Tuesday, June 30, 2020

If I ever perfect time travel...

my first priority will be to travel back in time to prevent Roy Thomas from writing this panel:

My second priority will be: all the OTHER panels he has written.


John C said...

Maybe it has something to do with when and where I started reading comics (mid-way through Crisis on Earth-Prime was one of my first ventures outside of a Superman or Batman story, where the JLA/JSA crossover spills over to All-Star Squadron), but I generally like Thomas's work. He was at his best when he was paired with Jerry Ordway, I think, but I'd read one of his expository stories (either the "let's explain what happened between these two stories you haven't read" or the weird, didactic tour guide versions) before just about any other modern book featuring the original JSA, since the trend since has largely been to show how crappy they were as superheroes or to play favorites with a specific hero.

Plus, Thomas deserves credit for being pretty much the only writer (Keith Giffen, to a lesser extent, on his Justice League run) to genuinely wonder what the landscape would look like with all the superheroes sharing the same world. Whereas all these years later, the big innovation in team lineups is that sometimes Cyborg is a founder of the JLA instead of the green guy. We don't see many teams (the All-Star Squadron, Giffen's incarnation of the League, and a brief crossover during the Earth-X thing) where characters originating in different companies--ignoring the National Periodical/All-American distinction--interacting outside of a company-wide crossover.

And he's sort of an early spiritual contributor to the Absorbascon, having created crack detective Thud "Green Trashcan" Jargon and a Lean Arrow who catapults himself onto his head in the Bestest League of America. What's not to love!? https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=11948 (story starts on page 17.)

Dave said...

Of all the terrible, terrible panels Thomas scripted (and they are legion), why this one?

I've always thought that he would have needed the power of transmutation to achieve even a tin ear for dialogue.

Combine that with his pathological need to connect every Golden Age story to every other one ("That guy in a purple hat and green suit on page 12 of All-Star #18 is the same guy as the guy in a purple hat and green suit on page 18 of All-American #40, and now I'm going to write a 12-page story to explain why it's vital that that be clarified"), and you have a perfect storm of unnecessary.

cybrid said...

Wondering: Panel's source? Context? Anything?

Bryan L said...

"Perfect storm of unnecessary" is a masterful turn of phrase. I, too, dislike the compulsion to connect every minute detail in comics, which has spilled over into television and movies, reaching its nadir with "Your mom was named Martha? So was my mom."

I feel like comics/movies/television would be much better served to have villains that aren't deeply connected to the hero through a string of bizarre and unlikely events. It's just always bugged me, but I referred to it as "stripmining continuity."

Scipio said...

"why this one?"
Because it was literally the first panel in the first story of his I opened at random. No more were needed.

Scipio said...

Panel's source? Context? Anything?"
Young All-Stars, #7.
Charity baseball game between the Young All-Stars and All-Star Squadron.

Scipio said...

"What's not to love!?" Every single word of dialog and captioning.

Tony said...

It's OK to criticize Roy Thomas, but I have to say: Its more fun to discuss Thomas's continuity obsession with a real example and not a ridiculous, way over-the-top "joke" example that bears no resemblance to anything Thomas ever wrote.

That said: Scipio's opening panel reminds me why I loved All-Star Squadron and only had two or three random issues from the entire run of the Young All-Stars.

Anonymous said...

If we want a real example of Roy's obsession with fixing things, the way he had the original Black Canary's brain installed in her comatose daughter's body merits a passing mention. Which I guess I just did.

If I were Roy Thomas, the way I'd deal with the JSA and the fact that they'd have to be 100 years old by now to have fought in WWII would be:

1) They're actually a modern team that preceded the JLA by only a brief period, and never got well known in the modern era.

2) Johnny Thunder once said "Wow, you guys are great! Sure is a shame that, say, you guys weren't around in WWII, I wish you were!"

3) So the Thunderbolt was responsible for bouncing them back in time and, at the end of WWII, bouncing them back to the future, with the appropriate memory edits.

Dave said...


The examples that immediately comes to mind are making Green Lantern and Air Wave had the surname of Jordan, they must be related and explaining away Captain America's appearances in the 50s.

All-Star Squadron, for all his love of the JSA, is nothing if not an excuse for him to make a bunch of Golden Age stories that were never intended to fit together part of a coherent whole. It's like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle by using a hammer to bash the pieces into place.

Yes! said...

If I were Roy Thomas (America's favorite new game show), I'd be trying to fit Joaquin Phoenix Joker, Dark Knight, Suicide Squad, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the next Batman movie into a single cinematic continuity.

Wait, is the Ghost of Roy Thomas running Warner Brothers' movie department?

cybrid said...

"Captain America's appearances in the 50s"

Steve Englehart explained that. Roy Thomas explained Cap's appearances in the post-war 1940s (inasmuch as as the real Cap went into suspended animation in 1945).

Scipio said...

"it's like trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle by using a hammer to bash the pieces into place."

Nice simile.

Scipio said...

All this panel needed was a caption that said: "The Bronx, 1942."
That's it. Caption are fine when the explain something we are seeing or give necessary context; even if that is sometimes a bit fulsome, such as "Concerned about Steve's absence, Wonder Woman confronts Col. Darnell at the War Department."

Captions are NOT fine when, instead of being captions, they are florid faux-prose from comic book writers who are frustrated novelists or Homers-manque.

EVEN if you want to give this panel some colorful captioning, an appropriate comic book styling would be something along the lines of: "The Bronx, 1942; a legendary battle is in progress!"

Rob Thomas revered everything IN the Golden Age, but had no respect for or even understanding of the qualities and styles that made it great. His caption is pretentious rather than straightforward, his dialog is unnatural rather than breezy, and his characters are snippy and contentious rather than witty and easy-going.

Nathan Hall said...

Why is that boy in the derby carrying a sauce pan? And the guy in front - is that a pitcher carrying a pitcher?

Tonebone said...

You guys are nuts. I have always enjoyed Thomas' work. His captions are no more prose-heavy than any other writer/scripter of the day. His AllStar Squadron was awesome. Conan was untouchable. He wrote legendayr runs of Avengers, XMen, and so many other Silver/Bronze transition series. Stan Lee planted the seeds and grew Marvel Comics, but Thomas nurtured it into the Universe all other writers built upon. His later work at DC was great, from AllStar Squadron, to Arak, to Captain Carrot. Beyond those years, I can't attest to, but hasn't the man done enough? What have you all done?

Redforce said...

Well, one thing I HAVEN'T done is make absolute statements about topics that are relative and subject to tastes. I also never lead off posts with an insult directed at all the previous posters.

Scipio said...

"hasn't the man done enough?"

He has. That one panel is already much more than "enough".