The Transformers Archive Skip to main content / Also skip section headers

[The Transformers Archive - an international fan site]
Please feel free to log in or register.

 
  • transformers toys
  • transformers comics
  • transformers cartoon
  • transformers live-action movies
  • transformers fandom
  • transformers forum

Go Back   TFARCHIVE > TRANSFORMERS > Transformers Media & Fandom > New Comics

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 2013-11-16, 02:04 PM   #1
Terome
Indigent
 
Terome's Avatar
 
Brighton
Default MTMTE and the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire/Gordon Justice League

I've got a big project due in soon so I thought I'd read a big pile of old Justice League comics. This particular run from 1987 has been repeatedly cited as a major influence on Roberts' More Than Meets The Eye (as well as an example of creators learning the 'right' lessons from Watchmen but that's another topic entirely). So with an eye for parallels I inhaled about ten issues of it last night. I'm not really up on my DC stuff so most of the characters and history was unfamiliar to me.

Firstly: the tone is very similar. It's been noted that Roberts was regarded as a grim sort of writer before MTMTE got everybody thinking he was the funny guy. I'd taken that as Nick Roche's influence but nope - all the quips and spittakes and caricatures are right there in Justice League.

Characterisation is also very similar, especially the trick (which I am quite fond of) of characters taking to each other about another character when that character is not present. Points where characters agree on someone are notable and that feeling will bring diseparate personalities together. In JL, everybody can agree that Guy Gardener is a douche. In MTMTE, everybody can agree that Ultra Magnus is a humourless stick-in-the-mud.

Mixing C-listers with the stars is another trick: in both DC and Transformers, status has a strong correlation with power levels. It's interesting to have guys like Rung or Swerve rubbing shoulders with powerhouses like Magnus. It's a good way of introducing peril and of keeping the conversation lively. In JL, Batman's not particularly bothered if Martian Manhunter is playing fisticuffs with a godlike foe but someone has to go and catch Black Canary if she is falling from a great height. With that comes the tension of some characters being more popular than others, whether it is in-canon or metatextual. Several characters in both JL and MTMTE complain about being regarded as 'second-stringers' or being put on menial jobs.

There's also the layering of jocular mucking about with fairly heady stuff. MTMTE goes darker but JL opens with a pretty bleak plotline about nuclear disarmament. There are definite Watchmen overtones in the way Batman doesn't give a fig about nuclear weapons and just wants to hurt the people who are destroying property and upsetting the status quo. That's about on par, heaviness-wise, with the PTSD theme of MTMTE.

Tellingly, both are knocked sideways for a big crossover event that is nearly nonsensical. What is 'Millenium?' Beats me, but apparently we are in Part 5 of it and all of a sudden a character in JL is an evil robot and Superman is there and um.

For the most part, the differences between the books are in the way the medium and the audience of serial comics has changed since the eighties. JL is a lot more repetitive for the benefit of new readers, doesn't divide itself into 'arcs' or 'seasons' and doesn't seem to be as reflexive to criticism or praise. JL also has the in-built advantage of being in the DC Universe and so can pluck new heroes and villains out of what, to me, might as well be thin air without feeling the need to explain itself too much. The IDW Transformers universe is much younger and shallower and so pretty much every new character is going to need a backstory, design and justification to go with it.

Then there is the unmistakable fact that JL is put together by people with a bit more experience in the industry and the medium than MTMTE. The art is JL is hampered by the mechanical standards of the time but the drawing is superb. Likewise, there is never a sense of the cramming or cheap tricks that MTMTE gets a lot of (deserved) flak for.

The set up of MTMTE does bring in one huge advantage - a crew is more fluid than a team. Characters can not appear or pop up without warranting an explanation. One of the quite frustrating things about JL is how someone like Captain Marvel will announce how he wants to opt out of Justice Leaguing for a bit and then Captain Atom will appear for no apparently good reason. I assume that these sorts of things are editorial hot-footing of some sort. Maybe Captain Marvel was requested for another book for a bit? Maybe someone just really wanted to push Captain Atom post-Watchmen? Who knows.

Oh, and the pop-culture references. MTMTE can't do those really (beyond namechecks of TVTropes articles). Hardly an issue of JL goes by without a character proclaiming that 'it's the eighties' or talking about Stallone or Reagan.

Lastly, the phrase 'more than meets the eye' is used roughly a bazillion times in JL. Serendipity!

So who else has read those comics? Who would like to?
 
Terome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-16, 02:30 PM   #2
Denyer
Shooty Dog Thing
 
Denyer's Avatar
 
UK
Default

Always curious about JLA stuff other people consider good. Being a long-running title it's hard to get a handle on, particularly which bits made it back into print. When well-written it's almost always more interesting as an ensemble piece than trying to make individual DC characters carry a title.

Reminds me, I must pick up the Obsidian Age stuff in TPB -- since it was 2005-ish, I'm hopeful it might not suffer from the shitty paper quality DC reprints usually had in the 90s.
 
Denyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-16, 03:04 PM   #3
Terome
Indigent
 
Terome's Avatar
 
Brighton
Default

The #1 issue of the run makes it easy - you only really need to know who Batman is, what a Green Lantern is and the fact that there is such a thing as a Justice League to keep up.

And yeah, I'm a bit skeptical that any of these characters could support a title worth reading. It's like imagining what a Swerve ongoing series. Goodness.

I'm reading them from scans made from comics that must have been on the verge of disintegrating. You can see the ads on the reverse of the pages bleeding through. It is oddly charming. I'd like to figure out a good way of replicating the effect in Photoshop.
 
Terome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-16, 05:19 PM   #4
inflatable dalek
Duke of Kidderminster
 
inflatable dalek's Avatar
 
Kidderminster UK
Red face

But I thought the whole series was Red Dwarf: The Comic?
 
inflatable dalek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-16, 06:17 PM   #5
Terome
Indigent
 
Terome's Avatar
 
Brighton
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
But I thought the whole series was Red Dwarf: The Comic?
And both Red Dwarf and JL are Star Trek: The Loving Parody.
 
Terome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-16, 09:52 PM   #6
Skyquake87
One with the Matrix
 
Skyquake87's Avatar
 
Default

I've heard about this 'legendary' JL run, but nowhere have I seen what issues/ trades any of this ran in - which really used to f**k me off when I was an avid Comics International Reader and exploring comics through its pages (none of my friends at school were much into comics). It would get frequent mentions (mainly because until Grant Morrison, JL was a terrible pile of poo after Giffen and chums left), but never specify details, leaving it like some mysterious comics grail that only wise old men know about.

After searching for a couple of years, Maxx, Bone, Scud and Preacher happened and I thought 'actually, Superheroes are a bit rubbish' and moved on.

..but what issues did these run in?!


(i'd google, but that's boring and its taken me the time I could have spent looking to type this - and i've had to edit the post to put this bit in)
 
Skyquake87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-17, 02:26 PM   #7
Terome
Indigent
 
Terome's Avatar
 
Brighton
Default

Seems a bit hard to pin down but this looks promising:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-Leag...uire+Dematteis

Generally it seems to be identified as 'Justice League International issues 1 - ???' but also 'Justice League 1-6 + Justice League International 7-19 + Justice League of America 20-94.' Seems like a bit of a nightmare.

But yes, the mysterious holy grail feeling is one I had myself. I thought I'd break through the Gordian knot and see what it is everyone has been talking about since forever. I can see why DC is such a shadow of its former self if it makes it so hard to get a hold of some of its best and most lauded material.
 
Terome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-17, 02:38 PM   #8
Skyquake87
One with the Matrix
 
Skyquake87's Avatar
 
Default

Awesome! Cheers dude, I have ordered a cheap second hand copy
 
Skyquake87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-17, 04:09 PM   #9
Denyer
Shooty Dog Thing
 
Denyer's Avatar
 
UK
Thumbs up

Continues in this one, the series got rebranded as JLI after the first arc.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-Leag...dp/1563890399/

Ordered the first one -- I think I've read some of it, it looks like stuff that was run as a backup in an 80s/90s UK Superman reprint title.

edit: You might want to stick to the 2008-onwards reprints if paper's a concern, though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice...ected_editions
 
Denyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-17, 06:07 PM   #10
Skyquake87
One with the Matrix
 
Skyquake87's Avatar
 
Default

Thank you!

Paper isn't much of a concern. I've tended to find that the stuff in '80s and '90s TPBs is generally a bit more robust and nicer anyways. The 2000s seemed to have seen a shift to newssprint paper (hello all Vertigo collections since 2003) and that weird shimmery thin stuff that crinkles from body heat that all comics are printed on nowadays.
 
Skyquake87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-20, 03:52 PM   #11
Cyberstrike nTo
Primus
 
Cyberstrike nTo's Avatar
 
In the Dead Universe known as Indianapolis
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denyer View Post
Continues in this one, the series got rebranded as JLI after the first arc.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-Leag...dp/1563890399/

Ordered the first one -- I think I've read some of it, it looks like stuff that was run as a backup in an 80s/90s UK Superman reprint title.

edit: You might want to stick to the 2008-onwards reprints if paper's a concern, though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice...ected_editions
In the early 00s DeMantis and Griffen returned to the team in a six-issue mini-series called: Formerly Known as the Justice League which is the funniest comics ever (you know a book is funny when Batman starts making jokes that are actually funny) and then there was the follow in six issue arc in JLA: Classified called I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League.
 



The X-WCW a fun site for fun people.

Last edited by Cyberstrike nTo; 2013-11-20 at 08:52 PM.
Cyberstrike nTo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-22, 10:17 AM   #12
Skyquake87
One with the Matrix
 
Skyquake87's Avatar
 
Default

So the first trade arrived on Wednesday and I'm roughly half way through. Do you know what? This is great. DC's characters are a funny bunch. Unlike Marvel, there's pretty much an A-list (Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern) and then a Z-list (everyone else) and this book is definitely full of Z-listers, whom squabble a lot until Batman turns up to put a bit order into things (and works really really well, and you can just see him thinking what a ship of fools they all are). Aside from a few '80s excesses - most notably in Black Canary's dreadful boiler suit - it feels remarkably fresh and modern.

So much so, that you wonder what went wrong with mainstream superhero comics during the 1990s. This sort of stuff should have been the template, instead we got a right load of guff. Whilst I wont say its laugh out loud funny, its witty and the dialogue is natural and full of character. One of my favourites is goodest of the good guys Captain Marvel, whom is so Sunday School its brilliant.

As well as Giffen's excellent writing, Kevin Maguire turns in some beautiful artwork. Its expressive and well rendered. Generally I've found DC a little lacking in the art department, but this is good stuff. Its not flashy, by any stretch but it has that same level of realism Doug Mahnke brings to comics. Superb stuff.

You can see why this run is so revered and its funny that DC haven't really made much of a fuss about it in the same way they would, say Crisis or whatever.
 
Skyquake87 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2013-11-22, 05:04 PM   #13
Terome
Indigent
 
Terome's Avatar
 
Brighton
Default

Quote:
You can see why this run is so revered and its funny that DC haven't really made much of a fuss about it in the same way they would, say Crisis or whatever.
Or nonsense like Hush, which I think is the only other big mainstream DC thing I've looked at in the last few years.

Quote:
As well as Giffen's excellent writing, Kevin Maguire turns in some beautiful artwork. Its expressive and well rendered. Generally I've found DC a little lacking in the art department, but this is good stuff. Its not flashy, by any stretch but it has that same level of realism Doug Mahnke brings to comics. Superb stuff.
Absolutely agree. There's such a good balance of naturalism with romance and storytelling. There's not an unclear panel in the book.

One obvious thing I've twigged to since my big post is that Whirl is very much a lift from Guy Gardner. I think Guy works a bit better since he didn't come out of nowhere, he can be nasty on a sexual dimension that Whirl can't and other characters are more willing to show their disgust at him. There is a problem with Guy though in that it is a wonder why anyone tolerates him at all. With Whirl, there's the whole necessity-of-war thing.

I quite like the 80s excesses because I'm a bit of a sucker for such things. The haircuts in particular. The pop culture references are a bit eye-rolling but they do have a sort of Venture Brothers function of telling us what characters are like by displaying their tastes. Can't do that in Transformers in any way, shape or form!

I like the thought balloons too. Roberts should consider going against the grain and bringing them in. Not everything has to be a TV show.
 
Terome is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:21 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
 
 
[the-hub.co.uk]
[transfans.co.uk]
[oneshallstand]
[unicron.com]
[counter-x.net]
[ntfa.net]
[allspark.com]
[transformertoys.co.uk]
[tfu.info]
[botchthecrab.com]
[obscure_tf]
[tfradio.net]
 

[TFArchive button]
Link graphics...

BOOKMARK US
Or in FF, hit Ctrl+D.