Sunday, January 22, 2012

WONDER WOMAN #1 - 4

Here I sit, drinking seltzer and grapefruit juice out of my classic Wonder Woman Toon Tumbler. How perfect.

An Interesting Analysis 


This comment came in, thank you, Ms. Carol A. Strickland.  She has interesting things to say. I recommend checking out her views on the New 52 WonderWoman.

Carol A. Strickland has left a new comment on your post "WONDER WOMAN #4 – A Review":

I didn't look at the book as an individual work. I've been following Wonder Woman for about as long as I can remember. I've been looking for her since issue #600, but she hasn't shown her face except in a 90s RetroActive issue.

This is not Wonder Woman; nor is it an engaging story. From what I've been able to gather, DC is publishing "(Xena and) THE NEW OLYMPIANS." Certainly in the past couple years DC has done its darnedest to strip any of the specialness from its number-one heroine, the lady whose licensing makes them so much money.

I discussed the reboot on my blog: http://carolastrickland.blogspot.com/2012/01/illusory-wonder-woman.html
Posted by Carol A. Strickland to Jim Shooter at January 19, 2012 11:37 AM 
I did not read her analysis until after I completed my own.




Start at the Beginning


Jeremy had this to say:
Jeremy has left a new comment on your post "WONDER WOMAN #4 – A Review":

I disagree vehemently with "Every issue should be an entry point". I would never recommend jumping into a story in the middle of its tenure. Its like watching a random new episode of The Wire, and then whining about being confused about the plot and the characters. Well no shit, buddy! Those episodes and these issues are all part of the same story. You want to properly enjoy it, you start at the beginning.

Personally, I'm sick of the constant need for "jumping on points". You start at the beginning of the story, whether it be a new #1 or issue #678 like today's Amazing Spider-Man. That's it. I don't want to go back to the Shooter era where EVERY SINGLE ISSUE the characters have to re-introduce themselves through captions, thought bubbles, and clumsy expositional dialog. Every damn issue of Claremont's X-men he has to introduce the characters AGAIN, explain their powers AGAIN, etc. It's tiring.

Marvel has a "Previously on..." page in the beginning, and that's about as far as I want it to go.

Posted by Jeremy to Jim Shooter at January 18, 2012 5:31 PM 

Regarding “It’s tiring,” my answer was “I never told anyone to do it badly.”

But, okay, fair enough. The story has only been running for four issues. Nine more bucks bought me #1-3, and now I have the entire run to date—as of the day I got the books, anyway. I understand that #5 came out Wednesday.
So, from the beginning….

The story starts in Singapore, at night, with a long shot of the city. Green captions seem to have someone’s dialogue in them. A reply comes in a black caption.

Three beautiful young women are on a high terrace of what is probably a hotel. With them is a man in a three-piece suit. His skin is black, really black, with grayish purple areas I take to be highlights. No eyeballs has he, but a glow comes from where they ought to be. His mouth glows too. The young women apparently do not notice anything unusual about the guy. By the way, much later, we will see that he isn’t wearing shoes or socks with his three-piece, an interesting sartorial choice. The women apparently didn’t notice that either, or were cool with it.

What?

So…there’ll be some payoff, some aha! revelation later of why three women find the black-black, glowing eyes, glowing mouth, barefoot guy unremarkable, right?

Nah.

Anyway….

The conversation begun in the green and black captions continues, so anyone paying reasonable attention might possibly guess that the green captions belonged to one of the young women and the black caption belonged to Bright-eyes.

Bright-eyes says he’s the “…sun of a king.”

A commenter clued me in to the fact that Bright-eyes is Apollo, the sun god, which I did not gather from reading issue #4 earlier.

That being the case, I forgive the pun. It’s the kind of lame-o, little private drollery to amuse oneself that someone might actually say if one happened to be a sun god, child of god-king Zeus. Come on, how many failed witticisms, bad jokes and lame puns a day do you make?

I do my best to pretend I don’t know Bright-eyes is Apollo and focus on only what’s here, what’s presented.

Bright-eyes talks a little about the family, his philandering father, his father’s jealous wife (who obviously is not his mother). His dad is “missing,” by the way.

Glowing eyes and mouth, sun-pun, Lothario-like father, jealous wife-of-father, the fact that the book is about an Amazon, therefore linked to Greek mythology—pretty much everybody knows Wonder Woman is an Amazon, right?—and, well, maybe I would have figured out that Bright-eyes is Apollo. Maybe. The black-black skin seems un-sunny. Puzzling.

The whole thing is puzzling. How does this weird-looking guy get the three beautiful young women up to his hotel room? My wanting to know that has nothing to do with the fact that I am a weird-looking guy.

Comic book readers have been conditioned to accept the damndest things. It’s just easier to shrug and get on with the show than it is to ponder such madness. So many of us cheerfully accept so many things that are absurd on the face of them that writers don’t even bother to give logic-seekers a hook to hang their hats on.

Am I the only one who cares about such things?

Bright-eyes lays hands upon the young women, whose eyes roll up. They float into the air, apparently, or he picks them up somehow, evidenced by their feet being off the deck, their chic pumps—at least one pair of intriguing sandal toes, for interested parties—gracefully falling away.
The young women’s champagne glasses are dropped over the railing. Look out below.
Cut to a barn in Virginia.

Wait a minute! What happened to the women with the groovy shoes?

Dunno. I wade on.

A mysterious figure, apparently female, wearing a peacock-feather cloak and hood, enters the barn. Glowy-lines might indicate that she just teleported in. Whatever.

There are two horses in the barn (that are shown).

I’m guessing here, but apparently a bunch of weapons that were hidden under the female figure’s cloak fall out, or she poops them. I’m ready to believe anything at this point.

She does something I take to be magical to a scythe she finds in the barn. Why she didn’t just use one of the bladed instruments that came from under her cape rather than doctor up a rusty old one that happened to be there, I don’t know. She kills both of the horses seen. Chops their horsey heads off.

Don’t know what happens to feather-cape woman. But from one of the headless horse’s necks, human hands and arms push up out of the bloody mangled horseflesh. Then, what might be a human head pushes out. What? There’s a person inside the dead horse? I am completely at sea, here. I have no idea what’s going on.

Cut to an exterior shot of a house. Is that the barn from the previous scene in the background? Looks like it might be.

Inside the house (apparently) a guy who is flesh-colored in the first panel then blue thereafter, with a WWI U.S. Army helmet, bird feet, little wings on his bird-ankles and bizarre, inhuman eyes is facing off with a young woman holding a pump-action, 16-gauge (I’m guessing) shotgun. Three rounds, assuming a magazine plug, probably five if not. But, I digress….

Bird-foot is warning her—her name is Zola—that someone is coming to kill her. She demands that he leave. She has no discernible reaction to his bird-feet, etc.

Sigh.
Centaurs (!) attack. A white horse-body one and a black or grey horse-body one.

Hmm, two centaurs, two horses butchered in the barn…. I flip back to the barn sequence and note that one of the murdered horses is white and one is black or grey. It takes me a minute—maybe I’m dense, but I finally put it together that these are those horses and the human head and arms pushing out from one of their necks was supposed to an indication that the murdered horses were transforming into centaurs. Chopping a horse’s head off, the horse growing a human upper body and becoming a centaur is a new one to me, sorry. Hey, I’m still struggling with the concept of Comet the Super Horse. And I wrote dialogue for him.

It seems that the centaurs took time to clean up a little before attacking. There’s no sign of any blood or gore. They wouldn’t want to be tracking that stuff in the house, I suppose.

The centaurs bear the weapons that feather cape woman pooped.

Bird-foot is impaled by an arrow fired by a centaur.

He flips Zola a key that teleports her away just before a blade swung by a centaur would have killed her.

She winds up in some woman’s bedroom in London. The woman is in bed, asleep.

Snoozy-Q wakes up in the last panel of page ten. On page eleven she bolts up and grabs Zola by the neck and hoists her off the floor, demonstrating considerable strength. Snoozy-Q quickly determines that this intruder is no threat and lets go.

Snoozy-Q apparently recognizes the key and apparently knows what it does.

Pause.

So, the key, one would think, would lend some credibility to Zola’s babbled tale of monsters trying to kill her. One would think Snoozy-Q would want to hear more, right now about the danger so great that the “man,” Zola mentions “threw” her the key to get her the Hades out of wherever she was (and send her directly to Snoozy-Q). One would think that Zola might mention that the man took an arrow in the gut. One would think that one of them, at least, would be worried about the man who, one might reasonably suspect, is still trapped back there with the monsters.

Nah.

Snoozy-Q gets dressed. She takes her time. One would think there’d be some urgency.

Nah.

We get two relatively mild tease-y, cheesecake-y panels. Ultimately, Snoozy-Q is revealed as, ta-da!—WONDER WOMAN…!

…though she insists her name is Diana.

So the title character makes her first appearance on page ten, asleep, unclothed, or mostly so. On page thirteen (!) she’s finally dressed as the title character.

WW asks for the key. We don’t know what her plan is. But it’s moot. Zola somehow, suddenly knows how to work the teleportation key and transports herself and Wonder Woman back to her home in rural Virginia. Near Culpeper, I hope. I like Culpeper.

The centaurs attack Wonder Woman and chase Zola, intent upon killing her. Wonder Woman, with both arms free, chooses to slam her head into one of the centaur’s heads. The centaur is disabled, at least for a while. WW is fine.
Go ahead, try this at home. Find someone stupid and bang heads with them. See how you both feel. That trick only works on TV, in the movies, and in this logic-challenged comic book. Is WW so impervious to harm that she would be unaffected by a wicked head impact? Maybe. But, only a moment earlier, she was desperately (judging from her expression) dodging the horsey-man’s hooves. So, she can’t be all that damage-proof.

Maybe WW has a new power I don’t know about—super-hard-headedness.

Anyway….

Wonder Woman saves Zola from the centaurs. They flee, one missing an arm.

Pause.

Now there are two centaurs roaming around Culpeper County, one frantically seeking a veterinarian. It’s okay. No veterinarian in this comic book will find centaurs at all unusual.

During the course of the battle, Wonder Woman proves that she is fast, agile, able to block incoming arrows with her bracelets, extremely hard-headed and strong enough/skilled enough to throw a sword a great distance to slice off a centaur’s arm.

And she carries a lasso! My, God, if she were wearing sandal toe pumps, I’d be in love!

Ahem.

Just kidding.

But, honestly, I can’t help thinking that the creators are going for “moments” rather than story, sound and fury rather than substance…and some puerile titillation.

Why is Zola running around in panties, a teddy and a plaid shirt?

My quick calculations say that if it’s just before dawn in Singapore (which it turns out to be), it’s 5-6 PM in Culpeper, and, oh, by the way, 10-11 PM in London (though if you look closely at Big Ben it’s either 12:05 AM or 1:00 AM). Wonder Woman goes to bed early, I guess. Probably some Amazon custom.

But, Zola is rather underdressed for late afternoon, don’t you think?

Anyway….

As the battle unfolds, green captions with someone’s dialogue in them and black captions with someone else’s appear. If you remember the green and black captions from page one and the first panel of page two, you might say, aha! It’s the young women and Bright-eyes talking in these captions! Right here in Culpeper County, all the way from Singapore!

I didn’t remember right away, but I sussed it out halfway through. Then I went back and reread all of the captions. The young women, apparently, have become oracles. I guess that happened when their eyes rolled up and they lost their pumps.

The oracles’ captions say a lot of cryptic stuff. “There is a storm gathering.” Uh-huh. It’s so vague that it doesn’t really serve as much of a tease, for me at least. The only intriguing thing the oracles have to say is that whatever trouble’s coming won’t end “good” for Bright-eyes.

Cutting back to Singapore for a panel or two at the beginning of this captions-over bit, showing the beginning of the oracles’ prophesying live, and then playing out the rest in captions over the battle scene would have avoided some confusion. But, avoiding confusion seems pretty low on the creators’ priority list.

Anyway….

Zola has run some distance away. Wonder Woman retrieves her by lassoing her and yanking her back. Zola flies an estimated 40 feet, reaching an estimated maximum altitude of 10-12 feet, landing hard on the ground in front of WW.
Do not try this at home.

But Zola is fine. Not so much as an “ouch.” No crying she makes.

Bird-foot staggers out of the badly battered house. He calls Wonder Woman “Amazon.” He says, “Take the girl and run to the ends of the Earth. Protect her… Or the Queen will see her dead.”

All righty, then. Feather cape woman must be the Queen, or her agent. Queeny is out to get Zola for some reason. Bird-foot wants to help Zola and presumes Wonder Woman will too. And she did, albeit largely in self-defense.

Wonder Woman calls Bird-foot “Hermes.” Hermes? With bird feet? Anyway, she knows the guy.

We saw Hermes take an arrow to the gut, but now his right bird-foot is damaged as well. Injury inflicted by the centaurs while Wonder Woman was languorously dressing? We’ll never know.

Hermes pulls the arrow out, its point trailing strands of tissue, covered with blood and red lumpy stuff. God guts. Yuck.

The following exchange occurs:

Hermes: “What did they do to me?”

Wonder Woman: “The impossible.”

Hermes: “Heh… That must have gone the way of the pantheon.”

I have no idea what that means. Do you?

There are a number of exchanges every once in a while in this story that baffle me….

Turns out that Zola is pregnant by Zeus, who was (presumably) previously alluded to by Bright-eyes on page two: “My father…gets around. Pisses his wife off to no end.”

If there was any doubt about who Hermes meant by “the Queen,” for sure, now, it’s Hera. Hera, famously jealous and vengeful. The attack on Zola was obviously motivated by Hera’s being pissed off at her and Hera’s hatred for the embryo Zola carries that is the product of her husband’s loins.

Hmmm….

What is it about this girl Zola that inspired the King of the Gods to have a fling with her? Am I wrong, or isn’t Zeus generally depicted pursuing only the most beautiful of mortal women, when he stooped to slumming among mortals? Zola doesn’t seem to me to fit the profile. She’s no Halle Berry.

So…there’ll be some payoff, some aha! revelation later of why Zeus chose Zola, right?

Not gonna hold my breath waiting….

Cut back to Singapore.

More unfathomable, cryptic prophecy from the floating, now sadly bereft-of-footwear young women. It makes a little more sense now that we’re clued in for sure that Bright-eye’s dad is Zeus. It’s still abstruse.

The sun is rising.

Bright-eyes incinerates the young women—no reason offered—and their blazing bones tumble down from the terrace. Look out below.

We meet Hera, the peacock feather-caped woman. Looks like my type, except for the slaughtering horses, murdering people thing. I mean, she’s obviously a little more mature than the standard comic book woman, but what a nice figure. I wonder if she has a lasso?! Or sandal toe pumps?!

She does a dressing scene reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s dressing scene. I guess nude with a cape is only for when she’s really out for blood. We also meet a blue-ish purple woman who calls Hera “mother,” and, in her conversation with Hera it is revealed that Hera’s husband, Zeus, is her father. A legitimate child.
Hera has a scrying pool. She knows that Wonder Woman has taken Zola and Hermes to Paradise Island, home of the Amazons.

The Amazons aren’t happy about a male being, Hermes, being on their all-women island, but, they accept it because Wonder Woman is their Princess, daughter of their Queen, Hippolyta.

So, Wonder Woman and mom hang out watching, along with many of Hippolyta’s subjects, a couple of Amazons wrestling. Well, they’re Amazons. I didn’t expect a sewing bee.

Wonder Woman has decided to protect Zola. She’s not siding with the philandering Zeus, she just feels bad for poor Zola, caught in the middle between Zeus and murderously jealous Hera.

Zola and the convalescing Hermes hang out in quarters overlooking the outdoor arena where the wrestling is going on. Zola tells Hermes that Zeus came to her as a truck driver…or a pool hustler…or a guy in a band…. Zola, like Zeus, gets around.
Hermes tells Zola the legend of Wonder Woman’s birth. Barren Hippolyta made a girl baby (of course) out of clay and “the gods” brought the clay-baby to life.

Meanwhile, a huge Amazon, Aleka, challenges Wonder Woman to a sporting combat. Aleka is armed with a sword and seems to be going for maiming or the kill. WW is armed with a staff and wins, fairly easily, it seems.

Meanwhile, an Amazon named Dessa asks Hippolyta why she seems troubled. Hippolyta tells her that she’s feeling fear. She knows that Hera knows (apparently she’s heard about that scrying pool) that Zola (and Zeus’s bastard in her womb) are on Paradise Island. Uh-oh.

That’s a cue. I hate cutesy cues.

Booom!

The bluish-purple woman who was talking with Hera earlier has arrived with a booom. As before, she is wearing what appears to be electrical tape.

The Amazons rush to defend their island from whatever caused the booom.

Bluish-electrical-tape woman makes the Amazons see each other as enemies. They ignore her and slaughter each other. Wonder Woman is immune to, or sees through Bluish-electrical tape’s ploy. She stops the slaughter, easily handling Aleka again.

Wonder Woman identifies Bluish-electrical-tape woman as the goddess “Strife.” Somebody clued me in to the fact that “Strife” was Greek goddess Eris, and I looked her up. “Strife” is a reasonably accurate presentation of Eris. But, forget that, let me just deal with what’s in front of me.
Strife informs WW that she’s come to Paris Island to embrace her “sister,” i.e., another daughter of Zeus’s, Wonder Woman.

Huh?

Hera, watching in her scrying pool notes this revelation.

What?

If I were a jealous spouse, if I had a scrying pool, wouldn’t I pretty well know all the dirt?

Hmmph.

MORE TOMORROW

149 comments:

Dan said...

I buy comics for brief entertainment. I do not buy them to spend hours trying to decipher what I'm looking at.

In the early 1990s, artists didn't care if they told a story or not--it was all about the pinup shot. Now, even the writers don't care if they're telling a story or not--it's all about the scene, the moment. And usually, the scene is just an excuse to write some snarky, cliche dialogue.

These things are GODAWFUL.

Bryan said...

It isn't often I literally "LOL," but this was one of those cases. "Super hard-headedness." You can only make sport of this mess. Bravo!

Lord Ceno said...

"Here I sit, drinking seltzer and grapefruit juice out of my classic Wonder Woman Toon Tumbler."

Paradise Pop, huh?


I must be some sort of freak, as I had no trouble following these issues at all, and liked them quite a bit.

Eklectic1 said...

Thanks for taking this on. I love the art, but I didn't understand much of the plot either. When I received each issue following the first, I reread the first, second, third, etc., to try to get a thread on this thing up to that point. I still don't know what the hell is going on in it. I thought it was just me...

This week, I picked up #5. Awright, your points about #4 have all come back to roost. And, more annoyingly, the bastards changed artists. Or the original artist dropped out, whatever. Did the cover but not the interior. The issue has some great "monster" art in it, granted---I love great monsters---but the faces, etc.,---are not as good, the characterizations not as appealing to me by half, so I'm dropping it. I like Cliff Chiang's rendition, and I guess that's all I like. 'Cause the story doesn't seem to be going anywhere. They don't even do a reasonable job explaining the fabulous dead monster in the opening sequence. Unacceptable. That's what hooked me and made me read the rest of it. Cheated!

So no more WW for me, at least not for this run. I like particular artists, and when they're gone, I'm gone, too. I've been like this since the early 70s, when I first started to really notice the differences between them...

And if you're gonna have a great monster opener, tell the story around it. Don't just throw it in there like, you know, a dead monster. Give it a real job in the book.

Bastards.

Grim said...

Pleeeaase review IDW Transformers comiiiics. :3

Anonymous said...

You gotta wonder if one of the strategies with the 52 relaunch was to purposefully write these slow-moving stories, to string out the issues and keep people buying for a longer period of time

Marvelman said...

Hi, Jim. Thanks for the review. I've been reading comics for so long that I sometimes forget how difficult it is for new readers to understand what is going on. That said, I occasionally think you go overboard in your reading from a newbie's perspective. For instance, I think an intelligent ten-year-old would understand that Hera tranformed those horses into centaurs. And I do know what the other guy who mentioned the Wire is talking about. In every single issue of Power Pack, Louise Simonson, God Bless her, would always write in some incredibly contrived scene in which the kids demonstrated their powers and recounted their origin. I'm sympathetic to her situation, but it was annoying.

Anonymous said...

Marvelman - it's been said on here about 20 times now - the introduction of characters or powers does not have to be done poorly. It can be done seamlessly and unobtrusively

Please stop pointing to an example of something done badly and declaring that that entire thing is a terrible idea because one person did it badly

Anonymous said...

if youre reading a collection in tpb format, there is no way to seamlessly and unobtrusively reintroduce all the characters and the backstory every 20 or so pages. and even if you could, why bother? the only place to get monthly issues are comic shops, and the only people going there are already customers. any new customers are going to read tpbs first. i fail to see the point of making each comic accessible to new readers.

Kid said...

Jim, you've obviously never heard of the infamous 'Glasgow Kiss'. Nutting someone in the face with one's head is considered quite an effective form of street fighting over here. It happens often.

Kid said...

Ps. You'd be safe - no one would be able to reach you, and while they were fetching a chair to stand on, you could hot-foot it outta there.

marco said...

Thank you for investing the additional nine bucks and your precious time in this review, it's a great piece of writing, really funny and incisive. Maybe DC would find it a wise investment to comp you all their books if you promise to stop trashing them like this.

Loyalty for Brian Azzarello from my days as an avid reader of 100 Bullets prompts me to take up the cudgels for him, but I don't have much for you. Wonder Woman's headbutt looks like good fight choreography to me, swinging up from below to butt the centaur in his face like that, protected as she is by her metal tiara. And I like the interpretation of Hermes, bird feet and all. Makes sense to give the mercurial messenger of the gods some avian qualities.

The occasional bad puns and failed witticisms have always been an aspect of Azzarello's writing, even when he's firing on all cylinders. In this instance you could cite Shakespeare, who made the same bad pun;

"Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York"

No excuse for a lame line in a comic book, but Azzarello is an intensely literary writer. His writing at its best shimmers with a dark poetry. He has a playwright's ear for dialogue. His prose is layered, nuanced, multi-valent, polyglottal and fraught with seven types of ambiguity. Sometimes he piles it on a bit thick and you get the odd klunker, but at his best he's a bar stool bard and the poet lauriete of lowlife. At his worst; Hell. Low.

Anonymous said...

Marco - I'm a huge Azz fan - but "a playwright's ear for dialog" - total bullocks

The "one person's dialog bleeds into anther's", the transposing of similar-sounding words. He writes dialog that no human would ever speak - ever

His strength in his best 100 Bullets stuff was depicting some human truths (weakness, failings, so on)

Robert Kinosian said...

I've certainly read worse comics than these, and I think that Cliff Chiang's art is great as usual, but that being said I haven't been buying Wonder Woman since I read the first couple of issues.

There are plenty of better comics out there for me to spend my money on, even among the DC offerings. Batwoman and Animal Man come to mind. I'm a big fan of Wonder Woman, but I think I'll wait until they figure a few things out about the character and the universe she's operating in before I try to read it again.

marco said...

Dear Anonymous

"He writes dialog that no human would ever speak - ever"

Yeah, that's what playwrights tend to do. That's why they're playwrights and we're ham-and-eggers who never had actors walking around onstage speaking our lines.

Anonymous said...

Sorry marco - I've read Chekhov, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neil, and many more. Comparing Azz to them is a joke

marco said...

A joke that I never made.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for having found this blog. I was ravenously reading comics from 1986-1993-- every single Marvel comic and most of DC-- but ever since I tried to return to regular reading in 2006 I've been baffled as to why I could read and enjoy so few of them. I thought perhaps I was just being an old fogey.. I'm so very, very relieved to read Jim's step-by-step analysis of why it really is just bad storytelling.

Or, in one: THANK YOU, JIM.

Matt Adler said...

"Am I wrong, or isn’t Zeus generally depicted pursuing only the most beautiful of mortal women, when he stooped to slumming among mortals? "

I remember him basically taking whatever he could get while Hera wasn't looking... Wikipedia lists his various progeny, and there are a number of listings for "unknown mothers" which indicates to me he wasn't too discerning.

Anonymous said...

I have never been a fan of WW. Can anyone suggest a relatively inexpensive example of a WW story that is worth reading?

Matt Adler said...

"Please stop pointing to an example of something done badly and declaring that that entire thing is a terrible idea because one person did it badly"

That's the thing though... it isn't one person. People have been coming up with several examples of it being done poorly by several different writers, and nobody's coming up with examples of it being done well. And even if you did have an example of someone you thought did it well, you can be sure that the next person would disagree, because it's all subjective. Skillfully executed exposition to one person is boring and ponderous to another. So it's not as simple as "doing it well." Some people just don't like exposition in their stories.

Anonymous said...

Matt - it does not require exposition. See All Star Superman. They did his entire origin in 2 wordless pages - and it worked

So, "explaining pertinent details" does not equal "exposition". Care to take a different approach to your argument??

Anonymous said...

Didn't Hermes used to have foot wings (or shoes with wings?) At least in some of the versions I recall that... Perhaps I have him and somebody else confused?

t.k.

Anonymous said...

... Besides, this really isn't about exposition. It's about alienating potential new readers. If you think it is worth alienating new readers in favor of a writing style that you prefer, then that is where you and some others on here probably differ

Marvelman said...

I never said that "exposition" was a bad idea. I only said that I didn't like how a particular writer handled it.

Matt Adler said...

"They did his entire origin in 2 wordless pages - and it worked"

That was in the first issue. What about subsequent issues?

That said, I'd be curious to see Jim's review of All-Star Superman #4.

peter said...

Jim asked the question, why refer to Ares as War and, presumably, Eris as Strife in the last post. I thought it worth pointing out that as a convention it has a strong basis in ancient Greek myth. For the Greeks there wasn't really a notion of the gods being individuals in charge of concepts; their notion was more that the personality and the concept were contiguous. Ares is war, Eris is strife; not a person with a position, but the thing itself.

The gods were the personalities of those concepts, the two were inseparable. There wasn't a lexical distinction between Strife the goddess and "strife" the abstract concept of human conflict, the two words were the same. Likewise for Okeanos, or ocean; when referring to the deific personality they used the same word as when talking about where the boats were tied up.

The lexical distinction in English texts of the Iliad between the god and the concept they represent, the use of "ocean" when referring to the place and "Okeanos" when referring to the god, is an artifact of translation. When the Greeks referred to strife between people, they used the same word as when telling a story about the goddess. When referring to other gods on the battlefield, the word "Areios" is used as a descriptive epithet, to indicate "warlike Zeus" and even "battlin' Aphrodite" at one point.

I would assume that the use of names like War and Strife by Azzarello, rather than the Greek Ares and Eris, is to indicate a closer connection between the god and the concept than "Ares, God of War" would tend to. (Jim Shooter, writer of Magnus Robot Fighter doesn't tend to imply a wholly inseparable nature between the person and the thing). Neil Gaiman handled the Endless very similarly, eschewing any clear division between them and the concepts they represented.

It's the kind of well considered choice that could make Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman an interesting comic, if the care were taken to make the relationships between the characters and the significance of events clearer. I don't think it's entirely necessary to write every issue as if the reader is completely new to the character, but they should be written so that a reasonably attentive reader can follow along especially in issue one of a new status quo.

Apollo forcing some ladies to be his oracle is interesting, but it's not clear from the way the scene is written that that is what he's doing. Unless, you're very familiar with the pantheon, the action is difficult to follow. Making Hermes' helm a doughboy helmet is cute, but somewhat inexplicable, because while his helmet may look just like that, there doesn't seem to be much reason for him to be wearing one 90+ years after Armistice Day. There are interesting ideas in the comic and I keep wondering why it seems like DC is publishing an early draft rather than a finished product.

Shawn James said...

Looking at these panels and it's a MESS. Lots of stuff happening and it looks jumbled. Ten pages until the main character appears? TOO LONG. If a new casual reader were flipping through this, they'd put it back on the rack feeling confused.

Womder woman or Diana needs to be on the FIRST page or at least the third page after the cover.

From what Jim posted this is all setup. And weak setup at that. For a first issue it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I still can't get over how it takes ten Pages in for Diana to show up. In screenwriting and novel writing arenas, that story would get REJECTED. I don't care how acclaimed Azzarello is, this is not quality work. Again, too slow, and it loses the casual reader.

A good comic story starts out establishing The main character their mission and what they want to DO in the first five pages. More importantly we get a reason for why should we care in those pages.

I wasn't feeling anything here. It's all setup for...something but at the expense of structure and character development.

The next ten establish the main villian, supporting cast and the conflict for the first storyline. The next seven build into the battle and the cliffhanger. Five issues in and no conclusion. That's unacceptable IMO. Seriously, if I were an editor, this would not see print. The first storyline should be finished in three issues max and the reader should be moving on to the next story in the fourth issue.

This kind of prolonged story keeps new readers from accessing the character and drags a story to a crawl. Comics are about a fast pace. Remember, comics have to compete against cheaper faster-paced materials such as eBooks, Redbox DVDs, apps and mp3s This is forcing the customer to spend too much money for too little payoff.

DC's characters may be rebooted, but the approach to publishing comics hasn't changed a bit. New Shiny costumes and new numbers haven't changed the content inside or the approaches to craft, and that's the sad part of all this.

czeskleba said...

Anonymous said: it does not require exposition. See All Star Superman. They did his entire origin in 2 wordless pages - and it worked
*********************
FWIW it's not entirely wordless, there are eight words total in captions.

I don't think that origin works at all, at least not as a means of providing needed pertinent detail to new readers. Anyone who doesn't already know Superman's origin would have absolutely no idea what is going on in those two pages. If you truly were unfamiliar with Superman's story, that origin "recap" raises questions rather than answering them.

Regarding the discussion of exposition, Matt is probably right that for some people any amount of exposition would be too much. However, the larger point is that those people should be ignored. Exposition is necessary if you want a work to be accessible to new readers. I would bet that all the current comics readers who now say they hate exposition did not feel that way when they read their very first comic book. And I would bet that the exposition in that first comic was a big part of what brought them back for a second and third.

buddy said...

Matt said 'That was in the first issue. What about subsequent issues?'
You're surely not suggesting that every issue of a comic have a reiteration of the origin story??

I was on the fence with this 'every issue is someone's 1st issue' discussion, but I think those arguing in favour of it have actually swayed me in the other direction. As near as I can reckon, the only requirement of a single comic (besides the basics of continuity of character and backstory) is that it be entertaining and captivating. Which is obviously a subjective thing, but htere does seem to be general consensus among those who have put in some time with comics.

I personally like to not know what's going on sometimes, as long as it's a deliberate unveiling and not just sloppy writing. I feel pretty let down if I can read a comic in 5 minutes and instantly get everything that's happening, with nothing to ponder or anticipate next time.

If a new reader picks up an issue, digs the art and the characters but is a little lost as to what's going down, the character's exact powers & history etc, they can easily find back issues (ie. buy more comics!). A lot easier now than back in the early 80s when I was most into comics, and I managed then.

I recently posted in praise of the Stern/Rogers/Austin run on Dr Strange (under Jim's auspices, natch); the only thing I didn't care too much for was the sometimes 1 or 2 page of exposition, usually in the form of flashbacks by a character. Sure, helpful to a new reader, and even as a reminder for an old one when reading as a monthly, but when reading an entire run in a few days it goes from redundant to aggravating.

Having said all that, Mark Waid has found a cute but effective way of playing catchup on his current Daredevil run, with a Daily Bugle front page showing highlights from the last issue. It does the job, without interrupting the momentum ofthe new story.

I would suggest something like that, or a return to those little 'In times of stress, he finds himself transformed...' 1st page headers, and little '* last issue!' editor's footnotes a la the 70s/early 80s (can easliy be edited out of the trades), and put the rest of the effort into just telling a good story.

Matt Adler said...

For me, the bottom line is that you should be able to pick up any given issue of a comic and ENJOY it, without having to buy any other (though an enjoyable comic may certainly make you WANT to buy more). The key word there is enjoy. When I was younger, I did not need to understand everything immediately in order to enjoy a comic. One of my earliest comics was Marvel Tales #197, from 1987, which itself was a reprint of a comic that came out 10 years earlier (Marvel Team-Up #63). It didn't really get into an explanation of who Steel Serpent was or why he was so similar to Iron Fist, but the relevant points were made; he was dangerous, and he had a personal grudge against Iron Fist. That's all I really needed. So I'm comfortable with comics that leave things unexplained, so long as they don't leave out a reason to care about what's going on.

Matt Adler said...

"You're surely not suggesting that every issue of a comic have a reiteration of the origin story??"

I think some people are bordering on that in their criticisms, but no, I don't personally believe that. My point was that I think we may be reaching for an ideal that doesn't exist; a writer who can, in every issue, seamlessly and unobtrusively provide all the pertinent information about all of the main characters. It's such a subjective thing (for one thing, will everyone ever agree on what is or isn't pertinent? We see disagreements over these very WW stories) that there may never be a consensus. I believe Jim has brought up the example of Stan Lee, but there are many readers today who would read a Stan Lee story and say "Wow, all that hokey diaglogue where he spells out all the character's inner thoughts and feelings is terrible." That personally doesn't bother me, but that's my point; people are never going to agree on the "right" way to do exposition (or "explaining pertinent details", if you prefer that phrase).

Lukas Kendall said...

I have a question for Jim: I dimly remember reading years ago a comics creator musing that readers typically stuck with comics, or a particular book, for four years. After that, the storylines started to repeat. (I know that for me, after four years or so I was worn out by what seemed to be change-for-change's-sake.)

Had you heard this piece of conventional wisdom? Do you believe it to be true?

Taibak said...

Re: Matt Adler

Okay, how about Excalibur #48 for an example of introducing characters being done well?

The first two pages take us to a remote monastery in Ireland where an older monk is talking to a young, levitating monk with elven features. Within these two pages, we find out their names (Brother Francis and Feron, respectively) and that Feron is some magical being connected with the Anti-Phoenix (whatever that is). It's an information dump, but Alan Davis made the awkwardness sound like the result of the characters being very formal, which isn't out of the question since they established that Feron had spent his entire life in the monastery. Either way, between the dialogue and his hovering, we can infer that he's magical.

On page three, Excalibur shows up. It's a splash page that establishes that three of the characters can fly and that two of them can't. One of them, introduced as Kylun, looks nervous, suggesting he's new to the superhero thing. He refers to the person carrying him as 'Captain.' They make a reference to two other characters: Kitty and Nightcrawler. Kitty called for her friends in the team and is presumably the person in the panel at the top of the page. Kylun essentially says that Nightcrawler is still on the plane. Presumably we'll be seeing him later. Kylun also has swords on his back and appears to be wearing some kind of armor: he's obviously a swordsman.

On page four, Kitty establishes that she can 'phase' through solid rock. Not a demonstration, but it establishes that she can pass through solid objects. She refers to the man in the yellow raincoat behind her as Alistaire and one of the non-flyers from the previous page, a red-headed woman, as Rachel. Alistaire is not wearing a costume so presumably he's not a superhero. The dialogue reveals he's a scientist. In the second to last panel, somebody teleports in. Presumably this is Nightcrawler arriving from the plane. He makes a reference to Rachel establishing a 'mindlink' with him. We now know she's telepathic.

On page six (page five is an ad), the other two flyers are named - Meggan and Cerise - and asks them and Captain Britain (the Captain Kylun was conversing with) to build a tunnel. We also see Kitty phase herself and Rachel through the rock. Rachel makes a reference to being telepathic and telekinetic, but also having access to something called the 'Phoenix Force' which she'll only use in case of a serious threat (we also find out why she's not in costume - she needs the Phoenix Force to put it on). Whatever it is, it's powerful. That she isn't using it comes as news to Kitty and since they're teammates, there's no reason why Rachel wouldn't fill her in on this.

Skip some ads and a lengthy hallucination involving Rachel. On page 13 we see the tunnel being built. Captain Britain is pounding away at the rock with his hands. He's drawn as quite muscular, a caption makes a reference to 'tons of rubble,' and earlier dialogue made a reference to the ground being sold rock. We can infer that he's incredibly strong. There's this brown mole creature next to him, but it's dressed the same way as Meggan so we can infer that she changed her shape. Cerise is generating some kind of tube made out of red energy, a caption confirms this but it's pretty clear from just the art that she has energy powers.

Page 14: Meggan refers to Captain Britain as 'Brian.' We now know his real name. Feron releases some kind of energy being. Within a few pages, Rachel tells us that this being has some connection to her Phoenix Force.

Taibak said...

Kylun reveals his superpower on page 24. He explicitly says he doesn't like to speak about it since it's 'insignificant' compared to his teammates so we can give him a pass. He reveals that he can reproduce any sound he hears and demonstrates it on the next page. He puts on an impressive demonstration, but his body language confirms that he's self-conscious about it around his teammates.

Page 25: Excalibur arrives home. We see a bunch of headless robot bodies which belong to something called Widget. We learn that he's a robot who eats things and uses the matter to build things. Meggan also refers to a small purple dragon flying about as Lockheed. We don't see him do anything other than fly, but it's a safe bet that if he looks like a dragon, he can breathe fire.

So let's look at this in toto. Every time Davis introduced a character, he gave us their name and found a way for them to use their powers in the context of the story. We didn't get all of the information. Nobody uses their last name (why would they?). We don't find out the real names for Nightcrawler, Kylun, and Cerise. We don't find out the codenames for Kitty, Rachel, and Meggan. We don't find out how Nightcrawler wound up in the cast he's shown as wearing. Because he's in a cast, however, we can conclude that he's seriously injured and may be able to do more than he's shown doing here. Even so, we still find out who everyone is and get a rough idea of what they can do - all in a way that serves the story.

Taibak said...

I should also mention that Excalibur 48 was the very first comic book that I bought. Even though I was pretty clearly jumping in mid-story, it wasn't too difficult to figure out what was going on. Even though I was able to cheat a little (my brother had X-Men trading cards that introduced most of the cast), this issue enabled me to put names to faces and get a feel for just who these characters were and how their powers worked. Feron was entirely new to me, but I had a pretty good idea of who he was and what he could do. Even bits of the story that built on previous issues (what the Phoenix Force is, Rachel's refusal to use it, bits of her past being drummed up in the hallucination scene, Nightcrawler's broken leg, the reveal of the big bad at the end and his absorbing the energy being from earlier, Widget growing bodies for himself) were presented in a way that made it clear what was going on, even though these were elements from stories that I hadn't read at the time.

Jay C said...

For a very good example of "Every issue/episode is someone's first" . . .

the tv show Arrested Development.

From it's opening credits sequence with narration, to the narrated expository bits about what happened before, to the characters referencing things just for new audiences to catch up.

It worked great and reminded me of this debate.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Regarding the "every issue is someone's first" discussion:

I'm thinking back to when I first started reading superhero/continuity based comics, back in prehistoric times in the late 70s/early 80s. I vividly remember all my first issues. I didn't get the hero's full history and background in that first issue, nor the supporting cast's, and on occasions I jumped right into the middle of a story. But I understood enough through (mostly) clever use of names and hints, and the story was exciting enough to make me want to come back next month to read the next story/part. I remember that after just a few months I considered myself fairly well informed about Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Hulk and even the Legion of Super-Heroes. The latter was probably the most difficult to get an immediate grip on, mainly due to the large number of characters, but even that worked well enough.

Of course there was lots I didn't know yet, but I would find out more in the months and years to come.

Here's an interesting fact: In the Norwegian translations I started out reading, the order of the stories (and even story PARTS) was often horribly jumbled. Some times pages were nastily edited out to be able to fit three US issues into one (48 page, very few ads) Norwegian issue. And I STILL managed to get it.

You don't need a complete recap or a complete origin story every issue. The main thing is that you need to be able to identify and place the characters, their purpose and, eh, character. Over the course of a certain number of issues you should put in enough well-placed info to make the reader feel somewhat up to scratch, just like I did back then.

Reading a single issue of a "modern" comic book is not like watching a random single episode of a TV show, it's like watching a random five minute snippet of a random TV show, half of which is a commercial break. It helps to be familiar with the characters and their basic background already, but it's still a struggle (I've just returned to reading comics, so I've just gone through that experience personally). If you're a new reader... well........

And that's just the part about being able to follow the story (or lack of it) in the first place. There's also the discussion about the general quality. Some of that is personal taste, of course, but some is objective a lack of good storytelling.

I see lots of good points in both Jim's and Carol A. Strickland's critiques, but I'll only talk about my own personal taste when it comes to the new Wonder Woman. And my taste found it simply boring and dropped out after the first issue. Besides general boringness, I have no interest in reading Wonder Woman as a horror/Vertigoish book.

Every issue SHOULD be someone's first. These days I fear that every issue IS someone's last.

(Yeah, I've returned to comics, but I think I'm probably in the minority there).

Jay C said...

And I agree with the others who commented -

The HEADBUTT is a legit, devastating move in a fight. There's a reason they're banned in both boxing and the current version of MMA. They're not the end-all be-all, but it's not fake movie fighting.

Just do a search on youtube for 'headbutt' with either fight or ko or streetfight.

Andrew Davison said...

A lot of the problems with modern comics seem to be that they're aiming for different types of readers: kids/adults, new readers/seasoned veterans, pamplet/tpb readers, which means that can't satisfy everyone.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Andrew,

But they should be able to satisfy SOMEONE, shouldn't they?

(Yes, I know of course that they DO satisfy someone, but far too few, IMHO).

In itself, there's nothing wrong with targeting different titles for different audiences. One might wish that more titles were written for a new/general audience, though.

"Writing for the trade" IS a problem. Not only does it tend to make the single issues indecipherable, but as more and more people skip the single issues and "wait for the trade" (either because the single issues are in fact indecipherable, because the trades look better on the shelf, because they save a few bucks or whatever), the title runs the risk of ending up getting cancelled because it doesn't sell, leaving nothing to collect in a trade paperback anyway.

Theoretically, the publishers could skip the single issues altogether and just publish trades, but obviously the financial risk of doing that is too big. Trade paperbacks are, and should be, a simple way of cashing in a second time on material already produced (nothing wrong with that). Therefore, the single issues of the title have to sell. Therefore, the single issues should be readable.

Anonymous said...

WW didn't get into costume until p.10? Didn't Lee/Kirby once have none of the FF using their powers except for the Torch firing up a flaming finger? Didn't John Byrne once have an FF without the FF, only with Doctor Doom? Neither of these stories clued played to the rules and let the first time reader in on, say, who/what Mr. Fantastic is. However, both stories, as I recall, were quite entertaining at the time.

Fabio Graziano said...

Thanks for linking the Carol A. Strickland article: I have the very same opinion about the current Wonder Woman stories but Strickland argued it way better than I could have ever done :-D

Regarding the "every issue is someone's first" topic, I remember many contemporary written-for-the-trade monthlies where the writer decided to bring up story elements added many months before and then never referred to again.
That could work for those who read that kind of stories in one sitting, but after many months I, as I guess many other human readers, sometimes forget about details and such.
So, I think once in a while a (smart) recap of important things could benefit not only new readers, but old ones too.

@Anonymous: I strongly doubt the Lee and Kirby's FF stories you're referring to were #1s, as opposed as the Wonder Woman's book Shooter was criticizing.

Snopes said...

Jim, love the column, but have to disagree with you about the "sun of a King" pun. It's awful not just because it's a pun, it's awful because, as spoken dialog, no one will know it's a pun. That is, unless Gods have the magical ability to tell homophones apart in a sentence...

Dave James O'Neill said...

Oh, wow, a shot at Jon Hickman. Mr Shooter, do you even know Hickman? Because all I see is you taking a dig at one out of context line of dialogue.

Matt Adler said...

Huh? What was the "shot" at Hickman?

Salamandyr said...

I agree that the headbutt is a legitimate hit, but I'm not sure the art does it justice. A proper headbutt is an attack using the hard part of ones skull (the forehead) against softer tissue, like your opponents nose. Notice, that in the pic, Wonder Woman's headbutt, if anything, is hitting the guys jaw, which would be as damaging to her as to him. Maybe that's why she wears the tiara.

Lukas Kendall said...

I have another question for Jim. It seems like many if not most artists work today in what could be described as an "anime" style, emphasizing clean outlines. Forgive me that I do not have a better vocabulary to describe it. The first time I ever remember seeing this style was when Cynthia Martin became the last regular penciler on the 1980s Marvel Star Wars comic. I specifically remember that Tom Palmer inked her first issue, and it looked dreadful (total clash of styles). But thereafter a different inker was more in tune with her style and it looked quite good. It seemed like a really fresh take on how to draw an American comic book. Oddly enough, now that I think of it, June Brigman also used a similarly "clean" look...I say "oddly" because along with Mary Wilshire they were the only three women I remember drawing Marvel comics at the time, and I was a big fan of all of them.

Today, I'm not really a fan of this style—it seems so ubiquitous—and I miss how comics used to be drawn. Do you have any opinions about this so-called "anime" approach? Is it something that is easier for artists to execute?

Anonymous said...

Salamandyr,

According to this Slate article following the most famous head butt, the top of the head (not the forehead) is the weapon of choice, and the jaw is a preferred target (as Kid said above, this is the "Glasgow Kiss"--remind me not to date a Glaswegian!). In fact, it looks like to his credit, the artist got this bit spot on.

--kgaard

Anonymous said...

All this talk of entry points. It's really simple. Anything can be done well. So, in Wonder Woman, Azz is clearly writing a slow-developing story, withholding details for whatever reason. So is he doing it well. I'd say he isn't.

Who is this comic supposed to appeal to? Greek myth buffs? Wonder Woman fans? (certainly not) People who just want a good story (there's not much good story here)
As we list the possible audience, we seem to whittle down the possible audience who this might appeal to

El doc. said...

RE: the “entry point”

While I agree that most readers entered into contact with comics at any random issue (the first memory of me “reading”-glancing its more like it- a comic is the second part of “the night that Gwen Stacy died”. I am sure my mother read me previous issues but I do not remember them), I believe that decompressed style is in fact alienating the new (and old) readers because of the feeling that “nothing happens” as an individual issue and that every single panel is nothing more that a block in a bigger tapestry (sometimes such tapestry is covered in the story arcs, its even more common that the tapestry will take several arcs and the writer is writing for the omnibus, instead of a TPB).

I am not saying that the 80’s was a better decade, but the single issues usually had a complete story AND were also part of a bigger scheme (even Watchmen: if you read any single chapter, one part works as a whole story –v.g. Doctor Manhattan’s origin- and other part as an element of a tapestry –V.g. “WTF is he doing in Mars, anyway”?).

I just wish that format would return, sometimes it’s good to have something to read on Wednesday, instead of stockpiling the single issues/wait for the trade to actually read something that makes sense.

Dave James O'Neill said...

Matt Adler said...
Huh? What was the "shot" at Hickman?

January 23, 2012 10:45 AM

Here's an example of some dialog from a comic coming out next week


Reed: No... my cross over the past millennium has been evolution.

Reed: I have had to go to long, painful lengths to expand my intellect.



"This is by Jonathan Hickman - considered one of the best writers in the biz"

Just jealous, petty bull, from a jealous petty man. God forbid anything be written for people with a clue, and an education. I nearly applauded the guy who said he didn't want every issue of a comic to be a jumping on point - I'd drop every comic I read if they were that patronising. Fantastic Four 600 was virtually incomprehensible to newer readers, but, you know why I enjoyed it, Mr. Shooter? Because my loyalty to the book has been built up. It was the conclusion of sever year long stories. It was a reward for the proper readers, not someone who stumbled in off the streets

Dimitris said...

@Eklectic1: I don't think that they changed artists in WW permanently. I think they did it because most current artists need a break in order to keep up with a monthly schedule (kinda like how Andy Kubert replaced Rags Morales temporarily).

Anonymous said...

Dave,

As far as I can tell that comment is from an anonymous commenter in the previous post's replies. Yet it seems that as though you are blaming Jim for it. I think one of us is missing something.

--kgaard

Anonymous said...

@Dave James

Let me clue you in on a few things

You seem to be ascribing that quote to Jim for some reason - stop doing that - he didn't write it. An anonymous person on this site posted it

Second, I'd love to hear what is jealous and petty about quoting 2 lines from a comic book, offering NO judgement about those lines, just letting them speak for themselves

Third, "out of context". You can quote the entire comic if you want - to add context. But there is no context for poorly-formed, clumsy sentences. Any writer should have caught that himself, or if he couldn't, his editor should have


If you like Hickman's writing - defend it! If you think those sentences weren't awkward - defend them. Learn how to have a discussion and keep your name-calling to yourself

Anonymous said...

@Dave

re: FF #600

Bringing Johnny back to life was a reward? - any fool off the street saw that coming

Jason said...

Folks are oversimplifying Jim's "entry point" mantra. The point is not to give every reader every detail of what has happened up to issue 656. That would be stupid.

The point is to give any (reasonably intelligent) new reader the information they need to understand the story they are reading. This is a necessity for ANY stand-alone story that is also part of a series.

Spider Robinson once wrote about how he had to find new ways to introduce setting and characters in each and every Callahan's Saloon story he wrote. If you read the first collection, the stories do not read as redundant, because he did it well.

Poul Anderson's future history stories manage it, as well. You can pick up any Dominic Flandry story and suss out who the hell Flandry is, what the background is (insofar as you need it to understand what's happening), and so on. Same with the Nicholas van Rijn stories, earlier in the same timeline. The more of them you have read, the deeper the background becomes for you, and the richer any particular story becomes. But you can read any one independently and not be lost.

This is not rocket science, it's storytelling. You don't leave your reader adrift without a paddle or a compass, because that's a very quick way to have an ex-reader. You give your reader what he needs to understand the story. DUH.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"Second, I'd love to hear what is jealous and petty about quoting 2 lines from a comic book, offering NO judgement about those lines, just letting them speak for themselves"

It was a cheap and petty was at trying to curry favour with Jim Shooter. The thinking being "Jim Shooter hates Marvel, so, ho ho, I'll put up this line from a Marvel comic thats too smart for me and I'll look good in his eyes"

"Third, "out of context". You can quote the entire comic if you want - to add context. But there is no context for poorly-formed, clumsy sentences. Any writer should have caught that himself, or if he couldn't, his editor should have"

How is it poorly formed? Reed Richards, when written correctly, by Hickman, is an intelligent man, and doesn't speak like a moron. I'm sorry thats too intelligent for you.

"If you like Hickman's writing - defend it! If you think those sentences weren't awkward - defend them. Learn how to have a discussion and keep your name-calling to yourself"

I do like Hickman's writing, and I don't know anyone who doesn't. He's smart, well educated, and his comics are written for the intended audience - ie: people who are paying for it - Me.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"You give your reader what he needs to understand the story.

And patronise the daylights out of everyone else.

Anonymous said...

To Dave O'Neill. By your reasoning no-one on this blog could pass an adverse comment on any Marvel comic without being accused of sucking up to Jim Shooter. Does that sound like your position? Why don't you apologize to Jim Shooter and the anonymous commenter, take a breath and come back with some reasoned, civil discussion points?

Anonymous said...

@Dave James - own up to your own actions, boy. You tried to blame Jim for what some anonymous poster wrote

Anonymous said...

Dave, why would anybody who reads this blog think that Jim hates Marvel? There's no indication of that in any of his posts. The person writing the comment presumably thought that said lines were clumsy and awkward, and offered them up as examples.

And, as has been repeatedly pointed out, giving new readers the information to understand the story in front of them does not have to be patronising. Films do it, TV series do it (even series like Babylon 5, which are designed to be viewed primarily as story arcs), books do it, audio drama does it. Comics seem to be the only medium where it's common to not do it. If you find impenetrable stories satisfying, that's fine. But please do understand the point that the fact that such stories have contributed significantly to the fact that comics in the US are now a niche hobby instead of the mainstream entertainment that they used to be.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"By your reasoning no-one on this blog could pass an adverse comment on any Marvel comic without being accused of sucking up to Jim Shooter. Does that sound like your position?"

Yes, it does, actually.

"The person writing the comment presumably thought that said lines were clumsy and awkward, and offered them up as examples."

Because instead of using an example from the comic that Shooter was "reviewing" - which I care not about, given Cliff Wu Chiang's removal as artist - he attacked a different comic entirely, in order to bash Marvel and an intelligent writer known for not patronising his audience

"And, as has been repeatedly pointed out, giving new readers the information to understand the story in front of them does not have to be patronising."

Do you realise how many crappy 80's Marvel comics were ruined by the same nonsensical garbage being trotted out in every issue. Claremont's hamfisted approach was bad enough, but you want that wasting space in every issue of Fantastic Four? Hell, Marvel got Spider-Man's origin down to SIX WORDS, and that's not enough for you.

http://www.epic-randomness.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/cooverspidey.jpg

Anonymous said...

@Dave James - own up to your own actions, boy. You tried to blame Jim for what some anonymous poster wrote

Anonymous said...

Dave,

I disagree that 80s comics were ruined by the explain-who-everybody-is dialogue. I grew up on the UK Transformers comic, which had a massive cast, and often introduced new (and old) characters in clunky ways (particularly in the US reprint stories). There were times when characters would quote the stuff from the toy boxes or their official profiles, for example.

And yet, the stories still hold up today. The stories I loved as a kid are still really strong when I re-read them as an adult. The characters are as real as fictional characters get, the plots are (mostly) solid, and the artists were almost all very effective at storytelling, and plenty of them produced panels that would look fantastic as standalone artwork.

By your arguments, that comic was ruined. But it still remains one of the high points of Transformers fiction (the other major contender being the Beast Wars cartoon).

And as for the Fantastic Four, Jim's repeatedly mentioned in his posts how Stan and Jack routinely introduced the FF in every issue without being clunky. So I'm not sure what you're moaning about.

Dave James O'Neill said...

Why don't you start, by not calling me "Boy"

Dave James O'Neill said...

"And as for the Fantastic Four, Jim's repeatedly mentioned in his posts how Stan and Jack routinely introduced the FF in every issue without being clunky. So I'm not sure what you're moaning about."

Then you explain what's your problem with this

http://www.comicbookresources.com/assets/images/preview/bc8dac3i11195/prv11195_pg2.jpg

"You tried to blame Jim for what some anonymous poster wrote"

I'm blaming Shooter - ironically in the guise of an editor - for not deleting a post that existed, not to comment on the discussion at hand, but to take a shot at a Marvel comic, just because he wanted Shooter to take a dig at Marvel and Jon Hickman.

Dave James O'Neill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Adler said...

Dave O'Neill,

Whatever point you're trying to make is overshadowed by the fact that you accused somebody of doing something they didn't do and now lack the grace to apologize for it. Everybody makes dumb mistakes, but you only make yourself look worse by acting like "It doesn't matter! My point is still the same!" especially since your "jealous" and "petty" comments were directed at Jim, NOT at the anonymous commenter as you are now pretending. And this is coming from someone who hasn't been shy about telling Jim when I think he's wrong, even in this very thread. In this case, you did something wrong; admit it, apologize to the person you wronged, and move on.

Dave James O'Neill said...

Sorry, that link should be
http://tinyurl.com/8yeqhe4

Dave James O'Neill said...

Well, Matt Adler, I don't make it my business to apologise to someone who hides behind a wall of anonymity, and I'm not going to let the discussion drop, until someone admits why they dragged the current Fantastic Four book into a discussion about the Wonder Woman series.

And I'm certainly not apologising to someone who calls me "Boy"

bmcmolo said...

Davey boy, You're doing an awful lot of assuming and spinning your wheels. Listen to the feedback you're getting. You erred, you were called on it, own up to it and apologize. Here endeth the lesson.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I don't have a problem with that (as long as it's all relevant to the story). However, good storytelling technique should mean that things like that introductions like that are rarely necessary. Star Wars has the opening crawls, but not one of the films is difficult to follow if you didn't bother to read them.

Matt Adler said...

How exactly is Jim hiding behind a wall of anonymity? He's the one you falsely accused. And now you're pretending that you were upset with Jim for not deleting a post you disagreed with. You realize nobody is being fooled for a second, right? Everyone here knows that you confused Jim's post with someone else's. You're only making yourself look worse.

By the way, Cliff Chiang has not been "removed" from the comic-- he's said for months now that he needs another artist to fill in for him from time to time. It seems like this is another case where you jump to conclusions without checking your facts-- but I'm sure you'll explain to us how you knew that all along and that's what you really meant.

Dave James O'Neill said...

Ok, here's the discussion, as I saw it/see it.

Shooter prints a diatribe about Wonder Woman that I don't really care about (I dislike the character, and I'm ambivalent towards Azarello). As I said, Now that Cliff Wu Chaing has been turfed, I can safely ignore it.

More than one commentary consist of "Ho Ho, todays comics suck, they weren't like this when you were editing Mr. Shooter, you're so great"

Then a commenter goes and puts up an out of context line from Fantastic Four, because, you know, Shooter hates Marvel, and its fun to bash modern writers.

I've invested heavily in Fantastic Four, and Jon Hickman's work. I've never once been insulted, or patronised. I'm treated like an adult. I'm 29 years old, and I like reading comics aimed at me.

Now, in his role, as an EDITOR - Shooter allows the comment about FF, unrelated to the discussion at hand - to pass, because hey, its a Tom Brevoort book, and Jim hates him too.

And don't dare call me "Boy"

Dave James O'Neill said...

"By the way, Cliff Chiang has not been "removed" from the comic-- he's said for months now that he needs another artist to fill in for him from time to time. "

Temporary or not, I'm not interested in ANY book that replaces the artist I like with an inferior one. Marvel did it TWICE last week and I was critical of them for doing so, and I won't be getting the next issues.

Anonymous said...

To Dave O'Neill. It wasn't me who addressed you as boy, so I have no comment on that except to say that, if you are upset about that term, how do you think others feel about the epithets you have used unjustly against them?

I don't necessarily disagree with some of the comments you have made about the comics, but to make the wild assumptions and assertions you have made are not the acts of a reasonable person.

Look back to the 'position' you declared yourself to hold. It is untenable and absurd. If you are in any doubt about my last sentence, show this blog to someone whose opinion you trust. See what they say.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree that (almost) every comic should be an entry point. There are always exceptions to any rule. But Jim Shooter is right on with this, and this is why when I was ten years old, I picked up X-Men off the newsstand around issue #179, New Mutants around issue #19, GIJOE around #20, etc., and while not everything that ever happened was explained to me, I was able to get into these comics - and really love them - pretty damn quick, and the love continued for years. And this was all long before you go could to Wikipedia to find out anything you wanted.

That's how you grow a business - at least one like comics. And it explains why I found so few compelling comics in the decades since. The combination of confusing art, bad/slow/confusing storytelling, and this lack of entry points - all stuff Jim Shooter eloquently explains in this blog - all seem like death to not only an industry but also the art form itself.

Comparing comics to a TV show like The Wire is off target. The Wire is more like a twelve issue limited series. I wouldn't expect to pick up issue #7 of a twelve issue limited series and fully appreciate what was happening on a small or large scale in that story.

It's quite a different situation when you are dealing with something like Captain America issue #842 or whatever. If a new reader can't pick up that issue without having read anything before it, and if they can't enjoy it, get hooked by it, well, then comics are truly in bad shape today.

- NJC

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Just to clarify my "that" was referring to the image you linked to.

Also, you write "I'm blaming Shooter - ironically in the guise of an editor - for not deleting a post that existed, not to comment on the discussion at hand, but to take a shot at a Marvel comic, just because he wanted Shooter to take a dig at Marvel and Jon Hickman."

As I understand it, Jay Jay, not Jim, is responsible for moderating comments. And why would either of them feel the need to delete one comment just because you think it's a pot-shot at Marvel? The comment isn't libellous, it doesn't defame anybody, it's doesn't contain offensive language. All it does is point to an example of what the author is talking about, drawn from a recent comment. I don't see any reason why a moderator who wants to facilitate discussion would feel the need to delete it.

If you're offended by the comment, argue the opposite point, rather than attacking Jim and/or the poster. Doing so gives you more chance of getting people to agree with you.

Dave James O'Neill said...

And thats why Baby Jesus invented trade paperbacks.

Dave James O'Neill said...

" Doing so gives you more chance of getting people to agree with you."

I like current Marvel comics. I doubt people here are ALLOWED like agree with me.

"It's quite a different situation when you are dealing with something like Captain America issue #842 or whatever. If a new reader can't pick up that issue without having read anything before it, and if they can't enjoy it, get hooked by it, well, then comics are truly in bad shape today."

Sorry, this is where my trade paperbacks comment is meant to be in replay to - as I've said, I dont think pages of Captain America #843 should be given over to regurgitating what happened in the last 842.

Anonymous said...

Calling someone "Boy" is obnoxious and inappropriate, those doing it should stop.

That said, Dave, you are misunderstanding how this blog (and many blogs, though not all) works. Jim and JayJay have been extremely lenient in allowing all kinds of comments, including comments that have been pretty vituperative toward Jim (including, you know, yours, which was critical and inaccurate). Given that the anonymous poster was simply passing on their opinion about a current writer's work (yeah, only tangentially related to the topic, but if you'll look around, you'll see that happens a lot), there was no obvious reason to remove it.

I've appreciated the openness to dialogue that Jim and JayJay have fostered here, and as has been pointed out, if you want to defend Hickman, defend him on the merits, don't ask for someone else's view to be censored.

--kgaard

Matt Adler said...

Oh, I see. He chose to not delete the comment because it criticized something he dislikes. So that must mean he deletes comments that criticize things he does like, right? Except that I've written more than a few of those, and they stayed up. Heck, your obnoxious and provably false comments have stayed up.

Keep digging. Maybe you'll stumble on something that makes sense.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"Given that the anonymous poster was simply passing on their opinion about a current writer's work (yeah, only tangentially related to the topic, but if you'll look around, you'll see that happens a lot), there was no obvious reason to remove it."

As I've already said - the poster had an ulterior motive, given Shooter's hatred for the current editorial team at Marvel, and his disdain for creators who didn't work for him, I think the poster was trying to get a rise out of Shooter and another "storytelling" rant from him, given the admitted semi-imcomprehensibility of Fantastic Four

Anonymous said...

Dave "I like current Marvel comics. I doubt people here are ALLOWED like agree with me."

People here are definitely allowed to agree with you. But it's hardly surprising that most of the readers of this blog share Jim's major criticisms of the way the American comic industry has been headed over the last couple of decades. People who hold your opinions are less likely to be interested in what Jim's saying about today's comics. But that doesn't mean they're not welcome here.

"Sorry, this is where my trade paperbacks comment is meant to be in replay to - as I've said, I dont think pages of Captain America #843 should be given over to regurgitating what happened in the last 842."

I think you're misunderstanding what's being said. People (including Jim) aren't saying that stuff should be regurgitated for the sake of it, only that each issue should ensure that a new reader can follow the events of the comic in their hand. That means making it clear who the characters are, and what motivates them.

Also, the way the story is written shouldn't rely on the reader remembering what happened in a story that came out a year ago. If the events of the past are absolutely necessary to understand what's going on, then ensure that they're summarised. Do it as succinctly as possible - and preferably without putting in a chunk of pure exposition. But if you don't do it, then you have zero hope of getting any new readers with that particular issue. And the American comics industry desperately needs new readers if it's to keep going in the long term.

Dave James O'Neill said...

For instance, this is just a little off topic - but it goes back to accessibility, and that nonsense

http://tinyurl.com/6tmkbbh

This is the opening page of this week's FF, also by Hickman. Now, I'm probably not going to pick this up, because I vehemently dislike the art. But, and this is the first page - I know what's going on. I know who the characters are, I know what's happening in the scene, I know why Bentley is bored.

Supposing certain people here got their way - the page would be ruined, by clunky exposition boxes explaining everything, and naming the characters - stuff I already know. Why should I suffer, because someone else won't invest in the first two parts of the story.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"That means making it clear who the characters are, and what motivates them."

At the expense of storytelling

Anonymous said...

"This is the opening page of this week's FF, also by Hickman. Now, I'm probably not going to pick this up, because I vehemently dislike the art. But, and this is the first page - I know what's going on. I know who the characters are, I know what's happening in the scene, I know why Bentley is bored.

Supposing certain people here got their way - the page would be ruined, by clunky exposition boxes explaining everything, and naming the characters - stuff I already know. Why should I suffer, because someone else won't invest in the first two parts of the story."

Nobody said everybody had to be named on the first page. There's no indication that this is part three, so how do I know which issues to pick up in order to understand what's going on?

And how would you be suffering from a small caption explaining the bare bones of the backstory (possibly with an asterisk saying "see last issue" or whatever? It could easily go in the space to the left or the right of the top panel, and you wouldn't lose any significant artwork. Or any significant reading time.

Anonymous said...

To Dave. You dislike the art of the new FF? Why are you sucking up to Jim Shooter all of a sudden. I refer you to the 'position' you took ten seconds ago from which you have veered 180 degrees.

Anonymous said...

@Dave James said

"More than one commentary consist of 'Ho Ho, todays comics suck, they weren't like this when you were editing Mr. Shooter, you're so great'"

The truth was, it was a debate, with opinions being offered on both sides. Do you often paint something in a false way before trying to justify your angry reaction to it

Dave, you'll find in life that some people do not hold the same opinions as you. It would be helpful to be able to articulate why you like something beyond "because the writer is smart", and it would be helpful to be able to exchange opinions without trying to ascribe "nefarious and hidden" intent on the part of others' ideas - now matter how much you dislike those ideas

Anonymous said...

Me: "That means making it clear who the characters are, and what motivates them."

Dave: "At the expense of storytelling"

Perhaps you could tell me what you think storytelling is? Because if you don't have characterisation (which is what you're clearly objecting to in that post), you've got a plot rather than a story.

Dave James O'Neill said...

To Dave. You dislike the art of the new FF? Why are you sucking up to Jim Shooter all of a sudden. I refer you to the 'position' you took ten seconds ago from which you have veered 180 degrees.

The art of Fantastic Four, by Barry Kitson, - is excellent. Juan Bobillo is not.

"And how would you be suffering from a small caption explaining the bare bones of the backstory "

You know when you buy a tradepaperback, and nonsense like that is missing? Because its stupid and unnecassary. I've paid my money . I've already bought Fantastic Four. I know who the characters are. I know Johnny's just come back from the dead, and Franklin's powers are spinning out of his control. I don't need to be told again, and again, and again, and again.

JayJayJackson said...

As the editor and technical person handling Jim's blog, I regularly do not delete comments just because I dislike what they have to say. It certainly doesn't mean that Jim, or I, agree with any comments. It just doesn't seem fair to censor people based on our own opinions.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"Dave, you'll find in life that some people do not hold the same opinions as you"

I work in a comic shop. And lots of people have different opinions to me, comics wise. But I'd never force my opinion on someone else. Ever. At the same time, no one in the shop tries to push their views on me.

Jason said...

Dave James O'Neil:

"'You give your reader what he needs to understand the story.'

"And patronise the daylights out of everyone else."

Wow, it's like you didn't even read what I wrote.

To be fair, trolls generally have trouble with reading comprehension.

Anonymous said...

"You know when you buy a tradepaperback, and nonsense like that is missing? Because its stupid and unnecassary. I've paid my money . I've already bought Fantastic Four. I know who the characters are. I know Johnny's just come back from the dead, and Franklin's powers are spinning out of his control. I don't need to be told again, and again, and again, and again."

So buy the trade, rather than the individual issues.

Captions like that are very useful in comic form, because even if a reader has read every previous issue, it reminds you what happened last time. It's just like a TV show that begins with a "previously on" segment. It's unnecessary for dedicated fans, but is oftne necessary for the more casual viewer or the person who's not seen the show before.

The reason such captions are not in the trades is because every reader has the context available. As a (good) writer, you can't assume that when it comes to the original comics.

peter said...

@Dave James O'neill

If I had my way, the characters in FF would stop being so off model that half the children are indistinguishable from each other. Somehow Alex Summers lost about ten years of age in that series and Dragon Man got himself a whole new, beakless, face.

In most panels I have to read back a page or two to make sure I can keep track of whether it's Franklin, Bentley, or Alex talking because despite the actual, and in some cases stark, differences in age and appearance, the artist draws to look nearly identical.

That kind of problem seems like the sort of stuff Marvel editorial should keep on top of, but Marvel and DC both let an awful lot of things slide they didn't used to. Remember the days of the No Prize? When readers would write in about inconsistencies and errors in the comics and the editors would either explain them or award the No Prize to the perceptive reader? Back then inconsistencies and errors were the kind of thing that were uncommon enough that you could actually do that. These days? You could probably get yourself a No Prize on every page of either DC or Marvel's output. The level of professionalism at the publishing level just isn't what it used to be. I think a lot of people read this blog hoping to get some insight into why that is. I know I do.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"Captions like that are very useful in comic form, because even if a reader has read every previous issue, it reminds you what happened last time."

Like, for example, those idiotic "See ASM#632, Simpering Steve" boxes.

Do you know how utterly stupid they look?

Matt Adler said...

I like Avengers Academy and Daredevil. According to Dave's theory, this comment will be deleted since we're supposedly not allowed to like current Marvel Comics. Also, I demand that Dave's derogatory comment about FF be deleted since it's clear that he only made it to suck up to Jim.

(I think Dave may be confusing this place with the Byrne board)

Dave James O'Neill said...

"I think a lot of people read this blog hoping to get some insight into why that is. I know I do."

Peter: I initially read this blog because Shooter's stories about Marvel's PAST are very entertaining. If I wanted to read someone bashing current Marvel without actually reading the product, I'd go gawk at the idiots who post on CBR

"If I had my way, the characters in FF would stop being so off model that half the children are indistinguishable from each other. Somehow Alex Summers lost about ten years of age in that series and Dragon Man got himself a whole new, beakless, face.

In most panels I have to read back a page or two to make sure I can keep track of whether it's Franklin, Bentley, or Alex talking because despite the actual, and in some cases stark, differences in age and appearance, the artist draws to look nearly identical."

I already said I hated Bobillo

Anonymous said...

"Like, for example, those idiotic "See ASM#632, Simpering Steve" boxes.

Do you know how utterly stupid they look?"

The only thing that could reasonably be said to look stupid about these is the nicknames given to the editor. Which are a stylistic choice, rather than something that's necessary.

Unless, of course, you're saying that academic textbooks which use footnotes look utterly stupid as a result. :p

Matt Adler said...

Umm... Jim HAS been spending his time and money to buy and review Marvel (and DC) comics. So try again.

Anonymous said...

can you imagine how confusing this thread would have been with the old comments system? JayJay, you changed it back just in time!

Dave James O'Neill said...

"Unless, of course, you're saying that academic textbooks which use footnotes look utterly stupid as a result."

There's a huge difference between an academic footnote and an intrusive caption box, and you know that. Don't try and bait me like that

Anonymous said...

"There's a huge difference between an academic footnote and an intrusive caption box, and you know that. Don't try and bait me like that"

I honestly don't see what the difference is. There's no discernible difference between an academic footnote and a footnote in a novel referring me back to a previous novel in the series (yes, I do own novels with such footnotes). And there's no discernible difference between that and a footnote in a comic referring me back to a previous issue.

And I don't see why such a caption box is intrusive. They have always been put at the bottom of a panel, out of the way, and not obscuring the art. You know what they are, and can easily ignore them if you already know what's being referenced. What's the problem with them?

Anonymous said...

Dave James said

"Just jealous, petty bull, from a jealous petty man"

and he said

"I'd go gawk at the idiots who post on CBR"

I'm sensing a theme here. Anything that you do not agree with gets name-called

Anonymous said...

After 5.00. Looks like Dave's gone home.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I figured you'd like it at CBR. A place where the mods delete comments and ban people for voicing opinions that they don't like (The very thing that you asked Jim to do - in case you forgot)

Dave James O'Neill said...

"After 5.00. Looks like Dave's gone home"

Ten PM here.:)

Anonymous said...

"I've invested heavily in Fantastic Four, and Jon Hickman's work."

And I've got 6500 comics sitting in my attic, mostly all in bags, with backers, sitting in long boxes. Does that mean I've got more of a say than you considering that I've already heavily invested over the years, since this seems to be one of your sticking points?

I jumped into comics as a reader with GIJoe #2. Then came the mutant comics with Uncanny #169. I spent a ton of money buying back issues going into the 130's. You took a potshot at Claremont. Geez, can I get my panties in a twist, too, considering how heavily invested I am with Claremont's work?

Look, I like Claremont. Others don't. It's a matter of opinion. But I'm not gonna take personal offense on behalf of someone I don't know and have never met.

Get my points?

There's a time to pick your battles and a time to just walk away. Gotta learn when to know the difference.

Robert C.

Anonymous said...

@Robert

I hear you. I happen to be a huge Azzarello fan - but I don't take issue with anything that Jim said because it is all true

Besides, I dropped WW after issue 1 because I thought it was weak myself

Unfortunately, the criticism (and if you read Jim's last 2 blogs carefully, there really isn't much criticism in it) causes some people to freak out. I note this because it is also the reaction that some writers and artists have when an editor points out weaknesses in their work - they freak out and brand that editor a tyrant.

My feeling - grow up. And when someone who knows what they are talking about makes some observations about your work, take that and improve yourself. A writer or artist who thinks they have nothing to improve upon (and I've seen these types on message boards) is deluded

Anonymous said...

Isn't it passed your bedtime? I think we just encountered modern comic's target demo.

Dusty said...

Wow... Can somebody with actual reading comprehension and not in serious need of medication endorse Hickman instead of somebody who couldn't grasp that Shooter didn't take that shot at Hickman? Not exactly the poster boy for understanding what he read, so why would his view on a comic, good or bad, be any more credible?

JayJayJackson said...

I've been writing for a long time, learning from Jim and often working for Jim. Back in the 90's at least. Over the years Jim has had many, many, many criticisms of my writing. Many much worse than what he has criticized in these reviews, because heck, when I started out I kind of sucked. But everything that Jim has mentioned to me has made my work much better until now I have the delusion that I might actually be able to make a partial living as a writer. I'm so grateful for his help and training.

I'm not saying that everyone he criticizes should be grateful, but if they were smart, they would at least consider what he says. Because Jim isn't saying anything with malice. Maybe you don't see it that way, but I know him. This is valuable information, not big meany-ness. And I think it's entertaining as well.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder why an anniversary issue like FF 600 is often the culmination of a long arch or story.

Surely they know a lot of people will pick that up who don't normally buy FF or haven't for a long time

Better IMO to start a story there.

Rob

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: "And when someone who knows what they are talking about makes some observations about your work, take that and improve yourself. A writer or artist who thinks they have nothing to improve upon (and I've seen these types on message boards) is deluded"

JayJay: "but if they were smart, they would at least consider what he says."

Wasn't it Steven King who credited his editor with making him look good?

Been sufferin' from CRS lately, so I may have that wrong.

Both are good points. A good writer - or, as the case may be, in the medium we're discussing, an artist - knows enough not to take critique personally.

It's amazing to me that the fans will take umbrage where the artist in question hasn't.


Robert C.

Harry said...

Hi all,
To me, this seems simple: Dave likes the modern Marvel style, others among us are left somewhat nonplussed, at least, by modern comics, decompressed storytelling, characters behaving out of character to suit the story, and so on. It was ever thus: while I can recognise the genius behind the truly ground-breaking stories and characters of Silver Age Marvel, I would tend, where two stories both fulfill some basic requirements (being entertaining, readable, understandable etc), to lean more towards the Marvel style of the 80s (and note that this is not me sucking up to Jim Shooter: I find some late 70s Marvel stuff, also published while he was EiC, less resonant, just a matter of personal taste, combined with nostalgia).
I might suggest, Dave, that, if you like the modern FF (which I haven't read, so I will not slag it off here), then please explain WHY, what the writers and/or artists are doing right, in your opinion. This can be done without slagging off footnotes (I always liked seeing things like "See Secret Wars #7, Eds", it helped show how large and interconnected the Marvel universe was. You don't like them? Fine by me.

Dave James O'Neill said...

"I sometimes wonder why an anniversary issue like FF 600 is often the culmination of a long arch or story.

Surely they know a lot of people will pick that up who don't normally buy FF or haven't for a long time

Better IMO to start a story there.

Rob"

All four stories in Fantastic Four #600 rewarded people invested in the long term stories Hickman is telling (the out of control nature of Franklin's powers, the return of Johnny, the Kree/Inhumans War), rather than four dull "introduction" stories designed to please speculators who came in for the anniversary.

"I might suggest, Dave, that, if you like the modern FF (which I haven't read, so I will not slag it off here), then please explain WHY, what the writers and/or artists are doing right, in your opinion."

If you'd like, I'd be glad to review Wednesday's new issue. It's frankly too late here to get into a detailed talk on the book.

Frankly, I don't think it's Marvel's best book (Uncanny X-Force), but I do think it's the most intelligent. After suffering through some nightmarish runs on the book, its worth picking up to read a truly Intelligent Reed, a Ben who is trying to deal with the duality of his character. I'm fascinated to see where they go with Johnny, there's hints his experience in the Negative Zone has deeply changed him, and possibly not for the better. I love Franklin and Valeria (the best thing Millar ever did on the book was make Valeria a genius), and his Doom isn't a caricature.

FF is good, but man does the art drag it down to Earth....

Anonymous said...

Dave. Speculators could care less what is in a comic. Introductory stories do not have to be dull. As others have said, you have a habit of just slagging off anything you don't like without giving it much thought. You don't have to hate everything that you are not. Take a moment to consider your opinion before you voice it.

On the plus side, you made some interesting points about what makes FF interesting. I'm not going to pay whatever exorbitant price they are asking for 600, but I'm going to take a look next time I'm in the comic shop.

You obviously feel passionately about some books. Do you write short 'you should read this because...' cards next to comics in the shop? You might get some extra customers.

Dlotemp said...

BTW Jim:

Since I don't see anyone has mentioned this but Ms. Strickland is the same person who wrote the critique of Avengers #200 that appeared in the fanmag LoC back in the early 80s.

People can find a reprint of the critique here - http://carolastrickland.com/comics/msmarvel/index.html

Also, Ms. Strickland has been a fan of Wonder Woman a loooonnnggg time. I happened to purchase some early 70s Wonder Woman comics a few years ago and she had two letters published in them.

Lastly, thank you for the reviews. I appreciate that they're prompting some discussion regarding the craft of writing comics and how to engage readers. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

"I do like Hickman's writing, and I don't know anyone who doesn't."

[MikeAnon:] I can't say I "don't like" Hickman's writing, but I can say his writing doesn't impress me overmuch. I have the full run of SECRET WARRIORS and while I think I enjoyed it for the most part, in retrospect I'm scratching my head and wondering if it was really worth the money. Nothing he's done in FANTASTIC FOUR or FF has impressed me enough to make me want to buy those books. His Ultimate Marvel work I've skimmed with similar lack of interest. He's a "meh" author to me so far. I do want to get the first volume of his SHIELD series, read that, and then read SECRET WARRIORS again, because I think there's some interconnectedness there that I'm not grokking having only the one series. [--MikeAnon]

"...explain what's your problem with this:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/assets/images/preview/bc8dac3i11195/prv11195_pg2.jpg"

[MikeAnon:] That one's easy.

Problem #1: If I'm a new reader, then once I turn the page I have no idea how to identify most of the characters mentioned in the summary, and now I have to try to associate names with faces -- that is, with the exception of the 6 faces shown...but only one of them is even mentioned in the summary. In fact, the summary and the graphic paired together are confusing because the summary says, "The Fantastic Four join the Human Torch," but according to the visual graphic, the Fantastic Four includes the Human Torch, so what do they mean really? Do they mean the rest of the FF joined the Torch, or did someone take the Torch's place in the FF so that the new FF lineup have now joined the Torch?

Problem #2: Do you really expect me to find a page full of text exciting? Is this really the first thing I should see when I open the book? Here's a thought: Make the little picture in the lower left a splash page, and use caption boxes to bring me up to speed instead of drowning me in text accompanied by a teeny-tiny image. That would shove me face-first into the story rather than giving me the feel of, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...." [--MikeAnon]

"this...goes back to accessibility, and that nonsense:

http://tinyurl.com/6tmkbbh

This is the opening page of this week's FF, also by Hickman....this is the first page - I know what's going on. I know who the characters are, I know what's happening in the scene, I know why Bentley is bored."

[MikeAnon:] Yes, but do you understand why *I'm* bored?

First, that is one sucky first panel. That panel should have been a splash page in and of itself. Instead, Reed and Doom are minimalized in their importance, and *we can't even seen who they're fighting.* (Are you sure you didn't skip a page? This sure seems like page 2 to me.)

The second panel? I generally know what I'm looking at -- some preparations are being made in front of a portal -- but I have no idea how it relates to the first panel. There are nothing but indeterminate silhouettes through the portal, so I can't tell if what I can barely make out in the portal is the scene I just saw from the first panel or not. If it is, then I would guess the situation is that Reed and Doom are fighting off somebody from entering the portal, which would lend itself to the sense of urgency that everyone except Bently is displaying. Unfortunately, nobody except Bently is *talking,* so his spoken, "I'm bored," tends to cancel out the urgency visually displayed by everyone else in the room, so now I'm confused: is this a serious situation or not? Moreover, if I'm wearing my "New Reader" glasses then I have NO clue who anyone in the bottom panel is. You might not care about that, and I understand completely, but you're not the only person in the universe, and the point of these comics is to make money, not please you specifically. [--MikeAnon]

Anonymous said...

[MikeAnon:] (Continued...) [--MikeAnon]

"I don't need to be told again, and again, and again, and again."

[MikeAnon:] I do feel your pain. But let's face it. If these writers and artists were really doing their damn jobs, they would have room enough to both tell you again AND fit a mountain of story into 22 pages. [--MikeAnon]

"Like, for example, those idiotic 'See ASM#632, Simpering Steve' boxes. Do you know how utterly stupid they look?"

[MikeAnon:]Well, the "Simpering Steve" part, certainly. That I can do without. But you know what the point of the "See ASM #632" is, right? The point is to say, "Hey, we can't explain all this in the middle of the story, so if you want to know what he's talking about, you're going to have to go back and pick this up." In other words, the point is *to sell another book.* Which is what comic book companies presumably want to do, right? [--MikeAnon]

Marvelman said...

Dave...

The people who read this blog are likely to have at least some sympathy for Jim's POV because it is his blog! I happen to like Hickman's Fantastic Four. If you disagree with what Jim is saying, that's your right. But you seem much angrier than the situation warrants. And it is impractical to expect Jim to read every post on this board.

Comic sales are way down from where they were when Jim was Marvel's EIC. Is that because the world has changed? Perhaps. Is it because many of today's comics are inaccessible to new readers? Perhaps.

There has got to be a way that the writer and artist can provide the reader with the info necessary to understand a comic without being patronizing or pedantic. I do agree with one thing you said though. There are some issues that are simply not going to be good entry points for new readers. Fantastic Four #600, for instance, was the culmination of several years worth of stories, and it is just not reasonable to expect Mr. Hickman to fill in all of the blanks for new readers.

Marvelman said...

Peter,

Are you Peter David by any chance?

Hielario said...

Hmmm. Only a little thing; I'm pretty sure that the hat Hermes is wearing is the one he tipically wore when represented in the calssic Greece.

(Excuse my english)

David in SLC said...

You basically in a very long diatribe explained why I am no longer interested in this book. I boil it down to this: After 4 books I still don't know who this Wonder Woman is. The story is too preoccupied with telling a story instead of telling a Wonder Woman story.

'Course I admit to not liking Azzarello anyway so I'm not surprised. I thot this sucked but I at least tried. I'll be back with #13 when a new writer comes on.

Brent E said...

My thoughts on the Hickman conversation. He's one of the most interesting writers in comics today. Part of what I hate about the negative discussions on here (as happened in the last thread) is that guys like him get lumped into generalizations with the rest of the writers.

The fact is, not every comic is meant for every person. The fact that Hickman's books are some of the best selling seems to imply that many people really enjoy his works. Also, many would agree his is some of the most difficult to jump into in the middle of a run.

That said, not every comic needs to be written like it's somebody's first. It's probably something good to strive for, but Hickman's a guy that proves that if you he can weave an intriguing and confusing story and readers are willing to stick with it because he ends up delivering in the end.

Anonymous said...

@David in SLC - just wait, in a couple issues we get Wonder Woman with guns


Also, I find it funny that the Hickman proponents cannot explain why the guy is good

Steve said...

Wow! The comment section hasn't been this ferocious since the Great Ditko Debates of 2011... (ah, the memories!)

Jim and JayJay, my next donation to this fine blog will count as "combat pay." Keep up the great work!

Jason said...

Brent E wrote:

"The fact that Hickman's books are some of the best selling seems to imply that many people really enjoy his works."

Best-selling comics today get numbers that at Marvel in the early '80s would get them cancelled for being low-sellers.

You do know this, right?

What next? Claiming that comics, like Spinal Tap, are courting a "more selective" audience?

I know nothing of this man's work, but the defense you offer strongly inclines me NOT to read him. Might want to try another tack.

jimshooter said...

Dear Buddy,

You don't need to recap anything or introduce anything that isn't germane to the story in the issue in question.

jimshooter said...

Dear Matt,

RE: "For me, the bottom line is that you should be able to pick up any given issue of a comic and ENJOY it, without having to buy any other (though an enjoyable comic may certainly make you WANT to buy more). The key word there is enjoy. When I was younger, I did not need to understand everything immediately in order to enjoy a comic. One of my earliest comics was Marvel Tales #197, from 1987, which itself was a reprint of a comic that came out 10 years earlier (Marvel Team-Up #63). It didn't really get into an explanation of who Steel Serpent was or why he was so similar to Iron Fist, but the relevant points were made; he was dangerous, and he had a personal grudge against Iron Fist. That's all I really needed. So I'm comfortable with comics that leave things unexplained, so long as they don't leave out a reason to care about what's going on."

Bravo. Well said. That's what I'm talking about.

jimshooter said...

Dear Lukas,

RE: " I dimly remember reading years ago a comics creator musing that readers typically stuck with comics, or a particular book, for four years. After that, the storylines started to repeat. (I know that for me, after four years or so I was worn out by what seemed to be change-for-change's-sake.)

Had you heard this piece of conventional wisdom? Do you believe it to be true?"

Mort Weisinger kept track of which covers generated the highest sales, and he would recycle those covers (at least the concept presented on them) every two years, because he believed that kids read comics for two years or less, except for a few weirdos. Therefore, every two years there was a "Legion girls take over" cover, a "Legionnaires turned into babies cover," a super-pets cover, etc. Every writer was required to submit cover ideas with for a proposed story. Cary Bates and I did sketches for ours. Sometimes a writer would suggest a new cover idea that made it to the two year rotation.

The fact that the above represented conventional wisdom in the 1950's and 1960's, at DC anyway, is true. If there ever was any merit to that "wisdom," there sure isn't anymore.

jimshooter said...

Dear Dave,

RE: "Oh, wow, a shot at Jon Hickman. Mr Shooter, do you even know Hickman? Because all I see is you taking a dig at one out of context line of dialogue."

A shot at Jon Hickman? What "dig" at what line of dialogue are you referring to? And no, I don't know Jon Hickman.

jimshooter said...

Dear Lukas,

I'm pretty open-minded about comic book art styles. I agree, there are a lot of artists these days doing a more anime-like style. Part of the reason, I suspect, is because much of the rendering is being done in the coloring. Style fads come and go. What matter to me most are draftsmanship and storytelling. It also helps if the style is appropriate to the subject matter. I wouldn't have wanted a cartoony style on Marv Wolfman's Dracula, for instance.

czeskleba said...

David James O'Neill said:
Fantastic Four 600 was virtually incomprehensible to newer readers, but, you know why I enjoyed it, Mr. Shooter? Because my loyalty to the book has been built up. It was the conclusion of sever year long stories. It was a reward for the proper readers, not someone who stumbled in off the streets
************************
I guess the broader question is, do you think it is a problem that comic readership has sunk to such a low level? Do you think comic publishers ought to be trying to attract new readers? If so, doesn't it stand to reason that the sort of exclusive, "members only" storytelling which you applaud above might be a factor in why Marvel and DC have such difficulty in attracting new readers?

Ken said...

Hey everyone! Apologies in advance for what has turned out to be a looong comment. I've been reading this blog for ages but have commented rarely, so I guess I am making up for lost time. But before I get to the "issue" I first want to thank (almost!) all of you for such consistently thoughtful, engaged, fun discussions that involve comics and more than comics. I almost never read comments sections, especially on comics sites, as they do too much damage to my view of humanity. The comments here have the opposite effect. So refreshing!

I also want to thank Jim and JayJay of course for doing such a great job with all aspects of this site. In particular, for not just allowing but encouraging diverse points of view. And I love the fact that Jim appears to actually listen to opposing positions. Sometimes he will continue to disagree, and sometimes he will reconsider his position. But whatever his response he articulates his reason for it with, I think, really impressive clarity and brevity. (On my best days out of bed I like to think I try to do the same. So while this all may sound to some [Dave, you there?] like sucking up, be assured that I'm not remotely interested in currying favour from Jim or anyone else, and that if I did not like the site or Jim's views I would say so if I cared enough and felt it would make any difference to anyone.)

Anyway.

I've been reading comics a long time, since the early 1970s. Like many commenters on this blog I dropped them in the mid-90s, and like some I have for the past few years been attempting to find ones I like. I've found quite a few that I enjoy to an extent, but most of those still leave me rather flat. Something's missing. Jim's posts, and the responses those posts have generated, have helped me understand elements of storytelling that I had not noticed or thought about before, and some of these have helped me understand what seems to be missing. Which, boiled down to a word, seems to be: care. Too many people are not paying enough attention to what they are making, and who they are making it for. I'm not one for jumping on an old-fogey "such and such was better in my day and has anyone seen my teeth?" bandwagon, and I do think that there are elements of some comics that are outstanding. But overall I feel a general sense of meh.

[to be continued]

Ken said...

[continued]

Which brings me to the contentious "every issue should be an entry point" debate. Jim and others have made the argument that in most media it is standard practice to give the readers/viewers enough information to understand the particular story that is going on at that moment. And that comics of the past decade or two seem to be relatively unique in their tendency to disregard this storytelling approach.

Because this idea was new to me, I had no particular opinion on it. The notion that any given issue should be accessible to new readers makes good business sense, but does it make good story sense? Would it, even if done well, alienate and irritate established readers who don't need such handholding? That's obviously the view of many people, but as I say I wasn't sure one way or another.

So for the past while I've been trying to pay attention, in particular to TV series since they strike me as the narrative form most comparable to comics. And so far what I see is that Jim is completely right: I can watch any random episode of any TV show and I'm given the information I need to understand enough of what is happening, and why, so that I'm not just sitting there staring in bewilderment and drooling onto the cushions (which happens more often when I can't find my teeth). This may seem stupid to those of you who've seen this all along, but to me it's fascinating. Shows that I've watched for years do it every episode and I never remotely noticed it before, and I didn't find it pedantic or irritating even when I when I was looking for it. And new shows, even ones that are part of serialized arcs (as opposed to, say, sitcoms) do the same thing.

Including, if anyone cares, The Wire. Which seems to be the go-to example of a show that obviously violates the entry point rule, but with good reason. That is, I've noticed that a few folks -- even those who agree with Jim's basic point -- have essentially said: "Well yes of course, but you can't do do the entry point thing with each episode of a show like The Wire. It's one giant story composed of several year-long arcs, and no one would start watching that in the middle unless they were brain damaged, in which case who cares anyway. Plus it's the best show ever and I would marry it and have its babies. What?"

To which I say: not so fast. I recently bought The Wire but have not yet watched most of it. What I have done is watch, on purpose, several random episodes. And ONLY random episodes. Picked from the middle of different seasons. And I emerged unharmed and unconfused. People's names, jobs, functions in the narrative, etc., were always all explained sufficiently for me to know what was happening and why. I never got to the end of an episode and sat there wondering what the hell had happened.

It was like magic. Seamless. Clear. And I feel both stupid and amazed that I never noticed this happening before Jim brought up this whole issue in his blog. So thanks again Jim!

Ole M. Olsen said...

Steve said:

"Wow! The comment section hasn't been this ferocious since the Great Ditko Debates of 2011... (ah, the memories!)"

The religion war around Christmas was pretty heavy as well. I guess this comments section really takes off about once a month. :-)

Trolls can make a lot of noise, particularly when they discover that they've painted themselves into a corner. Don't feed them!

Ken: Great comment!

Kid said...

I have to say that I find the habit some people have of calling anyone with whom they disagree a 'Troll' in order to dismiss their contribution as worthless, to be both childish and irritating to the nth degree.

Just because someone doesn't hold the same opinion as yourself doesn't mean they are a 'troll' - just someone with a different point of view who wants to express it.

Ole M. Olsen said...

I would never call anyone a troll because I disagree with them. I could just as easily call someone I agree with a troll. Trolling has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing.

To be fair, though:

In my definition an Internet troll is someone who provokes a fight on purpose - for fun - and keeps provoking when people bite ("feed him").

I honestly don't think that's quite what happened here, so I do apologise for using the word.

Brent E said...

"Brent E wrote:

"The fact that Hickman's books are some of the best selling seems to imply that many people really enjoy his works."

Best-selling comics today get numbers that at Marvel in the early '80s would get them cancelled for being low-sellers.

You do know this, right?

What next? Claiming that comics, like Spinal Tap, are courting a "more selective" audience?

I know nothing of this man's work, but the defense you offer strongly inclines me NOT to read him. Might want to try another tack."

Jason,

That's why I wrote the rest of my post. Obviously, you and anonymous share the same idea of not reading what somebody posts and then attacking them.

"It's probably something good to strive for, but Hickman's a guy that proves that if you can weave an intriguing and confusing story readers are willing to stick with it because he ends up delivering in the end."

Now then, obviously I could go more in depth as to why I enjoy his writing. However, the primary reason is out of every writer working today, I really feel that Hickman's put more thought into his stories and plot lines. He seems to have an end point always mapped out before he begins, which is something often lacking in the comic form where characters and series never end. As a result, he's one of the few writers I look forward to reading the same series twice, both as it comes out and as soon as it is finished.

And again, let's point to sales numbers of old to justify how much better everything used to be. Let's also look at how high the ratings were on prime time tv before cable came around. Again, there's plenty more choices for the comic dollar today than there was in the past. However, for all the nitwits who believe nothing good comes out anymore (not saying this is you, but there do seem to be some of those individuals on the board who preach as much) they point to sales numbers of a different era and try to hold them out as statistically relevant in a basic quality to sales relationship. Meanwhile, other factors like time, cost, competition, etc. go ignored.

That being said, I would recommend you not read his works. If you're not able to read an entire comment before saying something judgmental based not on what was written, you probably would not enjoy his work. Maybe stick to reading ones you've already read instead.

Kid said...

Ole, I wasn't picking on YOU per se. It's just that your use of the word reminded me of all-too-frequent other occasions when people have used this dismissive word merely to cast scorn on someone else's opinion. Some people regard their opinions as children, which is why they fight for them so strongly. It doesn't necessarily mean they're just stirring the pot for the hell of it.

I'd much rather see someone tackle an opinion with which they disagree, rather than just dismiss it as worthless.

Regards.

Ole M. Olsen said...

Dear Kid,

No offence taken. :-)

I want to apologise again for using the word "troll", which was unwarranted. The reason (though it's no excuse) I did was that I was still a bit fed up this morning after reading the "debate" yesterday. It's somewhat hard to explain why without saying something unfavourable about the things Dave James O'Neill said, but I think CAN do it without characterising his person:

In ways that almost made me miss 90s fanboy craze, _I_ felt he was arguing without arguments and throwing out accusations, wild assumptions and insults without a shred of evidence to back any of it up. When he wasn't calling for editorial censorship of these blog comments, that is. And it all started because of a misunderstanding he never admitted to.

Kid: "I'd much rather see someone tackle an opinion with which they disagree, rather than just dismiss it as worthless."

Exactly. Despite encouragement, Dave James O'Neill would never defend his opinions with any arguments, other than saying that Jonathan Hickman is "smart, well educated" and doesn't insult his audience.

It seemed that Dave James O'Neill felt he should be allowed to spew out all derogatory and insulting comments he likes, while Jim Shooter, that boring old fart, is doing the devil's work by reviewing some modern comic books and in a polite way pointing out what he feels are their strengths and weaknesses. After all, it's a well known fact that Jim Shooter hates Marvel. And he's chummy with Mark Waid.

So in my annoyance, I likened it to trolling, particularly because of the IMHO lack of any real arguments. I don't think he was really trolling, I think he actually honestly felt strongly about the issue, and calling him a troll was unfair. But I feel the way he chose to go about this discussion did little to help his case.

Re. Hickman: I just got back into comics six months ago, so I haven't read a lot of Hickman's work. But I recently started reading Fantastic Four/FF again too. So far, I've read the last couple of issues of Fantastic Four before the "cancellation", and am up to date on FF and the "restart" of Fantastic Four.

It's not too bad! In fact, I've found it fairly enjoyable. Somewhat decompressed, but not overly so. A little confusing occasionally, but there's been enough of the little bits Dave says he doesn't need (and claims there isn't) to get me more or less up to scratch on what's going on. I'll be staying with at least Fantastic Four (maybe not FF) for the time being.

Of course, when I quit Fantastic Four in disgust twenty years ago, Tom DeFalco was in the process of ruining my favourite title, so pretty much anything would be an improvement.

Jason said...

Oh, Brent E, I read your comment. It's just that there was nothing in the rest of it worth responding to after that opening.

The larger conversation is about why comics are dying. And a BIG part of the reason is that any issue of any given comic alienates and confuses the potential new reader through inferior and inept storytelling. Nothing you said dealt with that, really.

And do save your snobbery regarding my implied reading comprehension. Argumentum ad hominem is not the mark of a superior intellect, but of a petulant child who's more concerned with "winning" than arriving at truth. (In my case, I consider turnabout fair play.)

Brent E said...

Jason,

Touche. Obviously you've risen above all that by saying nothing at all while leveling an insult at the same time and still ignoring my original remark made in both posts.

Your flowery prose does seem to conflict however with your reliance on absolutes to prove your point: "And a BIG part of the reason is that any issue of any given comic alienates and confuses the potential new reader through inferior and inept storytelling. Nothing you said dealt with that, really."

Now then, either you forgot a "that" (as in, "any issue of any given comic THAT alienates and confuses the...") or you are literally implying that all current comics do that.

Again, my original comment was regarding Hickman's writing. You dismissed my comment by posting "I know nothing of this man's work, but the defense you offer strongly inclines me NOT to read him. Might want to try another tack."

However, now you write "The larger conversation is about why comics are dying." Again, this is not what you attacked my post regarding. Instead, you seemed more concerned with establishing yourself as either having superior taste or attacking Hickman because he sells comics. Either way, you have only succeeded in sinking to a level you yourself admonish in your last post.

However, it can be tough to see that when one is as busy as yourself at trying to sound intelligent while not saying anything at all.

To paraphrase something somebody once said on a message board: I know nothing of your work, but your reasoning provided strongly inclines me to not give anything you say any credibility whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Brent - I'll help out. Hickman is not that good. He's solid, but nothing more. And he relies on some gimmicks, such as "kewl" and "clever" moments that sometimes lack substance. His dialog is weak and clumsy.

If he's one of Marvel's golden boys at the moment - well, so is Bendis

Brent E said...

Anonymous,

I agree that Hickman is not for everybody. Nor is all of his writing flawless. As for Marvel's architects, that's probably the worst idea in the history of comics and poorly executed at that (besides Hickman, I don't care for the other four guys). Personally, I'd put Jeff Parker, most of Kieron Gillen's stuff, Christos Gage, Fred Van Lente and Marjorie Liu as the tops over there at the moment but that's neither here nor there.

That said, if you like long plotlines where the seeds are planted early and often and you are rewarded with twists that are logical but still surprising, I think Hickman's one of the best around. For my money, Secret Warriors was one of the most rewarding series I've followed.

Still, definitely not for everybody, and he's swung and missed a few times as well.

Darrell Hempel said...

Playing catch-up with the blog. Just read Jeremy's disheartening (at least for old-school fan me) comment about every issue being a jumping on point. It's a shame that he considers that to be a "bad thing." Strange, then, how much better comicbooks sold back then. Ah, well. Just my two cents.