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Random Thoughts! (September 22, 2009)

by  in Comic News Comment
Random Thoughts! (September 22, 2009)

Accept no substitutes, it’s random thoughts time! Get excited!

Random Thought! After last week’s issue of Batman and Robin, I’ve been thinking more about Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis — it was due, partly, to a comment on Twitter by someone who I would credit if I remembered who said it (or felt like combing through a bunch of archives to find it — so, if it was you, tell me) Sean Witzke — and the artists that they work with. One of the biggest flaws with Morrison’s body of work is the calibre of the artists he’s work with much of the time. Even to this day, he still gets saddled with artists that are, well, beneath him — ones unable to properly illustrate his work and, often, muddle and work against his writing. When was the last time that happened to Warren Ellis? I’m serious. When was the last time he had a project illustrated by anyone of a similar skill to Philip Tan or Tony Daniel? Even at Avatar, Ellis is working with talented artists, often in the early stages of their careers… He gets better artists at a smaller publisher doing books that sell (according to August’s sales charts) less than 7000 copies, while Morrison gets saddled with Tan on a book that sells (again, according to August’s sales charts) over 110,000. Looking at Ellis’s work for Marvel or Wildstorm, he consistently works with very, very talented artists, while Morrison suffers with whoever DC feels like giving him much of the time. Now, this comes down to taste, of course, but it’s a stark difference when you compare bodies of work. I mean, when was the last time you thought the art in an Ellis comic made it a worse read or worked against the writing? Now, this may be off base, ask yourself: how much work has Ellis done for DC proper? (The answer is two books: Jack Cross with Gary Erksine and JLA Classified: New Maps of Hell with Butch Guice.) Morrison has worked with some of my favourite artists, but it seems only half of the time whereas I can’t remember the last time I opened an Ellis book and thought the art was bad.

Random Thought! Following up on that, you could probably expand this idea out to almost any other writer save Garth Ennis and Brian Azzarello who both work with consistently good artists — or, at least, artists they love working with who do the work justice… I wonder if there’s a connection to those three not being superhero devotees and this odd ‘coincidence’… Oh, just thought of a superhero fan who works with consistently good artists: Mark Millar. Okay, so there goes that theory.

Random Thought! Answer Bill’s question… the new JLA line-up is pretty weak. Not as weak as that godfuckingawful promo drawing by Mark Bagley. The characters in random poses from random perspectives… it looks like a collage made by cutting out drawing of characters from magazines… The Atom is bigger than Dr. Light! The Atom is bigger than someone else! Meanwhile, Cyborg’s head is bigger than… everyone. I have enough problems with characters just standing around to reveal line-ups, but to do so in such a sloppy, thrown together, cram shit in method? Horrible, ugly drawing.

Random Thought! Favourite albums from my top five favourite musicians/bands: 1) Cold Roses by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals; 2) After the Gold Rush by Neil Young; 3) Coney Island Baby by Lou Reed; 4) Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin; 5) My Toothless Little Beauties by Hawksley Workman.

Random Thought! Yeah, I want Chris Jericho back in singles competition. This shit with the Big Show is not working.

Random Thought! I didn’t get Agents of Atlas. I know! But, the two or three previews of the book I read at one point or another did absolutely nothing for me. I struggled to make it through the short story in that Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? one-shot. And before anyone tells me that that isn’t an accurate reflection of the skill and talent found in every single issue of Agents of Atlas, let me tell you that I don’t care. They had a chance there to win me over — or, at bare minimum, get me intrigued enough to try the comic, and they didn’t. I don’t owe any comic my money.

Random Thought! I’m a review/commentator/critic when it comes to comics, right? I tend to write pieces judging works on their content… Why is it that I’m expected (even implicitly) to have an opinion on the business side of things? Why should I have a comment on Disney/Marvel or the restructuring of DC when my expertise (if I have one) is the actual comics? Just wondering, because it seems weird. Like not talking about the business side of things is conspicuous even though I’m a literature guy… The two are related, but maybe I’ll stick to things I know about a bit.

Random Thought! I’m curious to know how No Hero #7 will smell since Avatar has switched to new paper and the old stuff had a unique scent. Plus, curious to see how the paper itself looks.

Random Thought! Did CJ getting Leo’s job on The West Wing after his heart attack bother anyone else as much as it did me? I love the character (and Allison Janney!), but she was the press secretary… and this is White House chief of staff. You know, the virtual co-president, second most-powerful person in the country? One of those jobs where qualifications matter quite a bit, I would assume. It’s always struck me as a creative decision based on what would be ‘interesting’ and keeping Josh and Will free for the campaign story rather than logic and sense. Note that why she is given the job is never addressed in the show. Leo and the President’s reasons? Who knows!

Random Thought! No, I have not seen the Spider-Woman motion comic. Yes, I am reviewing the actual comic. I don’t see the relationship between the two. (Okay, I do, but I don’t care about it.)

Random Thought! Been reading Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon for… like two months now and, on the back of my edition, there’s a quote saying that if said reviewer/reader were to be sent to the moon with only five books, this would be one of them. I always find that sort of idea interesting, because it’s not what your favourite books are, but which five you would want to read over and over again forever. Like, Ulysses would be one of mine despite not being in my top five favourite novels; it would be chosen for its depth and challenge, for how much I could get out of reading it again and again. Then again, you want to bring along one or two of your absolute favourites to act as a buffer between the large, involved, insane works. Applying that to comics, here are my five choices for specific books: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Absolute Authority (volume one, of course), Automatic Kafka, From Hell, and Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth.

Random Thought! The apex of ‘awesome comics’ was the 12 pages of double-page spreads in Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11. Except people kept on shooting for ‘awesome’ after despite it all being down hill from there.

Random Thought! My five non-comics books, for the record: Ulysses by James Joyce, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson, South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (which I haven’t read yet, but that would be a good excuse), and Samuel Beckett: The Grove Centenary Edition vol. 3, which collects his dramatic works. (And, man, the four-volume Samuel Beckett: The Gorve Centenary Edition is a gorgeous set of books. First two volumes are the novels, the third volume is the dramatic works, and the fourth volume is the short stories, poems, and essays. Edited by Paul Auster with introductions by the likes of Salman Rushdie and Edward Albee…)

Random Thought! Next week: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga #1! My 11-year-old inner self is giggling with glee. Absolute glee. All I need now is a return to Reign of the Supermen for my life to be complete. In preparation, though, I’ve finally begun read The Life of Reilly, a look back at the entire Clone Saga. It’s pretty good stuff (the blog… the stories/comics are a mixed batch).

Random Thought! Will people miss Tim and I doing the Splash Page at CBR after this week? Wednesday Comics ending means we’re gone, too. It’s been fun. Though, I highly doubt the two of us will stop doing Splash Pages. Of course, now we actually have to pick comics to discuss again… dammit.

Random Thought! Stop asking me to review Blackest Night. I’ve been avoiding that shit like the plague. Unless all of you requesting that I tear into that crossover pool your money and buy me the books. I’ll totally review them then. Otherwise… I don’t care. I just don’t. I’ve read plot synopses and the thought that I’m missing out has never crossed my mind.

Random Thought! To follow up, here are some reasons: 1) I don’t automatically buy crossovers/events. Just the ones I care about. 2) I’m not a Geoff Johns fan. At all. I’ve given him numerous chances to win me over and he hasn’t. 3) I’m not a Hal Jordan fan. 4) I have absolutely no love for zombies. (I know, I know, they’re not zombies, but they are, shut up!) 5) Absolutely nothing about the story, characters, creators, or… whatever else is there appeals to me. Okay, Doug Mahnke’s art does, but that’s not enough.

Random Thought! Season premieres of Curb Your Enthusiasm and How I Met Your Mother? TV rocks sometimes.

Random Thought! I don’t care how many of these thoughts are comics-related.

Random Thought! I am tired. So very tired.

Random Thought! To end things, another dip into the random company ideas archive! This time, the initial ideas behind a story I called “The Justice League Save the World.” It started with this little rant and dialogue fragment (also more rant than ‘in character’ speech) and became something else that I may post at another time:

DCU Crossover Idea: The Justice League Save The World

Why is it with Superman it’s all or nothing? He either takes a hands-off approach to the world, except for strange occurrences that threaten the world on a global level, or he tries to take over entirely. Why is there not a happy medium? They act like superheroes are somehow apart from the human race when really they are almost all just humans with extraordinary abilities. In fact, a good chunk of the superhero community is made up of regular humans who use technology of some kind to keep up. Superhumans are not really different than regular humans. Everyone — EVERYONE — has some ability that puts them above others and superhumans are no different. It’s just we’ve decided that their abilities are somehow radically different and put them above every other human. They don’t have to operate outside of society, nor do they have to lord over it. Why can’t they work in such a way to help the world, but also to not rule with an iron fist?

Let’s be honest, when Superman sets his example, all he’s saying is that if you have abilities that set you apart, you can’t do anything other than work down; that is, you must limit yourself and not live up to your potential. You can only fight the symptoms and never attempt to truly change the world. He’s basically a small-minded pussy.

Batman is probably the hero who can change the world the most, but doesn’t. He tries to fight crime, but doesn’t use his most powerful resource to truly work to fight against it: Wayne Enterprises. He’s working within the biggest power bloc that exists in the world today and spends his nights dressed in black leather with teenage boys. You see, out of all the heroes, he is the one with the most right to change the world. He’s the fully human, non-powered member of the Justice League. To put it simply, he’s not a superhero. He is Ozymandis, but without the brains, drive or conscience.

Bruce: “Clark, we’ve never been democratic. We are by nature dictators and fascists. We’ve always imposed our moral codes upon the world and to hell with them if they don’t like it! How many suicides have we each prevented? Those people wanted to die, but we said no. We overruled their choice because we knew better and that’s what we’re doing now. We know better and we will not be stopped by small-minded people who are easily frightened by big words and even bigger ideas. We are in the business of saving the world whether it wants to be saved or not.”

More rant than story, not necessarily saying anything new, but there it is. I’m done for the week.

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