October 29th, 2010
‘thing is, i know we at mindless ones don’t really feel the need to justify these things or to bother kicking the argument about the way they might at, say, funnybook babylon, but i think the answer to the question ‘does bruce wayne work in cosmic scenarios? – in this PARTICULAR cosmic scenario?’ and the conversation one could have around it is probably an interesting one.
October 21st, 2010
July 24th, 2010
July 6th, 2010
In Batman 700 Morrison threw out a particularly juicy idea, that the bat-foes of 50s and 60s were pop-criminals. Morrison being Morrison he didn’t explain the concept any further so here’s a few of my thoughts
- What is popcrime? Clownish capers, catty conundrums, fowl felonies. Catwoman stealing the giant emerald eyes of Bast, the Penguin besieging the city with hundreds of robot umbrellas, those are examples of pop-crime.
- Popcrime is inherently ostentatious and showy, the grander the better. It’s made for alliterative headlines, and for minimum casualties. It’s popular, fun, sensational and most importantly carnivalesque in the original sense of the term: dates in the Christian calendar when social norms were turned on their heads and nonsense reigned
- Amy recently suggested to me that successful superheroes, and one assumes the supervillains, lug around permanent autonomous zones. Follow the link if you haven’t heard the term before, but the idea, very simply, is that certain spaces largely operate outside the control structures of the wider culture and generate their own form and function from within. I’m not hugely into Hakim Bey, the chap who came up with the idea, but I think that it could be a fruitful way to approach the concept of the superhero, and I’m particularly interested in the parallels between the supervillain as popcriminal and the supervillain as PAZ. Bobsy tells me that Bey was heavily into the idea of spaces and communities so perhaps the straightforward situationism is more what I’m after here, but either way we’re on the same track. The Joker is always on, and even those whose costumes aren’t acid etched into their skin are very rarely halfway committed when they take on their superidentity. Back in the popcrime days Batman might have occasionally caught a glimpse of Edward Nigma, but 99% of the time the fella was all Riddler and the world had to make room.
- I’m thinking that the popcrime Catwoman is more like a contemporary artist than a crook. She isn’t motivated by money or by greed in a straightforward sense, nor is she hugely invested in vengeance or a lust for violence, although these things could well have their place within the popcriminal schema. It’s the raw outsiderness, the absurdity, the virtuosity and the immensity of pop-crime that’s the attraction. Turning the city into a crazy feline themed amusement park, featuring live action battles with Batman and Robin is what pop-crime is about – it’s the thing itself.
- Popcriminals don’t have to be mad. Going back to the Catwoman example, she doesn’t purr all the time because she’s insane, and she’s not obsessed by cats in the clinical sense, and she doesn’t try to claw out Batman’s eyes because she hallucinates paws where palms should be. The pop-crime Catwoman is all about becoming, an attempt to inhabit a role, to get lost in it, a psychologically necessary part of the pop-crime edifice. Committing cat-themed crimes wouldn’t be half as enjoyable or half as successful if she didn’t given herself utterly to the experience.
- Popcriminals make me think of mods and punks and late 80s ravers. Youth movements are all about adopting larger than life identities. Pop-criminals just do it bigger and better. It’s super-fashion.
- I miss popcrime. Let’s face it, while there’s some reasonably sophisticated superhero comics around these days, the actual criminal activities of supervillains are seldom very interesting. I’m bored of seeing blokes dressed up like cobras being reduced to purely physical threats, only ever good for a fight scene or two or the odd heinous crime. I can get fights and heinous crimes any old place – can’t say the same for popcrime. Can’t get popcrime for love nor money.
Popcrime: discuss, my lovelies.
June 13th, 2010
A quick preambulatory moan:
Oh the art, the art was as ever a big problem. I’ll let the lovely chaps over at Comics Alliance fill you in on the specifics, all you really need to know is that the central aspects of the issue’s locked room mystery – when the Prof was killed and who did the killing – were obscured by an art error that should have been spotted by the editorial team, or, you know, someone. It’s just not okay that something like that was allowed to slip through, and it makes me wonder exactly what sort of relationship Morrison has with the editorial staff, let alone his artists. Maybe they were just in a big rush, although it’s hard to imagine why given the lead in to this issue.
That aside, I enjoyed 700 in a bitty way, but wasn’t too keen on the book as a whole. The segmented structure helped to legitimise the former response in my mind however, and consequently I feel no shame in taking the annocomment approach. Seems appropriate.
June 11th, 2010
It’s probably an unbelievably bad idea to take DC marketing dept. at their word, but anyway. They have a difficult job, I guess.
Und so! Vorwaerts! The initial idea for this was a liveblog, but that would have involved promotion and shit, I am quite the most fundamentally lazy – physically, critically, intellectually – person I know, and also been a pretty fucking tortuous read, dying to turn the page, but having to bash out a satisfactory update before I could do so. So that didn’t happen; what we will have is the 7 pages in a polka-dotted reporter’s pad (I thought that shit was red, I was gonna give you a photo and shit, call this the Red Casebook but nah; I obviously did not buy this pad), my CASENOTES interspersed with some proper blogination. You can of course choose to believe these casenotes are an after-the-fact “ret-con”, as much a fait accompli as most Grant Morrison superhero scripts, even although Mindless Ones is the very definition of elegant verité and bold realism, and that’ll be a mystery too. Do what you like, I won’t stop you.
But one day, tomorrow, peoples will be reading Batman #700 on their infoSlates, their powerTablets, and it’ll be my polka-on-grey casebook anno’s there first; that’s my dream, and it is definitely good to have dreams. FUTURECOMICSSS.
June 6th, 2010
PAGES 1, 2 & 3
One of the reasons Morrison loves working on Batman, even if he doesn’t know it himself, is because the character’s rapid response time, both intellectually and physically, suits his high velocity, compressed approach. Here, the guy, who I should probably add is experiencing catastrophic memory loss, has been booted thousands of years across time and half drowned, but does that slow him down? No, the fuck. He launches himself into the scrap with the uprooted sarlac pit (more on that guy later) without a second thought.
I’m fairly certain the idea that there’s a connection between Gaelic and Cthulhu-speak/fifth dimensionese isn’t an original one, and I wonder if Grant was thinking about the connection here. Annie is a first generation immigrant after all, and a pagan at that, so it would make sense that she’d speak some kind of aboriginal british tongue. Also, I’m choosing to believe she’s intoning a healing spell, which is interesting and a nice twist because lovecraftian magic is generally considered the blackest of the black. There’s the implicit suggestion that it was only later on, once the puritans were done with it, that the Cthulhu mythos gained the negative associations it has today.
The talismans represent the latest movement of Grant’s superheroes as gods theme, but because this is Batman there’s a hard(ish) sf explanation as opposed to the more fantastical noodlings of Flex Mentallo or ASS. They are pregnant with the idea, however, what with the DC pantheon zipping around the timestream like they’re popping down the shops or something, that should she clutch his sigil hard enough and whisper his name, even a slave in ancient Rome could summon Superman to her aid. Some future Superman I’m going to write in the future will definitely have this omni-hearing, that’s for sho’.
March 13th, 2010
February 2nd, 2010
Bob: This is not only the best issue of B&R yet, but the best single issue of Morrison’s batman run by some margin, and as dense and full a piece as he’s written since Seven Soldiers #1, with which it shares many links and referents, both deliberate, accidental and incidental.
Zom: Tan’s a nice chap, some of us around here were quite keen on his work, but if you ask me thank God for Cameron Stewart: Batman & Robin is back at long last. This isn’t my favourite issue and I’ll get into some of the reasons why later, but it’s a bloody good one.
January 29th, 2010
An interesting aspect in the reading and long-term appreciation of superhero-comics, one of few nearly unique to the genre-medium, is the impact that a single image of a single character can have. Few sights are more potent and electric than the basic dramatis-persona mugshot of the steroidal spandexophile (popular in the early Image-era which took the dynamic far beyond the realms of mere absurdity), poised four square to the camera, and his name. Plot, narrative, dialogue even, can all to a greater or lesser degree be shed, and the key meaning of the superhero, the immortal appeal, remains undiminished. All that is required is a strong image and a strong name.
The enduring popularity of the A-Z Handbook of the X?X Universe books are a testament to this – the costume, the name, the paraphernalia, the ‘vital statistics’ (so porno), and the stripped-back plot recaps that the Handbook-style entries offer are the pure flavour, the total hot- drug effect, of the strongman funnybook. The superhero, a figure without a background, exists perfectly well, separate to the superfluous storytelling and other dimensions the comicbook medium affords. After all, if it’s all about wish fulfilment and fantasy-projection, the other stuff just gets in the way – just show me, in crazy colours and moody lighting, the bare (oo-er) image of the proud superthing, standing erect, and let me do the rest of the work myself (stop!) All that you need is a cool, tight image and a few terse syllables of context (of which the name, both descriptive and directive in its ideal form, is the concentrate). and you can have that uncanny charge the trueborn superhero fanman is always chasing.