At the last Wizard World Chicago I attended, I ran into Gareb Shamus. I said, “Are you Gareb Shamus?” He answered, “Who’s asking?” and looked like he was afraid I was going to punch him in the mouth. I just told him I was a fan of the show but he looked braced for some kind of backlash.
I do miss Wizard. It had lost a lot of luster near the end but it was pretty cool at one point and the only thing we had.
Whoa, you bypassed the entire Joe Mad era? Age of Apocalypse?
Yep. I’ve tried to go back but it just doesn’t interest me.
I’ll cross-post this then:
I’m just surprised at the drop-off point; I can understand the stuff not working to new eyes now (like how I can’t read the “classic” Claremont material).
It has more to do with my life individually than the comics themselves. Plus, I had been losing interest in comics since the Image guys left Marvel and didn’t sustain their own books.
That era completely took me out of comics. I was not a fan of Joe Mads art, which seemed to bleed into this era.
Ultimates brought me back!
I don’t know, that era had some nice ideas but it was really directionless and dominated by crossovers, prime reasons for ditching books.
The golden age of everything is when you first get into it but they were not very good comics. Some good ideas and artwork at times but generally messy and editorially led stuff. I think Bobby’s re-read emphasises that a lot.
That’s more to do with the inclusion of throwaway books like Unlimited and annuals.
But even I have to admit that I paid less attention to the X books once Joe Mad left; apart from Bachalo the two main books had quite a stretch of non-A list artists.
The artwork of that era holds up a lot better than the writing.
Joe Mad and Bachalo I both like loads. Bobby’s latest example was very weak* but overall there was some good stuff and not all, despite accusations to the contrary, trying to fit into a Jim Lee clone style.
*most likely why none of them much are around today. Most great artists start with some very overt influences but develop their own voice.
I’ve been reading early Silver Age Captain America recently. It’s dreadful and pretty clear that Stan has absolutely no idea what to do with Cap for solo stories. The first few all revolve around fight scenes between Cap and lots of identikit enemies - two have thugs in matching uniforms, the third has a load of prisoners. These issues are also obsessed with Cap doing physical fitness demonstrations as an excuse to have him go places.
Then, Stan (and Jack Kirby I guess) decide to just do more WW2 stories for Cap, probably to avoid continuity problems with Avengers. But these are just as bad. Lee frequently insists on horrible, reductive German accenting on the dialogue for Nazis, which combined with some one dimensional characterisation (which is slightly more forgiveable given they’re Nazis) makes for some rough going. Bucky and Steve continually refer to each other as Mr Barnes and Mr Rogers, which is just weird and comes across as flirtatious, frankly.
The stupidest thing is that Cap has a secret identity even within the army. Despite the fact the army recruited him, made him Captain America and give him missions, he maintains cover as a useless private in a unit (the location of and type seems to change per story demands) and frequently has to slip away unseen to become Captain America. It makes no sense!
I think once Joe Mad became the regular artist on Uncanny, the Jim Lee look was abandoned as the house style.
By that point Jim Lee was adopting elements of J. Scott Campbell’s style (even though Campbell started off as a very solid Lee clone himself).
A solid demonstration of the change in taste is the drastic shift in the art of perennial fill-in artist Roger Cruz - two non-consecutive, quiet Uncanny issues - #308:
Not long after we had his art in the Age of Apocalypse bookends, Alpha and Omega:
That’s so interesting because Stan Lee got his start writing a Captain America story that introduced his ability to ricochet his shield, which became iconic for Cap.
Yeah and Joe Mad actually started as an Art Adams clone rather than Lee (although Lee borrowed a lot from Adams). His initial work on Excalibur was basically Adams with skinnier bodies.
Sure was, and he was, like, 3 years old at the time.
Speaking of, I found Silver Surfer: Parable on Scribd the other day, the Stan Lee/Moebius story from 88 or so. In it Galactus arrives on Earth and just stands there, while a televangelist claims he summoned Galactus to save Earth from sin. Society begins to collapse into anarchy, but at the same time there’s a huge following behind the Televangelist who’s kinda sorta defacto ruler of Earth? Meanwhile the Surfer is living as a vagrant on Earth and eventually decides he needs to step in and save the day. Turns out Galactus’ plan was to just wait for humanity to destroy itself and then eat earth.
It’s a very weird story, heavy on ham-handed symbolism and the reader joining the dots as the plot moves along at a breakneck pace. Moebius’ art is as gorgeous as one would expect, and is the real highlight of the book. I’d call it a curioisty rather than essential.
The back half of the digital edition is a graphic novel called The Enslavers, in which aliens capture and enslave every human on earth, and the Surfer saves the day. More heavy-handed symbolism, and a lot of scantily-clad women (plus a Stan-Lee penned sex scene, hooray). It’s a story which exists, I suppose.
I far preferred his Adams-clone work on Exaclibur to everything he’s done since. His manga-style work is so uninspired IMO.
Sheena bought the original hardcover trade for me several years ago for Christmas. It’s a fun story and one of few written by Lee that I have enjoyed. Moebius historically does his own lettering. So I wonder if he dialed back some of Lee’s dialog or at least the amount of it in favor of the art.
Uncanny X-Men 360 - Seagle & Bachelo
Who are those wannabes on the cover? Hmm, seems someone like Xavier is recruiting them.
Kitty, Peter and Kurt are flying back to the states after Excalibur disbands and are attacked by these faux X-Men.
So, are they good guys or bad guys?
Meanwhile, Val Cooper explains to the current X-Men that they should be taking a keen interest in the launching of the Benassi Rocket. Seagle sure does love a word balloon.
Kitty is reunited with The Prof but something not right. He goes on to say that Bastion altered him, his systems are failing him and he is dying. HHmmm.
Whoa, that rocket launch is bad news for muties.
Anyway, the two groups of X-Men show up and it’s fight time!
I wasn’t keen on Seagle when he first came aboard but I think at this point he’s grown into the X-writer role a bit.
X-Men 80 - Kelly & Peterson
The Prof has full on evil!
Kitty finds someone who might know the truth.
Wolvie uses the old sniffer to determine if Chuck really is Chuck.
Rogue channels multiple powers at will. Is that a new ability or just something that was never really touched on before.
The true villain revealed!
There’s some good action scenes here and Kelly also creates some nice tense scenes between Peter and Logan. Peterson, who I’ve never been a massive fan of does some nice work as well. However, the whole faux X-men thing is never really explained in terms of were they real, were they brainwashed and where did they go?
Adventure Comics #312
‘The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires’
By Edmond Hamilton and John Forte.
The front cover image gives the story away:
Returning to the idea that it might be possible to resurrect
Lightning Lad, we see six Legionnaires each willing to lay down their lives for
him. Well, we’ve been faked-out before with his resurrection (it turned out to
be his twin sister impersonating him), so I’m not for one minute buying that
they will be successful. But look at the six members for a moment. Out of all
the Legionnaires, why these six?
Lightning Lass, of course, she’s his twin sister and so
devoted to him that she actually impersonated him for a while after he died (ok,
she’s probably a bit unbalanced).
Saturn Girl, yes, Lightning Lad sacrificed himself to save
her life, and mainly because she was acting like a complete idiot at the time,
and I think she’s still feeling guilt for that.
Superboy, well, obviously, if anyone is going to sacrifice
his life to save anybody, not just a close friend, then it’s Superboy.
Ditto for Mon-El, who has shown himself to be unfailingly noble
and heroic in the Superboy mould.
Sun Boy? Hmm. Sun boy has always been a bit of a grandstander.
I imagine that if all the others suddenly offered themselves as sacrifices, he
would have to join in, to keep in the spotlight. Plus, look at all the
times he’s suddenly taken charge even when the elected Legion leader is
standing right next to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing wasn’t
Sun Boy’s idea. Idiot.
Chameleon Boy? This is the one that really baffles me. We
never saw any close ties between Chameleon Boy and Lightning Lad, and although
Chameleon Boy is just as heroic as any Legionnaire I don’t get why it’s he who standing
there ready to give up his life.
The other interesting thing about the cover concept is that
they’re clearly sharing the ‘chance’ that they will die. It’s like Russian roulette
with Lightning Lad’s life as the prize. In a way that’s a lot more disturbing
than a single hero sacrificing himself for a friend.
So much for the cover. I don’t think I’ve got the energy
left to review the story after all that!
But it’s a typically excellent Edmond Hamilton story, packed
with inventive detail and yet telling the story in a succinct 15 pages. Hamilton
recaps Lightning Lad’s sacrifice, and reveals that Mon-El has been to his home planet
Daxam, a planet of scientific geniuses, to find, basically, a cure for death.
I would like to have seen an exploration of Mon-El’s visit
to Daxam, considering that he hasn’t seen it for 1,000 years. But that’s a different
story, and Hamilton wouldn’t do it justice by shoehorning it into this
narrative, so he wisely doesn’t even mention it.
Mon-El says that he didn’t find a cure, but Saturn Girl’s
telepathy tells her that he’s holding out on them. But why? It makes no sense!
Then, after some interludes on various interesting alien worlds
and an astounding super-feat by Superboy:
(plus an off-the-cuff science lesson, because Hamilton’s a
proper science fiction writer) the truth is revealed, and of course it’s
exactly what we learned on the cover: there is a way to resurrect Lightning
Lad, but it will involve a sacrifice.
The conclusion of the story sees a remarkable round of
self-sacrificing one-upmanship. Mon-El kept the method secret because he wanted
to sacrifice himself. Saturn Girl immediately offers to be the one, and of
course Sun Boy is not to be outdone. And I think I’ve figured out the reason behind
Chameleon Boy’s involvement:
He didn’t actually volunteer, did he? But who can say no to
Superboy? So, without wanting to denigrate Cham’s bravery, I do feel he was
railroaded into it.
Not be out-sacrificed, Saturn Girl rigs the game by using a special
‘wand’ that is guaranteed to attract lightning in preference to the others,
ensuring it is her life that is given up for Lightning Lad. And so it
transpires, and so she dies as Lightning Lad comes back to life.
But, in a final twist (but not a deus ex machina, as
Hamilton has carefully foreshadowed it), it’s Proty, Chameleon Boy’s telepathic,
shape-changing pet, who has taken Saturn Girl’s place.
So everything works out for everybody (except poor Proty).
Proty shows himself to be a hero as worthy as any of the Legionnaires, and it’s
a shame he didn’t live to join the Legion of Super-Pets—I think there would
have been a good stories to tell there. And as a parting thought, I leave you
with this: Proty’s sacrifice doesn’t diminish the heroism of the Legionnaires,
who were all ready to make the same sacrifice, but it does show that he was
more clever than any of them.