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Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

Jeff Lester

Photobucket
Wasn’t able to find Ditko inking Kirby, but here’s Dan Clowes inking Ditko! Ganked from Robot 6 and elsewhere…

Okay, and so but here is our latest episode about which I will provide you with more detail after the jump!

Sorry for the rush, crew:  running a little late (when aren’t I?) and haven’t quite figured out a way to do the show notes for the Q&A that didn’t involve a ton of formatting inside the WordPress entry which is a bit of a headache so pardon me if I just start in, yes?

0:00-3:56: Greetings are exchanged!  Apologies are made!

3:56-13:56: Superior Spider-Man #1!…is a thing we are talking about.  Comic talk so early?  It can happen! Dreams can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.  Something I didn’t think we would complain about?  Superhero fight scenes.  And there may or may not be subliminal messages via distant dog barking, I’m not really allowed to see.

13:56-20:21: Also, through the largesse of a Whatnaut, Jeff was able to read New Avengers #1 by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting.

20:21-23:31: All-New X-Men #5!  One of us liked it; one of us didn’t.  To say more would give away….The Prestige! (I don’t really know what that means, but it was remarkably enjoyable to type.)

23:31-46:39: Answering questions? Will we ever? Maaaaaaaybe, but we decide to talk about other books we read this week: Graeme has read Action Comics #16, as well as the entire run of Batman, Inc.–which Graeme has some really interesting ideas about; Buffy The Vampire Slayer #17; Earth Two #8; Fantastic Four #3 ;and  Iron Man #5.

46:39-47:14: Our sole intermission?  In fact…yes!

47:14-55:32:  On our return, we discuss Star Wars #1 by Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda.  And, since that series is set immediately after A New Hope, we talk about that movie and what we’ve liked about that film and where it went afterward.

55:32-1:05:34: As for Jeff, most of what he’s read has been digital: Thor #4; six weeks of Shonen Jump Alpha, The Phoenix Comic, and 2000 AD (with enthusiastic run-downs of his favorites in each).

1:05:34-1:10:22:  Then Jeff has a story about being retweeted he thinks is funny. Yes, people: this is why Jeff is terrible. He actually thinks you can tell a funny story…about being retweeted. Far funnier is how quickly and completely Graeme trumps the story.

1:10:22-1:10:30:  And then…questions!  For real, y’all, for real.

1:10:30-1:11:15:  The Dave Clarke Five! (By which I mean, five questions from our pal Dave Clarke.)  Dave Clarke asks:  “Is it fair to say that half the appeal of superhero comics is getting to talk about (and/or bitch about) them with your friends?”

1:11:15-1:14:10: Also, from Dave Clarke:  “Can loyal Whatnauts look forward to more 2000AD discussion in 2013?”

1:14:10-1:15:45:  Dave Clarke! “Would you ever do a crossover episode with House to Astonish?”

1:15:45-1:15:55: DC:  “Which is better: Glamourpuss or Holy Terror?”

1:15:55-1:21:13:  DC Implosion! “Last time you guys did a question episode Jeff promised to describe more things as ‘chill’. Is there anything Jeff has read/seen/tasted lately that he would describe as ‘chill’?”  

1:21:13-1:23:09: Question 1 of 2 from Jer:  “Waffles. Can the concept fly in other parts of the country? Or is it Portland specific for some reason — and why?”

1:23:09-1:34:02:  Question 2 of 2 from Jer:  “I’d like to know what comics media you guys generally consume daily/weekly/monthly (of course, Graeme reads 16 sites by only reading his own stuff, right?). Obv. you read Bleeding Cool at times; what about TCJ online? Etc.?”  [This is one of our classic 'Goofus and Gallant" moments.]

1:34:02-1:38:38: Steve queried: “What surprised you (positively or negatively) in the comics industry in 2012? Any predictions for 2013?(Unless you were planning to cover that sort of thing in your last podcast this year or first one next year anyway.)”

1:38:38-1:40:41:  Colbert said: “Opinions on best inkers for Kirby and Steve Ditko inking Kirby. And… damn. I can’t think of a waffle joke.”

1:40:41-1:44:39:  A.L. Baroza asked:  “In light of the Sean Howe book and the brief discussion here a few podcasts back over just what it is that a comics editor does these days, what do you two consider a good or effective example of comics editing for Big Two corporate superhero IP? Keeping in mind that there’s always gonna be a tension between creator ambition, the company need to police and maintain a character’s brand, and a primarily nostalgia-slash-event-driven market. Is it even possible these days to navigate through all the competing demands and end up with something like “art”, or should we just write off the idea of lofty ambition for the genre at this point?”

1:44:39-1:45:06: J_Smitty_ asked: “What do you think of the new Ke$ha record?”

1:45:06-1:51:18:  Jerry Smith asked: “(1) Spider-Man: Ditko or Romita?  (2) Do you buy $4.00 comics? What is the highest price you would pay for a 22-32 page floppy?  (3) Karen Berger as head of creative development at Image Comics. Please consider and comment.”

1:51:18-1:55:38:  MBunge asked: “The internet – the future of comic books or comic strips? It seems to me that the web is not really a delivery or economic format that lends itself to producing a blob of words and art once a month/two months/whenever lazy ass pros or guys who have to work real jobs to support their comics hobby can squeeze some work out.”

1:55:38-2:03:38:  Mike Walker has a couple of questions: “The “make your own waffle station” at the hotel complimentary breakfast: Good idea or bad idea?  What’s your opinion on Bagels? Are frozen bagels out of the question? Fruity cream cheese or regular cream cheese? Describe your ideal bagel (if there is one.)  What was your most successful “cleanse?” Can we organize a “Wait, What: Cleanse Week?” Because I would like to see the comments after that week. Are you looking forward to a podcast where you aren’t answering questions, possibly sometime in 2014? What was your favorite Dave Clarke question? Least favorite?”

2:03:38-end: CLOSING COMMENTS REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR WAITRESS

And, lest I forget, here’s the link:

Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

Hope you enjoy; there is more where that came from, coming soon!  Until then, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy!

 

47 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope ”

  1. 1:44:39-1:45:06: J_Smitty_ asked: “What do you think of the new Ke$ha record?”

    First, thank you for using the $. It’s important. Second, Graeme, what kind of world allows for the pronunciation Keesha in 2013? (Plays sad Incredible Hulk walking away music while a single tear runs down cheek.)

    On to the pod which on the whole was f*cking better than last weeks f*cking atrocity. F*cking, f*cking…etc. I kid, I kid.

    I’m a bit of a Robinson “guy” so excuse me while I rise to his defense here. First, Apokolips attacked Earth 2. In this story no one appears to know anything about Darkseid. In fact, the name has NEVER been mentioned. So far as we know, in this variation, Steppenwolf is the big dog.

    Additionally, you’ve given Robinson a fairly short leash when it comes to “explaining” the presence of WW’s daughter, as well. The text states that she has been trained if not outright raised on Apokolips after being kidnapped (at a presumably young and formative age) so I’m not sure if it’s right to be befuddled at this point. “Cynical” is, of course, your interpretation but I’ve read LITTLE Robinson that could be called “cynical” and in actuality very little in this specific issue that screams “self-interested or lacking trust in human sincerity.”

    I would think that given the alternate world nature of this book – specifically – you might be a little more forgiving of tonal differences. And, perhaps, a little less cynical?

    I totally GET and honor the idea that certain characters have expectations for how they should be written but if, when given the opportunity to develop alternate takes and reflections of established characters, it sounds just like the original then what is the actual purpose?

    Thanks for another solid listening experience. By the by, what was Jeff eating this week?

  2. Ditko inked about 200 pages of Kirby pencils at Marvel, mostly between 1960 and 1963. The most famous examples are probably the first two Spider-Man covers on AMAZING FANTASY #15 and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 and stories in HULK #2, FANTASTIC FOUR #13 and the Spider-Man/Torch meet-ups in STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2 and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8. But I think you get a better example of the combination on some of the non-hero shorts they did, the most famous is probably “Zzutak” from STRANGE TALES #88.

    Ditko also earlier worked on some 3-D comics with Kirby (but it sounds more like that was background work than inking Kirby), and inked a single page of Kirby’s art for SATAN’S SIX for Topps in the 1990s.

  3. @J_Smitty_: Cough drops. Sorry about that–the mic was definitely set too loud this week.

    @BobH: Thanks for the info! I knew I was thinking there was some weird Hulk connection. I should hunt up some of those monster shorts. I know Kirby did that Spidey short (I want to say with the Human Torch) somewhere in the first dozen issues…did Ditko ink that as well?

  4. Gentlemen, there is certainly no need to apologize. (After all, your podcast is free, so who am I to gripe?) While my surliness was on display in my comment last week, you know that I love you guys. You are brilliant and entertaining and I look forward to your podcast every week.

    By the way, I listened to this whole f*cking podcast and actually didn’t hate it.

  5. This link http://goo.gl/HqBTM should give you a list of most of the Kirby/Ditko art at marvel, including links to scans of the covers.

  6. I am so totally down for a Whatnaut group cleanse, you guys don’t even know.

    Also, your Superior Spider-Man review was strong, thoughtful and accurate – and the podcast was just razor sharp this outing. I agree, the half news/reviews half Q and A set-up Is working out well. Thanks for the time, gents.

  7. The Thing has been speaking in ALL CAPS for the entirety of Fraction’s Fantastic Four/FF run so far, and it is incredibly annoying. But I’m one of those guys who dislike the idea of using fonts to convey voice in a medium without sound–I feel the same way about the “Norse font” for Marvel’s Asgardian characters. My feeling is that the idea is Ben has a loud voice, SO LET’S CONTINUALLY SHOW IT.

  8. Got around to hearing your response to my question. I enjoyed Jeff’s resigned sigh over having to answer it! Maybe I should have mentioned you didn’t have to mention specific editors, given your occasional flame wars with them. I appreciate you both coming up with a concise answer to a very vague question.

  9. RE: Ben Grimm in space: hmm… http://www.comics.org/issue/875535/cover/4/

  10. That line from Batman Inc. – the one where Talia says “I gave the poor guns and slogans to shout” – rang incredibly false to me. It felt like Morrison attempting belatedly to tack a theme onto his storyline which had never been present in his run – a theme having to do with exploitation of the poor and oppressed, of cynically leading the desperate into false and destructive causes. For that line to work, there would have to have been some actual political content to Morrison’s characterization of Leviathan – a presentation of it, I suppose, as something akin to Bane in the Dark Knight Rises, cynically exploiting the revolutionary or anti-authority impulses of the poor and the underclass to criminal ends. But there’s nothing remotely resembling that in Morrison’s run: instead, Leviathan are simply generic, capital-E Evil, a bunch of spooky evil bad guys who do spooky evil bad things because they’re spooky and evil and bad.

    In fact, it’s been interesting to me that Morrison, ever wary of politics, has removed Ra’s al Ghul’s organization from its initial political roots as a group of neo-Malthusian-minded eco-terrorists. To the extent that Leviathan has any character beyond that of Talia, it’s that of a generically threatening, foreign Other – an international menace whose flunkies dress in weird robes and wear vaguely exotic-looking headdresses (a deeply problematic conception inherited from the Ra’s al Ghul character, who himself was basically an early-70s update of Fu Manchu).

    I’m starting to wonder, with this latest issue, if Morrison isn’t belatedly realizing that he hasn’t accidentally ended up writing a kind of comically sexist story here. Stripped of pretensions, this run is basically turning into a grand guignol version of Bitches Is Crazy: Batman’s ex-girlfriend, driven mad by a nasty breakup, decides to end the world out of spite; this follows on the heels of the story in which Batman’s other girlfriend turned out to only be sleeping with him so she could betray him to the Devil. (And of course, the return of the one ex means the gruesome death of the other, in a sort of international terrorist catfight.) If I were Grant Morrison, I might be trying to hastily slap an extraneous meaning or two to distract from this mess, too.

  11. Thanks for the kind words guys. You guys are good eggs too.

    That being said, I thought it was cute how you open with an apology about not explaining what misfits was, and later go on to criticize Fraction for not fully explaining his plot in F4.

    Re: Star Wars should be funny
    I agree with you on that. However the Knights of the Old Republic Games arn’t funny and I still love them. Hmmm…

    Re: Prediction for 2013/the tipping point.
    The tipping point for the mass exodus of creators seems much closer to me then it does to you guys. Considering that DC is losing Morrison, and the following names at Marvel have books elsewhere Hickman, Fraction, Brubaker, Gillen, DeConnick, Waid, Remender (something called Low which hes been teasing) and Parker. Also you had Marcos Martin and Rivera leave Daredevil to do creator owned stuff. Combined with Mark Millar putting out calls for artists saying he can beat Marvel of page rate and ownership rights and a bunch of Image upstarts just staying there.

    Re: Whatnaut group cleanse
    I recently started an excerise program and thats killing me as it is despite still having my comfort food. Gonna have to sit this one out.

  12. Thanks for answering the first part of my question, though I think you answered it before. When I asked I was thinking of ditko inking Kirby on the hulk and fantastic four. Though, thankfully, BobH pointed out more instances that I’ll have to find. And I usualy prefer the T to be pronounced but I don’t really care that much.

  13. @Mike Walker

    Man, that cover raises more questions than it answers! Human Torch, frequently put out by a strong rain shower, is able to flame on in space…and speak?

  14. @J_Smitty

    I had the same thought as I posted it.

  15. Another great episode gentlemen. A particular highlight, among many, was the obvious enthusiasm shown by Mr. Lester when asked to offer his favorite bagels. He sounded like the kid in the back of the class who finally knows the answer to a question and really, truly, desperately wants to be called on by the teacher to prove it.

    Thanks again for all that you do,
    chris

  16. As regards Matt Fraction not mentioning the not-uninteresting point that Reed may not be the only Fantastic Four member breaking apart, Mr Fantasticly Secretive and Hubristic speculated on that at the start of the story, but yep, that’s not good enough; it should be mentioned every issue when the business comes up. Readers who don’t do the AR, or read the recap page, are in the dark. Is it a case of writing for the trade, Fraction mentions it once or twice and thinks that’s enough?

    I’d love to know what reasons Reed has for not, you know, running interrogative tests on his family who may be dying.

    And I hate the SHOUTY THING too.

  17. The problem with the Jeff Lester “chill” thing that he’s trying to reprise here is that when Jeff did it originally he wasn’t actually calling anything chill. He was pretending to be the narrator from Snyder’s Batman during court of owls, and his imitation of an imaginary narrator from Snyder’s Batman kept calling things “chill,” which was hilarious.

  18. Yeah, MnS, that’s bullshit. The last series of Inc pretty well established that Leviathan was recruiting from the poor in Mtaba, Man-of-Bats’ reservation, the unemployed in blue-collar America and France.

    As for what Inc’s about? It’s about everything that Morrison’s run has been about.

  19. I was sorta looking forward to the new Star Wars comic, too, and was also disappointed. I grew up loving the original Star Wars trilogy, but never had any interest in the expanded universe stuff. Same with Star Trek, for that matter. I know there’s lots of fans of that stuff, but the little I’ve sampled just didn’t appeal to me. What I’ve seen just doesn’t evoke the voice or feel of the original (One exception that springs to mind is that Star Trek graphic novel by Adam Hughes and Chris Claremont, of all people). I loved the source material, but never had much desire to see it expanded upon. Which is weird, because I was always an even bigger superhero fan, and DC and Marvel are nothing but ever-expanding universes.

    That said, the p.r. statements I saw from Brian Wood suggested that he intended to work closer to the world of the original trilogy rather than any of the spin-offs, so I liked the sound of that. I don’t really like most of Wood’s work, but I’ve been enjoying his Conan, a character I never cared about, so I thought he might repeat his performance with Star Wars.

    But I just found it rather pedestrian. I hadn’t thought about its lacking humor, but I think Graeme’s on to something there. The Star Wars spin-offs that I’ve enjoyed have been the humorous takes, like Jeffrey Brown’s “Darth Vader and Son.” I think there is a lot of inherent humor in the films that’s missing in the other material. What I did think at the end of the issue was, “That wasn’t very fun,” and those movies were if nothing else a lot of mindless fun. Also, they really move along at a breakneck pace, and it really doesn’t seem like this series is going to.

    Jeff also made a great point about how the cast of the films brought a lot of their own personalities to it, which is something that was lacking in the prequel films, and was lacking here. That art was OK, I suppose, but everything and everyone seemed very generic. Coincidentally, that day I happened across a drawing of Luke Skywalker by Paul Pope. Pope’s aesthetic doesn’t seem like it would fit the world of Star Wars, but the humanity and personal voice of that sketch made me want to read a Star Wars comic by Paul Pope.

    Finally … Bergen Bagels is great! I live a few blocks from there, and hearing you mention it this morning made me go there for lunch!

  20. It established that Leviathan is recruiting from those places, sure, but Morrison gives no motivation for their recruitment – he provides no insight into why the poor and downtrodden would decide to up and join Ye Olde Giant Evil Criminal Conspiracy. And that line of Talia’s, where she says she’s giving them “slogans to shout”? Certainly sounds like she’s signing them up for what they, at least, are meant to think is a cause. What slogans, exactly, are they meant to be shouting, exactly? What does Leviathan purport to be accomplishing on behalf of the people it recruits that convinces them to join up? If Morrison had given any inkling of such an added dimension to Leviathan when he was writing this storyline, it would make for a far more interesting and complex story than the one he’s actually been writing – and the story that Graeme describes is one I’d love to read, if it actually existed. But Morrison isn’t writing it, nor do I think he could have written it – that’s not where his interests lie.

    “As for what Inc’s about? It’s about everything that Morrison’s run has been about.”

    What does this statement even mean? You could swap that out for any creator of any work of art and it would be true – it’s tautological, it tells us nothing.

  21. I was thinking, in order to avoid the two month question marathon, that you curate the questions the next time you do them. Each of you pick the 10 that most interest you and keep it at a manageable one or two episodes.

    I’m not complaining, I like the question episodes, but thought that might work better for you.

  22. Moose, I’m mobile so this will be short but what they’re signing up for doesn’t matter to them. The people in these circumstances would be happy to shout anything they’re told.

    What the story is asking you, again at the seeming bottom level of a pit of despair, is how you fight an idea (and people willing to die in its service) when the idea doesn’t matter. Leviathan is the absence of mission and philosophy – to me. That’s why victory turns to ashes in Batman Inc’s mouths so quickly. “Oh we crushed the club of assassins…turns out that doesn’t matter.”

    To me it’s always felt all along like Leviathan preys upon people willing to believe in an easy answer. If you look back at every element tied to the group through the series they believe they’re getting something from Leviathan even though those things are radically diverse.

    That it’s being wielded spitefully and carelessly is particularly terrifying.

    Interesting points about the women in Bruce’s life, though, to be sure.

  23. I’m pretty sure Brian Wood can take whatever you dish out, Jeff. after all, five-ten years ago he’d be fine with calling everyone on this forum a pathetic loser.

  24. J_Smitty, my problem with that is that the idea of Leviathan should matter to the people that have been convinced to join Leviathan – at least, it should, once Morrison raises the notion that they’ve been duped into fighting and killing for a false cause. Sure, the idea of Leviathan doesn’t matter to Talia, who’s only using it as a club in her own particularly spiteful plans, but it’s not an easy thing to convince ordinary people to just start killing – even the poor and desperate are much more likely to focus their remaining energy and resources on staying alive before resorting to violence, and in that sense we’re talking about ordinary, street-level “give me food to eat” violence, not cartoon-supervillain “put on this uniform and shout COBRA while you shoot at those other dudes in costumes” violence.

    My thing is this: Morrison has basically portrayed Leviathan as a generically evil blob for this long, and as long as he was doing that, the idea of Leviathan didn’t matter – because hey, Leviathan is basically Cobra, and Cobra tries to kill GI Joe because they’re Cobra, and that’s that. But as soon as he raised the question of who those Leviathan flunkies were, and Talia came to recruit them to the cause of Leviathan, he unintentionally opened up a giant can of worms, because what is “the cause of Leviathan” other than being evil and doing evil shit? If its followers are desperate for an easy answer, then what’s the easy answer Leviathan is giving them? How does Talia go from “you’re poor” to “so turn yourself into a Man-Bat and attack Gotham City”? Even Fascism made its followers a better pitch than that.

    (I’m not even going to go into the fact that, had Morrison actually been telling the story he apparently thinks he’s been telling, it would be the story of the Good Billionaire and his Righteous Multinational Brand facing off against the hordes of evil, as represented by the world’s poor and destitute… a story which is, shall we say, a touch problematic.)

  25. Wow. Just made it to the end of the episode (I’ll break up listening to WW over a couple days, usually.) Thank you. You took a bunch of questions that were probably a result of too much coffee and answered them candidly. And you kind of blew my mind with the jalapeno bagel with guacamole and red onion, that sounds amazing. Best of luck with the rest of your cleanses, and thanks again.

  26. M ‘n’ S: Wait, so Morrison’s turned it into The Dark Knight Rises? WHATTA TWIST!

    Also: you deserve your own blog. Seriously. I like the jib of your cut.

  27. “Readers who don’t do the AR, or read the recap page, are in the dark.”

    Whuh huh? What else is a recap page for? I mean, is it really a huge chore to read a couple sentences to get you back into the story to save everybody some “clunky exposition” as they say in CW workshops?

    I don’t do AR or read many interviews and yet the fact that everybody was in trouble was abundantly clear to me. And if you’re annoyed that Reed is being secretive to the point of putting his family in jeopardy, I’d like to introduce you to a thing called Fantastic Four Comics Since Forever.

  28. Moose,

    It seems that your principal issue is that once Morrison tripped the trigger of “deepening” the meaning of Leviathan he owed some type of mission statement. Let’s lay out a few given measures and levels.

    1) We accept that DC operates in a heightened reality.
    2) The ordinary and average denizens of this reality are capable of extraordinary things.
    3) Goatboy, who Morrison went to extraordinary lengths to portray as an average everyman, was just some small time guy with a rocket rifle. In Gotham there are a LOT of that “type.” The Man-Bats were mentioned as Talia’s elite guard so that’s something else.

    What would someone with top 5 wealth have to offer to that type of desperate individual? Money, of course, but also protection, a level of importance, and I think you deeply under rate the sense of belonging. Whether it’s a football supporters club, a frat, or a murderous mob that group dynamic is a powerful factor.

    Now, without getting incredibly long winded about it the building that Batman is thrown from at the end of the latest issue has St. Malphas emblazoned on its front. Basically, Google told me Malphas is a great demon happy to accept sacrifices (a common theme throughout the arc) but in the end typically betrays those that sought it out. Talia as Leviathan has promised the moon to those beneath her specific to their needs.

    Is all of Leviathan trained killers? No, the hot dog vendor guy is a snitch for a couple grand. The Judge really had his eye on that yacht. The dirty cop was a perv himself so he had plenty of material to upload.

    Think of Leviathan like a cel organization – not a monolith. In fact, think of Leviathan like Anonymous. Different branches with different passions and motivations realizing that serving under one awe inspiring banner has benefits.

    Morrison is sign posting how easily people can be taken in by broad messaging that seems to speak directly to their specific circumstances. It’s a societal trend, this sloganeering, and by placing it in such a negative light he’s trying to – in his way – warn us.

    Morrison, after a fashion, can punish a “kind of” close read. There are plenty of things you can take issue with about Bruce and his zillions waging class war but Morrison is playing broad dynamics here with a focus on the mob mentality I mention above. Bruce is simply the 70+ years of hero he has for the job at hand – billions and all.

    So, Dan Coyle, No he didn’t turn it into Dark Knight Rises.

  29. Actually, you made a great case that he did, Smitty.

    “Morrison is sign posting how easily people can be taken in by broad messaging that seems to speak directly to their specific circumstances. It’s a societal trend, this sloganeering, and by placing it in such a negative light he’s trying to – in his way – warn us.”

    Wasn’t that the whole point of Bane’s populism?

  30. Dan,

    I really felt Bane’s actions in the movie were pure terrorism tactics. I don’t think we ever saw his “common man” army bear any real fruit. His foot soldiers were largely with him already and those that weren’t were straight liberated from prison.

    The characters used in Inc. Goat Boy, Lumina Lux, The Brothers Grim, etc were all far more “plucked” from common cloth.

    At least that’s how I remember it. I only saw it once and it felt very “straight” to the point I practically ignored it. That may have been because I thought it was a bunch of weird choices to smush together elements of No Man’s Land and Knightfall with the existing movie mythology.

    Anyhow, I think most of my points still stand.

  31. @Dan Coyle and @J_Smitty_: What’s odd to me about this little back & forth is that I’m inclined to agree with both of you.

    Although I don’t think Morrison based any of Batman, Inc. on Dark Knight Rises, I think both Nolan’s trilogy and Morrison’s run (if I buy into J. Smitty’s and Graeme’s points, which I’m much more inclined to do) are very much ruminations on the same thing: if the deadliest part of Batman is the idea of Batman, then the flip side of that is terrorism.

    They may deal with it in different regards–as Smitty points out, Bane’s common man army wasn’t especially common man at all–but they’re both thinking about that at a metaphorical level.

    I think part of the problem is, writing metaphorically about complex political dynamics either leads to heavy-handed allegory, or it leads to something that maps imperfectly. (Also, you know: you gotta leave space for the punchin’!)

    That said, there may be something useful in comparing Morrison’s choice to suggest the allure of Leviathan is at the level of personal corruption, whereas TDKR posits Bane’s appeal to many as a reaction against what’s perceived as a corrupt system.

  32. Hey, Jeff&Graeme, what was the song you guys used in the intermission? That was p. nice tune.

  33. I have to wholeheartedly agree with you guys about Stegman’s art. I don’t get the hype at all. His character models are inconsistent and… just… uninteresting. I guess some would say he’s a more stylistic or impressionistic artist, but a) his morphing style just isn’t that interesting, and b) I don’t get the impression that he’s able to control what he’s doing from panel to panel — rather, things always look wonky and shifting simply because he can’t set a stable, consistent scene, period.

    That’s not to say that I hate the guy’s art. He was fine when I first discovered him on lesser-known titles. He IS the sort of artist whom, when you first discover him, you want to root for and tell people about, simply because he’s kinda neat. But… only kinda. And he hasn’t really grown as an artist since I’ve seen his stuff.

    Maybe I’m harping too much on him, but I think Stegman serves as a good example of what happens to a lot of young talent in the industry once the Big Two (particularly Marvel) gets ahold of them: They just stop growing as artists. On the other hand, it’s baffling to me that fans who have followed comics for decades can not recognize younger artists’ lack of growth in this respect. Telling people “Hey, you might want to check out Scarlett Spider; it’s not that bad and the guy on art is kinda neat” is one thing. But championing a gimmicky Spider-Man reboot with this terribly inconsistent guy as the lead artist? How can someone think that’s a wholeheartedly good move? The fundamental flaws in the guy’s work are just obvious.

  34. Listening to your latest episode and your discussion of LSH triggered why I like the Young Justice TV series. Both rely on a basic knowledge of the DCU and both depict young heroes getting older over time.

    - Gary

  35. @Dan Sa
    “I think Stegman serves as a good example of what happens to a lot of young talent in the industry once the Big Two (particularly Marvel) gets ahold of them: They just stop growing as artists.”

    Fun theory: this is a deliberate action on the part of the artist. Its entirely possible that the artists of bottom – mid tier Marvel comics have aspirations outside of comics: editorial illustration, concept design, storyboarding, animation, etc. and that finding ways of reducing time spent on their day job (drawing comics) means more time they spend on learning digital painting or putting together a pitch for animated projects.
    Also take into account that many amazing artists don’t sell anywhere near as much as they should, staying in a familiar house style could just be better from a ‘keeping your job’ perspective. If Ryan Stegman woke up tomorrow drawing like Moebius it may not be a great thing for him.

    As far as Marvel trying to make a big deal out of new artist who arnt that big of a deal yet, thats just how Marvel is used to marketing comics, you wheel out the writer to say that he respects the history of the characters but wants to do bold new things, and you say the artists is doing the best art of their careers.

  36. Here’s a link to pages from the Kirby/Ditko Zzutak! story mentioned by BobH:

    http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/dynamics/2011/10/26/three-pages-from-strange-tales-88/

    It’s just another thing that shouldn’t exist…

  37. “…you wheel out the writer to say that he respects the history of the characters but wants to do bold new things, and you say the artists is doing the best art of their careers.”

    Isn’t that how everybody markets comics? It’s marketing. You should expect a little hyperbole.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear more examples of young artists being stunted by their corporate employers. For one thing, I think this is a little condescending to the artists — but it also just seems like a not-very-prevalent trend. I can think of countless young talents who have grown leaps and bounds over short periods, even while working uncool, work-for-hire gigs.

  38. Smitty, Dan, et al: Much of the problem I’m having with this is that your version of Morrison’s run is far more interesting than Morrison’s actual run. And this, in general, has increasingly been a problem with Morrison’s comics: Morrison’s fans have been quite good about wringing additional meaning out of projects whose actual execution leaves much to be desired – so much so, in fact, that Morrison can, at this point, just lazily hint at some vague degree of meaning and rely on friendly readers and critics to do the hard work of making the extra connections and writing the invisible backstory that might make it make sense.

    But at some point this stops being critical engagement and becomes a special kind of fanwank – covering up for the weakness of the original material with an all-too-generous critical reading that isn’t supported by the actual text. There’s nothing in Morrison’s run to suggest, for instance, that Leviathan functions like Anonymous (although if it did, it would make for a far more interesting story – how, exactly, would Batman “take down” a loose network of independent, autonomous cells that spring up wherever they’re needed? How would he fight an enemy that can’t simply be punched into submission? For that matter, how would Talia “control” such a non-organization?). Nor is there anything to suggest that the poor and downtrodden apparently recruited by Leviathan have anything to gain by working for Leviathan, which is pretty odd, and disappointingly weak – imagine how much more interesting the story would be if Leviathan had been presented not simply as a bunch of generically evil thugs working for a crazy person, but as a genuinely revolutionary organization working to overthrow the system that keeps them in miserable poverty – the system that makes Bruce Wayne a billionaire, and gives Batman the resources to beat up the (overwhelmingly poor) criminals he faces on a nightly basis. That would complicate the rather facile and boring, black-and-white, good-and-evil story Morrison lays out for us, in which the only conflict seems to be, “can Batman do enough punchy to punch out the bad guys?”

    (As an aside, I find it interesting to remember that when Morrison started this run, he was saying that he purposely wanted to move Batman towards the brighter, poppier stories and away from street-level grime, precisely because he was aware of the reactionary implications of having a zillionaire running around beating up poor people and calling it heroic. Does it say something about Batman as a character, or Morrison as a writer, that even knowing about and acknowledging these rather icky implications, he ended up there anyway?)

  39. >>>here’s nothing in Morrison’s run to suggest, for instance, that Leviathan functions like Anonymous (although if it did, it would make for a far more interesting story – how, exactly, would Batman “take down” a loose network of independent, autonomous cells that spring up wherever they’re needed? How would he fight an enemy that can’t simply be punched into submission? For that matter, how would Talia “control” such a non-organization?)<<<

    Isn't there some hints that Morrison made Batman into Anonymous? He begins Batman Inc with Batman obsessively on the internet giving mis-information while going on a recruitment drive to bring in more Batmen into the fold. But that eventually gets lost when he brings them all together to get hit by Leviathan.

    If this story doesn't end with everyone dressed up like Batman saying, "I am Batman", I'll be very disappointed.

    - G

  40. @Jeff: In regards to your Matt Fraction ruminations…I kinda have the same problem. Fraction’s ruminations and ideas on where he was planning on going with Uncanny X-Men were some of the most interesting thoughts on the mutants since Morrison’s run. And then the comics weren’t. Same thing’s already happened with Fantastic Four (though not FF) with me. I think the comic that gets closest to the way his ideas work is his run on Hawkeye, mostly because he’s writing Hawkeye as, well, himself.

  41. “Nor is there anything to suggest that the poor and downtrodden apparently recruited by Leviathan have anything to gain by working for Leviathan”

    Moose, I detailed Goatboy’s every-man status and what drew him in initially was money to put his kid through school. The guy he blows away while trying to shoot Damien was a bowling buddy. Lumina Lux has MS and her Leviathan “handler” must have been the one to promise her the cure.
    When they tested the Bat Cow they found modified mind control agents present in the beef being slaughtered. I could go on.

    All of this is EXPLICITLY mentioned as motivations for individuals to join or buy into Leviathan. Extrapolating out that others must have been given similar incentives is not being too generous or fanwanky. Neither is the expectation that Leviathan is not a series of individuals having one on one audiences with Talia in some kind of throne room. A cel structure is the only workable option that remains.

    That you’re circling the crux of your argument around the need for a flowchart detailing the criminal organization itself and its infrastructure tells me you’re looking for a different kind of comic that, perhaps, this was never meant to be. I mean, it’s perfectly valid that you want that type of comic but it’s not – I don’t believe any way – a really valid criticism especially given the clear examples I’ve provided.

    I’m certainly not trying to be overly contentious but aside from the corollary Anonymous comparison (I made that one because I was “feeling” it) everything I’ve mentioned has been pulled from written text in the issues.

  42. Smitty – that’s two people with motivations you’ve mentioned, neither of which are political in nature, but are tied purely to self-interest. What slogans was Goatboy given to shout? What cause, other than self-preservation, was Lumina Lux fighting for? And you mention the mind control thing, which I don’t see has anything to do with the interpretation you or Graeme are putting forward – what do mind-control burgers have to do with the notion of Talia presenting Leviathan as some sort of cause?

    And I’m sorry, but the idea of Leviathan having a cell structure, while intriguing, isn’t pulled from anywhere in the the actual comics – it really is just an interesting fanwank. Again, I’d like to be reading the comic you think you’re reading – but it’s not the one Morrison’s been writing.

  43. Whoever said it was political?

  44. There is plenty of self interest in every cause. That Goat and Lumina are motivated by that to join Leviathan seems more realistic than what you seem to be agitated about which was, if I recall, that the poor had no reason at all to join up. I’ve given you the reasons of two principal signifiers of the Leviathan “foot soldier” caste. I’ve also thrown in the mind control precursors because it’s pointed out that maybe making people who eat cheap food more vulnerable to the power of suggestion would benefit the cause of getting those poor people to join up.

    To ask a writer to lay out motivations for each person is just impossible and would seem pretty boring to me. I mean, I want to know why the nurse and the invisible man character were around the dinner table while brother Grimm 1 was unknowingly munching on Brother Grimm 2 but it’s not going to ruin my enjoyment of what I perceive to be a fairly comprehended comic book.

  45. At least Smitty is engaging with Moose’s points, instead of smirking like an asshole and calling you and idiot, like pretty much everyone who likes Final Crisis does.

  46. What’s fascinatingly bizarre about the Talia / Leviathan thing is how much Morrison seems to be pulling directly from the Sax Rohmer playbook, more or less uncritically. Rebelling against her father, commandeering his organization, using Kali as symbol and totem, sexually obsessing on the hero — it’s all straight out of “The Daughter of Fu Manchu.”

    And, yeah, Ra’s al-Ghul and co. have always been kind of a Fu Manchu riff, but it’s more explicit than ever here. Most troublingly, that also includes the vaguely defined plan — setting up the secret organization as a generic, all-purpose aggregator for the dispossessed of the world to overthrow the status quo.

  47. Smitty: at this point I feel like we’re just talking past each other. I mean, on some basic level you can say that any flunky working for the Riddler on the old Batman TV show was presumably pulling a paycheck, and thus had a motivation for pulling on a set of green tights and walking around a hideout cluttered with oversized novelty deathtraps. But that’s not what we’re talking about when we talk about a cause, which is what Graeme talked about on the podcast, what I was talking about in my comments, and which is what is implied by that line of Talia’s – one doesn’t “shout slogans” if you’re just trying to make some money; one shouts slogans to profess a belief, to profess one’s allegiance to a party or an organization or an ideal or a cause. What’s the cause that Leviathan is getting people to fight, kill, and die for? Your own examples have answered the question: there is no cause, at least none that Morrison has shown us. We’ve been shown a few people joining for their own private gain – as happens in any criminal organization (the kids who’ve been reduced to selling drugs down the street from me aren’t doing so for a cause, nor has anyone given them “slogans to shout”) and the implication of mind control.

    As I said before – if Morrison just left Leviathan as this amorphous blob of criminal evil, that would be fine. But in aspiring to make it some kind of quasi-political cause that unites the world’s poor, his reach has severely exceeded his grasp.

    DocK: Yeah – if anything, Morrison is taking Ra’s/Talia backwards to become even more like Rohmer characters than before, which is just utterly bizarre to me. If Morrison were trying to undermine these hoary old tropes, it would be one thing, but he’s been very much playing it straight, and the result is kind of appalling.

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