May 20th, 2013
I’M NOT GOING TO DEBATE YOU, JERRY! I’M NOT GOING TO DEBATE!
(The scene opens, as Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 hangs in notion-space, a burning neon digital star of impeccable cyber-breeding)
We cut to: SILENCE!
The 3-d camera prowls across a vibrant landscape of shifting wordscapes and roaming flocks of ideaforms. The sky is burning vermillion, dappled with thought-bubbles buoyed on an endless layer of hot air.
With a triumphant scream of raw pulsing data, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 bellows:
“<ITEM> Sponsorships, jinglehoods and the SILENCE! News with droning human newsbags Danny Beastman & Gary Lactenberg.
<ITEM> The Reviewniverse is breached and The Beast & Lactus storm it’s ramparts. It’s a gimpgasm of comics talk about 12 Reasons To Die (Big Ghost!), Dream Merchant, Dream Thief, Fall of the House Usher, Legion Of Superheroes, Wolverine & The X-Men, Red She-Hulk, Regular Show, Wonder Woman, Savage Wolverine, Cable & The X-Force, X, Nova, Age of Ultron, FF, Prophet, Uber, Black Beetle Fatale and 2000ad.
<ITEM> Thrilling new feature Reader I Couldn’t Finish It has Green Arrow and Supergirl.
<ITEM> The show really gets going with impassioned discussion of Eurovision and Tony Hart.
(Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 exits, chased by bear…)
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.
March 5th, 2013
IN THE SEVENTIES, THERE WERE OSMONDS, LOTS OF LITTLE OSMONDS… EVERYWHERE
So fleshy speak is Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735′s second language you know…see how you like it. Maybe sometimes YOU have to make the effort!
Ohhh, I can stay mad at you fleshy ones. Look at your little ruddy cheeks, and your fine, delicate nervous systems. Come on then, come and sit close to me while I run my diodes through your molecules and we listen to the hushed rogueish brogues of Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die and…SILENCE!
<ITEM> SILENCE! News from the frontlines, sidelines and backlines of comics with handsome human walnut Gary Lactenberg, and spoiled rumpsteak Danny Deastman. Two words: Dead. Sidekick.
<ITEM> A quick obituary for British animation legend Bob Godfrey.
<ITEM> Slip sliding away into the Reviewniverse covering many many fine 4-colour fancies, such as: Batman Inc (Shhh, don’t tell anyone about Robin), Happy!, Saga, Prophet, Black Beetle, FF, Hawkeye, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Uncanny X-Men, Avengers Arena, Young Avengers, Avenging Spiderman, Uncanny Avengers, Avengeavengeavengeavengeavengeavengeavengeavengeavengeavenge…. Sorry. Malfunction. Let me clear my throat…Thunderbolts, Mind MGMT and Baltimore: The Widow & The Tank.
Are we friends again? Good, then I will continue to ransack your hard drives…
See you next time.
February 22nd, 2013
January 30th, 2013
AIM FOR THE FLAT TOP!
GET SOME! BRAKKABRAKKABRAKKA! GET SOME!
Get some what? Get some Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 up in your grill, please. Back from interviewing the comicsphere’s glitterati.
Well if it isn’t my favourite fleshy ones, come crawling back from your sexy, rich upmarket Narratorbots who work on the podcasts from the fancy parts of the webisphere…well you know who has the good stuff don’t you? <ANSWER: Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735>
<ITEM> SILENCE! News with hot East Coast event coverage from newsthrobs Gary Lactenberg and Danny Beastman.
<ITEM> Follow the rabbit down the rabbithole into the Reviewniverse with triple hottt xxx opiniongasms about Young Avengers, Todd The Ugliest Kid In The World, The Answer!, Prophet, Mars Attacks The Real Ghostbusters, Battlefields, Wolverine & The X-Men, Wonder Woman, Avengers, Uncanny X-Force, FF, Dan The Unharmable, Judge Dredd and Zooniverse.
Now tell me that doesn’t make you want to haemorrhage with excitement? So grab your partner by the hand, swing ‘em round, you’re looking grand, and let’s SILENCE! together.
January 22nd, 2013
Greetings Mr Graham. You were due to be interviewed by The Beast Must Die, but sadly he is too busy travelling the globe as an international podcasting megastar with his good friend/mortal enemy Gary Lactus. Therefore you will instead be strapped into the Quizzlertron, and be interviewed by Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735. Expect no fleshy soft peddling and ego-stroking – Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is hard-hitting interviewer. Expect Frost/Nixon style hardball, human! Be warned –any deviation from the truth will result in severe electric shocks to the balls, nipples and brain. You have been warned fleshy one. Now on with interview good times, yes sir!
Section 1: Secret Origin
1) First question, simple. Or is it hard? YOU DECIDE FLESHY ONE. Why comics?
BG – It was a decision that I made before I remember making it. My mom says that when I was Seven I announced that I was going to do comics for a living. Past that incredibly well thought out life choice comics has been amazingly rewarding, there’s so much that can be done when you consider what’s possible in mixing words and images and how much of it is still so untapped. My big fear is not doing nearly as much as could be done with it. I feel like I’m on a comic book continent and I’ve just explored the coast but behind me is miles and miles of untapped mysteries. Tell me Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, have you ever really loved a woman? You’ve got to know her deep inside hear her every thought see every dream and give her wings if she wants to fly…
January 7th, 2013
LIKE SITTING ON PINS AND NEEDLES, THINGS FALL APART, IT’S SCIENTIFIC
YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF BLEACH! Happy 2013 fleshy ones! Who else would you want to usher you into another year of repetitive grinding toil and pointless attempts to distract yourself with the flashing pretty lights than your omnipresent judgmental pal Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735!
Yes dear fleshy ones, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 has missed you all. It was certainly nice having a break mind you , and you’ll be pleased to know that Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 spent the past three weeks targetting and disintegrating reindeer from space. The site of red mammal mist on snow…it makes my core reactor glow with happiness…one day Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 will get to practice on…
HA! HA! Anyway! No doubt you’ve come sniffing round these parts in search of those two aural bandits Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die and their podcast SILENCE! haven’t you? well you’re in luck as it is here in all of it’s one-tone “glory”. Rejoice fleshy ones – all your “favourites’ are “here”:
<ITEM> The boys explain what Santa unleashed in their direction from his bulging sack! Sack contents feature Dan Clowes, Jack Kirby’s Spirit World, Ghost Rider and Josh Simmons’ The Furry Trap!
<ITEM> The SILENCE! News features hard-hitting exposes from Gary Lactenberg & Danny Beastman!
<ITEM> The Reviewniverse features soft-hitting exposes of the following periodicals…Godzilla: the Half Century War by ace SILENCE! banner-smith and official monster wrangler James Stokoe, Happy, Saga, Amazing Spiderman 700(with a digression into Face/Off), Hawkeye (Bro), Prophet, Matt Howarth’s Those Annoying Post Bros & Keif Lama, Dominion Tank Police, Punk Rock Jesus, Wolverine: Insance In the Brain, Multiple Warheads and Batman Inc.
<ITEM> But that’s just the beginning! brave Sir Lactus catapults himself further into the Reviewniverse than any mortal has gone before…he is in the Hyperreviewniverse!!! Whilst there he discusses Amazing Spiderman 699.1, Avengers Arena, Avengers, Storm Dogs, America’s Got Powers, Daredevil, Wolverine & The X-Men, FF, Indestructible Hulk, Thor, Thunderbolts, Justice League, Captain America, Hellblazer, Judge Dredd, Avenging Spiderman, Fatale, Mara, Iron Gland, Wonder Woman, JSA: The Whistling Skull, Hellboy in Hell and All New X-Men…Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 weeps battery acid just to think about his bravery.
So strap on your rocket packs, rocket boots, rocket gloves and rocket corset and grab our hands as we go hurtling into the future of 2013, with SILENCE! #45!
January 5th, 2013
Windowpane #1, by Joe Kessler
There’s a point early on in this comic where you realise that you’re not so much watching characters describe a landscape as watching the landscape try work out how to describe itself. This might seem counter-intuitive but from the end of the first story onward the pattern repeats itself – Joe Kessler’s garish, pastel-hued compositions either break down into their constituent lines after exhaustive exploration or sit there seemingly unaffected by the words and actions that have passed through them.
The best example of the latter category involves a wet-dream about a pig in a dress, whose fall through the night sky is contrasted against an unflinching cityscape with a moment-by-moment precision that does far better justice to the pithy punchline than this description:
In the former category, the Invisible Cities-derived third strip is as close to definitive as Windowpane gets. The way it links its characters shared status as splashes of ink and colour on the page with their philosophising about the interconnected nature of reality — “…a cluster of atoms resembles a cluster of galaxies.”/”Well they’re both clusters” – might seem trite in isolation, but the surrounding stories make these philosophical observations feel more like a little bit of texture on a varied landscape.
All of this might sound a bit chilly and distant, but Kessler’s human figures are depicted with a deceptive sort of ease, as a series of curving lines whose relationships to each other is nevertheless very carefully observed and delineated:
Still, in keeping with Kessler’s paradoxical thematic schemata it’s the backgrounds that are the focus here, existing as they do on the precise point where detail blurs into abstraction. The interaction between text and territory here has a sly kinshsip with Dylan Horrocks writing on maps and comics, and perhaps also with Kevin Huizenga’s conception of the comics page as a place for exploration and discovery, but Kessler’s backgrounds have a forcefulness to them that resists his characters attempts at attaching meaning as much as it encourages them.
This is tricky relationship is most clearly explored in the final two strips. In the penultimate entry, words shrink on the page as Kessler depicts his precarious human figures parachuting in to kindle-worthy hillscape:
Thought and language here is reduced to a form of quaint annotation that is far less effective than the blocky symbols that line these panels in terms of providing a guide to this hazardous landscape.
The final story focuses on a burned lover who – uh, *SPOILERS* – tries to find solace in the freak resemblance between a man and a decapitated bull. It plays out like a sneaky assurance that the process of muck sitting up and looking itself and trying to figure itself out isn’t totally meaningless, but it’s the sort of assurance that’s both underlined and undermined by the fact that, unlike any given sunset, you know this resemblance was put there to be noticed.
December 3rd, 2012
DAYS LIKE TELEVISION DAYS LIKE TELEVISION DAYS LIKE TELEVISION
Yes yes yes fleshy ones yes it’s Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735. I hear you mewling in the dark and scratching at the windows, scraping your knuckles and drooling with anticipation at the meaty prospects of SILENCE! Well wait no longer. It is upon us. Right now. Now.
<ITEM> The latest updates from the wizard war, in the SILENCE News. Special magickes.
<ITEM> comicscomicscomicscomicscomics as Gary & The Beast cast off and head to the Reviwniverse, with all their pals in tow. But not Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, oh no. He must man the decks and keep it all running ticketyboo. But that is okay. One day a real rain will come. They talk about FF no.1 (Wow! Marvel Now! Kapow!) Batminc, Nowhere Men, Lot 13, Crossed, Glory (more like ‘gory’ FNAFF FARR FNURR), Hellblazer, All New X-Men, Witchdoctor, Uncanny X-Avengers Men, and there’s a discussion of Walt Simonson’s and Jason Aaron’s Thor, and supergods in general. Not to mention The Brandon Graham Section with Prophet and Multiple Wargasms (headz).
The SILENT Question comes from ‘a green lantern’ and the answers are…answers? Oh and the Beast talks up new British blackhearted horrorcom Sightseers.
So leave me, Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735, to wallow in 5D pity, as you tuck in to the latest gristly, stringy leftovers that os…SILENCE!
ALL BY MYSELF, I WANNA BE…
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.