Thursday, July 20, 2017 

2 sloppy articles about Valerian & Laureline

The Greenwood Democrat's got a sloppy article about Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres' Valerian & Laureline, written in advance of the new movie's release, that's got some pretty laughable lines inside. For example:
The comics starring Valerian and his partner, Laureline, launched in 1967 in the pages of the French magazine “Pilote,” and were so popular that writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mezieres continued the series for 43 years. It has sold 2.5 million volumes and, as of the 2007 census records, 1,852 boys have been named Valerian, and 2,062 girls have been dubbed Laureline. (Christin and Mezieres invented both names.)
Wrong. The name Valerian has its origins in the Roman Valerianus, and Laureline has its origins in Latin, originally meant to say, "crowned with laurel". Certainly Mezieres/Christin inspired a lot of people to take up the names for their children, but they did not invent the names entirely by themselves.

They even claim foreign-created products don't appeal to US audiences:
So it’s not like U.S. audiences have an aversion to movies adapted from comics. It’s just foreign properties that receive a chilly reception. Which may include “Valerian,” since it is a French-made movie based on a bandes dessinees (the French term for comics).
Oh please. If they didn't get a spectacular reception, it could just as well be since the production standards aren't up to snuff. It could also be that bad politics stealthed into the story sour the taste for possible entrants. And the columnist has the gall to make it sound like US audiences are literally prejudiced against anything and everything foreign, without considering all the manga books that have sold well stateside. And here's where the writer really screws up from a historical perspective:
Laureline, on the other hand, is from the 11th century, which gives her an entirely different perspective. She became part of the strip in Valerian’s first adventure, where he traveled to Dark Ages France, and she essentially blackmailed the agent into taking her to the 28th century, where she trained as an agent and became his partner. Valerian’s first instinct is to follow the rules, whereas Laureline is practically the opposite.
Excuse moi? She didn't blackmail Valerian. The villain from the first 2 adventures, Xombul, briefly turned Laureline into a unicorn, enabling her to read minds, and she wound up reading Valerian's mind, discovering he's from the future, and that his superiors would rather he try to transport anybody who knew his origins back to his own time as a means of keeping his job secret. When she told him this later after regaining her proper form, he was actually rather delighted, since he was beginning to form a crush on her. The way this article puts it, you'd think Laureline was a conniving opportunist. Ludicrous.

At the end, it says:
But however “fresh” the movie is eventually judged to be, it’s unlikely to reach “Wonder Woman” or “Spider-Man: Homecoming” numbers. Space and time may be no barrier to Valerian and Laureline, but the U.S. box office looks to remain a pretty tough nut to crack for foreign comics adaptations.
If there's any reason it shouldn't, not even in France, that's because of Luc Besson's horrific politics, as I'd noted before. His MO leaves quite a bad aftertaste.

Besides the above, there's also the following article from The Atlantic that's got some awkward details, including an ambiguous claim sci-fi was long dominated by men:
Feminist science fiction has a notable history, but the genre has long been dominated by stories written by, and solely featuring, men. I can’t help but feel awkward reading one of the most celebrated short stories of the genre, Isaac Asimov’s 1941 tale “Nightfall,” which contains no women at all beyond a passing mention of them as child-breeders. When, in 1938, a Canadian reader named Donald G. Turnbull wrote in to Astonishing Science Fiction—a major magazine for the genre—to say that “A woman’s place is not in anything scientific,” Asimov applauded him. “Three rousing cheers on Donald G. Turnbull for his valiant attack on those favoring mush,” the author wrote. “When we want science fiction, we don’t want swooning dames.” Asimov lamented that women were added superfluously to such stories, which made them “sloppy.” “Notice, too, that many top-notch, grade-A, wonderful, marvelous, etc., etc., authors get along swell without any women, at all,” Asimov wrote in 1939 in another letter about sci-fi.
I get the feeling the writer of this piece never heard about Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series and its own notable heroine, Dejah Thoris (and the story cast got comic book adaptations too in recent years), so I don't see what they're getting at. Furthermore, if Asimov's such a big deal, are they aware he was a leftist himself, and also an atheist for many years, even as he drew inspirations from the Bible for some of his storytelling? What if that had something to do with how Asimov wrote Nightfall? Though the first Foundation book's got no significant ladies, they do begin to appear in later entries, including Hari Seldon's wife Dors Venabili. The Atlantic writer also fails to consider that Asimov, along with his wife Janet, penned several Norby books in the 1980s some time before his death. That doesn't count for something?
Laureline’s creators did not stumble upon this winning combination of traits: Her character has its roots in feminist movements and texts, including Simone de Beauvoir’s foundational work The Second Sex. “You do not read [The Second Sex] with impunity,” Christin told the comics’ artist, Mézières, in 2001 when asked about the inspiration for Laureline. He added that “feminism in the United States” in the mid-20th century and “the rise of women as real protagonists in all fields” had also caught his eye. Mézières gave credit to Jean-Claude Forest’s earlier Barbarella comics, which were one of the few of the era to feature a notable female lead.

But whereas Barbarella, who famously champions free love, reads perhaps more as burlesque, Laureline feels fleshed-out and human. And while the early Wonder Woman comics by William Moulton Marston lost some of their feminist power through their heavy-handedness, Laureline is tough in a more accessible way—without needing superpowers. Indeed, when the series begins, Laureline is not a futuristic elite agent, but, rather, an 11th-century peasant. In the comics’ first story, Bad Dreams (translated into English for the first time this year), Valérian travels back in time on a mission to the Middle Ages, when he meets Laureline. She discovers that Valérian is from the future, a potentially timeline-altering secret that prompts him to take her back to Galaxity, changing her life—and science fiction—forever.
If a character without superpowers is a big deal to them, how come they won't give any credit to Robert Kanigher for creating Black Canary, who didn't have superpowers in her early tales from the late 40s? Or, how come Hawkgirl never gets any credit? It's funny how so many people are willing to cite Wonder Woman as a notable creation, but never the third tiers, no matter how many impressive stories they could have.

I also decidedly take issue with the following passage:
...It’s certainly cringeworthy whenever Laureline is called “little Laureline” by various characters, and yet, throughout the comics, she consistently proves she is anything but “little.” [...]
Sounds like somebody failed to grasp that's meant to be an affectionate compliment. Why, there's one story where Valerian came up and said, "my dear Laureline!" after she'd returned from an errand, but since she thought he'd been oblivious earlier, she wasn't impressed (rather, a kangaroo-shaped alien's greeting proved much more welcoming to her).
Though science fiction has more women writers and nuanced female characters today than it did 50 years ago, the genre still needs more Laurelines. She showed readers like me how resilient we can be, whether wading across centuries, or taking to distant earths. She helped transform her comics—already visually arresting at their peak—into art in a broader sense, an art guided by examining what it means to move through the many regions of the self, the silent icy deserts and loud alien landscapes far from any starships like one’s own. Because even when all its characters are aliens in unfamiliar worlds, science fiction has always been about looking at humanity. And while the genre still has room to grow, these comics, by exploring what it means to be a person—and, in particular, a woman—in spaces and times far from those of their readers, show one path forward that certainly works.
What's baffling about this article is why they make it sound like ordinary literature sans illustrations is what matters here, not comics. Besides, there are a lot more examples today than before, contrary to what they claim. How about Vampirella, who debuted in 1969, and had a lady artist, Trina Robbins, as co-creator? Or how about Black Widow and Huntress? How about some of the co-stars in superhero comics? The failure of the writer to offer any clearer examples, from comics and/or novels, only makes this article more a joke.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017 

Marvel's taken a very Strange step to replace Stephen with Loki

They may not be going the "diverse" route this time, but it's clear that, much like with their recent decision to make Volstagg the new Thor, they're trying to generate 15 minutes of headlines by replacing Doctor Strange with another character from Thor's cast, this time the God of Mischief Loki, and the worst part is that the assigned writer echoes Brian Michael Bendis:
There’s a new sorcerer supreme in town, and he’s a tricky one. Loki, the Asgardian god of mischief, will take over the role of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme in a new Doctor Strange story from writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Henandez Walta. [...]

“I've wanted to write for Marvel since I was a little kid, so the opportunity to come into this incredible world and play with all of these amazing characters is a dream come true for me,” said Cates in a statement. “Everyone at Marvel has been great to work with, and we've put our collective heads together to make some really special stories for the fans. I've never been more excited to tell the stories that I'm telling today. I feel like a kid again. Albeit a kid who is inflicting...just terrible things upon all your favorite characters.”
Anybody who makes statements like that has no respect for fandom, and was never one themselves either. And to top it all off, they're even casting a villain in a role that was meant to be for a hero. It goes without saying they're uninterested in encouraging moviegoers who saw the Dr. Strange film to buy the comics.

Axel Alonso also added:
"Donny brings big ideas to the table, and that's going to be immediately apparent in his first projects," said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. "We expect him to be a major contributor to the Marvel Universe's evolution in the coming year...and beyond."
In other words, he'll be both the new Bendis and a new Slott.
As for the big status quo change, Cates teased plenty of friction between the jilted Doctor Strange and the new Sorcerer Supreme. "That's right, kids...Loki has taken the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme from our good Doctor! What does that mean for Stephen? And what lengths will Strange go to see his title and his home returned to him? I'll say this....you can guess all you like, but there is absolutely no way anyone will see the answers to these questions coming. As a dedicated Marvel fan myself, I can confidently say the events of this arc are some of the most shocking things in Marvel comics to date. I'm so excited to see what everyone thinks!"
I think he's more interested in seeing how negatively fans will react, and then celebrate his success in turning us off while he laughs all the way to the bank with his paycheck. He can say what he likes, but anybody whose only idea for how to "entertain" is to realize editorial mandates and replace established characters with others for the sake of headlines is not a dedicated fan. At this point, their directions aren't shocking so much as they're snoozingly boring.

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Monday, July 17, 2017 

CBR's commentary continues to sink in a swamp of bias

If you've ever wondered how far the quality of CBR's writers has dropped, if they ever had any to start with, look no further than this article about 20 series cancelled for allegedly shocking reasons. First, here's the part about Black Panther and the Crew, where political bias predictably find its way in:
Caught up in the recent explosion of Marvel cancelations, Black Panther and the Crew is one of the more shocking picks for the chopping block. Focusing on heroes of color trying to keep the peace in a restless Harlem following the death of a civil rights activist, the title was arguably more important than most comic fare because it concerned itself with the realistic depiction of issues which typically would take a backseat to colorful and symbolic villains.

The comic was canceled in six issues due to bad sales, which is indicative of numerous problems, none of which have to do with the title’s quality. Marvel didn’t give this series a chance to tell its full story and connect with audiences. And even if they did, canceling one of the most socially important comics to come out in quite some time over a low profit margin was terrible PR for the company.
Umm, I think quality - or lack thereof - does have what to do with the lack of interest. As noted before, the politics in this spinoff series were so far left and so bad, it figures that in the end, sales were bound to suffer.

Since we're on that topic, here's also what they say about World of Wakanda:
Another of Marvel’s recent executions, Black Panther: World of Wakanda was about a romance between two Wakandan women who must defend the nation while Black Panther is away. It was penned by Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey, two critically acclaimed female writers of color. Ostensibly, it was one of the most diverse comics Marvel ever produced, both on the page and in real life.

But when Marvel sales went into free fall in the last year, one of the primary scapegoats for executives was the company’s recent explosion of diversity in their stories. Thinking that readers didn’t want anything more than the core Marvel characters, the company quickly killed off any and all titles that didn’t feature characters that wouldn’t appear in the upcoming Secret Empire event.
Oh, here I think they're getting it at least a little inaccurate, no doubt deliberately, because Black Panther and company are their own agency and there wasn't any forced replacement of established white heroes going on here. The only problem would have to be the forced lesbianism, along with the aforementioned ultra-leftist politics. So CBR's writers have only sought to opportunistically label fandom as scum while absolving the writers/editors involved of shoving leftism down everyone's throats.

There's also this sloppy note about the Super-Team Family series from the Bronze Age to consider:
This short-lived series lasted from 1975-1978. We wonder what could have possibly happened that would have caused this DC title to be canceled in 1978. It mostly featured reprints of older comics, but did give readers some iconic original works such as the first Flash/Hawkman team up and the introduction of the Atom to the wider DC Universe. Though it was canceled around the same time as the DC Implosion, it wasn’t done for financial reasons.
First, I don't see how running nearly 3 years counts as that short-lived. Second, the Atom was already introduced to the wider DCU in the early 60s when he joined the Justice League of America. Third, what if it was for financial reasons? Their assertions are laughable, and the part about the Atom is nigh hilarious.

And on the black Firestorm, an early example of DC's own pandering to SJWs and the ideology of forced diversity, they say:
Firestorm just has the worst luck when it comes to solo comics, doesn’t he? In this case, it’s refreshing to see a company listen to the readers and conforming to their opinions as opposed to axing something just due to poor sales. Firestorm was relaunched in 2004 with a new character, Jason Rusch. Fans immediately initiated backlash against the company, unhappy that fan-favorite Ronnie Raymond, who had died during Identity Crisis, was replaced with such a bland character.

DC resisted hard
, keeping the failing comic around for a full 30 issues before acquiescing to customer demand and included Ronnie Raymond as a revived soul during Blackest Night. Raymond took his rightful place as one half of Firestorm, Rusch went away to develop as a character for a bit, and the comic was canceled to give Firestorm some time to recover.
I don't see how a character who originally rose from the ashes of the DC Implosion to enjoy 8 years worth of a solo book spanning 100 issues or so has the worst of luck. I'd think the Atom, Black Lightning and Metamorpho qualify more for that category. And then, here's another example of a fictional character taking the brunt rather than the writers themselves for bland scripting of said character. But they're right that DC stubbornly kept at it, not unlike their previous record with Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern. The diversity-emphasis Firestorm was also an early example of leftist politics in motion; anybody studying what went wrong at Marvel would be strongly advised to take note of how DC preceded them. And again, it goes without saying that Identity Crisis was abominable.

So there's a few examples of why there's less and less on CBR to rely upon, now that they're owned by bigger media conglomerates.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017 

The Valerian movie adaptation may feature a leftist metaphor for immigration

The new movie based on Jean-Claude Mezieres and Pierre Christin's Valerian & Laureline, Space-time Agents series hasn't officially been released yet, but some advance reviews certainly have, and Time Out's review has quite an eyebrow raiser. Towards the end of the article, they say that:
...the climax is built around a notion of intergalactic humility (toward immigrants, in fact) that feels decidedly otherworldly.
Indeed! Director Luc Besson's already proven himself one of the most naive leftists you could possibly find, especially after the bloodbath at the Charlie Hebdo offices 2 years ago, when he penned a letter blaming "economic deprivation" for radicalization of Islamists, not the religion itself. Coming as it is after all the horrors France experienced in the past few years, that sure is pretty considerate of Besson, I'll say. Uncontrolled immigration is exactly what's injured France, and Besson has the gall to inject that kind of propaganda into the film? It's shameful. If he's injected leftist propaganda, then a better title would be Besson and the Empire of a Thousand Propagandists, because that's where he and his ilk practically come from.

If Besson thinks he's paying tribute to the old comics, I'd say he's only embarrassing them. I can't feel sorry if his Europacorp studio's fumbling financially now.

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Friday, July 14, 2017 

Jane Foster's curtain call?

When Marvel brought up the Legacy crossover a few months ago, it was claimed there wouldn't be any reliance on deaths, or at least not shock tactics. But with this new information, I'd say they're running the risk of contradicting themselves, which is no longer a surprise:
Marvel Legacy is bringing with it a myriad of changes, but could it also spell the end for Thor?

That's the question on everyone's mind at the moment, especially after Marvel released a Legacy cover with Jane Foster's Mighty Thor draped across the Grim Reaper. The cover is an homage to The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel, and Nerdist asked Thor writer Jason Aaron what it means for Jane Foster.

“That’s obviously a powerful book and a huge part of Marvel history, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait to see whether or not our story shares anything with that one,” said Aaron. “I will just say that I’ve always been telling a very specific story with Jane, and I’ve known for a while where that was headed.”
Sure he knew where they're headed, and that's downwards. Notice how this article makes it sound like Jane was Thor for a long time, and doesn't make a clear distinction between Jane and the real, male Thor? The way they set these things up, that's why it no longer has any convincing impact.
Jane has been dealing with cancer in her human form and has even debated becoming Thor full-time to prolong her lifespan. Her whereabouts are currently unknown, as she was last seen in Secret Empire before fading out of existence, leaving Mjolnir behind for Captain America to wield (long story).
So she's been theoretically stuck in limbo for the past few months? Interesting how all that fuss made by the ultra-leftist press over a female Thor seems to have vanished of recent, proving they never cared in the first place. They were only interested in villifying the core superhero audience.

Since we're on the topic, Jason Aaron and company recently had another insult to the intellect concocted: they've "revealed" that Thor cheated on Jane:
But in today’s Mighty Thor, as Thor Odinson learns a secret, and we all learn exactly who the new War Thor is (the cover may help), we learn that he as also keeping something from us. That Thor cheated.
With who? The Enchantress? Yawn. It's long been established in the Silver Age that Enchantress was putting the moves on Thor in his Don Blake guise, not the other way around, and he wasn't trying to cheat on Jane at all. I guess Aaron's saying Thor's love for Sif was inherently wrong too?
Because while he and Jane Foster was an item, sticking his hammer where it didn’t belong. “Dalliances” as he puts it. Plural. I mean, okay, he’s a Norse God, there are different rules, but given how people have turned on Marvel for Captain America being revealed to be a sleeper Hydra agent, and while they may have tolerance for Hercules putting it around on anyone that moves regardless of gender, Thor doing it Norse fashion may be more than Avengers fans can take.
And that's why we who think hard stopped taking it long ago. And also why we don't approve of the latest "attempt" to impress upon the audience with the reveal that Volstagg the Enormous is going to be yet another Thor. Yup, instead of just giving Volstagg his own solo miniseries like Hercules once got in the early 80s, they waste everyone's time with this latest desperate search for headlines.

Some "legacy" this is turning out to be!

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Thursday, July 13, 2017 

The classic comic strips that still have influence

WPSU Radio in Pennsylvania has a list of very old comic strips, mainly from newspapers, that still shape today's offerings in some way or other.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017 

Waid and Ramos continue as "champions" of leftist propaganda

In the 10th issue of Marvel's Champions title, Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos have brewed up more degrading propaganda, apparently as part of the Secret Empire crossover, and the resulting story even insults the groups they're supposedly favoring:
Champions #10, out now from Marvel, features a story where the remaining members of the team, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Totally Awesome Hulk and Viv Vision, try to find their missing team mate, Inhuman member Ms. Marvel, in the United States of Hydramerica.

This is because, of course, Inhumans are being rounded up and placed in internment camps by the definitely not Nazis Hydra and HydraCap.
It's not too difficult to guess Hydra, in this tale, serves as their stand-in for right-wingers. And here's the bizarre part:
Champions, by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, decides to follow the story that many of the Inhumans do not want to escape the camp. They do not wish to live their lives on the run in a Hydramerica that would hunt them down, and those that wish to remain fear should some escape, then they would face reprisals from their fascist prison masters.

In fact, in this page we see here that one Inhuman who we see throughout the issue explain this to the team, and in fact says that within the camp at least they are well cared for.

Which is a bit odd seen as at the beginning of the issue she witnesses one of the robot guards incinerate two teen Inhumans on the spot for merely discussing the possibility of escape.
The story sounds like 2 sides of the same coin. On the one hand, Secret Empire is more or less another in Marvel's list of stridently anti-conservative metaphors. On the other hand, they abuse the characters who're meant to serve as their idea for what the goodies should be like. Here's a few panels from the pages of the crossover that I found:
There's a few more panels at the link. I think the 2nd of these pictures comes from the Steve Rogers-as-Hydra-agent title, and overall, what they're doing here is utter abuse of the Inhumans. And they said earlier they wanted to promote the Inhumans as a substitute for X-Men, because the upper management didn't want them creating any new characters? Gee whiz. No matter how you look at this, their current propaganda won't help the Inhumans get anywhere.

It's clear Waid's run out of ideas and talent, and he'd be better off retiring just like Chris Claremont may have done. And as anybody who's a realist is aware, there's little chance Marvel will cease with the anti-conservative tactics even after this whole mess has run its course.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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