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Ninja Man Bats! Batman and son Pt. 1 July 31, 2011

Filed under: comics — Micah Griffin @ 13:43
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Batman -666

Grant Morrison uses the opening six issues of his Batman run to establish the tone and plot for his book. It’s hard to look at this as an individual thing when you know how all of it ends.  The one thing to do would be to look for all the clues you missed, but that would mean me spending thirty or so minutes on each issue, and I just  don’t have time for that. I also have to save the world.

Let’s get started, shall we?:

“How did they find his neck?”

“That’s just what I said. Does this mean I’m getting better or worse?”

Yes, I’m completely ignoring the Zur En Arrh stuff for now. While that stuff isn’t exactly easter egg in nature, it is .  .  . superfluous?  I don’t know. I just don’t find it important for right now. It’s not even subtle. It’s all in BIG LETTERS.

I guess I didn’t really ignore it. Oh well. Look at this!

Here Morrison sets about establishing his view on everyone’s personal relationships with each other (everyone being Alfred, Time Drake, and Bruce). We see that Alfred at Tim feed the bats and Bruce has no idea. We also see Tim eating Bruce’s dinner sammich and Alfred packing him a bagged lunch for Tim to take on his trip to the mountains. These two pages are well executed for what they are.

Now we get into the Batman stuff.

Does Francine Man-Bat not know the serum? Or did Talia kidnap her to force Man-Bat’s hand. I assume they could’ve found another way to get the Were-Bat juice than kidnapping Man-Bat’s wife and threatening to turn her into “…blind, crippled for life and in constant pain.” Enough bashing stupid tropes. Onto the mystery solving!

It doesn’t take the world’s greatest detective to figure out Man-Bat is freaking out right now and in a crucial hurry. Fortunately the world’s greatest detective is on the case and can figure out exactly why Langstrom is in a hurry (that being Alfred).

Now, I don’t know if this is a joke or not (I feel it is), but Action for Africa is hilarious. Even if Morrison meant us to take it seriously, I can’t. It feels perfectly like those banal celebrity events that don’t actually have a purpose. What does Action for Africa mean? Absolutely nothing. What kind of Action? What parts of Africa? Doesn’t matter because none of these billionaires care at all. Just makes them feel good to say they care. This could be a deep statement if I looked into it hard. Probably not though.

WOW

Subtlety is an art.

The juxtaposition on the first page of issue 656 makes me giggle. Yes, she’s hot. I guess the “WOW” in the background is suppose to remind you in case you forgot.

Jezebel Jet remains Batman’s love interest for the first three quarters of Morrison’s Batman run. We don’t know much about her yet, just that she has all the legs, likes to ski, and runs a small country.

I think Andy Kubert does a mean Man-Bat. It is known that I love ridiculous campy stuff in my super hero books. Morrison’s run is full of deadly serious stuff, yet it never goes into oppressive mode. These Man-Bat Ninjas were apparently made in twenty seconds. The League of Assassins kicks the Langstroms (Prof. Man-Bats and Mrs. Man-bats) out on the street, and in five minutes ninja man-bats crash through the ceiling.

Let’s ignore how these ninjas kept all their skills while turned into giant screeching bats. Let’s not ignore this giant shuriken.

All this stuff is really inconsequential. The meat of this story is at the end of the ninja man bat fight Talia Al Ghul drops off Batman’s son! Who Knew? Now there’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on here. First we get some weird commentary on parenting. Batman doesn’t beat his kids. He figures out that aggressively yelling with a red border around your word bubble will make his son cower like a puppy. Kid is totally a brat. Maybe if Batman had hit this kid in the chest it’s possible he wouldn’t have busted Tim Drake’s face and shoved him off the T-Rex through a glass case.

I’m not going to talk about the joker prose piece just yet. That’s going to be a post unto itself.

 

Fun things about needing public transit. July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Micah Griffin @ 14:36

If anyone knows how to embed a google map picture that’d be great.

 

So here’s the deal, my car is in the shop for some bogus stuff and it’s 100+ degrees outside. So, I can wait on someone to pick me up, I can walk, or I can ride the bus. (Now, I think they offer a service to pick you up, but not everyone does this. As much as I hate mechanics I have to shout out Griffin Brothers for only being mildly skeezy).

That’s not the point of this. The point is, I did a little Google map to see how long it would take to walk the distance as opposed to waiting for a ride and it would be about the same so I figure I’ll wait cause it’s 100+ outside and my ancestors died out there in that heat (and poor people die inside in this kind of heat all the time because they either don’t have AC or can’t afford it or their bodies can’t handle it even if they could get AC on. Mad Props to Cooling Centers) so I can sit inside by a bitchin fan and under a ceiling fan.

The real point is, the real point, is that Google offered up a faster way, bus transit. If I just walk a mile from my house (this is actually not a big deal, that’s how far bus stops are from everyone’s house unless they live in weird middle class type neighborhoods that buses run through. I’m not sure how that works. Cause rich neighborhoods don’t need buses and they don’t go in poor neighborhoods, and they don’t even go in all middle class ones. Just a certain group. it confuses me.) and wait for five or ten minutes the bus will come and drive me  a mile in the other direction where I would then get off the bus and catch another bus to drive me to the car place.

I live two and a half miles from the place. That’s all. Imagine if this is how I had to get to the grocery store, or to work or any of that stuff. When you start casting judgement on people who ride the bus and think about how much more work it takes for them to get where they have to than it does you.

 

A Quick Note on Blame Shifting July 27, 2011

Filed under: comics,Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 20:12
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Don’t do it.

 

See, quick.

(more…)

 

Quick Post On Alternate Universe Deaths July 26, 2011

Filed under: comics — Micah Griffin @ 22:31
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It is known that some of my favorite comics of all time are alternate universe comics. A lot of my favorite stories are ones that take place in a world that’s very familiar to ours with just the right changes to make things interesting, or with people we know in worlds they can’t comprehend. These are fun stories for me.

There was a time when Marvel and DC were both putting out a decent amount of these books either with What if?s or Elseworlds respectively. Occasionally the alternate universe stuff would cross over with or take over the currently timeline of events for something truly special like the “Age of Apocalypse” stuff in the X-men. The most I could ever dream of was a book that regularly explored these ideas like “exiles.”

These types of books (in general) come in two basic flavors with a lot of variants. The first flavor just explodes in your mouth like a big piece of awesome. These books mostly just revel in the idea of being in an alternate universe with very little concern with plot or character progression. A lot of those stories were “Where can we take superman or batman now?” I like these stories. To me they’re just a lot of fun.

The other flavor is the kind that looks at characters and attempts to figure out what makes them tick by putting them in an entirely alien environment. These stories tend to try and figure out something special to say. Some try not to call attention to how different this world is and just make a straight story out of it, and others needle you with exactly how different it is.

What all of these have in common is that the best of them know not to hinge important moments on the death of a character (or even a switching of roles). If you’re going to kill off certain people it either has to be written into the world before we get there or it has to just happen and have us not pay too close attention to it.

Killing off an alternate version of a character I love won’t invest me emotionally in a story. That just will not do it. Now, if I’ve gotten to know this character in the course of reading this book then it’s all good. If that death is poignant and meaningful then okay. But if out of nowhere female Batman takes a knife through the heart by alternate blue haired Crazy Quilt I’m not going to cry. Sorry. The same rules sort of apply to obscure characters. Oh, you killed freedom beast? Look how I weep. Oh, right, I haven’t seen him in a book since 1990. Same thing goes when you dump Kyle’s girlfriend into a fridge.

When you kill someone in a story it’s suppose to say something. Either, “Wow a lot of people sure are dying.” or “Wow, this person is crazy.” or “Wow, this is such a tragedy.” Or possibly not any of those things, but something. When you hinge the entire emotional weight of a book on one scene of someone dying that person has to be someone I care about. Killing off an Alternate X-man in 2099 isn’t that.

That’s really all I have to say. The elseworlds thing seems to be slowly (much to my delight) creeping back in to super hero comics. DC has an entire summer event dedicated and we haven’t seen that since 2005 (aww yeah House of M).

Whatever is below here has little to do with anything, just isn’t enough for an entire post. It is tangentially related.

SPOILER TIME!!!

This applies to something else as well. Here’s the deal. Killing off or drastically changing a character that we see fairly often in our universe is one thing. We’ve seen it a lot and it sometimes works. Hinging the emotional weight of your book on the reveal that a character we haven’t ever seen do anything than die anyway is just boring. I’m sorry. Is it a neat twist when it happens? Yes.

Just know that Martha Wayne has never meant anything to me, so making her into the Joker means nothing to me. Thomas Wayne as Batman doesn’t mean an awful lot, but it does mean more than Martha as Joker. If these were the Kents we were talking about, then sure. We have a long history with Ma and Pa Kent. We absolutely have no history with Martha Wayne. We have at least seen Thomas Wayne cut someone open once or twice in his foyer. Martha just drops her pearls. Then she goes and kills Two-Faces daughter and Commissioner Gordon. Not doing it, guys. I’m not saying the idea isn’t super neat. I’m just saying that playing the story for emotion isn’t a good idea because no one has enough history with the character for this to actually matter. Nazi Guy Gardner? Cool, that works. Joker Martha Wayne? Could be anyone. We have no character to reflect this version off of.

 

Captain Batman and the Months Long Adventure July 25, 2011

In the mid 2000s (Starting in 2004 with Captain America and 2006 with Batman) Marvel and DC gave control of two of their more iconic characters (Batman being super iconic and Captain America being more popular as an idea than as a character in the universe) to two of my favorite writers. Grant Morrison is an all around crazy person and shares my love for silver age (and somewhat bronze age) super hero comics. Giving him creative freedom on Batman turned out to be a better decision than even I could have imagined. Ed Brubaker is partly responsible for writing my favorite book at that period of time Gotham Central.

These books are entirely unrelated save for the fact that looking back at things now I’m pretty sure that these are two of the best comic book stories of the past decade and possibly two of the best stories for each respective character. Neither of these is a perfect thing, but it is proof that when you get the right fit for a situation and don’t go around trying to muck it up you can get magic.

While Brubaker was able to tell his Captain America story all in the Captain America  book (with, I think, one exception being some stuff in the Civil War Event) Grant Morrison’s work hopped from Batman to Final Crisis to Batman and Robin with a side of Return of Bruce Wayne thrown in. I don’t believe we’ll ever see a “Grant Morrison’s Batman” Omnibus the same way we have the Captain America Omnibus for Brubaker, which is sad. That said, thanks to my local library (I do own every issue of Morrison’s Batman run, I’m just too lazy to pull them out of the long box) I can follow the progression almost as easily as I can with cap.

Over the next few months I plan on exploring both of these books again and finding out why they worked so well. I’m doing them both at the same time because there are definite elements that match up. Both of them explore past concepts delightfully well, both of them involve dead sidekicks to differing degrees, both of them include a torch passing at some point, and both include the death of the main character. Also, they’re both really good and I want to read them and talk about them. Which, really, is the reason to do something like that.

 

No matter how dark the knight, The underwear must be seen July 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Micah Griffin @ 22:13

I’m far too tired to actually put things down in eloquent stylings tonight, but something must needs be posted!

So I’ll talk about Batman’s character design in Arkham Asylum. I played through the game for the first time just in the past week and it’s an interesting experience. I had heard how good it was and wanted to try it out, I just didn’t want to pay a lot to do it. Now that I’ve beaten it I’m glad I played it, and I’m glad I paid what I did. I’ve only done the main story mode once and am interested in going through it for a second time. There is a lot that can be talked about in this game. Some things I liked (combat and plot) and some things I didn’t (character designs and dialogue).

I’ll do a more in depth post on the character designs for all the characters in the game, right now, I just want to talk about Bat’s underwear. The game is going for a combination of DARK and GRIM Batman with a “realistic” looking outfit and a hard comic book tone with his underwear being on the outside. It would be one thing if that were an outline, but it’s modeled as underpants on the outside. He has the crazy gauntlets of a madman and the utility belt that doesn’t turn into a sword, yet he’s wearing underoos on the outside of his britches. He also has the mega pointy ears, which would totally get in the way of things the way he flies around in this game, but whatever. All can be forgive when you look at his underpants.

I’m know I’m a few months late on all of this, but that’s as it goes. I know it’s tradition, but Batman Begins broke that costuming tradition and there wasn’t much uproar. If you want me to take the steps with you on this darker and grittier path through the Batman mythos, you’re going to want me to buy into all of it. Unfortunately, every time I stop punching things I am immediately reminded of the fact that this guy made a conscious decision to put his underwear on after his pants.

 

GRRM Sex July 11, 2011

Really, it’s about the lack thereof.

I’m a decent fan of George R. R. Martin. I’m not saying he’s the best fantasy writer of all time, but he’s pretty good. Borders a bit on white people in space sometimes featuring our exotic black friends, but maybe he’ll flesh our our Summer Islander buddies. That’s not at all what this post is about. This post is about that weird thing that happens when so much of a book is plotted out in meticulous detail, and so much of a book is written beautifully. I can only think of a few writers who use the language better than Martin does. The way he uses point of view is just wonderful. I love how basic descriptions of similar places change entirely based on which character he’s following. The books are written in the increasingly popular limited third person narrative. This is often used in books to little effect, but George finds excellent uses, mostly with language. The plot constructions around it are, great, but whatever. The way he’ll describe someone’s movements when following Arya, or describe people’s actions when using Tyrion are most of what I enjoy about reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

That all is said to bring me to this.

George R. R. Martin clearly has never had sex a day in his life.

Yeah. I said it. At least not with a woman. Possibly with one of those real dolls and a tape recording of a bad porno. Maybe a lame prostitute along the lines of Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge or something. Cause, man. This guy’s pre/during/post sex dialogue is THE WORST. Absolutely horrific. Who says that stuff during sex? Who? (People who know me probably know a hilarious story about that). But that aside. No one talks like that. It’s absurd. Let me find you some dialogue.

“More, oh more, yes, sweet, my knight, my knight, my sweet white knight, yes you, you, I want you.” “Deeper,” she whispered. “Yes, oh”

That’s only a sampling. Yes, I know. People say strange things during sex. Sometimes people say really strange things during sex. Not everyone does it in this manner though. Nearly every female having consensual sex in this series talks just like this. Everyone one o them wants someone in them so much they often scream “IN ME! IN ME!” Okay, maybe only one character brandishes the “IN ME” torch, but that sentiment is felt everywhere, and it totally takes you out of the experience. It cries false, especially in a time period without porn to set the national agenda on dumb things to say during sex. Also, sex is either absolutely fantastic (what happens in Martin’s head) or it ends before it begins (what happens in Martin’s real life).