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Wait, What? Ep. 17.3: It Ain’t Over Until It’s The All-Over….

Jeff Lester

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Yeah, I just had to use this image, which I shamelessly ganked from David Uzumeri’s awesome annotations over at Comics Alliance to accompany our final installment of episode 17, an hour-long rope-a-dope where Graeme and myself thrash out our thoughts about The Return of Bruce Wayne #6 and Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #17.  I don’t think I have yet to successfully post one of these bastards the first time out for all of last week, but at some point or other, this ep. made it on to Itunes or will make it on to Itunes and you can also listen to it here…or perhaps you already have listened to it here.  (Hey, it’s almost like Omega Trap style time travel!)

Wait, What? Ep. 17.3: It Ain\’t Over Until It\’s The All-Over…

We hope you enjoy  and thanks, as always, for listening!

15 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 17.3: It Ain’t Over Until It’s The All-Over…. ”

  1. Eh, I feel like most of your problems are just things which are going to be coming up later – Hurt’s undignified exit, whether or not he created Batman and the anger/cure thing are all pretty clear setups to me.

  2. On the one hand, SJ: I kind of hope so, because some of that stuff clearly nags at me.

    On the other hand: I kind of hope not, because I doubt I could take the bait and get interested in Hurt a third time. I’d like to see Morrison move on and build something after taking all the time level stuff out.

  3. I followed Return of Bruce Wayne, but I think I stopped understanding any of it about half-way in because I hadn’t really paid much attention to Batman RIP other than the last issue. So anytime Mr. Hurt becomes a thing, I just … I lose all understanding there. I don’t really know anything about that character. And then it also became about Final Crisis which I also didn’t understand because I didn’t realize you had to read Superman 3-d so I didn’t understand who the outer space vampire who showed up at the end was, or why he was necessary. And then there were also issues with the art where– I remember in the cowboy issue, the reader’s eyeline kept zig-zagging– like at the end, someone gets shot and is falling left in one panel, and then in the next panel, falls to the right…? A lot of that.

    Also: I think I missed all of the issues where Batman went to Barbados, so I didn’t understand why they kept talking about Barbados.

    So by the end, when it was, like… There was a time bubble, and Batman turned into a robot, and he started vomiting amniotic fluid… Or … whatever was happening– I enjoyed it a great deal, but mostly just for the confidence of it. That series was such a CONFIDENT comic book, that it was really actually very, very compelling to look at for that reason.

    But tuning in to the ending (?) of this big very micro-detailed mega-story as a casual reader– well, that probably wasn’t one of my best ideas. I liked Batman Inc. much more– there was tentacle porn. Tentacle porn, I understand. (It’s really VERY distasteful to me to see that kind of thing referenced in mainstream comics to me but… that’s a lost fight, I guess…)

  4. I do want to go and start from scratch and try to see the whole thing he’s done here, so I can get on the wavelength people who are digging this are on. I’d say that. It certainly SEEMED interesting. It seems like it’d be a lot of fun to understand why the Batman-robot was vomiting. “I Know Why the Batman-Robot Vomits” is my favorite Maya Angelou poem.

  5. What took me right out of B&R 16 was that Bruce Wayne is the World’s Greatest Detective, but he doesn’t notice a freshly-dug grave on his own property.

  6. Batman may be the World’s Greatest Detective, but remember that the World’s Second Greatest Detective is Detective Chimp. So, y’know.

  7. Morrison should really leave the in-continuity DC stuff behind and just go back to his old oddball creator-owned stuff. Years ago I would’ve maintained that, whatever you can say about Morrison, he’s never boring* – but Jesus F. Christ, I have never seen a duller Batman character than Simon Hurt… with the possible exception of Morrison’s Bruce Wayne himself.

    *Except for Kill Your Boyfriend – there’s really no excuse for Kill Your Boyfriend.

  8. More importantly, can we take up a collection to get Morrison on vyou? I’d rather lose a finger than ever have a vyou account– probably not a fad with a very long life to it, but kind of fascinated by the whole thing, watching people answer stuff, making up inane questions for people.

  9. Now that you’ve reminded me of the machines in RIP – which I thought was incredibly awesome when reading it, and the highlight of that initial run – it does seem like Morrison dropped the door on having Bruce set up Gotham to create him.
    Personally, my pet theory was that Bruce would have at least constructed the mansion full of clues/tricks/puzzles to lead young Bruce Wayne down the track of becoming Batman – that was my theory when Dick was running around the mansion realising that the portraits contained clues etc.
    That young Bruce Wayne just seemed to come across books and writings and equipment in a way that felt natural to him, but had actually been planted by grown up him.
    My guess is that Morrison would say that Bruce did create the Gotham machine, by influencing the right people at the right times throughout history, that in a less hands on way he did plant everything in a way to ensure his own creation.
    I’m with Jeff though, in that sometimes, I actually just want to see someone doing some of it on panel, instead of it always being ‘they set the metaphor/aspect in place’.

    Even with flaws, I think B&R #16 is one of the best superhero books of the 21st century – I was super excited reading it.
    The reunion of Bruce with Dick and Damian was note perfect, and all three came off as the coolest/most badass costumed crime fighters in existence.

    Does this mean the future of Batman #666 and #700 has been averted though?
    That seemed to be the moment where Damian was meant to sell his soul, and Dick Grayson was dying because of his actions, but The Return seemed to leave a few clues that Damians mistake which kills Dick and sets them down a slippery slope may still be out there.

  10. This episode brings to mind another possible future topic for your talks: the role of editors in today’s comics…

    Every time I ponder over a problematic Morrison-scripted panel, where it’s hard to figure out what’s going on, I wonder even more if the editors just let these things go by because it’s Morrison or if I’m just dense.

    There were stories told of olden days when Stan Lee had Jack Kirby or John Romita redraw an expression on a face, or redo a panel; or when Julius Schwartz had Gil Kane fix a misguided pencil for somebody else before the page went to the printer. These changes were to help the storytelling along because even people like Kirby, Romita, etc. had occasional off-days.

    Morrison’s stories are not the only ones causing me grief, but it’s his stuff you were discussing this week, and I remember his JLA stuff where there were many many awkward art choices which hurt his stories.

    What do today’s editors actually do other than getting the trains to run -sometimes- on schedule?

    Bear in mind what I wrote above could also stand some editing, but I need to get off to work now.

    Good show guys!

  11. “Every time I ponder over a problematic Morrison-scripted panel, where it’s hard to figure out what’s going on, I wonder even more if the editors just let these things go by because it’s Morrison or if I’m just dense.”

    I was at a panel at the NY Comicon a couple of years ago, and there was an editor talking about writing. He said he didn’t understand what was going on in one of Morrison’s series, and he was the editor. It was meant in a snarky, “that Morrison sure has crazy ideas, but he can’t tell a story right” sort of way. But all I could think was, “Dude, if you were the EDITOR of the book, and you think it was incomprehensible, then what exactly were you doing to earn your paycheck?”

  12. Ben – I think Graeme’s in the right here – if anyone made the machine designed to make Batman, it’s Hurt/Barbatos. Gotham was designed by Cyrus Pinkny thanks to Solomon Wayne, who was recently killed in ROBW #5 – when Hurt’s in town, who has a history of impersonating Waynes. Alan Wayne is even considering killing himself over Gotham’s design. Barbatos might have been the one who inspired Jeremiah Arkham to build the Asylum – (which actually puts a hilarious twist on Hurt taking over Willowood – he effectively takes on a massive trap laid for him and uses it for his own ends). It’s implied Hurt killed the Waynes, that thanks to Comissioner Loeb and the various mayors being part of the black glove, he made the crime and corruption in Gotham an institution, and that he’s the one who’s supplying the drugs and chemicals in Last Rites. Hell, he basically says this in his final spat with Bruce – “I built this endless puzzle for you” being Gotham and the “case you can never close” was, until Infinite Crisis, who killed the Waynes.

    Of course, it’s all sub-text as Jeff said, but I really doubt that Morrison’s not going to come back to it in some fashion.

  13. I agree that Morrison leaves stuff out, and I’ve been known to complain a great deal about that, but when he hits my sweet spot (approx 80% detail to absence, to use Graeme’s scale) I enjoy filling in the gaps with… not fanwank… with creative interpretations of what we’ve already seen as long as what we’ve already seen doesn’t need too much work to make it fit (see Jeff’s machine that made Gotham explanation for a good case in point).

    I enjoy the interaction with the text, if I’m honest. It’s a pretty unique form of entertainment. But more than that I’m perfectly happy to admit that I get swept up in Morrison’s ideas when he brings the big guns to bear, because even when they don’t completely work they’re generally about 1000x more ambitious, more interesting, more creative, more energetic, down right smarter than just about anything else in mainstream comics, and, you know what, fiction generally! Morrison engenders in me a willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt, a desire to be complicit in making his texts work because I think his ideas are often interesting and complex enough to deserve some solid airplay, even if they don’t punch all the necessary buttons for a given reader. The bell of the All Over is a good case in point.

  14. Sorry, double post but…

    I’ve been thinking about those gaps and about how they’re actually more complicated than they might at first appear. The survival guide I wrote at the beginning of our RoBW6 annos wasn’t just for fun and yucks, it was written in an effort to show that there routes into Morrison’s comics that will aid comprehension, ways which are normally only partially signposted within the text. With Morrison knowledge of what he’s written before isn’t strictly necessary but it does help because the guy circles around the same themes and tropes and techniques time and time again. Take most of his works in isolation and you’ll only get part of the picture, look at his corpus as a whole and stuff starts to stand out like a sore thumb: story as universe; the collapsing of text, subtext and metatext, textuality generally; resonance; irreducible ambiguity; time as an object (which feeds back into the story universe idea); free will as a moral good; story as spellcasting. Go through his work and I can guarantee that you’ll find that entire list made manifest over and over again, and by using it as a lens all sorts of things start to come into focus that would otherwise remain hidden.

    Also, there’s the brute fact that we’re encouraged to bring our imagination to Morrison’s comics. He’s always throwing out references, descriptions and turns of phrase that some how manage to evoke entire worlds, and he’s one of the few mainstream comic book writers who puts considerable effort into creating atmosphere, with all the richness that entails. Of course one might object that there’s a world of difference between asking the audience to take flights of fancy when you’re world building or creating diagetic texture and asking them to fill in plot holes, or subtextual or dramatic detail, but I’m not entirely convinced that the boundaries between these things aren’t quite fuzzy.

  15. Zom: Sorry I took so long to reply to your incredibly well-measured and insightful response. I hope it was clear in the ‘cast that I have a world of respect for the talent and ability you and all the Mindless Ones display.

    I think you’re right that there is an inherent degree of fuzziness in the line between creating diagetic texture, the space in the work, and making the reader do too much of the heavy lifting–and it’s probably that I’m just caught in the abyss that naturally results between the two.

    On the other hand, it might well be that I’ve yet to let Morrison off the hook for previous inabilities to live up to his ambitions and/or to move the goalposts of his intentions after- or during-the-fact. Until I can do that, my appreciation of his work is tarnished by the suspicion that I’m paying him for the stellar job you, David Uzumeri, and others have happily done whitewashing that fence.

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