Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Hangman's Banner

I just could not get through the snarls, today. They run too deep and too far, but I may as well get them out of my system. The Internet is our collective Shadow, and I may as well own it.

I love comics. I dare say, I will love comics for a long time, especially those silly superhero ones. That said, the past year has made the Superhero comic into a form of rage-inducing tedium. Meandering hipster chatter about the creation of an issue replaces content, even though that little smidge of content's fucking great. A story with a novel and inventive take becomes bogged down in grindhouse camp and devolves into '90s-style posturing and flexing on who can claim the "baddest ass" title while mowing down redshirts in rockin' cool ways. The bad guys had supposedly won the day in Marvel's Dark Reign, yet after the inception it's become increasingly flaccid and uninspired. We're on the fifth Marvel Zombies iteration, with a sixth, now including zombie superhero monkeys, in the wings. Superman is on some new version of Krypton, and guess what?!? Kryptonians are still the same stiff, dull, soulless alien tropes I've had to suffer through for so many years. I mean, there's no artwork on an alien world aside from architecture, everyone's clothes are plastic, nothing wears down, and everyone has a stick in their ass. Spacemen can say "Fuck." You hear that? Little green men have probably called someone an "unwashed anal bead" or some equivalent. I mean, seriously: where are the rude people, the working class, the sports fans in space? Why don't I see Non of the New Kryptonian military pissing on a building and knocking it over after too much Superlager? Ohhhh wait, speaking of dense and uninteresting aliens, let's get into the great big DC jam-bo-ree called Blackest Night! I barely know any of the characters coming back from the dead, and I have to deal with every dickface who's read DC since they were 8 staring down their nose at the latecomers for not giving a shit about Magpie, Hawkman's unrequited love, the Dibny's, and Necron.

The Batman property, so far, has kept afloat. All anyone needs to know is Bruce Wayne's dead, the first Robin is now Batman, and his biological son is now Robin. From there, it's all crazy adventure. The world of Batman has burst open with possibility, and one needn't have read it for eons to enjoy the story. It feels... unburdened, and I like that a lot.

Well, that's that.


B.L.Donnelly said...

Be careful what you wish for with Grant Morrison, he is one powerful fucker. After reading the entire invisibles story over a weekend I had a full on shamanic sensory meltdown and saw many great things, including Morrison's head tesselating like an escher sketch. I think he is following the William Burroughs path, where one appears to tow the agenda at the same time as they subvert it. Notice all the black and red and pigs in his batman and robin? Something about his latest slew of work is very disturbing to me. Dig out his old stuff, and let me know what you think. Peace.

Ben said...

Morrison's support and subversion is something he's dreadfully on about in the most remarkably Aquarian way. He wasn't kidding with King Mob's "ontological terrorism" comment, or Mr. Six's: "This isn't a war; it's a rescue mission." If you keep an eye on the arcs that each artist draws in Batman & Robin and their subject matter, he's attacking certain narrative cues that we take for granted. That's why I'm so jazzed for Cameron Stewart's cartoony style, to be followed by Frazer Irving; two drastically different styles in tandem.

I could rattle off opinions on a lot of his stuff, but so far the ones that have affected me the most are the Invisibles, Flex Mentallo, Seaguy, the Filth, New X-Men, and his Superman saga. Much as I love his early Vertigo work, it felt like training wheels for his later stuff, especially the four-issue remarkability that Flex Mentallo was. If the Batman & Robin stuff seems like it's getting too unnerving, use The Filth as primer. It especially drops in the right mindset for handling Pyg. The whole narrative experience is like adjusting your eyes to new wavelengths.

B.L.Donnelly said...

Wow. I never thought that Morrison would apply his paperverse rules to such heavyweight archetypes as batman and robin. It makes a lot more sense to me now. Hard to appraise a story when it's only halfway through, but I feel like he's expanding in all directions, there's loads of filth, but it's nicely juxtaposed wiht bits of urbane dialogue and real-world prescience that I have to like it. Still disturbed by it, but now I know the reason. "I am not the Batman of your father" etc... thanks for the nudge in the right direction!

Ben said...

No problem, dude. The one thing that was a sort of throwaway in RIP was Zurr-en-Arrh seeing the Gotham Grid while using his crazyvision, in other words the city's ideological reproductive organ. Certain citizens of Gotham become gateways for larger sentient concepts to interact with the waking world, and their ways of accepting/denying and utilizing/abusing that connection begins to shape their viability. Red Hood aka Jason Todd, in issue 5, studies semiotics and advertising to understand what "Batman" is, now that "Batman" swapped engines from the mind-oriented vessel it nurtured since childhood to the performance-oriented vessel to whom it acted as a counterpoint previously. 'Batman" is the role, not the actor, to paraphrase Alfred's observations in issue 1. It's like... any schmuck can put on a Superman shirt, but they just aren't Kal-El; Superman's whole point is that he's just beyond our grasp. If someone were to dress up as Batman and start doing stuff, well, the Bat makes it easier to operate, and can, in fact, get out of control (see the evil Batmen in RIP and Dr. Hurt). The Joker acts in much the same way, but that's a whole new arena.

Something else to notice, if you hadn't already: Issue 3's primary activities took place at the Gotham fairgrounds, and if you remember The Killing Joke, the scenes take on a new resonance.