Friday, December 4, 2009

JLA Classified #16 (March 2006)



Every now and again, some no good writer will take the greatest super-hero team of all time, and pit them against some penny-ante third world dictator to make some labored political point, or just because they have the imagination of a goldfish. General Dvory Tuzik was not the product of such a limited mind.

At the unanimous request of the United Nations Security Council, the JLA was allowed entry into a sovereign nation to engage its army and apprehend its leader. Wally West, ever right leaning, cursed General Tuzik at length for his many atrocities. J'Onn J'Onzz helped cool his overheated head. "Not to worry, Flash. With thousands of his subjects willing to testify, General Tuzik here will be adding another title to his name-- 'convicted war criminal.'" However, "While you were planning your illegal assault on my rule... my ambassador brokered a deal for clemency and peaceful exile in my choice of eight nations on three continents. Once there, I shall enjoy a retirement of wealth, liquor, very young women, and fine cigars, morning 'til night." Not only that, but a Leaguer would have to serve as his escort to insure his safe passage. Wonder Woman volunteered to fly the General to his new home in China.

Back at the Watchtower, the Flash continued to argue for interventionism, while the League observed heavy media criticism of their politically-charged mission. Meanwhile, via teleconference, General Tuzik used the fears of world leaders to his advantage. "Each country has at least a rudimentary counter-meta contingency... If your plan fails, then you bring down a wrath no human army can stay... Let me take the risk. I have no country. I am already in exile... Give me your doomsday measures, and I promise... I will again make this a world of men!"

Three months later in Three Sisters, Oregon, the entire town began acting in a strange concert. Investigating, the Flash got close enough to be kissed, and soon fell victim to a virus that threw his powers into overdrive. The JLA took measures to quarantine the town and take care of their own. Under Batman's guidance, Green Lantern John Stewart constructed a microscope with his ring to investigate the cause of the Scarlet Speedster's feverish state. "My God... he's full of Starro!" Countless microscopic reproductions of the mind conquering alien starfish were swimming through the hero's body.

In China, General Dvory Tuzik saw to the continued maintenance of his greatest asset, the Hypothetical Woman. "In short-- she gives birth to gods!"

"Never Brought To Mind" was expertly scripted by Gail Simone, daringly penciled by José Luis García-López, and butchered by inker Klaus Janson.

14 comments:

The One True GL said...

You hit the nail on the head with your "JL vs some dictator to make a writer's point"...um...point. Quraq, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Your comment regarding the inks on the JLA mini ("butchered by Klaus Janson") is typical of the kind of analysis that one sees over and over again on blogs like this one: none. No defense or explanation of your opinion. Just a snarky and dismissive throw away line that reveals your ignorance. If you knew anything about art, I would imagine that you would actually say something about it. But you don't. And that leads us to the only conclusion that we can reach: you know nothing.

Frank Lee Delano said...

This is a blog about the Martian Manhunter and related characters. I've got another blog called ...nurgh... where, when I'm inclined, I go into that level of criticism. I also have a comment forum right here where I can go off on such a tangent.

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is best known for his clean, merchandising friendly, iconic heroes. He's very much of the Neal Adams school, with an emphasis on attractive model looks, as well dynamic panel progressions that more fully integrate independent images into a whole on the page.

Klaus Janson tends to be more impressionistic, with blocky, rough figures. This gives his work a gritty, minimalist quality, more comparable to modern art than Garcia-Lopez's romanticism. Janson was able to juxtapose his style with the precise, sculpted pencils of Gil Kane in the 1970s, bringing a new realistic life to Kane's sometimes too pristine work. This was done largely through the use of tones and the softening of Kane's focus. Janson also worked well with Frank Miller, muddying up what had been a somewhat generic technique and bringing Miller closer to the noir feel he was striving for.

In cinematic terms, the pairing of Garcia-Lopez and Janson is like filming a Michael Bay production on city streets, without licenses, on a handheld video camera. I can understand the logic of using Garcia-Lopez to capture the scope and majesty of the metahuman conflict, while employing Janson to add a more visceral quality, to reflect the dirty, unethical world of the general. However, Garcia-Lopez's too rare continuity work is instead compromised by Janson's clumsy, inadequate embellishment. Janson is well past his prime, foregoing tones and sticking too closely to Garcia-Lopez's layouts to bring anything of value to the partnership. Rather than the friction of two divergent perspectives, we have a very Garcia-Lopez, without his usual sheen, and hack work from Janson, who's basically tracing with just enough of his idiosyncrasies to result in a hash.

Is that sufficient, Anonymous Internet Commentator Hurling Personal Insults Who Fails To Offer An Actual Defense Of His Case While Being Overly Sensitive About A Throwaway Line, or must we continue this all-to-common dance?

mathematicscore said...

Nicely done Frank. I don't always agree with your snark, but I know you can back it up. Besides, I know you're heart is filled with rainbows and puppy dogs, you ol' softy, you. :)

Frank Lee Delano said...

*Bows*

Anonymous said...

First of all, nothing in my posting was a "personal insult". My comments were directed simply to your dismissive and unexplained comment that Janson "butchered" the art by Garcia Lopez. My assumption is that if you actually knew anything about art, you would use that knowledge and go into some detail to back up your opinion. Am I incorrect in pointing out that there was nothing in your posting that defended or explained the "butcher" comment? Please let me know if I somehow missed that part of your review.

Can you show me an example of where the art was "butchered". Point me to a panel where you think that Janson butchered the pencils. Please, explain to me in artistic terms, where and what was butchered. Did you see the pencils? Do you have any insight into penciling or inking? Share with us, please, what was so egregious in the inks that warrants a remark like "butchered".

You tell me that you have another blog where you go into that "level of criticism" when you are so "inclined". The notion that you might be responsible in another venue does not release you from the responsibility in this one. If you are going to give your opinion, it is my feeling that you need to back it up with examples and reasons. And you gave none. None.

Here's another example of your tendency to throw out opinions without any backing: "...Garcia-Lopez's too rare continuity work is instead compromised by Janson's clumsy, inadequate embellishment". What does that actually mean? How is the embellishment inadequate or clumsy? Show me an example. How is it compromised? Is it the line weights? Is it texture, the blacks, the drawing? What, exactly and specifically, is it that Janson did that caused you to say he "butchered" the pencils? You're just throwing out random disconnected thoughts without any evidence (and your comparison to Michael Bay and handheld cameras is irrelevant and laughably misplaced).

And let me point out something else: "Janson is well past his prime, foregoing tones (please let me know what a "tone" actually is) and sticking too closely to Garcia Lopez's layouts to bring anything of value to the partnership". For years, the ignorant chattering class have complained that Janson overpowers the pencils of whomever he inks. Here is a job where, by your own admission, Janson stuck "too closely" to the pencils and you wind up complaining about that? For this job, you apparently want something that offers the "friction of two divergent perspectives" yet applaud Janson for bringing Miller "closer to the noir feeling that (Miller) was striving for". So what is it exactly that you want Janson to do: add his perspective or get in line with the perspective of the penciler?

And don't get in my face with the attitude that you display in your last paragraph. Your response is not "sufficient". Not at all. The kind of writing that you do, unreasoned, unexplained, undefended, is an insult to the people and medium that you write about. I don't need to defend "my case". My case is about your inability to defend your case. And don't try to dismiss my call for you to be responsible and back up your opinions with reason and evidence by characterizing my posting as "overly sensitive" or an "all-to common-dance". Those are high school debating tricks designed to change the subject.

I'm asking you to defend your opinion with examples to illustrate that point of view. Stop dealing in generalities and be specific. You can diminish and ridicule my comments as much as you want but you still haven't laid out the evidence that Janson "butchered" the pencils.

Frank Lee Delano said...

Where the hell is my ridiculously long rebuttal I spent 45 minutes writing, Google?!?!?

Frank Lee Delano said...

ARRRGHHHH!!!!

Frank Lee Delano said...

I'm so pissed I'm going to have to try to reconstitute this, you have no idea.

Excerpts from your initial post:
"Your comment... is typical... snarky and dismissive... reveals your ignorance. If you knew anything about art... you don't... you know nothing."

In my neck of the woods, that's fairly offensive speech that would be deemed inappropriate in polite company.

Compared to examples of his pencils from Modern Masters Volume Five: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, as inked by Janson, the finished art on the issue in question looks pretty damned rough. Figure weights fail to fully differentiate foreground and background elements. Garcia-Lopez's delicately thin, well-placed detail lines are marred by choppy, thick erratic inks. Garcia-Lopez's light feathering is substituted with chunky swipes that often cause the lines to close up into uneven solids. Shadows fall in unnatural, angular patterns. Garcia-Lopez's flowing anatomy takes on an abstract, minimal, almost cubist slant as times, contrasting poorly against more fully rendered elements in the same panel. The zip-a-tone overlays that Janson dazzled with in the 70s and 80s are gone. Techniques which may have worked on gritty crime comics are ill-fitting when applied to sophomoric super-hero adventure. In short, Klaus Janson butchered Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

Now, I've answered your question to my satisfaction, at entirely too great an allowance of time to my liking. Both blog readers and writers have real lives they're more concerned about than supporting their opinions against someone's myopic and lengthy objection, or else they're engaged in flame wars on message boards. For most, internet time is a stolen luxury, where the concise is valued over navel gazing. You are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. Make no mistake, I assume no more responsibility than the law would apply in stating an honest opinion, and you are entitled to nothing from me. This is not a debate. You are simply an irate guest on my blog that I have indulged, but my patience is very near its end. You've made your point at considerable length, and I've said my peace.

Anonymous said...

Your response further indicates your incorrect information as to how comics are put together. No one has ever said that you are not entitled to your opinion but the argument you make is based on misinformation. For instance: shadows are placed by pencilers; zip-a-tone is no longer used since computer coloring serves that function now. I could easily go on but you clearly have said you have no taste for anyone that challenges you. Perhaps you are more comfortable with the acolytes and yes-men that populate the internet. Your inability to engage in a debate confirms my initial impression about the depth of your knowledge. I wish you nothing but the best in your blog. It is interesting, however, to note that you are unwilling to engage in a discussion and perfectly happy to resort to censorship. Surely you can't expect to put your opinions out into the ether and expect no disagreements? Good luck to you-

Frank Lee Delano said...

1) Shadows may be placed by pencillers, but not always, and the inker ultimately dictates matters like that. Part of their job is to bring weight and depth to the pencils, which includes filling in and often assigning the parameters of shadows (preferrably without dipping an eraser tip into an inkwell for the job.

2) I am aware zip-a-tone is no longer used, which is why I consistently related them to Janson's earlier work, and referred to them as simply "tones" in my initial reply. Computers can now lay in tones (not just coloring, but textures) but Klaus doesn't use either technique, and hasn't for ages. Hence, he's past his prime, in part by not utilizing tools that made him noteworthy in the first place.

Anonymous, do you want me to write my thesis on Klaus Janson's modern inking technique? I've engaged you, I've indulged you, and I've dismissed you. I am not challenged by you. I simply wonder where you find the time and the nerve for this nonsense.

Finally, I never engaged in censorship. I in fact pointed out that despite your attitude, I was allowing you your length of rope. Sad to say, Blogspot's recent glitches censored me, as I had a longer post with more points that got swallowed by by the 'net inferno. I was just explaining to you that enough was enough, since you couldn't seem to rein yourself in. Otherwise, I was simply going to ignore you. There's a world of difference between censorship and decorum.

mathematicscore said...

Not having yet read the story in question, I can't really weigh in on the art in question, but I would state that the Anonymous fellow seems to protest a lot. He seemed to be attacking the medium used in expressing your opinion, as a means to refute the substance of it. I find it hard to believe that he's finding blogs referring to say, Alex Ross's art, as beautiful and asking for them to provide examples. I can appreciate academic debate as much as the next guy, but the vast majority of humanity doesn't communicate that way and the majority get the point. It doesn't make our opinions any less valid. Especially when it comes to art, in all of it's forms. Often as not something either grabs you or it doesn't, regardless of the minutiae or your articulation.

Also, I found this; "For most, internet time is a stolen luxury, where the concise is valued over navel gazing." to be a truism.

LissBirds said...

Anonymous, I wasn't going to get involved, but I think some of your comments warranted it.

Art is subjective. I think that's where your hang-up is. When someone makes a judgement call about something subjective, throwaway or not, it is a statement based on opinion, and two people with differing views on art can argue forever and will probably never be able to convince the other of the other's point-of-view. It's art! You don't need a specific reason to not like art--it's a visceral reaction. Some people hate classical music and some people hate heavy metal. Do they need to explain why in order for their opinion to be legitimate? It is logically impossible to defend a case based on art, when the premises are your respective opinions. If you've found a way to do so, please, enlighten me. As far as I know, aestheticians (the type of philosphers, not the people that do facials) are still working on this.

Also, the internet (and world) would be a better place without so much passive-aggression. I've seen way too many examples on the internet of personal attacks then backed up with "good luck to you anyway" or the like. You don't need to hide behind a veneer of decorum to make yourself sound like a better person than the one you're debating, while at the same time throwing in little digs to attack your opponent. It's petty, and not much more mature than the "high school debate" tactics you accused your opponent of using. Really, to me, all you come off as sounding is bitter.

mathematicscore said...

I paged through these issues at my local comic shop, and holy, you weren't kidding, the art was butchered somethin' fierce! I can't believe this is the same penciller on all those great superpowers images. I can't bring myself to buy the issues now.