Ruby Nation

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Moments in Otherwise Terrible Comics?

Here's a question for you all to actively answer in the comments...

What are your favorite scenes in crappy comics?

To give you an example, I'll discuss the good stuff I found in The Other, the big Spider-Book crossover written by JMS ( whose Spider-Man I discussed earlier, after the above cat sat on my copies of his work ), Reginald Hudlin, and Peter David, with art by Mike Deodato Jr., Pat " the Transman " Lee, and the late, lamented Mike Wieringo...

-- There were a lot of excellent character moments with Peter and his supporting cast, both his family and his Avengers comrades. Peter's death sentence stirred a lot of drama to the surface, insights that we might not otherwise have seen. MJ gives a heartbreaking speech about how Peter subconsciously goes into battle half-cocked out of a death wish born of survivor's guilt. Aunt May internally curses Uncle Ben for not allowing Peter to move on with his life. And Peter himself has a great scene where he almost kills a villain, cursing how unfair it is that he's being punished for trying to atone for one mistake he made, and talking about being free to make another big mistake as he beats the hell out of the bad guy. Even after he came back ( one of many reasons why this was a stupid story ), there were some interesting points, like MJ talking about surviving Peter's ( believed ) death made her realize that she was a stronger person than she thought.

And we can't forget how Wolverine hit on the grieving MJ to distract herself from her despair, and how her words of thanks afterwards were along the lines of " I know you didn't hit on me on purpose because I'm so out of your league ".

-- Peter found some clever uses for his spider-powers after his resurrection. The spider-stingers in his wrist....well, there aren't words in human language to described how fucking ridiculous that concept is, even by superhero standards. But I liked the final issue with Peter experimenting with his powers. Seeing him find creative ways to use his abilities, like feeling the vibrations of a target through his webbing, or having a rescued child cling to his back the way he clings to walls, were pretty cool. If only he figured out how to use these without a contrived mystical experience.

-- Mike Wieringo's art was exceptional. Mike Deodato's work was good as always, and Pat Lee managed to be tolerable despite his continuing use of his trademarked " Dull Surprise " expression. But Wieringo was an exceptionally gifted cartoonist. Even with fewer lines than most superhero artists, he managed to exude character from his figures. Look at scenes like Cap tearing up upon Peter's death, Logan's reaction to MJ's aforementioned speech, and of course, Peter getting cornrows when visiting Africa. He is still very much missed. :(

These traits make this Big Lipped Alligator Moment of a story tolerable....well, almost.

So what are your picks?


  1. At the end of Final Crisis, when Superman shatters Darkseid's disembodied consciousness with a single note. Like most of DC's big crossover events, the story as a whole sucked and the final issue was especially awful, but something about that one scene was strangely beautiful and fitting.

  2. -- Final Crisis had a lot of great moments, but as a whole, I feel that Morrison's experiment with the story pacing and structure failed big-time. I can't quite call it a terrible comic, though.

    -- Identity Crisis is one of the most terrible comics I have ever read, but every time we see the lesser bad guys hanging out on the Injustice Gang satellite with Merlyn complaining about being a minor supervillain, the story actually has some genuinely good stuff in it. There's a reason Meltzer's reinvention of Fad Super the Calculator has stuck, after all. Pity about everything else in the comic, though.

    -- Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men has a bit of a cliche example: most of the book has been pretty lousy for various reasons, but the X-Club material is fantastic. Sometimes it seems to be the only part of the book Fraction actually likes writing, and I can't blame him.

    I must admit, it's hard to think of these: most terribel comics are pretty much terrible throughout. You usually need to be reading a serious misfire from an otherwise good writer to find jewels amid the sewage.

  3. Almost any scene with Osborn in the concluding arc of the Clone Saga, particularly when he rips his shirt open to prove to Peter that he's the real deal, and reveals a hideous scar on his chest.

    And then Peter kicks his ass.

  4. Good picks. For Fraction's Uncanny, I'd also cite the issue of Second Coming with Nightcrawler's funeral, especially Wolverine's breakdown.

  5. I know a lot of people disliked the recent "Shed" arc in Spider-Man. My personal pet peeve was the hideous artwork-everyone was badly proportioned and distorted, and the action was extremely difficult to follow-but I actually feel it breathed new life into the character of the Lizard.

    Let's face it, the Lizard has more or less been a one-trick pony ever since Stan and Steve first let him loose in the Florida swamps. Curt Connors transforms into the Lizard, Spidey finds a way to cure him, lather, rinse, repeat. When he was human, Dr. Connors served perfectly well as a supporting cast member, but the Lizard was generally little more than a generic predator with little motivation or personality to speak of.

    When Todd McFarlane is the guy who does the most interesting thing with a character, you know there's a problem.

    This is why, I had done an Ultimate Spider-Man story from the beginning, I would have made the Lizard actually start out as a reptile that is injected with human DNA, rather than a man injected with reptile DNA. As I imagine it, Dr. Connors eventually abandons his experiments with lizard cells after he sees that they take over the human cells they're fused with...and then Professor Miles Warren takes some human DNA and fuses it with an actual lizard, which itself begins to develop human sentience.

    Hence why I actually liked "Shed", the terrible artwork aside-it actually gives characterization to the Lizard, and a goal beyond simply being a raving predator with some half-baked plans of mutating other reptiles. Now he actually has a personality and some objectives, not to mention that the conflict between him and Connors is now reversed. Instead of Connors fighting a monstrous predator inside him, the Lizard is struggling with the remnants of Connors' personality inside him, feeling guilt over what he did to Billy.