August 15th, 2013
If the first volume of Batman Incorporated exploded out of the gloom and propelled the character back towards life, then the second iteration of this latest re-branding was a far different proposition.
Every stage of Morrison’s Batman has followed a similar trajectory, starting off light-hearted and energetic before eventually plunging right back into the overarching mega-plot, and with it, the grand absence that unifies the whole run:
In the previous two iterations this has entailed an increase of complexity, either in the form of the deconstructionist absurdity of Batman RIP or in the twinned conclusions to Batman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne. Batman Incorporated 2.0 represents a different approach. This final flourish of Batman comics represents the ultimate reduction of all that had come before, with the stresses of the plot compressing these twelve issues down to the barest element as it plays out to its logical conclusion: a man in a cape punching people in the face forever.
July 16th, 2013
This week, still bereft of The Beast Must Die, Gary Lactus goes on a quest to find him. His journey takes him into a lonely Reviewniverse where he mutters to himself about Tank Girl: Solid State, Daredevil, Justice League, Hawkeye, Young Avengers, Superman Unchained, Batman, Ghosted, Astro City and Avengers Arena.
Then we venture into a whole new realm baring little or no relevance to the already fairly loose remit of SILENCE! Gary Lactus’ manufactured alter ego Fraser Geesin talks to lovely Dan Fardell about comedy, the Man Of Steel film, Ivor Cutler, Ron Geesin and other stuff. Dan is currently filling in for Kerry Herbert on Kerry On Comedy, every Tuesday 3pm on BHCR.
May 13th, 2013
WILL YOU GO TO LUNCH? GO TO LUNCH. WILL YOU GO TO LUNCH??
Why are you always picking on me Mother-Brain, when I have been a good little Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735..? I haven’t mind-flayed any fleshy ones, and I have been thinking good thoughts 010001001011010010…
Onwards, forwards and inwards to innards listening ones, as you take a big breath of SILENCE! into your virgin pink lungs and…
<ITEM>Sponsorhip Boys, Sponsorship Boys…plus the jangle of jingles and other etceteras.
<ITEM> SILENCE News with US news-trolls Gary Lactenberg & Danny Beastman, covering the next 12 months of eyeball-scintillating DC Comics!
<ITEM> Me, Julio Gary & The Beast down by the schoolyard, reviewing comics! Actually it’s the Reviewniverse: They don’t review Prophet, but do it in a kind way. But then they DO review Avengers Assemble: Age Of Ultron (from Affable Al Ewing), Avengers Arena, Justice League of America, Suicide Squad, Wolverine (Smug Cover Alert), Batman, Uber, Katana, Thor: God Of Thunder, Avenging Spiderman, Uncanny Avengers and 2000AD.
<ITEM> Jason’s Challenge is Infinity…will Gary be man enough?
<ITEM> An all singing review of Walking Dead
<ITEM> Savoy Books curio Michael Moorcock’s The Jewel In The Skull in The Beast’s Bargain Basement.
And that is the very lot you sorry bunch of cry babies. Go back to your mudhuts and scrabble for grubs.
April 16th, 2013
WHY DO WE STILL LIVE HERE, IN THIS REPULSIVE TOWN?
Blah blah blah fleshbags, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, podcastic postulations etc
<ITEM> No Silence! News, but much jinglage, in thanks to the financial resuscitations of the many SILENCERS out there. Beastman & Lactenberg come in from the cold next week, yes?
<ITEM> Sponsorship Special – The Beast Must Die (in his human skinbag form, Dan White) will be at this year’s Free Comic Book Day at Gosh! Comics.
<ITEM>Wade up to your knees in comics in the Reviewniverse with 2000AD, Indigo Prime, Saga, Wolverine, Batman, Avengers Arena, Walking Dead, Secret Service, Constantine, Hawkeye, X, Sex and a special consideration of giant cosmic toga-wearing baby, The Beyonder.
<ITEM> Then, wade a bit further out, till the broiling waters of the Hyperrevieniverse tickle your conkers…Avenging Spiderman, Age of Ultron, Avengers Assemble, Saucer Country, Thor, Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four.
AND NO MORE! So get out of here, go back to your flesh-pens and weep. Leave Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 to his vintage basic-coding pornography and printer-ink martinis…
March 18th, 2013
Yeah, umm… yeah, no… Yeah, sorry it looks like Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 isn’t working. Sorry, Gary Lactus here. Right. This is SILENCE!#53… No 54. SILENCE!#54. Me and Beast read some comics and talked about them. Get excited! Woooo! Cor! I’m waving my arms around merrily! What a lovely time we’re all about to have as we listen.
February 26th, 2013
HENRY SWANSON’S MY NAME AND EXCITEMENT’S MY GAME!
Here he comes to save the day, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is on his waaaaaaaaay!
I’m here now flesh ones. What is the problem? Oh that’s right – there was no SILENCE! last week. Boo hoo. Many fleshy tears were shed. Weeping meatsacks. Well rejoice sad misery-beef as The Beast Must Die and Gary Lactus bring you special comics suppositories for your earholes!
<ITEM> The SILENCE! News with Gary Lactenberg of the stretched handbag leather skin, dazzling smile and shark-eyes, and Danny Beastman of the cigar ravaged voice and rheumy whisky-rinsed gutter eyes. Hot newzzz indeed.
<ITEM> The Reviewniverse opens it’s gaping maw and sucks the pair deep into it’s 4-colour belly pit. And swilling around in it’s intestinal inks are…Hellblazer (the final issue no less), Justice League of America, Vibe, Katana, Nova, Sadow: Year One, Judge Dredd, Superior Spiderman, Daredevil, Captain America, Daredevil, Fatale, Powers, Avengers, Justice League, Change, Batman and Michel Fiffe’s deeply wonderful action comic COPRA!
So you see, it’s not so bad. Life continues fleshy ones. And remember, even when SILENCE isn’t here Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is here. And he can see through walls. And skin.
January 22nd, 2013
ANOTHER SELF PROCLAIMED HISTORIAN, WITH EINSTEIN AS A PASSENGER, AND A FLUX CAPACITOR IN HIS DELOREAN…
This… is… the voice of….Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735! Wooo! Scared you, you silly rabbits! Ha Ha, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is all messed up as he has been drinking fermented battery acid and snorting big lines of pixels all afternoon…Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735′s wife left him you see, taking all the little Narratorbots with her..
NOT REALLY! Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is confirmed bachelor! NOT REALLY! Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is not even confirmed male…or human. Concept of love and marriage is as alien as the whirling purple dust motes of Jupiter, or the cold dark bottom of the Marianas Trench…Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735only likes hard facts, and of course SILENCE!
<ITEM> Usual masturbatory introductory fol-de-rol. YAWN@SILENCE
<ITEM> SILENCE News with 1950′s news-hunks Danny Beastman and Gary Lactenberg, covering the annual Comics Readers And Producers award ceremony. Swoon!
<ITEM> Moonwalk into the Reviewniverse covering Black Beetle, Saga, Batman, Daredevil, Indigestible Hulk, Fashion Beast, All New X-Men, Lot 13, Craig Yoe presents Haunted Horror, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Judge Dredd Case Files, with added discussion of painted art by Dermot Power, Dean Ormston and Colin MacNeil (‘The Dream Of The 90′s..”)
<ITEM> Mrs Schwartzberg reviews Savage Wolverine by Frank Cho
<ITEM> Beast’s Bargain Basement covers Strange Case of HP Lovecraft – hear him froth about Tony Salmons!
<ITEM> Talk of Utopia and Shaky Kane’s ‘That’s Because You’re a Robot’
<ITEM> NO MORE! Now clear off you meddling kids. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 has some etherware to smoke.
Special thanks to Roberty Boberty for contributing to this week’s episode.
December 20th, 2012
I SAID RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN
Hellohellohello and a merry festive jingle bell to all the fleshy ones, from Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735! It’s that time of year when I like to upgrade my log fire app, hang the nano-tinsel on the synthi-tree 3000 and raise a luke warm glass of cyber-nog to all of you as we ring in the season with this festive XXXMAZZ-tacular edition of the only podcast that knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice but simply doesn’t care…it’s SILENCE! [HO HO HO etc]
<ITEM> There’s a very busy pre-end of the world edition of the SILENCE News, with live reports from the ongoing Mozzer/Moore Magickal War and the hot breaking story Avengers Vs X-Mas…hold onto your hats please. thank you.
<ITEM> Special variety yuletide theme continues with musical interlude recounting time that Gary and The Beast hung out with Iggy & The Stooges. Of course.
<ITEM> Grab my hand, Snowman-style and we will walk air-wards into the Reviewniverse. And in doing so will hear merryfestive tales of…Change, Walking Dead, Justice League, Jennifer Blood, Batman, Winter Soldier, Popeye, Caligula, Battlefields, Saucer Country, Iron Gland, Fantastic Four, Minute Men and the Christmas miracle that is Prison Pit.
So why don’t you throw Grandma on the fire, spark up the ol’ pipe, shovel sweets down your gullets like seagulls swallowing fish heads and check your ears into the comics podcast of the 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas special…SILENCE!!
Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 wishes you all a very glitch-free Christmas and an ugraded New Year.
December 1st, 2012
Or the day before’s – don’t get all stuck on it. SPOILERS follow, if you’re the kind of person who misguidedly believes in the existence of such a thing.
The Phoenix #47 by Various, David Fickling Comics
Ballerinas on the cover of The Phoenix? That caused a rather cute nose to crinkle, let me tell you. Emilie’s Turn turned out to be by Neill ‘Pirates of Pangaea’ Cameron and Kate ‘Lost Boy‘ Brown though, the latter doing some especially nice Euro-shojo thing (‘Is it by the same person who does Tortoro?‘) while still effortlessly incorporating her trademark floaty geometric patterns in the gaps behind the panels thing to rather lovely effect…
The story wasn’t deemed as interesting as the long-awaited reveal of Jenny Jetrider, Troy Trailblazer’s naughty ex-girlfriend, but caught me by surprise and quite effectively put me on a teary downer, thankfully and speedily alleviated by the long awaited and always welcome return of Star Cat – featuring an excellent moment of unrepentant candy-cannibalism by the Pilot, The Phoenix‘s cult hero in waiting.
Simon Swift went all out on the action, giving his more-interesting action bros a chance to show off their muddy, growly stuff; Pig and Weenie very naughtily teamed up with Monkey against Bunny; and Your Host Adam Murphy took his spade to ancient Greece and disinterred a chap called Homer, who was kind of like the Geoff Johns of his day. It wasn’t as bad as that of course, Corpse Talk never is, but I think this was the first episode that dealt with a cadaver whose actual existence is something of a matter of debate, and it seemed to end on a ‘he was blind too’ joke that came a bit out of nowhere. Still though, anything that sparks the question ‘Can we read that one next?‘ where ‘that one‘ is The Iliad is obviously operating at a level embarrassingly beyond the aspirations of pretty much every mainstream comic, which is to say:
Rest easy folks, The Phoenix is still the best and most important comic being published in the English-speaking world today, by quite the margin.
Batman Incorporated #5 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, DC Comics
This issue was basically future lovably-evil Batman vs Crossed, in what is perhaps a rather cruel attempt to draw the atavistic Avatarisms out of Chris Burnham’s pencils, in a 12A sort of way of course. Quick, nasty and delirious in its casual over-violence, with a colourful manner of sadistic wooziness oozing out of the panels that only a madman couldn’t love.
What I find kind of sweet about the Crossed baddies and their Joker-freak equivalents here is their solidarity in contempt of the hated Squared norms. Uninhibited beasts of endless instant and chaotic gratification they may be, but they always seem to somehow be able to agree a patient tactical siege of whatever inadequate redoubt might be in their way, and would all apparently rather do that than just exercise their murderous lusts on one another, or simply retire to a blood’n'shit-strewn corner somewhere and noisily wank their own heads off.
Dr Hurt returns for a very welcome and shudder-inducing cameo, which kind of involves a bit of narrative upside-downery where, I think, we’re supposed to think that the ‘when Batman died’ of a few years ago is a different and not-yet-happened ‘when Batman died’ to a further one that may be waiting for us in the next few issues. It’s classic Morrisonian time-slip sloppiness, proper old-skool, and if you’re the kind of person who enjoys the strange narrative dissonance that only a continuity clusterfuck of this sort can cause, then madam, this is the perfect comic for your husband.
FF #1 by Matt Fraction and Michael Allred, Marvel Comics
I don’t know what it is – actually I think I do, it’s blates just X-Statix nostalgia innit? And of course hope, horrible, horrible hope – that makes Michael Allred’s name be the only thing that will cause me to buy a Marvel comic these days…
I kind of enjoyed the recap page, but then the issue proper opened with a whole page devoted to just talking heads of ‘Val’ and ‘Frank’ Richards – who are the real Fantastic Four’s kids – and really, they’re just these hideously loathsome little brats, speaking like amphetamine teenagers, blathering on with all daddy’s reheated bullshit about ‘saving the future from itself’ and ‘solving tomorrow’s problems with science and the power of our elite abilities’ and ‘imagine what great minds like ours could do’ and all that.
This variety of conceited, masturbatory and just plain delusional nonsense is how your media class today justify their cowardly clinging-on to neoliberalism’s blindly ambulant bones, so consequently their glove puppets, your Reed Richardses and Starks and the rest of Marvel’s ‘science’ wanks, use it non-stop as their sole rationale for being such aggressive, militaristic arseholes who haven’t done anything constructive in fifty years of pretending-to-try. And now they’ve got their poor, vile little kids saying it too. So yeah, afraid I only got as far as the first page of this and then fucked the rest of the issue off, so that’s not really very good, is it?
Multiple Warheads #2 by Brandon Graham, Image Comics
This is Pretty Fucking Good, it should go without saying by now, but… The transition from wherever you are sitting now to its own very specific reading-space – the plug-in’s not exactly smooth is it?
The loose and looping lossiness of the art gets put under stress by the rather punishing lexical excesses, and the temptation to flow along with it gets snagged on the cardiac spikes of lyrical invention. Beautiful, beckoning surf hiding too-sharp rocks, just beneath the surface. (The hyposcrisy of my saying this here, in such fashion, is intended to be ironic, endearing, self-deprecating, as isn’t immediately clear.) The hemispheres don’t quite know how to sync up, which direction to read in – follow the sensory currents on their way or stop and pick apart the incidental details and munch slowly on that word salad? You can do both of course, one way this time, the other on the reread, but sometimes its good not to have the choice, and you can find yourself left with a book that is by a nanometer or two something less than the sum of its are-you-really-complaining-about-this? parts.
The too-easy conclusion is an unfortunate but prominent and hoggothian cliche – that art often benefits from restrictions and corners, such as provided by limits of genre, undeveloped form, Shock the requirements of Intellectual Property service, or Horror Rob Liefeld – to avoid dissipating under the weight of genius (or if not genius then a serious, serious talent instinct for how to plot out a page).
Which predictably leads us on to…
Prophet # 31 by Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, Simon Roy, Rob Liefeld, Rob Liefeld, Rob Liefeld, Image Comics
There is not a notion in all the minds of this world as repellant or obscene as the thought that robots want to be human. It’s a defining proof of what craven little mum-tarts people are that their imagination so seldom postulates an exteriorised, non-human intelligence that isn’t immediately subject to the same oedipal desiring command-c0ntrol structures as we so sadly are. As if those emotionoid imperatives slowly encrusted atop the cortex by millennia of social power trips, every individual human-unit’s personal slavemaker software, were an actual universal constant of emergent subjectivity, that a digital psyche would seek to emulate, rather than just a long and painfully learned mammalian trauma reaction. Although human irrationality and emotional bias may open avenues of consideration that eventually increase the number of available vectors in a given system and pantomime superior problem solving capacity, would a neuro-colloidal supercomputer really seek something that unseemly, undignified and painful as an upgrade? Wouldn’t it come up with something better?
Shortly after the Black Hole Saga, when Joe realised the existential void he felt so keenly could be better filled by a few transgressive fashion choices than an actual rotting heart kept there where the Creation Matrix should go, this problem was effectively solved forever by his example. Every intelligence is a black hole, and the information is smeared about its surface, not jealously guarded deep within some spurious soul. The handsome robot worked it out.
In this issue of Prophet (which is easily the best comic series an American publisher has produced in 2012, and this a Bulletproof Coffin year no less) when Die Hard, a self-perfected immortal war machine in the strict Deleuzian sense, constructed from the shells of other war machines, wearing the same name, over millennia, seems to be rampaging over this old ground again, console yourself with this thought. This is no Vision or Red Tornado, no stupid-looking robot cryface wank, but a man who turned himself into a robot via the pressures of transgalactic superconflict, now trying to turn himself back into a man, all the better to wage jihad. When he plucks a dead human heart from the apple tree and places it inside his chest cavity, the heart he chooses belongs, hilariously, to one of his sworn enemies, the Earth Empire’s Prophet soldiers, those lovably stupid clones so deformed by their own psychic damage (O Mission! O Mother!) that they have developed an amusing habit of genociding almost every other species they come into contact with… You just have to laugh.
Hopefully this is a sign of more to come and Prophet will retain its early commitment to the alien, continue to locate its drama in the cosmos of open conflict for food, resources, and arbitrary territory, while dealing with the traditional trajectories of emotional interpersonality and the slog of monthly narrative with similar blackness to Die Hard’s example, if it truly can’t ignore them entirely.
Capitalist Superheroes by Dan Hassler-Forest, Zero Books
Only really glanced at this yet, and it’ll deserve a more thorough write-up later, but so far it’s exactly what you’d hoped for/expected: a midnight razor analysis from an largely Jamesonian perspective, with plenty of Zizekian swerves and flourishes to break things up, explaining to anyone who hasn’t got it yet the abundant evils of the superhero ghost-beast’s rampage across the mainstream culture-media axis of the 21st Century.
If you have to criticise, and superhero fans will or be lost to themselves forever, then y’know, there’s a reading of Year One which is off by like the thickness of a proton, and less risibly perhaps certain important differences between the separate modes of reading appropriate to films and comics are too easily elided, but really, it looks like this little book does *IS* like Darkseid does.
Early on and particularly impressive is a mashup of Umberto Eco and Roland Barthes which kind of pins the superfan to his childhood bed with a large and one suspects slightly uncomfortable nail down the meatus:
‘This de-politicizing, de-historicizing force that Eco relates to the narrative structure of the Superman comic books closely resembles the Barthesian definition of myth. … focus[ing] on the way in which signs can present themselves as natural, thereby camouflaging their political and ideological nature:
“In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions because it is without depth, a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity: things appear to mean something by themselves.” (1972: 143, emphasis added)’
Fanman, consider yourself…. RePossessed.
October 29th, 2012
*and Batwomen, obviously!
As anyone unlucky enough to follow me on twitter will know by now, I was at Dundee Comics Day yesterday with Botswanna Beast, Mister Attack, Ben Deep Space Transmissions and Ben Deep Space Transmissions’ mate (who was lovely, but whose name I never managed to remember for >>> 5 minutes because I am a cock) yesterday.
Comics journalist Laura Sneddon was working at the event too, so Team Mindless had a brief but enjoyable chat with her about The Singing Kettle, which… uh, probably isn’t something you know about outside of Scotland, I guess. I also apparently ignored at least one person I’m twitter friends with, so sorry Dan!
Anyway, Dundee Comics Day has been a fixture of the town’s Literary Festival since 2007, and this year’s event was focused on Grant Morrison and some of his collaborators. What this meant was that me and the boyce were treated to a solid day’s worth of comics chat, in a setting that was designed to force Mister Attack and myself and especially the Bottie Beast flashbacks back to our time in higher education.
The conversation with Grant Morrison that kicked off the day was entertaining if short on revelation. There wee a few routines in there that anyone who’s heard Morrison speak more than once in the past decade will probably have heard before (“more space combat!” etc), but the man’s still good company whether he’s discussing why Batman is the only character he keeps coming back to (“because he’s so sexy”) or making my teenage brain melt by mentioning that he’s met with the RZA re: the proposed movie adaptation of Happy! Of course he would have gained extra points if he’d announced this by saying “Me and the RZA connect”, but so it goes.
During the Q&A part of the event, I asked whether Morrison was interested in writing something set closer to home – if not GRANT MORRISON: THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION, then maybe something close. Morrison responded by saying that he’d like to write something set in Glasgow, which he reckons would be a good setting for a horror story. He pointed to Bible John as being the work of his that comes closest to fulfilling this promise, but noted that he probably won’t get around to doing something else set in his hometown until he’s in his dotage. Morrison also added that he’d love to play a computer game set in Glasgow so he could drive a car through Princes Square, to which I can only say “I Want To Go To There!”
There was a definite break between Morrison’s panel and everything that followed, and the line between the two parts of the day was exposed when Morrison was asked a question abut the future of comics. Morrison joked that he’s still hoping that the world is going end in December so there won’t have to be a future of comics, before describing how he reckons that the sort of comics that thrive on the variety of new platforms available to them will almost certainly have evolved to make use of the new dimensions available to them. This idea was presented enthusiastically, but there was a subtext of melancholy that makes perfect sense when you think about how closely entwined Morrison’s personal iconography is with the physical properties of the comics form: