thehefner: (Venture Bros: Marvel Comics)
Cyriaque Lamar on io9.com articulates one of the single worst things about modern superhero comics, which he has dubbed "Superhero Tragedy Porn," and why it's bad for comics.

The whole thing is worth a read, but the major meaty bits are quotes here for fuckin' truth:


In our post-Watchmen era, superhero writers often turn to dark'n'gritty plots to give their comics greater narrative heft. Unfortunately, these "adult" story lines are to tragedy what porn is to sex: a hyper-stylized, wholly disposable facsimile of the real thing...


... Like your average, two-people-doing-the-old-in-out-in-out pornography, superhero tragedy porn is an über-distilled version of the real thing. In porn, two (or more!) people meet each other and fuck. Sure, they may meet under the flimsiest of pretenses ("Oh my, another lost pizza delivery boy!") - but there tends to be no emotional build-up, no courtship, and no names - just the thwap-thwap-thwap of flesh smacking aft and fore. It's consumable sex, distilled and (relatively) sanitized.

Superhero tragedy porn operates similarly. Tragedy rockets into our heroes' lives without warning. The horrible event is often written simply to elicit shock or give the issue narrative significance. The misfortune usually falls on a little-known or underused character, so as not to derail the main plot about whatever space carnivore or phantom globule or cyborg zygote that the heroes happen to be fighting that issue. It is contextless, disposable dolor that drives sales and keeps the interminable comic serial from becoming stale...


...there's no reflection, no follow-up, no nothing. There's the shock that an established character has been slaughtered, and only that shock. This is fast-food calamity.

Death and other such nastiness are part and parcel of the superhero gig. I'm not disputing that. But whereas with regular porn is a solitary, onanistic pursuit, superhero tragedy porn fucks us all. We get jaded and lose faith in these flying men and women with resplendent hosiery. We start reading comics about people who wear argyle and collect twee 12" LPs. We miss out on these soap operatic übemenschen who can pirouette on the edge of wormholes. We are poorer for it. Paradoxically, when superheroes have "adult" problems, the childishness of their pursuits waxes large.



This essay just skims the surface of an ongoing problem, one that comics have seemingly tried to rectify. Remember when people like Mark Waid were indicating how INFINITE CRISIS would signal an end to the crass, violent, gratuitous, grim-n-gritty era of comics? Maybe I'm remembering/paraphrasing it incorrectly, but I do believe that was the intent!

The thing that really gets to me is how these "tragic" events are meant to solicit only one of two responses: 1.) VENGEFUL RAGE! or 2.) WALLOWING AAAAAAAAAAAAANGST. No one ever acts like a human being would, because these stories don't care about characters. Just advancement of their contrived plot points.

In an ideal world, this would only be the first of many such articles criticizing this loathsome storytelling practice. I have high hopes (while expecting the worst) for BRIGHTEST DAY, but as long as crap like JLA: CRY FOR JUSTICE and RISE AND FALL are out there, this cheap shock-treatment storytelling trope ain't going nowhere.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Rage)
On the off chance that you read Wired.com, you should know that their list of 10 DC Comics Characters Deserving a Mass Makeover is utter shit.

Bizarro? A Bizarro not dressed in any way like Superman? He's defined as a twisted mirror to Superman. Anything else misses the point. Fuck you.

The Question? You think the Question's costume actually merits anything more than the perfection it already has? You think it needs an "ambitious costume change"? He has a fedora, trenchcoat, suit, tie, and no face. That's perfect. Fuck you.

Swamp Thing? Fuck you.

Gaiman's Death? I don't even like Death that much, I find her whole "sunny goth" thing kind of annoying. But just on principle, fuck you.

Dr. Fate's "character could also use some roughing up?" Oh really, you think that's what would improve Dr. Fate? That would do it? Fuck you.

And the capper to all this fucktardery can be found--where else?--in the comments section, where a person writes: "Death is the only character on this list that isn’t, for lack of a better word… ridiculous. DC really needs to look at their characters and come up with something imaginative and unique rather than putting new costumes on old superheroes. Why inst Jesse Custer on the list? Because he is a timelessly substantial character who will never need “dusting off” or reconceptualization."

Mr. Caruso? Care to weigh in on this?



...

Y'know, I don't normally get this worked up about things, but Henchgirl finds it sexy whenever I get into a geekrage rant, so I'm starting to let it out. Hope y'all don't mind. I'm going back to being nice now.

Seriously, you want character makeovers done right? Let Project Rooftop show you how it's done (well, once the photobucket issue gets figured out; what's going on there, [livejournal.com profile] dryponder?)
thehefner: (Batman: Riddler in the Rain)
***This post contains spoilers for the new issue of BATMAN, which hit stores today***


Y'know, when it was announced that Tony Daniel was going to be writing BATMAN, I steeled myself for whatever might come. I thought about how he made Jason Todd go completely out-of-character, turning him irrevocably evil for no reason in BATTLE FOR THE COWL, which already seems to be sorta-ignored by Grant Morrison's current BATMAN & ROBIN storyline (which I have problems with for different reasons, but whatever).

As such, I really hoped to be able to weather the imminent crapfest that was sure to be Tony Daniel's current run on BATMAN, taking it in stride when the first issue brought in Mario Falcone and thereby made THE LONG HALLOWEEN and DARK VICTORY canon. Whatever, I can deal with that. It's no biggie.

And then, in his second part, this happened.

Long spoilery rant centered around one beloved Bat-villain who I've ranted about at length here in the past. No, not Harvey. A different one. )
thehefner: (Starro w/ Cupcakes)
I got a Dreamwidth account for the express purpose of following the upcoming Scans_Daily 3.0. I remain cautiously optimistic. On one hand, yay for a new permanent home! On the other hand, I've been enjoying reading S_D less and less over the past few weeks.

Certain wanky parties are making every other post a frustrating experience, tipping what was once a grand community closer to what I'd expect to see on the Newsarama or DC Comics message boards. Despite the best efforts of many, S_D 2.0 never quite felt right--it's just never been the same since 1.0 closed, dang it!--so here's hoping the new DW version will finally return the community to its former awesomeness and beyond.

In the meantime, I actually feel hesitant to post anything new for fear of inciting wank, even though I'm rather excited about recent acquisitions like that old JLA story where Two-Face teams up with the League to fight aliens inhabiting statues of Ben Franklin, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon. God, I'm starting to love the Silver Age more and more as the years go by.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
But back to comic book stuff for the moment.

So I'm finally starting to read Grant Morrison's BATMAN run in trade form. I had only ever skimmed the issues in the store and read whatever was posted on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily, and was regularly left feeling either cold or frustrated. But it wasn't fair to judge until I'd actually sat down and read the bloody thing, right?

So from the library, I've picked up BATMAN AND SON and THE RESURRECTION OF RA'S AL GHUL* and read them quite thoroughly. Well, except for the goddamned Joker prose issue. That shit was more purple than Mr. J's wardrobe. It was like bad fanfic, and I never realized just how horribly out-of-character Harley Quinn was until the Henchgirl read Harl's dialogue aloud.

Here's a rule of thumb Henchgirl taught me in regards to reading Batman stories: if you can't hear a character's lines being spoken by their BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES voice-over counterparts, that means they're badly written.

But that's the thing about Grant Morrison. He doesn't at all seem interested in writing Batman stories. All he cares about are writing Grant Morrison stories.

Nothing wrong with that, really. After all, a lot of people love that. Morrison is one of the biggest rock stars in comics today (for reasons I honestly don't entirely fathom, tbh). Many people who love Grant Morrison's run say things about how they haven't been this excited for a Batman comic in years, that this is the first time the Joker's ever actually been scary**, all this stuff that indicates to me that these people never really liked Batman in the first place.

But they like Grant Morrison, who only ever writes Grant Morrison stories, and I can't fault anyone for that (much as my passive-aggressive tone would indicate that I really would like to try anyway). It's a personal preference.

But when it comes to superhero comics... well, by and large, my preference is not for the writer, but for the characters. When I read a Batman comic, it's for the characters first and foremost, not the writer. Morrison is a writer who uses characters to serve his own ideas, rather than letting the characters serve the story (in the way that Paul Dini does, on his best days). And it drives me bloody bonkers.

To make matters worse is his obsession with obscure Batman stories, particularly from the silly and cracktacular Silver Age. Now look, I know full well that if I were writing comics, I'd mine material directly from, say, some utterly forgotten issue of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. My love of these stories fuels my writing of them, and I'm a great believer in employing the richness of continuity and past stories.

But you know who else is? Geoff Johns. He gets a lot of shit for this, but the real genius to his method is that he actually takes the time to catch new readers up to speed with who these characters are without bogging the story down. And it can be relatively subtle too. Take his reintroduction of Arisia, how he managed to bring her up just enough to make her revelation actually mean something to the newbie reader.

Morrison doesn't give a shit about that. He plucks out characters like I-Ching, the Sensei, and the entire Zurr En Arrh bullshit, and just throws them in there with no explanation nor reason for anyone to care if they aren't as well-versed in DC Comics circa 1955-1975. It gives off the impression of elitist arrogance, a smirking fuck-you to people who aren't hip enough to see all the clever, brilliant shit he's doing.

But then, maybe I'm just projecting those feelings after years of having Morrison fanatics telling me that I don't like Grant Morrison because I don't "get" Grant Morrison. No, I get Morrison all right. I just happen to have much less interest in stories about wacky ideas and wanky concepts over actual character.

That said, god damn me, I think I actually kinda like Damian. If I'm understanding my HP well enough without having read any, I dare say he's kind of like if Batman adopted Draco Malfoy. Oh god, I feel doubly dirty for admitting that. But yeah, [livejournal.com profile] nymphgalatea, I'm totally seeing it now.

I may post further thoughts once I've properly read THE BLACK GLOVE and BATMAN R.I.P. Or maybe I'll just fume with frustration in silence, venting only to my poor Henchgirl who must suffer this experience with me. Even if fandom and DC are turning to Morrison's Morrisonny vision at the expense of true Batman stories, at least I know I have a girlfriend fangirl with whom I can always commiserate. And that's priceless.




*Wow, so the editor in charge of coordinating this multi-title crossover was totally asleep, right? Because how else to explain the jarring changes in scene and lack of character depiction? Like, aaaaand suddenly Ra's--who has suddenly gone from being a bald monk to looking exactly like his classic self--is strangling Damian in the middle of an epic battle that somehow just started happening while no one was looking?

WTF is up with Alfred defending Damian in that RA'S AL GHUL story? Yes, Tim's attacks on Damian are unprovoked, but, um, didn't you forget that this is the same little psycho who tried to fucking murder Tim a few days earlier?!


**Do NOT get me fucking started. Morrison's Joker, and the love of so many fans for it, drives me up the frelling wall.
thehefner: (Harrumph)
It's such a rare thing to find a truly great opponent for arguments.

Someone with whom you disagree, even fiercely so, up to the point of frustrated exasperation that such a person could even dare to think such wrong-headed foolishness! And yet, they back up their points with intelligent, reasoned examples rather without having to resort to cheap snark, name-calling, or other dismissive tactics. And in doing so, they get you to reconsider your own views, which is always a good thing to have done every now and again.

It's why Rachel Maddow has Pat Buchanan on her show so often. Because while they don't agree on a damn thing, they share a mutual respect, and she knows he will always be a great sparring partner in him.

It's hard enough to find those kinds of people in politics, but it's even harder to find one in fandom, where blind geek passion often rules over sensible reason of our nerd brethren.

One reason I love scans_daily is that it's the very best online comics forum I've ever seen, simply because I know I could usually find at least somebody to share discussion. I'm not talking about debate nor argument, mind you, but geek discussion with like-minded peers. After the meltdown/shutdown, people would say, "Well, scans_daily deserved to get shut down! Not just because of the comic scans, but there people there were always hateful and wanky! My god, did you hear, one of their members told someone to--gasp--Die In A Fire! Never have I ever heard such vitriol on the internet!"

...

Bear with me, I'm going on a tangent for a bit. I do that sometimes.

First of all, "Die in a Fire?" What, if I were to tell that same offended person to "Go to hell," would they think I literally meant that I wanted them to be condemned for all eternity to burn in the lake of fire and become Satan's hand-puppet?

More to the point, uh... have you people ever been on the internet before? Have you seen what else is out there for geeks? Honestly, this article NAILS the kind of fucktardery that goes on at all other major online fan communities. In fact, I'm gonna just rip off [livejournal.com profile] box_in_the_box's favorite quotes for your own reading pleasure:

Cut for your protection. Namely, those of pure hearts and souls who have never braved the message boards at Newsarama or DCComics.com... )

And the fact that scans_daily got/gets a rep for wankery--even from people who frequent those very communities!--it just boggles the mind. Because scans_daily gave (and to some degree, still gives, but the two spin-off communities just aren't the same, man) me the best geek community I've ever seen. Period.

But even they had a handful of exceptions. Not just trolls--they were rather good at banning trolls--but folks one or two steps above trolls: the asshats. Sadly, you can't ban asshats just for being asshats. I'd name names, but I'm sure a couple of you have them on your flists. Maybe they're totally cool people IRL, but online, the asshattery abounded.

I remember back when I posted by epic "Why THE LONG HALLOWEEN sucks big floppy donkey dick (in relation to Gilda Dent, whose subplot makes no fucking sense if you'd actually stop to think about it, Christ!)" essay, a couple folks disagreed with me, shooting off a couple dismissive remarks and personal insults. When I responded rather reasonably, inviting them to actually tell me why they disagreed, to start a discussion, they flaked off and never responded. That's what really got me: they weren't willing to stand up for their points. They just wanted to dismiss, insult, and run.

I haven't seen those guys around much at nu!scans_daily, but there is this one guy... hoo, man, over the past couple of weeks, the things he's been saying have been red flags, little things here and there that rubbed me the wrong way. But it wasn't until he started voicing certain opinions on Paul Dini's writing that all the alarms went blaring off in my head: "WARNING! WARNING! AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!! DO NOT ENGAGE THE ASSHAT!"

So I didn't. Unfortunately, that didn't stop him from engaging me. For once I posted the image of that seriously stupid Bat!Harvey comic cover, the suspected-asshat took issue with my rants, and once it came out that he not only disliked Paul Dini and LOVED Tony Daniel's insipid artwork, but that he thought Grant Morrison's take on the Joker is the most inspired and chilling the character has been in decades, much much better than Dini's ever was, oh motherfucker it was ON.

I was up until three in the morning sparring with this guy. His every response filled me with glowing, exasperated horror that I could have found someone so completely counter to seemingly everything I hold worthwhile and true about Batman comics, and I kept waiting for him to play the typical asshat move like the others, ending this discussion with me fuming at his idiocy and once again taking only the meager consolation prize of righteous geek indignation.

But then a funny thing happened: once he remarked that we actually reached common ground on an issue (the lack of Harvey depictions that play up his internal duality, in favor of just making him a cheap gimmick villain), I felt a sudden rush of exhilaration. Because I realized that he wasn't just another asshat. No, I'd finally found a Pat Buchanan to my Rachel Maddow! A Stephen Colbert to my Stephen Colbert!

It has been remarked that one can actually feel the energy flying off that thread between us, and I get a wee thrill just thinking about it now. My own views remain mostly unchanged from what I can tell, but I have a greater appreciation and understanding for his, particularly once I realized so much of it stemmed from a common place. If only there were more debates like this in political, religious, and social forums, but such a thing doesn't come by often. It's a partnership, in some ways. A give and take between two people on the same wavelength, even if it's on the complete opposite ends.

Ultimately, when he offered an e-handshake on the grounds of agreeing to disagree, I kinda wish I could have been there to give it to him in person. I look forward to seeing him around in the future, and if we do end up crossing swords again, I can only hope we are able to maintain our civility and respect as before as we launch into another heated debate.

Because asshats come and asshats go, but formidable opponents? Those are rare and precious things indeed.








He's still wrong, of course.

"Paul Dini writes formulaic and forgettable Joker stories" my ASS...
thehefner: (Donald Sutherland: J'ACCUSE!)
Don Rosa's masterful graphic novel THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK is out of print?!

What. Is. This. FUCKERY.

Just as we'd managed to get it selected for [livejournal.com profile] noscans_daily's burgeoning book club (and some people are STILL understandably hesitant; how the hell could a book about Disney ducks actually be this good? Trust me, it really, really is) I discover that the only way anyone can get it is to pay $80+ for a used copy. I wrote to my boss at Big Planet Comics, and he informed me that Gemstone (the publisher) still owes their printer $373,000 (!!!).

One of the greatest graphic novels I have ever read (no, really), and it's out of print. Any hope I had to analyze this masterful epic with the noscans folks is seemingly on hold indefinitely.

Hell damn crap fart.




On the plus side, after it being taken down for a few months, someone's finally put THE STEPFATHER (featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Terry "John Locke" O'-Motherfuckin'-Quinn) back on YouTube!



Watch it until it gets yanked, and/or pray that they finally put it out on DVD to coincide with the ill-advised remake starring the guy from NIP/TUCK! The non-Dr. Doom one! Sigh.
thehefner: (Green Lantern: New Frontier)
So. THE FLASH: REBIRTH # 1 just came out.

Over the past few months, I've become so increasingly sick and tired of all the damn whines of "Barry isn't MY Flash!" and/or "Barry should stay dead!" and/or "Barry is a bad/boring character!" that--even though I myself am not particularly fond of Barry, I like him okay--it got to the point where I almost wanted REBIRTH to be good to spite all those people.

Johns had succeeded in delivering... pretty much exactly the book they expected. And so far, that's really, really disappointing.

It wasn't really until I read this that I realized what a Barry Allen comic should be. Because Barry ISN'T teh_drama und angst. He's the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I think a Barry Allen comic should be like ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, but from the everyman perspective. It should be pure awe, joy, wonder, and fun. It should be the Silver Age, made modern.

And to anyone who says that can't happen... again, ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. A brilliant, universally-beloved book featuring another character that people say is boring, outdated, bad, or not relatable.

And really, folks. Barry's not relatable? Guys, he's the only major DC superhero who's a comic geek!!! A great Barry Allen comic is possible, and the more I hear people complain, the more I feel that it must happen. A great Barry Allen FLASH comic--like ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and the upcoming WEDNESDAY COMICS--should feel like a breath a fresh air after all the pointless crossovers and ugly melodrama infecting today's mainstream comics.

Hopefully we'll get it someday, and soon. In the meantime, I fear the pointless and misguided fan-bitching just ain't gonna cease.

OTOH, at least this one person has offered some refreshing perspective on this whole thing, and with that in mind, I shall continue to give Johns the benefit of the doubt. If he can do for FLASH what he did for GL, hopefully the raves shall drown out the haters.
thehefner: (Charlie: Shun the non believer!)
The [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily debacle has exploded over the internet. It's kind of amazing; many of us (including me) just sort of assumed we were our own sleepy little niche, never realizing we were this big.

Holy shit, does that mean I'm quasi-internet-famous for being that totally obsessed Harvey Dent fanboy who thinks Gilda Dent seriously warrants an in-depth three-part retrospective?

But seriously, it's been the hot topic at many a blog and major comic site, but perhaps nowhere more heated than at Peter David's own blog. I joined in the posting early on, espousing how awesome (and vital!) scans_daily was... a point that was expressed most eloquently than by Gail Simone, a professional DC Comics writer whose own work was frequently posted there.

That was the battle I'd picked on PAD's blog, as opposed to the many arguments about why scans_daily sucked, why Peter David sucks, people sucking up to Peter David, morality issues, ethical issues, immature insults, and--of course--heated debates about "fair use" and copyright law. And so many of these are fueled by misconceptions about law, PAD's involvement, and what scans_daily actually was.

So as such, thank god for MightyGodKing--former [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily contributor possessing awesome Canadian Lawyer superpowers--for summing up the s_d debacle from all perspectives--particularly legal, ethical, and sensible--better than anyone else has. Or, indeed, could.

To think, back in the day I got all butthurt when MGK snarked at me. After the whole PAD/DIAF debacle, it all seems ridiculously silly and thin-skinned of me in retrospect. Not that I've ever claimed to have a skin in the first place.

In the meantime, s_d exists in other forms. Sort of. There's [livejournal.com profile] noscans_daily, where we can at least confer and geek out (WITHOUT scans), and there's also a new scans_daily at Insanejournal... but frankly, I can't bring myself to go there, much less start an Insanejournal account. It all just feels wrong.

fuck.

Feb. 28th, 2009 02:51 am
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Anguished Scream)
[livejournal.com profile] scans_daily is suspended. First details are here, and now it looks that Peter David himself (a writer I absolutely love) might be responsible in some capacity.*

EDIT: PAD's responded, and it looks like he wasn't responsible (although he DID issue a report to Marvel), but he ain't shedding any tears.

Guys, I am seriously, seriously upset. I... I can't even get my thoughts in order here. There are many logical ways to look at all this, I know, but right now, the purely emotional response is all I've got. I never honestly thought I'd have an appropriate time to use this icon, but right now, this is it.

I just think about all the wonderful comics that I'd never have even HEARD of without scans_daily. About all the awesome people I've met and friended from there**. Including a girlfriend! A girl who was the best damn person I met all last year, who I wouldn't have met otherwise if she hadn't been taken with this intense Harvey Dent fanboy! Scans_Daily actually got me laid!

But most of all, when I think about all the goddamn hours I've put into scanning and cropping and writing and editing posts of my own, and to think they're all just gone... like tears in the rain...

It's... it's the only place I've had for years now where I could actually just let loose with my love of comics and Harvey in particular, knowing that there would always be at least a few people who would get it and share my passion.

I literally have nothing else like that, never have. Not the comic shop, no social circle IRL, certainly not comic conventions, and definitely not anywhere else on the internet. Message Boards, jesus god save us all, never again. Even with the occasional troll and handful of fools and jerks, scans_daily has been a godsend to me as a fan. A place that would *daily* remind me why I'm a fan.

PAD, or whoever's responsible: way to totally fucking ruin the euphoric giddy feeling I had from getting a good review.



*And, if I'm not mistaken, he's LYING, as no, the whole issue of X-FACTOR was NOT posted! The mods have been rather strict about their "half an issue or less" rule. Which may not be any more legally sound than if they HAD posted the whole issue, but let's get the fucking facts straight first.

**Roll call: who here do I know purely and solely because we met on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily?
thehefner: (Iron Man: Life is Empty w/o GIN)
As I understand it, sometime last year, a paparazzo snuck onto the set of IRON MAN and took some shots of the titular hero in armor, leaking the grainy pictures to the internet before director Jon Faverau and company had a chance to officially release the awesome promo shots that would eventually make us piss our pants regardless.

Faverau, however, is not without a sense of humor, as we all know. And at the end of IRON MAN, when Tony was reading the newspaper with the headline WHO IS IRON MAN?, one can slightly make out that the newspaper's (grainy) photograph looks rather familiar. To those in the know. It was well-played indeed, and all in good spirits.

Well, it turns out the paparazzo was none too pleased, and is suing Paramount for their use of his pictures.

I shouldn't be surprised that a paparazzo should have such unmitigated nerve. But wow.



Here, to wash the taste of that out of your mouth, I give you Ninja Cat:



Remember the weeping angels from DOCTOR WHO? It's like that. In cat form.

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