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!

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? [1] -  but none of them feel like an inescapable product of their moment in the way that Action Comics #9 does. [2]

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 [3]. 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.

Click here for more about Superman, Siegel and Shuster, drones, Obama and all that!

Rogue’s Review: Darkseid

October 1st, 2011

I don’t usually deal in the sort of criticism that tries to find the spirit of our time in this or that piece of pop culture detritus, but for the past few years I’ve felt smothered by four little words – THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE! – and every time I see or hear a variation on that theme, there’s only one face I see.

No point in trying to keep the bastard stuck in a corner anymore.  You can only fight him off for so long, you know?

It’s time to let Darkseid out of the box:

This is the way, step inside.

For the transcript click here

Here’s a recording of a Grant Morrison interview concerning mainly his new book Supergods.  Bobsy did the interview with small interjections from Gary Lactus.  Here’s the nice picture on the back of the book:

Lovely

Thanks to Grant and the folk at Jonathan Cape for their help in setting up this interview.  Apologies for sound quality.

EXPECT:

Inadequate speakerphone with buzzing!

Intrusive street noise!

Phone line breaking up!

Phone and recording device falling over!

We need to do a transcript which will appear here soon but we thought you might want to hear the whole thing.

Click to download

If you’re new here you might want to have a look around. We have lots more thoughts on Morrison’s work.

Amy Poodle on the Invisibles for The Comics Journal
Illogical Volume on the Filth
Batman annocommentations (probably quite different from anything you’ve read elsewhere)
Seaguy annocommentations
Amy Poodle on All Star Superman

And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg.

We’ll stop at nothing, you see. All the suffering and the death and the pain in your world is entertainment for us. Why does blood and torture and anguish still excite us?

We thought that by making your world more violent we would make it more “realistic,” more “adult.” God help us if that’s what it means.

Maybe, for once, we could try to be kind.
(Grant Morrison, Animal Man #26)

TALES FROM THE MILLARDROME, PART 1: Having spent a fair bit of time ripping the pish out of Marky “Mark” Millar while writing up my Kapow! experience, and having then heckled my way through a twitter argument about Mark Millar’s collaborations with Frank Quitely on The Authority, I felt an odd sense of duty to reread Millar’s breakthrough comic, to see if it still worked.

And you know what? Turns out Millar’s first story, ‘The Nativity’, is still really fucking good:

Find out why after the cut!!!

Drinking with Superheroes

January 21st, 2011

A The Beast Must Die/Bobsy tipple.

hawkman

Oy, Hawkman, stop playing with yourself and get me my fucking peanuts