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CSBG Archive

7/21 – Declarative Rabbit Says…

The latest issue of Justice League of America was the best comic written by Brad Meltzer yet.

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31 Comments

Could be, could be. Not sure I agree, but I can see the point.

But, as someone who reads only a few DC comics and isn’t really abreast of what’s going on in the greater continuity… uh, could someone tell me what the hell was going on?

Ha!

New team members Vixen and Red Arrow were on a normal evacuation of civilians following an attack by a supervillain when the building was flipped upside down.

The issue was Vixen and Red Arrow trying to find a way out of the building.

Probably true, but it still wasn’t very good.

I don’t know, I thought “Archer’s Quest” was alright, even if nobody much talks about it anymore.

Definitely the best thing Meltzer’s done in a while, though, and by that I mean it was tolerably decent.

Great Gene Ha art, though.

Probably true, but it still wasn’t very good.

Yeah, it’s definitely a bit of a backhanded compliment.

I don’t know, I thought “Archer’s Quest” was alright, even if nobody much talks about it anymore.

It’s definitely the bestissue SINCE Archer’s Quest, but I think this issue was slightly better than Archer’s Quest, but yeah, Archer’s Quest was a lot better than the comics since then – which is kinda weird, really.

So it was “The Poseidon Adventure” in a building?

Never read Archer’s Quest, but it was definitely the best issue of Meltzer’s I’ve read so far. It still had some dumb moments (when did Vixen become Synch from Generation X?), but it was largely a solid read. And Gene Ha’s art was amazing; he really carried across the sensation of being buried alive.

Archer’s Quest was better. I remember actually enjoying that.

I almost bought this for the Gene Ha artwork, but the concept sounded like the kind of JLA story that I hate. Any JLA story that only focuses on one or two characters isn’t a JLA story, ya know? Unless the two characters are Booster and Beetle- they get a pass.

After sleeping on it, I decided that I was being unfair to this issue, based on my bias of agreeing with the good folks over here that the last issue of this book was the WORST BOOK OF THE YEAR. You know what? This book, against all odds, is actually quite good. It’s a story about a man who’s put in superheroic situations alongside GODS, as if he had superpowers, and how he must cope when the fact that he has none comes
front and center. And it’s also the story of a woman who has lost her powers, a woman who was never alone due to her inherent connection with the animal kingdom and now finds herself utterly alone when that connection is stripped from her. And how she deals with it. And how they deal with each other. It’s NOT a book about
superheroics. It’s just a story about two (relatively) normal people doing their best to be heroes. Doing their best to use their talents to make a difference in the world. It doesn’t matter how they came to be in this predicament. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is how they rise above their limitations and become the best that they can be, when the chips are down. That said, this story is very well written. It accomplishes EXACTLY what it should, and is, essentially, a done-in-one. And any flaws in dialogue are eminently excusable, due to the nature of the stress being put upon the protagonists. After considering this book more thoroughly, I fail to find ANY flaws with it, and must therefore give it a rating of EXCELLENT. You may disagree, but try to put aside any prejudices and appreciate this issue for what it is: a suprisingly EXCELLENT story.

Declarative Rabbit is crazy. Maybe he smoked to much “special” carrots.

I loved this issue, but was I swayed heavily by the Gene Ha artwork? Yup.

Our of curiousity, has anyone read Meltzer’s prose work? I have only read the preview that was included in one of the comics (was that JLA?) and I found it pretty terrible. With that extremely limited knowledge, I’m guessing that his comics work is actually the best stuff he writes. How wrong am I?

After reading two chapters of The Millionaires and just throwing my hands up and shelving the book in disgust, I can safely say his best stuff is his comics stuff. At least that stuff is tolerably bad because it’s short form.

So wait, Vixen gets her powers from being around animals? and there were absolutely NO creatures of any kind lurking when the building got flipped? Cause the small earthworm in me thinks Vixen wriggling round on the floor for a while would have been awesome.

Sort of.

Paperghost: Vixen’s powers don’t work like that anymore, as revealed in the issue.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 22, 2007 at 1:32 am

Paperghost: Vixen’s powers don’t work like that anymore, as revealed in the issue.

So he changed the character to service the plot?

Yikes.

And this is his best to date?

Double Yikes!

No, in fact I think that this most recent issue was the worst issue Meltzer has ever written. Possibly if it was an issue of say…Green Arrow…it would have been acceptable.. but as one of his final two issues of Justice League of America… horrible

“So he changed the character to service the plot?”

No, he had been building to this revelation. We get flashbacks to earlier in his run showing us how Vixen has used other humans’ powers previously in the run.

Out of curiousity, has anyone read Meltzer’s prose work?

I made it all the way through the Millionaires, which I realize now was a feat. That was the first thing I’d ever read with his name on it in books or comics. Tried to read the Tenth Justice and, I think, the Zero Game, but they were fairly awful and I gave up.

“No, he had been building to this revelation. We get flashbacks to earlier in his run showing us how Vixen has used other humans’ powers previously in the run.”

In all fairness, though, Meltzer has been misusing Vixen’s powers since day one. He’s operating under the wrong impression that she’s basically Animal Man, but she needs a device to focus it. When in actuality she’s always been able to call up whatever animal she wants through the totem, regardless of what’s nearby. If Vixen’s powers were innate, then how did her uncle get the same abilities when he stole the totem back during the JL Detroit era?

Of course, I can’t say for sure that Meltzer consciously changed the way her powers worked or if he just assumed she works like Buddy. But given how up on continuity he seems to be, I’d say it’s most likely that he knew how much he was altering her powers.

Ugh. The more I thought about it, the more I disliked this issue. I slept on it and went from disappointed to disgusted.

Here’s what he did wrong with Vixen, aside from misunderstanding (deliberately or not) how her powers work: OK, so you want to introduce this plot point about her powers going awry — now she can only absorb abilities from nearby humans, not any other animals. Whatever; I can roll with that. But Meltzer should be seeding the mystery of “what’s up with Vixen’s powers?” MUCH better than he did. Really, the only clue we got was when she ran as fast as The Flash, and that just looked like he was probably being sloppy. (We readers can be forgiven, I’m sure, for not giving Meltzer the benefit of the doubt, after how horribly he mishandled “Identity Crisis.”) All he had to do was make it clear that something was going on — something other than bad writing and editorial oversights. It was as simple as letting one character remark (or even think to themselves): “Hey, what the hell? Cheetahs can’t run as fast as Jay Garrick! How’d she do that?”

Better yet: Let us readers in on the problem. Make us privy to Mari’s distress about her powers going awry. Then you’d have a good subplot, one that Meltzer could’ve been building in a much more effective way over the past couple months. Think about how much more drama he’d have gotten out of this recent issue: From the start, we’d know they were both in serious trouble, because she’s essentially powerless too, trapped with non-meta Speedy (er, Red Arrow). From page one, there’d be drama as we realize that Mari finally has to tell the truth — to reveal her secret at this most inopportune time.

But no, Meltzer screws it all up. He goes for the big reveal instead, and it falls flat. There are times when a big reveal works really well, but just as often, it’s much smarter to give the audience information ahead of time, which will build suspense instead of saving for a big “oh-ho!” moment. As it happens in this instance, we readers spend half the issue as frustrated as Roy, thinking “why the hell isn’t Vixen saving the day? This should be a piece of cake for her!” Meltzer completely misjudges what makes for smart storytelling here, and in doing so wastes a potentially excellent subplot that he could’ve been building up for several issues now.

(Instead, he spent pages setting up some completelly unlikely conspiracy between Degaton, Despero and the Ultra-Humanite — a plot point he’ll never resolve, leaving it to others. What the hell? Why bother, Meltzer? That was one of the worst things about “Identity Crisis”: How he introduced plot points that were never resolved within his story and had nothing to do with the main mystery. I suppose DC editorial might be partly to blame for such choices, but I’d rather see Meltzer develop and resolve most of his own ideas than introduce a ton of stuff that he can’t handle, only to clumsily hand over what he’s not finished with to another writer.)

All of which goes to point out that his novels are, I strongly suspect, better than his comics. I’ve only read two — one I liked (“The Zero Game”); the other, I didn’t (because the plot twists were too, too preposterous). He doesn’t make any pretentions to write great literature; he’s just cranking out action thrillers. But there’s a place for those, when done well. He’s clearly in love of the big reveal, the big twist, but with his novels, he’s got to wrap everything up, so that forces him to make smarter choices. And he’s not writing about characters that he grew up reading, so his novels don’t have that quality of geeked-out fan-boy love run amok.

In closing, “Archer’s Quest” was a much better comic than this (or any) issue of his dreadful “Justice League” run. I can’t wait for McDuffie.

That bar is set pretty low, Declarative Rabbit.

And yes, I did read Archer’s Quest, and three of Meltzer’s novels. And, well, you know, that Identity abomination. At this point, my opinion of Meltzer is so colored by my utter disgust that I honestly can’t trust myself to be objective about his work.

I’ve read his JL run because it’s on my pull and I was too lazy to drop it and reinstate it after his departure (horrible reason, I know, and yes, I’m responsible for the death of the comic industry, so heap on the scorn). I thought the latest issue was awful (Rebis summed it up pretty well), but again, I can’t trust my judgment in this area any more.

It’s the best of his JLA run, that’s for sure.

I’m not a huge “art” guy when I read comics. I appreciate good art (Risso on 100 Bullets) and I notice when the art is so bad is actually drags down the story. But for the most part I can say I don’t notice as many artists as I do writers. But Ha’s art on this blew me away. And really, that’s the reason this issue was, in my opinion, a very good comic.

I’d like to see the script to see if Meltzer came up with the ideas about the panel size (showing the feeling of being “trapped”) and the “misdirection” page. If so, kudos to him. It played out well.

Wow! This jagged metal nail you shoved into my eye is MUCH better than the electrified clamps made of rusty iron, the bones of my loved ones and PURE HATE that you dipped acid and clamped around my testicles!

Some people just love to hate. :)

I was planning on dropping JLA after the last arc, but forgot to tell my retailer so got this one anyway.

It just earned a reprieve as this issue was very well done.

Pedro Bouça

July 23, 2007 at 5:26 am

That’s damning with VERY faint praise, rabbit!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Once again I’m out of step with the groupthink of Comics Should Be Good. I like Loeb and I like Meltzer (but I think Grant Morrison is great so that must keep me from becoming a pariah). I thought Archer’s Quest was great–easily the best Green Arrow story in a long time and Identity Crisis was an interesting spin on the late 70s-early 1980s JLA that was more let down by how it spun out in the DC universe than by the story itself (which I admit has flaws). And in spite of all the feces flung at it here I’ve really enjoyed his JLA as well– the thing I’ve hated most about his JLA is in fact Ed Benes’ artwork.

I’m not going to go into a spirited defence of him because I’ve found with Loeb it’s pointless here but I did want to at least venture a dissenting opinion. Because Meltzer is probably one of my favourite writers working in comics today.

Am I the only one who, in addition to not liking the story, also wasn’t crazy about the art? I thought it was hard to follow and trying too hard to be like hand-held camerawork (which I also disdain). And I’m not big on photo-realism in comics, as a general rule.

I am genuinely curious as to what people like about Meltzer’s comic writing.

Good critique, Rebis, on why Vixen was so mishandled.

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