Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writers' Block: Maxwell Lord Friend or fiend? part 1

I had this idea to compare Booster Gold writers, their cliches, their versions of characters, etc. The problem is that there's a whole lot of material to go over. Instead of choosing a writer and going through their run I decided to break it down to how the writer(s) styles mesh and/or differ. I chose a controversial subject to start with: the characterization of Maxwell Lord. Focusing on CTIC forward.

Geoff Johns:

Johns is a hard writer to judge in some respects. While the telltale ticks of his style are somewhat obvious he has never written Booster Gold or Maxwell Lord without a co-writer. Since I'm going to makes some assumptions based on his writing style I'm afraid Mr. Katz will be left out. But really I have no point of reference to his writing to use as example.

In Countdown to Infinite Crisis Maxs' first appearance seems to be in line with the Max Giffin/DeMatteis came up with. He's a smooth operator that makes friendly if dismissive comments to Ted and Booster. The real difference turns up when he's unmasked as the one behind the OMAC Project. Where the JLI Max might harbor doubts the Black King of Checkmate version has an outstanding arrogance. Not only does he refuse to see any other way but his own this Max shows no regret, and has a hypercritical view on other metas deeming them to be the ones with no control. He kills friends (Ted) without hesitation and promptly moves on with his plans without missing a beat.

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In Johns' Booster Gold run (in an alternate timeline) it's implied that Max either murdered Lois and the children of Dr. Light 2 or had them killed in front of their loved ones. The former perhaps to break Supermans' will but the latter seems to be some sort of vindictive punishment for Dr. Light rejecting his offer to join his league.

This Max truly lacks a personality outside of the cliched black hat villain (that Winick ironically has Lord mock during his take of the character.) Despite claims to only having the best intentions his actions in the altered timeline show more sinister goals. He shows no real concern for anyone's welfare. The closest he came was his praising of Ted but as we see in BG Johns has Max pressuring others for information, joining his ranks or obtaining other means of power. Max dismissively and cruelly ignores Booster in all regards until he discovers the link he has with time travel. Booster isn't spoken of fondly, isn't considered on the same level of worth as Ted, and Max seems amazed to discover there's more than meets the eye.


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I honestly can't understand how anyone could find this version compelling. This Maxwell Lord might as well be another character. He's not witty, lacks any emotions that aren't stereotypical mwa-ha-ha villain platitudes and doesn't even seem that smart in comparison to other versions. The charm simply isn't there. Other than the panic the general public feels over Wonder Woman no one really has any reaction to Maxs' death(s) in either reality. No one seems to care. I'm also not even sure what Johns was hoping to achieve with Maxs' ignorance to Boosters' abilities since he's the one that recruited him into the league! Yes this is in line with some of the changes he adds to the book during his run but it's still bizarre when he mentions Max hiring the Royal Flush Gang. The one bit I did find intriguing about this Max was a somewhat throwaway line Ted has in CTIC although it's unclear if Johns was responsible for it:

Ted Kord: "They blame Booster and me for all the get-rich-quick scams over the years--but who do they think we learned it from?"

This suggests that Max encouraged them with their schemes or at least gave them ideas for them. Perhaps even spending time with them to go over business matters. Likely the reason Booster thought of him when they needed help above Bruce. I'd love to see more of this concept.

2 comments:

  1. I do NOT like the new version of Max as a cold-hearted, cold-blooded villain of the blackest dye. Old Max certainly had his shady side, he was a little bit slippery and a little bit shady, but he wasn't an out and out bad guy. He had morals...or a sort, and a conscience and a personality. And yes dammit, he WAS charming. I was very fond of old Max. Plus a large part of the problem was that he was possessed by the Kil%ore, and it was his OWN decency that defeated it!

    All of this was thrown aside completely for new Max, who is completely and totally horrible. Winick went with the Geoff Johns version. He may spout things about being fond of Booster and that he's not REALLY such a bad guy, but his actions certainly speak louder than words. And really, that whole thing with making people think that Ted committed suicide was beyond the pale.

    I keep thinking that somewhere the REAL Max is hanging out, and that sooner or later the EVIL Max will be unmasked.

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  2. We're kind of stuck with the new Max but there is a noticeable difference between how writers write him. One of my problems with Johns was that he never bothered to make this Max fit with the old one, he was "always" evil. Booster claimed than they never liked him. Which is just bull. It's ignoring the past to make the retcon fit.

    Winick had to go with the Johns version, because let's face it that version isn't going away with him being the one that killed Ted. DC doesn't play with morally grey like Marvel does.

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