Briefs & Boxers! 06/04/10

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[This was originally supposed to go up on Wednesday, as usual, but the delay is entirely my fault! –Ed.]

o “Form Can Determine Content More Than Even the People Making the Content Generally Realize”

wed 200x300 Briefs & Boxers! 06/04/10Douglas Wolk and the Techland crew discuss the hardcover edition of Wednesday Comics (so does the Comics Alliance crew, by the way).

I’m in the liked-it-in-theory camp on Wednesday Comics. I bought all the issues, but found most of the strips so mind-numbingly dull and nostalgia-driven that I lost interest after the first one. Wednesday Comics has some great art by Paul Pope, Karl Kerschl, Ryan Sook, Kyle Baker and many others. But with few exceptions, it reads like a bunch of people paying homage to the kinds of comics strips they liked as kids, rather than some of the most promising storytellers in the field making a serious attempt at exploring an off-beat format.

o “Get Ready for Batman: Creature of the Night

At his blog, Kurt Busiek talked about a new project titled Batman: Creature of the Night last week.

According to Busiek, the book is similar to Superman: Secret Identity and will have art by John Paul Leon and letters by Todd Klein. It won’t be scheduled for while, though, “until a lot more of it is done.”

Also, Busiek had a small glimpse at the Arrowsmith sequel, which he says will be “a heavily-illustrated prose novel, sort of like Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust.” The artist is Carlos Pacheco, who drew the initial miniseries but is currently exclusive to Marvel. So this is another one that’ll take some time.

o “Modern, Gritty and Emotionally Real Against a Backdrop of Techno-Mythic Super-War”

Newsarama gives Grant Morrison the opportunity to promote his new fantasy comic with Mukesh Singh, 18 Days.

How many mainstream comics writers you know say things like “emotionally real” when they pitch a new project in one line?

o “I Felt Incredibly Dirty and Gross After I Put It Down”

Prominent comics retailer and Savage-Critic-in-chief Brian Hibbs shares his thoughts reading a recent DC comic whose title always makes me think of soccer. And if Hibbs’s assessment isn’t quite enough for you, Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance has a more in-depth look.

o It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This”

Well, if nothing else, Mark Millar knows how to market comics. Somebody should hire him as a consultant.

o “Most Important Festival”

This year’s International Comic-Salon Erlangen opens its doors on Thursday.

I’ll be at the Comicgate booth—please stop by and say hi, then we’ll try to sell you something.

o “An Incredibly Entertaining Mess That Aims Very High”

Douglas Wolk has a reader’s guide to Final Crisis, the 2008 comic by Grant Morrison, J. G. Jones, Doug Mahnke, et al., which comes out as a paperback this week.

I concur with a lot of what he says.

fc 200x300 Briefs & Boxers! 06/04/10Final Crisis is a huge clusterfunk that ultimately fails as a story, but it’s also a very confident, ambitious and progressive superhero comic that’s absolutely made well enough to be a helluva lot of fun if you enjoy that sort of thing. The story is Morrison’s very personal response to Watchmen, in a sense, with a result that’s much less tightly controlled and comes with a lot more passion and chaos than its binovular twin All Star Superman. In the end, it seems even the creators fail to keep up with, let alone keep together, the narrative they have wrought in Final Crisis, but I still applaud them and DC for the chutzpa to even attempt something like this in a high-profile “event” book.

The people who say that understanding Final Crisis requires familiarity with a lot of DC comics are wrong, by the way. The story and the way it’s told are complex and require some effort, certainly. But knowing a lot about DC continuity won’t help you: It’s not the specific references that matter, but rather the fact that there’s an overwhelming, virtually unmanageable amount of them. Believe me, you will get that from the comic, no matter how well you know your way around the DC Universe—the less you know, the more stunning the effect.

Have no illusions: Morrison’s story doesn’t really come together in the end, and you’ll have a hard time understanding what’s happening on your first reading (I’ve read it three times, and I’m still not quite sure). If that doesn’t necessarily turn you off in a story, though, there’s every chance you might enjoy Final Crisis.

 Briefs & Boxers! 06/04/10

Marc-Oliver Frisch writes about comics at his weblog and at Comicgate. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. SO I don’t know where else to put this so i’ll try here.

    Any update as to when you guys are going to post the Marvel and DC month to month threads?.

  2. Marvel goes up Monday, Indie Tuesday, DC Wednesday.

  3. Nate Horn says:

    I disagree with you entirely on how much knowledge you need of DC continuity and characters to understand Final Crisis. I have almost no knowledge of either and couldn’t understand almost a page of Final Crisis. It wasn’t stunning in the least – it was a complete bore.

  4. SvenJ says:

    that’s great, nate—thanks for sharing the hate.

    in an era of disposable, predictable superhero books, morrison consistently provides invigorating, challenging work. it’s the kind of work that demands to be read more than once—unlike most comics, where one can sense every plot beat before they occur.

    morrison haters can say what they want,of course, as literary merit is always highly debatable. but comics is ultimately a business, and one look at mr. frisch’s monthly numbers shows that morrison’s books are consistently chart toppers. that is what really rankles folks.

  5. Christian says:

    I’ve never read a single thing like Final Crisis in a mainstream super-hero “event” comic and probably never will again. I loved it because it made me think. It made me observe and deduce. It handed me absolutely nothing on a silver platter and I can appreciate that.

    And I can’t wait for 10-20 years down the line when somebody finally fesses up to exactly WTF went down behind the scenes.

  6. Much of what it seems you praised FINAL CRISIS for–celebrating DC for having the chutzpa to put out a bold new experiment, regardless of how very flawed it was–could and should also be applied to WEDNESDAY COMICS.

    Just because it wasn’t as earth-shattering as anyone’d hoped, the fact that they were doing it at all should be noted and very much encouraged, with the hope that someone else will get it better in the future. Superhero comics need more things like WEDNESDAY COMICS.

  7. “in an era of disposable, predictable superhero books, morrison consistently provides invigorating, challenging work. it’s the kind of work that demands to be read more than once—unlike most comics, where one can sense every plot beat before they occur.

    morrison haters can say what they want,of course, as literary merit is always highly debatable. but comics is ultimately a business, and one look at mr. frisch’s monthly numbers shows that morrison’s books are consistently chart toppers. that is what really rankles folks.”

    And this is the false assumption that many Morriosonites make, does he deserve credit for doing something out of the box? sure. But in the end if it ends up being a giant clusterfuck it’s a failure regardless of how smart and genius it’s tries to be.

    Final Crisis was just that it failed to deliver sales wise for DC and it alienated alot of people who were looking forward to it. The defenders can make every excuse and rationalization they want for it but in the end the people spoke, I just wish for once the believers got off their high horses and realised that sometimes even the best writers fail horribly.

    And just in case anyone gets overly sensitive, Johns has a similar epic failure evertime he touches on the one note tired joke that is Superman Prime. A tried something different with the character but the joke got tired after SCW and everytime he’s appeared since I keep wishing that Johns would never write him again.

  8. Nate Horn says:

    @EJ – Preach on, brotha man!

    @Everyone Else – Wait, because I hated Final Crisis, I’m a Morrison hater who doesn’t like to read books more than once? That’s a serious leap in logic there, guys. So, all the Morrison books I have enjoyed and all the comics and books I have read more than once, I was wasting my time because I hate that stuff, right?

    Guys, it’s ok to not like a book from a certain creator. It doesn’t mean you don’t like all work from that person, you just didn’t like that one book.

  9. Marc-Oliver Frisch says:

    “Marvel goes up Monday, Indie Tuesday, DC Wednesday.”

    *COUGH*

    I’ll do my darndest, but let’s shoot for Friday and keep our fingers crossed.

  10. Marc-Oliver Frisch says:

    Nate:

    “I disagree with you entirely on how much knowledge you need of DC continuity and characters to understand Final Crisis.”

    No, you don’t.

  11. Nate Horn says:

    @Marc-Oliver – I read your analysis again, and you’re right, I don’t disagree with you. (That’s such an odd sentence to say! ^_^) I actually agree with you more than I thought…. Creepy!

  12. Morrison has developed a cult of personality where all his work is expected to be worshiped. I find him _very_ hit and miss.

    That said, I’d go along with Final Crisis being somewhat entertaining, but only if you read it through in one sitting. As a serial, it didn’t work so well.

    This was not aided by the fact it spun out of my absolute least favorite part of Seven Soldiers. (Mind you, the New Gods bit from Seven Soldiers wasn’t really explained until Final Crisis.) And the editorial coordination for Final Crisis, especially leading up to it, was completely incompetent.

    Now I have to call the post office and see if they can find my package containing Wednesday Comics. If Amazon hadn’t sent me a tracking e-mail, I wouldn’t know that they’d tried to deliver it twice — both times while I was home, both times when my buzzer/phone didn’t ring, both times when no delivery/come-pick-it-up slip was left.

  13. I love it when people say, ‘You’re a hater.’ just because a) you don’t agree with them or b) you don’t like the same thing they did.

    Personally, I don’t need to read a Grant Morrison comic if I want to think. Most people ‘think’ every second of every day of their lives but for those of you who want to delude yourself and others into believing you need Mr. Morrison to help you muddle through it, more power to you… or is that, more power to… him?

    When I want to think deeply about a particular subject, I read books by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky; Amy Tan, Milton, Alice Walker, Moliere, DH Lawrence, Kate Chopin or tons of other authors… and I have no problem comprehending their work.

    But I didn’t like Final Crisis. I thought it was pretentious, unoriginal and incomprehensive so I guess that makes me a Morrison hater. Maybe if all the other Grant Morrison sycophants read more books when they wanted to ‘think’ instead of comics, they’d learn the proper defination of ‘hate’ and maybe then, use the term more appropriately.

    PS. I absolutely loved the original Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman, which was a pure work of genius by comparison. The original Crisis served as a jumping on point for many new readers by taking many of the confusing, off putting concepts that kept many readers away and simplified them so that a new reader can pick up a DC Comic and understand what was going on. By comparison, Final Crisis made everything about the DC Universe a big, ugly mess that served as a jumping off point for me.

    Oh, and I don’t like ketchup either so I must be a double hater now.

  14. Joe S. Walker says:

    If finding Grant Morrison to be an insufferable poseur makes you a “hater” …well, I don’t give a shit really. He is.

  15. Dasbender says:

    Joe, did you just turn a discussion about Morrison’s work into an attack on the person himself? Yes you did.

    You don’t get to know a person just by reading a few comics he wrote, just like I *hope* I don’t know you just based on an ignorant-sounding comment you made.

    I’m amazed at how many people accuse FC of being “unoriginal”, when I think its rampant originality is part of its downfall (or saving grace). All FC (and many of other Morrison works) does is throw a mad deluge of ideas at the reader, without much regard to plot, storytelling, or communication.

    Personally I enjoy the mad deluge — and the longer I chew on it the more I enjoye it. Unfortunately my enjoyment is usualy becaue of the *potential* in the mad ideas, rather than any actual realization of that potential.

  16. Joe S. Walker says:

    Mad ideas? You must have a very conventional mind.

  17. Kevin Hynes says:

    I guess I’m the only one looking forward to Batman Creature of the Night. Really enjoyed Secret Idenity :) Also about Final Crisis, still haven’t read it and I’m looking forward to cracking it open, I read The Filth, so I’m not afraid of a incomprehensible plot. Also happy to see it’s finally in paperback.

  18. Dasbender says:

    A fallen dark god (in the body of a beloved Kirby character) hidden in the Kamandi bunker (full of tiger-men and ape-men) turns Batman into a WMD by skipping him through time, shortly after being shot (by Batman who hates guns but makes an exception here) with a god-killing bullet, the Forever People (now it the bodies of Japanese pop-culture superstars) help humanity escape into an alternate-dimensional lifeboat, and Superman sings the universe back into existence using a machine he built (from memory) based on a design from thousands of years in the future.

    I guess you’re right, Joe — my existence must be conventional if I don’t encounter this on a daily basis in what I’d refer to as “sane” life.

  19. Matt D says:

    Morrison’s in this sort of neat place where he’s stuck so much metaphor and symbolism in his comics that it’s hard NOT to assume that every little tiny detail means something.

    It leads to funny moments in interviews where the interviewer asks him if something means X, and he’ll say that he hadn’t been thinking of that but that it absolutely means X too, of course, and that the comics are sentient after all! Hurray.

    I will say this. I read all the interviews closely when Final Crisis came out and I absorbed so much from them, that when I go back to the text, it’s like looking at a magic eye after someone tells you what it is. I can’t not see all the layers and meaning, whether I did on my first read or not. It made the work so much more weighty and meaningful to me, even if it didn’t necessarily do it by playing fair.

  20. Joe S. Walker says:

    “A fallen dark god…” etc etc sounds to me like a tedious porridge of second-hand ingredients, but there you go.

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