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CSBG Archive

Gimmick or Good? – X-Men #1

In this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with 1991′s multiple-cover and gatefold cover X-Men #1…

X-Men #1 (published October 1991) – script by Jim Lee and Chris Claremont, pencils by Lee, inks by Scott Williams

The calendar may read 2013, but the gimmick cover is alive and well. Throughout the month of April, DC comic, as part of its “WTF” promotion, is releasing a number of comic books with special “gatefold” covers. In acknowledgement of how the comic book industry hasn’t evolved as far past the 1990s as it often cares to admit, during April, Gimmick or Good will focus on some comics from the past that also sported these special fold-out covers.

What better place to start a gimmick cover theme month than with arguably the most famous comic book of the 1990s and the greatest selling single issue of all-time, Marvel’s X-Men #1. By the early 1990s, X-Men had become Marvel’s most popular property. In an effort to draw even more attention to its newest “X” title, Marvel released the first issue of this series with four different variant covers that interlocked to create a larger scene. Marvel then released a gatefold cover edition of the comic (known by retailers/collectors as X-Men #1E) that featured the entire scene.

The marketing gimmick was historically successful, as X-Men #1 went on to (reportedly) sell more than 8 million copies – a record that will probably never be broken in any of our lifetimes. On the negative side, the comic’s runaway success set the standard so incredibly high for future #1 issues of different series, that the higher-ups at Marvel were inevitably disappointed when something like Silver Sable #1 only moved a few hundred thousand units upon its release – numbers publishers would kill for in today’s marketplace.

But what about inside the comic?

Not to reveal too much about my process here at “Gimmick or Good,” but before I give a 20+ year-old comic book a fresh read (or in some cases, a first read), I generally have some idea whether or not I’m going to give it a positive or negative review based on my initial memories/impressions of the issue from back in the day. In the month and change rhr I’ve been contributing to Comics Should Be Good, X-Men #1 is the first instance where a fresh read revealed a completely different opinion about a comic from the first impression I had of it 20 years ago.

As a kid who grew up reading comic books in the late 80s/early 90s, X-Men #1 is the definitive version of the mutant team and associated cast of adversaries. These are the characters that starred in the video games, cartoons, action figures and movies I consumed and enjoyed throughout my childhood and teenage years: Wolverine, Storm, Colusses, Gambit, Beast, Rogue, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Psylocke, Professor X, etc. versus the idealistic but deluded Magneto and his team of villainous followers. Reading this comic again in 2013 was just going to bring on the wave of rose-colored nostalgia, right?

And yet, I labored through nearly every page of this comic. At 48 pages, it’s a behemoth, and the bulk of it is exposition, clearly laying down the foundation for future stories. And yet, entire sections feel superfluous. Does a reader really need 15 pages worth of a training sequence at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters?

x-men1

I understand that the scene essentially mirrors the events of the very first issue of Uncanny X-Men in the 1960s, all the way down to the confrontation with Magneto later on. But those pages really don’t serve any purpose beyond giving some of the key characters their obligatory “moments” (Wolverine and Cyclops don’t like each other, Beast is chock full of one-liners, Gambit talks like James Carville).

Lee’s artwork places all of the X-Men in stunning action-figure poses (and if I wasn’t cynical enough, the back page of this comic book is an advertisement for a new line of X-Men action figures) and Lee/Claremont’s (both get script credit) dialogue goes to such lengths to explain everyone’s individual powers that it almost reads like a text book – incredibly rigid without any natural flow. Isn’t one of these guys the author who wrote some of the greatest comic book stories of all time? There has to be a happy medium here between trying to introduce hypothetical new readers to the X-Men universe without boring those of us who already know that Wolverine is a loner who has adamantium claws and likes to say “bub.”

Meanwhile, the issue as a whole suffers from a clunky, cluttered layout filled with large striking poses mixed with large swaths of texts and speeches that ultimately don’t jive with each other. The very last spread shows Magneto confronting the X-Men in one panel across two pages.

x-men3

Lee has posed Magneto with arms dramatically outstretched as Lee/Claremont plots a Shakespeare-sized soliloquy. And all I’m thinking is even as a mutant who can control magnetic forces, this guy’s arms must be getting tired standing there in full Jesus pose while he gets out all those words. I know this makes me a hypocrite for mocking Todd McFarlane’s splash page bonanza in Spider-Man #1 a few weeks ago, but again, there has to be a happy medium between working in the obligatory number of marketable art panels with the required amount of text to advance the story at an appropriate pace.

There are smaller criticisms, like a couple of rough transitions that were poorly edited. For example, in the issue’s third act, Rogue confronts Magneto when a nuclear blast occurs.

x-men2

The reader sees Rogue plummeting from the sky while the X-Men’s jet is in pursuit. Flip to the next page, and both Magneto and Rogue are back in their respective corners being attended to. Maybe my reading comprehension skills are just slow-witted, but I feel like there are a couple of panels missing between these two scenes that explain how everything got back to the status quo.

Just to be sure I wasn’t being some irrational cynic, I went back and re-read parts of Giant Size X-Men #1 – a true introduction to a brand new cast of characters – and the older comic does a much more admirable job of quickly working through the exposition and moving immediately to the conflict and its resolution. Obviously, with Giant Size X-Men, Marvel had one of its last chances to make the X-Men franchise work, while with X-Men #1, the demand and desire to purchase these comics was already there. The end result is a comic book that for lack of a better description is without any real joy or fun. It shouldn’t be this much work to get through a comic. In this case, my first impression was not my lasting impression.

Verdict: Gimmick

48 Comments

Travis Pelkie

April 8, 2013 at 1:58 am

I think I re-read this one not too long ago, and was struck by how hard of a slog it was. Oy, all the words!

But I have something of a theory to this, re: splashy images and huge blocks of text. Because the image by itself tells virtually no story (in this Magneto one you spotlight, it serves to show us all the characters, but that’s it), the text has to do ALL of the heavy lifting. If there was more panel to panel continuity, there could be several panels spotlighting each of the XMen arguing with Magneto, and visually we could get a few different takes on the action (heck, even HAVE some action), and each of those huge blocks of text in the same panel could be broken into several panels with a chunk of text, but not an overwhelming chunk.

Look at some of the pages in Spawn, and you feel sorry for Tom Orz having to letter all that stuff about Wanda, and coming back from the dead 5 years later, and blah blah blah because Spawn is posing on top of a building instead of actually DOING anything, and the text has to make up for it.

As purty as some of the Image guys made their drawings, they weren’t, for the most part, great at panel to panel storytelling, which leads to this sort of stuff, and the medium is still trying to recover. Maybe digital, being unable to showcase a double page spread very well (yet!), can swing things back towards panel to panel progression.

Ok, that didn’t really address this issue much, but you covered it pretty nicely, Mark. I had copies of all 5, but then traded away the “E” copy, I think, because I think in each of the others, the “special features” are different, but in “E” they’re all there. Since I had them “all” in A-D, I didn’t need another copy, and could trade for an issue of something else.

Eh, I re-read XM #1 and still loved it. Especially when read as claremont’s swan song (Magneto = CC; X-Men = Bob Harris, Marvel, Lee). I’m never bothered by Claremont’s “clunky” dialogue because as a kid it helped introduce me to the characters and I honestly don’t find it annoying as an adult. But to each his/her own.

The Original Jimmy

April 8, 2013 at 3:48 am

I find it really, REALLY, difficult to slog through all of Claremont’s dialogue even when I recently re-read the classic Phoenix saga that I remembered being really, REALLY good. I can see why he has to do so much dialogue in this example as Lee’s basically unable to tell a story through the pictures – it’s basically a series of pin ups. But Claremont overwhelms even Byrne’s excellent sequential art with a lot of unnecessary dialogue. Claremont needs to learn that less = more, but I guess most books back in the day were dialogue/ narration heavy.

This comic has and will always be one of my favourites. I got each of the covers and even bought the re-coloured version recently.
When Lee was announced with the new 52 I was a bit saddened that DC were getting his style but I think that it should stay in the 90′s. It’s not all about power posing anymore.
Don’t miss out on X-Men issue one. It’s a piece of history!

Verdict – GREAT

“Why won’t my hips unsay?”

thanks for reminding me of being an old fart :(

oh, how I love this issue after all these years.
And I didn’t expect different verdict from you. It must take next decade, before people will appreciate 90s. The best decade in human history. Screw the haters.

About the comic, back then both me and you had different expectations and tastes. Nowadays it’s easy to critize it, when you read all the best graphic novels, and comics, but without this single issue, I wouldn’t read comic books at all. I wouldn’t know about Usagi Yojimbo, Watchmen, Maus, Cerebus, Sandman, etc. It was my first taste of what comic book is, and this single issue despite its flaws is still much better than 90% of what is published today.

I agree with Travis. As a kid this was one of my absolute favorite comics. Artistically, I think this is Jim Lee’s best work – Visually it was leaps and bounds above what he was doing on Uncanny, and I’ve never really gotten as excited over his work since (With the exception of maybe Hush).

But as a kid I felt really confused reading it. The visual storytelling was absolute crap. It didn’t register for me as a 7-year-old because I thought comics were just supposed to be cool images, and the issue delivered on that – Almost every panel is completely iconic. I re-read the issue for the first time in over a decade recently, and I still found the same problems. I had no idea what was going on in a lot of it. I also seem to recall a scene of Wolverine during the training sequence clawing his way out of a computer panel? At least I think that was going on. Again, cool images that don’t really tell a story.

Aside from the variant covers and having a second X-Men title, I don’t really see this as a gimmick. I liked that there were two X-Men titles, since it meant I had double the X-Men per month. But something was very “off” about this issue compared to Claremont/Lee’s past X-Men work. It was too splashy, too much of an “event”, and it was probably the most “early 90′s” X-Men comic there was. I’ll see if I can dig one of my 5 copies up (Yes, I got 1E a little after it came out, then bought the other 4 for $2 at a flea market years later) and re-read it and see how I feel again after reading this article.

Lazarus Pit Foreman

April 8, 2013 at 7:43 am

One of the all time great X-Men comics. I don’t think Lee was quite at the top of his game at this point, but at the time it really blew other comics outta the water art-wise. A lot of people balked at the recent recolored edition that came out but I loved it.

This issue didnt do much for me. I hated Jim Lee’s artwork. I hated the anatomy, the swayed hips and thongs, the stiff poses…combine that with the dialogue and it was just painful. Didnt even bother reading the second issue. I look at Cyclops in that full body shot above and the anatomy of the chest really doesn’t look that much better than the Captain America Liefeld picture everyone mocks.

Les Fontenelle

April 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

This was an absolutely terrible comic. Basic storytelling ignored in favor of laughable “power posing”, turgid miles of exposition, just awful in every way. It can only be celebrated through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, by readers for whom this was their initiation to the genre. Otherwise, it’s multicolored fecal matter.

BTW, it’s simply not true that all comics of that time had the same amount of endless exposition as this one. Even in that aspect this comic was particularly poor.

But I guess nostalgia can make anything look better.

Les,

Although I agree with everything you say about how awful this book is, I never feel comfortable about declaring that other people must just like a book out of nostalgia. Even though the art and dialogue is painful to me, maybe others truly and objectively find it wonderful for a variety of reasons besides just nostalgia.

This isn’t a story so much as an attempt to bend over backwards to get the franchise to a desired status quo. Xavier is back, because apparently the adult X-Men still need a babysitter. The Danger Room is back, to show fight scene set pieces with a thin pretense of characterization. All the original X-Men are back, falling into their most iconic (re: cliche) roles as well. Magneto is back as a villain, having apparently learned nothing from his time as an X-Man and descending into scenery-chewing evil (with a jarringly inappropriate Holocaust reference or two as a thin pretense of depth). The art is flashy, but this isn’t just the end of Claremont’s legendary first run, it’s the end of the X-Men as a series with the kind of creativity and freedom that Claremont worked so hard to instill. Perhaps i should be grateful that he kept the feeling of “anything can happen” for so long, before the book’s popularity led it to be consumed by marketing.

This issue is strangely weak compared to the two that followed it, but overall I love Mutant Genesis.

Sweet Baby Ray

April 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

….and if this was published today it would be stretched out to a 12 issue maxi-event. Don’t be afraid to read boy’s.

Strangely, I have the opposite reaction to this issue. I think I like it more now than I did at the time.

Jim Lee’s artwork I never liked in this story. Very poor storytelling. Felt more like a MTV videoclip than a movie telling a story.

But Claremont’s writing… It still had the spark, even with all of his Claremontisms very evident. What came later was so much worse. Nicieza and Lobdell and most writers that came later were like Claremont without the spark. Lobdell had huge exposition (there is one Iceman speech in the end of a major crossover that is ridiculous), had overcomplicated conspiracies substituting for plot, had crossover, and all that bad stuff, but without Claremont’s touch for action and concept.

So, maybe my take is nostalgic after all, since this is perhaps the last X-Men story that really counts, despite some good Grant Morrison stories.

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult adults in the early 21st century find it to read comics that children in the late 20th century didn’t mind a bit.

The big problem here isn’t Claremont’s script (although he can definitely be too wordy at times), it’s 20+ years of having your brains dumbed-down and distracted by electronic media, which tends to condition us towards glibness and superficiality. We’ve literally been reprogrammed to the point where we can’t even concentrate on children’s books from the recent past.

I know it’s not this simple, that there are other factors, and that the way people process text now does have its advantages and is perhaps inevitable due to “progress”.

But the fact stands that certain adults now are too fussy and OCD to read books that even the dimmest kids in fourth grade used to patiently digest and peruse in 1992. It’s not Chris Claremont’s fault that your concentration skills have eroded. You’re literally complaining about X-Men #1 being “too tough” for you to read.

@Eslep

Or maybe I was distracted more by the pretty pictures as a 4th grader and I just didn’t CARE about the words. It was X-Men vs. Magneto … what more did I need to understand?

I take umbrage with your conclusions not because you disagree with my analysis, which plenty of other people here do, but because you’re making a wild leap about my literacy based on one of my criticisms that you didn’t even put in full context. I said I labored through this issue because the openess of Lee’s splash pages mixed with the density of Claremont’s text don’t jibe with each other. Not because there was too much text or I didn’t understand what was going on. I specifically looked at that last spread with Magneto because I thought it was evidence of poor storytelling. There shouldn’t be that much text on a splash page because (IMO) it doesn’t reflect a reality in human behavior and speech. If you’re trying to pound in a ton of plot, just go back to Lee/Kirby Lee/Ditko to see how you can tightly plot something in a way that visually moves the story forward. Lee/Claremont don’t do this. If you’re fine with it, that’s fantastic but how does my opinion on the matter conjure up theories about digital media and my attention span?

Looks awful. The art in the sample pages does not make anything clear, it’s obviously just Lee making pinups to maximize resale potential of the original pages. Never read it, never had a desire to. (I stopped reading Claremont’s X-Men around 1985/6, anyway.)

Les Fontenelle

April 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Shyeah Eslep, we just don’t appreciate how DEEP that comic was because we lack “concentration skills”… that MUST be it. Surely this book is right up there with “Finnegans’ Wake” as a masterpiece that few can appreciate.

Sorry to break this to ya, but I read that comic at the time of its publication and it was already a turd. I didn’t need “20+ years” of having my brains “dumbed down” to tell that it was shit, but maybe all those years of being “dumbed down” are what inspired you to make up such hilarious nonsense in defense of a bad comic.

But hey, “the dimmest kids in fourth grade” (to borrow your delightful turn of phrase) liked so it MUST be excellent, right?

I’m sure I read this issue as a kid, since my uncle was giving me all that shit at the time, but the only thing that sticks out in my memory is the image of Magneto on the cover. I mean, putting aside his outrageous physique, what is Magneto even doing in that picture? It’s supposed to be an action scene with the X-Men fighting Magneto, but Magneto appears to be a part of a completely different drawing. I know that happens sometimes, but in this case, it’s so blindingly obvious that it would have been better if Jim Lee had gone whole hog Bill Sienkiewicz and replaced Magneto with a photograph of Richard Nixon eating a banana suggestively. At least that way they would’ve had a few lulz to go along with their 8 million shifted units.

The Original Jimmy

April 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

When a comic has panel art showing Captain America throwing his shield, and is accompanied by a narrative box stating, ” Captain America throws his mighty shield! ” it’s not difficult to read – it’s superfluous. It’s not a well written comic. It interrupts the flow of the comic. Well written comics know when to use narration and dialogue to tell the story, and when to let the artist tell it. Claremont has never been able to make that balance. When a writer has to cram a page full of exposition and explanations it’s not a well written comic. Any “intelligent” and “well read” comic fan (I’ve been doing it myself for 38 years so I’m not your apparently helpless 21st Century kid) can tell you that. There are a lot of examples of eloquent prose accompanying images, and insightful dialogue throughout this era of comics – this just isn’t one of them.

Kids today have plenty of attention span for the purple prose of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. If you’re going to complain about those damn kids and their intra-nets and their hippity-hops, make an informed complaint.

A 90′s comic that isn’t very good? Well I never!

I think I have most of those covers, too. I got a bunch of ‘em for free at a comics convention. #2 as well if I remember correctly.

I know it’s expected to gang up on Eslep, but the guy’s got a point. No, not that this comic is some form of high literature that kids today are too dumb to appreciate. But that every time has different standards of what is acceptable in narration, and those standards ARE influenced by other media, for better or worse.

I do have Fantastic Four #48 here, a classic with the first appearance by Galactus, and man, Stan Lee has pages shocked full of dialogue and caption, many of them “unnecessary”. It’s still one of the high points of superhero comics.

You open a pre-World War II novel and most of them have a different pacing than later books, even bigger books. And I suspect that has something to do with television. Not that TV has necessarily dumbed down people, but it made them more impatient.

I agree that Jim Lee’s style is weird for the kind of old-fashioned narration Claremont does. The disconnect between art and script is bigger than ever. But lots of comic writers Claremont’s age wrote like that.

Mike Loughlin

April 9, 2013 at 6:22 am

I can’t separate X-Men 1′s quality from my nostalgia. I loved the Danger Room sequence, the loads of characters, the Magneto fight, and the feeling of freshness (despite the back-to-basics approach/ undoing of the more original stuff from the previous three years). Jim Lee’s art was what I liked at age 13. I don’t know if it would work for kids today, but it might pique their interest more than admittedly better comics from earlier eras.

Rene:But lots of comic writers Claremont’s age wrote like that.

You can do anything good or bad, though. My opinion is that Claremont tended to not pull off his super wordy scripts as well as before at this point, and as I understand it the OP agress. I don’t see how this statement is any more problematic than “this comic goes for a modern decompressed style, but come off as empty and boring” or something.

Rene:You open a pre-World War II novel and most of them have a different pacing than later books, even bigger books. And I suspect that has something to do with television. Not that TV has necessarily dumbed down people, but it made them more impatient.

I think “literature” is a way too vast field for anyone to make such a sweeping judgement. (My personal gut instinct actually is that most fiction tend to be longer and more drawn out that it used to. But – again – a hunch).

entzauberung -

I should have qualified my statement, restrict it to the field of “genre” literature.

Many modern genre novels, however long and drawn out they may be, still work under some sort of Law of Conservation of Detail, as described in TV Tropes. Namely, you don’t include it in the book if you’re not going to use it later. And I think that is a bit tied to television. With 1 hour (including ads) to tell a story, you can’t mess around with extraneous stuff too much.

I compare that to the many digressions you’d find in pre-1940s novels. It has been said that people in older times also wanted novels to be more like travel guides, because most of them travelled less in real life.

But in any case I agree with you that Claremont’s writing had been showning signs of exhaustion by that point, and it wasn’t a good match with Jim Lee’s art in this comic. But I’m a little tired of statements like Mark’s: “There shouldn’t be that much text on a splash page because (IMO) it doesn’t reflect a reality in human behavior and speech.”

Dialogue in fiction never reflects reality in human speech, because real human speech is undramatic in the extreme. Alan Moore, for all his genius, is no better a writer of “realistic” human speech than Claremont (even though he is, IMO, a infinitely more talented writer). Nor is Frank Miller or Brian Bendis or any other more modern writer that is often compared to Claremont.

Rene while I appreciate the lesson in genres, we are still ultimately talking about a comic book here. Obviously dialogue in fictions, specifically superhero fiction, is heightened and thus isn’t “realistic” (though as someone who was a daily newspaper writers for years, I do disagree with you on the fact that human speech in general is undramatic. It’s just the snippets of human speech you zero in on as a reporter that tell a story). The point that I think some are missing here is my complaint is that in nobody’s version of reality is any living being, superpowered or not, going to stand with his arms outstretched and his hips swaying giving a lecture on whatever the topic du jour is. You mentioned The Galactus Trilogy earlier, and while I also challenge you to name anything in that arc that is superfluous or unnecessary (I happen to think it’s the pinnacle of Silver Age storytelling), it’s worth pointing out that Kirby used 9 panels on a page to move through Stan’s dialogue. Lee and Claremont looked at a dense story they were trying to tell and decided that they wanted both pretty double-page visuals mixed with large blocks of dialogue. Comic books have a decided advantage over novels in that they’re inherently visual mediums. If creators are not going to take advantage of that fact and instead stop the visual motion of their characters so they can work in big blocks of dialogue, I’m going to call that a gimmick. That’s my opinion.

What I find “tiring” is I think some are creating an argument here that I’m and others are criticizing this comic for being “wordy.” That’s not the case. It’s that it’s a poorly plotted book where the words and visual are not synchronized. I think Dostoyevsky is great, but if you’re doing an illustrated version of Crime and Punishment and you use 1 double page panel to capture his entire interrogation scene, I would also think that was gimmicky writing.

- In journalism you “zero in”, exactly. You edit. Realistic human speech if full of repetitions, errors, awkward pauses, non-sequiturs. It’s not fitting for written drama. Trying to read an exact transcript of a spontaneous conversation many times is a chore and may take several attempts just to understand what is going on.

- Well, in Claremont’s version of reality, someone did deliver a lecture while standing with arms outstreched. Is that any less “realistic” than Dostoyevsky’s style of dialogue? No one in “real life” ever talks like a Dostoyevsky character either. I find it very confusing, your talk about “someone’s version of reality”. What is that supposed to mean?

- The Galactus Trilogy has plenty of superfluous dialogue, like almost all of Stan Lee’s work. One of many instances is when the FF is fighting the Punisher (the alien robot, not Frank Castle), and when they’re taking a pummeling Reed is talking about how the robot tripled his strength. That isn’t absolutely necessary, not to mention that it’s a little silly (how can Reed by sight alone ascertain that someone suddenly tripled its strength?)

- An illustrated version of a Dostoyevsky work would make Claremont look succint in the dialogue department, if you kept any of his own words. Dostoyevsky characters don’t really “speak” as people do, instead they illustrate philosophical points.

- Yes, the book is a gimmick for many reasons, I just don’t think the dialogue has anything to do with that. In a time when most superhero comic writers were overly descriptive in their dialogue, Claremont’s didn’t really stand out that much. That is the opposite of a “gimmick”, that implies some superficial novelty. Claremontian dialogue wasn’t a novelty by then.

Rene, I think we’re just a big old fat “agree to disagree” impasse. If you’re fine with Claremont’s dialogue in this issue, more power to you. I just take umbrage with some of the philosophizing that my opinion is somehow being impacted by new media and impatience. That’s just simply not true. It’s my opinion that the visuals and the dialogue don’t mesh. Call it MY version of reality.

I always prefered the Lee/Claremont Uncanny issues to the first few of adjectiveless…. (and indeed the Portacio X-Factor to his Uncanny issues)

I’m not sure about some of the decisions made in dividing the teams up – I mean Jean and Scott on different teams????

Rene: Dialogue in fiction never reflects reality in human speech, because real human speech is undramatic in the extreme. Alan Moore, for all his genius, is no better a writer of “realistic” human speech than Claremont (even though he is, IMO, a infinitely more talented writer). Nor is Frank Miller or Brian Bendis or any other more modern writer that is often compared to Claremont.

Am I understanding you right here, that because it’s unoptimal to write dialogue as real life transcriptions, that there is absolutely no difference between efforts to make it look realistic? I think a LOT of people are gonna disagree with you here.

Me, I think Alan does a way better approximation of human speech than Claremont (or at least is more interested in making it an approximation). Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, of course.

entzauberung -

I think there is a big difference between different stylistic choices in dialogue. My main point of disagreement is that one style is necessarily better than the other, or somehow “proof” that Claremont is a bad writer (though there are many, many other reasons for prefering Alan Moore to Claremont). There seems to be an undercurrent of that most times Claremont’s dialogue is discussed.

A more subtle point of disagreement is that dialogue that sounds naturalistic in fiction is actually far less naturalistic than it seems. For instance, if people started to talk like Bendis’s characters in real life around you, you’d probably be scared that you were somehow transported to a sketch comedy universe or something. Alan Moore uses the word “incidentally” a lot, and actually does a fair amount of “descriptive” dialogue in the vein of “as you know…”

Rene:I think there is a big difference between different stylistic choices in dialogue. My main point of disagreement is that one style is necessarily better than the other, or somehow “proof” that Claremont is a bad writer (though there are many, many other reasons for prefering Alan Moore to Claremont). There seems to be an undercurrent of that most times Claremont’s dialogue is discussed.

I don’t think dialogue is Claremont’s strong suit. What does it matter if it’s his stylistic choice to write like he does? I don’t have any proof that Rob Liefeld’s dialogue is bad either,

Rene: A more subtle point of disagreement is that dialogue that sounds naturalistic in fiction is actually far less naturalistic than it seems.

Yes, but if your fictional dialogue sounds realistic, you’ve achived your goal, no? What exactly would be the point of acting it out in real life, when that wasn’t what it was designed for?

Actually, I probably provoked the one comment about “complaining about it being too tough to read”, since I made a comment about “oy, all the words”. I was being semi-facetious, and I did go on to explain (with less good word-y talk than Mark) about how the balance is off and how splash panels require more words per page because splashes don’t tell the story in the art.

Me not like read lot of big word either, though.

entzauberung –

I would say that naturalistic dialogue isn’t Claremont’s strong suit. Likewise, it wasn’t the strong suit of almost all superhero writers in the 1960s and 1970s. My problem is the assumption that naturalistic = good.

I’m not sure Claremont deserves such defense, but it reminds me of a discussion that often happens among movie fans. The pre-1960s Hollywood movies were not really naturalistic. Many of them felt more like big budget theater plays. There are people who can’t appreciate NORTH BY NORTHWEST because it screams too much that it was made on studio, and not on location.

And when you get to A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, the character of Vivien Leigh talks in a declamatory way, while Marlon Brando is naturalistic. Is Marlon necessarily a better actor for that?

Rene –

Well, context is everything. Stan Lee’s dialogue worked because his stories was set in a highly stylized world where it made sense people spoke like that. IMO, Claremonts stories called for a level of naturalism that his work increasingly did not deliver on..

That is a very good point. IMO, Claremont (and also guys like Thomas, Shooter, Wolfman, etc.) were in a transitional period, from a Stan Lee-kind of superhero world to the more naturalistic one in the early works from Alan Moore and co. To many people, the transition is uncomfortable. By 1991, it was already done, so Claremont was not the cutting edge anymore.

LouReedRichards

April 11, 2013 at 7:54 am

how can Reed by sight alone ascertain that someone suddenly tripled its strength?

Because he’s REED RICHARDS!

Any other questions?

[...] In case you missed it yesterday, I was back reliving the 1990s at Comics Should Be Good reviewing Chris Claremont/Jim Lee’s X-Men #1. Is the best-selling comic book of all-time a gimmick, or good? I guess you’ll have to click over to CSBG to find out! [...]

When you try to go through all that text now it makes me sick but Claremont has always done it this way. As an introduction (1st issue) it makes some sense and I prefer to have something to read if I buy a book instead of splash pages like Superman’s Death (but that comic aimed for a different effect and the ‘goodbye/sacrifice’ had it’s impact/meaning).

I’ll take this over the current X-Men any day. Battle of the Atom was 10 issues of absolutely nothing happening!
Yes, it had too much dialogue for new readers that bored us old readers.
Yes, the art is all pin-ups and not enough fluidity.
But that’s like saying the 80s had terrible hair and shoulder pads therefore gimmick – it’s not true, it’s just a sign of the times.
Comics in 2013 have devolved from their peak in the 90s to the current slow-moving, directionless, pro-gay, cartoonish kindergarden art, pointless, half-job magazine.

THE MARVEL STYLE OF WRITING.
Did everyone forget about this? Back in the 90′s, this was how the majority of books were made: a rough outline of the plot was given to the artist(s). The art was drawn, and then the writer filled in the dialogue afterward.

This explains why there is poor storytelling: the artist doesn’t have a good idea of what the writer wants, panel for panel. So of course it’s going to feature a series of pinups: that’s what Jim Lee was given to draw. This also explains why 95% of the story is carried by the text: it wasn’t until it the lettering/dialogue stage that the writer was allowed to really tell his/her story.

THE MARVEL STYLE OF WRITING.
Did everyone forget about this? Back in the 90′s, this was how the majority of books were made: a rough outline of the plot was given to the artist(s). The art was drawn, and then the writer filled in the dialogue afterward.

This explains why there is poor storytelling: the artist doesn’t have a good idea of what the writer wants, panel for panel. So of course it’s going to feature a series of pinups: that’s what Jim Lee was given to draw. This also explains why 95% of the story is carried by the text: it wasn’t until it the lettering/dialogue stage that the writer was allowed to really tell his/her story.

THE MARVEL STYLE OF WRITING.
Did everyone forget about this? Back in the 90′s, this was how the majority of books were made: a rough outline of the plot was given to the artist(s). The art was drawn, and then the writer filled in the dialogue afterward.

This explains why there is poor storytelling: the artist doesn’t have a good idea of what the writer wants, panel for panel. So of course it’s going to feature a series of pinups: that’s what Jim Lee was given to draw. This also explains why 95% of the story is carried by the text: it wasn’t until it the lettering/dialogue stage that the writer was allowed to really tell his/her story.

THE MARVEL STYLE OF WRITING.
Did everyone forget about this? Back in the 90′s, this was how the majority of books were made: a rough outline of the plot was given to the artist(s). The art was drawn, and then the writer filled in the dialogue afterward.

This explains why there is poor storytelling: the artist doesn’t have a good idea of what the writer wants, panel for panel. So of course it’s going to feature a series of pinups: that’s what Jim Lee was given to draw. This also explains why 95% of the story is carried by the text: it wasn’t until it the lettering/dialogue stage that the writer was allowed to really tell his/her story.

loe sliver, HA! you said it five times so now i be leave you

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