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Top 10 Comic Book Controversies of 2017

VO: AS WRITTEN BY: Thomas O'Connor
Written by Thomas O'Connor The mainstream comics industry and parts of its fanbase have got some serious explaining to do. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the top ten comic book controversies of 2017. For this list, we’re counting down the top ten controversies that rocked or even just gently shook the comic book industry, in the hopes that we can make 2018 a better year for our beloved funnybooks. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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Top 10 Comic Book Controversies of 2017

The mainstream comics industry and parts of its fanbase have got some serious explaining to do. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the top ten comic book controversies of 2017.

For this list, we’re counting down the top ten controversies that rocked or even just gently shook the comic book industry, in the hopes that we can make 2018 a better year for our beloved funnybooks.

#10: "Marvel Legacy" Variant Covers

Special edition variant covers have been a staple of the comics industry, pun intended, for years now. This year, Marvel unveiled a series of variant covers with fancy lenticular artwork that changes between classic covers and modern updates as you turn the comic in your hands. However, in order to stock these variants at their shops, Marvel demanded that retailers purchase exorbitant amounts of the regular version of each book, a move that caused pushback from retailers including major online outlets like MyComicShop.com. Variant covers are great and all, but demanding retailers buy more comics than they could reasonably sell just to get the variants is just plain greedy.

#9: “The Divided States of Hysteria”

Comics industry vet Howard Chaykin has worked extensively for both Marvel and DC, drawing and writing tales for Batman, Blade, The Punisher and more. This year, Chaykin came under extensive fire from critics for depictions of violence against minorities in his Image comics series, “The Divided States of Hysteria”. The first issue alone depicted a scene in which a trans woman is brutally beaten by a mob, and the planned cover for issue #4 doubled down by graphically depicting the victim of a racial hate crime. We’re all for tackling uncomfortable subjects in comics, but the question of whether Chaykin was using these themes and images for sensationalism, and the controversy that surrounded the book led to Image replacing the graphic cover.

#8: “N.G.E.N”

Comic books are all about heroes, but it’s hard to look heroic when you’re branded with the logo for one of America’s largest defense contractors. When Marvel announced they’d entered a partnership with Northrop-Grumman, one of the US’s largest manufacturers of military hardware, eyebrows were raised at the idea that a weapons manufacturer would be joining forces with Marvel. After all, wasn’t the point of “Iron Man” that profiting off of selling weapons of mass destruction is...bad? Marvel unveiled the comic produced for the partnership, a thinly-veiled recruiting tool for the defense giant, and many comics fans made their displeasure known. As a result of the backlash, Marvel ended the partnership and the book was mothballed.

#7: #MakeMineMilkshake

While the comics industry made some bad calls themselves this year, certain comic fans are far from innocent themselves. When Marvel editor Heather Antos tweeted a photo of herself and some female colleagues going out for milkshakes, there was a bewildering outcry that this was more evidence of Marvel pushing a political agenda. How anyone could mistake a photo of some Marvel gal pals getting milkshakes for a political statement is beyond us. Fans seemingly made the connection between the photo, and Marvel Comics VP David Gabriel claiming that slumping sales were a result of readers who “didn't want any more diversity” - a statement he later retracted.

#6: “Inhumans vs X-Men”

Up until the recent purchasing of Fox by Disney, the film rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four weren’t being held by Marvel and the House of Mouse, and Marvel clearly weren’t happy about it. The Fantastic Four’s comics were canceled, the X-Men’s presence in the comics and in ancillary media like toys and games seemed minimal. Was it a ploy to strongarm Fox into returning the film rights? Maybe. But when Marvel announced that the X-Men would go to war with The Inhumans, with the Inhumans possibly wiping mutants out in the Marvel Universe and taking their place, fans called shenanigans. Thankfully, they’re all back to being one big happy family - especially considering how that Inhumans TV show turned out.

#5: Death of Pepe the Frog

Watching your creation get unexpectedly turned into a symbol of hatred and bigotry can’t be an easy thing for a creator to go through, but that’s just what happened to cartoonist Matt Furie. He just wanted his creation, the now eponymous Pepe the Frog, to be a fun-loving stoner frog, but it wasn’t meant to be. The character became an unwitting mascot of online hate groups during the 2016 election, and rather than see his creation used for evil, Furie elected to kill off Pepe in a special comic released on Free Comic Book Day, much to the ire of alt-right groups everywhere.

#4: “X-Men: Gold” Indonesian Protest messages

Indonesian comics artist Ardian Syaf found himself out of a job when it was discovered that he’d slipped some controversial messages into his artwork for Marvel’s “X-Men Gold”. The messages were references to a series of protests occurring in Indonesia at the time, with extremist groups protesting Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja, who they feel should not hold political power due to his Christian beliefs. Syaf apparently agrees as he drew Colossus wearing a shirt referencing the verse of the Quran that, in its Indonesian translation, prohibits Muslims from being governed by non-Muslims. Several other references to the protests were found, including the number 212 which represents the protests on December 2nd, 2016. As a result, Syaf was promptly shown the door.

#3: “Akira Yoshida”

Especially in light of Marvel’s recent push towards diversity and inclusiveness in its comics, it’s been disheartening to see this particular drama unfold. It was recently admitted by new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B Cebulski that in the early 2000s, he penned a number of Marvel books under the name “Akira Yoshida”, misrepresenting the comics as having an authentic Japanese viewpoint. Fans were quite understandably outraged. In an industry long dominated by white writers, finding out that one of the depressingly small number of Asian names adorning American comic covers was just a white guy in disguise is pretty depressing. The fact that Marvel knew about this and condoned this, even more so.

#2: “Secret Empire”

Since his inception, Captain America has stood for truth, liberty, equality, justice, and the vigorous and repeated punching of Nazis. So, in 2016, when Marvel seemingly revealed that the Star Spangled Man with a Plan had been an agent of Hydra all along, fans weren’t too happy. This culminated in the 2017 event “Secret Empire,” which saw Cap as the Big Bad. To make matters worse, a variant cover for issue #5 depicted Magneto as a member of Hydra, prompting an outcry that a Jewish character who endured the Holocaust, would never join such a group. While this turned out to be a bit of a misdirection, people were nonetheless upset about the whole thing, and their anger was directed at series writer Nick Spencer.

#1: Eddie Berganza Assault Charges

Following the explosive allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a sea change swept through the entertainment industry as newly empowered victims of sexual assault finally found themselves able to tell their stories. The comics industry got their share of this as well, as numerous accusations against DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza came to light thanks to an article published by BuzzFeed News. In addition to Berganza having to answer for his deplorable behavior, the company itself came under criticism for failing to fire Berganza sooner. While some may say “better late than never”, if DC really was aware of Berganza’s behavior and kept him on the company payroll, DC owes an apology to his victims.
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