SILENCE! #25

August 7th, 2012

THEY ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE…AND WHEN YOU’RE DOWN HERE WITH US, YOU’LL FLOAT TOO!

Hah hooh hah!

It’s that time of the week boys and girls, and Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die are here to bring the melonfarming ruckus! Duck and cover for SILENCE! no.25

After an Olympic Pool-sized edition of SILENCE! News, the boyce let rip with some lovingly hand-crafted comics reviews. INCLUDING: Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye no.1, Dial H from Mieville and co, Beasts of Burden from Dorkin and Thompson, Action Comics, Daredevil, Animal Man and Lactus has a diet-sized portion of Man V Comics with AVX.

There’s a special SILENT Question from Batroc Zee Leepair (with the answer including Bob of the Black Lodge and Pennywise the Dancing Clown).

Then there’s a meaty discussion of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises aka Occupy Gotham (currently showing in magic lantern shows around the country.

Add in a vital clue in the ongoing saga to discover ‘lost’ Brit comics genius Barry M Freeman (Woodward & Bernstein get f*cked) and you have a meaty, beaty, big & bouncy edition of SILENCE!

click to download SILENCE!#25

22 Responses to “SILENCE! #25”

  1. Thrills Says:

    I thought Batman was a really good film, other than when Batman was in it. Bane was excellent (dug his Unicron voice), Catwoman was excellent, Robin was excellent, and I was glad they crammed in No Man’s Land.

    It was politically all over the place, though, and BaleBats is hilarious, which was maybe not the intention. He’s just not my Batman! (In theory, my favourite Batman film is Batman and Robin it’s got a real ‘RIP’ colour scheme and feels really seedy and sweaty and fun, but in practice it is really dull and difficult to watch)

    And yeah, the sound mix was atrocious. Found Bane easy to understand, but for some reason had real problems hearing Gary Oldman properly.

    Loved that the back-break happened fast. It was just really matter-of-factly done, and all the more horrific for it.

    PS also love Beasts of Burden. It’s got a talking cat sometimes, but is still great. Endearing and creepy.

    PPS I also can’t remember the name of the main guy in Dial H, but that’s the only criticism of it I have. I think it’s my favourite comic the noo?

    PPPS One day I’ll say something insightful, I’m sure

  2. The Beast Must Die Says:

    I would happily watch a Catwoman film with Anne Hathaway. Her character felt so much more fluid and innately believable than Mr Growlypants. I also dug the way she was slinky without it being leery.

  3. Adam Says:

    I agree with all of that, Thrill Beast.

    I’ve mentioned it in the mindless email but it’s probably worth pointing out that DKR was being edited when Occupy first got going, which isn’t to say that Nolan wasn’t riffing on the banking crisis, etc… just that he wasn’t hamfistedly crowbarring Occupy in.

  4. Adam Says:

    Snot going to be followed. From what I’ve heard they’re going for a Spidey-esque reboot, building up to a possible JLA movie

  5. Gary Lactus Says:

    fine.

  6. Adam Says:

    But I might be completely wrong!

  7. Thrills Says:

    “I also dug the way she was slinky without it being leery.”

    Oh, for sure. The Arbiter of Taste, my significant other, was pleased that the film didn’t pile on the creepy, exploitative camera angles regarding Catwoman.

    One just hopes (as may be implied) that Selina Kyle ending up with Bruce Wayne was just one of Alfred’s drunken holiday dreams. The sentimental old souse.

  8. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Yeah…I really don’t think that Bale’s BruceBats is good enough for her frankly.

  9. Adam Says:

    That unfortunate bit where Catwoman rejects Bat’s anti-gun stance is very slightly improved if you bear in mind that it’s also another bit where she asserts her independence.

  10. tam Says:

    I couldn’t take catwoman seriously with those high heels. That Batman Begins film is full of stuff about how batman’s costume is ‘realistic’ but her costume was completely at odds with that approach and having characters make comments about it in the script doesn’t really make it any more excusable, especially since Darwyn Cooke showed it’s perfectly possible to give her a costume that’s both sexy and functional.

    In itself, stuff like this shouldn’t be a huge issue but I found the story to be so obnoxious, (all those references to ‘A tale of two cities’ with the baddies as the revolutionaries) that all the minor flaws really drew attention to themselves. You really can’t use superheroes as a vehicle to comment on complicated things like social inequality and politics (at least not directly) and this film showed why it doesn’t really work

    Also Evan Dorkin is a great writer. He’s really good at romance stories. His Hectic Planet stories have dated pretty well and he wrote a great Thing miniseries in a similar vein that’s worth tracking down.

    Oh, and Beast… You referred to piles (of comics) quite a few times WITHOUT referring to your sponsor. I think you’re going to have to raise your game if you want that £2.50 a week

  11. Thrills Says:

    Yeah, the high heels were stupit. I wondered if they somehow retracted into her boot, as there were shots where she was wearing flats during fights, but then figured it was probably just bad editing, and a basic admission that fighting in high heels is stupid and impractical.

    As Tam says, above, just having a character mention it isn’t really addressing the problem, in any way.

    That Nolan! He’s so ReaLisTic!

  12. Adam Says:

    The high heels were dumb, yeah, but I don’t think they take much away from the point Thrills and I were making.

    The story was pretty thick but I don’t like the idea that certain genres can’t do certain things. I mean, I accept that there are limits – limits are what genres are about – and that some genres, often for complicated and transitory reasons, find it easier to tackle some topics over others at a given point in their evolution, but I don’t like to make blanket statements about what is and isn’t possible. It seems to me that there are all kinds of stories that you could tell about politics and social inequality that would fit somewhere within the superhero genre, it’s just that Nolan didn’t make a particularly good bit of social commentary in this instance. Arguably he did manage the job with The Dark Knight.

  13. Adam Says:

    Genre isn’t a rulebook, basically.

  14. tam Says:

    @Adam

    Completely agree. My point was you can’t do it directly, because as many of Alan Moore’s stories neatly show, the existence of superheroes, (and stuff like safe nuclear fusion come to that) would make the world diverge from our own. That’s not to say you can’t try to make a point with these stories. As you point out, the Dark Knight was a much better example; some people suggested the story worked as an allegory for Bush’s presidency, with Batman getting the blame for making tough decisions. If that was the intention, then I think it succeeded at an artistic level, (despite disagreeing with the sentiment) in a way that this clunky film didn’t.

    Oh also, another (admittedly very nerdy) thing that irritated me. Were we really meant to be that impressed Batman could fix a software bug but couldn’t work out how to remove his own name from the bugfix logging system?

  15. igmus Says:

    Yeah, I agree with much of what you said about the Batman film.

    I hate to mostly write about the negative aspects of it, but to me the big problem with Nolan’s vision seems to be an understated but omnipresent sense of nihilism. His Batman films are obviously better than the previous ones, but they seem to come from a place that suggests a cultural and aesthetic dead end. Even Schumacher’s films, as you guys note, just seem more… transcendent or cohesive or something. Possibly even “healthier” on a cultural level, though I feel a bit weird saying that. With Nolan’s stuff, there seems to be a wall of nihilism that any curious viewer always bumps into whenever attempting to figure out any sense of greater meaning.

    Just look at the movie posters for this movie, particularly the one of Bane. What is the artistic message here? It’s the same vibe I used to get from Korn or Marilyn Manson or ICP albums 10-15 years ago: there’s very little content but there’s a strong sense of DARKNESS for darkness’s sake. (Similarly, I’ve often perceived the “this fairly stupid aesthetic reminds me of Korn (so why do so many hipsters like it?)”-aesthetic when reading Snyder’s Batman comics.)

    Nihilism is especially apparent regarding the political stuff in the latest film. It doesn’t even reach the level of “incoherence” in my opinion, because there aren’t really any warring mixed messages but rather no messages at all. Half-messages, maybe. If the apparent Occupy parallels were any lighter then they wouldn’t be Occupy parallels at all. Though there is a lot of “strum and drang” or whatever, the film doesn’t ever make any criticism of “decadent rich people” or “revolutionaries who didn’t think things through” to an extent that you can really grasp and examine. It’s all just very vague atmospherics. And yet a LOT of effort seems to be expended in this direction. To me, it seems that all of this effort just leads the viewer to the NIHILISM conclusion. The design of the film seems to always lead the viewer who thinks or asks any questions to be faced with an implicit, short-circuiting answer of “Yeh look how DARK and NIHILISTIC it all is, innit!?”

    This goes not just for the political stuff but for basically every “meaning” and motivation in the movie. Why exactly did Bruce not only retire Batman but get depressed and aloof? He felt nihilistic. What is the plan or meaning behind Talia and Bane? In the face of civilization, they’re basically nihilists first and terrorists second. Why are the rich people in Gotham bad? Because theirs is a heartless culture of nihilism to the extent that they only seem to enjoy the wealth they have rather listlessly. What’s wrong with the revolutionaries? Their philosophy, for whatever else it is, seems cursed with an endemic nihilism that prevents them from replacing the current system with anything better. Nihilism, nihilism, nihilism. The edgy darkness is only cool up to a point.

    The Dark Knight ended with Batman and Commissioner Gordon deciding that the masses needed to be lied to and given false political heroes as well as false terrorist foes. By the end of this movie, their deceptive plan has been told to the people… and yet everything’s okay and the masses still revere Batman and the police, even though the failings of Batman and the police were what brought Gotham to the brink of destruction.

    It’s a weird message, if it’s a message at all. For me, it’s impossible to think of this Batman or any of his allies (besides Robin, I guess) as heroes. And while I wasn’t exactly rooting for Bane, I came close to rooting against Gotham in general. Why should I care about this city full of gullible people, led this way and that by whatever figurative or literal strongman (terrorist, state, or corporate) comes to lead them at any given moment? Think of how many big overblown speeches there were about “This is GOTHAM” or “I believe in Gotham” — for God’s sake WHY?! There’s very little sense of coherence or genuine community in this city. It obviously seems like an area of urban decay and alienation that probably should fall apart. All it has to speak in its favor are a bunch of empty platitudes about “the people” or “our GREAT city”.

    But however pointlessly dark and nihilistic the whole thing is, it’s still a very well made film.

  16. Rick V Says:

    I don’t understand where all the ‘realism’ / nihilistic comments of Nolan’s Batman. Dark Knight Rises has a hopeful message and a hopeful ending. It is an uplifting movie about overcoming insurmountable odds.

    Sure the politics are messy but I think that is what they are there to be a quagmire that Bane can sweep in and direct for a time with his mixture of charisma and threats. I never took his movies as ‘realistic’ sure they are more grounded compared to Batman & Robin but they still aren’t Heat. It is a level of Batman reality that I would equate easily with the first 3 chapters of DKR. Which plays to why Batman never feels ridiculous to me. Also I had those fuck yeah moments it was most due to the music cues because Zimmer has refined that score to a sharp edge at this point. Also there was a lot of aspects of the character throughout these three films that was as kaleidoscopically and built better much in the same way Mozz has been refining Batman over the years.

    I think that is why I prefer his movies to other Comic Book films (outside of ROBOCOP). They always feel like they have real stakes, unlike in say Avengers where it all feels weightless and airy and joke a minute and hey even the bad guy will be a punchline at the end.

    Nolan’s movies are full of darkness but also a lot of light, and so is Batman.

  17. Adam Says:

    I just think the politics are messy. End of. But, yeah, the film’s absolutely supposed to have a hopeful message. Can’t see how anyone could have missed that.

  18. Jacob Says:

    Speaking of omnipresent senses of nihilism, wow on Barry M Freeman doing Drunken Bakers for the Viz.

    A strip that charts the slow downfall of two alcoholic bakers without ever aiming for laugh out loud punchlines. It’s funny to look at the earlier strips and compare them to later ones in how the whole environment around the characters crumbles into urban decay; smashed windows and grafitti.

    Sadly I had to stop my reading/collecting of Viz in a big life budget cost cutting exercise a few years back. I only wish Viz would publish collections of single strips, I think Drunken Bakers would be my top choice followed by Jack Black.

    Great find Gary Lactus!

  19. Adam Says:

    That sounds like a fascinating strip, Jacob. Wanna check that out now.

  20. Illusionator Says:

    My first comment on here. Love the podcast and am delighted that Barry M Freeman had not disappeared, even moreso that he continues to write, and writes something as great as The Drunken Bakers. It’s about the only strip in Viz still worth persevering with. Jacob sums it up beautifully above. I think he also wrote a one-off strip in Viz detailing a bereaved woman’s visit to a cash-my-gold style pawn shop to cash in her husbands watch (maybe medals) which was one of the more depressing, dark, hilarious and moving strips I think I’ve ever read. He’s an extraordinary talent. I think he’s on Twitter too (@barneyfarmer – may not be him but seems like his humour – very sweary though as are the Bakers). Keep up the good work :)

  21. The Beast Must Die Says:

    Howdy Illusionator – and welcome. Drunken Bakers gets some love on the new Silence! Should be up tomorrow. It really is a fantastic strip.

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