Why Jim Shooter? Shooter has been writing comics professionally since he was 14 years old. Writing both Action Comics and Adventure Comics for DC Comics. He also did the pencil breakdowns for his story starting with Adventure Comics #346.
Example of Shooter breakdowns for Solar #5 pages 21-23 layouts done in pencil and ink.
He had an ability to analyze a comic book's formula and find its weakness. While writing Legion of Super-Heroes, he notice all the heroes had powers that allowed to effect their foes indirectly. Shooter described their superpowers as "strike a pose and point". He remedied this by creating the hero Karate Kid, who used his whole body in martial arts combat to deal with foes. He's also responsible for writing the first major comic crossover event Marvel Comics' Secret Wars. It's safe to say he is definitely someone who knows about comics, writing, drawing and editing them.
The first book of DC's New 52 (a relaunch of all of DC's major titles) Mr. Shooter considers is Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Cover of Red Hood and The Outlaws #1 by Kenneth Rocafort and Blond.
His review is very thorough. He goes from the cover to the final page of the book. He discuss the cover layout, the artwork, the panel design, the story and how effective they all work together. Shooter praises the artwork for being very good and detailed. His major issue is the panel work and how it has no rhyme or reason. Strange shaped panels, floating geometric shape in the background, characters body parts floating outside of panels and panels overlapping each other covering up the artwork. Shooter admits he had a hard time following the panel sequence. Having to read the book multiple times to fully grasp some of what is going on. I have to confess there are time I'm at a lost to figure out which panel comes next in some of the elaborate panel design found in today's comic books. The story is also something that Shooter finds problematic, this is first issue of the book and you are not really introduced to the characters. If you knew nothing about Red Hood/Jason Todd, Arsenal/Roy Harper and Starfire/Kori, you will still pretty much be none the wiser once you finish the book. Shooter pretty much sums it up with this statement "This story is stupid." The critique may seem harsh but, there is a lot of it that is extremely accurate. Shooter feels every book should be an entry point for a new reader, this book does not achieve that. The full review can be found at this link
.This is one of books that sparked a debate about the way the female character are being depicted In The New 52. There is an article
by Laura Hudson of ComicsAlliance and one
by Andrew Wheeler of Bleeding Cool criticizing the portrayal of female characters like Starfire and Catwoman. Also check out our post "Does she have enough on?
", which was also talks about this.
Interestingly enough, Catwoman was the second book Mr. Shooter reviewed. This review follows the same formula he used to analyze the first book.
Cover of Catwoman #1 cover by Guillem March.
Again, Shooter likes the artwork. Especially, when the artist drawing human figure and feels that it is very well done. He even praises the artist ability in storytelling. Shooter's issue with the art was with what he called "Those little three-toed critters", which were the artist attempt at drawing cats. He felt that the artist should get reference images of cats and cat carriers if he is going to be drawing them. Shooter describes the story as series of events just strung together, not really a story, having read the comic I have to agree. He also takes issue with the dialogue which he calls boilerplate (unit of writing that can be reused over and over without change), and describes as tepid, neither really good or bad. Shooter even points out multiple inconstancies. Catwoman's suit has built in razor sharp claws which she use with get affect to dispatch attackers. But there is a scene where she is beating a mobster who had murdered one of her friends, she's craves up his face with her fingernails. Shooter quips "Super Fingernails?" He also pointed out she was in the men's room when she unleashed her righteous fury on the no-good mobster. The attack broke her cover, she was pretending to be a bartender, she gets her Catwoman costume from the ceiling tiles of the men's room, huh!? This writer like the one in the previous book expects everyone to already know who the characters are. If you a fan of these characters sure no problem, but wasn't the whole point of the relaunch was to attract new readers. How are new readers suppose to know who Batman is? He is introduced to the reader just before Catwoman has her way with him sexually. Isn't the writer's job to provide that information? Guess not. Paraphrasing Shooter's summary, this book is T&A, violence and sex. The lead character is a thief, who practice vigilante justice and will force a certain superhero into sexually compromising position. The complete review
has even more details. Shooter is not a fan. I think Mr. Shooter is a bit old school, the protagonist of superhero comics should actually be a hero. Old fashion maybe, but does have a certain logic to it.
The third book that he reviewed was Batman. This book was chosen because Shooter was a Batman fan when he was a kid. When I say Shooter is thorough it's not just lip service. He begins the review by going over the all the variant covers of the books.
Cover of Batman#1 by Greg Capullo.
He points out the problem with the font chosen for the title graphic, the color scheme and the artwork of each of the covers. He has a very critical eye, examining the layout and position of character even where the artist chose to sign his name. The thing that is different about this review Shooter went looking for a book that he actually like. He still found some issues like the strange group of panels on page six. He explain what caused the confusion, like the overlapping of panels and border-less panels with same predominant color, black. Overall the storytelling and the writing was exceptional. An example Shooter, provides is a panel with Batman striking villain known as Two-Face, the caption not only identities who the villain is but it also gives you information about what drives the character. All of this is done without Batman's breaking out his monologue. Shooter describes this technique as succinct and elegant. He also really liked the artwork. He was able to sort most of the confusion in page six in about 30 seconds because art was so good. The writing provides readers with information about the character in clever ways. Like using a scene of Bruce Wayne(Batman's secret identity) establishing a remote link to the Bat Computer to initiate a facial recognition program and it was used to provide information about Batman's former sidekicks. The art for this scene is also praised by Shooter. Shooter finds the writing style "clear, clean and compact". Also he states that the writer is "clever, in the best sense" of the word. He is impressed how well the writer was able to blend the old elements about Batman with the new so seamlessly. Shooter only compliant was that he wanted more and that's not a bad thing. He also said he would like to see the artist "stop occasionally succumbing to windage and firing useless rounds into artsy-fartsy land". Shooter states that he's impressed and gave the book "two thumbs up". For the post of the complete review go here
Shooter provides his final conclusions
about the whole endeavor know as the New 52 here. He provides some feedback from commenters and then articulates his view. The comments in all three reviews are very interesting and are some are provided by people who work in the industry. Jim Shooter's blog is a fascinating read in general and links to it can also be found in the Resource Links Writing Tab
. The only sad note is the blog hasn't been updated in month or so, hope Mr. Shooter is doing well and is so busy he hasn't had a chance to update his blog.