I'm Just Sayin'…#38

Welcome comic book heads; before we begin, I just wanna throw out one more reminder about this Friday night, December 5th at 7pm I will be performing at the LAUGH LOUNGE as part of…

Click here for more information about the club.

No cover charge, cheap beer, buffalo wings and standup comedy. If you call ahead, be sure to tell’em you’re there to see Greg Manuel – hope to see you there!

Now, I don’t want to step on the toes of my fellow Nexus writers Pulse Glazer and Grey Scherl, because they’ve already got a review for BATMAN #681 cooking up real nice for you. All I’m gonna do is point you to a very intriguing point-by-point analysis that I recently came across, that you can read by clicking here, and offer my own two cents on the conclusion to the much-ballyhooed BATMAN: R.I.P.

I don’t think it had any chance to live up to the perceived hype around the story, between the promotion surrounding it and the man writing it – but if you don’t buy into the aura that has developed around Grant Morrison over the years, or any of that will-Batman-die? hysteria that even roped in the mainstream media, then maybe you were able to have fun reading the Caped Crusader’s ultimate triumph over the bad guys in this latest go-round. And when you think about it, it really couldn’t go any other way because if there’s one point that Morrison likes to make about Batman, it’s this:

Wait…lemme zoom in there:

There we go.

See…it was never about who or what the Black Glove was. Heck, that reveal was practically a throw-away:

If you wanted a story about the villain, you should’ve been reading THE HEART OF HUSH – really, you should have; it was quite good! – no, the Black Glove was merely a MacGuffin – something to move the story along, and get into the true meat of Morrison’s thesis: who Batman is.

Batman’s the man with the plan. A million of them. He has to be that guy, because he runs in a crowd full of people who have Greek gods as backup, can run faster than the speed of light, command sea animals, or are nigh-unstoppable aliens from outer space who, but for the grace of Stan, actually want to help mankind – never mind the ones who want to enslave it. This is the guy who doesn’t have superhuman abilities save for the one he gave himself – the ability to outthink enemies he has yet to even face.

So when a quintet of bored, hyper-wealthy perverts have the audacity to come after our Dark Knight, with the utterly laughable notion that all they need to do to destroy him is wag a pretty tail in his face, shove some narcotics into his system and then bury him alive…well, what does Batman say to that?


And all told, it made for a very entertaining read. Oh – and didja catch the origin of the phrase “Zur-En-Arrh”??

Cute…I gotta give it to’im on that one! (Alright, so I needed Wikipedia to see it myself!)

Meanwhile, over in Marvel-land…I opened up the Newsarama earlier today, and I came across this interview with acclaimed Spider-scribe Roger Stern. NEWSARAMA decided to sit down with the Rog and discuss an upcoming story he’s written for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN*, and well…let me just lay down the quotes:

NEWSARAMA: What aspects of Spider-Man have changed since your initial run, and what parts remain the same?

ROGER STERN: Well, he’s really been through the wringer, hasn’t he? Fortunately for me, most of the weirder stuff — going public with his secret identity, marrying the wrong girl — has all been dealt with, so I don’t have to.

The Peter Parker appearing in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is finally back to the way I like him. He’s recognizable to me again — in both his identities — so all I have to worry about is writing good stories.

I can only <snip>, sigh and proceed…and proceed he does:

“Peter for the most part works best as a young, single guy. I would never say he should never marry. But he certainly should not be married to Mary Jane Watson. That’s just crazy…that marriage never quite worked for to me. It was like hearing about two old friends who’d run off and made this terrible mistake…I even wrote a few stories about Pete and Mary Jane as a married couple – SPIDER-MAN: HOBGOBLIN LIVES and an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL among them — and the one part of those stories that made me uncomfortable was the marriage. It just felt wrong.”

Double sigh. I need a moment to gather my thoughts and be as precise with my words as possible, so I’m just going to take a quick break. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy this:

Put this one on the mantle next to the "Great Cat-Crap Analogy"! (IJS #24)

Okay. Now, Rog – can I call you Rog? – I want you to know that I love ya. And the only reason I’m not making you stand in the corner is because you’ve at least been an opponent of the Spider-Marriage ever since it happened. Well, that and I already have Quesada in one corner, Brevoort in another,  Mark Waid in another still, and I’m saving one for where I hang out with the Game Boy and the bullwhip. And the only reason you’re not sitting in the monkey cage with Steve Wacker for your apparent, implicit support of the most inorganic, un-Marvel method possible to revert Peter Parker to a version more to your liking, is solely because of your work on CAPTAIN AMERICA.

But…to say Peter Parker married the wrong woman? I could spend several paragraphs in detailed rebuttal to a notion so absurd, but I’m just going to save the space and offer this instead:

Seems pretty cut and dry to me. Perhaps a second opinion – Batman?

Nothing further, Your Honor.

And speaking of changes that I don’t quite understand, it seems that in the span of just a few years we’ve gone from…


…and we are coming to a stop here:

Hm. Looks awfully familiar…s’probably just me.

In any case, it looks like with SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN, Geoff and Gary Frank are going to be bringing us another “re-telling of Clark Kent growing up and becoming Superman.”

I’d have more to say about this but for one thing, I’m not sure if I should be annoyed or confused or what. I will say this much: for the past ten years or so, we have seen a trend wherein comic book creators have developed a level of appreciation amongst fans, through consistently good work and gripping storytelling, wherein the popularity of writers and artists have come to rival, and in some cases surpass that of the characters they work on.

That makes what I’m seeing all the more ironic, because I am starting to get the sense that some of these creators have become so high – let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say unconsciously – on their own popularity, that they are using their own laurels to influence the characters they work on in ways that – once again, giving the benefit of the doubt – go against the grain of those selfsame characters. And the more that goes against the grain, the more that takes the readers out of the story. And the more that happens, the more inconsistencies the readers notice. And the more that happens, more astute of them start to catch onto the creators’ tricks. Case in point one such message board poster who goes by “Omar Karindu.” In these remarks regarding FANTASTIC FOUR #559, He manages to articulate his distaste for Mark Millar’s handling of Marvel’s First Family that leaves me struck dumb with equal parts admiration and envy:

It happens to practically every writer after awhile…Grant Morrison is currently at DC writing two variants of his usual tale of the totalitarian forces of anti-imagination (Darkseid, a wicked psychiatrist who pumps out imitations of Batman and his foes) being set up to lose to icons of 1950s and 1960s pop freestyling moonlighting as avatars of the glorious liberating power of wacky fiction (the 60s Flash and the Japanese meta-kids in FINAL CRISIS, Batman using all his hallucinatory Jack Schiff adventures as an escape hatch of the mind in BATMAN R.I.P.). And Bendis has been continuing his program of giving us monthly takes on popular movie genres (modern crime thriller, Bruckheimer blockbuster, 50s B-Movie) peppered with indie-comedy dialogue.

I’m starting to wonder if we’re not going to see the pendulum swing very soon, and the integrity of the character will take priority once again over the whims of the creator. Or perhaps some strange sort of synthesis of the two will emerge in the next age, in true Hegelian form. Right now, it’s anybody’s guess…

…especially these days, when it feels like just about anything is possible.

Just sayin’, is all.

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