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Random Thoughts! (January 12, 2010)

Random Thought! Fact: 2010? Better than 1910. It’s random thoughts time! Get excited!

Random Thought! Links thought! High Road/Low Road on Jeff Hardy in TNA (one of those easier columns for me to take the low road since I’m not a Hardy fan). Wrestling 4Rs featuring my write-up of last Monday’s TNA iMPACT!, which I did not enjoy and tore into pretty strongly… because it was pretty fucking bad aside from that main event and the Knockouts tag match. Best of 2009: Top Ten No More (books that made 2008’s top ten, but not 2009’s). Best of 2009: Not Good Enough (books I wanted to mention that didn’t make the top ten, but did fall somewhere in my top thirty… as that’s how many books I ranked for myself). Best of 2009: Joe Casey Comics (a quick look back at Joe Casey’s output in 2009 since he’s the creator I obsessively follow and write about…). Best of 2009: My Favourite Comic Critic (as I wanted to point out which critic I liked the most this year since I read a lot of them, and, honestly, they help shape the way I read/view comics). Best of 2009: The Top Ten (here’s what really matters, people… click and be surprised!). Wrestler of the Week (if you think the Marvel/DC divide is big, you should check out the comments sections for stuff like this where you have the WWE/TNA divide… or the utter dismissal of anything indie by WWE fans… awful stuff).

Random Thought! Do cover artists matter? I don’t mean do well drawn covers matter, but does knowing that a specific artist is drawing a cover for a book matter? I’m asking because of adds in last week’s The Boys for the upcoming Kevin Smith Green Hornet series where the actual series artist, Jonathan Lau, is barely mentioned, by the line-up of exciting cover artists get their names in big, bold letters. I have to assume they do help books, but much do they help really? Have you ever been more inclined to look at a book based soley on Artist A providing the cover?

Random Thought! With Spider-Man 4 scrapped, can we have John Malkovich as Lex Luthor now? Actually, I’ll take Malkovich in whatever movie I can get him.

Random Thought! After rereading JLA/Hitman this morning, I’ve decided that I need to do some reread reviews on non-traditional superhero writers taking on the Justice League and portraying them in a different light than what we’re used to. So far: JLA/Hitman by Garth Ennis, JLA: New Maps of Hell by Warren Ellis, JLA: Kid Amazo by Peter Milligan, and Superman: For Tomorrow by Brian Azzarello. That should keep me busy and give plenty of purists something to debate/complain about. (I do love that the basic consensus seems to be that the members of the League don’t actually like one another, which, to me, is fantastic and probably true. It’s not a social club, it’s a job, and you can’t choose who your co-workers are.)

Random Thought! I got one of those free Marvel calendars and notice that Marvel doesn’t quite understand how calendars work: if you stick a Siege ad in the middle, it makes it hard to see the picture for June (Iron Fist!) and the days. I know I know, I ripped the fucking ad out, but that ran the risk of fucking up the staples. I understand the desire/need to advertise, particularly with a free giveaway, but there are better ways to do it (aka not annoying potential customers).

Random Thought! Why do I always leave these posts to Tuesday afternoon? I begin them on Wednesdays and barely update them (aside from the links stuff)…

Random Thought! Hey, go read the first chapter of No Hero (aka #0) for free online. It made my top ten books of 2009 after all.

Random Thought! “Brightest Day” will receive the same cold shoulder from me that has accompanied Blackest Night… will probably avoid reviewing any issues, too… or maybe not.

Random Thought! That reminds me: why is approaching a comic with a negative bias somehow worse than approaching it with a positive one? I’ve had people dismiss what I’ve written because I wasn’t a fan before reading the book, but praise my writing when I was a fan going in… why is one form of bias acceptable?

Random Thought! Okay, in The Great Ten #3, Thundermind received his powers by translating a mantra that, when said, brings enlightenment and powers. Um, why doesn’t he share this mantra with the world? It obviously couldn’t be abused, because it brings enlightenment with the powers! You say it and you’re enlightened! If everyone says it, the world is made perfect. Or are there some unsaid reasons for this? Maybe it doesn’t bring true enlightenment (how else could this guy work for the Chinese government, honestly…). Is self-delusion an unseen flaw of Thundermind? If so, then that issue was better than I gave it credit. Then again, the Superman allusions were awful.

Random Thought! I may be a sucker, but I’m oddly looking forward to Dark Avengers #13 and the promised explanation of the Sentry.

Random Thought! Despite my lackluster reaction to Siege #1, I am a fan of Brian Michael Bendis’s work on the Avengers franchise. You don’t devoted an entire day of blogging (plus the days spent rereading the books) to someone’s output without genuinely enjoying it. That said, I’m still amused that Tony Stark’s tenor as director of SHIELD was for only, like, a month in continuity.

Random Thought! Who is your favourite comic critic/reviewer? One of the reasons I named mine was to see who others like best…

Random Thought! Will Joe Casey’s run on Superman/Batman mean a return of Superman as a pacifist? I sure hope so!

Random Thought! Sometime this week or next, Tim and I will attempt recording a Splash Page podcast. We may do a couple just for ourselves to get used to it before recording one that we’ll actually release, but it’s looking like, soon, you’ll be able to hear the two of us talk comics… something which we’ve never actually done. Apologies in advance for any time I cut Tim off, mumble, speak too quickly, and say ‘fuck’ more than is comfortably allowable. There’s a reason I write, people.

Random Thought! I really, really enjoyed Asterios Polyp. I know you’ve probably heard a lot of great things, but it is worth reading. Not just because of its technical aspects, it’s an engaging and interesting story. While I love stylistic and technical masturbation as much as the next guy, I do want a story and characters that I can invest myself in emotionally… and Mazzucchelli produced that sort of work.

Random Thought! It occurs to me that The Programme may have been about the resurgence in Silver Age nostalgia/longing…

Random Thought! If you don’t want to read about wrestling, avoid the next random thought. I placed it at the end to make skipping it that much easier.

Random Thought! 411mania had its four-part end of the year wrestling awards for 2009 go up last week and I thought I would include what I voted for as well here. First, the results: part one, part two (in which I did blurbs for best free TV match and worst feud/storyline), part three (in which I did a blurb for worst tag team), and part four. Second, here were my votes (excluding the categories where I abstained due to a lack of knowledge): Announcer of the Year: 1. Matt Striker (ECW, WWE Smackdown); 2. Jim Ross (WWE Smackdown); 3. Tazz (TNA Impact). Breakout of the Year: 1. John Morrison (ECW, WWE Smackdown); 2. The Miz (ECW, WWE Raw); 3. Kofi Kingston (WWE Raw). Comeback Wrestler of the Year: 1. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (WWE Raw); 2. Rey Mysterio (WWE Smackdown); 3. Tara (TNA). Disappointment of the Year: 1. Miz & Morrison vs. The Colons is shafted from Wrestlemania… FOR KID ROCK. (WWE WrestleMania 25, 04.05.09); 2. An injury cuts “Team Canadian Ego” (Edge & Jericho) down before they really get going. (WWE Smackdown); 3. MVP’s debuts on Raw by calling out Randy Orton only to see his push fizzle out soon thereafter. (WWE Raw). Free TV Match of the Year: 1. John Morrison vs. CM Punk (WWE Smackdown, 06.26.09); 2. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship (WWE Smackdown, 07.10.09); 3. Edge vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Smackdown: 05.15.09). Story / Surprise of the Year: 1. Shane McMahon resigns from WWE. (WWE); 2. Hulk Hogan signs with TNA. (TNA); 3. Bryan Danielson signs with WWE (WWE). Worst Story / Surprise of the Year: 1. Mitsuhara Misawa dies in the ring. (NOAH); 2. Hulk Hogan signs with TNA. (TNA); 3. Jeff Hardy declines to renew his WWE contract and is soon arrested for owning more drugs than would kill Keith Richards and Ozzy Osbourne combined. (WWE Smackdown). Feud / Storyline of the Year: 1. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk (WWE Smackdown); 2. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Smackdown); 3. The Rise and Fall of the Main Event Mafia (TNA). Worst Feud / Storyline of the Year: 1. Hornswoggle vs. Chavo Guerrero (WWE Raw); 2. Donald Trump buys WWE Raw… and then sells it back to Vince McMahon (at a HUGE profit) one week later. (WWE Raw); 3. Vince McMahon vs. E. Stanley Kroenke (WWE Raw). Worst Promo of the Year: 1. Shane McMahon, more out of shape than Viscera after a three day Oreo and Big Mac bender, returns to WWE and leaves Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, and Ted DiBiase lying with punches less convincing than the ones Lita used to throw. (WWE Raw, 01.26.09); 2. Kid Rock Concert (WWE WrestleMania 25, 04.05.09); 3. “Piggie James” (WWE Smackdown, 11.20.09). Worst Match of the Year: 1. John Cena vs. The Big Show in a Submission Match (WWE Extreme Rules, 06.07.09); 2. Mickie James vs. Jillian Hall for the WWE Divas Championship / Jillian Hall vs. Melina for the WWE Divas Championship (WWE Raw, 10.12.09); 3. 25-Diva Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal (WWE WrestleMania 25, 04.05.09). Worst Manager of the Year: 1. Vickie Guerrero (WWE); 2. Tony Atlas (ECW); 3. Jenna Morasca (TNA). Worst Tag Team of the Year: 1. The Bella Twins (WWE Smackdown, WWE Raw, ECW, WWE Raw); 2. Vladimir Kozlov & Ezekiel Jackson (ECW); 3. Kiyoshi & Sheik Abdul Bashir (TNA). Worst Women’s Wrestler of the Year: 1. Vickie Guerrero (WWE Smackdown, WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown); 2. Lacey Von Erich (TNA, Hulkamania Tour); 3. Jenna Morasca (TNA). Worst Wrestler of the Year: 1. The Great Khali (WWE Smackdown); 2. Cody Deaner (TNA); 3. Hornswoggle (ECW, WWE Raw). Fed of the Year: 1. WWE; 2. TNA; 3. ROH. Promo of the Year: 1. Chris Jericho slams Ric Flair, including calling him a “clown that literally falls on his face for [the fans’] amusement” and a good old dog out to do his tricks. (WWE Raw, 02.09.09); 2. Edge – “You were wrong, you were wrong, you were wrong, you were wrong…” (WWE Raw, 02.16.09); 3. CM Punk snaps on Jeff Hardy. (WWE Smackdown, 07.31.08). Pay-Per-View of the Year (Voted on before I saw Dragon Gate USA’s Enter the Dragon, which would have taken the top spot otherwise): 1. WWE Royal Rumble (01.25.09); 2. WWE No Way Out (02.15.09); 3. WWE Backlash (04.26.09). Match of the Year: 1. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WWE WrestleMania 25, 04.05.09); 2. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe in a Triple Threat Match for the TNA Championship (TNA Turning Point, 11.15.09); 3. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho in a No Holds Barred Match for the Intercontinental Championship (WWE Extreme Rules, 06.07.09). Manager of the Year: 1. Natalya (WWE); 2. Santino Marella (WWE); 3. Don West (TNA). Tag Team of the Year: 1. Beer Money (TNA); 2. John Morrison & The Miz (WWE); 3. Chris Jericho & The Big Show (WWE). Women’s Wrestler of the Year: 1. Awesome Kong (TNA); 2. Beth Phoenix (WWE); 3. Tara (TNA). Wrestler of the Year: 1. Chris Jericho (WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown); 2. CM Punk (WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown); 3. AJ Styles (TNA).

80 Comments

Thanks for the warning, Chad!

Man, that characterization of the Flash and Wonder Woman was really fucking odd in JLA/Hitman. I mean, I LOVE the Hitman series, and it was nice to see Tommy one last time, but at the expense of the DC All-stars? I know Ennis isn’t that big of a fan of superheroes, but if thats the case you probably shouldn’t be writing them. He does tend to like Superman, so that was cool. Also, that subtle hint at the end that Superman is a Christian(or at least prays to God).

My favorite comic critic is of course Chris Sims. His fanboyish love for all things awesome and generally good taste never lets me down on Thursdays. Also, I think he highlights why people tend to enjoy a positive bias more than a negative one. Reviews of terrible comics are funny, but I hate it when an author goes into a book with that attitude, because its just begging to look for every single flaw. Of course theres the other side of the scale, with someone who just loves EVERYTHING and gives out 5/5 scores like candy on Halloween like Ray Tate. Chris Sims does a happy medium I think, because the comics he reviews are ones he actually buys, so for the most part he knows they’re gonna be good, and that shows in his reviews.

*By “author” I meant “reviewer” or “author of a review”

Tucker Stone and Jog are the two best comic book critics right now. I liked that time when a misunderstanding led them to battle one another, but then they teamed up to punch Doctor Octopus.

My side of the podcast will be breathy whispers and giggles. It shouldn’t sound creepy at all.

“Do cover artists matter?”

Yes, because they get naive, impressionable fanboys excited over books that otherwise never get a first look. And, of course, having multiple covers makes retailers order more copies of the book…at least initially.

Cover artists can also drive collectors toward books they would otherwise ignore. Collectors still make up a depressingly large share of the pamphlet market.

[quote]Do cover artists matter?[/quote]

No. Absolutely not. But mostly, I’m replying to say how much I much I hated J. Scott Campbell’s Green Hornet #1 cover. Which is a lot. The Alex Ross and John Cassaday covers were much better. As in, they were ok and not the horrid mess Campbell did. But it’s the interior art that matters.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I dunno, Chad…”2010 Fruit Gum Company” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Of course cover artists matter. There have been more than a few titles (American Virgin comes to mind) that I would have never bothered to even look at had it not been for the great cover art. Come on.

Will Joe Casey’s run on Superman/Batman mean a return of Superman as a pacifist? I sure hope so!

Why not just cancel the series?

Superman as a pacifist is a supremely dumb and utterly uncommercial idea. We need less Space Jesus, not more.

Chad, Any word as to how many issues Joe Casey’s Superman/Batman run will be?

What was that about Iron Fist in June?

Dean — You actually read Casey’s final year on Adventures of Superman? He was a pacifist then and it was some damn fine comics — actually, if Casey hadn’t had him SAY he was a pacifist, I don’t think anyone would have noticed.

Adam K — A picture of Iron Fist is the picture for the month of June in the free Marvel calendar.

JP — Sorry, no. Not much has been said about it. I only know a run is happening because, well, Casey has been solicited as the writer for more than one issue…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Actually, I’ll take Malkovich in whatever movie I can get him.

What’s with people loving Malkovich?
He’s so boring.
Yeah, he does a good intense thing, but you’ve seen one role of his, you’ve seen them all.

(I especially recommend seeing ‘The Ogre’ where he plays a French simpleton in WW2 who is taken in by Germans.
Despite being French, and a simpleton, absolutely nothing changes from the way he normally acts).

That said, for something like Spiderman, he’d probably work great.

“Brightest Day” will receive the same cold shoulder from me that has accompanied Blackest Night… will probably avoid reviewing any issues, too… or maybe not.

Why?

I could get it if it was a ‘I hate events’ thingy, but you seem to love some events – what’s got you off this one (or two)?

Superman as a pacifist is a supremely dumb and utterly uncommercial idea. We need less Space Jesus, not more.

Why is it dumb and uncommercial?

No one even noticed Casey had done it last time, until he had Superman mention he hadn’t thrown a punch in a long time.

And heck, he barely fought in Lois & Clark, and that was popular like a motherfucker.

Louis Bright-Raven

January 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I never have understood the whole WWE / WCW or WWE / TNA divides. A good wrestler / wrestling match is what it is, no matter which company features them, and bad skits and booking are what they are, no matter who is writing / booking the show. Especially when there’s been so much jumping back and forth between rosters for many performers over the years. And I’d they’ve all had their fair share of both, eh?

Re: Covers — No, cover artists don’t determine whether I buy a book. After all it’s a comic BOOK. I’m buying the book, not the cover. But the companies could be smart if they solicited for posters of each image, too. One might be more apt to buy, say an Art Adams poster or an Alex Ross poster of a cover image or something like that, perhaps.

RE: Thundermind —

Zao Kang can’t tell the world the phrase because it’s he who is the Chosen Vessel of the Bodhisattva Thundermind. It’s simply a Shazam analogy. If Zao were truly enlightened, he wouldn’t need the phrase because he’d be a bodhisattva himself. And Thundermind sure wouldn’t tell the world because the true Bodhisattva understands that the path to Enlightenment is one’s own Journey and that no person can follow the path he took and achieve the same results. He can only act heroically and inspire others to seek their own path to their own personal enlightenment.

If I remember correctly, didn’t Joe Casey write the issue where Superman had a temper tantrum over a kid dying?

FGJ — I’m not a fan of Geoff Johns’s writing. I’m neutral to events the way I’m neutral to ANY story until I know what it’s about/who’s doing it.

Louis — I couldn’t agree with you more on the WWE/TNA divide (or the hatred against indy wrestlers by some). How can someone claim to be a wrestling fan and yet be so against anyone not working for a specific company? As has been pointed out, all of the people who so hate AJ Styles (for example) because he works for TNA would love him tomorrow if he were working for the WWE… and, yet, he’s the same guy. Insanity.

I’ve had to stop myself from wasting money (yeah, 50 cents, but still) on Dazzler covers by Bill Sienkiewicz and post-Morrison Animal Man covers by Bolland. I would consider them art prints with 22 pages of quarter bin comics stapled to them.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Dude, the Peter Milligan Animal Man that immediately followed Morrison’s was still brilliant. But yeah, after those six “extra” issues of greatness, your point holds. And Dazzler was always Dazzler, but the last few issues of it had art by, of all people, Paul Chadwick in his pre-Concrete days, and the covers do match the interior there. (I’m sure I missed a “drapes and carpet” joke in there, but I’m sure you can write your own.)

Here is where comics and wrestling are alike: people like to take sides for no reason at all while I would just want quality. I watched both shows last monday and BOTH sucked. 5 hrs of programming combined and only 5 good matches TOTAL. That is not only bad but awful for the business.

As far as DC and Marvel go, stop the copying of one another and just put out quality stuff. How many good books have to be sacrificed for tonal shifts in direction of the company or the oversaturation of the more “popular” characters? Dc and Marvel be damned I just want QUALITY.

But then again I shouting at the breeze as long as people buy a 2.99 book for 15 dollars only because the cover is different….

Totally forgot the main question: I like Kirk, Matt, Ryan and the folks over at Weekly Crisis mainly because the reviews are straight forward and they engage in intelligent breakdowns of books / comic news without snark or meanness. I know it is the net and you can say anything without comeuppance, but I appreciate insight rather that the usual “I hate it because it sucks and the company sucks”. Thanks Chad!

This here might as well be the place I express my random wrestling thought:

Undertaker is apparently two inches taller than Kane. What the fuck’s up with that? Though according to Wikipedia, Undertaker’s “billed height” is 6’10, to Kane’s real and billed of 6’8 and 7′. That’s weird and I guess proves that I don’t follow wrestling enough to understand why I just read that.

The problem with negative bias is that it usually comes from stylistic differences. Someone who dislikes Bendis because of his style is never going to enjoy a Bendis comic, so why bother reviewing it or reading that review? For a review to be valid it needs to be looked at as an example of it’s style. For instance, don’t you hate it when a movie reviewer basically rags on a sci-fi or action movie for being a sci-fi or action movie? The same thing applies when a reviewer who wants everything to be the same as it was in the ’70s reviews something by Bendis. Of course he won’t like it, because he’s not into that style. It’s no longer about the individual comic but about the style used.

Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich? (I’d cast Paul Giamatti as my Lex Luthor. Really.)

As I said on your blog, and shall repeat here, because no one reads your blog (I kid. I read it!), my favorite comics critics are Jog and Abhay. Jog’s just a damn intelligent and well-written human being (and shares a birthday with me! And Dean Cain!), and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Abhay that wasn’t brilliant and also hilarious.

I’ll echo the sentiments by saying Jog and Abhay quickly come to mind, but caveat it all by saying that it really depends on what I’m in the mood for. If I want intellect and a deep dive for analysis, it’s Jog hands down. If I want clever, humor, thinking outside the box, and a genuine sense of his own likes/dislikes, it leans more toward Abhay. If I just want to be entertained, Tucker’s good for that, though we don’t always agree (a shout out for Nina’s column too). Jeff Lester has also stepped up his game lately. Overall, it really makes Savage Critic a one-stop shop for reviewing talent, along with Wolk, Uzumeri, etc… it’s kinda’ like the Justice League of Comic Book Reviewers over there!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm

FGJ — I’m not a fan of Geoff Johns’s writing. I’m neutral to events the way I’m neutral to ANY story until I know what it’s about/who’s doing it.

So you’ll be on board for Justice League: Generation Lost then – the other bi-weekly series, I presume?

I can’t believe I’m actually excited about a Winick book, but if they stick to the JLI formula with Giffen plotting, and him putting in the gags, then this is going to rock like a mofo.

I have to assume they do help books, but much do they help really? Have you ever been more inclined to look at a book based soley on Artist A providing the cover?

I often think it’s rather insulting to a books regular penciller – on the two books that still have those – that they don’t let them do the cover.
Most of the great covers that everyone still homages(or rips off if you prefer) were done by the books regular penciller… and beyond Bolland, there aren’t that many great covers that aren’t homages being done by these artists who only covers.
(Not to mention that I’m sure the regular penciller could do with the few extra bucks he’d get selling the original art).
It just seems to further this divide between cover and story – iconic images of a character are nice and all, but remember when covers made you want to buy a book to see the story inside?
(That said, in my day you picked up the book with the most shininess and holograms on the cover, and sometimes they hid a drawing in there. I remember actually saving up my allowance to get Wildcats #25 which cost US$4.95 for a double sized story… and a chrome cover.)

Dean — You actually read Casey’s final year on Adventures of Superman? He was a pacifist then and it was some damn fine comics — actually, if Casey hadn’t had him SAY he was a pacifist, I don’t think anyone would have noticed.

I haven’t read any of it and can say with full confidence it was utterly stupid. Because no positive depiction of Superman as a pacifist can be anything but utterly stupid. Now if the point of the run was to mock fun of the premise and ended with Superman calling himself a moron and punching everything in sight for 48 pages to compensate for the rest of the run I may reconsider.

FGJ — Generation Lost holds little appeal for me as well. Giffen has not impressed me lately with any of his writing and Winick… well, he never has.

T. — Pacifism is the natural endpoint of Superman’s philosophy. It’s the logic progression of who he is.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I haven’t read any of it and can say with full confidence it was utterly stupid.

Is this some ironic thing, to declare something else to be utterly stupid, in a sentence which is itself, totally moronic?

You haven’t read it, so you’ve got no idea.

Bringing Bucky back sounded utterly stupid, but was utterly awesome.

Because no positive depiction of Superman as a pacifist can be anything but utterly stupid.

Why not?
Because you can’t see stories outside of him punching things?
With his level of powers, him actually getting in fights is what takes the suspension of disbelief, not the other way around.

Now if the point of the run was to mock fun of the premise and ended with Superman calling himself a moron and punching everything in sight for 48 pages to compensate for the rest of the run I may reconsider.

Chuck Austen already had a run.
Sounds like it might’ve been your sort of thing.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Generation Lost holds little appeal for me as well. Giffen has not impressed me lately with any of his writing

That’s because he’s been scripting.
When he just plots and has a good scripter on, it’s magic.
(Well, for people who like comics it is… I’m starting to have my doubts about you!)

and Winick… well, he never has.

Not even with Barry Ween, or that first year of Exiles?

He can’t plot, but he can write funny dialouge.
Giffen can’t script, but he can write a solid plot.
Put them together, and you get Judd Giffen, the greatest superhero writer of the new decade!
(Or at least a fun JLI book).

Have you read the Patton Oswalt story he did for JLA? It wasn’t too bad,and fights with what you were talking about.

Favorite web critics, no real order: Jog, Abhay, Shaenon K. Garrity, Spurge, Noah Berlastky, and Nina Stone.

And while I’m not an overall-huge fan of Joe Casey’s output, he’s my favorite post-Crisis Superman writer, and the only guy who seemed to be interested in breaking new ground with Supes and not constantly regurgitating the past ALA Loeb or Morrison.

Dalarsco: “The problem with negative bias is that it usually comes from stylistic differences. Someone who dislikes Bendis because of his style is never going to enjoy a Bendis comic, so why bother reviewing it or reading that review?”

Funny, I enjoyed his Pre-Image work, I enjoyed POWERS while it was at Image, but hated SAM & TWITCH, and I absolutely loathe his Marvel work (even POWERS has dropped in quality since he went exclusive). Yet for the most part he’s been using the same style. Could it simply be that his ‘style’ isn’t suited to “straight up” superheroes in my view, hmmmm? Just because one is good at writing crime fiction, doesn’t mean one should be equally skilled at writing a science fiction or fantasy or comedic story.

But part of the reason Brian gets bashed is because he’s on too many books and his style really hasn’t evolved as it might have if he’d been a writer of an earlier era, where we didn’t have writers writing 4-10 books a month and ongoing events and all that crap.

I honestly find it strange that some people will simply like or dislike all of a creator’s body of work uniformly. All interesting creators will go through quality and style fluctuations throughout their career. If all of their stuff is really in the exact same style, that’s honestly a mark against them.

The people who complain about negative bias do so because they want you to say nice things about the comics they like.

People do sometimes complain about a positive bias. For example, whenever someone on CSBG reviews a Morrison comic positively, the whole blog gets accused of being slavishly in love with everything he does, just because of his involvement. By multiple people.

Most people read reviews to have their opinions confirmed. They’re useless. Ignore them.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Just because one is good at writing crime fiction, doesn’t mean one should be equally skilled at writing a science fiction or fantasy or comedic story.

I so wish he’d go back to straight up crime.

They were soooooo good.

Bringing Bucky back sounded utterly stupid, but was utterly awesome.

I didn’t think so. It sounds like something that could go either really good or really bad depending on the writer. I don’t think any resurrection is inherently bad except maybe a resurrection of Uncle Ben.

But pacifist Superman? Never seen it done well. It’s inherently dumb.

The sheer quantity of interesting crime writers currently stuck doing workmanlike superhero comics to pay the rent is more than a little depressing.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm

But pacifist Superman? Never seen it done well. It’s inherently dumb.

What’s inherently dumb about it?
It’s easy to say it’s so stupid you don’t have top read it, and that the concept is flawed from the get go, but why is it flawed?
(Especially when you’re saying it’s so flawed you don’t have to read it to people who have read the Casey run and thought it was great).

As Chad mentioned, it’s quite logical if you think about it – him still punching his away around the world is where it starts to fall apart.

Reading the 4th Superman Showcase, and then coming to this thread, I’m struck by the realization that he didn’t actually do much punching back then. Lot of creative uses of his powers (including some stuff that’s just plain loony, like treating a window with special chemicals so that when he shines his X-ray vision on it, a hologram of him appears outside the window a few feet away), but not much punching. And that’s considered a classic period in Superman history.

Just sayin’.

Yeah, early Superman comics aren’t about Superman fighting things because the audience is to assume that he’ll always win.

Once Marvel changed people’s expectations into “superhero comics = fight comics” is when Superman started to struggle. Pre-Marvel, Superman comics just tend to be about really weird things happening, with Superman performing a few mind-boggling feats per issue.

Do cover artists matter?

Only if you want to buy their work.

Actually, I’ll take Malkovich in whatever movie I can get him.

Luckily, he’s got quite a bit in the pipeline. Definitely curious to see what he does in Jonah Hex and RED.

I do love that the basic consensus seems to be that the members of the League don’t actually like one another, which, to me, is fantastic and probably true. It’s not a social club, it’s a job, and you can’t choose who your co-workers are.

Amen to that. Interpersonal conflict is entirely too rare in team situations. You might get some good-natured bickering and the occasional rivalry over a third teammate’s affection, but genuine loathing and disrespect? Unlikely.

Who is your favourite comic critic/reviewer?

Abhay never ceases to amaze and delight. Wish he’d post more frequently, though. Guess it’s a bit of a trade-off. Quality over quantity and all of that.

Will Joe Casey’s run on Superman/Batman mean a return of Superman as a pacifist? I sure hope so!

Fingers crossed, man!

It occurs to me that The Programme may have been about the resurgence in Silver Age nostalgia/longing…

Has that been collected yet?

I dunno about most people, but when it comes to Winick, I found Barry Ween to be totally grating. The whole thing read like something I would write when I was 15, and the presentation never seemed to evolve beyond “It’s Calvin and Hobbes, except there’s no Hobbes and Calvin calls people ‘fucking cocksuckers’ then murders them.”

I recognize that a lot of people enjoy that (hell, some of my closest friends are fans of the series,) but I’ve never been able to get into simply because before ever reading any of Winick’s work, I wrote and illustrated a nearly identical series while still in high school. I also stopped working on it after 5 pages because it was terrible and completely unfunny outside of “how much compound profanity can I squeeze into the next panel?”, but clearly Winick didn’t have the same sense of self awareness.

Also, I loved The Programme. I don’t think it gets enough credit, but it’s really one of the definitive post-9/11 comics in terms of depicting the mood of the nation. It’s one of the only things I can remember that asserts that conflict and adversity doesn’t bring out the best in America, but rather the worst, most monstrous traits of us as a country, and the final issue was a welcome slap in the face when it came out.

What’s inherently dumb about it?

It’s easy to say it’s so stupid you don’t have to read it, and that the concept is flawed from the get go, but why is it flawed?

I cannot pretend to be an expert on the Joe Casey run, but I have read a ton of Superman comics from Siegel-Shuster onward, seen an absurd number of TV episodes and cartoons and seen all the movies. So, I am perfectly happy addressing this.

For me, the best Superman stories are always defined by the Man of Steel doing stuff. He is dynamic. Sometimes he does stuff that initially confuse his friends, because he is so active that he does not have time to explain things.

On the other hand, the worst Superman stories have him giving big speeches or *shudder* thinking. The guy really does not have much in the way of a philosophy when you think about it. He is just trying to help the citizens of Metropolis out with their intractable giant robot problem, hang with his many friends and help Lois make Larry Niven look like a fool.

Anything that slows him down is a narrative problem. Superman is not a deep thinker. The guy is basically an uber-jock. Anyone who watches sports knows what jocks sound like when they are not involved in some scandal. When he acting on things, he is interesting. When people are trying to figure out his actions, he is interesting. When he is sitting around explaining things, he is deadly boring. If you don’t believe me, try watching SUPERMAN IV.

Pacifism is a philosophy that requires explanation any time it comes up in genre fiction. That goes double for any use in the superhero genre. Explanation slows stuff down. Worse, it puts Superman in a position of being morally superior. As bad as speechifying Superman is, morally superior Superman is worse. Every deviation from every day morality makes him harder to relate to. That is a real problem for a guy that flies and lifts super-tankers.

Boring and difficult to relate to are not desirable traits in your protagonist.

Once Marvel changed people’s expectations into “superhero comics = fight comics” is when Superman started to struggle. Pre-Marvel, Superman comics just tend to be about really weird things happening, with Superman performing a few mind-boggling feats per issue.

On the other hand, I strongly agree with this. There are at minimum a half dozens ways that DC have damaged their core superhero franchises by trying to adapt them to the Marvel style. Superman does not necessarily lend himself to fight heavy comics either. 98% of his fights should end after about one punch.

Omar–I didn’t care for Milligan’s arc on Animal Man. I thought the in media res beginning was handled poorly, the Burroughs character grated on me…I don’t recall any more because it’s been two+ years since I’ve read it, but I wasn’t taken with it. Good covers, though!

Casual commentators might damn Bendis for his style, but it’s just as easy, and more substantive, to damn his stories for their lack of substance. If one looks at his AVENGERS-related issues, he finds that Bendis has used the “Guess who. . .” (who will die, who’s in the costume, who the unseen person is, who’s a Skrull, etc.) ten times or more, depending on how the Skrull guessing game is handled.

Then, when one looks at his reliance on retcons to set up “Avengers Disassembled” (A.D.) and “Secret Invasion”. . . There’s no intellectual validity to the retcons; they were just ways to construct alternate (universe) scenarios, without the “alternate” label.

“Mysteries” based on retcons aren’t actually mysteries. They’re only guessing games, without any intellectual purpose. If Bendis’s AVENGERS-related body of work from A.D. on is based on guessing games and retcons, what’s the justification for publishing any of it? It’s not as though better writers couldn’t take similar approaches to AVENGERS stories. Posing questions in a story is hardly unique to Bendis’s work.

I don’t see why Bendis’s AVENGERS issues shouldn’t figuratively be tossed into recycling bins, where they would have some actual value.

SRS

Once Marvel changed people’s expectations into “superhero comics = fight comics” is when Superman started to struggle. Pre-Marvel, Superman comics just tend to be about really weird things happening, with Superman performing a few mind-boggling feats per issue.

OH GIVE ME A FRICKIN’ BREAK. What is it with people on the internet blaming Marvel for EVERYTHING?

Marvel did not originate the idea of a non-pacifist Superman that used force to solve all his problems. SEIGEL AND SHUSTER ARE. I have the story of Action Comics #1 right in front of me. First he forcibly kidnaps a suspect and ties her to a tree. Than he storms the governor’s house and breaks down his door. He manhandles the servant and forcibly carries him up the stairs. He breaks into the house further by ripping off a steel door. He strongarms his way past gunfire all the way to the governor’s room and forces him to listen to him. He later breaks up a domestic violence case and throws the battering husband with extreme force against the wall. He later chases down a car, lifts it up and forcibly shakes the occupants out before smashing the car to smithereens against a rock. He chases down one of the occupants, manhandles him, caqrries him up a telephone pole and leaves him hanging from it. Then he kidnaps someone else and terrorizes him by carrying him around by his ankle from great hights as he jumps from building to building, then skipping on electrical wires with him while pretending to almost electrocute him, then falling from a great height with him to scare him to death. All this happened in 13 pages. In Action Comics #2, he’s running around punching people, singlehandedly stopping war between two countries by destroying planes and tanks and throwing people across fields beyond the line of human sight.

So please remind me, how did Marvel Comics turn Superman into a figure that solves problems with either force or the threat of force again? That’s the kind of character Siegel and Shuster created from Superman’s very first adventure. If you don’t like the idea of a Superman who uses force, blame his creators not Marvel.

They cancelled the next Spider-Man movie?!?!? Why????

I think the cover artist does matter, but not a great deal. Mostly it matters for books I don’t normally read, but am interested in. If the cover looks interesting, then I’m more likely to buy it. But the name of the artist never matters. Even if it’s an artist I really like, it only matters if the picture itself is interesting.
And unfortunately, since so few covers clearly relate to the stories inside these days, what importance they did have has diminished greatly.

Dean — Read that final year Casey had on Adventures of Superman and you’ll see that his pacifism didn’t prevent him from taking action or not solving problems… it just meant he didn’t use violence to do so. Again, if Casey hadn’t had Superman declare himself a pacifist, no one would have even noticed. All that characterisation does (beyond make total sense) is demand that the writer be more creative.

I wasn’t blaming Marvel for anything. I find it very odd that you would assume that I was. I also, to be honest, don’t give a shit either way about the “pacifist Superman” issue, so I’ll disregard your arguments there as basically uninteresting to me.

It is simply a fact that if you read 50’s and earlier Superman books, you will rarely ever see a “fight” scene that lasts more than a few panels. Yes, early Superman does violent things, but usually in the space of a panel or two. The violence is never dramatized at any substantial length.

These facts exist independent of any later Superman run or interpretation of the character.

If you must construe blame from my post, then I would properly cast blame at the feet of the following parties:

– Fans who grew up reading Marvel comics in the 60’s and then blindly expected all superhero comics to be produced in that vein
– DC editors who decided to increase the amount of fighting in Superman books in the 70’s and 80’s in order to conform to those expectations

It’s not Marvel’s fault that they published comics successful enough to make DC envious. It is DC’s fault that they decided to imitate that formula, often poorly, with characters who didn’t fit well into the Lee-Kirby and Lee-Ditko storytelling molds.

Superman is about doing extraordinary things. Extraordinary foes and conflict involving them may be important to a particular super-feat, but it’s the great feats that the early comics are really about. Personally I don’t care if the feats are violent or not, so long as they’re interesting.

T. — Pacifism is the natural endpoint of Superman’s philosophy. It’s the logic progression of who he is.

No it’s not. For a vast majority of his existence, before the ranks of comic writers got infested with baby boomers and younger generations, Superman used two things to solve problems: force, and the threat of force. Pacifism is not the logical progression of force and the threat of force. Pacifism is not the natural endpoint of force and the threat of force. Pacifism is the POLAR OPPOSITE of force and the threat of force.

Even when Superman doesn’t punch things or take direct action in Siegel and Shuster stories, he often is using the THREAT of force to maintain peace. Even when he doesn’t beat down a problem explicitly in his early stories, what Superman uses to maintain the peace is the equivalent of gunboat diplomacy – conspicuous displays of power implying or constituting a direct threat of warfare, should terms not be agreeable to the superior force. Peace achieved under such conditions is not pacifism. Pacifism is both the absence of violence and the absence of the THREAT of violence.

And if you take away both explicit violence and the implied threat of violence to make Superman a true pacifist, then what on earth is the point of him having all those absurb powers? It raises all the problems Dean mentions above. He becomes a superpowered community activist or morally superior speechifier or whatever. Not only is it the opposite of how Superman was conceived, IT’S BORING AND A WASTE OF POTENTIAL. Why give him all that power just to make him a pacifist?

BTW, I read the Blogathon 47 entry on the retcon. You’re wrong.

If someone is writing something other than formula fiction, in which plot details and the story’s outcome are known in advance, some of the reasons for the story are to display the writer’s intellectual power and agility. Writing a story based on current events and advancing a political argument; basing an SF story on recent research and extrapolating convincingly; constructing a formal mystery and eliminating plot holes — those creations display power, agility, and craftsmanship.

Bendis, conversely, with “Avengers Disassembled,” based the storyline on material that existed only because Byrne insisted on using his “Everything you know about ( ) is wrong” formula on the twins and the Vision when doing so was clearly inappropriate — to the point that Roy Thomas eliminated the basis for the change in Wanda’s hex power in AWC #62.

Combining a retcon with the use of old, discredited plot material — how can that be considered anything other than a collective intellectual failure by everyone involved?

SRS

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm

For me, the best Superman stories are always defined by the Man of Steel doing stuff.

Right, well you killed your defense of the statement ‘it’s an inherently dumb idea’ with your first two words.

Secondly, pacifism doesn’t mean not doing anything, it means not using violence as a solution.
If anything, it means he has to do more to solve a problem.

On the other hand, the worst Superman stories have him giving big speeches or *shudder* thinking. The guy really does not have much in the way of a philosophy when you think about it. He

Pacifism is a philosophy that requires explanation any time it comes up in genre fiction. That goes double for any use in the superhero genre.

Well, Casey wrote him this way for almost a year before he had Superman point out that he’d stopped using violence as a solution – so he wasn’t giving speeches – and has stated in interviews that he considered that the big mistake on his run, because it was only then that people realised he wasn’t hitting anyone and got angry – so it doesn’t actually require an explanation.

Every deviation from every day morality makes him harder to relate to.

How is pacifism a deviation from every day morality?

I don’t run around thumping people I disagree with, and people who do normally end spending sometime in the clink.

Boring and difficult to relate to are not desirable traits in your protagonist.

Right, so the super strong flying guy who solves every problem using his strength against opponents in a fight is less boring than the guy who thinks on his feet and uses his powers in creative ways?

Also, I’d argue that him being a flying guy who doesn’t use violence as a solution in no way makes him harder to relate to than being a flying guy who does use violence as a solution.

But yeah, as you basically said in the first two words quoted, it’s not inherently dumb – it’s just not for you.
(Well, what you imagine it to be isn’t for you).

T.

OH GIVE ME A FRICKIN’ BREAK. What is it with people on the internet blaming Marvel for EVERYTHING?

Well, they are the genre leader, and you can see every other company that does superheroes now trace their roots back to what Marvel did in the 60’s… they get blamed because they ‘got it right’ first, and everyone else copied them.
They are the (genre) industry leader – they get the blame and the cash, that’s how it goes.

So please remind me, how did Marvel Comics turn Superman into a figure that solves problems with either force or the threat of force again? That’s the kind of character Siegel and Shuster created from Superman’s very first adventure. If you don’t like the idea of a Superman who uses force, blame his creators not Marvel.

First off, before going all Banner about it, it’s quite clear that he misused ‘the early comics’ and actually meant the Mort Weisinger era, and particularly the Jimmy and Lois books, where having a big punch up was at most, a minor part of the story.
I’d say the mistake came from the fact DC more regularly reprints this era’s stories than the early comics, as they are much more entertaining to today’s audience – and as a lot of today’s stories build off of them, the trade’s often do refer to them as early stories.
Now, after Marvel basically owned superheroes from the 60’s on, later on in the game (only a decade later, which is quick for pre-80’s DC) DC started modelling lots of books on the Marvel style, which is where Superman got a lot more fight-y, leading up to the John Byrne relaunch, which in keeping with the times, was a lot more action oriented.

Lynxara, I misread. I thought you were saying Superman was averse to using force to solve problems and was inclined to pacifistic tendencies like Chad described until Marvel came along and made him a user of brute force. Now that you clarified your point, I agree with you 100%. But I’ll take it further, the problem wasn’t only that the Lee/Kirby and Lee/Ditko approaches were a poor fit for the DC characters, but the DC creators weren’t qualified to execute it correctly. Even many of Stan Lee’s successors at Marvel couldn’t get it quite right, but the creators at DC ESPECIALLY didn’t get it. When the FF of Avengers bickered, Lee and Thomas were able to still convey there was affection and love at the root of it, like when a real family fight. When DC started trying the same formula, they got the imitation but missed the inspiration, their JLA bickering abruptly appeared out of nowhere and was often just nasty and petty without conveying the underlying positive emotional counterforces Lee was so adept at. Same with the feet of clay thing, they could never properly execute it. As storytellers it wasn’t their strength.

Well, they are the genre leader, and you can see every other company that does superheroes now trace their roots back to what Marvel did in the 60’s… they get blamed because they ‘got it right’ first, and everyone else copied them.
They are the (genre) industry leader – they get the blame and the cash, that’s how it goes.

I misunderstood his original point. Both of you are right on this point.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 11:51 pm

For a vast majority of his existence, before the ranks of comic writers got infested with baby boomers and younger generations, Superman used two things to solve problems: force, and the threat of force. Pacifism is not the logical progression of force and the threat of force. Pacifism is not the natural endpoint of force and the threat of force. Pacifism is the POLAR OPPOSITE of force and the threat of force.

And after WW2, up until the Weisnger era, he didn’t sell for shit.
Once he moved away from force, he’s sales started going up again.
After millions lost due to WW2, people were a little off violence for awhile.

It raises all the problems Dean mentions above.

Well, it doesn’t, as the Casey run showed.

The run you’re totally wrong about, yet seem to think you already know.

Why give him all that power just to make him a pacifist?

1. He still uses the powers – just in creative ways.

2. To show people that just because you have ultimate power, doesn’t mean you have to use it to beat up, or threaten people?

All that characterisation does (beyond make total sense) is demand that the writer be more creative.

But Chad, creativity is BORING and a WASTE OF POTENTIAL! It’s different to what SHUSTER AND SIEGEL did and they wrote him 70 odd years ago – it’s the POLAR OPPOSITE of what is interesting!

He hasn’t read the run, and he used caps, so you know he’s right.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 12, 2010 at 11:55 pm

When DC started trying the same formula, they got the imitation but missed the inspiration, their JLA bickering abruptly appeared out of nowhere and was often just nasty and petty without conveying the underlying positive emotional counterforces Lee was so adept at.

Which flowed through to the horror that was Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis – people blame Didio, but now I see it was Stan Lee’s fault!

I do think that super-feats are more the point of even the 40’s Superman stories than fighting, in part because those strips tend to be pretty short. Superman is far more of a bully in those stories, which does make them more interesting than the Weisinger era strips (which have some high points, but tend to be repetitive).

That said, Siegel was still around in the Weisinger era and wrote some interesting stuff then– stuff that still focused more on Superman’s internal conflicts or Superman doing incredible things than Superman fighting people. I just dont’t think Superman was ever a character intended to deal with external conflicts regularly or for very long.

That’s really what set him apart from other adventure strip characters at time of publication.

RE Thundermind: It might be related to the fact that he got his powers by intuitively translating the phrase off something that was just sitting around in plain sight in a museum. Obviously, the vast majority of the people who look at the inscription can’t read it. Maybe either the phrase only works for people who meet some criteria (in a fair universe that criteria would be already having a certain level of enlightenment or being in balance with the universe or something, but it could be something that would seem arbitrary to us unenlightened folks) or Thundermind thinks that teaching the phrase to someone who can’t read it on their own might lead to disaster – maybe he even tried it once, it went horribly wrong, and we’ll see that story if there’s ever a “Thundermind: Year One.”

RE good bias vs. bad bias: I think part of it is that people are bothered more when you slam something they like than when you praise something they don’t, but I think a bigger issue is that praising something that isn’t really good because you expected to like it going in is seen as a little naive, but slamming something that isn’t really bad because you expected to dislike before you read it is seen as unfair and mean. If your opinion carries any weight, it’s better to help people who don’t deserve it than to hurt people who don’t deserve it.

RE Superman as pacifist: If by “pacifist” you mean “person who tries to resolve conflict peacefully whenever possible” I always considered that the default characterization for Superman. If by “pacifist” you mean “person who will never engage in violence under any circumstances” then it’s not so much stupid as blatantly contradicted by decades of Superman being willing to fight when necessary.

I’m very surprised this is even a debate! Of course Superman is a pacifist! If he wasn’t a pacifist would Lex Luthor still be alive? He sees the inherent goodness in all people and abhors violence – except as a last resort. Superman is only violent to protect himself or the people he loves (which is everyone).

And pacifism doesn’t mean that Superman would try to ‘talk down’ a giant robot, of course he’ll stop its rampage. That may be using heat vision, it may be by digging a trench to trap it, or it might mean punching it until it falls apart. He’s a protector, and longs for a day when he won’t be needed, just like Batman. (I’m not saying that Batman is a pacifist, so don’t jump on me for that!)

@ T.:

And if you take away both explicit violence and the implied threat of violence to make Superman a true pacifist, then what on earth is the point of him having all those absurd powers?

This is an excellent point. Superman’s powers are all physical. His direct influences were brawlers like Heracles. Having Superman not punching people is like showing a loaded gun in the first act of play and not having it go off by the end.

@ Chad Nevett:

Read that final year Casey had on Adventures of Superman and you’ll see that his pacifism didn’t prevent him from taking action or not solving problems… it just meant he didn’t use violence to do so.

I am perfectly willing to accept on faith the Joe Casey wrote some great Superman comics. However, I do not think that one writer pulling something off is evidence that it is great idea. Grant Morrison is banging out a great run of Batman stories without Bruce Wayne, but that does not mean it is great idea. KNIGHTFALL was an example of a story with same basic idea that almost no one loves. Alan Moore wrote some brilliant comics using a Superman pastiche, but that doesn’t mean SUPREME was a great idea.

However, I am sorry that I called a dumb idea. That was too harsh.

@ FGJ:

How is pacifism a deviation from every day morality?

I don’t run around thumping people I disagree with, and people who do normally end spending sometime in the clink.

Well, most people do not live in up-and-coming urban areas that are subjected to periodic alien invasions. I think most people would find violence perfectly acceptable when they are under attack. The nearest analog to what Superman does is a cop, or a soldier, or a fire-fighter. Show me someone in the first two professions that completely eschew violence. They would seem very weird indeed.

But yeah, as you basically said in the first two words quoted, it’s not inherently dumb – it’s just not for you.
(Well, what you imagine it to be isn’t for you).

Well, I have had a fair amount of exposure to the Space Jesus take on Superman, so I am pretty sure that it is not for me. It has also not generated much in the way of sales or buzz. I like stories that turn on characters flaws in the protagonist. His propensity to punch things is one his few widely accepted flaws. Why on Earth would you eliminate it?

Lynxara:

“The sheer quantity of interesting crime writers currently stuck doing workmanlike superhero comics to pay the rent is more than a little depressing.”

I’d say it’s just indicative of the publishing world in general. Crime, SF and Fantasy have always had roots in the pulp fiction scene. Unfortunately, many of the pulp magazines that supported these genres have been dying off, leaving less venues for writers to sell their works to. Comics happened to take some of those writers in, but you’ll note it’s not just any crime writer or SF writer who gets in, they typically have to be major players with the right connections, or have a franchise property that is readily adaptable to comics. The same with the film / tv writer crowd.

But yes, it is depressing.
*******************

RE: Superman —

I’ve never really seen Clark / Superman as a “pacifist”, either, Joe Casey notwithstanding. I might agree that he is opposed to the use of violence in service to a particular ideology or moral stance. However, he is not one of an attitude of nonresistance, which is a key to the pacifist’s way of life. I would say he is more of a passive resister – that he would prefer to use nonviolent methods to resolve conflict and will take action to avoid violence, but will use force when he feels the need arises.

More Space Jesus!

Space Jesus vs. Doomsday would’ve been a lot more interesting than the Space Brawler vs. Doomsday we got in SUPERMAN #75.

Which flowed through to the horror that was Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis – people blame Didio, but now I see it was Stan Lee’s fault!

I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but in a strange way, yes, it kind of is Stan Lee’s fault now that I think about it! :D

I thought Silver Surfer was Space Jesus.

Well, just so long as it’s Joe Casey writing Superman again, and not Joe Kelly. Last thing we need is Superman fighting another straw man parody of the Authority. I found it unintentionally hilarious that Kelly had Superman lecturing Manchester Black that it was wrong to be proactive at a time when Superman had just sat back and let Lex Luthor get elected President.

That said, I’m not sure how a pacifist Superman would work… assuming that’s how Joe Casey writes him. I mean, when you come right down to it, the whole underpinning of superhero comic books is that most, if not all, problems can be solved by punching someone in the face.

@Bright-Raven: I pretty much agree, though I don’t absolutely hate his super hero work. And that was basically my point. If you don’t think his style will be suited to the work then you obviously won’t like it. It doesn’t make it bad, just not to your tastes. Some people can do a review as “this is what’s here, if you like this stuff then you’ll like it but I didn’t” but most do reviews of things they didn’t like as “this stuff is here and I don’t like it so it’s bad”.

Well, just so long as it’s Joe Casey writing Superman again, and not Joe Kelly. Last thing we need is Superman fighting another straw man parody of the Authority. I found it unintentionally hilarious that Kelly had Superman lecturing Manchester Black that it was wrong to be proactive at a time when Superman had just sat back and let Lex Luthor get elected President.

I agree, the Elite issue was one of the worst Superman comics I ever read. Not only was it uncomfortably defensive but it was hypocritical and poorly conceived on so many levels

I have to agree with T. on one thing, Superman has rarely been as interesting as he was in the early stories, when he would physically threaten corrupt businessmen, politicians and wife-abusers. Superman became a hit in the first place because he was a power fantasy. The idea of Our Hero flying out and throwing despicable dictators into the horizon is AWESOME. Politically incorrect? Maybe. Too far removed from where the character is nowadays? Maybe, but the current Superman is VERY hard to be made interesting, as many writers who have given it a shot have pointed out.

I personally would love to see a more aggressive/proactive Superman. I’ve never bought those half-arsed justifications that Superman doesn’t go after corrupt politicians or bloody dictators because “he can’t cross that line”. Bollocks to that! Superman crosses lines every day, because he CAN cross those lines! Superman interferes with police investigations, flies into forbidden areas, looks through closed doors, listen to other people’s conversations and physically imposes himself on others BECAUSE HE CAN. The whole point of the character is that he can do things we wish we could do. The Weisinger era has done great harm to Superman by emasculating him and taking away his righteousness.

Vanilla Superman is boring, more often than not. Give me the Superman who crashes through walls to threaten dishonest people into shaping up, any day of the week.

I always thought Malkovich would have made a great Joker in a film version of “The Dark Knight Returns.”

The Weisinger era has done great harm to Superman by emasculating him and taking away his righteousness.

I agreed with most of what you said until this.

Mort Weisinger was not who emasculated the Man of Steel. His Superman is the star of superdickery after all. The Freudian imagery that he brought to the table added depth to the character. He expanded Superman’s universe to include a lot of fun and interesting elements that can be successfully updated. Wesinger is as much the creator of Superman as Siegel and Shuster in my book.

Look, he was not pulling Japanese battleships under water by their anchors like the Fleisher Superman, nor was he tossing thugs into the air with little thought of where they might land as the Siegel-Shuster version did. However, he was certainly tough enough to match the Comic Code Approved problems with which he was faced with his trade-mark breezy self-confidence.

It was really the Bronze Age when Space Jesus first reared his ugly head and started driving fans away with his blovating. Creators born in the Baby Boom grew up with George Reeves and saw Superman (like Batman) as the voice of the dreaded establishment. They felt compelled to make him tolerable to their peace & love value systems by making him a sort of all-powerful eunuch, like the Silver Surfer. The current generation of creators grew up on that stuff. While some of the Boomers (i.e. Elliot S. Maggin) were good writers, it really was a radical change to the character. Couple that with the Marvelization of DC universe the Superman that was hemorrhaging readers prior to the Byrne re-boot bore at best a superficial relationship to the exciting character that existed for the first forty years.

Once Byrne exited the title, Space Jesus almost immediately returned albeit with lesser powers. For God’s sake, he died and was resurrected. How much more Space Jesus do you get than that?

Ian A — The Programme is available in two volumes, each collecting six issues.

It was really the Bronze Age when Space Jesus first reared his ugly head and started driving fans away with his blovating. Creators born in the Baby Boom grew up with George Reeves and saw Superman (like Batman) as the voice of the dreaded establishment. They felt compelled to make him tolerable to their peace & love value systems by making him a sort of all-powerful eunuch, like the Silver Surfer. The current generation of creators grew up on that stuff. While some of the Boomers (i.e. Elliot S. Maggin) were good writers, it really was a radical change to the character. Couple that with the Marvelization of DC universe the Superman that was hemorrhaging readers prior to the Byrne re-boot bore at best a superficial relationship to the exciting character that existed for the first forty years.

Exactly. And its from this period forward I think people are thinking of when they claim that pacifism is at the heart of Superman’s character. I on the other hand don’t consider the character from this point forward to be the real Superman, just a pale shadow of the real Superman. When people claim that Superman is no longer relevant and that he can’t survive in today’s world, I always respond with “Well no one has tried to publish a Superman comic in decades, so how would we know? We’ve been cursed with Crying Superjesus”

I really think if DC tried to publish a real Superman comic minus some of the hokiness and Silver Age trappings, it could easily be successful today. Insteasd they keep publishing BabyBoomerman and Emoman, call him Superman, and people try to use it as an excuse to claim the Superman concept is flawed.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Grant Morrison is banging out a great run of Batman stories without Bruce Wayne, but that does not mean it is great idea. KNIGHTFALL was an example of a story with same basic idea that almost no one loves.

Well, that’s because the stories had very different goals in mind.
Knightfall was to show why Batman didn’t need to change.
Morrison’s is about Batman kicking arse and taking names (and some ill-conceived business about the devil or something).

The nearest analog to what Superman does is a cop, or a soldier, or a fire-fighter. Show me someone in the first two professions that completely eschew violence. They would seem very weird indeed.

But he’s not a cop, soldier or fire-fighter – he’s Superman!

Why try to diminish him by bringing him down?

I like stories that turn on characters flaws in the protagonist. His propensity to punch things is one his few widely accepted flaws. Why on Earth would you eliminate it?

Because he’s Superman.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 13, 2010 at 4:23 pm

For God’s sake, he died and was resurrected. How much more Space Jesus do you get than that?

It was a rather un-space jesus type tale though – you can easily lump it in to that based on it’s concept, but the way the story is told, it’s anything but.

I really think if DC tried to publish a real Superman comic minus some of the hokiness and Silver Age trappings, it could easily be successful today. Insteasd they keep publishing BabyBoomerman and Emoman, call him Superman, and people try to use it as an excuse to claim the Superman concept is flawed.

Have you read the post OYL stories?
From ‘Up, Up And Away’ onwards?
Kicks arse.

Superman’s death and resurrection has more in common with The Princess Bride than the Christ story.

Superman’s death and resurrection has more in common with The Princess Bride than the Christ story.

Ah, I get it! In keeping with the Superman comments theme I’m guessing this is Bizarro-speak!

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