Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Supergirl should be good

It's around about that time of the month where I'd do my regularly scheduled rant about what Jeph Loeb has done to Supergirl this time. But you know, I can't even be bothered. I mean, if Jephy has reached the barrel bottom scraping level of lazy writing where he's recycling material from Smallville, I don't see why I should be making any effort*.

People have asked why I even bother reading any Loeb stuff at all, and where other comics are concerned they might have a point, but with Supergirl it's personal. I was crushing on Supergirl before I knew what a crush was. We go way back. Supergirl and I have history, man.

So when some guy comes along and turns my gal pal into some vapid anorexic bimbo I'm not about to drop her because she's made some bad choices. It wouldn't be the first time she's been led astray, and I console myself with the knowledge that I've been hanging out with Supergirl a whole lot longer than Jephy has been writing anything, and she and I will still be around long after this brief misguided affair is over.

*Note: for those who are wondering how this issue fits in with Infinite Crisis continuity of Superman #223 two weeks ago where Kara tells Supes she's going off on an adventure with Troia, or Infinite Crisis #2 last week where she meets Troia for the first time, I can only point and laugh at your niavete.

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32 Comments:

Blogger CalvinPitt said...

Honestly, I was more confused trying to figure out which Luthor it was. Issue 2 showed Grren armor, Kryptonite having Luthor talking with Calculator, so I figure he's the Luthor that's running the Society. But I didn't think he had armor. So now I'm confused.

Oh forget it.

11/22/2005 06:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

People have asked why I even bother reading any Loeb stuff at all, and where other comics are concerned they might have a point, but with Supergirl it's personal. I was crushing on Supergirl before I knew what a crush was.

I felt similar rage at Chuck Austen writing Husk.

Paige and I have yet to reconcile.

11/22/2005 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I actually managed to spit a nickel when I read that Loeb has been hired as a producer on LOST. I thought that was something people only talked about doing.

11/22/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

He's not just a producer, he's on the writing staff. I guess maybe they figured their writing was too good.

11/22/2005 09:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Then again, this season- Sun doesn't think to look for her wedding ring WHERE SHE BURIED THE BOTTLE! Jack just lets Desmond RUN AWAY because he asks him about his wife!- shows a level of contempt for audience intelligence often seen in Jeph Loeb- Even though he SAID Tommy Elliott wasn't Hush, he WAS- work.

11/22/2005 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Yes, but Lost is a show that has a good story with some plot holes. Loeb's work is just a series of plot holes with no good stories anywhere in sight.

11/22/2005 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

despite everything he's done, he will always have the witching hour mini series he did with Chris Bachalo, that was like the best thing i read all year in high school.

11/22/2005 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

T,

You've articulated exactly what I didn't realize I was thinking about both Loeb and LOST.

11/22/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

I like most of Loeb's stuff.

He's very good at tailoring his scripts to the artist he's working with, which is the single most important element of comics writing, far as my enjoyment goes...

And he keeps the pace of his stories consitently snappy, which is second.

(Sure, he sacrafices logic and occasionally coherence, but logic is waaaaaay down on the list of things I look for in stories about adults who dress up in their little pajamas and shoot lasers out of their nose.

And he can't plot. But I forgive him for that 'cause I can't string together a coherent plot to save my life.

That said: Supergirl. Blech. The "Bad-ass, updated for the nineties, in-your-face attitude Superman..." Reminds me of Azrael/Batman. Or Poochy from the Simpsons.

To my mind, Supergirl only really worked as a character in her first few appearances, when she was living at the orphanage and the world didn't even know that Supergirl exists. This is probably the most melancholy set-up for a superhero series I've ever read, but one that had to resonate strongly with her target audience... And, heck, ANY audience.

So while I'm for the Pre-Crisis-y, easy to understand Superman's cousin origin, the current hypersexualized portrayal is diametrically opposed to the way Supergirl *works.* It doesn't need to be all Bruce Willis action movie like Superman/Batman. Keep Supergirl stories fun, sweet, and always a little sad.

11/23/2005 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Aya Ayuvara said...

Hmm,
I hear a lot of people complaining about this Supergirl creative team at the moment, not only here, but also elsewhere, and I wonder how well the book sells.

Everyone is complaining, but someone had to have that choice made, right? And I suppose the people at DC don't roll dice or something to decide who takes what book.

And by the way: As mostly, when I read so many bad comments and reviews on a book I can't help but say: I like it. I like supergirl. Her stories are not the best, but I have read far worse. I can enjoy the book. I even like her looks.
So and now you're free to run me into the ground.

Oh, and by the way: bothat the moment existing "Supergirls" have a "problem" dress and sexyness-wise.
I mean, Powergirl's ...errm... upper body isn't really..errm... standard either, is it?

11/23/2005 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...


I hear a lot of people complaining about this Supergirl creative team at the moment, not only here, but also elsewhere, and I wonder how well the book sells.


A lot, because Loeb has a large following of fanboys who will buy anything he writes. A more relevent question would be how many will it sell once he leaves in a few issues time?

Everyone is complaining, but someone had to have that choice made, right? And I suppose the people at DC don't roll dice or something to decide who takes what book.

No, they obviously gave it to one of their most popular writers purely because he was popular and with utter disregard for whether it would be appropriate, or even good for the comic in the long term. But that's a whole other rant.

Oh, and by the way: bothat the moment existing "Supergirls" have a "problem" dress and sexyness-wise.
I mean, Powergirl's ...errm... upper body isn't really..errm... standard either, is it?


*shug*
I just think it's ugly. The costume, that is. And the painfully thin girl wearing it.

11/23/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

It should also be noted that Wizard is Loeb's biggest fan. And Wizard consistently outsells most comics.

Or as one employee said to me 7 years ago, "Well, unlike everyone else, they HAVE to be nice to him."

11/23/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Church said...

I just wonder at Marionette's strange obsession with a writer whose work she obviously has a strong distaste for.

I mean, I don't go off for page after page about, say, Chuck Dixon - I just don't read his damned comics.

With so many good comics out there, I find this behavior really baffling.

11/23/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...

I just wonder at Marionette's strange obsession with a writer whose work she obviously has a strong distaste for.

Since this is the entire subject of the post you are responding to I can only assume that a) you didn't bother to read it, or b) you are a troll.

11/23/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"
A lot, because Loeb has a large following of fanboys who will buy anything he writes. A more relevent question would be how many will it sell once he leaves in a few issues time?"

Loeb? That's not my perception at all. Loeb's strength (like I said before) is that he makes the artists look good.

His popularity is do less to slavish following of his writing then the fact he works on major charcters (Superman, Batman, Spider-man, the Hulk, Supergirl) with extremely popular artists. (Jim Lee, Michael Turner, Ed Mcguiness.)

And, I'll say again, it seems a tad silly to write multiple articles about Loeb's writing whilst completely ignoring his strengths as a writer (which I listed last time, 'n I'd go so far as to say are undeniable) and focus only on the elements you don't like.

11/23/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Geez. BeaucoupKevin doesn't like Chuck Dixon? I thought everybody liked Chuck Dixon. How can you not like Chuck Dixon?

P.S. More Otter Prime, please.

P. P. S. If there was an otter prime shirt, I would totally buy it.

P. P. P. S. "FINE! Otter Prime will wag his MIGHTY tail, and blink a few times." Heeeeheeeeheeeeheee.

11/23/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Church said...

Marionette:

No, I'm not trolling - I am just wondering why you keep this up. This is the third or fourth entry you've written here where you wonder WHY OH WHY DO I KEEP READING THESE CRAPPY JEPH LOEB COMICS instead of writing about, oh, comics you enjoy. I mean, I love Supergirl, too. Seriously - when Kara first appeared on the Superman animated series, flying over the farm, I wept a tiny bit with joy. This is why I've chosen to not read her comic when Loeb's writing it. It's an easy choice - there's 30 or 40 years of "pure" Supergirl material, so I can always find some of that instead of rehashed fanboy wankism.

Angsting over the creative direction of a corporate owned character being merged with a writer that you don't like when you could point out good things done with her strikes me as unhealthy, especially when it's a writer that you've repeatedly stated your distaste for.

11/23/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

Markandrew - Your list of "undeniable strengths" may outweigh Loeb's faults in your opinion. My opinion happens to differ.

kevin church - This article was not about Jeph Loeb at all. It was about my long time affection for Supergirl and why it will survive her current mistreatment. Had I simply wanted to shred Loeb's latest work I wouldn't have dismissed it in the first paragraph.

In fact I've only done two other articles that even mention Jeph Loeb here so I'm not sure what the big deal is. And sorry, but no, I'm not only going to write about how wonderful stuff is. If that's your thing I suggest you go read Wizard.

11/23/2005 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Church said...

Marionette:

And sorry, but no, I'm not only going to write about how wonderful stuff is. If that's your thing I suggest you go read Wizard.

That's not my point and I'd like to think you were intelligent enough to know I was saying otherwise. I am just wondering what this negativity that you seem to carry about proudly like a badge does for you.

At this point, it's just a "last word" contest on your own blog. I won't be able to say how I feel your posts come across to me without you feeling personally insulted, and you shouldn't really care.

At this point, it's obvious to me that I shouldn't read your posts here, much like you probably shouldn't read comics written by your personal white whale.

11/23/2005 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Church said...

Also, at this point, I'd like to point out that I overused "at this point" and "point" in the last comment.

And that's all there is to say about that.

11/23/2005 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

MarkAndrew said:
Sure, [Loeb] sacrafices logic and occasionally coherence, but logic is waaaaaay down on the list of things I look for in stories about adults who dress up in their little pajamas and shoot lasers out of their nose.
That's a lazy argument. Just because the subjects of the story don't abide by real-world logic doesn't mean that story logic is unimportant.

In fact, basic story logic is even more important in such cases; you've got to have some sort of stability in there, otherwise what's the point.

Unless you enjoy rampant surrealism, of course. :)

11/23/2005 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

Kevin, I give up. You win. You can have the last word.

You probably ought to get your points looked at, though.

11/23/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I thought the scene where they showed Supergirl having a crush on Nightwing and basically losing the ability to speak properly around him was adorable.

This series has a few problems right now. One, it's running behind and events in the DCU have surpassed it. Two, we haven't progressed very far along anything resembling a storyline.

Both can be fixed.

11/23/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"And, I'll say again, it seems a tad silly to write multiple articles about Loeb's writing whilst completely ignoring his strengths as a writer (which I listed last time, 'n I'd go so far as to say are undeniable) and focus only on the elements you don't like."

He has strengths?

Kevin, I can't speak for Marionette but I can give you my own reasons for incessant Loeb-bashing. Like you, I have writers that I dislike and choose to ignore: Michilinie, Raab, Grayson, Winick, etc. No problem there. But Loeb, I harp on him whereas with others I simply ignore. Why?

Because it's like the dude is inescapable. You can't ignore him. Soon as I got into smallville, Loeb joined 2nd season and turned it into bad fanfic. I like the concept of Ultimates and I dig the art of Joe Madureira...yet the only way to get either is by reading...Loeb. my favorite show right now is Lost. Guess who I just found out is joining the writing cast in a supervisory capacity?

So there lies my problem with Loeb. Unlike other writers that I dislike and ignore, Loeb's the kind of writer that finds you.

11/24/2005 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"That's a lazy argument. Just because the subjects of the story don't abide by real-world logic doesn't mean that story logic is unimportant."

Not sure what you mean by "story logic" so much.

Take the first Superman/Batman arc. (Which I loved.)

One cool thing happens. (Batman and Superman fight future Superman.)

Then another cool thing happens.
(Batman and Superman fight a bunch of villains.)
This second thing may or may not be tangentally connected to the first thing that happened.

But it's still a cool thing in and of itself.

Then a third cool thing happens. (Superboy, Robin, Huntress, Krypto etc.... invade the White House.)

Again, this third cool thing may or (more likely) may not be related to anything else that has or will happened.

So as long as you understand and accept the story logic, (IE cool thing happen) it works fine.

"
In fact, basic story logic is even more important in such cases; you've got to have some sort of stability in there, otherwise what's the point."

The point is: Cool stuff happens! Ed Mcguinness draws good! Bam! Pow! Explosions!

"Unless you enjoy rampant surrealism, of course. :)"

Well, yeah. Big 'ol Samuel Beckett fan here.

But that's fairly irrelevant.

The art is as much the point as the story, at least to Art History Major me.

And when Loeb is paired with an artist I like, I'm confident he'll play to the artist's strengths, and the artist will delivera a baravura job, and he'll give the artist cool stuff to draw.

I certainly don't ask anymore from the guy writin' Superman.

11/25/2005 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Not sure what you mean by "story logic" so much.

Take the first Superman/Batman arc. (Which I loved.)"


I'll show you an example of story logic and how Loeb is incapable of it.

The first Superman/Batman storyline Loeb has President Luthor blaming Superman for a kryptonite meteor. No proof, nothing, and the public just believes him. Why? because that's what the plot calls for.

So a reward is offered, and a bunch of people INCLUDING WANTED VILLAINS show up to get the reward. How on earth are wanted villains going to collect a reward? Seriously. And even some superheroes are going after Supes and Bats, which I find hard to believe.

I read an interview with Loeb and he said the storyline was supposed to be a political allegory for Bush blaming Saddam and Iraq for terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and invading Iraq. What a stupid metaphor! Saddam definitely had weapons of mass destruction at some point and used them to commit genocide; the debate was whether he had them now. We know he had them in the past because he used them on his own people. Reasonable minds could differ as to whether Saddam had them now, but it's at least believable to suspect such a thing about a dictator that killed scores of his own people. Superman on the other hand saved the world and the universe countless times. How can you use Superman as a Saddam stand-in, it just invalidates the whole metaphor.

That's the problem with Loeb, he never goes beyond the most surface level thinking. I know the argument is that you shouldn't analyze him so deeply because it's supposed to be mindless fluff, but by his own admission the story is actually a political critique.

11/25/2005 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Just found out, Loeb's being replaced by Rucka on Supergirl. At least we know the tradition of nonstop narration boxes will continue on the title.

11/25/2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"The first Superman/Batman storyline Loeb has President Luthor blaming Superman for a kryptonite meteor. No proof, nothing, and the public just believes him. Why? because that's what the plot calls for."

Oh yeah.

You're right. I missed that.

And, now that I look closer, I found another one!

That dude in the long underwear and Libearce cape... he's freaking flying!

What the hell!

That's such !bullshit~!, man?

I mean, I had high school biology at 8 in the morning and slept a lot, but don't you need, like, a certain balance between internal and external air pressure that human's just ain't anamatomomically equipped for?

I find THAT pretty hard to believe.

Honestly, my suspension-of-disbelief-ometer is set pretty dang high the minute I pick up a superhero comic.

I understand that you have hard and fast rules about which logical errors you decide to let bother you, and which logical errors you decide to let slide.

But the whole thing puzzles me. And I'm pretty dang dubious about Kelvin's argument as well.

It certainly doesn't seem to apply to superhero comic's kissin' cousin, the futuristic novel, which , as a genre, is pretty well evenly divided behind logically based extrapolative fiction based on imaginative application of rock hard scientific prinicples in the Issac Asimov vein...

And Space Opera, where there's space monsters and shit. No real reason. Just go with it.

See, you're not differentiating "story" logic from "logic" logic.

And the story (Underline! Bold! I can't do HTML tags!) logic in S-B # 1-6 is fairly easy to deduce.

Loeb thought of a bunch of cool things for Mcguninness to draw. He wants to put them in order with as little downtime as possible in between.

I'd speculate that Jeph Loeb is capable of coming up with a reason for Luthor to legally let supervillains walk around or Batman kicking Captain Marvel in the back and smacking him into a mountain whatever plot hole you happen to find.

I'd further speculate that Jeph Loeb believes the reader is likewise capable of coming up with his or her OWN explanations for these things, and instead of bringing the plot to a screeching halt to explain how Gorilla Grodd got diplomatic immunity, he keeps the story train 'a chuggin' a long.

Having read decade after decade of soap operatic style X-men-type comics which WOULD cheerfully stop the plot for eight pages to expain how the Toad or who-the-fuck ever got diplomatic immunity, I find Loeb's Show the most Interesting Scene You Can philosophy a welcome change of pace.

(At least when he's with an artist I like, definitely not the case with either of his Supergirl stories, to quickly dart back on topic.)

"I read an interview with Loeb and he said the storyline was supposed to be a political allegory for Bush blaming Saddam and Iraq for terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and invading Iraq."

Uh-huh.

Sadly, the whole "intraweb" thing has been damn near useless in locating this interview where Jeph Loeb stated that he's using Superman to represent as a stand in for Saddamn Hussein.

(I KNOW! I'm shocked too!)

Half an hour of googling (An' I've spent the last two years working in library reference, so it's GOOD Googling) have turned up exactly one quote from a poster at Newarama .

The quote is as follows "NRAMA: Alright - the first arc's story in a thumbnail -Luthor blames Superman for the Kryptonite asteroid heading for earth Is Luthor…nuts? He has zero evidence of something fairly outlandish, and he thinks he can mobilize the country to support….oh…wait…why Mr. Loeb, are you making a rather oblique political commentary?"

Note the lack (BOLD UNDERLINE ITTALIC) of an answer (BOLD UNDERLINE ITALLIC) from Mister Loeb proclaiming that, yes, he views Luthor 'n Bush and Superman 'n Saddam Hussein as pretty much the same dude.

Now I'd conjecture that it's entirely possible that Jeph Loeb did have a general political allegory in mind, something along the lines of "Blatant, absolute trust in the government is not a good thing."

Which is the backbone of my political philosophy. So I can't fault him too much for that.

"Reasonable minds could differ as to whether Saddam had them now, "

Jeezus.

How shall I put this tactfully:

(A) It's somewhat unbecoming for a gentleman of good posture and breeding to allow his political philosophy yo obfuscate his perceptions of Actual Outside Reality.

(B) No. I don't think there's currently much disagreement among reasonable individuals as to whether or not Sadamm Hussein has current possession of "weapons of mass destruction." They usually don't let you take those things in with you to jail.

(C) In fact, there's precious few diversionary opinions among individuals who would fall under the umbrella of "reasoability" re: the presence of a huge cache of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that the US contingent that's currently occupying Iraq hasn't found yet AND hasn't been used by those individuals who are opposed to the presence of the US contingent that's currently occupying Iraq to kill off large numbers of the US contingent that's currently occupying Iraq.

Once again, I find myself unsure how to approach this tactfully...

Honestly, I don't know if this is your constant approach to the day-to-day world...

But, based purely on my limited experience from your posts on this thread and a brief check on some of the stuff you've written about Loeb on Newarama, I'm noticing an inability to step back from emotional involvement and regard both works of craft (art?) and current events through the clear lens of logic.

Despite his faults, Loeb has some huge strengths as a craftsman. I don't have the book in front of me, but there was a beautiful sequence in S/B 5 where Nightwing's fighting Luthor and as Luthor takes Dick down the camera sloooowwwwly moves back and up, through three widescreen panels, until we're above the action and we can only see a sillohette where Luthor delivers the final blow.

That. Is good comics craft.

Likewise you end an argument which I can see the logical validity of by referring to 99.9%-established-facts as something that "Reasonable minds could differ" on...

leading a response of

"Ok."

"Uh-huh."

"Yeah, that makes sense."

"Yup, I can see this."

"Gee. This dude's on Crack."

from your audience.

Well, at least from me.

Effective criticism, in my eyes, is based on two questions: How does this work well, and how does this work poorly. And there's an answer to both of those questions for (almost) any commerical or artistic product produced by professionals.

11/26/2005 05:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Rucka on Supergirl?

Do I even need to make the lesbian jokes?

11/27/2005 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

That's a really long response to read in the extremely narrow column alotted in a "comments" thread. It started hurting my eyes trying to read it all the way through! :)

I do disagree with you that just because some parts of a comic are illgoical, like a man flying, that means that nothing else illogical should be challenged either. I mean, if Superman was in the middle of a fight and he inexplicably decided that he had to take a break to fly back to Smallville and assrape a stray cat, I'm sure you'd say that was illogical. Sure that's an extreme example, but my point is that there's a difference between unrealistic and implausible, and I supposed everyone defines that threshold differently.

When Morrison sells his pseudoscience in All-Star SUperman, it's no less unrealistic than the pseudoscience that occurs in Loeb's Superman work. But Morrison can sell it and make it sound a little more plausible. And that's without the annoying overexplanation or exposition used by some of the more "fanboyish" writers. I don't think things have to be one extreme or the other. I don't want everything explicitly explained, but if something is nonsensical, then I expect it to have SOME lip service paid to it. Unless it's surrealistic or it's a Silver Age book that's supposed to be nonsensical.

I do agree that every thing shouldn't be spelled out for the reader though, and it is good to have the reader fill in the gaps themselves as well. Morrison did this pretty well in New X-Men. But some things in that first arc of S/B I believe were left out because Loeb just had no idea what to do and just avoided it all together. For example the whole "castling" gimmick with Superman and Batman against Captain Marvel and Hawkman. To me it seemed like Loeb just wanted to use the "castling" term because it sounded cool, but never really thought it out. After all, how can Batman think taking on Captain Marvel is a good idea. He's basically Superman without the magic and kryptonite weaknesses. So when I saw the castling technique, I was impressed because I thought Loeb was going to show us something cool Batman had up his sleeve. He had to have something in store for Captain Marvel in order to suggest such a tactic, right? Alas...no. You might say he just wanted the reader to deduce for himself how Marvel and Hawkman last. I think after doing the "castling" thing, he just thought "Now what? Oh screw it, I'll just jump ahead in the story and resolve it off-panel." Maybe your take is right, who knows?


But, based purely on my limited experience from your posts on this thread and a brief check on some of the stuff you've written about Loeb on Newarama, I'm noticing an inability to step back from emotional involvement and regard both works of craft (art?) and current events through the clear lens of logic.


With all due respect, you're totally wrong. I think logic is my strong suit, even when I do express myself emotionally. My point was that Saddam Hussein is a poor analogue for Superman. What's illogical about that? I'd debate the rest of the points you were trying to make about Hussein, but I honestly couldn't figure out what you were trying to say, it got a little long-winded and confusing. It wasn't very concise.

Anyhoo, cheers and welcome to the blog as a regular. Look forward to your contributions!

11/28/2005 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

MarkAndrew, I just find it odd that you don't mind if a story makes no sense.

I won't try to argue you out of that position, but I do find it really odd.

11/30/2005 07:59:00 PM  
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