Saturday, July 30, 2005

"I Really Liked Mark Waid's Flash"

Have you ever heard that phrase?

I know I have.

It has come to mean, in comic criticism, that you are about to knock a work by Mark Waid, but want to demonstrate that it is not anything personal, and you HAVE liked his work in the past.

So, I thought it would be nice to demonstate my displeasure with Waid's Legion of Superheroes (particularly the latest issue, as I have found it emblematic of the run so far) by going over again what I liked so much about Mark Waid's Flash, to see what I think is missing in his Legion of Superheroes.

Here's what I have come up with...

It was fun.

Remember when Mark Waid was known as "the funny guy"?

No, seriously, it actually happened.

No, really, you have to believe me.

Really, there WAS a time when he was known for his humor!


Why won't you believe me?!?!

The weird thing is that I am sure he is just as funny NOW as he was THEN, but it just is not reflected in his work (except for perhaps that Spider-Man story in Fantastic Four).

It WAS reflected in his Flash.

The Flash was not Ambush Bug, but it often had lighthearted jokes in it (and Waid's work on the spin-off Impulse, was hilarious).

Now, a joke in a Waid comic book (like the goat joke in Legion) is a cause for a celebration.

He is not a super serious guy, so why is his work so super serious?

Legion of Superheroes...this is not a happy book.

The characters were likable.

Leion of Superheroes is filled with characters.

I just cannot see very many LIKABLE characters in the book.

Waid's Flash?

Filled with them.

Wally, Linda, Jay Garrick, Bart, Johnny Quick, Max Mercury...these characters were fun to read.

How is it fun to watch superheroes act like assholes in Legion of Superheroes?

It is almost like Waid is saying, "Hey, I know a way to make this revamp different, how about everyone is an asshole! THAT'S never been done before!!!"

It was about a superhero.

A superhero comic about a superhero.

Novel concept, eh?

Legion of Superheroes, with superheroes IN THE TITLE, really is not about superheroes. It is about politics.

In Legion, these are characters that the fans dig, and instead of giving us issues like most of #7 all the time, he has decided on giving us stuff like #8, this angry, loathsome issue, where EVERYone in the issue is a jerk in one way or another.

If you want to do this sort of book, go right ahead.

But no with people with names like Cosmic Boy and Ultra Boy and Saturn Girl.

They are superheroes.

Try letting them be superheroes.

Flash was a superhero, and Waid HAD him be a superhero.

It worked out well, I thought.

Flash was an optimistic book.

About two years into his run on Flash, Waid introduced a storyline where the Flash is in trouble after a woman is injured during a superhero battle. The idea of the story was to play off the optimistic nature of the Flash by seeing how he can handle something so cynical.

Well, in Legion of Superheroes, I do not know how the characters could HANDLE an optimistic event!

They would probably yell at it.

It would be like that Simpsons scene..."I bring you...peace" "He brings us peace. Break his legs!!"

Okay, so so far what I have is that what I like about Waid's writing is when he writes likable, fun, optimistic superhero stories.

Is that really too much to expect from a book called Legion of Superheroes?

Read More


Blogger Chad said...

Yoou're a lot nicer than I am. I think Waid should lose a day off his life every time someone says "underagers" or Cosmic Boy yells at floating heads or Colossal Boy mentions how the Legion are all "little people" who crack him up.

I never read Waid's run on Flash. So I don't have to rpetend I liked him at one time.

His Legion stuff is really, really mixed. He has done some interesting things- Triplicate Girl's origin for example- and he's done some truly awful things- Princess Projectra's origin for example.

One thing I will say for him- he did make me ask myself a fanboy question. While I absolutely LOATHE his Phantom Girl take (it makes no sense whatsoever when you think about it) it did make me ask myself "Dude, what happens when she's taking a dump? Does she squeeze out a loaf and Earth and have it drop in someone's breakfast on Bgtzl?". This made me actually laugh at myself.

But moments like that are few and far between. For the msot part I read, it finish it and wonder when the next writer is going to come aboard.

7/31/2005 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

You suck, Brian.

7/31/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"For the msot part I read, it finish it and wonder when the next writer is going to come aboard."

Good question...this take by Waid is not exactly the fairest of situations for the NEXT writer, is it?

Cuz the book is pretty strictly "Stuff that amused Mark Waid."

By the by, the fact that "His Legion stuff is really, really mixed" actually irritates me more. The fact that he HAS had some good issues intermixed is, to me, MORE irritating, because it means he CAN do better.

7/31/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Lex apparently was not a fan of Flash either!

Sorry, Lex, but I thought Flash was quite good.

7/31/2005 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

Flash was great, but I strongly disagree with your opinion of Waid's Legion book.

7/31/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Well, don't leave us hanging!!

Why do you think the book is filled with likable, fun, optimistic superhero-oriented stories?

7/31/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

The next writer can do exactly what Waid did. Have a little hypertime wave hit and make things over the way he or she wants to.

Which is also annoying as hell.

7/31/2005 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Vaklam said...

I like issues 1 - 7 of Waid's Legion. I think (and I mean this) that they are full of likable, fun, optimistic superhero-oriented stories IN SPACE!

Issue 8, however, turns them into exactly the kind of lame characters you are talking about.

I like the political aspects of it and I really like Waid's takes on the various origins and powers.

He totally squandered a great opportunity with #8. It's like he ran out of steam and reverted to the default "everybody fights everybody else" option. That disappointed me.

7/31/2005 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

It's a fair point, Vaklam.

Up until #8, I was still holding out hope.

Heck, I've even recommended a few issues of the series so far (the ones where they acted like superheroes, specifically #2 and #7).

But that's when I thought the drawbacks were going to be outweighed by something.

They never were.

Instead, I just saw MORE drawbacks.

7/31/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Shane Bailey said...

I think this Legion is more about what would happen if a group of teens really gained superpowers and tried to work together. Most teens are very emotional and often see common arguments as personal attacks or slights against them. Hence the in-fighting in Legion. Having said that these are optimistic teens who want to do better for the world they live in, so they band together and protect their home planets all the while holding onto the idea that they are holding some kind of "revolution".

I like the different take and find it interesting. Why do you think all Waid's work has to be the same? He can't write an action thriller, a drama, etc. It doesn't all have to be funny. As much as I like the Flash I don't necessarily want the Legion to be the same book.

Besides he already wrote a "the Flash" style Legion years ago.

8/01/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Lucas TBP said...

I loved Waid's Flash. Hew was the first writer who really let Wally grow up. Before that he was just an angry kid dealing with daddy issues and a wanna-be womanizer. I just couldn't read that stuff. Ironically, he was the one that made Wally not a jerk.

I'm not sure that the LoSH thing is all Wiad's fault. This is a book that seems cursed to turn into a soap opera every few years. It's light years away from the LoSH origins in Superboy.

8/01/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Not to go on a tangent, but if you change Waid to Dini and the subject matter to Justice League Unlimited, this article just nailed down the exact reasons why I thought this season of JLU was simply a terrible sign of the current comics climate infecting that once fun show.

8/01/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

You've summed up my feelings near perfectly, Brian.

I liked Lurorno's new origin. I like the new take on Cham. That's about it.

I can't understand why these characters formed a team if they've all hate each other so much. There's been no sign that Rokk was ever not a jerk, Brainy ever trusting, Ayla ever not a complete braindead ditz...yet they pulled together in an idealistic, Silver style team?!?

I can't understand how a complete dick like the Waid/Kitson Rokk ever became leader.

I'm still waiting for the explanation of my age determine's morality in this setting.

(I know Waid and have claimed that's NOT what the conflict is about...even to the point of having series villain Lemnos claim it isn't)...but that's what the majority of the issues end up being about. Passionate teens versus cold, stupid, clueless adults.

And now we see that the LSH is just an angry bunch of kids who can't even pretend to have common goals.

This is less a super-hero comic than it is inside jokes and political screeds mixed up with the occasional innovative power idea.

But hey...I'm just one of those clueless OverAgers who probably only hates it because it's not "my Legion".

Or so I've been told.

8/01/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Shaenon said...

Seriously, how hard would it be to write an entertaining Legion of Superheroes comic? They're a clique of bitchy teenagers with weird superpowers who chill in a rocketship house and spend most of their time deciding whether other kids with even weirder superpowers are cool enough to hang out with them. Also, the kids with all the dumbest superpowers have formed their own clique dedicated to stalking the cool kids. How do you not make that fun?

Then again, fun superhero comics don't sell for shit these days, so maybe Waid's dark, cynical, convoluted take on the Legion is the way to go.

Anyway, James Kochalka's "Superf*ckers" is a much better Legion of Superheroes comic.

8/01/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Then again, fun superhero comics don't sell for shit these days, so maybe Waid's dark, cynical, convoluted take on the Legion is the way to go."

Touche, Shaenon.

8/02/2005 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger Shane Bailey said...

"Anyway, James Kochalka's "Superf*ckers" is a much better Legion of Superheroes comic."

I've heard that. I still need to pick it up.

8/02/2005 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reality is that the series has a weak plot. It's like reading an Archie comic where we watch teens just do stuff and nothing more.

Remember that solo Brainiac story? Waid practically gave everything away when he should have left clues to keep the readers "off balanced" which he claimed he was doing. The ending of the first story will probably be disapointing because we'll probably know everything by now making the defeat of the bad guys and who was behind it predictable to a level that it will be boring.

It also has weak subplots like with Invisible Kid and Ultra Boy. IK's father is the head of the SP and UB lacks focus on his powers. Big deal! We were hoping it would be spectacular and something posters would talk about and theorize about what will happen next, but sadly this series is a watered down version of the others and more and more readers are probably becoming focused on other comics and not caring anymore that it's being written by Mark Waid and that he once wrote, but acually co-wrote, Kingdom Come.

This series is all gimmick and no plot to get a reader interested in buying it for the long run and soon comic shop owners will order less copies and the TP will probably won't sell well because Waid isn't working as hard in his writing as he is in interview where he makes fancy promises that we know by now that he probably won't keep.

Sadly, this reimaging is nothing more then pasting past elements and ideas of others which Waid seems to think will work by itself. The guy needs to start writting acual plots if he wants the series to have a future, because we'll probably see a collapse in sales once readers get tired of waiting for Waid to keep his promises that he made when he was solely promoting the series thru conventions and I think alot of people already knew that the series wasn't going to be that great since Waid acted like he was going to write the greatest comic book series in history as if there weren't people out there who were more talented then him.

The worst thing to happen to a writer is that they end up thinking that being famous makes them immune to writing bad stories.

8/17/2005 03:00:00 AM  
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Anonymous Generic Cialis said...

He is a great artist but the thing id that may be he has come to believe it is time to get serious in the work he does... bad side of this is that hi missed the target

9/08/2010 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "threeboot" Legion was the best work anyone has done with those characters and concepts in a LONG time. Sorry about your bad taste. Enjoy your mindless silver age nostalgia, I guess.

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