M is the British comic creator’s surname initial par excellence.


Neonomicon 1 by Moore and Burrows

If you’re like me, god bless you, you’ve probably got this one categorised as a bit of a tangent, an afterthought, an offshoot: something fallen or transplanted from the great bearded tree. It’s in-story atmosphere and the means of its conception, production and release are all very much off the beaten track of Mooriana – it doesn’t fit with the current counter-cultural ringmaster thing, or seek to explain the magical world of magic worlds through transcendental psychedelic (in)formalism. It’s not Promethea, it’s not AWP, it’s not the League – it just doesn’t fit the pre-‘retirement’ roadmap at all. This, you’ll then quickly realise, is exactly the point. Neonomicon’s existence performs at least two functions in this regard: firstly, it is about going back to the roots. Can you strip all of the overt Moorian signifiers out of the writing, and turn in an effective, unfussy genre piece – can you still deliver the goods when it’s not All About You? And secondly, it looks at all the baroque burlesque excess, and says:  Show us why we need that. Show us what the world, show us what your mind, stripped of all that colourful nourishment, would feel like.

Allowing for that, the apparent faults – being several and glaring, and hardly worth noting one-by-one – can be assimilated comfortably by the strip in so far as they are a) stock generic devices and/or b) well established authorial tics, here flattened by over-familiarity and in-story context. The success of the issue hinges on none of this, but on the presence or otherwise of that slight pit of nausea, the uneasy tremble in the hand as you place the book back in the coffee table.  The last few pages of this issue of Neonomicon are a cedrtain success in that regard, a stiff shot of clear, cold horror – Someone here clearly knows what they are doing…

Maybe two someones in fact: Burrows’ stiff, skeletal figures and flat, precise tiers, stacked grey upon grey, are like a silted rivermouth – wading through their treacherous depths saps time and energy, dragging the narrative painfully onward. Initially this deadweight lassitude is simply off-putting, but becomes in the final pages both a dramatic counterpoint to the frantic confusion of the protagonists and a poetic figuration of the threat itself. This inertia, this entropy, this crushing relentless gravity, is the subjective sense impression of the first stage of Contact. The waves of deadening, affectless pressure are the psychic and oceanic turbulence as He stirs before awakening.

Oh, and what about those guys with the armour in the interview room? Why were they so keen to cover their faces? Bbbrrr. I give this comic four shivers and a shake.


House of Mystery 27 by McCarthy

It looks fucking glorious by the way – he’s doing spectacular splash pages between this and Fever, best in the business, of course, all this goes without saying, but…:

This comic (or six certain pages of it anyway, which are kind of a standalone thing but are also apparently part of the wider issue as well, though not having read the rest of the issue I couldn’t be sure) is a PSYCHEDELIC comic. It isn’t set in 19th Century London (nitrous oxide); fin-de-siecle Paris (wormwood and anhalonium); 1980s Manchester (e’s and wizz) (cringe); the mushroom-munching European festivals of the mid-Noughties (erm, mushrooms)  or time-immemorial Amazon Basin (a pharmacopeia more vast than even your comic collection blud). No, it’s set in late ‘60s Vietnam, and has an American soldier tripping in the bush, where he meets a stereotype and YAWWWWWNNNNNN oh my god so boring please someone find Brendan McCarthy a decent writer soon, one for whom ‘psychedelic’ doesn’t mean ’60s Americana’ (BMac having been guilty of feeding this impression himself in Fever, with its reliance on Ditko and the milieu he hated so much while shaping so much. You can argue, as P-Orridge and others have before, that to look back to a time that looked forward is not in itself a reactionary measure, but can provide useful progressive perspectives. I would say, while reserving the right to change my mind, that back is back, and that internet, genetics, neuroscience and global finance have changed the world so utterly since the 68ers had their moment that we are just going to have to create a new future for our children without using Nehru jackets and paisley shirts as a template. Which is a shame because fashion sometimes gets things so right that they are just too precious to be snagged on the spokes of the style-wheel as it cycles round again…  those things just aren’t coming back in).

Look, here’s the thing, McCarthy is a ‘psychedelic’ artist, not because his work looks like Strawberry Alarm Clock posters, though it sometimes does, nor that the lines and colours really come alive when the reader’s Mash is definitely Off, though they do, nor even that it looks like the artist is partial to his medicine himself, though who knows or cares? It’s because, inside his work, within those panels themselves, there appears to the reader, no matter their state of chemical imbalance, to be little distinction made between what is Real and what is Imagined. Very, very simply put: inside his drawings, Dreams and Real Life look like the Same Thing. That is it. It is not about drugs or youth insurrection or the cultural landmarks and social priorities of the immediate postwar generation. It is about something far more timeless and universal, more personal and precious – it is about the space between your ears – how you live it and love in it and share it with the host of myriad strangenesses in there, and how differently identical it is to the solid world out here.

But we need to get McCarthy on a proper book soon, otherwise this little 2010 return is just going to be a blip for the biographers to explain away. What we really need, is a company he’s worked for recently, with a writer, maybe one he’s worked with before on some of the best comics in the world, on a book that is plastic enough to encompass a variety of tone and theme contiguous with the artist’s ongoing preoccupations…


Hellblazer 269 by Milligan and Camuncoli

You had this with the India arc – you get it with any Milligan story that goes beyond three issues really – but there’s a point where you can almost feel the midway sigh as the energy goes out of it, and the summoning of the extra effort that it will take to get the bloody thing written and over and done with. So it is with this issue – Shade is here now, and the build up was so exciting that it now feels as if he hasn’t got anything to do – Constantine ends up using him as a glorified Chas, cheap public transport in a natty coat. It’s not great for propelling the story along, but we haven’t seen Shade in such a long time it’s only the most churlish of readers who’s going to get cross about him just standing still and soaking up the ink for a bit, doing his crazy (no)thing.

While we were up to our nuts in blood and guts and existential terror just a couple of issues ago, Shade’s arrival has heralded a more picaresque tone, with our heroes knocking about in the pub, having little superhero battles, swapping banter and trying not to go insane, business as usual with just a pint or two, and maybe a chaser, of the lifeblood of the book having drained away. It’s fine though, an issue that’s hard to dislike, much as it is hard-to-remember all of, beyond ‘It’s got Shade in it! Woop! Nice coat! – Epiphany’s subplot gets moved along, Lenny gets some killer lines in, a couple of coppers are dealt with in hugely satisfying fashion, and, well, tell you what – go an buy this comic and look at the art, and let a strange thought creep across your mind: Maybe this book needs Brendan McCarthy less than he needs it y’know – Giuseppe Camuncoli is doing OK all by himself…


Batman 701 by Morrison and Daniel

We talk about these things sometimes, and while I am only too pleased to open the bat-room door to the rainbow beasts and space medicine and clonesons and Batmites and BatUFOs and Batdogs and all the Bat-rest of it, my contention remains that those poppy/Silver Age/ Weird/insert your preferred term here elements of the Bat-mythos are not where the true insanity lies. What strikes me as far stranger is the story of the man who ho-ho dresses up like a flying rodent and wages a war on crime using latex masks and a magnifying glass, and brassknuckles and tasers and ropes, and carries a Bataclava in his belt for emergencies,  who has perfected the art of sneaking off silently because it makes his closest ally look silly, who spends entire nights unmoving atop stone gargoyles because it fits his mood, who lies for days in dumpsters earwigging the Gotham corner boys’ chatter, who spends hours hanging on to stalalgmites while being read the financial pages because if you don’t keep the finger strength up with hard practise every day then that kind of urban free-climbing just isn’t possible.

For me, the closer Batman gets to being normal, the closer the reader gets to realising just how mental the whole thing is.

Because the first thing Batman does after undergoing an ordeal Batman: RIP like is take the piss out of his beaten-up butler is neck a bowl of soup* and say ‘Hand me my submarine’. No sobbing or crying or thumb-sucking, just ‘Hand me my submarine’. Who spends three days in bed coming down from the weaponised drugs his enemies have been firing at him. And in minutes is on the videophone to Superman who’s pretending not to notice the gunshot damage on his friend’s clothes, and is all ‘Um, we need someone who can think things through…?’

This issue does have a kind of throwaway, filler, mood-piece feel to it, until six months from now when we inevitably realise that a vital clue to Dr. Hurt’s identity is hidden in plain view in this issue (by the way, my current theory is that Dr Hurt is daddy Thomas Wayne from another universe, who got knitted into ours during the Final Crisis. All that flashback on the first three pages of B&R #13 really, really happened, just not in our world – that Knight chess piece keeps cropping up, and in Moz  chess = different universes overlapping) but because of all that, for all the reality-checking moments (Ellie, the annoying walk home, Alfred’s uncanny ‘he’s home’ sixth sense, their banter, breakfast, the sub, the hangover, the brood, the quick realisation and acceptance of the fact that the world might be coming to an end, again, and that maybe only he can fix it, with his own death…) this is another cool Bat-issue, no doubt about it. Batfans dig this day.

And let’s give the Daniel his due, because it wouldn’t be fair to talk about this issue and not – he’s a very different artist to what he was just one issue ago, which was itself a long way on from how he was a year or two back – the chunky, rugged, ruffled, over-muscled look he has for this issue is really nice – Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke and several other influences I’m too dumb to know all coming together at once. It fits the earthy, downtime mood of the issue while also picking up and enhancing the precarious, doom-laden undertones of the overarching story – we’ve seen what happens next, and this seems to free Daniel up a bit – he onlyneeds to communicate the feelings, not the intricate track of the plot and the essential incidental.

Sometimes, heed ye, spoiler worriers, knowing how a story ends just gives the middle bits a chance to breathe.

(*The batboys like their food spicy, because they are boys, and because spice makes you tough. Next time they go to the UK, I would like to see them have dinner at Cyril & Beryl’s because I hear the raffish Earl of Wordenshire does a mean, superhot curry – oh yes, I would dearly love to read Knight Fahl…

…sorry. Honestly though, the ‘Rogan Gosh’ pun I was going to try and crowbar in would have been even worse.)

26 Responses to “Tues reviews: M’n'M and M (& M)”

  1. Papers Says:

    Basically a disappointing round. McCarthy needs to be paired with better writers, and Milligan needs a jolt of inspiration. Would that he could resurrect the Minx or something.

  2. bobsy Says:

    Yeah… I mean, I was perfectly happy to read them all, but none were close to the kind of top-par fun we’ve been getting lately from B&R, Bulletproof Coffin, Orc Stain or any of that (in fact, I probably should have reviewed those).

    I don’t think I’ve ever typed this word before, but it ssuddenly seems quite fitting – the selection above, despite many strengths, was overall a little on the (here it comes) ‘meh’ side.

  3. Zom Says:

    Oh those Ms!

  4. Botswana Beast Says:

    The Minx was rubbish, Papers, give over. Obviously, it’d be smashing if Milligan tried to fold in all his sales failures, like Infinity Inc. and – well, I suppose Paradax didn’t bring in the $$$ (yet, when cometh the telly show?) into Hellblazer, that’d be brilliant.

  5. the Beast Must Die Says:

    Great reviews Bobsy, although you’re too kind to Affable Al. I think one of the main reasons you’re getting that icky feeling is because you’ve read/seen/dreamt enough Lovecraftia that you’re bringing that feeling to the table, not the comic (the ‘wall’ bit aside, which is de facto creepy).

    But still; a pleasure to read. (the reviews)

  6. The Satrap Says:

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s reading “Orc Stain”. Though the thing is mainly carried by the art (some deep insight, this), I’m amused by the hard-boiled dialogue. It’s oddly appropriate, although everybody ends up sounding pretty much the same (except the big bad warlord, who’s the only one who can be arsed to use proper Fantasy Purple). It’s a sloooooow story, otherwise. Wears its manga influence on the sleeve.

    Fun fact. The graphs on the third page of Batman #701 which showcase “the world and the stars” that turn above the diving, bradycardiac Batman include a very specific set of stars, those of Sagittarius. Within the confines of Sagittarius lies the radio source Sagittarius A*, which is associated with the massive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. That’s a pretty big “hole in things”, the ultimate in “black suns”. Also, the “arrow” of Sagittarius points towards Scorpius, the very same Scorpio which was put in the sky by Zeus after slaying Orion the Hunter. Sadly, the “radion” bullet that offs our favourite angry red New God at the beginning of Final Crisis does not look particularly scorpion-y.

    It’s clear that impending death hangs heavy over Bruce. Also, Sagittarius is a centaur, a badly integrated hybrid (of man and superman, maybe? Benevolent hero and rich twat? Fucked if I know). Sagittarius is known as the Teapot, of course. Via Carroll, teapots make me think of madness, while Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot is an iconic signifier of scepticism. A bit of a loony, a bit of a hard-nosed sceptic: that’s a pretty good working definition of the Batman. I very much doubt that Grant wanted to include a shout-out to good ole Bertrand Arthur William 3rd Earl Russell in his comics, but it’s a nice resonant coincidence nonetheless.

    This bit is very much in the text, however: much in the same way that Batman can be Grayson, a caveman or a gunslinger, Hurt can appear as the Devil and a bad dad, the Waynes’ W and Darkseid’s Omega, a solar eclipse and a singularity. The mindless repetition that is the fate of ongoing franchises can be turned into an explosion of fractal, prismatic magnificence, GM is saying, and this must also include the unpleasant unspoken things that “do not fit”, aka the villains. Making lemonade out of lemons, spreading shit on the flowers. This whole thing is so the Filth with capes.

    In previews, DC could have passed off the cover to this issue (the Tony Daniel one at any rate, don’t know whether there are any variants out there) as part of the “return of BW” series and nobody would have complained. Obviously, in this issue Bats does the exact same thing he’s done a couple times in Return: emerging from the black watery depths of oblivion into red-lit womb-like skies. I like to think of the red as a symbol of arrested development or transition, a colour associated to things of “brief bloom” (to paraphrase Hurt in #13) and intense emotions, but which makes for a pretty unhealthy choice of permanent lighting of your head-space. For its part, apart from being the colour of “oblivion”, black in modern superhero comics is basically the colour of over-rendering, over-determination. Batman’s limited palette is thus hardly irrelevant to what may be called, somewhat pretentiously, the “modern condition”. He finishes the issue bathed in psychedelic Green Lantern light and looking into an orifice in the ground where Orion’s heart used to be, of course. Poor Bruce is about to get wormholed beyond his comfort zone. Green is part of the Joker’s chromatic domain, as we know.

    On #13: Damian’s rebuttal of the Joker’s claims to be “a force of chaos” is what you would expect in an overearnest teen, essentially the re-iteration of Batman’s claim that the Joker is “cranky and creepy” in his attention to detail. GM is riffing on some vintage canon when he has Robin say that he doesn’t buy into the Joker’s crazy act, incidentally. In the story “The Joker’s Symbol Crimes” by Finger and Kane, published in daily newspaper strips in 1944, the Joker fakes madness to bust out of prison, and Batman says “the Joker is not crazy, but he certainly is an egomaniac!”

    This all reminds me of my true vocation and calling in life: hatin’ on the motherfucking “Dark Knight”. Talk of arrested development. It’s too late in the black night to indulge in the red hate just now, alas.

  7. The Satrap Says:

    Good grief, where are my manners. TBMD is right. Lovely reviews.

    BTW, haven’t you added any new items to your pants wardrobe lately?

  8. bobsy Says:

    Oh sure, a ridiculous amount. I have cycled several older pairs into Archive, and still have more than enough to wear one-a-day. There’s been some great Iron Man ones, and Hulk is always popular.

    I just got a bit sick of it really, and before I knew it was half-a-dozen pairs behind. Thanks for the nudge though, I will perhaps do a single big catch-up pants post soon just so everyone knows how things are going.

  9. the Beast Must Die Says:

    But more to the point when are you going to cover do a piece about your Teen Titans Mankini?

  10. The Satrap Says:

    OK, so it’s Sunday and I’m bored. Can I post this here? Think of it as a low-risk, high-reward trade-off. This could be yet more bat droppings, defacing the impeccable façade of mindlessonesdotcom, or it could be a MINDLESS SCOOP.

    What is in the Barbatos casket? It has been called by Grayson the “key to the whole thing”, and it has fallen into Hurt’s hands, to signify that the bat droppings are hitting the fan. Let me go out on a limb and say that the GODDAMN GOD-KILLING RADION BULLET FROM FINAL CRISIS is in the casket. It would have been recovered from the scene of Darkseid’s shooting, and placed during the last issue of FC in the rocket that crash landed in “Return #1″.

    Why wouldn’t the bullet be out of place in the story? As things come to a head, the events of Final Crisis are being explicitly referred to. Plus, in FC, the radion bullet and the Black Racer i.e. death are pretty much one and the same thing. The odour of death is supposed to hang heavily over this storyline. It’s superhero storytelling 101, make things meaningful by including them in your stories in reified form. Also note that GM likes his story beats repetitive, and that the radion bullet and Wayne would play the exact same role that the spear of Aurakles/the Bulleteer –heh– fulfilled in Seven Soldiers, as tools of terrible, hypermnesiac justice, hitting their mark across the millenia, revealing the ultimate consistence of seemingly random timelines. The Joker probably knows what he’s talking about when he talks about “karma”,
    remember that the radion bullet shot its shooter. Also, the assorted imagery in the comics occasionally brings bullets to mind. The speeding Mexican Train, for instance (which is said to have left the station a long time ago).

    And why would Hurt want the thing in his power? Well, if among other things he’s the/a/the Waynes’ Devil he would be wary of it, he’s quite literally Batman’s personal “dark seid”. In addition, if he’s a mythical being of sorts, whatever may kill him must also be able to grant him invulnerability. Last but not least, fuck the idea of Batman being a normal human being, you’ll need heavy ordnance to take him down as well, especially if he’s gorged on omega energy or whatever (this would be a direct response to the much-quoted line in the “Dark Knight Returns”, “it’s all a game of odds…all it will take is one bullet”).

    For the theory to hold water, we have to work out something very important indeed, the TIMELINE OF THE BAT-BELT. Bruce calls it “the hunter’s belt”, which is a blatant reference to the constellation of Orion above his fireplace. Both Bats and Orion are surly, somewhat emotionally stunted outsiders in the JLA, and given Kirby’s canon and the events of Final Crisis both may call themselves god hunters. Both vanished after their “deaths”. Together they are black and red. Anyway, Bruce leaves the Stone Age with the belt buckled around his fat-free waist, would leave it in Annie and therefore the Miagani’s care in #2 (at the beginning of that issue, the first thing he does is to take it off, as if to protect it), and apparently recovers it from the latter in #3 (I haven’t read #4 yet). Since he’s only getting his shit together gradually, as he jumps through the ages, only by the end of #3 would he instruct the Miagani to give the numinous radion bullet to the Van Derms, who would place it in the casket, together with Bruce and his allies’ fan fiction. This means that the bat-belt hasn’t gathered quite as much dust as the cowl.

    Rikdad and David U. seem close to drawing similar conclusions, in their mighty annotations (links to the right).

  11. The Satrap Says:

    What arrant nonsense. Whatever the case, let us consider once more, yet again, the issue of repetition. In some interview or the other, GM has said that this storyline is about history repeating itself. Superman is a more sedate, cheery property than Batman, which means that while it took the whole twelve issues of ASS to complete one cycle of death and rebirth, Batman is caught in a relentless loop of reincarnation, unable to fully emerge from bardo to a post-gritty life. The symbol on the floor of the bat-cave in #10 says it all, short-lived roses are nestled in bat wings. GM is turning the dumbest, most banal of things –how to write a better Batman– into a huge, desperate uphill battle. The obsessive, self-referential quality of superhero comics –the poisonous radion bullet– is retooled as a mechanism to create meaning. Against this backdrop, everything can be about the eventual victory over death. When Robin mentions the Joker’s self-infatuation in #13, for example, he is trying to force even the posturing cynic to admit his belief in the primacy of the mind. He’s a bit too eager, however.

    And here’s the rub. Even though I happen not to give much of a fuck about this, our artiste’s worldview, there’s a fundamental emotional honesty in there that appeals. It’s a rare quality indeed, which Giscard’s writing shares with e.g. Kirby’s. Death and obsession and frustration and struggle and hitting one’s head against the wall and stunted development and –in GM’s case, inevitable; in real life, occasional– release. That’s something for you and me.

  12. The Satrap Says:

    More stuff and nonsense, the way you like it –NOT!!

    a) In RoBW #3, the Miagani are keeping something that is supposed to hold back the “all-over”. Like a bullet to shoot daemonic arch-foes in the face, for instance.

    b) If this storyline is a farcical re-enactment of RIP-FC, as GM has said, it’s only good and proper for things to finish with a shooting. In Crime Alley, maybe?

    c) Correct me if I’m wrong, but in RoBW #4 Bruce deigns to draw a gun in a duel with Jonah Hex, no? Sneaky, tricky GM is using our familiarity with Western genre conventions to distract us, since Batman packing iron is a pretty big deal, as per his own continuity. See FC #6: “I made a very solemn vow about firearms…but for you (Darkseid) I’m making a once-in-a-lifetime exception.” There is no such thing as an unbroken taboo in serial comics.

    d) In RoBW #1, Bruce cannot match the sheer power of the sweaty mass of manflesh that is the young Savage, but he is a notorious survivor and compensates with ninja moves and the bat-belt. In #3, Blackbeard boasts that Brucie’s cutlass-work is “rusty”, but the latter and still comes out on thanks to the ninja moves and the home turf advantage. In #4, against a gunslinger like Johah Hex (a glorified Joe Chill, in a way), he seems to lose. Could this be payback for the shooting he’s done and will do? That’s the Joker for you, incidentally, always in with the in crowd and abreast of the latest trends. This is the season of karma.

    e) “Karma” is a concept that fits the devil to a tee, in the syncretic way that is dear to our artiste.

    f) I very much doubt that shooting a dead ringer for his father will manage to get Bruce out of his gritty funk, but it’s certainly the kind of stuff that would allow psychoanalysts to have a field day.

    g) Read “Bruce’s and his allies’ fan fiction”, in the above post. It’s all different sets of fanfic. If we are to make fools of ourselves, at least let’s do it grammatically.

    h) Karma. These ramblings, this idiocy, these walls of text, this embarrassment, it’s the just desserts you boys get for calling the site “Mindless Ones”, I’m afraid. Could be worse, though. Just imagine the kind of crowd you’d have attracted if you’d called the site, dunno, “Stealing from Children”.

  13. The Satrap Says:

    Obvious question concernig RoBW #4: since each of the issues is referring to some member of Batman’s pulpy family tree or the other (Solomon Kane, the Phantom, you name it), is the Zorro connection made in any way explicit in the issue? Or is there, rather, a Lone Ranger vibe? Because the Lone Ranger uses silver bullets he gets from a lost bat-c…err silver mine. Like Bruce, the LR doesn’t shoot to kill, of course. And yet, silver bullets kill werewolves.

    Special ammo to take down big monsters, it doesn’t get much more gothic than that.

  14. RetroWarbird Says:

    Satrap, if there’s a Lone Ranger vibe, it’s purely in the costume. We get no “Hi-ho, Bat-Horse, away!” or anything like that. But the masked hero is far from non-existent in Westerns – Lone Ranger and Zorro being the obvious ones.

    This issue owed as much to Eastwood (and after all … how could it not?).

    It’s very much in the skein of Eastwood. And while Grant cited Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy (Which I’d say are the greatest three American films of all time as far as purely visual and aesthetic bad-ass value goes) … this owes way more to the Westerns that Eastwood directed himself – High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, and to a lesser extent Unforgiven.

    Grant specifically mentioned High Plains Drifter in an interview, though … a movie where Eastwood eschewed any straight answers. The film opened with a man killed. Who is this man getting revenge? Is he the man’s ghost? The man’s brother? Or is he The Devil?

    (The film gives no answer. Can we take that to mean we’ll never get a straight answer about Hurt? – I ask that knowing that ROBW#4 gives us some straight answers about Hurt.)

    Anyway … Grant’s a big fan of Westerns, and obviously many other Batman writers have been as well, since there have been efforts to make Batman more grouchy and Eastwood-like for about 30 years now … Frank Miller’s Year One especially comes to mind.

    Some people have even remarked that the story of Batman IS a Western (“Modern day Western, set in a city”). While I’d disagree with that as adamantly as I’d disagree with the critics who called The Dark Knight the same thing … Batman certainly has Westerns in his pedigree – now quite literally.

  15. Zom Says:

    Agree with most of that

  16. The Satrap Says:

    Retro: thanks a lot for that. I guess the Lone Ranger angle did not need belabouring, and would have been a bit clumsy, even, what with the injun assistants and everything. Another question: is the Batman vs Hex duel a gun-vs-gun one or does Bruce try to draw his trusty batarangs? Whichever the case, it is MOMENTOUS!1!!

    The casket-as-Motherbox hypothesis you guys* are floating is not without merit. The musical stuff associated with the casket is certainly related to Final Crisis (a motherbox is a casket with all the “bells and whistles”, haha). Having a honest-to-goodness MB within the Barbatos casket would be a kind of box-within-a-box set-up that would mirror the repetitious, “fractal” theme of the story nicely. That being said, much in the same way that Seven Soldier featured a number of “Hallows”, including a spear and the Croatoan pinging dice, I cannot see the resolution of this hinging on a single numinous item. Bullets and guns are central to the Batman mythos, fo sho.

    Another remark on #13: the notion of a “Dollotron infection” that is cured by an antidote that is a “Trojan” carrier of an addiction that is in turn activated by a “viral trigger” is pseudo-scientific babble, but a kind of babble that is less likely to make a computer engineer groan than a biologist, I reckon. It is clear that the denizens of comic-land are more straightforward carriers of information than we messy sacks of water and organic matter. Since GM is not unaware that the connection between information in its pure form, ideas and the unshackled mind is a popular one, it turns out that by holding Gotham to ransom, our baddies are –probably unwittingly– helping the “system” edge towards mass enlightenment**. This is not unrelated to the rebuttal of the Joker’s posturing cynicism, and is a hoary old Morrisonian motif, that of the actual existence of an evolving, reality-wide “system”.

    This is also probably GM riffing on that Movie Which I Fucking Like So Very Much, which he characterised on his site as a “Gnostic meditation” or words to that effect. I find it endearing, that authorial drive to polish turds.

    *: “You guys” are specifically David, Rikdad and your own blog, my main sources of spoilers.

    **: I’m not saying that “mass enlightenment” is on the agenda. If it weren’t for editorial constraints, however, I could certainly envision an end to GM’s Batman run that would resemble that of his tenure on the JLA.

  17. Zom Says:

    The chiming artefact also has a precedent in westerns. Leone’s For a Few Dollars More (starring Eastwood) features a rather memorable musical pocket watch and accompanying Morricone score. I’d be very surprised if Morrison wasn’t nodding to that flick too.

  18. RetroWarbird Says:

    God, the pocket watch in ‘Few Dollars More is single-handedly the reason for that being the best of the three, I think. The bit where the music stops for ol’ Mortimer (The Man in Black), but suddenly … it’s still going! Because Clint Eastwood is the baddest-mother-fucker alive and he knows the Old Man’s secret now … Indio … it’s time for Justice. By way of the Mexican Standoff.

    In fact … when the bells stop chiming in a Western, it’s almost always time for Justice – Church bells tolling being another great example. (I believe the genre probably perfected “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls … it tolls for thee.”)

    I wish we had a proper soundtrack for Morrison’s run, but I nearly always have Morricone’s tracks stuck in my head so that’ll suffice.

    It’s interesting to filter this issue through characters. Bruce serves as BOTH the Man With No Name/Mysterious Stranger AND the Man In Black. He’s also clearly ‘The Good’. Jonah Hex is certainly ‘The Ugly’ by his very nature. As for ‘The Bad’ … it’s a full-on fucking evil team-up.

    God only knows how Midnight Horse fits in. He certainly ramps up the “cowardly, superstitious” lot of them with his extra-superstition. Except, the irony is, we know that his fears are based in actual historical things that we’ve just witnessed. It’s using a superstitious Indian stereotype, but at the very same time saying that “their superstitions are right”! Or at least, they’re closer to the truth and the Earth and the Shining Gods than any organized religion that makes Saints out of Sell-outs and Demons out of Elder Gods.

  19. Zom Says:

    I suspect that the bells are going to have a double meaning. My money is on chiming church bells making an appearance at some significant point in the narrative, but I also expect to see a motherbox.

    The last issue of Batman and Robin was not scored by Morricone!

  20. RetroWarbird Says:

    No. Frazer Irving art … 99 Fiends … Dollotrons and Demonic Boy Wonders vs. Demonic Clowns? Batman and Robin Must Die feels like Cradle of Filth.

    (Apropos, since that’s exactly what Hurt is trying to turn Gotham into.)

  21. AlexSpencer Says:

    Btw, has anyone caught the Youtube ‘Diegetic Panelling’ analysis of Neonomicon?
    It’s … reaching to say the least (and I say that as an avid Batcommentations consumer), but it’s interesting. For a few reasons at least…

    (Not to turn this into a plug, but I wrote about it here: http://akadaffs.blogspot.com/2010/08/alan-moore-effect.html)

  22. Zom Says:

    Pretty much 100% certain that Neonomicon isn’t going to be Al’s last foray into comics.

    I don’t know about that theory, but Moore has a great deal of history with self referentiality, etc… and Neonomicon seems to be heading in that kind of direction: numerous literary references, characters who suspect they’re in a story, comics panels within comics panels, language as a disease, other stuff.

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