Marv Wolfman

Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s06e01 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five

Given how much work these Arrowverse crossover events make for the show’s creative teams—just imagine if they had to bother with good writing, better direction (though this episode isn’t too bad), and good guest stars—you’d think they wouldn’t have wasted twenty-percent of Crisis on Infinite Earths with this utterly superfluous episode. Outside the big bad guy not being gone for real and coming back so the heroes have to team up, again, to take him down (though with a lot less heroes than in previous episodes)… not much gets done. Except everyone’s on the same Earth so crossovers could be easier but probably won’t be? Because the characters existing in alternate dimensions isn’t the problem.

The episode opens with Supergirl Melissa Benoist discovering everything is back to normal but has changed. Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer in way too short of a cameo) is now a good guy and Benoist is now buddies again with (not seen) Katie McGrath—tune into “Supergirl” to see how this move saved their butts dramatically but don’t because it’s too late for “Supergirl.” Benoist soon runs into Grant Gustin, who also is realizing their Earths have combined, but there’s no “Flash” supporting cast so we don’t even know what’s up with Gustin and wife Candice Patton. Tune into “The Flash” for that reunion? Or don’t.

There’s a Marv Wolfman cameo where everyone pretends he cared a lot about Supergirl and the Flash? I mean, he killed them off in Crisis on Infinite Earths the comic book and there’s a moment where it seems like Benoist is toast but… nope. Because this episode’s narratively pointless. Yes, it provides the first ever live action Sargon the Sorcerer (a DC Comics character since 1941 who did have something to do with the Crisis comic but not this crappy crossover event) and (sort of) a coda for Brandon Routh’s Superman Returns but eh. There’s a Beebo cameo for people who actually watch “Legends of Tomorrow,” which is at this point the only Arrowverse show worth watching (though I’m seasons behind on “Black Lightning,” which is now an Arrowverse show). Pointless fights, badly directed ones (okay, maybe the direction isn’t okay), bad writing. There’s a new President in the Arrowverse and, no spoilers, but they didn’t get anyone famous for it.

There’s a “Super Friends” ending, which they’re way too excited about doing, especially since it’s in an empty warehouse. It’s lifeless stuff.

There are two lengthy sequences dedicated to Stephen Amell, with various people providing eulogies, and you have to wonder if Amell made them put those scenes in because they’re poorly written, performed, directed, and everything else. No one who liked “Arrow” so much they needed emotional closure on the series ending cares if Benoist and Gustin moon over Amell.

I forced myself to make it to Crisis on Infinite Earths this season to give myself a good jumping off point for the shows (not “Legends”) but I really wished I’d jumped before these last two episodes. The universes combining without any of the regular cast members from the shows taking part? Who cares. It’s got the dramatic resonance of… well, a bad Arrowverse show. A really bad one.

Arrow (2012) s08e08 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four

So.

Confession time.

During the harder-than-normal sci-fi opening to part the fourth of Crisis on Infinite Earths, I thought the crossover might have a chance. I thought if they split the first three into the one arc, then the second two into another… I thought it might work. For a few seconds in the cold open, featuring LaMonica Garrett opening a portal to the dawn of time and somehow unleashing the antimatter universe or something… I thought it had a chance. Then Garrett proved to be just as bad in the cold open as usual and, poof, so much for that possibility.

But wait, then regular human guy Osric Chau (who’s totally becoming the Atom later this year on “Legends of Tomorrow” but whatever) journals—to his dead wife—about all the sad superheroes outside time and space trying to kill time before the plot contrives a way for them to save the universe and it seems like it might get okay, since it’s centering around Chau and his regular guy take on the situation.

And, nope, the journaling stops once Grant Gustin reappears after being missing (during the hiatus between parts three and four, not like, in the present action of the episode or anything). Bummer?

The deus ex machina to get the heroes back in action is Stephen Lobo (who’s in one scene and is so terrible he deserves a callout) training Stephen Amell to be “The Spectre.” Amell’s voice gets disguised, which sort of helps with his performance. Once he’s ready to go, he visits his friends and gets the final battle under way.

Not.

Instead, the episode becomes a low rent Avengers: Endgame with Gustin flashing between moments in Amell’s “Arrow” history to collect the other heroes, who are stranded in the events. Except Chau, Melissa Benoist, and Jon Cryer, who are on a mission on the forest moon of Endor. But a low rent Endor. Cryer’s hilariously fun as Lex Luthor, but Benoist is an utter killjoy as depressed Supergirl. And Chau’s beard looks fake.

But they do get an “asshole” past standards and practices, so… win?

Once Endgame is over—the “highpoint” is Gustin bantering with super surprise guest star Ezra Miller (whose career mustn’t be in great shape as he waits for his years delayed Flash solo movie)—in case you’re wondering, Gustin’s so much better than Miller, it’s not even funny, but it’s still better than anything else because it’s at least fun. Anyway, once Endgame is over, the heroes all go to fight CGI monsters in a rock quarry while Amell fights Garrett (the evil, anti-Garrett) for the fate of the universe.

You’d think since it’s “Arrow,” one of the last episodes of “Arrow,” and Amell’s last stand, there’d be a big fight scene between the two.

Nope. They shoot CGI force lighting at each other. It’s terrible.

I suppose at least they aren’t spouting off goony expository statements about themselves as they fight, which the regular heroes do. The script, by Crisis comics writer Marv Wolfman and “Arrowverse” prime mover Marc Guggenheim, is truly godawful.

I can’t believe I thought they might save it. They somehow made it worse; the desperation of aping Endgame manages not to even be the worst thing in the episode, which is something because it’s super desperate.

Howard the Duck 28 (November 1978)

Howard the Duck #28Carmine Infantino on Howard the Duck. It works out rather well. He’s got Frank Giacoia on inks. They have fun. It helps the story is fun too–these people who run into Howard go to the same psychiatrist, which wraps the flashbacks. Howard’s story has him breaking in to an army base. The army is experimenting on the populace.

With the Infantino pencils and Mary Skrenes’s over-the-top dialogue for all the squares, this issue of Howard doesn’t feel like Gerber’s usual work on the comic (he edits the issue) but it’s not bad.

It’s sort of one note and predictable and a little too cute, both in terms of plot coincidences and Howard and Bev (it’s out of continuity apparently). It’s Howard the Duck with artificial sweetener. All the anti-establishment stuff is there in exposition, but not in the storytelling.

But it could be much, much worse.

CREDITS

Cooking With Gas; writers, Marv Wolfman and Mary Skrenes; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Frank Giacoia; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Bruce Patterson; editor, Steve Gerber; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 4 (July 1980)

Star Trek #4With the limitless possibilities of a comic book, Wolfman goes instead with the Enterprise encountering some kind of haunted house in space. It’s bewildering, but somehow appropriate–it certainly feels like an episode out of the television show, what with the budget and everything.

The issue itself doesn’t leave much impression. Cockrum and Janson’s art is decent; their renditions of the crew, save Kirk, often have problems. They can’t do age well. It’s too much. They need to hint at it sometimes, but go too far.

The issue’s best scenes are early, before the goofiness starts. Wolfman writes an interesting couple guest stars, though Cockrum bases one of them too much on the monster from Alien.

I had hoped it would be a done in one; the cliffhanger promises a different type of issue as a followup. Assuming there are no more Dracula cameos, it should be an improvement.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Haunting of Thallus!; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 3 (June 1980)

Star Trek #3Unfortunately, the final issue of Wolfman and Cockrum's Star Trek: The Motion Picture compounds all the problems they had in the second issue. While they're skilled at densely packing scenes with characters and dialogue, Wolfman apparently can't cut back on the events enough to give the issue a good flow.

He really needs another one, especially considering how little science fiction spectacular Cockrum gets to illustrate. Most of the really visual space scenes are restricted to a small panel, something quick before all the talking starts again.

Wolfman does make some big changes to the movie to streamline the story. Some of it is shifting the dialogue around, but there's also a part where he throws Kirk into a scene where he not just isn't in during the movie, but doesn't serve any purpose. It's like William Shatner's ego influenced the comics adaptation.

It's not terrible, but it started stronger.

C 

CREDITS

Evolutions; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 2 (May 1980)

Star Trek #2There’s a really impressive scene with a lots of dialogue and Cockrum having to fit something around seven people into a small panel. Cockrum and Wolfman occasionally do some masterful adaptation in this issue. It’s nice enough to make up for the bad moments.

The worst moment–there are a handful of shaky ones–has to be when Spock arrives. Wolfman deviates from the movie (perhaps he had a different version of the script) and neither he nor Cockrum give Kirk or McCoy any time. They come off as jerks, with McCoy appearing downright mean-spirited.

Also unfortunate is Cockrum’s handling of the space stuff. There’s the giant cloud in space and every shot is from the rear of the Enterprise. Maybe it was just an easier way to draw it.

The aforementioned impressive scene comes towards the end, which sends the issue out on a high note, but there are clearly problems.

B- 

CREDITS

V’ger; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek 1 (April 1980)

Star Trek #1It’s going to be difficult to talk about this one. Not because there’s anything particularly wrong with this first issue of Marvel’s adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In fact, there might not be anything wrong with it at all. I suppose the art could be better, but Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson do all right. Cockrum loves doing some of the space panels.

Then there’s how they draw William Shatner. As opposed to drawing him like it’s really the Kirk of the movie, they draw him more like the Kirk of the TV show. It’s kind of cool.

This issue came out some time after the movie came out and Marv Wolfman’s script almost exclusively uses dialogue from the film itself. It plays less like a promotional material and more like something for a movie fan to take home since sell-through VHS wasn’t around yet.

It’s perfectly fine.

B 

CREDITS

Star Trek: The Motion Picture; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Batman: Black and White 3 (January 2014)

288444 20131106161038 largeMost of this is very lame. Lee Bermejo’s opening story, for example, featuring a revisionist take on Robin’s training… very lame. Beremjo goes for tough and real, then ends on a bad joke.

But it’s nothing compared to Damion Scott’s entry, which has Bruce Wayne’s internal narration a hip hop song. Even if one likes Scott’s art, there’s nothing to like about the idiotic narrative.

Marv Wolfman’s story–with Riccardo Burchielli doing a fine job on the art–has Batman trying to save a wrongly convicted death row inmate. Is it a familiar character? Like one who had this same story told in a graphic novel in the nineties? Who edits this?

The Rian Hughes future one is dumb. It’s supposed to be funny. It’s not.

Then Paul Dini and Stephane Roux turn in a truly fantastic final entry. Shame the rest of the stories aren’t a tenth as good.

CREDITS

Rule Number One; writer and artist, Lee Bermejo; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual. Hall of Mirrors; writer and artist, Damion Scott; letterer, Dezi Sienty. An Innocent Man; writer, Marv Wolfman; artist, Riccardo Burchielli; letterer, Taylor Esposito. Namtab: Babel Comes to Gotham; writer, artist and letterer, Rian Hughes. Role Models; writer, Paul Dini; artist, Stephane Roux; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher. Editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

The Man Called A-X 1 (October 1997)

239478The Man Called A-X is a strange and awful thing. It’s pronounced “A 10,” but “A ex.” I wasn’t sure it mattered, but then the hard cliffhanger reveals it does matter.

The comic is a near future thing with androids. Marv Wolfman definitely saw Universal Soldier. He tries to be very topical with the Gulf War veteran stuff, but he’s really just doing a rip-off of Blade Runner and, I don’t know, maybe Tron.

The book seemed interesting because it’s Shawn McManus on the art, but McManus doing glossy “gritty” nineties anti-superheroes isn’t the best use of his skills.

I think it’s supposed to be like Lobo. I don’t know. It’s too pointless and bad to keep going. But I should point out McManus is at least competent on the art, Wolfman’s writing is horrendous. It’s either overwritten exposition or laughable first person.

It’s really dreadful stuff.

CREDITS

A-Ten; writer, Marv Wolfman; artist, Shawn McManus; colorist, Ian Laughlin; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; editor, Peter Tomasi; publisher, DC Comics.

The Night Force 8 (March 1983)

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Wolfman splits the issue–an “epilogue” to the first arc (which is really just the last chapter) and then the beginning of a new arc.

None of the regular cast appear in the second story, except Baron Winters, and it seems like Wolfman made the readers suffer through his bad characterizations for nothing. It’s additionally frustrating because second story is engaging. The writing isn’t great–Wolfman overcooks the narration–but it’s okay.

Actually, even the first story isn’t too bad. There’s still Winters and his fear of big government (it’s amazing how seriously Wolfman takes himself), but the storyline wraps up with a nice tidy bow and an amusing finish.

Colan’s art is a lot stronger on the second story than the first, maybe because there’s actual mood and action. The art’s decidedly okay.

I wonder if Wolfman split the issue to force readers to buy into the next arc.

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