Category Archives: Sunday Roundtable

Sunday Roundtable: Would You Vote for Loki?

VOTELOKI_CovSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

With it being election season, and the comic out, would you vote for Loki?

Logan: I’d vote for Loki if the Young Avengers are on his cabinet.

Brett: Who would be in which position?

Logan: Ms. America would definitely be the Secretary of Transportation punching walls through dimension, Prodigy would be the Attorney General b/c he has the legal minds of Jennifer Walters and Matt Murdock from his mutant power, Noh Varr would be Secretary o…See More

Brett: For some reason Wiccan feels right for Secretary of Energy, not sure why. And Hulkling for Vice President? That way we’ll never know if the President isn’t around, Hulkling could morph and look like Loki.

Alex: And it’d be just Loki’s style to have two of him in the same place at once.

Madison: I’d also totally vote Prodigy for Prez if Loki was out of the picture.

Logan: Yes! As long as I get to be First Gentleman!

Alex: I’d vote Loki just to see what kinda shit would hit the fan, honestly. And then become incredibly disappointed when he turns out to be a decent leader.

Brett: What happens to US/Asgardian relations if he’s President?

Alex: President Loki would henceforth send Wolverine as an ambassador to Asgard for the US because he’s both Canadian and dead.

Meghan: He can’t be worse than Trump, I guess.

Also, does this mean we’d get T-Swift as FLOTUS?

He wears green robes
I wear normal clothes
He’s Asgardian…See More

Alex: That’s going to be in my head all day, now.

Brett: Ok, with that earworm we’re wrapping it up. What about you readers? Would you vote for Loki? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: Team Cap or Team Iron Man and Why?

JLA Roundtable rawSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

This week it’s a simple question, Team Cap or Team Iron Man? Most importantly, why?

Janine: Here’s my “review” which is obviously all wiseassery, but I stand by my final judgement #teamironman

“Captain America: World Police was pretty good. I don’t love that they let the third Olsen twin into the Justice League any more than I like Jeremy Re…See More

Brett: I saw you post that and was howling with laughter.

Janine: Lol, yay! I also feel like Captain is the superman of Marvel, and I’m not one for Superman.

Elana: Cap is not suposed to be Superman though. He’s a product of NYC and a specific left wing politics. Here’s my fave explanation (as explained by our guest this week, Steven Attewell)

PS I love your review Janine.

Troy: Team Cap. That the government would assume it has tactical or moral superiority to decide action on super natural and super human threats to me is a dangerous ignorance. To quote the impeccable Nick Fury . “I decided not to argue with the God who did.” When arguing about Thor’s decision to take the Tesseract. That to me encapsulates the folly of the Sokovia accords.

Ashley: I honestly came out of the movie down the middle. In the case of the MCU, the Avengers do need oversight, but the Sokovia Accords honestly did not seem to be the right way to go about it. Perhaps I should just say “Team Black Panther.”

Troy: I think a lot of the lingering questions left in Civil War set up Black Panther perfectly. I am very curious about how the insular Wakanda would deal with a super-powered incursion, proposed oversight, or even espionage. Politically BP’s involvement in the MCU conflict made me curious, as did his actions during AvX. “Not in my backyard” politics is always a one way, hyprocritical endeavour and when you tick off a country with as big of a stick as you yield, it always invites reprisal. But yes whatever side the movie made you land on….these themes may not be over just yet.

Ryan: Team neither one. I know I’m in a minority with this view, but I don’t feel like “Civil War” did much to address the underlying reasons behind the philosophical rift in any meaningful way. The differences played out like a plot device to separate the heroes into two “camps” for the purposes of fighting each other, which is fine as far as it goes, but didn’t give me enough by way of an emotional or intellectual reason to firmly side with either group.

Brett: I reread the comic after seeing the film and it completely changed my view of the comic, it actually was much more focused on the issue itself, unlike the film which I think is more like you describe. Plus, there’s a line about killing Goliath that is so dark and different reading it today versus 2006.

Elana: I think you are largely right Ryan. The movie was not about politics. The movie was about interpersonal relationships. I enjoyed it none the less. But it is not a political debate established in the movie. Since the debate in the comics wasn’t exactly well written I’m not sure how to think about that.

Ryan: Here’s my full review of the film for anyone even remotely interested.

Madison: I see both sides to the argument–while I get the desire for oversight, it would also, in theory, not work for a lot of the reasons Cap listed. What I’m more interested in are Tony’s motivations. I saw a post that slammed him for starting this whole fight over a child being killed in Sokovia and then dragging another child into the mix without telling him the hows or whys. I think this was more about Tony growing more and more desperate to find a fix for his grief and his guilt, because throwing money at things can work for so long. I’d like to propose that they postpone Infinity War so everyone can go to therapy and deal with their grief in a healthy way. (Because, arguably, that’s kind of what motivates Cap, too.)

I’m probably reading way too much into this, but I also don’t want to think that the Russos would be lazy enough to write Tony off as so “who gives a crap” about children.

Ashley: Tony’s obviously got some PTSD he’s not properly dealing with.

Steven: Although I may be bias since I write under the surname Steve Roger I am team Cap. Steve Roger’s is the ultimate do gooder, he won’t do something that’s not right. Unfortunately sometimes there are casualties that’s what happens in war ( which is very unfortunate). Hawkeye is the same way as is the falcon and scarlet witch…..ant-man is interesting since he is a former felon but has good ideals. The world is safer when super heroes are free to take care of any major threats that are out there. I think Tony stark is way out of line

Sarah: Team Bruce Banner: I’ll be in Madripoor doing something useful until all you idiots work out your issues.

Brett: And Thor is off getting drunk in Asgard.

Alex: I wouldn’t say no if Thor offered me some mead.

Brett: I would. I’ve read too many stories where that goes off the rails.

Alex: Touche

Elana: I’m sure we will dig in to this more on our next episode of the podcast with Amanda Marcott, but honestly I found the whole #TeamCap vs #TeamIronman to be insulting. It is good marketing. But it makes the fight trite. Either you believe its a debate between two serious political positions or it’s a debate that destroys a friendship and the lives of others (Rhodey!).

Alex: As a marketing tool, it’s great. But I agree with you when you say it reduces the impact of the choices within the movie. Both sides have their merits, and by suggesting a choice between either Cap or Iron Man you’re not acknowledging that.

Elana: But we really concluded that ultimately this movie is about a conflict between characters based on their relationships and not based on their ideologies. I’m not going to compare Cap’s pain to Tony’s pain. They all have pain. I just want everyone to hug it out now.

Madison: I totally agree! In the end it seemed like the Accord stuff was surface level, but in reality everyone was trying to figure out how to work out their grief, and doing it badly.

Elana: as someone who lives for politics it is disappointing that the movie refused to actually take politics seriously. Luckily I enjoy watching men work out their feelings — and that is largely what this movie delivered on beyond the wonderful set piece fight scenes. God the fight scenes were good!

Madison: Black Panther’s triple kick was one of my favorite things. I wish Supergirl had the budget for Civil War’s fight coordinators.

Elana: Of course in the comics its Team Cap all the way because Iron Man was freaking fascist and despicable. And the accords as written in the comics were way over the top beyond Sekovia Accords in the movies.

Alex: I felt that the movie did a better job making Tony’ pro-registration position more understandable than the comics. I found myself agreeing a lot with Black Widow when she said (paraphrased) “sign it, and then fight the good fight. Ignore them then.”

John: Oh man, I have so many feelings about this.

What I love about the comic version of the conflict (although I understand there’s a lot of critique), is that there’s many nuances, but one perspective is that it’s about ends and means. To be more than reductive, I (and many progressives) tend to reject the “ends justify the means” argument. But what Tony and Reed and others are trying to posit isn’t about process, it’s that they can all come to only one conclusion after the reality show disaster–terrible violence and horror.

To answer the question more directly, I remain Team Cap always and forever, but I can’t help but be troubled by the idea that it might be a principled but actually-heartless move–what if pursuing the “most free” choice also happens to ignore the actual safety and security of entire worlds?

Brett: There is something very “American foreign policy” about it when you put it that way.


But to be a little bit more apples to apples, I think the better analogy might be gun control, although that obviously grossly dehumanizes super- and metahumans.

Brett: Just invade Latveria after loose connections between Doom and Hydra are a slam dunk according to SHIELD.

John: Brett “Mission Accomplished!”

Brett: “You’re doing a heck of a job Fury.”


Brett: Fury Heck of a JobAnd with that, we wrap up this discussion! Sound off with what you think below in the comments readers.

Sunday Roundtable: How dangerous are stereotypes in comics?

JLA Roundtable stereotypeSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

How dangerous are stereotypes in comics? Can you think of some examples where they were used well? What examples make you cringe?

Daphne: I know that coming from the black trans girl this is going to sound odd, but I think that in some cases – very specific cases – stereotypes in comics aren’t as dangerous as they are in other mediums.

I could be speaking from a place of ignorance as I distanced myself from comics for such a long time due to the aggressive gatekeeping, but sometimes I see something super blatantly offensive and stereotypical and instead of being upset I start laughing. Like, the idea that someone in the world is backward and ignorant enough to think real people talk or act that way just strikes me as really funny sometimes.

Lately I’ve noticed comics genuinely trying to be better about race, even if it comes off really hamfisted and they usually backtrack right away because customers whine, but trans characters are showing up more and they’re the ones that are getting the brunt of the offensive treatment. Dialogue is more the culprit than art direction in my experience, but it’s definitely there. And I don’t mean to say that Racism In Comics Is Over or something – what I DO think is that racism is more subtle now in terms of writing out or killing off characters who aren’t white, because those old artistic stereotypes look as ancient and laughable as they are, and it’s easier to spot transphobia or homophobia through the language and visual queues of the medium.

So what I think is happening is that visual stereotypes are dying out in mainstream comics and we’re moving more toward ignorance, well-intentioned or otherwise, that isn’t outwardly stereotypical but is much more damaging.

Alex: Yeah, I agree with you there. I think that ignorance has the potential to be far more damaging than an overtly stereotypical trope.

Javier: Alex’s timing on this topic is impeccable. I’ve been trying to get through Sonny Liew’s 300 page graphic novel: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. I’m about 2/3s the way through, and I’m aiming for a long review hopefully within a few days. It’s a fantastic book (published by Pantheon, same outfit that published Art Spiegelman’s Maus). In the early chapters there are references to Osamu Tezuka. I had heard of his manga work (most notably Astro Boy), but I’ve never read it; and then late at night I got onto surfing the web and Amazon, and decided to buy one or two of his books. I settled on ‘The New Treasure Island’ (because it was suppose to be his debut work) and Buddha Vol. 1 (because I’m into Eastern Philosophy).

To my surprise, I could not find an English version of ‘The New Treasure Island’ nowhere, not even on Ebay. All I could find were Japanese, Korean, and Spanish (from a Barcelona Publishing House) versions–and rumors of a French version. Lucky for me I can read En Espanol, and sent away for it. It was a bit pricey with shipping and handling from a European third party seller.

About two weeks later (this morning to be exact), the book arrived. It looked innocent enough, and I started to read it. About half way through, I came upon these images, and was like … oh … that’s why this book will never see the light of day State Side.

I kept reading it, but now I had mixed feelings. I did not walk away believing that Tezuka was trying to be offensive or discriminatory; everything I read about him so far was positive and I feel comfortable saying there probably isn’t a racist bone in his body. At the same time, I cringe every time I look at those drawings. The book even has an epilogue by the publisher that serves as both an apologetic and rationale for their decision to publish this book. It argues that Tezuka is a world renowned artist, whose work is studied and pored over by academics, and as his debut work it is an important historical artifact that should not be judged by today’s eyes. I agree with that. Furthermore, censorship is a slippery slope.

What’s ironic is that I learned that this book (it has a very detailed introduction and epilogue, together with excerpts from Tezuka’s diary) was out of print even in Japan for a number of years. Also, Tezuka was not supportive of its republication, since the original publishing was a bastardized 180 pages of his original 250 page manuscript. Then later in the mid 1980s he agreed to have it republished as part of a collection of his complete works. The original manuscript (which was publish in post WWII Japan 1948) was no longer extant, so from memory he redrew the work, so it could be made available again to his fans.

I thought it was well handled by the publisher, but still, I cringed. It will probably go on my shelf not to be opened again.

Brett: My thing with stereotypes is I think writers often rely on them out of laziness. They have trouble creating an interesting and unique character, so fall back on them.

Javier: Maybe, but I also think some writers produce what is expected of them, and cater to the market. I picked up this week’s issue of Defender (CBLDF) and they had an interview with Reginald Hudlin, discussing the resurrection of Milestone Media ( Milestone 2.0). One of their titles from 1993 was Blood Syndicate. I remember thinking it was cool back then. Also around that time “gang” movies were popular with the likes of Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, and Juice. Blood Syndicate I’m sure was a result of those then trending 90s films. Now that I’m a little older, I’m like why did they have to be a “gang” instead of just another super team? I’m looking forward to see what Milestone does in its latest iteration, but if they bring back a stereotypical character like Tech-9 (a gang leader), is that progress?

Madison: I sometimes think we’re slipping into a new set of stereotypes.
Like, okay, everybody knows we’ve had years of terrible representation of female characters in comics, and while I do genuinely think it’s getting better (slowly, but supplemented by the sheer volume of creator-owned work out now) there are some other trends I’ve noticed lately. First, I feel like a lot of mainstream books with female MCs are kind of…not dumbed-down, but almost…cutesy-fied. This isn’t to say that the books being put out now aren’t fun or are without merit, but I’m struggling to think of even one mainstream book that has the same level of “gritty” or whatever you want to call it as, say, Midnighter.

The other thing is that I think the Strong Female Character (TM) is kind of its own stereotype now. While stories about women punching things are always fun to read, I think people who write only these kinds of women are falling into a trap. Strong doesn’t always mean physically strong, it means a well-rounded character with a developed personality and interests besides butt-kickery. It’s a prevalent stereotype or trope or whatever, but the danger of both of the above is debatable.

Elana: That’s why I like All New Wolverine. We need some female characters who are easy to access— good for all ages too. But we need troubled female leads too. We need all kinds of female characters.

Our culture is shaped by the media we consume. This is a fact. And the media we consume impacts real world policies. Like it’s well known that Vice President Biden said that his exposure to gay couples in TV like Will and Grace helped him decide to be pro marriage equality.

Of course stereotypes are a problem in comics. They dehumanize people. If a reader has the self knowledge to not be offended by them, to just brush them off that’s fine but I doubt that reader is going to buy that comic. And those stereotypes have a real harmful effect on both the people who are stereotyped and the people who read them and internalize them because they don’t know any better. There have been studies showing how kids in particular are harmed by exposure to racist media. Kids are hungry for representations of themselves in media. Seeing yourself in the stories you consume confirms that you are seen by others. That other people treat you as fully human.

Stereotypes make you less than.

That’s not to say that every character has to run against stereotype. I want brainy, wordy Jewish, big haired Kitty Pryde from Chicago because that’s someone I recognize in my own life as a brainy, wordy Jewish person with big hair living in Brooklyn. But if someone wrote her as greedy, penny pinching, with grotesque facial features that would be really fucked up.

As Brett points out stereotypes are also bad writing. Look at Luke Cage when he’s given cheesy dialog written by a white guy who probably doesn’t know any actual black men from Harlem? It’s bad. Compare it to David F Walker writing Cage with knowledge, life experience and cultural competency? Guess which is a better comic.

Alex: Both Brett and Elana make an excellent point; many stereotypes are perpetuated by a writers ignorance of the person/culture/subject matter.

While sometimes a stereotype can be used to great effect (on a personal level, I do drink my body weight in tea everyday, something my friends attribute to my Englishness), it’s important to recognise that there’s a very fine line that is far too often crossed, whether because of bad writing or ignorance.

Ryan: Here’s the sad truth — how dangerous are stereotypes in comics? Only as dangerous as a stereotype perpetuated within a very small community of readers can be. I think we fool ourselves into thinking that comics have a wider cultural impact than they do simply because of the success comics-based properties continue to have in Hollywood, but by then they’ve usually — hopefully! — been stripped of any intentionally (or even accidentally and/or marginally) offensive nonsense. Stereotypes in comics WERE a shit-storm of nastiness for decades, but to say they STILL have much of a negative impact, we’d need to have more than 75,000-100,000 comic book readers left in the English-speaking world. And we don’t. Shit, that number might even be generous.

Madison: I’m sure they have something of an impact among comic readers, but I think stereotypes in writing are far more indicative of wider held cultural beliefs (that, yeah, can be dangerous) than danger from the comics themselves.

I don’t think I agree that stereotypes are stripped from the narrative by the time they reach Hollywood, though. Daredevil uses quite a few stereotypes, especially in season one.

Elana: Madison I’d say more so in season 2, what with the ninjas and inscrutable Asian femme fatale

Madison: I STILL haven’t finished season two, I’m horrible at binge watching, but I have heard that about it.

Ryan: Season one certainly reinforced the stereotype that mentally ill people are dangerous, given d’Onofrio’s curious choice to portray the Kingpin as essentially bipolar; season two layered it on even thicker with the already-mentioned tropes, as well as “combat vets are dangerous psychopaths” and “European women are inherently mysterious but ultimately untrustworthy.” It’s a veritable kettle of lame cliches, some more offensive than others, but because it has the Marvel Studios label attached to it, guess what? It gets a pass.

Madison: There were a lot of “villainous Asian” stereotypes too. Both of the Big Two definitely get a lot of passes in regards to that kind of critique.

Ryan: What perplexes me most is how much of a pass “Daredevil” gets for being a dark, gritty, humorless, ultra-violent bloodbath. One of the biggest criticisms of “Batman V. Superman” is how “dark” it was — which I don’t disagree with — but “Daredevil” is at least ten times darker, and many of the same people who hated “Batman Vs. Superman” for that reason just loooooove “Daredevil” and don’t seem to be bothered by their own hypocrisy in the least.

Madison: That’s one of the reasons I can’t binge watch it–there’s not a lot (if any) levity in the show. It’s technically very well done! But I could also probably count the number of times characters smile on two hands.

I also found that to be true with Jessica Jones, but thought that was draining to watch for totally different reasons.

Brett: Ryan, there’s a double standard by fans when it comes to DC and Marvel live action output. Don’t even get me started on that crap. What I see makes my head explode.

Ryan: I found “Jessica Jones” terribly offensive — talk about shit stereotypes, Luke Cage is portrayed as a sexually insatiable African-American man, Jones herself is a cipher for the sickening argument that mental and physical rape somehow make you a “stronger” person, it’s flat-out horrendous.

Brett the double standard is no accident, I address it in my BvS review, there’s an obvious DIs/Mar-orchestrated “whisper campaign” in full effect against the film, it’s made $800 million in three weeks and is being called a “failure” at the box office — it’s amazing the PR work that people are willing to do for Disney for free.

Madison: I see what you’re saying but that’s not really how I read her character because it never seemed to me like she did come out “stronger” from anything she went through.

Ryan: Maybe by the time it’s over I would agree with you, but to be honest I quit after episode 10. One day I might go back and finish it.

Brett: And that wraps up another discussion! What about you readers? What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

Sunday Roundtable: What run or comic series do you think is overrated?

JLA Roundtable comics overratedSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

Last week we discussed what series we thought were underrated. This week is the opposite. What run or comic series do you think is overrated?

Alex: I think you’ll open up a can of worm here, mate.

Brett: I expect it.

Alex: But for myself? Any of the big events from the Big Two since the mid 2000’s. They’re churned out so frequently now (especially at Marvel) that I just roll my eyes when they come around – and then wait to see if they’re worth reading because I’m curious if this one was the exception to my general feeling that they’re a waste of time and money.

Elana: agreed. strongly.

Brett: Yeah, most events start strong then quickly get derailed.

Alex: I think the best event I’ve read in years was Book Of Death. I’m genuinely excited for 4001 AD this summer, which surprises me greatly.

Elana: more like there is little to no true artistic vision behind them. The pinnacle of event comics was 52 (not New 52, but 52). It’s been downhill since .

Alex: I’ve never read 52

Alex: Just too big/long a commitment at a time when I could barely afford to eat.

Madison: Honestly, The Dark Knight Returns. It’s really inaccessible, especially to new comic readers. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I read it for the first time but I thought that there were too many lines of plot going on and the structure made it difficult to get through and stick with. I guess I get why it’s iconic, but it’s definitely not my favorite Batman story.

I’m also more than a little bitter that this is the version of Batman that filmmakers seem to be drawing inspiration from most now, because I don’t think it’s the best or most interesting version of the character. It’s interesting as an interpretation of Batman but I’m not sure it’s the truest version of the character.

Ryan: Chris Claremont‘s entire X-Men run. Honestly, there’s no way to sugar-coat this, it’s garbage from start to finish. Angst-ridden, melodramatic twenty-somethings who talk — and think God, how many panels are drowned out out by thought bubbles! — like emotionally retarded 16-year-olds, all starring in a years-long “Alien” remake. None of it is any good.

Elana: Rather then pushing back (because I hear you actually, I don’t agree but I hear you)– I want to ask what you think of Peter David‘s 90s X-Factor (if you read it).

xfactorJavier: Damn you for posting. I think it’s the third time I’ve seen you post on David’s run on X-Factor. I couldn’t sleep any way, so I hit the archives to see what I had. I vaguely remember his run on X-Factor. I found I still have issues 60 – 75 (and for some reason I have two copies of both 70 and 71). I always thought he came on at 71, but I see him credited on 70. Fabian Nicieza gets credited on 69 (with help). Also, check out the tag line on top: All-New All-Different. Where have we seen that lately? Gonna reread 71 – 75 since that looks like a complete arc. If it puts me to sleep then no comment …

Not bad. Still Holds. I don’t think he could get away with some of the humor from back then today (Guido Strong Man, Gee Cees, the political commentary on Bush and Ted Kennedy). This arc was a funny entertaining metaphysical whodunnit with Multiple Man. Guidos opening in 71, “Ya got some grey poupon?”, made me laugh.

Ryan: I read it for maybe a year, so I’m not qualified to comment on the entire run.

Elana: Javier the whole thing w GeeCees is pretty elementary political commentary but it works on the simple level it sets out to achieve. I absolutely think the run holds up as fun comics. The art is dated. But I didn’t like the art even then. I also appreciate a comic that knows who Ted Kennedy even is. Though I bet it was a painful Chapaquidick joke, wasn’t it. sighhhh

Javier: Batman: A Death in the Family. I can’t figure out how this arc keeps making it onto lists of greatest Batman stories ever told. I’ll admit, when it originally came out, I was swept by the hoopla, and dialed the 1-900 number (for a nominal 50 cent fee to take part in Batman and Robin ‘history’). I was young and naive once too. Re-read it not too long ago (I have the originals and a cheap tpb), and it just doesn’t hold up. Joker ends up the ambassador to Iran, and Superman tries to step in to prevent Bats from killing the Joker. The last straw: surprise, Jason Todd is miraculously back amongst the living with us today! I want my 50 cents back for false advertising.

Elana: I was disappointed by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean‘s Arkham Asylum. It’s not bad. But with that talent it should be better than it is. Maybe I should re-read…

Identity Crisis is awful. But I think a lot of folks agree with me on that.

Logan: Dan Slott‘s Spider-Man stuff. I thought Superior Spider-Man was a clever idea, but it was way too drawn out. It seems like he either wants to write Batman (Amazing Spider-Man currently) or Doctor Who (Silver Surfer), but thankfully no one will let him.

Madison: I’ve really enjoy him taking on people who are jerks about Superman on Twitter, though.

Logan: While being a jerk to my friends though Thank goodness for the block button though.

Brett: I liked his Superior Spider-Man. It went too long though and we all knew the eventual outcome. I will give Slott some credit in that he’s taken concepts which shouldn’t work and made something of them.

Alex: I really enjoyed Superior over all. Maybe four or five issues too long, but it was a fun year.

Brett: Yeah, it felt about an arc/arc and a half too long.

For me, it’s a lot of Grant Morrison stuff. His DC work I think is just generally not new reader friendly and the concepts are more interesting than the execution.

Javier: I think he is becoming another one of those writers that sells his name to give other works more credibility. If he writes it himself, it’s usually pretty good. First thing I can remember reading of his, was his run on Doom Patrol. A lot of the art references were above my head at the time, but I recall enjoying his writing, and then following his work til this day. But now I’m seeing his name thrown onto projects, that at best after reading, prove his involvement was tangential. Latest case, he is credited on Graphic India’s 18 Days. Major disappointment.

Ryan: Morrison confounds and confuses me. His work that I like — Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, Animal Man, Annihilator — I love. His stuff that falls flat — Seven Soldiers, Aztek, Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis — really falls flat. I appreciate his ambition, frequently, more than his execution. “Multiversity” was the best example of this in microcosm one could hope to see — two issues of it were among the very best things he’s ever done; the rest were far less than spectacular. If you want the brutal truth, much as he seems to love writing about super-heroes, the best super-hero work he did was the first — the first three books of his series Zenith ( the fourth was a mess, so forget it if you’re tracking them down). That series introduced all the major themes he’s been tackling — minus the fourth-wall-busting — within the genre ever since, and does so with a fresh, bold inquisitiveness that his work soon lost. I would say The Invisibles is his one true masterpiece, but for strictly super-hero stuff, it’s all been a “diminishing returns” version of the first comics story he ever wrote.

Elana: Final Crisis was a serious disappointment for me. And I’m not just saying that because he killed my beloved New Gods. Morrison’s best however is among the best comics of the modern age. I LOVE Seven Soldiers. I think its very overlooked. I guess that comment would go in last week’s thread.

Brett: His Final Crisis I thought was almost unreadable if you didn’t know a decent amount of DC history.

Elana: Brett I know a lot of DC history and even with that its just not a story that cares about its characters. And I am actually ok with some art that doesn’t care about its characters if the structure or language or visuals are brilliant enough to offset it. But that wasn’t the case here.

Ryan: Here’s what bugs me most about Morrison, and maybe I shouldn’t even let a statement like this affect my opinion of him, but dammit, since his “magickal” theorizing is so central to his overall body of work, I think it applies — if you read Super Gods, you’ll see that he states that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster didn’t actually create Superman. He says that it was this powerful idea that was just sort of floating through the ether that certain “attuned” minds could tap into, and Nietzche and others did so before them. Basicaly he’s saying they weren’t creators, but conduits for an ages-old idea. So for all his pseudo-“mystical” posturing, Morrison is perhaps, at his core, a “company man,” since this goofy notion actually buttresses DC’s claims of ownership to the character in perpetuity — after all, if Siegel and Shuster didn’t CREATE Superman, what claim could their families have to actually OWNING the character? On the one hand I “get” what he’s saying on a “higher dimensional” (or whatever), level, but on the other, it’s a giant slap in the face to Superman’s creators and a pretty forced rationalization for why it was okay for DC to fuck them over.

Elana: Ryan duuuuude!!!

Brett: And with that mic drop, it’s a good point to wrap up this discussion. What about you readers? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: What run or comic series do you love and feel like nobody else read?

JLA Roundtable comics to readSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

What run or comic series do you love and that you feel like nobody else read? What made you enjoy it?

Logan: I always felt like the only one reading the Bravest Warriors comics even though the cartoon is super popular, and Catbug is literally everywhere!

I loved the book b/c it featured a queer character in an all ages book, really expanded on the cartoon’s mythology (especially with Catbug’s backstory), had nice pop culture riffs on stuff like The Great Gatsby and Pacific Rim, and Ian McGinty‘s art is animation translated to the comics page.

Daphne: I loved Bravest Warriors! I’ve been catching up on the comics by buying the collections Comixology sells whenever they go on sale. I am a few volumes behind I think but it’s such a fun series.

Daphne: Bone, by Jeff Smith. I know it’s actually critically acclaimed and it did get Jeff a decent amount of press and attention, but it feels criminally underrated and forgotten to me. It’s this amazing mixture of high fantasy and Peanuts-style character interaction, with these really believable and real-feeling characters caught up in a fantasy war with rat creatures, dragons, a sentient locust swarm, undead, and ghosts. But it never loses sight of the heart of the story, which is the eight or nine characters we follow all through the plot. It was how I discovered comic books as a little girl and it is a really important and special series to me. I hate that so few people seem to have read it.

Javier: This is the kind of stuff I used to buy for my kids, but secretly was really for me. Scholastic reprinted these a few years back, and I bought my son the entire set.

Alex: Ha, most of the superhero stuff I love is, I feel underrated, but ‘ll start with C.O.W.L. It’s a series written by Kyle Higgins, set in the 60s (or so) where the city of Chicago’s unionized superhero outfit is about to go on strike as they try to negotiate a new contract with the mayor’s office. The problem? They’re so good at what they do that they’re not needed anymore…

This 11 issue series ignited my interest in exploring the concept of superheroing as a paid occupation, corruption, and the nature of power. It’s fantastic, and needs some love.

Brett: I started reading that one and stopped. I should definitely go back and see what I missed.

Paul: The New Warriors, the original run. I loved the original line up, and the new additions that came and went. It was so 90s and it was great. Young teen heroes, turned away by the established teams so they form up and show them how it’s done. And they had some great villains; Psionex, Mad Thinker (who actually helped these kids learn about themselves), Folding Circle, The Sphinx, Force of Nature…so many great stories. I think this is the only title were I bought every single issue, #1-#75 and annuals. I still pull the box out and read through the run. It really stuck with me and still is one of my favourite books (not including the unfortunate relaunches).

Alex: I enjoyed the most recent relaunch with Scarlet Spider, to be honest.

Paul: It started out pretty good..but I couldn’t stick with it after the talking dog and cat beings from Wundagore. There was potential though…I did enjoy Scarlet Spider and Hummingbird

Alex: Heh, I actually enjoyed those quite a bit. I’d read them all on Marvel Unlimited after plowing through some Moon Knight from the 2006 run, and they were a nicely pleasant change.

Paul: I’m glad someone enjoyed it smile emoticon

Alex: If you liked the way Scarlet Spider was written, you should check out the 25 odd issue run by the same writer. It’s fantastic

Paul: I would love to see the originals in a new run…older, 3 ex Avengers (Justice, Firestar, Speedball), bring back Turbo, rescue Alex Power from the Future Foundation…boom, you got a book tongue emoticon

Alex: I’d be interested in that, and I never read the originals

Elana: I like the idea of villains helping young heroes understand themselves. Any idea roughly which issues that was?

Ryan: How about Alan Moore‘s totally under-appreciated run on WildC.A.T.S.? Even with all the quality creator-owned stuff coming out of Image these days, I still maintain that this is the best-written run of any Image title. It sold well, but like a lot of the stuff that came out at that time, people bought it, but never actually bothered to read it. That’s a real shame because while this won’t leap-frog V For Vendetta or From Hell or Watchmen (or Providence, his best series in decades) on anyone’s list of favorite Moore comics, it’s a thoroughly engaging, imaginative, stylish, and dare I say even modestly ambitious run of issues that are richly deserving of critical re-appraisal and a far more considered examination by anyone so inclined.

Brett: I think Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s run in Wildcats 3.0 was even better. That’s a run that’s woefully overlooked and so ahead of its times. It had the team more as a corporation dealing with not just powered villains but the oil lobby.

Elana: Need to read both of those! There was a lot of creative work by top writers in the Wildstorm universe.

One of the comics I would include here as an overlooked great would be the Wildstorm summer special of 2001.

There’s Hawksmoore parkour, Zealot in a beautiful silent piece stealing apples, a hilarious bit with The Engineer’s dating woes that includes what HAD been the iconic Midnighter moment until his solo series.

I referenced it in my review of Midnighter. Apparently he wears his mask even when he’s hanging around their headquarters in an undershirt and underwear. And ironing clothes.

Elana: Grant Morrison and Jae Lee‘s “Fantastic Four” 1,2,3,4. I’ve only met one other person who’s read it. I LOVED his take on the characters. He seems to be the only person to ever care about Sue’s psychology. The art is really sexy when it needs to be (ie when Namor shows up to seduce Sue). His Alicia Masters is smart. Ben Grimm’s dialog about becoming the Thing makes me cry. The art is beautiful and moody and the book is a tightly put together package of “Oh, so this is how the fantastic four works” written for modern readers.

Alex: That sounds like it might be interesting. When did they come out?

Paul: Sounds very interesting

Elana: 2001-2002. It was in the Marvel Knights imprint. There was one issue dedicated to each member.

Alex: Interesting. I may try and find those issues if it’s only the four

Elana: Alex they are in a tiny trade paperback.

Alex: Awesome! I’m heading to the comic shop anyway later today so I’ll check for them

Ryan: I read it, but don’t remember it striking much of a cord. Guess I’ll have to dig out my back issues and give it another look —

Javier: Kirby‘s Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. I’m on a bender trying to get every issue. I’m short an odd 17 issues. I don’t really remember how I got into this character. I was 8 years old when this series ended, and I didn’t start collecting til I was 14; but I had a few beat up issues in my collection. Much later I looked to buy the collected TPB, but much too late; and it is now out of print and sells at a premium. I did the math; and looking for the originals will cost about the same as buying the collected trades. I know it’s suppose to be a rip-off of the Planet of the Apes, but Kirby’s art and writing still holds. The idea of a “Great Disaster” that not even Superman was able to prevent is classic. I can’t figure out why it was cancelled so early, since everything I read on it said sales were good; and to this day, back issues sell cheaply (when you can find them).

Ryan: One of Kirby’s very best series — shoot, we could do a whole roundtable discussion on under-appreciated Kirby titles, from OMAC to Captain Victory to Silver Star to Devil Dinosaur to Black Panther to 2001 to Machine Man to his 1970s Captain America run — all are crackling with more ideas per page than any ten entire comics are today.

Elana: Ryan: let’s do it! Also the success of Adventure Time is def a reflection of Kamandi’s brilliance as a story

Christopher: I would have to say the lesser known Neil Gaiman works, that the now defunct Tekno Comix published; Mr Hero: The Pneumatic Man, Teknophage, and Lady Justice. The story is good, albeit a bit strange but, it is Neil Gaiman after all. I have found a few issues of each, but finding them in sequential order is a frustrating challenge. In addition to that I would have to say, Alan Moore‘s Fashion Beads run. Another weird, strange yet, detailed and wonderful story. I would say Grant Morrision’s six issue, Batman RIP run. Great story, and art.

Brett: I didn’t know any of those Gaiman comics. I’ll need to check them out.

Elana: Do Peter David‘s decades on X-Factor count as overlooked? It’s an incredibly long run that doesn’t seem well examined. I grew up on it.

Brett: I grew up on that run, a favorite of mine too!

Well, that’s a lot of good suggestions folks. What do you readers think? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: Do You Feel Pressure When Giving Advice to Friends?

JLA Roundtable adviceSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

There’s a concept known as influencers, these are people who are gone to when an individual needs advice. Do you think you’re the “geek” influencer in your social circle, and if so, do you feel responsibility in giving the right advice when asked a question?

Elana: Absolutely. And proud of it! I do my research when people ask.

One thing I’ve learned is that there is no right answer to the question “what, should I read?” You always need to find out what people’s tastes are in other forms of media before suggesting which comics they might be into

Alex: A lot of my friends have the same interests as me generally in terms of pop culture, books, movies etc. Some like comics, and have probably been reading longer than I have.

But I’d say I’m probably the person who is the most immersed in the comic book world…

Comics have become a part of who I am in a very intrinsic way; do I know everything about them? Do I bollocks. But I’ll still tell you what I loved and why. So when I’m asked for a recommendation for something, I’ll happily give the best one I can.

Elana: Most of my friends are geeks about something that’s in a traditionally geek-y domain. I’m just one of the designated comics experts. If you want to talk about video games you to to Chris or Mike. If you want horror films it’s my husband or Tait. Trek is Peng or Daisy (who are married to each other of course). And of course my friend GP contributor Steven Attewell is one of the leading experts on A Song of Ice and Fire in the world. So I do have other people to go to.

Alex: Yeah, I’ve got a few friends who love ASOIAF books, and while I tried to read them, I just couldn’t. It’s awesome having people who know the material when I have questions, so I’ve always tried to do the same for them with comics.

Paul: I definitely am. Comics, pop culture, general geekdom…I am my friends go to guy, and like Elana, proud of it. I don’t worry so much about giving the right advice; I just give my opinions and let them make their choices, But I try to steer them the right way tongue emoticon

Christopher: 9 times out of 10, I am, which I’m strangely proud of that. For the most part I don’t have uber geek friends, but those who are trying get into comics outside of the stream of movies from the big two. I try to ignore some of the pop culture stuff, like the soap opera with zombies, The Walking Dead. I’m still waiting on Game of Thrones to complete the books before getting into the show. Which a good chunk of my friends watch, without much knowledge of the books. I usually try to that opinion to myself, about that.

Madison: It depends on the social circle. I’ve been the sole comic reader in a group, which means the friends in that group get my biased recommendations. (Shoutout to my mom, who gets to listen to a lot of comic-based rants and has no context for understanding any of them. She’s the real hero, here.) However, I do enjoy hanging out with friends who read comics, because then it’s more of an even exchange of recommendations.

Being (relatively) new at comics, I don’t feel qualified to answer many questions correctly, so to speak. I do enjoy recommending things, though, and I’ll happily research to the best of my ability to fill gaps in my knowledge to suit someone else’s tastes.

Alex: Honestly, I think when it comes to giving recommendations on comics, so long as you’re honest there’s no wrong way to do it… and sod the people who think that just because you’re relatively new your opinion doesn’t carry as much weight as others.

Madison: I agree. I mean, I’m always going to be biased because I have writers and genres that I absolutely favor…the trick is finding people who share, if not exactly the same, then similar interests.

Alex: I think bias is healthy, though. I’d rather hear your honest opinion of a product than hear an emotionless response. If something made you angry, then I wanna know why.

Madison: In that case, would you rather have the twenty minute speech on Ant Man or Age of Ultron? Haha

Elana: Madison

what can't be both

Alex: Haha, I haven’t seen Ant-Man in awhile, so AoU, maybe.

Elana: Never to late for us to run another piece about AoU in advance of the new movie…

Javier: Unfortunately, as I got older, and moved from job to job, my social circle has shifted. I have friends who have geeky interests; but usually that centers on a movies or shows that are based on sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books I’ve read (obvious examples being Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and the Marvel Movies). I give my opinions when asked, and try to avoid spoilers; but as far as comic books and graphic novels go, I’m pretty much a lone wolf nowadays.

Brett: I actually feel some pressure. I know people are going to ask me how the latest comic movie is, so I feel like I need to see it opening night or watch all the shows.

Elana: People expect that of me. But I never do opening night. I always have to remind them of that. You are great at going to see everything so you can review it. If I think something is going to be bad, like the green lantern movie, I just don’t even go

Alex: Batman V Superman was the first time I’ve been to an opening night comic book movie in years. I’ve usually seen it within the first week, but rarely opening night.

Steven: For me in my inner circle of friends, i’m usually the guy they go to for sports advice or questions, but at work, my co-workers usually come to me with questions about comic books and questions about superhero shows. And ironically enough my best friend asked me today some questions about power rangers.

Brett: And what about you readers? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: Spider-Man’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pro or Con? Discuss!

2016-03-10_12_19_57.0Sundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

Spider-Man’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, pro or con? Discuss!

Troy: Pro: If this leads to more unification between studios where marvel’s properties are concerned I’m all for it!

Con: Character inflation. Civil War minus spidey already has a wide roster, and usually when this happens the story or film does not do each character justice. I know it pales by comparison, but please lets not forget the atrocity that was Mortal Kombat Annihilation. If Spider-Man is in the movie there should be a good reason, and not just done for shock value.

Mr. H: Very pro. Looks like he leaped right out of the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. I think we are going to get a great energetic performance. Plus it’s good slowly acclimate spidey to the MCU properly. I like the costume revamp as well. We are in for a good time especially with RDJ to play off of.

spider-man_civil_warSteven: I don’t think there are any cons in this. Spidey has always been a great character and I don’t think there is over inflation of characters as Spidey started the MCU with the movies starring tobey maguire. And the rest just blossomed into what we have today. With that said, Spidey has to be in civil war. He is an integral part in the comic version of civil which means he had to be in the movie version. Disney had no choice but to go out and get home from Fox anyway they could

Alex: I actually disagree with the thought that Spidey HAS to be in Captain America: Civil War. Yes, he’s integral to the comic story, but there’s no reason that Marvel or Disney had to approach Sony just to get him for the movie. Trying to be overly faithful to the comic arc will, I think, be more likely to end in disaster.

Is it a good thing the character will be appearing in the MCU now? Absolutely. But would Captain America: Civil War have suffered without Spider-Man? I don’t think so.

Mr. H: The big question will be is he going to be outted from the get go as Peter Parker, or is he a secret weapon? Either way I can’t wait for this now!

Steven: That depends I think on how the story goes. In the comic books the civil was was about registering the super heroes true identity for all to know…..its the movie it looks more like it’s about restrictions on what super heroes can actually do. If its true to the story book then you might see Peter if it’s the just about restrictions it might just be Spidey and not at all Peter Parker

Mr. H: I think it will be the Super Human Registration Act. Tony said they ran unchecked. That would only make sense.

Steven: Then it may include Peter parker

Andrew-Garfield-Spider-ManLogan: Pro: We haven’t seen any teen superheroes in the MCU, and he brings a refreshing, youthful perspective. Con: Once his solo movie rolls around, it will be the fourth Spider-Man in high school story, and it’s getting repetitive. Tbh, I hope he bites it and gets replaced by Miles Morales

Elana: Miles! miles! miles! Having Peter in yet another movie is stupid and wrong. And if they do yet another origin story my head will explode.

If in the year 2016 you do not know the origin of Spider-Man it is because you’ve chosen to not know the origin of Spider-Man.

Logan: Honestly, the only Peter Parker Spider-Man movie I’ll watch is if he’s married or a struggling middle aged science teacher/Stark employee.

Elana: Logan those sound awesome! Especially when he’s struggling with New York’s housing crisis

Logan: Take a dash of JMS’ Spidey, subtract the totem stuff, and add the recession and perfection!

Katherine: Elana I think they’ve already said that the new Spider Man movie isn’t going to be an origin story, so there’s that.

Daphne: Pro all the way. I don’t think there’s any cons to this. If Spidey is introduced in Civil War, hopefully the Marvel execs will realize they don’t have to waste time on an origin story and can just throw him into some adventures in his next films without wasting time feeding the audience his backstory, AGAIN. I maintain (despite tumblr arguments to the contrary) that people aren’t tired of Spider-Man, they’re just tired of half-assed, lazy storytelling Spider-Man. With the right writers anybody can be an amazing character – take it from somebody who had no idea a year ago how cool Daredevil could be. wink emoticon I’m so excited for Spider-Man and Black Panther, I really don’t see any drawbacks to their presence in Civil War.

Mr. H: Couldn’t agree more Daphne. Bring it on!

Ryan: Don’t care. Don’t understand all the hubub, either. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think The Amazing Spider-Man or its sequel were particularly great, but they didn’t strike me as being in any way, shape, or form appreciably different from Marvel Studios product, either. In fact, I’ll bet any sum you’d care to wager that if those flicks had the “Sony” label scrubbed off them and replaced with a “Marvel Studios” one, almost everyone who trashed them would have thought they were great. The Dis/Mar “whisper campaign” against them was amazingly successful — for the price of a few free passes to a few well-placed internet “opinion makers,” they were able to spin a $90 million opening weekend for “Amazing Spider-Man 2” as a box office disaster and convince everybody that the film was some sort of artistic failure even though it was absolutely indistinguishable from the so-called “MCU” films stylistically. If everybody’s into seeing a CGI Spidey suit team up with a CGI Iron Man suit and a CGI HUlk suit to fight some CGI aliens with CGI explosions going off in the background, then by all means, enjoy it and have fun. Of far more concern to me than who’s PRODUCING the “Spider-Man” flicks is who’s GETTING PAID for them. To date, Steve Ditko has never received a dime from any of them despite, ya know, creating the character. And that’s not likely to change no matter who holds the film rights.

Madison: I’m pretty ambivalent about Spidey in the MCU. The marketing for Civil War has made it feel less and less like a Cap film with the multitude of characters in this one. I think, and this was one of my issues with Ant-Man, was that they had a chance to diversify their lineup but didn’t. There’s no reason that Spider-Man has to be Peter Parker or that Peter Parker has to be white. When Spider-Man is released through Marvel Studios, is it going to be the same movie they’ve released twice already? I don’t find it particularly compelling, but maybe that’s just me.

Elana: With you 100000%. They are being small minded and leaving money on the table by keeping the cast so white in the face of a successful brown superhero character

Madison: One thing that made me really bitter toward Ant-Man–I thought the story would have had a MUCH bigger impact if Scott had been a person of color getting a second chance.

Brett: I’m a bit with Ryan on this one. I don’t want to go through my long list of apprehensions (which includes what Madison has to say), but:
1) There’s the continuity issue and having Spider-Man in this universe the character and his world become a part of the Marvel universe that’s starting to show cracks with having to deal with all of these interconnected characters.
2) I think the Sony Spider-Man films are a bit like DC in that it’s cool to hate on them. But the numbers speak for themselves. On average they made $793 million a piece, none below $708 million. Marvel’s average is $757 million a movie. Take out the two Avengers and it drops to $616 million. Spider-Man didn’t do so bad.

So going by the numbers, it’s clear that no, there wasn’t an issue with Spider-Man. People paid a hell of a lot of money to see the five films, more than they’ve paid on average to see Marvel’s (that’s without inflation adjustments too). I agree with Ryan, this has been an amazing whisper campaign to spook Sony and get them to blink. I’d love to know how those rumors popping up aligned with meetings between the two companies.

The reason Marvel wanted Spider-Man? Licensing is my guess. No idea what the deal they have with Sony is, but Spider-Man is by far the top earning comic property out there. It crushes the competition. My gut says this all has more to do with that than about any movie, because when it comes to those numbers, Spidey destroys the rest of Marvel’s slate.

don-t-want-to-see-another-dead-uncle-ben-jpeg-262940Madison: Just…how many times must Uncle Ben die. Marvel could be making even more money with Spider-Man, because I’d pay extra to not have to watch Uncle Ben die. In all seriousness, though, I really enjoyed TASM and I don’t totally understand the hate.

Mr. H: I’m all for Miles Morales in the MCU. If they have Balls they will do it, in the meantime I’m just smiling that I feel Spidey will be done justice on the big screen. Good point though.

Brett: I think it was beyond a failure to not go with Miles for these films. That film would do a billion easy. But, as far as what has come out, forget the sequels, the first film of each set absolutely did the character justice. I don’t see what Marvel could do differently.

Mr. H: Well Spider-Man 2 is one of the greatest superhero films ever. Doc Ock. Spidey. Near perfect. But Spidey like Batman is generational. Time to wipe out those last two films

Brett: I actually wasn’t a fan of the second one. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t love it as much as others did.

Mr. H: To me that movie was like a Stan Lee and John Romita masterpiece on screen. John Romita Sr. Is the best Spider-Man artist of all time in my opinion.

Brett: Yeah, there were parts I definitely liked, but overall I think the first was better. Just a personal thing.

Mr. H: I loved Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin. Just hated the suit design. He was brilliant as Norman Osborn though.

Brett: Yeah, I got back and forth on the suit design. Why it existed made sense, but it didn’t completely blow me away.

Mr. H: I think they should have went with a more chain mail style appearance like from Humberto Ramos art. But definitely keep the goblinesque mask but make it have expression. Loved the glider too.

Ryan: I have to respectfully disagree with the opinion stated upthread that Romita is the best Spider-Man artist of all time. His work is fine, but lacks, in my opinion, the personality of Ditko’s work. If you look at those Ditko issues, Peter Parker was almost always on the brink of either a complete nervous breakdown or some sort of apocalyptic revelation, and often over the smallest things. He was a lonely outsider fighting to save people that he felt intrinsically alienated from. The minute Ditko left the book, Peter Parker became a stereotypical square-jawed hero who almost always got the girl — and just happened to like science a little bit. I don’t think Peter Parker has been anything like an interesting character since Ditko stopped drawing — and, who are we kidding, writing — him.

Brett: Oooo this could be a debate for another time. Hell, could just be a fun feature.

Ryan: I’m not out to denigrate anyone’s opinion — if you like Romita better, fine. Cool. Art is subjective. But I think it’s undeniable that Peter Parker’s character changed irrevocably, and was taken in a far more traditional super-heroic direction, when Ditko left the book. Others may like that change, and that’s fine, but for my money it resulted in a hopelessly dulled-down character.

Brett: I didn’t think you were. Everyone has their opinions on good runs and what they do and don’t like.

Mr. H: Well for one we had the best representation of Norman Osborn. The Ditko version is ok. But not even close. The iconic scene of Spider-Man putting his uniform in the trash. Ditko was like Bob kane. Yes it’s classic and the first but many have improved upon it. Some of ditkos art isn’t that pretty.

Ryan: Pretty? No. Expressive? Unquestionably. I saw an interview with Dan Clowes recently where he said that Ditko’s “lonely outsiders silently raging against an uncaring world” was a huge influence on his work. The fact that Ditko’s work was able to have such a profound effect on idiosyncratic and iconoclastic artists such as Clowes speaks volumes about the strength and power of his imagery and ideas.

Mr. H: He gave us the groundwork. He is undoubtedly the father of Spidey but others have mastered it. Imo.

I am really digging Slott’s take on Spidey too. Was huge fan of superior Spider-Man

Ryan: I certainly thought “Superior” was the closest thing to an interesting and unique take on the character since Ditko left the character.

Elana: Ryan please write this essay Ryan!

Javier: Spidey is an iconic character, and it’s no surprise Marvel and Disney want to bring him into the MCU. He’s a money maker, and with the whole Spider Verse thing with Spider Woman, Mile Morales, Spider Gwen, Silk, etc … (not to mention the villains), there are lot of opportunities for them to make money off their stable of spider characters. I’ve given up on the whole continuity thing a long time ago, and it’s only a matter of time before they start rebooting the MCU, like they do in the print world. So long as they continue with the snappy dialogue and special effects, I probably won’t tire of it; and neither will the rest of the world. Could they fuck it up? Sure, some bad writing and bad directing; It’s happened before. But Disney has a long history in the entertainment business, and have proven to be resilient. The bottom line is I’m going to pay the money to see it at the movies, enjoy it, eat some popcorn, have a coke, and shut the fuck up about it.

Sean: Pro all the way, I just wish they got the rest of their properties from FOX, so we can also get a proper FF4 & Punisher movies

Spider-Man_1_CoverKatherine: Okay. Here’s my thoughts.
PRO: I’m a sucker for Spider-Man, and I think it’s good that we’re getting him as Spider Man and not Peter Parker. If this works out well for Sony and Marvel, this could open the door for other studios to work with Marvel with their IPs. (I’m lookin’ at YOU Fox.)

MEH: His CGI and suit. I mean, on my work monitor it really looked crappy, but then I saw a hi-rez picture of it, which made it look better. I’m just hoping that the finished product looks less cartoony on the screen and integrates better with the rest of the team. A plus is that it’s actually nice to see bright vibrant colors in the MCU.

CON: Yeah. At this point I think there’s too many cooks in the kitchen with this movie. The roster is HUGE, so focus is going to be a huge issue.

DOUBLE-CON: He’s not Miles Morales.

Brett: Amen on Miles Morales! And with that I think we’ll call it a debate. How about you readers? Where do you stand on the issue? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: Lets Talk Comic Conventions!

New York Comic COnSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

Convention season is kicking off. How many of you go to conventions? If you don’t why not? If you do go, what do you enjoy?

Mr. H: I thoroughly enjoy meeting and interviewing the guests and talent. It’s a place to interact with my heroes on an uncommon basis. I have lots of cons lined up this season. Bring it on..

Daphne: My sister and I are making it a tradition to attend Rose City Comic Con every year, in cosplay. Last year I was a magical girl version of Harley Quinn (it was nice being unique amidst a bunch of other Harlies!) and she was Sam Carter, from Stargate SG-1.
I love attending panels and seeing all the really creative costumes people make, as well as taking pictures with/of as many people as possible…and I also love getting free stuff and buying things I can’t easily find anywhere else. I think I came home with five new Funko pop vinyls and about as many prints for my wall last year. The whole atmosphere is really fun, and we really love cosplaying. I think that might be my favorite part overall.

Daphne: I will say the one thing I don’t like about conventions is panels that get too…self-congratulatory, or when all the questions from fans are the same. Carroll Spinney (Big Bird/Oscar the Grouch) was at RCCC last year and so many grown adults were pushing to get in front of kids to tell him identical stories about the episode of Sesame Street where Mr. Hooper dies, which…is important and meaningful but there’s kids there too who want to interact with him and ask questions. If he was that influential in your formative years, maybe you should let some kids who are IN their formative years have a shot at him first, you know? That’s the one thing about cons that I would like to see change – some polite but firm rule that panel questions have to skip the “I love you so much” bit and go onto something more interesting to the celebrity and the attendees.

Brett: Do you regularly go to panels? It’s so rare for me to, I can probably count the number of panels I’ve sat through on one hand.

Daphne: Depends on the convention and the panels on offer. Last year all I did was go to Robert Englund’s panel, Carroll Spinney’s panel, and the Kaijucast podcast’s screening of the Godzilla documentary their host filmed. I have to be really, really ridiculously into something to go to the panel for it…or just need an excuse to sit down for an hour. Sorry, Rob.

flamecon featuredSteven: I really enjoying meeting the artists as well as seeing all the cool collectibles and toys and figures. Cosplay is always awesome to look at. A lot of these guys and girls are so creative and are always trying to find new takes on classic characters. I eventually wish to be able to meet actual celebrity guests and someday be able to interview them as well

Steven: Last year I was lucky enough to meet Stan Lee and Get his autograph and this year I am really hoping to meet William Shatner.

Brett: So jealous of Lee. He’s one I really want to meet.

Steven: Madison you are right, it all depends on the Con. Boston had more current celebrity guests or bigger ones i should say as their budget allows for it whereas RI Comic Con has more celebrity guests who are still sort of relevant but just barely wh…See More

Mr. H: A friend of mine and I interviewed Carroll Spinney. What an interesting man. We asked him about how Sesame Street has evolved over the years and even the controversy it’s been through. He was very candid. I of course have been a comic fan since the womb but to my buddy this was a big deal.

Madison: I’ve really enjoyed the conventions I’ve gone to the past couple of years. I’m fairly new to the whole comic scene but I think it depends on the con as to what I’ve liked about them. NYCC is incredible just for the sheer mass of it…there’s an unbelievable amount of stuff to see and do, between the artists’ alley and the show floor alone. I also went to Dragon*Con last year, and I enjoyed that as well, but I definitely attended more panels at that one. At NYCC, it’s easy to get caught up in waiting for panels, but at Dragon*Con they limit the amount of time you can wait in line and clear the rooms before almost every panel, which is nice. I also really enjoyed the academic aspect of Dragon*Con. This has pretty much been a roundabout way of saying that each con has something that makes it unique, so that kind of dictates what I’ve enjoyed about them.

San_Diego_Comic-Con_International_logo.svgBrett: I’ve always wanted to go to Dragon*Con.

Madison: I actually think I liked it better than NYCC–it’s more spread out and I loved the academic aspect of it.

Brett: One day I’ll go. I’ve heard good things.

Madison: My advice is don’t go to Harry Potter World and Magic Kingdom in the two days before and then drive from Orlando to Atlanta. Other than that, everything came up roses.

Brett: Good to know. Though I am known to do crazier.

Madison: It’s doable. Maybe not smart, but doable, haha

Ashley: Dragon Con is fun (ten year vet here), but oh man, it is a LOT. I’d still pick it over NYCC, especially the comics track.

Madison: Maybe I’ll see you there this year! Maybe I saw you there last year and didn’t know!

Ashley: Potentially! Me and Tini Howard realized a couple of weeks ago that we had done the Dawn Look-a-Like contest at the same times, but we didn’t officially meet until last year.

Madison: If you went to Tini’s morning panel this past year (I cannot for the life of me remember what the overall topic was), we were definitely in the same room.

Ashley: Oh god, I don’t think I made it to any morning panels this past year between late nights, drinking and terrible roommates.

Madison: I think it was morning-ish. I was so exhausted by the time the whole thing was over. I had no idea what to expect and it was much more of a party atmosphere than I would ever have guessed.

Ashley: Well like… Day Dragon Con and Night Dragon Con are two different Dragon Cons.

Madison: I…definitely learned that.

Elana: You guys a cracking me up! That con sounds amazing. Shame in super far from me. The only con far away I’ve considered is that geek women con in Seattle. Anyone visit that one?

Javier: I’ve gone to the NYCC a few times. Good show but it gets so crowded nowadays; it’s more like a trip to an amusement park. Lately I’ve been going to local smaller cons if they have someone I want to meet lined up. I might hit this weekend’s Apple con to meet Neal Adams.

Ashley: I love cons! I’ve been going to conventions for well over a decade and they’re always some of my favorite things to do. I especially like to go off the beaten path a little and find panels and stuff that people wouldn’t especially focus on. Like I’ve spent the past couple of Dragon Cons down in the basement of the Hyatt on the comics track or that time I tried my best to go to all the non-Sherlock panels at 221B Con.

Elana: I like your approach

Ashley: Elana Probably because I’m a nerd and I like panels. I remember that was brought up as one of my positive attributes at an outlet I used to write for because a lot of the con coverage posts I didn’t write were more industry focused and I went to a lot more fan run cons than the editorial staff.

wizard worldElana: I love panels! I know I’ve broken news there.

Ashley: I still have one seeeeekrit I’ve been holding in since last Dragon Con at one panel that I hope is still in the works.

Elana: Flame Con is the new LGBTQ geek con and it’s the best con ever. It’s actually the only truly inclusive LGBTQ space I’ve been in as an adult.

There is a community feeling that’s unmistakable. The panels were intelligent: topics like how do you develop a great superhero costume, transgender narratives, “No More Mister Nice Gay” about violent and non-idealized characters (it’s where I met the creators of Bash Back).

Lots of great artists selling their comics and hand made merch you won’t find anywhere else.

I finally got my Kevin Wada commission there! Top rate, major league talent was there!

Honestly I cannot say enough about Flame Con.

I still enjoy NYCC and thank god for the press passes– if nothing else it gives me an opportunity to ask questions to Cartoon Network show runners in a roundtable (“go team Venture!”) But every year is a harder and harder fight to get into the panels I want. And I’m not even talking about getting into the panels that are DC comics talking about how cool DC is. Or some big headliner panel. I’m just trying to get into the women in comics panels, the diversity panels. The lines to get into those are around the block. They need to make video games a separate con to open up more space for us. They need to put my women and diversify panels in the BIG rooms. New York needs a bigger convention center.

I enjoyed NYCCs Special Edition con this summer. It was a con just focused on comics. But I hate being indoors on a beautiful day.

Ashley: I’m heavily considering going to Flame Con this summer over NYCC. Partially because it would be the same weekend as NXT Takeover Brooklyn, but also because of all the great stuff I heard about it from last year.

Elana: Come to Flame Con! Seriously! It’s like nothing else.

Elana: Oh and don’t care who you are or where you are but if you don’t go to artist alley to shake hands with the talent then you are doing it wrong.

Even if you don’t have money to buy anything. Artists still truly appreciate having their fans tell them how much they appreciate their art.

You can buy things for a lot less money than you think you can. Even if it’s just an awesome sticker that’s still money directly going in to the hands of the talent.

Ashley: This is probably why I love HeroesCon so much as a convention. Most of the con IS that artist alley experience.

Elana: Anyone know what con I might have been to in the Richmond VA (maybe?) area in like 97? It was my first convention. I went with my friends and I had done literally no preparations. 4 teens in 1 hotel room. I had a great time. I got to see the premiere of Tromeo and Juliette. I met James Gunn before he was famous. I remember his suit was too big.

If I recall the con was light on comics, heavy on the fantasy stuff.

Christopher: I usually go to the one small local one, since it is more about the comics than trying to sell Hollywood. Which honestly is nice since you don’t have fight through a massive crowd to walk around. That was one of the things I didn’t like about going some of the larger cons. You try to move, and you end up just colliding with people which makes you seem rude.

Alex: I’ve…. never actually been to a con.

Living in the UK when I was younger, I never really knew of any cons in my area (down in Deepest Darkest Devon – I almost sound like Stephen Merchant when I talk at times), and where I live now there’s only a couple cons in easy travel distance.

Both are relatively new within the past five years or so, and I’ve never been able to make it for various non-con related travel reasons (apparently I need to go back to England every now and then).

Daphne: So when are we having GPCon?

Alex: September 13th 2019

Daphne: Good, I need to schedule my panel on why Godzilla can defeat any other fictional character.

Brett: I’ve contemplated how a virtual convention would work. It could be fun.

Alex: I’m genuinely curious now as to what you’ve thought about.

Brett: Alex How it’d work mostly. What it might involve.

Alex: I think that’d be a really cool idea to do.

Mr. H: Woah is this a site comic con?

Brett: Very long time far down the road. One of many things I’m sure will never happen.

Patrick: Growing up in San Diego, I have only ever been to the San Diego Comic Con. I started going almost 25 years ago, back when it was tiny and you got in for free if you dressed up. My mom used to go with me from vendor to vendor and make lists of what i wanted to buy. Then at lunch I would figure out how much money I had and decide which comics I really wanted. I miss the old Con, when Preview night was just getting in an hour early on Thursday, when you could precisely register as soon as you got there. This is the first year I wasn’t able to get tickets.

Sunday Roundtable: There’s lots of talk about legacy characters. How much should publishers rely on them, especially when it comes to growing comic readership?

dc-legacy-tcards1Sundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

There’s lots of talk about legacy characters. How much should publishers rely on them, especially when it comes to growing comic readership?

Mr. H: I would like these legacy characters that are so near and dear to my heart as mentors and driving force to the next generation of heroes. I believe the time has come for Batman to be Dick Grayson and Wonder Woman as Donna Troy

Daphne: With the readership growing and comics still giving off that “collapsing under the weight of their own canon” vibe to newcomers, it is way past time we saw legacy characters be given mentor or advisor roles so other people can take up their mantles. Peter Parker and Miles Morales have an amazing dynamic as a pair, as did Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond. Letting some of these characters begin fresh – and not with weird universe-ending shenanigans – would be a fantastic way to revive flagging series.

You can’t do it with everybody – Harley Quinn only works as one singular woman, obviously – but a lot of heroes would really benefit from this.

Brett: While I like the idea of the mentors, I feel like you can do both to some extent. Marvel looks like they’re trying that with Spider-Man and having an older Peter and Miles and to some extent what they’ll be doing with the two Caps (in a way). I personally think you should have a mix. But, I also think there’s an issue of not necessarily legacy but a lack of focus of the point of the characters. Teen Titans can have legacy characters but be very new reader friendly and aimed at a teen and younger audience, while Batman can be a bit older/dark. Bruce with Terry in the future is great, Bruce and Dick is a bit tougher and I feel like you’d need to give Bruce something more to do than just be a mentor. Having him really take over Wayne Enterprises would be the direction I’d go. Superman and Wonder Woman I scratch my head to figure out what to do.

Alex: What if Bruce became Oracle for some reason or another?

Brett: That’d be an interesting spin. He kind of takes over Alfred’s role. I see him more in a Lucious Fox type position running the show from behind and Dick being the one in the field.

Alex: He could do both, really. Maybe he’s forced out of the field, and so focuses on Bruce Wayne whilst still playing the Penny One/Oracle role.

It’ll give us a solid reason to have Dick as Batman without Bruce standing over his shoulder (or Batman Inc returning)

Brett: I liked the concept of Batman Inc, not the execution.

Alex: I’ve always preferred Batman as an urban myth, so the whole Batman Inc thing didn’t really do much for me.

As a concept, I mean. There were some okay moments in the series, though.

Brett: Yeah, I like that aspect too, but after a while it just doesn’t make sense. The second he talks to Gordon that myth part starts to unravel. I saw Batman Inc as a logical next step. It just should have focused on a small team instead of really bad other versions.

Alex: That’s fair.

I think that, in all fairness, had the execution of Batman Inc been better, I’d probably have a different opinion about the concept, honestly.

Brett: If anything it is an example of attempting to evolve a character.

Alex: It is. And I’m okay to admit that while I may prefer Batman as the urban myth vigilante that can’t work forever, Batman Inc would have allowed the Dick Batman to be the Gotham based hero I needed, and Bruce the more world wide hero I deserved.

Daphne: Supes wouldn’t work so well, unless he retired to mentor Power Girl and Supergirl and other Kryptonians. That’s the only way I could see that working with him.

Brett: Yeah, but isn’t he one that doesn’t quite age the same way? I think that’s where I get thrown off as he’s still in his prime (physically). Which comes down to a big issue being the fact these characters just don’t age. Part of what I think works well with Batman/Bruce/Terry is Bruce has aged.

Daphne: Yeah… I don’t think he does age properly. So you’d have to throw in some weird contrived reason for him to swear off heroism. Maybe he’s just another character that doesn’t work that way.

portrait_incredibleBrett: Snapping a neck?

Daphne: That’s too farfetched, I can’t see Superman doing that in any medium!

Brett: Yeah, next thing you know Batman will be using guns after swearing them off for so long.

Steven: I agree with Mr. H, I love the characters we grew up with, but I think it’s time for a new generation of characters to bring in a whole new generation of readers

Brett, you right it wouldn’t work with every character out there. But it’s something to build upon. Legacy characters will always be around, but I think there needs to be more super heroes foe us and younger readers to fall in love with

Mr. H: Well keep some in their mantle such as Superman, but if the show has proven anything Kara can be an amazingly compelling character. In fact I think it’s the best Superman show created. Ironically it doesn’t have Superman in it. But I would keep Hal Jordan and John Stewart to train new Green Lanterns. Have Bruce Wayne be Batman’s backer and ally and move forward etc.

Madison: I think what Supergirl does well is that it is very, very accessible to new and younger fans.

Ryan: I could care less about whether characters are new or old, just give us good stories with good art and, for once, treat the creators fairly. The “Big Two” have been uber-successful at hoodwinking fans into giving a shit about characters but not creators, and the end result is that Spider-Man made billions for Marvel while Steve Ditko was living above a thrift store and Superman raked in billions for DC while Siegel and Shuster were reduced to a hard-scrabble life of delivering copies and drawing BDSM fetish artwork. And what’s it done for the characters? Well, Peter Parker went from being a truly interesting and unique character constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown under Ditko’s stewardship to a dull jock who always gets the girl and just happens to like science once he left, while Superman went from a champion of blue-collar, working-class values and concerns under Siegel and Shuster to a one-dimensional, jingoistic pawn for nationalistic propaganda once they were fired from working on their own creation. The emphasis on characters over creators has given us Before Watchmen, Dark Knight III, and The Return Of The New Gods. It’s given us nearly five decades of Marvel stories that are re-hashed and diminished versions of stories Kirby already told. And it’s allowed creators who gave us the characters we love to grow old and die in squalor. Dave Cockrum created or co-created most of the popular X-Men characters of today and spent his last months in a shitty VA hospital. Wally Wood was one of the most visionary innovators the industry has ever seen, as well as one of its most talented pure artists, and we all know how he ended up. Bill Everett created the Sub-Mariner and died a broken, alcoholic mess. Gene Day was pushed so hard to make deadlines that he fell over dead at his drawing table. Gary Friedrich, struggling with poor health in his later years, was served up a court injunction from Marvel preventing him from drawing images of his own creation, Ghost Rider. Jack Kirby created damn near everything in this “modern mythology” of ours and got screwed by Marvel for decades, a battle that his family was forced to continue long after his death. Meanwhile, the characters all these titans created continued to rake in a fortune not for the people who dreamed them up, but for the publishers who paid all of them lousy page rates and then got to own their work forever.

Brett: Amen.

Elana: The world needs a Blue Beetle comic staring Jaimie Reyes with Ted Kord as his mentor.

Mr. H: Yes absolutely agree!!

Brett: I think you could do a really cool one with Ted Kord and Booster Gold jumping through time at different points in Jaimie’s life.

Alex: I think that done right, legacy characters are a fantastic asset in a publisher’s tool box that helps to encourage new readers. Look at Ms. Marvel, the (All-New) Wolverine, and any of the others that have taken up the mantle in the Marvel Universe of late.

Brett: Alright, sounds like we’re all in agreement here. It’s great to have legacy characters, but you also need to pave the way for the next generation, just like us fans should be doing for new readers.

What say you dear readers? Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday Roundtable: DC Comics’ Rebirth, What are Your Thoughts?

dc-logo-252x300Sundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

Now that we know what DC Comics’ “Rebirth” generally is, what do you think of the announcement and the initial comics lineup?

Alex: After looking through the line up, I’m genuinely disheartened by the number of twice monthly titles. Unless the price tags are low enough, I’ll probably be avoiding all but one, simply because I don’t want to commit to a comic that’s coming out more than once a month.

So I guess complete and utter apathy on my end.

Steven: To be honest I don’t know how to feel about a “Rebirth”, on one hand comic book fans are pretty set in their ways with characters, on the other it’s going to pull in new members to the “geek club” as I call it and to the younger generation they can fall in love with new story lines the way older readers have already. But just one man’s opinion here

Brett: I actually don’t think it’ll do that Steven. I see this as placating to the vocal older crowd who flipped their shit about the New 52 and “their characters being taken away.” Hopefully this finds a happy medium between the new and old, but if that’s the case, who is it really geared towards?

Steven: True, the new 52 did mess with a lot of folks. I think a Green Lantern “Rebirth” would be great. I think that’s a franchise with a lot of promise. I was soured on Green Lantern after the Ryan Reynolds crap fest and then reading the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover, that didn’t help one bit! But I don’t know how the others are going to fare

But I am the newbie here and you guys would know way more than me

Brett: Steven As a newbie, this is a perfect question. Does any of this get you interested? We don’t know specifics, just titles, but going off of that, interest increased? Decreased? The same?

Steven: Brett I think Aquaman, Green Lantern, the Flash “Rebirth” has peaked my interest because there is so much you can do with them. Batman doesn’t and neither does Superman. I don’t think it’s fair to Bruce Wayne to kill his parents all over again. Wonder woman and titan have no interest to me at all.

Brett: There is something a bit perverse of retelling Batman’s origin over and over again isn’t there?

Steven: Yes

It’s like Oliver Queen being a complete cock treaded over and over and over again to Felicity up until this current season….completely perverse

Paul: Well I am THE Marvel guy (as my reviews show, it’s all I read :)) But over the years I have read DC titles. I even sampled the New 52 when it came out, but to be honest the titles I was reading didn’t really hold my interest. But I am excited to see this and a lot of characters I like coming out with this “Rebirth” and #1 issues I can start off new with. But only time will tell if this new direction holds my interest. Give me good stories and I’ll read your books.

Mr. H: I am part of that older crowd and if they can align this bombastic cluster f.. that became the New 52 as well as reverse some of the bastardizing of the lower tier characters I’m all for it. I trust Johns.

Alex: To be fair, not all of the New 52 was terrible; Snyder‘s Batman run was great, Flash has been decent enough (or at least the first 30 issues), and there’s been some other solid comic books. But you’re right; some of the lower tier characters didn’t fare too well.

Mr. H: Snyder’s run is epic. Also Johns run on Justice League is fantastic but the rest has been ehhh.

Alex: I stopped reading Justice League around Throne of Atlantis – I didn’t care for the tie in with Aquaman, and since it was only five issues in I wasn’t invested enough to keep going.

Mr. H: Forever Evil and The Amazo Virus and Darkseid War are awesome though.

Elana: How many people writing and drawing them are anything other then a white straight man? If their track record stays where it is then they haven’t learned a thing

Brett: We won’t know for another week or so. No teams have been announced.

Elana: I’m glad there’s still Cyborg so long as it’s David Walker. I see Batgirl and Birds of Prey. Gotham Academy survives thank god. Is Wondy finally free of the dysfunctional teams that have been wrecking her? What is the diversity going to look like?

And at least we know Phil Jimenez but it better not just be him.

Alex: I think Walker is leaving Cyborg with issue #9…

Elana: He’s the only person to do the character justice ever. Bummer

Alex: I never read his run, but I know there was a lot of people who were loving it, so I’m bummed out for them.

Elana: If they cancelled Midnighter which is both critically acclaimed and really important they are idiots.

Glad Hellblazer survived. So what then, 1 comic with an LGBTQA lead that the publisher acknowledges as such….?

I want Logan’s thoughts..

Brett: Midnighter wasn’t a part of the initial list. Doesn’t mean it won’t be back eventually.

Elana: Phil Jimenez on art is a good call. His art works for people who like traditional Bronze Age or modern comics but his art actually respects the women he depicts so it’s something I can show new fans who won’t recoil the way, let’s face it, most people do when they see what we’d call modern house style.

He’s house style but really good.

His design on Sera for Marvel was fantastic.

Logan: The sales on Midnighter have been super low so I wasn’t surprised by its cancellation. Hopefully, he shows up in a supporting role somewhere else. (Nightwing??) I really don’t want to super pass judgment until we get creative teams, but I’m happy Batgirl has two books now. (Sorry, meat and potatoes.) If Blue Beetle isn’t Jaime Reyes, I will feel very betrayed.

Elana: If it’s not Jaime they are idiots. And I say that as a Ted Kord fan

Logan: I would love for Ted Kord to be a supporting character in the book kind of like a lighter version of Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond.

Elana: That would be adorable

Logan: And a random thought: I hope Earth 2 mixes some of the potentially great characters of the previous run (Val Zod, Alan Scott) with the retrofuturist aesthetic of Earth 2 on The Flash TV show. Loved that two-parter.

Elana: I’m so over Johns. He’s like a lazy version of Bronze Age comics. I don’t understand his appeal. If you want his sort of stories pull out the old collected editions of Early Bronze Age comics– the work he’s inspired by is better then his own.

Logan: Honestly, his best work has been on The Flash TV show.

Logan: I’ve heard good things about his JSA run too?

Ashley: I’m mostly bitter as hell that Black Canary got cancelled.

Elana: She’ll be the center of Birds of Prey.

Ashley: Oh yeah, I figure that, but I loved that trippy rock and roll superhero comic. That’s like my thing.

Elana: I really like Black Canary. If you like trippy comics I can make some suggestions by the way.

Logan: Ugh, yeah. Hope Annie Wu goes over to Birds of Prey, or better yet, gets an Image title at the Expo.

Ashley: I’m fine with either of these options.

Madison: I’d love to see Annie Wu on something creator-owned.

There are a few things I’m not super thrilled about with this. One, there’s only one female-led title in the first wave of comics being released, which could change, but also might not. Two, having to wait so long for Batgirl to be re-released.

Lastly, how does this affect the accessibility of DC? On one hand, it could make it easier for new fans to pick up a comic that says “#1,” but on the other, it strikes me as kind of a gatekeeper move.

Steven: I will agree that there aren’t enough female-lead titles out there, but I don’t think it’s because DC or Marvel or any of them out there have a huge calling for it. I think these companies in general have tried to put issues out but maybe haven’t sold well and at the end of the day it is a business and they have to profitable. Do I think it’s worth the shot yes. There are so many story lines that could be used and built upon.

Madison: Counting all of the #1s coming out, there are six with title female characters. Out of thirty-two new releases. I wouldn’t really call that variety, I’d call it the bare minimum. Again, it could change, but I don’t think there isn’t a market for it. There are a lot of great characters out there, and the answer to the call for more women isn’t necessarily to lump them all together in one book.

Steven: I think DC in general needs to do a better job in general introducing their female characters. That’s one thing I think Marvel has done very well. I went to Boston Comic Con this past summer, besides the usual Harley Quinn, there were tons of girls dressed as Black Widow (and a majority of them weren’t slut type versions which was impressive) and Agent Carter it was amazing to see.

Heck I even took a picture with cosplay artist Belle Chere who was dressed as Squirrel Girl, you never see that……

Madison: I think part of this is the presence of those characters in film. I’ve seen a couple of Squirrel Girls and they always look awesome. I don’t know if I’d say Marvel does a great job of introducing female characters. Obviously they’re trying, to an extent, but I have mixed feelings about it. Characters in excessively revealing outfits (yes, like Black Widow, sometimes) is a rant for another post.

Steven: But its not just film…… Black Widow, Squirrel Girl, She-Hulk, female Thor, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, A-Force (which is an all female Avengers) hell now Storm leads the X-Men. I think it’s there, but like I said DC does a poor job with women characters. And you want to talk about revealing ummm Wonder Woman looks like a bedazzled stripper and Poison Ivy straddles the line between comics and porn. I work with quite of few girls who are comic book lovers and even they don’t care about female characters. One girl wears a Wonder Woman necklace but that’s about it. They care about Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, Superman. Never have I ever heard how great Wonder Woman is. Like I said if there was more of a market for it there would be more female led titles out there. The comic book companies do studies and research and polls reaching out to see what people want.

Madison: I was saying that the popularity of those characters as cosplays is in part due to film. I don’t really want to talk about revealing costumes, because as I said, that’s a discussion for a different post.
Listen, if you’re a woman, there’s not a super secret mandate that you only have to give a crap about characters of your gender. I care a lot about female characters. I adore Wonder Woman. But have you considered that the reason so many girls care about male characters is because that’s what has saturated the market?

Wonder Woman artSteven: Yes I have Madison, there are a ton of male led books out there because that’s how it started out. And there are now more female readers and artists than ever before and I think over time you will see me and more female led titles. But it something has has to come naturally and not forced to do it because if that’s the case the story lines won’t have the justice it deserves. Don’t rush story lines and development if it doesn’t need to be. There will be more in the near future

And I think the cinematic and television universe is going to help the cause, especially with Wonder Woman in Dawn of Justice as well the up coming Captain Marvel movie.

And just for the record I am a Wonder Woman fan.

I bought that from a wonderful female artist. I don’t remember her name unfortunately, at Boston Comic Con.

What is funny is that of all the things my fiance cloud have bought at comic con, she geeked out about a Jem comic

Madison: I’m truly all for forcing things if it gets more titles. As you said, there are a lot of great female artists and writers out there. I’d love to see them writing some of my favorites.

Steven: Maybe I should do a study of consisting of what women think about this topic and then do a post about it.

Elana: It would be good to not use dismissive terms like “slut” when discussing even costumes we’re not crazy about.

If DC let women know there were comics featuring women then women would by them. Look at the success marvel is having with a minimal press push even

Steven: I apologize for using that term. I’m not here to offend anyone.

Brett: For the new series I’m counting 6 that are series that feature women, 5 of which are solo. Going by titles there’s 18 solo series. A little worse than than Marvel’s All-New All-Different. 27.77% versus about 37% (though I stopped updating my Marvel stats a bit ago, so I think that’s dipped a bit).

Elana: People don’t read Wondy because there hasn’t been a Wondy worth reading since Gail Simone. But I hear the digital only legend of Wonder Woman title is great.

Maybe DC could tell people about it

Brett: The digital Wonder Woman is great, and DC is actually promoting it as is the creator behind it.

Elana: That’s great news. Would love to see how

Brett: Renae De Liz promotes the crap out of it online, and doing it in a great positive way that promotes community. I’ve also see ads for it floating around as well as promotion on the official Wonder Woman page.

Elana: There should be a Lois Lane: Worlds Finest Reporter sort of comic that’s focused on being a journalist and only has cape stuff in the background. She could be doing All the Presidents Men stuff on Lex Luthor.

Mr. H: I would buy this in a second. Even the title is great!

Alex: I’d be interested in that, too.

Perhaps the question nobody cares about: will the red underwear return?

Mr. H: Nooooooooo *Darth Vader voice

Elana: The final word on Johns vs growing the comics readership and serving diverse audiences– including long time readers like me who aren’t cishet white dudes.

The metaphor that comes to mind is that Johns is like the Politicians who say we can’t move to green energy and need to pump fossil fuels till they’re gone. Shortsighted. Will kill long term healthy growth for short time profits

Mr. H: Johns is the only man who made Green Lantern a top tier comic book. I hate when comics have to conform to trendy gimmicks or fads. All these mega level events kill the momentum however I’m optimistic he can bring some legacy back to DC Universe. Which it needs.

Elana: I’m totally with you in the events being destructive the way they are done now. I think that events are the fad.

Mr. H: Well that’s just my opinion as a Caucasian American lol. We still count here.

Elana: But you agree that the trend is towards shoe horning in events only that on make-sense to people have been following all of these books across the line very closely. I.e. they don’t make sense to most people and that they disrupt the flow of actual stories that are being told, right?

Johns has been a huge proponent of that model and it’s like and endless spiraling loop towards irrelevance.

Mr. H: Well I think it’s more a Dan DiDio thing than a Geoff Johns, who has obvious respect for these characters and their lineage. There needs to be streamlining for sure. Poor Wonder Woman has been going through an identity crisis for decades now, and Johns…See More

I am not a fan of Dan DiDio at all. He’s as out of touch with comics as Vince McMahon with the WWE.

Elana: Diversification will never happen without a deliberate effort that will feel forced to some. It’s better when it comes from good storytelling but the resistance to change among certain audiences is so strong it will never matter

Steven: Couldn’t have said it better myself Mr. H, diversification has to be natural not forced.

Elana: So what’s your example of doing it right?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Miles VariantMr. H: Well they are trying to appeal to every fantasy which is impossible. I get that these legacy characters have enormous appeal and clout but don’t just to your term “shoe horn” stuff in. Let it ebb and flow naturally. You want the Flash to be black? Great, introduce a new character who takes the mantle. I.E. Miles Morales with Spider-Man. Don’t just change the color of someone’s skin for new readers. Put care into it. Let it grow. The Milestone imprint had great characters and DC chucked them away. Don’t get me started on how women are written in DC universe. Aside from Batgirl it’s deplorable. No heart. You don’t need an epic restart event. Just true creative teams that want to accomplish making good reading for fans.

Elana: Johns is the reason John Stewart isn’t Green Lantern though. These guys always want to drag it back to whoever the character was when they were a kid. That’s the danger with just having the mantle go to someone new.

Miles is an example of doing it right though.

Madison: I don’t think that Marvel is very accessible at the moment, though. Reboots don’t necessarily equate to an easy, fresh start. I liked the books that I was reading and Secret Wars, to me, felt drawn out and too expensive for me to read. In that time, I found a lot of other comics and I don’t really miss the Marvel titles I was reading pre-Secret Wars. Events like this seem, to me at least, like a way to cater to the audience comics has always had (cishet white dudes) even if it’s being marketed as something different.

Elana: Agreed Madison. It’s super short sighted.

Mr. H: I just think there are so many options out there that constantly retooling current ones are so damning to the current monthly books. Again I want to read a John Stewart book but not because it’s the ethnically sensitive reason, no I want to read about a kick ass marine as a GL and delve into some social commentary on war and as well as some action adventure with a different twist. TV get the spirit of these characters. Why can’t the publisher?

Elana: I have my qualms about Image Comics EoC but I think much of his formal address nails it in terms of how do you save comics:

“If you – if any of us – are putting short-term needs ahead of long-term thinking: Stop.

Stop stunting your own growth by doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Stop being so beholden to the past – to past victories, past mistakes.

Stop reveling in nostalgia for a time long gone by. Creatively, the golden age of comics is now – let’s save our nostalgia for today.

If you are a retailer ordering more copies of a comic than you can sell simply to qualify for a variant incentive: Stop.”

Brett: He says the same shit over and over when all his company is is a confederacy of creators and brand. When they market their comics I’ll listen. The industry’s issue isn’t ideas it’s not marketing their product to people who might be interested. They’re focused in the same dwindling universe of fans who resist change as opposed to expanding the market and finding new readers which is what’s needed for long term viability.

Elana: Here’s his full speech. DC would do well to.

Alex: His point abut selling more than one issue of a title a month is a big turn off for me from series. I don’t mind if it’s a mini series (Death Of Wolverine), but a long running series… I fucking hate the idea of DC’s reboot/Rebirth having bi weekly titles.

Mr. H: I would agree with that. Create new books. New characters. New ideas. It can be done. It’s why Hollywood sucks. All the remakes. The golden age is now. Start from scratch. If you have sucky writers, assemble good ones.

Elana: The thing people like Johns forget is that all of their favorite silver age and Bronze Age comics are still here, they’re still real and they can go back and read them anytime they want. There’s no need to continually reproduce them.

Alex: Trying to reproduce the past successes will only result in comics that aren’t quite as good (or as loved) as those from the past, I feel.

Mr. H: Well again. It gets tricky with some of those original legacy characters. The beauty of them are they are mostly mantles that can be passed on. In the case of Green Lantern though, so many people can be a member of the Green Lantern Core simultaneously, so you can read them all. The key is finding creative teams with the voice who will do each iteration justice. Marvel is doing so well with this. Thor and Spider-Man are fantastic in their new titles. It’s DC that fumbles. They are too chained to the past. It’s sad. I think a few of us here GP could write far better monthly books for these secondary characters.

Brett: I think legacy only focuses on collectors of the past, not a new audience. To me this is the opposite of what needs to be done.

Steven: I feel like Marvel is on the right track of bringing diversity and introducing characters who were in the background to the major stars especially diverse characters. DC should take a page out of Marvel’s playbook. It could help them

Brett: They kind of tried that post Convergence. A lot were critically praised but sold horribly.

Alex: And it is, at the end of the day a business.

Brett: I don’t disagree. But most businesses don’t operate like comics. It’s backwards in how things are done from top to bottom. The entire system needs to be shaken up. Stephenson’s praising the direct market baffles me. The industry is shackled directly due to the direct market. They’re too afraid to piss them off.

Alex: I don’t disagree. I think they’re too afraid to run with the short term sales loss to build a long term gain.

To use a hockey analogy, look at the Maple Leafs. They’ve been too worried about making the playoffs for ten plus years that they’ve been getting nowhere fast. After the next few years of maximum suckage they’ll be in a position to compete.

Brett: Exactly. And as an IP generator, a loss in comics isn’t bad if there’s profits elsewhere.

Alex: And there’s more than enough profits elsewhere…

Steven: Oy

Steven: Look at Captain America: Civil War Falcon and Black Panther are going to have huge roles……its gonna be great for Marvel. DC has to find a way to get more diverse……..introduce more characters if need be

Brett: Also Marvel’s sales are slumping too. Their market share is inflated due to Star Wars. When that’s taken out of the equation most of their series are doing worse than pre-Secret Wars.

Steven: Groan

Ryan: DC and Marvel are both stuck in the same dead-end business model, which amounts to figuring out ways to milk more money out of fewer fans. A reboot /re-numbering every few years — or every year in Marvel’s case — starts to run out of gas after awhile, as does one pointless fucking crossover after another. The answer to all of these problems is simple, of course — just produce good comics, keep the editorial interference to a minimum, and give them time to find an audience. Frank Miller‘s Daredevil was a bottom-tier book when he took it over and rose nearly to the level of X-Men in sales toward the end of his run. Swamp Thing was one of DC’s absolute lowest-selling books when Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben were brought onboard, and lo and behold we’re still talking about it today. If the Big Two do, in fact, end up going under at some point, don’t feel sorry for them in the least — their horseshit product, short-sighted business practices, lousy treatment of creators, and disrespect for their readership will have brought on their demise, mush as all those factors came into play in the death of the music industry. Marvel and DC are cranking out more product than ever, but how many of their books really deserve to survive? Maybe 5 or 10 per publisher? And how many of those are actually good? Leave all your fan loyalties aside and approach their stuff as a new consumer would, and I think you’d have to admit that, at most, Marvel and DC maybe each put out 3 or 4 good books per month. The rest is crap — it might be crap that you, as a reader find enjoyable, and there’s no shame in that — but it’s still crap. And eventually that’s going to kill them. They could be producing quality product that grows their fan base, but they seem to not even know how to do that. Ms. Marvel was the one solid example of a well-written, well-drawn book that can actually appeal to new, and even non-superhero, readers that I can think of, but my understanding is that even that book is down significantly in sales in comparison to its pre-“Secret Wars” incarnation. Don’t despair, though — the downfall of the “Big Two” certainly doesn’t mean the end of comics, and in fact it might well turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the medium.

dkiii_master_race_1_5604aa53d5cce5-53843972_560c804b9c14f4-04527477Mr. H: But keep Frank Miller away from core titles these days. I’m not PC and abhore it but the world doesn’t need to be exposed to his brand of crazy anymore. Daredevil run and Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns was genius but poor Frank’s lost a lot of screws

Ryan: Frank Miller is in such poor health that I don’t think he could do a “solo” comic book at this point. His involvement with Dark Knight III is minimal by even his own admission.

Mr. H: Well read issue two. It reeks of Miller’s anti Superman characterization. I feel bad Azzarello is lumped in on this one.

Ryan: I read it, but it doesn’t prove Miller’s involvement, just that there are editorial dictates coming down from DC “brass” to produce a book that hews as closely to the first Dark Knight series as possible. You can put a piece of tracing paper over the Mona Lisa and come up with something that looks pretty similar — it doesn’t mean Da Vinci was actually involved in the process.

Mr. H: Fair point. Issue one was stellar. Then it dipped so big.

Ryan: As for feeling “bad” for Azzarello — look, he’s a grown man doing a job for a paycheck. I was as big a fan of 100 Bullets as anyone, but frankly any creator involved in Before Watchmen lost a lot of respect in my eyes and is never going to get it back. He’s clearly in the “anything for a buck” phase of his career.

Mr. H: Ugh Before Watchmen what a travesty.

I just think the titles need to move forward in a respectable and natural way. Not the constant retooling every few years. I would love a John Stewart comic book, but it needs to be authentic and written with care, not a cheap short term sales shock marketing ploy. As a whole DC television is far superior to their comics in every single way right now. Supergirl is the best Superman show to ever hit the air and it doesn’t even have Superman as the main character.

Alex: I agree with everything you said aside from the Supergirl statement, and that’s only because I don’t watch it. Both Marvel an DC need to go back to basics; start building their universes in a cohesive and respectful way, keep the reboots to an absolute zero, and the massive events to a rare once a decade thing. Have the odd crossover between titles, but avoid the events.

For the people who only read a few titles from each publisher the big events that refer to every other title are a confusing waste of time. I’ve already decided to avoid Rebirth and just start Detective Comics when that comes out.

Mr. H: I agree with everything you just said sir.

Alex: You know what they say about great minds, Mr H.

Mr. H: Yes get out of my head it’s all mine!

Alex: hahaha

Brett: Alright, the wraps up this week’s discussion! What do you think readers? Sound off in the comments below!

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