Author Archives: Brett

James Robinson Responds to and Apologizes About Airboy #2

Writer James Robinson has issued a statement through GLAAD regarding the controversial content of Airboy #2 published by Image Comics.

You can read the full statement below.

I thought long and hard before writing this response, with the time it’s taken me to do so I fear having been misinterpreted as indifference on my part to the ire this sequence has caused for some.  Often public figures just issue a quick apology, a snippet of contrition, in the hope that the light of scorn will then shine away from them.  But those apologies often feel inauthentic or meaningless, and I didn’t want to do that.

It was with much regret that I learned how I had angered and offended members of the transgender community with a sequence I wrote in the second issue of the Airboy mini-series I am currently doing.  As anyone who has read the first issue will know, this series is a semi-autobiographical piece of meta-fiction that shows me at a self-destructive and unhappy time in my life before I sobered up and entered a better place in both my work and the world as a whole.  To illustrate this, I portray myself and my artist Greg Hinkle as two blithe idiots pin-balling through a succession of stupid and self-destructive actions, doing and saying stupid and thoughtless things.  I intentionally portray myself in the worst light possible and as the worst kind of person.

Stepping outside of myself and the work, I can see how, while my intention when writing the scene was never to defame or harm the trans community, I did indeed fuck up and for that I sincerely apologize.

In my intention to create an ugly version of me and my world, I have inadvertently hurt and demeaned a community that the real non-fictionalized version of myself truly respects and admires.

It’s a sad and terrible fact that the transgender community is one that is often misunderstood and mocked.  And that honestly, truly, breaks my heart.  It is a beautiful community full of shining souls, which in a different work on a different day I would proudly show in all its variety and wonder.  Honestly, that is the truth.  Anyone who actually knows me, knows my feelings on such matters, and anyone who doesn’t will just have to take my word for it.

And yet here I am, in my eagerness to create a scenario that mocks my own moral worthlessness, I do no better than the worst kind of person, blindly marking the transgender community with the same sullying brush I chose to paint myself — instead of giving it the dignity and respect it deserves and is so very often denied.

This is a work of deliberately ugly satirical fiction.  One part of me believes a creator has the right to tell the story he feels the need to tell.  There’s a part of me that feels that it’s acceptable for a work of fiction to hurt or offend.  That at the very least the work elicits feelings.

Then there’s the other part of me — the major part, I might add — that is truly saddened that the transgender community, comprising men and women who carry the burden of an ever-hostile society, should have me adding to their load.

There is minor solace — very minor — in the fact that I note the discourse I’m seeing on-line about this, is at least allowing an exchange of views that I think is open, healthy and ultimately a good thing. I hope comic book fans and creators will think more critically about the way trans characters are portrayed.

I consider myself an ally to the LGBT community and I promise to work harder in the future to ensure that any trans stories or characters in my work are portrayed in an thoughtful and accepting way.

I know this response won’t satisfy everyone, but it comes from the heart.  I love all people.  I wanted this statement to convey my complete feelings on the matter.

The above does seem sincere, and hopefully this is a learning lesson for all.

Talking The Omega Men with Tom King

OMEGA_MEN_2_552d64e1ed3095.70430801The Omega Men are back in an all-new series! They’ve murdered White Lantern Kyle Rayner and now, the universe wants them to pay! What do you do after the entire galaxy watches you do when the universe sees such an act? Who are these intergalactic criminals – and is there more to their actions than meets the eye?  murder the White Lantern Kyle Rayner? Run.

Launched as part of the latest initiative by DC Comics, The Omega Men is written by Tom King with fantastic art by Barnaby Bagenda.

We got a chance to talk to King about the series’ influence as well as how his employment history plays a part.

Graphic Policy: Thanks so much for doing this! Lets just dive into the questions. The series launched with the Omega Men beheading Kyle Rayner with a nod to ISIS/Al Qaeda. Why start with that? That’s a pretty shocking real world thing to kick a series off with.

Tom King: My favorite science fiction is the science fiction grounded in real world events. I of The Forever War being a Vietnam metaphor. And this is what we see every day. This is what we’ve been seeing every day for 20 years. This is what my generation think of in their mind when they think of the most horrible violence and I wanted to bring that into a science fiction tale. To do the best things that science fiction does which is stretch normalcy into fiction until it becomes truth.

GP: Sci-fi has an amazing history of reflecting real world politics and society. I can’t think of another genre that does it quite as well. What is it about sci-fi that lends itself to be able to be able to discuss issues that other genres really can’t

TK: I wouldn’t go that far… If you look at Game of Thrones which is a fantasy series, that’s all about our modern paranoia and power sharing. Other genres do that just as well. But, even you an look at romantic stories. Look at Pride and Prejudice, which is a commentary on 18th Century England morals. I do think the genre in general, can confront issues because people don’t want authors to rant and rave about their own political views. I thought that interesting, and what’s science fiction is for. I think what an author’s purpose is, is to reveal the deeper truth which can’t be said explicitly through story from Homer to the Bible, to beyond. That’s the point of fiction, there’s some things you can’t quite get at, and that’s what we’re supposed to do. I think science fiction does that fairly well because it allows you to escape into a different world so you relax a bit.

om001aGP: It really comes out in the second issue that one man’s terrorist is another’s revolutionary. How much of each side are we going to see and exploring that concept as a whole?

TK: I mean, it’s important to know the Omega Men aren’t Al Qaeda, they’re not ISIS, the evil empire we have here, the Citadel, are not America or Britain. But, what we’re doing is using hyperbole, we’re using extremes to get at something. These are rebels, this is the revolution. The American Revolution. The French Resistance. These are resistance fighters around the world. They’re willing to do anything to win because the enemy will also do anything to win. In the latest issue we see something I stole from the what the Nazis did in Yugoslavia. The Omega Men had a victory, they killed 39 soldiers, and the Citadel says “that’s fine, we have a deal if you kill 39 of ours we kill 100 to 1 for each one.” So 3,900 people. That’s asymmetrical warfare, and that’s what the book is about.

GP: Thank you for bringing that up. I read that and it seemed familiar as far as history. I just couldn’t place it.

TK: Heh, oh that horrible thought I never want to think about again… eh, I’ll put it in a book.

GP: You have a fascinating background working with the CIA as part of their counter terrorism unit. How much of your background and experience will we see in the book?

TK: Sure, I was an operations officer in the counter terrorism center for the CIA for about 7 years. I was just one of those guys that after 9/11 I tried to do something. And in terms of what I bring… I can’t and won’t talk about anything operationally relevant, a sources and methods sort of thing. Not only because I don’t want to get in trouble, but I still have friends that are there, and really believe in what I did, and I was really proud of it. I consider it a betrayal. That said, I can bring my experiences of emotional content. Being in a place where religions are clashing, where things seem primarily true to different people, and the idea of being in a situation where things should be black and white, and nothing is.

GP: I too wanted to join the CIA after 9/11. They didn’t want me, so I went to work on the Hill instead.

TK: I was shocked when they accepted me. I was a philosophy major, I don’t know what happened. I kept going up the line, and was like “ok I’ll come to the next meeting.”

GP: The Omega Men have quite a history with DC Comics, how much did you know before?

TK: I read it here and there. Like Alan Moore had written two short stories, I studied those like the Zapruder film they were so amazing. I read the first 13 issues, which are pretty amazing. They’re a fairly obscure property, but were pretty revolutionary too for the time too. That was the early 80s when comics were they realized they could grow with their audience, and The Omega Men was one of the first titles where they realized that they’d show you something a bit more adult. It was a big step for comics at the time.

GP:The group reminds me of peacekeepers where the UN (the Lantern Corps) can’t/won’t go. There’s some vibes I get of Syria right now. Are there events and locations your drawing from as far as inspiration?

TK: Absolutely. Yeah, the Omega Men exist in this world that’s six systems, six different planets. Each is drawn from a metaphor. So far we haven’t seen much of them, but you’ll see more as we move forward. The current is the people are treated as servants and the rich people go and served as the poor people. An obvious metaphor for quite a few locations right now.

GP: That stuck out to me about the second issue. This diplomat shows up and the first thing he’s focused on is tea. Very much an aloof haves/have not aspect of it all.

TK: That’s a main bad guy, a Darth Vader type guy named the Viceroy. He’s based on the worst aspects of myself in that role. There’s a thing when you go overseas, and I don’t mean this badly, you sort of adopt other people’s culture and master it better than they have. I tried to put it into that character. It’s a dangerous feeling, sort of haunted the British Empire, back home you’re a normal person, but when you find yourself in India and find your money can go so far, you have 4,000 servants, you start seeing yourself as a king. That is arrogant for that character.

GP: The covers play off the propaganda aspect, whose idea was that?

TK: That comes from Trevor Hutchinson, an Australian graphic designer. It was an organic thing, I don’t remember who said it first. He’s known for retro propaganda posters, he had done some famous Transformer comics that were amazing. So we said “propaganda” and he came back with this scrawled Omega Men thing, and we said what if the word “Omega Men was illegal” and the concept of putting it on a poster. All the first 12 will be propaganda posters with graffiti on them.

GP: How tied will we see the comic to other series? Is it self contained?

TK: For the first 12 issues, it’s fairly self-contained. It takes place in the DC universe. Stuff in the DC universe can and will have impact on this. But, what we wanted to do was tell one complete story like a novel with a beginning, middle, and end for the first 12 issues. That makes the stakes high, where people can live and die. That has meaning. The next 12 is planned, and a bit wider spread.

GP: There’s a lot with Kyle and his religion in this second issue, he’s reciting prayers, why show that aspect? It’s not something I think of usually for that character.

TK: It’s not a traditional thing, so a little of me putting on it. The character is half Mexican, and Catholic. And he comes from that culture. That’s a culture that prides itself on religious fate. The book is about religion and religious fate. The theme of the second issue is prayer, I thought it’d be interesting that when he’s waking up his first words were an old memory of a Spanish prayer, the Prayer of the Guardian Angel it’s called. And so, it was appropriate for a Green Lantern who are the Guardian Angels of the galaxy. By the end of the issue he says another prayer which comes from his vocation instead of his religion. I wanted to make a contrast between those two moments of what comes to him instinctively versus what he thinks will save him.

GP: In this issue, symbols is also important. You have the cross throughout and then what Kyle does at the end. Is it another theme that plays throughout the series?

TK: That’s a huge theme of the book. The symbol of the Omega… the idea we worship the beginning and ending of life. The idea of the symbols between those and what it means for these characters will run throughout the whole thing. There’s all sorts of hidden Easter eggs related to that. The omega symbol will be powerful throughout. I’ll give you this one, when you take a 52 and scrunch it together, it looks like an omega.

GP: Anything else before we wrap up?

TK: Grayson #9 was out last week, the first trade is out, check it out. It’s the best thing ever.

Review: Midnighter #2

MIDN_Cv2_552d5bd6bc8337.48398703Marina Lucas woke up this morning as a suburban martial-arts instructor…but when God Garden tech unexpectedly falls into her lap, she’ll end the day as the deadliest woman on the planet! That’s bad news for her – and worse for the Midnighter!

The second issue Midnighter is interesting. The story by Steve Orlando is beyond solid. It veers away from the normal bad guys and super villains, instead focusing on Russian homophobes and evil corporations. It’s strong and awesome for doing that.

The story really focuses on this God Garden Tech and Marina, who is out for revenge against a corporation which leads to a showdown and some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting. Midnighter hates bad guys, no matter who they are, and an eventual meeting between Marina, Midnighter and the evil corporation spins things around quite nicely. Since corporations are people now, Midnighter can punch them I guess.

But what’s truly excellent is Steve Orlando’s balance of the ass-kicking and Midnighter’s personal life. We see a bit of what happened between him and Apollo, as well as another date that takes the hero to Russia, not exactly a tolerant place of homosexuals. The ensuing ass-kicking is highly cathartic, and fantastic to see. This isn’t a hero who is out looking for trouble in these situations, but he has no issues whipping on some folks to solve them. The continued focus on Midnighter’s personal life gives the series a boost and makes it stand out from the pack. As he’s proving, it’s not easy to balance the dual life.

What’s off this issue is the art, which at points doesn’t look the same as the first, even though both are the same creator, Arco. Character design is inconsistent, and I had to look multiple times to see if it was a different artist for the issue, or even just for certain pages. It’s really odd.

Overall, the story is solid, the art is a little blah (inconsistent is a good way to describe it). I’m much more story driven, so can overlook the art, but hopefully things balance out in that department. Orlando though absolutely has a hang of the series and characters and is taking him in an awesome balanced. direction.

Story: Steve Orlando Art by: Aco
Story: 9 Art: 6.75 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review

 

Review: Chew #50

Chew #50 CoverThis is it, the landmark Chew #50, and the showdown everyone’s been waiting for. With 10 issues to go this is the showdown between Tony Chu and The Vampire Cibopath in the cold snowy lands of Russia.

For quite a while now, the series has been building to the showdown between these two characters in what you know will be an all out battle between various powers gained. It’s been clear what Tony has to do to defeat The Vampire for a bit, and the question is would he go through with it? Yes. Yes. And Yes.

The issue is the excitement and kinetic energy you’d expect courtesy of the team of writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory. No matter how sad an issue might be, or how much pure action it is, there’s an infusion of humor that puts it all over the top and makes each issue one of the most enjoyable comics on the market.

Each issue Layman lays out food and eating related powers that are so out there it’s hard to not crack a smile, laugh, and just enjoy it. For 50 issues he’s consistently delivered in that department, and even with a build up so big, he still delivers. The issue doesn’t disappoint at all.

Part of that charm is Guillory’s art. With powers so over the top, it takes a talented artist to deliver, and he does. The small details that pepper each issue, and especially this issue, tells us a story even if it’s not directly laid out with the script and dialogue. We know (and can imagine ourselves) what happened off panel. And through it all, and a kinetic zaniness worthy of Loony Tunes, it puts a smile on your face.

While the series is heading towards its sixtieth and final issue, there’s not time like the present to start from the beginning and catch up. With games and a television show in the works, Chew is still poised to be a massive break-out in the comic world. It’s kind of hard for it not to be when it’s this so infectiously fun.

Story: John Layman Art: Rob Guillory
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Comixtravaganza’s and Unlockable Character’s Amy Sulam Talks Airboy and Image

Comixstravaganza‘s and Unlockable Character‘s Amy Sulam talks about transgendered individuals and talks about Image ComicsAirboy #2. If you’d like to find out more, you can read it here. If you’d like to take action, you can do so here.

Take Action: Image, Pull Airboy #2 from Shelves

Writer James Robinson has responded to the controversy and issued an apology.

take actionImage Comics‘ CEO Eric Stephenson himself highlighted the need for diversity in his 2014 Image Expo keynote chastising the industry for treating “gender equality and cultural issues as though they’re little more than gimmicks to increase sales.” Now’s the time to see if Image believes in the words their CEO stated. Airboy #2 finds writer James Robinson and artist Greg Hinkle’s comic versions of themsevles at a bar with Airboy, who has noticed the women around them, and taking a liking. What Airboy does not realize is that these women are transgender, though Robinson and Hinkle are well aware. As if dreamt up by a frat boy trying to be edgy and funny, the next scene involves Airboy in one stall and Hinkle in the other both receiving oral sex. Airboy explodes in anger over the fact that the woman he hooked up with was a “lady with a penis” after he was asked to reciprocate oral sex. A debate ensues about the “men” they hooked-up with, Airboy storming off complaining about the “degenerate” world. Without rehashing the numerous problems surrounding this issue, you can read Emma Houxboi’s take over at The Rainbow Hub and our own take here. This sums it up:

There’s no voice, no agency, no humanity to any of the trans women in this comic. Just an open mouth to fuck or a penis to gawk at.

Image, Robinson, and Hinkle’s Airboy #2 is transphobic and in an industry striving for inclusion and diversity the comic should not be afforded physical or digital shelf space. TAKE ACTION: We are currently running a campaign to have individuals post to Twitter with the hashtag #ImageExpo during today’s event run by the publisher which runs from 1pm ET/10am PT through the day to show support. Below is some suggested text.

One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. It’s legal in every state, except California, to use “trans panic” as a defense after assaulting or murdering a transgender individual. There’s no reason to perpetuate myths about transwomen that endanger their lives. This is not a call for censorship. James Robinson and Greg Hinkle have a right to create whatever they’d like, and we have as much of a right to show our disdain for that. Speech doesn’t mean protection from consequences. Image has the right to exercise their speech and pull the comic, and actually show they believe in the words and beliefs they claim they uphold. After you are done Tweeting, please help spread the word.

Exclusive Preview: Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #10

DC Comics has provided us an exclusive preview of Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four. Written by Brian Buccellato with art by Xermanico, chapter 10 is chocked full of action as the battle between the Army of Zeus and Superheroes continues. This chapter debuts new Greek Gods never seen in this series before!

Just when it looks like there might be a winner between Superman and Wonder Woman, all hell breaks loose, and the Amazons get into a full-scale war against The Man of Steel’s army of Super Soldiers.

The chapter will be available for download on Tuesday via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.

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Preview: Big Trouble in Little China #12

Big Trouble in Little China #12

Writer: Eric Powell
Artist: Brian Churilla

Lo Pan’s revenge against Jack Burton in the Hell of No Return is almost complete, but Egg and Wang are coming back to Chinatown, and they’re bringing Jack’s soul with them!

BigTroubleLittleChina_012_A_Main

Preview: Nailbiter #14

Nailbiter #14

Story By: Joshua Williamson
Art By: Mike Henderson
Cover By: Mike Henderson
Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: MAY150474
Published: July 1, 2015

One of the biggest secrets of the serial killers is revealed!

Nailbiter14_Cover

Ollie Masters Teases New BOOM! Project

As part of its series of announcements leasing up to San Diego Comic-Con, BOOM! Studios unveiled a new video message from acclaimed writer Ollie Masters, in which he teases an upcoming project with the publisher!

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