SILENCE! podcast #3

February 21st, 2012

In this third awe-inducing installment, the Beast risks life and limb to broadcast live from a Mega City 1 Iso-cube, while a tired and slightly hungover Lactus lounges on his inter-galactic sofa high above the statosphere!

In a dodgy English accents spectacular, discussion ranges from Azzarello’s Xena, warri…sorry Wonder Woman, Batman (Owls!), Daredevil, Byrne’s FF, James Sturm’s Unstable Molecules and we have a long chat about John ‘Blimey Guv’ Constantine and Hellbla..sorry HECKblazer. More importantly The Beast unveils his theme tune to a proposed Hellblazer TV show!

Can you stand it? Do you dare listen??

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43 Responses to “SILENCE! podcast #3”

  1. amypoodle Says:

    To respond to some of the above.

    – Shitty punning in Wonder Woman? ‘Hell Low’, in #4. WTF was that?

    – Badly written British people take me out of comics like noone’s business. I don’t accept that it’s something I just have to swallow. Or, moreover, I can’t even if I try.

    – Pure comics in Daredevil. The panel transition via the Black Cat’s hair on page 1 – the way it leads straight into the ‘NO NEW MESSAGES’ text on Murdoch’s new g/f’s phone. Effortless. Real good.

    – The new DD a bit like reading Black Hole or something. Those monsters.

  2. Gary Lactus Says:

    Yes, “Hell Low”.

    Also “Can’t you see I’m trying to be nice”,
    “Trying. Yes you are.”

    And “You split a daughter from her mother.”
    “…Split happens”

    NNNGGGGRRR…

  3. Botswana Beast Says:

    Unfortunately David Peace will never write Hellblazer, as he does only stuff based on newspaper reports/’fact’, says that’s all he will ever do, although he could sort of take a page out of Tim Powers’ book and just order some historical oddities together via magickx.

    The Heckblazer theme is amazing.

    Has no-one noticed that Azzarello does this in everything though? He did it in his Heckblazer, in 100Bs, in his Superman… I’m amazed to see anyone describe his dialogue as “naturalistic”, even him, because of this blank verse, allusive wordplay where you don’t actually know where to accent it until you have read a full arc or that. It’s actually a potentiality of comics dialogue that’s unique to the medium, but it can be irksome, sure.

  4. Igmus Says:

    Strangely, Azzarello’s bad puns don’t take me out of a comic the way that other writers’ annoying tics do. I had to stop reading Bendis comics because even one pointless bit of banter would annoy the hell out of me. And I want to rip the whole page out whenever Snyder goes into purple prose mode in his otherwise decent comics (“Let me tell you a story about wood mold. Or another useless anecdote about someone’s childhood”). With Azzarello though, I can sort of laugh at and enjoy the forced puns, because they’re so bad and forced that it’s amusing to me. I’m not sure how he could actually intend the readers to be really impressed with them, though. “‘Hell Low’–Aw the readers will love that one! How clever am I!”

  5. Jog Says:

    Batman: The Cult is terrific nonsense. Totally the Carnosaur to The Dark Knight Returns’ Jurassic Park.

  6. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Totally. Let’s not forget that this is the Batman comic which features Batman shooting the homeless at the end (whose depiction is right up there with the Texas Chainsaw Massacres vision of agricultural workers…)

    Weirdly right wing for the guy who gave us the quintessential head comix hero Warlock…but then it’s so far right it’s almost a parody.

    I love it either way.

  7. amypoodle Says:

    The Cult sounds brilliant.

    I’m starting to feel confirmed in my view that Azz, like Snyder (whose comics I prefer, BTW), really is an overpraised writer. And as for that Joker thing…. Spoke to someone the other day who told me they liked it because it was ‘dark’. I mean, how much of an anti-recommendation is that to a mindless, eh? Can’t believe I wasted any time at all on that thing.

    Igmus, I am totally with you about Bendis. I can’t read his comics anymore. To begin with, they’re not stories, they’re soap operas, which I find really boring. But it’s the dialogue that really breaks me. It makes me see red. Ah yes, yet more entirely inappropriate Spiderman-esque banter during another dramatically pivotal scene! Great. That shit jarred so horribly with Maleev’s art when they were working on Daredevil, I thought he’d realise it way back then. But no. Never has.

  8. Zom Says:

    Mad Men could be described, not entirely inaccurately in my view, as a soap opera. You like Mad Men.

    You like loads of soap operas.

    Snyder is obviously over-praised but he’s an entertaining top of the mid-tier writer, who has some nice ideas. Six issues is way too long for them owl wotsits, though.

    I want to re-read The Cult

  9. amypoodle Says:

    I like stories that have beginnings, middles and ends, that wrap around their themes. Mad Men always has a shape to it. Bendis’s comics often don’t. They just carry on interminably from one bantering group shot to another. Like nearly all Marvel comics now. Or maybe they just seem to. Maybe there is a story there, but I can’t tease it out because it’s no longer the most important thing. Whatever, Bendis’s comics seem designed to go on forever. Mad Men doesn’t.

  10. amypoodle Says:

    Are Deb Lipp’s essay’s on this stuff collected anywhere on the BoK site?

  11. Zom Says:

    Designed to go on forever pretty much sums up Bendis

  12. amypoodle Says:

    Also, that essay isn’t about how Mad Men is a soap, so I don’t know what your talking about there.

  13. Zom Says:

    They don’t appear to be. The usual way to generate that sort of thing dynamically – clicking her name (next to “posted by”) – only brings up an error screen.

  14. amypoodle Says:

    I know. I tried that. Annoying.

  15. RetroWarbird Says:

    I’ve begun to believe that all of the praise for Snyder stems from his uncanny ability to pair off with top-talent artists. It’s a bit Geoff Johnsian, actually … insidious. He’s quite decent, I’d give him B+ grades. But no story is as epic as you the writer want to believe it is. Same applies for Azz, actually.

    It’s even eerily parallel between Capullo and Chiang, who are making these things successes with great storytelling and highly contemporary, ultra-modern, sleek design sensibilities, Talons or Olympians.

  16. amypoodle Says:

    Wonder Woman really is boring, isn’t it? Which is a shame because like the boys say it’s got stuff going for it: it feels like its own mini universe, it has a strong energy (probably largely imparted by the art, as you say) – the first time as far as I’m concerned the title’s ever possessed these things. But saying that it’s all so derivative! It’s the bloody Endless all over again, but nowhere near as charming. I’m slightly worried that the New 52 is really just a catalogue of modern superhero writers’ limitations.

  17. bobsy Says:

    Think you’re probably being a bit too kind to Aaron’s ‘P0NM@XXX… he didn’t really develop or improve Ennis’ take on the character, merely made explicit some admittedly interesting points that Ennis had left unsaid; and it relied for a lot of its juice on just bringing in M@XXX versions of Kingpin, Elektra etc., which is kind of cheating.

    Generally it’s a bit of a For Dummies take on Ennis’ superior vision, but was fun enough for all that. The ending was completely nutsazoid though – it should have just had the balls to go for a quiet, offbeat-downbeat finish – but the kind of eau de Franc settling over the city and turning everyone into a demented ultraviolent vigilante… Just a bit fucking odd and daft really.

    You could argue there’s something endearingly gonzo about it, giving the series a cheap if, if you squint, amusing ‘urban exploitation’ vibe, like Larry Cohen might have done if he’d made a Punisher movie 30 years ago, but if you think about it at all it’s just nuts. I dunno if it’s kind of meant to echo Occupy, or suggest that Frank was some kind of bulwark against these impulses being acted-out more wildly, or what. It’s definitely not very well thought through – For Dummies, as I say.

    Conversely I’m finding that not being very clever is suiting Aaron’s XMen book perfectly – it feels a lot freer and more playful than Morrison’s more prescriptive, didactic take on the same material.

  18. amypoodle Says:

    It *is* interesting to compare and contrast the two runs, isn’t it? I mean, so long as Bachalo stays away from it I don’t have many problems with Aaron’s book. He’s building his own world inside the MU that you can slot in and out of its broader context depending on taste, it’s funny (esp that… thing… that Brood thing), it’s madcap, in fact it’s incredible that it can have so much of NXM about it without it feeling hopelessly derivative (as opposed to how it really feels – inspired). So far my only niggle is entirely superficial. Something to do with the commodification of ideas like Quentin Quire, the only character in a Morrison book who was supposed to look cool and actually did – his haircut was about nine years ahead of the book he was in, his blazers and Magneto T-Shirt combos the mid zeroes to a T. I liked Quire. He represented Youth and the Future. And now he’s that rebellious kid with the shaved purple hair. A guy with a uniform. Fit for lunchboxes.

    And, yes, Bobsy, I know that can be read as a statement about all youthful rebellion… But it’s not a statemetn, is it? It’s just the blind mechanisms fandom/capitalism at work.

    Still, tiny niggle. Nothing to do with anything important about the comic. More a general grouch about the way things are.

  19. Zom Says:

    Yeah, I really like Quire in the story, but I’m not entirely happy with Quire being in the comic, if you see what I mean.

  20. bobsy Says:

    I meant to say ‘more widely’ rather than ‘more wildly’.

    Not sure what the other thing I’m supposed to have said is?

  21. amypoodle Says:

    I was pre-empting you. Sorry.

  22. bobsy Says:

    Yeah no worries, it’s the kind of annoying thing I might well say / have said.

  23. Zom Says:

    Lolz

  24. thrillls Says:

    I skipped some of the Hellblazer stuff in the podcast, for fear of spoilers, as I have been reading it in trade format, and it’s pure dead far behind (he’s only just got married in it). Though I gather the next one is out this month?

    I reread the first 6 comics of Denise Mina’s run recently, and enjoyed it! Paul Jenkins, though, his stuff I shall never, ever reread. Dullsville baws with too much stuff about The Green and faeries and that.

    I’ve not been reading Snyder’s Batman, but it is really about an evil owl person and his gang of owl folk? For 6 issues? And then a big crossover? Sounds nicely ridiculous. Are there any references to Earth-2 Owlman or Night Owl or anything, or is it a pleasantly new owl menace? CAN HE ROTATE HIS HEAD? Maybe while firing a laser from his eyes? ‘I fire only to-wit-to-wound!’

    Owls.

    I shall read it in 3 years when the library gets it in.

  25. Zom Says:

    It’s way too long, Thrills. Like TMBD says, if Snyder had stuck to some done in ones or twos (or even threes) his run would be much more fun. As it is it’s got rather dirgey.

  26. thrillls Says:

    Bah. If there were more ‘done in ones’ I’d be far more likely to go back to buying a whole bunch of ‘floppies’ instead of just flipping through them in the shop, deciding against purchase, and going to a charity shop/The Works.

    If mid-run stuff is intimidating to a seasoned dweeb like me, I can only imagine how offputting they’d seem to the mythical new readers.

    I was similarly ‘psyched’ for the 35th anniversary 2000AD this week (not bought 2000ad in a while), but so many mid-story stories! So I didn’t buy it (but might still). comics.

  27. werdsmiffery Says:

    Re: “way too long”, there are some real pacing issues in the handful of New 52 books I’m still reading. 5 or 6 issues is more than enough time to tell a discrete story. And I know Snyder for one has no problem doing that – he rattled off a couple of snappy 3-issue arcs at the start of his pre-reboot Detective run.

  28. Zom Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been wonderinf editorial mandate.

    I always wonder about editorial mandate

  29. The Beast Must Die Says:

    At DC it’s more like ‘editorial Mandrills’

    am I right?

    AM I RIGHT?!?

  30. Zom Says:

    YESNO

  31. Botswana Beast Says:

    I think Starlin transitioned from liberal hippy to wingnut over about a decade ’76-’86; he also wrote the Joker as Iranian ambasador, never forget

  32. Botswana Beast Says:

    Denise Mina’s Hellblazer is terrible, thrills, really dead on the page stuff; god knows I love Scots-on-English schadenfreude but even then.

  33. Illogical Volume Says:

    “he also wrote the Joker as Iranian ambasador, never forget” – classic (#classic)

    I’ve not read the Denise Mina Hellblazer, I’ve met her a couple of times and she seems nice but her insistence that it’s silly for writers to worry about the words they use because only English Lit students care seemed a bit mad to me, like “who cares how this album sounds, only sound engineers are geein a fuck!”, so I have avoided her work for fear that it will read like Stewart Wee’s parody of Dan Brown (“The cheeky chappy stabbed the bad man in his big face. The big face was sore for a minute and then the bad man died.”).*

    The art on Wonder Woman is still good, but my interest has pretty much disappeared with Chiang, not so much because of the bad puns (“Hello!”/”Halo!”/”Hell low!”/”How low?”, rinse, repeat) but because without the impact between all of his bold/clean lines the cryptic Xena aspect comes through stronger and more boringly.

    I’ve not been following the SnyderBats, but I’ve got to say, I actually love the sound of all this owls business. There’s a golden area of smart-dumb that superhero comics do really well, and while I’m sure the execution is as described, the idea still tickles. Plus, yeah, fuck a Harry Potter, owls are brilliant and can be very scary – ‘She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting.’ etc.

    The ending of Aaron’s PunisherMax, meanwhile, sounds brilliantly shite, like a really badly thought out G-Mo moment; his current X-Men run is just really enjoyable superhero comics, far less ambitious than the Morrison run it draws on but like bobsy has already said, “a lot freer and more playful” for it. Plus, if you’re looking for actual captial ayy-arr-tee ART then Seven Soldiers and The Filth are where it’s at, eh? Thanks for pointing me in this direction youse goize, doubt I would have bothered without your endlessly enthusiastic recommendations.

    It’s amazing to me, how quickly my attention has drifted from a lot of these New52 books, and I think Thrills and co are right, there’s some duff pacing going on, it’s like – GET YR 2000AD OUT FOR THE LADS, you know?

    ALSO: DC’s Editorial Mandrills = VERY YES! and SILENCE! #3 = VERY VERY YES YES!!!

    *Apparently the fact that I was one of those EngLit motherfuckers means that my opinion on this topic can only be regarded as powdered dogshit, so.

  34. Marc Says:

    The latest issue of Wonder Woman came out in the middle of a perfect storm: Cliff Chiang’s absence calling attention to just how much that book depends on Cliff Chiang; Azzarello’s introduction of his mysterious knowitall Brit (was Willoughby Kipling not available?); a plot that managed the neat trick of rushing through lots of exposition without anything actually happening (every Azzarello comic manages this neat trick); and most of all, Azzarello’s snide, preemptively defensive, almost bullying statements on the “Before Watchmen” debacle. You want to “make these characters vital again”? They’re vital every time I open Watchmen. Maybe you should try making another character vital–like Wonder Woman and her amazing friends? Just to change things up.

    I’m done with the guy. I won’t claim it’s a Watchmen-related boycott, because it’s entirely driven by his own hackwork, but I will not be buying any more Azzarello comics.

    Re: Snyder and New 52 pacing in general. I keep feeling the itch to write a post about this but if I spend that much time writing I’d like it to be about something I actually enjoy. Suffice it to say that I read the last Swamp Thing comic in less than ten minutes. The story barely advanced from where it ended last month, and at six months in there isn’t an end anywhere in sight. (But there is a crossover coming!) By the time this story is over it will have probably cost me thirty-six bucks at least and I’ll be able to read it in two hours. Except I doubt I’ll want to read it again.

    To say Snyder produces middlebrow comics is an insult to middlebrow. But he produces what the fans want, and what the fans want is apparently awesome stories about how dark the world is, interspersed with thoughtful ruminations about highly charged, utterly meaningless stories from the narrators’ childhoods. Because that’s deep. Conspiracies are deep. Death is deep. Comics are deep. Superheroes are deep. The Watchmen((c) and TM DC Comics, all rights reserved) are deep.

    This morning’s news is that Morrison will be doing some comics for Image, plus the final Seaguy and one other project for Vertigo. I could not be happier.

  35. Igmus Says:

    @amypoodle: Yeah, Bendis dialogue makes me see red as well. More so now than 10 years ago. Maybe I was just younger at the time and didn’t notice it as much, but I did enjoy his Daredevil and EARLY Ultimate Spidey stuff alright. I’ve never reread the Daredevil run; but I reread some old Ultimate Spidey recently, and I still think it’s decent. I think Bendis has definitely gotten progressively worse, particularly in his dialogue and plotting (or lack thereof).

    His career is a case study in how modern Western man is getting stupider, and his oeuvre should be evaluated in the same way that early psychoanalysts studied the writings of neurotics who descended into dithering insanity.

    Sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment, though, so I’ll pick up a couple of his Avengers comics when I see them in the cheap bin at my shop (and then I sell them back to another shop for a profit in store credit). They’re all full of talking heads whose dialogue is literally 90% interchangeable. It’s crazy that he has a fairly large fanbase who believes he has good dialogue and characterization skills. Based on their dialogue, the Avengers all seem like airheads and bad caricatures of dumb teenagers from 1980s cartoons. But interspersed throughout each issue are delusional, nominal statements about how “heroic” and inspiring they are all.

    Maybe Azzarello’s dialogue tics don’t annoy me as much simply because I haven’t read as many of his comics. Actually, compared to Bendis, there simply aren’t as many Azz comics to read. Bendis seems able to write five scripts a week simply going off automatic writing/stream-of-consciousness blathering, which his editor is content to leave on the page untouched.

    @Marc (and others): I’m happy to find a few others who are annoyed by the overpraise Snyder’s been getting. I DO generally enjoy his comics to a degree that many of them are worth $3 to me (largely for the art), but the lack of critical thinking skills in his super-supporters has become almost infuriating. I’ve noticed that a lot of the people who are most positive about his Batman stuff don’t even reference much of what actually happens in the comics; instead they just seem happy with the hype itself and the idea of what’s supposedly happening. I’ve listened to podcast in which they’ll talk about Snyder in glowing terms for a half hour without referencing anything more particular in the narrative than what could be found in Previews solicitations.

    Many of his fans seem to like Snyder’s comics for the same ideas that they hated when Morrison used them, and they don’t even seem aware that they saw all these ideas just a few years ago. Fans’ short-term memories + superficial engagement with the text + positive reinforcement of reveling in group hype = Snyder’s current position as greatest writer in history, who can do no wrong when when he rambles on about such cool and insightful topics as wood mold, paint drying, or what “Gotham Is”.

    But it occurs to me that if it wasn’t for the internet and I didn’t ever see these endless, delusional 5-star reviews of Snyder’s work, I wouldn’t have a problem with the guy and would be perfectly content with buying many of his decent comics.

    I plan to buy his Swamp Thing when it’s collected, simply because I can preorder the deluxe hardcover now for the price of four issues. Last fall I read the first two issues for free and masochistically enjoyed how derivative it is of Moore’s work (even while trying to be different). I also like the art. It is striking that Snyder seems to be accomplishing less and showing less ambition in his whole run thus far than Moore showed in individual issues. And Snyder ubiquitously references the spirit of Moore’s run, but seems oblivious as to how his own work suffers from the comparison. Still, I think his Swamp Thing will be fun to read, but maybe for all the wrong reasons. The bottom line is that I would say these are decent comics, and most of the problem is simply with fans’ overpraise of them.

    @thrills: “Are there any references to Earth-2 Owlman or Night Owl or anything, or is it a pleasantly new owl menace?”

    It’s a “new” owl menace whose costume, persona, initial fighting and kidnapping tactics resemble the “Third Man” of Morrison’s run almost exactly, in his early appearances at least. There aren’t any references to past continuity. Snyder just shoehorns this elite rich “Court of Owls” group into Gotham/Wayne history without referencing anything preexisting. Fans apparently like it better this way. When Morrison drew on tons of past continuity to create Dr. Hurt and his elite rich “Black Glove” group into Gotham/Wayne history, a lot of these babies threw a fit and were too confused by it. Now it’s been dumbed down for them, so they can finally enjoy the same story we all read a few years ago, though it would be amusing to see them try to come up with any worthwhile annotations or sensible theories about Snyder’s “mystery”.

  36. amypoodle Says:

    I think you’ve nailed many of the problems with Snyder’s run there, Igmus. There’s very little substance there at all. Not even good in continuity bat-substance.

    Yeah, there’s a great deal of empty bat-tropes in there too, which are good, obviously, because they’re bat-tropes. We all want stories that ask what Gotham is, don’t we? That’s what you expect from a Batman comic. Therefore: good. Even if none of the conclusions reached – it’s a black mirror, etc – are even remotely meaningful or resonant, just freefloating, decontextulaised commentary having nothing to do with anything.

  37. amypoodle Says:

    Also, compare and contrast the last two Snyder issues with Morrison’s special. Both of them feature Batman drugged up and fighting his way through a labyrinth. One is scary and awesome, with a real sense of peril, the other is, well… It is what it is.

  38. Marc Says:

    You know, I would love it if once, just once, a writer suggested that Gotham City is filled with crime and corruption not because an ancient conspiracy has been manipulating it, not because a Satanic ritual has tainted it, not because it’s a “black mirror,” but because the citizens have decided, collectively, that they don’t give a fuck. They’re the ones who fled to the suburbs and voted for crooked politicians and put a cap on the property taxes. They’re the ones who decided being a snitch was worse than running a corner. It was a citizen who shot Thomas and Martha Wayne and it was other citizens who turned their backs and shrugged. Not some ancient evil. Hell is other Gothamites.

    I do not expect we will ever see this story.

  39. Marc Says:

    In retrospect I should have bailed on Snyder as soon as he started hinting at that “black mirror” stuff in his first Detective Comics story–a vintage grim n’ gritty story perfectly suited to Bruce Wayne, which happened to star Dick Grayson.

    No matter. This is what we want. Edgy stories, without the edge.

  40. Thrills Says:

    Botswana Beast – Ocht aye, Scottish folks not liking the English football team ends up saving the day or something in the final Denise Mina storyline, eh? That is rather eye-rolly.

    I did enjoy the first half of her run, though, when I reread it recently, genuinely! I liked all the shite about the Scottish island. It was a nice library trade to read one winter afternoon. My taste is sometimes in my arse, but.

  41. Papa Pop-Guru Says:

    Ellis’ Run on Hellblazer is pretty sub-par, I’ll agree with you guys on that one. He seemed a little too reserved on puting his trademark psycho-sexual humour down in print. But One story in his run is an exception, and that’s issue #143: “Telling Tales”, which is a brilliantly tounge-and-cheek look at hack journo’s, The Royal family and Icke-ian conspiracy theories. It’s bloody hilarious and more than disturbing at times, but it’s one of those done-it-one issues of Hellblazer that shows off ol’ Johnny as the trickster he is.

    @amypoodle Frankly, I actually respect Bendis’ seldom mentioned artwork more than his “skill” as a writer, it’s kind of blocky and smudgy but his layouts were sometimes pretty imaginative and he knew how to portray the interplay of light and shadow in a really energetic way.

  42. amypoodle Says:

    @Papa Pop-Guru ….and then have Green Goblin and Spiderman debate the price of chicken heads in it. (sometimes in brackets).

    But, no, seriously, that’s interesting. I didn’t know he was an artist. His comics don’t read like he is. Doesn’t seem like an images man at all. Another reason why I dislike his comics so much, actually, a reason I dislike loads of Marvel comics generally – they’re not really comics, just generically interchangable pictures with dialogue balloons coming out of them. Lots and lots of dialogue balloons. Dialogue balloons involved in a territorial war.

    I’m going to try getting my hands on that Hellblazer comic. I’d like to read Ellis’s thoughts on Icke.

  43. amypoodle Says:

    Just read the Hellblazer. It was okay, if a bit heavy handed. Reading an actual writer’s tossed out reimaginings of the Ickeverse did remind me, however, of how banal and imaginatively bankrupt those conspiracy theorists really are.

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