Tags: comics

cass, can you not


Continuing with a theme of comics-heavy procrastination, I read (or reread) things like the second volume of Injustice, Batman TPBs, Marvel TPBs, quite a bit of Valiant, quite a bit of the Black Sky and Project Superpowers worlds, some Gold Key, Injection, and a fair of other stuff, including a couple of one-offs.

It was a fugue in more than one sense; comic books have so much turned upon themselves as a medium (driven partly by economic forces, and partly by artistic path-dependence) than to some degree they are about comics (even leaving aside Morrison's explicit ontological antics).
cass, can you not

Procrastination + anxiety + family issues + no immediate deadline...

... means, as usual, an ill advised comics binge: The Life and Death of Toyo Harada 1-4, Li'l Gotham in full, The Complete Doc Unknown, The Steam Man, and a reread of v1 and 2 of Umbrella Academy. Some rhymes of structure and theme, unsurprisingly. Loops and crumbling near-utopias and holding the line or failing to.

Except Li'l Gotham, which is just about the fun.
cass, can you not

The Doylean trauma

Leaving aside probably more relevant reasons of changing personal and social contexts (let's call some of it the tribology of accumulating nostalgia, mostly because I love the word "tribology"), one reason I find comic events increasingly off-putting is the way their meta-cosmology keeps getting not just more involved, but doing so in bizarre and repetitively anthropomorphic ways, and without any sort of build-up. The basic nature of reality keeps being re-revealed every year or so, Cosmic Entities get biographies and family trees every bit as ridiculously involved as any other character, and conflicts where the stakes are, literally, everything that ever was, is, or will be, keep being set up and resolved in a span of a few reader months, even if they are supposed to have taken place during thousands or billions of years.

That's a mostly DC-apposite description of the Crisis pattern, although it does apply to the Hickman Omni-apocalypse. Marvel's specific compulsive apocalypse is the Age of Apocalypse retelling, although both companies fall back equally often to the Cosmic War. And similar things could be said about more character-specific but still repetitive arcs, like Batman Gets Broken Down.

I understand the Doylean reasons, and Huge Events, like fossil fuels, are a non-renewable and toxic but short-term fantastic resource that you have to have a certain level of maturity not to rely on, but at this point it's less an annoying quirk than an unheimlich compulsion we're all (as comic book readers, while and if we read those specific comics) locked inside of.

BTW, I've written this before, and I'm likely to do it again. We're all vulnerable to our own patterns.
cass, can you not

Two things make two-thirds of a post

Detective Comics #1000 was unexpectedly not bad. The general tone of the stories was hopeful (or at least as hopeful as Batman stories can get), and a couple were Very Batman ones, for personal values of Batman.

Also, courtesy of Wikipedia's daily email, the Names of Istanbul page. It turns out that the official renaming from "Constantinople" to "Istambul " only happened officially in 1930, much later than I had thought. On the other hand, "Istanbul" is a variant of the Turkish for, literally, "The City", and had been the informal name in Turkish for the city since even before 1453 (and, in Greek, even before that).

Istanbul means "The City." And it has been called "the city" for a long time regardless of the language.

I'm oversimplifying and focusing on a very narrow slice of a complex and certainly ambiguous history, but, gods, isn't that something?
cass, can you not

A couple of Warren Ellis recs

Both Cemetery Beach (an Image comic) and Finality (a weekly webtoon) are pretty much standard Ellis fare: secret history, shadowy groups, and violent, foul-mouthed hypercompetent characters prone to dry and yet hyperbolic wit, and also full of shit.

Cemetery Beach, in particular, has a very interesting premise, although I don't want to spoil the hilariously straightforward reveal at the beginning of the first issue (besides, here the *art* carries a lot of the information).

As usual, I think you'll like it if you have liked other works from Ellis, and won't if you haven't. (This isn't meant to imply that the's monotonous; it's just that his creativity lies more in his world-building — the depth and love with which he puts together bits of fictional lore, history, and random bits pieces of knowledge, into a something that makes sense — than in the psychological and linguistic range of his characters.)
cass, can you not

Continuing my increasingly problematic procrastination spell...

I just caught up with Marjorie Liu's Monstress, and it's definitely an interesting comic. Female-centered in a way that's both critical to the story and not what the story is about, unsparingly horrifying when it should be (trigger warnings for violence and torture, some of it involving children, although never for shock value or unsympathetically), and with an interestingly detailed fantasy world. Sana Takeda's art is probably perfect for the story.
cass, can you not

Most of the people I meet is dead and/or fictional

Just met (metaphorically speaking, although wouldn't that be fun) Raimondo di Sangro: XVIth century Italian noble, inventor, and translator. Had his own printing press. Rumored to have done experiments on... problematically fresh humans. He destroyed his own scientific archive before he died. After his death, his descendants, under threat of excommunication by the Church due to di Sangro's involvement with Freemasonry and alchemy, destroyed what was left of his writings, formulae, laboratory equipment and results of experiments.

(Sounds like somebody you could write a Dan Brown/Umberto Eco thing about.)

Also, and to showcase the depths of my ignorance, I just learned that Stabat Mater is the title of a Catholic hymn about Mary standing at the Crucifixion. And now I have to give Masamune Shirow props, because in Ghost in the Shell: Man-Machine Interface there's a entertainment/religious organization (well, front) ran by a cyborg called Mother (you can guess who) through a literal crucifixion-like linking device. Considering the explicitly religious themes — plot — of the manga, it's not just a nice reference.
cass, can you not

*clings to the scans*

Just reread Dixon and Grant's Robin v1, aka The One Where Tim Gets His Newsletter from the Sherlock Holmes Society but Has His Basil Rathbone Movie Preempted By Bad News, Kicks Ass In A Suit, Wears A Red Hood, Gets Into Dick and Jason's Short Pants, Has His Butt Kicked in Paris, the French Countryside, and Hong Kong by An Exponentially Worsening Chain of Ass-kickers, Intrigues Shiva Enough To Remain Alive After Saying "No" To Her A Couple of Times, Briefly Meets Ducard, and Generally Speaking, Goes From "I'm Not Sure I'll Ever Be Robin" to "Boy, I'm Already Feeling My Soul Wilting Under the Weariness of this Robin Thing, And Also Bruce Doesn't Look Saner From This Side of the Fence" In About Three Weeks.

Tim Drake: the Robin who needs a nap, like, all the time.
cass, can you not

Comics! (Shadowy Conspiracies Edition)

The Shadow / Batman #6: The end of a not uninteresting mini about a deeeeeep mega-conspiracy. It's a nice one, and I'm psychologically unable to not like the ending, but it only works as an Elseworld, in the sense that it's too big to leave much space in the Batman universe for anything else. That's a common issue in universes with long continuities; the accumulation of Events and Conspiracies escalates where, you know, Bruce's life isn't the target of a centuries-long conspiracy that's the retrochronal side effect of having been Omega beam'd by Darkseid Himself, but rather it's the target of a millennia-long conspiracy by the followers of a freaking capital-g god from a different universe. It gets ridiculous. Rather than continuity and reboots, I'd prefer a continuous stream of singles and minis, overlapping in arbitrary and not always well-defined ways; that way the world can change.

The Wild Storm #12: An example of the above, I think. Ellis is able to tell a cohesive variant of the Wildstorm universe, basically because he can start from scratch and keep the bits he wants (also, because he's good at that kind of thing, mind you). A point of interest is that, because you have multiple shadowy deep conspiracies of ultra-competent people (and a couple of semi-independent groups in the middle), nobody quite knows what's going on, butterflies get stepped on, etc. The slowly unfolding chaos adds to the sense of tension.