1880 Inclusiviteam.

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It’s funny that this sort of offhanded reference to a fairly standard nontroversy has sparked so much discussion. I can’t remember the last time there were over 50 comments about anything. XD Not that I mind, it’s just funny how bad IO am at guessing what will get people talking. Anyway, I’ve watched so many youtube videos about star wars, comics, and everything else that’s a topic in the culture war we’re going through right now. From Magic the gathering on down the line everything is either under attack or being infiltrated, depending on where you stand. I’m always stuck somewhere near the center, which, in our culture now, is the same as not being involved at all because both sides disown you. I’ve always been a fan of Transformers, so I hear stuff about the deeper fandom delving into more social issues as Hasbro pushes its inclusivity agenda across all its brands. I’m actually a fan of this because we’re finally getting toys of the “female” transformers, and new “female” characters. (I put female in quotes because technically Cybertronians are genderless, but some present themselves in ways we understand as male or female. Although that may be old information because I think they may be delving in to the idea of them actually having genders as humans understand them now.) Strongarm was a delight in the RID cartoon. They’ve also had “gay” relationships represented although, as previously discussed, genderless. Basically they’re writing in the idea of love between robots, which is a fun idea on a lot of levels. They are an alien race that reproduce asexually. They have souls that can be handled, transferred, seen, and reborn. Anyway, what I’m saying is that I like the inclusion of more types of characters because it expands my enjoyment & draws in others, which maintains interest in supporting something I want to continue.
On the other hand, G.I. Joe seems to be struggling with its identity right now and looks to be at odds with its own fandom in a big way. Sometimes you swing and miss. Although eventually the franchise will finds where it needs to go it’s having a struggle right now that’s got people cranky. I like G.I.joe, but I’m glad I’m outside of it enough that I don’t have to be in the middle of it with the die hard fans. Being in the Star Wars fandom is hard enough right now, even though I’m not bothered by where the franchise is going in particular. The non movie stuff usually manages to fix the dumb shit the films do, so I expect that will keep happening. Especially since they brought Clone Wars back for another season. Also the rebellion cartoon looks like it might fill in a lot of the much needed character development for the new movies, at least as far as Poe Dameron is concerned. Hopefully that will extend to other movie characters as well.
I totally forgot where I was going with all of this. I started thinking about transformers in the back of my head and now I want to look up some stuff about Vector Sigma…
Okay, I know this is David Willis’s “thing” but right now Transformers is just having this nostalgia orgasm in the toy lines. We’ve been getting really good versions of so many classic characters. Like, we finally, after 3 decades, got a perfect Brawn figure. He’s one of my absolute favorite characters and I’ve waited so long… Since he shared a mold with Outback we also got a figure of him too, who was also one of my favorites. They also have done almost every combiner team with a new system that actually makes the combined form hold together like a toy on its own. Additionally they made a lot of characters compatible with combining that never were before, but that had the bonus effect of allowing more freedom to retrofit more character into the line. SO we finally got Ironhide & Ratchet in relatively show accurate designs. They also did all 5 Dinobots in one set. So now there’s a stylistically cohesive version of the entire classic team, which hasn’t happened since gen 2 I guess. Unfortunately quality has slipped noticeably with some of the figures. Elita 1, for example is a hot mess. So is Starscream since they share a mold. It’s very hit and miss. Some figures are nearly perfect while others are wildly bad. On the whole everything is better though, and the travesty of the movies isn’t infringing on the generations line in any noticeable way.

69 Comments

I don’t mind the mainstream getting into our stuff. What I mind is the messing with it in the name of trying to appeal to everybody. After all people taking bits and pieces from other cultures and mishmashing then it’s kind of what American is about. But but you got to kind of take with the good with the bad when it comes to nerd culture.

Not really into comics anymore, more into webcomics.
The idea of gender-swapping all the supers of my youth is not my demographic,
nor do I suspect it will suddenly make the general female population “discover”
comics.

If you want to virtue-signal, perhaps it’s better to do it in a way other than one that
destroys your business and source of income, perhaps!

Thats the thing, ladies are into PLENTY of comics. Just not mostly Marvel or DC. I work at a bookstore and most female comic readers gravitate towards the Manga (varying genres), and non-marvel or DC titles for western comics. Walking dead does gangbusters for both genders, same when a new Saga trade. They’re reading comics, just not these comics.

I seriously don’t think it’s destroying half their business.

As someone else said, all the gender-swapping and stuff isn’t the issue. The writing in general is a bigger issue. And having more competition (web comics, for example).

Again, I think half the fans are upset about the writing, and the other half (the noisier, less tactful half) hate change.

I don’t have the figures at hand, but mainstream (DC/Marvel) comics has been downsizing for years, and replacing their most popular male heroes with female versions hasn’t reversed that trend, if anything it’s accelerated it. Just ask the comic book store owners – as today’s comic mentions the store owners feel like they’re being betrayed by the historic industry leaders.

There’s plenty of room for female supervillains/heroes in their OWN story lines without having them replace all the decades old male ones. But the mainstream companies act as it’s too much effort to be creative anymore. To increase shrinking readership they’ve tried reboots, they’ve tried killing (temp) their popular heroes, they’ve tried the multiple covers trick, they’ve tried EVERYTHING except giving their customers better product. Now they’re gender-swapping their most popular characters en mass because…. Reasons.

Then to put the cherry on top of their mismanagement when “weird white guys” readership didn’t stop shrinking because of that last schtick – and other demographics didn’t step up to buy into their self-congratulating virtue-signaling product – the company execs have the brilliant idea to publicly and loudly insulting their main (and putative any future) customer base by blaming the CUSTOMERS for being sexists/racist/etc/etc/etc pigs.

Politically that didn’t work for those trying to push a less popular female Clinton onto voters (just sayin) – any actual sexist/racist/etc/etc/etc consumers/voters aren’t going to change their minds, and anyone declining to buy in for other reasons isn’t going to be convinced to mind meld with the “one of us” chanting mob by being insulted either.

As someone who still buys comics, I’d say it’s a bit of everything.

For one, their “Let’s make this comic for females” has been badly written in lots of cases.

Silk. Starfire. Terrible.

I only kept buying them because, well in the end, stupid :p Seriously. You buy them, they think they’re doing things right. You stop buying them, they cancel the book.

You complain about the book, you’re sexist, racist, homophobic, pick something.

Your complaint has always been the writing more than anything. Which is a valid point. I think in reality, if the comic doesn’t improve, it’s going to sell less. Writing seems to be at the core of that issue.

Now, there’s still people like Richard Meyer who thinks what is killing comic books is (not my opinion, his opinion):

1. Women superheroes are starting to think for themselves and act empowered (example – Wonder Woman). They are supposed to be sidekicks, FFS. (comment made several times – 2 to 11 million likes and approving comments from male comic book readers)

2. Women superheroes are being drawn with smaller boobs and less curvy bodies, making them less attractive (example – Rogue and Galatea). Their only appeal in the past was their sexualized appearance. (comment made a few times – 6 to 13 million likes and approving comments from male comic book readers)

3. Women taking iconic roles or having their own comic books is boring. (example – Rogue and Supergirl) Who wants to read about a bimbo who can lift a truck? (comment made a lot – 1 to 5 million likes and approving comments from male comic book readers)

Strangely enough, his comment about Miles Morales seems to have bitten him in the ass and he issued an apology about that. But he just got called out for liking a slightly tanned Superman over a black Superman, because – in his own words – “Superman stands for Amerca, not Africa.” There was an equally supportive and negative response to that comment, in which a few commenters I read used the N word quite a bit.

> people like Richard Meyer who thinks what is killing comic books is (not my opinion, his opinion):

You say you are explaining his opinion? I’m calling you on it.

> Women superheroes are starting to think for themselves and act empowered

I’m going to need a reference to back that up. I’ve never heard him say anything like that, and I have heard him say that “the leader of the X-Men was Ororo, a black woman, and everyone liked her and was fine with it.” I’ve heard him say “it’s not that we don’t want women characters, we just don’t want bad ones.”

Similarly, he said that She-Hulk has in the past been a fun character with some good stories, but the recent She-Hulk comics were no fun at all to read. He didn’t say “She-Hulk should never have had a comic of her own”.

> Women superheroes are being drawn with smaller boobs and less curvy bodies, making them less attractive

That’s a fair summary of things I have heard him say.

> Their only appeal in the past was their sexualized appearance.

I’m going to need a reference. In which video did he say that? I’ve never heard him say anything like that.

> Women taking iconic roles or having their own comic books is boring. (example – Rogue and Supergirl) Who wants to read about a bimbo who can lift a truck? (comment made a lot

If the comment was made a lot, it should be easy for you to find a video in which he made that comment and share the link with us. I’ve never heard him say anything like that.

I’ve watched a lot of “Diversity and Comics” videos. I can’t claim to have watched them all… the man literally puts up four to six hours of content per week and I don’t have that kind of time.

But I have watched hours of his content and your summary sounds nothing like what I have heard him saying. Here’s my summary of some things he has said:

* Once SJWs started running Marvel, they started hiring people based on who they are, not on what talent or experience they have. They decided to launch a comic book featuring a Latina lesbian, and they hired a Latina lesbian to write it, instead of having someone with years of experience writing comics. That comic book sold many copies of issue #1 and then sold extremely poorly after that and was canceled. Similarly other “diversity hires” have failed to create comics that the fans want to buy.

* He repeatedly does a joke where he calls Carol Danvers “Carl Manvers” because of the weirdly drawn anatomy. He compared the 1970’s version of the character to a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader; the current version doesn’t have the curves of a woman (no breasts and no hips and a square face). He doesn’t like the new art style, and he believes it was chosen not for artistic reasons but because SJWs want to go out of their way to not reward the “male gaze”.

* He believes the character design of Squirrel Girl was also designed to not reward the “male gaze”. He hates what he calls the “silly-billy oh-so-random” style of humor.

* He hates the trend in having superheroes spend whole comic books doing non-heroic things, like talking about where to eat lunch. I saw him do a review of the current Wolverine comic (where the classic Wolverine, Logan, is no longer in the book, and his female clone X-23 is wearing his old costume and calling herself Wolverine) and it wasn’t just something he made up, something like 1/3 of the pages were talking about food or making jokes about food and there was almost no action in the whole comic.

* He does find comics he likes and he talks them up. He expected to hate Gwenpool but the crazy story won him over and he recommended buying it. (The comic he liked was written by Christopher Hastings who used to make Dr. McNinja on the web.)

* He hated a comic where Spider-man made a silly face while talking to Doctor Strange (Spider-man wanted Doctor Strange to use magic to enable him talk to spiders for a while). He liked a recent comic where Spider-man saved the Earth from some aliens threatening to destroy it. He doesn’t randomly hate everything but he has a strong preference for non-political comics where heroes do heroic things.

I don’t agree with everything he says, and I don’t think he’s a perfect human being, but I don’t recognize any of the words you put in his mouth. If he’s fooled me, please show me how wrong I was by providing evidence that he actually said the things you paraphrased.

Just a typo, I think you’re missing the word “where” in the last panel. It shoul probably be “where this train wreck is heading”.

Amazing comic, though, keep up the great work.

After I went to film school, I became too aware of tropes, plot devices and acting techniques to really be able to immerse myself in a film. My awareness ruined the movie experience especially for the good movies. The only way I can enjoy movies now is morbid curiosity, and so ironically, I really like ones that I know will be bad, and immersion is irrelevant. I get where he is coming from. Birdman with Michael Keaton is an exception because there were so many inside jokes and references to the industry, theatre and actors, that it really spoke to me.

I completely agree with you on the stagnant tropes that have ruined films since the invention of the motion picture camera. However, I never went to school to be a critic or analyst; rather, I’m just incredibly observant (having a superb memory doesn’t hurt, either). As for a film that resonates with me, I couldn’t tell you. There are too many films that have characters who inevitably bring up good points, as well as scenes that are unintentionally more hilarious than they justifiably should.

An example of the latter: On “Van Helsing” with Hugh Jackman, one of the two brides discover a stake-filled explosive in the falling carriage. Being from Maine, a few food places refer to steak subs as “steak bombs”. So when I said “stake bomb” aloud, I burst out laughing.

Steak bomb…Hee, hee, hee!
Sounds a bit like the potato bomb, in the film- Cheech + Chong’s The Corsican Brothers.
[Side note- the film’s plot is not that great. If you want to see it- try seeing it [cheaply], or for free].

Yeah, I can see BirdMan being liked by professional film folks, but it’s one of the few films I’ve actually walked out of before the end. My sister, a mental health professional, walked out too. We both go to films to be entertained and/or to hopefully make us feel good.

Schindlers List (for example) isn’t a “feel good” film as such, but it has characters you like and care about, and if not a happy ending at least evil doesn’t conquer all either.

BirdMan has nothing but nasty people doing nasty things to each other. It may well be a true portrayal of the industry, I don’t know. But it didn’t have the saving grace of dark humor, I didn’t like a single person portrayed, and frankly the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

I can see where you’re coming from. The warts of characters being shown and exploited by other characters with equally bad warts is really jarring and seemingly ruthless, especially if the trailer portrayed the film as a more typical black comedy. The mental instability and vulnerability prevalent in the theatre/film industry is a dark (not so secret) secret. I’m not surprised and feel, based on your background, your respond to be very reasonable and logical.

I would only point out that many of the characters are extreme versions or exaggerations of stereotypes that can be found within the industry and community, and many of the behaviors shown are equally extreme. The whole point really is for the characters to be unlikable on some level. The biggest underlying truth in most of the characters is their sense of ego and narcissism, that is both necessary and detrimental to survive in the industry. Keaton’s intense need for validation or redemption from critics and audiences on Broadway and neglecting his daughter as a result. Norton’s extreme means of taking only the most “legit” acting roles and tendencies that border on sociopath. The film is more a satirical commentary on the industry that was made with those sort of people in mind, who would laugh in a knowing way rather than at the sheer absurdity. But regardless, anyone who’s sensitive to the well being of others should rightfully be disgusted by the behavior of the characters.

Yeah, last I heard the Transformers in the current comicverse have “CNA”, and gender is totally a thing, albeit an artificially introduced thing(and experiments that created the first female transformer left Arcee violently deranged).
And then they retconned it back and made gender a natural thing that was somehow LOST until it was artificially RE-introduced. How you LOSE a gender I can’t explain.

Basically, it all gets increasingly weird as time goes on, just like any other comic with continuity that lasts long enough to have the editorial direction changed a few times.

The point is… Transformers get WEIRD when they are anthropomorphized too far, and I think the european comic backstory for Arcee was hilariously on the nose with the whole cybertronian gender thing.

(In the european comics, some feminists were mad that the autobots were all men. Optimus tried to explain that robots don’t COME in boy and girl types, but they weren’t having it, so he shrugged and told Wheeljack to build a “female” robot. And then the feminists were mad because the genderless alien robots took a shot in the political dark and their “female” autobot was curvy and pink. But she kicked robutt, so she was still a net win for the autobots.)

“how do you lose an entire gender” (and then re-locate it)
something to remember, before Megatron’s rise to power Cybertron was ruled by the Functionist Council. and as the name suggests, these “dudes” have taken utilitarianism to it’s logical extreme.
“If a machine is needed, someone will be born that Transforms into it”
The Cybertronian species reproduces when their planet shits out souls, which then bond to the metal of the planet and grow into bodies (or the Sparks are harvested and installed into prefabricated bodies)
since the female gender appears to have no practical function in this scenario, i could easily see the Functionists encouraging their extinction, if not outright purging them.

No offense meant to anyone, but-
In the United States- If you want to be- a white guy, who likes comic books…and you’re 16, 18, or older, [In my opinion- you kinda have to accept the title of “a weird white guy”].
It’s sort of, one of the bruises or scrapes, that come with the hobby. [Is that proper grammar? Hm.]
Kind of like- If you want to get into repairing cars, + car engines, expect to get your hands scratched up + scraped. It’s kind of inevitable. Thus endeth the soap box speech.

Or my niece in law complaining about the broke down vehicles around their place. “Uh… You married a mechanic.” Who works on trucks all day, and other vehicles at home in his “spare time”.(running joke-you can probably tell.) 3 or 4 of which are usually mine, which keep getting moved to the end of the line…..

Come to think of it-

How seriously do I want to take stories about, “Bat guy”, Robin-guy, feline woman, and batty girl…anyway?

I’m a big fan of everything from way back, SW, superheroes, mutants, Transformers, GI Joe, you name it, and I have zero problem with inclusivitism. I don’t think SW is getting more girly, I think it was always girly but there was too little content to really see that. I don’t want less, I don’t want things I’ve already seen done worse, I want more. I’ve seen boringly large amounts of straight white cis everything, let’s see something new, like Star Wars was “new” when it came out.

The place where I don’t like “duh changes” is the pouring of grimdark diesel sludge over everything. It’s already been done to death, and it wasn’t that great the first time. I don’t want “Transformers XTREMEMEEME now with more sharp points and skull-fucking!!”, I lived in the 90s and nobody really liked that stuff then either. Nightwing was already edgy and emo enough, he lived in frigging “blood having town” for Chrisake, why do we need “Dick says Fuck” the series??

What? Can’t I have it both ways?

I am not a big fan of any of that (doesn’t mean I hate it, either) but agree with/love everything else you wrote. And it made me laugh, too – so there is that ;)

And often they make a laughingstock of themselves, for example when they tried to boycott Kingdom Come Deliverance for not having black characters in it. It’s a historically accurate medieval game set in early 15th century rural Bohemia. They don’t have black people there even today, much less in the 15th century.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against having black characters, of women, or gays. But they have to fit into the setting, and they should have other qualities besides being black, female or gay. Because if their sole purpose in the show is to should “WE ARE SOOOOO INCLUSIVE” and they have flat characterizations, and they contribute absolutely nothing besides their race/gender/whatever, then they are making it much worse. And instead of fighting racism and homophobia, they just increase it.

On historical video games, I get that. I really do. There’s reasons, and reasons may make the game not fun for some people. The answer isn’t to inject them into the game, but to create a … variant server for people who want to play other races or sexes in a medieval setting.

Part of my job right now is in sociology and marketing of video games. The thing we’re running into – by in large – is when we try to CONTINUE a story with a character that people have asked to play, but isn’t the main character. So here’s the issue:

Everyone loved the female character in Uncharted. When the main character’s storyline in Uncharted … resolved for lack of a better word … the writers and developers have always had an idea to continue his legacy through a female character in the same universe. So it was going to be the next Uncharted. HOWEVER, GamerGate people are making this incredibly hard. They called one of the long standing writers and designers a “cock sucking whore who will get dox’ed and killed” because apparently the plan to go to a female character in a popular game is due to a single person’s idea and we’re trying to be inclusive. Well, it is a bit of a hat-tip to the women who play video games, but this has been in planning long before the whole inclusive thing.

And that’s why fans ruin things they love. They can’t accept “change” if it damages their head canon.

“Wait guys, it’s not as bad as you think! She’s a transsexual.”

Transsexual, why not, that’s how Final Fight got around Poison and Roxy getting beat up by Cody and Mayor Haggar (not his name, his job, and yes, he was a tough on crime mayor) to avoid the whole “violence against women” argument…

I was really enjoying the recent Hulk series, I’m a big fan of She Hulk and enjoyed reading about her struggles with PTSD. I remember Captain Marvel being pretty good too; with a focus on immigration, racism and minorities.

Maybe my own tastes don’t match up with others, but I’m bored out of my mind at reading about the same strong white male characters which dominate our popular culture. Steak and potatoes are tasty, but if you had them for dinner every night, you’d end up hating them.

Like I said last strip, you want more inclusiveness, fine. You want more minority characters, okay, great. Just MAKE NEW ONES. Don’t take characters that have been established for decades and use retcon capabilities to change literally everything about them down to the DNA.

Like someone else said, too; you don’t make Thor a woman, you bring Sif to the front. For crying out loud, didn’t we have Spider-Gwen for a while?

All you need is a new “Crisis” of some sort where some alien virus attaches itself to the Y chromosome and knocks out all the dudes. Then every comic is nothing but women out to save the world.

Well in theory, I disagree. A lot. Two things:

1. Let’s talk about Thor. Thor – even in the folk tales – is not always a white man with long hair and beard that throws a big magical hammer. In fact, for most of the legend, Thor is at the mercy of his brother Loki’s mischief. He’s turned into a wolf, a bird, a bug, and even a woman. In fact, in one instance, Thor dresses up as a woman to fool a rival to stop a wedding. Legends even state that Thor might have been seriously bisexual – that he loved and slept with men as much as women. And then there’s the discrepancy in the lore itself – in some tales, he’s clean-shaven with red hair and a large spear. In some tales, he’s blonde with an axe. In some, he’s a fallen Valkyr – a shape-shifting being that takes on the likeness of the first Viking he encounters (which at the time was a man). But he could have been anything. Much like Odin who shape-shifts often to spy on men and other Gods, as well as listen to his crow spies. So Thor is a poor example of someone who can’t change massively to suit the whims of whatever story he’s in.

Same for Captain Marvel. The power is alien, from an alien who had the same name, who could change shape. In fact, Carol Danvers goes back to the old days, since that’s who gave Rogue her super-strength. So she’s not someone introduced for this push for inclusive characters. Marvel has always been something of an enigma, more powerful than Thanos, but somewhat of a non-gendered character that they drew to be male.

2. Most superhero titles – like Spiderman – is a mantle. In past stories, way before this whole nontroversy (I like that word btw), there are many different people who wear the Spider mantle. Even Peter Parker changes his name to fit the mantle. Iron Spider, when wearing Tony’s mechanical spider suit. Spider-Qwen is a great example as well (although the hate that poured out when that book started was pretty hot but thankfully short). Then we had Doc Oc switch bodies with Peter so Spiderman was technically Octavius for a period of time. It’s not a new concept, really. Batman is sort of set up for this to happen. When Bruce Wayne dies, Robin takes up the mantle. Robin can be a boy or girl, so Batman may just become a woman some day.

Same with Green Lantern. The ring can go to anyone (and when it went to Guy Gardner, I thought that was hilarious). Same with Captain Marvel in the DC universe – it’s a power passed down from a magician to a worthy soul (which is Billy Batson at the moment, but could be anyone, really). A lot of these characters just inherit these titles.

If you don’t think there are any bad fans who scream about these changes, you are clearly not paying attention to half the fandom. Richard Meyers, for example, called someone a cum bucket and said Wonder Woman is no longer appealing in comic books because she lacks her giant boobs and doing what the super males in comics tell her to do that made her appealing to older comic book fans. In fact, his blasting DC for making Galatea less “blonde, dumb and busty” garnered 5 million likes and people cheering him on. Just go look at the hatred he fuels for diversity in comics (his comment that Green Lantern should never be black or Hispanic because those races do not have what it takes to attract a ring … he got over 10 million likes for that).

“Legends even state that Thor might have been seriously bisexual”

Really. What legends, more precisely?

However, at one point Loki while in disguise gets banged by a magic horse (taking one for the team, if you will) and later gives birth to Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse that becomes the steed of Odin. There, now you have something for Marvel’s next movie.

“So, Tom, in the next scene you will be wearing this horse head and bending over … just like that. Great. Wonderful. You’re such a marvellous thespian. So expressive. (aside) Bring in the donkey. We’ll fix the rest in post.”

Norse mythology in Finland (during the Migration period) has a legend that Baldr – son of Odin and Frigg – was so beautiful that no human or God could resist him if he was interested. As the God of Light and Joy, he spent time with his brother and other men, and often they spent the night together soothing the woes of each other.

Now the Visgoth were not so conservative that they were not entirely monogamous and often had orgies that put the Romans to shame. There was a lot of bisexual activity, mostly because they were “in touch with Nature; wild; chaotic; like animals,” as both the Romans and the Northmen often described them. They carried the original legends before they were embraced by the Norse. The Vikings really, really added and recorded a lot about their Gods. It’s one reason why there’s so much more honor and battle in the myths than when the savages of Europe told them around the campfires.

Balder != Thor

Visigoths were Germanic tribes, not Vikings.

Also, Finland? The primary sources are from Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, so it seems iffy on the face of it. Googling didn’t yield much so could you give a direct reference to what you’re thinking of?

First and foremost – it’s Baldr not Baldur. Baldur is the name of a city in the Forgotten Realms (Baldur’s Gate).

Second, Baldr, Loki and Thor are half-brothers, sons of Odin.

Third, the Norse legends are actually legends that go back further in time than the Vikings. They were largely present during the early Roman period, when the Romans extended north into the rest of Europe. There were several tribes in the north – the Gauls, the Visgoths, etc. Later on, they were forced to migrate further north, their beliefs and ideals meshing with tribes who migrated all the way to Norway and Finland. They became the Scandinavians who were the Vikings.

Thor is actually a borrowed god, often thought to be taken from the Roman’s god Jupiter. There is some belief that Baldr may have been Mercury or Apollo from the Romans and Greeks. Regardless of the origin, all of Scandinavia and the rugged Wikan tribes had some version of these gods (only the Norse were very keen on keeping records or carving and passing down their versions of the same legends – the other regions usually just passed down the legends by word of mouth). When the Danes finally converted to Christianity, they pretty much destroyed as much of the legends as they could. There’s still new findings on the legends coming out quite regularly.

Often times the men of the North and the Vikings spent long voyages on ships. The crews were all men – men who were allowed to get drunk and be bawdy. It’s no secret that these same men found comfort in sleeping with each other. So their belief that their gods had no sexual preference was common. Romans, Greeks, Franks, Normans, Gauls … they all had their fair share of bisexual leaders and people, and there’s records of all their civilizations being involved in orgies that included men sleeping with men, and women sleeping with women.

Again, when Christianity declared that monogamy was the pure deal, and homosexuality was a sin, that was when the Church did it’s best to conceal the behavior of past civilizations or condemn them for it.

> (Don’t argue with me about this, comics are well known to be predominantly white dudes).

When I used to read comics, in the 1980’s, the X-Men was roughly 50% female. The leader was Ororo, a black woman. The comics sold in much larger volumes than anything Marvel currently sells.

I’ll readily grant that the oldest classic characters were almost exclusively white and were mostly male. But comics made an effort, starting in the late 60’s and more strongly by the 70’s and 80’s, to add more diverse characters. I think we ought to give the comics industry a little more credit for the steps it took in those days.

Also, as Richard Meyer has pointed out, some of his favorite comic creators were black, but nobody knew it back then because the comics companies didn’t make a big deal out of the race of the creators back then. You would see someone’s name on a comic, and no picture, and you might not even know that the person was female or black or whatever. (These days with social media, you can find out all about your favorite comics creators.)

> Do you have any idea how many “new and interesting” heroes there are in DC and Marvel comics that just fly under the radar because they aren’t the main favs?

This is a fair point. It’s easier to use name recognition of already-popular characters to jump-start new ones. However, the fans may see it as a bait-and-switch, and it can be overdone.

Make a list of the characters in the first Avengers movie, and see how many of them were replaced. Note: some of these changes, maybe even all of these, were reverted after the fans hated them.

Captain America — killed, Falcon became the new Captain America.
Thor — became unworthy, a woman took over
Hulk — no Hulk comic book but a teenage Asian named “Totally Awesome Hulk” had a book
Iron Man — Tony Stark went missing, a black female teenager became “IronHeart” (but the comic was still called “Invincible Iron Man”)
Hawkeye — a teenaged female started wearing his uniform and calling herself Hawkeye
Black Widow — already female and didn’t get replaced, but she’s the only one!

Sometimes a main character gets replaced for story reasons. I remember a few decades ago when they gave Tony Stark a drinking problem, and his friend James Rhodes (a black man) started wearing the armor and took on the Iron Man identity. Fans thought it was a good storyline.

But swapping all those major characters for new characters who were female, minorities, or both, all at the same time… it didn’t seem like it was being done for story reasons but more for “political” reasons.

> Thor isn’t a woman, he’s still Thor, he just wasn’t around being Thor at the time so he was replaced with Lady Thor who is, despite the name, a completely different character. (I can’t remember if he died or what, like I said, more of a DC girl.)

Here’s what happened, the way I heard it. (I haven’t bought comics for years so I didn’t buy the comic where this happened.)

Someone (IIRC it was Nick Fury but I could be wrong) whispered something in Thor’s ear. Immediately he “became unworthy” and was unable to wield Mjolnir. (I guess he found out that something he did in the past actually had some horrible result he never knew about?) A mysterious woman came, found she was worthy, took Mjolnir, and started calling herself “Thor”. Actual Thor stopped calling himself “Thor” and started calling himself “Odinson”. (So I guess “Thor” is a job title now, not a name.)

The mysterious woman turned out to be Jane Foster. And it turned out that she had cancer, and turning into Thor interfered with the chemotherapy that was trying to save her life, but she kept turning into Thor to save people. In the end, she turned into Thor one last time, knowing it would kill her, and she died.

None of the above sounds like anything I would want to read. Your mileage may vary.

> The main issue is the writing. They just sort of throw everything at the wall to see what’ll stick and when it doesn’t go as planned they just reboot the universe and try again.

Seems like a fair summary to me.

> I think the fanbase would accept the changes if they were eased into with more thought.

Well, sure. Changes that serve the story are definitely more welcome than sacrificing the story on the altar of changes made for their own sake.

They didn’t Make Thor a woman. Thor-the-person was still Thor-the-person, but lost the power due to some unworthiness thing. Then a (at the time) mystery woman showed up with the hammer as Thor-the-superhero (hereafter called Thora for readability). Big arc for a while with Thor trying to figure out who Thora is and dealing with feelings not just of being unworthy but of actually being replaced, et cetera et cetera, he grows into a leader again with the classic comicbook arc and gets the power back just in time for Thora to die of cancer.

And Spider-Gewn (now Ghost Spider)? She’s part of the whole spider-verse storyline that reveled in various what-if alternate realities and deep fan cuts. If you’re against her you also stand against Leopardon being canon, and I can’t think of a reason why someone would want to do that.

Here’s what happens: comic books evolve, change their stories, deal with old heroes retiring and new ones picking up the name. The world grows, and the people grow with it. But then instead of saying “Falcon takes over the Captain America mantle (because Steve Rogers suddenly aged like crazy due to comics) and struggles to fill some pretty big shoes” folks with an agenda say “Cap is black now” and everyone gets into a tizzy about retcons.

Having a female Thor was certainly a lot less silly than the time a frog got the hammer, or a weird horse-headed alien became Thor.

> a weird horse-headed alien became Thor.

Hey, that happened when I was a teen buying comics, and I thought that was one of the best storylines ever.

The Thor comic had run for a long time and it was a B- or C-list comic. Nobody cared about it that much. Then a guy named Walt Simonson took over writing and drawing it, and he just pumped it full of new life. Great new storylines with vigorous writing and strong art. I was and am a fan.

An alien named “Beta-Ray Bill” (I think that was his nickname pronounceable by humans, not his name in his own alien language) came to Earth and wound up fighting a bit with Thor. He gained possession of Thor’s hammer it and… what do you know, he was worthy! Thor was kind of used to being the only worthy one around, and he was shocked by that. Odin wound up making Thor and Bill fight, and Bill beat Thor fairly but refused to kill Thor. Bill was the protector of what was left of his alien civilization, which had to flee when their galaxy exploded. Odin took them to the dwarves, and the dwarves forged a sister hammer to Mjolnir: “Stormbreaker”. Odin laid similar enchantments on it; and Thor and Bill parted as friends, Bill returning to guard his people.

What’s not to like about this story!

Also, the ending of this story arc made a huge change to the character of Thor:

Thor was started as a Marvel comic character in the 1962, and in the story they gave him a secret identity that was also his weakness. The story was that Thor was too prideful and Odin wanted to teach him a lesson, so Odin stripped his powers from him and planted him on Earth as the mild-mannered Doctor Donald Blake (no memory of his actual identity as Thor). Donald Blake had a serious limp and walked with a cane. One day he found a walking stick that was actually Mjolnir in disguise; he found that by striking the cane against the ground he could transform into Thor (the cane transformed into Mjolnir) and he got his memories back. He had a weakness that if he was apart from the hammer for more than a minute, he transformed back into the weak form of Donald Blake.

Anyway Odin moved the Donald Blake enchantment from Mjolnir to Stormbreaker, because Beta-Ray Bill had undergone a horrific process that transformed him into an awesome super-soldier but left hims something of a horse-faced monster; now he was able to return to his original non-hideous form when not in battle. And Thor no longer had the secret identity or weakness of becoming Donald Blake.

I’m one of those new readers brought in by the comics reshuffling. I wasn’t into them as a kid. They were kinda silly in my opinion. It wasn’t till the movies came out that I decided to give them a chance. If it wasn’t for the new and more diverse characters I would probably have stopped reading. But I liked how there were characters that reflected myself and the world around me. In a way it feel more genuine that comics be more like a melting pot than mostly white dudes and women. This in no way means I think the older comics are bad. I’ve enjoyed looking over the older collections and getting to know those heroes as well. I’m just saying the changes they’ve made recently are what made me a fan.

honestly? I love it.

I avoided my local comic and game store most of my teenage years because of how shitty the reception I got was, from dudes mostly, about how I was reading comic books, how I didn’t past their fucking purity tests and so on.

On top of that, I almost never *got* female characters front and center, and when I did they were usually considered “sidekicks” or treated as such (I will actually argue Supergirl from the 90’s being portrayed as a sidekick, as well as Batgirl, and I fucking LOVE Cassandra Cain)

On top of that, fuckin Captain America is a mantle that gets passed on, that’s not new, nor is the idea that Thor is about who’s wielding the goddamn hammer.

I get why people are upset, I also dislike change, but goddamn, I like seeing myself, and my friends represented in main stream comics and comics retcon all the goddamn time. What’s wrong with exploring more with changing the old characters? We do it all the time.

(+1 for the comment up there about the unnecessary grimdark, and I freakin love cowboy apocalyptic as a genre)

Why does being “represented” matters so much? Also why does it matters what some dudes say about you and your way of reading comics?

I don’t think it’s “represented” so much that the new fans who love this stuff are clamoring about. I think that they “identify” with characters more who are the same race and gender as they are.

People are like that. You can be very accepting of all races, sexes and ideas, but you always go back to yourself for relating to people.

Regarding your second question, it’s a pretty crappy feeling when a girl walks into a comic shop and people tell her comics aren’t for girls, or that she’s a “fake geek girl” who’s only pretending to like comics for male attention. Sure you can buy comics online and enjoy them in the safety of your home, but what if you want to go out into the world and talk to other people about the stories you like? It would be nice to hang out with other comic or video game fans without gatekeepers slinging hate at you because they want to protect the supposedly “purity” of their hobby.

Sure thing.
However- Has anyone tried to write a comic book, where a man character takes over Wonder Woman’s job?

I’m okay with Captain America being a mantle, because it makes sense in general, though I can’t say whether or not I’d agree with the specific way of handling a changeover in any given comic, since I haven’t read them to see how it was handled.

As for Thor, you’re absolutely right that the female Thor is not to blame for the “Thor is whoever holds the hammer” idea. So I don’t dislike her specifically, but rather that entire idea of Thor being treated as a title. I can get reasons why Marvel might want to be able to change the person who was Thor, especially after he’s been around a long time, but I still disagree with suddenly taking a person’s name and trying to make it not a name to justify a change made for outside reasons. I’m even okay with the hammer itself passing on, just not with the idea of trying to retcon a name into a title.

Well, to be honest, from the beginning, Marvel treated Thor as a mantle. Donald Blake – running from aliens and exploring a cave – finds a disguised Mjolnir and upon invoking Odin by striking it against a rock – becomes the “vessel” of Thor. More like the mortal representative of the God of Thunder. “He who wield Mjolnir shall become the God of Thunder” is how they ran with it.

So Thor has been a few people since the 60’s, including the actual THOR showing up and being himself. It’s always been the weakness of the superhero Thor – if he’s parted from his hammer, he becomes a mere mortal. In Eric Masterson’s case (his mind had bonded with Thor’s at that time), during the original Infinity Gauntlet fight, he almost dies of suffocation in space because Thanos warps his hammer to another dimension (Mjolnir just barely makes it back to him as Thor disappears).

So ever since the beginning of The Might Thor, it’s been a mantle passed on by the passing of the hammer to other mortals.

I’m not sure if people collectively decided nerdy stuff is cool, or if the Powers That Be decided it was an untapped source of sheep-monies. Either way, it seems like everything nerdy is having the intellectual requirement sucked out of it. This does make things more accessible to the Shithead Brigade, but it also destroys what made the source property interesting in the first place. It’s like cancer or something.

What kind of dumbing down do you think made things less interesting?

This is a genuine question. I’d like to know what actually makes comic books and video games and movies that were once considered “nerdy” less intellectually stimulating?

The issue is two-fold from what i’ve seen.
1. Marvel in particular introduced new characters or new versions of characters at the height of readership event-fatigue, while also giving us a truckload of events around the same time.

2. Marvel and DC in particular wanted to bring in new fans but the new fans they wanted aren’t the type of people to buy single issues. They generally prefer getting graphic novels and trades. While some older fans raged about changes, I saw lots of enthusiasm for new stuff, just not much enthusiasm for reading the stories 20 pages at a time

Some of it hasn’t been bad or all that stupid. The IDW Transformers comics as an example. The exploration of romance and relationships from the standpoint of robots without genitals has been interesting. They even approach transgenderism from the standpoint of body horror with Arcee being forcibly turned female at an early age by a mad scientist who wanted to introduce genders to Cybertronians. Could even be considered a critique of all these people coming in and forcing inclusivity. The Jem comics have been good as well. I wasn’t a fan of the cartoon but the comics made me go back and take another look. I’m still not a fan of the cartoon but the comics are good.

The problem is when you do things like they’ve been doing with the GI Joe comics. A Real American Hero has Snake-Eyes possessing a woman he was training or something and Aubrey Sitterson was intentionally trying to antagonize the fan base which he was actually known for in other works. He was pure cancer and from what I hear the fiasco he was responsible for might STILL cause IDW to lose the other GI Joe licenses.

Man… I’m too old to read this shit (both the comics and the discussion around it) so I’ll just stick with anime, at least there’s not “muh diversity and equality” over there

Anime is interesting in that it can stereotype people in hilarious ways and the reason no one cares is because “OH ANIME! YOU SILLY SILLY BILLY YOU!”

People still don’t take anime otaku as seriously as they should. I was reading a video game article the other day on Kotaku where the writer said:

“The utter weirdness of anime and the perversion that surrounds it totally is a turnoff for me. Why the heck are we letting it invade our game spaces with its deformed character art and eye destroying garish colors? Gamers need to stand up and just say no to Anime in video games.”

(You might know who wrote this, but if not, go look for the article. It’s a great example about how video game fans wreck their own fandom often)

Kotaku is such a mess man, stopped caring about that website when GamerGate happened, but yeah I can see how that works

I actually like a lot of anime. Tiger and Bunny, Outlaw Star, Cowboy Beebop, My Hero Academia, Is It Okay to Pick Up Girl’s in a Dungeon, Full Metal Panic … Love (cough cough) Hina and Ai Yori Aoshi … uh, I probably should stop.

I used to be into comics when I was a kid, mostly Silver Surfer, Haunted Tank (had the complete set), Sgt. Rock, Archie, Batman, and I had some copies of just about every character in comics at the time, usually that I inherited from relatives, older siblings of friends, or was given by friends of my parents when they moved or their kids outgrew comics. Had quite a large collection at one time. Then I went off to university and come home for a visit to discover that my mom used my collection to entertain the kids of her clients (she ran a ceramics business from home). Needless to say everything got destroyed. Keep in mind this was before comics had any value. I was devastated and couldn’t get back into them, and subsequently discovered manga and anime, and (much) later discovered webcomics. So I have been watching all this rebooting and gender/race swapping of characters with some bemusement. I have recently gotten back into comics, but for now I stick to Squirrel Girl and Gwenpool, I don’t trust any of the other lines not to suddenly do a reboot and throw all the canon out the window again, and I can’t be bothered to try and keep all that shit straight.

I know some of the origin stories, more or less, and I don’t care for them changing all the time. And diversity solely for the sake of diversity gives you characters with little or no back story or reason for being there and serve mainly to dilute the story. Most of these things are ongoing- you can work diversity in with a convincing explanation, but without a reason or good writing, the only people it benefits is the pc crowd. And I hate to see minorities exploited for those @#%&*s.

I hate the exploitation as well. Those kind of characters play up to the worst stereotypes. For a while, Luke Cage the Power Man was the worst kind of exploitation there was.

Now Black Panther is a great hero. He’s not a bad stereotype.

It’s also a mantle passed from leader to leader of Wakanda, btw, so if T’Challa dies, anyone selected (male or female) can become the Black Panther. There’s an actual reason for this, which makes sense. It’s harder to validate a woman PUNISHER, which is why they would have to have a great writer and explanation before I buy into that.

I picked up an Xmen comic recently. Iceman is gay and in an on panel relationship with Pyro. I don’t care, it doesn’t make my eyeballs itch, but I’m somewhat less interested in that xmen book. Softcore mutant gay porn is not the demographic I’m in. As for Thor, anybody remember Beta Ray Bill? Didn’t he have the title of Thor for a short period?

Beta Ray Bill did act as Thor for a while. He wasn’t Thor like Donald Blake was Thor, but he did fill the role for a very brief period – since he was the first non-human mortal deemed worthy to possess Mjolnir.

And as it turns out, he’s still kinda Thor since Stormbreaker from the movies was the weapon made originally for him to replace Mjolnir.

Came back and reading the news post again… I kind of want a Prowl figure that can combine with the Constructicons like in the comics now.

It’s a shame that they didn’t do it, but since the Devastator set doesn’t conform to the combiner wars style they would’ve had to do a special prowl just for an already expensive set. He did get a combiner form but only for the standard sets.

I’m honestly like you, Jackie; I’m pretty neutral and don’t consider myself a fan of, well, anything. Of course, that’s more due to my personal philosophy regarding fandoms, but that’s fluff for another post.

There’s always going to be a degree of isolationism when it comes to long-running franchises in nerd culture, because people were persecuted for liking them. It became a badge of honor over time, a sort of, “I’m better than they are for seeing the value in this,” kind of attitude that burgeons into pride. It becomes part of your identity in a bad way, so when popular culture suddenly decides that your chosen thing is free game, it feels like what made you special is being taken away.

That’s just how nerd culture is, sadly. Those of us who don’t enter the pool to begin with tend to just watch as it becomes ever more polarizing.

As a female comic book fan, and specifically a fan of DC comics, I come at this from a couple different perspectives:

It is easier to add a new character to a roster of well knowns if that character is a legacy character. Examples would be Miles Morales as a legacy Spiderman, and Kamala Khan as a legacy Miss Marvel, both of whom have been well received characters that have added diversity to a infamously white bread roster. (Don’t argue with me about this, comics are well known to be predominantly white dudes).

Which is why I think the “outrage” of the “changing” of characters is a bit ridiculous, because the base characters themselves are not being changed. They ARE adding new stories and characters, but they are using the name of the older heroes to ensure that these new characters won’t get lost. Do you have any idea how many “new and interesting” heroes there are in DC and Marvel comics that just fly under the radar because they aren’t the main favs? Thor isn’t a woman, he’s still Thor, he just wasn’t around being Thor at the time so he was replaced with Lady Thor who is, despite the name, a completely different character. (I can’t remember if he died or what, like I said, more of a DC girl.)

Well liked characters that are not the most well known are pretty much always legacies. The various Batman characters all have their own fanbases, even the newer ones like Damian Wayne and Duke Thomas (Duke is having a little trouble in the popularity department but given time and enough not horrible writing and he’ll get there). When was the last time you heard of a new superhero character that was brand new, not connected to any franchises or legacies or big names?? ‘Cause I sure can’t think of any.

(Also I would point out that people didn’t get their panties in a bunch when Dick Grayson took over as Batman for awhile, funny that.)

The main issue is the writing. They just sort of throw everything at the wall to see what’ll stick and when it doesn’t go as planned they just reboot the universe and try again. Comic books as a whole have a notorious issue with maintaining character development, and I think people now just expect more sophistication from them. If you’re gonna add a new character, there needs to be a reason for it, they can’t just come out of no where. Hence why so many of these characters are introduced as sidekicks or legacies. A well known favourite mentoring a young new hero at least gives us a reason to connect with this new character, and that’s just the most common.

My point (if I have a point) is that the issues isn’t really that the companies are ignoring or cutting out their original fanbase, I think the fanbase would accept the changes if they were eased into with more thought. I mean, sure, there would always be some whiny white boys talking about how it isn’t fair, but they are just a loud minority. Most people do like variety in their stories, at least in my experience.

I personally love that they are swapping in females and PoC for all the white dudes that have dominated the comics for near a century, and whenever I see someone whine about that or “virtue signaling” it just indicates to me that that is a person I don’t want to associate with.

That being said, I gave up on comics almost completely about 7 years ago. I check in from time to time but I’ve been unimpressed. Diversity isn’t going to bring me back when the writing is shit and you’re rebooting every story just as I’m getting invested, and it might briefly attract some new readers but the storytelling is what is going to keep them, and frankly Marvel and DC have just been putting out garbage in that respect IMO. I think that’s the real reason books sales for the Big Two have been declining, but the unfortunate coincidence of the swing for diversity and the poor storytelling lets a bunch of neckbeards point at decreasing sales and claim that diversity is ruining “their” comics.

I’ve been a fan of Between Failures for a while, but this page honestly has me a bit wary…

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