Tag Archives: comics

“Marvel Doesn’t Care About LGBT People”

To start with, I hope that the reference in the title is apparent.

If not, let’s flashback to September 2005 and A Concert for Hurricane Relief. It was during this live star-studded benefit concert that Kanye West very famously said:

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

The following week, on The Ellen Degeneres Show, West elaborated on the incident. Given the immense loss caused by Hurricane Katrina, he explained that “[it was] the least [he] could do to go up there and say something from [his] heart, to say something that’s real.” At the risk of misrepresenting him, my takeaway was that there’s something very pure and genuine about personal emotional reactions that makes them worth expressing. While the facts may reveal otherwise, their having elicited this response speaks for itself, in a way.

It’s a sentiment that many readers of Marvel comics may strongly agree with given the fallout of Guardians of the Galaxy #18, which hit stands this past Wednesday. Continue reading

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How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

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Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

Asian-American Creators in Comic Books As Of July 16th: 2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad

The last time I wrote a post that was titled in a similar format was back in 2013, which followed another the year before. Both were written because at the time events had occurred in the comic book industry that touched on LGBT representation. Given the fact that Western comic books don’t necessarily have a dearth of Asian creators [Gene Luen Yang, Annie Wu, and Jerome Opeña being just a few examples] it’s actually sort of surprising that it wasn’t until this week that I felt justified in putting together a similar post.

What’s unfortunate is, as you can probably tell by the title, that it’s not all good news. With that in mind I’m going to go with the classic “sandwich” delivery, with the positives buttressing a negative. That said, and without further ado-

Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk #15 Brings a Tear to My Eye

I should probably clarify that I have not read the 15th issue of Totally Awesome Hulk. That won’t actually hit stands until this upcoming October. That said, the cover was released in the Marvel NOW’s Previews Magazine this past Wednesday [with leaks hitting the internet a little earlier]. You can see the cover below in all of its glory-

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Cover art by Mukesh Singh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Clockwise from the very top of the cover is: Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel [Pakistani-American], Shang-Chi/Master of Kung Fu [Chinese], Amadeus Cho/Totally Awesome Hulk [Korean-American], presumably SHIELD Agent Jimmy Woo [Chinese-American], Cindy Moon/Silk [Korean-American], and lastly a character I can’t place who Bleeding Cool cites as being Winter Soldier [which I could not confirm through my own research].

What struck me was that this is a comic book cover from one of the the two major publishers [DC and Marvel] on which every one of the many characters depicted is Asian. It’s also not an established team of Asian heroes like Big Hero 6 [the film adaptation of which you know my exact feelings about]. This is especially notable in light of the fact that other comics like Sam Wilson: Captain America #10-

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Sam Wilson: Captain America #10. Written by Nick Spencer, illustrated by Angel Unzueta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cover art by Marguerite Sauvage.

-and the cover to Black Panther #7 [as seen on the right] communicate the ideas that a) Black heroes exist within this universe and b) just like in many real life situations, Black people can and do congregate together.

Even before these respective examples came to light most of these heroes were fairly recognizable by the public [Storm and Black Panther, Nick Fury Jr.], but they also shine light on the lesser-knowns [Misty Knight, Doctor Voodoo, Spectrum].

The cover to Totally Awesome Hulk #15 is the first major step in my recent memory to bring a similar awareness to Asian representation in comic books, and it’s very clear that a conscious decision was made by Greg Pak [a Korean-American himself] to do this. It’s no exaggeration that just seeing the cover made me emotional, and I cannot wait until October to get my hands on the issue.

Frank Cho Stirs Continues to Stir Up Controversy Over Wonder Woman Variant Covers

There’s no such thing as the perfect week.

Frank Cho, a Korean-American artist and the initial collaborator with Greg Pak on Totally Awesome Hulk [their similarities to the titular character further discussed here], announced two days ago that he would be walking off Wonder Woman as variant cover artist with Issue #6. Deciding to go to Bleeding Cool, Cho explained that:

“All the problem lies with [author] Greg Rucka.

EVERYONE loves my Wonder Woman covers and wants me to stay. Greg Rucka is the ONLY one who has any problem with covers. Greg Rucka has been trying to alter and censor my artwork since day one.

Greg Rucka thought my Wonder Woman #3 cover was vulgar and showed too much skin, and has been spearheading censorship, which is baffling since my Wonder Woman image is on model and shows the same amount of skin as the interior art, and it’s a VARIANT COVER and he should have no editorial control over it. (But he does. WTF?!!!)

I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible. Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics.

To DC’s credit, especially [Art Director] Mark Chiarello, they have been very accommodating. But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

I just wanted to be left alone and do my Wonder Woman variant covers in peace. But Greg Rucka is in a hostile power trip and causing unnecessary friction over variant covers.”

For those who are not familiar with comic book journalism websites, Bleeding Cool excels in tracking a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in the industry. That said, they’re also known for rumour-mongering, a practice with a so-so success rate. They have also devoted many an article to the artist’s last controversy over covers, noting each time one of the illustrations made its way online.

While Rucka has made no official response to Cho or to anyone else asking for comment save for the following tweet:

As far as an actual example of the “censorship” Cho is decrying, pictured below is the aforementioned cover to Wonder Woman #3, with the final cover on the left and the original art on the right:

frankchoww

Notably absent is the character’s panty line, shown on the right. Apart from the cropping, the art appears untouched.

It should be restated that Cho was not fired from the gig, but instead chose to leave of his own volition. As a creator doing work-for-hire the people at DC comics had every right to ask for edits to be made to whatever iss submitted to them. It was also his choice to approach the comic book journalism site most likened to a tabloid to announce the reasons behind this. The true irony is that the artist’s sensitivity over what occurred feels out of line with his approach to the outrage others have felt about his own work.

Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man #1: This Man of Steel is a Boy From Shanghai

Particularly worth spotlighting as the first-ever DC book I’ve decided to buy issue-to-issue, New Super-Man comes from the same writer of one of my favourite graphic novels, American Born Chinese. That book proved that Yang understands a lot of the innate conflict in being Asian-American, living your entire life in a country but never quite feeling like you fit in.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

Cover art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

With that in mind, several months ago he wrote a blog post for the DC Comics site in which he admits almost immediately that “I’ve only visited China twice, so my understanding of Chinese culture is through echoes.” That said, he wants to do everything he can to make his portrayal of the character as authentic as possible, and the majority of the post spends time picking apart exactly how and why he landed on the name “Kenan Kong”.

It’s but one example of how committed he is to the authentic portrayals of Asians, and it can be strongly felt throughout that first issue, which was sold in comic stores everywhere this past Wednesday.


It’s my hope that this isn’t the last such blog post that I piece together, and that part of the reason for that will be even more Asian creators working in both mainstream and indie comics. While the news won’t always be positive, the dream is that with even more talent we’ll be able to see the best that they have to offer, especially in regards to pushing representation in my favourite medium.

A Non-Female Writer’s Opinion About That Wonder Woman Promo Picture

As the title attests, and as you probably know by now, I’m a guy. A cisgendered male, to be more specific, which for those not in the know means that I was born male and identify as one. And as a guy I’ve been writing about feminism on this blog since day one. While it’s always been my goal for the site to be a platform for female voices speaking out on those same issues [made reality in having Kat hop on board as well as the majority of our guest writers] the truth is that there are an essentially infinite number of topics and only so many bloggers.

That’s all to say that ideally this probably should’ve been tackled by a woman. While a given female perspective may not necessarily be the correct one, the fact of the matter is that they would be able to write from a level of understanding that I cannot. Yet here I am, covering Wonder Woman, arguably one of the biggest feminist icons.

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Yesterday Entertainment Weekly shared an exclusive promo image from Warner Bros.’ upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman, the titular character, played by Gal Gadot, is second from the left. The other women, from left to right, are her mother Hippolyta [Connie Nielsen],
Menalippe [Lisa Loven Kongsli], and General Antiope [Robin Wright].

As it’s made its way across the internet it has generally been regarded with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, which should be no surprise given the fact that Wonder Woman is literally the biggest draw for people lining up to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. When it comes out in theatres next year it will have been Hollywood’s first return to female-led superhero movies since 2005’s Elektra, and arguably stands for so much more than the Jennifer-Garner-played red-clad assassin ever could.

wwMake no mistake, I am very excited for it. Seeing the Amazonian on the silver screen for the first time is also the primary reason I’m seeing BvS in the next few days, and a Wonder Woman t-shirt that I shamefully purchased at Hot Topic [shameful for the store, not the product] is the only merchandise I have bought and plan on buying [the poster on the right was free]. In spite of that, or maybe directly because of it, I ended up with a number of thoughts about the promo picture released. While the first point is the shortest and has nothing to do with my gender, the ones that follow may be defended by readers who can better relate. Which is to be expected, and that I hope people feel comfortable doing if they want to. Continue reading

The Character Assassination of Sam Wilson by the Publisher Marvel Comics

Captain America Is Old, Long Live Captain America

In July of 2014 it was announced on The Colbert Report that a momentous event would be occurring in the Marvel universe. The blonde, blue-eyed Steve Rogers would be stepping down as Captain America due to rapidly aging, with the mantle passing on to his partner [not sidekick] Sam Wilson aka The Falcon. As is typical for the industry the cover for Captain America #25, in which the event takes place, promised some level of mystery with a white silhouette asking readers to guess who it would be.

Captain America #25 (Vol. 7). Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Carlos Pacheco.

As Sam himself states in the splash page on the right [I realize that the text is far too small for you to read]:

“You guys all knew it was me, didn’t you?

There’s literally no drama left in this reveal.”

The words are particularly tongue in cheek, with the writer himself acknowledging that even without the announcement on national TV it had always been fairly obvious who would be the next character to bear the shield. Captain America and The Falcon had been compatriots since the late 60s [even sharing a title], so there were few more deserving individuals than Samuel “Snap” Wilson.

Now I was, and still am, all about this. To have as high profile a role as Captain America, a title that represents an entire nation, be given to a Black man is enormous. I’d also always been a fan of Sam as The Falcon. I added the title to my pull-list immediately.

I’ll Justify the Title, But First, This Week’s Events and a Rough Thesis

Now just this past Tuesday, roughly a year and a half after the original announcement, Marvel released the news that Steve Rogers would be returning as the ol’ Shield-Slinger.

This isn’t to say that the book on the left, Captain America: Steve Rogers, would be replacing the currently running Captain America: Sam Wilson. Instead the publisher’s plan is to release both side by side. They will also be penned by the same writer, Nick Spencer, a move which there has been plenty of precedent for [Jonathan Hickman on both Avengers  Avengers and New Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis on All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, etc.]. Oftentimes both titles will act as separate halves of a larger story, though that hasn’t been confirmed in this case.

This announcement was met with a similar lack of surprise across the internet, largely because Captain America: Steve Rogers coincides with the release of the summer blockbuster Captain America: Civil War. A number of changes have been made to the comic books to have them fall more in line with what happens up on the big screen, and slapping an “A” back on the forehead of the face most of the world knows and loves is generally seen as a solid business move.

Now I am fully aware of how incendiary the title of this blog post is, and hope to justify it by explaining how the existence of two Captain Americas is not similar to the same being true of other heroes, with the reason for that largely being founded in the character’s recent publication history. It’s in the exploration of that latter point that I truly hope to rationalize the words “character assassination.”

As with every article I write, I’ve done my best to make this accessible to both those who do and do not regularly enjoy comic books. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments far below. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #19: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel19“Qiyamat ka din to nahin hain.” It’s not like it’s the end of the world, Mr. Khan muses aloud to his family in Urdu. But it is, at least until next month when the first issue of Ms. Marvel Volume 4 hits stands everywhere. This issue effectively marks the destruction of the universe for these characters, but it’s everything the finale could be and more.

It’s now that I’m forced to eat some of the words I published in my last review, those concerning the “meandering plot as it slowly reaches the end”. Yes, Issue #18 ended with the reveal that Kamala’s mother knew about her vigilantism, but there are so many other relationships that are fleshed out and given the closure they need as this chapter closes [in preparation for the next one beginning].

The first involves, as mentioned, our heroine and her parents of course. Kamala opts not to tell them about the impending apocalypse and simply enjoy their company. Following up with that are two female friends, one of which felt like a blindside but not in a bad way. We’ve seen so little of Nakia since Issue #1 that it’s easy to forget that she’s one of Kamala’s closest friends, and she voices her concerns that they might be drifting apart. It feels real because, as anyone in any kind of relationship can attest to, it can and has and will happen to all of us. And since we’re coming full circle back to the first issue we have Zoe-

zoepology Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #18: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel18So the world is still ending. While the final incursion was revealed back in Issue #16 New Jersey, and consequently the rest of the Marvel universe, continues to exist. That’s not to say that Ms. Marvel is alone in dragging its feet towards the apocalypse given that Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier and All-New Hawkeye are just two other titles that haven’t yet wrapped things up. No, my observation has more to do with it appears to be one to two days stretched out over the course of four issues [with next month’s #19 being the last before the book’s new #1].

Turn with me, if you will, all the way back to the second issue of Ms. Marvel that I ever reviewed. One thing that I pointed out was how G. Willow Wilson’s storytelling was “decidedly decompressed“, or focusing heavily on characterization in a way that often results in stories being stretched out longer than they might usually. While I believe it worked at the book’s inception, with many readers being brand new to comics and needing to be eased in, it feels overdone here in the final issues. Continue reading