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.

Click here to explore the limits of… THE INK!

Yesterday’s comics – Today!

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.

GITWThe 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 GLAOHZXYD 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.


BatMinge5

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.


Yeah don't be tricked, it looks a lot more fun than it is.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 Orgasms more like fnarrMultiple 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…

 

GITWProphet # 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.

 

GITW

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.

SILENCE! #28

August 28th, 2012

DO NOT FEED THIS PODCAST AFTER MIDNIGHT!

What so never feed it at all?
It’s always after midnight!
Who feeds podcasts anyway you chump?
WELL???

Hi there, and welcome to the sole justification for electricity, SILENCE no.28! And what a time you chose to stop by. It’s a veritable cornucopia of comics bull$hit! A very poorly Beast and Lactus drag themselves from their sickbeds to deliver a particularly rambling SILENCE! News, covering super-smoochies and the return of Dr Who. Then it’s a hop, skip and jump into the weekly comics, includifying Batman Inc no.3, Dan The Unharmable (with a stomach churning digression into The Walking Dead 100 in which the pair compare injuries like that scene in Jaws – no, not the one with Roy Scheider and the kid you moron!), Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom from Waid ‘n’ Samnee, the sad end of the line for Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss, AVX: Uncanny X-Men, and the 50th anniversary of Amazing Spiderman. Booyah.

There’s a SILENT question from no-one’s favourite Robin, Tim Drake, and the answers include Power Pack and Hobbes (and the Beast manages to criticise charity comics, the mean-spirited, heartless bastard)  Then he takes us wading into the recesses of the Beast’s Bargain Basement with a retrospective of lost 1970′s horror publishers Skywald. Add in a recommendation to check out Joe Dante’s wonderful Trailers From Hell website for notcomics and you have a plucky edition of SILENCE! that manages to overcome adversity and become a champion in it’s field. Go SILENCE! Don’t forget to check below for some lovely Skywald images in the SILENCE Gallery….

click to download SILENCE!#28

(As always, thanks to James Stokoe for his wonderful SILENCE! banner)

Come see our stunning gallery

SILENCE! #16

May 30th, 2012

QUIT F*CKIN AROUND AND BE A MAN! YOU SHOULD BE EARNIN’ A MEDAL FOR THIS SH*T!

Ten’hut SILENCERS! SILENCE #16 is upon us, and whilst it walks like a man, it has a beating simian heart.

After a FLIP FLOP (FREESTEEZ) intro from the Beast, and the epic spacerock of ‘JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY’ from Lactus (wherein the giant mangod makes a little boys dream come true), those rum buggers plough through the SILENCE! News covering all the important business, such as where Batman likes to put his winker, and the question of precisely how crap a real life supervillian can be.

Then, they get on it and mad dog it through the following vibrant periodicals:

Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s splendid Batman Inc, the increasingly awesome Prophet, Mind MGMT from Matt Kindt, Fantastic Four 606, Resident Alien from secret legend Steve Parkhouse and ex-revolver editor Peter Hogan, JL Dark (Nowhere) from Jeff Lemire (with a slight digression into the Milliganverse), Jason Aaron shows us how The Incredible Hulk relaxes and Secret Avengers (shhh).

Then Crossover Classix has poor Lactus grinding his way through Owlfight and AVX stuff. TAKE YOUR FILTHY PORRIDGE LACTUS! Just like Bane broke the Bat, an Owl  has broken Lactus.

The Beast has a very brief dip into the Bargain Basement with another issue of Glamourouss, and then talks up the various works of renegade British hero director, Alex Cox, including a misty-eyed appreciation of Moviedrome.

Finally they make ANOTHER little boy’s dream come true when they answer a Judge Dredd-based quizzler from Chris Burnham.

Let it rain tears of sexual thunder dear listeners.

Let it rain.

click to download

Indigo Batman: Leviathan Prime

February 6th, 2012

1. Endtroducing

Flashback to 2011 and the world is ending. Again. The signs are easy to interpret now, when they require any interpreting at all: a news anchor blathers away on TV,  building up so much expectation that the large hadron collider, suffering from a fit of performance anxiety, unravels and takes reality with it; meanwhile, under the sea in a parallel Earth, an archaic supervillain announces that he has “hung a deadly necklace of deadly meta-bombs around the world like precious pearls; on the internet, or rather in a dated parody of cyberspace that resembles nothing so much as X-Box live for “edgy” business folk, a rapidly mutating program tries to take over everything.

Responses to this are equally typical: standing in a futile crowd beside a fatbalding awkwardman, a disinterested woman holds up a sign informing everyone that “THE END is NIGH!; a bloodied hero crawls forward, trying to save the world again, knowing that all he has to do is push a button, but that even this might be to much for him now; elsewhere, tough men decide to make tough decisions with predictable results.

I’m talking about Batman Incorporated and Indigo Prime here, because they were the two garish fantasies that played best for my (semi-informed, heavily solipsistic) sense of panic throughout 2011, that end of season finale of a year.

After all, if you feel like everything’s falling apart, sometimes it helps to be able dress these feelings up in twisted words and garish costumes instead of focusing on the garbled socio-economic truth.

Spacetime becomes jelly.

The walls of reality buckle and fold.

Higher Dimensions intrude into the supersymmetry.

Dark Matter condenses as worlds collide.

Mmmmm, yeah, that’s the stuff.

Come down with me.

Chris Burnham. Interviewed. By us. Screaming. Nuff said.

  1. But enough about you, Chris. Were you familiar with our site already, or did you google your name?
  2. Heh. I think I got a Google Alert about it, though I may have been directed here by Cameron Stewart. Either way, I’d been to the site before for your MorrisoNotations. I seriously love this Grant Morrison stuff. The other night I was the second or third person in the world to read Batman Incorporated #7. Pretty awesome to still be able to geek out over something that you’ve been slaving over.

  3. How is that, the googling?
  4. My girlfriend set me up with some Google Alerts so I’m no longer distracted by googling myself every half hour when a new issue comes out. Sadly, Twitter has filled that void. That shit is as bad as Bejeweled Blitz. If you told me that all this addictive distraction stuff was an evil Chinese conspiracy to destroy the productivity of the Weak-Willed West I would totally believe you. Internet’s been pretty nice to me, actually. Not nearly as much “poor man’s Quitely” as I was expecting.

    The best interview you’ll ever read with Chris Burnham continues over the jump

04_brucejones_madhouse_96_1974_04_demon1

Before we get into this.

Zom constantly upbraids me for caring about such things, but I’m just too irritated by the internet’s monthly refrain of  ‘it was too all over the place’, often followed by ‘it was too hard to understand’ not to have a moan. It’s almost the stock criticism of Morrison these days and it’s simply a question of who will be uttering it this time around. One month someone over here is complaining that the writing is too ‘scattershot’ and dense while over here someone else is defending the comic as a shining example of Morrison at his most accessible, and the next the roles are reversed, a tango unto death. I say balls! to this and hereby usher in the long overdue Age of The Three Rereads. From now on no one is allowed to utter the words ‘hard to follow’, ‘confusing’, ‘unrelated plots’ or the like without having read the comic three times. We all know it takes a while for the massive info-dump to settle, so it’s only fair we behave accordingly and give the comic room to breathe after a breathless first hit. Obviously this rule doesn’t apply if you’re a casual reader, but critics owe it to themselves and their readership. My general feeling is that the tonal shifting and fizzing ideas add to the reading experience, creating contrasts, generating depth and a sense of length and substance. And isn’t this super important in the case of a twenty page comic (not that this one is, mind)? It’s not density and narrative commotion I’m concerned about, but slightness, and although you can’t fashion positives out of negatives it’s hugely refreshing for me that Morrison’s books never suffer from this problem.

Sure, it’s not as simple and streamlined as Inc’s first two issues, but just to be clear, this comic, inspite of some of the negative press out there, isn’t very hard to understand and will be remembered fondly. I’d hate to be a critic of DC comics generally, I really would. There really is no comparison between a book like this and most of the crap that gets produced. The measure of its goodness is completely different and an undifferentiated grading system that doesn’t take this into account is just nonsense.

So there.