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24 February 2013

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 02242013

(Image stolen from Comic Vine.  Possibly drawn by Herb Trimpe or Don Heck?)

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week ending 02242013:

"Now I guess you’re all wondering where I fit into this; please allow me to explain. For an awful long time I’ve been worrying about Billy Batson. Billy, as you know is a grand boy, and I feel he is not being given a break. In other words, a chance to grow up. I went along to old Shazam and told him my worries, and between us we’ve decided to give Billy the chance to settle down. In order that this might be achieved, I shall soon be returning my powers to old Shazam and changing into the character of Billy Batson for the last time. This will give this grand lad a chance to develop into the type of citizen that I know you’ll grow into.
Naturally we couldn’t leave the door of the world wide open for evil – hence Marvelman of whom I feel you’re just busting to know more. What could be better than to ask him to say a few words to you. It’s all yours, Marvelman:" -Captain Marvel.
    (Image stolen from Sequential Smart.)
    ...was Batman 17 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and a bunch of other people.  I'm still behind on my comics due to a whole bunch of boring reasons but we'll talk about Batman today and hopefully catch up on some other things between now and next Sunday.  I had written previously about how I was disappointed in this Death of the Family storyline.  That was mainly in relation to the previous Snyder/Capullo Batman comics from 2011 and 2012 which I thought were as good or better than anything in super hero comics.  My main beef with Death in the Family has been the pacing.  That it did not feel big enough and things seemed rushed.  This is a horror story and there has not been a lot of time to scream.  Of course, this story is bigger than just the Batman comic.  It is a crossover event. I however have read only the Batman comics.  And I won't apologize for that.  As the customer, it is not my burden to read the other comics and figure it all out.  Maybe there would have been more weight to Death of the Family for me if I had read all of the other Bat family member's adventures but I just could not afford to do that.  But let's just forget about all that altogether and look at this one singe comic, Batman 17.  
    It is a very good Batman versus Joker comic book.  Maybe one of the best.  But I don't know, I've not read them all.  The real guts of this comic is mostly talking and it is the culmination of the 73 year long philosophical argument between Batman and the Joker over what they mean to each other and what they would be without each other.  Two insane guys saying 'yeah but at least I'm not as crazy as you' for 73 years.  And it's great.  I think Snyder and Capullo are pushing this thing just a bit further than it's been pushed before.  I think they may have pushed it as far as it can go.  This comic is the natural evolution of this story into a horror comic.  But it can't go all the way off the deep end because it is still a Batman comic.  Greg Capullo's art is gross and freaky and horrific but it is still stylized and Batman still has that larger than life chin because it is still a Batman comic.  Snyder's writing pushes the characters right to the edge but not over because it is still a Batman comic.  It points out the limitations of what you can do with a seven decade old children's character that dresses up as a bat and fights crime.  But for at least a few panels, I thought they might just cross the line.
    To push the Joker beyond where he's been before, to make him "real" whatever that means, the threat has to be "real".  Or at least movie "real".  Hannibal Lecter "real".  Or Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box "real".  So the whole gimmick of this thing has been about faces.  Faces representing masks.  Snyder's Joker has litterally taken off his mask by removing his face then putting it back on.  It's gross but it makes the point that the mask or secret identity never mattered.  The lesson is that the Joker IS the Joker and the point of this whole campaign of horror is to teach Batman that Batman IS Batman and his desire to maintain some hind of human normalcy by working with the Bat family will either bring him down or bring them death.  Maybe both.  So, for the big climactic issue of this thing we have Batman tied to a chair at the head of a dinner table with all the Bat family in attendance.  But all of their faces are bandaged.  And before each of them is a big covered platter.  What is on those platters?!  What's in the box?!  Well, obviously, it is their faces.  Obviously, the Joker has carved off the faces of Robin, Batgirl, Batman's son, Nightwing and that other guy no one cares about.
    And for a panel or two I thought they might let Snyder go there.  I thought they might just do it.
    But, this is a Batman comic.  Of course their faces have not been removed.  It was just a sick Joker joke.  Batman gets out of it and the Batman family will carry one.  But the horror of the thing does have weight.  We see relationships changed.  We see the Bat family rethinking whether or not they want to hang out with Batman anymore.  We see characters in a different place than they were when the story started and that is about as "real" as we can ask a Batman comic to be.
    But what if he had cut their faces off?  What if the crossed that line into adult comics.  Into Marshall Law or Judge Dredd?  I think you could pull it off.  Bruce Wayne's top doctors sew the faces on, plastic surgery etc. and the status quo could be resumed.  But it would be hard to deal with.  Something like that and you are damaged goods mentally in a way that future writers would have to deal with for years.  It's like the death of Jason Todd.  It was super gross that they let fans kill a character but the real problem with Jason Todd's death is that every writer after it happened that wanted to use the Joker had to deal with it.  Again and again and again.  For 25 freaking years. The Joker was no longer the Joker.  The Joker was the guy that killed Jason Todd.  And that's why I think it was best for Snyder and Capullo to not to cross that line.  But for a few panels, they had me.
    • And finally...  Yes, that's right I'm judging you.  Look at me. Me.  I'm judging you.
    Oh, and one more last thing!  Did you know you can leave comments on these posts here at file under other?  It's true!  And, I'll probably respond.  Twitter and facebook killed the message boards but that's no reason why you can't argue with me, praise me or leave me recipes.  It's your intronet.  Have fun!

    And that's just a taste of some of the interesting things going out there in the wonderful world of comics and things. I can't keep up with it all but I do keep up with a lot of it on twitter and I try to re-tweet the good stuff. You should probably follow me there. If you did something to make comics better this week then high-five!

    Your best pal ever,

    Shannon Smith

    p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
    p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
    p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
    p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
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