You just can’t polish a turd (GOOD comic book writers gone BAD)

2 08 2010

A Polished Turd, apparently…

 You know that time when your favorite writer, musician, performer, actor, etc. isn’t as good as they used to be? Well, that’s how I feel about a few comic book writers today. As an aspiring comic book writer myself one of the most painful things is seeing your creative heroes let you down. This post is about those writers:

Jeph Loeb:

My first exposure to Mr. Loeb’s comics was The Ultimates 3, then soon afterward Ultimatum. Those had to be some of the worst comic books I’ve ever read. I thought to myself, “Has this guy written ANYTHING good?” After searching around on the interwebs I found out that people liked his stories where he worked with Tim Sale. Soon afterward my dad had mentioned a story he had read called Spider-Man: Blue and he recommended that I read it. Little did I know that it was written by none other than Jeph Loeb. I ended up reading it based on my dad’s recommendation and I liked it. The ending was very heartbreaking and well thought of. Then several months I read Batman: Hush by Loeb and Jim Lee. I was blown away by it. In a good way. To me it was very engaging and it had some of the best comic book art I’ve ever seen. Then, come February this year I read Batman: The Long Halloween by Loeb and Sale. That became my favorite Jeph Loeb story very quickly and it was then that I realized that Loeb is/was capable of some really good storytelling. I want that Jeph Loeb back soon.

Frank Miller:

This is perhaps the most tragic downfall of a comic book writer in the industry. This man has written and drawn some of the best comic books in the world. In my Top 5 favorite comic book stories list, Miller has written two of those stories. Those are Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil: Born Again. Other wonderful work Miller has done is as following: Batman: Year One, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, Daredevil: Man Without Fear, and his run on Daredevil. So why do I dislike his writing now? Dark Knight Strikes Again is THE WORST Batman story I’ve EVER read. So childish and pointless. You couldn’t have a man talking about a woman without them commenting on her butt. Then comes along All-Star Batman and Robin. The dialogue in this so-called “comic book” is HORRIBLE. I’m a big fan of Miller’s dialogue he used in his older work, but this dialogue in All-Star is just utter garbage. There was nothing attractive about it. But the final straw for me was the movie Miller made called The Spirit based on the wonderful comic by Will Eisner. While, some of the visuals were nice, the rest of the movie is sickening. The dialogue is on par with All-Star Batman and Robin. Evidently Miller and Eisner were best friends, and I can’t believe Miller just pissed all over Eisner’s creation. I honestly don’t know how he can live with himself after that movie. I just like to pretend that none of that crap exists and I enjoy Miller’s good work.

James Robinson:

This one will be short because this isn’t as painful as all the others. I’m a big fan of his Starman stories. That was one of the best books to come out of the 90s. But recently his JLA stories have been AWFUL. You’d think that he could write superheroes after seeing what he could do in Starman, but apparently not. In JLA not only is it just not a fun read, you have the heroes killing each other and ripping body parts of each other and it’s just… ugh. What is this? The Teen Titans?

Geoff Johns:

What? How come Geoff Johns is on this list? I’ll tell you why. Brightest Day SUCKS. You’d think with a title like that it would be a happy story and FINALLY we’d have a light-hearted story in the DCU… right? Nope. Brightest Day has to be one of the most depressing and boring comic book I’ve ever read in my 10 years of reading comics. Don’t get me wrong I have LOVED some of Geoff’s earlier stuff like the stuff he does with Gary Frank, his Green Lantern stories are good (not anymore, too much same old same old for me), his Avengers stories were good, and Blackest Night was great up until the end. The truth and my honest opinion is that Johns is just not doing his best work right now. I hope something changes soon.

Brian Michael Bendis:

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love Ultimate Spider-Man and his indy comic book Goldfish. So imagine my disappointment when I read his Avenger stories. New Avengers was boring, Dark Avengers was a joke, and his current Avenger books aren’t good. His current disregard for continuity is astounding. His lack of respect for female characters (for the most part, he doesn’t that as much recently) was/is disgusting. For months and months I have begged and prayed for the Bendis I know and love to come back. Well, thankfully my prayers have been answered with Scarlet done by Bendis and Alex Maleev. Sadly that is only going to be a mini-series. His work in the mainstream comic books outweighs his great work on Scarlet. To me, Bendis is more of an independent writer than a mainstream writer.

Mark Millar:

To me, this is the most painful and tragic downfall of a comic book writer. Millar was one of my early influences as a comic book writer. I liked his work on Ultimate X-Men, The Ultimates 1+2, Wanted, Chosen, and Superman: Red Son. Then he started letting me down with Civil War, Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass, Nemesis, War Heroes, Ultimate Avengers 1+2, Marvel 1985, and Old Man Logan. I remember the day I first read Old Man Logan. It was not a good weekend for me. I had suffered a lot of emotional pain the week before and all I wanted to do was read a good comic book story. So I picked up some issues of OML because most people said they liked it. I read it and never before have I felt so dirty about buying and reading a comic book in my entire life. The story had way too many continuity gaps in it and it just wasn’t an enjoyable read for me. In fact, I got really mad at the part where Wolverine finds out he accidently kills all of the X-Men due to Mysterio (which would never, NEVER happen). I had gotten so mad that I threw the issue into the air and yelled, “That’s bulls***!” (Don’t worry fanboys, I didn’t damage the book too much. You can breathe now).

Two weeks later my dad bought for me the trade paperback of Superman: Red Son. To this day Red Son is my favorite Superman story and my favorite Mark Millar story. In fact, towards the end I started crying because I just could not believe that the man who wrote this awesome story, had written OML. To see what Millar has become now just breaks my heart. It seems all he does not is steal from movies and doesn’t try as hard as he used to. Have any of you noticed that his new upcoming comic, Superior, sounds just like Dancing with Wolves and Avatar? It’s true.

Those are the comic book writers whose work I’ve enjoyed, but lately I haven’t been enjoying their work. I know I bash Bendis, Johns, Millar, Loeb, and Marvel a lot. Not because I dis-respect them, but because I know they’ve done better work and are capable of so much more.

Thanks for bearing with me and please leave a comment to let me know what you all think! Thanks!





ItsJustSomeRandomGeek’s Recommended Reading List

21 06 2010

Have you ever encountered someone who thinks comic books are dumb? But deep inside you know that they’ve never even read one, let alone touched one. If that happens just get them to try these stories:

  • If This Be My Destiny… (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
  • Dark Phoenix Saga (by Chris Claremont and John Byrne)
  • Hobgoblin Saga (by Roger Stern, John Romita, Jr. and John Romita, Sr.)
  • Batman: Dark Knight Returns (by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley)
  • Daredevil: Born Again (by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli)
  • Galactus Trilogy (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
  • Superman: Red Son (by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, and Kilian Plunkett)
  • Batman: Year One (by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli)
  • Batgirl: Year One (by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, and Marcos Martin)
  • The Night Gwen Stacy Died (by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane)
  • Batman: Hush (by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee)
  • Batman: The Long Halloween (by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale)
  • Daredevil: Man Without Fear (by Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr.)
  • Worlds Most Wanted (by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca)
  • Power and Responsibility (by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley)
  • Ultimate Clone Saga (by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley)
  • The Losers (by Andy Diggle, Jock, and others)
  • The Tomorrow People (by Mark Millar, Adam Kubert, and Andy Kubert)
  • Spider-Man: Blue (by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale)
  • Underground (by Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber)
  • Agents of Atlas (by Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman, Carlo Pagulayan, and others)
  • Captain Britain and MI13 (by Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk, and others)
  • Battle Chasers (by Joe Madureira, Munier Sharriff, and Tom McWeeney)
  • Thunderbolts#110-121 (by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato)
  • Demon in a Bottle (by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, John Romita, Jr., and Carmine Infantino)
  • Magnum Opus (by Daniel Way, Andy Diggle, Paco Medina, and Bong Dazo)
  • Armor Wars (by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Mark D. Bright, and Barry-Windsor Smith)
  • Weapon X (by Barry-Windsor Smith)
  • JLA: The Nail (by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer)
  • Brainiac (by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank)
  • New Ways to Die (by Dan Slott and John Romita, Jr.)
  • Superman: Birthright (by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu)
  • AKA Goldfish (by Brian Michael Bendis)
  • Fortune and Glory (by Brian Michael Bendis)
  • Man of Steel (by John Byrne and Dick Giordano)
  • Uncanny X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia (by Matt Fraction, Marc Silvestri, Terry Dodson, Luke Ross, and Mike Deodato)
  • Detective Comics#854-861 (by Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III, and Jock)
  • Under the Hood (by Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland)
  • Batman: The Man Who Laughs (by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke)
  • Batman: A Death in the Family (by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike DeCarlo)
  • Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run (by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Phil Jimenez and others)
  • Camelot 3000 (by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland)
  • Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)
  • Captain America: Operation Rebirth (by Mark Waid and Ron Garney)
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth (by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver)
  • The Death of Captian Stacy (by Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and John Romita, Sr.)
  • Wanted (by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones)
  • Invincible (by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Cory Walker)

Yikes that’s a long list! Anyway all of those stories have my stamp of approval on it. I hope you guys try out these stories if you haven’t already. Feel free to give me suggestions as well! Thanks for reading!