As I’ve written in the past, when you introduce a super smart hero, you have to be EXTREMELY careful that the character doesn’t turn into a crazy mix between a Mary Sue/Pet Character/Walking Deus Ex Machina.
So that’s why this week’s Incredible Hercules thrilled me, because it appears (SPOILERS AHEAD!) Continue Reading »
So, I’m reading the Hulk #2, and it’s not particularly good, but one thing stands out, and the same thing stands out in basically every comic Jeph Loeb writes – the man sure does know how to write for his artists, doesn’t he?
Take Hulk #2, for example; the book is an action-packed battle between Iron Man and friends versus the Red Hulk, aboard the SHIELD hellicarrier. I did not think the fight was all that interesting (and the battle led to one ridiculous excuse for, of all things, – SPOILER!!- a Hindenburg gag), but it must have been a total blast to draw!!!
The whole issue was filled with what looked to be cool things for an artist to draw. Ed McGuinness must be thrilled to work with a guy like Loeb, who fills his comics with really, really cool stuff for his artists to draw. The cool stuff might not always work for the story (by “might not always work” I really mean “rarely works”), but damned if it isn’t really, really cool stuff.
Take Hush (please! ba dum bum!), for example. TOTALLY played to Jim Lee’s relative strengths. Superman/Batman, Loeb gave McGuinness, Turner and Pachecho tons of cool stuff to draw, same with Joe Madureira right now on Ultimates Vol. 3. Meanwhile, for an artist like Tim Sale, who is less of an action artist, Loeb writes stories with less action.
So feel free to give Loeb some guff over his stories and the relative quality of them – but give the man credit for being a delight for artists to work with (excluding that one time he scripted Fantastic Four, that time doesn’t count).
I got on this train of thought when I was thinking of Roger Stern, and how good of a job he did making both the Hobgoblin and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) into major figures in the Marvel Universe. That is really, really hard to do, and as noted by the fact that the latter character disappeared from prominence basically the INSTANT Stern stopped writing her, and the former character only managed to hold on for a couple of years before also disappearing into virtual irrelevance (although Tom DeFalco is doing a nice job with the Hobgoblin in Spider-Girl).
That got me to thinking about how hard it is to debut a new characters into Marvel and DC comics PERIOD.
Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduced an astonishing FOUR prominent characters in the first couple issues of New Teen Titans (Starfire, Cyborg, Raven and Deathstroke)!
In an era where creators mostly have not been willing to create new characters for Marvel or DC (and if they DO, they’re usually just new versions of, say, Superboy or Supergirl or Blue Beetle or Green Arrow or Green Lantern or whatever), Wolfman and Perez debuted four of them within the span of two issues.
That’s really amazing.
CBR has been doing a series of exclusive interviews with Joe Quesada on One More Day (Five parts, the first three are up so far – One, Two and Three), and it’s been quite interesting – read on for some thoughts I had upon reading them. Continue Reading »
“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. “
- Mark Twain
(So, OK, this is a couple months out of date now. I am slow, lazy writer. Can we just pretend it’s September?)
So I’m hanging out in the Haunted Bookstore in Iowa City tonight, it’s COLDcoldcoldcold (and windy) out. And I’m thinking all BIG THOUGHTS about Life and Truth and Stuff.
And I’m a tad miffed.
But it’s those fuckers at the other blogs, not you guys. I will personally vouch that you are all wonderful, witty, brilliant human beings and are very, very good in bed.
So yeah. Truth and comics. And Autobiographical comics, and… Continue Reading »
This week saw the release of two crossover preludes (although only one of them was actually CALLED a prelude instead of Part One) – Batman #670 and X-Men: Messiah Complex One-Shot.
The former was better than the latter, and I think it is because it does not fall into the “necessary evil” trap that a lot of preludes seem to have (heck, a lot of first parts of crossovers, too!) – where the issue is spent getting across various plot points set up that need to be put into play for the following issues to work.
That’s basically all Messiah Complex One-Shot did – it just introduced the readers to the players and the basic set-up – nothing more. Comics like that, you cannot even really critique the writing, because all it is is set-up. It’s “let’s get all this established here so that we can just get on with the story in the later issues.” In other words, a “necessary evil.” A bad issue so that later issues can be (hopefully) better.
Batman managed to avoid this trap by doing all the info dump stuff (Here’s Main Character A – Here’s Main Character B – Here’s Main Character C – Here is the conflict!) AND actually having a story. Not a particularly great story – pretty tame by Morrison’s standards, but Batman’s fight against Dragon Fly, Silken Spider and Tiger Moth (in their first appearance, I believe, since they debuted along with Poison Ivy way back in 1966!) is at least something you would get in an actual comic book story, not just set-up for future issues.
I understand why companies go with the “necessary evil” approach (it is much easier for the writers who follow), but I would prefer to see it avoided.
Brian Azzarello’s Dr. Thirteen story arc in Tales of Unexpected (to be released in trade form this week!) has what I think is a great lesson for DC. Azzarello has a lot of fun with the idea of Dr. Thirteen being a professional skeptic, yet living in a world of vampires, ghosts and Nazi gorillas. It’s just completely absurd for Thirteen to continue being a skeptic, but that, though, is entirely the problem one has when confronted with the current DC standpoint of “Everything must be shared!” Continue Reading »
This issue made me think, “You know, it is okay to say no to Joe.” J. Michael Straczynski had a couple of interesting decisions in the latest issue of Thor, but in both cases, I think his ideas (while interesting) probably created more creative problems than anything. Continue Reading »
I don’t blame Will Pfeifer for it, because there is just no way that he could have possibly come up with the ending for Amazons Attack, but in any event, the ending of Amazons Attack…is a CLIFFHANGER!
Not only is it a cliffhanger, but it is a cliffhanger that comes out of NOWHERE, has ZERO connection to any previous Wonder Woman story, and (besides the whole “behind the scenes” aspect, I suppose) has zero connection to anything that happened in the Amazons Attack storyline!! You know, the storyline to which it is the ENDING for!!!
Finally, it will (and, essentially, the Amazons Attack storyline itself) be entirely resolved in the pages of Countdown to Final Crisis!!
That is quite absurd.
I like it better when mini-series have endings.
It is always fun to see artists rise to a challenge, and taking over for an artist who has defined a character as much as Mark Bagley has defined Ultimate Spider-Man is a pretty big challenge, and Stuart Immonen more than rose to the challenge. In Ultimate Spider-Man #112, he produces some of the best artwork of his career – or at least the best artwork using his current style (the one he used to great effect on Nextwave – it is just a little bit tightened on USM – it looks great).
Check out some preview pages below. Continue Reading »
Mark Evanier had a great piece a few years back on the great character actor, Frank Nelson, who is best known for his routine of playing clerks at various establishments, where he would greet a customer’s inquiry with the response, “Yessssssssssssss?” In any event, Evanier recounts a story of a cartoon show looking for someone who can do an impersonation of Frank Nelson for a character, and someone asks, “Why not just get Frank Nelson to do it?”
That sort of thing happens a lot, and it especially happens in comic books, where we see titles that try to evoke the style of certain creators, while those creators are still alive and willing to work! It just so happens that not too many people are willing to find work for the Frank Nelsons of the comic world.
Tom DeFalco, though, is one. Continue Reading »