The Gold Standard: The Lobdell Problem, A Top Five List, And A Weekly Roundup
by Grey Scherl on September 19, 2012

Let me start by saying that I have spent much of my time as a comic book fan as a fan of Scott Lobdell. The man wrote X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur, Wolverine, hell, he created Generation X and wrote some of my first Iron Man (Heroes Reborn). I have nothing but nostalgia and good memories attached to his name, and he’s one of the reasons that I’ve been such a diehard fan of the X-Men for all these years. I mean, sure, there are other writers from that era who helped; Fabian Nicieza, Mark Waid, hell, Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld. I was a child of the Atom, so to speak, I’ve been a loyal X-Men reader since 1996 and did go back and read up from 91 on.

 

That means X-Cutioner’s Song, Fatal Attractions, The Phalanx Covenant, the Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught, and even Zero Tolerance. I have nothing but fond memories for all of these events that made me love events. Scott has had his name placed on a special pedestal by my childhood nostalgia.

 

So what’s the problem? He was great back in the day!

 

Well, there’s the issue in a word, ‘back in the day’. It’s been well over a decade since his best work was on the table at Marvel, and since he moved to write horrible Wildstorm. His big move to DC? Terrible. Gone is the pacing and enthusiasm and well crafted characters of his epic run with Marvel’s Mighty Mutants, and in the place of it we have….nothing.

 

Teen Titans has been a complete and utter black hole of crap that is screaming for a writer to take over with a clearer vision for the future. Superboy was unreadable crap that has recently improved…due to Lobdell leaving in favor of Tom DeFalco, who excels at writing teenage characters. Red Hood…I caved after two issues and never looked back. There’s no real charm to what he’s doing, no real care or class.

 

Superboy, Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Rose Wilson, Skitter, Bunker, Solstice, Caitlin Fairchild, Arsenal, Red Hood, Starfire. He’s rolled out a ton of characters and the ones who have received personalities?

 

Red’s Robin and Hood got some love in the Night of the Owls, in a Bat book untouched by Scott. Superboy and Bunker developed personalities under DeFalco’s pen in an issue of Superboy. Kid Flash’s best moment thus far came in a Fabian written issue of DC Universe Presents. Caitlin and Rose? For as bad as Ravagers is, at least the characters are well handled. Scott is just completely failing to define anyone.

 

Hell, another issue is the pacing, arguably the biggest issue. Last issue of Teen Titans was part two of a story that didn’t have a part one. He’s picking up and dropping plots like it’s the thing to do, throwing crap at the wall before our very eyes to see what sticks. Remember Skitter? If not for her origin being in the zero issue this month, I’d have said I wouldn’t be shocked to never see her again. Bunker and her are BFF’s and then she vanishes and he’s Superboy’s best friend. He swung, he missed, and Skitter is heading for the bench. Not unlike so many failed X-characters.

But hey, can I really attack him for trying new things, even in failure? That’s not generally my thing, I mean, I have no problem attacking someone in failure, I relish it, but I try to reserve it for the people I don’t like. It’s why I rub salt in the wounds when I go on Alan Moore rants, or why I simply try to not acknowledge Alex Ross. But for the most part I try to attack the project more so than the creator…well, unless they really offend me as a reader; Avengers vs. X-Men.

 

What I can attack Lobdell for, however, is being an arrogant sack of crap. For being the sort of person to ride the reigns of his own legacy and expect to be treated as an A list sort of talent while not doing anything to warrant the desired treatment. For being someone who politics his way into jobs, who seems to always have his books being spoiled at Bleeding Cool, and for being the kind of person who will stroke his own ego while badgering a fan…yes, the Stephanie Brown fan from San Diego is a part of this. To top it all off though? He’s full of it.

 

So why would I say he politics himself into place for a job? I look at the landscape of the New 52, and yes, there are writers with multiple books. Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Gail Simone, Peter Tomasi, Judd Winick, Scott Snyder, Paul Cornell, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire. These are writers that handle multiple books, possibly a few omitted, but look at that list. These are DC Comics talents, and for the most part, have been for a while. You have your super stars, your rising stars, the old faithful, all your real archetypes. The point is that with 52 books they let the people that were proven to be able to handle the job do the job.

 

But then you had Scott Lobdell who hadn’t written anything of name value in…how many years? And he was given how many books? Three? And then they go and take Superboy from him, poor Scott…wait, he’s got Superman now? And Bleeding Cool is breaking the story? Bleeding Cool who also had the exclusive on Vibe debuting to be Bunker’s boyfriend in Teen Titans? Now, do I have any proof that Scott is leaking info to Rich Johnston? No, I don’t, but I do have the dates on Bleeding Cool’s reports. How they broke the rumor of Lobdell taking over Superman at the end of April, complained about DC delaying the announcement in June, and then had a big story up about the formal announcement within hours of complaining. Complete with a post devoted to ‘getting it right’ with a poor photoshop job. Sure, anyone could have given Rich the information, but there’s some history there.

 

Little bit off topic there, back to where I started, where do I get off claiming he got his job via politics? Because Scott Lobdell and Howard Mackie both have work right now for the first time in the big two in years, and Bob Harras is the Editor in Chief at DC. Last time he was the EiC somewhere, Marvel was digging it’s own grave deeper by the week. I have little to no doubt in my mind that his job is entirely based around who he’s friends with, and that his ability to score a job writing Superman in the wake of how awful his three debut New 52 books were speaks volumes to the fact that he must be in somebody’s ear convincing them that he’s the right choice.

 

Now, for why he’s a dick.

 

I love Stephanie Brown, this is not news. I was excited about her showing up in Smallville, again, not news. I was not impressed with Scott’s handling of the fan who stood up to a panel to ask about DC’s completely pathetic handling of the situation (Dan DiDio later handled the situation better in an interview with a fan at the Toronto Expo a few weeks ago). When the girl, dressed like her beloved favorite character, stood up to ask her question, she was treated horribly. The table seemed to not know, or really care, about the answer to her question, and when she said indicated that she’d seen art of Steph in action, Scott only had a few words.

 

Are you going to believe art or are you going to believe us?”

Well, Scott, let me find a quote from you tagged a bit less than a year prior.

 

Similarly, Superboy comes to Teen Titans and his own series with a lot of his D.C.history in place. He still showed up shortly after the Death of Superman, he is still the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor. How we reconcile his past with the opening issues of Teen Titans and Superboy? That, I’m afraid, has to remain vague for now”

 

Now, maybe I’m just really bad at reading, but I could have sworn that Superboy #1 opened with the characters birth and debut. A brand new character that Scott spent the summer promoting as the old character with a twist. Hell, if I could remember where I’d read it (or find the link), I’d provide a quote of him confirming that New 52 Superboy is old Superboy with a mind wipe. So I’m going to believe the art, because the writer isn’t exactly a reliable source of information.

 

But hey, this is the same guy who already retconned one of his own books to the point where the trade was released with altered and removed captions to cover up his faux pas. If he wants to get something backwards, or double back on an idea he changed his mind on, that’s his right! He wrote X-Men!

Well, so did Fabian Nicieza, but I imagine he wouldn’t screw the pooch when trying to write Teen Titans. I imagine he wouldn’t sit at a convention table as the new guy in the room and take jabs at fans asking questions he didn’t want to answer. I imagine his characters would be properly defined, and that the Tim Drake we saw in the first issue would be the same one we saw in the twelfth.

 

Or maybe that’s a knock on DC editorial and their inability to decide what they’re doing. It would also explain how, despite this being the first team of Teen Titans, in the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws we saw Roy rattle off New Teen Titans members to Kori who remembered none. Wait, Lobdell wrote that one too, didn’t he?

Have their been continuity hiccups across the board? In some cases, sure, but somehow I keep seeing Scott Lobdell rewriting his own canon, retconning his own characters on the fly, and just completely phoning it in….and getting rewarded for it. Especially considering that none of his books are flying off of shelves, and his name value is quickly deteriorating.

 

It’s the time for some new blood at DC; you’ve already had Rob Liefeld storm out angrily (I love Rob, and actually feel he made the right decision for himself, but it was also the right decision for DC), now keep moving away from the 90’s. Dump Ann Nocenti while you’re at it, Green Arrow is terrible and I have no expectations for Catwoman.

 

Now, I’m not saying dump all old talent, just the ones under performing. In the 2000’s I would have said to Marvel to boot Chris Claremont off of anything with an X on it after he proceeded to suck on X-Men, suck on Uncanny X-Men, suck on X-Treme X-Men, and then absolutely slaughter the Exiles franchise. Marvel’s eventual solution? Give him X-Men Forever, never market it, and place it as far away from continuity as they could. It made it easier to move him out of the writer pool and free up jobs for writers who have a better grasp on the industry today. It made X-Men able to propel writers like Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, and Kieron Gillen into Marvel’s upper echelon.

 

Now, just imagine what an opportunity to write Teen Titans or Superman would do for a young and hungry talent looking to make their name. Imagine that and understand why I’ve completely gotten over the novelty of having Lobdell’s name on a book. If the books were good, this piece would be about Marvel’s fucking up of the X-Men in AvX, but they aren’t, so this is what you get instead.

 

What I read this week:

 

  • Batman #0
  • Green Lantern Corps #0
  • Grifter #0
  • Legion Lost #0
  • Resurrection Man #0
  • Suicide Squad #0
  • Superboy #0
  • Team 7 #0
  • Avengers Vs. X-Men #11
  • Avenging Spider-Man #12
  • Fantastic Four #610
  • Scarlet Spider #9
  • Uncanny X-Force #31
  • Uncanny X-Men #18
  • Wolverine and the X-Men #16
  • X-Men Legacy #273
  • X-Treme X-Men #3
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #13
  • Manhattan Projects #6
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron #3
  • Batman Beyond #11
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #15
  • Smallville Season 11 #16

 

Top Five Books of the Week:

 

5. Smallville Season 11 #16

4. X-Treme X-Men #3

3. Green Lantern Corps #0

2. Uncanny X-Force #18

1. Batman #0

 

What I Watched This Week:

 

  • White Collar
  • Thursday Night Football
  • Sharktank
  • College Gameday
  • Sunday Afternoon Football
  • Sunday Night Football
  • Weeds
  • Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
  • Monday Night Football
  • WWE Raw
  • Revolution 

 

The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

 

You know what, I’m just going to link you to my review of Avengers vs. X-Men #11 and reiterate that Chuck Austen wrote better X-Men.

 

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

 

Same old Rams? Dead and buried. Here’s to the future! A top notch defense, a quarterback finally performing like a first pick in the draft, and a coach who actually coaches! It’s a great time to be a season ticket holder in STL.

 

Team 7 didn’t have the awesome first issue we got out of Phantom Stranger last week, but it was pretty solid. The entire team is established, the links to the old Wildstorm universe hinted at, and while I’m not totally sure what they are going to be doing in this book, I’m excited. John Lynch is one of my favorite characters in comics, Deathstroke is an incredible badass that we’re going to get to see in his pre-Deathstroke days, and Grifter in a book that makes sense! I love the potential for this book.

 

I love Guy Gardner’s new origin, it works perfectly for the character without, to my knowledge, really ruining any of the old stuff. A far cry from John Stewart who went from career architect to marine because he was a marine on a cartoon.

 

Resurrection Man ends and I fully expect to see him bounce around the Dark line in the future, possibly through JLDark for an arc, but I don’t expect him to be prominent again. Thank you, DC, for giving Mitch another chance. The book might have been confusing as hell, but it was fun!

 

I don’t know why I get Fall of Cybertron. I don’t hate it, but I don’t really get psyched to read it, I’m not buying the game, and I’m not a big Transformers fan. And yet…I keep buying it.

 

Smallville proves that Bryan Q. Miller can successfully write any character DC gives him access to. Best Superman title on the market? Check. Best Batgirl ever? Check. Badass Batman? Check. Keep up the great work, Q! You’ll be recognized as the superstar you are sooner than later!

 

X-Treme X-Men is awesome fun. I mean, it’s Exiles, plain and simple, but that’s a good thing! Exiles was awesome before it turned into a vehicle for discarded plots from Claremont’s time writing for Marvel UK in the early 80’s. Dazzler is a great lead, Jim Howlett is turning into one of my favorite versions of Wolverine, and Kid Nightcrawler? I love Kid Nightcrawler. You know what else I loved? The twist in the first arc that reminded me of the first arc of Exiles, where they think they’ve found the good guy and he’s as evil as they come. I shall enjoy this title for as long as Marvel keeps it on shelves and written by Greg Pak.

 

Man, Remender is setting up to go out with a massive bang on Uncanny X-Force and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for it. He’s built this up so well for so long that now I’m just waiting for everything to explode and see who gets out in one piece. I’m looking at you, Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler.

 

My Pissed Off Moment of the Week:

 

If you haven’t picked up on it based on how I opened this piece, I’m a fan of the X-Men, so Marvel wiping their collective ass with the franchise in a way to make the Avengers seem more important annoys the crap out of me. Yes, the Avengers is the only property they actually have the movie rights for, so they should make it seem bigger than it is, or make it as big as the movies, but not like this. Not at the expense of the actual number one franchise. Come October there will be Uncanny Avengers and not Uncanny X-Men, and that’s just wrong. We don’t have X-Men: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, or Avengers: The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine. Giving the Uncanny label to the Avengers is Marvel symbolically trying to upgrade that to their biggest book by giving it the flagship name.

 

Because let’s be honest, X-Men has been the bread and butter of Marvel since Dark Phoenix.

 

Top Five Moments Of The Week

 

5. It might have lacked any real emotional impact with Hope being the one to yell “NO!”, but I can’t deny the strength of the visual of Scott killing Xavier from Avengers Vs. X-Men #11.

4. There was a lot of good in this issue, but man, Illyana is just the craziest of crazy bitches. Kieron Gillen gives the Phoenix Five their first bit of decent writing in Uncanny X-men #18.

3. Can James Tynion write a Red Robin ongoing? The entire issue was amazing, but I have to go with Tim Drake’s origin from the backup for Batman #0.

2. Guy Gardner earns his Lantern, designs his look, and becomes an immediate pain in the ass of Hal Jordan. I loved Green Lantern Corps #0.

1. I might have hated the book, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t an awesome visual. It pains me to do it, but Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 gets two spots in this list. Olivier Coipel was the best thing about the book.

Don’t forget to like this column, share it, tweet it, plus it, all of that good stuff. Add me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and be sure to keep coming back to the Nexus!

 

The Gold Standard



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