I've always had this weird love/hate relationship with the comics work of Jeph Loeb, where I liked certain aspects of his writing (dialogue pacing, mostly), but got annoyed as anything at others, and I was never able to really put to words what it was about him that I disliked.
Now I know. After rereading the TPB of "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" this morning, it clicked for me. It's like Jeph Loeb writes by picking up a big bucket of paint, and dumping it all on the page. You can get some interesting stuff with that approach at times, but for the most part, it's just a big mess.
There are three major works by Loeb where he did this, and all of them look good on the surface, but have some very real problems when you look past the surface gloss. Those three are "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies", "Batman: HUSH", and "Batman: The Long Halloween." In all three of those stories, he fills his paint bucket with a giant assortment of established DC characters and splatters them all across the story. In a few cases, the characters are used well, but then he's got this massive plethora left over, and he just tosses them around willy-nilly and hopes that the fans don't notice or care.
He tries to get around this sloppiness by acknowledging it in a backhanded way — like having characters act inconsistently due to mind control (never mind that their presence in the established context makes no sense to begin with, like Mongul in S/B:PE), or by outright stating that a character's motivation for taking part was nothing more than getting paid, as if this somehow absolves him of having to do any further characterization or justification beyond that.
There's also the bit where the "twist ending" of The Long Halloween is a complete rip-off of Scott Turow's "Presumed Innocent", but that's a long-dead horse that doesn't require further beating at this time.
So… yeah. I'm basically fed up with Loeb's writing, and don't plan to buy any more of his work in the future.
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