Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pierre Speaks: The Art of Research

Marvels IlluminatiThese past few years.... I have been scratching my head wondering.....

Is the art of research gone???

It seems that since.... lets say 2000 to give ourselves a round number..... it seems that many stories are poorly researched.

Too often we will see a story that pretty much ignores/contradicts what has happened before.

Or heck.... sometimes it ignores/contradicts what is happening at the same time.

The Absorbing Man is an obvious example of that. At the same time there was two versions of the Absorbing Man in two different comics at the same time. Although, after Secret Invasion, I am sure that now some will say that one of them was a Skrull. ;)

But in some cases..... those contradictions are done by the same writer.

For example..... in Avengers and New Avengers the chain of events, or continuity if you prefer between both title did not match.

So it is difficult to say that the problem is poor research in that case since both comics were written by the same guy.

Which raise the question.....

Is the problem really poor research??? Or is it something else???? Something deeper???

As I was flipping through the New Avengers: Illuminati TPB..... at first glace I saw what could be an example of both problems.

Lets start with what seems like an example of poor research

In the first issue, we see Tony Stark use some UBER martial art to beat the crap out of his Skrull captors obviously referring to the scene where Captain America teaches him some self defense moves. Heck he even refers to that scene by saying "Thanks for the combat training, Cap" (Iron-Man issue #125, 1979)

click to see full page

click to see full page

But in the same issue they keep on saying/showing that Tony needs his armor to survive. But that has not been true at the very least since Iron-Man issue #64, 1973.

click to see full page

I am still scratching my head at that one since anyone who read Iron-Man issue #125 whould KNOW that. By then Tony no longer needed his armor to keep his heart beating.

Iron-Man issue #125

And since the story does refer to a scene in issue #125..... the writer MUST have read Iron-Man #125?? He SHOULD know that

Or am I missing something??

As for the other example that seems to be more then just poor research.

In the third issue (the Secret War one), Xavier is narrating something like...

"I could have stopped it."

"One psychic command and I could have made every one of them go to sleep."


"Every one"???


Even Galactus?? Does the writer REALLY believe that Xavier could put Galactus to sleep??


Or Ultron??? A machine?? Even with ZERO research the writer should have known that one.

MagnetoOr Magneto who "although he has no psionic talents, his will is second to none" (see Uncanny X-Men #125).

Right there.... it is some narration from Xavier that was poorly thought out.

And that is without taking into account that some like Iron-Man, Kang, and Doctor Doom most likely have some of their technology that would give them at least some protection against someone like Xavier.

Heck some such technology is established for Doctor Doom in the Graphic Novel "Emperor Doom". And even without that technology, Doom's will is still strong enough to resist Zebediah Kilgrave's power.

"Now Zebediah Kilgrave..."

"...Who deserves to rule?"

Love that scene.

Emperor Doom click to see full page

So imagine how strong his will is WITH that technology.

So what really is the problem??

Poor research??

Or poorly thought out ideas/stories???

Can someone explain it to me as if I was 6 years old??

Although to be fair.... on the other end of the spectrum... you have writers like Busiek, Slott, Johns and others I fail to mention who seem to do their research. Who use continuity and what has happened before to weave some pretty awesome tales.

Although is it really because they did their research??

Or is it simply that they remember the stories that they have read as kids or even later in their life??

Let me know what you think.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Until next time.



Anonymous said...

I eventually gave up on comic books because of this. In general, it's the art that will first attract a reader to a title, but it is the writing that will keep him. Marvel became famous for their adherence to continuity, and turned out stories that stick with me to this day. (Emperor Doom, for example, which you "quoted".)

As I see it, things took a wrong turn in the 90's. The comics then were still good, but two changes happened that would end up ruining everything. First, Todd McFarlane redefined what was possible in comic book art. By itself, that was a good thing (it was a great thing), but from that point forward, the art started to become more important than the story. Art can grab a reader, it can't hold him; the 90s saw an insane proliferation of double-sized, flashy, foil-cover (overpriced) special editions-- publishers were living from one big payday to the next, evidently.

The second thing was Tom DeFalco's stint at editor-in-chief. Given his history, he probably deserved the gig, but he didn't take comics as seriously as others before him had, and that was eventually reflected in the comics themselves. Glaring continuity errors started turning up, the stories become shallower, and comics just weren't as important. DeFalco's semi-juvenile editorial vision, coupled with the new emphasis on art over story, went a long way towards driving me away.

I've checked in on comics again from time to time. I've seen flickers of hope here and there, but very little in the way of must-read stuff. And I understand Marvel's current editor-in-chief is a former inker-- an artist. There has been an effort to get good writers involved; JMS writing for one of the Spider-Man titles, for example. But he went and made Aunt May into a smart, slightly cynical, tough old lady. That's not Aunt May, that's some other character. If you want to write another character, give her her own name.

I, and my collection of back issues, await the day when the writers resume command of the ship and comics become necessary reading again.

José Joaquín Rodríguez said...

Do you really think comic book writers read old comics from 30 years ago?


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