A recent article on this site inspired me to write something I’ve been toying with for a long time: a few opinions I hold that will get me kicked out of my comic shop if they ever find out that’s what I think. There’s crossover, but the difference is, that thread is about gaps in our knowledge; this is me thinking things I’m not allowed to think. Some of these are things I do know fairly well; most are about things I’ve read.
Comics should be fun! So many writers lose sight of that. They make the readers feel tough or smart by reading them, but if a writer relies on an Emperor’s New Clothes thing, that’s not good writing. Wallowing in your own crapulence is not good writing.
I’m talking some big names here: Alan Moore, Frank Miller (even when he was popular), Mark Millar. Basically, anybody whose last name starts with ‘M’. Also, Garth Ennis. (If you kind of cross your eyes, the two ‘n’s look like an ‘M’, right?) (Okay, the ‘M’ thing is just a coincidence; I mean, I dislike Grant Morrison for entirely different reasons to the others.)
Watchmen sucks. Its superheroes are neither; its plot is cynical and depressing. (Also, whenever somebody says ‘I don’t like Alan Moore’ the fans say “Oh, then you should totally read this Alan Moore comic”. Don’t do that. Moron.)
Alan Moore just takes an existing character, adds a rape scene, and sits back and waits for his next Eisner.
Elektra: Assassin? The Dark Knight Returns? Terrible artwork, dark and murky storytelling, just not good.
The Dark Knight Returns is no better than DK2. I don’t see why most people think there’s a drop in quality.
Elektra: Assassin is drawn to be unreadable. I couldn’t even tell you what happened in it (she kills a politician? Is that right?)
These comics inspired decades of horrible storytelling, replacing good with dark. At least one of those creators has gone on record as saying that he hates that that happened – but he hasn’t stop doing the dark stuff himself.
Game Of Thrones
This one isn’t a comic, but apparently all us geeks, including comic geeks, are supposed to fall in line and praise it. I can’t; it’s mean-spirited, vulgar, and (the first book, anyway) isn’t even fantasy. Also, George R.R. Martin’s last name starts with ‘M’.
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Also the Empire Strikes Back. It’s not my favourite Star Wars movie for the same reason it is everyone else’s.
Logan is the same. Watching Patrick Stewart swear is funny maybe once, but it doesn’t carry a movie. Learning about the deaths of all those characters is not fun.
And the movie is boring. It just drags on and on.
Jeph Loeb is overrated. He’s written some absolutely terrible stories (the one where Wolverine finds out that all animal-based supercharacters are wolf-mutants, even Sasquatch and Feral, is really, really dumb), and even his best stories are just okay. This applies to his whole career, right from the beginning. And yet, the Big Two constantly try to make out like he’s the second coming of Stan Lee. He’s just this guy, you know? There are worse, but there are many, many, much better writers.
Hush and The Long Hallowe’en, just as an example, both just decent stories. I don’t think either is particularly original or innovative, and certainly not must-reads. I was reading both Batman and Detective Comics when Hush came out; every time a villain showed up in Batman (ie: in Hush), the same villain would show up that month in Detective Comics; the Detective Comics appearance was usually better. Hush also had that absolutely stupid subplot about ‘we’ve brought in a new character, Bruce Wayne’s best friend since childhood, who you’ve never heard of before; also, who is the mysterious new villain going to turn out to be? Write in for our competition.’ It, uh, wasn’t difficult to guess.
I like Jim Lee (he did get his start on Alpha Flight, don’t forget), but this isn’t a great story. And even he couldn’t make Selina’s silly goggles look good (though the Detective Comics guy did! Wow!).
Tim Sale isn’t a great artist, The Long Hallowe’en is dull and uncoloured (though at least it doesn’t pretend to be coloured), and I’m pretty sure the thing it’s famous for – Batman interacting with gangsters before the freaks take over – isn’t all that original an idea. (See Batman: Year One, which is a Frank Miller story that doesn’t suck.)
Batman: Odyssey is underrated. I’ve even considered writing an article defending it.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s good, even if I wrote that article; it certainly has problems. I don’t even particularly like it – but it gets talked about like it’s one of the worst comic books ever created, and it’s not even in the bottom ten I’ve read. It’s bad, it just isn’t that bad.
His last name doesn’t start with ‘M’, so how bad can he be?
Look, I’m no fan of the guy, but I don’t hate Rob Liefeld. Not as an artist, anyway. I don’t think he’s nearly as bad as his reputation. (As a writer? I’m hesitant to even call him that. He’s as bad as his reputation.) So he’s had a few art fails:
Even Kirby had art fails:
Face it, these people drawing an entire comic every month – for some of them, it’s several – so it’s essentially hundreds of pictures a day. I’m doing my own comic, and it takes me about a month per page; think about how much these people do! And those are drafts, not finals (which they don’t even have time to do), and I still fail. They won’t achieve perfection every time. So, let a couple of art fails slide (and stop praising Elektra: Assassin, which is entirely made of art fail).
One point, though: people make fun of Liefeld for not being able to draw feet. Then he covers up the feet, or just doesn’t draw them (and unless you’re James Cameron, how many foot shots do you expect?) and the same people make fun of him for that, too! That’s childish and petty, the kind of no-win behaviour I expect from a school bully. It says more about the ‘critics’ than the ‘artist’.
What about you; what thoughts would get you thrown out of your shop if only they knew?