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Dominic Guglieme
08-09-2006, 11:44 AM
Hama was a village in nothern Syria that was destroyed in a terroris insurgency during the early 80s. The Allawi* erm, sorry, wrong Hama.


Okay, serously:

Larry Hama's writing is, to be perfectly frank, seriously overrated. He does better than average dialogue, competent idea/premise based writing, and can clearly articulate a moral arguement that incorporates elements from cultures that are often seen as exclusive. (It is amazing that he could credibly write ninjas with western sensibilities.)

And, Hama is able to demonstrate real world knowledge, be it technical, historical or anthropological, in his writing, often without seeming like he is trying to show off what .


But, look at many of his plots. They are contrived as all get out. So, how many characters are related, or know somebody involved in one of several car-wrecks?

Additionally, Hama was prone (even by the standards of the time) to leaving plot threads hanging for excessively long periods of time. Along similar lines, he stayed on GI Joe too long. After the first 80 issues or so, the comic got drifty and expecially contrived. (So, how many characters were in VietNam, under various banners?) I am all for thematic consistency, but in excess, it can seem juvenile.

Along the same lines, Hama is not the only writer to produce a good GI Joe story. There were very intelligently written episodes of the cartoon (No Place Like Springfield), and even non-Hama issues of the comic (some not even American). By any objective standard, Josh Blaylock's "Return of Serpentor" equals, if not surpasses, anything Hama wrote. (And, it avoids Hama's tendency to get heavy handed with showing how much history he new.)

So, is Hama terrible? No. He recent track record aside, he has a good body of work (GI Joe and otherwise) to his credit. But, his track record hardly justifies any special claim to any franchise.

(I assume this will turn into a a larger discussion of the GI Joe comics.)

El Chuxter
08-09-2006, 12:20 PM
I'll post some more in a bit, but I am in total disagreement with you. While it's true that GIJoe sort of floundered for a bit around the 80s, he brought it back to greatness with the storylines that encompassed The Snake Eyes Trilogy, Scarlett's coma and recovery, Major Bludd vs Snake Eyes, the Battle of Benzheen, and Destro: Search and Destroy shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, after that, Hasbro and Marvel began clamping down and trying to make the book both more commercial to "fanboys" and kids at the same time, with stunts like crossing over the Transformers or actually putting Snake Eyes' name in the title.

The funny thing about Hama is, for me at least, I think of Wolverine immediately after GIJoe. You may be familiar with a (slightly played up) obsession I have with a certain Chinese-American mutant with a totally useless power. Totally to Hama's credit. The man crafted a better Wolvie story than even Claremont and Byrne could do.

The only comic I've read by Hama that disappointed was his brief run on Batman. I suppose my hopes for the meeting of the two were impossibly high. Then again, the only thing to come out of that union was the ridiculously stupid villain Orca.

pbarnard
08-09-2006, 12:22 PM
I agree with you, as one who also collects joes. I also don't get the joe-fanboy lament that the comic would be better if Hama wrote every episode. While I realize that from time to time he did have to push what Hasbro wanted, he was free to do as little or as much as he wanted.

I'm all for fresh blood, new ideas and changes of direction as long as the plot goes with this (ie deaths and character reactions). If you want a specific on GI Joe comics, I would be all for a total De-ninja-fication with the exception of "pick a side" Storm Shadow, and maybe a little of Snake Eyes.

From that standpoint, Reloaded was an excellent "reinventing" of GI Joe that didn't mean you had to have all the preconcieved GI Joe as Larry Hama saw it. Same thing has happened in Star Wars with the books (Kevin Anderson, Timothy Zhan, and now James Luceno are given too much directing power) so a new story arc comes along and resets it all.

The biggest flaw I have with the ongoing GI Joe story and the continuing of all these guys who served in Vietnam, they'd be in their 50s and 60s now. Who wants to see some fattening, balding, middleaged semi-retired guys run around and keel from a heart attack or stroke? Please, invent new characters, or have old ones pass on their names to new people (hell give up the idea of codenames altogether).

El Chuxter
08-09-2006, 01:11 PM
The biggest flaw I have with the ongoing GI Joe story and the continuing of all these guys who served in Vietnam, they'd be in their 50s and 60s now. Who wants to see some fattening, balding, middleaged semi-retired guys run around and keel from a heart attack or stroke? Please, invent new characters, or have old ones pass on their names to new people (hell give up the idea of codenames altogether).

Devil's Due has taken much the same approach with the Joes in Vietnam that Marvel has taken with the involvement of characters in previous wars (Punisher in 'Nam, Thing in WWII, etc): downplay, downplay, downplay. It's also been hinted that the war in question was in Vietnam, but not the real Vietnam War as it happened in our world.

figrin bran
08-09-2006, 10:36 PM
Hama died valiantly at the Battle of the Hornburg after years of service as the captain of the guard under King Theoden.

ooops wrong hama ;)

Dominic Guglieme
08-10-2006, 03:29 PM
SnakeEyes Trilogy was one fo Hama's most contrived stories. (It seems everybody is related to him in some causal fashion.....) Maybe if some of the contrivancy and reveals had staying power, it would be more forgiveable.

Plot contrivance has nothing to do with Hasbro or editorial policy.

The non-aging is especially annoying as Devil's Due started off by aging the characters. In the early run, several had kids, and all of them looked appreciably older.

The problem with Reloaded was that it was trying too hard to seem "current and real", and came across (especially pre-Dixon) as sophmoric.

JON9000
08-10-2006, 05:29 PM
Early Wolverine comics were just terrible. Part of it was the set up Claremont gave the character. The eyepatch and madripoor left me cold. I think he works best in a team setting.

El Chuxter
08-10-2006, 05:56 PM
Early Wolverine comics were just terrible. Part of it was the set up Claremont gave the character. The eyepatch and madripoor left me cold. I think he works best in a team setting.

Except he didn't write Wolverine until around #40. :p

I agree to an extent that he's a bit fond of coincidences, but I think it worked well in the context of GIJoe. It almost seemed a parody of long-running team books written by many people over the course of several years, where eventually it turns out everyone is related to everyone else, even though that was not the original intent.

And need I point out that we're posting this on a website devoted to the collecting of memorabilia based upon a story that is so rife with corny coincidences that it makes Snake Eyes' story seem positively normal? :)

Dominic Guglieme
08-14-2006, 07:18 PM
I have often argued that GI Joe comes off as self-parody. But, the ability to write a parody (self or otherwise) is hardly indicative of being a great writer.

JON9000
08-15-2006, 05:02 PM
Except he didn't write Wolverine until around #40. :p

I s'pose that's why I gave up on the title around #60. :D Maybe the character just doesn't work as well without a team (although I always preferred team titles). The stuff before Hama took over was just rubbish. The fun of Wolvie was watching him fight and interact with his own pals rather than the baddies.

I always liked the few GI Joe stories I read.

JediTricks
03-14-2007, 05:12 AM
I am no expert on Hama, I'm only a mild comic reader in general and cannot think of an issue which I've read that Hama's written specifically... that is, until last night. Last night, I was messing with my Mattel DC Superheroes Bane figure when the included comic slipped out, it was a copy of Batman called Homecoming, part of the '99 "No Man's Land" series, and it was written by Larry Hama.

I don't mean this to sound crass, but this was an inept issue. The synopsis is that Bane wants to crash the blockade and make his way into Gotham because he feels some connection to the destroyed city and wants to rule it; Batman comes back to the city in disguise and quickly has to deal with Bane, devolving into an extended slugfest that ends in a stalemate. The writing all the way through felt like utter fluff, the dialogue was often unbearable with sentences written as if they were written for a much younger audience - overly cleaned-up and short or stated in such an awkward manner that nobody'd be caught dead saying them, especially true of the street thugs - with stupid thugs and brainless cops whose only purpose seems to be narrating what they're seeing and firing weapons with no effect. Batman is especially silly in disguise as a "wino" (yeah, way to stay current with terminology) who passes himself off as 'Mister Fleidermaus' - apparently assuming everybody left in Gotham is a vegetable - but this VERY quickly disappears as he chooses to take down Bane before the overpumped villain can get a foothold in the criminal leadership of the now-ruined city. We're supposed to be getting a look into Bane's thoughts and background before and during the confrontation, but he and Bats are both written far too shallowly. Even the extended fistfight in the sewer is sloppy and feels nonthreatening for either foe, eventually only ending with the standard cop-out that most cartoons like GI Joe often suffered - the villain sets up a threat elsewhere and the hero must decide whether to stop his enemy or save innocent lives, and naturally the villain escapes - and even this was handled without style or drama, just "happening" to end the book.

Ultimately, I hope this snapshot on Hama's writing is one of his lesser efforts rather than the norm. In any event though, it certainly made me think of this thread. :p

El Chuxter
03-14-2007, 10:41 AM
I love Batman, and I love Hama. Even I think his brief stint on Batman was incredibly mediocre.

It's not just No Man's Land, where writers were given a string of events that had to take place in certain issues (but, surprisingly, is a good read overall, a couple of dud issues notwithstanding). Hama did a few issues after Gotham was restored with more freedom. They were just as bad, and introduced Orca, a new (now, thankfully, dead) supervillain who makes Louie the Lilac and Egghead look totally legit.

pbarnard
03-14-2007, 11:54 AM
I just feel he relies too much on stereotype and stock plot devices that are so linear and predictable, that anyone who got a B or better in a high school literature class would be bored out of their minds reading anything he writes. It's always the same story, the same cliches, boring.

JediTricks
03-14-2007, 10:36 PM
I just feel he relies too much on stereotype and stock plot devices that are so linear and predictable, that anyone who got a B or better in a high school literature class would be bored out of their minds reading anything he writes. It's always the same story, the same cliches, boring.
That's certainly how it felt with the Batman issue I read of his. It's like he'd be perfect for writing titles aimed solely at the 7 to 12-year-old set, specifically getting them READY for the real comics world like a training course, but is all wrong for anything else.


Dang Chux, that must be a lame villain! Even the name sounds bad. No wait, like a fool I looked her up, and it's a perfectly viable name... for a whale supervillain!!!!!!!!! WTF?!? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orca_%28comics%29

pbarnard
05-29-2007, 12:28 PM
Marvel, Hasbro, and Mr. Hama have done a superb job with GI Joe and anyone who says otherwise needs to think about where we would be without them.

Easy, not every character would be a ninja. Outside of a few story lines that are tied to Cold War mindset, relatively timeless stories. Fanboys saying that if Hama was back writing, GI Joe would be ok and selling well again when the comic wasn't the primary information source about characterization for the majority but the TV show was.

Hasbro hasn't done a superb job with GI Joe. It gambled and lost that going sci-fi and neon was the way to go and than ninja-fying everyone. It also could ever successfully relaunch the line despite re-branding and resculpting. Finally Joe collectors to this day realize they drive the line and they aren't sufficient to do it.

Marvel no longer holds the rights, Devil's Due does. Hama is now back onboard writing the same lame ninja centric plots in a Stormshadow title.

JON9000
05-29-2007, 02:18 PM
It's like he'd be perfect for writing titles aimed solely at the 7 to 12-year-old set, specifically getting them READY for the real comics world like a training course, but is all wrong for anything else.

Aren't comics designed for the 7-to-12 year old set?

A couple more thoughts about G.I. Joe and Hama... somebody said he had to push product, but downplayed it. I don't think so. Serpentor? Something as stupid as Serpentor can turn things upside down pretty fast.

Comics is a visual medium to some extent, so characters that look "cool" can become the focus, although they may otherwise not be so interesting. If Storm Shaow and Snake Eyes are what sells books, you'd be a fool not to focus GIJoe on those characters. As a kid, I was much more likely to read a book with Stormie on the cover than, say, Airtight.

Dominic Guglieme
06-01-2007, 04:48 PM
Yer average comic reader is in their 20's. Simple as that. Hama is writing for adults with a kid mind-set at this point.

Hama started strong, but like most writers over time, he got lazy. Furman with Transformers. Claremont on the X-books. Dini over at DC. (Actually, Dini may be weighed down by an idiotic house culture, but you get the idea.)

Even old-timers who can keep pace stagnate a bit. I like Starlin and DeFalco. But, I cannot recall anything mind-blowing they have written. (Starlin has the same bag of tricks he draws from. If you read a few Starlin comics, you read most of them. None are bad. But he rarely breaks new ground.)

I have only flipped throught the current SS series. Does not look like much is happening. It looks like Hama trying to be gritty using a character he knows he can sell.

I am just about done with the main book. It has not quite hit the depths Hama's "Mission that Never Was" arc hit, but it is getting there fast. (Hama's shabby reference to the WTC was unforgivable to start with, and has not aged well.) "Special Missions" is hit or miss, consisting mostly of genre stories that exist purely to show-case characters.

I think a good model for Joe comics would be something like Gruenwald's "Captain America" run, idea centric, but generally not too polemic. (And, even when it slipped, the series still had some class.)

boshar kussc
06-03-2007, 08:48 AM
I never raed the comics, but I really liked when htey came out with the "eco-warriors" and everyone was in neon colors. That was really cool. Specially the Toxo-Zombie! He was soooooo cool. He had color-change action when you hit him with water!

JediTricks
06-04-2007, 03:44 AM
Aren't comics designed for the 7-to-12 year old set?With $3 and up titles and endless variant covers? No, they're designed for 20-something and 30-something comic diehards.


Yer average comic reader is in their 20's. Simple as that. Hama is writing for adults with a kid mind-set at this point. That is a good definition of what I was seeing in that Batman issue, Hama wants to do the down & dirty fights and the heavy-on-the-shoulders characters and the darkness but without actually putting anything in beyond the surface to any of it.

Dominic Guglieme
06-04-2007, 11:46 AM
Hama really is just going for industry standard in terms of pretending to be mature.

How was the dialogue in the "Batman" arc JT? That was Hama's strong point as I recall.

El Chuxter
06-04-2007, 11:49 AM
Unfortunately, a lot of writers think that having mediocre plots and throwing in violence, bad language, and dark imagery makes a story "mature."

And if comics as an art form doesn't get some new blood coming in--kids--it's a dead art. Most people use the old "kids don't want to read; they have video games" excuse. That's not it.

Edit: You posted while I was typing this out. I'm not JT, but as I recall, Hama simply didn't "get" Batman. The dialogue wasn't bad, but nothing memorable.

Dominic Guglieme
06-04-2007, 02:41 PM
Given the direction of video games lately though, kids may not be able to get those.

JediTricks
06-04-2007, 11:00 PM
How was the dialogue in the "Batman" arc JT? That was Hama's strong point as I recall.Not here, as I said in my previous post, "the dialogue was often unbearable with sentences written as if they were written for a much younger audience - overly cleaned-up and short or stated in such an awkward manner that nobody'd be caught dead saying them, especially true of the street thugs - with stupid thugs and brainless cops whose only purpose seems to be narrating what they're seeing and firing weapons with no effect."

In a way, it actually did remind me of a cartoon from the '80s, like GI Joe, and that dialog was a half step above Archie comics at best.


Unfortunately, a lot of writers think that having mediocre plots and throwing in violence, bad language, and dark imagery makes a story "mature."

And if comics as an art form doesn't get some new blood coming in--kids--it's a dead art. Most people use the old "kids don't want to read; they have video games" excuse. That's not it.I think the biggest problems the industry faces is that it's not offering kids anything they would want to buy, a kid isn't going to understand why a title has to be $5 - glossy heavy-stock paper doesn't really mean squat to them, especially when ever other page is a full page ad and the book's over in 32 pages. They're already printing multiple copies, maybe it's time for an entry-quality copy on cheaper paper, maybe make those half as often but make them twice as long, and drop the price to something a kid won't have to consider an investment-risk.

El Chuxter
06-04-2007, 11:13 PM
Marvel has at least tried some comics for kids. Trouble is, kids don't want dumbed-down titles. They want the regular titles, but most of them have gone too "fanboy" in the past few years. DC just has the fanboy titles and doesn't even try kids' books.

And, despite what Marvel might think, unless kids have dramatically changed in the past twenty years (which I doubt), they actually like the backstory. All my comic collecting buddies from elementary school could rattle off the important stories from twenty or thirty years prior. With the internet, companies could make these even more readily available, and I'm sure kids would just eat them up.

pbarnard
06-05-2007, 11:37 AM
And, despite what Marvel might think, unless kids have dramatically changed in the past twenty years (which I doubt), they actually like the backstory. All my comic collecting buddies from elementary school could rattle off the important stories from twenty or thirty years prior. With the internet, companies could make these even more readily available, and I'm sure kids would just eat them up.

I thought Marvel was toying with the idea of downloadable or at least CD/DVDs of PDFs of older titles/important issues like they try to do on their special features of the movies dvds.