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Thread: Loeb/Kelly Run

  1. #1

    Default Loeb/Kelly Run

    I've noticed that not a lot of attention is ever really given to Jeph Loeb's and Joe Kelly's Superman run during the early part of last decade. This is surprising considering some of the stories they did and the attention it received at the time.

    So what are some of your thoughts/critiques on Loeb's and Kelly's run?

  2. #2
    Phantom Zone Escapee manofsteel1979's Avatar
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    Well....as no one wanted to respond to this...let me be the first.

    I do think the Loeb/Kelly run gets overlooked because it gets lumped in to the whole of the 2000's,which, less face it, wasn't overall the best of times for the character.

    However, at the time, the Loeb/Kelly run was a breath of fresh air the Superman books needed at the turn of the century. The Ordway/Jurgens/Simonson/Kesel regime had run it's course, and frankly, had been running on fumes since the mid 90's. The teams still turned in competant work, and there still was the occasional good issue,but...it all felt by the numbers and bland. Plus, add to the fact that the supporting cast had grown to a gargantuan proportions, overshadowing our hero at times, it was clear SOMETHING needed to change.

    I have said before, and will say to this day....that initial run of stories from October 1999 to the first RETURN TO KRYPTON arc (January 2001?) was the last truly great sustained run as a whole across the Superman books until the New 52. There was a palpable energy and sense of getting back to basics, while at the same time introducing new concepts, locales, villains etc. There was a heavy dose of bronze age sensibility brought into the line via Loeb mostly, while Kelly brought a whimisical irreverance to the character and his world. The two writing styles balanced each other out well and gave Superman a forward thinking direction that ironically seeked to return some of the larger myth that had been stripped away with the COIE, and retaining the more positive aspects of the Post-Crisis vision of the character that had existed to that point.

    However, it didn't last...after RTK we got the build up to OUR WORLDS AT WAR...which was very ambitious in it's intentions, partially suceeded in execution ...but largely failed in the aftermath as it seemed immediately that DC rolled back many of the consequences of the fallout of the story. (although it's unclear whether or not that was because of the real world events of 9/11, or editorial not wanting to delve into darker themes that Loeb and crew were wanting to pursue in the aftermath, or editorial politics at DC or a bit of all three.) Loeb would soon leave to start writing Superman/Batman (ironically to be temporarily replaced by Geoff Johns until Steven T Seagle started his run), the books were no longer interconnected, and while there were still highlights (Kelly's ACTION was still a solid read and Joe Casey's criminally underrated run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was a revelation.) the over all quality tanked and soon would follow creative shuffle after creative shuffle that lasted even into the early months of the New 52.

    I enjoy that era very much still. Although some of it sowed the seeds for the problems that hurt the character and the franchise in the decade that followed (after all, that era begat multiple Zods, Supergirls,Brainiacs etc while Sending Superman off to therapy), as a whole, particularly the first year or so worth of stories, was a bright spot in a down decade for our Man of Steel.

  3. #3
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Joe Kelly is one of my favorite writers, but for some reason I just wasn't into it during that era.

  4. #4
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manofsteel1979 View Post
    Well....as no one wanted to respond to this...let me be the first.

    I do think the Loeb/Kelly run gets overlooked because it gets lumped in to the whole of the 2000's,which, less face it, wasn't overall the best of times for the character.

    However, at the time, the Loeb/Kelly run was a breath of fresh air the Superman books needed at the turn of the century. The Ordway/Jurgens/Simonson/Kesel regime had run it's course, and frankly, had been running on fumes since the mid 90's. The teams still turned in competant work, and there still was the occasional good issue,but...it all felt by the numbers and bland. Plus, add to the fact that the supporting cast had grown to a gargantuan proportions, overshadowing our hero at times, it was clear SOMETHING needed to change.

    I have said before, and will say to this day....that initial run of stories from October 1999 to the first RETURN TO KRYPTON arc (January 2001?) was the last truly great sustained run as a whole across the Superman books until the New 52. There was a palpable energy and sense of getting back to basics, while at the same time introducing new concepts, locales, villains etc. There was a heavy dose of bronze age sensibility brought into the line via Loeb mostly, while Kelly brought a whimisical irreverance to the character and his world. The two writing styles balanced each other out well and gave Superman a forward thinking direction that ironically seeked to return some of the larger myth that had been stripped away with the COIE, and retaining the more positive aspects of the Post-Crisis vision of the character that had existed to that point.

    However, it didn't last...after RTK we got the build up to OUR WORLDS AT WAR...which was very ambitious in it's intentions, partially suceeded in execution ...but largely failed in the aftermath as it seemed immediately that DC rolled back many of the consequences of the fallout of the story. (although it's unclear whether or not that was because of the real world events of 9/11, or editorial not wanting to delve into darker themes that Loeb and crew were wanting to pursue in the aftermath, or editorial politics at DC or a bit of all three.) Loeb would soon leave to start writing Superman/Batman (ironically to be temporarily replaced by Geoff Johns until Steven T Seagle started his run), the books were no longer interconnected, and while there were still highlights (Kelly's ACTION was still a solid read and Joe Casey's criminally underrated run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was a revelation.) the over all quality tanked and soon would follow creative shuffle after creative shuffle that lasted even into the early months of the New 52.

    I enjoy that era very much still. Although some of it sowed the seeds for the problems that hurt the character and the franchise in the decade that followed (after all, that era begat multiple Zods, Supergirls,Brainiacs etc while Sending Superman off to therapy), as a whole, particularly the first year or so worth of stories, was a bright spot in a down decade for our Man of Steel.
    Well, I clearly missed this thread. I agree with pretty much everything quoted.

    It is my favorite Superman era, and the only era where it was consistantly top of my reading list and I couldn't wait for the next week's issue.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    I enjoyed these runs, and I say they compare favorably to the rest of the 2000's decade.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Dispenser Of Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manofsteel1979 View Post
    Joe Casey's criminally underrated run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was a revelation.
    YES YES YES. Glad to find another fan.
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    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispenser Of Truth View Post
    YES YES YES. Glad to find another fan.
    So, that makes it ....3 of us (yeah, Casey was pretty cool, just reread it recently), I guess.
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    Astonishing Member Dispenser Of Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auguste Dupin View Post
    So, that makes it ....3 of us (yeah, Casey was pretty cool, just reread it recently), I guess.
    So great. Do the two of you know he stated his intent on his last year there was specifically to see if you could do 12 issues of Superman stories that didn't involve him actually directly fighting anyone? I don't know how pacifist Superman would work long-term (though when he's shown as immortal, I like to imagine him evolving beyond physical combat), but I could stand to see way more stories like that, and "The Ballad of Frank Wells" in his recent Catalyst Comix follows up on those themes well. I've got to track down his Mr. Majestic run sometime.

    Anyway, back on track, I've only read chunks of their runs. Loeb's take on Superman in For All Seasons was much too--for lack of a better word--wimpy for my tastes, but even as Superman/Batman devolved into straight-up nonsensical (if still quite entertaining) fanfiction, his version of Superman there was really solid to me; good balance between the charisma and heroism inherent to the character, and some aspects of the Golden Age bruiser that were brought back again in recent years. As for Kelley, I sure do love What's So Funny, no matter how in your face and defensive it is, and the follow-up "Ending Battle" was in my opinion even better, but he also brought stuff like Superman in therapy* that just didn't work.

    *Not a bad concept on its own, though. You could probably pull at least a decent mini out of a superhero psychologist.
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  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Always found it rather bland and boring. Not the worst, but nothing to entice me to re-enter comics after leaving them behind for a few years after high school. My opinion has only been further tainted, though admittedly unfairly, by learning of the retrospect that the Superman 2000 pitch was scrapped for this.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member Dispenser Of Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacred Knight View Post
    My opinion has only been further tainted, though admittedly unfairly, by learning of the retrospect that the Superman 2000 pitch was scrapped for this.
    Oh yeah. Like you said, it's not fair, but the whole period's likely always going to be seen as something of a black mark just because of what it wasn't, which is what would have almost certainly been the best mainstream Superman run of all time.
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  11. #11
    Spadassin Extraordinaire Auguste Dupin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispenser Of Truth View Post
    So great. Do the two of you know he stated his intent on his last year there was specifically to see if you could do 12 issues of Superman stories that didn't involve him actually directly fighting anyone? I don't know how pacifist Superman would work long-term (though when he's shown as immortal, I like to imagine him evolving beyond physical combat), but I could stand to see way more stories like that, and "The Ballad of Frank Wells" in his recent Catalyst Comix follows up on those themes well. I've got to track down his Mr. Majestic run sometime.

    Anyway, back on track, I've only read chunks of their runs. Loeb's take on Superman in For All Seasons was much too--for lack of a better word--wimpy for my tastes, but even as Superman/Batman devolved into straight-up nonsensical (if still quite entertaining) fanfiction, his version of Superman there was really solid to me; good balance between the charisma and heroism inherent to the character, and some aspects of the Golden Age bruiser that were brought back again in recent years. As for Kelley, I sure do love What's So Funny, no matter how in your face and defensive it is, and the follow-up "Ending Battle" was in my opinion even better, but he also brought stuff like Superman in therapy* that just didn't work.

    *Not a bad concept on its own, though. You could probably pull at least a decent mini out of a superhero psychologist.
    I remember reading the issue where he identifies himself as a pacifist, and thought "sure you are, that's why you have beaten up so many dudes in this very TPB". Then I stopped,having a very big doubt on my mind, and checked out the whole TPB from start to whenever I was to look for any fight involving Superman. When I couldn't find any, I was like "Clever girl".
    And then a raptor ate me. True story.
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  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispenser Of Truth View Post
    Oh yeah. Like you said, it's not fair, but the whole period's likely always going to be seen as something of a black mark just because of what it wasn't, which is what would have almost certainly been the best mainstream Superman run of all time.
    Mm-hmm, and despite how cool the 2000 pitch sounded on paper, one will never know how it would have been executed. Unused pitches always have that luxury; they can't be viewed with a truly critical eye because they're only general ideas and the reader can use his imagination freely to imagine the results. And naturally you imagine great results.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Dispenser Of Truth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacred Knight View Post
    Mm-hmm, and despite how cool the 2000 pitch sounded on paper, one will never know how it would have been executed. Unused pitches always have that luxury; they can't be viewed with a truly critical eye because they're only general ideas and the reader can use his imagination freely to imagine the results. And naturally you imagine great results.
    Yeah, but I mean, c'mon. Morrison, Millar and Waid on Superman. It would've been pretty damn great results.
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  14. #14
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    I know it's hackneyed to compare comic book writers to Michael Bay, but Jeph Loeb wins that cliche in every way. In some sense, his Superman run was a breath of fresh air because he brought back the bombast and big scale to Superman stories after a decade of dullness, but none of it really holds up now. I hear good things about Joe Kelly's run, but I haven't been able to read it properly because almost all of it ties into Loeb's stuff. But I mean if Action #775 is the pinnacle of his run, then I don't really care.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kid A View Post
    I know it's hackneyed to compare comic book writers to Michael Bay, but Jeph Loeb wins that cliche in every way. In some sense, his Superman run was a breath of fresh air because he brought back the bombast and big scale to Superman stories after a decade of dullness, but none of it really holds up now. I hear good things about Joe Kelly's run, but I haven't been able to read it properly because almost all of it ties into Loeb's stuff. But I mean if Action #775 is the pinnacle of his run, then I don't really care.
    That's a fair comparison, I guess. And 775 isn't the apex, for me at least, so much as its followup "Ending Battle", which has a much less cliché, far more powerful conclusion to the Superman/Black conflict.
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