Archive for the ‘Fanboys attack!’ Category

Helter Skelter

June 7, 2012

So, it’s now official: I’ve “joined” the Manson family. I have my own bio¬†as a “contributing writer” and everything. Oh, the unspeakable horrors of their initiation rites, how horrible and unspeakable and initiatory they were, what with the rites and the initiations and the horrors, and oh, speak about unspeakable!

Naturally, I’m sworn to secrecy about the exact nature of those rites, but let’s just say the phrase “Now that your Mom’s gone, you have to be the chihuahua” will be forever burned into my memory, as well as my — well, like I said, sworn to secrecy.

Of course, this means I’ll have to step up my douchebaggery to a whole new level. On the CID-Scale (Comics-Internet-Douchebag Scale), writing at HU (even irregularly) ranks only just below posting comments about fuck-Kirby’s-family-what-did-they-ever-create or male-superheroes-are-objectified-too, so it’s time for me to troll up and flame on.

***

Did somebody say troll up and fuck Kirby’s family?

You may have noticed a lot of chatter lately about comic creators getting screwed. It’s just one of those crazy little things that come up every now and then, you know how people love to complain on the internet. Anyhoo, Tom Spurgeon’s been making this kind of point a bit, and I just wanted to elaborate on it a little.

So, consider this. The guy who drove the van that delivered the catering to the site for secondary photography during the postproduction process of the future DVD making-of feature of the popular movie The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Entertainment’s The Avengers probably made a lot more money out of The Avengers than Jack Kirby ever did.

And that’s no slam on that guy — he probably did a really good job driving that van; if you were in that van you’d probably be all like whoa dude you took that corner so smoothly it was like being tongue-kissed by a lace doily knitted by God Himself. (Ladies, gents, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about). Or even if that guy wasn’t, you know, a veritable William Blake of the catering delivery industry, even if he was just basically what you’d expect — some dude driving a catering van — he probably did an okay job, and he deserves to be fairly recompensed. Let’s send him a nice royalty cheque.

But, you know what?

Let’s send Jack Kirby a much fucking bigger one while we’re at it.

I don’t know, is it partly an American thing? I mean, there are arseholes the world over, but it seems to me, at least in this late stage of capitalism, to be a distinctively American kind of arsehole who will defend to the death the right of Goliath to beat the shit out of David as long as there’s a buck in it and no laws are broken and besides he’s got a goddamn sling why doesn’t he defend himself for Yahweh’s sake?

It makes me wonder: in the world of The Simpsons are there bloggers who pride themselves on being all hard-headed and tough-minded and realistic, able to cut through all the the namby-pamby, sheltered-workshop hand-wringing of the Lennys and Carls of the world? Guys who write long blog posts and message-board comments about how of course it’s perfectly morally acceptable for Mr Burns to build a giant shield to block the sun from falling on Springfield ever again, or to flay the cute widdle puppies of Santa’s Little Helper so he can make a vest out of their skins?

No one put a gun to your head and made you live under Mr Burns’ giant sun-shield. You knew what you were getting yourself in for when you were born in Springfield

Do they write paragraph after paragraph justifying Mr Burns’ decision to dump extremely hazardous toxic waste in the grounds of Springfield Elementary on the rationale that, hey, he’s the one who’s undertaken all the risk of actually putting the waste into barrels and having it driven to the school, so he’s morally entitled to a fair return on his investment? Why do Lenny and Carl hate America? Class warfare! Job-creators! Work-for-hire! Sign the back of this cheque to get paid and thereby validate our legally dubious claims of ownership!

Who am I kidding? Of course there would be people like that.

In the world of The Simpsons, however, the plebs sometimes riot in the face of injustice. Actually, they’ll riot at the drop of a hat, but sometimes it happens to be a hat of injustice, and so they’re kind of rioting in the face of injustice, a face made of hats. Hm, I kind of lost a grip on my metaphors there, but you get my point.

It’s time for a motherfucking riot.

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Some thoughts on Final Crisis

July 2, 2008

You know what this site has too much of? Content, that’s what. So I did a guest-post over at Matthew Brady’s, where I ramble interminably about 70s Kirby and OMAC in particular.

***

Final Crisis is perversely oblique for a Big Event Where Nothing Will Evah Be The Same. Grant Morrison has proved that he can write Big! Dumb! Explodey! Comics (that nonetheless don’t entirely insult your intelligence) with the best of them. Think of his Ultra-Marines mini with Ed Guinness, Dexter Vines et al. from a few years back, or his New X-Men (where it wasn’t hampered by rushed art, at least), or even his current All-Star Superman with Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant. Those works manage to be straightforward entertainments, immediately accessible if you want to stay at the surface level, and they also contain thematic and symbolic depth, rewards for close reading and familiarity with the rest of Morrison’s writing.

But Final Crisis is most definitely not a crowd-pleasing blockbuster smash, at least not in its first two issues. Which is just fine by me — I’d sooner read the sequel to Morrison’s Seven Soldiers or Seaguy than the sequel to his JLA or Batman — but it did take me two issues of Final Crisis to readjust my expectations. Like a lot of Morrison’s work, this will no doubt read better once it’s all finished and we can go back and join the dots: “Ah, so that’s what Hamburger Hegemony was all about!” And as a tacit sequel to Seven Soldiers, it’s just swell. But as a big crossover event to please the masses, it kind of stinks.

A large part of that is due to the super-compression and some missed art cues. It was not at all clear who was supposed to be the last page reveal in #1, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, work out what happened on pp 18 and 20 until I read a comments thread at the Savage Critics. (Thanks, Douglas Wolk!). So, John Stewart gets attacked by a mysterious figure. Then, three pages later, Kraken clutches her head and says “Help Me!” while raising her hand to Batman; who realises she’s a traitor and says “John has one hell of a right hook, doesn’t he?” WTF?

Honestly, I read that sequence five times and still couldn’t figure it. In order to parse it, you need to know (1) that the Alpha Lantern (or whatever) doesn’t ordinarily have a ring-mark on her palm, so that (2) you can follow Batman’s induction that it was made by John Stewart’s ring, so that (3) you can understand his remark about John’s right hook, so that (4) you can then infer that it was her attacking Stewart, three pages earlier.

The problem is, first, we haven’t seen the Alpha Lantern’s palm without the ring-mark on it. At least, not in the two pages of Final Crisis that she’s in before the attack on Stewart. So that chain of reasoning I just gave falls through at the first step because, for all we know, her palm always looks like that. And, second, the panel where Stewart’s attacker is shown from behind is just plain confusing. I read that panel as showing, not someone in a hood, but half a Green Lantern coming out of nowhere (like that classic Gil Kane cover) the green part of the hood being the start of the Lantern’s back and the black part of the hood his shoulder. That’s what the uniforms look like, after all.

[Extra-dull digression: and, anyway, knowing how it’s supposed to play out (at least according to Wolk) just raises more questions. The next page suggests that the reason they go after Jordan is eyewitness testimony from Opto, who must have seen Kraken, disguised as Jordan, attacking Stewart. But if Kraken wanted to be mistaken for Jordan, why was she wearing a hood and not some kind of magic Green Lantern Hal Jordan mask? Why wear such an ambiguous disguise? Or maybe it wasn’t Opto’s eyewitness testimony that led them to Jordan. But then why have him show up at Jordan’s house with the Alpha Lanterns?]

Look, it’s absolutely fine to ask the reader to do some work and draw conclusions that aren’t explicitly shown. But the reader needs to have enough information on the page to draw those conclusions, and at several points in the book there just isn’t enough of that kind of information. I don’t want to be spoonfed What It All Means, but I do at least want to know What’s Happening in any given panel, in the plainest sense of “x is doing y”, “Jack is running”, “Jill is catching the ball”.

Put it another way: it’s one thing not to know what the dancing midget on Twin Peaks was all about. But it would have been another thing entirely to show us something that might be a midget dancing, might be a piece of cheese, or might be a smudge on the film stock.

***

If Terrible Turpin doesn’t have a crucial struggle against his possessing spirit, sometime in #4-7, I’ll eat his hat. If he doesn’t play an important role in defeating Darkseid, I’ll eat every single hat that Jack Kirby ever drew. There’s just no way that Morrison is going to leave Turpin, as a stand-in for Jack Kirby, tarnished. no way.

***

I’m such a GODDAMN INTERPRETIVE GENIUS that I realised Libra had some sort of connection to Metron (avatar maybe?) SEVERAL PAGES before Wally made the chair connection. Take that Harold Fucking Bloom!

IIRC, Kirby played Metron as a mercurial (in more than one sense) and amoral figure. As befits a personification of Intellect/Knowledge, Metron could do good or bad and seemed pretty neutral in the battle between Apokolips and New Genesis. Pairing him with Libra, who seems similarly amoral, makes symbolic sense.

Two possibilities, then, if Libra is a body for Metron. Either:

(i) evil has triumphed so completely that even Metron has turned fully to Darkseid.

Or, what I think is more likely:

(ii) Metron has been plotting against Darkseid all along, right from the beginning of humanity and his role as Libra is just part of the grand plan. That’s one of Morrison’s favourite tricks–the last minute revelation that the good guys have already won. We’ve already seen, in Seven Soldiers and Mister Miracle, that Metron gives people–Shilo Norman, early cavemen–enlightenment, even if that sets him against Darkseid. So he certainly seems to be working on the side of the angels now. So Metron goes back in time, gives the human flame to Anthro, and then returns to the present to harvest that potential against the evil gods, in the form of the Human Flame. Or something like that.

If he’s so amoral and neutral, why would Metron be helping our world? Maybe it’s because Darkseid would strangle human thought, killing knowledge in its crib, and Metron is all about the knowledge. Maybe Metron cares about balance as an end in itself — hence adopting the identity of Libra — and, when evil has won, you achieve balance by helping out good.

But most probably, I think, Morrison just doesn’t buy into Kirby’s idea that Metron is amoral. Rather, Morrison shares the Socratic ideal that knowledge is necessarily a good thing, and all bad deeds are done through ignorance. Knowledge defeats the dark side. Doesn’t that sound like the sort of quasi-gnostic sentiment Morrison would endorse?

***

Or maybe Libra is just a bad guy who stole Metron’s chair, and I’m full of shit. Time will tell.

I would just die if they had a Peel/Fuschia team-up

November 13, 2007

Currently, all the “cool” kids are speculating over who’s a skrull, or who’s going to beat down on whom in Contest of Champio Arena. But, here at LY&HF, we are dying to find out which iconic characters from 20C British fiction made it into the new League of Extraordinary Gentleman (released today in the US; boo sucks to the rest of the world).

We know Orlando’s in, and Bond, and bits of 1984. Tolkienia are presumably out, since they’re in a different world, or a ye olde version of ours. The book seems to be set in 1958, so that probably rules out references to too many later creations (like Miracleman or 2000AD). Who else will make it? Let the fannish speculation begin!

My guesses/wishlist:

Anyone from Gormenghast–most likely Titus, given the third book in the series.

There’s got to be a Narnia shout-out, at least to the wardrobe.

Bulldog Drummond/Nayland Smith

Modesty Blaise (or is she too late?)

Poirot/Marple/Father Brown

Harry Lime

T. E. Lawrence (not exactly fictional, but the film is)

The Man in the White Suit/characters from The Ladykillers or Kind Hearts and Coronets

Members of the Famous Five/Secret Seven

Probably at least an oblique reference to the Lost Girls

The Drones club or, more likely, a certain “spineless invertebrate” and his personal gentleman (hi, Bully!)

And, man, it better have a cameo by John Steed and a young Emma Peel. If it doesn’t, I’m coming for you, Moore and O’Neill. That’s all I’m saying.

Who else?