Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Why Jeph Loeb can't stop losing

I decided to stop making fun of Jeph Loeb's comics in this space awhile ago, since I recognize that the kind of story he likes to tell is simply not my cup of tea, and I understand that some people enjoy Krypto or Supergirl of (I kid you not) Batzarro, etc. But then he had to go and talk a little trash in a really embarassing manner, so let's spend a little time punching holes in his arguement, shall we?

In this interview over at Newsarama, Loeb disusses his latest Superman/Batman arc, and why the villains of the piece are pastiches of the Avengers.

But, if I had to pick one particular moment when I knew I had to tell this story it was, oddly enough, when I read The Pulse #2 by Brian Michael Bendis.

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?


In other words, if you've never read a Marvel Comic will you understand what's going on? Sure. If you have, well, just remember -- Bendis started it! (laughs)
Now I'm not mad that he's ragging on Marvel. Whatever. It's just the way he's doing it that is so ridiculous. Has he seriously only read Silver Age DC comics? Does he not realize that Marvel and DC have been doing this shit to each other SINCE THE 80'S? He wonders why Supreme Power is a rip on the Justice League? 'Cause it's the friggin' SQUADRON SUPREME, man! They've been around forever! There was that whole miniseries that got all that critical praise (it is, thematically, a forebearer to Kingdom Come and The Authority, and came out BEFORE Watchmen), then they were supporting characters/villains/allies to the Avengers for a long time. They were created by Mark Gunewald, who was always mad that Marvel and DC's characters couldn't exist in the same big universe. So the Squadron Supreme was his way of coping. And JMS is now doing a take on those characters, that, honestly, is way better than anything DC is doing with them right now. And I think it goes without saying that I think Rising Stars doesn't hold a candle to Supreme Power.

As for The Pulse, I honestly didn't notice she was Lois Lane. Seriously. Maybe I'm dense, but I missed it. But isn't it cute how mad he gets about it? Hey, Jeph! She's not real! Also, that scene was supposed to be horrific, not funny. Bendis doesn't do stuff like that. You're thinking of Millar. And the reason why it's so easy to ape those characters is because they'r so iconic and recognizeable. Anyone off the street can say "Oh hey, that dude's like Superman/Wonder Woman/Batman...", etc. But how many can say "Oh hey, that dude's like Ant Man"? If anything, using pastiches like that seems like a compliment more than anything. Like, "Hey, your character is so universally recognized that I can make vague allusions and everyone will nod their heads in understanding."

And finally, Bendis didn't start it. Grunewald actually started it, if you want to throw stones. And it's been going on ever since. Where was Jeph Loeb to cry foul during Alan Moore's work on Supreme? Or is it only when DC characters get used? Or else we might have heard some squawks during Millar's run on Authority (in which the stars of that book brutally and bloodily slaughtered a whole legion of ersatz Marvel characters, including the Avengers and X-Men)? Or Warren Ellis' Planetary, in which the main villains are clearly supposed to be the Fantastic Four (and those same villains kill versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern)?

This is just something that's been so firmly entrenched in the mainstream for so long. And here Loeb comes along, acting like it's a brand new phenomenon. If you're going to talk trash, at least do it intelligently.


Blogger Alan said...

I can't wait for the next issue of The Pulse where it is revealed that Jeph Loeb is actually Jeff Stone! Zah?! Yep! It's coming!

11:53 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Loeb actually means Stone in Swahili. It's true. Look it up.

And yeah, I totally call bullshit on Loeb for more than the usual reasons. I mean, maybe it was a playful jibe. But the Teri Kidder I read was nervous, desperate, and completely lacking in confidence. And say what you will for Lois Lane, but she was NEVER any of those things.

1:08 PM  

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