Monday, January 22, 2007

Shut Up, Jeph Loeb (#1)

For the record, I don't hate Jeph Loeb. He's written things that I've enjoyed quite a bit. Things that many comic readers did not enjoy. Say what you want about Hush, but it is hands-down the best superhero comic book to lend to someone who doesn't read superhero comic books. This is because of three key Loeb traits that are more than present in Hush, and pretty much everything else the guy writes:

1. Heavy-handed, repetitive, soul-searching in the form of interior monologues, usually serving as narration.
2. A veritable all-star game of every hero and villain he can think of, each with a clear introduction, regardless of how well the characters actually fit into the story.
3. Cuteness.

Loeb's stories often go nowhere, but at least there are lots of clear roadsigns along the way. And the artwork is always nice because he gets superstar artists. What I'm saying is, his comics are easy to read, and this might explain his popularity among the casual comic fan (read: people who read comics to feel closer to Brandon Routh).

Like I said, I don't hate the man's writing, and I can see that he has enormous love for the characters and so forth. But pretty much every time I read one of his stories I hit a moment where all I can think is...

I guess I should give an example. many to choose from...

Alright, here's a good one. From Superman/Batman #4. These are probably the only two pages of these books that don't explicitly indicate that Superman and Batman are totally in love with each other. Because that's another Loeb trait: all superheroes love each other as much as Loeb loves them.

Anyway, in these panels we have S & B fighting it up against a grab bag of DC superheroes. Here's a chunk of what they're thinking:

Did I mention that Loeb likes to have his characters over-explain things? He does.

"S. Castling."?! Why don't you just say "switch"? It's not like that's code for anything. Any idiot would know what you're planning. But just in case the readers are morons, Superman explains it to us. And adds something cute about Bruce loving chess. And then Batman makes a cute remark about it. No, wait...Batman thinks a cute remark about it.

So within these two pages we see examples of all three signs that you're reading a Loeb story: overly spelled-out narration in the form of interior monologues, loads of random characters, and unbearable cuteness.

Frankly I'd be ok with all of that if the story would just go somewhere satisfying for once. Always with the convoluted craziness! Like this story, for example, started by being about Metallo and the possibility that he murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne back when he was merely John Corben. But it ended by being about...Captain Atom zapping Superman with a Kryptonite ring so that he could be the one to pilot a giant composite Superman/Batman-shaped spacecraft and destroy a Kryptonite meteor headed for Earth while Batman and a recovered Superman battle Lex Luthor. And even to get into the larger story of Superman being framed by Luthor for wanting to destroy the Earth, we have to accept the fact that the entire world and all Justice League and Justice Soceity superheroes would agree that a Kryptonite meteor is evidence enough that Superman is out to destroy them all. *sigh*


Anonymous said...

Ah, couldn't have said it better myself. Let me add one, though.

Loeb also writes what are supposed to be epic, 12-part mysteries, where the culprit, usually a brand-new character, is very obviously introduced in the first issue and might as well be twisting their mustache to show how evil they are. Then, around the third or fourth chapter, they are unconvincingly killed off...only to be revealed as the killer at the end. See HUSH and THE LONG HALLOWEEN for examples of this.


rachelle said...

I did it all for you, Dave. I think you need a t-shirt with that Shut Up Jeph Loeb! image on it.

Now I feel that I am being too mean and need to make an "I'm sorry, Jeph Loeb" post.

Jeff said...

There's a certain charm to Jeph Loeb comics. They're like watching a Michael Bay movie that starts every act with a long, tortued RA Salvatore-style monologue.

I can't wait for his Ultimates. Or the long, mournful introspection that will be all over his Wolverine run (a Sabretooth-centric story with Loeb writing it? This is going to be the most homoerotic Wolverine story this side of fanfiction).

rachelle said...

Yeah! A Michael Bay movie! That's exactly what Loeb's comics are like! Nice-looking, star-studded, and completely cheesy and ridiculous.

That new Wolverine book sure looks nice, and it will certainly be gay, but I am still a little worried about how good it's going to be...

ZC said...

You know, I was thinking:

"All that Loeb craziness and the Castling and the giggle-Bruce-likes-Chess in the very-very-very-bright thought-boxes was worth it, just, JUST for that one line Mxzyptlk* makes to Darkseid at the end of the whole uber-epic Loeb did with S/B."

And then I remember it took somewhere in the realm of 5 years for those 25 issues to come out.

And I am filled with hate.

And then I remember it was really Ed McGuinness's fault.

And now I'm just ambivalent.

Metal time.

*Dear sweet god, I didn't just spell this right off the top of my head, did I?

-Google check-

Good, I didn't. Phew.

Hel said...

Now I see why he sticks to the 12-part mysteries he likes to make. He broke that formula in Batman/Superman, and it was even worse for it, and he's also broken it in Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum, which have been the most horrible stories ever. It is kind of insane watching what Jeph Loeb is doing to the painstakingly carefully created Ultimates universe. It reminds me of watching a bear attack the Mona Lisa or something.

But seriously. Why not hate Jeph Loeb? I do.

I don't hate him for S Castling. (I am mostly amused at the dumbness of "S Castling" whatever the hell that is. Closest thing he can write to something intellectual.) I don't hate him for how his plots are so stupid either. To me that's fun.

But I hate him for the way he depicts women in his comics. Recently the Wasp was devoured by the Blob. It was very weird and gross, but in a way I was kind of happy for her because she was actually better off dead than being written by Loeb, who would just write her getting choked over and over again. She just would get choked all the time. Even though she could shrink or turn into a giant (established in Ultimates 2, that) she winds up being vulnerable to being choked by literally everyone.

Further, I hate him for what he did to the Black Panther. That character gets humiliated again and again in his comics. In Ultimates 3 #5, he literally had the Juggernaut beat the black off of the Black Panther. He beat the Black Panther so hard that he became a white man, Steve Rogers. That's how he established Steve Rogers was the Black Panther. By having the Juggernaut beat the black off him. It's insane!

And in the Ultimate Captain America Annual he established that the other black character in the Ultimates universe, Nick Fury was a slave holder, as he just decided to kidnap T'Challa, presumably remove his ability to speak, and keep him as his slave-avenger. WTF!? First he removes Fury from the Ultimates U, than establishes he used to be a slave owner?

Anyway I hate Jeph Loeb...I feel like he is trampling on the feelings of little girls and little black kids who are comic readers. And I hate him.

See how much I hate him?

Viagra said...

Love him or hate him his work is worth to check out. The fact that gets the light readers into business is reason enough to follow him

Viagra said...

Love him or hate him his work is worth to check out. The fact that gets the light readers into business is reason enough to follow him