The Wall Street Journal published a book review of Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. The “review” was written by Tim Marchman, a baseball writer who used to work for the now-defunct New York Sun newspaper. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book review published by The Wall Street Journal, so maybe this is normal, but the article doesn’t really deal with the book being reviewed but instead focuses on how awful both Marvel and DC are.
After reading Marchman’s article, I know less about Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics than I knew before.
Marchman doesn’t just go after the Big Two in comics publishing, and he takes personal cheap shots at some of the people working in the field of superhero comics. For example, writer J. Michael Straczynski:
The first issues of “Before Watchmen” will be published next month. Among the writers working on it is former He-Man scripter J. Michael Straczynski, who once penned a comic in which Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. (This is the rough equivalent of having Z-movie director Uwe Boll film a studio-funded prequel to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”)
That’s how Marchman defines Straczynski, that he’s the former writer of He-Man? The man has done so much more that. In fact, before reading this article, I hadn’t even known he once wrote He-Man cartoons. Why would I? Checking Wikipedia, it appears Straczynski wrote nine He-Man episodes. In comparison, Straczynski created the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 and wrote 92 of its 110 episodes. The show won two Emmy Awards and two Hugo Awards. Not a word about that, no, instead Marchman goes with He-Man, evidently Straczynski’s first job in television. Classy.
What’s even more ridiculous than the He-Man reference is the bit about Straczynski writing a comic where Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. Though technically Straczynski was the writer of the story, it wasn’t his idea. He was very vocal about the fact that he hated the premise and went so far as to try to get his name removed from the final issues. Either Marchman didn’t know this or chose to ignore it when throwing Straczynski under the bus.
Either Marchman is ignorant or dishonest. Considering that he wrote the article for The Wall Street Journal, one of the country’s most respected newspapers, I don’t know which of the two is worse.