Friday, February 15, 2013

Bryant Has Issues #26

FYI: I am currently experiencing a high volume of meowage from my cats, so if I seem distracted, it might have something to do with that.

In any case, there are a LOT of comics to cover on this installment of Bryant Has Issues, so let's dive right in.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger -- Sheemie's Tale #2

The two-part interlude "Sheemie's Tale" came to a conclusion this week, and...

It's pretty solid.  I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first issue, but I suspect that rereading the two issues back-to-back will almost certainly improve my opinion of the wrap-up.  And to be clear, I did like it.

A big part of that is the art by Richard Isanove, which has real heft and scope.  There are some badass Lovecraftian monsters, some impressive Tower-related vistas, and solid character work.  I know I said this last time, but ... somebody has some serious explaining to do in terms of why fill-in artists were used on every arc in The Gunslinger when Isanove was still around.  I calculate that some of those books would have been twice as good with him providing the pencils, instead of just the colors.

Here are a few examples from Sheemie's Tale #2:

There's also a solid prose piece by Robin Furth about the Tower as axis mundi.  Solid stuff; I'm happy to be back on the Tower-comic bandwagon!

Next up:

I always know I'm way behind on my Bryant Has Issues columns when I'm covering two or more issues of one comic.  So it is this time with Scott Snyder's Batman, which brings the "Death of the Family" arc to a close.

And I have to admit, it's pretty solid.  Despite that, I found myself a bit bored by it.  This was especially the case with #17.  It isn't bad; I don't have anything particularly harsh to say, except to note that when I got to the end of it, I just shrugged and said, "Well, done with that, then."

I heard Rob Zombie say something once to the effect of "I'd rather someone despise what I do than be indifferent to it," and I totally get why he'd say that.  Sometimes I think that even as a reader, I'd rather loathe something than feel indifferent to it.  Loathing at least engages me.  So when I say that "Death of the Family" has, now that it's complete, left me almost totally indifferent, it kinda bums me out to say it.

There are plenty of good moments in these two issues, many of them in #16 (which features some genuinely horrifying imagery, especially if you happen to be an equestrian).  There's also a great moment toward the end of the climactic confrontation; it involves one character telling another character he knows his name.

On the whole, though, I found it impossible to actually care about any of this.  I think that what's to blame here is that I simply don't like The Joker as a character, at least not in the comics.  I liked him when Jack Nicholson played him; I liked him when Heath Ledger played him.  But in the comics, more often than not he just makes me roll my eyes and wish I was reading something more interesting.

I don't want to get too spoilery, but without doing so I can't tell you some of my problems with the story.  So those of you who wish to remain unspoiled should pull the ripcord now.  I'll provide a few examples of Greg Capullo's fine art from these two issues to serve as a buffer zone.

Still with me?

Okay, here's the deal: the big climax comes when The Joker has kidnapped Bruce's Bat-family, consisting of Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, and the Red Hood.  He's got 'em all tied up, with their faces bandaged, the implication being that he has removed their faces in the same way he removed his own.  And you would have to be a moron as a reader to believe for even a split-second that that is what is actually going on.  In fact, he has not harmed their faces at all.  I could roll with that sort of fake-out if there was some sort of compensating element; if, for example, what was interesting was Batman's response.  Because whereas we might know that DC will neverevereverevereverever allow Scott Snyder to have The Joker cut Dick Grayson's face off, Batman has no fucking clue; he has every reason to think that The Joker would do just that, and worse.

And indeed Batman's response is rather interesting.  He decides to kill The Joker; finally, after all these years, to just put an end to it.  The confrontation culminates in The Joker falling off a precipice, seemingly to his demise.  You never see the body, though, and if you think that DC would allow Scott Snyder to kill off The Joker, you're fucking stoned.  You're on goofballs and Zima, friend; ain't happenin'.  So whereas Batman's response is an interesting and compelling one, it doesn't really have any weight to it, because you know there are no consequences.

There are intended consequences, and they go back to the "Death of the Family" title.  Nobody in the Bat-family dies (including Alfred, whose fate had been uncertain until #17); the title refers instead to the fact that Bruce's family members individually seem to be disinclined to be a part of that family at issue's end.  Damian, Dick, Barbara, etc., are basically not taking Bruce's calls.  So the Bat-family is dissolved and in ruins; The Joker has triumphed.

Except ... see, DC publishes something like eight monthly comics that are a member of their Batman Family imprint of titles.  They've got an entire imprint that is referred to as the Batman Family!  It's not on the covers of the books, but it's an official imprint in every other regard.  So if you think there is going to be any permanent, or even semi-permanent, dissolution of that family, you've been on them goofballs again.  You need to get help; seriously.

So what we've got here, then, is a great idea for an apocalyptic Batman story; it's well-told, well-drawn, and well-intended, but because of the realities of the comics-publishing business, it all rings false because the implications seem to be utterly hollow.  Perhaps I'll be proven wrong on that score.  If so, I'll happily eat my words.

For now, though, I feel pretty certain I'm not wrong.

Perhaps people who are bigger fans of Batman -- and of The Joker particularly -- will get more out of this than I did.  I'm just underwhelmed, mostly because Scott Snyder wants to convince me that a balloon and a boulder weigh the same.

DC's "Rotworld" event comes, mercifully, to a conclusion this time as well.  See?  Says it right there on the covers: "Rotworld: Finale."

Except, of course, this two-part tale -- which begins in Animal Man #17 and "concludes" in Swamp Thing #17 -- is actually just a cliffhanger which will be resolved in each series' #18 next month.  Sheesh...

I have not enjoyed "Rotworld" worth a damn, and I'm happy for it to be over.  Or close to over, at least.  I'm going to buy both #18s, but I'm done after that; Snyder is leaving Swamp Thing after #18, and I will not be continuing either series.  
In the case of Animal Man, I'm at least tempted.  I've liked Lemire's work on that book, but the only reason I began reading it in the first place is because of the interconnectivity it shares with Snyder's Swamp Thing.  It might continue to be linked with that series, but I'm definitely not interested enough in Swamp Thing to follow it with a new writer; and while I'll miss Animal Man to some degree, my budget could use the extra $3 a month I'll be getting back by not reading it anymore.

This particular issue of Animal Man is more of what "Rotworld" has offered: loud, stupid, zombie-esque crossovers featuring other DC heroes and villains.  Boring, boring, boring.  Occasional moments are interesting, but nothing has any weight to it at all; the reset button is going to be pushed at the end of it, and you know it, and there is, as a result, no tension of any kind.

As for Swamp Thing, it is flat-out terrible this month.  The story is part of the problem, because there basically isn't one; but the real problem is the art.  For some reason, DC thought it would be a good idea -- or, at the least, a permissible one -- to use a fill-in artist to wrap up their big crossover event series.  So instead of Yanick Paquette or Marco Rudy, this month they foist Andrew Belanger upon us.

I know nothing about Belanger's work; never heard of the guy.  And I wouldn't say that his art here is bad, per se; but it is much more cartoony than has been the case on the series thus far:

Doesn't work for me.  I could barely pay attention to what I was reading; it annoyed me that badly.

Good move, DC.

And by the way, I've noticed that of late, I seem to be down on Scott Snyder's work more often than I'm up on it.  His latest arc on Batman was weak; this "Rotworld" crap has been crap; the spinoff miniseries from American Vampire this past year was a letdown.
Is this a genuine slump he's in, or am I just not clicking with the material for some reason?

Beats me, but I'm having no trouble connecting with our next title.

That cover is simultaneously one of the grossest things I've ever seen and one of the hottest.

For those of you who thought The Stalk was dead, and had been for several issues, this cover might throw you off a bit even if you take the arachnid-erotica out of the equation.  Don't worry; all will be clarified.  All I'll say is this: hardcore Stalk fans are apt to be bummed out.

This issue is entirely focused on The Will and Gwendolyn trying to liberate Slave Girl.  It's not the best issue of Saga ever, but that's no insult; this is good, good stuff.  Here's an amusing splash page:

Really, what could I say to add anything to that?

Not a damn thing.  Moving on...

The weirdly weird weirdness of Fashion Beast is our next pit-stop.

Issue #5 is ... more of the same.  Which means that I loved it, mostly because I am just sorta gaga for the art of Facundo Percio.

Let's pause there.  One thing I am definitely guilty of in these columns is ignoring the work of colorists.  This is because I have virtually no understanding of what a colorist does on a comic book.  It's like, yeah, sure, they work with the colors, I get that; but surely that can't be the entirety of it.  Does a penciller just hand the art over to the colorist and assume the colorist will do a good job?  Or is it typical for the penciller to give instructions: "make this blue, make that orange," and so forth?

Beats me.

What I'll say is that the color in this issue is provided by Hernan Cabrera, and it is gorgeous.  A big chunk of the issue -- close to half of it -- deals with a fight between Doll and Tomboy that takes place in a dye room of the factory.  This, as you might expect, lends itself to some fantastic use of color.  Example the first:

Example the second:

There is also some excellent work with darkness, which is something you don't see in comics too often.  Or at least, I don't.  Example:

One thing I'll say about this issue storywise is that it feels even slighter than is normally the case.  This is not a slight against Moore's script (or, to be more precise, Antony Johnston's adaptation of Moore's script); the story began its life as a screenplay, and if the comic-book adaptation can be assumed to be faithful, then you have to give Moore credit for writing a screenplay that heavily respects film as a visual medium.  It makes sense, then, that once realized -- be it cinematically or graphically -- it is the visuals that draw your attention.

I'll have more to say about the story once the ten-issue series is completed, I imagine.

I love this cover

#6 picks up exactly where #5 leaves off, and about two-thirds of the issue is devoted to finishing the conversation between Doll and Celestine that began in the previous issue.

Fashion Beast is, from what I can tell so far, a semi-reworking of the Beauty and the Beast legend, and that element comes to the forefront in #6.  There is some downright haunting stuff between its covers, and on the whole I think I'd have to say this is my favorite issue so far.

Here a few bits of solid art.  Out of context, they might not make much sense, but IN context, they're rather riveting:

The one in the middle kinda gets to me a little bit; in a good way, that is.  Let's just say that it represents what seems to be a crucial point in the story.

Another solid issue.  Only four left!

Next up, a quartet of Before Watchmen titles.  Not too many issues of this sucker left, thankfully.

First off, The Minutemen reaches its conclusion.  As you might recall, I've been fairly impressed by this particular miniseries.  So, does writer/artist Darwyn Cooke stick the landing?  I'd say so.  I spent the majority of the issue convinced that he had not; that he had, in fact, bungled it quite badly by making a move that seemingly went against Watchmen itself.  Thanks to a late-in-the-issue plot twist, this turns out to not be the case.  Overall, The Minutemen was quite good; I can theoretically imagine myself picking it up and rereading it at some point in the future.

Next, the Dollar Bill one-shot.  It's better than I'd expected, and I ended up sympathizing with Bill and his plight.  In fact, it made me kinda wish that Darwyn Cooke had used the character more in The Minutemen.  This particular one-shot, though, is basically all we seem destined to ever get, and that's probably plenty.  It comes courtesy of Len Wein.

Wein is also the writer of the Ozymandias series, and boy, I'm kinda tired of it.  Some of that, I regret to inform, is due to my growing fatigue with the tics of artist Jae Lee.  For example, if I never see him do this pose again, I'll be happy:

This thing Lee does where he shows a character with head upraised and eyes narrowed to slits.  I just don't need to see it ever again.  EVER.

Elsewhere, though, there is some really good art, including some boss depictions of Doctor Manhattan.

As for the story, it's decent, but, as with the rest of the series, it's basically just telling us stuff about Adrian that we already knew.  Yawn.

I'll give The Comedian credit for at least not retreading well-trod ground.  This issue is more of the same Vietnam stuff; not terrible, but not particularly interesting.

Here's a four-fer of Buffyverse comics.  I'll start with the Spike one, I guess, and report that while I loved the first issue, and thought the middle three were decent, the fifth one is pretty weak.  Not bad; just weak.  As a result, I think the miniseries overall has to be counted as a bit of fluff at best.
All it really does is pave the way for Spike to show up at the end of Angel & Faith #18.  I continue to enjoy this series, and #18 has some solid stuff starring Young Giles (a.k.a Ripper).  I'm a bit less impressed with the giant-demon action, but it's still basically good.

As for Willow Wonderland, I'm mostly bored by it.  It ends with a big reveal that might have carried a little more weight if I had watched the television series recently (Buffy, that is); but I haven't, so it didn't.  Let's blame me for that, and not writer Christos Gage.  Who, I note, is not Jeff Parker, the guy who wrote the first three issues.  Hmmm...

Finally, the most recent issue of Season Nine of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I read this just two days ago, and all I remember is a bunch of X-Men-style fighting.  Boring.  Not why I care about Buffy, either.

Am I seriously buying FOUR Buffyverse comics on a monthly basis right now?!?  That shit's gonna need to diminish.

The second issue of the adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was, like the first one, pretty enjoyable.  Unlike the first one, this issue includes a credit for story adaptation: Reginald Hudlin (one of the film's producers, and himself a director).

The art continues to be a selling point.  There are a few panels in which I think it doesn't work all that well, but mostly it is dramatic and effective, as on these two pages:

There is a sequence in the movie in which King Schultz tells Django the German legend from which Django's wife, Broomhilda, gets her name.  In the comic, the story is rendered graphically; this makes me curious as to whether the screenplay originally planned to film fantastical sequences representing the story, or whether it was an addition Hudlin and/or artist R.M. Guera came up with for the comic.  Either way, it's a good use of the strengths of this medium.

One note, though: did Tarantino simply not know that "Broomhilda" should have been spelled "Brünnhilde"?  In the movie, Schultz -- who is played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz -- pronounces the name correctly; you can clearly hear the "n" as opposed to the "m" when Django says it.  In the comic, however, Schultz says "Broomhilda."  It's a curious error, and I have to admit that it bugs the hell out of me.

Great movie, though, and so far the comic is a worthy companion piece.
This week, we also have a couple of back-issues from the bin to look at, both from the mighty pen of Joe Hill.

Hill's first-ever published comic was a short that appeared in Spider-Man Unlimited #8 in 2005.  Titled "Fanboyz," it is the tale of a group of Jackass-style jackasses who film themselves trying to replicate superhuman feats such as climbing up walls.  This goes poorly.  Does the real Spider-Man have to step in to save the day?

Well, what do you think?

This isn't much of a story, to be honest, but there are a few chuckles in it, and the concept reminds me of something that might have appeared in the Marvel comics of my youth (circa 1974-1984).

"Fanboyz" takes up the first half of the issue; the second is a story by Joshua Ortega called "Everything," and it is by far the better of the two.  It's a rather touching tale of Spider-Man responding to an earthquake while Peter Parker is in California with M.J.  Pretty good stuff.

This here is the Special Edition of Joe Hill's Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1, which was released in 200?.  I bought this recently because I recently learned that it contained a short comic written by Hill with art by Seth Fisher, who also drew "Fanboyz" for Hill.  In an introduction, Hill explains how he and Fisher got teamed up, and also tells the sad story of Fisher's untimely death.

The comic story is called "Freddy Wertham Goes to Hell," and it's about an anti-comics crusader who gets murdered and goes to hell, where the Devil has a few lessons to impart to him.  This is EC-style horror, which takes the amusingly meta step of lampooning one of the men who was responsible for the EC titles dying off!

Part of what makes "Freddy Wertham Goes to Hell" work is a series of amusing tags inserted into the artwork.  Whether these were in Hill's script or were Fisher's idea, I don't know, but they made me chuckle.  Here's an example:

The story made its initial appearance in Cemetery Dance's Grave Tales in March of 2009, and was reprinted in this Special Edition of Welcome to Lovecraft #1.  Copies of the reprint are still fairly easy to get, and I would advise the Joe Hill fan to do so; it's good stuff.


And finally, a few classic Alan Moore titles I read (or, in a few cases, re-read) recently:

Many people credit V For Vendetta with being the title that more or less launched Alan Moore's career, and if that was its only legacy, it'd be a good one.  But the truth is, the work still holds up pretty well.  Some of the politics are heavy-handed, and it's all told from a standpoint of a very particular time in British history (although some would argue that that time has never gone away, not really, and others would argue that it's been applicable to America for vast portions of the intervening years, too).

What keeps the comic vibrant is that it's a series of twisted mind-games played by V on various victims.  This is all about psychological torture, distress, and empowerment, and that gives the story a degree of timelessness that the political element of the tale might not possess.

For those of you who don't know the story, it is about V, a terrorist in a near-future Britain which has become a fascist regime in the aftermath of a nuclear conflict.  V has decided the country is broken; V has decided to fix it.  He -- Batman-and-Robin style, except with fewer crime-fighting and more brainwashing -- takes on a sort-of protege in the form of Evey Hammond, a lost girl descending into prostitution and despair.  Depending on how you look at it, he takes her under his wing for her protection, or to assist his terrorist plots, or to have someone to soliloquize to.  Take your pick; you won't be wrong.

There are things about the story I don't like.  For example, there are perhaps a few too many instances in which what we think is a character, speaking, is actually a dummy on a stick with a tape recorder doing the talking.  I'll forgive it once; more than that, it feels like a cheat, and it happens more than once here.

Still, there's plenty to love, including phenomenal artwork by David Lloyd.  His style his is simple, elegant, dramatic, and highly effective.  A few examples:

Damn good stuff.

Overall, the comic is a bit of a classic, and if you've never read it, I'd suggest seeking it out one of these days.  And just for the sake of doing it, here's a gallery of the covers to the ten single issues that, together, comprise the graphic novel.

By the way, I'd also like to mention that while it has been a few years since last I saw it, I quite liked the movie version, which Alan Moore detests.  He's a grumpy ole sonofoagun, Alan Moore; I don't always agree with him, and this is one of those times, but I give him all the latitude in the world to be a contrarian, on account of how he has written a large number of works that approach genius.

Speaking of which...

...ever heard of Miracleman?  Well, if not, follow that link and Wikipedia will tell you all about him.  For those of you disinclined to do so, here's a brief synopsis: Miracelman began life as Marvelman, a British superhero who debuted in the 1950s as a -- let's be tactful -- substitute for Captain Marvel (an American character also known as Shazam who was himself a kinda-substitute for Superman).  In the 1982, Alan Moore revived the Marvelman character in England for a comic anthology called Warrior, but the series was never completed.  A few years later, the comic was revived in America by the publisher Eclipse, with Moore picking up where he'd left off, but with one crucial difference: thanks to lawsuits by Marvel Comics -- who wanted to avoid having consumers think that the Eclipse title, what with its nudity and gore and all, was one of their titles -- the series had to be renamed Miracleman.

Thanks to rights issues, the comics have been out of print for two decades now, and have never been reprinted.

So, you might ask: how did you find copies to read, Bryant?  Hmm?  HMM??

Let's just say I borrowed 'em from a friend and leave it at that.

The story is incredibly convoluted, and I'm not going to even attempt to summarize it beyond giving you a few broad strokes: Michael Moran is a mild-mannered reporter who, when he speaks the word "kimota" (spell it backwards), turns into Marvelman Miracleman, a superhero who can fly and whatnot.  Marvelman Miracleman has to defeat a powerful adversary, and in so doing he finds out a shocking truth about his origins.  From there, things get ... weird.

Moore is exploring the idea of what it might conceivably be like if the world really had a superman or two or three.  His thesis, basically, is that said persons might eventually come to consider themselves godlike, and would not necessarily feel the need to not behave accordingly.

That leads to confrontations of this sort:

And that, frankly, is one of the milder propositions this series puts forth.

Marvelman Miracleman is an utterly fascinating comic book no matter what criteria you're using (if you and I are in alignment in terms of our taste in comics, at least), but one of the most fascinating elements is the degree to which some elements of it are thematically similar to Watchmen.  Both titles were being published simultaneously, as was Moore's run on Swamp Thing, which also treads some of the same ground.  You could theoretically even lump V For Vendetta into the same category, although its similarities require more digging.  And yet, amazingly, none of them feels like mere retreads of the others.  Instead, what they read like is a complete exploration of the concepts underlying superhero comics, told from the perspective of a highly intelligent man with compelling, unorthodox (or, at least, non-mainstream) viewpoints.

If you want a Stephen King-centric comparison point, consider how over the course of three years, he published four books -- The Drawing of the Three, Misery, The Tommyknockers, and The Dark Half -- that each explores the theme of addiction, but managed to do so from four completely different angles each time.  Moore's accomplishment is a very similar one; if anything, he did his job even more fully than King did his.

It was recently announced that Marvel Comics had managed to acquire the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman, so perhaps this means that Moore's run -- and that of the writer who succeeded him, some dude named Neil Gaiman -- might now see reprint at some point in the near future.  It certainly deserves to be rediscovered.

Here's a cover gallery of Moore's fifteen issues.  (Note that I skip issue #8; it was a reprint of stories from earlier in Marvelman Miracleman's career.)

Moving on to slightly less awesome Alan Moore works (some would disagree with this assessment):

Remember how I was talking shit about The Joker earlier?

Well, here's the most notable exception to what I was saying.  In this particular story --  a standalone tale published by DC in 1988 -- The Joker is utterly terrifying, partly because there are actual stakes involved.  DC might or might not allow Scott Snyder to do some of the things that might or might happen in "Death of the Family," but DC definitely let Alan Moore get away with some craziness in 1988.  The Joker walks into Commissioner Gordon's apartment and ... he ...

Well, I'll tell you, but I'll wait a moment and let you spoilerphobes clear out.  It's a comic from fucking 1988, so I don't feel the urge to NOT spoil it; but I also don't want to be a dick about it.  Darth Sidious and Emperor Palpatine are the same guy, by the way.

Anyways, one of the big draws to this book is excellent art by Brian Bolland (pencils) and John Higgins (colors).  Take a look at the book's second page:

If that doesn't make you a little giddy, then you, sir (or madam, as the case may be), ain't no Batman fan.  You might not be a comics fan, either.

The Killing Joke is, in some ways, most notable for giving The Joker an origin story.  Sort of.  Some of it was repurposing of material from earlier comics, and some of it seems to have anticipated elements of the 1989 Tim Burton film; all of it is ambiguous, in terms of whether it "really happened," or is just The Joker's imagination at play.  Whatever the case, it's pretty damn memorable, and I was hoping that Snyder was going to use it a bit more in "Death of the Family."

Alright, ready for that spoiler?  It's accompanied by gorgeously terrifying artwork, and here it is:

Yep; that's how Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, became paralyzed.

I can't even imagine the sort of impact a take-no-prisoners page like that must have had in 1988.  Actually, I suppose I can; people still talk about it in 2013, so it must have been sudden and irreversible.

The Killing Joke doesn't rank near the top on my personal list of favorite Alan Moore works, but it's awfully good nonetheless.  If you're even vaguely a Batman fan and have never read it, you should check it out post-haste.

This brings us to our final book of the column:

Here's a different sort of comic than the ones we've been talking about so far: Brought to Light, a two-in-one "docudrama" about the CIA, the Iran-Contra fiasco, and so forth.

I am unashamed to admit that this book defeated me.  I simply couldn't make heads or tails out of great chunks of it.  For one thing, while I recognize the importance of the topic, I also have to confess to a disinterest in it.  That makes me a bad person, probably, but a weak one at the very least.  I should amend my stance: I'm not disinterested so much as keenly aware of my powerlessness in the face of forces such as the ones hinted at by Moore and artist Bill Sinkiewicz in their half of the book, Shadowplay -- The Secret Team.  Let's assume that their version of the CIA is the real one.  If so, is there really much use in me standing up against them, even in a theoretical sense?  Probably not.  So does it do much good for me to worry about them?  No more sense than it makes for me to live in fear of tornadoes and meteors; I'll worry about them when I get word they're headed straight for me.

Part of my frustration with Shadowplay lies in the fact that I found it difficult to read.  Not from a comprehension standpoint, but from a "what does that say?" standpoint.  And not even that, really, so much as a "Gosh, this lettering is annoying to look at" standpoint.  Here's an example: page five of the comic, with each panel isolated so that they'll be larger and therefore easier to see.

The art is beautiful, but that lettering ... man, that is like sandpaper on my eyeballs.  I get the conceit: this eagle character's dialogue is represented in that fashion to give him some character and make him seem unstable.  That makes sense.  It just doesn't work for me.

Have a look at the first page for some counterpoint:

Much easier to read, and, therefore, much more engaging.  For me, if for nobody else.  Also, seriously: how friggin' scary does Lady Liberty look there?

As for the rest of the book, I'm afraid I just don't have much to say about it.  I feel no doubt whatsoever that I have not given it a fair shake; I'll come back to it someday, and maybe I'll be a more responsible political animal then.


And finally, we have reached the end of this post. If you stuck with me all the way, I appreciate it.  See ya soon!


  1. "Tastes in Comics"? You know, it's funny. Until the word was used, I never even thought about the idea of personal taste in comics (which just shows how unlettered and out of it I am in this field).

    There's no denying my reaction to seeing just the cover for "Killing Joke" alone. Namely, SONNUVA BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And yet in some ways I'm still surprised that's my reaction, which may sound odd, though to be fair it's not really a comic centric sentiment so much as it is a normal, real life one, though not drawn in any way from real life.

    Still, I agree Moore or anyone else might not be allowed that kind of move...(sorry, involuntary cringe there) Though I'm worried this has more to do with marketing demand than anything more value driven. And I also here what you say about how the Joker fairs in comics compared with other media. It's seems strange how everyone seems to prefer DC animated or Nolan versions to the current comic one.

    Still, on to pleasanter matters. It's interesting to be reminded of Miracleman.

    As a hobbyist of ancient mythology it's interesting to note the post Moore take on superheroes has kind of strangely familiar parralell to a point in greek and roman history when people started to distrust the greek pantheon of the gods and assigned more sinister aspects to those characters.

    For a brief intro to the comic work of Gaiman, here's Fourth Wall Guy with an an october segment (apparently) entitled "Longbox of the Damned" and an intro to the world of "The Dreaming" (apologies for the lame Bela Lugsoi impersonation throughout).


    1. I'm gonna skip that video about Gaiman. Not because I'm not interested, but because I know it'll make me even more interested than I already am!

      I'm planning to get into his stuff at some point, but it's just not going to be any time soon. Too many pies on the table already!

      As for Moore not being allowed to do what he in TKJ in today's comics industry: I think you're correct to suspect that it is due to marketing considerations as opposed to any sort of artistic concern. Today, they couldn't do it because they'd have to cancel another book and lose out on thousands of dollars of revenue per month.

      By the way, I don't have the distaste for that moment that you have. It's an undoubtedly horrible moment, but not in a nihilistic or offensive way. Not offensive to me, at least. Instead, I see it as a reflection of how sometimes, terrible things happen to good people. The fact of it being so sudden and so brutal gives it a realism, and the realism keeps it from being exploitative.

      That's my take on it, at least.

  2. I hear you on that crazy-font for The Secret Team/ Brought to Light. It makes it kind of a hard sell. The dialogue/ art design is experimental enough; did they NEED to put another barrier between the reader and the material?

    I'd heard most of the info therein in other venues (most notably The Politics of Heroin, which is a relentlessly-footnoted/ harrowing tale of opium trade in the 20th century; I'll never watch The French Connection the same way again!) but it's definitely a non-stop info-dump. I first encountered this on audiobook, which, I think, helps a bit. You miss out on the amazing (and terrifying) Sienkiewicz designs, but the performances by Moore and Gary Lloyd add something considerable. (And the sound design, too, such as it is. It sticks with me, at any rate.)

    Ah, Miracleman. That is one hell of an interesting story.

    The Killing Joke had a huge impact on me at the time, but I still think the whole crippling-Barbara-Gordon thing was meh. Not my favorite trope in comics/ elsewhere, I have to say. Tho, in all fairness, it comes across much better (well, more believably/ written better, I mean) in TKJ than elsewhere, particularly other Denny-O'Neill-edited properties.

    Now I think I like 70s Batman more than other eras. I just got so sick of it all. Too refuge in my memories of Bat-Mite and those old fantastic Archie Goodwin/ Walt Simonson and even Moench/ Apara runs. Great stuff. Or Alan Brennar's; he scripted 5 stories and 2 of them are my all-time favorite Batmans. Not a bad record!

    Did you ever read DK2? I hated it when it came out and am still baffled by most of it, but the last time I looked through it I found a lot more interesting than I did on first glance. If Miller wasn't so crazy/ reactionary, I'd have an easier time buying it as hardcore satire of Age of Terror stuff, but... well, it's tough for me to buy that from him, in the wake of Holy Terror and some other stuff. He increasingly acts like someone with an undiagnosed brain tumor, or something...

    1. * Aparo! Not Apara. Crikey. All right, I'll stop editing...

    2. I feel bad about bad-mouthing "Brought to Light," like I'm being not only a bad Alan Moore fan, but also a bad American. Or would make me a good American? I'm confused now. Anyways ... I definitely plan to give it a second look at some point down the road when I do my super-duper hardcore series exploring Moore's work.

      And I still need to check out the audio version! I feel like that probably WOULD make the whole thing click for me a bit better.

      I did indeed read "The Dark Knight Strikes Again," although I remember very little about it. I liked it, but with the caveat that it was nowhere even in the vicinity of being as good as "The Dark Knight Returns." But then, few comics are, so it was always likely to fail on that score. On its own merits, I thought it was very enjoyable.

      I've never gotten into Miller much beyond that. Maybe someday.

    3. That's cool you found DK2 enjoyable. I've gotten a lot of crap over the years for not hating on it in my circle of comic-book reading friends. I look at it as more of a Justice League story set in the Dark Knight Returns universe than an actual sequel to Dark Knight. I hope they adapt it into a movie at some point. It's very gritty (and controversial) material. (Sort of at odds with Miller's real-life political views, it seems to me? Maybe not. It's tough to keep up with him. I like that in a person, actually. The less I can summarize your politics, the better, probably. Wish more people were like that!)

      The first comic book I absolutely loved was Miller's Daredevil. I missed buying his premiere as writer (168, if memory serves? Just googled: yep) by only a couple of months. My first ish was 171. The old days where you could buy a comic off the spin-rack, then pester your Mom for Presto Magix or a Choose Your Own Adventure from the paperback racks while she dragged you around the store.... if I ever write an 11/22/63-esque time travel adventure, I think all of the above will figure prominently in it.

      Anyway! Miller has some definite highs, and his Daredevil is still my fave. (His original run, that is; I like the subsequent work he did but what can I say, I'm a Silver/ Bronze Age sort of comics-guy) The original Dark Knight is, of course, a masterpiece. I wish the tone of it hadn't become the template for all (or most) subsequent Batman, but such is life.

      Shit, now that I'm thinking about Miller/ beloved-comics-of-my-youth, he did a fantastic annual for Amazing Spider-Man once... was it #15? (Just googled - ah, good ol' trust google... yep, it was) Great stuff. Wish they would make that into a movie, actually.