Comics / Cult Favorite

Sorry, Not Sorry


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By Philip Schweier
October 14, 2019 - 13:25

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We’ve all been there – been in love, and then betrayed. Or maybe not even in love, just in admiration of someone, only to see them fall. Celebrities accused of crimes, co-workers cave under pressure, friends fall victim to temptation. It’s an unfortunate reality of life.

But it’s not limited to people. Pastimes and enthusiasms can disappoint you too. From baseball to Broadway, our passions can often lose their allure.

When I became a comic book fan back in the 1970s, it was easy to follow characters or creators wherever they led us, and for very little money. Nowadays, comic book publishers expect us to cough up more than a few dollars just for a single chapter of a multi-part story. I know prices have changed in 40+ years, but my expectations for my money can be distilled to two words: good value.

Every so often, a publisher will re-launch a successful title, if for no other reason that to offer creator a misplaced ego boost. Every time it happens, it’s as if the publisher is disavowing its own product. “Never mind what you’ve bought before. It has no merit.”

Last year, when DC Comics decided to re-launch its Green Lantern franchise, it re-titled the book The Green Lantern.

Hmm. THE Green Lantern, as if there can be only one. But there isn’t. There’s an entire galaxy-wide corps of ring-slingers. Let’s call that thinly-veiled B.S. #1.

B.S. #2 came in the first issue of the new title, when Hal Jordan leaves the Corps in disgrace, and is recruited by the Blackstars to join their ranks. From the galactic law enforcement agency, to its bitter enemy, all in less than 22 pages. How is such a thing possible?

Easy. It’s all a scam, to insert Hal Jordan into the Blackstars. Duh.

But to cement his commitment to the Blackstars, Jordan is tasked with the execution of his friend Adam Strange. Is it conceivable a super-hero would murder his friend? No, of course not. (B.S. #3)

Yet, DC Comics expected readers to shell out decent money for a story chock full of transparent plot points. And the story moved at a snail’s pace at that, dragging out the tale far longer than it needs to. Gotta make that six-issue story for the trade.

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I haven't been this disappointed in Green Lantern since 2011. But, Philip, how can you say that? It’s written by Grant Morrison, a recognized master of comic book storytelling. Yes, indeed. And that makes it all the more disappointing. For someone with such a lofty reputation, I expect better storytelling than this.

Having reviewed the two previous titles in the Green Lantern franchise, I continued reading and writing about The Green Lantern, calling it like I see it: dull, uninteresting and completely lacking in originality. I may have been in the minority, but I don’t care. I have no qualms saying that the emperor has no clothes.

Then, someone claiming to be Grant Morrison posted a comment to one of my reviews. It may have been THE Grant Morrison, but upon reflection I doubt it was he. My skepticism stems from the notion that a writer of Morrison’s stature would not fret over a minority voice in the tiny world of comic book reviews. I speculate it was a well-intentioned fan acting in Morrison’s defense.

Let me respond to the alleged Grant Morrison’s comments one sentence at a time:

“Hey Philip, I am under the impression that you have some personal grudge against the writer/artist/publisher/character.”

Writer or artist: do not know either of you. Publisher/character: been a fan of both for 40+ years, but both have been disappointing in recent years. Disappointment, grudge, tomayto, tomahto.

“The series has been receiving critical acclaim from readers as well as reviewers alike.”

The tastes and expectations of other readers and reviewers are clearly different than mine. If my opinion puts me in the minority, so be it.

“But you have been bashing it ever since the beginning.”

Because it’s been a disappointment ever since the beginning. The premise of a “disgraced” cop being recruited by a criminal organization, and asked to prove his loyalty by murdering a friend, is entirely lacking in originality (and common sense).

“If you really don't like it stop reading it already.”

Done, and gladly.

Critics of various media are often accused of “hating everything,” as if they enjoy writing bad reviews. That’s probably true for some, but for me, not hardly. I genuinely wish to be impressed and pleasantly surprised. I’m happy to write something positive and encouraging to anyone in a creative profession. But it’s something they must EARN.

Those who enter the creative arena need to be aware of two things:

Laying your efforts before others opens you up to criticism, and it’s best to develop a thick skin.

From time to time, anyone in a creative endeavor (regardless of reputation) will produce a piece of work that will NOT be well received.

You have two possible responses: whine about the criticism, or step up the quality of your work.

I challenge all comic book writers and artists to do the latter.

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Last Updated: November 16, 2019 - 18:51

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