Sunday, June 3, 2018

WHAT DO COMIC BOOK PROFESSIONALS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT “NOT A HOAX”?

So John Byrne discovered my blog yesterday, and now I have a really awesome pull quote that I’m seriously considering putting up at the top of this thing!

Also, for what it’s worth: the main sticking point among Byrne and his forum members here with regards to my look at FANTASTIC FOUR 262 seems to be that I’m ignorant of the fact that stories published at the same time don’t need to take place at the same time. That’s not the case at all; it’s something I fully understand and embrace — except where actual continuity errors spring up, which is the case here.

See, Byrne’s trial of Reed Richards, depicted in that FF issue, was conceived in part due to a page in Chris Claremont’s UNCANNY X-MEN 167, in which Lilandra chastises Mister Fantastic for saving Galactus’s life some time earlier. At that point, Deathbird had usurped the Shi’ar throne (it’s noted in the same scene where Lilandra contacts Reed). But in Byrne’s story, which must take place afterward as it’s a direct continuation of this sub-plot established in the X-MEN issue, Lilandra still presents herself as the empress. This isn’t a case of me misunderstanding something; it’s a simple continuity glitch.

Anyway — if you’re reading, John, I’m still a fan.

22 comments:

  1. I do not fully understand Byrne's comments or his followers'. Reviewing old comics in the way you do it is not only correct, but very illustrative for those like me that have not read those actual comics and probably will never do it (life is too short and the list of comics I'd like to read is way too long). Do we have to close our eyes to the continuity mistakes included in the books? Do we have to accept any error in the stories so we do not anger authors who consider themselves untouchable by critics? As in any art form, comics should be reviewed and criticized. When that is not the case, authors (even consolidated authors) tend to lose the perspective on their own work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jax. John Byrne is a bit of a curmudgeon, and honestly, if he thinks I'm doing something wrong, then that probably means I'm doing it right (or at least not as wrongly as he believes)!

      I think most comic writers are generally accepting of errors in their work and willing to acknowledge them (and even fix them if the error is pointed out while they're still working on the title). Byrne is just the type of guy who digs in his heels and fights back twice as hard if a mistake is pointed out to him.

      Delete
  2. Man he'd love me calling him the prototype for Bendis then.

    And yeah, the Lilandra scene is flat out a mistake on his part. Man up and admit it, John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohh yeah, I think Byrne would definitely take issue with being compared to Bendis. I don't like Bendis much at all, but I suspect my opinion of the guy probably looks like fawning next to Byrne's.

      Like I said above, John Byrne does not admit mistakes -- he finds a way to twist things around and justify why he was right, even in the face of any and all contrary evidence. And if that doesn't work, he just starts hurling insults. His forum is really a fascinating place. I used to read it pretty regularly, but for the past few years, thanks to @JohnByrneSays on Twitter, I've been able to happily ignore it!

      Delete
    2. I'll admit the urge to start a comics blog and make that comparison my first post IS there, but I've not got time for that.

      I have nothing but unabashed respect for John Byrne the artist. I'd say that he was a good fifteen years ahead of his time and was probably the single best comics artist of the 70s. I have little respect for John Byrne the writer because of his urge to constantly fix things that aren't broken and his cavalier disregard of the work of other creators.

      I have zero respect for John Byrne the man, because he's earned that over the years.

      Delete
    3. I think it'd be funny if you started a blog and that was the only post on it for all eternity. A one-shot blog.

      I mostly agree with your assessment of Byrne. I love his art, I tolerate his writing, and his personality... well, whatever I think about that is best left unsaid.

      (Though the funny thing is that I tend to agree with a lot of his opinions about the state of comics and "how it should be" and stuff like that -- but they way he states those opinions rubs me so much the wrong way that I find myself wanting to disagree just on principle!)

      Delete
  3. Pretty disappointing. This blog, while clearly looking through a critical lens, has been very positive and at times downright enthusiastic about Mr. Byrne's work. For him to use such sweeping, dismissive language while focusing on one small aspect of this one review doesn't read very well. Particularly when what seems to bother him is your focusing on one small aspect of this one story.

    Anyway, I'm also still a fan, both of my old John Byrne comics, and of this blog. Keep up the good work!

    (and looking forward to the next Superman review...hope whoever wrote it isn't too sensitive).

    -david p.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks David. I agree; I think I'm generally pretty positive with regards to Byrne's stuff from the eighties. I like a lot of it and I think he's an excellent artist, too. But if I see continuity errors or sloppy storytelling, I'll certainly point them out. I'm not saying I could do better, as someone on Byrne's board suggested I might believe, but I hold Byrne to the standard he himself set with his better work.

      Anyway, hopefully he doesn't stumble across today's SUPERMAN review... I'm pretty merciless on his Joker story.

      Delete
    2. (just realized I should've ended "hope whoever wrote *the comic* isn't too sensitive, but I suspect you got my meaning...keen to go over and read the review right now!)
      -david p.

      Delete
  4. Technically Lilandra could be intentionally misrepresenting herself as the still-reigning empress in the FF issue. She did pose as the hen honcha in the UNCANNY issue towards Richards, though in her thought bubble owned up she was essentially bluffing.

    I'm not saying just to keep my "raising above faux ennui" credit.

    Never in my darkest nightmares did I imagine a scenario where a creator comes tell me I read his comics wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's certainly possible and would make sense, though I wonder how she got Gladiator to back her up. His deal was always that he was sworn to serve the sitting emperor or empress, regardless of what he thought of them personally.

      By the way, I was very proud of you, Teemu, for "rising above" my post!

      Delete
    2. He says "somewhat" but in my mind I'm rising above like MacFarlane SPIDER-MAN #1 Spider-Man!

      I need to know what's Gladiator's deal now... if your initially sworn empress gets usurped, you're not doing your job of protecting her properly. I don't think you can go "oh well" and switch your allegiance for the new guy.

      Also: JB, adoring audience needs comment on the allegations that the Lilandra back-and-forth with only one month's delays between FF and UXM were actually a planned show fight.

      Delete
    3. The Imperial Guard only serves whoever rules the Shi'ar Empire, even when it was the insane D'ken and the less than sane Deathbird, so, yes, if Gladiator is with Lilandra, she is the Empress.

      Delete
    4. Then my ennui is genuine.

      Delete
    5. So I spend a productive morning, and:

      After D'Ken became unfit to be the emperor in UXM #108-109, Lilandra needed some legalities sorted out by the Shi'ar council because of her traitor status before she could be crowned as the empress.

      In UXM #167 Gladiator still considers Lilandra as the Majestrix Shi'ar, though confirms to her that Deathbird has pretty much taken over. Right after FF #262 Gladiator's next appearance is in ROM ANNUAL #4 where he and the Imperial Guard serve Deathbird.

      There's probably legal-political off-panel shenanigans inbetween, where because of Lilandra's continued absence, previous legal kinks, failure as a warrior race empress to show up to fight back Deathbird's rebellion, Deathbird's political supporters and powerful allies, Lilandra's poor choice of consort etc. etc., the council has decreed that Deathbird's previous ban from succession has been officially lifted and that she is to assume the majestrixship and that the Imperial Guard is obligated to serve her now.

      Austin I think suggested something to that vein back in the day, and indeed it looks that there is a formal element to a rebellion.

      Delete
    6. Of course, there's the thing that FF #262 (and the Skrull homeworld destruction) happens between UXM #171 and #172 (if fnord12 is to be counted on, which he definitely is), and Lilandra should be hanging in the X-Mansion until leaving with the Starjammers in #174 by which time she's talking non-empress talk about "her rebellion" admitting having lost her de jure majestrixship.

      Either an immense Galactus survivor fleet popped to pick her up and later return... or the supposed Majestrix in #262 is an impostor.

      As we later on will learn in or around UXM #275 that Skrulls have infiltrated Shi'ar and are in cahoots with Deathbird, it's obvious that "Lilandra" and maybe "Gladiator" too who are hanging out with Skrulls in #262 may actually be Skrulls, plotting to usurp her authority to get revenge on Richards.

      JB is right in thinking us morons for not noticing. Everybody knows that when someone is shown doing some uncharacteristic, it's obviously a clone, or cosmic simulacrum, or a Doombot.

      Delete
    7. Thanks for the research, Teemu! Also, I kind of love the idea of Lilandra and Gladiator in FF 262 being Skrull imposters out for revenge on Richards. It doesn't really change the overall story, but adds something kind of cool beneath the surface.

      (Though that would mean that Lilandra's threat to Reed in X-MEN 167 was an empty one, but it's not really clear there how she intended to follow up on it anyway, given she had lost her throne...)

      Delete
    8. It's also plausible though that Gladiator, much like he specifically comes in #167 to inform Lilandra of Richards having saved Galactus, makes a similar visit to Earth after having learned of the Skrull throneworld destruction and they do this little errand trip. The survivor fleet serves as the army which Lilandra otherwise would be lacking, and some ship with teleportation capability has in any case been near enough to Earth to zap Richards from the Avengers mansion.

      Lilandra is badly in need of allies and military support, so doing this prosecutor gig is a politically sound move for her. She may or may not be the legally reigning Majestrix still, but in any case would have to present herself as one and Deathbird as an usurper when enrolling outsiders for her cause.

      So effectively the ruthless hen first had Jean Grey killed and then threw Richards to the wolves for her game of throne.

      Delete
    9. That certainly seems plausible too -- I think there are a number of ways Lilandra could have appeared in FF 262 as she does. I just wish Byrne (or Claremont in a reaction to the issue in X-MEN) had addressed it!

      Delete
    10. I skimmed through Claremont's Lilandra appearances, her being in the FF story doesn't get referred as such at any point. Unless one counts the out-of-nowhere Skrulls in UXM #276 as something.

      But, you know... I haphazardly referred to the incomprehensible-to-me UXM #203 in the FF #262 post as a comparable thing to the Eternity-induced weirdness... But, you read that many faces of Galactus splash page in #262 and then look the similar ones in UXM #203, and it becomes hard to think if Claremont's partner in crime Alan Davis didn't build on something that Claremont maybe long planned when he had Rachel-Phoenix go against Galactus in EXCALIBUR #61 juxtaposing Galactus and Phoenix as some sort of cosmic counterparts as the devourer of spend life vs. one using the yet unborn one.

      (... and then to add insult to injury Davis later on goes and has the X-Men to be on the Skrull throneworld in the past when Galactus devours it, a story allegedly ghosted by Claremont before his official return.)

      That one EXCALIBUR panel with Claremont vs. Byrne maybe came from heart. Funny coincidences, #203 happening in M'kraan crystal that was last seen in #108 that started their cooperation on UNCANNY, and and Claremont's champion being Rachel, introduced in their swansong DoFP.

      Delete
  5. Just had the strangest dream that Stan Lee sent me a No-prize envelope containing a letter berating me for pointing out a "Bob" Banner typo in an early Hulk appearance. He said only an "unabashed ignoramus of untenable insipidity" wouldn't know that Robert Bruce Banner is Hulk's full name, and that I was "everything wrong with fandom in one pulpy parcel". Then he signed off "INCEL-SIOR!!", which seemed like a surprisingly current reference with which to shoot down my virility.
    -david p.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, I'm literally laughing out loud at this. I've had similar thoughts over the years, too. Byrne makes such a huge deal over "ennui-engorged fanboys", but it was Stan Lee who fostered that sort of fandom with No-Prizes and continuity notes!

      I must say, after reading his post, I'm a little honored that he thinks my engorgement was so great while writing that post that I made it to completion. I've never seen him take the metaphor that far before!

      Delete