"No, Wait...You're Right"

The topic for this month is how I review. One of the readers suggested it. I suspect some of you may be disappointed. :) The truth is, I go with my gut feelings for the most part. My friend (and best man) Bengie takes great delight in reminding me I'm an "amateur pundit" (although he knows me, so it's different when he repeats it than when Ellis says it :), and while I think I'm a skilled writer, my strongest ability is meeting a weekly deadline regularly.

So how do I review? It's mostly gut feeling, hence the name "Snap Judgments." I read the comic, get a general feel for whether I liked it, hated it, loved it or just didn't care much. Then I put it into one of my categories and do the summary. I'll keep the comic at hand, flipping through for the summary. Then I'll write my intro paragraph(s) based on that gut feeling. Then I'll flip through again, looking for the points I liked and didn't like that brought me to that conclusion. Sometimes I change my rating when I realize there was a lot of stuff I liked or didn't like, but usually my gut is pretty on-target.

Sometimes I post a review and find later that I've changed my mind. I hate that, mainly because I know people trust that they're getting my honest impressions and even possibly making buying decisions based on them. While the cases of me changing my mind are rare, they do happen. I panned Chronos #1,000,000, but everyone else seemed to have liked it, and I may have let bitterness over the loss of Chase and the realization that if Chronos had tanked earlier we might still have Chase affect my review. On the less extreme side, I gave a recommendation to Black Panther but upon reflection and rereading have decided that I should have highly recommended it.

I try not to let myself be affected by outside hype, however. It does get to me from time to time. For example, I think there's been a lot of negative hype surrounding the Byrne revamp of Spidey. I've gone into it with the attitude that Byrne is going to irrevocably damage the character. But I've read Byrne's editorial in the back of the comic (not the comic itself yet) and you know what, I've changed my mind...he's right!

He says in his editorial that the early Spidey stories, "while undeniably classic in every sense, are very much grounded in the time and place they were written and drawn." He goes on to mention topical references to Kruschev and the origin depending on a radiation experiment that seems dangerous to the absurd to us in the modern day. Obviously, he's right. Spidey's origin is ridiculous. After this, I think Byrne should tackle some more origins. I mean, we know enough about mutation to know that the X-Men should not have powers, they should instead fight crime with their congenital birth defects. We know that trucks full of nuclear waste wouldn't be driving through New York uncovered, so Daredevil should instead have dived into the inside of a nuclear waste tanker, mistaking it for a pool. Why stop there? The Fantastic Four wouldn't be able to launch a space shuttle without help from a ground crew. Let's make them all astronauts in an authorized launch instead of daring young adventurers bucking the system. Oh, wait...Claremont's already gone and done that.

And then he says that he gets asked to do these types of projects "because of the great respect I have for the history and continuity of the characters. I approach such projects with one question in mind: How much of the old stuff can I keep?" This is obviously true. On Bizarro World. Oh, wait, thanks to Byrne, there *is* no Bizarro world anymore. Just a pasty-faced tragedy character who blew up in one issue. Just like now, Spidey and Doc Ock apparently share an origin.

No, wait...I guess I was right on this one.

Randy W. Lander

Previous ColumnNext ColumnBack to Home