The Bulletproof Writer, and Other Tales to Appall

This stream of consciousness is dedicated to Dave James, a person I have never met or even read before and know almost nothing about. Dave James doesn’t know me either, and although he is going on with his life blissfully unaware of it, he nonetheless flipped my switch last week with a comment over at Marvel.com in a way that only the comments at Marvel.com can. We were like two ships that pass in the night, or nearly pass in the night before crashing into one another in the darkness, bursting into flames and killing all hands in the ensuing chaos. Except, I guess, his ship is fine and made it back to port while all my surviving crewmen got picked off by the sharks of aggravation.

I should probably explain better than this.

Almost two weeks ago now, Marvel’s Executive Editor Tom Brevoort got really burned out on blogging, having completely run out of things to say. (Believe me when I say it was like looking into a mirror.) Usually in this state of mind, Brevoort simply posts whatever preview art he has on hand and calls it a workday, but on this occasion he decided to conduct an experiment. He announced to his readers that he wanted “to locate, by common consensus, the Worst Marvel Comics Ever Printed.” The rules were simple: via the comments under his post, anyone could nominate any comic for any reason. Anyone could also veto any comic for any reason, and once they did it was gone without debate. Using these guidelines, Brevoort wanted to see what people would dredge up; it would say more about the zeitgeist than it would about the books themselves.

Normally, this isn’t the kind of thing I’ll join in with, instead studying it from afar with detachment like a pith-helmeted anthropologist hiding behind the Green Lantern t-shirts. This time, though, I was seized with evangelical fervor. I do not have to think, even for a second, about what the Worst Marvel Comic Ever Printed is, and I hate it so much I am physiologically incapable of letting it go unmentioned.

First of all: if you’re more than a casual visitor to this site, I probably don’t have to introduce you to Marvels, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ beautifully done, fully painted story of what it’s like to be the average Joe Pedestrian in a Marvel comic. Marvels was a high point for superhero comics during this era; a coworker of mine showed it to me in college, and it would have single-handedly brought me back to the medium if the Clone Saga hadn’t been sitting right next to it on the shelf the day I went to get issue #4. That pretty much strangled that in the crib.

But the Spider-Man Clone Saga is not the Worst Marvel Comic Ever Printed. Oh no, tovarisch.

About six months ago, as readers of the Revision3 forums may remember from when my shouts could be heard echoing three threads away, I encountered an old book I’d never seen mentioned anywhere by the name of Ruins by Warren Ellis. As far as I know, it came out about a year after Marvels in the wake of that excellent book’s success. It is labeled as a “Marvel Alternaverse” follow-up to Marvels (a label I have never seen before or since) and it stars Marvels‘ sweet elderly main character, Phil Sheldon. The book is printed exactly like Marvels, with the same layout, design, and cover treatment.

UGHRuins‘ premise is that it takes place in a world where everything that went right in Marvel Comics went wrong. When Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, he essentially gets super leukemia. Mutants are less the gifted next step of human evolution, and more God’s horrifically deformed “oopsie” pile waiting to die.

So, I know what you’re thinking: “Cancer and horrific deformities, painted in a photorealistic style? I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! And burn every copy, before a child sees it!”

Well, I didn’t know any of this about the book when I discovered it. All I knew was that Warren Ellis wrote it. Warren Ellis is a “Name” in the field, and better yet the cover communicated that this was clearly some sort of sequel to Marvels. Since judging the book by its cover is a notoriously wise thing to do, I tracked down the series and bought it, never pausing to think,”Wouldn’t I have heard if there’d been a sequel to Marvels? Especially by Warren Ellis? Come to think of it, Warren Ellis hates superheroes a little, doesn’t he?”

I read the book.

From six months ago:

Now. I have been accused in my time of being prone to exaggeration, so I want to begin by emphasizing that’s not what I am doing here when I say that Ruins is the most purely, perfectly awful printed thing I have ever beheld. Every panel is so filled with hatred and disdain and shit and contempt that you can feel it pulsing as you hold it in your hand. It straps Marvels down on a table and, with a rusty knife, cuts it open screaming without anesthetic and replaces every fibre of joy and wonder with urine, vomit, and bile. I would love to tear it into little pieces, but I want to have it intact in case I ever meet Warren Ellis so I can roll it up and hit him in the balls with it.

It has no plot; it has no beginning, middle, or end. Sheldon just wanders around like Dante at a carnival sideshow, hearing awful awful stories and seeing awful awful things. What’s the best part? Is it when Bruce Banner gets caught in the gamma blast and bursts from the inside out, tumors shooting out of his every oriface? Is it when Kitty Pryde materializes in a wall and loses three feet of her intestines? Maybe it’s when Nick Fury says Captain America taught him to eat human flesh during the War and then shoots Jean Grey, who is a teen prostitute, who is only in the book to walk up, say, “I’m Jean, the teen prostitute” and get shot for no reason. And then Captain Marvel gets cancer, and all the Kree have cancer, and Wolverine has cancer, and I have cancer, and Phil Sheldon dies of cancer. The end.

Oh, and every time someone has cancer, it apparently happens on his face.

It is repugnant on a level I would not have imagined possible; it is clearly written by the man who coined the term “underwear perverts” to refer to superheroes. Who is now the author of Astonishing X-Men. So, yeah.

I cannot think of any book, movie or TV show that has provoked such a strong, visceral, lingering negative reaction in me. It’s like a self-perpetuating hate engine, making hate out of hate. I mean… maybe Marvel didn’t go bankrupt in the nineties because of the speculator bust; maybe people just read Ruins.

….and the fact that it’s presented as more Marvels makes me want to go back in time with a kayak paddle and smack the editorial staff till they stop moving.

I didn’t care for it, is what I’m saying. I would only designate it the Worst Marvel Comic Ever Printed because that’s what was being asked for. I’ve never read a worse book, seen a worse film, listened to a worse radio show, or sat through a worse lecture. Privately, I regard Ruins as the Worst Thing.

Given this passion, naturally I cast my vote, and given the way the world works, naturally it was vetoed within a few posts. A few people seconded my nomination, but a guy came along and said he liked it. That was totally fine; times are tough, and a lot of insurance plans these days don’t cover psychiatric medication. I’m not unsympathetic. But then, a few posts later, there was Dave James. Dave James replied,

VETO !
Ruins. Anything by Warren Ellis, actually.

This activated my launch sequence.

“Wha–?! Wha he–?!” I replied to the screen. “You can’t–! Did you just–?! You veto everything he ever–? Regardless of what it–?! Did you even read–?! He said ‘veto for any reason,’ not ‘veto for no stated reason whatso–‘ RAWRAWRAWR” and then I just started spinning around the house like a funnel cloud and ranting that everyone but me was crazy while demonstrating quite the opposite.

Eventually, I remembered that this was an offhand comment on a message board from a stranger hundreds of miles away, regulated my breathing, removed the tranquilizer darts from my neck, reassured the EMS team I was fine and thanked them for their time, and went about my day. Still, it got me thinking. For some people, there are clearly writers who can do no wrong, no matter how much wrong they do. There are some scribblers who develop a cult that will follow them to the depths of doggerel, and maybe we all have that author. I don’t know if Warren Ellis is one, but it wouldn’t take much. I don’t think Grant Morrison is one right now… but I do sort of get the sense that if he ever went completely off the rails and never looked back, it would take about three years of indecipherable scripts transcribed off of rubber walls before anyone piped up and said the emperor was naked. I also know that I was so emotionally invested, so firmly ensconced in George Lucas’ camp in 1999 that I had seen The Phantom Menace about ten times before a sensible faction of neurons in my left brain was able to seize the controls and tell me, “Jim… Jim. Come on, man. This isn’t good. You don’t like this…. I know. It hurts me too. Let’s… let’s go home.”

Would you recognize a blind spot like this if you had it? Are you all the happier for not noticing it? I’ve been sitting around all week trying to think of a writer whose every sin I would forgive or willfully ignore. Who have I loved?…

  • Chris Claremont? You can’t go home again.
  • Peter David? Even that epic Hulk run had some epic missteps in the end years.
  • Aaron Sorkin? I’ve read too many books about what Saturday Night Live is actually like not to roll my eyes at Studio 60, as much as I wish it weren’t so.

Once, it would have been Joss Whedon, but then the ending of Serenity knocked the scales from my eyes and I saw the playbook. “Go-to move #12: brutally kill the sweet/comic character at the most arbitrary moment, preferably piercing the chest.” Every time he says “to show you that the stakes are real,” take a drink. Every time he says “I give the audience what they need, not what they want,” take two drinks. And I say this as someone who loves Joss Whedon.

I guess I just don’t have any heroes…

…ooh, but what about Bendis, Mr. Smartypen?… wait, no, that “Collective” arc in The New Avengers was unbearable for me. There’s nobody.

Am I forgetting somebody? What about you?  Do you know anyone else who thinks this way? Is there a writer about whom you’d say, “She/he has never gone wrong”? Does anyone come close? And don’t sarcastically answer, “You, genius.” I’m very fragile.

 


Jim Mroczkowski is not very fragile. He can be found at Jimski.com and Twitter repeatedly demonstrating that his writing is very, very fallible.

 

Comments

  1. I have no more sacred cows. There’s not a single "beloved" writer that hasn’t made at least one horrible  misstep.

     

    I used to really like Warren Ellis. This was before everyone else discovered him. Back when he was writing HELLSTORM and THE STARJAMMERS. The early days of TRANSMETROPOLITAN. These days I usually assume that anything he writes in the mainstream superhero genre is going to suck. It usually does because he doesn’t really care about this stuff. In his own words he’s whoring himself out to make money. I guess I just think that you shoulod do your absolute best work everytime.  

  2. I don’t really subscribe to the ‘X writer can do no wrong’ school.  I can’t think of any creator I’ve followed in any medium who I don’t look askance at once in a while ("Really, Mr. Shakespeare, what IS with the last act of ‘Cymbeline’"??)   I’m a pretty big Warren Ellis fan, in fact, but I have a copy of ‘Ruins’ that I’ve never opened.  (I was more fortunate than you in that I had the concept of it described to me before it ever fell into my hands and I said, ‘Wow, you know, that sounds like something I never ever ever want to read!’) 

    I do think that if you’re invested in a creator’s work enough, it’s possible to find something interesting and worthwhile in everything they do, even if it’s just by comparison to things they’ve put out that you like more.  But I think every writer creates things that just don’t work, and unless they have really high quality control regarding what actually gets out there, some of what gets published isn’t going to be very good.  And of the many things that distinguish comics as a medium and industry — high levels of quality control regarding what gets out there are *not* among them.

    I think you will find creators — and Whedon, Ellis, Morrison, and Sorkin are all among them; so is Shakespeare for that matter — with vocal fan contingents who will insist that everything they do is great, because they are great and therefore it is great, and even if something *seems* to be not good, it’s because you’re not reading it right.  The creator had a plan!  This always reminds me of the fans of certain college basketball coaches who will swear up and down that the team lost a game because Coach Genius thought they *needed* to lose because they would be more *motivated* for the games that really *mattered*.  And hey, you know, whatever gets you through the night. 

  3. I think Alan Moore counts as a man who can do no wrong. I feel like it’s cheating to say that because well, duh. You might not get everything he does (I am looking your direction promethia) but I still think that all the books he has done have merit to them.

     

    Also has Geoff johns done any not good work?

     

    Terry Moore is another one. 

     

    I think your going to find the people who stick to creator owned work are going to have fewer missteps. (Kirkman was right!)

  4. Let me add right now that I am already preparing for the Ellis fan who arrives on these shores and declares, "The very fact that Ruins was able to provoke such a strong reaction proves that it is good art."

    I am preparing for this because, if I were not prepared for it, that comment might actually be the thing that put me in the ground. I want to see my child grow up.

  5. I gotta admit Jimski, your description of Ruins makes me WANT to read it.  I don’t know if that was your intent.

    It’s no secret that I’m generally a huge Ellis Fan (check out Freakangels.com people!) but he doesn’t get a free pass from me.  I don’t read Doctor Sleepless for example.  SO I like to think I can take every project  as a seperate entity from a writer and judge it then.

    ANd I will judge…OOOOOHHHH will I judge.

  6. I hope this comment isn’t another one that would put you in the ground, but your review of Ruins made me interested in seeing it.  Was it not at all ironic?  Is it like The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe only it’s Warren Ellis killing the Marvel Universe?  I know it wasn’t packaged that way, but why did it exist? 

  7. So far Jason Aaron is still "bulletproof" in my book. Sure, not everything he has written (and I have read everything he has done thus far) has been comic gold but at the same time nothing has made me stop picking up EVERYTHING with his name on it even if it is a character I have no interest in (i.e. Black Panther, Ghost Rider). 

    In response to RUINS, it has been on my list of comics to pick up for quite some time. My Uncle who I re-introduced to comics a few years ago remembered reading it back-in-the-day after I gave him Marvels to read and suggested that I track it down. I have just started reading Warren Ellis as of late and like MOST of it but not all (some is just too weird and sci-fi) but as a fan writers like Garth Ennis and books like The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe this just makes me want to read RUINS even more. To each his own, but give me something with the subject matter of RUINS any day over another "big DC or Marvel event". 

  8. "RUINS
    Without a doubt, my nomination is RUINS. #1 or #2. Hateful, depressing… takes a book like MARVELS and vomits all over its memory… I really can’t say enough bad things about it.

    Posted by Jimski on 2008-08-26 20:24:19"

    "VETO !
    -Ruins. Anything by Warren Ellis, actually
    -Sins Past. Good Lord, its only Gwen Stacy, she’s not a deity – she’s a fictional character
    -The Eternals. (Austen and Walker)
    – Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run. I have that entire run bound and i LIKE IT.

    Posted by Dave James on 2008-08-27 16:47:33"

    Wow… somebody liked Austen’s run… I’m shocked.

  9. I’m gonna have to go with Geoff Johns. I mean, maybe not everything he’s ever done is spectacular, but I’ve never read anything from him thats bad. I’m pretty sure at this point he can’t write anything bad. He’s just too good of a writer. He could take the most ludicris subject matter, and it would still be readable. Maybe I wouldn’t like it, but it wouldn’t be bad.

  10. I think Alan Moore’s issue of Spawn excludes him from being bulletproof though I’m not Alan Moore’s biggest fan (insomuch that I didn’t think Watchmen was the greatest thing ever and I really don’t like V for Vendetta) so I’m probably not the best judge of character for ol’ Rasputin.

    I havent read everything by Brubaker but I haven’t read anything from him I didn’t like.

  11. I might have said Alan Moore, but then I remembered that I stopped reading many of the books in his America’s Best Comics line. I might have said Neil Gaiman, but… I don’t think his Marvel work has been stellar. I don’t think it’s awful, but it’s not been to the level of his previous comics work. Brubaker might have been one, but… he did that very lackluster Authority arc. And his Uncanny run was very uneven. Ellis, Ennis, Bendis, Johns, Morrison, Robinson… none of these guys are close to perfect.

    I might consider someone like Adrian Tomine, because his Optic Nerve stories are always good, and he puts out stuff so damned infrequently that you never get the sense that he’s treading water like some of the monthly workhorses. Or maybe Jason Lutes by that same standard. But in terms of the mainstream, I can’t think of anyone who has never let me down.

  12. I’m not gonna say I’m an expert…but I have enjoyed everything that I have read of Brian K. Vaughn’s.  I even have a special listing on my pull sheet at my LCS that says "Anything that BKV’s name is on."

  13. Terry Moore proved he wasn’t bulletproof when he wrote that Molly & Poo stuff. I gave it a real shot and tried to get through it, but it was just too damned boring. That said, I doubt I will ever stop giving Terry Moore money for his work; everything else I’ve read from him has been excellent.

    I hear Geoff Johns stuff for Marvel wasn’t anything to write home about, but I haven’t seen any of it, personally.

     

  14. Ruins sounds a lot like Ellis’ Hellblazer work.  Which might have fit better in that world.

  15. Geoff Johns for me. I’m sure he’s done something bad, I just haven’t read it yet. If anyone has an example of what this is, kindly tell me, I’ll try and find it an scrub him from my list

  16. @Jimski – Thanks, you a-hole! You totally ruined Ruins for me. This is like when I found out Vader was Luke’s father before I ever saw Empire. Or when Rosebud was a fucking sled (really? A sled? Is this a Jean Shepherd story?) Up yours, fanboy! ;D

    I actually have that in my to-read pile after hunting years for the second issue. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and read it – kind of taking your awful-tasting medicine.

    I’d say the closest we have right now to these ‘Everything is great’ writers are Alan Moore, Geoff Johns, and Terry Moore. However, you have to look at the output of each of these writers – Johns does more than A. Moore, and A. Moore does more than T. Moore (although that looks like it’s changing). With writers putting out more work, there is a better chance a dud will slip through the cracks.

    I don’t know what I’m talking about – I just wanted to get that jab in about Ruins. I’ll go sit in the corner now and be quiet. 

  17. i gotta read ruins now .looks cool

  18. Jeph Loeb has never written anything that I’ve liked.  In a way, that is my sacred cow.  

  19. No one is perfect, no one. You can give me the greatest writers, old or new, and I can find one bad story he wrote.

    Alan Moore? Spawn

    Geoff Johns? Action Comics….before the Legion arc!

    Stan Lee? Oh god where to start?

    I still love people like Jeph Loeb, Frank Miller, and anyone else I try to hype up on this site. But that doesnt mean they dont make mistakes or make terrible comics. Does this make me want to stop reading their works? God no, even if Loeb makes some of the worst issues of Hulk and Ultimates I’ve ever seen….it doesnt stop me from loving Long Halloween or Spider-Man: Blue. I wish these guys could stay perfect or good all threw their lives, but you need to have some bumps before you make a modern classic.

  20. as it stands i’ve never read a Garth Ennis book that wasn’t at least "good" and most of them are "awesome"

     so thats mine

  21. I’m only four months into this whole comic book thing, so my opinion probably does’nt matter, but I have yet to read a Geoff Johns book that has disappointed me.  Every other writer that someone has told me was great at one point or another made me go ‘meh'(G-Mo),  but I’m sure Johns will write a book I dislike one day.  Nobody is perfect.

  22. "I would love to tear it into little pieces, but I want to have it intact in case I ever meet Warren Ellis so I can roll it up and hit him in the balls with it."

    It’s a good thing the students had left when I read that line because it would be hard to explain my cackling… 

    I think it’s just silly to blindly follow a writer.  Obviously, something a writer is writing well may prompt to check out another title, but you shouldn’t buy something you hate just because Morrison or Johns or Bendis or…whoever…is writing it.

  23. "It has no plot; it has no beginning, middle, or end. Sheldon just wanders around like Dante at a carnival sideshow, hearing awful awful stories and seeing awful awful things."

    Sounds a lot like MARVELS by Kurt Busiek.

  24. The Collective… oh man, was that bad.  I remember reading reviews when it was coming out and they were mostly nuetral.  I didn’t understand, not only was it awful, it was the big follow up to the ominous ending of House of M.  I couldn’t wait to see where all that power went.  The Collective was the best Bendis could do to follow that up?  And in the middle of New Avengers, which is otherwise the best ongoing series at Marvel in the last several years?  Terrible.

  25. @Neb But you’re not going to KNOW you hate it till you read it.  I think it’s safer to follow writers than characters.

  26. @Neb – but a writer whose work you enjoy could make you like a book you otherwise wouldn’t.

  27. Actually, the closest I can think of IS Stan Lee because, while the standard is lower than writers today, his stuff was always on his same level in my eye.  I like Stan and his universe, but I always felt like Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Matt Murdock, Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Steve rogers all had stan’s voice. And that’s not a bad thing. I eat it up….annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd nevermind, I just remembered Ravage 2099 and "Just Imagine…"

     

    I think it’s so interesting to look at all the different tastes of the world. For instance, Warren Ellis is the type of guy who enjoys writing something where ________ is shit upon for the sake of shitting upon it. This bothered Jimski and it certainly makes me want to avoid Ruins at all costs. But then it is intuiging to me that there are people that seem to say "Whoa, something/someone gets torn the fuck up in disgusting and repulsive ways?! I’m down! Shit on something for the sake of shitting on it?! Hell yeah, sounds like good reading!"

     

    It’s just so interesting to me. Then again, for a moment there I tried to say Stan Lee was bullet proof, so what do I know?

  28. @lukehopkins: Johns run on Avengers was not very good when compared to his DC work.  He didn’t show the depth of knowledge of those characters as he does in the DCU.

     

    And Alan Moore can do no wrong, anyone who can take the Youngblood charaters and the Extreme/Liefeld universe and make them compelling is a genius.

  29. And Scott Lobdell hasn’s written anything that I have considered good.  he ruined the Uncanny X-Men for me.

  30. I love most of the UK/Irish anti-superhero crowd, but it really does seem like every once in awhile they have to purge the system and sneak out what is essentially a mindless vanity project.

    They bite the hand that quite literally feeds them in a slumping, stupid, inarticulate way that is, for all intents and purposes, just idea-porn with little to no substance. 

    Anyway, great article as always, Jim.  You can do no wrong!   

  31. I would probably have to admit I have the same unconditional love for Brian K Vaughn. Even if you showed me a piece of his work where he slanderously picks me apart, implementing me in watergate I’d probably still tell you that he has a point. I don’t know why but I even find myself loving his sub par work.

    I however cannot stand a single thing that Ellis writes. I’m not saying it’s all bad, just that what I’ve tried did not resonate with me at all. He seems to come off as someone I would not like if I knew him. Also I thank god for places like ifanboy, there’s far too many Dave James’ out there.

  32. I am trying to think of something that Brubaker wrote that I didn’t like. uncanny x-men? I didn’t dislike it. I just didn’t buy it.

  33. I don’t think Ruins is the anti-thesis of all that’s good in comics by any means.  It’s not great art, if you didn’t know the characters everyone is suppsed to be it’s not very gripping otherwise but I can’t see how it offends you more than say, Wanted would.  That’s advocating rape, this just has face tumors. 

  34. I think any writer that puts out any significant volume of work is going to crank out a dud eventually. The only way to avoid it is to put out your masterpiece as the first thing you ever publish professionally and then retire from comics.

  35. Jane Austen?

    I agree with Hellhound and a lot of the other commenters – comic book and TV writers simply put out too much volume not to suck once in awhile.  And if you can acknowledge that some things by your favorite writers are less than great, it allows you to understand, and talk about, what’s so good about their works that you do enjoy.  It doesn’t tarnish them in any way.

    That said, Ruins sounds absolutely horrendous, and I’m sincerely glad I’ve never stumbled upon it.

  36. @throughthebrush   I dunno, the last act of ‘Mansfield Park’ is pretty indefensible!  😛

  37. I think it’s admirable that Jimski braves the fray into the internets knowing he will be enraged. I’d like to imagine these forrarys are for our collective benefit/amusement. Nicely done.

    The big ups in this thread go to throughthebrush. Well played. If we’re going prose writers, I’ll add Flannery O ‘Connor, and John Meyers Meyers to the nix.

    I can’t think of misterp Rucka has made yet. Nor can I point to a mistep from Kirby, ooooooooh how’s about Hickman?  I think that more important question is the "I’ll give anything he/she writes a shot list:BKV, Hickmen, Aaron Terry Moore.

  38. Yeah, I guess I gotta go with BKV and Whedon.  I feel bad about it actually.  I was thinking the other day about Runaways, Y and Pride of Baghdad. I admitted to myself that there were problems in all of those stories but they weren’t great enought to make me not like any of them.  My hero worship probably needs to stop. 

    I fee bad that I kinda hate Alan Moore.  I know that’s not gonna go over well.  I really dig most of his stuff, I do. I, like most people hold Watchmen up as one of the greatest things ever written, but  League of Extraordinary Gentleman is really gave him a bad image in my mind.  I read the first two volumes in one night.  I thought I liked it, I mean i was supposed to like it right?  Too bad it came off as overpretentious jackassery to me.  I love literature, I really do.  The classics are great.  I guess it was just lost on me.  Maybe Black Dossier will fix that, but I just can’t justify spending money on it since the first two really rubbed me the wrong way.  I feel almost sacreligious saying some of that.   Gah, here come the flames.

  39. I didn’t dig BKV’s run on Ultimate X-Men personally.  I dropped it after the Mojo arc.

  40. Geoff Johns would have to write "O" a million times on toilet paper, evacuate himself on it and set it on fire for me to not like something he’s written. I’m not a middle aged man, so I’ve not read all he’s written, but I cannot be convinced that he is a poor writer in any sense of the word.

  41. @ Kimbo– I think Jimski is more about how it’s very antagionistic and mocking of the Marvel Universe, almost disrespectful to the conceits of the superhero genre.

  42. Jimski, i really enjoy your articles, keep up the good work.

     and i have never read anything bad by Alan Moore

  43. I have never read anything I’ve liked by Alan Moore.  Well, "Watchmen" is pretty good.

    My "bulletproof" writer?  Bendis.  Some stuff is better than others, sure, but I’ll read and probably enjoy everything he does.

    @Jimski – Don’t feel bad about Dave James, btw.  The fact that he also vetoed "Sins Past" shows that his taste is clearly in his mouth.  Worst Spidey story since the Clone Saga.  The JMS story was key-rap, and the Mike Deodato art was worse.

    @cormano – "The Collective" is probably the weakest moment of "New Avengers".  I attribute it to mostly the art, though.  And who was the artist?  Mike Deodato.  I think this means I hate everything Mike Deodato has drawn.

  44. @Tork & Jimski- great article as always by the way.  I reread Ruins after reading this and I can see how it could be interpreted as disrespectful on the one hand but on the other Sheldon’s character keeps mentioning that he’s convinced things should have turned out better for his world than they did, and the opening bit of awful poetry mentions this is basically the negative image of the world Marvel’s took place in.  So I don’t really see it as antagonistically being disrespectful to Marvels so much as being a thematic opposite to stress the strengths of Marvels.  I just feel that instead of tearing down Marvels it’s being horrific in order to demonstrate how amazing and fantastic the experience of the MU done "right" is.  That said, the thing is absolutely shoddy by Ellis’s standards.

  45. Jim, that’s just creepy weird. I mean, I just picked up ruins this last week. It was in a dust-covered stack of Marvel books in this god-awful disorganized store. I saw Ellis’s name and, having never heard of it before, went ahead and paid my $5 each for the two issues.

    God, I wish I’d had this column before I did that. 

    Awful, terrible. Ugly. Nihilistic to the point of despair. Ellis would’ve been about 26 when he wrote this; I’m willing to bet he wasn’t thinking he’d live to see 27. That’s the only way I can explain this morass. 

    Ugh.

     

  46. I would have to say Kurt Busiek. I liked his Astro City; along with his run on The Avengers with Perez. His Avengers Forever was pretty good. I’ve heard that his Thunderbolts was pretty good. The jury is still out on Trinity – But I’ve enjoyed.

    Having said that, I think aside from Busiek, I try to find a good story. James Robinson’s The Golden Age and Starman were excellent. Not sure I would read his take on Superman…I might try his Justice League book to see what he’s doing…

    Okay, aside from Busiek and Robinson, I like what Geoff Johns has been doing in Green Lantern. I haven’t really looked for whatever else he’s written.

    I like Ultimate Spider-Man most of all Bendis writes. Maybe that’s just me…  

       

  47. Does no one remember how boring Green Lantern was before Sinestro Corps?  It was awful in its blandlness.

  48. @josh- I did’nt read GL before "Secret Origin" started.  So in a way, I’m one of the lucky ones.

  49. @josh  — I’ve always thought his GL was fun, but I’m also not saying Geoff Johns can do no wrong.  I couldn’t get through ‘Hawkman,’ and his Teen Titans was hit-or-miss. 

  50. When I said earlier that Johns has’nt disappointed me yet comes from two things.  One, I have’nt read all of his work, and two, I’ve only been reading for four months.  So he is bound to let me down one day, no creators record is perfect.

  51. Those looking for mediocre Johns can also check out the "Day of Judgment" miniseries from the, maybe, late 90’s? Not good.

  52. Day of Judgement was a bullet Johns had to bite.  It more or less led to GL: Rebirth and thus Sinestro Corps War and all after..

  53. I remember you guys groaning and laughing at Shark Men. That was Green Lantern, right?

     

  54. @Diabhol – No, that particular shark man was in AQUAMAN.

  55. I imagine Jimski angry at his computer screen often.

    There are writers I think have more good than bad in their catalogue- Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka. But sure, they all wrote books I didn’t love outright or at all.

     

  56. No, there was some shark man in Green Lantern as well.

    Also, the worst villain ever, of all time, was Orca in Larry Hama’s terrible, terrible Batman arc.

    Off topic.

  57. There’s a difference between having a bad issue, or even run of issues and producing a stillborn mass reeking offal.  Sometimes, to be great you have to risk epic failure.  I can live with mediocrity for a time. 

    With that in mind, I’d say Ed Brubaker.  I’ve read Cap, Criminal and some Daredevil from him.  His lackluster Moping Murdoch phase I’d give a pass to based on freaking awesomness of Cap and Criminal. 

  58. Maybe a baseball analogy would apply.

    In baseball, a .350 hitter is probably going to get the sign to swing away no matter the situation.  That’s with a little over 1 in 3 chance of getting a hit. 

    In comics, what hitting average does a writer need to have in order for you to keep on trusting him?  I’d guess at least .500 maybe  .750? 

    Jeph Loeb is batting .500 with me right now.  I loved Long Halloween…. I hate Red Hulk.. I’m going to buy Captain America White.  If I don’t like that book, however, I think that will be it for me and Mr. Loeb.   (sing that last line Counting Crows style…)

  59. For me it used to be Frank Miller. I was so hopelessly devoted to anything he touched. I had first read Sin City when I was too young to be reading it, but something beyond the nudity and violence grabbed me. Then someone handed me Dark Knight Returns and I realized what that something was. From that day forward, I hunted tirelessly for old Martha Washington and Ronin issues. When he began to produce new work, like 2003’s Robocop series from Avatar and Dark Knight Strikes Again, my faith in Frank was renewed. Not only was all his old Batman and Daredevil great (not to mention his own creations), but his new stuff was great too! He had not pulled a Claremont in this modern age of comics. Perhaps that was because he helped to create this modern age of comics.

    And then All-Star Batman & Robin happened. Frank Miller and Jim Lee together on Batman? Holy Crap! This is gonna be great! Wait… What did he just call Robin?

    I lasted 6 whole issues into that debacle before jumping ship.

    I guess the only artist that I still feel that way towards is Grant Morrison. It started around New X-Men, and when I saw how he orchestrated the story and brought it all together two years after he started, I decided that I’d read anything else he put together, with the faith that, no matter how confusing the first 90% of the story was, it would all make sense in the end, and so far that’s held true. Well, except maybe for the Invisibles. I only read the first trade and uh… I don’t get it. Is that the point? I don’t know, but I think I’m done with that one. Doom Patrol was fun though.

    Is Alan Moore really the only writer that deserves to be called infallable? I guess so.