Wait, What? Ep. 130: Friendly Neighborhood Peaslingers

Jeff Lester

 photo Batman-Inc-13-8_zpsc5ac8e1b.jpg
Mmmm, delicious tail… From Batman, Inc. #13, art by Chris Burnham

Hey, we are back! Like, backity-back! Like, two full hours of back! Back like Baby’s Got Back! Back, like Back to the Future! Like The Front is back! Like Orange is The New Back! Like Back That Azz Up is back, but with more of a later Outkast-influenced Atlanta sound! Wikipedia!

Posterior! Glutes!  Back!

After the jump: show notes…are back! Back like [etc., etc.]

0:00-22:49: Man, it seems like it’s been forever, doesn’t it?  After a few minutes of us trying to remember how it works, we finally remember that it seems to include “talking” and “listening” and so I wrest from Graeme the full report on his San Diego Comic-Con experience. Topics covered: Marvel’s Hall H presentation; the Agents of SHIELD TV show; interviewing Simon Pegg; meeting Glen Weldon; including the Marvel’s press conference adaptation of Waiting for Godot; and more.
22:49-1:02:01:  And then we actually talk about, you know, comics?  We discuss the joys of Lisa Hannawalt’s My Dirty Dumb Eyes; the pleasures of current 2000 A.D.; Indestructible Hulk #11 (the first part of the “Agent of Time” arc by Mark Waid and Matteo Scalera); the first 19 issues of Irredeemable by Mark Waid, Peter Krause, Diego and Eduardo Barretto; Batman Annual #2 by well-that’s-as-far-as-my-resolve-to-list-everybody-went; The Wake; the first trade of Saucer Country by Paul Connell, Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton, and Goran Suzuka.
1:02:01-1:37:27: “It’s crazy that we’ve been talking for an hour and we haven’t even talked about Batman, Inc. #13.” We try and quickly cover the rest of the stuff we’ve read so we can get to that milestone, but pretty much fail impressively.  Discussed along the way–we talk about Lazarus #2 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark; Satellite Sam #1 by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin; the latest issue of Sex by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski; Amelia Cole #9 by Adam Knave, D.J. Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire and Luiz Moreno; Hawkeye Annual #1 story by Matt Fraction, art by Javier Pulido (and we throw in a  shout-out to Jog’s stellar TCJ column discussing the early art of Jae Lee; Flash #22; Optic Nerve #13 by Adrian Tomine; Judge Dredd Year One #4 by Matt Smith and Simon Coelby; and Five Ghosts #5 by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham.
1:37:27-1:57:31:  We finally cut to the chase (90 minutes into the two hour podcast) and talk about Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Batman Inc. #13.  We mention David Uzimeri’s brilliant take on the issue over  at Comics Alliance, as well as Morrison’s run on New X-Men, Action Comics, the work of Chris Burnham, and much more.
1:57:31-end:  Almost two hours; a lot of comics talk; some pathetic attempts at beatboxing.  The magic is back! Back like Return to the Planet of the Apes! Back like A la recherche du temps perdu! Back like a thing that was absent for a while but now is present! Back like if you look for this episode on iTunes, chances are good you’ll find it! Back like if you look right below you can download and listen!

Wait, What? Ep. 130: Friendly Neighborhood Peaslingers

As always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy and that when there is a next episode you are aware of it and listen to it as well.

28 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 130: Friendly Neighborhood Peaslingers ”

  1. Okay, I’m listening to the Batman Inc discussion, and I’m hearing Jeff and Graeme talk about Morrison try to “exorcise” Batman – which Jeff and Graeme have talked about before – and I have to call bullshit on this. It is not the case that Grant Morrison was writing happy-go-lucky, dayglo, Silver Age, wham-pow style Batman comics for five and a half years and then Scott Snyder came along and stole his pick-a-nick basket by spraying faceless Jokers everywhere. It is actually the case that Grant Morrison was writing dark, disturbed, damaged Batman stories for years – stories about the “hole in things,” stories about the Satanic Dr. Hurt being/posing as Batman’s dead dad, stories in which the only significant female characters are basically sexually threatening succubi who sleep with Batman in order to corrupt or betray him, stories in which his son is doomed to preside over an even more corrupt, decaying and dystopian Gotham. And I liked a lot of those stories (and disliked a lot of others – if there’s one think you can say about contemporary Morrison comics it’s that they’re highly uneven), but one thing you cannot say about them is that they represent any coherent attempt to shift the tone of Batman comics away from “darkness.”

    I should say flat out that I don’t believe that Morrison was really attempting to make a “non-dark” Batman comic. If he was, he probably wouldn’t have introduced Batman’s ten year old son as a character with the express intent of killing him off. I should also say that I kind of find it wearying that discussion of Morrison’s comics lately invariably focuses on the level of whatever metafictional message Morrison may or may not be conveying, rather than on the competence of the storytelling. So the haphazard, last-minute appearance of the Silver Age Batwoman at the climax of this comic is an occasion for musing on Morrison’s musings on the nature of defunct corporate properties, and the role of women in Batman’s life, and so on, rather than for pointing out that Morrison failed to set up this deus ex machina in any competent fashion. Well, it’s all very well and good for Morrison to have a little metafictional commentary in his comics, but first, his comics have to work as actual comics, and increasingly, they fail to do that.

    I’ve already talked about how Morrison’s run is sexist as hell, but that’s nothing new in superhero comics, a genre which has repeatedly told anyone other than aging white dudes to stay out of its clubhouse.

  2. Darn Jeff, now I feel guilty for passing on the Hawkeye Annual code, but I really did want to hear what you thought of the art. Thanks for indulging me! I reviewed it at my Blog Thing, where a lovely and talented commenter, Anonymous, showed how the pages could be improved. Do pop across and scroll down to the bottom:

    http://dangermart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/hawkeye-annual-1.html

  3. It’s been elaborated on by others elsewhere (and better than I can) that Morrison bringing “light” to Batman isn’t about the tone of the stories but about the characterization of Bruce himself. This doesn’t necessitate a ‘Batman 66′ approach but an exorcism of the Bat-dick portrayal that has plagued Bruce during the oughts and reached its nadir with ‘Infinite Crisis’.

    Morrison’s Bruce, especially with his Incorporated mission statement in ‘The Return’, was proactive and a team builder who was not an angsty navel-gazer who abused his family and pushed them away. Contrast that with the Nu52 Bruce prominently featured in the rest of the line and it seems positively regressive. It sells though.

  4. “Morrison’s Bruce, especially with his Incorporated mission statement in ‘The Return’, was proactive and a team builder who was not an angsty navel-gazer who abused his family and pushed them away.”

    If you’re pinning the “lightening” of Batman to the start of “Batman Inc,” that’s two-thirds of the way through Morrison’s run, after he’d already portrayed the Bruce Wayne Batman as a grumpy, largely sexless control freak who communicated to his own son mostly through grunts. By the time of “The Return,” we’d already seen “Batman RIP,” with its obsession on the darkness in Batman’s past, its bullet-forehead Joker, and its Batman-on-drugs. And of course, we’d already seen Batman #666 with its Satanic Batman-of-the-future, the various failed and warped alternate Batmen, and the pitch-black “Club of Heroes” three-parter.

    Again, I liked plenty of those stories. But again, none of that represented a turn away from “dark” Batman – either for the tone of the comic, or for the portrayal of the character. Whenever these sorts of contradictions are pointed out, Morrison fans usually say something to the effect of, “Oh, well you see, when he was writing all those grim and gritty stories, he was merely commenting on previous grim and gritty stories.” Which seems a tad empty, given that if Morrison is actually objecting to grim and gritty stories, he could actually do something about it by writing different kinds of stories.

    There was no attempt to “exorcise” Batman here, no attempt to “write a spell” that changed the tone of what the character or the comics feel like. There may have been an attempt – inconsistently, at various points in the narrative – to comment on various things Morrison dislikes about the character or about how the character is traditionally treated, but without doing anything meaningful to address those things within the comic itself, Morrison ends up being sort of the metafictional equivalent of that guy who talks really loudly about how he’s going to quit smoking as he lights into his second pack of the day.

  5. @moose n squirrel

    Well, first of all, Morrison’s stories are dark, but in a wholly different way than the dark stories of yore. They are dark in a more operatic, grandiose way. They involve demons and gods and worldwide occult conspiracies. They don’t have that petty grimness that characterized that Batman stories that came before, but really are over the top and hysterical. So even in this sense I think Morrison inflicted a change in the character and the way it should be portrayed.

    Second, I don’t think you take literally enough the exorcism part of what Morrison was doing. Now, I really doubt the efficiency of it, but it really is the way his run was constructed. In 52 Batman started confronting his demons. Up until R.I.P. he encountered all sorts of twisted version of himself that he bested. His inner psychosis and idiosyncrasies made flesh. Then he died a sort of mythical death and remade himself in The Return of Bruce Wayne, gaining layers upon layers of what makes Batman himself. And in The Return and INC he emerged from the underground and presented himself to the world made anew. And really, the first season of Batman Inc is pretty colorful and fun.

    Now, I don’t know if Morrison really excepted this to perform in any way a change in the minds of the readers. It really is too informed by mystical thinking to have any value other than as a storytelling choice. But it’s an interesting one, in my opinion.

  6. “Now, I really doubt the efficiency of it… Now, I don’t know if Morrison really excepted this to perform in any way a change in the minds of the readers. It really is too informed by mystical thinking to have any value other than as a storytelling choice.”

    I think that more or less makes my point for me. Morrison’s run shouldn’t be seen as some good-faith attempt to rehabilitate or substantially change Batman (the comic or the character) that failed because Scott Snyder and jaded Bat-fans were just too nasty and piggish to appreciate Morrison’s fun and beautiful Bat-world; it should be seen as the same thing Morrison always does with corporate superheroes at this point – an attempt to retrace that character’s publishing history, hauling up old bits from the 50s and the 70s and the 90s in an attempt to stitch sort of franken-stories together – some of which will be rather effective, some of which will fail quite badly. The idea that Morrison was attempting to actually change the tone of the book or the character simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny – he was, at most, attempting, on occasion, to comment on the tone that other writers and artists had established previously. But none of that amounts to the kind of massive Bat-reset that Jeff and Graeme seem to imagine has tragically failed here.

    Contrast Morrison’s run with Mark Waid’s on Daredevil, which followed an infamous few years that took the post-Frank Miller approach to its logical endpoint and exhausted it. Waid’s approach has been explicitly to turn the tone of the character and the book around. And Waid did not start off by spending lengthy story arcs devoted to metafictional commentary on previous writers and their handling of Daredevil – he didn’t, for example, have Daredevil fight a bunch of other Daredevils representing the Daredevils of previous writers’ eras. That might have been an interesting little intellectual exercise for him personally as a fan, but would hardly have done what he needed to do as a writer, which was to establish a new and consistent tone – which he and his artistic collaborators were able to do fairly quickly. Quickly enough, in fact, that when later, a year and a half into the run, he began to do his version of the classic “somebody’s fucking with Matt Murdock” story, Waid was able to do a version of a story that originated in the Miller era (and subvert it) without derailing the tone of his comic – because he’d spent a solid year establishing that tone.

    And if it really is “too informed by mystical thinking to have any value other than as a storytelling choice,” then shouldn’t we primarily be evaluating Morrison’s run not as metafiction, not as commentary on other creators, but as storytelling? And how do these comics hold up as storytelling? The climax is a double deus ex machina, the second of which is delivered by a character who is barely in Morrison’s run at all, and likely would not be recognized by most readers who’ve read every issue had her name not been shouted in giant type. And again – the whole thing is crazy fucking sexist.

  7. Yay, My Dirty Dumb Eyes! Easily my favorite book of 2013, and maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever read? Certainly the funniest comic. Like Graeme, I found myself in tears reading this, but thankfully in the privacy of my own apartment. The movie reviews and celebrity profiles are great, but I also love her anthropomorphic animal comics. The last story for instance (about driving close up on somebody’s bumper) is just a perfectly executed visual gag. Hanawalt shows off her talents as storyteller and illustrator throughout the entire volume, but the last strip reveals a deftness at translating her amazing sense of humor into proper comics. As someone who doesn’t normally find comics funny, at least in their visual component, that’s something I’d like to see a lot more of in the future.

    Cliffs Notes: Dirty Dumb Eyes – Buy It!

  8. People actually think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is being groomed to last one season? They think ABC is spending money on casting, writing, and production for something that is just a big ad for the new Captain America film? They think ABC is looking for a time slot and selling advertisement for something they will pull the plug on in a few months? I wouldn’t call that a “conspiracy theory.” I would call it willful ignorance about how the television industry works.

  9. If Morrison was actually naïve enough to believe that he could “exorcise” the corporate property of Batman in some fundamental way he was wrong, obviously. (I would give him more credit than that, though.) As regards making the character himself lighter or at making the darkness surrounding him more pop/camp, I’ll let the linked Uzumeri review speak for me:

    “With a gunshot, Bruce’s ex-girlfriend — a mature, accomplished, intelligent, driven, complete woman — affixes him with the true Eye of the Gorgon and turns him to stone, exposing all of his limitations and chastising him for his hubris, leaving him alone in the dark in his parents’ basement with his toys and pets.”

    That the review itself still seems so oddly positive, or at least wistfully melancholy, indicates that Morrison probably really is best viewed as a magician, as long as you realise that all magic is really just the art of illusion.

  10. The Hawkeye annual art-choice was clearly an attempt to turn around the art quickly. It still looked pretty lovely, and I really dug the light caper-quality of Kate’s LA adventure. I’m inclined to be a lot kinder than Jeff’s ‘inexcusable’judgement – you read it for free too!

    I like Hawkeye increasingly each issue. And I say that as someone who has a lot of issues with Fraction. There’s a real synergy with each artist – the book reads fluidly and is just a real treat, the occasional too-cute dialogue tic aside.

    Thought the ‘Chaykin cover band’ comment was spot on for Satellite Sam though.

  11. Beast: ‘Inexcusable’ sounds harsh but–it’s an *annual*. I mean, clearly, it’s not like the team’s been working on an issue for a whole year but if ever there’s an issue where some fluidity in the deadline should be allowable, it should be an annual, right? (I say, conveniently ignoring all the super-rushed, under-the-gun artwork I’ve seen over the last decade.) Especially for a book happening outside the crush of Marvel’s larger continuity.

    As for reading it for free, someone (a.k.a, the charming, talenteted and generous Martin Gray) paid full-price for the hard copy and passed along the code to me. That may make me even more prone to priggish self-righteousness, unfortunately, but I don’t think an attempt to shortchange the customer should go unremarked. I think when the occasional bit of cartilage shows up in your burger it’s worth mentioning…especially on a $4.99 burger with a reputation for being a cut above.

  12. My SILENCE! co-host had a similar reaction to you Jeff, so you’re not alone – I guess I just didn’t feel short-changed by what I saw as an elegant solution to deadline crunching (annuals are kinda just slightly longer regular issues nowadays anyway). I thought Pulido’s art-choice seemed in keeping with the fizzy stylised story – kind of like the split-screens in The Thomas Crown Affair or something..? Like I say, it suited the caper quality of the story. And the composition of the silhouettes was still pretty lovely.

    (And the ‘free’ thing was a bit of a low blow to be fair – sorry)

  13. @Beast: No worries at all about the ‘free’ thing–it was a good point that gave me pause and I think the opportunity to think it through did me some good.

    As to your point about the silhouettes, I think I’d be more inclined to agree if it was used in different scenes, maybe? But I very well could have continued to be yelly, arm-wavey guy, I can’t say for sure.

    Either way, thanks for the comments.

  14. I liked the podcast’s discussion of Inc 13, but I agree with a lot of what moose n squirrel says here.

    I find it incredibly wearying that so many people are focusing so much on Morrison’s meta narrative. Everything he is saying here is so TIRED. And I actually WOULD say that Morrison himself is indeed naive enough to assume that he could somehow “exorcise the darkness” or whatever. Sorry, Jeff, but just the fact that you said the run was a “literal spell” makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Are we still falling for this teenage-y “magick” crap? Morrison’s “magick” evidently isn’t powerful enough to get an issue out on time, or protect his Bat-comics from printing and coloring errors, so how is it that we can continue to assume that he has some sort of supernatural powers to any extent that isn’t stupid to even think about? We should examine his aesthetic for what it actually is, not get lost in that same hippy-dippy wonderland that always — very conveniently for him — ends up excusing the very real shortcomings and failings of his work. He’s still the second best comics writer ever, so his writing deserves serious criticism. He SHOULD be able to stand serious investigation, not just the same “meta” tactics that make it seem as though he’s done a hell of a lot more than he actually has in these comics.

    Adding to what moose n squirrel said above, I have to say that this notion of Morrison bringing us a “lighter” Batman was always false advertising. When did he ever do that? Every goofy ’50s concept that he brought back became menacing, as if there were no other way to do these concepts in Grant Morrison comics (ex. the creepiest Bat-Mite ever, the Club of Heroes meeting on an island only to get murdered, everything with Dr. Hurt, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh looking and speaking like a Liefeld/McFarlane creation). He had “hairy-chested adventuresome” Batman for a few pages in Inc (vol. 1) #1… but then it was right back to murder and death. A lot of people talk about how Dick Batman and Damian Robin was “so much fun”, with its “lighthearted ’60s sensibilities” or whatever. But by the end of B&R issue #1 the horrifying Prof. Pyg is introduced, and at the beginning of issue #2 Damian and Dick have a huge falling out. Much arguing and precious little fun. There was hardly any lightheartedness in any of Morrison’s Bat-epic. There were ALLUSIONS to something happier, but that’s all. The comics more or less reveled in darkness and dysfunction.

    Lastly, the most ridiculous aspect of all of this is the last-minute attempt to “blame everything on the corporation” or whatever. Batman can’t really change because DC is a corporation. Well, OF COURSE. Did Morrison need to write the character for seven years just to be able to figure that out? Do any of us really need any sort of elaborated explanation that this is the case? And yet Morrison (and others) act like this news is some sort of revelation — or something worth saying at the end of an epic run. Why not say something ELSE? Why wade back into these same tired, dull, dead-end paradigms and thought-patterns again and again? DC is what DC is. Corporations are what they are. But what drives them? What fuels and rewards the static nature of a character like Batman? Well, the devotion of THE AUDIENCE, which includes Grant Morrison himself. The problem isn’t that Batman can’t grow, it’s that MORRISON can’t grow. How many more years do we have to listen to him telling us that he’s “done with superheroes”? He’s been saying this at least since 2007, before Final Crisis came out. HE’s the one who wants to keep going in for this stuff, and HE had freer reign than pretty much any other writer has ever had on Batman. He could have changed the character more if he wanted to, but he evidently didn’t want to. Batman’s lack of growth fits well with corporate ownership, yes, but we also have to look at the audience and what the audience wants. That audience doesn’t just include predictable fanboys of Snyder, Capullo, and Tony Daniel. It also includes Grant Morrison, who himself has gotten very fond of very static interpretations of Superman and Batman.

    We hear all the time that these characters are “myths”. Well, did Robin Hood or Heracles or King Arthur change much over the years? Not really. Particular interpretations just seem to work best. If Grant Morrison wants to pout because Batman is dull and dark — that’s quite masochistic of him, because he’s gone out of his way to write a very sullen and dark Batman for many years now, of his own free will. Looking at the big picture, he was supposed to end his stint on the character years ago, but he decided to come back and do Inc, the second half of which was a non-stop violence festival of gore and child abuse. Think about that the next time Morrison pops up as some sort of talking point regarding how comics should be all Silver-Agey fun.

    But even with Inc vol. 2 being DULL DULL DULL, Morrison’s Batman is still probably my favorite run ever! :)

  15. Pretty sure Morrison never aimed to do a lighter ‘silver age’ fun Batman. Rather he wanted to show that you could still use campy kitsch ideas like Batmite it the Club of Heroes, but mire them to the darkness that seems towork so well with Batman. Morrison’s a huge horror fan, and this has been his most explicitly horrific comic in years, from the gothic overwroughtstuff of Hurt, Pyg and Flamingo, to the much more hard hitting horror of the damage and pain people cause each other in.relationships.

    Also: points off for use of the phrase ‘hippy dippy wonderland’. You sound like Bruce Dern in The Burbs

  16. “Pretty sure Morrison never aimed to do a lighter ‘silver age’ fun Batman. Rather he wanted to show that you could still use campy kitsch ideas like Batmite it the Club of Heroes, but mire them to the darkness that seems towork so well with Batman.”

    I agree that this is quite obviously the case – Morrison wanted to take campy ideas like the Club of Heroes and say, “see? you can use the ‘Batmen of Many Nations’, as long as you strand them in a grisly horror mansion and kill them off one by one.” And that was an excellent story – one of the best in his run. But what I object to is the notion that using stuff like the Club of Heroes or Bat-Mite or Thomas Wayne’s old ur-Batman costume, but doing it in a way that’s dark and edgy, man, is somehow “exorcising” the character or the comic of anything. That’s barely a step removed from the logic Brad Meltzer was apparently operating under when he claimed he wrote Identity Crisis as a love letter to the Silver Age JLA.

    And again, I have no problem with “darkness” in Morrison’s Batman run (although I have a serious problem with the sexist, and at times racist, overtones of this run.) Nor do I object to “dark and edgy” or “grim and gritty” stories in comics in general – and I don’t know that Grant Morrison does, either. Even if we take this comic purely on the level of metafiction – which I think would be a mistake, and an abdication of our basic critical faculties as intelligent readers – I don’t think it’s some critique of Scott Snyder’s run, or a critique of darkness or grimness or what have you, or a complaint that more writers aren’t putting Silver Age characters in their stories.

    I see, in Batman Inc. #13 (and in that issue alone, it should be said), a critique of Batman the character – that the character is backwards-looking and regressive, trapped in his childhood and unable to deal with the real world. It’s a critique from Morrison that comes out of nowhere and which he hadn’t laid the groundwork for before this. It’s a critique I agree with to a large extent, which is why it’s frustrating to see it arrive only within the last pages of his run – a run that, for the seven years leading up to this, was largely filled with Morrisonian cheerleading about how awesome superheroes are and how awesome Batman in particular is. The effect is ultimately that this issue reads like the end of a completely different run of comics than the one that Morrison has actually written.

  17. Yeah, a lot of the bile in this thread seems to be aimed at Morrison for things he didn’t say and promises he never made.

    Morrison had one quote back in 2006 where he said his Batman “will be a more of a “fun guy, more healthy”, more like the “Neal Adams, hairy-chested, love-god” version of Batman.” (And even that promise might be a function of the transcription; another write-up of the same panel quoted Morrison as saying “The Batman coming off of ’52′ is a very different guy. He’s a lot more fun to write, a lot more healthy. If you remember the Neal Adams, hairy-chest, love-god Batman, he’s more like that guy.” Needless to say, being “fun to write” isn’t quite the same as being “a fun guy.”) He talked a lot about reintegrating Batman both in terms of his historical representations (which he certainly did) and his psychology (which is more debatable, although I take Alin’s point that Batman wasn’t really reintegrated until after his death and return).

    And no, Morrison never aimed to do a Silver Age Batman, either–even the Neal Adams stuff he cites is just slightly later. When Batman & Robin started, Morrison said the new series “is maybe more poppy, and more colourful [than Batman RIP], but it’s also creepier. It’s like David Lynch doing the Batman TV show.” Which is not exactly a promise of lighthearted fun.

    There are all sorts of valid reasons to criticize Morrison’s Batman run, but claims of “false advertising” should be limited to those things he actually advertised.

  18. There are different kinds of darkness in stories, you know? Saying that Morrison was making Batman lighter? Yeah, that’s bull, for the most part (Batman and Son, Batman and Robin, Return of Bruce Wayne and the fist season of Batman Inc are pretty upbeat, energetic and have scenes that are not only fun but funny). But he did effect a change. Prior to him almost everything was street-level and subdued. For about twenty years Batman stories were mostly crime stories. Police officers became pretty important secondary characters. His new fellow vigilantes were deranged and damaged. His relation to the other superheroes was one of constant mistrust. And so on.

    It became exhausting and boring. Sure, Morrison’s stories remained violent. Remained dark. But it was this big weird darkness. Big emotions. Big drama. Colorful characters. And for the most part it was dosed properly. It had interesting dynamics between the characters. It wasn’t monotone. It even had humor. From this to the Batcow. It was a whole lot richer. You could develop a lot more from it than I think you could before Morrison came along.

    Also, I think that this volume of Batman Incorporated built up nicely to that conclusion and critique. It started stating that Batman can be no more. It had Matches Malone on trial. It had Batman constantly outmaneuvered. Bruce Wayne was using his corporation to build a private army to fight his familial war. It was distinct enough from what came before it.

  19. Can anyone seriously argue that BI doesn’t end on – that the entire final arc isn’t – “Batman is stupid and useless and we are better off without him”?

    In the Bat-Cow issue, Damian claims that the violence of the slaughterhouse has made him a vegetarian. I would like to think that the rest of the run is Morrison trying to be so over the top that we would all take the pledge and stop reading Snyder.

    But frankly, I no longer trust Morrison to see the irony in his own work.

  20. I’m gonna go ahead and disagree with moose & squirrel on Kathy Kane NOT being set-up properly. She’s been teased to appear for several issues now.

  21. While I “pfffted” out loud when it was revealed that Talia’s trump was trumped “five minutes ago” and the last issue had all those typically rushed “andthenthisandthenthisandthenthis” moments I personally thought it was a pretty good little magic trick turning Hurt’s mantra of “The hole in things” into a life affirming sentiment.

    If it’s a misread on my part then I’ll take it as a beautiful happenstance but it seems that Bruce’s realization that the hole left in him was big enough to fill with everything in his life points to someone more at peace with the diaspora of his life than when he started out.

    This run – to me – allowed him to recontextualize the death of his parents and grow up a little bit. That moment gave him his life’s purpose and shape but it didn’t close him off as he once feared. There’s been love, hope, partners, self-discovery and family.

    Yeah, Morrison wrote a lot of dark horrible shit but he’s not left Bruce a dark and horrible shit as a result.

    THAT’s important. That’s different enough.

    PS: Batman Begins came out in 2005. Grant was up against Nolan’s dark and emotionally crippled big screen version. It’s no wonder that – culturally – the Batman idea and depiction resisted what Grant was trying to do to it.

    PPS: The first villain in the new Batman animated series was a bastardized version of Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad.

  22. Just to note, Oroboro was first mentioned in Inc vol. 1 #3, not “towards the end of the run” (paraphrasing) as you guys said.

    It just seems like an awful lot of pages and an awful lot of issues just to say very little. We have some of the best artists of today and the second greatest comic writer of all-time and they’ve devoted years of their lives to something called “Batman Inc”… which in the end just tells us some cynical and OBVIOUS statement about the “cyclic” nature of superhero comics. (Do you realize that once upon a time every 14-year-old and America knew that “Superhero comics never really change. So I grew out of them”? And yet here we are having to debate whether or not Morrison is getting at some heartbreakingly profound statement.)

    I’m honestly not sure if there’s 3/5ths of a coherent idea in the entirety of Batman Inc. There are things that look like the beginnings of ideas, but more than ever before Morrison seems to just run everything into the ground, very spitefully, and hide behind some sort of “meta” excuse. It’s almost comical how he includes this “Oroboro” concept, as if it’s a license to make his story repetitive and boring. He just includes that concept, and then half the readers will be fine with the fact that nothing original or innovative is actually happening. “It’s not a poverty of creativity at all — it’s the Oroboro theme!”

    You guys said that the end of this reads as though Morrison is “sad at Batman” or “mad at DC”. Boohoo. To me I think it reads as if Morrison is basically projecting his own artistic frustrations and stunted development as an author, trying to blame other people for the fact that he’s wasted so damn much time obsessing over DC superheroes beyond the point at which he can possibly justify it as an adult human being. I think the last 7-8 issues of Inc read very spiteful and whiny. “It’s BATMAN’s fault that my Batman story got so boring, tedious, and repetitive by the end!” Or: “It’s *DC*’s fault that they gave me free reign to do anything I wanted to do with their marquee character, and in the end all I could think of doing was making an oblique criticism of DC for bein’ so CORPORATE and against real creativity! Even thought they let me do anything I wanted to do, it’s DC’s fault!”

    I thought all of Morrison’s Bat-saga was really good up until Inc. Inc started out as fun but then lost the thread quite early on. At issue #5, I’d say. Morrison had no new ideas since then; everything he “said” in Inc was already said in his Bat-saga up to that point. The “history repeating itself” motif was already done in the final Batman & Robin arc, which was a parody of “R.I.P.”.

    As to how DC can “let him get away” with writing such a “scathing” critique… I’d argue that it’s the same reason why corporations allow politicians to call out “crony capitalism”. The system is going to proceed according to plan anyway. Thinking that a “progressive” or “socialist” politician with corporate backing is actually going to live up to their rhetoric and “go after big mean corporations” — that’s just as silly as thinking that a nostalgia-obsessed company man like Grant Morrison could ever possibly change corporate superhero comics. The sad thing is that I think Morrison actually fakes himself out; he gets frustrated because he always thinks that he can change the system from within. He can’t. No one can. Ever. Not in the way that the rhetoric would suggest. (Example: His idea of using sigils as corporate logos. That’s not actually going to make corporations magickal and fun, Grant. SMH.) And honestly it’s the audience/voters own fault if they suspect that this could turn out any other way. When you vote for a major party politician, you should know that you’re inevitably voting for a shill. If you’re over the age of 30 and hold out “hope” for these guys, and feel let down when they disappoint you… I don’t know what to tell you. You should know what you ACTUALLY voted for in the first place, as distinct from the campaign rhetoric. Similarly, going into a Batman story, you should know what you’re going to get. You shouldn’t build up a false sense of exorcizing demons and magickal spells. There’s a definite limit to any sort of catharsis that can possibly go on here.

    I don’t know why this point comes as some sort of revelation to people. It strikes me as a tremendous waste of time and talent. I didn’t need to watch Grant Morrison banging his head against a wall for the last year and a half, just so he can announce “I’ve proven that banging your head against a wall does indeed HURT.” (And then the peanut gallery can say “Oh, he said the word HURT, like Dr. Hurt. It’s so profound, man.)

  23. Havn’t post here in a while, but considering its the end of Morrison’s run on Batman I thought I might say something. A lot of people have been point out significant flaws in his Batman run as a whole, and I agree with a fair amount of those claims, but I want to focus on the positives of his run.

    I started reading monthly comics with Batman & Robin #1, and if it wasn’t for the strength of that book I probably wouldnt have pursued art myself (before you say its just Quietly go and read Jupiter’s Legacy). His run introduced me to the work of Cameron Stewart, Frazier Irving, JHW3 (after looking into earlier parts), Chris Sprouse and Chris Burnham and gave them all interesting things to do. Whatever silly plot stuff it did it made me care about Damian, in introduced a tonne of new characters (I say this not because I’m eager to see the DC universe improved, but because I like reading about new things), even if everything didn’t pay off in the end I was excited and eagerly looking forward to the next issue when I was picking it up in singles and basically never felt I had been saddled with a fill-in chapter.

    Not the defining comic of a new generation, not an amazingly deep philosophical treatise, not a brazen defense for why characters need to be recycled for 70+ years but I still think it was a very fun read. Heres hoping that his next book is closer to this than it is to Happy!

    Re: the SHIELD tv show.
    If Arrow can be successful why not SHEILD. I dont really care, but I don’t really think that Disney would try to hobble it any more than any other tv show.

  24. Emotionally, Batman, Inc. #13 resonated so hard for me. Melancholy, sentimental, resigned to perpetuity but only because all of that work that Morrison and others did is bound to be foiled by __insert name of current Batman writer__.

    I enjoy the discourse though. When was the last time anybody gave as much a fart about a Scott Snyder comic? I mean other than 5 stars out of 5!

  25. hey jeff and graeme, I have a present for you guys and I’ll be in portland this weekend for the zine symposium. Is there somewhere ( a comic shop?) where I can drop it off?

  26. I haven’t listened to the podcast, but man what great commentary on Morrison’s Batman by Moose and Squirrel and Wattan.

  27. Great thread, gents.

    @Wattan:

    “It just seems like an awful lot of pages and an awful lot of issues just to say very little…..It’s BATMAN’s fault that my Batman story got so boring, tedious, and repetitive by the end!” Or: “It’s *DC*’s fault that they gave me free reign to do anything I wanted to do with their marquee character, and in the end all I could think of doing was making an oblique criticism of DC for bein’ so CORPORATE and against real creativity!”

    I have to say, sir, that totally reflects my feeling of it too.

    It seemed like a long experiment to prove all the same points he posited way back in Animal Man #26:

    “Why did you do this? You KILLED my Family. You ruined everything!”

    “You live in world created by committee. Someone else writes your life when you’re with the Justice League. Hadn’t you noticed?”

    “I’m out of space. Out of time. And I haven’t said anything worth saying. Nothing left to say. Go home. Go home, Buddy”

  28. Re: Batman: I’m impressed that you guys are able to read so much into Morrison’s Batman run. To me, it has gone on soooo long that I don’t have any sense of it as a whole, certainly not enough to try to tease out any overall theme or message, successful or not. Maybe if I sat down and read it all as a whole, but I don’t know that I’m likely to do that any time soon.

    I am a fan of Morrison’s work. Even the stuff that I don’t think is very good, I still find entertaining. But I think he does much better with things that are very, very contained: single issues (Batman Incorporated #7, Action #9, JLA #5) or short, complete mini-series (All-Star Superman, We3). With his long runs he seems to lose the thread. Does he get bored? Interfered with by editorial? Does he have too many ideas to focus on just a few? I don’t know, but his long runs in recent years (Batman, X-Men) seem similarly meandering and full of hit-and-miss.

    Re: Lazarus. The lettering bugs me too! I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed. The kerning is weird. It looks like when a word balloon has been added at the last minute, and someone in production has stuck it in five minutes before it gets sent out, and so it doesn’t match the rest of the lettering and is stretched or squeezed to fit in to a space. Except, ALL the lettering in this book looks like that! I’m enjoying it overall though.

    Re: Saucer Country. I wanted to like that series, and did read it to the end, but I had the same impression that Paul Cornell seems interested in U.S. politics, but doesn’t understand it. I think he read an article about the emergence of Latino political power in the last election and its support of the Democratic party, and took that to mean that a Leftist Latino woman could run for and win the presidency solely on a platform of amnesty for illegal immigrants. I could suspend my disbelief with all the alien conspiracy stuff, but not for that!

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