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Wait, What? Ep. 116: G-Mo K-Hole

Jeff Lester

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Because it is Hook Jaw, and Because it is My Heart…

Yep, we are back!  Sorry for our absence from the podcasting broadcast waves and of course the Savage Critic site itself.

After the jump–show notes!  But before we get there, I wanted to congratulate House to Astonish for their 100th Episode!  I’m listening to it now, and want to recommend it for people who like what Graeme and I do but would maybe like it if it was done much better?  Congrats to Al & Paul!

Now, then.  Where was I?  Oh, right.

Actually, as long as I’m on the linking-to-not-Wait-What? tip, I should mention I had a great time talking movies with Sean Witzke over at the Factual Opinion’s movie podcast, Travis Bickle on the Riviera.  As I said on Twitter, I make a terrible Tucker Stone stand-in, but being able to talk Lincoln, The Seven-Ups, All That Jazz, and John Woo’s The Killer (among others) was an opportunity I refused to pass up.  Big thanks to Sean for that, and if there are those brave, masochistic few that haven’t had enough of my braying laugh yet, please do check it out.

As for this go-round, check it out:

0:00-6:59: We tried to get our technical problems out of the way at the very beginning (and pass the savings on to you, the listener).  And then it’s on to a few minutes of Jeff kibitzing on Graeme’s work habits, so it’s the best of both worlds–you get to listen in on what Graeme McMillan (the hardest working man on the Internet)

6:59-9:44:  “But, instead, let me read three pages of Hook Jaw…” Who does that sentence turn out well for?  Not someone who has other things to do, that’s for sure.  In other words, Hook Jaw is awesome, unless you’re Jeff who is trying to procrastinate.

9:44-13:11: Moving on from Hook Jaw, Jeff also picked up issues #3 and #4 of Happy by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, and talks about that (although with a lot less evil oil rigger imitations).

13:11-20:04: As long as we’re on the G-Mo Train (and let’s be honest, when aren’t we on the G-Mo Train?), Jeff also read Action Comics #17.  Since Graeme hasn’t, the conversation is not especially weighty.  But, hey, for those of you filling out your Wait, What? bingo cards, feel free to fill that in…even if it really should be the card’s free space by now.

20:04-21:59: “Where on the Morrison spectrum does Batman Inc. fall for you?”  Yeah, we are not out of the k-hole that is Grant Morrison yet. Not nearly.

21:59-43:07:  And so we’re out, via discussion of Batman #17, the “Death of the Family” finale by Snyder and Capullo. Graeme references the discussion that he had over at Kotaku with his smart friends, and it’s only fair I include a link to that here.  Graeme also talks about the follow-up issue of Batman & Robin which Jeff forgot to pick up at the store, dammit.

43:07-50:54: We discuss Justice League of America #1.  Has it been a while since we’ve really dug into DC titles, or is it just me?

50:54-58:14:  But speaking of not speaking of Marvel, Graeme read issue #6 of The Avengers by Hickman & Kubert thinking Jeff would’ve read but didn’t and then he has to talk about it all by himself.  Haw, haw! Sucker.

58:14-1:01:43: Jeff has read Thor #5 by Aaron & Ribic, and man is that a pretty book. This isn’t much of a review as much of a collection of spoilers with a bunch of fanning compliments about the art, but, eh.  That’s how it happens sometimes.

1:01:43-1:04:39:  Jeff also read the first issue of Nova by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness and was pretty surprised to find himself enjoying it.  (Not such a fan of Avengers/X-Sanction was ol’ Jeff.)

1:04:39-1:07:13:  Graeme really liked issue #23 of Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, which apparently is a great jumping-on point for the book.  Jeff is pretty jealous.  The term “a perfect superhero comic” is used as well as the phrase “amazing, amazing stuff.”

1:07:13-1:13:55:  Jeff asks about the Superman H’el on Earth storyline because, eh, he’s honestly curious.  What can he say?  And Graeme gives all the deets. Unfortunately, at this point, Jeff’s head moves one step closer to its MODOK stage and the crunching of the headphones tightening around his ears can be heard in the background. Embarrassing and awkward!

1:13:55-1:26:46:  Also, does Graeme have a take on the new Green Lantern teams?  Whatnauts wanted to know, so Jeff also asks about that bit of business. A bit of analysis about what DC is doing and where they’re heading is probably inevitable.

1:26:46-1:50:54:  And of course we are going to discuss “Oscar Scott Card.” Probably also inevitable.  There’s also some discussion of Jeff and his ever-growing collection of bad-faith boycotts that may be kind of interesting to some.  A surprising admission is made, let’s just say.

1:50:54-1:54:34: More comic reviewy stuff!  Uncanny X-Men #1 by Bendis and Bachalo has been read by Jeff so he blabs about it for a bit.

1:54:34-2:14:02:  Last issue of Hellblazer!  It’s been read by Graeme so he blabs about it for a bit, as well.  (Spoiler alerts, of course.)  He’s got a great prediction here for a possible announcement during con season–be on the look-out for it.

2:14:02-end:  Winding down/update for any Graeme stalkers: will Graeme be attending ECCC? Or other conventions?  Also: Graeme listened to House to Astonish Ep. 100 (see above–but, yes, I will also link it again). Also, if you are in Oslo on June 7 and 8, check out the Oslo Comics Expo!  We will be back next week with more podcastery!  (And we promise to answer our outstanding questions next time, we promise! Even I’m a little appalled we didn’t answer any this time around.)

The episode is probably up on iTunes of this entry–if only because all of my attempts to launch this early Tuesday morning has gone awry the last three or four months.  But you can also grab it below, should you wish:

Wait, What? Ep. 116: G-Mo K-Hole

We hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!


34 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 116: G-Mo K-Hole ”

  1. Jeff’s shout-out prompted me to check OCX’s web site, I haven’t gone in a couple of years, but man: Brandon Graham, Miechal Deforge and Luke Pearson!? This is gonna be great, cant wait to go.

  2. Vertigo’s 20th anniversary done come and gone already, you have the date wrong. The launch/changeover was in January 1993, March cover date:

    And I don’t think Jeff is right that more people would have read HAPPY if it had been a Vertigo book. That might have been the case a few years ago, but I’m pretty sure HAPPY outsold any Vertigo launch in years, including Morrison books.

    Regarding the whole Oscar Scrap Cars thing, I just don’t get the ethical pretzels people on both sides of the issue seem determined to make out of simple issues. And people throw around the word “boycott” too loosely.

  3. Halfway through and want to second Graeme’s suggestion that you start Locke & Key with the second volume. I read the first – appreciated it to a certain point, but it felt forced whereas the second volume really “sang” for me.

    Also, really loved some of Hill’s short prose stories and though it flagged a bit in the middle and did not end as well as it could have, I enjoyed his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box.

    But, being from Maine, I am contractually obligated to enjoy/appreciate anything written by Stephen King or his offspring.


  4. Paco is a nickname for Francisco, or at least that’s the nickname my Uncle Francisco goes by. So it’s probably not a retcon.

  5. Yeah, I’m totally through with giving Snyder the benefit of the doubt. He’s a flat-out awful writer. He’s wordy and he makes attempts to seem erudite — which he might be, somewhat — but as a writer of fiction he’s probably the sloppiest, most obnoxious, and least self-aware creator I’ve ever encountered outside of an undergraduate writing workshop.

    I’m sure he DOESN’T realize that his “Joker loves Batman” schtick was done before in Dark Knight Returns. He probably thinks he invented that dynamic himself. Just like he evidently didn’t realize how similar his Court of Owls stuff was to Morrison’s Black Glove. And he surely doesn’t realize that everything he’s done with Batman is directly contrary to Morrison’s take. He couldn’t even tell you what Morrison’s take was, or what his own take is, with any accuracy. There is no cognizance or critical thought present in this guys work or his words in interviews. He literally cannot utter a word without doing inadvertent advertising and promotion; his content never rises above that level.

    You guys nailed it when you said that he takes subtext and makes it text. I’d go further and say that the people giving his stuff endless 5-star reviews are poor readers who were scarcely ever able to pick up on subtext — so to them this stuff all seems new and meaningful. And they don’t mind Snyder’s endless repetitions of the “Bat-King”/Jester stuff, for example, because they have such poor memories of what they read that they actually need these themes reenforced every couple pages or else they’ll forget them.

    Snyder is the Rob Liefeld of writers. What he puts on the page doesn’t make any logical sense and his flashy style gets old real soon once you recognize it, and recognize how his formulaic style is entirely necessary to cover up his lack of foundational skills as a creator. He gets some modicum of just praise — but that’s like people saying that Liefeld has some similarities to Jack Kirby. The comparison has a slight amount of truth to it, but not nearly enough to justify the creator as someone worthy of distinction. The only way Snyder’s writing or Liefeld’s art can ever be enjoyed — without a nagging feeling of “This is probably actually total sh*t, right?” creeping in — is for the reader, on a page by page basis, to ignore everything he’s ever read before and just indulge in the pure mindless (or in Snyder’s case, pseudo-intellectual) spectacle of it all.

    Sorry for ranting, but this needs to be said flat-out more often. The now year-and-a-half parade of 4.5- and 5-star reviews on all the major corporate comics shill sites has got to stop. It is insanity.

  6. igmus: I think you’re right about Snyder, but I don’t think you give him enough credit. He gets it. He absolutely gets Morrison’s stuff. He just can’t write subtext. All he can do is write text. So he’s just giving the cliff notes of Batman Incorporated. Which is why people like him. If he wasn’t writing Batman, this would be a different story. I don’t think they would like an independent project by Snyder.

  7. Love the praise for Aaron Kuder! I worked with Aaron when he took over for Burnham on The Amory Wars, and worked with him again on Key of Z. He is a fantastic talent, hard worker, and a Hell of a nice chap.

  8. As the person (one of the people?) who brought up the idea that your biases against certain writers in relation to missing the bit with the Infinity Gems and Mr. Fantastic’s fatal prognosis (http://www.savagecritic.com/podcasts/wait-what-ep-113/#comment-57069), I just wanted to clarify one point: I wasn’t saying that your biases were causing you to misunderstand or misread the book. I posited that your biases were causing you to assume that something that’s not crystal clear was the product of authorial stupidity, rather than asking “well what did I miss here,” like you might with, say, Morrison.

    Totally agreed on Snyder “re-possessing” Batman, though. Of course, after the same thing has happened to every other radical character/franchise change Morrison has ever attempted (Animal Man aside, I guess), it can’t be too surprising to him.

  9. Going from “people are going to insane lengths to justify seeing Ender’s Game” to “I just dont want to give up my Batman” was delicious irony. :)

    Thumb ups for Aaron Kuder. Not quite seeing the connection to the Locke and Key guy though.

    Cant believe I didnt make the Happy vs. Grant Morrison’s theories about fictional characters/universes connection until you mentioned it. May have to go and give the rest of the series a go on your recommendation.

    Its funny how the general reaction online to DC (and to a lesser extent Marvel) picking up new talents has gone from “I’m so happy so-and-so has hit the big time!” to “hope they dont have too bad of a time in the snake pit”. The job is probably still equally fulfilling and equally editorially mandated.

    On a related note, the reason why noone got upset about Marvel’s Ender’s Game comics after OSC went loopy: no press release.

  10. “I don’t think they would like an independent project by Snyder.”

    Not true. Snyder never lacked for five-star reviews on his American Vampire run, and this was before the New 52 and possibly even before or concurrent to his run on Detective.

    I think igmus oversells the shitness of Snyder. I genuinely enjoyed his run on Tec, and while American Vampire didn’t deserve it’s five-star reviews, the issues I read were competent. As long as you can accept that all Scott Snyder comics will be overwritten, you will find them a mostly enjoyable way to pass the time.

    The exception to this is New 52 Batman. The sad thing is that in all his interviews, Scott Snyder comes across as a really sincere guy who’s genuinely excited about the “groundbreaking” stuff he and Capullo have coming up in Batman. I won’t belabor the point, since igmus already nailed it, but suffice to say, the ground remains firmly intact.

    As for the endless fete being thrown in his honor on CBR, Newsarama, etc, I believe I can explain. I’m only in my twenties myself, so I hope I don’t sound too much like Old Man Grumpus , but it seems to me that no reviewer for those sites is older than 30, and that all of them started reading comics with the X-books in the 90s. X-books are the only ones that appear to be judged relative to the quality of other X-books in recent history. These reviewers simply have no clue, no frame of reference, when it comes to old-timer properties like Batman. Of course the greatest hits are going to blow your mind if its only your first or second time seeing them.

  11. @Cass:
    I disagree with you about your theory that Sydner’s Batman books are getting an easy ride because young reviewers arnt fully aware of the entire scope of Batman (after all I only started reading comics in ’09 and I could tell nu52 Batman was nonsense from issue #1), but you raise an interesting point concerning what are these books being compared to.

    Why are Batman books only being compared to other Batman books? Why does the same seem to be true of every other major superhero property? Obviously its unfair to compare Sydner’s Batman to something like Chris Ware’s Building Stories because they are so entirely different in approach and goals (the same way you couldnt make a fair comparison between Breaking Bad and Community) but is Batman really unique enough as an entire genre that no other comparisons can be made?

    Arn’t books like Batman, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force, the Answer, Hawkeye, the Shadow, Lengend of Luthor Strode, etc similar enough in tone and intent to be conceptually grouped together and be evaluated using the same critical perspective? (in which case surely Sydner’s Batman would rank fairly low among critics?)

    My take is that the reason this isnt the case is also the reason that Sydner’s Batman are successful: People only really care about the Batman mythology and Synder is more than willing to engage with and reiterate that mythology. Talking about how Dick Grayson was being taught by the Court of Owl’s prior to coming in contact with Batman is catnip to people who like thinking about the Batman mythology, taking the subtext of old Batman stories and making it text is a golden way to get that type of reader excited and talking.

    Morrison’s Batman run, while it did engage with Batman’s mythology, was more weird and subversive in how it dealt with the material. People invested in the Batman mythology probably arnt too keen on him turning in the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh and then traveling back through time to change the history of Gotham. It also seems to be a different set of people raving about Snyder’s Batman then the one that was raving about Morrison’s Batman.

    (I liked Sydner’s Detective run btw, mostly cos it was about Gordon actually going through stuff concerning his son. The end where he connects the story to DKR did nothing for me, but I imagine it was massive to people currently enjoying his Batman run)

    Anyway, thats the end of my insane essay.
    I feel kinda about dumping they huge text walls here but I havnt heard too many complaints so I guess I’ll keep doing it then :\

  12. J Les: You haven’t listened to House to Astonish 100? man ! they answer the question you posted! get on that !

  13. I’m interested to hear Jeff liking Nova #1, and it’s a comic I’m looking forward to trying myself, primarily because I believe it may be the most personal work from Jeff Loeb for many a year. Can there be any coincidence that the comic is about the relationship between a fantasist father and his teenage son called Sam written by a man who tragically lost his own son named Sam to leukaemia several years ago?

  14. I actually really want to check out HAPPY when it’s in trade – I’ve been saying for a while that Morrison is much better, and much more in his element, on creator-owned (or at least, non-superhero) projects that allow him to expand his horizons than on continuity-heavy, genre-limited superhero stuff, on which he tends to keep hitting the same notes over and over at this point (doing genre pastiches that turn into commentary on the genres, commentary on other artists’ work on the genre, commentary on previous commentary, etc.) Don’t get me wrong, I love some of Morrison’s superhero stuff – New X-Men and All-Star Superman are both great – but I feel like it’s clear by now that he’s said all that he wants to say, or is interested in saying, about these kinds of characters. His run on Action Comics reads like a collection of afterthoughts that never come close to cohering – it’ll be better for him and these characters for him to explore new territory.

    As far as Morrison, Snyder, and the failure to “exorcize Batman” goes – I think if you really wanted to exorcize Batman (by which I suppose we all mean, to take him away from the grimungritty post-Miller caricature he is today, and has been for far too long) you have to take a look at Morrison and accept that, whatever you think of his run, he was never going to be up to that job. To rescue a character like that, you don’t need a Grant Morrison – you need a Mark Waid, who can go back to an earlier, less-damaged interpretation of the character while still making him seem fresh. Morrison’s impulse to be meta is too overpowering for that to work – he starts out going, “Look at me, rehabilitating Batman!” and within minutes is like, “But am I really? Am I REALLY? What does it mean to rehabilitate a character? And can I represent it with a story in which a grunting pig-man sews masks onto people’s faces? Hey, remember the nineties, watch me do an issue like that! Hey, remember Bat-Mite, watch me do an issue where he’s a drug-fueled hallucination!”

    To the casual reader, unaware that Morrison was trying to cleanse Batman of twenty years of over-the-top grittiness, I don’t think there was a huge leap from Batman RIP to Snyder’s Court of Owls stuff (aside from tone and level of craft). Look at Waid’s Daredevil, however, and it’s clear that whoever follows him will be either building off the groundwork he’s laid or consciously having to reject it. (And at some point, I’d like someone to try to do that to Batman, just to have to avoid whoever has to one-up Snyder and turn the Joker into, I don’t know, a dude who runs around raping babies.)

  15. It’s kind of amazing that a podcast that routinely begins with 5-10 minutes of “Hello? — Graeme? — Dammit! — Hello, are you there? Ugh! Hello! Mute button?” is so wickedly amused by a GREY/GRAY typo.

    That page, by the way, is lovely. I love seeing a lotta text well executed.

    Great podcast, though! Except for the first part!

  16. “I posited that your biases were causing you to assume that something that’s not crystal clear was the product of authorial stupidity, rather than asking “well what did I miss here,” like you might with, say, Morrison. – See more at: http://www.savagecritic.com/podcasts/wait-what-ep-116/#comments

    I think this is a very fair and accurate assessment, and the Armond White appellation is totally appropriate (and hilarious).

    Comics is such a tricky medium, and we’re so insecure about its ever-worsening niche status in the culture, that I think sometimes these conversations about “story-telling” (an overused and maddeningly nebulous term) cause us to find faults where there are none. Or faults less egregious than expressed, anyway.

    There’s a precarious balance to be struck between obviousness/accessibility and obliqueness/complexity, but it’s something I think guys like Hickman and Morrison do quite well. Yet it increasingly seems some of our smartest critics are requiring more hand-holding than most casual readers ever would, leaving behind their years of comics-reading skills in a way that no serious critic of any other medium would do.

    An obvious (if arguable) example would be this business about Hickman plopping three unknown characters into his first arc of AVENGERS. Worse, he made one of them such a blatant deus ex machina that it would be surprising if the phrase doesn’t turn up in the comic itself before long.

    But he clearly did it on purpose, and was trying something he felt was new with the monthly format: the anti-introduction, if you like. He plopped them, yes, and left us to wonder. Now he’s digging backwards, exploiting that wonder.

    It may be a bad idea, but it’s not incompetence. It’s experimentation. And if you’re mad that the “flagship” Marvel title is taking chances, I get that. But some of us are kind of excited by it, that there’s a little courage in the reader’s ability to take it as it comes.

    I’d love to hear our hosts talk about how this unconventional approach presents structural problems with serial media, or what it means that a large company is ready to let a maniac savant run its most popular title, or a comparative glance at how obscure-but-beloved characters have been introduced in the past — rather than just “it’s appalling.”

    To put it briefly, and to quote MattM again, ask yourself, “What did I miss here?”

  17. Great podcast guys! And thank you for the critique of snyder’s batman and the awful Death of the Family. The art is not enough for me to not drop it. I can get my batman fix with other books.

    Jeff – i don’t think you are buying marvel right now (just using the codes people send you) but if you find a way to check out some of the $2.99 books I recommend checking out the latest Daredevil, FF and X-Men Legacy. Worth checking out.

    Question for Jeff and Graeme!:
    1) Did you enjoy Memorial, Alabaster Wolves and Multiple Warheads in retrospect? I think you recommended these at some point on the podcast.

  18. I’ve read the first three trades of American Vampire (which I enjoyed) and Black Mirror (which I was disappointed with) and from that here’s my take on Synder; he knows how to write but lacks flair and ingenuity.
    When I found out that he teaches writing it made a lot of sense to me, he knows the mechanics of writing but ultimately lacks the sheer imagination needed to bring something new to Batman.

  19. Great episode! Loved the Snyder discussion, it made me glad I stopped following the title after the first part of death of a family. I’d been very let down by his opening year long bore-fest which ended with the thudding anti-climax of Bruce’s brother, a fan theory for how RIP would end. I’d enjoyed his Detective run, especially at the start, but haven’t felt that way about anything else, not even his image series Severed. Someone needs to send that guy some Haney Batman.

    I did send Jeff Hulk #4 codes. Happy to resend if he wants!

    @Moose N Squirrel – I think Morrison did a fine job exercising Batman, as he did with JLA and X-Men. RIP took Batman to a dark place, but that was the end of his opening act, not the end point. Batman Inc was the destination, Batman as a global crime fighting force.
    Also, Batmite wasn’t the result of a drug addled mind, he was part of Batman’s Zurr En Ahh defence system and/or a fifth dimensional being. Professor Pyg is no worse than any other Batman villain, just a bit freakier (and that’s mainly because he’s bright and colourful). He along with Flamingo, Toad, Old King Coal etc. we’re part of expanding Batman’s villains, which is a good thing.
    It’s not Morrison’s fault DC management decided on a reboot before he finished, much like you can’t blame the X-Men’s lost years after he left on his work. There may not be a huge leap from RIP to Court Of Owls, partly because Snyder just seemed to be doing the same story but being less clever about it, but there’s a massive leap from Batman Inc to Snyder’s current run, in terms of tone, style and who the character is.

  20. BobH in post #2 wrote:

    “And I don’t think Jeff is right that more people would have read HAPPY if it had been a Vertigo book. That might have been the case a few years ago, but I’m pretty sure HAPPY outsold any Vertigo launch in years, including Morrison books.”

    Here are the *initial* launch numbers (taken from John Mayo’s articles in ComicBookResources) for some recent Vertigo and Image releases. It’s commonly taken that these underestimate the true retailer orders by 10 to 20% at the least, so the first column are the reported numbers, the second column is an *estimate* of the “true” orders,[1] and the third column an estimate of the uncertainty of this estimate.[2] I’m including this because the uncertainty is both quite large, and may not be that accurate at all.

    Saga 37,645 41,410 4,141
    American Vampire 33,762 37,138 3,714
    Izombie 33,025 36,328 3,633
    Happy 32,975 36,273 3,627
    Fairest 31,769 34,946 3,495
    Joe the Barbarian 29,713 32,685 3,269
    Unwritten 26,914 29,605 2,961
    Spaceman 22,355 24,591 2,459
    Fatale 20,518 22,570 2,257
    Manhatten Projects 17,957 19,753 1,975

    Ok, so clearly initial orders are not that different between Vertigo and Image releases. Indeed, you can envisage “actual” values (based on the uncertainty limits), where one predominates against the other.

    Morrison’s Happy is likely to have done better at initial orders than his last Vertigo creator-owned series (Joe the Barbarian), but would that be due to subject matter, artist, trends for buyers, or publisher? Also, there is no discussion of how initial orders are maintained. So far as I can see, Image tends to do better with maintaining those orders than Vertigo.

    The other thing is there seems to be a hard limit of initial orders of circa 35,000 for creator-owned series. Even series with proven sales talent like BKV.

    [1] Basically, multiply first column by 1.1

    [2] Basically, 10% of the second column.

  21. @Ben: There’s a lot that I appreciate about Morrison’s Batman run (and there’s a lot that I think doesn’t work), but I don’t think in the end you can say it succeeded in rehabilitating or restoring Batman to some pre-Miller tone. Morrison often referred to the O’Neil/Adams “hairy-chested love god” of the seventies as his inspiration, and if it was Morrison’s intention to reset the feel of the book to that era, I think we can say he failed. And I don’t think that’s because Morrison is a bad writer or an incompetent one, I think it’s just that that’s not where his strengths (or even his interests) lie – restoring the tone of a book is a delicate, yet straightforward task, that demands a certain focus on concrete matters that Morrison really isn’t interested in. What did Morrison’s “thin white duke of death” version of the Joker have to do with turning Batman back from the ultra-grim post-Miller years – or his years-long rumination on dark and twisted variations on Batman? The run up to Batman RIP – and for that matter, much of Batman Inc. – was not an attempt at rehabilitating or exorcizing Batman as much as it was Morrison telling the story of Batman’s degradation into ultra-grimness over the years, and of his own (failed) attempt to rehabilitate the character. And it should be clear by now that Morrison is a lot more interested in telling those sorts of stories with these sorts of characters than he is in any straightforward project to reboot or revitalize a character.

    Again, look at Waid’s Daredevil, which has taken as its aim the restoration of the character after years and years of a so-grim-it-hurts descent into self-caricature (also consciously modeled, it should be noted, on a legendary run in the 80s by Frank Miller). Waid got on the book with issue one, with a couple great and well-picked artists, and basically said, this is different now – it’s still the same character you’ve been reading, but he’s not going to be moping all the time, he may have problems but he’s not going to be tortured left and right, he’s not going to be going crazy and having his girlfriends murdered every other year – we’re done with that. If Morrison were given that job, I feel like he’d need to spend three years dragging up permutations of every version of the character that’s ever existed, introducing super-grim versions of Daredevil to pit against “our” Daredevil, hopping around the entire run of the character to tell the story of how his stories got to be told, before even hinting at anything like an emergence from the post-Miller, post-Bendis crash. And maybe that would be an interesting and entertaining run – but it certainly wouldn’t be “exorcising” the character, and it wouldn’t give whoever came next any pause about doing ninjas, the Kingpin, and dead girlfriends again.

  22. *long time listener, first time commenter*
    Couldn’t agree more on the Batman 17 chat, guys. When all the positive reviews started rolling out, I actually went back and re-read the issue, thinking I had missed something. I think it comes down to Snyder writing a great “Dick Grayson as Batman,” but not really clicking on “Bruce Wayne as Batman.” His run on Detective was pretty excellent, but I feel like his Bat-work since then has been disappointing.

  23. Moose: you haven’t read the latest issue of Daredevil, have you.

  24. Was Snyder’s run on Detective excellent, though? Was it anything better than mediocre?

    I don’t think he did write a good Dick Grayson as Batman–he wrote stories that could have just as easily been about Bruce Wayne as Batman, with the Bruce Wayne serial numbers filed off. He introduced characters who were supposed to act as foils for Dick and then wrote them out or didn’t do anything with them. (I assume a certain amount of that was disrupted by the relaunch–that and the transition to 20-page stories without backups did him no favors.) The tone was no different from any Batman story starring Bruce Wayne in the last 25 years.

    The first storyline started well enough but descended into cliches and callbacks to the grim and gritty 80s stories. The run culminated in one of the weakest, most underdeveloped Joker stories in years and a final reveal in the James Jr. story that hinted at setting up the Mutants from Dark Knight Returns–the same kind of continuity obsession that once brought us 1-900-kill-a-sidekick stunts and BATMAN: THE CULT. “Gates of Gotham” wasn’t bad at all, I thought (though it was marred by some terrible last-minute fill-in art as part of DC’s rush to beat the relaunch), but that story depended on a plot about a century-old conspiracy among Gotham’s leading families that Snyder would immediately reuse in his first Batman arc. I get the impression that there aren’t a whole lot of arrows in this guy’s quiver.

    I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I read his whole Detective run now, but having done so I would say that Snyder’s main trick (besides those horribly overwritten, writers-workshop monologues that opened every issue–I didn’t know he taught writing, but I am not at all surprised) is his habit of referencing and running weak retreads of classic 80s stories. I take it that’s the main source of his appeal: he knows what the fans want and serves it up to them in the most obvious manner imaginable. It’s highly effective as a marketing strategy but it doesn’t make for good comics.

  25. By the way – are the comments acting/displaying weird for anyone else, or is it just me?

  26. StephenS, regarding those numbers, just note that most of those first issues came during the time Vertigo was doing $1 first issues, so the sales were inflated. And of the others, AMERICAN VAMPIRE had Stephen King’s first substantial original comics work, and FAIREST had a load of variant covers and order incentives. Absent those kinds of considerations, Vertigo launches seem to top out at about the 16K level that SAUCER COUNTRY managed.

    And that level SAGA launched at was about right, maybe even a bit high, given that his last regular books ended with sales of about 25K (Y and RUNAWAYS) and 12K (EX MACHINA), and paired with an artist who rarely saw sales of over 10K on a regular assignment before. Retailers couldn’t be expected to guess demand for it would be anywhere from 2 to 10 times previous Vaughan and Staples books.

  27. And yeah, there’s something wonky with the comments, which seems to be happening on a lot of WordPress sites, which I assume this is. Old versions of pages seem to hang out in the cache randomly.

  28. @Dan: I have read the latest issue of Daredevil. Why do you ask? Or are you going to imply that Foggy getting cancer is the equivalent of Matt Murdock losing his job, going to jail, going insane, and getting possessed by a demon?

  29. Moose: that’s exactly what I’m going to imply- I think it’s still a great comic, but giving Matt Murdock’s fifty years strong comedy sidekick terminal cancer in my opinion definitely falls under Waid’s own definition of “needing a stiff drink after reading it”

    That said, if you’re going to do a Daredevil comic where Foggy Nelson gets cancer, this was the best way to do it.

  30. @Moose N Squirrel –
    Does Morrison saying in publicity interviews that he wanted a ‘hairy chested love god’ when he started the book six years ago mean he failed because that wasn’t the be all and end all of his run? His run began and end tied into the O’Neill/Adams run, and whilst I’m with you that we all wanted more naked Bat-abs than we got, but I thought Morrison was talking more about the tone of those stories rather than the character’s state of dress. In the last issue I read, the international army of Batmen(!!!) were fighting a cult whose only aim is destruction led by Batman’s bitter ex-lover, with the main threat of the book being a genetically altered clone of Batman’s son fighting with Batman’s son. The story line that proceeded Morrison’s run was an eight part serial done in a faux-Noir style about Z-list masked villains being murdered by another masked villain wanting to run Gotham’s crime syndicates (which I don’t believe was ever mentioned again).
    There’s been a tone shift is what I’m saying.

    I still find it odd that you keep pointing to RIP like it was the final arc in the run. This feels dishonest because this was part of the purge/rebirth on the character – Batman was killed off and wiped out, but he’d foreseen that possibility and was able to overcome it by having built an emergency reboot/back-up system into his brain. He then had Batman killed off again after he shot Darkseid, and we saw Bruce Wayne return a new man with a new mission – Batman as global crime fighting force. This wasn’t just reflected in the plot, the style of the book shifted post-RIP. You can say RIP wasn’t different to Court of owl’s, which is fair as a lot of people think Snyder lifted too generously, but you can’t claim Snyder’s Batman is like Morrison’s Batman & Robin series, and no one would claim that Snyder’s Batman is like Batman Inc, despite both being about conspiracies.

    I’m not sure about your ‘Morrison on Daredevil’ take – shocking, I know. We’ve seen him revamp Doom Patrol, Animal Man, JLA, New X-Men and Seven Soldiers Of Victory. In none of them did he focus on “grim” periods from their histories. With all of them, he showed his bold new direction in the first issue. He certainly never resorted to just trotting out the elements other creators did – even when he used characters/items from the past, all were given an update.
    Batman wasn’t rocketing to the other side of the world to rescue the Prime Minister’s wife in too many recent stories before Mozza. People weren’t scouring over issues from the sixties looking for clues as to who Dr. Hurt could be, remember post-Miller Pre-Morrison, those books weren’t part of continuity – Morrison has locked it into continuity that after being grim for a bit at the start, he was laughing and having fun fighting crime with Robin, and dating Kathy Kane. Had Batman had many villains like Dr. Daedalus before?
    You can say Morrison would torture DD and make the character grim, and that he never got him past the post-Miller take on the character, but it just doesn’t gel for me. He certainly overcame the Millerisms with his Batman run, and the Miller take is as in vogue with Batman as it is Daredevil, the only difference being there hadn’t been as many good takes on DD before Miller.
    But why am I sure Morrison wouldn’t have written DD like you claim? This is the guy who gave Batman a flying car. A Batman who gives Wayne Corp jobs to young prostitutes. Robin has a pet cow. Every crook has a super-theme, no generic gangsters, and all henchmen dress in costumes again. After he had Batman shoot Darkseid and save the universe, Mozza sent him travelling through time and gave us Batman as a pirate, caveman, cowboy etc. Morrison created an international army of Batmen. Villains need their global conspiracies wrapped in two other global conspiracies to have a hope of out smarting Batman.
    So yeah, I’m not buying that hypothetical it all. It’s just not supported by any of Morrison’s past works, or current one’s. Morrison has done so much more with the concept of Batman, twisting it into new and different shapes, that a direct comparison to Waid’s Daredevil just serves to make Waid look like a slacker – Morrison’s taken Batman international, Waid’s trick has been to maintain a status quo (whilst also constantly hinting at the character’s previous Miller/Bendis past).
    You may not have liked RIP but it’s silly to pretend that’s all he did with the character.

  31. “I still find it odd that you keep pointing to RIP like it was the final arc in the run”

    I don’t keep pointing to it as the final arc in the run – I’ve talked about Batman & Robin/Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Inc. as well. And throughout these arcs, up until the most recent issue, Morrison is not really interested in “exorcising” or rehabilitating or revamping the character – he’s far more interested in talking about and playing with the character’s history. Which is fine. But don’t pretend that it’s the same thing as setting out to take the character into a different status quo (or rehabilitating an old status quo), and don’t be shocked when at the end of four years of meta-commentary about the publication of Batman comics, the next guy comes in and says “That’s all well and good, now here’s more of the Joker being a pervy mass murderer.”

    “a direct comparison to Waid’s Daredevil just serves to make Waid look like a slacker – Morrison’s taken Batman international, Waid’s trick has been to maintain a status quo”

    You’re more or less making my point for me. If Morrison really wanted to “exorcise Batman,” his run would probably look a lot more straightforward, because rehabilitating a character is a relatively straightforward (if difficult) task. Morrison isn’t particularly interested in the straightforward, however – nor is he really interested in rehabilitating Batman as much as he is in telling the story of why he thinks Batman ought to be rehabilitated. Those are different things. And you may have liked what Morrison did with his Batman run – and as I said, I liked a lot of it myself (you are taking a very specific observation I’ve made about the nature of rehabilitating a character, and the contrary nature of Morrison’s run, and making it into a blanket critique of the run which I’ve never made) but the one thing it never made any real attempt at was redefining the character or the title in any way that would be coherent enough for another writer to follow up on (or, better yet, to feel compelled to follow up on).

  32. I still find it odd that you keep pointing to RIP like it was the final arc in the run

    Okay, he CLEARLY did not do that. I just read several instances in this comment thread where he mentioned post-RIP.

    Also, I think Moose and Squirrel is absolutely right.

    However I think a big reason why a Waid-like rehab would work with Daredevil and not Batman is that there is only one main Daredevil book, where Batman appears in like 6 books a month. So even if one writer was doing something similar to what Waid was doing with Batman, you would still have the chance of multiple hacks rehashing the Milleresque grimdark self-parody stuff. You’d have to recruit a whole braintrust of likeminded writers and editors to make such a reclamation gain traction with Batman.

  33. “Because it is Hook Jaw, and Because it is My Heart…”…it is bitter and you like it, because it is your heart!!! Okay, I gave in to temptation finally. So sue me! (DON’T!)

    Every time I see that picture I think I want that book! But I also think that old Hook Jaw has moved another couple o’ pixels nearer Gentle Jeff’s thumb. It’s like that Steven Halls’ The Raw Shark Text novel but with an old 70’s comic and Gentle Jeff’s thumb! So it’s alreday better than that book. HOOK JAW 4 EVAH!!!

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