April 19, 2009

Total hackery; or, how in the hell did Rob Liefeld get this gig?

Picking up on the theme from this post, I just pulled out Captain America (volume 2) #1 from the long box. And all I can say is ... well, just what the title says: How in the hell did Rob Liefeld get that "Heroes Reborn" gig? Cap vol. 2 #1 is just horrendous -- a ridiculous homage to one of Marvel's greatest heroes and an accepted symbol of the United States. It's bad enough that Liefeld's story is wooden, superficial and hollow; it's insane how bad his art is.

In this "reimagining," Steve Rogers has a sort of amnesia and has been "looked after" by government highers-up, notably SHIELD's Nick Fury. Granted, I never collected all of volume 2 Cap (why would I waste my money?), but from what I've read, Cap, in the waning days of World War II, vehemently disagreed with President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb and was essentially "deactivated" from service, which included being given a new life and sort of a "mind-wipe" (hence the "amnesia"). In the premiere issue, Steve is haunted by nightmares from his "forgotten" past, and notices a gentleman warching him as he goes to and from work. Steve's job is a seemingly ho-hum factory gig, until one day the guy ("Abe") who has been watching him confronts him. He takes him to a hidden cellar in a building and gives him back ... his shield!! But, of course, there are some mysterious operatives who're right there in an attempt to capture said shield.

And here is where we see Liefeld's total disdain for any sense of artistic proportionality. Check out the two panels below: In the first we see Steve Rogers standing right next to Abe; notice Rogers is about a head taller than Abe. However, in the second, Rogers is a miraculous half a body length taller than Abe!

And that's only the beginning. Being a superhero means that Rogers' physique isn't gonna change when he's dressed in civvies. But when Liefeld's on the pencils ... it does!! Check out Rogers' build (top left corner) compared to that of his co-workers below:

It looks the least muscular of the four seated!! But a bit later, when Rogers recovers his shield thanks to Abe, we see this:

In this "Liefeld-verse" Captain America, somehow the star-spangled Avengers' shield is endowed with mystical abilities that enable its wielder to suddenly increase his muscular body mass by staggering proportions!!

Speaking of staggering proportions, if these next set of panels don't cause you to utter a big "WTF!!??" then I don't know what will. In the scenes where we're introduced to upcoming Cap partner Rikki Barnes, we see her brother and ... friend:

How is it even remotely possible to look like that?? The dude's arms are almost twice the size of Barnes' brother's torso!! And where does this ... person buy his clothes?? I mean, check out his shoes, among other items:

His sneakers are almost the size of Rikki Barnes!!! What sort of store would even sell footwear like that??

One of Cap's enemies is intro'd this ish, the aptly named Master Man. Now see if you can guess which is Master Man's mug and which is that of Steve Rogers at left. OK, it's not really fair as one of them has a receding hairline, and we all know that it's not Steve Rogers! But I mean, c'mon -- this Liefeld ... "scowl" is seen ad nauseum in any Liefeld-penciled book. Don't believe me? Well there it is again -- Master Man, in another panel -- at right.

How is that a natural grimace? Who actually curls their upper and lower lips like that to show their choppers that way??

The bad guys (of whom Master Man is but one) are mostly unreformed Nazis left over from World War II. Master Man (and a dude who goes by the name Red Skull, not seen in this ish) have set up shop in Philadelphia (the birthplace of the United States -- get it?) and have established a political organization called the World Party. The World Party is the Nazi Party, "repackaged" as sort of an "anti-immigration" political force.

First, who the hell would follow a political party's leader that's dressed like Master Man?? Second, what, if any, credibility would any political organization have in the United States if it was adorned with the Nazi swastika?? Ah, but you see, this is Liefeld-verse where, if ordinary people can have physiques like those seen above (and/or magically change them when they discover a certain non-mystical object!), why not a powerful democracy that somehow would "welcome" an openly fascist force? Or, perhaps, this is Liefeld's attempt at "getting in tight" with the then-incoming cadre of "progressive" Marvel writers ... folks like Mark Millar, J. Michael Straczynski, et. al. (The thing is, though, that incoming cadre, despite their outspoken leftism, did it so much better than poor Rob.)

And to top this inanity off, how in the f*** did the World Party manage to smuggle nuclear weapons ... into a Philadelphia church???

Look at that -- we're not talking about tactical nukes, something that could be smuggled into a suitcase or assembled in the back of a van. The panel above shows five -- count 'em, five -- fully assembled intercontinental ballistic missiles -- sitting in the basement of a church. In Philadelphia.

Boy, that "Heroes Reborn" Nick Fury and SHIELD sure were doing a bang-up job protecting America from nuclear terrorism, eh? Couldn't notice that freakin' ICBMs were being assembled right in one of the US's largest metropolises!! That's what happens when you're too concerned with a former American icon regaining his memory, I guess!

From what I've read, after a few issues of "Heroes Reborn," Marvel attempted to renegotiate its contracts with Liefeld and Jim Lee (to pay them less money). Lee agreed; Liefeld refused. How d'ya like that? The clearly greater of the two talents (by magnitudes, too) went along with it, but the total hack said "no."

Go figure that one out.


ShadowWing Tronix said...

Come on, Hube. Obviously, Steve forgot he was supposed to have huge muscles until he remembered he was really Captain America.

wil . said...

by all that is holy, i am begging you to do another entry on Liefeld's Cap run. this is the most enjoyment and entertainment i've gotten in so long. please. i had never seen it, and- yes, its almost unconceivable that anyone actually paid money for more than one of those and said; "this is so good."

Hube said...

Hey, thanks wil! I appreciate that.

I actually never bought volume 2 CAP beyond #1 mainly b/c it was just so freakin' BAD. I did, however, collect all of volume 2 AVENGERS, so there's plenty of Liefeld-isms to make fun of there! Stay tuned! :-)

Mark Engblom said...

HI-larious post, Hube. I'd seen the horrid covers, but never anything from the interiors. Holy God.