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Post By
deke

In Reply To
Ed Love

Subj: I'm glad you enjoy the stories Ed
Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:17:02 pm EDT
Reply Subj: Re: Reading JLA 1971--Part 3
Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:06:47 am EDT

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> My thanks to Gernot, Brian, Commander, Ian, TJ, Omar--I appreciate the input. It must get tedious for you folks to keep reading my endless criticism and disappointment with much of JLA's early-70's output, and I'm certainly not sparking much discussion of same (though I suspect much of that is due to relatively few of you having ever seen these issues--if somebody reads a year's worth of Kamandi or Conan, I'll have nothing to add too).
>
While I've not read a bunch of these, but for the ones I have, my experience just doesn't jibe with yours. I've never found Dillin's art to be anything but stupendous, that he not only reflects changes in styles in the characters' particular books (such as the Adams'ing of Green Lantern and Batman) to powerful yet clear action scenes, beautiful women. I'd take him over many of the hot artists today who don't seem to grasp that each panel tells a story and should be clear as to the point of the scene that it illustrates.

Some of it I think is just the basic assumptions. You say Friedrich is only a few years older than his target audience, so I have to ask what you think the target audience is? Because I'm thinking it's around 11-16/17 whereas Friedrich is in college. While he is indeed only a few years older than the high end of that target audience, that's a very, very significant gap in years. Because of that and changes in styles and sensibilities, I don't really expect an adult reading a book written 30 years ago aimed at kids to get the same thing out of them (then there's the added nature of the issues being originally read a month or two apart as opposed to the next day). But, what we expect out of comic stories, how continuity is treated etc is completely different nowadays. I've noticed with reading a lot of the books from the 70's that captions were definitely often over-written, over the top, and frequently described exactly the action going on in the panels (a carryover from the 40's when artists weren't the illustrators they were by the 70's and a writer couldn't count on the artist to draw a scene coherently. Ironically, we're at the point where such captions pointing out what should be obvious are often needed again. But, one can see where the idea to rid themselves of captions came from). And when we're talking about slang (as well as other styles and sensibilities from decades ago), again it calls for giving some leeway, that it's like looking at old photographs and wondering what you were thinking to dress that way, to do that to your hair.

It's not to say that the flaws aren't there, but I just don't see them as being as important or glaring as you say. It's like your average movie reviewer, they are no longer approaching movies to be fun, but for them to meet critical criteria under close up analysis that is often more significant to the reviewer than the targeted audiences. The primary purpose of the story to entertain seems lost. A possible romance between Batman & Black Canary? Why not? Batman was not the brooding dark hero then, but a man who had conquered his demons and iconic superhero. Why harp on that and not the fact that BC would even then have been around 50 and that she's attracting the attention of two very verile heroes about two decades her junior!

See, when I read #82 as a teen (bought from a used-book store, not quite that old), what struck me was how cool it was that closest counter-part of Dr. Mid-nite, a hero not really given much time in the JSA-JLA crossovers, was Batman! Suddenly, Dr. Mid-nite is a lot more way cool than he is often shown to be and I eagerly looked forward to any appearance by him.

I also liked how the crossovers tended to imply that things happened on Earth-2 that we didn't see, these people lived lives and such that happened in between panels. The JSA didn't just sit around waiting for the JLA to come calling again. When Hourman would feel guilty for always dismissing the Red Tornado as a machine after his later sacrifice, it was one of those things that I chalked up to the fact we just don't see the JSA on a month to month basis, we don't get to see the subtle changes in relationships between characters over time.

So, when I read #92, the relationships between the Robins and the older generation didn't strike me as odd. Least not as any more odd than our under-30 male heroes having the hots for a woman at the half-century mark. Regardless of his experience, Robin is still junior to his JSA comrades (and he doesn't really have any more experience than them, he started younger but still approximately the same time as the rest of them, their experience is the same. He should be better than they were at his age, but they aren't that age any more). I have no problem with them still seeing him as being Batman's junior partner and their first new member in decades. Instead I found the story of the alien to be touching, excited to see the two teams (with the golden-age Atom!) taking on Solomon Grundy, and discovering that not only did Neal Adams design the adult Robin costume, but that it was the Earth-1 Dick Grayson that wore it first! Again, just way cool.

Golden-age hero and villain encyclopedia: www.geocities.com/cash_gorman

http://hero-goggles.blogspot.com/


> While I've not read a bunch of these, but for the ones I have, my experience just doesn't jibe with yours. I've never found Dillin's art to be anything but stupendous, that he not only reflects changes in styles in the characters' particular books (such as the Adams'ing of Green Lantern and Batman) to powerful yet clear action scenes, beautiful women. I'd take him over many of the hot artists today who don't seem to grasp that each panel tells a story and should be clear as to the point of the scene that it illustrates.

Fair enough. But I don't find D stupendous--he's OK. His women are prettier than Sekowski's, but his work lacks power, to me, in the very places you see and feel it--consider the action splash in #82, with Wonder Woman belting Superwoman with what looks like a very hurried fist, and Superwoman registering the oddest expression: not pain, not fear, her head is thrown back but she looks to be posing for a Rita Hayworth-style photo. I don't find that powerful; I find it bizarre, alittle clumsy and not convincing--and a fight scene is where comic books should always convince.

> Some of it I think is just the basic assumptions. You say Friedrich is only a few years older than his target audience, so I have to ask what you think the target audience is? Because I'm thinking it's around 11-16/17 whereas Friedrich is in college. While he is indeed only a few years older than the high end of that target audience, that's a very, very significant gap in years.

And yet he wrote didactically, as a teacher giving a lesson rather than a kid of 20 sharing the love of action and adventure with a kid of 10. That was my point.

>Because of that and changes in styles and sensibilities, I don't really expect an adult reading a book written 30 years ago aimed at kids to get the same thing out of them (then there's the added nature of the issues being originally read a month or two apart as opposed to the next day).

Right. I can't reread the books exactly as I initially read them then. So what?

> And when we're talking about slang (as well as other styles and sensibilities from decades ago), again it calls for giving some leeway, that it's like looking at old photographs and wondering what you were thinking to dress that way, to do that to your hair.

No. having a 40's character like Thunder adopt au courant slang makes him a buffoon. And I don't think that was O'Neill's or the editor's intention--quite the opposite in fact, they were trying to make bow-tied Thunder accessible to kids of 1970. The hipster dialogue was a clumsy attempt, then and now.

> It's not to say that the flaws aren't there, but I just don't see them as being as important or glaring as you say.

I don't say the flaws are fatal. Recall, I enjoyed #s 82 and 83 as campy fun of a sort. But it's perfectly OK for me to have fun with the books at their expense.

>The primary purpose of the story to entertain seems lost. A possible romance between Batman & Black Canary? Why not? Batman was not the brooding dark hero then, but a man who had conquered his demons and iconic superhero. Why harp on that and not the fact that BC would even then have been around 50 and that she's attracting the attention of two very verile heroes about two decades her junior!

OK you bought it. I didn't, then or now. Batman, even at his sunniest, was about discipline, and maundering about a lost love to Canary struck me as out of character, leaving aside the clinch (which was accompanied by such overwrought prose as to blow out of the water any credibility such an embrace might have). "The slashing sword of guilt"? Corny, then and now. I don't care about ages of characters but I do care sbout the character of characters. Turning Ray Palmer, a SELF-MADE, COSMIC-LEVEL hero, capable of functioning on a microscopic level, into a self-pitying mope was a poor "expansion of character". He could've sprouted wings and looked like a fairy (or more like Wasp) under the rubric of "entertaining" but I wouldn't have liked it, then or now.


> So, when I read #92, the relationships between the Robins and the older generation didn't strike me as odd.

Didn't bother me either, except that it was the usual cop vs. hipper guy dynamic we already had with GL/GA. Both Hawks patronizing both Robins wasn't characterization so much as a cute joke about hawks and doves. And the "right on" came out of left field, and doesn't hold up at all; nothing dates writing faster than up-to-the-minute-slang.

You know, I don't think you like me getting off a few snarky lines at the expense of books you loved. OK, I can't please everybody. But I simply don't find A-Rym and Teppy "way cool" in any way, nor do I find their ability to toss the JLSA around like dolls to be imaginative--having posited villains (sniffling kid and big-eyed horsy) the JLSA couldn't strike without appearing cruel (though I longed for Superman to paste one across that Gumby manque's silly mug) and I had to sit through two issues of general incompetence by the heroes. Not a terrific crossover. At least when the lard-assed aliens of #82-83 were galivanting with their nets, certain heroes gave them a credible battle.

Anyway, I look forward to your reaction to the Starbreaker readings. Though my tone isn't likely to change...


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