Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Top Ten Writers #1: J. Michael Straczynski

...and then there was one.

This has probably been the most long-winded and painful writing experience on the site so far and it's been pretty hard on me too (hardy har), but we've finally reached the end of the Top Ten.

Well until the 3 bonus articles. Oh yeah, they exist. Fear them.

There's no short blurb to open with to introduce this writer. It'd simply take too much outta me to shorten it all. Instead I'm just going to say who it is and continue after the jump. That's just how good he is. That and the #1 position should have a larger post or something.

With that in mind let's take a look at

#1: J. Michael Straczynski!

(ha caught you off guard there didn't I!)

JMS (as I shall refer to him from now on simply to avoid spelling errors) has done so much great stuff that it's become almost torturous to know where to start. I suppose the obvious things would be Babylon 5, where he wrote pretty much the entire show save perhaps 10 episodes, but that would be obvious and unrelated to comics really. As such I could probably say something about Amazing Spider-Man... Except I'm no expert on his stuff outside of One More Day, House of M and Civil war on that front. I COULD mention Thor, where he's successfully made one of the best comics of all time without any of Marvel's crossover bullshit, but I'll get to that soon.

No, the easiest thing to say is that JMS is a wonderfully prolific character who has the ability to define characters to such an extent that any significant change causes more fan butthurt than humanly possible. And with that LOVELY image in mind let's hit the template!

Who is he?: 55 year old TV, film, novel, short stories, comics writer and #1 in this revoltin' list.

What has he done that I might know?: Babylon 5 (tv show), Changeling (film), Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme Power, Fantastic Four, Thor by JMS, The Twelve, Silver Surfer: Requiem
What has he done that I don't know?: I don't know... The outlines for 9 canonical Babylon 5 books?

Tell me some series that warrant him being NUMBER ONE!:

1. Thor
Man, where to begin with Thor? I can't honestly say that I've enjoyed any comic where Thor is a central character. Outside of this. Through something as simple as bringing back Thor's original host Donald Black and moving to Oklahoma the character gained new life. Not only that but JMS had the foresight to understand that to represent a character to its fullest potential you have to cut it off from the rest of the expanded universe. JMS' Thor didn't involve itself in any crossovers or other bullshit with nothing but something as small as an encounter between Iron Man and Thor. Which is also AMAZING. As such when you want to see a new comic based on a long time character done right you turn to JMS' Thor. It's that fucking good.

2. Supreme Power
I'm kinda still making my way through this but for a reboot of an old comic with characters that are more than loosely based on Justice Leaguers this is REALLY GOOD. Not just that but it's an alternate universe book, something that hasn't worked well since the Ultimate line first appeared. To keep this one short (and I have to to avoid sounding stupid or missing something from the plot I've yet to cover) this is an example of JMS' best work and a true example of his ability to work in ways unfamiliar to readers.

3. Amazing Spider-Man
(Okay I admit I haven't read very much of this so with that in mind I'm handing over to resident Spidey Expert and JMS fan Tim:)

I was rereading a bunch of old comics, and the first JMS stories I read were Bad Connections and Doomed Affairs from Astonishing Spider-Man #124. This was from back when Peter and MJ were estranged. Bad Connections features Peter flying to L.A. to try and reconcile with MJ, while MJ flies to New York to see Peter. They enter each others apartment, sit, remember how things used to be, then accept that their marriage is over and fly home. The writing here is truly great; we see how these two people are foiled by their similarity to each other. If only one of them had made the surprise trip, they would have met and possibly worked things out, but now it seems to all be over. Suddenly, Peter's plane gets grazed by lightning and they are forced to touch down in Denver, where MJ's flight is making a stopover. They meet, but are forced to cut their conversation short when Dr Doom turns up and gets attacked by a suicide bomber. The story pans out with the couple talking over their problem while Peter also helps Captain America protect an unconscious Dr Doom from massive attack robots sent to kill the tyrant. All of this is fitted into one single issue's worth of comic. This is insane but it works, and JMS really gets the spirit and humor of Spider-Man brilliantly. The point is, in the space of two issues, Straczynski mixes powerful emotion, well written action, highly adept plotting and great humor, irony and pathos. It doesn't hurt that the art is by Romita Jr; two masters of their art combining in a cluster-fuck of awesomeness. It's also worth stressing that this honestly was a randomly chosen story; the true mark of greatness is consistency. Back to Max. Seriously, get writing you lazy boy.


And that's all I need to cover. Those three things alone guarantee his placement at #1. Sure I could bring up how good his series The Twelve is, or even his recent 'pretty cool' Red Circle stuff for DC, but that'd be pointless. He's earned his accolades with this and anything else is just gravy. So I salute JMS and his brilliant writing, for he is the champion of all.

Next up: some news post things, the review I've been waiting for and information about next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment