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Author Topic: Stories you've changed your mind about  (Read 823 times)

Richard

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Stories you've changed your mind about
« on: 02 November, 2019, 11:53:07 PM »
I've just re-read Breathing Space in one sitting, a story I didn't think much of when it first appeared in the prog (I was only re-reading it for the art), and I quite liked it this time -- it's much easier to follow all in one go. This made me think about which other stories I and other squaxx dek Thargo have re-appraised on a second reading, either because the story works better that way or just because our tastes have changed as we've matured got older.

I doubt that I'll be saying the same thing about Skip Tracer a decade from now, but I'd like to know which other stories in the prog or the meg the rest of you have unexpectedly enjoyed on returning to them weeks, months or years later.

Tjm86

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #1 on: 03 November, 2019, 06:31:53 AM »
Picking up my prog slog after a brief hiatus and just hit the "Summer Offensive" (how aptly named).  It is staggering how much Firekind stands out compared to the dross the Morrison and Millar churned out.  It left me cold at the time, partly because of the printing issue, but reading it properly for the first time in years ...

Marshall's earlier artwork is a perfect match for Smith's script.  Granted the script itself is fairly conventional by Smith's standards but it is an example of how much the right artist can bring to a script.  Let's face it, Millar's Purgatory and Inferno is only made tolerable by Ezquerra's artwork (even if he is telephoning it in and even tracing Bolland at one point it seems [... which block are you with]?)  Smith can also be forgiven for seemingly lifting elements from Mean Team (von Neumann).  Ironically it is difficult to re-read it without being reminded of Avatar which it preceded by decades.

Compared to the blatant misogyny, racism (Judge Bhaji?), homophobia and pretty much every type of narrow-mindedness that permeates so much of the rest of the prog of this time it really does stand out.

Frank

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #2 on: 03 November, 2019, 10:55:38 AM »
Inferno is only made tolerable by Ezquerra's artwork, even if he is telephoning it in and even tracing Bolland at one point it seems (... which block are you with?)


You have a marvellous talent for hyperbole, Tjm!





Ezquerra's art on Inferno is the opposite of phoning it in. It's almost embarrassing how Carlos devotes some of his best work ever to Morrison's lazy flipbook of Dredd-epic cliches:





There's no point trying to convince anyone they enjoy something they don't, but I'd urge everyone (not just the wonderful Tjm) to pay close attention to Funt Solo's pithy and refreshingly concise overview of 2000ad as his survey takes in the period when Burton & McKenzie resolved to prove creators like Wagner, Grant & Finley-Day were replaceable cogs in a machine.

Fleischer's become the accepted whipping boy of the early nineties, but it's all just so tame and mediocre. The amiable and inoffensive stuff, like Armoured Gideon, is dull, but the endless acres of Universal Soldier and Brigand Doom stretch out before the reader like the Russian steppes, unconquerable and infinite and without any distinguishing feature.

What Morrison, Millar and Smith correctly identified was that the comic had sunk into a soporific torpor that would prove terminal. Lots of the Summer Offensive isn't very good, but for eight weeks or so the comic suddenly came back to life.

Even if you hated the strips, they provoked a reaction**. The feeling they communicated - that there was someone in charge of the comic who'd thought about what 2000ad should be and was commissioning/creating material with that objective in mind - was startling after years of directionless drift and decline.

Then, as John Smith points out in Thrillpower Overload, everything went right back to how it had been before, as if nothing had happened.


* For what it's worth, Ezquerra seemed to like Inferno fine - 'I always try in the epics to do every part of the story myself. I know the people hate Inferno, but I really enjoyed it! I did good artwork there. The characters are very good, Grice and such, but if they don't like it they don't like it' (LINK)

** Stuff like Trash, Mean Arena, Strontium Dogs, Wireheads, Luke Kirby and Dead Meat are so unremarkable they're beyond criticism. They're so bland and uneventful there's literally nothing to say about them that's worth saying. You'd have to be insane to feel strongly one way or another about such nothings - the dramatic equivalent of styrofoam packing or Ryvita.

Frank

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #3 on: 03 November, 2019, 10:55:56 AM »

Having derailed Richard's great idea for a thread, I should get it back on track. Bad Company was literally the first 2000ad strip I read and I loved it.

I still loved the art in the sequel, but the once-terrifying Kano stumbling around like a jakie and murdering his wee fairy pal was a bummer that reminded me of Burt Reynolds' alkie act in Smokey & The Bandit II. The six-month gap between the first and second parts of the story didn't help.

Bad Company II was a sprawling, psychedelic mess. However, upon a re-read some years later, I discovered Bad Company II was, in fact, a sprawling, psychedelic mess.

But this time I enjoyed it. I'd seen Apocalypse Now in the interim, so the Willard & Kurtz parallels and the journey into the Heart Of Darkness structure made more sense to me, which maybe allowed me to relax and enjoy the great characters and ideas on their own merits. Protoid's such a dick, but he's very funny.



TordelBack

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #4 on: 03 November, 2019, 11:41:36 AM »
I've a huge soft spot for Bad Company II.  It's all so very silly and yet earnest at the same time - going from the pathos of Mac trying to deal with his boots one-handed to Rackman's nominitatively deterministic demise, itself undercut by the grimness of his confession. And it has a perfect ending.

The strip I changed my mind about was Dredd itself. I never really liked it when I was first reading the prog in the 300s - I was all about Skizz,  Slaine,  Nemesis and Strontium Dog: serious stories with high stakes and witty characters. Dredd stories were often just silly, and Joe himself was a sullen unlikable bully, and individual stories seemed to go on for ages.  That all changed for me with A Case for Treatment, and I found myself delving into the backprogs to see what I had missed.
« Last Edit: 03 November, 2019, 11:50:02 AM by TordelBack »

Tjm86

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #5 on: 03 November, 2019, 02:10:28 PM »
Lots of the Summer Offensive isn't very good, ...


... and you accuse me of hyperbole?   :P

Seriously I do take your point.  There is so much around this period that would work as a highly effective cure for insomnia.  My issue with so much of the Summer Offensive material is that it reads like it was aimed at a sort of pre-pubescent Viz crowd but without the sophistication of that title.  Re-reading it doesn't so much leave a bad taste as an overwhelming desire to wash out the mouth with battery acid ...

[okay, I know what I'm about to be accused of again here Frank ...]

TordelBack

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #6 on: 03 November, 2019, 02:40:43 PM »
My issue with so much of the Summer Offensive material is that it reads like it was aimed at a sort of pre-pubescent Viz crowd but without the sophistication of that title.

One can scarcely blame Tharg for wanting to grab some small slice of Viz's incredible 1.3 million circulation to reinvigorate his flagging organ. You're spot-on with noting 2000AD's failure to grasp the often-overlooked sophistication of Viz, but I suspect there's as much a play for the accelerating boom of truly atrocious US comics that were rolling back all the quality gains of the '80s in an orgy of pouches, boobs, ultraviolence and publishihg gimmicks.

Throw in some late-stage rave culture, and you have quite a complex- if ultimately pointless - reinvention.
« Last Edit: 03 November, 2019, 02:44:13 PM by TordelBack »

Frank

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #7 on: 03 November, 2019, 02:56:08 PM »
... the Summer Offensive material reads like it was aimed at a sort of pre-pubescent Viz crowd

The kid readers everyone* agrees 2000ad should always be trying to get reach!

Whatever the merits of Sinister Dexter, Nikolai Dante and even Firekind, nobody would argue they were aimed at the 10-year-old who struggles with reading and school and will eventually join the military*

The should-have-been-in-Viz thing can only really be levelled at Big Dave. Maniac 5 is Robocop by way of First Blood and Slaughterbowl reads like a dinosaurs/future-sport/cyborg story Pat Mills rejected for being too much like all the other stories in his launch line-up.

They (and Inferno, for all its unoriginality) are all fast-paced action stories where someone gets punched, munched or shot every week. Their shot glasses were charged with rocket fuel, but the only readers left by that time preferred Dungeon Master to J├Ągermeister.


* of whom there are legions, as 2000ad's social media following attests. Even now, there are 50 year old blokes on Facebook complaining they can't follow a story about a guy shooting tentacle monsters because there's too much writing and the artist isn't using a nine-panel grid

Tjm86

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #8 on: 03 November, 2019, 02:59:32 PM »
Fair point.  There was a real problem with the comics industry in general wasn't there.  There are times when I really do wish comics had remained niche, or rather more niche than they are.  Character recognition is at an all time high but comics sales are nowhere near their former peak.  Speaks volumes really ...

Frank

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #9 on: 03 November, 2019, 03:09:25 PM »
The kid readers everyone* agrees 2000ad should always be trying to get reach!

Ghost asterix and word salad   ...   have I told you about my cold?


Funt Solo

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #10 on: 03 November, 2019, 04:47:24 PM »
So, "The Harlem Heroes", the soft reboot of "Harlem Heroes". When I first read it, I had a certain fondness for it: they'd lavished it with Steve Dillon on art for most of the run (so it looks great) and they'd spent time on the launch - it came it with posters and bios for all of the Heroes. Starting off as an Alcatraz-style story with a mean warden wasn't bad, either, and I was keen to know where it go.  And then ennui set-in as it twisted and turned it's way (without any sub-titled arcs, and without the strong characters of, say, Meltdown Man) through twenty-eight episodes.

Doing my recent overviews has turned into something of a re-read (or, mostly, a re-skim) and I wanted to see it afresh: and it's much, much worse than I remember.

Firstly, none of the five main characters has any character: they just have a look. That's a problem. The entire escape from the prison is as dumb as a bag of hammers, with the warden's penchant for blowing up expensive vehicles just ... bizarre (as is a computer virus that can somehow turn itself into high explosive).

Once out, the plot just gets dumber and dumber (without the humor), and we're supposed to applaud as dim-witted security guards or pilots get knifed in the back or thrown out of airplanes. By the time Trips dies (with a prog cover to add to the impact), we just don't care.

On a meta-level, I'm aware that Fleischer was submitting work at a stupendous rate and managed to fill up the submissions drawer before Tharg realized that some editorial control was something he could actually exercise. If you think of the US model of television scripting, where they just keep writing stuff until the ratings go down (leading to convoluted plots and dangling threads that have no intention of going anywhere) you get some sense of what's happening in this story. They're going to keep flying around blowing shit up and saying sassy lines until someone pulls the plug. There is no story, no arc to follow. Characters will not develop (or change clothes). It's Looney Tunes with guns. It's bollocks.
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Greg M.

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #11 on: 03 November, 2019, 04:51:47 PM »
There is no story, no arc to follow. Characters will not develop (or change clothes).

The main arc is watching Steve Dillon get completely bored of drawing the story and, to amuse himself, steadily increasing the size of Silver's breasts, episode by episode.

Funt Solo

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #12 on: 03 November, 2019, 04:59:53 PM »
Now you've reminded me of Galaxy Quest and Sigourney Weaver's progressively dissolving uniform.
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TordelBack

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #13 on: 03 November, 2019, 06:09:51 PM »
I always imagine Harlem Heroes as a sort of terrifying perpetual motion machine born of Steve Dillon's documented ability to draw the same episode twice in one week with no loss of quality and Mike Fleischer's ability to invoice for the same script twice in one day with no loss of quantity.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Stories you've changed your mind about
« Reply #14 on: 03 November, 2019, 06:40:09 PM »

Firstly, none of the five main characters has any character: they just have a look.

To be honest this is a major problem at this time. Tharg keeps forgetting to remind folks that making a stories protagonist(s) an angry dick with a cool gun / weapon / look isn't actually giving them an actual working character. There are so many characters like this up to about 1000 as I recall.