The Vulture was the first rogue Zom and I ever discussed giving the once over, long, long before Mindless Ones was even a glint in his eye – years ago in fact – so it seems a bit weird that we’re only just now getting around to Mr. Toomes. I think of all the Rogues he’s the one crying out for a bit of understanding – perhaps even a teensy makeover – and it feels really good to get stuck into him now. Because the Vulture is spooky as fuck really, and it’s a crime nobody’s really noticed or taken advantage of just how unpleasant this guy actually is.

I suppose Peter Parker’s (like Clark Kent’s) life can be reduced to two distinct stages: High School Spidey and Big City Reporter Spidey. Whenever we think of Spiderman the eternal teenager is always present, simply because the 60′s spider-mythos is so strong. Essentially, the character has never managed to shake off all that angsty moaning and groaning, inspite of landing a fantastic job, marrying one of his childhood sweethearts and finally achieving sexytime. As Zom’s pointed out, like a teenager, he kind of enjoys playing the victim. The S&M dynamic is very strong between Spiderman and his enemies, but why do they lust after him so violently? What makes them want to play the dom, the aggressor? Is it simply because he’s asking for it – which I’m sure it sort of is – or is something else at play here? Do they covet that youthful physique, just crying out to distorted, rent, violated? Is Parker the ultimate clean and proper surface – the supreme canvas – for Kraven’s tusk-knives, the lizard’s lashing tongue and Electro’s scorching, cracking, death-heat? It’s hard to put your finger on, however there’s something of the brutalising abusive adult about the spider-villains. It’s like they want to carve their petty hatreds, their insecurities and uglinesses into Spideman’s flesh. His soul. They want to see him ravaged as they have been.

Especially the Vulture.

Why?

I always say this, but take a look at him.

More after the jump!

I don’t know if it’s a memory or if it’s a wholly original invention (something I seriously doubt), but whenever I think of Kraven this scene plays out in my mind:

PANEL 1

HIGH ANGLE. A GLOOMY BUT LAVISH AND HUGE, WOODEN PANELLED CORRRIDOR, ITS WALLS ADORNED WITH STUFFED AND MOUNTED HEADS OF ANIMALS – BOARS, LIONS, TIGERS, CROCODILES, ETC EXTENDING INTO THE DISTANCE. AN ENORMOUS DISTORTED SHADOW DRAPES ITSELF ACROSS THE FLOOR AND THE SNARLING, PETRIFIED BEAKS, MUZZLES AND MAWS. WE CAN’T GET A CLEAR HANDLE ON WHO’S CASTING IT, BUT IT’S EMERGING FROM OUTSIDE THE PANEL

PANEL 2

POV.CLOSER IN ON THE SEVERED HEADS AS WE MOVE THROUGH THE CORRIDOR. ANIMALS GET STRANGER, MORE ALIEN. NOTHING WE RECOGNISE. MYTHOLOGICAL. MONSTERS. IS THAT A GORGON? IS THAT A VAMPIRE? FROZEN, LIFELESS EYES – RED, GREEN AND YELLOW – TWINKLE LIKE MARBLES IN THE DARKNESS.

PANEL 3

ANGUISHED HEADS OF MEN AND WOMEN CAUGHT IN THEIR DEATH GRIMACES.

PANEL 4

AND NOW B LIST SUPERHEROES AND SUPER-VILLAINS. THIS IS WHERE THEY GO WHEN THEY DISAPPEAR OFF THE MAP. ONE’S POWER, EVEN IN DEATH, IS STILL TURNED ON: HIS EYE-SOCKETS AND MOUTH BLAZE WITH ENERGY, HIS FACE CONTORTED IN A FIERY BLUE SCREAM. EMPTY MOUNT COMING INTO VIEW ON EDGE OF FRAME.

PANEL 5

STILL POV. CAMERA RESTS ON EMPTY GOLDEN MOUNT ENGULFED IN THE SHADOW OF A MAN WHOSE SHOULDERS ARE DRAPED IN A DISTINCTIVE, PLUMED, MANE OF FUR. IF WE PEER INTO THE DARKNESS WE CAN JUST MAKE OUT THE WORD ENGRAVED UPON IT: ‘SPIDERMAN’.

Sergei Kravanoff is one mean sonovabitch.

Dare you brave the jump?

“Green Goblin in the trees”

We were on a steam train, dashing past some woodlands when my son said those words. The sentence struck me as an example of the kind of winsome utterance one might expect from a small child obsessed by Spiderman. But at bedtime, as we were making our way through Each Peach Pear Plum, and I found myself attempting to explain to an anxious boy that the Wicked Witch hidden beneath the bramble bush should be thought of as a nice witch for the duration of the story, I started to reconsider. Later, as I went to turn off the light, T gestured fearfully towards the shadowy corner of the room and whispered “Green Goblin in the brambles!”. A small shiver ran down my spine and I realised that Mysterio would have to wait, I wanted to write about Norman Osborn’s monster.

More rambling thoughts after the jump

Judge Dredd in one panel

October 28th, 2008

Celebrating ‘cool panel‘ month here at Mindless Ones, I will attempt to explain the basic appeal of Britain’s premiere bastard, Judge Dredd…

Zarjaz action over the jump, Earthlets

Sadistic torture really isn’t very nice. It’s everything that society tries to force under the carpet (unless the situation calls for real men like Jack Bauer). It represents total freedom, action unrestricted by boundaries (read: bodies), total control, total transgression, captured alongside the omega of abjection and suffering. The idealised torture chamber is a space where these limits – which are so very dangerous and threatening and repulsive – can be fully explored, and there will always be people who see the allure in that. It’s the blood red abyss beyond the brink of the acceptable, but like all good acrophobics we can’t help but look down, perhaps we’ll see something we like.

You’ve all seen Hostel, right?

Many more words after the jump

Just a couple of things before we dive in: keen minds have already pored over this issue, so I don’t intend to cover all the bases, instead I’ve decided to offer up a subjective and personal response (nothing new there, then), served up with some bat-thoughts you won’t have read anywhere else. Also, I haven’t included the ads as *pages*. Has anyone noticed DC was generous enough to grant us 24 pages of story this month? I don’t know if that means they’re getting stingier with the specials, or if they’re getting more generous with the regular books. Regardless, big boys, can we have our comics this fat all the time now please?

And now, without further ado….

‘To the Batmobile, let’s go!’

Annotatin’ action after the jump…

day of the triffids

Yes, that’s not the poster – I’m not sure British television in the 80s did posters. Especially not for a series as outright miserable and cheap as Day of the Triffids. Instead what we got were real suburban streets, sets hungover from the seventies, and parochial British accents. The show was so bloody scary because the world it inhabited looked and sounded so depressingly like our own. The triffids were like some vile full stop on the end of contemporary British life – we were defined by the moment of our extinction and we turned out to be parochial, small, insignificant and suffering. The fact that mankind was to meet its fate blind (after a freak meteorological event) just served to underline the point that the universe is merciless, uncaring, uncompromising, and alien to all human feeling. What better monster to take on the role of apocalyptic deathbringer than one which has no anthropomorphic qualities: that skitters along on it’s roots, and feeds on blood, that, as a consequence of its inhuman nature, negates the value of culture, thought and emotion?

Fuck yeah, triffids are nasty.

More after the jump

Rogue’s Review round-up

July 15th, 2008

What did Grant Morrison have to say about our Rogue’s Reviews?

“…brilliant articles and essays on characters I never thought I cared about until the Ones MADE me care. The pieces on Batman villains Bane and the Penguin are remarkable and I can‘t wait to see more along the same lines.”

Bane

The Riddler

Poison Ivy

The Penguin

Harley Quinn

Catwoman

The idea here is to find alternative, novel or better ways of making characters work, so even if you’re not interested in, say, Bane, I urge you to check out Poodle’s thoughts. Without wishing to blow our own trumpet, I think he’s done a truly amazing, often hilarious, job.

Who would have thought the Penguin could be my new favourite bat-villain? Weird.

More to come.

Addendum: I note that in the Newsarama link (thanks!) Tim states that I have detailed what I think would make a good Riddler story. While that’s true to an extent, I hope I have done a little more than that. Obviously these articles reflect our preferences, but more often than not they also serve to highlight the narrative and conceptual cul-de-sacs that so many characters are trapped within, so even if you don’t like or agree with the results of our considerations, I hope you take away with you a broader view of our reviewed rogues.

And I am that beholder.

Comics bought and read on Saturday the 5th of July 2008.

More after the jump