Tagged: Brian Bendis

Joe Corallo: Your Friendly Neighborhood Spectacular

This past weekend I saw Spider-Man Homecoming with my friend Chap. We went to the theater right by us early in the afternoon on Saturday. It was the best experience I’ve had seeing a Spider-Man movie in theaters since I saw Spider-Man 2 with fellow ComicMix writer Arthur Tebbel back in 2004. That was thirteen years ago.

So much of what makes this movie work is Spider-Man himself. Tom Holland (no relation to Alec Holland, a.k.a. Swamp Thing) manages to nail playing both a boy with a superhero physique with enough awkward mannerisms to make it totally believable that he would be perceived as big nerd even by nerd science school standards. He handles the social anxiety and doubt of a teenage Peter Parker better than just about anyone else I’d seen play it or write it. Tom Holland approaches the character with a neediness, desperation, love, and affection that really elevates Spider-Man into being a character that’s unique in this overcrowded superhero landscape which should help make this franchise stand out in future movies. I imagine Tom Holland will also be getting a lot of offers to play roles that Michael Cera would have been offered ten years ago.

Michael Keaton is a stellar villain here, and after Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shows a course correction on Marvel’s part in terms of making better villains. This has been one of the shared universe’s weakest points. Keaton elevates a silly, gimmicky comic book villain into a character with nuance and strong motivation. The downside here is that if you want to go read a comic with a good Vulture story, good luck finding one as good as this.

Many of the background characters were people of color, which was very refreshing. Peter’s best friend, his love interest, Flash Thompson, the high school gym teacher, the principal, Shocker and many others were non-white. These movies need to do this more often in order to keep them fresh and timely. Yes, not all of these characters were nonwhite, but many of them were created fifty to nearly eighty years ago and the times they are a changin’. They also gavespecial thanks to Dwayne McDuffie in the credits, as he created Damage Control. I made it a point to look for his name.

Needing more of a Spider-Man fix this weekend I took my copy of Kraven’s Last Hunt off the shelf and read that as well. It’s a very different kind of Spider-Man story; the exact opposite of what was offered in Spider-Man Homecoming. The optimism was replaced with cynicism, the love and affection coming from Kraven in his own sick way as Spider-Man, through the fate of circumstance, is reduced to a damaged shell of his former self; at least for a time. The stakes are higher and the villains more lethal.

Kraven’s Last Hunt is a thoughtful work exploring life, depression, and how we move past trauma. It’s one of my favorite Spider-Man stories, but in part because of how untypical it is for a Spider-Man story. If the character went down that direction more often, it would lose its impact. While it’s a darker place, it’s the kind of story I do think this new Spider-Man movie franchise could tackle towards the very end.

I know that I was saying earlier how this movie makes Vulture a more interesting villain than he typically is, but in all honesty, the most depressing thing that comes from watching Spider-Man Homecoming is that no Spider-Man story is like it. If you weren’t reading the comics and now you wanted to, I cannot recommend a single Spider-Man comic that feels the same way. The closet might be BendisUltimate Spider-Man which will always have a special place in my heart for bringing me back to Marvel Comics, but even then it’s much different.

You like Ned? Too bad! You like Liz? Oh well! Do you like this Flash Thompson? Go somewhere else! Does this Spider-Man speak to you more than any others you’ve seen in the movies or on TV? Sorry, but you’ll have to wait until the next movie because he’s not like this in any of the comics.

I grew up loving Spider-Man. Yes, I know I wrote that whole long column about how much I love X-Men, but Spider-Man was up there for me too. I loved watching Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the 90s animated series, collecting the action figures from it, playing video games like The Amazing Spider-Man vs The Kingpin, Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage which was just a Streets of Rage clone but I still enjoyed it, and a whole lot more.

I really love the character. I want to love the comics so badly. I haven’t liked the comics in years. In many years. It saddens me that a character I grew up loving so thoroughly and was excited to talk about and get immersed in through comics and games as a kid has so thoroughly alienated me. The character has been diminished through clones, copycat characters, alternate universes, gimmicks, clumsy resets, body swapping, and moves to go backward instead of forwards.

I know some people are enjoying the current Spider-Verse and I’m glad they are. Not every comic should be written for me. However, after seeing Spider-Man Homecoming I have some hope that maybe, just maybe, the comics will restore some of that magic that’s been lost over time in the same way that Tom Holland showed me that Spider-Man is still spectacular.

Mike Gold: Why Is It?

Why is it… that 20th Century Fox’s Legion teevee series is so good but their X-Men movies suck so bad?

Why is it… now that Geek Culture has become so damn legitimate, I can no longer afford to be a Geek?

Why is it… that Wild Dog has lasted longer on television than it did in the comics?

Why is it… now that Marvel understands that their Civil War II Big Event was not well-received by readers or retailers and that their other recent Big Events hardly were any better received, they decided to restore the Marvel Universe to its more traditional roots – by launching still another Big Event?

Why is it… that Krypto was named Krypto? Do you know any Earthlings who named their dog Eartho? Not even the Marx Brothers named their dog that. And if Krypto were to chase a car, he’d catch it and rip it apart with his teeth. How do you train him to not do that? Bop him on the head with a rolled up newspaper and he’ll rip your lungs out.

Why is it… that Warren Beatty spent millions and millions in legal bills to protect his rights to a Dick Tracy movie sequel – and then did nothing with it? For some reason, Warren Beatty has been on my mind the past few days. Maybe he’s going to reprise his role as Milton Armitage in a Many Lives of Dobie Gillis remake.

Why is it… that comics fans seem to loathe Ben Affleck? He’s one of our better actors and outside of Gal Gadot his performance was just about the best part of Batman v. Superman. You wanna dump on a superhero actor, dump on Henry Cavill. He can’t act worth a damn, he can’t even deliver lines, and he’s so stiff you’d think cameras were his Kryptonite. They might be at that.

Why is it… that the GrimJack movie hasn’t happened?

Why is it… that the return of Reed Richards happened on the last page of the current issue of The Despicable Iron Man, or whatever that title is called? Actually, I really dug it. Which begs the question…

Why is it… that Brian Bendis seems to be on so many fanboy shitlists? I like his work. Yeah, he’s pretty much got one voice for most of his characters, but it’s a good voice. And he remains one of the very few writers who can make a three-page conversation compelling.

Why is it… that two different publishers are publishing their own versions of the Harvey Comics characters at the same time? Are their license contracts written as Mad-Libs books? Is NBCUniversal (this week’s owner of Harvey Comics, as of this writing) this sloppy about all their catalogs? Can I get the rights to Late Night With David Letterman, just to get that video tape library out of the vault? And, speaking about Harvey Comics…

Why is it… that Universal hasn’t made a Hot Stuff live action movie? Maybe they could get Ben Affleck to star. Or write. Or direct.

Why is it… that I can’t write one of these columns without mentioning Donald Trump?

Mike Gold: Archie Is Too Cool For Words

ramones wide

Lately, my Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind kickass rock and blues Internet radio show has spilled over into my ComicMix column. But it’s hard for me to restrain myself, and besides, self-restraint isn’t exactly my long suit.

Since every living person, as well as the estates of many of the dead, makes all kinds of “big” announcements at SDCC, the smart people (Hi, Martha!) make their big announcements the week before the show. They’ll get better exposure in the online comics news sites, and this year they avoid having to compete for attention with a 70-year old Creamsicle media hog with severe bigotry issues.

Ramones & ArchieSo our friends at Archie Comics cleverly chose last week to announce their latest bizarre crossover, Archie Meets The Ramones. This past decade or so, Archie Comics (as opposed to the character, Archie Andrews) have been the most innovative and risk-taking of the Original Comics Publishers. Archie has methodically testing new concepts, new interpretations of their characters, super and non, and new ways of running their company to provide the revenue to launch such projects. I think I read all of their new-material comics save their Sonic the Hedgehog line, and I like what they’re doing.

They’ve done unusual crossovers before – Archie Meets The Punisher probably is the one best-known to the ComicMix audience. They’ve done rock’n’roll based crossovers before. But linking up with The Ramones is a whole ‘nother matter. The Ramones were part of the vanguard of the punk rock movement that they, in fact, started back in 1974. It was and remains as exciting and as vital to the form as the blues/folk/hippie rock from the previous decade. One might not think the Ramones to be a good fit with the Riverdale crew, and I highly suspect that previous (and older) management teams might have felt the same way.

Riskier still is the fact that almost all of the original Ramones are dead. They ran until 1996. Joey Ramone died in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone died in 2002, Johnny Ramone died in 2004, and Tommy Ramone died in 2014. Two important notes: First, the “Ramone” surname was contrived; they were no more related to each other than were the Doobie Brothers. Second, they were not the most doomed band in rock history. That privilege goes to Beatles protégés Badfinger; I mean them no disrespect by avoiding the specifics. Wiki’s got them just fine.

Let us not be confused by the fact that one of Archie Comics’ more popular titles is called Afterlife With Archie. Evidently, Riverdale’s typical teen-agers indulge in some serious time-travel. Comics fans get that. Rock fans get that. Your grandparents; probably not. They’ve been working on understanding Doctor Who since 1963.

Archie Meets The Ramones is a very, very clever concept. And it sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll see on October 5th.

The Ramones, The Punisher, KISS, Predator, Glee, Sharknado… Where does Archie go for its next unlikely team-up? Way back in the mid-1980s I whimsically suggested to then-publisher Michael Silberkleit we do a Betty and Veronica / American Flagg! mini-series. He immediately agreed; I suspect he was more familiar with Flagg!’s sales than with its content. But I can’t tell you how much I wanted to see how far I could push that one.

Sigh. Maturity sucks.

So, next time I think Archie and the band should go back in time once again and team-up with the MC5. I’m dying to see what Wayne Kramer www.waynekramer.com would say to Forsythe P. Jones – and vice versa. Maybe Brian Bendis can get a waiver from Marvel; his dialogue skills would work well here. Maybe John Sinclair could offer Juggie a… cigarette.

Yeah. Google that, chillen!

Martha Thomases: Selling Death

The-Death-Of-Captain-Marvel-1

About 20 years ago, I asked Batman editor Denny O’Neil if I could attend DC’s annual editorial retreat. I was their Publicity Manager at the time and I thought that if I could sit down and watch how the creative teams worked I could better promote the various Batman titles.

Denny was cool with it, and my boss was cool with it, so I went up to Tarrytown NY with them. It was a really interesting experience… for about a day. Then, for some reason, the big boss found out I was there and demanded I return.

His fears, as I understand them, were that, as part of the marketing department, I might interfere with the creative and editorial decisions. That was certainly not my intention. And it was also pretty insulting to Denny, to Alan Grant and Jo Duffy and Chuck Dixon and the others who were there who were more than willing to tell me to shut up if I overstepped my bounds.

Things have certainly changed since then.

Earlier this week, the New York Daily News ran a story by Ethan Sacks about the Marvel editorial summit. In attendance were Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, James Robinson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Michael Bendis, Emily Shaw, Sana Amanat, Nick Spencer, Sam Humphries, G. Willow Wilson, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort, Dan Buckley, and probably a whole bunch more.

This is amazing. I can’t think of any other kinds of story meetings that involve the press. Did Matthew Weiner let reporters into the Mad Men writers’ room? Did Jann Wenner send someone to sit in with Lennon and McCartney?

The article did not say if any marketing people were there while they planned the next storylines which will, apparently, involve the death of a major character. According to the piece, this is something that Marvel plans to happen every quarter. Dan Buckley is quoted as saying “The death is a marketing hook,” although he goes on to say that the story has to pay off. Still, it seems pretty damning to me, and indicative of a thought process that seeks out the lowest common denominator.

To my mind, they did this backwards. They decide that some character has to die, and then try to figure out who it should be, and from there, what the story is. I think they should first have a story, see which characters make sense to be part of that story, then see if one of them dies in the course of events. I’m on record saying that I think death is over-used as a plot device. We know the character isn’t really dead. By going to that story-well four times a year, Marvel runs the risk of cheapening the death of heroes. It’s not special. It does not inspire awe for a hero’s self-sacrifice, or tears for the tragedy.

We know the character will come back to life in a few months or years. Hell, if there must be destruction, blow up an entire planet.

A wedding would be more engaging. A birth.

It’s encouraging to see that there were more kinds of people in the room than the usual white men. Some were even women. It is my hope that this is a trend that will continue and grow. That’s how you get new perspectives on the stories, and new ideas. Perhaps if Marvel invites a reporter to the next summit, they’ll permit the women to speak to the press, just like the boys do.

Joe Corallo: Breaking the Iceman

uncanny x-men 600 iceman

I’ve only been writing this column for a month now, and if you’ve been reading you might have guessed that the next opportunity I’d have I’d write about Iceman coming out in Uncanny X-Men #600. Well, congratulations! You were right. I’ll try to be less predictable in the future, but I make no promises.

As you may have heard, last week the present day Iceman came out to his past self, thus confirming that Iceman is gay in both past and present. This move has gotten a great deal of praise, with many highlighting that this now makes him the highest profile gay superhero in comics. Though I’m a big fan of the X-Men in addition to being gay, I honestly did not care much for how Iceman coming out was handled.

Now, before anyone reading this starts either rolling their eyes thinking I’m gearing up for a rant on how Brian Bendis and Axel Alonso must be homophobes or don’t understand diversity for not handling this how I would have liked, or are gearing up to rally with me on that point, I’m going to stop you there. Bendis himself is Jewish, and two of his three daughters are adopted, one African-American and the other Ethiopian. He co-created Miles Morales, the half African-American, half Hispanic Spider-Man that has since become a major hit at Marvel. Axel Alonso himself was editor on Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix run that introduced three queer X characters. The issue I have here is not personal and I acknowledge that they have made great decisions regarding diversity in the past. It’s about the handling of Iceman’s coming out and how that affects LGBTQ representation at Marvel. Now let’s get into it.

First off, Jean Grey is here for seemingly little reason as past Iceman has his talk with present Iceman. She was my and many other people’s point of contention when this was first brought up in All New X-Men #40, when she outed him. Some people don’t feel that she outed him, but having read it, that’s the conclusion I came to myself. Telling someone what their sexuality is when they’re questioning it can be damaging. I know when I was a teenager and had people in my life telling me I wasn’t gay, that it did hurt me and took time to get over. When Jean did this, it took away from Iceman’s agency. Rather than a coming out story, we got a “Jean told us we’re gay, so we are now,” story, and that’s significantly less compelling. I wish I had the time to go into how troubling the bi-erasure was in this story as well, but I’ll talk about bi-erasure in mainstream comics next week.

Second, starting with the “You’re going to be a mutant and gay. Wow,” line that present Iceman says to past Iceman, and going into how he put all of his effort into the X-Men over his own happiness, I was just completely taken aback. This made no sense at all.

How can present Iceman talk about putting all his effort into the team when he has never led the X-Men, and he left the team to go to college for a bit, and he had a fairly long relationship with Opal Tanaka that he put his all into, going as far as heading to Japan with Jean Grey (funny, right?) to save her from Cyber Samurai, and he tried to ruin Polaris’ wedding to Havok because he was still into her, and has seen several other X-Men over the years come out around him even as mutant numbers dwindled… and that’s just to name a few things. Not to mention how Cyclops, Storm, Professor X, even Magneto all made time for their own happiness and had a much more important role in the world than Iceman ever did. It would be one thing if this was because present Iceman was being selfish, but he’s making it out like he stayed in the closet because he’s selfless, and that doesn’t quite hold up here.

Building on that point, Iceman being a blonde hair, blue eyed, young, white, attractive, able-bodied, cisgender man with a six-pack complaining about how hard it is to come out was disappointing. Look, everyone has problems and hardships, even young attractive white guys, and I understand and acknowledge that. However, this is a fictional world where Iceman has been on life and death missions, gone through space, time, fought aliens, vampires, deities… and coming out was harder than all of that?

If this was the 80s, I’d totally get that. Even the 90s. It’s 2015, and that coupled with living in such a fantastical world makes this too hard for me to swallow. Not to mention how many of his teammates and fellow mutants are not nearly as privileged as he is. I’d dare even say that Nightcrawler and Beast might have a harder time being straight than Iceman would have being gay.

Finally, on the last page of this scene young Iceman asks present Iceman if he thinks Angel is hot and they agree and have a good time about it. If you’re going to make the next LGBTQ X-Men character a young, attractive, blonde hair, blue eyed, able-bodied, cisgender white man with a six pack, can we at very least have him talk about being attracted to someone who isn’t also all of those things? It just feeds into so many of the negatives in the LGBTQ community that are trying to be addressed. It was a way to wrap up the scene that was clearly intended to be sweet that left me feeling sour.

I’m not trying to be ungrateful about having more representation in mainstream comics. However, we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard and demand more, better, and thoroughly thought out LGBTQ representation.

I do want to end on a positive note. Bendis has updated Iceman in a way that will give future writers something new to explore with the character and I’m thankful to him for that, and despite how I may have come across, I am eager to see what other writers will do with him. Hopefully an LGBTQ creator or an ally like Peter David or Kieron Gillen who handle queer characters respectfully will get to tackle him, and maybe I’ll soon be reading the greatest Iceman story ever told.

The Point Radio: Another Demise For DROP DEAD DIVA

It’s a story that can only happen in today’s TV world. Lifetime’s DROP DEAD DIVA was revived from a cancellation last year, only to haves the network drop the curtain on the current sixth season.  Is it really the end for a show that is all about coming back from the dead? EP and creator, Josh Berman, weighs in plus more with Tom Riley and Laura Haddock on the new season of DaVINCI’S DEMONS (premiering this weekend on Starz). And the POWERS TV show finally gets a home!

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Jeri Ryan Returns To Sci Fi on HELIX

Almost two decades ago, actress Jeri Ryan was a science fiction icon on STAR TREK:VOYAGER. Now she has returned to the genre with a new story arc on HELIX. Why did she leave SF TV, and what brought her back?  We talk about her new role and where it’s headed on the intense SyFy drama. Plus Caliber Comics returns and New York gets a real comic book convention.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Klaus Janson returns to Daredevil– along with Bendis, Mack, Sienkiewicz, and Maleev

Finally, after being announced almost five years ago, we have a preview.

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at Daredevil: End of Days #1, from the creative tour de force of Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz and Alex Maleev! When Matt Murdock’s greatest secret remains a mystery – there is only one man who can uncover it, investigative reporter Ben Urich! Witness the end of the Man Without Fear this October in Daredevil: End Of Days #1!

DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS #1 (AUG120637)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS & DAVID MACK
Art by KLAUS JANSON, DAVID MACK, ALEX MALEEV & BILL SIENKIEWICZ
Cover by ALEX MALEEV
FOC – 9/17/12, ON-SALE 10/10/12

Marc Alan Fishman: Marvel Now and Later

Sorry for my absence last week, loyal readers. It would seem something had to break in my fragile world, and this was the first thing closest to the exit ramp. Luckily for me you all had more important things to do on a Saturday morning than read my rants and raves. Right? You didn’t? You mean to tell me you’ve been sitting there, at your desk, for a whole week… awaiting my article? Jeez. I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you. Let’s start off with something really inflammatory to get back into the thick of it, shall we?

Marvel Now is what I’d wished DC would have done with their New 52.

Marvel comes right out of the gate with the smartest roll-out plan I’ve seen in a while: A sensible one or two new books out every week, over the course of a few months. DC’s “throw everything at the fan, and watch the sales spike and recede” did exactly that. Marvel Now (boy, that’s gonna get annoying) sidesteps the idea that fans are willing to try everything all at once, in lieu of a doing it a few at a time. I’m a marketing man by trade. This screams of “listening to the target audience” and “lowering the barrier to entry” for those less willing to hop aboard. In human-speak? Someone at Marvel realized fans aren’t made of money. They are more willing to start a new series at #1, and toss it into their weekly rotation a little at a time, rather than dump their entire paychecks out for the opportunity to “catch up” to a continuity that wasn’t quite rebooted, wasn’t quite reset, and wasn’t quite defined in the slightest.

Marvel also has taken it upon themselves to shake up some major players on major books, after successful long-term runs had been accomplished. Where DC has been quick to play musical chairs before some writers grew their sea-legs for a particular title, the House of Mouse once again played it cool. Let Bendis play in the Avengers sandbox until he’s run out of awesome things to do. Then let Fraction do the same with Iron Man. Then put Waid (who is still rocket hot after relaunching Daredevil back into our hearts) onto a book, The “Insert-Adjective-Here” Hulk, that frankly I’m sure no one has cared about since Jeph Loeb murdered it in the early aughts.

In the art department, fan favorite John Cassaday gets to give The Avengers a nod, which I hope is as good or better than his work on the Astonishing X-Men. The always tried-and-true Mark Bagely will lend his hand at Fantastic Four, which should loosen the book up from its present look and feel. And over in the Four’s sister (or really… daughter?) book, FF, none other than Mike Alred is slated to put pencil to page. The last time I believe he was around MarvelLand, we got X-Statics, which was X-cellent. Sorry, had to go there.

And how about the overall plan? Axel “Not Danny D” Alonso made it pretty clear that the books that are working well now will have no plan for resets. This means fans of Daredevil, the Punisher, X-Factor and the like won’t have to fear an immediate exit strategy and creative retreat from their favorite books. This is of course (to me, at least) a direct wink and a butt slap to the boys with the new oddly shaped logo.

DC was glad to let its entire line of books stink up the joint for the last three months they were around prior to the New 52 debut. Never in my 20+ years reading comics had I felt more books “phoning it in” then at that time. As a 20+ DC book subscriber? It rubbed me the wrong way. Hard. Here, Marvel seems to realize the old adage holds true; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Generally we know this is the point where I play devil’s advocate. And I see by the folding chair in your outstretched arms, ready to strike me where I type, I’d better get on with the “Howevers…” or else. Now, Marvel Now is just an on-paper-plan at this point. Even with that said, it’s hard not to notice a few things that reek of desperation. I love Brian Posehn. I do. But does anyone here honestly wish to place a wager on how long his run on Deadpool will last?

And just how many Avengers titles are they releasing? 20? 30? We get it, the movie made a kajillion-billion Disney dollars… but someone somewhere had to wave a white flag. As it stands I still contend that the over saturation of books with the popular characters just clutters up racks with an ultimately less-than-the-best product. All this, and somehow, the X-books still all sound ludicrously horrendous, Bendis or not. The idea that “silver age” X-kids land in the present, and get to play the “Oooh-how-the-world-changed-card” to me is choking hard on the gimmick bone. Be sure to take a shot every time NewOld Jean Grey asks “what’s an iPod?”

See? I’m not just shilling for Marvel, unless they wanna send me a check. In that case, I’ll make myself “AR” compatible in a heartbeat. In the mean time, my opinion stands: Marvel Now appears to be better thought-out, with a smarter release schedule, and an ideology that holds on to the notion that quality beats quantity every single time. Mark my words, kiddos. Marvel Now is gonna pants DC, and in the scramble expect DC to fire back with 17 epic all-title consuming crossovers.

Did you mark that down? Good.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Mike Gold: Old Farts Are The Best Farts

In this space last Saturday, my dear friend and adoptive bastard son Marc Alan Fishman stated “modern comics are writing rings around previous generations. We’re in a renaissance of story structure, characterization, and depth… I’d like to think we the people might defend the quality of today’s comics as being leaps and bounds better than books of yesteryear.”

Simply put, the dear boy and my close pal and our valued ComicMix contributor is full of it.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s a hell of a lot of great writing out there today, and I agree with his opinions about most if not all of the young’un’s he cites. Today’s American comics reach a much wider range of readers. There’s also a hell of a lot more comics being published today – although those comics are being read by a much smaller audience in the aggregate – and I take no comfort in saying there’s more crap being published today as well: Sturgeon’s Law is akin to gravity. Marc’s comparison to the comics of the 1960s and 1970s is an apples-and-oranges argument: the comics of the pre-direct sales era, defining that as the point when most comics publishers virtually abandoned newsstand sales, were geared to a much younger audience. Even so, a lot of sophisticated stories squeaked through under the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” technique of writing on two levels simultaneously.

As I said, there are a lot of great writers practicing their craft today. Are they better than Carl Barks, John Broome, Jack Cole, Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer, Archie Goodwin, Walt Kelly, Harvey Kurtzman and Jim Steranko … to name but a very few (and alphabetically at that)? Did Roy Thomas, Louise Simonson and Steve Englehart serve their audience in a manner inferior to the way Jonathan Hickman, Gail Simone and Brian Bendis serve theirs today? Most certainly not.

Then again, some of the writers he cites are hardly young’un’s. Kurt Busiek has been at it since Marc was still in diapers. Grant Morrison? He started before Marc’s parents enjoyed creating his very own secret origin.

Marc goes on to state that John Ostrander and Dennis O’Neil would say that the scripts they write today are leaps and bounds better than their earlier work. I don’t know; I haven’t asked them. But I can offer my opinion. Neither John nor Denny are writing as much as they could or should today because they, like the others of their age, they are perceived as too old to address the desires of today’s audience – which, by the way, is hardly a young audience. I wonder where this attitude comes from?

But let’s look at the works of these two fine authors from those thrilling days of yesteryear. John’s Wasteland, GrimJack, Suicide Squad, and The Kents stand in line behind nothing. As for Denny, well, bandwidth limitations prohibit even a representative listing of his meritorious works, and I’ll only note Batman once. Let’s look at The Question. A great series, and he wrote that while holding down a full-time job and while sharing an office with a complete lunatic. Then there’s Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Iron Man, The Shadow… hokey smokes, I wake up each Thursday morning (in the afternoon) blessing Odin’s Bejeweled Eye-patch that Denny is writing his ComicMix column instead of spending that time doing socially respectable work.

I am proud of this medium and its continued growth – particularly as its growth had been stunted for so long. And I’m proud of my own service to this medium. But, as John of Salisbury said 953 years ago, we are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants.

And, standing on those shoulders, we swat at gnats.

THURSDAY: The Aforementioned Mr. O’Neil!