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Friday, January 24, 2014 

James Robinson reads and backs all the bad and wrong ideas

Comicosity did a lip service interview with James Robinson, who's now writing another volume of the Invaders for Marvel. They begin with this sugary stupidity:
James Robinson has already made quite a name for himself in rejuvenating classic Golden Age heroes for a modern age. From the appropriately named The Golden Age, to Starman and ultimately Earth 2, Robinson has recrafted DC Comics’ earliest heroes into stories that speak brilliantly to a modern audience.
Yawn. What is so brilliant about turning Alan Scott gay and obliterating his two children and two different wives from existence? In fact, why did some of his past stories have to begin with the death of a character? (Starman, JSA, to name but some) They also bring up something I'd long forgotten:
Matt Santori-Griffith: James, thanks again for taking the time to chat! It’s been over 15 years since you wrote for Marvel Comics, most famously for your work on Heroes Reborn. How does it feel to be back in the House of Ideas?

James D. Robinson: Well, it feels surprisingly familiar and very easy. One of the things that surprised Mark Pannicia, Tom Brevoort, Steve Wacker was that, because comics have always been something I’ve enjoyed reading as well as working in, I’ve been reading all these Marvel books while I’ve been working at DC. So, I’ve been following Bendis — from Alias and Daredevil to Secret Invasion and Avengers — Brubaker, Fraction, Remender, and Aaron. I’ve been following their work and storylines that have been going on from Civil War all the way through to the present.
He sure does like to read the wrong stuff alright. Heroes Reborn is not well regarded, and his work there is obviously not well remembered either, so why call it "famous"? It's more like notorious, except today it's long been forgotten. Nobody asked for the Avengers and Fantastic Four to be separated from the rest of the MCU, and no good tales came out of it either.

He says he's a fan of Roy Thomas's past work, but what I read here makes me skeptical, and I don't think he's being very honest about past history:
I was always a huge fan of Thomas’s Invaders and I always thought it was very smart of him how he chose to depict them, which conversely I feel is where he fell foul of his own love of the DC characters by not doing the same thing with the All-Star Squadron — in that with the All-Star Squadron, he tried to make every single piece of sometimes banal continuity, sometimes conflicting continuity, make sense. The writers and artists, back when they were doing All-Star Comics and other DC books, weren’t in sync with each other because there wasn’t that huge sense of a shared universe. Things would contradict or not make sense, and I felt that trying to make sense of it became the main focus of Thomas’ All-Star Squadron at times instead of telling a big compelling, exciting story. Obviously, he did do that to great success at times, but at other times, it became this myopic look at Golden Age continuity.
At this point, I'm getting the feeling he wasn't very happy with his work at DC (and he's never voiced disappointment they wiped out the JSA for the sake of New 52), and Robinson should look at himself in the mirror when he says that. After all, he fell foul of his own doubtful love for DC when he changed Alan Scott to gay in the Earth 2 series, among other alterations that aren't consistent with what came before. And, he wiped out the Wonder Woman and Batman of the alternate earth he recreated. What, is there something wrong with having two or more doppelgangers of the same characters today?
With the Invaders, on the other hand, what he did very early was make it clear that the Golden Age Timely stories were actually comic books being published by a comic book company in the Marvel Universe, so they were sort of idolized and more naïve than real stories. That allowed him freedom to have a different guy be the Destroyer, or an Asian-American Golden Girl, or a Black Human Top. It freed him to do those things that he couldn’t do at DC, and I always thought that was very smart. Invaders was a much more fun book.
So says the same man who got to do all at DC he says Thomas couldn't. His take on The Invaders #5's comics-within-comics stories isn't very clear, because it never said Cap and Bucky's adventures were all fiction within the MCU proper. It just said, as per Bucky and Toro's conversation, that they merely scratched the surface, depicting domestic adventures when the Invaders provided them with more overseas. ("These comics have us fighting most of our battles here in the States - when actually, we've been hoppin' back and forth between Washington and Bermuda and England!") I think he's taking it a bit too seriously.
I don’t personally believe Jim Hammond has had a lot of personality given to him. He always feels a little bit boring, like a like bit of a cipher. His costume is just a red onesie, which wasn’t very interesting. And that’s great for me, because it’s something I like doing — giving characters that haven’t had any personality a great one. I was able to pick up on elements of things that happened to him the last time he appeared, which was in Rick Remender’s final Secret Avengers arc, and springboard from that. He has a snazzy new costume and I hope this time around we get it right and readers respond to him.
Well he hasn't proven he's capable of giving veteran characters a workable personality for years now, and I don't see him making much impact this either. And why doesn't he have the boldness to just say he doesn't think the writing was much good?
MSG: War has traditionally brought this quartet together, and while it’s clearly not Nazis this time around, there does seem to be a major threat on the horizon in terms of the Kree. What can you tell us about why it’s this team to be the one necessary to face off against this particular threat?

JDR: It’s that this team had an adventure in World War II that they didn’t realize tied into the Kree. So, it’s the Kree’s actions that bring these characters together and draws Jim Hammond out of his self-imposed exile. When we first meet Jim Hammond, he’s a mechanic in a small Southern Illinois town, when he gets drawn back into everything. Obviously, the rest are in their lives as we’ve seen with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Winter Soldier is still presumed dead and cannot reveal he’s alive for fear of the war crimes he’s been judged guilty of. Cap is Cap. Namor is Namor. But the events of what the Kree needs from these guys ultimately brings them all together and forces them to reform.
I think this is just why Bucky's return as Winter Soldier was a mistake. Ed Brubaker burdened him instead of allowing him to just rest in peace. I don't expect his "retconning" a Kree tale into their WW2 adventures to play out well either.

And Robinson sure isn't being very kind to Thomas if he puts down his work at DC and then does worse by retconning Thomas's past ideas to suit Robinson's politically correct visions. Thomas himself, lest we forget, was dismayed at the arbitrary changes made to his and Dann's hard work in the 80s. So I don't buy Robinson's claim he's a Thomas fan so easily if he just up and does something the author he allegedly admires didn't ask for.

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