Enter the Multiversity

July 29th, 2014

A brief thought on Grant Morrison’s work that I might disown in the morning…

While hyping his upcoming Multiversity mini series for DC (at least half a decade in the making, and from the sound of it pages are still being done), Morrison has made reference to the Stan Lee method, in which the comic makes the reader an accomplice in the story.

Here’s the man himself, making some typically bold claims for his adoption of this technique in Multiversity #7, Ultra Comics:

I’ve used a lot of hypnotic induction. There’s an old trick that Stan Lee used to do — it was quite popular at Marvel — of the comic talking to you. I took that and this thing, and I think we’ve actually created the world’s first actual superhuman being, which you’ll see how it works when you read this comic. Then the world’s first super human being on this earth has to fight the most malignant entity. So the bad guys in Multiversity who are attacking the entire multiversal structure are also attacking the real world, and this comic is their only way through right now. So it becomes the reader versus the bad guy on the page. I think it’s actually quite scary, this thing. It scared me!

While Morrison hasn’t built his career on such direct addresses to the audience – he’s mostly left that to Derren Brown and Gary Lactus – it’s arguable that he’s always operated in the register for superhero comics that Lee perfected.

Way back in the early days of the comics internet (The Comics Internet!), David Fiore made quite a stir while working up towards a lengthy, academic description of the way that sixties Marvel comics thrived by developing the culture of sci-fi fandom in its letter columns.  Running against comics crit’s auteurist tendencies, Fiore argued that the ultimate sort of “realism” Marvel fans craved wasn’t found in Stan Lee’s much vaunted second dimension of characterisation so much as it was in the simulated relationship between readers and creators.

While they operate in a more traditional authorial mode, Morrison’s comics have long since generated a similar volume of feedback – for all his attempts to simulate Jack Kirby’s vorticist thunder, and for all that his hero worship of John Broome is obviously in earnest, Morrison’s work has always benefited from audience participation as much as it has from stylisation.

 

This has taken many forms, few of them directly indebted to the traditional Marvel approach Lee pioneered, but all of them involving asking the readers to be aware of their own status in the creation of the story.  Consider the clever plays on the physical properties of comics in Animal Man and The Filth, or of the way the characters in The Invisibles are only able to glimpse the series’ overlapping cosmologies when they attain the reader’s position.  Or think about how works like Seaguy and New X-Men demonstrate the futility of superhero conventions while asking the reader to thrill in them, or the way the last issue of Seven Soldiers framed its elaborate jigsaw structure as an attempt to reach out to the reader.

Morrison’s work has always been built to be talked about, explored, and debated by a genre-savvy, worldly curious audience, and evidence of the success of this technique is easy to find.  The Invisibles’ readers didn’t stop talking along with the comics when they were done with the letter pages, preferring instead to establish their own conversational nodes like Barbelith, Mindless Ones dot com, and whatever your favourite superhero focussed comics blog was circa 2003-2006.  

At their best, these communities come close to  justifying some of Fiore’s bolder claims.  The following flourish is particularly illuminating if you find yourself in a mood to explore the post-letter column diaspora:

Marvel readers were more likely to be the co-producers of—rather than “produced” by—the stories they consumed; and graffiti becomes impossible when the owner of the building hands you the pen (even if he or she never hands over a share of the profits).

To update Fiore’s metaphor, Morrison handed the pen to his readership and then found their own spaces to scribble on when security got a little bit tougher around DC towers.

Morrison’s comics are hardly unique in this, of course – if superhero comics are a testing ground for multimedia properties, the internet is a battleground of infinitely egressing fandoms - but that strengthens my point rather than weakening it. David Fiore wrote about Morrison’s work as the culmination of a tradition that stretched from Stan Lee through Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald, and even if you don’t share Ravin’ Dave’s lit crit damage or his enthusiasm for old Marvels, his thoughts on this topic are still worth reading – especially now Morrison is talking about a more explicit take on Lee’s method! 

To state it crudely: if Jack Kirby’s comics were valuable at least in part because of how much physical experience he brought to the page, Morrison’s comics are most successful when they leave space for you to bring your own experience to the story.

Morrison’s recent work hasn’t prompted anywhere near so much analysis, and I think that’s because it’s revealed the dark solution to the Stan Lee equation.  We all know that Smiling Stan was a salesman first and foremost, but his patter only works so long as you feel like you’re being sold something useful.  Similarly, Morrison’s approach starts to feel like a trap when you notice that you’re being lured into sitting through a movie pitch (Joe the Barbarian, Happy!), or flogged the secret keys to the universe in the form of a lifetime subscription to DC comics (Supergods).

Will Multiversity be any different?  At the very least, the issues drawn by Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart look like they’ll be worth a read:

This is evidence of a different sort of communication, between writer and artist. Such hard-won synergy has always been one of Morrison’s weaknesses as a comics writer, and if I were a gambling man I’d bet on Multiversity being the usual mixed bag so far as artistic collaboration goes. Quitely’s known to have a far closer working relationship with Morrison than any other artist, and Stewart has proven himself capable of acting like he’s in the same position, even if the first he heard about his involvement in this project from fans at a con! Beyond that, we’ll have to see how it goes!

Whether it re-initiates the dialogue with Morrison’s readers is another question entirely. The chat about different versions of the same old thing that you’ve never seen before and comics as a technology tickles me right in my memory of good comics past, but talk is cheap.

Multiversity will cost about as much as a piss-up in the park by the time it’s finished. Let’s hope it’s worth it, and that it doesn’t leave us all wandering around all bitter and dejected the morning after…

75 Responses to “Enter the Multiversity”

  1. Illogical Volume Says:

    Missing from this post: the suggestion that Morrison could channel that Stan Lee salesmanship into something genuinely malevolent in Ultra Comics, making it the voice of chatty capitalism – evil made persuasive, like thus.

  2. Nate A. Says:

    Looks like Bill Gaines is on one of the Quitely pages… Maybe Bendis too?

  3. Ben Says:

    Multiversity will undoubtedly re-initiate the dialogue with (some of, a majority of?) Morrison’s readers, and annotators, and commentators, if only because it will have millions and millions of obscure super-heroes to spot and catalogue. Whether that’s a dialogue *you* want to have in 2014 is a different matter (not you personally; the metaphorical “you”, a metaphorical you who devoured The Invisible as a teenager, probably didn’t like The Filth very much, pored over Seven Soldiers in minute detail in your early 20′s… but are now facing your mid 30s, with a job, responsibility, maybe a family, a mortgage…). I know it’s difficult to square my perception of Morrison when I was 18 with what he’s doing now, but then when I was 18 I genuinely believed that once the Conservatives were gone they would never get back in and we were well on track to enter some sort of socialist Aquarian age by the turn of the Millennium, so that shows you how much I knew.

    It’s interesting that much of the Comics Internet you’re talking about is either already dead (Barbelith) or much less engaged/prolific now than it was back in those salad days (whatever the hell that means).

    Maybe, like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, “We’ve just been revoked…”

    No sorry, the other one. We’re too old for this shit…

    In summary then, it seems highly unlikely that Multiversity will bring Barbelith back from the dead. However, there is (and I’ve seen it through my own weeping eyes) tons of kids absolutely eating this stuff up on places like 4chan.

    I also wonder if this Apophenian madness that I (and plenty of others) find so enjoyable is a dialogue that *Morrison* really wants to have? Or is it that – like Lee, like Alan Moore in his more “reclusive”/grumpy Ditkoian niche -it’s all in service to keeping his star in the ascendant and his arse off the streets. Any pretensions to a true ‘art’ replaced by the more mundane reality of keeping your head above the water. Certainly the end of his Batman run was about as bleak a précis on the current state of pop culture as you might conceivably have asked for, and as you point out, much of his recent creator-owned work has been pretty blatantly repurposed from his other job as a screenwriter. Maybe we’ve seen all the tricks now? I suppose we’ll all find out together over the next few months…

  4. Ben Says:

    I do fucking love that map though. Talk about pushing all the right buttons, sheesh.

  5. JimHarbor Says:

    I think the way you illustrated your argument here really speaks to the best of the phenomenon of Grant’s overe. I hope I don’t sound to Kanye Westian this (the fan boy turned good turned revolutionist) but when you speak of this “you”, the 18 year kid with the invisibles, that “you” is being seceded by a new “you.” Call it the 5th world or the second generation Morrisonuan, but at least from my perspective, you can see a clear divide, and evolution from the “Hypercrisis” threads of old, and the types that spawned the likes of me. I’m the guy who was reading the Batman epic as trades at the Borders Saturday nights when I was 14, scrolling through Wikipedia articles on my Blackberry, the guy who followed Comics Allaince and Funnybook Babylon religiously. The due who was writing 52 fanfic in class computers in high school, and that kind of narrative; the shift of the “culture”" Morrison has built around the works (whether intentionally or unintentionally) has formed a dichotomy. Tim Callahan, one of the best Morrison Scholars of his age, had his opus in “Grant Morrison: The Early Years” the new manic four color animal Grant became upon his return to DC (one you can see him talking of around the turn of the millennium) spawned a sort of new kind of culture, and Multiversity in many ways is the culmination of that. I don’t want to drum up anything here to something as simple a generation gap, but perhaps what we’re seeing is a …not a catharsis, an apotheosis? Of this community that has developed. You could perhaps write the shift off in any number of ways, Gen X vs Gen Y, 20th century cs 21st century, Britain vs the US or even Creator Owned vs Corporate(read:DC) but in the end I think we’re just coming up at the end of one those cycles Grant and Wais went in about back in the 90s or those Solar Spots he talked on in Supergods.

    I mean, I wrote an article and now I have to deal with my mind being blown as people I grew up reading and informing my literary and cultural identity on following me on twitter. Again back to Kanye West, that kind of second generationism implies something new happening in the community. And I know I wont be the first because I’m there in the Hypercrisis threads (to shift from Kanye West to Eminem, think those underground battle pits) were I see people laying out some of the wildest and enlightening shit possible. And if some 20 year old can get a piece on DST (in this analogy, Dr Dre) and not crash and burn, imagine the potential that could go from that. Of Morrison grew a culture around those works, what happens when that culture grows a culture? What are the works and style of a generation raises on page by page breakdowns, Include And Transcend dynamics and a post-Britsh Invasion and post Billion Dollar film buyout world going to look at. This is a phase shift and the scene that spawned the likes of me is already moving through. Will it become time for yet a third generation to build upon what we are doing? If I’m Kanye West (again, not saying I am) what about the Drake? The Kendrick Lamar? TimPac Shalaham is dead and Barbel Smalls is out, what is the world of Andy K-Z and the ROC of the New Comics Fandom going to be like? And this goes beyond Morrison too, were seeing an age of com is fandom not just changed by the internet, but one FORMED from it, we are at a critical shift in the nature and experience of the fan community. If Grant is Stan the Bronze Age is about to give way to the tide of fans raised on the people raised on that culture. Young Geoff Johns and Aubrey Graham’s who are coming at you with insanity. The Mindless-Tang Clan had its Triumph, but the Hypercrisis West is about to have its Graduation.

  6. JIm Harbor Says:

    That map is pretty bitchin’ tho.

  7. Adam Says:

    That map is bitchin’.

    I have things to say but I’m not sure what they are yet. Very interesting post, Davis.

  8. bobsy Says:

    ‘The Hypercrisis West’ is an interesting coinage there Jim, and might explain why the same as it ever was/cycles in cycles view of historical time you (& Moz)’re espousing might be little more than a comforting fantasy.

    By the time Multiversity finishes the Multiverse will probably be owned by Rupert Murdoch, which is either (in your implied view, apologies for putting words in your mouth) a neat throwback to the days when DC was a cash sink for East Coast mafia families, or simply the final defeat of the superhero by ‘the most malignant entity’.

  9. JimHarbor Says:

    Eh, its less of a cycle, more of a spiral time. To go back to Kanye West (again) one of his skills is showing artistry and corporatism arr not mutually exclusive . DC was putting pit great stuff when it was owned by a Parking Lot Dealer; one of the most acclaimed animated series of all time began as a cynical cashgrab to synergize with a film and sell toys. Really, even back to the days of “Classical” art there was no taking the money out of the situation, and while I’m not blanket defended corporations, the idea of capitalism would state that the company’s best interests (profit) and the consumers best interest (quality) would lime up, and as we’ve seen these past 80 years they often do. Not always, but enough that I wouldn’t see Murdoch as the death of DC anymore than Warner, AOL, or..well DC was.(Although the balance of power in the Big 6 being upended is a totally different matter altogether.)

  10. bobsy Says:

    Fucking hell, we’re doomed.

  11. Ben Says:

    On the politics of Stan Lee (from here – http://hollowverse.com/stan-lee/)-

    “Lee’s comics often promote a liberal worldview with their emphasis on social justice and equality… But then, his… comics were also laden with anti-communist rhetoric, causing some to speculate that he either leaned to the right of the political spectrum, or he was apolitical enough to absorb anti-commie sentiment without much critical thinking.”

    “During the Vietnam War, he explicitly stated that his comics “may not be the right place for getting too heavy handed with social messages of any sort.””

    Also worth reading, this attempt to paint Lee as a card carrying McCarthyist commie-basher(http://nobodylaughsatmisterfish.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/stan-lees-politics-dodgy-or-what.html)

    A choice quote from the comments – “Stan’s politics reportedly irritated the two big guns of the Marvel Era. Ditko thought Stan too liberal, Kirby thought Stan too conservative.”

  12. Illogical Volume Says:

    Heh, Jim, your hyperbole is contagious and I’d love to get excited about bold new forms of comics (re)creation – feeling old can actually be quite pleasurable when it involves the realisation that people younger than you have found ways to do stuff you could never have imagined. Unfortunately, while your generation’s genesis may be ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT, the spiralling corporate rhetoric in your second comments sounds a lot like the sort of stuff the Invisibles-addled Illogical Volume would have spouted circa-1999. The Illogical Volume of this era definitely isn’t right about everything, and his ‘Triumphs’ may be long behind him – though it’s rumoured he might still have a few Fishscales up his sleeve yet! – but he doesn’t have to revert to the IV of 1996 to see that corporations aren’t exactly all that benevolent.

    The businessman (in his suit and tie) only has to make their interests seem like they tie in with those of their consumers to the extent that it helps the former separate their later from time and cash. The time doesn’t “go” to the company, of course, and may be profitably or unprofitably used by the consumer depending on any number of criteria. The flow of the cash is undeniable, and one doesn’t need to be some sort of aesthetic/artistic purist to pay attention to the hows and whys of that, or to suspect the motives of those on the receiving end.

    Which is to say: we all love the Batmen, and we like your Multiversal mannotations – not quite The College Dropout, but keep it up! – and we know that Kanye West makes big, loud, brilliant art that both makes him(/+Universal+>Vivendi) tons of money and throws all kinds of light on to the way both West/his bosses/his peers/his listeners spend and accrue their time/money.

    The fact remains that Rupert Murdoch has fine form for selling people poison and convincing them that he’s giving them what they want. Whether he’s interested enough in Batman to try to make much use of him remains to be seen. Either way, I’ve got those old tingles for Multiversity (that map!), and that’s at least partly your fault – I look forward to reading your next post, on DST or elsewhere.

    Sorry if I sound a bit dickish here. Like Professor X, I’m more than willing to step aside for the new generation. Like Emma Frost, I’m also up for telling the kids when they’re running round in circles and calling it a revolution. Like a man who has made too many comparisons, I need to learn to shut the fuck up.

  13. Adam Says:

    On a cosmic/prosaic note, Jim, I’m interested to read your thoughts about the thinking behind the Speed Force Wall and why it’s being fed by the Source.

    I want my superhero poetry.

  14. bobsy Says:

    Ben as everyone know, Ditko is a foul Randian conservative, Lee is an archetypal snake oil salesman, and Kirby shot fascists in his youth. Only one of these positions is cool!

  15. bobsy Says:

    Where did you shoot that Nazi?

    I shot him in his Youth.

  16. JimHarbor Says:

    Big Ben, interesting phenomena, that weird kind of “Liberal Conservatism” is also echoed in Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch and Mark Millar’s Mad Kaleidoscope that was The Ultimates. (I think teh influence of Wildstorm on Ultimate Marvel goes without saying her). Not middle of the road style politics, but often an outright conflation of seemingly out of space goals. Darren of the http://them0vieblog.com/ showcased this as “harnessing the tools and methods of the radical political right in the service of the radical political left.” And you can see that as a deeper element into the very concept of the superhero. Morrison has spoken of the similarities between teh early action comics Superman and The Authority , and despite fictional portrayals (such as with the JSA) conflating them with the Red Scare, a lot of the backlash around the Comics crash of teh 50s was based not on the liberalism, but the seeming cryptofascism within them. And of course, teh fascism of the superhero concept is almost a dead horse. Miller, Moore, Wertham, North, and even Marston in his bizarre revolutionary way all pointed out the core “big daddyism” that having a natural born superior being saving you from other Superior Begins brought up. But what’s taken is their liberalism in that there is, and always has been, a slight undercurrent of what we would call “progressivism.” You had an industry growing out the backs of 20th Century Jewish immigration and you can see that. Marston, in his old school Bill Nye manner, tried to weaponize this in pushing his (arguable fascist) female utopia, but they key point in that was that not only did he admit the psychological background radiation that would have teh CCA bring the hammer down years later, but he REVELED in it. The idea that psychosexual fascist power fantasies could be a GOOD thing fi only harnessed properly. And of course the great irony of the common Red vs Blue dichotomy (which side is which varying on nature) is that one is authoritarian on one axis and laissez faire on the other, while the other is teh exact opposite. So Blanket acts of power play, impose an image that cab be conflated with either.

    You have the Superheros as the Knights Errant, but that makes the normal people, serfs? The ‘Gods Among Us’ line is one oft passed around and it recalls a wild era, , even Cracked.com spoke on teh NPC nature of any NON superhuman in a comci universe, and from there its a short step from outright Platonic Kallipolitanism or Ibn Rushd and the ideals of the Al-Farabi’s Nabi-Iman .

    So seeing someone line stan The man pendulum between the hardcore Objectivism of Dikto and the more revolutionary stylings of Kirby is really fitting for the genre.

    Hopefully typing on an actual computer will give me less typos and keep me from embarrassing myself in front of the classics.

  17. JimHarbor Says:

    @Adam

    You know what, I’m just gonna embrace it.

    I guess this is a “mixtape?”

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3LjHgFnkBxmcjhzdk1GVEhaMjQ/edit

  18. JimHarbor Says:

    And at IV (man that name is awesome) yeah reading back I realized that a missed a couple of contextual aspects of the notation. 9Buta s Stan teh man woudl say, whats comics without Hyperbole!)

    What I meant was that there seems to be common knee-jerk anti-corporate sentiment and while I’m aware Corporations are inherently amoral, they aren’t necessary IMMORAL either. The Corporation’s goal is profit, and the consumers is good product it is possible to make something that serves both those interest (Kanye West/ Batman: The Animated Series , All Star Superman, Gargoyls) . Corporate Mandate often can fuck up art, but you can see at the same side art working within the function. I’m no Karl Marx, so I wont try to preach a newform of comics media revolutionism , but if 80 years of corporate rule hasn’t brought about the end of the magic of DC I dont see anything inherent about a potential buyout that would. That is, it’s trading one master for another so the atmosphere shouldn’t be that revolutionary.

    BUT like my last line says and like yours says Mr Buffet probably shouldn’t buy it out anyway. Anyone gaining that kind of Exelon style domination over a field is bad all around. Capitalism is often conflated with freedom, but time and time again you see this kind of Robber baronism rear up. AT& T’s attempt to nab T-Mobile, The Techtopus(which is getting nowhere NEAR enough coverage) and the coming Buffet invasion showcase the nature of teh danger of that kind of power. We all know about the cable guys and there nibble rubbing shirts (thanks for that image South Park) that were able to do that because they were allowed to carve up America into localized monopoly zones like it was Berlin. (Congo,Postdam, take your pick).

    And in general I’m not versed enough in Buffet’s style (outside of the background radiation you get on FOX and it’s relatives) to make a value judgment on his quality as a chief, he could be John Lasseter or Bob Iger for all I know, and I’d love to do some research into him like I did back when that Warner Civil War was ongoing. But the general point is that the such an acquisition could be bad on all fronts.

    Some I’m not all for corporatism, I mean i still have no idea what in the hell Diane Nelson is doing, but I’m more along the Game of Thrones, chaotic neutral style of it; you’re playing with fire, but fire can burn and fire can warm.

    If anything they need to work ob a better beard-suit bleed so we can more techniques like how Legendary or The Ottonian Dynasty.

  19. JimHarbor Says:

    Speaking of, the gangs that were all up in DC is a pretty sweet topic, any recommended reading on the subject, I have a huge backlog I need to burn through and need some more wood on the fire.

    And yeah, no College Dropout, you got me there, if anything it’s Line for Line or hell, Papa Doc.( Are we driving this hip hop theme into the ground? Between MO and RZA on happy , I’m definitely seeing C.R.E.A.M. being proven)

  20. JimHarbor Says:

    And I now realize in my mad zeal I wrote “Buffet” rather than “Murdoch.”

    Quite embarrassing, but like you said, this is no revolution, just control rods shuffling around.

  21. bobsy Says:

    Jim, capitalism is not freedom, capitalism is impossible without exploitation (and indeed expropriation). Capitalism’s ‘amoral’ drive for profit causes a flattening of cultural production, because safe bets are better at making profit than brave experiments, and everyone ends up getting fed more of the same shit (have you read the amusing description of the new Batman v Superman movie trailer? It’s a good illustration of this trend in effect, the extension of Frank Miller’s timely reinterpretation of Batman into a set of cliches and postures, mechanically repeated to generate more profit. Very much not the same thing as artistic endeavour.)

    CREAM is the guiding principle of global economics and has been for some time, as you say, but you’ll notice that the world is a rather violent and frightening place – particularly at the moment – and that Earth 33 is rapidly losing its capacity to sustain biological life. This is CREAM’s fault too.

    The fact you’ve cited four examples of ‘the magic’ produced in the pasty thirty years of DC comics is surely not intended to be a ringing endorsement of the vitality of their output?

    (You’re getting Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch confused by the way. One is the licensed joker of the global capitalist class, who bets on food futures in the morning and invests some of the profits in pet projects after lunch, calls it ‘philanthropy’, the other is its reptilian patriarch, who has devoted his life to exploiting individual and collective misery for profit, undermining democratic representation in the West, attacking labour rights etc. Not someone who I, as a silly, sentimentalist fan, would be happy to see in charge of Superman. I would consider that to be very much the victory of Lex Luthor, if that comparison makes sense.

    I find your apathy in the face of this fact to be distressing, and not consistent with the obvious and heartfelt enthusiasm you have for the DC Universe, and its historical precepts of ‘heroism’ – protecting the weak, upholding justice etc.

  22. bobsy Says:

    Sorry, x-post there on the Murdoch/Buffet thing.

  23. Ben Says:

    Bobsy – At the risk of opening a can of worms (as I largely agree with you), does ‘art’ produced by the mechinations of the capitalist machine necessarily preclude *any* worth whatsoever?

    (Reductio ad absurdum! Go!)

    Surely, at the bare bones level, nearly all cultural endeavours outside of the bedroom hobbyist, be they music, film, comics whatever, are to some degree designed (or picked from obscurity and put in front of our eyes) in order to make money? Case in point – your comparison of the description of Batman vs Superman trailer to Frank Miller’s Batman. Miller’s work wasn’t a self-mimeographed pamphlet handed out in the streets; it was commissioned, distributed and paid for by the same evil empire that’s bankrolling the dour-sounding (and probably way too brown) Batman vs Superman movie.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the fruits of the entertainment industry Life Trap can still be nourishing, regardless of the means of production, y’know? Or do you think we’ve now hit a plateau where it really is all just brain candy to keep us pacified while we toil?

  24. bobsy Says:

    I would say the ratios are so far out of whack – and increasingly imbalanced towards the negative – that a .. err … Robespierrean policy towards the Buffets, Murdochs and Didios of the world is probably worth a punt.

  25. plok Says:

    Holy shit, I cannot BELIEVE I just saw a link to “Nobody Laughs At Mister Fish”! Truly this is the Marvel Age of Dead Blogs.

    I like you Jim, but 80 years of corporate ownership has killed DC Comics. Have you seen DC Comics lately? Is its flesh not grey, is formaldehyde not being pumped through its tissues, is it not, to quote Harvey Dent, “queer…frightening…!”

    Also late-model capitalism is doing an interesting little dance that turns amoral into immoral fast as water can boil in a vacuum: we’re about a decade or something into a post-Enron world, and the Fable Of The Bees has been blown up with white gas, right? Private vices make for public crises, that’s the new slogan…

    But then I am an old fogey, and not so interested in how what I used to be with isn’t IT anymore, but in how (only given time) the young and brash will catch up with my world-weary wisdom eventually. I don’t see myself as outdated so much as I see y’all as antedated: eventually, eventually you will agree with me about how the world is fucked and how can those kids call that “music” when it’s just noise. I feel cool about my old-fogeyism, actually; don’t feel like a hypocrite at all. IT’LL HAPPEN TO YOU.

    I would just like to point out, though, that Millar and Ellis write stories that are about as liberal-lefty as Fletcher Hanks…Ditko’s a pinko by Ultimate standards. Also the Speed Force is pre-post-Crisis Barry Allen? I thought this was known. And I’m glad black men are making money in America, but not everybody is so appealingly heart-on-sleeve as Kanye, and the fact remains that when the measure becomes the goal it ceases to be any good as a measure…

    But then I am probably just saying that because I despise “Empire State Of Mind”. Fucking hate that soulless shit.

    Sorry, uh…I did mention I’ve been drinking?

    But anyway, you go right on quoting regulations, Mr. Saavik! Does my tired old walnut-sized ticker good to see unapologetic positivity for a next generation here. My only advice would be to beware contemporary bias. Because it can be most tricky.

    “Nobody Laughs At Mister Fish”, ha, well you have made a cranky old walker-throwing fit-pitching Internet Cynic very happy today. (“grumble grumble the COMICS BLOGOSPHERE IS DEAD”, anyone remember that old tune?) But I dunno if I can stomach Grant saying he’s creating numinous Strong Super AI, here, I may just have already had more than a bellyful of even Grant Morrison hypesterism and I am pretty sure by now that the superheroes are not coming to save us from infrastructure collapse and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis so I wish he would stop acting like they’re gonna. He’s the only writer in mainstream supercomics that can even make them interesting to me anymore, he’s in my list of the top seven Batman writers ever, but after the wank-sigil of the Invisibles lettercols, what…

    (sorry, misplaced my copy of The 49′ers…”

    Er, “what THAT POETRY THING ALAN MOORE SAID”…?

    Shit, we’re not being graded on this, are we? because I’m not even supposed to be in this class…

    Anyway Jim, you’re enthusiastic and positive enough for me to want to bathe in your blood anytime, so don’t take this as snark because it isn’t.

    DC Comics is pretty fucking moribund, though. Isn’t it?

  26. Illogical Volume Says:

    One point I was a bit sloppy on earlier: increasingly our time is monetised too, in the age of biocapitalism: “by providing their feedback, their suggestions, and their preferences, consumers participate at no cost to producers in the creation of new products and services”.

  27. bobsy Says:

    Yaaas man. Fan / geek / comics culture has been at the experimental edge of biocapitalism for years: turn the consumer base into its own marketing department.

  28. Thrills Says:

    It’s awright, Capitalism, it all helps push the Earth towards maximum “caterpillar eating the leaf” ascension-point. It’s just a shame it’s got to directly negatively impact the lives of everyone I know (and millions I don’t know) before that bit of post-hippy meaningless “I’m rich but… but I’m still a counter-culturo, right?) semi-justification actually happens.

    Similar to Plok: I should not drink before posting, though he at least has sense to make.

    The whole “Actually, Capitalism, yeah!” thing is a bit Millar “LOL wear a suit when protesting so they hit the Crusties” Authority Cack (90s!) Hawksmoor, but y’know. I’m dubious of any pro-Capitalism opinions, even if that does make me seem all a bit Rik Young Wuns.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Just wanna point out that not all latter-day Morrison fans are huge assholes. The hypercrisis threads turned to pure cancer years ago though.

    Moz has proven himself to be an ol’ fashioned windbag, but he’s still the best big two fellow, the undisputed king of the shit-pile. You don’t have to buy any of his “time warner r gr8″ propaganda to believe that.

    I’m cautiously optimistic. The art looks superb.

  30. Thrills Says:

    Hmmm, post-booze-post shame. I see it was relevant to my old, cynical misgivings about Morrison (who I sort of still fucking love), not especially relevant to the actual discussion at hand on anything other than a surface level.

    Sorry about that.

    Still, that map is well good.

  31. JimHarbor Says:

    Eh, as Brian Salvatore’s pretty good article on MultiversityComics.com points out, DC has an IMAGE as being moribund but if you nickel and dime it (like most things) is a lot more nuanced than you see it. There’s no accounting for taste so any firm rubric on what ‘quality’ is, is going to be ultimately subjective, but I can at least tell, from my own relatively sparse readings of books from across all eight decades of DC comics, that in the 80 years, it’s been pretty consistent in maintain its sense of heroism. No “death” in sight. (The crash of the ‘50s WAS pretty bleak for everyone though). Whether you see DC as Lazarus or Frankenstein really comes down to a matter of personal belief.

    Sure there are horrible, horrible HORRIBLE stories out there, but then you have to hit Sturgeon’s revelation, I ultimately cannot predict the future, and I recognize the limit of my intelligence in mentally developing a post-capitalism future.

    I ultimately can’t say what a DC without capitalism would be like; all I can say is my thoughts on a DC WITH capitalism, which, of course, is all of it.

    So when I’m reading from Morrison to Moore to Wein to Adams to Kirby to Siegel and Shuster and (retroactively) through Dikto and Binder and Beck I’m seeing a series of genuinely great stories. Have these stories been marred by horrid events? Yes. Things that I would never take it upon myself to minimize or speak of without the necessitated proper context. But does that mitigate the level of artistry put out? I would claim no. The four examples of ‘Magic’ weren’t me trying to be comprehensive, just giving examples of works of art that weren’t just thriving in corporatism, but that were born from it. Alan Moore’s seminal Swamp Thing run was spawned from DC reviving the title to capitalize on the Wes Craven film; Watchmen only got made because of a corporate buyout of IP. (And is the reason he used analogs as well)

    As a black guy in America, I deal with the background energy of realizing the Nation I send my taxes to and pledged allegiance to in school condoned and supporting the enslavement and disenfranchisement of my entire peoples; and yet the various institutions of America are the reasons why I can even be here typing this out instead of working in a field.

    My point is Nations, like Companies aren’t categorically “good” or “evil” they, like all social engines, exist to further the goals of the people who form and run them.

    A company’s ultimate goal is to make money. In the capacity of an employee your ultimate goal is also to make money. This in of itself is not a bad thing. As I stated with the techtopus, and the AT&T buyout and slavery, Corporations have done and continue to horrible things, but I personally believe that’s not inherent to the nature of corporations any more than war crimes is inherent to the nature of a nation or violent crime is inherent to the nature of a person. I don’t know from whence you see “apathy.” Like I said, Murdoch getting TW would be pretty disastrous on the media industry for the Monopolized reasons I stated before. (Note the Techtopus, AT&T/T-Mobile or the South Park Cable companies with their nipple shirts.) I never said Capitalism was freedom, I said it was CONFLATED with freedom, because it’s basic organ (individuals exchanging goods and service for other goods and services) is fundamentally anarchic in concept. Of course, as folks whose job it is to actually deal with these things have noted ,the various systems of abuse, metagaming and complex sociological dynamic ensure it doesn’t really work all that simply. Which is why systems we have need to be ensured and developed in the manner to ensure the general wellbeing (For, just as the social system of a corporation’s Prime Directive is profit, the social system of a nation’s should be, at least ostensibly, common welfare).

    But can I sit here and confidently say that Murdoch is more evil than Jeffrey Bewkes or Kevin Tsujihara or Diane Nelson or Dan Didio or Jim Lee all the way down the chain? No I cannot.

    DC has done things that are not right, like all companies, which is why blind devotion is the kind of thing you shouldn’t go for, but blind anything isn’t a good idea either. Perhaps it’s a bit idealistic to try to impersonalize these things but I have honestly witness good things from capitalism. I’m no Kantian God, so I won’t sit here like the Spectre weighing the virtues and vices of an economic system across the whole of the world and history, but what I do know is that I can’t objectively correlate capitalism with ‘evil.’ I have no grounds to think of A Company running DC Comics being any better or worse than the several companies that have run it in the past.
    Now if you personally believe DC is moribund well then that is your prerogative, and it would make sense that you would find the capitalistic system that’s run it for 80 years lacking if you believe that DC Comics has been killed. I suppose then, if not to get too pretentious, that whether you believe Corporatism can produce good and valuable art ultimately depends on if you believe a Corporation can produce good and valuable art.
    Now I am of the camp, as a result of my personal experiences and those of the people interact and are close with, that Corporations can and have produced valued art and commentary. Comics Alliance, DC, Cartoon Network, Legendary Pictures, just a few examples of individual corporations that I have seen make a positive artistic impact on myself and others. Now if one were to play judge and weigh to see if these artistic productions are “worth” what has been consumed to make them, that is something up to each individual, but, and I believe this is a viewpoint I share with both Morrison and West (which probably has something to do with my constant references to them) that it is possible to produce art even with a business holding the purse strings. Even when that business is yourself. Corporate Ownership, IP management, creator rights, all aspects and important issues that all warrant (and have gotten) full discussions themselves, that I wouldn’t ever try to gloss over. Like with any corporate product (or I suppose any product in general) you have to make the Conscious decision if you want to support that industry with your money. “Voting with your dollars.” Do you as a person consent to give away money to Chiquita Banana, or Time Warner or TownSquare Media or your bookstore or any other private entity? I’m not going to speak for anyone else because it’s not my place to, and I’m sure my experience will vastly differ from others. But, as I am right now, I do not believe that Capitalism is an inherent evil, I don’t believe that business can’t produce art and I don’t believe that financial gain and corporate interest will categorically destroy the artistic integrity of a work. If you are of the opinion that DC’s output is not currently valuable (or valuable or enough) it’s a perfectly reasonable extension to believe that its history as corporate entity has poisoned this, just as it would be a reasonable belief for some to believe it hasn’t of they think DC HASN’T been killed. You’re right in that’s it’s probably age , but the Post-Reagan Thatcher style that spawned Robocop and The Dark Knight Returns isn’t necessarily a total truth. (Nor is an outright falsehood). Like I said, its nuance, and while I of course don’t believe that DC can do now wrong (there is a reason why my pull list from them is quite low) I’m not the guy who’ll thing I hope to think I have learned, it’s an acknowledgment of my own limits. Everyone is biased of course but I don’t think that’s inherently wrong, bias is just a result of how you have been personally affected right? I can’t speak on you because I’m not you so I’ll never tell you your concepts on capitalism are wrong , just like I’d never look the Kirbys in the eye and call them entitled. But by that same onus, I can only judge something based on its effects and impacts and evaluate it on those merits. And as far as those go, DC Comics isn’t dead.

    Don’t get me wrong Corporate America (and I’m sure Corporate Britain) is full of unfairness and politicking. And so is the Academia that I navigate and I can guess so is comics. Scratch that, we don’t have to, because in this internet age we are inundated with horror stories of Crossgen style breakdowns and editorial gone mad. But like I said, that’s an aspect of the people, not the system. (I’d question how much of those decisions were even good ideas from a business perspective, but that’s for the comments of another article) I’ve known and worked with the kind of people who know how to navigate and work through & with and ultimately fight above the nonsense to get the job done. And what they do is admirable. And the kind of people who have the face to BE fair in the face of that, the kind that have done well to get me to where I am today. I can’t in good faith make any categorical claims as capitalism and corporations as an inherent evil because I know and work with so many people who gained success, mitigated by the aforementioned unfairness within that scope. So I’m not going to call Karen Berger a sellout for her work at Vertigo or Morrison a sell out over All Star or Multiversity, or Mark Waid a sellout over Marvel or Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel or OluwaTosin Adegbola for her work at Morgan State. None of these people are “corporate stooges” (not that you’re saying they are but I’ve here similar arguments in the past) because they get paid make money doing what they love for a large private entity. I know ultimately the corporate culture has screwed and will screw people over, and I know my time to be on the chopping block will come up, but I don’t believe in the apocalyptic nature of the corporate climate. Hell, every good thing that came out of DC was from a corporation, because DC is itself a corporation. So just as it is folly to show apathy or a blind eye to corporate sins, I content that it is folly to asses any system on postulated inherencies, rather than merits. But again I try not the veer on pretension.

    For the record, that C.R.E.A.M nod was actually an esoteric reference to the TvTropes Page, in fitting with the Wu-Tang rap themes we were playing around with. Just a comment on how The Comics Internet (as you so aptly put it) seems to jell so well with the hip hop culture. We didn’t get a Jay-Z Album called Kingdom Come for nothing.

    In any case I’ve enjoyed this, I hope you don’t take this as some young whippersnapper calling out old hippies, I respect the craft Mindless Ones had brought to The Game and I’m honored to be speaking real like this with you guys.

    By the way, no probs on the drinking, the classical image of the drunken literati is a romantic one, but I have to contend with doing all my writing painfully teetotal.

    (Also, I JUST got that “running in circles and calling it revolution” pun. Slowcap for me.)

  32. JimHarbor Says:

    Anyone have the “morning after surprise” after writing something, because anytime I spend two days writing almost 2000 words for a comments section I start to question myself a bit.

    Eh, cie la vie. In any case I hope I dont seem like Julian Eaves coming here and talking shit, I just love discussion and the like if you havent noticed.

  33. plok Says:

    JIM!!

    Great reply!

    Just give me a few hours to drag together my sordid and scattered brain cells and I will try to put something of similar size and depth on the table. By the way, I don’t mind you streaming me in with Bobsy because Bobsy is a wiser head than I. And I shouldn’t have come over all “old man” — you’re clearly no “whippersnapper”.

    Ahh, but I do love a good old Mindless Ones comment thread! It’s Morrison, really. He gets us talking. He’s never irrelevant.

    Couple of points before hitting the hay like a ton of bricks: one, I always say that the thing to remember is that ALL ACTION IS TAKEN BY INDIVIDUALS. Corporations don’t mean things or intend things, corporations don’t so much as do things…only individual human beings make decisions. This does not seem to be a rebuttal of anything you’ve said, I hope? Because I definitely don’t mean it as a rebuttal, I mean it as an agreement.

    TWO!! Art within the corporate structure, much as personal responsibility within a structure that depersonilizes actions, yeesssss…say, isn’t there an incredibly awesome Mindless post about just that? “The Prismatic Age” identified the steering of the ship of the 2000s, but then (again only at Mindlessones Dot Com) “the Communist Bullpen”, for my money, elucidated the active factors of the 2010s. Since we’re talking “Clobberin’ Time” and “Prismatic Age”, we might as well draw in the third side of the triangle, eh IllVol?

    And besides, I want there to be NO COMICS PERSON who hasn’t had an opportunity to read it…!

    But, also three: I dunno, Jim, I guess we all navigate. Comics is about the talented people who breathe subversive life into branded lunchbox stickers, but the corporations don’t care, can’t see, assign no value to, that cool work. It is essentially volunteer work, and volunteer work that must be conducted on the downlow lest an Owner object to one of their properties being made interesting, stimulating, magnetic to their audience/readership. So you’re right, in that this has always been the way of things and it always will be the way of things. Only weirdoes who invest too much and commit too much to the beautification of shit they’ll never own, keep this whole gerbil-wheel spinning ’round. By the way, did you know that recent studies find if you put a gerbil wheel just out in the middle of nowhere that actual wild animals will come and take a ride on it for a while? Is true. I mean…and I know you won’t believe me, but it’s so…EVEN SNAILS.

    Even snails will get on a gerbil wheel and try, in their slow small slimy snaily way, to make it spin.

    You make a good point: corporations aren’t complicated, but people are. Who can judge another person, right down to the fine structure of them? It can’t be done. It’s above our class. One can maybe judge people, even if just in a non-nuanced way by their deeds, though. Talking comics, here: when I say DC looks moribund, I guess I mean not any moral thing, nor any assessment about any abstracted “character” of a company (i.e. a legal fiction), but I mean that the writers and artists operating under the corporate banner are far-too-cheerfully churning out far too much empty soulless shit. Where, for the love of all that’s unholy, is that old wonky subversion and cleverness and humour? Well obviously those words are just containers too, that are waiting to be filled and emptied at different times according to different contexts and zeitgeists, but what I guess I really mean is…

    Where is the humanism?

    Morrison does have it, but he seems like a material in short supply just now. Where is it otherwise? Why oh why, Jim, do comics creators of our present age seem to seek so strenuously to keep the feeling from me? To keep the interest from me? Morrison, even when he’s being “bad”, never leaves this part out…there’s always something worth talking abut, in what he writes. There are excellent thought-provoking artists, too, Cam Stewart among them…has never drawn a dull or bland picture, probably doesn’t even know how to. But…and forgive me, because I go on far too long with far too little plan…there is Editorial too, isn’t there? And in recent years Editorial has really exerted its authority overtly, to the point where people who need the work quit, they’re not allowed to do what they want to do, somebody somewhere appoints themself as the mouthpiece of a fictional entity and hides behind that screen…when it is really just another action taken by an individual but they SAY it’s “what DC wants” or “what Marvel wants”…

    HMMM.

    Well, maybe it’s good that I went on so long and so artlessly, after all? THANK YOU, JIM! Because I guess that’s what sits poorly in my mouth about Grant’s claims for the emergent, evanescent, e-mortal DCU AI…not just the superheroes but the UNIVERSE coming to save us…

    Because it would’ve been a lovely thought to entertain forty years ago, or thirty, or even twenty, or EVEN TEN…but the supercomics universe is filled with the perverse dictates of editorial persons now, isn’t it? YET THEY DO NOT CLAIM TO BE “PERSONS”. They claim to be priests of the zeitgeist. They tell you what “DC” wants and is doing, they tell you what “Marvel” wants and is doing…well could the (Durkheimianly) innovation of Stan Lee have continued to function is we hadn’t moved on from “the Bullpen” to “the armadilloes”? Heh, I think the armadilloes were Steve Gerber’s invention, actually…but what I mean is, could this primitive biocapitalism have continued to thrive, and drive new product, if there hadn’t been a shield between individual readers and individual writers, artists, editors? Without this tacit depersonalization, no congress, no third-person “we asked Jolly Jack what he thought about it and he said GRRR, so glean from that what you will, True Believer!” Eddie Campbell had a great forensic look at a Lee/Kirby Captain America comic last year or so in which he sort of comes at Dave Fiore’s material from the other side…when Stan actually sends real letters under his own name to Superfans of Marvel in the Sixties, it is really Stan talking…Stan’s own personal way of putting his own words together as himself, and representing himself. It is not this guy in the FF Fan Page. That’s not Stan. That’s MARVEL. Yet “Marvel” is still partly Stan, because he had his hand in everything in those early days. Conan O’Brien avant le lettre, he was not just a company man but also a creative-staff guy…jumping up on desks and shouting “THWIPP! Spidey gets ‘im, see? But the Scorpion doesn’t like it, you know what I mean John? So he swings that TAIL of his, and breaks open a CHIMNEY…!” A very complex character, is Our Man Stan. Our man in Stanistan. Royale with Cheese.

    Hey, anyone else suddenly wanna hear Stan read aloud from the script of Pulp Fiction? Playing all the parts?

    No?

    Just me?

    ANYWAY, what I mean there Jim is that Grant Morrison’s idea of the Living AI DCU might’ve sat okay with me in the days of Dick Giordano (RIP!), even perhaps in the days of Paul Levitz…I mean we are getting further and further from the ideal of a Local God of these little fictional metaphorical sub-universes, aren’t we?…but perhaps because he is SUCH a Len Wein-worshipper, perhaps because he is SUCH a Jack Kirby worshipper, such a Stan-worshipper, what he claims for the emergent consciousness of the DCU is perhaps a bit out of place in our hopefully-modern time today? Len and Marv and Jack and Dick and Stan and even E. Nelson Bridwell are IN that DNA, but they’re like the tale of the introns in ST: TNG. “Junk DNA”. They’re there, and maybe they even have a role in current gene-expression, but the pleasing (almost said “plasing”, HAH!!) fiction of “Johnny DC” or of “the Bullpen” or even of the armadilloes (God, I hope I am not misspelling “armadilloes”, how embarrassing) perhaps isn’t very pleasing anymore?

    Is it not just too, too obvious that “DC” and “Marvel” don’t exist as plausible corporate consciousnesses anymore? That “DC” is just “what Dan Didio thinks will work” and that “Marvel” is just “what Joe Quesada thinks he can get away with”?

    Is there not a difference, now?

    Do we not sense that our ccollective chain is being YANKED? By these corporate-mentality fictions that we ourselves have supposedly built? I mean I helped to build “Marvel” for a quarter-century. I saw it decline to the point where I didn’t want to read Marvel comics anymore, but it was the same “MARVEL”, I thought…and then in the 200s I thought it was the same “Marvel” too, just going through some changes. But soon after that I felt like my co-created “Marvel” had been zombied-out, possessed, occupied by someone other than me. I mean other than some other READER…

    So what is it that Syzygy says to Vanth? “Belief is fragile; a word can kill it.”

    But, as I said…it was unwise for me to prattle on this way without giving some thought to what I was going to say. And, hey…I did mention I’d been drinking?

    Are these words from the future?

    Anyway, pardon me. But, I think YEAH…that’s why I can’t stomach Grant’s emergent DCU AI consciousness anymore. Because it’s actually been a hell of a lon g time since (as far as I can tell) any reader has had any significant input into its weird biocapitalist cyborg form. Really it is — what an outrage! — barely biocapitalistic at all, anymore. From the masses, all that is now required is the toleration of how a degraded YET INTERESTING process of the past is now not even happening, but they still say it is? Still pretend it is?

    Sorry, this has all been garbage, but it gets me to a word I’ve been looking for at least fifteen years now:

    CARPETBAGGERS.

    Oh, and now that’s for sure a sign I’ve rambled and rambled and misspoke myself, and besides the beer’s almost gone.

    MORE LATER!

    And thanks for the springboard, Jim. I do believe you’re helping me to clarify my curmudgeonly thoughts.

  34. Illogical Volume Says:

    Trust me Jim, I’ve been there, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not providing you with a 3,000 word response.

    Plok and Bobsy have already worked to show that their critique of capitalism isn’t of the knee-jerk, 1996 Illogical Volume variety. What’s more, their arguments don’t prohibit the possibility of good art being made within a capitalist system, and they’re certainly not based on concerns about anyone “selling out”. Capitalism is the air we breath right now, and while its impact on all of our actions and “leavings” should not be ignored, I doubt any of us quite qualify for the title of “That Grumpy Old Guy Who Hates Everything”.

    I can’t speak for everyone (the Mindless not really being a hive mind and all), but the neutrality you see in the system is the clear source of our disagreement with your position. Capitalism is founded on the extraction of value from time/labour/property, and while there are many different forms of capitalism (it being an ever-changing human construct), and while many people do very well in spite/because of this, a critique of its basic dynamic is not just viable but necessary. As Bobsy, Plok and Thrills have all indicated, this enquiry stretches far beyond issues of creators rights or questions of whether the corporate interest flattens cultural affect, much as I might like to spend some time discussing the former in terms of workers rights or questioning whether we want to let the second point slide on the basis of subjectivity.

    But no, this critique is not primarily concerned with the legacy of Grant Morrison or Karen Berger or even Dan Didio. It’s also not a disavowal of personal responsibility: as Plok says, corporations don’t take action, the people within them do. As I said: capitalism is a man made system, and we are its operators, so we need to take responsibility for it.

    Some people are more responsible than others though, so this critique has more to do with the brutal increase of inequality in Western countries, the global exploitation that supports life in the first world, the subhuman working conditions that are required to earn “developing” countries that title, and the environmental effects of our current mode of operation.

    This has to do with what the consumers’ “best interests” really are, and what we’re told they are.

    It also raises the question of how much the system defines or limits its use.

    You clearly know the scope of this – it’s not like you’ve shied away from mentioning slavery in your response, after all – but I fear the true scale of our conversation is at risk of being obscured by its pop-culture context.

    If we’re talking about merits and personal experience, I have done reasonably well from capitalism and could easily do a lot better because I am white, Western, well-educated, and capable of astounding feats of bullshit. I earn the national average wage and my life is starkly luxurious when considered in local terms (around 75% of Scottish people earn less than I do). In global terms my situation is horrifically privileged. Speaking as objectively as I can, I live an amazing life, and I enjoy the pop culture products I loudly consume on a daily basis; this no more justifies the conditions that are required for me to enjoy such confections than my love of my home town justifies the fact that so much of it was built on the wealth of tobacco lords.

  35. Ben Says:

    Wow, did I say Barbelith was dead back there? If I post something like “Chill out dudes, let’s get back to talking about teh COMICS!!1!1!” will Haus pop out of the woodwork and figuratively tear me into tiny pieces?

    Can we consider this comments thread as the first salvo of a dialogue re-initiated?

  36. bobsy Says:

    Jim is actually Haus in disguise, we all know this, right?

  37. Thrullz Says:

    And much like Barbelith, I only check Mindless Ones to find out if there’re annotations explaning King Mob’s abysmal taste in, well, everything, and if it’s somehow related to the Outer Church.

    PS This thread is a good read.

  38. bobsy Says:

    King Mob Konfessional: the other week I found myself listening to, and enjoying, Ocean Colour Scene. Dad-rock, for dads, makes a horrible, horrible kind of sense some days.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Only the rudest dialectics on mindless ones dot org

  40. bobsy Says:

    dot COM! Does this shit look organised to you?

  41. Mark Says:

    Bob – WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVE?!?

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Let’s take it way back into the other side of controversy. (This is the only way people will pay attention to my shit.)

    Don’t buy comics, even if they’re good. They shouldn’t cost four bucks or nine pounds-none-the-shilling if you’re britbongese. Comics were initially designed to be cheap and thrilling. A few are still thrilling, but none are cheap. You could prolly buy a box of cereal for the price of one of these floppies. Unlike a floppy, you need cereal to live.

    We have to stop encouraging these assbutts with their low-circulation content farms. The hell with buying shit you can get for free on the internet. The only reason anyone should be buying this shit anymore is to upload it for the rest to download.

    Sure, reading print comics is more fun. But shit is fucked up. Stop buying comics until shit stops being fucked up. Maybe only buy comics that aren’t implicitly connected to fucked up shit at every stage of the production process. Even then, don’t go for the twee expensive indie stuff. Until comics cost a dollar again, stop fucking buying them.

    Radicalism is hereby reclaimed from randroid hucksterism. FEAR ME

    https://www.change.org/petitions/mindlessones-com-change-your-website-to-mindlessones-org#share

  43. Illogical Volume Says:

    Mindless Ones dot cock. Check out the website, yeah? It’s well fucking futile: http://youtu.be/AwTzPnWsz20

  44. Ben Says:

    Speaking of futile, flicking through the channels I saw the editor of SugaRAPE was on Celebrity Catchphrase the other day. Well weapon

  45. bobsy Says:

    He’s been gay, not gay, oh yeah gay again, for ages on Corrie.

  46. werdsmiffery Says:

    NEXT ISSUE: Will our intrepid Mindlessnauts manage to escape the enticing snares of late capitalism? Or will they remain forever trapped in the #SPECTACLE? Don’t miss it for the world, True Believers!!!

  47. JimHarbor Says:

    Anon is right, Capitalism basis on “The Consent of teh Serviced” means no one should feel forced to go for what isn’t a “good deal” (thus my stance on Monopolies and nipple shirts)

    Also anyone getting a kick out of how aptonic it is we’re mulling over all this stuff and yet getting REALLY bullpinny with it? I’m like three seconds from going on twiiter and making posts as ‘”King” James Harbor, the world’s Second Most Foremost Batmanologist ‘ and starting a Colbert-Stewart-O’Brian style feud with Chris Sims .

    It may be a bit of bad taste given the subject matter, but this is just WAY to fun.

    And now we have South Park quotes threatening to bring up latent Crypto-fascist impulses.

    God I love the internet.

  48. JimHarbor Says:

    I’m also like 99% sure that the Villain of Ultra Comics, if not the entire crossover itself, is the Biocapitalist Hypercrisis “Mad Morrison’s Mystery Cult” we’re all embodying right now.

    Hey, Time Person of the Year AND Grant Morrison Comic Book Villian, thinsg are looking up for us.

  49. Illogical Volume Says:

    “If I post something like “Chill out dudes, let’s get back to talking about teh COMICS!!1!1!” will Haus pop out of the woodwork and figuratively tear me into tiny pieces?”

    There’ll be no angry mobs on my watch, but that does sound like the sort of thing you’d say Benhaus, what with you being an illuminati plant and all…

    (Kingdom Come? The king came already, and like the man Plok says, he’s been bragging about his empire state of mind – it never ended, apparently.)

    Anyway, since we’re in no danger of unfucking shit up, sure, let’s talk comics! I really like the territory Jim has nudged Plok into exploring, and I sort of want to cross-reference that with Ben’s earlier point about Stan Lee’s politics. I don’t know if you read those old Dave Fiore essays I linked to in the body of the post, but in the first one Dave has a lot of fun with this, talking about how the Marvel voice found itself outflanked on multiple sides by a readership that was more vocally political than it could allow itself to be:

    ”The company’s popularity with a widening demographic was purchased at the price of its easy acceptance (and promulgation) of Cold War liberal maxims which, as in this exchange, were inevitably exposed as the melodramatic accoutrements of an ideological system as patently fictional as the Marvel Universe itself. Soon, readers would take Lee’s defensive statement that “someone’s gotta be the villain” more seriously than he had ever intended it—and would even begin to suggest that those responsible for the state of American society (including the Democratic and Republican parties) and the world in the mid-1960s ought to be the villains.”

    I can still see hints of this – Action Comics #9, the best issue of G-Mo’s run by like a million miles, feels very much like Morrison’s attempt to deal with the fallout from Supergods – but in general I agree with Plok, except in that I think the question of the efficiency of modern big two biocapitalism is arguably higher and lower at the same time.

    Marvel, at least, have successfully colonised a whole other medium, and their books seem to broadcast on the same frequency as the modern comics readership – even if that sometimes leads to “conversation” that’s more like cheerleading by reciprocal memefication (“HAWKGUY!” etc). They’re doing something right, even if the question of “right by whom” is more open than ever.

    Anyway, now I’m cross because I was going to say that Plok’s thoughts had nudged me into writing a premature (p)Review** of Ultra Comics as man vs. biocapitalism – I’ll still do that post, but Jim’s come back and stolen my thunder, the fucker!

    Anonymous’s first comment makes me think there’s method to the Merry Marvel Madness***, and their second post is full of strong truths (I am forever quitting comics, but things like Stathis Tsemberlidis drawing an issue of zero tend to break my fast), so THANK YOU ANONYMOUS!

    –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> –> 

    *DAMN YOU STAN!

    **No but seriously though!

    ***Jim is correct to observe that the Bullpen state of mind has descended on this thread, and there’s something be said for this method’s ability to let big arguments be lightly felt – the question of whether this also limits the conversation is one I don’t feel capable of answering today.

  50. JimHarbor Says:

    It begins!

  51. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t use my words to justify capitalism, you sub-huckster

    fite me irl

  52. Illogical Volume Says:

    Your an capitalism

  53. PapaPopGuru Says:

    It’s easy to be a cynic. Cynicism sells (that’s how that horrible GrimDark managed to bend us over and take the contents of our wallets), we were morbidly entranced by it from TDKR to that nasally droning fugue of… Whatever other comic they’ve got Batman doing the rounds in this week.
    I’ll like Jim. I’m in the early 20′s I weaned on Bendis, ’til I found GMoz and quickly stuck my fingers down my throat before gorging. I HAVEN’T read every comic under the sun, but I’ve been blessed by that strange creature of retrocession. Those old stories that time forgot, these Zoo Crews and Rainbow Beasts, were referenced and so resurrected.
    Morrison’s a magician, though we might have all forgotten it. He knows the true name of a company is an Egregore. How would you kill an Egregore? How would you kill Leviathan? How did Noh-Varr kill Hexus?
    In this amniotic fluid of capitalism, he’s doing what he can. how can you defeat a creature that eats your hate, contempt and cynicism and shits it into a product? You feed it something it can’t digest. By the time it MIGHT have re-eaten the concept enough times, you’ve still had time to think up something that could kill it again.
    (Just a brief aside: Maybe it’s just capitalism that doesn’t allow a company to do anything to run a profit. Is there a system that allows a company to make up it’s mind about what it wants? I’m just a little curious if that already has a name.)

  54. Illogical Volume Says:

    It’s easy to be a cynic, yes, and I’m with Flex Mentallo on the merits of that position. It’s also increasingly easy to confuse cynicism with any attitude that fails to express the requisite amount of enthusiasm for popular entertainment product X or the broader status quo.

    This is part of the efficiency of contemporary geek biocapitalism: reaction is fine, but it’s betterbest if it aspires to the status of cheerleading.

    Post DKR “grim’n'gritty” comics were cynical on two counts: firstly, in their attempt to transform a couple of successful comics into a marketable trend, and secondly in the crude view of human nature they reflected, a worldview that had little to do with the baroque caricature of Watchmen and which generally lacked the manic energy of Frank Miller’s cruel parodies.

    Neither of these models of cynicism can be easily applied to this endlessly-egressing pre-emption of Morrison’s Multiversity.

    So: is it cynical to hope that Multiversity will provide a communal, conversational experience (as the best Morrison comics have in the past) but to worry that it might feel like just another pitch for Morrison dot org (as too many of his recent stories have)? I would suggest that it is not.

    Is it cynical to try to understand the workings of the system we live in, or to not allow your enjoyment of various products of that society to blind you to the suffering it causes others? Again, I would suggest not. What’s more, I would argue that conflating this with “cynicism” is ultimately self-pleasing and self-defeating.

    As in my responses to Jim (who I’ll like every time he writes a piece for Deep Space Transmission – for reals, his second Multiversity piece is well worth a read!), I worry that I’m coming off a little harsh here so I hope you’ll forgive me, the premise established at the start of your comment just set my teeth ringing.

    You’re right that Morrison is “doing what he can” in the writing of his stories, although you could dispute his choice of venue.

    Still, the aforementioned ninth issue of Action Comics performs its dual purpose with considerable intelligence and flair, prompting a discussion of the very system it exists to perpetuate, and I can respect that. To expect a Batman comic to end or vastly improve capitalism would be to sprint way past optimism and off into the land of make-believe. To expect it to cast strange shadows on the world it exists in is to dwell on the further edges of the optimistic: it’s not necessarily a sensible expectation, but there are plenty of comics out there that prove that it’s not entirely absurd.

    With regards to your last few points, there are various ways to structure companies so they aren’t built for private profit – cooperative and mutual organisations to public ownership – though these only sync with your question about allowing companies to make up their minds about what they want if you adjust that to be a question of who gets to be involved in the decision making process and what the parameters govern that decision making are. There are also models that emphasise worker participation, but of course, there are also arguments about how much participatory models actually serve the interests of workers, so…

  55. Anonymous Says:

    We all have to be excited and enthusiastic and read about how excited and enthusiastic we are and should be or else we’ll realize, just for a second how profoundly, permanently bored we really are and every excruciating moment of that is so much worse than being brain-dead, you have no idea just please make it stop

  56. Anonymous Says:

    Also fuck that guy for ruining the perfect 52 replies we had going on.

  57. PapaPopGuru Says:

    Sorry for my vagueness to what I was referring to in my previous comment: I can really only guess what shape Morrison’s further projects will exist in after he’s done with them (well, as much as any artist can ever be done with a work). I’ll have fun reading, speculating, occasionally entering comic-induced-dharma to try and bring back some little germ of insight.
    I meant that even if DC and it’s wriggly, leech-like editors and BoD’s might actively be a form of Evil, sucking the Bleed dry, they still have to play by rules. They still have to let creativity in (if it sells) so they can feast some more, and creativity has unexpected and occasionally positive outcomes that DO make a difference.
    I was reading Andrew’s review of GotG, and in the comments plok said something about it not being “his” Guardians. And that’s the point! The cretinous garbage of junk capitalism can create a brilliant piece of art and surrender it’s ownership onto it’s reader!
    Isn’t the fact that sites like Barbelith, MindlessOnesdotfreshbeats and DST are all tools outside the margin of trademarks and profit something of a net positive? I’d never have learnt more about comics, their creators and their CULTURE without these sites.
    They’re invaluable resources for the poor, the undereducated, but also the passionate people who need a gateway into higher ideas and ideals. I want to thank everyone: Grant, Jim, Everyone on Mindless Ones, who have enriched my readings and inspired me to try to reach all of your calibre of research, writing and thought. I’m still working on it.

  58. PapaPopGuru Says:

    Oh, and your link isn’t working for me. Though as I was trying to sleep last night, I realised with some discomfort that the organic action of Corporations in the world may act disturbingly like Pantheism…

  59. JimHarbor Says:

    If the link you’re looking to is my work than I suppose this doesn’t count as shameless self promotion.

    Speaking of, are we assuming pitches for “Morrison dot org” are a bad thing ;)

    https://sites.google.com/a/deepspacetransmissions.com/site/

  60. Illogical Volume Says:

    The links should work now, I fucked the html before, sorry!

    Jim – All I know is that I’m not interested in pitches for Morrison’s own personal brand these days. He seems like a funny, interesting guy, but I’m no longer interested in buying shares in all that.

    PapaPopGuru – I’m flattered that you rate us all so highly! I think we’ve all come across as being suitably pleased with ourselves here, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that I’ve loved being a part of some of the conversations comics have lead me to. I’m just aware that there’s more to it than all that, and what’s more I’m enough of a prick to want to keep reminding you of this fact.

  61. JimHarbor Says:

    This is true. Everyone likes the Key Party, but you still have to look each other in the eye at teh office come Monday Morning.

  62. plok Says:

    I do take your point, PapaPopGuru, about the sweatshops allowing for the creation of art which could actually mean something permanent to somebody…but I don’t know if you’re not overstating the point just slightly? To The Communist Bullpen we could also add Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics book, which shows an alamingly chaotic picture of a bunch of people who are simply operating under dozens of conflicting objectives, to the point where even “making money” is a rather confused excuse for a goal. Creativity actually does sell, but that doesn’t mean anyone concerned with the bottom line has to opt for it or tolerate it, or even know if it is or isn’t present. If the real world is a bit shorter on enlightened, rational self-interested actors than we’ve been led to believe it is, comics companies have even fewer of these, until your average elementary-school playground looks like a Randian utopia by comparison? Art historians may look at the talent Marvel had on hand and say “sure, that’s why they were popular”, but that isn’t the whole story either…you could also argue that all the artistic stuff was purely subversive, and that no one outside the readership even recognized that there was any art going on at all. Certainly the train of Armani-suited people who successively used Marvel Comics as a piggybank never understood anything about the work that the money rode on the back of! To them, it was always work-for-hire in the purest sense, like hiring someone to dig a ditch. And even the creators may have been thinking more about their job as a job, then as an opportunity to get their hands on a big canvas.

    Sorry, bit off-point I guess…anyway what I mean is, although the only place for subversive art is in a place where it has no choice but to be subversive, I still balk at saying junk capitalism actually (technically) enables the art, to the point where we can say enabling it is really sort of like generating it, or even rendering it to its audience. Anyway the love in any labour of love can’t be laid at cretinous capitalism’s feet, even if the labour kinda-sorta can be…er? Right?

    Wait, did that make sense?

    Anyway, far from surrendering any numinous ownership to me, what they’ve really mostly been good at for the last little while is taking it away. “My” Guardians have been 100% completely broken down and recycled to the point where the thing in the movie only contains naturopathic-medicine levels of that thing I liked, and that only because (possibly) it’s partly copying a copy of it that wasn’t even made in the world of comics in the first place. Sorry, that all just sounds like I’m whining about it all bitter-like, but…okay, take another Gerber example. Howard The Duck. No one could ever handle Howard but Gerber, it just becomes another sarcastic duck smoking a cigar in anybody else’s hands, because no one else has ever really wanted to use Howard as their mouthpiece. And really, why would they? What would be the point? Creativity could (and did!) make money when it came to Howard, but only if it was Gerber’s own personal creativity…and that’s the exact sort of creativity that capitalism doesn’t want to let in. Actually, you know what really makes me laugh? Grant saying that Super-Obama should get his own book, I mean don’t get me wrong I’d probably read that, but…how IMPOSSIBLE is that idea?!?

    How nuts is Grant, to say that?

    Actually it’s funny in a couple of different ways, because there was Gerber all those years ago with Marvel saying “No one can write the Duck but me, so just give it to me!” but here is Morrison saying “hey, I just made President Black Superman, anybody else wanna run with that” and there’s NO TAKERS. Constantly making stuff no one can follow, and wishing they would…

    Off-topic again, pardon me. Anyway, “my” Guardians, it’s about halfway between “my” Defenders and “my” HTD. Anyone could write the Defenders if they had anything to say with them, but nowadays no one does. So capitalism isn’t exactly doing great things there, in terms of enabling sideways artistic creation. On the other side, only Gerber could ever write Howard, so Marvel’s ownership of the Duck has never amounted to anything more than the right to warehouse him. And the Guardians are in the middle, or they would be if they’d ever been kept in one piece after they were made, but they weren’t. Of course there is a pretty obvious thing to say about how it was Drake and Colan who made them, not Gerber and Sal Buscema, I don’t deny it, but that’s not really what I’m trying (poorly) to articulate here…I’m just trying to say that while I do agree about the unintended creative side-effects of the goo of capitalism, at the same time I’d stop short of saying such side-effects are inevitable…capitalistic structures can as easily barricade art as permit it. In my opinion creativity does indeed sell, always always sells, but creativity isn’t WHAT Marvel and DC sell, or at least not what they try to sell or what they want to sell, and they can keep its incidence mighty low whenever they decide that’s a priority for them. Or whenever they pursue some other prioritized objective that creativity increases the cost of. In the Shooter Era, Big Jim’s own artistic/editorial objectives made a LOT of bad comics from good ones…in the Nineties, Herb Trimpe was forced to draw like Rob Liefeld. The garbage heap of cretinous capitalism CAN make sure no interesting and original weeds sprout out of it, and I think that’s the sort of thing it’s doing right now, at least as far as the Big Two go.

    Not that I don’t appreciate your positive outlook! And I do kind of share it, so I don’t know why I’m being such a bastard about it right now…they can never keep the good stuff entirely out, because they don’t really know what it is. But at the same time, barriers to entry are slamming up all over the place now, consolidation seems to be the name of the current corporate game, and it increasingly looks like ONLY Morrison can bust out and do freaky things. So maybe the Morrison Brand isn’t really being sold to us, anyway? Maybe it’s just being sold to DC, and all his crazy interviews are for DC folk to read and say “I dunno what makes that guy so good at promotion, but maybe we’d better hang onto him until we can sequence his DNA.” Maybe they’re the real “Supergods” readership, and we’re not? Well…personally I just like his comics, you know?

    They’re really good.

    Oh!

    And just to say: yeah, the non-corporate comics culture sites, like this one here, they’re really good too! But (everyone is sick of hearing this, I know) as time goes on there’s consolidation happening on these platforms as well. It isn’t a big deal, but I feel like increasing optimization is pushing me way further out of the discussion than I was a couple years ago, so I guess I am grumpier about such things now than I otherwise would be. If comics blogland is like a big lettercol, for me it’s like the price of stamps just went up…

    But, maybe I shouldn’t leave comments before I’ve had my morning coffee, too, and that one’s on ME.

  63. JimHarbor Says:

    “My” Guardians have been 100% completely broken down and recycled to the point where the thing in the movie only contains naturopathic-medicine levels of that thing I liked, and that only because (possibly) it’s partly copying a copy of it that wasn’t even made in the world of comics in the first place.

    How so?

  64. plok Says:

    Gerber’s Guardians were a bunch of war vets who couldn’t fit in after their side finally won, and struggled with intense repression and thoughts of suicide. Nagged on by a mysterious, possibly omniscient being, they executed a number of SF psychodramas designed to bring them back to life, kicking and screaming all the way…and also a bit like Star Trek.

    But it didn’t last. After Gerber left the title, the characters were re-employed by Jim Shooter for his Korvac Saga, diminishing in relatability as they went on…a character-driven book surrendered its characters to the milling process of the Shooter Era, and the major conceits of the Guardians were ground out. Mark Gruenwald kept Vance Astro from ever making it to space, during the Nineties Starhawk lost his specific symbolic heft in the same stroke that took away his mystery…and I don’t even know where Nikki ended up. I hope somewhere nice. And I didn’t see any of them again until maybe Farscape came on the air, though I can’t say for sure if Gerber influenced O’Bannon at all. But Farscape had the same sort of character-based use of conventions as well as approximately the same setting and scenario, and a friend did cause me to wonder if maybe the GotG of today didn’t partly come out of a “hey let’s do a kinda-sorta Farscape thing” calculation…

    But that doesn’t really matter, what matters to me is that after Gerber left the Guardians characters became tokens of conflict rather than sites of conflict, and this is the real shame: because since cretinous capitalism prefers tokens, tokens are just what we get after a while. The arc of capitalism is long, and bends toward pantomime? As opposed to proper melodrama, or even something a bit more ambitious than that. So what we get is schematic instead of real (even if adolescent) feeling…which is ironic, because Gerber’s Guardians were all about the latter, about nothing much more than the latter. Living through constant crises makes it hard to grow, so how do you manage it if there isn’t any time? Much as Morrison feeding the System something it can’t properly digest, Gerber gave his characters crises that couldn’t be got past without owning yer shit for real.

    But that’s a whole world of affect that doesn’t even exist in the Big Two anymore, not as Seventies psychodrama, not as proper bombastic melodrama, not as nuthin’. Grant, of course, somehow makes the schematics sing, even though by this time they shouldn’t even be able to carry a tune well enough to hum along…but to mangle Englehart on Dr. Strange, if we could do what Grant Morrison does we’d bloody well be Grant Morrison, wouldn’t we?

    Bit of a sleep-deprived answer, Jim, so excuse me if it’s gobbledegook. Jeez, between too much beer and lack of coffee and sleep-deprivation I am wondering if I’ll ever leave a non-suck comment here…

    But thank you for making me a non-thread-killer!

  65. plok Says:

    Until now, that is.

  66. JimHarbor Says:

    Ah, and your thoughts on the modern incarnation?

    and dont worry about the gobbledegook, I annotate Grant Morrison comics for fun, a little bit of sleep deprived obscurationism wont bother me none.

  67. plok Says:

    Mighty fine work you do, too! Still puzzling Multiversity Map Post #1…fuly up to le vrai DST standard and then some…

    So I don’t want to sound like a complete prick, and I will explain in a moment, but I haven’t read DC or Marvel comics since they went out of their way to alienate me. That’s okay, it hasn’t been the first time. But no one has ever said to me “forget your disgust, you gotta read GotG, why Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are doing some unmissable stuff…!” And modern comics just don’t HAVE the stuff I’m looking for anymore, I know that because I’m NOT their audience.

    Combine this with me never having read a GotG book since Stern finished up Gerber, and there’s actually a stereoscopic view, and once again I am not trying to be a prick, but…

    So Annihilation was the L/A Marvel version of Invasion!, basically, and to prove it there was a little bit of Keith Giffen in there. Out of it we got a kind of Legion ’89 which was the new GotG, which I would characterize as (again, not trying to be a prick, these are talented people) a sort of Paul Cornell-type effort? Sort of like a James Robinson to a Marv Wolfman, and again no disrespect intended. But this “reinvigoration of properties” thing seems really to be pretty much all about the reinvigoration of PROPERTIES, and…well…is the whole thing not like Starman teaming up with Space Cabby? Laced with a little bit of Dracula on the Moon? FUNCOMMIXX! I mean, maybe I’m way off base. Maybe it’s like Alien Legion instead…

    Oh shit, I sound like a lowbrow Gary Groth.

    But anyway I mean it’s a SPACE TEAM, hence the added ingredient of Legion ’89. Takes a bunch of characters and throws them together! Rocket Raccoon! Star-Lord! Drax! They’re all Kosmik, right? Apart from Rocket Raccoon…

    So it’s an exercise in creative, even witty, recombination of elements. Oh crap, now I sound like a lowbrow Kenneth Smith, which I’m pretty sure is an oxymoron…

    But okay. Recombination of existing elements, there’s nothing really wrong with that. Clever comics chops, in the modern style. All without having read a page of it, mind, so fans of the book feel free to dump down on me, but remember I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying I bet it doesn’t have any ideas that Legion ’89 didn’t have before it in the DCU. And actually Marvel already had a team like the modern GotG that they could’ve used instead of them: the Starjammers. So this is just like the Starjammers except with existing standalone properties? Like the Defenders in space. Like someone looked at the UN and said “this’d be more exciting with heads of state, let’s call it…The League Of Nations!!”

    Sorry…channelling Roy Thomas…

    But it is a bit Roy Thomas in that it’s a sort of space-JSA?

  68. K. Jones Says:

    “To go back to Kanye West (again) one of his skills is showing artistry and corporatism arr not mutually exclusive .”

    Here’s an interesting conundrum I exist with every day as an underemployed artist; how can it be art if nobody sees it? There’s nothing inherently evil about a publication, a showcase, a gallery, a space to place. There’s only so long that ultra-enlightened rebel underground scene can go, and usually it’s about when you’ve got a mortgage or two to pay for. Plus, wasn’t the point in getting the work out there to the maximum eyeballs in the first place? Spread the gospel!

    The authority, the institution, the company is an enemy made of people. “How do you fight an enemy made of people?” asks Superman.

    Wonder Woman’ll be the answer. Fuck ‘em all isn’t a cynical, defeatist answer … it’s a literal call to arms. Paradise Island: Once everyone has fucked everyone there’s nothing left to do but improve humanity.

    On that liberal-conservatism beat; it’s becoming more and more prevalent a strain. A small culture of would-if-only I were enlightened dictators slavering for the next Khan, or Leviathan, to come along and say what needs be done, the New World Order, then be horrified when they realize they don’t fit in the picture. The horror of progress! Halfway done with the comments …

  69. K. Jones Says:

    Of course, that map is fucking good times. (Note how easily it becomes a map of ALL OF FICTION.)

  70. K. Jones Says:

    “I can still see hints of this – Action Comics #9, the best issue of G-Mo’s run by like a million miles, feels very much like Morrison’s attempt to deal with the fallout from Supergods – but in general I agree with Plok, except in that I think the question of the efficiency of modern big two biocapitalism is arguably higher and lower at the same time.

    Marvel, at least, have successfully colonised a whole other medium, and their books seem to broadcast on the same frequency as the modern comics readership – even if that sometimes leads to “conversation” that’s more like cheerleading by reciprocal memefication (“HAWKGUY!” etc). They’re doing something right, even if the question of “right by whom” is more open than ever.”

    Consult the map, Illogical Volume. Consult the map. Heaven and Hell, DC and Marvel … polarities on two sides of the binary construct of imagination. These things aren’t real … only the stories are real. Corporations aren’t people, they’re virulent thought-strains. Although in America, they’re fucking people, too.

  71. Jim Harbor Says:

    Plok, everything your post sounded FUCKING awesome.

    How did you not just convince yourself to read it?

  72. plok Says:

    I dunno, Jim…I guess it’s that I was unable to say what it’s about? Gerber’s Guardians was about what stock SF situations of the Forties would be like if they were all populated by people from the Seventies…everything that happens is impossible to believe and totally absurd, but if you don’t find a way to take it seriously you’ll crack up. But then if you do take it seriously you’ll just crack up anyway, and so there must be an answer to absurdity but where is it? That’s the sort of thing that interests me, especially when it’s dressed up in SF and superhero costumes and (hello, Andrew!) Menippean satire.

    Has GotG got anything like that in it?

  73. Illogical Volume Says:

    Short answer: no.

    Longer answer: to be fair, it is at least up-front about its status as stunted entertainment for stunted man-children.

    More relevant answer: I am drunk and have spent the past hour and a half debating Scottish independence with strangers, whee!

  74. K. Jones Says:

    I’d meant to lay a reading down of Action Comics that highlighted its nature in class warfare and how that never ended, in spite of cosmic level weirds hijacking the narrative, and don’t think I ever got around to it. Obviously this is at the root of Batman, Inc. as well, and right down to just Morrison’s way of describing in interviews, where he’s the guy who put the notion out there that Bruce is a rich white guy beating up poor colored mentally ill people, or going out his way to describe Dick Grayson as “working class”. (Small wonder he had little interest in telling the mother of all Tim Drake stories.) All his Kirby-hyperbole (Hy-Kirb-bole?) about viral campaigns and enemies within your timeline, your mind, invisible pharma making the whole world sick, hyper-adapters haunting your everything, are incredibly autobiographical. Sir Mo G. is on the inside. This is the virus. Mo G. was there all along, interviewing the Joker on the Six O’ Clock news.

    So it’s come to mind in this post-bazaar recovery Sunday that it’s bound to come up in more obvious ways besides the very hyper (thanks for planting more words in my brain, biocapitalism) way Ultra Comics will psi into our brains – and that’s in the form of Charlton Pax Americana, where Blue Beetle is effectively “The Capitalist Superhero” and The Question will be going completely prismatic (and probably anti-Rand) the way his Superman is so purely Anti-Nietzsche. Which obviously tracks with where he aimed Global Peace Montoya and the Rainbow Superman Squad – the brotherhood of Repeating Spandex Savior Memes. The spiral dynamics beat is probably incorporated right into the rainbow Rolodex of Universes on the sidebar of The Multiversity cover. In a world of haves and have-nots, it’s good to be a have, and Talia’s the Red Queen. And Moz has been Knighted! Knight takes Rook!

    We’re all hyper-adapters. And god help me, I need superheroes to explain all this shit to me more clearly.

  75. Nathan Says:

    Must say reading through all these comments is legitimately fascinating. Final Crisis came out when I was in my final year of high school and my first time reading comics as they came out were basically Sinestro Corps Wars and Annihilation (although I enjoyed GotG I personally thought Abnett and Lanning’s Nova run was the more consistently enjoyable). Only comic internet I was aware of for years were 4thletter and the isb.

    These past 6 years I’ve been both reading what’s been coming out and slowly making my way through all these series you’ve all read ages ago for the first time and having it all be new to me. Hell a good chunk of my entire comic reading experience has been made up of me grappling with my opinion of Geoff Johns (going from die hard fan to less enthused fan to bitterly hating the man to merely accepting him and deciding to only read him if he’s working on something like Superman).

    I should cut this short as I’m more of a talker than a writer, but just wanted to let ya know how much I appreciate a lot of what you ‘oldsters’ (:P) do. Even if sometimes the stuff you type can seem utterly alien to me there’s never been a time when I didn’t have to stop and think about what I read because of it.

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