Thursday, July 09, 2009

Batman and Robin 2 and Wednesday's Comics

Batman and Robin 2. This is my second least favorite Morrison Quitely team up (my least favorite being Riot at Xaviers because all the characters were so unsympathetic) -- that is not as bad as it sounds, since all the other Morrison Quitely team ups are all perfect A's. What's my problem with Batman and Robin? I am not quite sure. I don't hate it. I can see that Quitely's pencils are great. The coloring I am not wild about: in the reigning war between Morrison's Batman and Miller's Batman, the coloring reminds me of nothing more than Varley's colors for DKSA -- except they went so much better with Miller's "sloppy" pencils. Once again -- and I know this is an issue of debate whether this should matter (cf the conclusion to Batman: RIP) - but Morrison overhyped the fight scene with the three circus dudes fighting as one -- he compared it to WE3, which was not the place to go. It was interesting, but not a great use of the medium, as I had the rare thought that what I was reading in a comic book might be better on screen. It is also very strange for the second issue to grind to such a halt to do a character piece about the relationship between the new Batman and new Robin, and a pep talk from Alfred. The characters are very well done, and the Alfred scene especially was heartwarming in all the right places -- one of the better done emotional moments Morrison has done in a superhero comic book. It just felt strangely placed to me -- something not helped by the fact that the ending beat here was so similar to the ending beat of issue 1, just amped up by placing a character we know in place of one we don't. I a obviously still on board with this story -- the only comic book I am picking up on Wednesdays, and it is only weak in the context of other Morrison Quitely Team Ups -- but I am still not sure that Miller does not continue to haunt Morrison in the worst way.

Wednesday's Comics 1. I hated 52, the only Morrison work that I simply stopped getting (12 issues in), never once regretting the decision. But I did admire, especially in retrospect, the formal innovation, especially when all Marvel could muster in response was a Spiderman book coming about three weeks a month. Now DC has done it again on a bigger level -- a comic book I basically am bored with in terms of content, but one that is pretty impressive and exciting on the level of form. GIANT NEWSPAPER COMICS! The idea to give a single page to separate creative teams working on separate stories was a great one: one of the things I want from comics is for the same creators to be on a run -- no fill ins -- and this does it, and also comes out weekly. Nice. But the stories had too little room to go anywhere, or even establish a decent hook -- and if we can compare a single page story to the teaser of a TV show (and I will admit maybe we can't) it should be possible to get a good hook in there. Instead we got an old man we don't care about about to be smothered, a story both distasteful and boring (Batman), the last man on earth is not the last man on earth, Superman is an alien like his foe (a story told a million times), Hal Jordan is in space while everyone he knows is in a diner, Metamorpho is after treasure (and in one of the only stories where someone did something heroic), a villain attacks the Teen Titans in empty space for no reason, Superpets on the loose, Metal Men cant stay under cover, Wonder Woman has a dream, a soldier is tortured, the Flash races and his wife things about leaving him, Catwoman scopes treasure and in the worst one if the bunch birds narrate this horrible dialogue lifted from Miller's 300, but with no sense of irony in replacing the word "march" with "flap" -- a word that surely should come with irony. Pope's art was maybe the only thing I cared about. That said, this is just getting started -- the other thing this reminded me of was when Marvel did that month of sideways annuals: it is a great formal innovation, but artists had not really had time to adjust to the new options (the way, say, Frank Miller was able to get the feel of a similar formal break in 300). Many of the stories here fought a bit with the form: compare the Wonder Woman Story to the Srgt Rock story -- Wonder Woman was trying to get more than a dozen normal comic book pages squeezed into the space, Rock simply blew up what probably would have been a single page (in, say, a book like Watchmen). In time, as people get a feel for this, it might be a really neat thing, but for now I think the only legacy Wednesday Comics will leave behind is it had the guts to try something new with the format, no small thing.


Matt Jacobson said...

Thank god, I'm not the only person not salivating for Wednesday comics.

Unknown said...

I'm pretty convinced that Baker was using the 300 line with incredible amounts of irony, but it's not exactly played for a gag. If it wasn't for the blunt repetition of birds as armies, then having their actual foes be (probably fanatical) terrorists should at least hold the irony check for a week. And, given his recent Special Force's hold on Frank Miller narration coming from an ex prisoner turned commando of retarded soldiers' mind, there is much ambiguity.

That said, I agree on the clumsiness of the comic but am a little more optimistic about its creators getting more comfortable with the form. The Flash strip even had a lot of promise with its stylistic shift from poppy mid and wide shots to a romantic book's close-ups on faces with a completely different palette. That's at least some charm, if not artistry, which is what the comic coasts on.

Kenney said...

It's silly, but I can't help the anti feelings I have towards Wednesday Comics. The feelings are nonsensical, but those certain fans preaching the "gospel" of WC have really turned me off of the project -- at least for now.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book. Like I said, it's silly.