Cover versions

June 2nd, 2008

So, after a very quick web trawl I came across some of the images that’ve inspired Mr Grunt Morigund’s bat-novel.

The ‘Man Who Saw With His Fingers’ is clearly the inspiration for those ten-eyed ghost tribespeople guys. Sure the cover’s not amazing – although I do really love the Batman skin transfers on the finger-tips (why couldn’t I ever get those fuckers to work properly? Batman was always missing an arm or a bit of cape, or something…), there’s something very, very trippy about them – but I just love the idea that Morrison sat down with all these crazy images splayed in front of him like some zany mandala and just summoned his stories up out of them. I mean, this shit is just sooo pregnant with out-there ideas and possibilities, isn’t it?

In his last interview over at Newsarama, Tony Daniel revealed that the ‘weirdest’ thing he had to draw for RIP was something called the Rainbow Creature. And here it is, in all its glory. We’re in proper pink Batman territory now – it even turns the dynamic duo 2D, for Grudd’s sake! I love this mad stuff that seethes in the inbetween spaces of the batverse. It’s perfect for Morrison. I can’t help but wonder if, given that the cover’s all technicoloured up, the next ish of RIP will feature this fucked up beast.

The ‘Robin Dies at Dawn’ one just sings, doesn’t it? The tale itself forms the background for some of the RIP stuff and the cover sums up Grant’s whole approach to Batman really neatly. He mentioned somewhere (don’t ask me where) that the story inside represents the transitional stage between the Batman-on-acid sixties and the slightly-darker-with-chest-hair batbooks of the seventies. And it shows. There’s something of Death in the Family about it, what with Batman cradling a broken Robin, but the Batman’s an older, funner, model and the background, with its pink triffids and smoking craters, appears pretty unconcerned with the grittiness. Ah, but even though it’s ostensibly dawn, the sun could be setting on all that bug-eyed alien malarkey. Whatever, there’s two batverses vying for attention on one cover here and it articulates the point quite nicely: there’s nothing wrong with combining the adventures of the pink Batman with all that DKR-style, dark monologuing stuff. It can all work together: the bat-toys, the super-spy, the backbreaking, the JLA super-hero bit…. S’just most writers don’t have the creative gumption to juggle all these elements at the same time.


Hmm, I think there might be a whole post about bat-covers waiting, coiled inside me….

Anyway, if you like cover versions, listen to the Milkshakes!

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16 Responses to “Cover versions”

  1. RAB Says:

    Don’t forget this one! The script is so dreamlike and illogical that you’d almost think Ed Herron meant everyone to understand it could only be a hallucination. When you read it you think you must have imagined reading it…

    (And while it’s not relevant to the topic at hand, the “Fatman” story in the same issue may sound awful but it’s surprisingly goodnatured and enjoyable: the plot doesn’t hinge on making fun of the obese clown who idolizes Batman, but rather showing his dignity and intelligence in spite of his low self esteem.)

  2. Qthgrq Says:

    Good call, RAB

  3. The Satrap Says:

    HI: It’s been a while since I last checked out the site, and you guys seem bent on keeping up the good work. Bear with me and my self-indulgent twaddle as I try to catch up a bit…

    ON TOPIC: trippy Batman = Gold

    SLIGHTLY OFF-TOPIC: I still have to get my copy of Batman #677. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the more likely answer to the riddle of the Black Glove does not lie (or at least, not wholly) in soap operatic family-drama bollocks.

    Here’s a hint: who’s the ultimate villain?

    Here’s another: since Gargunza seems bent on incorporating all Batman material ever written into the continuity, what better way to make the point than hiding the solution to the riddle of BG’s identity in plain sight, i.e. in a gimmick issue (and with trite Yeats quotes for added chutzpah)?

    Hurt is not human, and his pawns have a thing for pentagrams and human sacrifice.

    What big, bad DC villain wears a black glove?

    What kind of entity is known for tempting weak losers (like e.g. Wingman) or bored billionaires with power and thrills?

    What entity is going to play a big role in a Gwendolyn-penned gimmick event? Are red-and-black dialogue captions anywhere to be seen?

    These are my guns, and I’m sticking to them.

    OFF-TOPIC: great work on the villain profiles. It may fall on deaf ears however, since I think that, in general, over the last twenty years or so the villains have not been allowed to shine, not truly. I chalk this up to grim & gritty anti-heroics, post-cold-war triumphalism cum post-9-11 self-righteousness and such. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in allowing the little reprobates to be joyously naughty on our behalf. Instead, it’s all about ZOMFG there’s nothing Doctor Doom/Light/whoever won’t stoop to in order to get back at his arch-nemesis, etc. etc. To a Yoorpean mentality, used to having e.g. Pulcinello, Hyde or Fantômas run the show, this is unbearably dire.

    OFF-TOPIC: great post on Jim Woodring. I’d recommend getting his (sort of) autobiographical comics, “JIM”, where he “deciphers” many of the symbols he uses in “Frank”. As the author himself says, much of his output is pretty straightforward, and all the stronger for it.

  4. Qthgrq Says:

    Isn’t Darkseid a little too obvious, though? Wouldn’t positioning him as the big Batbad be kind of dissatisfying?

    It’s certainly not implausible, but I really hope that’s not where Grant is taking this.

  5. The Satrap Says:

    Giovanni has said that the answer to the riddle of the BG is indeed obvious, and that he’s been forced to pepper the storyline with red herrings (red, hmmm…). Which means among other things that he can very well pull whatever answer he wants out of his authorial tush, come to think of it.

    I agree that choosing Darkseid is not particularly inspired, on its face. And yet, it’s all in the execution. “Batman faces the Devil” reeks of Gothic fun, and Gregory has shown in the past that Gothic themes can work hand-in-glove with the Batman (glove, hmm…). Especially if the Gothics can be mixed ‘n’ matched with Kirby Krackles and Omega Beams.

    It’s all about getting mileage out of any idea. Sublime, for example, was a most mediocre concept, on paper. Timeless evil? Evil as disease? Yeah, whatever. But when Gingrich played him off against the X-men he was quite groovy, really: age vs. youth, stagnation vs. evolution, being earthbound vs. reaching for cosmic heights and all that. Plus, by dint of advanced mesmeric techniques I’ve convinced myself that he really was that smelly guy in a rubber suit from the remedial class, i.e. and “old fart” amongst youths, which was a wicked joke that redeemed Gudrun’s rather uneven run.

  6. The Satrap Says:

    Wow,I’m off my meds.

    I’ll shut up now.

  7. Qthgrq Says:

    Not a bad sell, Satrap. As you say, it’s all in the execution.

  8. Birdy Says:

    For that many names for George, Satrap, for you I grant more suns. Here, have them, all warm and shiny.

    And also for the old fart thing. And for reminding me the entire thing was a semi-gnostic play on solidXgas (/earthboundXcosmic etc). And he wasn’t a disease, he was DNA wasn’t he?

  9. The Satrap Says:

    He was a self-aware bacterial colony, if memory serves. That’s consistent with the fact that the guy in the rubber suit had the reek of putrefaction about him. I’d also say it was he who was working his magic in that scene from the (IMO, somewhat unreadable) “Magneto on crack” storyline, where someone asks who has broken wind, and Magneto goes all psycho and kills the poor sucker. Sublime, indeed.

    Also, the rubber suit is like the outfit worn by Sublime’s minions.

    It makes me happy, to think that Geronimo has whispered, ever so softly, a little private fart joke into my ear.

  10. Birdy Says:

    Yeah, I find it a interesting concept (or better, a very nice overall arc) that is truly ruined by the execution. If I go re-read the final issues, Crack Magneto is not a very resonant storyline. And the final arc, Silvestri, well…

    And yes, his minions paralleling the fart-in-a-suit (which parallels many of the series moments by the fact that U-men shoot his suit, of ‘brother’ killing ‘brother’/ killing one of their own — Wolv killing sentinel as its first panel etc) brings further that entire quality of them having that neo-gnostic panic and not wanting to engage with the world without the suits — which also highlights as one of many of the “earthbound” X “air” notes of the arc.

    And thank you for the reminder of the “who broke wind” moment. Never realized that before.

  11. The Satrap Says:

    W00t, online recognition. Why, let’s make you regret it, and let’s take the we-like-to-call-our-mate-George-Gertrude routine far beyond the point of hackneyed absurdity.

    Yeah, Ghost-Rider’s tenure is all about PlotineX against the loveless GnostiX, as it were. Tying in with the “Black Hole” post, one could say that the U-men are afraid of their shrivelled, nigredic froggy husks (they dress like frogmen, after all), and want to enhance/transcend them the cheap, quick, exploitative loveless way. But the pesky divine PhoeniX won’t be enslaved so easily, and ends up rising triumphant and sexy from among their ranks.

    That’s great and all, but the fact of the matter is that Goldfinger started out his run trying to be political, hip and relevant, and ended up revisiting the above magickal hobby-horses of his. The “Magneto loses his marbles” storyline is particularly weak because that’s where the contradictions clash most garishly. Is it about Xavier telling Mags that the whole ML King vs. Malcolm-X thing they had going is played out? Or is it about the Phoenix getting all wet and ready, and being frustrated instead by Apocalypsis Interruptus? Who knows…

    I liked the “Here comes tomorrow” arc better, because there Galadriel drops the pseudo-political ballast he’s always handled a tad clumsily, and gets to make with the Beast, Apollyon/Abaddon, mutated chakras and all the bullshit he is comfortable with.

  12. The Satrap Says:

    Another thing about the “Magneto: Insane in the Brain” arc is that it’s a prime example of the vapid, joyless treatment of villains I was complaining about before. Yeah, it’s a very legitimate point to make, to say that there is no such thing as an enlightened despot, and that beneath the charismatic mask there’s always a cunt. But isn’t subtlety is a great and worthy thing, and were the Ovens of Auschwitz really necessary, Gojira?

    There’s a lot of undigested, aimless post-9-11 anger in that storyline, what with NYC getting wrecked and all, and the general disjointed quality of the thing makes for uncomfortable reading, in hindsight.

    Just as mirthless, and occurring almost simultaneously, was that Fantastic Four arc, “Unthinkable”, where Guinevere’s fellow traveller Waid strips Doctor Doom clean of all that makes the character distinctive, and turns him into a featureless blob of primal narrative sludge, pure untrammelled villainy for our presumptive enjoyment. As it happens, Doctor Doom is the Batman of super-baddies, an existentialist who’s carefully crafted a highly melodramatic identity and deliberately allowed it to eat him up. That’s why he’s always speaking in the third person, for fuck’s sake. Having repeatedly gone on record to state that he gave up his One True Love for the sake of becoming Doctor Doom, it would be unthinkable indeed for him to bump off said True Love, just to up the ante in his pissing contest with Richards. That’s just not regal. Vic is limited by the self-serving, grandiose bullshit he spouts. He may find ways around it, because he is a twisted and ruthless bastard, but he always adheres to it in some way.

  13. The Satrap Says:

    And, just to hammer the point home that I should get my own fucking blog already, I’ll keep on digressing…

    There are several ways to handle villainy, and there’s one in particular that is specific to superhero comics and which I think is the best by default (although rules are there to be broken, obvs.). You can have the Fantômas model: the reprobate is the star of the show. That one is complicated because for every brilliant, weird and strangely poignant act of nihilism (like Fantômas using a henchman who’d tried to double-cross him as a bell clapper, so that “The blood of his poor noddle… Rained diamonds and sapphires…On the heads of the pallbearers”) you get one hundred vile, torture-porn splattermovie abortions. Then you get “a bad guy is a bad guy is a bad guy, and in the end they all end up crushed under the boot of the righteous”. Unsurprisingly enough, this eminently unimaginative take/tale is recycled most often for real-world propaganda purposes. Which does not mean we should not wait with bated breath for The Tank’s “Holy Terror, Batman” magnum opus, of course. You also have the wistful, conservative Tolkien-esque “slow defeat” approach: evil may well be thwarted, but whenever it tries to cast its veil over the world the sun ends up shining a little less brightly, in the eras that follow. And so on and so forth.

    Superhero comics, at their best, are future-oriented, playful and expansive. The approach to the reprehensible hijinks which is generally best suited to the genre is summed up handily by the DC multiverse muddle: for every three or fourth Earths where you find a friendly, bizarre permutation of the JSA, the Fawcett family or whatever, there’s an Earth where the Crime Syndicate holds sway. A delicate balance should be struck, whereby you should be encouraged to look forward to the villains’ downfall, but also allowed to root for the colourful blighters. You get the idea.

  14. Birdy Says:

    Oh yeah, the political tone at first seemed what could be interesting. But I agree with you, ultimately it’s the least attractive bit of the comic (that also culminates in Quentin Quire — which is all of Morrison’s comments on politics in interviews that are a bit icky rolled into one thing).

    >>>>aimless post-9-11 anger

    Which is a lot more interesting in the beginning of the run in Genosha (I think it’s the 2001 september issue). There’s a very relevant attempt in keeping lucid throughout the horror.

    >>>>summed up handily by the DC multiverse muddle

    I think the very concept of many worlds entails in something very primal about the function of imagination (imagination as, at least, the creating of a different world to see this one better; to allow that space for the future, creation, new views etc).

    Once you get that blog, please do let us know.

  15. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Yizzir. Who are you, Satrap, you little wonder?!

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