November 9th, 2013
One of the strange blessings of the internet is its ability to serve as an external memory system. Thoughts that would once have been lost to time if they were even lucky enough to have made it out of your head are now preserved for an indefinite eternity in places over which you have little to no control.
For example, if I want to know how I felt about Brendan McCarthy’s Doctor Strange/Spider-Man comic Fever after the first issue came out in 2010, a quick google search will turn up this flouncing defense of the book, written in response to a review by Sean Collins:
Say it Vibrational Match style: Where you see “inert physicality”, I see a Spider-Man who’s all harsh angles and elbows being squashed, flattened out, and a Doc Strange who’s at home with the harsh geometrics McCarthy conjures up.
Where you read flat pastiche, I read Spider-Man as a jerk who gets shut the hell up by the story (his words like jutting elbows –> drooping limbs), and Doc Strange as a badass who can turn exposition into information with the right gestures (verbal, physical).
Also: the mystic spider dialogue is genuinely fucking creepy, for reals, when combined with the images, yes?
In lesser hands this would be mere set-up, but this issue had a whole lot of “?something else?” working for it — that creepy wee arachnid bastard, crawling up the Vulture’s back, fr’instance! Like something from Seven Soldiers, only (yes!) far more unsettling.
I saw the biggest, most bulbous-assed spider of the year last night, sitting on my windowsill. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to these wee beasties, but last night, after having read Fever? I tell you, I wanted to kiss the wee fucker!
The “hey, I’m a black guy!” dialogue was a bit cringey though, pastiche or no.
Looking at the book this week, I find myself agreeing with every point but the last one.
It’s not that I don’t find the dialogue McCarthy gave to the African-American comedy character cringe-inducing anymore – I do! – but that Brendan McCarthy’s recent Facebook comments on race make me feel ashamed the structure supporting that final sentence.
Sure, I agreed with Sean Collins’ assessment of the embarrassing nature of McCarthy’s throwback characterisation, but I did so in a tossed off, casual way, after five paragraphs of flame flecked enthusiasm. The implicit message being that everyone should just chill out about this racist after taste and enjoy the “septic salsa” of the comic itself.
In 2010, the story of McCarthy was that he was that of the hero freshly returned from the wasteland, ready to save the kingdom from itself. His new work confirmed his status as a trinity of psych-pop ghosts, the faces of Brit comics past, present and future combined. What interest could a couple of dodgy panels hold against all that? Solo #12 remains McCarthy’s late period masterpiece, but even in lesser books like Fever there are moments of astonishing beauty. The scene in the second issue where Spider-Man steps through a portal and into a crunchy insect killing field still burns bright in the light of its own toxic logic:
April 25th, 2012
UP FROM THE DEEP, THIRTY STORIES HIGH, BREATHING FIRE, HIS HEAD IN THE SKY…
In this 12th anxiety inducing episode of the World’s* Favourite* Podcast* Gary Lactus continues to sit at the table (verily) and The Beast is saddened by the imminent Geoff Johns revamp of his life. There will be blood…
After Lactus reveals his theme for America’s Got Powers, a strongly ethical SILENCE! news follows, before the pugnacious pairsome get all frisky with the latest comics fillies. Under the merciless eye of scrutiny this week…Peter Bagge’s Reset, Matt Kindt’s 3 Story, Garth Ennis’ Shadow (he knows, by the way), the truly exceptional Prophet (with added Dalrymple), King City, and Wonder Woman. But! Then! Gary Lactus reveals that he is the bravest man(god) on earth as he tackles EVERY SINGLE AVX and BATMAN: OWLS crossover issue released last week. And he plans to continue with this foolhardy plan until his eyeballs pop like cherry tomatoes on a griddle… what a guy! There follows a bit of discussion of Wolverine and the X-Men, and crossovers in general, and Lactus rounds things off with a mention of Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien.
That is not all, tough you lucky little piglets! The tenacious twofers then spend way too long discussing what kind of music superheroes listen to, before they head off into the sunset like Clint Eastwood and that orangutan in that film about Clint Eastwood and the Orangutan (and wasn’t it weird in that movie the way that when Clint hooked up with a lady, and then they’d go home and bump uglies and then there’d be a fucking orangutan in the mix…how fucking gross would that be having a post coital glow interrupted by a six foot ape wearing denim?????)
So dig yourself in, and await the heavy shelling that is….SILENCE!
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When he woke up he thought he’d dreamed about a movie he’d seen the other day. But everything was different. The characters were black, so the movie in the dream was like a negative of the real movie. And different things happened, too. The plot was the same, what happened was the same, but the ending was different or at some moment things took an unexpected turn and became something completely different. Most terrible of all, though, was that as he was dreaming he knew it didn’t necessarily have to be that way, he noticed the resemblance to the movie, he thought he understood that both were based on the same premise, and that if the movie he’d see was the real movie, then the other one, the one he had dreamed, might be a reasoned response, a reasoned critique, and not necessarily a nightmare. All criticism is ultimately a nightmare, he thought as he washed his face in the apartment where his mother’s body no longer was.
- Roberto Bolaño, ’The part about Fate’, p.234, 2666
This was originally notionally a piece called ‘Justify yr pull-list’, but I can’t seem to think of a more absurd enterprise than that, on reflection.
January 19th, 2009
I had nothing much to do this afternoon so I thought I’d visit my vault where I keep Tymbus. He’d been in there all week with only Amazing Spider-Man #583, Final Crisis #6 and The Spirit movie for company. In the dark and damp he stewed all week over these limited stimuli. Here’s what he had to say to me:
October 24th, 2008
Sadistic torture really isn’t very nice. It’s everything that society tries to force under the carpet (unless the situation calls for real men like Jack Bauer). It represents total freedom, action unrestricted by boundaries (read: bodies), total control, total transgression, captured alongside the omega of abjection and suffering. The idealised torture chamber is a space where these limits – which are so very dangerous and threatening and repulsive – can be fully explored, and there will always be people who see the allure in that. It’s the blood red abyss beyond the brink of the acceptable, but like all good acrophobics we can’t help but look down, perhaps we’ll see something we like.
You’ve all seen Hostel, right?