Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ballroom of Mars

-Depressing Blogorama Comments Field of the Day: Responses to Graeme McMillan's post about Countdown fill me with sadness. One commenter sums up the appeal of the book very succinctly:

"You just know big things are going to happen in Countdown, whether you’re liking it this minute or not."

This isn't exactly continuity porn, and there's no snappy name for it that I can remember. Maybe I should think of one. NWEBTSism? Geoff Johns' Complaint? Dan Jurgens' Complaint? Hmm. Anyway, this is not a new phenomenon by any means--it certainly explains the disconnect between sales and online reaction* to Civil War. But is this a wise choice for a weekly title, where limited budgets and even more limited attention spans could spell doom? It's obviously too soon to tell, given how contradictory the evidence is so far (Brian Hibbs is already seeing a decline, but my local retailer says it's doing the same business as 52). I guess we'll see soon enough.

Oh, and somebody else said they were a "sucker" for Monitors. I found that a bit strange, but then again I'm always amazed at how well regarded Crisis on Infinite Earths is, even in the 21st cenutry--when will Zero Hour have its moment in the sun? Most depressing of all, at least for DC, is that only five seven people have commented in the five eight hours the entry has been up. Good God, Civil War would have tripled that in the first two hours!

*To be fair, there's always an enormous disconnect between online reaction and actual sales. See also: Manhunter and Jeph Loeb's career over the last four years.

-Related: this. For those annoyed at the outrage over the "new" Mary Marvel, consider DC's track record over the past three or four years. Is this a company you trust? Would you trust DC or Marvel to allow Dini tell his story without excessive editorial interference?

-One last Countdown note: Tom Spurgeon's review is as funny as I would have expected. Best line, in reference to the series' leads:

"They feel more like actors happy to be given a plotline on a long-running TV show than larger than life good guys and bad guys."

Does DC actually send this stuff to Spurgeon? If so, I guess they're more committed to entertaining me than I'd realized.

-Okay, just to be sure, is Simon Jones suggesting that China's crackdown on (pirated copies of) Death Note is more or less tantamount to Seven Seas' decision to pull Nymphet due to reaction to its rather nauseating (IMPO!!*) content? Or is he making some broader geopolitical statement, perhaps in light of the G8 summit? The latter would make more sense.

A lot of people seem to be framing their approval of Seven Seas' decision in terms of "well, it was ill-suited to the American market" or "it might have had a negative impact on other manga sold in America." Personally, I'm glad the title has been pulled simply its very existence makes me question the superiority of humans over, say, certain species of fungus. The fact that Seven Seas has opted not to publish it makes matters a little better, though. And I'm totally unconvinced by the slippery slope argument--that Seven Seas' quick capitulation bodes ill for publishers standing up to anti-gay moralists. I don't buy it. Yes, some fringe-dwellers equate homosexuality with pedophilia, or see them as equally reprehensible. Thankfully, these people don't have as much influence in the United States (and most of the Western world) as those who dare to draw a distinction between consensual gay sex and child molestation. Some people are unfortunate enough to live in areas where this fringe is the mainstream, but I'm sure they'll tell you that the Nymphet case will have little impact on local acceptance of gay-themed comics.

*The "p" is for "puritanical." What can I say? I kind of admire the Puritans, at least the ones who lived in areas other than colonial New England (and a lot of those folks were pretty cool, too).

-Trader Joe's Department: Tried the vegetarian gyoza, which are apparently prepared in a "Thai" style, last night. There are probably about 20 of these little potstickers in a bag, and they're stuffed with carrot, radish, and cabbage. I thought they were okay; they're really reliant on sauce (which YOU provide) as far as flavor. The texture was fine in the ones I managed to cook properly. As for the others, it wasn't my fault, really--you cook them by frying them (causing the gyoza to stick to the pot), then adding water to finish them off via steaming. My pan, however, is pretty uneven. So there was a bit of a puddle in one quadrant, causing a few of them to get a little soggy. The non-soggy ones were nice and crispy though. And they're just as hot as you've seen in the pages of Cromartie High School, so watch out. In any event, your enjoyment of these things will probably be directly proportionate to the quality of your dipping sauce. I'm guessing anyone with a really awesome homemade dipping sauce is probably not buying factory-made gyoza, though.


Anonymous said...

This is Simon here (sorry, I don't want to sign up for a Google account because it's just another username and password for me to forget.)

In response to your question... the two events are obviously not comparable when taken at face value. One is a publisher re-evaluating its market and deciding to change course, the other is pure government censorship. But the underlying motivation for both the people who railed for the book's cancellation and the overzealous Chinese officials (and even the Canadian custom in the most recent news of seizure) is different only in scale, in my view. Both find justification in the same belief... "it's not appropriate for me, and I'm going to take it upon myself to make sure no one else has access to it either." This is the mentality I question.

Please grant me understanding in this...the content, be it of a precocious girl with an inappropriate fascination with her teacher, or a magical notebook that can bring death, or erotica featuring two men, plays no part in my position that this sort of behavior is not conducive to the cause of personal freedoms and privacy. Just as you say, those who would conflate gay lifestyle and pedophilia are thankfully in the minority... but what if they aren't? Is the concept of individual rights just an illusion, and we are living under mob rule?

When I comment about these events, I'm not doing it out of an overpowering sense of righteousness. I hold these beliefs because I am a coward. I cannot live with the fear that one day I may be relegated to the minority, to the fringe of community whose voice can be simply drowned out. Frankly, I'm not sure how anyone else can live with this fear either... but that's just IMPO.

jlg said...

- I'd just kinda file it under that "Team Comics" attitude that has fanboys demanding that you enjoy the ride even as the car's falling apart. No criticism or negativity ever, because surely it'll lead somewhere awesome eventually if for some strange reason you don't like things now.

- Considering how Johns tried to slip in those two kids from Superfriends into his OYL Titans, and how other things from the past like Superdogs and detective chimpanzees get so much love, I wouldn't be surprised the Zero Hour-era gets its moment when the next generation comes around.

- Since some comments on that Mary Marvel link seemed to forgive DC for Identity Crisis once they gave the Dibnys some kind of a "happy" ending, it seems DC gets more online leeway than Marvel. And back up to bulletpoint one as to why.

- More and more I realize I'm more in line with Spurgeon than the superhero comics-only bloggers.

- China's crackdown on Deathnote is more like US church groups or libraries cracking down on Harry Potter or something, or on Mortal Kombat. It's too much trying to liken the Nymphet thing to it.

I wonder how Nymphet compares to something like Todd Solenz's or Harmony Korine's films, though.

MarkAndrew said...

I like Jeph Loeb's stuff.

I strongly dislike Manhunter.

I am the voice of the people.

The rest of you are kind or irrelevant.

Dick Hyacinth said...

So anyway, I put the Canadian thing in a completely different category. It depicts victimless acts, and it's purely an issue of intrusive morality policing (haven't they heard of the Victorian Compromise?). Death Note and Nymphet are related in that they both depict actions which are related to genuine crimes which hurt the victims--murder or pederasty. I think Death Note is clearly of a lesser threat to society or potential victims, in that it's such a fantasy. Nymphet (in my limited knowledge) is different, in that it semi-valorizes pedophilia by suggesting that minors might consent to such a relationship. I want to make it clear that Nymphet, as an obscure title to be sure, would hardly be likely to spark a wave of pederasty. I'm just saying that I'm glad Seven Seas had the decency to pull the title, regardless of their motivation. If this had been government censorship, I would have reacted differently (I'm not sure how exactly).

As for the issue of "mob rule," I totally disagree. Organizing groups to pressure private firms is one of the few effective weapons individual citizens have against businesses. I'm not trying to say Seven Seas is Nestle or anything, but "mob rule" is the sort of thing Edmund Burke would have said about Thomas Paine. Suppressing this kind of activity is just as worrisome as suppressing literature or art, IMQO (my ancestors were Quakers).

This is annoying because it's putting me in the position where I have to be the one expressing faith in humanity, which interferes with the persona I try to present to myself and the public. Suffice to say (for now) that I think the liberal democracy, as a political system, is highly effective at preserving minority rights and majority rule.

Dick Hyacinth said...

MA--kind OR irrelevant? Which is it?

MarkAndrew said...

It varies. But the important point is that there is no middle ground.

(Also, the people want a Reptisaurus omnibus and a Complete Wonder Wart-Hog collection, stat.)

Matt Brady said...

JLG: I'm commenting about Nymphet only based on hearsay, but I would say it differs from Solondz or Korine in that it seems to glamorize or validate illegal/immoral activity. Solondz (I assume you're talking about Happiness here, but his other films are similar) presents horrible things like pedophelia and makes them darkly funny while humanizing the perpetrators, but he never makes it seem like they're anything less than horrible. As for Korine, I expect Kids is the film in question, and it seems to have the same attitude of putting a human face on awful actions. If you want a better comparison, you could look at Larry Clark, who directed Kids, along with films like Bully, Wassup Rockers, and Ken Park. He seems to get off on teen sexuality, almost to the point of being accused of making child porn. Hell, maybe he has been accused of it, but I haven't heard about it.

jlg said...

I was thinking more about Palindromes, since the young girl there also sets out to have sex. I'd wonder if Palindromes might be worse, since the protagonist not only tries to have sex with the intent to have children, she actually does succeed (to the point where the film tackles the topic of abortion). I can only comment on Nymphet based on hearsay too, so I can't say how it portrays its characters or how much it condones/glamorizes/validates things or not, but it seems a lot of the contention was the concept alone. Although it does depend on how the Nymphet character is portrayed, whether she's oblivious or not.

I just find it interesting that the original defense was that there was nothing explicit about it, and the teacher never reciprocated. It was in the later volumes when the teacher was shown to be aroused that it was decided to can the book. Palindromes, while different in tone and intention that Nymphet, went further with its character (who was portrayed as rather manipulative, actually).

Ami Angelwings said...

I think you're right that Crisis is held up on a super huge pedestal. :o

Invoking Crisis is like the opposite of invoking Hitler, it's just something super great and how could you possibly say otherwise. >.>;;

Zero Hour will never have it's hour int he sun prolly just cuz it's caused by ebil Jordan, and a lot of ppl still hate that idea. :O

I find the Monitors annoying XD I'm okay with THE Monitor, but a bunch of Monitors? They've basically become another Guardians of Oa except more.. annoying... :\

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