Sunday, December 11, 2005

The identity of Ronin! Marvel's Decimation! Pseudo-science in comics!

If we're playing the Pyramid, you're shouting "Things that are stupid!" right now. Admit it!!!

Lots of things in comics are stupid. Usually I like to focus on the positive, because usually I'm buying books that I like, and if I stop liking them, I stop reading them. However, I have been inspired by Larry Young's latest column. Go read it, it's very interesting, and Larry makes some good points. His biggest point is that people aren't passionate about comics - they're tepid and they straddle the fence when they review things. I'm certainly guilty of that, but I would submit that perhaps it's the comics that are tepid and straddle the fence. Sure, there's a lot of boring reviews, stuff along the lines of "I kind of liked this book except for this one part," but maybe it's because creators of comics are giving us things that are "safe" and "corporate." Just a thought. Others have debated this point more cogently than I could - Mark Fossen twice, and Ian Brill does it too, so I'm not going to debate his point, but I will say Larry inspired me. How? I'm going to be passionate about comics, but in the opposite way - I'm going so negative you may need to turn away! This ain't a post suitable for Cronin's other blog!

SPOILERS, NATURALLY!!!!







1. Ronin = Maya Lopez. WTF? Is this "paternalistic continuity," Cronin? I can't remember the terms. So. She's an assassin for the Kingpin in the vein of Bullseye and Typhoid Mary, and once the Nuvengers find out who she is, they're okay with it? And is she really that cool a character anyway?

2. So Wanda gets rid of 90% of all mutants. I didn't read the damned thing, so I don't know why she did it, but if she hates mutants so much, why didn't she get rid of all of them? Oh, wait a minute - because Marvel doesn't care about making their stories sensible, just reducing their bloated mutant line. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you don't want as many mutants in the Marvel U, stop publishing so many damned mutant titles. Easy-peasy.

3. Morrison's and Ellis's pseudo-science. Sure, I like both writers, but I get annoyed when they start flinging terms around like "yoctosphere" and ... well, crap, I can't come up with a good Ellis example right now, but if I dug out old StormWatch issues I'm sure I could find one. Listen, the Morrison I like is the one who had Cliff tell Kay to come in out of the rain when she's standing on the bridge. The one who brought Buddy's family back just because he could. The one who restored the status quo in Seaguy because it showed the despair in modern life. The one who creates a sci-fi closet for Batman and then has him say no one should tell the GCPD? I smile when I first read it, but it gets dumber the more I think of it. The Ellis I like is the one who puts Lazarus Churchyard on the roof at the end of the book. The one who has John Cumberland fly into the StormWatch satellite shield as a metaphor for fighting against the system. The one who has Spider Jerusalem sit up on a roof (I smell a theme!) and write about a race riot because no one else cares. That's the Ellis I like.

4. "Sins Past" is stupid. Not because I have any sentimental attachment to Gwen Stacy - she doesn't exist, people! - but because EVERYTHING we've ever read about her says she wouldn't do it. If there was something, somewhere in the old issues of Spider-Man that would make us believe she'd ride Norman Osborn's Green Goblin, okay. I've read those issues. There's no way she'd do it.

5. Writing characters out of character in general. There's a way to tell stories without resorting to changing everything about them. One reason I'm annoyed with these big crossovers currently winding through the Big Two is, from what I've read about them, plenty of characters are acting in ways that simply fit the story the talent wants to tell, without regarding the way these characters have been established. Maxwell Lord needs to die? Let's use Wonder Woman, because she's well-known and it will be kewl! Well, no, it won't be cool. It will be stupid. Get Lobo to kill Lord if you want a crazed psychopath to do it.

6. Soliciting mini-series before they're in the can is stupid. Really, Marvel and DC - I can forgive independents, because they don't have the capital that you do, but WTF? Even worse is publishing a mini-series with different artists. Steve McNiven on Ultimate Secret, I'm looking at you. No wonder there's so much negativity among the fandom!

7. Bringing back dead characters. It never gets old complaining about that. God, it's annoying.

8. Emma Frost as a good guy. Come on, she's beautiful, spoiled, rich, self-centered, and telepathic. She could be the perfect villain. She was much more interesting when she was evil, even though she's gotten a lot more exposure as a good guy. Embrace the Dark Side, Emma!

9. Identity Crisis. I know some people who read this blog like it, and that's fine (I like plenty of stuff that other people think is crap, after all), but someday I will re-read it and prove why you're wrong. Trust me.

10. People bitching about what's stupid in comics. Go watch movies, you yahoos! Go read "real" literature, you bozos! We don't need your kind!

Ah. That felt good. Thank you, Larry - can you feel the passion?

(I'll be back to reviewing things and trying to be passionate in a good way later, and I still say I like that Larry calls people out on things - it makes his product more interesting, after all. But occasionally it's good to vent. Can't we all admit that?)

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48 Comments:

Blogger Bill Reed said...

Good post, though Emma Frost is awesome as a good 'un and Morrison's yoctospheres are fine with me!

But, yes. There's lots of stupid crap in comics, and those companies are stupid to put it out, but the fans are even stupider for buying it.

Stupidity abounds. Grr. Argh. Fetch me my beret, Pierre. I have snooting to do.

12/11/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness, I think you've missed the point in some of those critisisms...

What would be the point of having Lobo kill Max Lord? He kills all the time. That's not the story. The story is what happenes when Wonder Woman is forced into a position when she feels her only option is to take lethal action.
You may not like that story, but that's too bad, frankly.

Complaining about pseudo-science in comics is a bit like complaining about violence in a Tarrintino movie.

Echo is Ronin. Well, no one's happy about that so let's move on!

Spot on with the Wanda comment. Not only is it lucky that she didn't get rid of all the mutants, it's damn lucky she get rid of the X-men!! Whew! (<--- Sarcasm)

12/11/2005 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

I don't mind pseudo-science in comics as long as the writers don't work TOO hard to explain it - because once they start trying to "prove" it using regularly established physical principles, my Comics Science BS meter pegs and I have to flip a few pages forward or become seriously annoyed (usually with the editor for letting them get away with it). As a geologist and physicist by training, I can only suspend disbelief so far...

12/11/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Vic Fluro said...

I've got to disagree on Good Emma.

It's great watching Emma being good even though she just isn't made for it - it means a lot more than Xavier being good, for instance. For Xavier, being nice is just a regular part of the day, but for Emma it's a real effort. There's something heroic about this incredibly horrible person fighting the good fight along with the other X-Men...

Also, I heart yoctospheres.

12/11/2005 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous The "No 'There' There" Alex Freakin' W. said...

So... we can vent then?

Cool.

Spider-man: The Other...

GNNAAAARGH!

12/11/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave (ED) said...

Echo as Ronin is dumb, but I don't think it's nepotistic continuity (or whatever Brian's crazy term is).

Bendis had never written the character before. Even though she was in DAREDEVIL, all of her appearances were written by David Mack.

And how DARE you talk smack about technobabbling pseudoscience! It's a glorious tradition in the superhero comic book genre. Stan Lee did some of his best work on incoherently explained, non-scientific menaces!

12/11/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Craig said...

Echo as Ronin is probably less fun than, say a transvestite Keanu Reeves, but it raises some interesting questions. Mostly What The FUCK?! and How The HELL?!, but there you go.

Sins Past. Ah, Sins Past. I am given to understand that Peter was originally set to be the father of the Progeria Twins, but that this was nixed by Marvel as being shit. In this apocryphal version of the behind-the-scenesery, rather than dumping the thing altogether, JMS went to Norman as father because...er.

I can buy Gwen cheating on Peter. I can. She's human, after all. What I can't buy is anything else. I mean, I can sort of buy her having sex with Norman, but it makes the whole Death of Gwen thing too complicated, and sort of fucked up.

If Gwen had slept with Harry while he was coming off The Junk, and given away his kid in order to keep it away from the mess of their lives, in the wake of her father's death at the hands of Spider-Man, or so she thought, but also that she could stay with Peter, but Norman found out and tried to kidnap the kid, but Peter found out and saved it after the adoptive parents were dead, and made sure that Liz got her hands on it, in order to raise it along with Normie, because technically Harry wouldn't have cheated on her, and Peter had to confront all this angst about Perfect Dead Gwen and Best Pal Dead Harry (because you know that Harry had a hard-on for her all through high school, like every woman who gave him the time of day, before they met Peter), and then Peter could have used that to almost kind of begin to move on after Gwen, against the backdrop of having to slap Norman around again, then that would have been almost acceptable. That would have been Spider-Man.

But Norman Osborn's vinegar face? Adult super-babies? Taking the daughter to Paris to mack on Peter? No thanks.

Re: Ellis. His heroes are often ubercapable fighters as well as unstoppable moral forces. Right Makes Might, and all that. I'd like to see a story where his hero just gets the fuck knocked out of him by someone tougher. Completely and finally and irrevocably. Just once. I don't care how right they are.

//\Oo/\\

12/11/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another one to disagree with your pseudo-science gripe. I love writers who put a lot of thought into how powers work or how their entire universe fits together. It's writers who can't do that and explain everyting away as "It's magic! It's an ill-defined force that I can't be bothered to describe properly!" that really irritate me by being lazy.

12/11/2005 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

The fear of being controversial in the blogosphere reviews is something that's bothered me as well. I also agree with Larry's point about "easy targets." Everything is "Alan Moore is God, Chuck Austen is shite" and what-not. I'd love to read a good bashing of Moore's work or a passionate defense of Chuck Austen.

12/11/2005 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I dunno, Greg, I do not presume to know exactly what Larry was arguing for, but I'm PRETTY sure that he was not asking for a list of gripes about superhero comics.

That being said, list of gripes about superhero comics ARE fun!

12/11/2005 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

By the by, I do not believe that Bendis has ever written Echo before this arc.

And by the end of her arc in Daredevil, she was a good guy, so I don't think the Avengers would have much of a problem with her.

12/11/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

He definitely WASN'T calling for this, Brian, but I was just inspired by him, not really following his directives.

I forgot that Bendis didn't write Echo - I knew Mack did the art, but not the writing. My bad.

The reason people like Alan Moore and think Chuck Austen is crap is the same reason people like Don DeLillo and think John Grisham is crap. That being said, there is a fear of being controversial out there, and Larry makes a good point.

And I don't mind the pseudo-science as much as I mind writers trying to pretend it makes sense - I agree with Mo that the less explained, the better, but sometimes it seems like these writers want us to actually take it seriously. Then it becomes stupid.

12/11/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Mao II was cool.

12/11/2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I love Morrison's pseudo-science. Most science sounds a bit like gobbeldy gook to me to begin with, though. And I love the Sci-Fi closet, whether it washes with the other portrayals of Batman or not. I'm with you on the mini-series, though, especially when you've got someone like Kevin Smith or Frank Quitely working on the comic, who is not known for their punctuality.

12/11/2005 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Don't really care about psuedo-science.

Bendis didn't write Echo, but Mack did and Mack's one of his best buddies. There's no other reason for her to be there other than Bendis throwing his buddy a bone.

What else...

Oh yeah. Sorry T. While the position of "Alan Moore really isn't as good as he's made out to be" could conceivably be argued, no one could make "Chuck Austen is a good writer" sound in any way plausible. It's like a law of nature or something.

And Greg, if what you're saying is that Austen is attacked because he writes lightweight trash, I'd disagree. I've not read any Grisham, but I'd bet that his plots make sense at a basic level, and his characters are consistent from page to page, and so on. Austen can't even manage that. He's just a bad writer, lightweight or not.

12/12/2005 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Oh yeah, Austen sucks, even though he can occasionally knock out a single issue that's decent, like his Ultimate X-Men issue with Gambit. But I'd love to see someone intelligent seriously try to argue the positives of his work, just because it'd cause a cool shitstorm. There was a guy over at Listen to Us, We're Right called the Shadow who had the audacity to say that he'd take Greg Land's rendition of a woman over Gene Ha's anyday. I really can't stand Land's work, but it was cool to see someone in the blogosphere take a controversial stance like that and stick to his guns.

As much as I think Loeb is an awful writer, for example, it was interesting to see MarkAndrew argue that Loeb was a master of his craft. Even though I remained unconvinced at the end, I could see where he was coming from.

12/12/2005 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

I prefer pseudo-science of the Marvel variety, where you make up both the scientific premise AND the scientific result. It just makes it easier and more convincing. Why do the Fantastic Four's clothes turn invisible, survive flames and stretch? Unstable Molecules. Nuff Said. Vibranium, adamantium, tons of scientific accomplishments made up of whole cloth. But when the writer does the DC style of trying too hard to use valid real science to back up a totally invalid, unrealistic result (i.e. Flash traveling through time or vibrating through molecules), it loses me. Morrison and Ellis fall into that latter category for me sometimes, like in Ultimate FF when Ellis was trying to use GPS technology and other real-life stuff to explain Doom's crazy weapons.

12/12/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Luke said...

I can't say that I like the X-books very much (though I am looking forward to seeing if Juggernaut is fun in Excalibur and hoping that X-Factor is as good as Maddox was), but I do want to clear up one thing that it didn't seem that Greg knew.

The reason some mutants were unaffected by Wanda's wishing away mutantdom was that they were under several different protections at the time the magic took effect. I believe Emma Frost was psychically blocking, Strange was doing something, and somebody else put up a telekinetic shield. As of the end of House of M, the people under those protections were the ones who still had powers.

Now, it seems that a few others slipped through the cracks (mainly ones that they can spin off a book with). Can't defend that part :)

Sorry if you did know this, but thought I should throw up the supposed reason, even if it is getting thinner by the issue. Didn't want those unfamiliar to think that it was merely deus ex machina/sales ability that kept some mutants around.

EvilLuke

12/12/2005 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I'd love to read a good bashing of Moore's work or a passionate defense of Chuck Austen.

I can't help you on Chuck Austen, but Moore's work on "Promethea" is mostly masturbatory garbage, and I find "V For Vendetta," while enjoyable, to be criminally overrated. It's a nice little superhero story - Batman versus Big Brother - but it says nothing interesting about the nature of fascism, terrorism, or freedom, and owes most of its high praise to the time when it came out. I'll seriously take "League of Gentlemen" or "Top Ten" over V as better books - and it just about pulls even with Tom Strong.

12/12/2005 01:31:00 AM  
Anonymous daniel apodaca said...

"There was a guy over at Listen to Us, We're Right called the Shadow who had the audacity to say that he'd take Greg Land's rendition of a woman over Gene Ha's anyday. I really can't stand Land's work, but it was cool to see someone in the blogosphere take a controversial stance like that and stick to his guns."

See, this is something I don't get. Why is there admiration towards someone for being stubborn? Is there some positive quality in ignoring conflicting opinions and championing your own arrogance?

And really, choosing Greg Land over Gene Ha (in terms of drawing women) is hardly controversial, as much as it is just stupid.

12/12/2005 01:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I'm positive about tons of non-superhero comics. "Billy Hazelnuts," for instance, sounds like it's gonna be awesome.

But even within the realm of capes, I'm loving All-Star Superman so far, along with most of Seven Soldiers. Dan Slott's She-Hulk is great. I'm apparently the only one on the internet who unreservedly loves the new Jonah Hex series (what's wrong with me! don't I know that as a Western anti-hero this Jonah Hex is clearly a ripoff of previous Western anti-heroes like Clint Eastwood and Jonah Hex?) From everything I've seen of Nextwave I can't see how it isn't going to be tons of fun, and I'm actually interested in Ellis's New Universe reboot - it seems like it might be the type of project he might actually get interested in. There's a lot of good comics out there - it's just that most of the biggest, most hyped ones suck.

12/12/2005 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Agreed with Dan on that point.

I really do not want to see someone make a stand just for the sake of making a stand.

12/12/2005 02:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

And really, choosing Greg Land over Gene Ha (in terms of drawing women) is hardly controversial, as much as it is just stupid.

This is the kind of comment that makes me laugh. So what would you say to a Greg Land fan to "prove" to him that Gene Ha is, in fact, the superior artist? Do you lay out a detailed Powerpoint presentation citing a number of facts and statistics, at the end of which he concedes, "Very well then, I admit my taste is in error"? Oogy is cooler than Shmoogy - and I can prove it with Science!

12/12/2005 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger Marionette said...

Interesting point about reviewers. Maybe they just spend so much time reviewing comics that it's hard to think of anything to say sometimes?

I generally don't review something unless it has moved me in some way, intellectually or emotionally, for good or bad. Which means I don't review much, but I always have an opinion. ;>

12/12/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"I really do not want to see someone make a stand just for the sake of making a stand."

See, that's the thing, I don't think the guy was doing it just to take a stand, he sincerely believed Land was better at drawing women based on both artists recent rendition of Sue Storm. And when he said so, it came off as such sacrilege. And although the debate unfortunately degenerated into ugliness, it was cool to see someone sincerely champion something so unpopular and stir up the pot.

12/12/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Iron Lungfish, you are not alone in your love of Jonah Hex. I'm not buying it because of budget reasons, but plenty of people I know love the heck out of it.

And a Grant Morrison comic without wacky pseudoscience is like a horny redhead without a vagina.

12/12/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

I missed the whole 'net blowup over Larry Young's column, mostly because, while I like comics, reading about people writing about people who write about comics (I think there was even one more iteration in there), seems a tad too narcissistic. I both like and respect Larry Young, though, and I'm pretty sure if I'd had a couple of years of listening to the entire blogosphere natter about comics, I might have a few tart things to say about it. Instead I limit myself to about 10 blogs and ignore everyone else...

Like a lot of people, I write short opinions on comics (that I actually buy) and post them for the hell of it. No good reason, no agenda, no hint of being a "pro." The nice thing about that is that I am under no obligation whatsoever to be naughty or nice. I don't expect my opinion to count for anything and it doesn't bother me when it doesn't. A lot of 'net "reviewers" do seem to expect that they count, somehow, and I think that is where they go south.

12/12/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Brack said...

On the science thing, I don't have any trouble with Morrison's use as it tends to be so over the top and out there as not to cause any friction with reality. It's science as magic.

Ellis on the other hand bothers me in that it often feels like he's dropping in a bit of real world science that he found interesting, but not actually fully understood. Possibly because he discusses things he's interested in so often outside of comics that his research can often stand out so much in his stories.

12/12/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Ellis' big problem isn't so much the psuedoscience (or whatever it is he picks out of the newspaper that week, science or not), but that he doesn't blend it into the story as well as he could. It's usually very obvious that he's just seen an article on smoke babies or just seen The Matrix or whatever.

12/12/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"T"

"I'd love to read a good bashing of Moore's work or a passionate defense of Chuck Austen."

I think there are some critical absolutes, though.

Alan Moore can use the comics medium to tell stories in a way that nobody else can. He's jus' more technically innovative than anybody else working in the field right now.

I don't think you can intelligently argue that this isn't true.

You can decide that because you don't like some of the content he chooses to deal with that it's "mastrubatory garbage,"

(Eyeroll smiley)

but you can't argue that his comics don't do what he wants them to do, and do so in an interesting way. His command of the CRAFT of creating comics is impeccable.

12/12/2005 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Greg

"She's an assassin for the Kingpin in the vein of Bullseye and Typhoid Mary,"

No she wasn't. The Kingpin manipulated her into going after Daredevil, but she's always been portrayed as a strongly moral gal.

(And even if she wasn't, the Avengers have added a reformed villain or two too their line-up in the past. See: Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman, Vision, Black Widow, Triathalon (sorta), Wonder Man, Namor... And so on.

12/12/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

My day is made by the fact that someone said that a specific position - that I find pretty defensible - can't be intelligently argued, then followed it up with a midsentence "(eyeroll smiley)."

I consider myself a pretty sophisticated reader, and I

(peanut butta jelly dancing banana)

definitely don't think that Alan Moore - whose best work is old enough for the TPB binding to be falling apart - is "more technically innovative than anybody else working in the field right now." He's not currently more technically innovative than Ron Rege, Jr. Hell, I'm not sure who he is more technically innovative than right now. He hardly seems like he's on the vanguard.

I'd also second the statement that V for Vendetta is far overrated. It's an ok enough story, but it's also pedantic, melodramatic, and alarmist. It reminds me of the nuclear holocaust zines that get thrashed in Flex Mentallo (I think issue 3).

12/12/2005 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

He's jus' more technically innovative than anybody else working in the field right now.

Eli's got a point, though, unless you're talking strictly in terms of superhero comics. Even then, though, what many would consider Moore's best work came years ago, if not decades.

Now, unlike T., I don't want to see someone praising Austen or anyone just to cause a shitstorm--then, it becomes way more about the blogger than it should be. Rather, if someone's going to go all Sir Phillip Sidney and write A Defense of Chuck Austen's Comics, I'd want it to come for a desire to express what they see in it, rather than just to watch some ensuing shitstorm.

I mean, I'd still probably mock it silently, like I do with most everything. Because I'm smug like that. But I'd still rather see that than some transparent bravado barely disguising the "oh, shit, I'm going to piss people off! Woo!" intent.

12/12/2005 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Now, unlike T., I don't want to see someone praising Austen or anyone just to cause a shitstorm--then, it becomes way more about the blogger than it should be. Rather, if someone's going to go all Sir Phillip Sidney and write A Defense of Chuck Austen's Comics, I'd want it to come for a desire to express what they see in it, rather than just to watch some ensuing shitstorm."

Where did I say I wanted someone to praise him "just to cause a shitstorm?"

You basically said you disagreed with me, then made the exact same point I was making! ;)

I never said I want someone to defend Chuck Austen just to be contrarian. I'm saying that I'd rather read an opinion that's unpopular but passionate and well-argued than read the same "safe "consensus opinion repeated ad nauseum and devoid of emotion (i.e. "Grant Morrison is great," "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow is the best Superman story ever," "Byrne is a hack," "Bendis is too talky.") Like you, I'd want this hypothetical defense of Austen to be from someone who sincerely enjoys him.

12/12/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous daniel apodaca said...

"This is the kind of comment that makes me laugh. So what would you say to a Greg Land fan to "prove" to him that Gene Ha is, in fact, the superior artist? Do you lay out a detailed Powerpoint presentation citing a number of facts and statistics, at the end of which he concedes, "Very well then, I admit my taste is in error"? Oogy is cooler than Shmoogy - and I can prove it with Science!"

Sorry, I'll be more clear. It's not that I think Gene Ha draws women better than Greg Land, or even care about the subject. It's that I thinkt that's an utterly retarded argument to have.

When the critique of comic books and the artists connected devolves into an argument over whose characters we find more attractive, it not only does an extreme disservice to any shred of credibility we are trying to maintain, but it makes us look creepy and pathetic.

Am I really the only one who finds it embarassing to have a conversationout out loud about which drawings of fictional characters turn us on more?

12/13/2005 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

"Am I really the only one who finds it embarassing to have a conversationout out loud about which drawings of fictional characters turn us on more?"

Thankfully, Land doesn't draw fictional characters - he traces real people! So maybe they just totally want to get it on with the ladiez he traces!

12/13/2005 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"Thankfully, Land doesn't draw fictional characters - he traces real people! So maybe they just totally want to get it on with the ladiez he traces!"

Hahahahaahahaaahahaa!!!!

Good times...

12/13/2005 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"He's not currently more technically innovative than Ron Rege, Jr. Hell, I'm not sure who he is more technically innovative than right now. He hardly seems like he's on the vanguard."

Note that I said "Can Not be intelligently argued."

You certainly can say NUH-UH, and not actually make a cogent argument.

But, yeah, that last post was purely opening salvo, and I was hoping someone would say "Prove it."

So I'll just pretend you said that, instead.

Which you proved jus' fine.

Let's have a few counter-arguments, all of 'em taken from the ABC line.

Written by an Alan Moore I like a heck-of-a-lot better than the utterly humorless IMPORTANT CREATOR we had in the eighties.

But I understand the folks who decide “Literary Value” regard humor with the same regard that most of us regard dead slugs on the sidewalk.

But I think it’s a fair point t’ note that some of us don’t agree.

So, here’s some stuff Alan’s done with the comic medium in the last five-or-six-or-so years.

Promethea 32: Creative use of comics as an object.

It's a physical comic that can be approached in two different ways. Either read straight through from page 1 to page... fourty-eight.

OR Dissasembled and read through as a series of posters. Two different approaches to completely different sequential narratives made from the same pages. T'my knowledge, no comics creator has ever done that particular trick before.

(2) Cobweb from Tommorow Stories:

Yeah, no one else liked it.

But this knocked me flat on my plump rumpus.

It's a retelling of (basically) the same story each through a different type of historical comics media.

One issue we got a Crumb style next generation Tiajuna Bible,

The next issue we gots, essentially, an illustrated Harlequin Romance


The next issue we got a weird kind of narrative poem...

(P.S. I’m totally lying. My comics are fifty miles away, and I’m just listing three Cobweb stories I remember and pretending they came in that order. They’re probably from, like, issues 4, 26, and 15.)


It's a pocket history of comics. But fictional. And fun!

(An not totally original, I suppose. Dan Clowes incorporated comic strips into Eightball 21 'n 22, and parallel stories from different media are pretty much the cornerstone of Kim Deitch's work.

Still... Using this technique to essentially deliver a non-fictional history lesson IN A FICTIONAL SETTING is pretty dang innovative.)

Promethea # 15:(?) The Moebius Strip

I can't believe nobody's posted this on-line.

Essentially, it's a sequential two-page spread where you can start reading with any panel, and continue forwards or backwards, and the whole sequence makes sense.

It's ONE panel, that can be read 16 different ways.

...

SOOOOOO COOOOL!!!!

EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

*Ahem*

Sorry.

But as a fan of the comix medium in general, this page gives me a happy-down-to-my-toes feelin' just thinking about it.

And, again, as far as I remember, nobody working in comics, ever, has used this particular technique.

Tomorrow Stories # 2: The Greyshirt Story

Another toughie to describe...

There's four panels on each page.

Each panel shows a different floor of the house.

Each panel also represents a different TIME.

And each panel (one in the thirties, one in the fifties, one in the seventies, and so on...) themactically contrasts with the other panels on the page...

But each set of panels from the same room and time tell a whole story.

Y'all read Understanding Comics?

Y'all remember the bit about "Comics Time?"

Well, here's a completely new approach to comics time. Again, never before used by anyone. (Far as I know.)

#5 Marvel Vaginal Syringe

*Snicker*

Or using actual, REAL, adds from the late 19th century in the back of League of Extrordinary Gentlemen...

In other words using non-fiction to enhance his fictional story.

Now, here, I'm not going to claim that no one in comics have ever used this technique, 'tho I can't think of any off the top of my head.

But I will claim that nobody's ever used the technique as effective comedy.

Now, remember:

I don't have my comics in front of me.

If you WANT me to go home and get 'em, I'll cheerfully give you another couple dozen examples.

(And I will eventually, anyway. Someone REALLY needs to scan that Moebius strip panel. My description didn't half do it justice.)

I can be here all day describing new and innovative ways that Alan Moore has used to use the sequential art medium to tell a story.

Techniques nobody has ever used before.

You think you can do the same with another writer?

12/13/2005 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Ed Cunard sez

"Eli's got a point, though, unless you're talking strictly in terms of superhero comics. Even then, though, what many would consider Moore's best work came years ago, if not decades."


Well, see, I WAS gonna qualify my statement with "Current American Mainstream"

but decided against it.

Cause, heck, if I'd done that, I'd be absolutely right and you'd have to be a brain-dead, drooling idiot who gives oral pleasure to stray dogs to argue with my iron-clad conclusion.

So, I left it nebulous enough that we can fight.

But, FIRST, let's have a caveat. And it's a big 'un.

When I say

" Alan Moore can use the comics medium to tell stories in a way that nobody else can. He's just more technically innovative then anyone else in the field."

I mean in creating original ways to
convey specific information in a limited panel to panel sequence.

Basically, I count six kinds of innovation in comics. This is just one of 'em.

I do not mean that he's better than, say, Dan Clowes or Gilbert Hernandez at using non-traditional or non-narrative structures to tell a story.

(Moore's pretty good at this. But there are dude's who do it better.)

Moore's OVERALL STORIES can be less than spiffy. But, 8 times out of ten, he arranges specific panels in a way I've never seen before.

I ALSO don't mean that he's the absolute king shit of sewertown at effectively telling a story for maximum effect.

(I think Tomine does this better'n anyone, myself.

Still don't LIKE his stuff, mind.)

In fact, Moore can be downright lousy at this, abandoning narrative threads altogether in favor of writing what is (mostly) non-fiction.

(Though I think "fiction" and "Non-fiction" is a pretty slippery slope, myself.)

But in terms of finding creative uses of the single comics page, and the panels therein.

And, heck, let's throw in the overall design of the comic... Stuff like shape, and size...

Well, mebbe Chris Ware's probably better.

Rebecca "Rabbithead" Dart is probably gonna get better, if she keeps doing comics.

Art Speigelman, when he's on, is better.

But none of those folks is even remotely close to as FAST as Moore, who was putting out comics darn near monthly there for a while.

So, yeah. Any 20 pages of Chris Ware's work is, most likely, going to show a better command of the panel-to-panel comics medium then any 20 pages by Alan Moore.

(Can I call this a "Mirco-Narrative? To contrast with the overall Macro-narrative I exampled about with Clowes and Hernandez?)

But in the time that Ware gives us twenty pages, Moore can give us a hundred or so.

Comics, historically, have been like the Blow-Out Sale at Mattress King.

They're all about moving product by volume.

Historically, the artists and writes have had to put out product on a strict deadline, so I think that in the case of comics it's fair to judge speed as a pertinent factor in quality.

'Course, if we're taking the whole of all comics creators ever into account, Eisner's better at micro-narration AND faster. But there's no shame in bein' # 2 in THAT particular race.

12/13/2005 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

And, since Eli questioned my

*Eyeroll Smiley*

Lemme translate.

*Eyeroll Smiley*

Means...

"Not on MY Goddamn Blog.*

I let I.L. get away with calling all of us Dark Knight Strikes Back fans stupid.

But I certainly haven't forgotten.

Oh no.

And NOW, dude chooses to refer to one of the most innovative comics I've everevereverever EVER read as "mastrubatory garbage?"

Well, I can certainly think of a topically appropriate two-word response.

He had the choice of offering worthwhile criticism of the work, something along the lines of

"The problem with Promethea is that Moore eventually decides to abandon the narrative altogether, and treats us to a rather dry fourteen issue lecture on tarot cards.

See, now, the POINT of fiction is to maintain some kinda narrative thread. You can load on all the subtext you want, but you gotta stick some story in there somewhere. (Heck, having gotten this far, you could even mount a defense of "Mastrubatory Nonsense," saying that the audience EXPECTS fiction, and the author, who is technically WRITING fiction, should DELIVER Fiction, not a twelve issue lecture on "What Tarot Cards Mean to Me with purdy art.")

OR

Going for the cheap and unfunny mastrubation joke.

Now, don't get me wrong.

I love fucking profanity like some men love their mothers, you vagina burrowing ass-monkeys.

But cheap shock value ain't no substitute for actual thinking.

12/13/2005 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger markus said...

Nevermind Ha, this post makes a pretty persuasive case that Land is a hack;
http://www.livejournal.com/community/scans_daily/1191744.html

12/13/2005 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"Nevermind Ha, this post makes a pretty persuasive case that Land is a hack"

Now THAT post has passion!

12/13/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

T,

Sorry if I misread you. I thought when you said, "But I'd love to see someone intelligent seriously try to argue the positives of his work, just because it'd cause a cool shitstorm," you were indicating that the reason you want to see it is because of the shitstorm, not just for the opposing viewpoint.

12/13/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

I'm confused. It looks to me like you openly conceded that Moore isn't the most innovative person working in comics, even in terms of what you identify as his greatest strength - creative use of the page. He's just more prolific than Chris Ware (or Gary Panter, whom I'd add to the more-innovative-than-Alan list). Well, great. Alan Moore, who doesn't draw his own work, is more prolific than the guys who do. I'm not sure exactly how that ties into innovation. You say:

"Comics, historically, have been like the Blow-Out Sale at Mattress King.

They're all about moving product by volume."

It seems like A)you're just pulling this caveat right out of the air and B)even if it were legitimate, it'd be relevant to some weird "overall quality" rating, but not to evaluating who's more

(pretensious smiley with a giant beard throwing a fit about some meaningless slight by DC)

innovative.

12/13/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

"T,

Sorry if I misread you. I thought when you said, "But I'd love to see someone intelligent seriously try to argue the positives of his work, just because it'd cause a cool shitstorm," you were indicating that the reason you want to see it is because of the shitstorm, not just for the opposing viewpoint."

Honestly Ed, I'd love it for both reasons. ;)

But I do like seeing someone intelligent argue a point that goes against conventional wisdom, partly because of the shitstorm and also because it challenges preconceived notions. I read a negative review of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" on Amazon that really made me reevaluate my whole view of that book, for example. But if that reviewer put that same review on most message board he'd be ripped to shreds!

12/13/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I'd also second the statement that V for Vendetta is far overrated. It's an ok enough story, but it's also pedantic, melodramatic, and alarmist. It reminds me of the nuclear holocaust zines that get thrashed in Flex Mentallo (I think issue 3).
I wouldn't be surprised if that issue of Flex Mentallo was aimed specifically at Moore and V. Their "feud" is the stuff of legend. ;)


...the same "safe "consensus opinion repeated ad nauseum and devoid of emotion (i.e. "Grant Morrison is great," "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow is the best Superman story ever,"...
Ah, but you see, the consensus has changed. Now Grant Morrison has written the best Superman story ever, and Whatever Happened... has been forgotten.

Me, I think either For The Man Who Has Everything or Hitman#34 is the best Superman story ever, but I've never been one for consensus.

12/13/2005 05:33:00 PM  
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