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Wednesday, February 13, 2013 

Ron Marz (and Kurt Busiek) admits what went wrong in the 90s

In a conversation he had involving Kurt Busiek, the following came up when Busiek spoke of a minor Batman villain called Crazy Quilt:

Much as I wish this were an admittal by Marz that he made a mistake when he took that route in Green Lantern at the time (and I've pondered at times that Busiek made the same error with Ultron Unlimited in the Avengers), I think the possibility he'll do so may still be a long way off. But if he is admitting the premise he set up for Kyle Rayner was an embarrassment, I think it would be helpful for him. Too often, he's patted himself on the back over his otherwise sterile work there.

Nevertheless, he's summed up the problem with today's superhero stories: the editors and writers take established villains and relentlessly try to make them more and more insane, nasty and deadly, yet they make little or no effort to conceive "plainclothes" villains who could fill these roles much more effectively than costumed adversaries could. And even then, it pays to be careful how they craft them. An important rule for anyone who wants to be well regarded as a dedicated writer: don't veer for the sensational and the shock value. After all, that was what ruined Green Lantern in the first place.

And the time has come to start conceiving more villains in sci-fi comics who aren't of the costumed type, and to stop relying so heavily on established ones in efforts to entertain the audience. I suppose the biggest drawback in superhero comics is when they rely too much on costumed supercrooks as adversaries for the superheroes, and that's what hindered them in the long run.

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Seems more like they are talking about the current trend in comics. I don't see anything in their conversation that would reference the 90s and Ron Marz's work on Green Lantern was a huge success. He took a character that had been steadily losing it's audience and presented a new character that people could actually relate to. Did he up the violence level on Major Force? Sure, but the character was already a murderer and rapist before he got his powers.

Well, you're right about how Major Force was established (during the Captain Atom run in the late 80s, IIRC), but I've never considered his rendition of Kyle Rayner something that anybody could really relate to, because Kyle only came off like a cipher. But I do realize that any argument about the setup for Kyle's beginnings should focus first and foremost on how it was so over-the-top, veering more into publicity stunt tactics than in trying to present an engaging story. And that's why in the long run, Marz's take on GL just didn't work out.

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