Monday, May 14, 2012

Rob Liefeld and the power of Social Media.

I started reading comics back in 1992. Word of Superman's impending death and the X-Men cartoon gave me enough reason to check things out. My first comics were X-Men 17, What If? 48, and Action Comics 683. It took some time to realize that there were 2 X-books and 4 Superbooks, but I eventually started to venture out and pay attention to the writers and artists. Around this time Image Comics was making it's grand debut. I wasn't wise to the ins and outs of the comics market until I bought my first issue of Wizard Magazine. I was hardcore loyal to the Big 2, but I always checked out the Image books in the Wizard articles. I eventually branched out. Spawn was different, but not exactly reliable on shipping. I loved Wildcats, but didn't get on board until Jim Lee was gone. And then there was Rob Liefeld. Creator of Cable, Deadpool, and Youngblood.

I picked up the occasional Extreme Studios book from time to time but they never really made sense or had a good story to them. Everything was blood/death/strike or something to that affect. Rob kept producing books throughout the years and I kept on not buying the majority of them. In 1996 he was hired by Marvel to take over Captain America and Avengers under the banner Heroes Reborn. I was furious that his run interrupted the perfection that was Mark Waid and Ron Garney's run on Captain America, but I bought CA #1 anyway. I didn't make it to the second issue. Rob didn't make it to #7.

As the years went by I changed from a artist's fan to a writer's fan. I followed religiously the works of Dixon, Waid, Robinson, and Bendis. I watched the quality of the stories in comics improve and move away from gimmick covers. I bought a few issues of Rob's return to Marvel, but nothing really stood out to me. In late 2005 I stopped buying comics religiously. I kept up with certain books by buying the trade paperbacks (don't EVER call it a graphic novel in front of me) and making the occasional stop to another store where they didn't know me.

Here's where things start to change. While I was on the sidelines, Rob stayed busy. He went back to the Heroes Reborn universe. He made a return to Image. He started doing art for Deadpool and The Infinite. But the point that made me stand up and take notice of Rob Liefeld again was when I found him on Twitter. He spoke candidly about his career. He gave advice to people seeking entry into the industry. He gave his opinion on DC and Marvel. He also promoted his book like a madman. Rob was overseeing the relaunch of his Image books, penciling The Infinite, penciling and later writing Hawk and Dove, and then taking over scripts and art for Deathstroke, and plotting Grifter and Hawkman. This guy is taking on a hell of a workload AND promoting it like no other. So here's where I admit what I'm going to do tomorrow: I plan on buy some Rob Liefeld comics. That's right. The man who worships at the church of Bendis and Robinson is going to go Extreme. And yes Rob, I know I better hurry. I'll post my findings tomorrow.....stay tuned.

The first book I was able to get my hands on was Grifter #9. This is the book I was really looking forward to checking out because I've always been a huge Grifter fan. Steven T. Seagle's run on Grifter Volume One has always been the measuring stick for me.

The issue opens with immediate action. It feels like a good jumping on point for new readers, which is a good thing because I haven't read a comic with Cole Cash in it in years. Cole is on the run from several Daemonites, and while he's battling, we get a narration  establishing the story for those who just showed up. It gets the new direction started and introduces some new characters to the story. The art is great. It feels like the Grifter books of old. The dialogue is very much Cole Cash. I know this is the New 52, but the one thing that bothers me is that Grifter and Deathblow have never met before. I'm an old Team 7 fan, so I like the fact that all these guys were linked together. Having said that, I will be back for the next issue. Rob is credited with the story in this book, with the dialogue and art done by others. So it feels like he acts as the Head Writer/Executive Producer. Creating the vision and direction, but overseeing a creative team. Looks very promising.

I didn't make it to my local comic shop in time to purchase Deathstroke or Savage Hawkman #9. They were sold out everywhere I went. So I decided to go digital. Let's start with Hawkman. Hawkman has always been a character that confuses the hell out of me. Is he a reincarnated being? An alien? Both? Anyway, Rob gets a plot and dialogue credit for this book. Once again we're jumping into the story headfirst. I won't spoil the plot for you but the action starts quickly and the book leads to what seems to be a huge battle in the next issue. Having said that, I won't be back for it. Hawkman has never been my thing, and I don't know that the mighty James Robinson himself could get me interested in this book. 

I saved the best for last. Rob is writing and drawing Deathstroke #9. Call it nostalgia, call it crazy, call it whatever you want, here's the truth about Deathstroke: I fucking loved it. With the inclusion of Wildstorm's Zealot and the mission to track down LOBO, this book is a fun ride. I'm coming back for more. No need to know the backstory here. Deathstroke is the man and he's going after Lobo. Bravo, Rob.

So there you have it. I haven't been a regular comic reader in years, but thanks to Rob Liefeld's Twitter feed (@RobertLiefeld), I was driving all over Norman, Oklahoma to find his stuff. I'm coming back for 2 out of his 3 books next month. Hopefully I'm not the only one who has been influenced by Rob's social media powers. You can follow me on Twitter @CMJarrod. Also, feel free to check out my podcast in the right hand corner of this page.