Thursday, April 26, 2007

Waid Down

Usually, I try and focus here on the positive things in my comics, things I enjoy, rather than degenerate into a crabfest, as is so easy to do on-line. The degree to which I succeed in this goal is, of course, an entirely separate matter! And I don't hesitate to speak out strongly in favor of things I would enjoy IF they were in my comics (e.g., Vibe, the Real Aquaman, a Penguin who's more than a punching bag, a Two-Face who is not a split personality, et sim.)

But today I just have to share my confusion: how can I love some of what Mark Waid writes but hate most of it?

This is very hard for me, because one of my favorite comics of all time is his JLA Year One series. Of all the trades I own, it's one of the few I have read over and over. Oh, the plot's a little wacky, but it's a Justice League story and their plots almost have to be wacky. But Waid did an amazing job of depicting the personalities of the principals (Hal Jordan, Black Canary 2, Barry Allen, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter). In fact, he pretty much set the standard for how most people currently perceive those characters.

And, of course, Mark Waid created Impulse, the Character Who Put the Fun Back Into Superhero Comics. I've given away thousands of my comic books over the years. I have every issue of Impulse I ever bought. With Impulse, Mark Waid made me laugh and cry, often in the same issue. Impulse alone would put Mark Waid in the forefront of my favorite comic creators.

Brave and the Bold, though some of its dialog is bit heavy-handed, is an absolute hoot and I love Mark Waid for making in a joyous romp across the DCU what could have been the most ungainly mess since the "DC Challenge".

Mark Waid was one of the principal writers of the Silver Age, the Most Fun Crossover Ever Written.

And yet... .

  • Could I hate Kingdom Come (and the infestation in the DCU it has turned into) more? No, I don't think so.
  • The current Legion is the only one in the last 35 years I'm not enjoying.
  • Ever notice I never discuss the Flash? Waid wrote it for eight years and I hated every minute of it.

Can someone explain how I can love and hate one man's work so much?


Nick said...

because Waid is a diverse enough writer to have totally different feels on different books.
For the record, I feel the exact same way about Brian Azzarello. His Hellblazer was good dark fun, and Tales of the Unexpected is the best backup story I've read in years. But his two big arcs on detective and action comics? No thanks.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Well, I don't wholly get how you could love Impulse and hate the Flash run in its entirety. But you clearly like Waid's most fun and lighthearted work. (I assume you liked the first Waid reboot of the Legion more than this one?) Kingdom Come is a really different sensibility, even if it's ultimately meant to be an affirmation of Silver Age heroism.

Jon said...

What about Empire? That was some ridiculously dire stuff, but it doesn't have the same absurd baggage that Kingdom Come now hoists about thanks to Johns.

Anthony Strand said...

I gotta agree with Jacob. Waid's Flash run has some awfully Impulse-esque issues.

I know you didn't care for the way he dropped the Messner-Loebs supporting cast, and I get hating the Speed Force. But there really wasn't *anything* you liked?

Anonymous said...

I think it's fair to say Waid turned in some good writing on "The Return Of Barry Allen". Even, some occasionally excellent writing. The problem was, it was an apocalyptic storyline, all the old rules went out the window, it kind of was Kingdom Come. His first fling at The Flash in the Armageddon annual was an apocalyptic storyline, too, only the writing wasn't so good. And everything he did after TROBA was apocalyptic, and not so good with the writing. (And it went on forever and had way too much goddamned Abra Kadabra in it. And Linda. Good Lord, but I grew to hate Linda...)

A big FF fan, I hated his FF. Why? Apocalyptic storyline.

And I agree: Kingdom Come is poison. But, of course: apocalyptic storyline.

JLA: Year One, on the other hand, is fantastic and awesome. And not an apocalyptic storyline.

I'd read his LSH, despite your discommendation, because I believe in Waid as a writer, and I think he understands the basic fun of DC. But for heaven's sake keep him away from those damned apocalypses!

Anonymous said...

I find that a lot of my favorite comic writers have had stuff that I dislike. David Michelinie: first run on Iron Man defined the character; second run on Iron Man just going through the motions. Steve Englehart: could do no wrong in the 70s, starting to lose it in the 80s, an old done man in the 90s.
Mark Waid is a nice guy. I met him when he did a couple of personal appearances at Captain Blue Hen's Comics in Newark Delaware about ten years ago. He even bought a couple of my customized action figures (I wonder if he still has them?).

Anonymous said...

It just seems like you enjoy the more light-hearted stuff. I'm surprised you don't like Legion, I think it's a heck of a lot of fun.

I love Kingdom Come, but I can also understand why you don't like it, as it can be a little depressing up until the end. No love at all for Planet Krypton, though? I thought that was one of the niftiest ideas I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

There is no creative output by anyone that I universally love. All of my favorite novelists have books that don't stand up, all of my favorite TV shows had dud episodes, and all of my favorite comic book writers have stuff that I don't care for. It happens.

Waid is a writer that likes to take chances, to switch gears. Some of that stuff is going to hit, some of it is going to miss... and not everyone will agree on the hits and misses. That's going to happen with anyone who has any kind of substantial body of work.

Harper Lee is the only creator to ever bat 1.000.

Tegan O'Neil said...

I agree with you 100% (not something you'll hear me say often on this blog).

His Flash was execrable, Kingdom Come worse with every day . . . and yet, he is also responsible for one of the best-ever runs on Captain America. I know you're not a Marvel fan (cough) but he really did some good work on those books, particularly the pre-Heroes Reborn run - injected a bit of a DC feel to Marvel's "squarest" character, and it definitely worked well.

Some parts of his Fantastic Four run were great, others dire. Parts of his JLA run were great, but I thought his overall plots were absurd. I'll still pick up a Waid book if it looks interesting, because he can do great work when he wants to, but I'm never surprised if it sucks, because he is capable of either.

ChrisM said...

I think it just comes down to the simple fact that you enjoy the emulation or homage to the Silver Age comics more than you enjoy his "reimagings" of those characters. He doth love his Silver Age stuff and he knows what makes them loveable..but when you spin some of that stuff to make it "new" you inject a bunch of new elements that are unfamiliar and very subject to personal interpretation.

He's said in a couple of the interveiws I've read that LSH was exactly like that. He needed to re-boot the whole thing without retaining too much of the old baggage and make it a viable DC title again and its met with some commercial success..but I think he's perhaps always been successful in reaching everyone.

Have you read the Silver Age GL/Flash (Hal and Barry) collection he wrote?

Billy said...

Waid's a good writer I think, but like all good writers, he's bound to have a few duds.

Personally, I like Kingdom Come, but I fully understand why people hate it (and for good reason!).

His Captain America run was simply amazing.

I loved Superman:Birthright, his JLA (to an extent), and Impulse.

I havent read his Flash (at all), or his Fantastic Four, and I find his LSH boring.

I also dont really like Brave and the Bold.

So where does this leave me? I can be on the fence with him too...but I'd never shun one of his works just because it's got his name on it...or instantly like it for the same reason.

I give everthing he's done at least a chance. There's bound to be good and bad.

As someone put it perfectly above, the only creator to bat 1,000 was Harper Lee (and frankly, I find To Kill a Mockingbird dull at times too...)

Anonymous said...

As far as novelists (and short story-ists) go, I haven't read every word Fredric Brown ever wrote (yet) but I haven't been disappointed in anything I have read. Some I enjoyed more than others but I enjoyed it all.

Anonymous said...

I second christopher - if you liked JLA: Year One you really should read Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold. You'd love it.

odgwfvak - the sound I make when I see what Barry's PJs look like. :-P

Anonymous said...

I loved Kingdom Come.

I read Waid's Flash run once, and will likely never read them again.

I also loved the Flash and GL B&B.

Maybe Waid is just better when writing shorter runs...

Scipio said...

Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.

Yes, I loved that, too! Kid Lantern? Priceless!

Erik said...

How can you hate Waid's Flash??? It was one of the few readable comic books in the 90's- a rare bright spot in the post-Liefeld Image-style crapfest. Man, it's like I don't even know you anymore.