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Review: Occupy Avengers #1

occupyavengerscoverAlthough it’s super sad Nighthawk was canceled, writer David Walker has yet another socially conscious Marvel comic book. It’s called Occupy Avengers #1 and is extremely relevant in light of the Standing Rock/Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota, and the ongoing Flint, Michigan water crisis. The comic features Hawkeye as a protagonist as he travels across the United States like some kind of purple and black T-shirt wearing Robin Hood and tries to comes to terms with his killing of Bruce Banner in Civil War II. The first stop on his guilt trip is Santa Rosa, New Mexico where 100% of the inhabitants live under the poverty line, and the water on the Native American reservation is poisoned, which was their main source of income. Hawkeye wants to help, but this is a different and more nuanced challenge that shooting aliens with arrows.

Occupy Avengers #1 features artwork from Carlos Pacheco with inks from Rafael Fonteriz. Pacheco is a veteran artist, and his credits include the time-spanning epic Avengers Forever, a couple Uncanny X-Men runs, and a stint on the weekly series Trinity. Except the final few pages, Occupy Avengers isn’t a traditional superhero comic, but Pacheco is up for the switch in style. The first half of the comic is a slow burn focused on facial expressions as Hawkeye tries to figure out what’s going on in Santa Rosa, and Red Wolf, the town’s deputy and a superhero in his own right, looks on in disdain. The second half is all action, and Pacheco gets to cut loose with a double page, canyon-hopping motorcycle chase as Hawkeye is on the run from men who bear a resemblance to the troopers at Standing Rock. (But some of them have skull bandannas because this is a Marvel comic after all.) Pacheco lays out pages like a stained glass window showing off Hawkeye’s precision as an archer before opting for a bigger panels as Red Wolf, who is more of a hand to hand brawler, gets involved. And colorist Sonia Oback adds filters and a brown meets occupyavengersinteriorpurple color palette to capture the tension of one guy with a bow and arrow fighting an entire group of men with machine guns.

Along with being a wonderful character study of Clint Barton and having some exciting fight scenes, David Walker explores the futility of the white savior narrative in dialogue, narration, and even in the action towards the end in Occupy Avengers #1. Granny Fireheart, a leader on the reservation, thinks he’s a journalist looking for a scoop or a “bleeding heart environmentalist” here to make himself feel good by going to Santa Rosa. The second is partially true even though he is more trained in the art of medieval-era violence. Hawkeye wants to help, but he doesn’t know where to start. He makes some ill-informed comments about the people of Santa Rosa moving away, but Red Wolf quickly educates him on the reality of this area’s poverty, and he kind of shuts up. Walker shows the importance of listening in activism and not barreling with a Messiah complex with a side of Instagram. He melds this listening with superhero action in the final third of the comic as Hawkeye lets Red Wolf take the lead against the soldiers watching the reservation.

Occupy Avengers #1 has a lot of narrative caption boxes for a comic book in 2016. However, Walker uses them to develop Hawkeye’s character, his feelings about killing the Hulk, and the situation on hand along with the occasional wry one-liner. Even though he murdered his friend, Hawkeye is just a regular guy from Iowa and currently Bed-Stuy that happens to be really good at shooting a bow and arrow and is an Avenger. Walker sets him up as the well-meaning, liberal white guy who needs to learn more about intersectionality and curing the roots of social problems and not just the symptoms but does it through quick, witty dialogue and an action narrative. And occasionally, the narration becomes pure poetry as Hawkeye describes why he uses a bow instead of a gun or a knife as Pacheco uses a nine-panel grid to show each creative hand to hand or archery move. (He is basically one of those writers, who still use typewriters instead of Word processors or CMSes.) It adds to the comic instead of just covering Pacheco and Fonteriz’s art.

David Walker’s ability to meld socially relevant themes with action-packed superhero narratives continues in Occupy Avengers #1. The inclusion of Hydro Man at the end seems a little on-the-nose and shoehorned to give the book a traditional “supervillain”, but it could be the beginning of a bold reimagining of the character. Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Fonteriz’s art gives the book an almost photorealistic style while Sonia Oback’s earth tones color palette sets the tone of Santa Rosa. The best parts of the comic are when Red Wolf cuts loose and Pacheco foregoes photorealism for bold moves and poses as he fights to protect his home and still doesn’t really trust Hawkeye for good reasons and not the usual “fight, then team up” cliches.

Basically, Occupy Avengers #1 is a 21st-century take on Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ “Hard Traveling Heroes” run of Green Arrow/Green Lantern, but with a lot more nuance and intersectionality thanks to its diverse creative team.

Story: David F. Walker Pencils: Carlos Pacheco Inks: Rafael Fonteriz Colors: Sonia Oback
Story: 9.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday! Was there anything you go that stood out to you and got you excited? Was there anything you disliked? Let us know in the comments.

While you decide on that, here’s some comic book news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Newsarama – President Obama Delays Agent Carter Season Premiere – Thanks Obama!

Women Write About Comics – Some Folks Think Midnighter Should Be Biphobic, Yes Really  – An interesting read.

Chron – Comic-craving women welcome at this Cypress-area store – Always nice to see an open and welcoming store spotlighted.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Rainbow Hub – All-New Wolverine #2

Examiner – Batman ’66 Vol. 4

Comic Vine – Extraordinary X-Men #3

Comic Vine – Green Lantern #47

CBR – Hopeless Savages: Break

Comic Vine – Harley’s Little Black Book #1

The Beat – Red Wolf #1

The Rainbow Hub – Silk #1

Talking Comics – Silk #1

Comic Vine – The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Comic Vine – The Vision #2

Review: Red Wolf #1

red wolf coverFrontier boomtown Timely has more than its share of scoundrels: it takes a hero to keep them in line. Red Wolf—the Cheyenne who crossed the desert and stood up to Mayor Wilson Fisk in Secret Wars’ 1872—is the only man who can fill fallen Sheriff Steve Rogers’ boots. As an outsider and an honest man, Red is going to need all his wits, and both his fists, to serve and protect. The tale of how Red Wolf wins the West starts in 1872, and will take him farther than he could ever imagine!

Red Wolf #1 marks the first time the character Red Wolf has headlined his own book in more than 30 years. The character will be waiting a bit longer for a headlining comic that’s actually worth reading.

Can you imagine watching The Two Towers before watching Fellowship Of The Ring if you’d never read the Lord Of The Rings? No? Because that’s the kind of feeling you get here. The first issue of Red Wolf is not in any way, shape or form a good jumping on point (nor is it in any way comparable to Lord Of The Rings). I don’t know whether Nathan Edmonson assumed that only people who read 1872 would pick up this comic, but even with the recap page’s briefing (I think that the preview text from Marvel in italics above does a better job than the recap page) I was utterly lost. Granted the lack of comprehensive detail on the recap page shouldn’t have been a big deal if there was any kind of characterization or explanation within the comic.

There wasn’t.

The comic didn’t really get any better from there; Edmonson‘s dialogue seemed wooden and without any real energy to it which is a far cry to his work on The Activity, and there was very little flow to the story itself. A sub par outing in the writing department can often be made up when you look at the art, and being able to follow a story through the art when the writing lags is an advantage that comics have.

Not so much here.

Dalibor Talajic has proven in the past that he’s a solid artist, but he seems to have phoned it in here; his facial expressions aren’t exactly the best, and some scenes get lost amidst the murky artwork, or are hard to follow because of the choices made in framing the scene. Even the way in which Red Wolf is drawn throws doubt onto his age, but one feature that is interesting is the use of white space when portraying items in the foreground. It’s evocative of both the recent Moon Knight series and Frank Miller’s art style, but that doesn’t make it enough to bother reading, let alone buying, this comic.

On the final page of the comic, Red Wolf #1 asks if I want to find out what happens next issue. I don’t. I didn’t really care what happened this issue, to be honest. 

While I applaud Marvel for their attempt at diversifying their line with the All New All Different relaunch, it’s hard to imagine this  comic reaching too high on the sales charts. If Red Wolf is cancelled it won’t be because fans don’t want to read a comic about a Native American character, it’ll be because the comic isn’t worth reading.

Your money is better off elsewhere.

Story: Nathan Edmonson Art: Dalibor Talajic
Story: 4 Art: 4 Overall Rating: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day today! What’s everyone excited for this week? We already have had reviews up, and more to come.

While you wait for that, here’s some comic book news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Outhousers – Local Publishing Company Giving Back To The Community – A nice positive comic story.

Atlanta Daily World – Brother Man comin’ y’all… The black comic book that started it all is returning – Nice to see this article.

The World Bank – If you cannot say it, then draw it: comic books against gender-based violence in India – We’re seeing this a lot around the world.

Sinapse – Copyright Graphic Novel: Bound by law? Tales from the public domain – This is awesome. Plus, free digital comic!

The Beat – Why are there no women “Modern Masters” of comics? – Very good question.

The Outhousers – Vaughan, Martin, Vicente Release “Pay What You Want” Digital Comic, Available Now – Go get this now!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Nothing But Comics – Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird #1

CBR – Daredevil #1

Comic Vine – Daredevil #1

ICv2 – Idol Dreams Vol. 1

CBR – Red Wolf #1

Kotaku – Red Wolf #1

CBR – The Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Review: Red Wolf #1

Red_Wolf_1_CoverThe frontier boomtown of Timely has more than its share of scoundrels, and it’ll take a hero to keep them in line. A hero named Red Wolf – the Cheyenne who crossed the desert and stood up to Mayor Wilson Fisk and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the fallen Sheriff Steve Rogers. But that’s all in the past. Following the events of Secret Wars, Red Wolf finds his boots firmly transplanted into the Marvel Universe.

One of the standout miniseries from Secret Wars was the superhero western 1872 which saw alternate versions of familiar characters and gave a nice mix of the two genres. This new series continues that story, starting in 1872, but takes Red Wolf in an interesting direction that by the end of the first issue jettisons that unique and entertaining world.

It’s hard to not discuss this debut without discussing the cloud surrounding writer Nathan Edmondson. It’d be a lie to say all of that wasn’t on my mind when reading this first issue, and why it’s difficult to detach “politics” and previous knowledge/opinions from reviews.

Edmondson is a good writer, and I’ve enjoyed his work previously (particularly The Activity), but something about this first issue doesn’t click for me. It’s not just Edmondson’s writing, but Dalibor Talajic‘s art too just isn’t up to snuff, especially when the covers are so amazing.

This is a debut issue that misfires, from art where perspectives are off, what’s going on in the background makes no sense, to character design and positioning too. In some scenes Red Wolf looks like an adult, in others he looks like a teenager. Everything is just very… off.

Things aren’t helped by the fact that when the issue is over it’s clear what worked so well in the 1872 miniseries is likely going bye-bye. I don’t want to slam what’s likely to come, but interesting and unique in comics currently may be giving way to dime a dozen.

This new series had an opportunity to be something interesting, unique, and really stand out, but the first issue is underwhelming on all fronts. I gave the comic a shot, but what I see is so-so art, and a story that matches by underwhelming. This is not a series I’m sticking around for the second issue.

Story: Nathan Edmondson Art: Dalibor Talajic
Story: 6 Art: 6 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Sentinel of the Southwest – Your First Look at Red Wolf #1!

The Marvel Universe’s American Southwest has a hero to call its own! Marvel has released a first look inside Red Wolf #1 – the brand new ongoing series from writer Nathan Edmondson, artist Dalibor Talajic and cover artist/series consultant Jeffrey Veregge! The frontier boomtown of Timely has more than its share of scoundrels, and it’ll take a hero to keep them in line. A hero named Red Wolf – the Cheyenne who crossed the desert and stood up to Mayor Wilson Fisk and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the fallen Sheriff Steve Rogers. But that’s all in the past. Following the events of Secret Wars, he’ll find his boots firmly transplanted into the Marvel Universe. In a world chock full of super powered heroes—and villains – Red Wolf is going to need all his wits and both his fists to serve and protect.

This December, the tale of how Red Wolf won the West begins in 1872, but his journey will take him farther than you ever thought possible. Don’t miss the bombastic debut!

RED WOLF #1 (OCT150774)
Written by NATHAN EDMONDSON
Art by DALIBOR TALAJIC
Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE
Variant Covers by DALE KEOWN (OCT150775) and SKOTTIE YOUNG (OCT150777)
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (OCT150778)
Hip-Hop Variant by MIKE DEL MUNDO (OCT150776)
FOC – 11/02/15, On-Sale – 12/02/15

Red_Wolf_1_Cover

On Nathan Edmondson, Marvel, and the Cycle of Harassment (Updated)

We’re NOT afraid…

nathan-edmundsonA year and a half. That’s how long I’ve been researching allegations swirling around comic writer Nathan Edmondson. In that year and a half I’ve talked to a lot of people, ran into a lot of dead ends, and most importantly, been told consistent stories of sexual harassment and poor treatment of collaborators. I’ve had first hand accounts, second-hand accounts, and promises of actual evidence, only one of which has been produced. And after a year and a half, while I absolutely believe Edmondson’s an asshole and did what he’s accused of, as a journalist who believes in checking sources and facts, I have not had enough to run a story I felt I could defend in court. Because, I’ve been warned numerous times, if I ran it I should expect to be sued.

Why is this all coming up now?

Red_Wolf_1_CoverWhile sniping has been happening against Edmondson by other creators for quite some time, this news has been covered by so many due to Marvel‘s announcement that Edmondson is the writer on their new Red Wolf series. While the series is great in that it features a Native American lead character, as well as a Native American, Jeffrey Veregge, providing covers, character design, and “consulting,” it also has the troublesome Edmondson as the writer. This has led many to wonder and question their support of the book as a whole. It absolutely makes me again question Marvel’s decision-making process, and their commitment to progressive and positive change.

Some of the accusations against Edmondson have been covered already here, here, and here. I encourage folks to read those three articles to catch up. But for those that don’t want to, here’s what I know.

I know of his involvement with The Leadership Institute, an anti-gay, pro-life, right-wing organization. There’s photo evidence of this, and being conservative is not a crime (though makes me question why he’s been put on some books he has). I have been told second-hand of sexual harassment (attempts at first hand accounts have gone nowhere). I have been told first hand accounts of “troublesome” dealings with other creators. That was never ran as it would have identified the claimant and there was no way to run it anonymously. I have been told both through first and second-hand accounts of a general disrespect towards women. I have been told of an incident at a party where homophobic statements were made, and I have an email apologizing to attendees about the behavior (that email has yet to be verified).

activity15_coverThe series he was to do with the also troublesome Adam Baldwin, Ranger with Dark Horse, has become vaporware. I had hoped with 56 (Red Wolf is 57) series already announced and no Nathan Edmondson, that publisher has also decided to sever their relationship with the creator. That hasn’t happened. Marvel seems to have no issues with what is a “known” issue in the industry. They were after all running short on male, white writers, since their All-New, All-Different team of writers is only 83.33% male and 97.62% white. They needed Nate to fill in a slot.

Without “physical” evidence I can verify, without a first hand account of the harassment, I chose not to cover this story (until now). That hasn’t stopped me from continuing to investigate. I personally have also chosen to not support, or cover, any series Edmondson writes. To do so would be hypocritical.

Some who have been vocal have said some victims haven’t been talked to, and the reality is, I probably don’t know about them. Names have been vague to me. And those that I have been told about? They’ve not wanted to talk about any of this. And why should they? The comics industry has a history of not supporting victims. The track record is abysmal in supporting victims.

Some have said sites are scared to run stories about harassers due to the threat of lawsuit or loss of access. I can refute this by stating the following:

We here at Graphic Policy are NOT afraid to run these stories.

We here at Graphic Policy are NOT afraid at losing access. Retaliation against us becomes a story we’d run too.

We here at Graphic Policy will DEFEND you the victim as best we can, and more importantly treat you with the utmost respect you deserve.

Please contact us, even off the record. I am the only one who reads our email. Use our contact form above. DM us a message. Message us on Facebook. Or contact me personally through email, Facebook, or Twitter. We can’t fight the good fight without hearing from you.

Out of the seven plus years we’ve existed I’ve been contacted twice about harassment in the industry. One is this Edmondson story, and I’ve explained above what I know, what I have, and why I have not run the story. The other was someone I not only was told about, but witnessed as well. That was run as a blind item with a proper guess in the comments.

While we’ll listen and advocate, we will also do our research and investigation. We need to do our due diligence. By not doing so, we do the victims an injustice by not being able to properly defend the story.

Until there’s buy in across the industry, to point fingers at journalists is misguided. I know of a dozen other bloggers/journalists who have worked on this story, many for longer than me. They too have run into similar issues I have. We can’t run stories on hearsay, we need first hand accounts and evidence. There’s a lot of recent talk of lifting up the discourse in comics journalism, and that’s what this is. To not, would make us a second-rate TMZ. A rag run on rumors. That’s not what this site is, and I stand behind the decisions made up to this point on this story.

We, as well as my fellow bloggers, can only shine a spotlight on the trouble makers, it still takes a decision by other creators to refuse to work with these individuals, and publisher to not hire or support their work. There also needs to be an effort to support, not shame victims. Those who have been brave enough to come forward have consistently talked of being pariahs whose careers have been frozen, and the work has dried up. Not to mention the abuse and additional harassment flung like the feces it is their way from anonymous keyboard jockeys who think they’re funny and doing it for the lulz.

There’s a lot that needs to be done on all sides, but to focus on only one facet misses the big picture. If this is to end, we all need to work together.

Updated: Some information regarding Edmondson’s relationship with Image has been updated and stricken after being reached out to directly by a publisher who clarified the relationship. The lack of releases is explained as chronic “delays.” We have seen internal communication and statements that his behavior was a known issue at the highest level.