Tuesday, December 3, 2013
This is a bit heady when it comes to this book, but it honestly has been more than a passing thought since the stories of Brian Wood's past(?) misconduct(s?) have circulated on the internet. There's the he-said/she-said back and forth of it and people who take sides, when really, this isn't so much about sides. One woman is opening up about her experience, and people are either refusing to believe her (despite quasi-confirmation from Wood himself, and an apology) or saying horrible things about her just for speaking about it. I feel that it's gross the general attitude a large subsection of fanboys have about women, as creators and characters and as fellow geeks, but most of that is chalked up to isolation from the fairer sex and a crass misunderstanding of how social interaction works, and perhaps some mommy issues. But beyond that, when a creator gets called out for being a letch (with a couple incidents discussed but others claiming there's more) does that mean we need to abandon them even if we like their work?
I don't know who Wood is as a person, but I've liked a lot of what he's done, and he tends to (ironically?) write a lot of strong female characters as well as (ironically?) partner with a lot of female artists. Can he be this progressive as a writer and also be a total prick of a human? Sure. Was he? Sounds like it. Is he still? I don't know. His response taking ownership of some of the alleged actions, and apologizing was a start but also felt like he was trying to willfully forget/ignore some of the more serious dickbag behaviour. Does he have more to apologize for? I don't know. Sounds like it. Was this in the past or is it a perpetuating problem with him? I don't know. Without really knowing who he is, can I damn the man and abandon his work easily? Can I just say I'm not going to support this guy full stop, vote with my dollars but at the same time not really voting for or against anything? I don't know.
Of his current work, I'm reading only the Massive, which I think is smart and an important examination of eco-politics in a nearly post-apocalyptic near-future. This issue continues an interesting conversation about whether whaling for survival is criminally damnable when there's no longer a whaling industry and whales as a species are thriving? As we've advanced as humanity, with science and curiosity at our sides, we've discovered plenty of species around the world are quite intelligent, and emotional creatures. Whales are among these creatures that aren't just instinctual, and as such, my standpoint is that whaling is akin to murder. But others may not feel the same way and may see the sacrifice of a few whales every year, with every element of their physical being made use of, as more than justifiable and that case is presented here too (last issue mind you, this issue is pure vendetta-driven and it gets pretty grim).
I like the Massive, but I'm keeping an eye on what's going on, I'm thinking about everything I read, and I'll weigh my discomfort with the creator against my enjoyment of his work and once one the one tips over the other, I'm out (it's sort of sitting even keel right now). This isn't me excusing anything he's done, to be sure, harassment of any sort is ugly and any sort of backlash against someone reporting it is as deplorable as the act of direct harassment itself (shaming and backlash is in fact a form of harassment)...but for now, I'm not certain if he or his career is worth totally torching based on who he (hopefully) used to be.
Briefly, playing devil's advocate... if he is a guy who used to be a dick fancying himself a ladies man, but has turned himself around into a family man, then he has a lot to be ashamed of and perhaps would shy away from acknowledging that he used to be that way. It's hard to admit your mistakes, especially ones that hurt someone else. End of advocacy.
On the other side, if he's still that guy, he's going to be in denial that he is that guy. He'll be deluded into thinking that he's being crucified for something that he likely remembers differently because to him he fully thinks he doesn't do anything wrong in these situations. And he'll keep doing it.
I hope it's more of the former situation and that he'll personally and privately apologize (or at least attempt to apologize) to those he knows he has wronged (and perhaps to those he may not know he has wronged. We may never know if he does, but that would be the right thing to do and I bet a few people would say something about that. On the other hand, if he's still the letch, then we'll be hearing about that too, and honestly, I couldn't support him and I don't think the industry should either.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
This issue, like every issue is a blast, and I love watching Brian K. Vaughan's work as he slowly expands his universe of characters, as well as his universe itself. He often starts off with his characters as archetypes, so you know what he's going for with the character, but he then explodes them by turning them into people beyond just "tough-ass mercenary" or "nagging mother-in-law". There's bad people in this book, but there's no straight out bad guys, just like the good guys aren't necessarily the bestest people either, even if they're really trying to be. I like Vaughan's use of technology, which is often super advanced and just as often defiantly and anachronistically retro (a lot of that probably falls on Fiona Staples' able hands), and also just as often biological, showing us things we haven't seen before.
With the heaps of praise the book is garnering constantly, I keep expecting the cynical fanboy backlash, but then I realize that even if that does happen, the book is so damn good it's still going to accelerate in popularity, drawing in many, many readers from outside the fanboy and comic con masses. This is a breakthrough book, a comic book that loves and embraces the medium without excluding those less or unfamiliar with the format. If you're a comic and/or sci-fi and/or fantasy fan, and you're not reading this book, I have to ask why not?
Friday, November 29, 2013
This week's Thor's Comic Column has my review of Avenger Arena, the final issue. Now with this review, which is about how much I love this series as a whole, I don't do any spoilers....
...but I'm gonna now, so step away if you don't wanna know anything.
Okay, so *phew* Cammi survived. If there was a favourite character for me in the book, she was most certainly it. Hopeless reminded me why I liked her back in the early Marvel Cosmic/Annihilation days.
Coming out of it alive...Chase and Nico (so both Runaways), Anachronism ( the only Braddock academy surivor perhaps...or maybe Bloodstone pulls through?), Hazmat, Reptil (looks like anyway) and X-23, Death Locket and Cammi...
Chris Powell, Darkhawk, is not on the dead checklist in the title page but he seemed to be killed (again) by Arcade so I'm not sure. And we assume Apex is dead, right...but I bet we see him/her again real soon.
I'm trying to figure out who these four kids are in Avengers Undercover with Zemo... there's Anachronism, Death Locket, and it looks like Bloodstone and Hazmat. If that is Hazmat I bet we'll see Reptil again. I have to wonder where Nico, Chase, Cammi and X-23 are going to be next (though I imagine X-23 will show up in an X Book somewhere soon).
(Update)I didn't realize that Marvel already spoiled the outcome of AA a bit when they announced Undercover at NYCC in October. Apparently Cammi is part of the team, so, yay! But boo on such big spoilers. Glad I didn't see that until now.
I wrote about how excited the first issue of Letter 44 made me not so long ago in 365 #308, but I wanted to say that the second ish is just as good, the quality holds up. I may have a new favourite book here (well, not THE favourite, but definitely a must read). It's very entertaining and the execution of the story seems well thought out and nicely paced so far. I also thought how interesting the space action sequence was give that Gravity is kind of the new benchmark for such things. This holds up against it. I need to dig a little more and discover if this is ongoing or a mini or what...I'm interested to know the long game in order to contextualize what I'm reading. I guess it theoretically could run for four years, and become Letter 45 thereafter... it would be interesting to see how a president preoccupied with an alien threat that the public is completely unaware of runs for re-election or if he even wants to. Or when does 43, the Bush-esque ex-Pres spill the beans accidentally....? So many story options beyond just alien threat...politics and economics and really robust shit like that can all come into play. I hope so anyway.
It's a great book...read it.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It looks really really nice though. Mooneyham is killin it... but for some reason the shark fight just rubs me the wrong way.
The book ends with a twist, as it seems to be aptly suited for an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone-type show. It's nicely illustrated, with Sorokin keeping a very crisp line, with nice detailing and vibrantly coloring. It's a really solid effort from a new talent worth keeping an eye on.