Ron Rant: Wasted Potential

Recently, Marvel sent us a press release hyping their podcast about Civil War: Frontline written by Paul Jenkins with several artists (including iFanboy favorite Steve Lieber). For those not aware, Civil War: Frontline is a supporting book for the Civil War event, telling the other stories in the Marvel Universe through the eyes of the press. It’s going to be 10 issues and each issue is 32 pages without ads. While we’re all excited for this book, we didn’t feel the podcast was worth posting here, considering how crappy the Marvel podcasts are.

But then I listened to it. And while it wasn’t anything in the podcast specifically, rather taking into account the concept of the book combined with having read two recent mini-series: Generation M (also by Paul Jenkins) and the recent Captain Atom (from DC/Wildstorm), I’m afraid that Civil War: Frontline┬áis coming dangerously close to a book with a ton of potential, that ultimately ends up being a waste.

Keep reading to hear why…

Civil War: Frontline is basically the same concept as Generation M, it’s a companion book to tell the little stories that won’t make it into the main series. I had previously chosen Generation M as my Pick of the Week when it first came out, because I thought it was such a great concept and a novel approach to add texture and depth to the bigger event. As someone who really adores the X-Men line of books, this got me very excited. Unfortunately, by the last issue I wouldn’t have used this comic book for toilet paper. It just turned out to be awful. The art never got better, in fact it got worse (the same artist Ramon Bachs is doing one of the stories in Civil War: Frontline, so that’s my first fear for this book) and Jenkins, I felt, got distracted with telling the story of the down on her luck alcoholic reporter, rather than the stories of mutants who lost their powers. The combined bad art and lack of focus in the story just made this forgettable.

A book with great potential, wasted.

This topic recently came up in an IM conversation between Conor and I about the recent Captain Atom mini from DC/Wildstorm. I also chose this book as a Pick of the Week purely on the innovative nature of the story idea and the potential it held. Well, its several months later and we’re coming to the end of the 9 issue mini-series, which apparently will play a big role in the relaunch of the Wildstorm Universe, which is cool but I don’t really care. Know why? Because this book has gone downhill big time and it all boils down to story length. This mini series could easily have been 4 issues and been fantastic, but for some unknown reason, it’s 9 issues and slower moving than the most recent episode of Lost. It’s basically the same story in every issue, over and over again: Captain Atom is lost in the Wildstorm Universe, he finds other heroes and fights them, then they talk about how he’s going cause the universe to blow up. After issue #3, that can get really old.

Another great idea with potential, wasted.

So after reading these two titles and hearing the podcast about Civil War: Frontline, I’m worried. I’m worried that its going to be another case of a great idea and some real potential for good, deep stories within a larger universe of stories and it will end up being a wasted effort. I love the fact that they’re 32 pages with NO ads, and having several vignette type stories like DC’s 52 and its an opportunity to expand on the themes and repercussions of Civil War. But given that I already know that I dislike one artist and given Jenkin’s track record with the last book of this type, where I was excited before, now I’m cautious.

They do mention in the podcast that things actually happen in this book, like someone dies in issue #3, and its going to be jam packed with obscure and second tier Marvel characters, which is something I love, but still… I just don’t know if I can deal with another disappointing example of wasted potential.


  1. I’m going to give it 2 or three issues. It’s supposed to be dealing with the surviving New Warrior and attempting to push him into the mainstream Universe.

    But if it drags, I’ll probably drop it and read it when it gets collected in Hard Cover at Barnes and Noble.

  2. I am not a fan of the Marvel podcasts in general. However if you read Paul Jenkins’s latest edition of “Flogging a Dead Horse” at newsarama, he explains why his contribution was so poor.

    The only comics of Jenkins’ that I have read are Sentry and Wolverine: Origin. Sentry left me confused and Origin didn’t meet my expectations. I am looking forward to Frontline, because I am a big fan of Marvel’s more obscure characters. I am hoping for another Darkhawk sighting.

    Thirty-two pages without ads is mighty impressive to me. With Fronline being ten issues long does that mean it extends beyond the ending of the actual Civil War series?

  3. The only comics of Jenkins’ that I have read are Sentry and Wolverine: Origin. Sentry left me confused and Origin didn’t meet my expectations.

    The best thing I’ve read by Jenkins was The Inhumans mini he did with Jae Lee. It’s really, really good.

  4. When is Frontline due out? I’ve been really excited about this whole thing since the beginning and even though Ron just tried to take a big comic book sized shit on my excitement, I haven’t been burned by Jenkins yet. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever read him before. Has he done anything memorable?

  5. Consider me shit on. Wolverine: Origin was the WORST.

  6. Oh yeah, I forgot all about that Inhumans mini. I guess I liked it so much that…I…forgot about it? I liked the Sentry and I liked Origin, but not for any reason other than that they were average stories. I don’t have a dislike of Jenkins’ work, but it hasn’t stuck out as particularly good. I am looking forward to Frontline, but more because of the 32 pages without ads and the promise of New Warriors coverage. One good thing that I can say about Jenkins is that at he takes us into the lesser known areas of the Marvel Universe. It refreshing to read new material, even when it involves “B” and “C” list characters.

  7. I’m sorry Dude, I’m just trying to be realistic so I don’t get as disappointed again, although don’t get me wrong, I’m also excited and will be buying the entire series – I’m just nervous…

  8. Jenkins was supposed to be in the same camp as Ennis, Bendis, Ellis, etc coming from the mid to late 90’s, and he just never quite wowed us.

    That being said, the Inhumans MAXI (12 issues) was one of my favorite pieces from back then. It was great, in large part to the fantastic art from Jae Lee.

    The Sentry was the same team, but I didn’t like it as much. It was good, but not incredible.

  9. That Inhumans mini WAS really good, and I’m very intrigued by Civil War: Front Line. but it’s not on my pull list yet cause I’m not made of money, so I will take Ron’s rant under advisement.

  10. You should read this if only to revel in the splendour that is ‘Typeface’:

  11. Don’t take Ron’s rant too seriously. While he’s intelligent and insightful about comics, the man also holds grudges against things for reasons beyond normal reckoning, like Vertigo.

    For the record, he’s dead on with this, and I’m just stirring up trouble.

    No harm in full disclosure!

  12. Alright, you guys have teased the Vertigo thing long enough. Its time to let the rest of us in on the story. Do it soon or I just might stop listening.

  13. I think Ron pretty much hit the nail on the head with this rant. However, it may be interesting to see a few of the regular humans opinons on this matter (i.e. through interviews and comments made to Ben or whats-her-face)

    And yes, I think it’s time that Ron bit the metaphorical Vertigo bullet!

  14. There was a guy who shopped at my old comic shop who said that he went up to Paul Jenkins at a con and said, “I really like about 40% of what you do.” The guy meant it as a total compliment, oddly enough, citing with most writers it was only about 25%. Jenkins wasn’t quite sure how to react still.

    Anyways, I think that’s a pretty accurate analysis. I’ve read some of Jenkins’ stuff, mostly Spectacular Spider-Man and both Sentry arcs and here’s what I’ve figured out so far: he thrives in one to two issue stories. He just doesn’t seem to get how to pace a story out over more than that though. Unfortunately that’s the nature of the medium with the need to sell TPB’s and all. The newest Sentry miniseries was 8 issues and I thought it was pretty good. Still confused, but it was good, didn’t really have the pacing problems that he usually does.

    Maybe since so many people are collaborating on Civil War he’ll have enough other people throwing him ideas and helping out the pacing of the story that it can still be really good.