Freestyle Friday: Unprocessed Gems

23 Sep
By Darryl Ayo

Dave Cooper : Daniel Freedman + Tomm Coker : Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club : Jeff Smith : Peyo : Mike Carey + Peter Gross : Mike Mignola (featuring Guy Davis + John Arcudi) : William Marston + Harry Peter : Tony Trov + Christian Weiser + Johnny Zito + Paul Maybury : Captain America : Mark Waid + Frank Quitely : Rob Liefeld : Tony Lee + Matthew Dow Smith : Bill Willingham + Mark Buckingham : Michael DeForge : Brian Wood + Kristian Donaldson : Paul Pope : Len Kaminski + Steven Grant + John Paul Leon : Paul Cornell + Scott McDaniel


Scroll up a ways, that Rob Liefeld image is “Badrock,” from his comic Youngblood. I really like that drawing. It is tres chic to hold Liefeld in contempt, but let’s get beyond this. I never read Youngblood as a kid, but I was really into Liefeld’s previous comic, X-Force for Marvel Comics. X-Force contained my favorite comic character and Youngblood did not. End of discussion.

In any case, Liefeld is reviled for his art, storytelling, writing and general conception of what makes things good. But beyond the legitimate complaints about his craft, there is mostly the bluster of a culture full of people who need a scapegoat. I will not participate in that. Liefeld isn’t the best comicker on earth, but he isn’t the worst either. His comics present a consistent worldview and authorial stance which is something that I feel is very important.

Throughout his work, Liefeld presents militaristic superhuman soldiers who are at odds with conventional notions of authority and propriety. It’s something that the rebellious youth in many of us can surely relate to. Among other idiosyncratic characteristics, Liefeld is famous for popularizing the heavily-accessorized superhero character. His characters still wore tights with patterns, but that was sublimated in favor of heavy shoulder pads, plated armor, padded helmets, ammo belts, accessory pouches and abnormally-shaped guns.

Let’s not get crazy here–I fully understand where most of the criticism of Liefeld’s work comes from. I just have a specific bone to pick with regards to the general belief that his characters are over-armored or that their pouches are silly or “unrealistic.” In my view, the central characters in Liefeld’s comics are among the few notable for dressing at least somewhat appropriately for their jobs as rough-and-tumble action soldiers.


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