Comics legend Jim Shooter is probably most notable for his successful (and controversial) run as Marvel Comics’ ninth editor-in-chief, as well as his work as editor in chief of Valiant Comics. Jim Shooter, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics between 1978 and 1987, is a key figure in the history of American comics publishing. He may also be the most disparaged. One of the reasons he was considered “controversial” by some is that he did not accept hackery and laziness.
Many would argue that current year Marvel Comics is filled with editors who vary between complacency and negligence, supporting creatives that demonstrate little more than incompetence and hackery. There are some standouts, but they are few and far between, and far less than there were when Shooter was critiquing current Marvel issues on his blog JimShooter.com.
One post was his response to an issue of Captain America and Bucky (2011) #624 from November 2011 written by Ed Brubaker with cover art by Ed McGuinness and Morry Hollowell, and edited by Lauren Sankovitch. His critique was more about presentation, than content, as he says in the post:
We comics-savvy types know that the female character is dressed like the Black Widow and has reddish hair. I’m not sure it’s her, though. She doesn’t look like the Black Widow I remember, facially or any other way. Doesn’t have the figure. And her head is too big.
Her girlish figure and proportionately large head cause me to suspect that maybe she’s supposed to be a young girl. A very young Black Widow, maybe?
But the drawing is pretty bad. Hard to tell whether the artist meant for the character to look young or it’s just bad draftsmanship. Look at her face and head. Distorted, poorly constructed. And extra cartoony compared to the rest of the image.
Not much to disagree with there. He continues discussing the cover:
What we have here is another pin-up in a seemingly endless parade of pin-up covers. The male character looks sort of dangerous and menacing, which supports my villains-of-the-piece theory. I don’t know what to make of her. Her pose is strange. What’s she doing? And her expression…? What it’s meant to convey is unfathomable.
His upper arm overlaps hers in a bad way. His bulging muscles, colored, shaded and rendered similarly to her shoulder create a minor visual conundrum. Bad composition. Not disastrous. Just not good.
I would never pick up this comic book because the cover is bland, uninformative and not compelling. That would be a shame, because some nice art and some good words can be found inside.
At least he has nice things to say about the interior art by Chris Samnee and the writing team.
Ed Brubaker and Marc Andreyko wrote this story. They do some things well. They construct scenes well, for the most part. They get information across efficiently, for the most part. The dialogue is terse and functional, though fairly naturally so. The characters are people who would speak tersely and functionally. Story architecture I’ll get to later. (A clue: There is none.)
But this page is where they lost me. Or maybe where Marvel Comics lost me. Story-wise, I mean. Marvel Comics lost me job-wise on purpose in 1987.
He continues to outline all the faults he finds in the book, but did end things on a somewhat positive(?) note:
Brubaker and Andreyko seem to have some useful skills. With a good editor, they might be dangerous. Sorry, Lauren.
The art by Chris Samnee is very, very good. Appealing, clear and effortlessly readable. The coloring by Bettie Breitweiser is very good. Clear. She creates the illusion of depth. Lots of gray, but these days, everyone seems to overuse gray. It’s the color du decennie.
Captain America & Bucky # 624 doesn’t feature Captain America or the Bucky I know—false advertising—but it is enjoyable and has some good things to recommend it.
The whole thing is worth reading, but if a guy like Jim Shooter is this hard on Marvel from a decade ago, what would he say about current year Marvel’s craftsmanship?
EVERY ISSUE SHOULD BE AN ENTRY POINT!
Jim Shooter channels his inner Mort Weisinger on modern comics, and I’m here for it. pic.twitter.com/FYV4RO5VSC
— HeroesPunching2099 (@PunchDrunkKing) July 5, 2021
Yikes! If this is what Shooter thought of the state of Marvel a decade ago, what would he say about current year under C.B. Cebulski? You’ll have to seek those answers elsewhere as Shooter hasn’t updated that blog in more than 5 years.
Clownfish TV weighed in on this also.
h/t to @PunchDrunkKing on Twitter