

The lesson at Marvel under Tom Brevoort is clear:

  • If a writer wants to pen cartoonish versions of irrational and angry white men, then he or she can do that.
  • If a writer wants to take the actions of a few to incite anger against the whole, then doing so against cops and law-abiding gun owners is permissible.
  • Capturing the “zeitgeist” at Marvel is defined as, “Write or draw whatever inflammatory idea you have towards white people, but don’t you dare cover inner city violence or Islamic terrorism — even if you planned on handling the latter issues in a measured manner.

If you are sick and tired of Marvel hyper-politicizing its books while engaging in obscene double-standards, then stop buying any title that fills its pages with partisan bile. Sound off on social media and let everyone know exactly why you are walking away from the title.

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Marvel turns Trump into villain ‘M.O.D.A.A.K,’ hopes hackery buoys sales

MODAAK Trump Marvel

It was only one month ago that activist-writer Nick Spencer turned Red Skull into a Donald Trump stand-in. Objective readers wondered just how deep Marvel’s well of partisan hackery might go. Spider-Gwen Annual #1 by writer Jason Latour offers the clearest evidence yet that it is deeper than anyone can imagine.

Comic Book Resources reported Saturday:

In this week’s “Spider-Gwen Annual” #1, writer Jason Latour and “an awesome assemblage of artists” offer a tour of Earth-65 with a collection of short stories that includes She-Hulk as a pro wrestler, the origin of Koala Kommander, and an all-too brief showdown between Captain America and M.O.D.O.K. — wait, make that M.O.D.A.A.K. (Mental Organism Designed As America’s King).

Illustrated by Chris Visions and colored by Jim Campbell, the two-page sequence depicts M.O.D.A.A.K. as an orange-skinned, tiny-handed villain sitting in his floating chair, leading the forces of A.I.M. near the United States/Mexico border. There he declares, “If American will not act — M.O.D.A.A.K must!”

However, just as he begins to utter a familiar slogan (“Must make America–“), he’s cut off by a well-placed shield throw from Captain America. Crashing to the ground, M.O.D.A.A.K. leaves us with a parting threat (and a jab at Trump): “Crush you … in … my … powerful handsss …”

Regular readers of this blog know that I have no love for the billionaire’s campaign, which is why it pains me to have to defend the man. Although, truthfully, it’s not really about Mr. Trump. What this is about is Marvel Comics filling its ranks with pathetic partisan trolls whose bright idea for keeping the company afloat is to cultivate loyalty with the lowest common denominator.

Note to Jason Latour, Nick Spencer, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort, and everyone else within Marvel who thinks dividing people is a great business model for long-term growth: The internet exists. When you create stuff like Trump-M.O.D.A.A.K., those stories end up in news feeds next to ‘White House reveals number of civilian deaths from drone strikes.’

CNN reported Friday:

President Barack Obama’s administration estimated Friday that between 64 and 116 civilians have died during the years 2009-2015 from U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the same time span, the administration said between 2,372 and 2,581 militants had been taken out by drones. …

Human rights groups, however, were unsatisfied by the government’s disclosed figures, which came in far lower than independent estimates of civilian causalities.

Selective moral outrage and Marvel-approved hypocrisy are easy to expose thanks to the internet. Whether one loves him or hates him, Donald Trump has never dropped bombs on 116 civilian heads.

President Obama decided long ago that he would rather splatter suspected terrorists into a blood-red mist than capture and interrogate them like George W. Bush, but yet it is Mr. Trump who gets the M.O.D.A.A.K treatment. Telling.

Readers get what is going on, which is in part why Spider-Gwen had estimated sales of a whopping (drumroll please) … 33,797 copies last month.

The moral of the story is this: There are many, many, many readers who are fed up with immature antics of writers like Nick Spencer and Jason Latour. We do not have an affinity for Donald Trump, but we also don’t want to see him turned into a de facto Red Skull or alternate-universe M.O.D.O.K. (Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing).

Superhero comic books were once used to unite readers of all ages and from all walks of life, but these days Marvel employees work to divide — and that is one reason why so many life-long customers no longer care and are walking away in droves.

Related:

Red Skull

Nick Spencer’s Hydra-Cap #2: Brevoort’s ‘not a gimmick’ line a lie for quick sales

Red Skull Kobik

It was one month ago that Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort and writer Nick Spencer asserted to the world that Captain America’s “Hail Hydra” moment was “not a gimmick.”  Sure, they responded to outrage by trying to Jedi mind-trick readers into forgetting the whole Nazi aspect of Hydra, Red Skull, and his crew, but the message was clear: Hydra-Cap wasn’t a shameless cash grab. Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, however, makes it clear that Mr. Brevoort has no qualms about lying if it will line Marvel’s pockets with short-term cash.

Here is what you need to know about the issue:

  • Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube, sought out Red Skull the moment she manifested in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters years ago.
  • Dr. Selvig and S.H.I.E.L.D. never knew that Kobik was being raised by Red Skull, who led her to believe the most ideal world would be one run by Hydra. The doctor’s mind was altered before his initial suspicions were confirmed.
  • Red Skull used Pleasant Hill, an super villain prison created by Kobik, as bait for Captain America.
  • Everything that transpired at the reality-altering facility was orchestrated so that Kobik would implant a false past — a Hydra-inspired past — into Steve Roger’s mind.

Most readers, your friendly neighborhood blogger included, assumed things would eventually be put right after “Cosmic-Cube weirdness” was revealed. We knew what Marvel was doing, but a.) objected to story as a matter of principle — writers should not desecrate a hero for mere shock value, and b.) deemed the length of time it was implied that Hydra-Cap would be working for the terrorist organization as a betrayal of the character.

Blind supporters of Messrs. Brevoort and Spencer made it seem like critics were hyper-impatient, when it was Marvel that created the perception that bread crumbs would be dropped over the course of months.

“I thought we wouldn’t know this much for at least five or six months,” the manager at my local comic shop said when I asked him what he thought about the issue. We both wondered if the timeline was accelerated due to fan backlash, but the owner said he was confident that was not the case.

All of this begs the question: Why?

Why would Marvel expend so much time and effort lying to its fans for a short-term sales boost?

Red Skull Selvig

That answer appears to be two-fold:

  1. The people running the show have no shame. Ironically, the writer who rails against Donald Trump now subscribes to the same “all publicity is good publicity” philosophy that has been perfected by the billionaire.
  2. Marvel Comics, which is currently populated by a slew of petulant man-boys, wanted to steal headlines from DC Comics’ Rebirth.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but guys like Tom Brevoort are working overtime to needlessly torpedo ships that sail the same ocean.

If that is the kind of behavior you want to reward, then head on over to your local comic shop as soon as possible. Otherwise, save the $4.00 for a day when the “House of Ideas” once again has significant floor space dedicated to respecting long-time readers.

Tom Brevoort tries Hydra Captain America spin-job, Newsarama goes full toady

Captain America Jack Flag

One of the reasons this blog began reviewing the comics industry years ago was because the mainstream “news” outlets almost always serve as a mouthpiece for whatever bilge the creators dish out. If there is one good thing to come out of Nick Spencer’s “Captain America: Nazi-sympathizing Hydra Agent,” it is that more people realize that allegedly impartial reporters are usually glorified toadies for men like Tom Brevoort.

Take a recent piece by Newsarama’s piece by George Marston:

“Reaction to the news has been mixed, with some, familiar with the ebb and flow of comic book storytelling intrigued by the twist, or resigned to wait it out and see its explanation, while others less familiar with comic book tropes decried the reveal as an outright betrayal of Captain America or even his creators.

According to Tom Brevoort, Marvel Executive Editor, an editor of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, where the reveal took place, Marvel was somewhat surprised by the reaction to the twist, not expecting the level of vitriol some fans have levied at the publisher, and at Nick Spencer, writer of the issue and architect of its twist.”

Did you get that first paragraph? If you view Marvel’s decision as a grotesque betrayal of the character, then you must be **hurrrrrrm** “less familiar with comic book tropes.”

Tut. Tut. Now excuse me while I wipe my monocle, you rubes.

The message by Newsarama is clear: Only ignorant fools who don’t know comics oppose the latest “bold” idea by Marvel’s editors and writers. Nick Spencer could turn Captain America into a serial killer and there would be guys like George Marston calling it “bold” at this point.

George Marston Newsarama Twitter

One would think that Mr. Brevoort’s “surprise” at the negative reaction to Mr. Spencer’s story would be challenged, considering it was the Marvel editor who told USA Today he knew it would be like slapping fans in the face.

“‘We knew it would be like slapping people in the face,’ says Brevoort. […] “The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that. You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”

Even though Mr. Marston covered the “slap” comment in his own column, there was no push-back against Tom Brevoort. The Marvel editor explicitly said a decision was made to “slap” readers in the face, and then he is “surprised” when people are angry. Newsarama’s decision is to then label critics as “less familiar with comic book tropes.” Classic.

Perhaps the most laughable moment in Newsarama’s interview with Mr. Brevoort comes when he tries (and fails) to say that equating Hydra-Cap to a Nazi is out of bounds.

“There’s a subset of people who are upset about this, who are exactly like that. The reporting on this, and the sort of game of telephone on the internet about this went from it being ‘Captain America is Hydra,’ to ‘Captain America is a Nazi’ – which is already a leap – to ‘This is anti-semitism,’ which is ridiculous, in that, if you look at the comic book that we put out, there is nothing in it that, in any way, shape, or form, is even slightly anti-semitic. But because people were able to go ‘Hydra = Nazi, and Nazi = anti-semitism,’ that’s what reactions became about.

By reporting that we revealed ‘Captain America is a Nazi and anti-semitic,’ people that haven’t even read the work react with outrage, because they understand who Captain America is, even if they’ve never read a comic book.”

Hyrda’s history is well established in the comics, the MCU, and television. The reason why Mr. Brevoort said the story would be a “slap” in the face to fans is because he knew people would put two and two together. Now that the story has amazingly unified readers across the political spectrum, he wants to feign ignorance.

Cap a Nazi sympathizer? Where would you get that idea? Who told you 2+2 = 4? It’s five.

If you want honest reporting on comic books, then websites Newsarama are typically not the place to go. The vast majority of the time their writers and editors are only interested in keeping the access-spigot flowing. They cannot bite the hand that feeds, but they will gladly give men like Tom Brevoort a thumb to suck every time he runs to them crying.

Withhold your cash when it comes to Captain America until Marvel learns its lesson. If you want to reward the company for good work, then purchase Charles Soule’s Daredevil. Just be aware that one day a writer will come up with the idea that Matt Murdock has never been blind and was working for Kingpin all along — and reporters like George Marston will be ready and waiting to insult you for showing displeasure.

Editor’s Note: Henchmen’s Lounge was kind enough to invite me onto a podcast to discuss Captain America. We begin talking about Hydra-Cap at the 18-minute mark.