I've seen his work when his heart really isn't in it...
Name each & every time ...
I've often said that Byrne's heart only lies with the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creations he read as a kid and that makes a huge difference in his work.
Since almost every GREAT Marvel character was created by Stan Lee and/or Jack Kirby, this is something that is hard to avoid, isn't it?
threw a tantrum
His absolutely best stuff was on his X-Men run with Claremont and then his FF run. His Hulk was looking promising but then he threw a tantrum and quit before he could hit any real notable heights.
threw a tantrum
His DC stuff was flat and pedestrian. His Superman read like two years of filler stories (and then he threw a tantrum and quit!)
Don't even bother with his later DC stuff like Doom Patrol and Lab Rats.
Too late! Read them & enjoyed them. Not his best work, but entertaining just the same.
The only real exception to this was Alpha Flight which was outstanding but it was, as he's often said himself, a book he never had any real affection for ...and they were his own creations!
So his heart wasn't in a project that you seem to consider outstanding? Since this is only ONE exception, though, it shouldn't contradict your theory in any way, shape or form? Well it's YOUR game & YOUR rules, so it will make sense to YOU.
A casual scan of those commissions will back this up.
This is akin to a casual scan of a comic book or a novel or watching a movie preview or clip & then proclaiming you know everything you need to know about it.
Also, there are actual individuals who proclaim entire runs of comic books (not just JB's) as bad based only on an issue or two, or maybe more sometimes.
Idiocy at best...Ignorance at worst.
And just to save anyone from jumping the gun, there's absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever saying that a particular issue sucked, then choosing not to read any others.
The early Marvel characters will usually look good. The DC stuff... yeesh! Occasionally there are exceptions here too. A recent piece featuring the Red Circle characters looked pretty good... but then there was that Supergirl from a few pages back... Ouch!
There's bound to be a few less than exceptional pieces of work (and keep in mind that the context here is commissions) when you're talking about literally hundreds of images. The vast majority are very well done & the fans who paid for these commissions are usually very happy with the results (tangent off into assumptions & presumptions if you will, but don't expect any sort of reaction from me if you get wacky about it).
It is the height of arrogance & ignorance to try to see what sort of effort (or heart) went into creating any given piece. Like or dislike a piece, but don't presume that you have some sort of ability
to send your astral self into JB's studio & witness his state of mind or attitude while working on any given piece (and this goes for any of his works).