Cycles.

“RE: The Stephenson interview. The Image method is meaningless when it comes to creators of color, so I wish that Eric Stephenson wouldn’t push it as the method of finding talent. All of the creators he named as new finds were white. I don’t see Jimmie Robinson being offered a slew of Marvel and DC books. (Note: it’d be nice!) The only way new writers of color can break in comics and receive regular mainstream work is if they’ve achieved success in another arena. And Image is not searching for creators of color in other arenas to lure them to Image. That is what DC and Marvel have been doing. I could not care less how we get new writers of color. If we need to steal famous people from other mediums, that’s great! But that whole ‘rising through the ranks of Image’? Son, that doesn’t work for you if you are black. Can we just be honest about that? The Image grooming process works fabulously for white people though. Still, it’s not gonna get me a Hudlin or Liu.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

My comments on Twitter, shown above, grew out of a discussion of Heidi MacDonald’s interview with Image’s publisher, Eric Stephenson. It also grew out of the acknowledgment of the dearth of black writers in mainstream comics and the lack of upwards mobility for black writers within the comics industry. For talented white men with aspirations of working in mainstream comics or gaining widespread notoriety, the “Image to Big Two” cycle awaits: embark upon your career with an Image miniseries; get offered work on mid-tier Marvel or DC comics; develop a cult following; get offered work on a major Marvel or DC ongoing series; develop a need to branch out creatively and own one’s own intellectual property; return to Image with huge fanfare; bounce back and forth between corporate and creator-owned work until mainstream fans grow tired of your industry dominance and Marvel or DC will no longer offer projects.

This route is sealed for black writers. Jimmie Robinson has not been tapped for a Marvel miniseries. Enrique Carrion isn’t registering on DC’s radar. I’m baffled as to why. Marvel and DC rifle through Image as a kid skips through a candy store, gobbling up all the jellybeans save the black ones. (To be fair, black jellybeans are awful, but black writers—like all writers—run the gamut when it comes to talent.)

DC and Marvel do occasionally notice the need for diversity within the talent pool and actively seek out writers of color. However, instead of seeking these men and women at Image, they scout for popular writers in other arenas—film, animation, television, video games, music, prose. It seems the only way a black writer can garner mainstream success in comics is if he or she has already achieved mainstream success outside of it.

I don’t know why the route to mainstream success for black writers has become so narrow, warped, and difficult to navigate. All I know is that there thankfully is a route and I want to see black writers with the fame and talent needed to manage the journey traveling it. I want black people to have a voice in comics that is able to be heard by mainstream audiences. We are not a niche. We are not a tiny subculture to be denied larger access. We deserve to tell our stores, not in a quiet corner, but in front of a microphone.

Yes, black writers can thrive outside the mainstream, just as a musician can earn a living foregoing radio play and an actor can make a living never appearing in a major motion picture or national television show. However, when an entire group composed of multiple ethnicities is denied access to the mainstream? The industry is woefully incomplete. Imagine if one could only hear black musical acts via college radio stations. Imagine if Lucy Liu’s available roles were limited solely to those in plays. Imagine if the four women writers currently at Marvel and DC had their books cancelled, were not offered new projects, and fandom said not one word regarding their disappearance. (Note: the latter actually happened in regards to black writers.)

What do I want? I want exactly what I’ve been getting in drips and drabs, successful black writers from other arenas being offered work. However, I want this occurring in much greater abundance and at mainstream Marvel and DC (as well as at smaller imprints and independent comic companies). I also want something I haven’t been getting as well—talented black writers with years of industry experience (Priest, Burrell, Benardin, Trotman, etc.) being tapped to write series.

It’s 2013. Let’s make some changes.


Got to give the people what they want.

“As a female fan I’m wary about talking about Amazing Spider-Man #700. It feels like the plot was designed for the purpose of baiting fangirls for publicity. So, yes, the scene with MJ and Doctor Octopus was distasteful, but manipulating female fans is as well. Marvel saw the attention received when the same damn plot unfolded with the Chameleon just a few months back. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. However, this time Marvel knows better—and, hopefully, so do the fans. Doctor Octopus will never sleep with MJ, but there will be several close calls. The end. I hate the fact that something righteous—irritation with the way the industry deals with gender—has been twisted into ‘cheap heat.’ Marvel’s stance: get them focused on something inconsequential that can benefit us instead of actually addressing gender inequality.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I broke my own rule on Twitter. I think what frustrates me even more is that, as an editor, I would have certainly supported the story and allowed it to be pushed through. Why? The press would be phenomenal and the fans, though temporarily irate, would happily flock back in droves to see the return of the real Peter Parker as he steps in just in time to save MJ from the clutches of his nemesis (or, depending on the writer’s choice, aids in the redemption of Doctor Octopus). Fiction allows for the suspension of belief. Serial drama generates a deep emotional investment. A combination of the two makes for ease in audience manipulation. And books must be sold.

I’m a woman. I’m an editor. I’m a fan. A woman needs to know that her concerns have been heard and that she is respected. An editor craves that perfect, popular tale. A fan desires the ultimate tease and release. I hope that at the culmination of this story everyone will be able to walk away happy. However, I’m not certain that will happen. Marvel, skilled at teasing fans and stirring up their emotions, often takes far too long to follow through (or in some cases, simply refuses to). People will only entertain a tease for so long before they walk away flustered and befuddled.

Anyway, just my “smart mark” comments on the matter! However, one last thing, MJ saving the day by rescuing Peter and facilitating another body switch would certainly be a happy ending warmly received by all fans. Hopefully it won’t be one that comes too late.

I swear there were no puns in the preceding paragraph—not one.


Foursquare.

Hey, remember when you asked me to give you my thoughts on the basic construction of the DC and Marvel universes? Oh, that never happened? Well, too bad. You’re getting my breakdowns anyway.

The Marvel universe doesn’t take much time to explain. It’s a beautiful mosaic. And though the irregular, jagged pieces of history do pull together to make an interesting and comprehensible whole when one steps back and views the full line in its entirety, the majority of a reader’s fun is derived from zooming in to follow intricate curves and plot twists. The joy is found in the messiness of it—the dangling plot threads, lost trails, and minutiae. I can see why the Marvel editorial staff is so wary of a reboot given how readers read Marvel comics. The focus is placed upon relationships—how characters interact given their history. Should you remove the history, what is left? I suppose that is why the Marvel staff has opted for a careful simplification of Marvel history rather than tossing decades of carefully constructed relationships into the dustbin. While new readers will be able to “jump on,” older readers will not feel slighted by drastic changes.

DC, however, was able to weather its recent relaunch due to the fact that DC generally deals in archetypes. Moreover, its universe is not a mosaic, but a simple square and two strings. Sounds dull, no? Surprisingly, it makes for a universe equally as interesting as Marvel’s. Allow me to explain.

The DC Universe

Again, two strings. Two tug-of-wars between four houses—justice versus injustice and order versus chaos—it’s as simple as that. The excitement comes from watching the knot in the center, the symbol for power and control in the DC universe, veer uncontrollably from side to side as strategic moves are made by different players in each kingdom or house.

Justice:
Batman (king); Wonder Woman (queen); Superman (knight)
Injustice:
Lex Luthor (king); Gorgeous (queen); Catwoman (knight)

Order:
Steve Trevor (king); Amanda Waller (queen)
Chaos:
The Joker (knight)

The brief list I’ve provided above is woefully incomplete due to the fact that I do not believe all of the major players are currently on the stage. After all, it has merely been a year. Also, the roles of king and queen are not assigned via one’s romantic relationship, but according to tactical value and importance. Note that injustice and order, defined by commerce and government, are decidedly human. Justice and chaos, defined by heroes, villains, aliens, and gods—or in more generic terms, science and religion—are predominately otherworldly. For those wondering who Gorgeous is, she is an old Stormwatch: PHD character I feel would be a solid addition to the DC universe given her skill set and personality.

There are other minor details to take into account. Chaos and order are neither good nor evil. What brings order does not always bring justice; a chaotic individual may actually wish to improve the lives of others with his or her actions. Romances, friendships, and family ties that cross houses also muddy the waters considerably (ex: Bruce and Selina, Steve and Diana, Lex and Amanda).

The simplicity of the DC design makes things rather difficult for the DC staff. One needs a stable creative team in place or there is the danger of editors making creative decisions in place of the talent. Also, constant communication between creative teams is required. This can result in a constant barrage of email.

Anyway, this is what I think about while waiting for my food to cook, folks. Hence, I am a pretty boring date.


They lovin’ the crew.

I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the marketing missteps of DC comics in regards to the Before Watchmen project. However, both DC and Marvel deserve kudos for the success of the Night of the Owls and A vs. X crossovers. Truth be told, the popularity of the Night of the Owls crossover feels pretty much organic. Even though groundwork was laid via articles and previews, I’ve spoken to retailers and fans who are quite enthused about the crossover. It appears as if its status has grown due to good word of mouth—and due to being an entertaining collection of comics. As for Marvel, even though fan and retailer response has been tepid in my circle, it certainly hasn’t resulted in low sales. Through incentives and blanket advertising, they’ve been able to move product and project the image of once again being “number #1.” And when one is in the business of selling icons, image is everything, no?

But not every company is in that business. Sans icons, how can a smaller publisher or independent creator tap into the fervent promotional groundswell that is “fandom”?

There is strength in numbers. Earlier this week I was lamenting the loss of comic “crews”—groups of creators banding together. Whether the studio is real or virtual, it provides an opportunity for the pooling of resources (ex: shared web space, studio space, convention booths) and an elimination of the loneliness that often results from the creative process. It also allows fellow creators to become a sounding board, often resulting in improved quality, as well as a vocal support system, resulting in increased attention. Finally, it provides one with a brand, a symbol or word that issues a particular statement to fandom. It’s marketing shorthand. Once again, we look to rap to lead the way—Wu Tang, the Roc, MMG. If you are a creator with two or three compatriots at DC or Marvel, I’d advise you to use the attention afforded by these companies to build your own brand. Present yourselves as a creative subset within the company, then work your way towards marking your independence via your own website, conventions appearances, and smaller independent projects.

And yet not every creator has a lucrative gig at DC or Marvel to provide a rung on one’s ladder to success. What about the lone webcomic creator? The artist with a low-selling comic at an independent publisher? The writer with no likeminded peers who hammers out unsolicited plots by his or her lonesome? I still say there is strength in numbers. But with DC and Marvel, and even subsets of Image such as Top Cow and Extreme, there is a unity that comes from a similarity in theme or tone—something that cannot be found with a random collection of independent comics or strips. Or can it?

Perhaps unity can be built through an event. I look at the way Phoenix is blazing its way through multiple Marvel books and I recall the way Claremont’s Huntsman traveled from comic to comic and imprint to imprint. Could a dozen comics, all containing different themes and styles, share one public domain character, said character being visually tweaked to fit his surroundings in each book? Through one character’s reality-warping adventures an event could be formed. All it would take is a creative summit featuring a number of creators, something that could occur via a format as simple as a chat room or mailing list. Why should the “big two” have all the fun?


Lock and key.

I’ve spent some time sifting through this ol’ blog, cleaning up dead links and correcting stray typos. Probably the most depressing part of the whole process is the realization that many of my older—and cynical—predictions regarding the current state of the industry have come to be:

“Of course, I still think Ultimate Spider-Man is going to sell well. The character has enough company support and calculated marketing to make up for the casual racism of some readers. Remember when I said that Marvel should blatantly push the characters that DC ignores? It’s happening. And Marvel’s doing a pretty good job of it too. There’s no way any book featuring a brand new black and Latino teen character should outsell Static Shock. Static has years of history and a very successful cartoon under his belt. But Miles? Well, Miles has the power of the Spider-Man franchise and blisteringly hot creators as a sales anchor. Miles is popping up in news articles all over the place. Miles will have guest appearances in popular Marvel books. And Miles is going to make more money than Virgil and Jaime—all while wearing Peter’s hand-me-downs. I think Miles is adorable, but that doesn’t sit completely right with me.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Know what else doesn’t sit right with me? That the sole remaining black male character with a solo title at DC is currently wearing Batman’s hand-me-downs. And is a subordinate. It is frustrating that minority heroes who are their own men, who do not depend on older white heroes for their inspiration, attire, or methods, are simply shunned by readers. And publishers are well aware of this, resulting in these characters receiving poor promotion, the occasional green or lackluster creative team, and a very limited timeframe to “prove” oneself before the onset of cancellation. Better to push that minority character draped in a web, “S,” or bat-symbol. After all, that’s what the readers want. That’s where the money is. And so that’s where the USA Today articles, publisher support, and the established white creative team (who will gladly exercise any and all “first dibs” rights to obtain a successful franchise) will be too.

Because that black writer—be he talented or a hack, experienced or a newcomer, beloved by fans or an internet pariah—is only called when there is a title featuring a black male lead on the table. And only when the title on the table is one that no one else wants. And so black writers get funneled into books that are quickly shunned by fans, cancelled, and forgotten. And the creators are forgotten just as quickly.

Nobody is asking for a hand out. No one desires a quota. All I am asking for is for established black writers to have equal access to be considered. This is not happening. They are only being considered for a small number of books that have long proven to be received poorly by an increasingly shrinking market that refuses all that is different from what has come before.

Equal access. When Luke Cage is on the table. Or Nightwing. Power Girl. Or Shang Chi. Or Batman. That’s it.


And we’re back.

I spend entirely too much time discussing comics on Twitter. I tend to cycle between different forms of communication—texting, tweeting, blogging, writing letters, posting on message boards—depending on what form gives me access to the largest amount of acquaintances at a certain time. Twitter definitely wins out more often than not. And sadly, the blog withers.

But not today! Today, The Beat made the announcement that DC will be offering ten-page back-up stories in certain books. These books will feature a higher price tag of $3.99. Jaded fan that I am, I immediately recalled WildStorm’s price hike to $2.50 after adding eight-page back-up features in certain issues. The features soon disappeared; the price remained.

In the case of DC’s new venture, these features will not showcase new creators or new characters and will deal with material that ties directly to the current story. Why can’t this new material simply be part of the central story arc? Did page length and price really need to be altered? Is this simply a slight of hand to bump up cover prices down the line and shine a spotlight on Marvel’s more expensive prices ($3.99 for 32 pages) for a momentary marketing boon? I hope not. Still, I must admit that such tactics have worked before in the past and will likely work again in the future. Ease fans into the idea of the back-ups by using creators they are already fond of; make sure to mention that the deal being offered provides more content than the nearest competitor provides; and finally, make fans feel that the back-ups are truly central to the main story.

Once fans have become accustomed to the idea? Start making changes. Introduce new creative teams that you hope to build your new hit properties from. Once fans warm to your new tribe of creators, change the subject matter. Use back-ups to launch new characters or inject lifeblood into older properties. After all, a blood transfusion from Batman can go a long way.

But I’m being a bit mercenary, aren’t I? Looking at a small number of my Twitter comments from today, I’d say so:

“Anyway, since I’m all about the underdog, I’m more concerned with how Dark Horse and Image can compete on DC and Marvel’s level. And before anyone gets snippy, I’m not talking about quality; I’m talking about being able to sell ‘The Fandom Experience.’ DC and Marvel aren’t just selling books, they’re selling communities. How can Image and Dark Horse build a community and culture—especially when these are things that are supposed to develop naturally and cannot be created by companies?

“I suppose Image and Dark Horse could get those communities quickly in the short term by stealing from developed ones in other genres. But, (very important) you have to have a community that likes to read. You do a comic about a fratboy shooter and it’s not going to help you. Questions to ask: Have multiple communities with different flavors developed around this brand? Is fanfiction being created? Does the brand already have material that would directly compete with a comic line (paperback novels)? Yes, yes, no? Then you’re good.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Dark Horse has followed this model successfully utilizing its Buffy franchise. It also has the wonder that is Hellboy, but seems to care not one whit about developing a community around this brand. How sad. Much like a rental property, these communities can be life-sustaining for a brand during lean times financially and creatively. And Dark Horse has open access to the superhero communities that have built themselves around DC/Marvel, and yet leaves Empowered, an amazing series, out to drift with minimal marketing. This is criminal.

Image has The Walking Dead, but that is merely one book compared to the multiple series and miniseries in the ever-expanding Buffy universe. In regards to The Walking Dead, I don’t think diluting the brand with multiple books is a good idea. If Kirkman has another powerful ongoing story to tell in that world, then that’s fine. Until then, leave that strong workhorse alone.

The Top Cow and Extreme universes, however, can and should be mucked about with. I love the talent being poured into the Extreme universe and wish some of it could be reserved for the Top Cow universe—which could use fresh blood, a good jumping on point, and a large helping of diversity. And I love the way that Top Cow employees are dedicated to developing a universe that fans can feel a part of, and are also concerned with nurturing a community built around its brand and watching it grow. And that’s what Extreme needs. Fans want more than just a comic—especially for $2.99-$3.50. Where can I ask the creator a question? Where can I discuss the plot with other fans? Where can I see takes on these characters by others? These are questions that need answers. The company does not need to provide answers, but if no one is? The comic in question is not likely to sell well.

Still, it’s a new year. Let’s see what the big five decide to do with it.


Rock, paper, scissors.

Comics, completely consumed by superheroes, has only two active fandoms—Marvel and DC. Given that my budget allows for only one ongoing series and I don’t feel right illegally downloading comics, I’ll have to pick one fandom in which to participate.

I’ve chosen my comic. It’s Wonder Woman. I’ve chose my fandom. It’s DC. I feel horrible. I feel like I’ve just chosen my gender over my race.

I picked Wonder Woman because the preview pages I read intrigued me. I’ve never been a big fan of Wonder Woman, but I have been a huge fan of ancient Greek myths since I was a child. The way that Azzarello and Chiang have handled the Greek pantheon has drawn me to the book. Also, quite a few people whose opinions on comics I hold in high regard have spoken fondly about the comic. Last, but certainly not least, a new universe allows me to get in on the “ground floor” of Diana’s life. All three of these elements were necessary in Wonder Woman being the series for me. That new universe free of any history to untangle is what led me to pick Wonder Woman over Wolverine and the X-Men (which also appears to be a quality book given the previews provided).

But Idie. Oh, how I love Idie. Each snippet from Scans Daily I read featuring this character makes me want to crawl into a comic for the sole purpose of buying her toys and ice cream. The awkward and uneasy interaction between Wolverine and Oya is wonderful. (Wolverine buys the child her first doll ever and it’s white with long, straight hair? How lovably stupid. I can’t wait for Cecelia to call him on it.)

And though I haven’t been interested in the Amanda Waller role Marvel has foisted upon Misty Knight, I adore the character of Misty Knight and hold out hope that she will return to her Daughters of the Dragon incarnation in her next series—or perhaps something even more interesting. I’d gladly drop Wonder Woman for a comic featuring Misty Knight as the lead character in a female-focused series.

DC? DC doesn’t have a Misty Knight. DC does not have an Oya. Moreover, it seems as though they have no interest in developing one. And that’s why I’ve regretfully chosen gender over race. DC’s development of its female characters of color is abysmal. Though can it be abysmal if there is no development?

Unlike Marvel, black women in the DC universe are merely window dressing—objects for the actual hero(ine) of importance to struggle against or deliver a quip to. Agent Fallon, not the animalistic Voodoo, is the competent, no-nonsense heroine of Voodoo. Skitter is the unattractive, unpleasant monster who’ll skulk around Wonder Girl’s pedestal in Teen Titans. Amanda Waller is merely a supporting character providing intense action for others to engage in. The character’s role could easily be fulfilled by one panel of a Suicide Squad member listening to orders on an iPod. And though Vixen is in a better position than her peers, I certainly don’t hold out hope for the character. Look at her promotion compared to characters such as Cyborg, Batwing, Mr. Terrific, Static, and Green Lantern. If Vixen wants to be a major player in the DCU she’d better start on hormone therapy and seek out a quality surgeon.

And this goes beyond just black women. Where’s Cassandra? Where’s Talia? Where’s Rainmaker? Does anyone really believe Katana will receive the same promotion and panel time as Canary or Ivy? Does anyone believe that Element Woman will receive the same attention as Wonder Woman or even Mera? I certainly don’t. And I don’t believe they’ll receive the same attention as the Atom, Robin, or Blue Beetle either. For all the extolling of DC’s female-led ongoing books and all the talk concerning DC’s female-friendliness compared to Marvel, no one is talking about how that friendliness only extends to certain women.

So, one weighs the pros and cons and makes the best choice from what’s available. DC offers a lower price, a fresh start, an active fandom, and a quality creative team. Marvel offers an active fandom, a quality creative team, and female characters of color that play an important role in the Marvel universe. Four beats three and I opt for DC.

Yet, I can’t help but want it all.


Dear Marvel,

You have a character that is a black girl who turns into a gorilla. She has appeared in twenty-two issues. I am asking, as a personal favor from the person at Marvel who has the power to make this happen, for this character to never appear again.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Lynn


You should be reading Heroes for Hire.

Yes, you should! Because it’s funny. Because the action is interesting and intense. Because the art has improved a great deal. Because Misty Knight actually has a hairstyle that makes sense. Start with issue six and move on from there. Go on! And this will be the last we ever speak of it because I can see that Misty/Paladin hook up coming from miles away and I want no parts of that. No, ma’am. But you should be reading it. Definitely.

I just don’t want you telling me about it.


No offense, Chris…

…but Scott Evans looks way more like Cap than you do. Look at him! You need to pass your brother that shield.

Scott Evans

You still fine though, boo.


Having more fun, Marvel?

I’ll make this fast. Your blondes are starting to look alike. Fix this quickly before you end up an embarrassment like DC. Let your artists know. One of your blondes needs to bulk up (Steve Rogers). One of your blondes needs a slightly unkempt ’70s hairstyle (Danny Rand). One of your blondes is just right (Thor). One of your blondes needs a shaved head, or hair so short that it looks shaved (Paladin). And one of your blondes needs to go “dirty” (Clint Barton). There are even more blondes that I haven’t mentioned. Might I recommend a nice strawberry blonde color? A nearly white platinum would work as well (Angel). Maybe a slim, lanky build? Really curly hair? Freckles (Cannonball)?

Just putting that out there before the next big crossover or downtime issue. It’s getting pretty noticeable.


Young Defenders!

“War has come to the Wakandan Embassy—literally. A young man claiming to be the god of war has absconded with Shuri, but does the young princess want to be found? To reclaim his former glory the young deity needs mayhem, and seeks to obtain it from Wakandan weapons and Latverian blood. Shuri, consumed with thoughts of vengeance, is perhaps willing to oblige. The patrons of the Prince of Power, however, have other ideas. Can Amadeus stop Ares from reclaiming his throne? And how is Rikki, armed with one of the last vestiges of active vibranium, the key to a new Wakandan arsenal? And will Anya and Lyra, Fort Greene’s young defenders, be able to protect Rikki when both the Wakandans and Latverians come looking for it? And who should they protect her from? After all, Doom’s not about to get his hands dirty when he knows that for two hundred dollars Power Man’s on the job. Too bad Victor will have to cut his date short with Anya to do it.”

You can go put Lytle and Van Lente on that, Marvel. I’ll wait.


7-11.

I said I’d get to Marvel eventually, right? Seven things I want from Marvel in the ’11. Let’s go.

More graf-inspired artists. No it won’t work on Avengers, but I bet it’d look sweet on a Spidey issue. Nicholas is nice with it. I love me some Mahfood. Let me see some Ronald Wimberly up in there. I love a whole host of different art styles, and I’d love to see a place for each and every one of those styles at Marvel. From Linsner to Warren. Adams to Hernandez. I want it all.

More diversity in your writing staff. I’m not even gonna lie. This is a tough one for a mainstream comic publisher. If you only hire five people to write your entire line, it’s going to be pretty damn hard to make sure you’ve got some women, minorities, and gay peeps sliding in as scribes. Here’s three successful tactics to take that I’ve mentioned on this blog dozens of times before. One, venture down the co-author road. Pluck a famous writer from another genre and pair her with an established comics writer. Step two: profit! Once she’s gotten the hang of writing for comics, split up the team and let each author go solo for maximum effect. You know it works. You’ve tested the method with white dudes more than enough times. I’ve also said that I love the idea of easing in new writers with back-up stories in the back of popular books. Let a new writer pen a nice five-page story about Danielle Cage’s first day of pre-school. Or perhaps a quick joint about Tony walking into a bar after hard day…and ordering a glass of milk? Back-up stories are also a nice way to let readers know that they’re getting more for their money. Especially when they’ve got to plunk down quite a bit more change than they do for a DC book. Anthologies are a nice idea, but you’re better off focusing on a certain character or theme than throwing the random work of thirteen black dudes together and trying to sell it. I’m more likely to buy a romance anthology or a Cage anthology. And I’m not paying for floppies either. I want a book. Go hard or go home.

Danny and Misty. I wander off to play video games and watch soap operas for a few months and come back to this? Fix. This. The hair (let’s nip this straight bang thing in the bud now, shall we?), the chi-sperm, everything. She doesn’t have to be pregnant, but…chi? I am so mad at that.

Ladies only. Listen, Marvel is the only place where I have even the slightest chance of getting a female team starring women of different races. And no, I don’t mean a book where the white women drive every story and there’s an Asian chick who stands in the background and kicks a guy every three issues. Yes, I have a lot of nerve asking for diversity and then frowning at the inclusion of penises. But can’t the guys be the damsels in distress for just one book? Let some old dude cook wheatcakes while the girls go off to be your friendly neighborhood superhero team. Or field operatives. Were you aware that SHIELD has had an all-female ROSE (Reconnaissance Organization for Security Enhancement) team in place since WW II? A red team of assassins, a white team of spies, and a yellow team for public, peace-keeping missions? Nine women in total. I bet you didn’t. Because that book doesn’t exist. Nope, no Guns & Roses book for you. You just sit over there and look pretty.

Logos. Yo, DC is killing you when it comes to logos, son! The following characters need clear, easily identifiable logos that stand for a certain theme or idea: Spider-man (and Spider-girl), Luke Cage, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, and Iron Man. I’d add Storm, but you guys have really made a mess of that character.

Black Panther. Hell, all of Wakanda. DoomWar was a great series—for Doom fans. It wasn’t so much fun for fans of the Wakandans. Doom basically spanked the hell out of them, emasculated T’Challa, and Diddy-bopped back to Latveria to bang hot, crazy chicks. And Black Panther decides to mope in Hell’s Kitchen while his baby sister handles business. This. Is. Not. Okay. You need to find some way to build the Wakandans back up to their past glory. New artist. New writer. Jungle Action Monthly. T’Challa holds court in Wakanda, Shuri rebels in the streets of NYC, and the Queen Mother has kept a large volume of active Vibranium secret from everyone—until now. Reboot the series. How did Wakandans stay isolated so long? Because the island (yes, an island set a bit lower off the continent) isn’t really hospitable to many humans. In fact, Doom was right. The Wakandans do carry a genetic strain that allows them to live upon the island and not suffer. But it’s a gene that a small number of humans all over the world carry. How was this discovered? Well, it was noticed when visitors and invaders started showing up on the island and dying. You see, Wakandans are nice in the water, so nice that they thrived by commandeering ships that dared venture into their waters. And when 85 percent of all the people captured (or liberated—where slave ships were concerned) died within days of hitting Wakandan shores? Well, you’ve got to be a little bit tougher than average to make it there. Oh, and due to the Wakandans being so nice in the water? Namor’s people and T’Challa’s people do not get along too well. And this provides a great deal of added tension that Storm doesn’t need—especially when Namor starts in with his nonsense about how mutants need to stick together. Luckily, Storm knows better than to listen to Namor. And T’Challa knows better than to leave Namor alone with anyone’s wife. Trust that.

When you’re done with T’Challa, can you mosey on over to Spidey? Get rid of Carlie. Hell, give Peter Carlie’s job as a forensic scientist (modeled after those appearing in hour-long dramas). Then he’s armed with the two most important things Spider-man should have—a lab and a camera. And he’d always be at the scene of a crime. Plus, he’d get to interact with the old Bugle staff (sans Norah the racist hipster, please) since they’d constantly hound him for scoops. And he’d always be torn between uncovering the truth at his day job and keeping secrets in the tights. Did I mention getting rid of Carlie? Secret time. I love the idea of a single Peter, but Carlie is boring and Poochiesque. And why would one make Peter single just to put him in a committed relationship? It makes no sense. Peter should have a trinity. I want MJ to hold Peter’s heart. I want Felicia to control Spider-man’s body. I want a brunette stimulating Parker’s mind on the job. Make her a reporter. Oh, and I want Aunt May fighting for Peter’s spirit (always guiding him to do the right thing) and Anya doing the same for Spider-man. Oh, and give Anya an after-school job with May. She needs to be in Peter’s life a lot more.

Anyway, there’s your seven for the eleven. Hurry up.


So what do I want?

Last comics post, y’all. DC and Marvel do not pay my rent and I really don’t care about the health of either company when neither is making all that much (or any) effort to entertain me or others like me. Now, that could be due to clueless marketing reps rather than complete indifference. (And if so, what are they collecting checks for?) Just in case? Here goes.

I want a Power Man webcomic called “Black and Yellow” running over at Nah Right for a few weeks. I want Luke Cage to have a bomb-ass logo to put on t-shirts and jackets. Same goes for Anya. I want Power Girl (drawn and written by Amanda Conner) to give Esquire‘s Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman for one month. I want Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. I want a Daughters of the Dragon ongoing starring Misty, Colleen, Felicia, and Angela. I want the female Young Avengers tackling an advice column in Seventeen magazine. I want a quirky photoshoot starring Power Girl in Glamour magazine. I want Norah Winters gone. I want a giant one-shot of stories about Marvel characters set to classic rap songs. I want an adorable animated Cho giving tech reviews one day on AOTS. I want a new Young Justice comic starring Static, Blue Beetle, and Batgirl. I want Marvel-inspired exclusives from Nike. I want John to get the same face time as Guy and Kyle. I want minority characters as more than window dressing. I want a Wonder Woman television show. I want at least two of the Stepford Supers to change their hair color and style. I want consistent promotion given to minority characters over a prolonged period of time. Stop recycling your heroes of color and yanking them from the spotlight after a short time so no one hero (Cyborg, Static, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Solstice, Aqualad) ever gets a foothold. I want diversity and good comics. And cartoons. And video games. And gear.

Make it happen—now. Or don’t. I don’t have time to waste waiting. Other companies (comics, animation, video games, etc.) are already circling.