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I Was Going To Write The Ultimate Flame Bait Post

tying Michael Jackson, Jeph Loeb, and homosexuality in comics together, but I just couldn’t find a way to string it all together. So I’m just going to write about one of those hot button topics. Find out which one after the jump!

Okay, just so you don’t die of suspense, it’s Jeph Loeb. Specifically, I’m going to “review” Hulk 7-9.

I put that in quotation marks because, really, Loeb’s work is pretty well review proof. As 2/3rds of all comment sections on this website prove, you already know whether you like him or think he is a welt on the genitals of sequential art. Or the Michael Bay of comics. Those are kind of interchangable, aren’t they?

Let me lay my cards on the table before I get to these comics I’m supposed to be writing about; I haven’t liked Loeb since Hush. I was really hyped up for that, because I enjoyed the Long Halloween (it was one of the first trades I ever bought when I got back in to comics in 2001) and Jim Lee was my favorite artist when he was on X-Men. The fact it bored me after six issues pretty much slapped the scales right off my eyes as far as Loeb goes.

That said, he’s written some stories I’ve enjoyed, all of them with Tim Sale. Superman For All Seasons and Spider-Man: Blue * were both okay in my book, although a lot of that is Sale’s art and the stories Loeb evokes that I have fondness for (the Lee-Romita Spider-Man and the Timm, Dini, and friends cartoon, respectively). So, I’m not a fan of the guy’s, but I don’t hate him with a passion, either. I’ve kind of ignored him since Hush, really.

But I’m not made of stone, and these stupid Hulk comics are drawn by Frank Cho and Art Adams. That’s a trump card for me.

Stroywise, they’re not good in any real measurable sense. If you’re the kind of person that wants to sue Loeb for being a blight on society for writing bad comics*, they’d be pretty good evidence. They illustrate his tendency for excess (if one Wendigo is a threat, why don’t we turn everyone in Las Vegas to one), gratuitous guest stars, deus ex machine endings (Brother Voodoo actually fullfills the last two by himself); name a cliche, you can probably find it in here.

That said, who cares? The Adams drawn story doesn’t take itself seriously, is drawn by Art Adams, moves along briskly, is drawn by Art Adams, features at least one memorably amusing exchange between Moon Knight and the Sentry, and is drawn by Art Adams. That’s all I ask for, especially when back issue diving during a sale.

The Cho drawn story does take itself seriously, and serves as both an excuse for him to draw every major female superhero they can cram in there and for Loeb to try and make Rulk** look like a cunning villain by outsmarting the dumb girls (and offering Thundra a job helping him do whatever it is he’s meant to be doing), so it’s less entertaining. But still, Cho’s work is nothing to sneeze at, if you have a tolerance for his excesses.

That leads to why I think Loeb keeps getting work; he lets his collaborators show off. He gives everybody he works with ample room to draw all the splash pages, fight scenes, and ass shots they want. He’s not alone there, sure, but I do think tailoring his scripts to his collaborator’s strengths as artists is at least part of his appeal to editors and fans.

Also, these comics feature Mini Marvels backups. It’s hard to begrudge all that brain melting excess when those are the last things you see.

*That said, I think the color scheme Marvel stuff has hit its nadir. If they do Iron Man: Gold, Black Panther: Black, or Quicksilver: Silver, I fear for us all.

**I’m talking about T. there, because I don’t pay enough attention to the Loeb debates to know who else hates him that passionately. To be fair, our surly consonant really did hate him before it was cool, so he deserves credit there.

**That kind of makes me want to be co-council with T. if he ever does bring that suit against Loeb. It really irks me, just like babyman and comix. At least no one will combine those words in one sentence in the comments because I said I didn’t like them!

41 Comments

I would totally buy a comic titled Quicksilver: Silver.

Devyn Rodriguez

July 1, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Can’t we just say that Jeph Loeb is a bad writer and don’t think of his books as continuity? If you ignore his books exist, you will definitely feel a lot better.

Even though there is a better writer out there who Marvel should be giving work too, but I’m not going to rant. Promise :)

That leads to why I think Loeb keeps getting work; he lets his collaborators show off. He gives everybody he works with ample room to draw all the splash pages, fight scenes, and ass shots they want. He’s not alone there, sure, but I do think tailoring his scripts to his collaborator’s strengths as artists is at least part of his appeal to editors and fans.

I’m glad you put “He’s not alone there”, because there are a lot of writers who know how to tailor their scripts to their collaborators — Morrison is a definite example, especially if you look at his wonderful “Batman of Many Nations” story with JH Williams.

So yes, while Loeb knows how to make his artists happy, which is key good for building good will, the main reason why he keeps getting work is because it keeps selling in large numbers (unfortunately). Marvel and DC exist to make money, and they will keep hiring people that make money. If Loeb’s comics stopped selling the multitude of projects offered to him would dry up — no matter how many T&A shots he puts in his Cho scripts. To draw a comparison — Chuck Austen, one of the few writers who is worse than Loeb, kept getting new projects because they sold well, even landing him a gig on Action Comics writing characters that were so far removed from Superman and his cast it almost seems like the artists drew the “S-shield” on the main character by mistake.

although a lot of that is Sale’s art and the stories Loeb evokes that I have fondness for (the Lee-Romita Spider-Man and the Timm, Dini, and friends cartoon, respectively)

And that’s essentially one of his biggest problems as a writer — re-writing much better material by more talented people to pad out enough issues to make a snazzy hardcover. But it keeps working for him.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm

“Jeph Loeb’s writing on Ultimatum has sodomized more childhoods than Michael Jackson.”

There, all tied together, horribly tasteless, ethically questionable, completely nonsensical, and thus guaranteed to attract loads of people arguing about nothing as if their lives depended on it.

One redeeming factor: I kinda-sorta liked the “split story” format of these issues. Half was green/gray Hulk, half was red. It kinda harkened back to the 60’s books, like Tales to Astonish, where it was half-Hulk, half-Namor.

But yeah, trying to turn Wendigos into the new zombies was….bleah.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 1, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Eh, the Wendigo concept has been pretty badly abused for over a decade now. Todd-O-Mac gave us a kinder, gentler Wendigo who never hurt a fly and had to be framed for cannibalism, then Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld had a Wendigo as a superheroic-but-misguided type in Weapon: PRIME. (Nicieza quickly renamed the character “Yeti” down the line.) Oh, and then there was Frank Tieri, who decided that it was possible to kill the heretofore indestructible Wendigo and steal its powers…by EATING WENDIGO FLESH.

So it’s hard to get mad at Loeb over it.

I think I have it! Why Jeph Loeb’s stuff sells. He knows how to write scenes for good artists. His plots may blow but he knows what kinda scenes an artist is good at and writes plenty of em. When he gets a good artist he has a handle on (Tim Sale), He can do a pretty good book.

“Find out which one after the jump!”

The tags kind of spoil it. Plus you’re asterisk notes are all over the place. David Foster Wallace would be most displeased. I liked the rest of it though.

I’m not in the mood for a Jeph Loeb thread today. This week saw the release of the fourth Boys trade, the latest issue of Invincible Iron Man, and the second installment of the new Batman and Robin. Those are all awesome, so aren’t they more deserving of topics?

Wouldn’t it be Silver Surfer: Silver, and Luke Cage: Black?

Loeb on Hulk is essentially harmless. It’s completely inane, but if Marvel are going to do one utterly ridiculous action comic as a vehicle for the artists to show off, it might as well be Hulk.

It’s more of a problem with stuff like Ultimatum, which is supposed to be reinvigorating the Ultimate imprint and therefore ought to be capable of being taken somewhat seriously. A book like that actively damages everything around it – or at least sends a very clear signal that the planned new direction for the imprint is “total nonsense.”

Some of Loeb’s work over the last few years, like his Wolverine arc or “Onslaught Reborn”, suggests that either he’s given up even TRYING to write proper stories, or he’s completely lost all sense of quality control. Either way, the less I read of his stuff, the happier I am.

Stephane Savoie

July 2, 2009 at 5:13 am

Oooo! I like this game!
Shang Chi: Yellow
Northstar: Pink
Red Hulk: Red

The only reason I even care about Loeb at this point is that my wife is a big fan of ULTIMATE X-MEN, which means that I’m buying her Ultimatum books. I’ve bought my share of utter crap over the years, but at least it was utter crap I enjoyed. The things I do for love …

And Paul, your X-Axis review of Loeb’s WOLVERINE run is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. “To the true master, the cat and the sasquatch are as one.” Beautiful. If you ever come to Alabama, I will buy you alcohol.

Chuck Austen, one of the few writers who is worse than Loeb, kept getting new projects because they sold well, even landing him a gig on Action Comics writing characters that were so far removed from Superman and his cast it almost seems like the artists drew the “S-shield” on the main character by mistake.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say Austen was worse than Loeb. Austen was godawful, but he wrote a few good stories like War Machine and that X-Men issue with Northstar where the kid died. Jeph Loeb to date has never written a good story.

What helps Loeb is he has zero ideas or vision of his own to conflict with his artist, so he’s free to just write whatever characters and scenes the artist wants to draw. You’ll never hear Loeb having “creative differences” with a collaborator because he’s not remotely creative.

The Purple Man: Purple
The Vision: Green-amongst-others
Psylocke: White-to-Yellow

Ummm, where does the three-asterisk note go?

Cloak & Dagger: Black & White

Well, yeah. The key to Jeph Loeb’s success is that he panders to his artists. Didn’t everyone already know that? I mean, Hush was nothing more then a vehicle to allow Jim Lee to draw the Batman villains. That’s why he’s constantly been able to work with top guys, because they know that he’s going to give them fun things to draw.

Loeb is the ultimate (no pun intended) high concept/poor execution guy. I’m sure his pitches all sound great. He’d probably make a great Editor in Chief (although after his tenure as show runner on Heroes… maybe not). But he’s always been a terrible writer. He’s just been able to hide it better.

Captain Ultra: Rainbow

This thread just reminded me about Captain America: White. Umm… what happened with that? I think I remember seeing a #0 issue last year. I know we’ve seen a lot of delays in this industry, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen a year delay between a #0/preview issue and a #1 issue.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 2, 2009 at 8:29 am

A few more:

— Iron Man: Gold

— The Thing: Orange

— Galactus: Fuschia

— Namor: Fleshtone

— Dazzler: Iridescent

— Silver Surfer: Pleonasm

— Wonder Woman: Breasts

Also, every time I see the title Captain America: White it makes me think we’re going to see Steve Rogers refusing to let T’Challa eat with the other Avengers. But they already used Blue for Spider-Man, and Captain America: Red has its own problems.

Weren’t the “color” books supposed to evoke both a classic period of the character as well as a specific emotion? Didn’t DD: Yellow deal with fear, and Spidey: Blue deal with depression?

Not that I read any of these. I avoided Hulk: Gray like the plague after the first issue. I suppose the Thing: Orange would actually work in the series, except I have no idea what “orange” is supposed to evoke. Florida? (Yes, yes, I know all about Agent Orange in Green Lantern.)

Maybe “The Thing: Oatmeal” if we wanted to go the classic Silver Age route.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

Thing: Orange is meant to evoke the disturbing spectacle of a comics fan pleasuring himself after eating Cheetos.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say Austen was worse than Loeb. Austen was godawful, but he wrote a few good stories like War Machine and that X-Men issue with Northstar where the kid died. Jeph Loeb to date has never written a good story.

Fair enough, T, but while Loeb has never written anything good, he hasn’t written anything as offensive as Austen’s “Pope Nightcrawler”, “Every X-Person has sex with each other” and “Lois Lane finds Lana Lang’s panties in Clark’s bedroom”, which is why I maintain Austen is worse. But yes, while Austen has written good stories before, his cesspool is deeper than Loeb’s.

Reading the reviews of Austen’s Action Comics on the Superman Homepage was like reading an articles about horrific train wrecks.

“Fair enough, T, but while Loeb has never written anything good, he hasn’t written anything as offensive as Austen’s “Pope Nightcrawler”, “Every X-Person has sex with each other” and “Lois Lane finds Lana Lang’s panties in Clark’s bedroom”, which is why I maintain Austen is worse. But yes, while Austen has written good stories before, his cesspool is deeper than Loeb’s.”

You don’t think “the Blob eats the Wasp” is more offensive then Lois finding a pair of panties?

Fair enough, T, but while Loeb has never written anything good, he hasn’t written anything as offensive as Austen’s “Pope Nightcrawler”, “Every X-Person has sex with each other” and “Lois Lane finds Lana Lang’s panties in Clark’s bedroom”, which is why I maintain Austen is worse

This, I must admit, is a very valid counterargument. Although his latest Ultimates Vol. 3 with the outright incest between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and rape tease with Pyro and Valkyrie along with Blob eating the Wasp and Giant Man biting off the Blob’s head have him closing the gap in offensive tackiness.

You don’t think “the Blob eats the Wasp” is more offensive then Lois finding a pair of panties?

Perhaps I should be corrected. Frankly, I’ve had no desire to read Ultimatum, so I’ve missed the random, senseless killings that Loeb has decided to put into the “event” to make it “important”. But what you’ve said sounds pretty terrible.

Sad to hear that Loeb is digging himself into the cesspool of bad writing. He just might be killing an entire imprint of comics with one terrible event mini-series.

“You don’t think “the Blob eats the Wasp” is more offensive then Lois finding a pair of panties?”

If it’s “Lois Lane, Mrs. Superman” you’re talking about, then yes. I find Loeb’s stuff far more enjoyable than anything Chuck Austin has ever written. Hush and Hulk are fun in the same way a Michael Bay movie is (as others have noted) — lots of spectacle and action, but mostly fluff without a whole lot of substance. That kind of thing isn’t always enjoyable, but it can be fun to turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. Plus you’ve got Jim Lee and Ed McGuinness artwork to look at.

Chuck Austin’s work was insultingly bad because, unlike Loeb, he takes it seriously. Not that I’m saying Loeb isn’t in that same ballpark with Ultimatum, but at least some of his stuff is fun to read. I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed a Chuck Austin issue. Well… that’s not fair, because he did have Ron Garney for some of his X-Men run, and I like his work. And to be honest some of his set-ups were good. But then you got crap like Black Tom Cassady draining the blue from Arcangel’s skin, the Church of Humanity Pope bit, Nightcrawler being connected to an otherworldly devil (or something), rednecks in armor fighting Cannonball’s family, and all of that terrible drama forced into Superman. I hate to rip on Austin like that, but if you’re comparing the two, I’d gladly take Loeb’s writing.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Emma Frost: Platinum

Cyclops: Ruby

Iceman: Translucent

Nothing wrong with all of this colour-coordination, but:

I would totally buy a comic titled Quicksilver: Messenger Service.

Hawkeye: Purple

Luke Cage: Yellow

Deadpool: Burned Fleshtone, Slightly Hamburger Color

Doctor Doom: Green

Lockjaw: Nomnomnomnom

Daredevil: Blind

” Also, every time I see the title Captain America: White it makes me think we’re going to see Steve Rogers refusing to let T’Challa eat with the other Avengers. But they already used Blue for Spider-Man, and Captain America: Red has its own problems. ”

This would be perfect for an Ultimate Captain America story, where the other Ultimates hold an intervention after a big crossover team up where Steve refuses to work with the X-Men until Colossus gets a baptism and stops sinning against the Lord, and won’t stop pestering the Thing for accounting advice.

* Though if we are to run with the idea that Ultimate Cap retains the bigoted notions of his period, then why did he enter into a relationship with the Wasp? *

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 2, 2009 at 10:59 am

Kevin, you bit reminded me of a less-funny one I had — Daredevil: What’s Color?

We need Jeff Ryan with a color suggestion for Quasar.

I’d like to see the Color imprint be a runaway success, so that down the line they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel:

Aquarian: Puce

The Blob ate the Wasp? Fuck the heck?

Wouldn’t it be

Deadpool – Medium Rare, Warm Pink Center

Master of Run Fu

July 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

“Though if we are to run with the idea that Ultimate Cap retains the bigoted notions of his period, then why did he enter into a relationship with the Wasp? ”

Is that why she stopped being Asian in Ultimates 3?

>— Wonder Woman: Breasts

I thought that was now called “All-Star Wonder Woman”…

“and Jim Lee was my favorite artist when he was on X-Men.“

See, I absolutely loathed Jim Lee`s work during his young hotshot X-Men heyday. Hush, while a story that I`m not in any way defending as a story, was the first time I ever found Lee`s work appealing visually (ASSBAR is also a case of Jim Lee I actually think looks good, whatever you might say about the story).
Rulk I can tolerate partially because the art, including the recent work by McGuinness, has a nice retro zip to it, whereas I found the art in Ultimates 3 to be outright fucking hideous, totally failing to make up for the crappy writing.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 2, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Surely it should be Quasar: The Color Out of Space

You don’t think “the Blob eats the Wasp” is more offensive then Lois finding a pair of panties?

I haven’t read neither Austen’s Action, nor Loeb’s Ultimates, so I am speaking in general terms. I’d say Lois finding Lana’s panties is intrinsically less offensive the Blob eating the Wasp. I can imagine a modern take on the classic Silver Age love triangle of Lois-Clark-Lana that would actually be worth reading. Get a writer with a sense of humor and that scene might actually be worth reading. My sense is that Chuck Austen isn’t that guy.

Conversely, the Wasp being eaten is just … horrific. It is a sick joke, which is a shameful way to send out a likable character.

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