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Old 07-22-2010, 06:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Well, just to clarify what I was trying to say there (I had to edit cuz I was running out of room), I often find it strange that, for example, a character might be able to blast someone with thousands of volts as a power, and yet that character rarely seems to kill anyone with said power, despite thousands of volts generally being fatal in most circumstances.

Someone zapped by said power will inevitably only be stunned or at worst knocked unconscious, and though they may appear to be at death's door at the end of the fight by next issue they will usually be up and running again with only a cursory reference to their injury. This, to me, is deeply strange, and I guess if it was only one character or only on occasion it would be excusable as one of the little quirks of the material, but as its the norm almost without exception it comes off as very odd.
You know, back in the day (Silver Age) it used to be the posh thing that Batman would never get hit by a bullet, he was so quick, he could dodge them. Then someone pointed out how incredibly unrealistic that was, that a human with no superpowers could dodge bullets. These days, the posh thing is to show the blood and guts when a character gets shot, to show the gore. Wolverine, for example, gets dismembered, or has a missle shot through him, about twice a week. Its cool with Wolvie, because he has the mutant healing factor.

So, I would say this: superhero comics have never been about realistic. In Sin City, hookers wear $10,000 designer clothes because Frank Miller says they do and for no other reason. (I realize Sin City isn’t “Superhero comics” per say, but you get the idea). You look back at the Silver Age, and there was a lot of stuff that just plain didn’t make sense, like Batman being able to dodge bullets. Would I like to see someone getting zapped by thousands of volts of power at least be out for a little while? Sure. I think that’s a realistic thing. If comics in the last ten years or so have shown us anything, its shown us that a book can be very cool without the title character of the book in it. Just these last few years, we’ve gotten a Captain America book without Cap (Steve Rodgers was dead, and Bucky was filling in), We’ve gotten a Superman book without Superman (Superman was off on new Krypton, and Mon-el was subbing for him) and a Batman book without Batman (Bruce was “Omegaed”) and, for the most part, all of these books have been well received (in terms of sales and popularity, at least). So, I definitely think the depth of characters in the universes of the big two is there to be able to have, for lack of a better phrase, a “superhero 60 day disabled list”.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Sometimes I think I prefer it that way. Sure, it doesn't make sense, but then again, neither do the various "explanations." Something like the above is almost a writer's way of saying "I know this is stupid, but it's something we have to do, so we're not going to insult you're intelligence by pretending its reasonable or logical." It's not good writing, but it's admitting that what's happening is just a necessary evil.
See, I wouldn’t mind so much if that’s what it was: the writer admitting it’s a necessary evil. I don’t see that as the case. I think when you try to “jedi mind trick” the audience, what you’re trying to do is save page space, and, essentially, dumb it down for the audience. I find bad writing, in any way shape or form, an insult to the reader. I paid three to five dollars (depending on what it was) for this book, and “I got better” is the best you can do? The industry, these days, is very competitive, and there are more good books (in general) then there are dollars to go around. If you want to bring someone back from the dead, then I think its reasonable that you should be given the burden of at least thinking of a halfway decent way to make it happen. If you can’t, that’s a clue that the story you had wasn’t as compelling as you once thought, and that said dead character should stay dead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
One thing about the Captain America example, though, is that that's the rare series where I think the violence really is depicted in that perfect median and where I really can take it seriously. I mean, practically the first thing we saw in issue one was Cap getting dressed down for using excessive force against some bad guys and him defending his actions. It's still unrealistic, to be sure, but there's a lot of gray areas in there. Normally when a guy gets "knocked out" in comics we're to assume he'll be fine later, but I sometimes wonder if when Cap hits some AIM agents with his shield that they don't all end up with compound skull fractures.

The tone of the series is just right so that I don't feel like anything is being sugarcoated but at the same time it's not a ridiculous bloodbath and the main character doesn't look like a sociopath.
It is a fine line, isn’t it? That’s one of the things that makes Brubaker one of the very best in the industry right now, he’s an amazing writer, who is clearly a cut (or two, or three) above his competition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Well alright, but that's one movie. If Chris Nolan put out a Batman movie per month every month and they all ended that way he would wear out his audience's good faith a lot faster. There's also a line of criticism that says the movie is good in spite of that ending, not because of it.

There's also kind of a sliding scale at work here. "Batman Begins" might have cheesed a bit when you compare it to "The Dark Knight", but if you evaluate it by the standards of a Schumaker movie it looks like freaking "Ful Metal Jacket".
In hindsight, I don’t think one should ever not just trust Christopher Nolan, but those were different days. One of my biggest critiques of the movie industry is that every movie that comes out tries to be all things to all people (which is what you’re really getting at when you point out the harsh realism of modern comics, but the cheesy ending in which the bad guy doesn’t really pay, its not the same thing, but it’s a variation of the same problem) in an effort to boost sales. There has been a divide, historically, between art and what makes money, and there are very, very few things that do both. The Dark Knight was one of the few things that did, and, in hindsight, that’s why Nolan should have been allowed to do whatever he wanted with Begins. I do feel like the ending compromised the movie, to an extent, (don’t get me wrong, it was still a terrific film, which I really enjoyed) but I really attribute that to the need for a classic type ending to boost sales, and not to Nolan’s own editorial fiat.

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Originally Posted by Ender View Post
But that's a completely different kind of animal, "Fables" is entirely a creator work, it's Pullman's baby from start to finish, not like Batman or X-Men, which is a franchise owned by the company and has gone through more editors over the years than the Bible. And as a Vertigo book it almost by deifintion has a lot more leeway.

You're correct in that sales are what ultimately decide the fate of a series, but in the case of something like "Fables" poor sales probably wouldn't mean replacing the writer or forcing an editorial mandate on it like with a mainstream hero book, most likely it would just mean canning the title.
You are correct that one of the problems with the superhero comic genre is that it goes through more writers, and editors than the Bible (which in itself is a funny story, did you know “The Bible” wasn’t settled on, and fully edited, until over 300 years after the time of Christ? True story, America hasn’t been a country for 300 years yet.) With something like Fables, though, the following is there, and despite the fact that two of the last three stories were very sub-par (witches and crossover were awful), Fables has such a devoted fanbase that cancellation is not in the question. Willingham cheeses it for a while, then, he comes out with an arc like “rose red” and all sins are forgiven. Most comics can’t do that, only really established titles can, and Fables is that. Mainstream superhero titles can also get the axe if sales are low (Marvel way, way more than DC. DC tends to have a much lower sales target that a series has to hit, and DC also responds more to fan mail and fandome. DC is much more likely than marvel to keep a popular series with low sales but a devoted fan base.) Don’t confuse a title having a following with a title quality and sales. Sales are the big thing, but books that suck can still sell. Marvel has the X-zombies, that will buy a Chuck Austen x-men book, and keep buying it for ten years, no matter how awful it is.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
I felt like that's what "Hush" wanted to be. Each issue felt like it should be its own story, and in that format I could see it having been a good run. "Here's one issue where Batman foils Killer Croc's kidnapping plot, here's one where Poison Ivy mind controls Superman", etc etc. But by trying to link those episodes together and make it (unconvincingly) seem like all part of a larger conspiracy, it sort of took the shine off of it.
I can see what you’re saying about HUSH, I did like the episodic nature of it. In hindsight, the big reveal was obvious, but at the time, there were so many red herrings, that people were pulling out their hair trying to figure it out. For someone like you, you might have known it was Elliot all along, if you did, more power to you, but to those of us who were reading it, issue by issue, for a year, it was quite mysterious, at the time. There was a whole legion of people who thought Hush was two-face, because in a Loeb story, its always two-face. In any case, HUSH revitalized Batman, and DC comics in general, from the doldrums of the 90s. It was DC’s first big hit since Kingdome Come.


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Originally Posted by Ender View Post
I think what Virgil was trying to do might have been something bigger than that. He was trying to forge a link between the world he knew and the world of antiquity that his society had planted itself on top of. It was about national identity, about taking a story and appropriating it and saying "This is who we are, this is our proud tradition, we embody these ideals."
Maybe I’ll read the Aenid again sometime soon, maybe with a more mature eye, I’ll be able to get more out of it. The last time, and only time, I read it was in college, and that was over ten years ago.

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Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Well, maybe I'm a cynic, but I see this as a way of trying to cover up for a copout. "Yeah, okay, so we're bringing Bruce back just like you knew we would all along and we didn't even really try to fool you for a second, but look, there's a new Robin, and it's kind of a crazy idea this time, so you see we're really shaking things up after all, right? Right?" Perhaps I'm being too hard on them, but this whole stunt has rubbed me the wrong way.
I think you are reading it the wrong way. Initially, I was very much against bringing Damian into continuity, because I remember reading Son of the Demon, and I remember it wasn’t a very good story. I think you can be cynical if you really want to be, but I don’t think that what Morrison is doing with Damian should be mixed together with the decision to Omega Bruce Wayne. What Morrison has done with Damian is nothing short of brilliant, and is a tremendous display of what good writing can do to a situation that people are very much against. I think the way it rubs you wrong is, to be kind, a stretch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Well here's where we differ, because I think Barbara really could end up as Batgirl again, and not just in some Elseworld story. I can foresee this happening a few ways:
Okay, I do think its possible that Barbara ends up as Batgirl again. I kinda cringe when I say that, because I’ve been reading the current Batgirl, and I think that Miller has done an excellent job with it. I also think that Barbara should stay in her current role, as Oracle. She’s way more popular as Oracle than she was as Batgirl, partly because, to a lot of comic book fans, the thought of a super-smart girl in a wheelchair who can still kick your ass is very appealing. To each his own.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
Alright, but you're the first person to praise that movie for having the swordfight, whereas there have been a thousand fanboys before who have criticized it for not having the Lazarus chamber or virtually anything else we associate with the character Ras Al Ghul. But even most of those fanboys admitted to liking the movie in spite of that simply because it was a good movie. Nolan took some huge liberties with the material and really he only used the tropes that he liked or that worked to his advantage, but he got away with it because, well, he's Chris Nolan.
To be fair, everytime I watch that movie, and I hear the named pronounced “Ros Al Ghul” instead of “Ray-che Al Ghul” (ie the phonetic as opposed to the way its actually pronounced in Arabic) I cringe. I mean, I cringe, that pronounciation really bugs me. They’ve gone with Ray-che in cartoons for kids, and you’re telling me that was too complex for a movie going audience? I do think Nolan was aware of this, as, in the birthday party scene, he has that woman give yet a third pronounciation (“Rass Al Ghul”). I’m thinking this was a “dumb it down” decision by the suits. In any case, the Lazurus pit didn’t really bother me, like it did a lot of fans. Here’s my thing, you look at the Tim Burton movies, and you see a Batman that was very different from the comics, you look at the Schumacher films and you see something that was completely different from the comics (“Barbara Pennyworth?” That makes me cringe, Bane makes me cringe, but let’s not talk of such things) You look at the Nolan movies, and you see stuff that, as much as Nolan likes to assert his independence, was heavily influnced by the comics, and in which that influence shows on screen. That’s what’s important. As a fan, I want something different done in a new, cool way with characters I know and love. Nolan could have easily stuck in a Lazurus pit, or Talia, or a million other things, but what did he actually give us? Remember the speech Ra’s makes in Wayne Manor as its burning? That’s what Ra’s is, as a character, that’s the way he thinks, and that’s the core of his being. That’s what’s most important to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ender View Post
That's an interesting point, I hadn't considered that. I tend to look at it as the desire to have a big dramatic moment in your earth-shattering crossover so you off somebody, but you know perfectly well you're never going to get away with depriving the company of such a valuable property, so you have to undo it later.

It's a different issue, but sometimes I'm as irritated by the weird rezzes as by the ill-conceived deaths in the first place. Great example being Barry Allen; I'm still not convinced this character needed to come back. Granted, I'll give them style points for how it happened (having him actually outrun death. Okay, it doesn't make a lick of fucking sense, but still, awesome), but in so doing they're erasing one of the rare character deaths that really was well done, invalidating one of the most dramatic moments in comics history, stepping all over another character who has been wearing the mantle for over two decades now, and really sort of cluttering things up (Wally makes the joke in "Blackest Night" that there's no Flash Corps, but they're actually not far from it at this point).

I tend to liken it to the return of Norman Osborne, although that might not be fair, since thus far Allen hasn't featured in any story that's half as abhorrent as the ones Osborne has been at the center of since the 90s.
I do think your first point has merit, but at comic con panels, Dan Didio has said, more than once, when a person asked him when favorite character X was coming back, that the character was over-exposed, and was, therefore, only in the process of getting better, at this time. (a deliberate dig at Marvel, no doubt). The point remains, DC and Marvel have both killed off characters that they thought were over-exposed, for that reason, to give them some time off, so that when the character is re-introduced, fans will buy the book. Its what happened to Thor. The book used to be good, but it was just one guy who was buying every issue, and he was swapping it with his friends. They killed off Thor in Disassembled, and when he came back, with his own book, written by JMS, it sold very well. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is definitely part of it. Although, your point is also valid, it is also the need for a big, important death to punctuate an event. Its both, really.

The decision to bring back Norman Osbourne was one of the most ill-thought out, and frankly, stupid decisions in the history of comics. If Norman could be in Europe the entire time, and he just got back, to me that’s the apex of lazy story-telling. Nothing he’s done since he got back has in any way justified the decision to bring him back. They might as well bring back Thomas and Martha Wayne, and Uncle Ben, and Jor-el, and have done with it. Norman Osbourne’s death is for Harry Osbourne what Uncle Ben’s death was for Peter Parker, it makes no sense to bring back the former for the same reason it makes no sense to bring back the later. Marvel blew it.

As for Barry Allen, I do think that Wally was a better Flash, and should have stayed the part. I do agree that Barry’s death had real meaning, and I don’t like the idea to bring him back either. I think that its not as aggregious a call as bringing back Norman Osbourne, but its up there. Mainly because John’s work on the Wally West Flash book was excellent, but his work with Barry Allen has only been so-so to date. Maybe Johns has something big in mind that would justify the decision. I haven’t seen it yet, but knowing Johns, I’m not yet prepared to rule it out.
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