The Mystical Code Of The Vishanti Behooves Me…

…To admit that tonight I worked on songs, and under a heavy load of cheap beer (as you must do when you work on songs) and so therefore I did not produce the long-promised Mark Millar post.  But I assure my Internet peers that the Mark Millar post is coming…yea, it is coming, maybe the day after tomorrow…

But in the meantime, cogitate on this paradox:

Who are the three worst writers, all-time, of Captain America.  In his own mag, guest-starring someplace, in the Avengers…anywhere.  Who fucked Cap up the most tremendous ever.

I’ve got my three.

And entries that include the word “Kirby” will be summarily tossed out, by the way.  So don’t be a dumbass.

Well, Internet?  It’s a damn tricky question, I admit.  But it’s just about my only chance to get a day’s wiggle-room on that Mark Millar post.  So if you feel like being kind to me…then play along.

And if any ex-Cap scripters or artists are watching…come on guys, after Kirby and Steranko, we all know everybody else is third-rate.  No knock on the utility players.  But drawing Cap is special, yeah?  And writing him is special too.  And somebody has to be on the bottom.

Just a joke Internet game.

No true criticism intended.

In fact:  please play along.

One of my “worst Caps” is one of the most justly-lauded writers in all of comics.  Like, people are going to WHALE on me.

So, just because it’s fun, let’s all play.

I mean no one’s ever played this game before!

And it buys me some time.

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9 responses to “The Mystical Code Of The Vishanti Behooves Me…

  1. I don’t count in this exercise, as I have NEVER liked Captain America all that much… (and here come the epithets that I must be an Anti-American, liberal, ‘God-hating’, terrorist-lover from the “wrong-parts” of the country…).

    Sure, there have been some truly GREAT showcases for the Sentinel of Liberty, but with the exception of a few instances here and there, old “wing-head” just turns me cold.

    I have a few golden spots for who got it RIGHT, mind you.
    Instances wherein, even I (a lefty pinko – obviously) will curl up and give the shield-slinger a read;

    – Kirby (Kirby’s villains – oh dear sweet heaven, ANY time that Cap went up against a Kirby “Arnim Zola” or somesuch is worth it’s weight in GOLD). Some of those old Captain America issues (the Sleepers!?!) were fantastic.

    – Steranko (nothing can top his Cap, except if it’s a Cap & Nick Fury team up. Then, my head explodes from the awesome).

    – Those Stan Lee (Script), Don Heck (Pencils), Wally Wood (Inks) issues of THE AVENGERS are made-of-roasted-chestnuts and-warm-cider by-a-crackling-fire on-a-cold,-winter-night kinda good.
    (maybe theres some nastalgia mixing in from those old 1960’s Marvel “animated” cartoons, since it was those issues that were being featured (and not to mention that the reprints of same (in Marvel Triple Action) were among the first self-purchased comics that I can recall from better, halcyon days…
    But, I still think that, even without the “warm-fuzzies”, those were some great issues of “Cap-as-a-man-lost-in-time * trying-to-make-a-life-of-it” comicy goodness.

    – I think I liked Mark Waid’s tenure (pre-onslaught/ heroes reborn/return). However, it might have been Ron Garney’s art that sold it for me. I don’t recall.

    I regret not jumping into the current Captain America series.
    I haven’t read them, but from all the goodness that I hear about the Brubaker run… I’m wishing that I did.
    (Maybe I’ll borrow some tpb’s).

    But, you’re asking for who got it WRONG, and sadly, in my history… most of everyone else lay the flag-waving & speechifying on a bit thick for my tastes.

    I’m really just here to give a brother a needed breather.
    I was sweating bullets last night, typing and organizing page scans to get my latest entry of my daily “mini-series” of posts (detailing the many rises and falls of the physical – and sometimes metaphorical – Sanctum Sanctorum) up on time before midnight.
    I idn’t want it to post at 12:01am, for then it would have been the “next day” and I would have missed the “deadline” I gave myself.

    TRUST me when I say, that after this mini-series is over, I’m going to want a “breather”.

    SO, I’m just giving a little word-count here for Plok’s faithful to read while they’re waiting for the man to get his stuff together.

    If I may take this opportunity to cross-pollinate (hey, he used a Vishanti oath in the entry title, for Hoggoth’s sake)… feel free to swing on by my corner of the interwebs for Doctor Strange related stupidity.
    Then, come back here and hopefully Plok will have more dazzling words for us.

    Y’know. If you feel like it.

    ~P~

  2. Oh, fun! I like to play along with this kind of stuff …

    Mark Millar comes to mind right off the bat. I think he pretty much whiffed on Cap in Civil War, especially with the tearful surrender. I could see Cap standing down after realizing that rumbling with Tony wouldn’t solve the greater issue of registration … but giving up because his view was unpopular? Never!

    John Ney Rieber’s post-9/11 stuff was overwrought at best …

    And for my third choice …. umm …. I’ll just say Mark Gruenwald was one of the better and worst Cap creators. The beginning of his run was cool but by the time we got to Cap Wolf things were pretty dire .

  3. Tough one.

    For the first thirty-or-so years of it’s existence, I think that Cap was, aggregately, the strongest Marvel title. (And I kind of lost track after that.) Lee, Kirby, Engelhart, Dematties, Stern, Gruenwald, and a few issues of Gerber on the writing end, not just Kirby and Steranko but Colan, Byrne, Zeck, and a surpisingly effective Sal Buscema drawing.

    Honestly, if we’re talking major Cap scripters, the three I’ve liked least have been Ney Reiber, Waid, and Brubaker. All have, of course, done excellent work on other books, but none of ’em grabbed me on Cap.

  4. P.S. I quite liked Loeb and Liefeld’s take on the character, at least the first few issues.

    P.P.S. I haven’t read the end of Gruenwald’s run. How bad did it get?

    P.P.P.S. If they count, I’ve always found Cap to be a bit of a poor fit with the post Stan Lee Avengers. So my actual votes might go for Avengers writers. Or, OK, Mark Millar.

    P.P.P.P.S. Y’know, Civil War would’ve worked 700% better if they had someone who was familiar with the characters spend an hour or two doin’ dialog touch-ups.

  5. As a giant Cap fan, this is tough. I tend to forget the bad writers and crap runs, and instead remember the greats. But, hey, here we go. All answers subject to change if I think of someone else.

    –Rob Liefeld. The “Heroes Return” period of Cap was dire. (I excuse Jeph Loeb for it, as he later said that the finished pages arrived at his house unannounced, and he had to dialogue them. I’m not a Loeb fan, but I remember the dialogue not being the problem.)

    –Stan “the Man” Lee. Yeah, I said it. Stan had no idea what to do with Cap. He alternated from being a stick-in-the-mud to the voice of wisdom to the mourning man out of time, and none of it felt right. In the reversal of the Liefeld/Loeb situation, the actual stories and art (when Kirby) were wicked awesome. But that dialogue. Oh, that dialogue. When it was a Don Heck production, it was all pretty weak. I love Stan, but he couldn’t write Cap.

    –John Ney Reiber. The relaunch of Cap under Reiber in 2001-02 started brilliantly. The first few issues of his run were freakin’ great. Then began the slide into total incoherence. I quit reading the series in the middle of his gawdawful “Ice” storyline that forwarded the “shocking” retcon that Cap was not accidentally frozen but rather captured and intentionally frozen by the gub’mint due to his threats to oppose the use of the A-bomb. Jeebus. Reiber here stands in for all the writers who cast Cap as a clueless stooge of gub’mint or a naif. Well-written Cap is neither; he’s not an idealist because he hasn’t seen the evils of the world. He’s an idealist because he has.

  6. Of course, Liefeld & Loeb produced really bad Cap stories. Let’s just get them out of the way now.

    “This A doesn’t stand for France” is one of the worst lines of dialogue I’ve ever read. For that alone, Millar makes the list.

    Otherwise… I’ve read very little Captain America. I all of Waid’s pre-HR stories, but I lost interest around the Nightmare story. I read the first six Ney-Rieber issues, mostly for the art, but I thought they worked well-enough for the time. I heard it went off the rails soon after. I’ve read about 80% of the Brubaker run (skipped Civil War, and missed 2 other issues), and really enjoyed it. I’ve read Avengers under Busiek, and some Stern, Engehart, Thomas, Lee, & Bendis issues. Of those, Bendis had some trouble writing Cap- he came off as whiny and ineffectual. I’ll say Bendis for #3.

    I haven’t read the Kirby or Colan stuff because, well, it’s Captain America. Englehart, DeMatteis, or Gruenwald either. I will read it someday, maybe, but I’m not that interested in the character.

  7. “Of those, Bendis had some trouble writing Cap- he came off as whiny and ineffectual.”

    That’s essentially the way Bendis writes every Marvel hero, except perhaps Luke Cage. Ask Neilalien someday what he thinks about the Bendis Doctor Strange.

  8. Well, Cap under Bendis sounds like a staggering drunk.

    Actually I was waiting for someone to say Stan Lee — whose dialogue occasionally reads like the Fred Armisen newspaper-reading comic on Weekend Update…also author of the immortal “only one of us is walking out of here on his own two feet — AND IT WON’T BE ME!!”, but actually I think Stan was really a rather zippy scripter most of the time, and he did write some darn good Cap scripts from time to time…but yeah, I actually nominate Stan for his Avengers work with Cap, MAN that is some sloppy scripting, if Stan had worked for Stan, Stan would’ve sent him down to the mail room. One really gets the feeling that the Avengers suffered the most from Stan’s insane workload of any title — I mean a lot of the early issues are just crap. And the Cap interior monologue stays PAINFUL even after he gets his act together…I think, like the Silver Surfer, Stan was just a little starry-eyed over this character. In his own feature he fares a bit better, Stan pulling out his call-and-response Cap/Bucky Road picture stuff to some decent effect, guided by Kirby’s pencils no doubt…and there’s some zing there, but the early Avengers is mostly AWFUL.

    Millar gets first place though, for Civil War. That’s not Cap. And I’m not even an American.

    And for the mighty mighty Third Place…I stayed the hell away from any immediate post-911 Cap, and there are many other candidates…Loeb/Liefeld among them…but I’ve got a bit of a hate on for Jenkins for the way he had my man Steve say “…uhh…” Now you know that’s FOR SURE not Cap!

    Okay, now let’s do favourite Cap issues.

    Oh! And P-Tor: Thanks, I can always count on you!

    And: Markandrew! I am not the biggest fan of Gruenwald’s Cap, but it never got Tom DeFalco MTIO bad, nor even End-Of-DeMatteis-Bad.

    And also: surely you can’t be maligning Steve E.’s Avengers work with Cap???

    And finally: 800% better if they’d just consulted Mr. Mightygodking Bird! That was some sweet reading there.

    I may comment on this thread more once my head stops throbbing…

  9. DeFalco’s Two In One is pure genius. Genius!

    Hmmm… I’m not so sure about Engelhart’s Cap as Avenger, actually. The following COULD just be my faulty memory… Buuuuut I remember awesome character bits for the Swordsman, Two-Gun-Kid, Thor, the Beast, Hellcat, Vision, Mantis, Scarlet Witch, Moondragon the Vision and (I think) the Black Panther – And all I remember Cap doin’ was giving a lame, lame L-A-M-E memorial speech for the Swordsman. (Everyone Counts!)

    The problem when you’re writing the definitive Cap run in his own book and also Cap as secondary character, I guess, is that you’ve got other toys t’play with over in Avengers.

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