Post by Prince Hal on Dec 30, 2020 10:54:29 GMT -5
7. Jim Shooter Adventure 346-349; 352-355; 357-380
I don’t think it really registered with me when I was reading Jim Shooter’s Legion stories that he was just a kid three years older than I was when he started writing for DC Comics. If I did think about it, I realized, as all kids do, that a kid three years older than you when you’re 12 or 13 is essentially a grown-up. Three years make a huge difference when you’re in those pre-teen years.
All I knew was that the Legion stories were getting better and better as I was in eighth and ninth grade and it was clear that I had this new Legion writer to thank for it. It wasn’t that the Legion stories had been bad before he arrives (as you’ll see in a future post), just that they were going to another level.
If I’d given it much thought, I’d have realized that they were taking the best of Marvel’s emphasis on the relationships and conflicts between the characters and grafting it onto the complex 30th century universe of the Legion.
Shooter brought a faster pace to Legion stories, and a more teenaged perspective to the friendships and love affairs. The Legion had always been an outlier at DC with its use of continued stories and “casts of thousands” space stories, but Shooter’s mix of the emotional and the epic lifted them to the level of the cosmic sagas that we were reading in Thor and Fantastic Four. It didn’t hurt that DC’s version of the cosmos was more naïve and less sophisticated than Marvel’s. Shooter was just a kid, after all.
Shooter brought a raft of great characters into the Legion: Ferro Lad; Shadow lass; Karate Kid; Princess Projectra; the Fatal Five; the Khunds; Universo and his son Rond Vidar; Dr. Regulus; and of course, Mordru.
He involved the heretofore absent parents and family of several Legionnaires; turned the spotlight on various “second-tier” legionnaires like Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, and Duo Damsel; and brought death to Ferro Lad, an astonishing moment in those days.
The standout stories for me: the two battles against the Fatal Five and the superb two-parter in which Mordru attacks Smallville.
Never followed Shooter much at Marvel, and I know he gets a lot of love for his Avengers work, but that never worked for me nor rang as true as his 30 or so issues of Adventure.
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
I think Moench was one of the most dependable writers of 70s Marvel and his later DC and independent work. For a guy who seemed to work a lot, it was very rare that I was evr disappointed with a comic he wrote: unlike some of my other favourites, I have the impression that you could assign him to pretty much anything and he'd produce work that was more than just competent and professional, work that more often than not was a little bit special. In fact, in direct contrast to most of my favourite comics writers, the only major project of Moench's I thought was a creative failure was I think one that meant the most to him personally: Weirdworld.
But being dependable, even dependably above average, wouldn't be enough on its own to get him into my Top Twelve. On top of all his other first-rate work, there was Master of Kung Fu: one of the best American comics series there ever was. I'd also list Werewolf by Night as one of the high-water marks of his Marvel career.
On the sixth day of Christmas, Santa brought to me, the works of John Ostrander...
Works that garnered him favorite status: The Spectre, Star Wars: Legacy, Hawkworld, The Kents, Grimjack, Legends, Martian Manhunter, Starslayer, Blaze of Glory: The Last Ride of the Western Heroes
Why I like his work: Ostrander started in theatre, and he was able to imbue his work with a real sense of drama, not the cheap melodrama typical of many comics, but real human narratives filled with authentic emotional reactions. And he did this without losing the sense of adventure and excitement needed for the genres he wrote in. He understood character and was able to portray that on the page in a way that draws the audience in. His work also has a sense of authenticity-for example, his background in theology grounded his run on the Spectre especially apparent in the conversations between Corrigan and Father Craemer. He avoided shallow tropes and cheap platitudes that lesser writers rely on when portraying complex topics or characters.
Single Work I would recommend to someone unfamiliar with Ostrander's work: My favorite run is the Spectre, but it's too long to serve as an introduction to Ostrander, so I'll go with The Kents...
I know this is late but I’m glad someone else shares my appreciation of The Kents. Of course I shouldn’t have been surprised considering where we are, but I also consider it one of his major works and it’s unknown to too many. Besides, it's one of the many reasons why Ostrander was my #1 pick.