Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just another links post

1.) As you my have heard, Grant Morrison was featured in Rolling Stone magazine, which resulted in a rather lengthy feature article by Brian Hiatt, a slideshow highlighting the best of his work (limited to 13 DC-published works, and New X-Men for Marvel), and an amusing Q-and-A headlined "Grant Morrison on the Death of Comics".

In it, a rather tired-sounding Morrison takes some shots at Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Brian Meltzer and his signature work and, most randomly, Chris Ware and "those Comics Journal guys."

Dan Nadel, a Comics Journal guy, and David Brothers both slapped Morrison around a bit for his statements in the piece. Regardless of the contents of Morrison's statements about the above, it is kind of refreshing to hear someone in the comics industry offering his honest opinions about his peers in the industry. You just don't see that kind of thing anywhere, ever, really, at least in Morrison's corner of the comics industry (Well, you do, but it's usually just Tom Brevoort talking trash about DC as a publisher).

Nadel, Brothers and others already called Morrison out for his pretty ignorant statements about Ware and his apparent forgetfulness regarding all the rapes in his own body of work, so I won't bother rehashing any of that. Here are a few things that grabbed my attention though:
Was this done in consultation with a bunch of people?

DC came to me in March and said they're relaunching all this stuff, and did I want to do Superman, and I didn't, but then when he said, "Would you do Action Comics #1?" I said, 'This is a nice ending to Supergods," so I agreed, and I was quite surprised that they let me do everything and let me change it so radically.


Given that Morrison is their top writer (or top writer who isn’t Geoff John,s anyway) and Action Comics features their flagship character, you would assume that "What will we have Grant do?" and "Who is going to write Superman?" would be among the first two questions the folks behind the realunch would want answered. Did they really not ask Morrison to start working on Superman for "the New 52" until March?

That doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time to completely rethink and reboot a character and a title that’s been around since 1938.

If DC comics still take about six months to produce between the writing of a script and new comics day (and they probably don’t, since so many of them seem inked by a staff of 14 credited inkers the Tuesday night before Wednesday release), then that would mean Morrison was writing the script for Action #1in…March of this year, the same month DC asked him about it…?

Now, Grant Morrison has probably put a lot of thought into Superman already, having written the character during his late-nineties JLA series, having put together a high-profile but ultimately rejected pitch to relaunch the character along with Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Tom Peyer shortly after that, having written All-Star Superman and writing the character during Final Crisis and the Superman Beyond tie-in series (in addition to writing a book about Superman and superheroes), so, sure, maybe he can pull off reinventing Superman for a new generation as part of a once-in-a-lifetime DC Comics reboot/relaunch with only a few months worth of thinking about and working on it.

But if they asked everyone else to start pitching in March of 2011 or later (Grifter and Demon Knights not being as high a priority as Action Comics, after all) well, I have a lot less confidence in Scott Lobdell’s ability to completely reinvent Superboy and The Teen Titans in less than a month, you know?

Morrison spoke rather frankly about his work with Mark Millar, saying the pair was essentially co-writing everything with Millar's byline right up until the start of The Ultimates. If true, and that takes a lot of Millar's best writing out of the By Mark Millar column and into the By Mark Millar and Grant Morrison column, then that was awfully disingenuous of DC to publish comic reading "By Mark Millar" if Morrison was co-writing, wasn't it?

Another bit:
Were there actual comic book groupies?

Yeah. I didn't do anything with them. I was always very nice to them. They would send beautiful letters and give them a peck on the cheek and it was all very romantic. There were some people in the business who were fucking every girl in sight. I just couldn't do that. I love the little girl-ness and the whole idea that they were really bright and they read Batman and Robin or they read Death from the Endless. It meant something to them and you don't want to ruin that and make them think that the guys that do this stuff are sleaze bags and mess up their lives. There are some amazing smart beautiful girls but I never had anything to do with it. We would go out and dance for a while, things like that but just that then put them in a taxi and say have a nice time.
Who are these people in the business fucking every girl in sight? Let's name some names, Morrison!

As much as I'm looking forward to reading Supergods, I think after reading this Q-and-A I'm looking forward to Morrison's memoir of his career in comics in another twenty years or so...

2.)In that Q-and-A, Morrison talks about how gross Meltzer's Identity Crisis rape scene was and how Alan Moore is obsessed with rape, and states " I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!" That's the statement Brothers slapped around. The above panel is from the Grant Morrison-written Final Crisis #5, and while I suppose one could argue that the character's aren't definitely talking about raping Supergirl instead of, say, throwing pies at Supergirl. But if the latter, why say Supergirl instead of the name Lex Luthor's archenemy, Superman...? (That panel appeared the exact same week as another panel in which two villains also discuss raping Supergir, by the wayl).

That one line of dialogue in one panel of a comic isn't really as bad as Meltzer's on-panel rape scene of The Elongated Man's wife by Dr. Light on the Justice League meeting table in the middle of a Justice League comic with Superman crying on the front, but, on the other hand, the casual, off-handed, never-responded-to remark makes it seem worse in at least one way. Meltzer at least treated the rape as a big enough deal to build his stupid murder mystery on; in Morrison's comic, it's just something dark and gross tossed off and ignored by everyone.

3.)Brian Bolland sure has drawn a lot of pictures of The Joker. I actually had a lot of trouble picking out which one to use for that post of Bolland’s depictions of various Batman villains on comic book covers from yesterday.

I ultimately went with the cover from The Killing Joke, given that’s the cover of the book that is no doubt the main reason that Bolland is assigned to draw so many Joker covers, but there was no shortage of options:

4.) I was glad to see well Mark Waid and company’s new Daredevil placed among Marvel’s July 2011 books, at least according to The Beat’s sales analysis. It apparently sold higher than both of the flagship Avengers titles, and right below the latest issue of Fear Itself, Marvel’s current publishing priority.

Why am I glad? Well, it’s not simply a matter of Hey, everyone likes the same thing I like, therefore I feel validated. Actually, I’m glad that such a well-made comic with such great, hand-drawn, relatively innovative, contrary-to-Marvel’s-“house”-style art has been so widely embraced. That, and the fact that Daredevil boasts a lighter, brighter tone than the series has in…what, 20 years? Thirty?…and, so far anyway, is fairly self-contained and being sold on its own merits instead of on some more nebulous marketing along the lines of Don’t miss this new book, spinning out of Whatever, and paving the way for Something Else!

Also of note among Marvel’s July sales? Fear Itself doesn’t even seem to be moving the needle on its many, many tie-ins; the book itself is selling okay, but the books tying into it seem to not be selling any better at all because of their association with it.

On the other hand, the “Spider-Island” story taking place in Amazing Spider-Man is selling like gangbusters, although the weird, IDW’s Godzilla-like order-a-whole-bunch-of-copies-and-get-a-variant-cover-with-a-photo-of-your-shop-on-it scheme is likely responsible for a whole bunch of those sales.

Perhaps that’s the future of comics sales? Not Fear Itself-like event crossover events, but weird-ass sales gimmicks…?

5.) One of the many unresolved, even nagging questions about DC’s reboot/relaunch (just three days away!) is what will become of the Justice Society of America, which, in the Silver Age, were posited to live on an alternate Earth (Earth-2, for those of us who count) that included Golden Age Superman, Golden Age Batman and Robin and Golden Age Wonder Woman, in addition to the other minor Golden Age characters like Wildcat, Hourman and so on.

After Crisis On Infinite Earths, when DC collapsed their various alternate earths into a new, more streamlined shared setting, the duplicates were done away with, and the Golden Age heroes were active in the actual Golden Age of the ‘30s and ‘40s, but disappeared for a while before returning, most of ‘em elderly but still ass-kicking due to various magical maguffins.

They were almost all absent from the “New 52” solicitations though, save Mr. Terrific II, and the repeated references to Superman being the first superhero and the Justice Leaguers among the first generation of superheroes made it sound as if the JSA never existed in the ne post-Flashpoint DCU.

So, what gives?

Now DC has given official word that the JSA will return in some form, and, um, that’s about all they’ve said.

I hope it won’t be on a new Earth-2 or some sort of pocket universe or even part of their own, standalone comic (although I like that idea better than a return of the multiple earth cosmology).

If the JSA has been subtracted from the DCU in its new construction though, that’s…damn, that’s gonna be awfully confusing. I don’t see how you can subtract all of the JSA from current DCU history and the changes not mark a hard reboot of DCU history/continuity.

Heck, barely a post-Crisis crisis has passed that didn’t prominently features The Spectre stomping around doing big, cosmic things.

And if you subtract various aspects of the JSA from the DCU…Oh, man…if Ted Knight never existed in the DCU, how did his son? And did Starman happen…? ‘Cause Golden Age supervillain The Shade is gonna have his own series…did supervillains predate superheroes by decades…? And did the Seven Soldiers of Victory exist? Because if they didn’t, did Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory occur or not? And if not, do we lose those characters, at least one of which appears in the solicitations for Demon Knights, and….AUUUUGHH! So! Confusing!

Please just give a Who’s Who and an all-new New History of the New DC Universe already, DC!

Oh man, if Johnny Thunder and The Thunderbolt didn’t exist in the new DCU, does that mean Jakim Thunder doesn’t exist? Because I really liked him…

Anyway, Robot 6-ers point out that James Robinson and Nicola Scott, two fairly prominent creators of the current DCU who are mostly, conspicuously absent from the new one, are both said to be working on something for DC. And sometimes doing so together. And also something set on Earth-2…? Brian Cronin connects the dots and makes it sound official-ish.

I’d read a JSA comic by Robinson and Scott.

That same Robot 6 post re-posts some Jill Thompson art from The Source; Thompson is working on the eighth issue of The Shade. I’m really looking forward to seeing that, as it seems like a very, very long time since I’ve seen Thompson drawing in a “serious,” more representational style of the sort she drew her contributions to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series (mostly “Brief Lives”) in.

I really like Thompson’s work, and the various styles she employs, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen new work from her that isn’t a carefully calibrated style like the shojo-esque stuff she did for her two Sandman-related digests, or the cartoonier designs of her Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie stuff, or the representational-but-unnaturally-expressive animals of Beasts of Burden.

Anyway, Jill Thompson! In the DCU! Get excited! (Fingers crossed that Shade #8 leads directly into a Wonder Girl: Wonder Woman’s Adventures When She Was a Girl and Legion of Super-Pets minis…)

(Oh, and I couldn't upload the Thompson image The Source released form her work on The Shade, so there's a Thompson image of Wonder Woman, just because).

6.) Hey, have you seen this new video for rock band and funny music video stars OK Go’s cover for The Muppet Show theme song?

If not, here it is. (What’s that you say? How is this comics-related? The Muppets are comic book stars, duh).

It’s a pretty sweet video, and I was kinda surprised at how effective a lot of it was—has no one ever done that Muppets-controlling-humans-as-if-they-were-Muppets gag before? (I was a little disappointed that the old heckler dudes were familiar enough with the band OK Go to use their name as a proper noun, and not as a potential pun to stop watching The Muppets on YouTube…)

The song, by the way, is on The Green Album, which features a bunch of bands and musicians I’ve heard of but haven’t necessarily heard music from because I am an old (Other than Weezer and Okay Go, I guess; and I think the band covering "Mahna Mahna" is the band that wrote the annoying theme song for Grey's Anatomy) covering various Muppet-related songs.

7.) I knew a whole hell of a lot of civilians had died in the course of DC’s Flashpoint miniseries, which takes place on a world where Aquaman sunk Europe, but I guess I had no idea of how many hundreds of millions of civilians had died, nor that DC was dropping alternate versions of so many name characters like so many flies. (I’ve only been reading a handful of Flashpoint series though, and most of those reluctantly).

Chris Eckert has been keeping count though, and provides a list of the various events that resulted in the deaths of millions, as well as the ways various characters have died. For example:
Alfred the Butler: Beheaded in England by invading Amazons
Amethyst: Murdered either by Enchantress or Shade
Animal Man: Framed for the murder of his wife and children, made a prison bitch by Atomic Skull, nose bitten off and subsequently curb-stomped by Heatwave
I got bored reading by the time I got to the F’s, after which point I just sort of skipped around looking for familiar names. If reading a list of the casualties is that dull, I can’t imagine having actually read all the comics in which these deaths took place, and paying for the privilege as well.

I imagine this is DC getting all the death and destruction out of their collective system in preparation for the new DCU, as they probably won’t be able to kill people willy-nilly anymore . Not if they want to maintain the illusion that this universe is both new and permanent, anyway. Like, if you have Stephanie Brown tortured to death with power tools now, new readers will be all like, “Hey, who the hell is this lady, and why should I care? Also, comics are gross and make me feel sick.” And then DC will have to do another reboot of some sort to bring her back to life again.

The above image, by the way, features Plastic Man's first appearance in Flashpoint: Legion of Doom. Fun fact: Plastic Man's creator Jack Cole not only drew an infinitely better Plastic Man than whoever had to draw this scene for DC, but he also drew infinitely better scary crime comics and violence. As gross as the image of an evil Plas climbing out of Cluemaster's mouth might be, as much red stuff as it has in it, it ain't ever gonna show up at a congressional hearing on how fucked-up comics are.


JRC, the OWL Says Who said...

Threatening rape isn't the same thing as having a character raped, nor is it the same as having said rape depicted on panel in a comic book.

Is that splitting hairs? A little, but I really thought that Morrison's point was how easily and cheaply it's been used (W.I.R-type stuff) in modern comics.

John K said...

The coloring on that old Jack Cole panel is beautiful, especially when juxtaposed with a modern panel.

Jeremy said...

Didn't Grant Morrison have Britney Spears raped in an issue of Zenith?

Hyle Russell said...

I don't know. Final Crisis felt like rape to me.

Aki Alaraatikka said...

Are you sure that that Jack Cole drawn pic isn`t really a still from a comicfied horror movie?