Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Comics Out 2 August 2006

I didn't see anything interesting out this week, and the news from San Diego is winding down. With the break I wanted to say two things.

First, issue 13 of 52, out this week, will be my last. The series has been a chore -- a slog -- to read and I am not spending any more money on it. The only reason I read it is that Grant Morrison was listed as one of the four writers. Being generous that means he was only ever responsible for a quarter of the writing; with this week's issue 52 is one quarter complete, and as far as I am concerned my responsibility to follow it ends there. If I had to pick three things I hated about it most, it would be the rambling "and then something else happened" structure, the focus on minor characters I was not made to care about in 13 issues (and 13 is a lot -- an entire Ultimates run), and the decision to have the lesbian Batgirl be someone other than the cop I have been reading about. (That would have made a lot more sense). Also there was a glaring typo -- a big word bubble was printed twice in issue 12.

Second: what did people think of Grant Morrison's first Batman issue? I thought there was some interesting anxiety of influence stuff in the first few pages, in which Frank Miller's "psycho" Batman is invoked and dismissed, but I am going to withhold further comment on the issue as a whole. What did people think?

26 comments:

Geoff Klock said...

Also I forgot to mention an amazing article on Newsarama this week: the history of Captain Atom and the Monarch. For good or bad it is wild to read what happens to a character like that over the years.

mitch said...

Wow. That is a hell of a read about Captain Atom/Monarch.

As far as Batman goes, I think Morrison might have been invoking something much wilder... There actually was a crazy cop character who thought he was Batman. See synopsis: http://www.dcuguide.com/Bm/Bm_402.php

This was a two-issue fill-in ark. If you click the arrows you can see the next issue. Guess what came right after these two?

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch -- WOW. TWO ISSUES AFTER THE ORIGINAL CRAZY COP BATMAN IS MILLER"S BATMAN YEAR ONE! And people have the nerve to tell me that my little "observations" are just "reading too much into" comic books. This is is like DNA evidence that I am right. You are my hero today Mitch.

Mitch said...

Just doing my job.

It gets EVEN better, because Crazy Bat-Cop was in December of 1986, Year One was February of '87 and "Son of the Demon" was published in September '87.

Speaking of "heretical" Batman stories... Care to comment on the recently announced casting for the sequel to "Batman Begins" called "The Dark Knight"?

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch -- I thing the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker makes perfect sense: it's as bad as the casting has been at DC for a while. Caine as Alfred, Oldman as Gorden, Katie Holmes as whoever she was, Routh as Superman, Bosworth as Lois Lane, Marsden as that guy [bad casting because he was too good for the role], Parker Posey as Luthor's moll, and the guy from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle as one of Luthor's goons [just because the intertext was very distracting]. So yeah, Heath Ledger will make me forget about JACK as surely as Routh eclipsed Christopher Reeve.

I think Hugh Jackman screwed up all of Superhero casting. Everyone thought at first that he would be terrible, and now he IS Wolverine; so now when a choice seems wrong it can be defended by "But look at Hugh Jackman."

David Golding said...

Amongst all the awful blocking in the opening pages, I fixated on the graffiti: Zur En Aarh. Tom Bondurant says this is a reference to a another world with a Batman, where Batman was transported once and there had Superman-like powers.

Once the Joker was disposed of, I really enjoyed the dialogue between various established characters.

Geoff Klock said...

David -- good links. thanks.

Ping33 said...

So much to talk about... this will need some structure:

1) 52: Yes, there is an element of "just when you start to care about a plot they change focus" but I'm really digging the series. The fact that it's weekly makes it easier for me to get over the jumping around. I'm into all the plots except the steal stuff and I really like how they are throwing SO much against the wall, I am a huge fan of the obscuro "shattered universe" end of the DCU and this book plays to that beautifully. Much of the plotting seems to be more on the Morrison/Waid side of things than the Rucca/Johns side of things. And as for Batwoman, how much is it the character pissing you off and how much is it the hype? I grant you that I am not enjoying Civil War nearly as much as I would have if there hadn't been such hyperbolic misleading hype so I am not one to talk but in general I try not to let external sources effect my enjoyment of "the text" Besides, just that 2 page spread with Rip Hunter's Chalkboard was enough to keep me involved for the entire year.

2) Batman: I am reserving judgement, I liked quite a bit of it (including the relegation of Batman cleaning up all of Gotham to a one off line) but I've seen FAR too much effusive jubilation or woeful laments based on one 22 page issue for my own liking. In general though I will say that I thought the first issue of Detective was stronger than the first issue of Batman, but I refuse to give into the knee-jerk absolutist fanboy fundimentilism so rampant these days, where having an inflexible opinion on something is more important than the content of said opinion.

3) NEW COMICS!!! small but great week with Ex-Machina, Mouse Guard, Detective Comics, Manifest Eternity and the best monthly book currently in publication: The Exterminators! Whoo! HOO!

Also we moved on Tuesday and all is good except for the week and a half without internet. I feel like I lost an eye (lame 52 reference FULLY intended)

Geoff Klock said...

Ping: I don't think my Batwoman thing is a hype problem. I think it has to do with the fact that I spent all this time with a cop who has worked with Batman and was a clear choice for the next Batwoman.

And man, I know what you mean about fans and their freak out opinions on a single issue. Thankfully we don't have anyone like that around here. Even I got turned around (by you) on Miller's All Star book. I just want to hear everyone's flexible opinions.

I am going to get Mouse Guard as soon as I get back to NYC; it looks great. What the heck is the Exterminators all about? I keep seeing adds.

Ping33 said...

It's tough to explain what Exterminators is "about"
If The Cohen Brothers had made Arachnophobia it might be like this...
Read 52 #13 between posting before and now (SLOW day at work,) how could you drop it after THAT?! So f'ing creepy.
I see Detective Comics is already on fill-in art. That's depressing.

Geoff Klock said...

actually, to be fair, I have not yet gotten 13; it still has 22 pages to hook me, but the book as a whole has me in such a foul mood I don't think it will do it.

mitch said...

Ping: Uncanny X-Men ALSO has a fill-in artist already. Regardless, I'm afraid Bruebaker's gonna loose me. There was some terrible dialogue in this one.

"So, D'ken is no longer Emperor of Shi'ar... In that case, I will take my revenge on his sister! She will pay for succeeding him!"

Sigh, baby sigh.

Fill-in artist notwithstanding, I enjoyed this month's Detective comics. I hope that Dini continues to give us inventive one-offs like this for a while.

52 #13 was pretty good.

Geoff Klock said...

Dini is not enough to get me to buy a comic, but Williams is so I will wait for his return. Fill in artists really make me nuts. I know people complain about the shipping on Planetary and Ultimates, but at least they have a unified visual look.

Madd_Hadder said...

Ever since Frank miller first did Batman it has been hard for me to see anyone else do him. It was the same way with Daredevil. What can i say I am partial to Frank Miller. He seems to do things to the darker characters i find more appealing than most.

Geoff Klock said...

Thanks for joining us MH. It's good to see some new folks chime in. And yeah, Miller commands.

Madd_Hadder said...

Glad to be here. Unfortuanately(sp?) I am not as up to date with the comic book scene anymnore because our local comic book shop was closed for over a year before someone new bought it, but i can always chime in where Frank Miller is concerned. Plus, from your myspace page, I can just tell you actually know what the hell you are talking about!

Mitch (click here) said...

For anyone interested, I've posted a blog about my current favorite TPB's on myspace. No Frank Miller, this time. Click my name to check it out.

Geoff Klock said...

Nice list, mitch. I actually have not read Deadly Genesis or She Hulk: I will have to check them out. And I very much want to read the Boston Legal/She Hulk article -- comment on a "comics out this week" post when it's ready.

Marc Caputo said...

mitch,

I had heard that the 3rd issue of Brubaker's UXM was being drawn by someone other than Billy Tan; I almost dropped it right there (not a tragedy since I haven't read ANY X-book other than AXM since Morrison left Marvel), BUT then I heard that the issue with the other artist was a "what's-Vulcan-been-up-to" thing, the first of a few. This brought me back, with a point that dovetails with Geoff's about a "unified visual look" - as long as there is an organic reason for different artists within an arc, then that's cool.

Marc Caputo said...

Another point of view on Miller's All-Star Batman: I have tried to "get" this several times, but just can't.
It's frustrating, being a big fan of both creators, but I'm cutting it loose! There's a difference between deliberate pacing (see All-Star Superman) and (literally) driving around for 3 1/2 issues in a Go-Bot (it's not even cool enough to call it a Transformer). But the thing that kills me is the fact that they've only elapsed 15 or so hours of storytime and Dick's face is ALREADY on a milk carton in another CITY! That Bataranged the living crap out of my suspension of disbelief; that's nothing but contempt for the audience.

Geoff Klock said...

Marc: you are dead right about fill in artists -- if you have to have one find a good reason why the style should change -- a dream, a story within a story, a self contained issue, something.

Since I have already done a thing about how I hated All Star Batman till I suddenly realized how great it was (it's in the June archives for those that did not read it), I won't go on a whole thing. But Miller, on the power of his 80s work, should have earned your trust a little. He is an elder statesman and he knows what he is doing. All Star Batman has only cost 12 bucks so far (don't even get me started on 52). Stick with him.

MItch said...

I guess issue 13 of 52 didn't do it for you then Geoff? I'm sort of with you on this one. But, I feel obligated to keep going for some reason. Don't ask me why. Perhaps I just like imagining the process of putting the book together.

Marc Caputo said...

I think the main disappointment with 52 comes to people who are expecting monthly "meat" from a weekly book. Just think about the TV series "Hill Street Blues" (seasons 1 and 2 currently on DVD - loving every minute of it!) - plotlines would be introduced and then left, then be brought back and resolved (or not, which is realistic to an extent.) Looking back now, maybe 52 would have had a better impact as "12".
I'm not expecting much on a weekly basis; actually, I just flip through the book when I get it, to see the major beats, but read all of that month's issues when the last one for that month drops. I get a better read from it.

Geoff Klock said...

Well, as you can all see, I have blogged about 52 in the Comics Out 9 August section. But, Marc, I again bring up money. Your argument is perfect if each issue only cost 60 cents. But as I have to have four full price issues of the thing to get, as you say, the punch of a monthly, it does not seem worth it, even if it was only going on once a week for 12 weeks. As it is it is racking up a big bill at the end of the year, and I could spend the cash on the comics that don't suck.

Mitch said...

Off the subject of 52: I happened to flip through some of Morrison's JLA run ("New World Order")the other night and I was thinking how interesting it will be to compare Morrison's JLA Batman vs. his current run on Batman after its done.

The JLA Batman is really a remarkable, magical creature...confident and direct. And more times than not... Already done with whatever you were about to ask him to do. The little detail that I love is the exhalation/half-laugh that Morrison gives him. When the JLA first assemble, Batman surprises everyone by revealing that he's been there for an hour already. Superman mentions that for some reason he couldn't even hear Batman's heartbeat.

To which Batman replies, "HH. Gadget worked."

The "hh" is the exhalation I'm talking about. Morrison uses this expression to signal a lot of different emotions in Batman throughout his run: pride, amusement, condscension, disbelief and frustration. Just so we're clear, that's at least 5 emotions with only 2 letters.

This "hh" carries over to his "JLA Classified" and "JLA: Earth 2". In "Earth 2", Owlman (the evil, antimatter Batman) instead says "heh". The simple addition of the "e" makes this expression pointedly more creepy and Joker-like.

Morrison is awesome.

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch: a very nice history of Batman's "hh". It's really remarkable when you line it up lke that. Morrison's attention to detail is fantastic.