Random Thoughts! (April 24, 2012)

Random Thought! The little kid sitting next to me at Raw last night kept falling asleep and poking me in the side with his elbow. It's Random Thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review.

Random Thought! Raw last night was fun. Since I do my Instant Analysis of Raw for 411mania every week, I did a Live Analysis this week.

Random Thought! No "Riding the Gravy Train" for last week's trio of Avengers vs. X-Men books written yet, because I came down with a nasty cold that left me unable to sit up and write... followed by a very busy weekend at work. Hopefully, it will be up later today... just in time for new comics tomorrow. But, since I have to work Thursday/Friday this week, I get a Wednesday off for the first time in forever. So, hey, that's a plus. I'll be there shortly after the shop opens to get my copy of AVX: VS #1... surely to be the great battle comic of the decade. Right?

Random Thought! I rather enjoyed David Brothers's piece on Moore and Kirby. Something I really respect about David is how much thought and effort he puts into things like that. He doesn't simply jump into rash decisions. He thinks about situations and does what's right for him. It's something I mentioned when talking about Holy Terror on my blog -- he didn't react impulsively to that book, he took the time to struggle with it and his love of Frank Miller's work before coming to a final opinion. When he says stuff like he's stopped buying comics from Marvel and DC, I admire that he's standing by what he feels is right for him. It's what everyone should do.

Random Thought! I don't like the way that the cover to Wonder Woman #8 lies. It's a lying cover. I hate lying covers. (The comic is better for not showing the cover scene, of course...)

Random Thought! New Jack White album! ...not quite what you'd expect from him... unless all you expect from him is the unexpected. Then... it's what you expected... except, because it's what you expected, it's no longer unexpected, which means it's not what you expected, making it unexpected... Yessssssssssssssss...

Random Thought! The price of Avengers #1 keeps dropping. First, it was $3.99. Then, I saw it in my shop in a box of dollar comics. Last week, they just gave it to me for free... I already have this, though.

Random Thought! Yes, Walt Simonson does draw a big picture of Thor. Bendis knows what he's doing.

Random Thought! Seriously, is there a translation of the text at the bottom of the pages in Defenders #5 yet?

Random Thought! I love the pages of Batman's Rogues Gallery reacting to him shooting someone dead so much. Perfect thing to have in the final issue of Batman: Odyssey. What a strange and wonderful series.

Random Thought! Last Thursday, while sick, I watched the 2003 Royal Rumble. I wanted to see the one where Brock Lesnar won and there was also the bonus of the Triple H/Scott Steiner match that I had heard so many horrible things about. Yeah, it was bad. Not the worst thing ever, but bad. The Rumble itself was entertaining -- so was the Angle/Benoit match.

Random Thought! I will never quite understand the logic of other superheroes not showing up in a city like Gotham when a bunch of costumed assassins are slaughtering public figures. I get why it doesn't happen from a real world publishing perspective, but the logic within that world... Sorry, 'Batman may make a mad face' doesn't seem like a good reason.

Random Thought! I would kill to read "The Oral History of Batman" by Frank Miller.

Random Thought! So... the Owls didn't know Bruce Wayne was Batman? I guess they're not so amazing... especially with unmasking people they kidnap and drug. (Or was I misreading the way they reacted to the Batcave?)

Random Thought! Someone has to have done the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen one already, right? Bluewater perhaps? If not, I'm... well, I'm surprised.

Random Thought! Hey, Marvel, you know what's awesome? When you release comics one week apart that depict the exact same events in two drastically different ways! Explain how New Avengers #24 and Avengers vs. X-Men #2 both happened. Go ahead. Here's my 'No Prize' explanation: shitty editing.

Random Thought! I'm somewhat surprised that someone who has written Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman has the image of a 'creator-owned' sort of writer with people... Brian Azzarello is very much a 'work for hire' sort of writer. Obviously so. And that's cool. I really like that about him. He's a gun for hire that always does a good job. I wish comics had more writers like that instead of people whose primary goal is to scratch that itch they've had since they were seven and get by through 'passion' and 'love' more than skill.

Random Thought! I don't know why exactly, but The Manhattan Projects #2 was a comic that made me very happy while I was reading it. Just enjoyable. Rockin' and rollin', baby...

Random Thought! Michelle is now hooked on The Venture Bros.

Random Thought! If my shop has a rack copy, I may buy the first volume of Batman: Knightfall tomorrow.

Random Thought! Looks like a good week for comics tomorrow. Four Avengers vs. X-Men titles, a new issue of The Ultimates (which is always an event for me these days), the end of Moon Knight, and more Spaceman. Plus issues of Daredevil, Mighty Thor, and Captain America.

Random Thought! The following Joe Casey question is appropriate given AVX: VS #1 coming out tomorrow and Joe Casey's issue of Hulk Smash Avengers coming out in a couple of weeks. Right now, that's the only issue of that series I'm planning on buying, but I do love Lee Weeks's covers for the series. So much that I'm tempted to pick up more than just that issue.


Random Joe Casey Question! One thing I've noticed (and others I've spoken to have agreed) is that fight scenes in superhero comics tend to suck. I would even argue that the average squash match in wrestling is a more entertaining and coherent fight than what you see in most superhero comics. What's your views on fights in comics and how do you try to make them more interesting and better executed in your comics?

Random Joe Casey Answer! There’s a semantic thing here, so maybe we should clarify something: there are fight scenes in comicbooks, two opposing forces -- either individuals or groups of individuals -- beating the shit out of each other… and then there are action scenes, where something physically and visually dramatic is happening, usually on a larger scale. A car chase is an action scene, for instance. Someone firing a gun in a shootout is an action scene. An alien invasion being repelled is an action scene. A super-villain enacting a scheme that involves a fair bit of property destruction is an action scene. But since you made the wrestling analogy, which is typically two guys going mano-a-mano, let’s just talk about fight scenes…

I pretty much agree with you… maybe not about the squash match part… but the whole concept of fight scenes in superhero comics has become pretty fuckin’ impotent as a device to propel or advance a story. For me, it’s because the stakes involved are usually either dramatically nonexistent or so esoteric that they end up meaning nothing to the reader because they can’t relate to the overriding conflict involved (Iron Man fights Captain America. The Marvel Universe fights Skrulls. Avengers fight X-Men. The Flash fights an Elseworlds reality. The DC Universe fights its own continuity. Blah, blah, fuckin’-blah… another verse, same as the first). It’s all video game bullshit. When they truly matter on a dramatic story level, a physical confrontation between two opposing forces is representing that story’s philosophical or ideological conflict in some way. It’s physical-izing the stakes, whatever they are. For myself, in my own work, I don’t even know how well I succeed at making them mean something more… oftentimes I resort to subverting them in some way, shape or form. I think maybe that has more to do with the other reason that fight scenes occurred so often in superhero comicbooks… THEY WERE FOR KIDS. But there’s a different demand there. Kids like to see characters displaying their abilities. Kirby was a master at this… his extended fight sequences tended to be exhibition matches for heroes and villains to show off what they can do.

I just did an issue of a mini-series coming out in May, HULK SMASH AVENGERS (or whatever the fuck it’s called, I don’t remember), where the 1970’s–era Avengers end up fighting the Hulk over a classic Marvel misunderstanding (as they tend to occur when it comes to the Hulk). I gotta say… it was kind of refreshing to write, to provide the set-ups for the Hulk and the Avengers to use their powers in a manner that wasn’t intended to portray the kind of mindless viciousness that modern fight scenes seem to end up glamorizing. But I was writing it for the ten-year old me (who I probably idealize as a lot brighter and more sophisticated than I actually was at the time), not the mid-thirties superhero reader.

Now, granted, I like to see a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence in my comicbooks… especially when it’s well done. The Ellis/Hitch AUTHORITY comes to mind. Or Frank Miller’s work in the 80’s, where his fight scenes had a visceral, almost balletic quality to them. The good shit that’s out there gets it right. But I’m probably appreciating them purely on a craft level, not to mention those fight scenes usually had a point to them. And when I put over-the-top violence in my creator-owned work, I’d like to think the subtext is always there. Of course, my creator-owned work is generally for adults only, so there’s that. But in comicbooks for adults -- even superhero comicbooks for adults -- a fight scene is not a prerequisite. Nor should it be. How many extended fight scenes are in WATCHMEN, y’know…? Even AMERICAN FLAGG! is a lot less violent than you might expect.


Random Comments! Deliver unto me content ye masses...

Dan Billings said: I loved 2003-era Superman, but then again, I started reading them when Superman was a lightning bolt, so I suppose I’m not the best judge.

No. You're not.

Ian A said: If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out Marijuanaman. In addition to showcasing Mahfood’s funky, energetic art, it’s the thematic sequel to Casey’s pacifist Superman. The tone’s different, and it’s not as “subversive,” but if you’re jonesing for another hit of that particular high concept, it’ll satisfy.

I haven't purchased that book yet because I found the prince point a little too high. Maybe I'll find a cheaper copy...

Michael P said: The thing about DC’s response to the Moore blowback is, it doesn’t have to be very good, because they’ve got a legion of volunteer shills at their beck and call who will gladly believe and parrot whatever bullshit they come up with. DC could say that they haven’t done anything wrong because “purple monkey dishwasher,” and you’d have fanboys tripping over each other to post “purple monkey dishwasher” every time some blogger mentioned Moore’s name.

...that is absurd. All of it. Do you ever listen to yourself? That's not at all how comics or comics media work...

daniel the demon cleaner said: That’s gotta be a call-out to the old Spidey/Juggernaut fight from the 80?s, those were some good comics… but yeah, you’re right, Peter is dumb.

Definitely an allusion... and a reminder that Peter is stupid, because the Junngernaut flattened him then.

As for the “oral histories” question, Stan Lee on Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Alan Moore on Superman, Batman.

Stan Lee? That sounds awful. Really.

George S said: if Counter X: X-Man can get collected, surely Terry Kavanagh’s run can too? I’m a big fan of 90?s Nate Grey, and most of his early issues have been hard to find.

"Counter X" was a three-title revamp headed by Warren Ellis, which is why they have been collected. Those comics you mention will get collected, too, but only because Marvel will collect everything. Don't be fooled into thinking those comics are any good or should be collected. There's a reason why they're hard to find: everyone tossed them into landfills worldwide. Where they belong.

Neil Kapit said: My favorite Marvel story period is Invicible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted by Fraction and Larroca. It was also a tie-in to the larger Dark Reign crossover. It worked because the only real element of Dark Reign plugged into the story was Norman Osborn, who was used as a sort of homunculus of Tony Stark’s recent sins; the story kept its focus to Tony Stark, his intellectual degeneration, and his subsequent atonement.

"Dark Reign" wasn't a crossover or event, it was the title of the status quo of the Marvel Universe at the time. That's quite different from trying to tell stories alongside a central story.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.

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