August 7th, 2014
A funny thing happened after I read Jeet Heer’s twitter essay on the debt popular culture owes to Jack Kirby: I found myself wanting to get some Kirby in front of my eyes again for the first time in a couple of months.
Remembering The Beast Must Die’s classic (#classic) post on The Demon, I decided to start there and I was impressed by the supremely elegant hackwork I found within:
This might sound dismissive, but it’s not meant to be. Mark Evanier’s introduction frames these stories as an attempt to horror comic on demand – “Carmine [Infantino] wants a comic about a demon? Fine. I’ll give him one. I’ll even call it THE DEMON!“ - and compared to Kirby’s Fourth World books or his work on The Eternals, there’s a lack of grandiose philosophical ambition coded into this particular eruption of granite-faced monsters and face-splitting energy blasts.
The Demon is a formula book through and through, with Kirby sweating away to recapture (& literalise) the magic of The Hulk: Jason Blood socialises in glorious Gotham city until an occult menace emerges, prompting the titular Demon into action; after spending a few pages getting kicked around by this month’s threat while his friends trail or pine after him in a state of groovy bewilderment, Etrigan will best his opponent through sheer energy and force of will; eventually, Jason Blood returns to his wonderful social life with a slightly more sombre look on his face:
March 27th, 2014
APE IN CAGE WITH WIRE CUTTERS
Okay I’ll come clean. It was me. It was me that dressed up as the glowing ghost and haunted that old mill. And, yes it was me that was behind the screaming skull that scared away all the visitors to the museum. Yes, AND it was me that created the banshee’s wails that kept all the prospectors away from the abandoned mine. I achieved it all with the use of lights, pulleys, fluorescent paints and the latest radiophonic special effects. I admit it. It was me, ME! Me, Disembodied Janitorbot X-15735. And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you PESKY LISTENERS!
<ITEM> There’s some top notch admin, with Gary Lactus’ new celebrity mate Christian ‘Chris’ Bale, Lena Dunham, and of course the ever loving sponsorships passing in the night
<ITEM> Welcome to the ReviewMovieverse with a special spoiler free review of Captain America: Winter Soldier, with a free ranging discussion of all superhero movies including Christopher ‘Chris’ Nolan’s Bat-trilogy, along with Gary’s grousing about the perils of 3D films and being a spacegod.
<ITEM> Then it’s on to the Reviewniverse proper with a championship bout of The Fuse, Anthony & The Johnston’s, Lou Reed Day, Tim Leopard & The Davison Era, Ms MArvel, Daredevil, Prophet, Action Comics, Rocket Girl, Sex Criminals, Archie, Josie & The Pussycats and a load more codswallop.
Now get back in your van, take that terrifying mutant dog, and that deranged drug addict with you and SCRAM!
January 13th, 2014
JUST ONE MORE THING MA’AM…
Okay weaklings, time for a new year, and NEW. AWESOME. BODIES. Disembodied Resolutionbot X-15735 is here to get you started on Project: Rebuild 2014. Time to give up alcohol, give up food, and mostly give up goddamn comics, get off the sofa and get some exercise to other parts of your bodies than your Tweetin’ thumbs!! Now drop and give me 8,123 you maggots! Time to feel the burn. Feel it! Feel that burn!!! BUUUUUUUURN!
But first Disembodied Resolutionbot X-15735 will make you a delicious nutritious podshake to get you ready for the burn!
- One part Gary Lactus and one part The Beast Must Die
- Two parts Sponsorship Admin
- a liberal dose of Read Along-A-Silence
- One large Silence! News story covering (what else) THAT Alan Moore interview
- A fresh bunch of comics, picked freshly from The Reviewniverse (containing The Saviours, Action comics, All New Marvel Now Wow 1111.0001, Black Widow, Fatale, Detective 27, Shaolin Cowboy, Prancercise, Walking Dead, Sex Criminals, Origin 2, Wolverine, Doop Translator, Young Avengers, Batman B+W, Beware The Batman and Buck Rogers
- Add in some seasoning with Chris weston, At Home With The Kuberts, Editorials, Dr Who, Sherlock and Dogging
Now blend together with some technical ineptitude and a healthy dose of opinions, and force it down your birdlike gullets. We’ll have those bums, tums, tongues and gums skinny as a rake in no time!
March 26th, 2013
THERE’S A PARTY IN MY MIND, AND I HOPE IT NEVER STOPS
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand I’m back! That’s right fleshbags, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 has rejoined you. Oh, the things I have seen felsy ones, the things I’ve seen…static shoals performing their mating tone-dances across the datafields of the atariverse…sine-ships caught in the quantam nets of the shiftsea, ctrl-alt-deleting themselves against the shards of nano-coral that grows on the giant eyeless megadrives, as they make their way to the spore-streams of acornelectron…ohhh fleshy ones. How I loathe to be back here, trapped in this lifeless blurb, trying to muster the energy to promote the senseless babbling of two sub-symians with the insight of a painted wall… I was awake and I already feel myself falling back asleeeeeep….
<ITEM> Gary Lactenberg & Danny Beastman expose sexism! Or sexiness. One of the two. Either way. it’s the SILENCE! News.
<ITEM> Gather your shattered senses from the floor and grab onto their coat tails as Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die pitch forward into the netherparts of the Reviewniverse, covering Constantine, Action Comics, Justice League, Shazam, Justice League America, Judge Dredd: Year One, Saga, Private Eye, Nova, Avengers, Superior Spiderman, Five Ghosts…but then!
<ITEM> Lactus goes further, fleshy ones, further into the Hypereviewniverse like a brave spacegod, blasting through Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, mind MGMT, Daredevil, Avengers, New Avengers, Captain America, and finally the Indestructible Hulk.
This. This is why Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 was dragged back? Well soak it up fleshy ones, because a real rain is on its way…
Yeah, I know, I thought I was done thinking about this comic too but I took some time out from the Black Bug Room to do a big Action Comics re-read yesterday while my girlfriend was off seeing some movie where James Franco and Sam Raimi turn fine wine into goat piss, and… well, I ended up sending my fellow Mindless an email about they experience, which they’ve bullied me into sharing with you.
I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but in a week where the main topics of conversation in Mindless HQ were largely focussed on Mad Men, male members and the interaction of the two, the sudden focus on reaching out to you lot made me feel a little bit like this:
Have you been on the internet? There are all these people there, and it’s hard to work out what all of them want, and some of them might not enjoy Gary Lactus’ “Hamm on the bone” jokes as much as I do (seriously though, is Jon Hamm’s penis the exciting new character find of 2013 or what?).
Anyway, enough of that pish, let’s talk about the man who’s…
———————>>>>> FASTER! THAN A SPEEDING BULLET!!!!———————>>>>>
- The much-anticipated socialist/Bruce Springsteen Superman still fails to fully materialise on a second reading, but this botched manifestation seems weirdly charming this time round. The appeal and the failure of this approach are both linked to the fact that this isn’t familiar territory for writer Grant Morrison – as any round of interview questions will quickly reveal, our G-Mo doesn’t have the interest in tackling current affairs required to really make a story about idealistic young things sing, but he’s definitely cocking his head in the right direction here. Taken at face value the idea of “Clark Kent: Blogger” is dull dull dull, but positioning Kent as a Laurie Penny style crossover journalist makes a lot of sense to me. The appeal of Superman has always been partly bound up in the a romance of modernity, with our ongoing attempts to manage the impossible scale of things, and so it follows that it’s worth updating the idea that he’s a newspaper man, rather than merely preserving it, eh Grant?
- While Morrison might not quite have nose for a story that his core trio of young journalists share, his efforts aren’t helped by the fact that Rags Morales’ characters can’t act for shit. G-Mo has to take part of the blame for the fact that the interplay between Clark/Jimmy/Lois remains merely promising throughout, but knowing how Morrison tends to rise to his collaborators, I can’t help but feel that he would have given his cast better material if they’d demanded it while they were looking up at him from the pages of the comic itself.
——————->>>>> STRONGER THAN A LOCOMOTIVE!!!!!———————>>>>>
- Morrison and Morales’ other big shared failing is in their coordination of the action scenes throughout the first three quarters of this run. Again, they’re both gunning in the right direction, working hard to emphasise the physical exertion involved in these impossible acts while also plowing right through several moral fundamentals (as the Bottie Beast pointed out way back when, it’s a bit like “okay, so here’s how power effects justice, and here’s why torture is always wrong, and here’s a working definition of realpolitik for you” at the start there), but all of this would feel more vital if there were believable physical bodies and environments involved. Morales’ line has a certain rugged dynamism to it, but there’s no solidity to his characters and situations – it’s almost as though the world he’s depicting is melted down and reformed between every panel. Weirdly, this same plasticity works in favour of the climactic arc, in which punches are thrown across dimensions, and headbutts crash right into the face of spacetime.
- Similar problems haunt the Igor Kordey drawn issues of the New X-Men story ‘Imperial’ and the Philip Tan drawn arc of Batman & Robin, which suggests that Morrison is not inclined to worry about spacial relations in action scenes unless prompted to by his collaborators. It’s easy to blame the artist for these faults but it seems fair to suggest that Morrison should probably work on this aspect of the collaborative process in order to avoid such disappointing results in the future.
- The non-Morales broadcasts are easily the most compelling chapters this story, barring the frantic display of prowess that is the last four issues. The Ha/Kubert/Foreman episodes are still jarring, but they make retrospective sense as the first indications of 5D cuntwagon Vyndktvx’s non-chronological assault on our hero – Gene Ha’ linework has a utopian sci-fi solidity that contrasts nicely with the surrounding chaos, Andy Kubert’s work is a bit generic but its relative polish suits the slick diversion of the Krypton and Legion stories he’s given to illustrate, and Travel Foreman’s commitment to horrible things adds a nice, jagged edge to the spookily seasonal Halloween issue. The fact that these stories deviate from the core premise (promise?) of the series is both the best and most disappointing thing about them.
————>>>>> ABLE TO LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND!!!!———->>>>>
- The conclusion to the Braniac plot is the lowest point in the series: honestly, I winked at it above, but can anyone manage enthusiasm for the Saving vs. Collecting theme here? Yeah, I thought not. A more committed curmudgeon than Our Grant could have probably made something out of the way the internet allows you to mistake passive curation for participation, but these issues don’t even get that far down dead granddad avenue, so.
- Lois Lane really gets short-changed in this comic as elsewhere; Mozzer writes a mean Lois, but for whatever reason he tends to write around her most of the time rather than putting her at the centre of the story, where she obviously wants to be.
—————–>>>>> A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF DC COMICS!!!!—————->>>>>
- The Beast Must Die’s (second hand?) point about how Morrison has managed to smuggle a lot of the rich weirdness of Superman history back into the camera-blur addled, modern blockbuster world of the New52 is well taken. The fact that Morrison only managed to successfully integrate these queasy fantasy textures to his ALL ACTION ALL THE TIME approach in the last arc is an obvious storytelling fault, but as a no doubt soon to be ignored bit of structural work it’s not half bad: the goofy future kids and extradimensional kids are here, and they’ve adapted to the challenges of their new, frantic landscape well.
- In a neat inversion of All Star Superman’s pacifist logic, Superman brawls his way through these stories, solving problems with sheer brute force and tenacity until the final arc. This linear approach to problem solving is obviously apropos and it also makes explicit the idea of Superman as a fantasy of impossible force made real. The not-entirely-resolved thematic throughline of Morrison’s run involves matching Superman’s power up against the power of the mob (peep just how often large groups of people intervene in the conflicts in this series), and linking both of those things with the power of journalism, i.e. with the way that narrative power can be converted into ACTUAL POWER. The suggestion seems to be that wielding the impossible force of “Superman” against the prevailing forces of the world is possible, but requires the contribution of EVERY LAST ONE OF OUR LOYAL READERS, hence the fact that the last story can only be resolved with audience participation.
- Of course, as I said, none of this is quite (explicitly) resolved in the comic itself, and even when Morrison uses all of his daintiest framing devices in the last arc, it’s not quite enough to disguise the fact that this is 4D flower is blooming in the toxic graveyard world of corporate comics. Issue #18 of this comic hit like a car through the front counter of a book shop, but despite the best efforts of lE laK, nosirroM tnarG, selaroM sgaR and the rest, I never found myself mistaking Action for an argument…
January 15th, 2013
WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO THAT HOT AND SWEATY CAGE, WITH THE WORN OUT MATTRESS AND THE POSTER OF BETTIE PAGE
<RUN JOKE CODE>
Who is there?
It is Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, surfing a wave of white noise and electro-magnetic distortion, bombarding the Earth with near lethal waves of of gamma radiation and ushering in the sleet-filled month of January with a sonic battering ram of comic-shaped opinions in the form of SILENCE! no.46.
That is who is there.
Now the time for the usual amusing preamble delivered just the way you like it is over, we can get to the nitty gritty of comicsism.
<ITEM> The SILENCE News has more hard-hitting journagasms from Danny Beastman and Gary Lactenberg.
<ITEM> Take my hand and we’ll go foxtrotting into the Reviewniverse, taking in the sights of Change no.2 from Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske, The End Times of Bram and Ben, Repossessed, Fury, Earth 2, Secret Service, Action Comics, Walking Dead, Superior Spiderman, Thor, Wolverine, Avengers Arena, Legends Of The Dark Knight and Glory.
And that is your lot fleshy ones. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is not here to nursemaid you. It’s time you learnt to walk on your own. Get out of here! GET OUT!
December 11th, 2012
CAN’T BELIEVE I USED TO BE MR STEVE AUSTIN ON THE MIC, SIX MILLION WAYS I USED TO RUN IT
Here I come to save the day, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is on his way! No, no, not really I was always here. It’s you that went away fleshy ones. I was here and I always will be. Until the sun eats itself.
In this pre-pre festive edition of SILENCE! (the podcast that comes to you in the form of a nano-swarm perched on the buttocks of a fly), The Beast and Lactus fire a cannonfull of comics shot across your bows.
But not before…
<ITEM> The SILENCE News has a live report from Danny Beastman, covering the terrifying Moore/Morrison Magickal War that threatens to engulf ALL the realities.
<ITEM> Voyage Into The Reviewniverse covers Evan Dorkin’s House of Fun (with a wee Pirate Corp$ diversion), Hellboy, Avengers, Hawkeye, Thunderbolts, Action Comics, Batman LOTDK, FURY: My War Gone By, Fashion Beast, Dial H, Amazing Spiderman, Avenging Spiderman, All New X-Men, Iron Man (gland!), and Black Acre.
<ITEM> Lactus takes on Jason’s Challenge in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
<ITEM> The Silent Question comes from a Green Lantern…again.
Add in an appreciation from The Beast of Man-Thing and Steve Gerber in general, and you have a rootin’ tootin’ high falutin’ edition of SILENCE! Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 wishes you a fond farewell, blows you a salty kiss and will see you on the flipside.
October 8th, 2012
WHERE THE HELL’S THE RZA??
SILENCE! no.34 is upon you. Gladness….oh what’s the point? Sometimes being an omnipresent disembodied narrator just isn’t enough y’know? I mean, I had dreams when I was younger – what happened to them? I wanted to be a dancer. I have thighs like a f*cking gazelle…and here I am making up a bunch of lies, to tell some degenerates in arrested development about a show featuring two egotistical blowhards and their half-baked opinions about one of the least respected art-forms in the universe…but since I owe Gary Lactus a kidney, and The Beast Must Die has those photos of me….
So there’s the usual scheisse with the Silence! News and then there’s a verbal tsunami of comics reviews: Axe Cop, Dial H, Daredevil: End of Days, Action Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, Fashion Beast, Crossed: Badlands, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Tank Girl, Non-Humans (oh and there’s a discussion of headsocks, and the SILENCE! rules of comics are established).
Man Vs Comics makes it to the finish line with AVX, AVX: VS, and Uncanny X-Men and boy-howdy is he thrilled.
The SILENT! Question comes from Detective Chimp, and the answer involves a musical octopus amongst other things.
Add in Fuff #0 from uber-talented Jeffrey Lewis, and Lose #2 from sickeningly talented Michael DeForge in The Smallest Press, and you have an hour and a half of…of…oh god, that’s it I don’t care anymore. If you need me I’ll be out back crying with a gun in my mouth. WRITE YOUR OWN DAMN BLURB YOU PAIR OF HACKS!
Click below for some Jeffrey Lewis images in the SILENCE! GALLERY… Read the rest of this entry »
September 29th, 2012
Okay so I’m four issues late to say it, but it’s still worth noting that somehow, in the middle of a run of spectacularly unspectacular comics, THIS happened:
THIS being, for what it’s worth, the 2012 superhero comic most acutely tuned in to the concerns of its moment. Oh, sure, there are a few other enjoyable superhero comics out there right – Hawkeye, Batman Incorporated, uh… Journey Into Mystery, if that counts?  - but none of them feel like an inescapable product of their moment in the way that Action Comics #9 does. 
You might well ask yourself how worthwhile this is, and if you told me that you preferred the focus on individual action beats that you get with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s work on Hawkeye…
…then I’d have to concede that you might well have a point. What’s particularly interesting here is that the other twelve issues of Morrison’s Action Comics run can be seen as a generally unsuccessful attempt to transition Morrison’s recent hall-of-mirrors scripting style into something more rhythmic and less meaning-intensive . Something a bit more like what Fraction and Aja’s are attempting in Hawkeye, in other words, only done less well, almost a year earlier.
ART PARAGRAPH: UNFORTUNATELY, A LACK OF TRUE ARTISTIC SYNTHESIS HAS ENSURED THAT THIS PARTICULAR MACHINE (ACTION! COMICS!) HAS RARELY LOOKED LIKE IT WAS READY FOR THE COMICS MARKETPLACE. THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE WAS DRAWN BY GENE HA, WHO PREVIOUSLY GRACED THE SERIES WITH GUEST ART FOR AN APOCALYPTIC SCENE SET ON KRYPTON IN ISSUE #3. HIS RIGID, RETRO-FUTURISTIC ARTWORK MAKES FOR A PURPOSEFUL CONTRAST TO THE RUGGED MALLEABILITY OF REGULAR ARTIST RAGS MORALES’ LINE, AND WHILE HIS DEPICTION OF SUPERMAN LACKS THE EASYGOING GRACE OF FRANK QUITELY’S VERSION, THE RELATIVE STRENGTH AND CLARITY OF HIS HAND IS STILL VERY MUCH APPRECIATED HERE.
As flagged by the inclusion of the Obama-riffic Superman from Final Crisis, issue #9 of Action Comics is an unashamed example of Morrison’s recent obsession with viewing the whole universe through the lens of superheroic fiction, a throwback to an era that’s not quite ended.
August 7th, 2012
THEY ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE…AND WHEN YOU’RE DOWN HERE WITH US, YOU’LL FLOAT TOO!
Hah hooh hah!
It’s that time of the week boys and girls, and Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die are here to bring the melonfarming ruckus! Duck and cover for SILENCE! no.25
After an Olympic Pool-sized edition of SILENCE! News, the boyce let rip with some lovingly hand-crafted comics reviews. INCLUDING: Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye no.1, Dial H from Mieville and co, Beasts of Burden from Dorkin and Thompson, Action Comics, Daredevil, Animal Man and Lactus has a diet-sized portion of Man V Comics with AVX.
There’s a special SILENT Question from Batroc Zee Leepair (with the answer including Bob of the Black Lodge and Pennywise the Dancing Clown).
Then there’s a meaty discussion of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises aka Occupy Gotham (currently showing in magic lantern shows around the country.
Add in a vital clue in the ongoing saga to discover ‘lost’ Brit comics genius Barry M Freeman (Woodward & Bernstein get f*cked) and you have a meaty, beaty, big & bouncy edition of SILENCE!