Rob Liefeld's Onslaught Reborn Sucks

By | Monday, December 11, 2006 13 comments
I've never liked Rob Liefeld as an artist. I've never felt he was very good and his style never struck me as particularly interesting enough to make up for his technical deficiencies. But it has been ten years since I've seen new Liefeld art and I picked up Onslaught Reborn, thinking that a person can improve a lot in ten years. I found, though, that Liefeld is NOT one of those persons.

I was hoping to scan through the whole comic and point out all the flaws in the issue, but the scanner is on the fritz and doesn't look like it'll be fixed any time soon. So, what I'm going to do is provide a written summary of everything to get this off my chest. Feel free to pull out a copy of the book to play along...

Cover -- Look at Captain America's fists. His index fingers a curled around in making a fist but where are his thumbs going? To hold your hand like that, your thumbs would literally have to be passing through your fingers.

Page 1 -- How long is Scarlet Witch's neck? Even allowing for the extra elongated figure he's drawn, that's still absurd! And, though it's technical possible to hold your hands in a way that you couldn't see all of the fingers, it still looks awkward.

Pages 2-3 -- Basic rule of drawing heads: a person's eyes sit in the middle of your face. Xavier's drawn here (twice!) with his eye's in the top quarter of his head. Also, the perspective on the lower Xavier head is wrong: his eye line is drawn with a slight turn (notice his right eyebrow showing) but his nose and mouth are in straight profile.

Page 4 -- The comet/meteor is clearly shown streaking past skyscrapers, but we're given no clue where it lands. Is that a city street? Central Park? A wheat field 1,000 miles away?

Page 5 -- Bad perspective again. The top and sides of Onslaught's shoulder/back armor is drawn almost straight on, but his head and the glowing lights are decidedly off-center, suggesting a three-quarter perspective. Shouldn't we also see the third glowing light on his right glove? Speaking of hands, his right hand has three fingers and a thumb, but his left has four fingers and no thumb.

Page 6 -- First off, try to figure out how panels are on this page? The correct answer is four. In panel two (you have to look hard for panel one) Franklin's torso couldn't possibly spin around like that given the position of his leg. (Kudos to the folks at Comicraft for trying to cover that up.) Frank's also not holding the gun that he's apparently firing. In panel three, the part in Franklin's hair has switched sides and he's still not holding that gun... which is evidently why it suddenly disappears in panel four.

Page 7 -- Despite Thing's fist in panel one, the only "pow" he could've given Blastaar in that position would have to have been with his elbow. Not a problem per se, but I thought I'd point it out. Also not a technical problem exactly, but why would you confine 90% of the page's expository action in the bottom two inches of the page? How was Ben controlling the game with the joystick he was using is as small as what we're shown in panel four? His hands are too large to have any control over it. Oh, and apparently, Franklin's real self has stripes on his sleeves where his digital self in the game does not.

Page 8 -- Several drawings of hands that should probably show us more fingers. Some discernable backgrounds would've been nice. Panel three is a hoot because it's not enough for Ben's hand to cover half of Franklin's face, his hand from panel four is covering some of it as well! Oh, and the stripes on Franklin's shirt sleeves from page seven are gone.

Page 9 -- What the heck is Thing lifting in panel two and what is he doing with it in panel three? I have no idea what's going on there. Seriously. And what is he hitting in panel five?

Page 10-11 -- The solid pipe that Ben grabbed at the end of page nine is apparently now a flexible hose that had at least five extra feet of slack in it. We also see that Johnny must be a heck of a contortionist to turn his chest perpendicular to his legs, and then turn his head further than ninety degrees back in the other direction.

Page 12 -- The pipe/hose apparently has its own automatic shut-off value -- shouldn't it still be spewing water? Unless Ben's crimped it, which it doesn't appear that he has. Oo, hey! Wouldn't it have been cool if we could've seen Ben's face in panel one? We've got three fairly redundant panels of Johnny shooting this fire vision at Ben, and yet we still have no idea what the globby thing behind Ben is in panel five.

Page 13 -- I think the reader is meeting Rob more than halfway by figuring out that Torch has burnt a hole in the wall and pushed Ben through it. I think, also we're supposed to ignore what kind of leverage Johnny could've possibly mustered against Ben in that position.

Page 14 -- I actually kind of like panel one. Except that the only black person I know who has a nose like that is Michael Jackson. Ben's belt switches from white to black in panel two. What exactly is Ben laying on in panel three, and how did he spin into that position relative to the cab driver from panel two? Why is Ben looking away from Torch while he's talking to him in panel four? Here's a thought, too: wouldn't it make more sense to have made the panel that is all about Johnny falling a verticle one? Or maybe at least not the shortest one on the page?

Page 15 -- Panel one: OMG! The perspective is blatantly wrong! Perspective is, like, seventh grade art class! How does a "professional" artist screw up a simple perspective shot like that? The panel borders are almost the same width as the lines used to delineate walls, so does Mr. Fantastic pop up in panel two or three? New haircut for Franklin in panel five. Panel six: shouldn't the heavier lines used to draw Reed's nose been on the underside of the nose to indicate/suggest shadows?

Page 16 -- I like that the Invisible Woman's invisible arm and leg completely block out the artwork in panels three, four and five. Not to mention that wall panels behind her. Panel two: what exactly is the perspective we're looking at? Is that a flat wall that Sue's jumping in front of or a floor that she's standing on?

Page 17 -- I'm not sure how to interpret panel two. Is Reed caging Franklin, or is that a depth of field affect? Sue's hair switches parts in panel three (must be a genetic thing). And, as much as suspension of disbelief as I usually allow with regard to women's breasts, what exactly is going on with Sue's in panel three?

Page 18 -- Panel one is really M.C. Esher-ish. Ben's body placement shows a vastly different depth in the Baxter Building's outcroppings that the perspective of the building that's actually drawn. I like in panel three how the Bacter Building is completely empty. And how panels three and four show differing numbers of floors being exposed by the same hole. And how it's shrunk incredibly by panel five. I'd also like to know how someone can build a 30+ story skyscraper with outer walls that are thinner than cardboard.

Page 19 -- Why is there a large black triangle in the upper left of the page? We return to Franklin's haircut from page 15. The glowing ball shrinks between panels two and three. Panel three: pinkie finger MIA, last seen panel two. Where is Onslaught looking in panel four -- Franklin's to his left, not in front of him.

Page 20 -- The glowing ball in much larger in Ben's hands. Again, while not a problem per se, but has anyone else noticed that we have yet to see Mr. Fantastic's legs and/or feet?

Page 21 -- The stripes on Franklin's shirt sleeves return, and he's switched which side he parts his hair on again. Not to focus on bosums, but Bucky's are different sizes. And why would you start the dramatic entrance/leaping sequence of introducing a character to a story from the bottom-left portion of the page?

Page 22 -- Where did Onslaught come from? What's he standing on? Where in the world is Bucky's left elbow? How long is the thumb on Bucky's left hand? Why would you completely waste the top thrid of a splash page like that?

I keep hearing that Liefeld has his proponents, but for the life of me, I don't know why. Honestly, I wasn't really trying that hard to find problems/errors. Most of that stuff jumped out at me during my first reading, and I only noticed a few more on looking through to write this up. I'm sure I could come up with a slew of additional problems and errors if I really had it in for him.

Loeb's story was okay, but it was really difficult to work through all of the problems in the art to get to it. Anatomy, perspective, storytelling... there were problems with every aspect of the artwork! How did this man get work in the first place, and why is he still in the business?!?
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Unknown said...

Kleefeld, why are you reviewing this comic? You're not the right man for the job.

I appreciate that you've bought Onslaught Reborn and you want to post your overall feel for it -- but you're not reviewing the comic. You're giving us a blow-by-blow on the comic's art by an artist you've never liked. WTF?

It's like a reading a post by a movie critic that's always hated Tom Cruise. So, when he reviews MI: 3, he doesn't tell you anything about the movie -- only that he still hates how Cruise poses, moves, and emotes. As such, it's an empty review. It comes across as nothing more than a chance to baseball bat someone's work that you don't like.

And you reviewed a COMIC BOOK. It's not a textbook from an anatomy class. When I looked at the comic's cover, I liked it for what it was: Cap in a battle-ready pose. I didn't count index fingers or the placement of thumbs or whether it was realistic that a grown man would dress like...well, Captain America. If that had been my focus and my main concern, I wouldn't have bought the comic book.

You bought the comic book, anyway. I'm guessing you did it mostly so that you could pound on Liefeld's perceived artistic failures. Cheap shot, man. It's not even a novel one. Everybody in the internet rags on Liefeld. I came here looking for some fresh insights. Didn't happen.

Why don't you nail Sam Kieth or Frank Miller for their anatomical failures? Working in the comic book world, for a comic book-reading audience, their goal isn't to produce an exact replica of the human body in each comic panel. Their goal is to entertain their audience.

That's what I wanted when I picked up Onslaught Reborn. I wanted to enjoy the story. I did enjoy the story. The artwork was fine. It told the story.

Hi, Hal. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm glad to see that more people are seing and/or finding their way here.

I'm not sure why I wouldn't qualify for reviewing this comic. Admittedly, I said that I didn't care for Liefeld's art, but I also stated that I hadn't seen any in ten years and there's a lot a person can improve on in that time. One of the points I was trying to make was that, in ten years Liefeld has not improved.

Also, I might suggest you try reading my entire post before responding to it. I did knock Liefeld's anatomy for the first few pages of the book, but that's because that's all there was to comment on. There's no real story to speak of until page four of the book, at which time I switch to commenting mostly on Liefeld's lack of storytelling ability.

Let me state as succinctly as I can: I don't buy books I think will be crap. I bought this book because I wanted to like it. I wanted to read a follow-up to an larger story arc from ten years ago. I wrote an extended, pissed off review because I was pissed that I spent three bucks on a book that DIDN'T TELL A COHESIVE STORY.

Liefeld wants to screw with anatomy for stylistic purposes? I can live with that, in and of itself. But, had you read my entire post, you would've seen that my bigger problems, and what I spent more time ranting about was how badly he did in his capacity as a storyteller. There were multiple pages where it's not at all clear what's going on. And if you've only got 22 pages to work with in the first place, that is really significant.

Belive me, I wanted to like this book. I even put it on my pull list before it came out. But this was the biggest waste of three bucks I've spend in a LONG time, and I posted this review essentially as a warning to other people. I was willing to give Liefeld another shot -- as I noted in the very opening of my post -- but he failed on every level in my opinion. I posted this for people who either never had an opinion of Liefeld in the first place or for those who were also willing to give him another shot. Obviously, anyone who hates Liefeld in the first place isn't going to like this. And Liefeld apologists like yourself are going to try to defend him. But, again, if you'd read what I'd actually written and responded to it, instead of using a knee-jerk response to claims of bad anatomy, I'd give Liefeld's proponents a lot more credit.

Unknown said...

Sean, just a quick note to reply to your reply. I appreciate your courtesy in addressing what I said. Still, you slammed me for not completely reading your review -- but I did read the whole thing, friend. However, it seems like you may have forgotten what you originally posted.

'Cause you didn't review Onslaught Reborn. You only reviewed the hated Rob Liefeld. In the body of your original comments, you said you liked the writing (by Loeb) okay...but were distracted by the awesomely bad art of Liefeld. Couldn't get past the horrifically bad art. Tried to focus on the story but -- the art! The art! It drove you near insane.

Still, I'm enjoying your blog. Even like the name Kleefeld (seems like a name that would be used by one of the lesser Bond villains). Keep up the nearly adequate work!

(I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Didn't like the Onslaught review but I like the blog. Keep it going.)

Glad to see you came back, Hal.

I apologize for claiming that you didn't read my entire post, but that was certainly my impression since your initial comments didn't mention anything about at least the last half of my original post. You focused on a couple of my early comments about Liefeld's anatomy and seemed to miss my later points about the larger problems with his storytelling.

I've re-read my post several times now and I don't see anywhere where I claim that I'm going to be reviewing the comic. From the very title of the post itself, I think I set up the post as a rant against Liefeld and I don't know why anyone would expect something else. In all seriousness, I chose the word "sucks" very deliberately, to establish right from the start where the rest of the post was going to go.

I still stand by all my comments about Liefeld. I try to back up any points that I make on this blog (or indeed ANY points I make anywhere) and I try to make myself as clear as I can. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to make all my points more clear to you in my original post, but I hope you'll keep visiting my little online home.

Tom Nguyen said...

Good one...I'm with you, buddy :)

Tom Nguyen

Anonymous said...

Holy. I just read Onslaught Reborn #3 and, not to beat a dead horse, but HOW DO PEOPLE KEEP HIRING THIS LIEFELD HACK!?!?!?!??!

Anonymous said...

Liefeld just got work on civil war, God help us all. How can anyone Defend Rob's work on Reborn? If you stick up for his work you are biased, plain and simple. The books are absolutely horrible.In Issue #3 Rob has stooped to a new low. Rob cut and paste an image from "google earth" as a background with Iron man in the panel. I forget what page it is but it is featured on his site. This is outrageous.

Anonymous said...

look for yourself. This is not a painted background it is completely ripped off from Google Earth, look closely....

Anonymous said...

Rob Liefeld is one of the worst artists in the world! HAL is right about that stupid artist!

Miller's drawings were anatomically incorrect, but it had this X-factor. and its supported by the story.

Liefeld's work doesnt have that factor. hell, it doesnt have a factor! looking at his works is a pain in the eye!

Anonymous said...

seeing this talentless idiot still making comics proves to me that idiots will always make it in this country (look at our President for an example) - as for those that defend this no-talent retard HACK - you deserve him.

Oh - hes making "religious" comics now - seeing that sales for his artwork (Im using that term extremely loosely here) have fallen into the toilet - I feel its just a mater of time before he does a Scientology comic.

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to say after reading your blog that if all you do is look for flaws in some ones artwork thats all you will see. yes he has made some mistakes with anatomy but what comic artist hasnt? and comics are also based on exagerations and they should be appreciated as so and not as something for you to bash if you look at all his work not all of it has those flaws you speak of. if you havent seen his art in ten years maybe you should research his other artwork and maybe youll see his talent for what it is, ART.

Anonymous said...

The dude who calls himself by the name of "strange" is a philosopher-wannabe moron. He can't even punctuate his posts properly.

Anyway, I know for a fact that Liefeld's ineptitude lies not only in his lack of anatomical knowledge, but the fact that he's just about the laziest asshole in the comic biz.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how people can defend Liefeld's art saying, "it's just a comic book!" or "you'll only find flaws if you're looking for them!" is, to be perfectly frank, nonsense.

Hal is right, comic art doesn't have to be 100% anatomically correct. But it should at least resemble the human form. Liefeld's figures are extremely bizarre and his storytelling ability is nonexistent. Liefeld's art consists of drawing poorly proportioned characters striking extremely awkward poses.

You don't have to look for flaws with Liefeld's art -- they jump off the page.