Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just go, already!

Superman Batman #22

Can't... resist.. it... Snark level overload! Danger! Danger Will Robinson!!

How bad is Superman Batman #22? Well to start with the story seems to have been plotted using the unusual technique of grabbing a random handful of action figures and giving them to a five year old to play with and then taking notes. Then there's the entirely gratuitous Gwen Stacy death scene played as a fake out (what could be funnier?), and Lex Luthor, who I have just about concluded is actually a completely seperate character from the Lex Luthor seen everywhere else in the DC universe - this is Battlesuit Luthor, see? An entirely different action figure from Mastermind Luthor who wears ordinary clothes, has more than half a brain, and doesn't spend every waking hour stalking Supergirl. Not to mention the moron's guide to writing Bizarro: just insert a negative into every sentence.

This comic is so bad that it even has a guest appearance by Wolverine.

Jeph Loeb is now so far up himself that it's going to be a relief to every sane DC reader when he's gone and can actually write Marvel characters at Marvel rather than shoe-horning them into DC comics.

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35 Comments:

Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

And this is the same Jeph Loeb who is writing The Ultimates after thoroughly pissing on them.

And he's doing all this just because of the "Teri Kidder" gag in The Pulse.

Jeph Loeb is one of the worst things ever to happen to comics.

10/05/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...

"Teri Kidder"? What was that?

10/05/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

In the initial arc of The Pulse the Green Goblin killed a Lois Lane lookalike named Terri Kidder. Loeb cited that as one of his inspirations for "The Maximums".

He claims it's all in good fun, but I think he's just a sourball asshat.

10/05/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeremiah said...

I'd like to point out that my experience leads me to believe that 5-year-olds with action figures produce better stories.

10/05/2005 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

Actually I'm beginning to think I picked up a copy of "Action Figure Monthly" by mistake. That glow-in-the-dark Kryptonite Batman was a giveaway.

And I can see the Terri Kidder thing being an excuse to have Superman save Gwen Stacy, but building a five (?) issue story around it seems a bit excessive.

10/05/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Loeb's first work in comics (after writing such classics of cinema as Commando, Teen Wolf, and Burglar) was a miniseries kinda-sorta reviving the Challengers of the Unknown.

It's weird to read. The miniseries is both very cool and very annoying. Dude loves his "references." The story felt very fanboy-from-Hollywood. It's worth a quarter bin pickup, though.

I'm still hacked off he used the exact same goddamn plot and structure in The Long Halloween and Hush. Did he think we wouldn't notice? Come on. "Guided tour of Batman's rogues' gallery followed by revelation that mastermind is normal person with crazy grudge."

Le snore.

10/05/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

It does have a cameo from the Terry McGinnis incarnation of Batman though (of Batman Beyond fame), and his dialogue is spot-on.

Small consolation, I know, but it was a pretty cool mement.

10/05/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

What his supporters conveniently forget is that Loeb only co-wrote Teen Wolf and Commando, and for such a big shot Hollywood writer, he's not done much since, unless you count his "consultant" job on Smallville.

This arc has been really dumb. I'd think it was neat if he had anything to say about the Avengers/Ultimates, or the Marvel Universe in general, but it's just utterly superficial and braindead stuff. It's all just so pointless.

And that he's spun the whole story arc out of the appearance of a joke extra in an issue of The Pulse speaks volumes.

I still can't believe they're letting him do The Ultimates. Jeez...

10/05/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh, and of course Loeb is returning to Hollywood next year with his "adaptation" of The Spectre, part of DC's big push of the character after its creator dies...

10/05/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

The Spirit, you mean.

10/05/2005 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

Okay, in Loeb's defense, the "Teri Kidder" thing, along with the quasi-Superman that's doing god-knows-what in Spider-Man right now (I haven't followed Spidey since before New Avengers), is one of the latest in a line of Marvel attacks on DC recently.

It started with the god-awful "Marville," which, in constructing the most painful comic ever written in order to satirize DC Comics (for being corporate and unoriginal, or something), pointed out the major flaws in Marvel far more clearly. Namely, that Marvel would actually publish "Marville."

Then, in another moment of startlingly sour grapes, J. Michael Straczynski, who has become something like Jeph Loeb without the sense of fun and self-satire (Batzarro repeating what's in his thought captions? You have to admit, that's funny), wrote an unnecessary news monologue into a throwaway scene in Amazing Spider-Man, discussing how Warner's stock went down because of a lack of originality in their graphic publishing firm (i.e., DC). He did this because some guy at DC called Joe Quesada a hack, or some nonsense, so in a startling display of maturity and friendly competition, he attacked the entire rival company.

Mr. Straczynski, your current claim to fame is a "mature" superhero team that is admittedly ripped off of DC's premier group of characters. Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

Marvel has had this complex lately that they have to be perceived as the rebels and the young, hip company, while DC has to look like the senile old grandpa by comparison. They do this by being snarky, bitter, belligerent, and totally unaware of their own faults and general lack of creativity (Gravity, She-Hulk, and Runaways rock, but where's their Ex Machina? Their Seven Soldiers? Plastic Man? The list goes on). Meanwhile, DC seems to have taken the high road, and Erik Larsen just wishes he were as good as the big names on the big two.

The Loeb thing took one of Marvel's more recent snarks, "hey, let's kill Lois Lane, because DC suxxors!" and reversed it, not only responding to Marvel's moronic criticism, but also showing "hey, our heroes are better." Whether or not that's the case, it was a decent little commentary on the current state of intercompany relations, and a much more biting satire of Marvel's current attitude than "Marville" was of...anything.

Either way, this "DC is better! No, Marvel is better!" pissing contest is bad enough when it's just fanboys on Newsarama arguing. It takes on a new and more pathetic level when the fanboys are writing it into the comics. The main difference is that Jeph Loeb isn't the EIC of DC, and most of DC doesn't engage in this sort of behavior. At Marvel, it looks like it's now standard operating procedure.

God, DC vs. Marvel sucked, but Amalgam (and the late Mark Gruenwald) represented a time when DC and Marvel actually respected each other and had a friendly rivalry. Marvel referred to them as the Distinguished Competition, DC referred to them as the Marvelous something-or-other, and they got together once a year to make a new universe. If there's anything I miss from the '90s, it's that.

10/05/2005 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Ah yeah, The Spirit. My brain went on automatic after "The Sp" apparently. Darn brain. :)

10/05/2005 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Tom, you'll have to explain how this storyline is such a "decent little commentary" because it doesn't particularly strike me as a more witty satire than Marville. For it to be so, Loeb would have to be saying something a bit more meaningful than "Superman can beat up Thor". Perhaps there's an insightful discussion of inter-company politics in there, but darn my fading eyes, I can't see it.

10/05/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

Hmmm...I thought it was a fun little comic. Nothing major, but pretty to look at and mildly amusing.

10/05/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

What I meant by "nice little commentary" was that whoever did the Pulse issue was essentially saying "hey, let's make fun of DC by having Green Goblin kill Lois Lane, because our villains are meaner, which makes us cooler." Whereas Loeb was saying "let's respond to that by having Superman save Gwen Stacy/Mary Jane, because our heroes are more virtuous and capable, which makes us cooler."

It's a little like what Busiek did to contrast the attitudes and themes of the two universes in "Avengers/JLA," except more crude and blunt, in the typical Loeb fashion. Marvel=brutal, harsh, unforgiving, and generally kind of crappy. Heroes are hated, rampant discrimination, etc. DC=bright, shining, good always triumphs. Heroes are idolized, more godlike, less flawed.

The Pulse showed, using Lois Lane, what happens to girlfriends in the Marvel Universe: they get killed by the Green Goblin. Lois Lane wouldn't last two seconds in the Marvel U. By contrast, Loeb showed that Gwen Stacy never would have died in the DCU, because DC's heroes are better than that.

Raped and burnt to a crisp? Wiped from reality and imprisoned outside time? Attacked by evil Raven and made a little nuts? Murdered in her boyfriend's bedroom while he and his bodyguard were on superhero patrol? Turned into a Zamaronian supervillain? Sure, but not tossed off a bridge.

I'm not saying it's a good commentary, I'm not saying it's a subtle commentary, but it's a commentary nonetheless, and I agree with Loeb a good deal more than I do with whoever did the Pulse. The Pulse acted out of spite and bitterness, Loeb tried to counteract that with some old-fashioned primary colors superheroics.

I'm not really into this storyline...like most Loeb stories, it seems like a lot of lead-up which is going to end up in a horribly rushed and nonsensical ending. I love McGuinness's artwork, and I like Batzarro, and I like some of the little jokes (Marvel characters talking in the Marvel font, and such). But, I was really enjoying "Public Enemies" up until that horrendous ending, and I think I'm trying not to make that mistake again.

For me, Loeb's really hit-or-miss. I liked the arc with Carlos Pacheco, pretentious though it was to reference "Whatever Happened..." but "Supergirl" was crap, as was the last issue or two of "Public Enemies." I liked a lot of Loeb's Superman run, but Hush was awful, and I can't follow the logic of "Dark Victory"'s mystery, assuming there *is* logic to it.

Um...where was I going with that? Oh, yeah. Marvel, you can have 'im. Now, let's see McGuinness working with a better writer for a change!

10/05/2005 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Fair enought Tom. I think you're overstating the depth of Superman/Batman a tad, but I get what you mean now, and I think I agree. I also agree that Busiek did it better.

10/06/2005 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

Depth? Oh, believe me, I've got cranial and ocular cavities from all the brain and eye candy of the latest Superman/Batman arc. Not since "Long Halloween" have I considered the words "Jeph Loeb" and "depth" in the same sentence, at least, not without the word "lacks" between the two.

It doesn't take depth to air fanboy quarrels in comics. Any depth on Loeb's part here, I'm sure, is mostly coincidental.

10/06/2005 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...

Tom, you do have a point. And it's quite refreshing to see someone with a positive comment on Loeb beyond "he's popular so he must be good".

The scene does work as a commentary on the difference between DC and Marvel, but it's still a 2 page throwaway scene in a 5 issue story, so if it is really the core of this entire arc it says something about the way Jephy constructs his plots, but I'm not sure what. And what is going on in his head that he trashes Marvel in the last story he writes before he goes to work for them?

10/06/2005 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I liked the Pachecho Superman/Batman arc for the most part.

Beyond that...hmmm....I liked some of his Superman run (especially the issue where he realizes that Lois is the Parasite. EXTREMELY well done).

I liked some of his early 90s Marvel work.

I liked the first two Batman Hallowwen projects.

And I liked Challengers of the Unknown.

That about does it for me and Jeph Loeb stuff that I liked.

10/06/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

That is a decent commentary Tom, except I doubt Loeb intended any of it. Any depth was accidental, I'm sure. I think he just wanted to say Superman is kewler than Spider-Man, and that's it.

As for the whole "Batzarro's thoughts echoing his speech" gimmick, it was ripped off of a TV show. I can't remember the show (may have been the Simpsons), but I particularly remember a TV comedy that had scenes of a group of guys and the first two would say something aloud followed by a voiceover of their inner monologue that revealed their true thoughts. When it was the dumb guy's turn to say something, the voiceover of his inner narration would echo the exact thing he just said. I think it was Homer Simpson. If anyone can remember the exact show that did it please remind me (I watch a LOT of TV so this happens to me sometimes).

Basic rule of thumb, if Loeb ever does a really good idea in a story, he stole it from somewhere. Period.

10/06/2005 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Kingsley Amis used it as a throwaway gag in Lucky Jim:

You're a miserable prat, Dixon thought. "You're a miserable prat," Dixon said.

Heh.

10/06/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

It was also on Buffy. In Earshot. With Cordelia.

10/06/2005 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

There was a Saturday Night Live sketch like that when Joe Montana hosted. A guy and a girl were on the couch after a date when Joe Montana (his roomate) came home. It went something like:

Guy: I hope you liked the movie. (I really want to jump her bones)
Girl: It was really interesting. It got great reviews. (God, I wish he'd just jump my bones.)
Guy: Oh, my roommate is home. (Dammit, he's going to ruin everything.)
Girl: Great. (Dammit, he's going to ruin everything.)
Guy: You'll love him. He's a great guy. (What a jerk.)
Girl: I can't wait to meet him. (He sounds like a jerk.)
Guy: Hey, Steve. This is Karen, my date. (Get out of here!)
Roommate: Oh, I'm very pleased to meet you. (I'm very pleased to meet her.)

... and so on.

10/06/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

OH MY GOD!! THAT WAS IT! That was the exact TV show I was thinking of, not the Simpsons. It was called SIncere Guy Stu, it was during the Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey years. A hilarious sketch, especially Joe Montana's last line, here's the whole transcript, it even reads funny: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/86/86istu.phtml

Great stuff. Like I said, anything clever that appears in a Jeph Loeb work is usually ripped off.

10/06/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

Wow, I completely missed that Lois Lane thing from The Pulse. Went right over my head. I thought the storyline was pretty good though, so I would consider this kind of an in-joke. I haven't read the Superman/Batman story, but from the commentary here it seems like the Gwen Stacy scene is the centerpiece of the story, rather than an in-joke. Annoying.

As for decent Jeph Loeb stuff, I think Superman: For All Seasons is pretty good.

10/07/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Wow, I only started following this blog a few weeks ago and I had no idea there was such animosity toward Jeph Loeb. I admit I was quite disappointed with him overturning the Byrne version of Krypton but I've always loved all his mini and maxi-series collaborations with Tim Sale and found his monthlies to be fun. I'm surprised at the negativity, really as it seems a little over-the-top. Did he run over someone's dog?

10/07/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

Actually, two things:

Matt: I'd totally forgotten about "Superman: For All Seasons." Easily one of my five favorite Superman stories ever.

As far as Loeb, it should be noted that he *didn't* overturn the Byrne Krypton, in fact, he *reaffirmed* it! "Return to Krypton" gave us a Phantom Zone-dwelling Krypton duplicate that turned out to be Jor-El's idealized version of the planet based on Kryptonian history. We learned as much toward the end of "Return to Krypton," and it was affirmed later on (was it "R2K2" that did that?). What it did was give us a Superman who knew the circumstances of his birth were those of Byrne's Krypton, but also got to see what his father would have wanted the world to be. The false Krypton gave Clark a profound understanding of the man his father really was.

And we got Krypto out of the deal, and two sets of parents in the Fortress's statue. That suited me just fine, and was a perfectly good way to run the series. Certainly better than the utter confusion set up by Mark Waid, and his "looky looky it da Silver Age again!" Birthright garbage.

You want something where all the ideas are ripped off? Check out Birthright. I think the only original concept in the whole damn thing is that Clark has really stunning blue eyes. Waid even stole the giant alien spider from Jon Peters' horrendous mismanagement of the Superman movie-that-wasn't.

Waid and Loeb, two of the most popular writers in comics, are to me also two of the most hit-and-miss.

10/07/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

I think you miss the point between all these little creator jokes at Marvel and DC. And that point is: they're jokes.

Bendis who wrote the Pulse, didn't write that story just to show that marvel villians are more extreme and would kill Lois Lane. He wrote it as an introduction of Jessica Jones to the Daily Bugle. The death of Teri Kidder would have been the same regardless of what her name was. He just chose that name because its Bendis and he has a since of humor like that.

As for Jeph Loeb, he's doing what Gruenwald(I think that his name) did with Squadron Supreme. However, he put Marvel characters up against DC characters to show that Jeph Loeb thinks DC characters would win. Definitely fan boyish. And any little digs, are just him poking fun at what his friends are doing. Go read the NewsARama interview again if you don't believe me.

Just because Joe Q got his rocks off on smashing DC, doesn't mean that all of Marvel is like that.

10/07/2005 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

I've been writing snarky reviews of Loeb's work for over a year now and this is the biggest response I've ever got. Maybe I should rerun some of my old ones. Particularly the Superman for All Seasons one as I'm slightly left wondering if I read a different story from the one mentioned here.

And if I remember rightly Loeb only wrote the first part of Return to Krypton - the bit where the Phantom Zone turns out to be the wardrobe to Narnia. Others were responsible for most of it, and Geoff Johns wrote the sequel that explained it.

10/07/2005 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Please repost some of your Loeb articles, especially the Superman for All Seasons one. You pointed out some good criticisms of the story over on my blog, and I'd be curious to see if anyone could defend it after seeing all the plot holes you point out.

I'm doing a review of Long Halloween this weekend over at johnnytriangles.blogspot.com. That was the book my Loeb-liking acquaintances told me would change my opinion on Jeph Loeb's work.

10/07/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"I think you miss the point between all these little creator jokes at Marvel and DC. And that point is: they're jokes."

That's the problem I personally have with it, Spencer.

Reading Loeb's thought on the point, it really DOESN'T sound like they're jokes, at least not in the same sense "you-mans" joke.

Here it is:

Now, some folks will think of me as an obsessive DC fan -- and before you all bring out your torches and storm the gate, I think Brian is a brilliant writer and a good friend -- but Brian wrote a story about young female reporter named "Teri Kidder" Get it? Teri Hatcher plus Margot Kidder = you got it! In the story, the folks at the Bugle point out that they are a real newspaper and her resume was a bit of a joke. Up to this point, I'm rolling my eyes, but I know that DC and Marvel have tweaked each other on the nose for years and it's all in good fun.

Then, Bendis had the Goblin beat her to death - something I don't recall The Goblin ever doing to Gwen, MJ, or Jessica Jones for that matter - and then dumped her corpse in the Central Park Lake.



Pardon me for not laughing. Bendis crossed the line. He could have told the exact same story, called the character Jenny Johnson and while I'm not a big fan of violence against women, I wouldn't have picked up on it. But. He. Didn't. It was Lois Lane he did that to and for what?

Since then, JMS has had great fun over in Spider-Man throwing sticks and stones; he spends an enormous amount of time on Supreme Power which is a really good book with really big ideas -- I just don't know why it has to be a rip on the Justice League? Doesn't Marvel have its own clean versions? JMS is such a talented guy, I was just bewildered as to why he took this on. I mean, look at Rising Stars -- brilliant in thought and execution -- and wholly original.

And now, Reginald Hudlin -- for whatever reason, and I suspect it is editorial -- brings in a "Kansas fed reporter who can fly and has heat vision" to pal around with Peter Parker. And the Sentry is now a member of the Justice -- I mean, New Avengers... (laughs)

So... DC must be doing something right if the guys across the street have nothing better to do than find ways of telling our stories.

And then, it struck me. It's all for fun. It's all about enjoying the stuff that makes comics, well, comics. We all do it. We come on message boards or hang around the comic book shop and point out that Clark Kent's disguise of using eyeglasses makes no sense or that nothing happens in an Ultimate book for 5 issues and the 6th one kicks ass.

And ... why should Marvel have all the fun? Superman/Batman is the DC flagship book right now. I'm very grateful for the success we've had. If there's a story like this to be told, DC and I felt it should be here. Whew! Hope you still have time for the rest of the interview!

To me, it sounds like he is a guy who just isn't very good at the point of jokes.

10/08/2005 02:11:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...

I think I finally understand the secret of Loeb's popularity. He is the ultimate fanboy success story.

Consequently all the sad little fanboys who take throwaway injokes seriously and debate for days over how a scene fits into continuity (when the truth is it was just badly written and should be ignored) support him because he is their wish fulfilment fantasy: the fanboy that made it out of the ghetto to play in the big leagues. Who probably even has a girlfriend.

10/08/2005 07:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Apodaca said...

Wow. Jeph Loeb seems like a dick. I mean, I can just see the little smirk creeping across his face as he typed that response. And after re-reading the finished piece to bask in his own glory, he punched the submit key with a triumphant flourish, turning to the refridgerator next to the computer (man, that was a genius idea!) to grab a hot pocket and a diet coke.

10/09/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

Brian,

I definitely agree with you that his is not as good at jokes. His rip on the Ultimates is just idiotic and far from funny. Bendis' joke was a little sidenote to the story he told. It seems as Loeb just made a whole story about B/S showing Marvel how much better DC characters are, which is just moronic. Its a shame because I really enjoyed his first run on B/S, but everything else has just been shite. What he is going to do with Ultimates, who knows but it does not look good at all.

10/10/2005 06:15:00 PM  
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