Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Almost forgot to title this one

-After talking about the best superhero comics of the 90s, I started thinking about how that decade compares to the best offerings of the 70s and 80s. And upon further reflection, I was kind of surprised to realize that I wasn't as familiar with some of these comics as you would expect from a know-it-all blogger. I mean, it's not like I'm completely unfamiliar with Steve Gerber's Defenders or John Byrne's Fantastic Four--it's just that I've only read bits and pieces, enough to have an impression, but not enough to really say anything meaningful. It's the sort of thing that makes you want to get up the next day determined to begin the long, arduous process of filling in these many gaps, then you remember that you still have about 2/5 of Disappearance Diary to read, and you'll probably like it a whole lot more than anything Byrne's ever done. And that's just the tip of the to-read stack. Time, she is a cruel mistress.

-If you're out buying comics today, and you're lucky enough to be in a store selling Tales Designed to Thrizzle #4, you really have no choice but to buy it. It's got what I think is Kupperman's funniest gag yet--the first full page advertisement, maybe about 4 or 5 pages in. That's worth the price of admission by itself, and thankfully nobody's posted a scan of it yet (at least not that I've seen).

Also: you might already be planning on getting Delphine #3 and Where Demented Wented, and those would both be very fine purchases indeed (as would, I'm guessing, the latest volume of MOME, especially given the presence of the incomparable David B.; unfortunately, I did not pick it up last week, so this is merely an assumption, though a fairly safe assumption, to be sure). But don't forget Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque #2, which is even better than the last issue. In fact, you don't need to read the previous issue to understand what's going on here, since the first issue is just a prologue. Or maybe the entire series will be nothing but mysterious story fragments. Either way, you need this comic.

-I know some people are mad because Final Crisis contradicts Countdown, but I've interpreted this sentiment as a continuity cop type thing, rather than an expression of affection for Countdown. (In fact, it's usually the opposite--"I read all 52 (or is that 51?) stinking issues of this horrible comic, and now you're telling me it doesn't count?") But are there people out there who hate Final Crisis not because of any continuity "errors," but because it isn't enough like Countdown? Like, "There isn't nearly enough of the Monitors in Final Crisis"? Or "I was hoping for less Darkseid and more Lord Havok and the Extremists"? Or, "Countdown was perfect because it had almost all the characters from my erotic fan fiction--Kyle Rayner, Jason Todd, and Donna Troy. The only one missing was Alfred Pennyworth!"

Maybe that was the real problem with Countdown--too many characters primarily identified by their civilian names because they can't lay exclusive claim to their superhero names. I guess "Donna Troy" sounds better than "the Silver Age Wonder Girl," and "Kyle Rayner" sounds better than "the Chromium Age Green Lantern," and "Jason Todd" is better than "the BitTorrent Age Red Hood."

-That new Kramers Ergot looks sort of interesting, but I bet it's no Toupydoops.

-And, uh, speaking of this kind of thing, I'm not sure if there's been enough attention paid to this highly entertaining comments section. Special bonus: a completely irrelevant and mostly counterproductive run-in by the immortal Alan Coil, the Raiderjoe of the comics blogosphere! Well, not really, sadly enough. Comics need their own Raiderjoe (scroll to bottom)--maybe someone who's a dogged and delusional fan of Judd Winick or Wonder Man.


The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

If you care enough about DC to have bought Countdown, it doesn't matter whether you like the series or not, just the fact that it is contradicted is enough to make subsequent events painful. This is the nature of the Continuity Cop fan: like, every X-Men fan hates Chuck Austen, but if you're a continuity cop you have to acknowledge that Austen's stories happened exactly as he said they did, until they are explicitly written out or retconned. Like, they are bound by honor to respect all continuity, even continuity they hate. No matter how much the comics companies wish these fans would shut up, they are the bread and butter, and they will be for as long as superheroes are still published.

And yes, there are probably some who don't like Final Crisis because it's stylistically dissimilar to Countdown - not necessarily out of any attachment to Countdown, but simply because they had been girding themselves for peanut butter (or, Monarch and Lord Havok and the crappy 52 multiverse) and got kim chee instead. It *is* kind of a bait and switch - admittedly, for most people, a pleasant or at least nominally better bait and switch, but still.

Tucker Stone said...

As much as I would rather find less things in the world to obsess over, that raiderjoe stuff is genius.

I think Coil really set the bar pretty high in the past two days though--his comparison of Kramer's Ergot to the cost of a BBW prostitute over at ComicsWorthReading and then a classic "gol' dern Ipods and Blueberries for the yung'uns" at Savage Critics. It's a new Golden Age.

Tom Spurgeon said...

I had sympathy for the people that bought both and then complained because while I was definitely not a devoted reader I received enough of the various not-exactly-Final-Crisis as freebies through DC that there were obvious contradictions and it confused me far more than either story was worth.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I especially liked Tom's response to Alan on the now-legendary (in a pejorative sense) Kramers Ergot thread on Comics Worth Reading: "I lack the moral clarity that comes after a viewing of Wall-E." I haven't read the Savage Critics comment yet, though.

I have sympathy, in a sort of academic, hypothetical way, for readers of Countdown, etc., confused by Final Crisis. But the reaction I've seen is more like, "since it sucked and since it doesn't apparently matter, why did I waste my time and money?" If Countdown and related series been worth reading on their own merits...well, we'd still be hearing a ton of complaints, but at least one could take comfort in having enjoyed reading these comics.

Todd C. Murry said...

Thanks for linking to that outstanding comments section! Pretty awesome, especially since the whole thing seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the usage of the word “critic.”

It seems like the original text (which I haven’t read and appears to me a dreadful idea aimed at people who want to imagine what it would be like to be a successful webcomic creator without actually doing any imagining) was talking about critics in the “people who say bad stuff about you” way, and was simply positing a fast food clerk-like how-to-deal instruction sheet (“if someone says you didn’t put enough cheese on the taco, be polite…”). JDC seemed to feel the need to correct that author on how important a “critic,” obviously a different concept, is and, because of the context, somehow made “sometimes the person saying bad stuff might not be completely stupid” sound to Kurtz like “the critic’s job is to point out your mistakes, you dumb shit.”

Add the fact that Kurz has an almost preternatural lack of evolvement as an online presence given how long he’s been at it, and you have an instant classic. Coil’s carefully quotation marked ‘I think Scott Kurtz is suffering from the arrogance of “Fame”,’ leading to Kurtz’s use of the cute term “Eberts,” resulting in angry comments from no less than personages ADD and Abhay Khosla, is just icing.

The argument they seemed to be kind of trying to have was the “role of the critic” argument, which was basically settled with the WH Auden quote.

Dan Coyle said...

Watching Scott Kurtz and Johanna Carlson go at it is like watching Alien Vs. Predator: Whoever wins... we lose.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Oh, god, that comments section on Blog@ was hilarious. See, this is why you need to get back to blogging more frequently, Dick, so I can have somebody to point me to that sort of internet jackassery. I always miss out on this stuff, where people manage to hear an argument and interpret it in superlatives. "You said critics might sometimes be right, so that means EVERY critic must ALWAYS be right! That's madness!" I'm still laughing about that one. Or "If some critics are good enough to be considered artists, then that means ALL critics are artists, more important than any other art form!" Ah, classic. Now I need to hunt down these Savage Critic and CWR thread you guys are talking about.

Tucker Stone said...

I like the fact that the comments section here feels like a break room from watching Abhay try to use the forces of brutal honesty to fend off the crizazy. You should serve snacks and a refreshing cold beverage.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I'm not serving mojitos. I've decided that they're gross, plus they make me cough.

I'm actually kind of toying with the idea of going into the comments and taking issue with the term "native American," since it's actually kind of problematic. Ideally, I'd try to be totally shrill and act like that's the only issue worth discussing. But I guess that would violate the prime directive or whatever. Plus I don't want to step on Chris M.'s shoes.

Matt, I'm much more in the correct mindset to blog again. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there really is something about the coverage of the major summer cons that gets me down, thus making me less interested in typing about comics. And it also helps that I'm able to exercise regularly again. Coherent blogging requires a certain degree of physical conditioning, IMO.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Crap, I'm probably pretty incoherent most of the time then, because I'm a lazy bastard. I've been wanting to buy Wii Fit and whip myself into shape (that's a pretty silly motivation, but who knows, it could work), but it hasn't happened yet. I guess the world will have to do with my couch-potato ramblings for the time being.