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 Posted:   Sep 27, 2018 - 6:10 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I'd recently posted my criticisms re: the Grant-Breyfogle run of Detective (and Batman), but there's no denying that it should be considered among the best eras of Batman comics.

 
 Posted:   Sep 28, 2018 - 11:17 AM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

I'll be perfectly honest. I wasn't into Norm's art. But I'd be a liar if I said he didn't have a style that was all his own.

 
 Posted:   Sep 30, 2018 - 4:24 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Since I've been immersed in Bronze Age Superman stories recently, I thought I'd share this blog post--no, it's not written by me--about why, in the author's view, John Byrne's 1986 Superman reboot was a failure:

https://prontocomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/the-crusty-curmudgeons-comic-classics-a-super-problem/

 
 Posted:   Sep 30, 2018 - 9:03 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Since I've been immersed in Bronze Age Superman stories recently, I thought I'd share this blog post--no, it's not written by me--about why, in the author's view, John Byrne's 1986 Superman reboot was a failure:

https://prontocomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/the-crusty-curmudgeons-comic-classics-a-super-problem/


Since I've been immersed in Bronze Age Superman stories recently, I thought I'd share this blog post--no, it's not written by me--about why, in the author's view, John Byrne's 1986 Superman reboot was a failure:

https://prontocomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/the-crusty-curmudgeons-comic-classics-a-super-problem/


Thanks for the link. A very interesting read, and he makes some valid points, although he more or less undermines his main point that writers should embrace Superman's near omnipotence and just get creative. The two stories which he cites as successes of writing happened under unique and hard to replicate circumstances.

"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" was the last Superman story written before the Crisis reboot, and was meant to be a send off to the Superman era that was ending, which gave Alan Moore carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, so he gave finality to many aspects of the Superman mythos that DC would never allow in regular continuity. Plus, it was written by Alan Moore, who will never touch the DC characters again, and honestly, given how his writing has evolved, I wouldn't want him to anyway.

"All Star Superman" is an out of continuity Superman story where Morrison also had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, to wonderful results. It should be noted that Morrison later wrote Superman for the New 52 reboot, and that take on Superman was a much less powerful version, and was nowhere near as well received as All Star Superman. To be fair to the author, I think Morrison's second run happened after the blog was written. He wrote it just as Man of Steel came out, which was a few years ago.

So in other words, omnipotent Superman works for authors writing one great Superman story that allows for finality. It is a much different world when a publishing company is churning out multiple Superman stories month after month. The result is that if you have an omnipotent Superman, every hood in Metropolis will have kryptonite in his back pocket, or use magic, or come up with some other workaround to Superman's powers.

Battles of wills or emotional battles can be compelling, and make however much physical power a character has less relevant, but honestly, I haven't really seen any of the characters written with enough nuance that such stories can be sustainable in the long run. Plus, if you are going to bother giving a character superhuman powers, most readers want to see that character use those powers to great effect.

With respect to Byrne's run, I have quite a bit of sentimental value for the run, as his Superman was my comic book Superman. Byrne's reboot came out just as I was starting to buy comics, and was testing the DC waters. So I got his run, and enjoyed it as it came out. Looking back, I can see why that run was never sustainable, as he tossed too much of what made Superman unique, and radically changed most of Superman's rogue's gallery. With the exception of Luthor, who was more Kingpin than any other prior version of Luthor, many of the classic rogue's gallery were introduced, and quickly killed off or otherwise destroyed. Bizarro was a failed clone of Superman, and the issue that introduced him ended with him exploding into a cloud of dust. Metallo was introduced in Superman #1, and killed in #2. Krypto from a pocket universe (long story) was introduced, and by the end of his appearence had been exposed to gold kryptonite. After Byrne left, much of what he had tossed was brought back one way or another by subsequent writers, and his power level also increased. Still, I enjoy the run for what it is. It was also a success in a way that made DC very happy: it sold lots of comics.

 
 Posted:   Sep 30, 2018 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

Since I've been immersed in Bronze Age Superman stories recently, I thought I'd share this blog post--no, it's not written by me--about why, in the author's view, John Byrne's 1986 Superman reboot was a failure:

https://prontocomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/the-crusty-curmudgeons-comic-classics-a-super-problem/


And I see exactly why: because Byrne's reboot yielded a more serious take on the concept (kind of like...Goyer's & Snyder's?) that ejected many of the dated trappings that simply weren't drawing people in fifty years later. The guy is a self-avowed "crusty curmudgeon" (his label, not mine), and he's far more in tune with the Golden Age and the Silver Age.

And there's nothing wrong with that. But reboots happen for a reason, and they're going to keep happening for the cause of conceptual updates (or to deconstruct them). If these reboots weren't welcomed, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One would've never taken off like a supersonic jet. And guess what the last twelve years of Batman's cinematic incarnation have resembled? That's right.

I enjoyed Byrne's Man of Steel reboot. I read it when it was new. It was an update that was required, just like 2013's Man of Steel [movie] was. (Consider the previous retread, Superman Returns: it was a flop and nobody really took to Routh as the new Kal-el, not to mention its "Superman takes a vacation" premise was laughable.)

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 8:28 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I've not read Byrne's Superman reboot, and I would if I didn't have to spend much money to get the thing. I'll admit that my previous lack of interest in reading that run stems from his jettisoning of those longtime Superman universe elements--always liked Superboy--but I am not hostile to it in general and am willing giving it a go.

A few other things: my own interest in Byrne drops off considerably when he's not being inked by Terry Austin. I've never been enthusiastic about Byrne's art post X-Men. Byrne the writer can be infuriating due to his "quick trigger finger" when it comes to offing characters.

Bottom line? I will always adore 1970s Byrne, but my enjoyment of his writing and his art diminishes considerably post 1980. Byrne, like Paul McCartney, is a great talent, but he needs a John Lennon, so to speak.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

I've not read Byrne's Superman reboot, and I would if I didn't have to spend much money to get the thing. I'll admit that my previous lack of interest in reading that run stems from his jettisoning of those longtime Superman universe elements--always liked Superboy--but I am not hostile to it in general and am willing giving it a go.

A few other things: my own interest in Byrne drops off considerably when he's not being inked by Terry Austin. I've never been enthusiastic about Byrne's art post X-Men. Byrne the writer can be infuriating due to his "quick trigger finger" when it comes to offing characters.

Bottom line? I will always adore 1970s Byrne, but my enjoyment of his writing and his art diminishes considerably post 1980. Byrne, like Paul McCartney, is a great talent, but he needs a John Lennon, so to speak.


Byrne is indeed a guy who needs a seasoned inker to cover him. I agree that the Byrne/Austin team was the best (their Star-Lord was bitchin'), but Man of Steel was inked by the late great Dick Giordano, a veteran inker who was also a fantastic artist in his own right. So you won't be offender by the visuals, I guarantee it!

Byrne inking himself doesn't do it for me. John wrote and drew some issues of Wonder Woman, many issues later after George Pérez initially rebooted the title. The art wasn't great. It was good. Not great.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 9:20 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

You know that I know about Dick Giordano, but I did NOT know he was Byrne's inker on the reboot! Thanks for the FYI!

I've mentioned it here before: Dick Giordano and Ross Andru teamed up to create hundreds(?) of memorable-to-me comic covers for DC. Their collaborations are imo severely underrated, as are the covers done by Giordano with artist/writer Ed Hannigan.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 9:26 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

I've not read Byrne's Superman reboot, and I would if I didn't have to spend much money to get the thing. I'll admit that my previous lack of interest in reading that run stems from his jettisoning of those longtime Superman universe elements--always liked Superboy--but I am not hostile to it in general and am willing giving it a go.

A few other things: my own interest in Byrne drops off considerably when he's not being inked by Terry Austin. I've never been enthusiastic about Byrne's art post X-Men. Byrne the writer can be infuriating due to his "quick trigger finger" when it comes to offing characters.

Bottom line? I will always adore 1970s Byrne, but my enjoyment of his writing and his art diminishes considerably post 1980. Byrne, like Paul McCartney, is a great talent, but he needs a John Lennon, so to speak.


I think Byrne's Superman work is his last great work. His subsequent returns to Marvel and DC never came close to being as good as his '70s and early to mid-'80s work. That isn't to say his subsequent work is all terrible, in fact, there were some great stories afterwards that he did, including the Batman/Captain America cross-over and an Elseworlds Superman annual. I also hear that the Star Trek work he is doing for IDW is good, but I haven't read any of those books. But IMHO, none of his subsequent ever had the same consistency as his earlier work.

I agree with you about Terry Austin's inks. I was never as fond of Byrne's art when he inked it himself. The inks always felt a bit too thick.

Byrne's entire run, plus the Adventures of Superman issues being published at the time, which were by Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway for much of the run, has been reprinted in 9 volumes. I think some of them may be out of print. I know you are not too keen on digital comics, but the volumes are all available on Comixology. The digital copies are affordable, and Comixology often has sales, so if you time it right you can get the whole thing for pretty cheap.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 9:37 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I may be mistaken, but IIRC you and drop_forge are a bit younger than I am, so I completely understand any sentimental attachment to the stuff you grew up reading, like Byrne's Superman work. It was what we read as kids that was important to us and kept us interested, or otherwise led us to other things.

The Comixology approach would definitely work for me, though for stuff I love it has to be either the original comics or the nicely reproduced HCs and TPBs; I've doubled up more times than I care to admit!

Byrne's FF, Alpha Flight, and too-short Incredible Hulk run were hit-or-miss with me. Characters look rubbery, with thin mouths. I just didn't enjoy looking at the art anymore, though his action sequences remained impressive. Less so were the Mullet hairdos he gave everyone IIRC from Sue Richards to Heather Hudson to Superman himself--correct me if I'm wrong, gents.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 11:04 AM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

Alpha Flight was something I looked forward to. Then, after the first double-sized issue that featured the time fight a big snow-topped version of Swamp Thing Byrne named Tundra (lol, gotta keep it Canada-centric), I didn't bother.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 11:19 AM   
 By:   drop_forge   (Member)

You know that I know about Dick Giordano, but I did NOT know he was Byrne's inker on the reboot! Thanks for the FYI!

I've mentioned it here before: Dick Giordano and Ross Andru teamed up to create hundreds(?) of memorable-to-me comic covers for DC. Their collaborations are imo severely underrated, as are the covers done by Giordano with artist/writer Ed Hannigan.


Those guys did incredible work together!



 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 11:43 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The Hannigan-Giordano cover for Batman #367, which was responsible for getting young me back into a regular Batman-reading habit. The story would later be adapted for an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, which I did not know about until a few years ago. I don't think the story's writer, Phelpsian Hero Doug Moench, even gets onscreen credit.

 
 Posted:   Oct 1, 2018 - 11:40 PM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Byrne's FF, Alpha Flight, and too-short Incredible Hulk run were hit-or-miss with me. Characters look rubbery, with thin mouths. I just didn't enjoy looking at the art anymore, though his action sequences remained impressive. Less so were the Mullet hairdos he gave everyone IIRC from Sue Richards to Heather Hudson to Superman himself--correct me if I'm wrong, gents.

Agreed about his work on FF. Many consider that run second only to Lee and Kirby, but I thought the quality of it was uneven. For every great story, there was another that made me cringe or roll my eyes. Much as I love She-Hulk, she just didn't belong on the team. I haven't read any of his work on Alpha Flight. As I recall, even Byrne is dismissive of the book, describing them as being a team whose only purpose was to survive against the X-Men for a couple of rounds. For Hulk, I assume you are talking about his early '80s run that he both wrote and drew? I have only seen maybe one or two issues from that run. Byrne came back to Hulk in the '90s as the author, but not the artist. I read a couple issues of his '90s run, and I dropped it pretty quickly thereafter. He basically used the premise of the tv show, with Bruce Banner as a drifter who manages to do some good along the way. I doubt Byrne stuck around for more than a year.

Superman's mullet came well after Byrne had left. Whether it is an actual mullet depends on the artist. Some drew it as a mullet, while others drew it as Superman having longer hair. Either way it looked terrible, and Superman eventually cut his hair back to the classic look we know and love.

 
 Posted:   Oct 2, 2018 - 5:19 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Byrne's 1986 Incredible Hulk run is the one I meant. Too much Doc Samson in his red leather outfit, Iron Man in that red-and-white number, and iirc "chalky" Vision was also around that time.

Thanks. I was unsure as to Superman's ill-advised Mullet--I see Tony Stark also had one around that time--good thing I was (mostly) away from comics in the late '80s. I've always found that whole mid-to-late-1980s aesthetic unappealing, to say the least. It's what's kept me from ever liking JRJR's and (much of) the late Norm Breyfogle's art, though as I mentioned previously, it's Alan Grant's writing that's left me cold(est) on that run of Detective and later Batman. It took a while before that '80s look finally dissipated--I would guess the period immediately following Knightfall?

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 2, 2018 - 8:40 PM   
 By:   The Wanderer   (Member)

I'm not sure what he did for DC but Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra died. He was a great artist with a unique style. He was one of the first artists I would read when I got into 2000ad 30 years ago. His Dredd was strong and Strontium Dog was perfect. Gutted. Agàin.

 
 Posted:   Oct 2, 2018 - 11:12 PM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Byrne's 1986 Incredible Hulk run is the one I meant. Too much Doc Samson in his red leather outfit, Iron Man in that red-and-white number, and iirc "chalky" Vision was also around that time.

Thanks. I was unsure as to Superman's ill-advised Mullet--I see Tony Stark also had one around that time--good thing I was (mostly) away from comics in the late '80s. I've always found that whole mid-to-late-1980s aesthetic unappealing, to say the least. It's what's kept me from ever liking JRJR's and (much of) the late Norm Breyfogle's art, though as I mentioned previously, it's Alan Grant's writing that's left me cold(est) on that run of Detective and later Batman. It took a while before that '80s look finally dissipated--I would guess the period immediately following Knightfall?


You can thank Byrne for the chalky Vision. The dehumanizing of Vision was part of his first storyline on West Coast Avengers. From what I understand, Byrne was fired from WCA, so it is anybody's guess whether his long term plans involved ultimately restoring Vision to who he was. I actually liked Tony's red and silver armor, but the red and gold suit that replaced it looked great as well. I must have stopped reading Iron Man when Tony adopted the mullet. When I was reading it, he looked a bit like Thomas Magnum from Magnum, P.I. wearing the wardrobe of Don Johnson's character from Miami Vice.

Back to Superman's hair, although it isn't a mullet, Byrne did have Clark grow his hair out during his college years. Byrne's rendition is on the right:



Speaking of late 1980s aesthetic, here is Byrne's take on who Lois was attracted to back then. (I won't spoil who he actually is):

 
 Posted:   Oct 3, 2018 - 8:04 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Is that Beyonder-looking guy supposed to be a "new look" Steve Lombard? Otherwise, I have no idea.

 
 Posted:   Oct 3, 2018 - 8:16 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Is that Beyonder-looking guy supposed to be a "new look" Steve Lombard? Otherwise, I have no idea.

The character is Mr Mxyzptlk, and I remember it being a pretty fun story, and this is coming from someone who doesn't really care for that villain.

 
 Posted:   Oct 3, 2018 - 9:10 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Is that Beyonder-looking guy supposed to be a "new look" Steve Lombard? Otherwise, I have no idea.

The character is Mr Mxyzptlk, and I remember it being a pretty fun story, and this is coming from someone who doesn't really care for that villain.


I hadn't yet eaten my seasonal bowl of Count Chocula when I guessed before... wink I'm guessing Byrne didn't rehash his and Chris Claremont's previous (and classic) plot of Jason Wyngarde and Jean Grey, circa X-Men 1979-80.

 
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