In 2021, Brett Booth will be returning to Marvel Comics, taking over from Leinil Yu and drawing the central ongoing X-Men comic book, one of the best-selling comics in the direct market comic book shops, and most likely Marvel's bestselling title. He's also drawing the Chris Claremont Anniversary title, along with a number of other artists that have worked with Claremont over the years, including Bill Sienkiewicz. But it seems that Brett's contribution to the X-Office caught Hickman's eye.
I understand it was X-Men showrunner Jonathan Hickman who chose Brett Booth as the new X-Men artist, alongside Mahmad Asrar and taking over from Leinil Yu – Yu and Booth used to draw X-Men comics as a creative partnership back in the day.
But the news was not greeted positively by everyone. Booth's style is associated with a certain nineties' vibe, but of late his work has been more detailed and organic, representing the kind of shift that Howard Porter made from his own nineties work. It's still Jim Lee influenced with more of an Arhurt Adams or Joe Madueria flair, insane detail accompanied by a strong kinetic charge. And it is, presumably, what Jonathan Hickman wants for the lead X-Men book going forward into 2021.
Brett Booth is also outspoken online. An atheist liberal, he has been rather dismissive of all manner of religious and religious concerns, and insulting to boot, with this 2012 post as prime example. He has also spoken out in defence of his fellow artists who have been accused of being sexist in their art. On one such occasion, regarding an article written for CBR about the sexist implications of a cover for Teen Titans drawn by Kenneth Rocafort in 2014, his comments against the website, the author and painting some kind of martyr complex saw Booth's fans amongst others throw the vilest of slurs at the author, with Booth being seen to do nothing to counter that. And some fans have long memories. As result of this, the announcement of Booth's arrival on the X-Men in 2021, after years of drawing Titans, Teen Titans, Flash, Flash Forward, Justice League, Nightwing, Aquaman, Batman/Superman at DC without pushback, saw a wave of disgust from X-Men readers posting on Twitter. And for the longstanding and popular X-Men-and-related review site Xavier Files to state they would not be covering the lead X-Men title while Brett Booth is drawing it.
Xavier Files contributor Chris Eddleman added "After writing about the flagship with Robert Secundus for a full year in December, we've decided we will not write about X-Men while the recently announced artist is involved. We look forward to covering it when he is no longer drawing."
While Robert Secundus added "Unlocking for a bit so I can be available to chat with anyone wondering why I made the decision not to write on comics by the dude (can't speak for Chris) especially since I regularly write about assholes. The cons just outweighed the pros on this one for me. I've written about way worse people, but with purposes in mind that make it worth it to me to write. This one? I couldn't really think of any way to approach the situation that would make it worth my time. And honestly? Principles aside? I enjoy dunking on Geoff Johns. I get a kick out of it. Writing about this dude would just make me sad. So, uh, I'm not going to."
With the Xavier Files account run by EIC Zachary Jenkins adding "Xavier Files supports the decision to not cover books Brett Booth draws. It's deeply unfortunate that Marvel has chosen to pattern with someone with a history of harassment, misogyny, and hateful rhetoric towards the Jewish and Islamic communities. We hope they reconsider."
Bleeding Cool understands that this is not an issue at Marvel. There was editorial condescension at Marvel over anyone suggesting hiring Booth previously, based on his nineties-redolent style. But what Hickman wants, Hickman gets. And it is not believed that this online reaction will affect sales at all.
Oh and one other thing? He's only drawing two issues, for now at least. So we will welcome back Xavier Files coverage later in 2021.