Sunday, 20 July 2008

I've decided to consolidate my online presence in order to effect synergy from my core competencies or something, so from now on all my blogging (comics and otherwise) will be at my new blog .

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Rock Of Ages - Darkseid's New Clothes

So, before my own verbosity got the better of me, what was I going to say about Rock Of Ages? (For those who are wondering, I'm writing this before getting to the comic shop this week. I'll be looking at Final Crisis 2 probably on Monday).

One of the descriptions I've read of Morrison's JLA run is that it's a 'Cliff Notes for the Invisibles', and nowhere is that more true than in Rock Of Ages. The connections between the present-day story and the Invisibles are obvious, of course, but it's the near-future dystopian story that covers a lot of the same themes. Fundamentally, Rock Of Ages is about the impossibility of totalitarianism.

Morrison is one of the few writers in comics who actually seems interested in science, and appears scientifically literate. While many comic writers use 'scientific' terms seemingly at random to handwave away problems (and to be fair Morrison does this to in New X-Men with the extinction gene, although there he was playing with a Marvel genetics that has been established as very different from real genetics) - see for example Byrne's 'Godwave' which was somehow able to cross the universe twice in 40,000 years - Morrison uses scientific ideas as jumping off points for new stories. Sometimes those ideas will be fringe ideas rather than mainstream (see his use of Sheldrake's morphic resonance hypothesis in Animal Man) and quite often the interpretation he uses of (say) quantum physics will not be the most mainstream one, but he's clearly actually interested in science.

And one of the sciences he seems to be most interested in (although he doesn't namedrop it in the way he does 'cooler' ideas such as brane theory) is cybernetics - not computing, but cybernetics in its original meaning of regulating systems.

And cybernetics shows that totalitarianism - and indeed any attempt to control human beings - has some inbuilt flaws. Any system that doesn't allow for feedback will eventually go off the rails, and any authority relationship is one where accurate feedback is not possible - if someone has the power to sack you, or have you imprisoned, or have you killed, you're going to be very careful about what you tell them. Authority breeds lies - the cheque's in the post, the dog ate my homework, it's my grandmother's funeral - and then the person in authority has to make decisions based on those lies. Garbage in, garbage out. (This, incidentally, seems to explain the decisions made by a lot of political leaders, and may also explain the apparent paranoia often exhibited at the very top.)

Robert Anton Wilson - a big influence on Morrison - called this 'the burden of omniscience' and contrasted it with the 'burden of nescience' in the people who are being controlled. In any system where total control over people is attempted, the person doing the controlling has to be aware of every factor relevant to the decisions. Those being controlled, on the other hand, have to do what they're told even when it goes against their own experiences.

Darkseid, of course, wants absolute control of the universe. As he puts it, "I will remake the entire universe in the image of my soul, Desaad. And when at last I turn to look upon the eternal desolation I have wrought... I will see Darkseid, as in a mirror... and know what fear is."

The problem with this kind of ambition of course is that it depends on everyone else being deaf-blind-mute - or acting like it. The future portion of Rock Of Ages is ultimately a rewrite of The Emperor's New Clothes - as long as no-one tells the emperor what's going on, everything looks fine from his perspective, but as soon as one person tells the truth the whole edifice of control comes tumbling down.

This is, of course, why the 'zombies' in Rock of Ages, in possibly the most disturbing image Morrison has ever come up with, come out of the 'Wise Monkey' factory with their ears, eyes and mouths covered up by hands. And it's in this context that Darkseid's defeat is so interesting.

Firstly, because the efforts of the superpowered time-travellers are actually unimportant in his defeat - it's the literally powerless who bring him down. And secondly, he's defeated by Ray Palmer shrinking to the size of a photon and entering through his eyes and into his brain - in other words, he's defeated by information.

The whole of Rock Of Ages in fact is about control and information, and about attempts to reform the universe or part of it in the image of someone's mind - from the holograms controlled by the Joker, to Darkseid's plans, to the Philosopher's stone - and the defeat is always by people understanding those systems better than the controllers - J'Onn changing his brain to match the Joker's, Batman getting Desaad to put his mind into a reprogrammable computer, persuading Metron to become human.

It's also about disguise and replicas - Batman as Desaad, Plastic Man as the Joker, the duplicate Philosopher's Stone, the holograms of the League at the beginning, the hologram of Luthor at the end. J'onn making himself think like the Joker also plays into these ideas of identity.

In the end, the comic shows that attempting to control people by imposing your will on them with brute force is stupid - the way to get what you want is to attempt to understand your enemies, to walk in their shoes, and to understand the world around you. Luthor is shown as more intelligent than Darkseid, with his 'corporate takeover' plan and his way out of criminal charges, but Batman is shown to outthink both of them.

These themes turn up all the time in Morrison's work, and we'll definitely return to them as I continue looking at Final Crisis, the second issue of which I'll be getting to shortly.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Excuses, excuses...

Yes, I know it's been a while...
Since I last posted, my life has been full of unpredictable events. I've had to travel to Wales, London, the Lake District and York, had my in-laws fly over from the US, had a friend die suddenly, seen Leonard Cohen, had a famous TV presenter pretend to know me, been threatened at gunpoint by a soldier... leaving me not in the most coherent state to post my thoughts on Batman. By the time I got any free time, the comics on which I wanted to comment were *so* yesterday to the rest of the blogosphere.

Equally important was the fact that I didn't want to comment on the Dan DiDio pecking party that was going on for much of the last few weeks. As many of you may have gathered I am not a wholehearted supporter of DiDio's editorial regime, but nor do I think it's been all bad. For every bad decision (letting Judd Winick write anything at all) there's been an excellent one (letting Grant Morrison essentially have free run of the DCU).

DiDio's job is pretty much guaranteed to make him one of the most hated men in comics, at least among the comic blogosphere, and there's been an undertone in many of the posts of "Well, Jimmy Palmiotti is the kind of person who'll recognise the genius of my proposed twelve-issue series about an alternate world where Zatanna and Barbara Gordon are lovers but they're both cats! Damn you DiDio for turning down Pussies Of Prey!"

Anyway, DiDio's job appears safe for the forseeable future, and I've not had a major shock to the nervous system in nearly four days, so I'm going to talk about comics.

Specifically, I'm going to talk about Grant Morrison's big epic story featuring the New Gods going up against the big guns of the DCU, where we see a world where evil has won, that doesn't tie in properly with the weekly comic it was meant to tie in with.

I'm referring of course to Rock Of Ages.

One of the big criticisms people have had of Final Crisis is the way it doesn't quite tie in with Countdown To Final Crisis, and it's true that that could have been handled better. However, the two comics are doing fundamentally different things. Final Crisis is an attempt (and, I believe, a largely successful one) to create art (pop art, but art nonetheless) - it's written to stand up to repeated readings, and the intention is presumably that it will remain in print indefinitely, outside of its context.

Countdown, on the other hand, was an attempt to create comics-like product that would keep people going to the comic shop. The Countdown trades will presumably go out of print within six months or a year or so. In those circumstances Morrison is absolutely right not to alter his work because of continuity issues created by others.

Rock Of Ages here provides a point of comparison. When it came out originally, it was contemporary with a four-week DC crossover called Genesis, which I reread last week in preparation for writing this post and have already forgotten - it was a John Byrne thing and DC might as well have just put out a circular saying "John Byrne desperately wants to be the next Kirby, but in fact he's a less-good Jim Starlin" as that would have had the same effect as actually publishing the story, and at less expense.

Anyway, both stories deal with the New Gods, and while Morrison's story pays lip-service to the crossover (mainly by putting in a few pages at the end of the first issue, not reprinted in the trade), reading the two stories back to back is a very confusing experience, as everyone in Morrison's story is being told who this 'Metron' fellow is directly after just spending four issues doing some ... stuff... involving godwaves or something with him.

The interesting thing here is how much light Rock Of Ages sheds on Morrison's writing methods, and on his take on superheroes and the New Gods, when compared to Genesis.

In Genesis, it's explained that all superheroes are in fact demigods, created by a Godwave that now threatens to destroy the universe for rather poorly-defined reasons. They have to team up with Darkseid and then against him, there are double-bluffs and stratagems and so on, and it's just like every other 'cosmic' crossover ever created.

But that reveal, that the superpowered people are demigods rather than humans, much like every other Roythomasism that's tried to tie all superheroes together (the meta-gene, homo magi, etc) is a profoundly dispiriting idea. Superheroes, in this view, are superheroes just because they were born special. You can never be as special as they are, in their special specialness - they're just *better* than you. You're disgusting, aren't you? Why don't you just die?

(To be fair, Byrne does make a half-hearted stab at having the non-powered heroes say things like "We mustn't be downhearted - we must fight on regardless!", but still the ideas that remain in the memory (to the extent that such an unmemorable story remains in the memory at all, and I feel here like the protagonist in Memento, trying to reconstruct a story that's slipping from my grasp even though I read it only this weekend - "I must have read a big cosmic crossover recently, because I have a profound feeling of ennui. If only I could recall what it was...") are the ones about how superheroes are really gods).

This message - that some people are just born special and better than everyone else - is at the core of Joseph Campbell's 'hero of a thousand faces', which thanks to George Lucas is now the accepted formula for every piece of mass entertainment (which in turn is why I go to the cinema maybe every couple of months, if that).

The formula can be used well - Neil Gaiman uses it passably, though the more you read of Gaiman's writing the more obvious his use of it and similar formulae becomes - after all, if it was incapable of being used well, it wouldn't have become a formula - but more often it gives us dreck like Superman Returns.

"But Andrew!" the three of you who've read this far are shouting "Doesn't Grant Morrison also have an unhealthy obsession with this misbegotten formula? He sometimes goes back to its Jungian roots, but All Star Superman, which you like so much, is a hero's journey if ever I saw one. Death of the father, journey through the underworld, death and rebirth motif, it's all there, isn't it?"

To which I can only respond by analogy.

The I-vi-ii(or IV)-V chord sequence has been the basis of innumerable terrible songs over the years, and one or two decent ones as well - it's the sequence used in every doo-wop song and bad ballad ever. That sequence or a slight variation is used in Duke Of Earl, Blue Moon, I Will Always Love You and a billion other songs you know. It's a cliche, and even though it's been used well in the past, I could perfectly happily go a lifetime without hearing it again.

But Brian Wilson, in the song The Warmth Of The Sun, managed to make something new. He started that progression in C, went through the first two chords, then *started it again*, a minor third up, going through the changes again before returning to the original key and finishing the progression. A twist as simple as that can turn something from the most obvious of cliches into something quite extraordinary.

In the same way, it's possible to use the hero's journey as something to build upon, to twist, to play with, and come out with something interesting. If you take it as a description of what other people have done (as, to be fair, Campbell appeared to intend it) rather than as a prescription of what you must do, you can get something interesting out of it. This is what Morrison does.

While sometimes, in Seven Soldiers for example, Morrison does fall into the trap of the hero just being born special (though in Seven Soldiers this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that there are *seven* 'unique' people, and actually many more playing important roles), more often he focuses on normal people, or on people who are special not because of any powers but because of their character. The occasions where he has most obviously written a hero's journey - things like The Invisibles - have been ones where the journey is clearly subordinate to other elements (few people would say that Jack Frost's growth as a character is anything like the most important element in The Invisibles).

And so in Rock Of Ages, straight after John Byrne has revealed that Wally West and Eel O'Brien were just born special and better than the rest of us, Morrison has Darkseid - as powerful and 'special' a being as exists in the DCU - destroyed by Green Arrow, Batman and the Atom, three people who have no powers other than their own intelligence (yes, yes, I know, Ray Palmer had the metagene and so on - it doesn't matter. He got his powers from his own scientific knowledge, he wasn't born with them).

And the way in which they defeat Darkseid is something I'm going to go into a lot more in my next post, because this one's grown into something of a monster already. I've got most of that post written (this was a much longer post that I've split up), and I *hope* to have it up tomorrow, but given my recent history I'll probably be kidnapped by sentient alligators or something, so no promises.

If anyone's still reading this, I recommend you go and read Andrew Rilstone's recent posts on Dave Sim - as always, Rilstone is writing some wonderful stuff over there.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Final Crisis 1 - It Goes Like This, The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

Now that the terrible Countdown has concluded (our long national nightmare is finally over!) I'm hoping we'll start to see more comics of actual substance coming from DC, rather than endless tie-ins and continuity patches to make sense of bad comics which in turn introduce more continuity errors to be patched by more bad comics. Final Crisis is obviously infinitely better than that kind of thing, and Trinity, while (probably rightly) being promoted as totally separate from Final Crisis, looks to be dealing with some of the same multiversal hijinks I love, and by at least competent people. It also looks like it'll feature some of the Big Giant Hand stuff that's been going on at various levels in various comics.

Kurt Busiek has been very impressive recently with his work on the Superman titles. Those titles have been almost a perfect storm of editorial problems recently, with delays, last-minute rewrites, art problems, Countdown tie-ins and continuity changes meaning that not only has Busiek been writing his own title, he's had to write fill-ins for Action, he's had to write fill-ins for himself when there have been art delays, and he's had to write *replacement* fill-ins when fill-ins have been dropped. Despite all this, he's managed to produce work that is at worst decent and at best excellent. Although the strain has clearly shown at times, his work has been some of the best on the Superman title in decades. So I have enough faith in Busiek's reliability to have at least some enthusiasm for Trinity.

So my plan, for now, is that this blog will go back to more-or-less weekly (or more) posts dealing with the various big DC events that interest me - so far this would be all Morrison's work, possibly the tie-ins to Final Crisis and Batman RIP, and at least the first few issues of Trinity and whatever the Wonder Woman Big Event is. This won't be annotations ( Douglas Wolk is doing a fine job of that at ) but reviews and talking about the themes and so on. I'll also be looking back over the next few months at a variety of earlier comics that relate in some way to these titles. In the case of Final Crisis that will be 52, Seven Soldiers, The Filth, DC One Million, JLA: Earth 2, Morrison's JLA, The Kingdom, Marvel Boy and maybe some others. In the case of Trinity I'll look over JLA/Avengers and Syndicate Rules, both of which Busiek has said tie into the story. Those posts will mostly be in weeks when not much new is happening. I'll also continue to review any non-DCU stuff that seems interesting to me as and when it comes out.

This week was possibly the best week for new comics in years. Judenhass (which I've already reviewed a couple of months back) came out, and on top of that three comics by Grant Morrison. The reason it's taken me this long to post a review is because I've spent every second since Friday just running around saying "ohmygod flyingluthoranddeicideandalfredasbrucesdadandsupermandyingandthedeathofthefourthworldandkamandiandaaaa!!!" which I didn't think would live up even to my normal inarticulate level.

I'll be writing this as a couple of separate posts - this one about Final Crisis, and the next one tying it into All Star Superman and Batman, as well as the bigger picture links between Morrison's work at the moment.

Having read a number of reviews of Final Crisis before reading the comic itself, I was amazed to find it is actually one of the best single issues of a comic I've read this year. Most reviews, even those by people whose opinions I ususally respect, have said that it's too slow and that nothing happens. While it's not on the same scale as Crisis On Infinite Earths, and there's comparatively little Action (in the sense of things blowing up and people punching each other), the story is full of events and ideas.

(Some people, incidentally, have also complained that the events here don't match up well with/lose impact when placed alongside the execrable Countdown. That may be true, and is a fair criticism to lay against DC editorial, but not against the creators of this comic, which was apparently written before the terrible Countdown even started. Presumably whatever the events were in the egregious Countdown, it was what Morrison was talking about when he complained of the New Gods being 'passed around like herpes').

But really, seriously - 'nothing happens' is simply not a valid criticism here, in a story where huge swathes of the DC Universe come together in new combinations, bringing out thematic links that were never there before.

You've got a reworking/revisiting of the Kirbyesque New Gods as Eternals as Von Daniken Chariot Of The Gods stuff from Seven Soldiers with Metron as Prometheus, bringing The Human Flame (divine inspiration, as well as literal fire). Is the Prometheus angle going to tie in later with Frankenstein (who appears later in the series). The Human Flame is also the villain that kills Martian Manhunter, and fire is being linked throughout with both death and creation - fire representing chaos as well as inspiration (this ties in with a lot of the stuff in Seven Soldiers).

Death through fire always inspires thoughts of the phoenix, and rebirth, of course.

The Green Lanterns have a *code* for deicide! And note the death of Orion - the 'God of War', at the same time as the death of J'onn J'onzz, the last survivor of Mars, named after the God of War. And of course Mars is the Fourth World in our solar system, and this story is about the destruction of the Fourth World and its rebirth as the Fifth.

Incidentally, a lot of Morrison's previous work, especially The Invisibles, has referenced the idea that there will be a big change at the end of 2012, an idea that seems to come from lots of sources (pop-anthropological looks at Native American beliefs combined with now out-of-date predictions about information and technological growth). Part of that comes from what has been reported (in various new age sources whose credibility I haven't got the knowledge to verify - I'm talking in these bits not about what I believe to be true but about ideas Morrison has drawn on) as a Hopi belief that we are now living in a Fourth World that is about to change to a Fifth World.

Looking around for information on this (which Morrison may or may not be drawing upon, but I suspect he is) Hopi rituals relating to this change apparently include a 'new fire ceremony', and there is this rather interesting bit from Wikipedia:

"The coming Fifth World (where our present World is presented as the Fourth) is said to arrive following a cycle in Nature affecting our entire Solar System, where our Earth births an Egg (Mystery Egg, Hidden Egg) and then moves "up" within our system to reach its crowning place. All of the Earth's life is then said to be "raised" to its perfected-eternal form. Some tribes refer to this period of change as "Purification Time." During this period of Purification, Time is said to change where we must choose between the natural Time we have now upon our Earth (meant for us) and an unnatural Time structure which removes us from Nature and our opportunity to reach the Fifth World. It is told that everyone will have to choose between the two Time frames-- one leading to the Fifth World with our Earth, and the other (which will be very alluring, deceiving many) which will remove us from our Earth, taking us to oblivion."

I would be very surprised if these ideas didn't come into play as Final Crisis continues. It certainly *sounds* Crisis-like, doesn't it?

Some other notes on bits of the story:

I do not like Doctor Rapey McRapeRape, and never will, even with Morrison writing him. However, Jones' depiction of Mirror Master is absolutely wonderful. Looks like Terry Gilliam playing him.

The stuff with the secret society ties in with JLA:Earth 2, which I will look at soon. Also, Grodd's expressions are drawn perfectly.
"I am not averse to the taste of human flesh, sir!"
Damrung brand phone!

Orion appears to have 'infected' Terrible Turpin with a bit of his own essence.

That's no Monitor, that's Rhodes Boyson.

More on this tomorrow, as I have a LOT to say about this. I've not even really touched on the plot, or all the things that echo back and forth between this and Morrison's other works, or the art. But this issue is so densely packed with meaning and resonances without even getting into that that I'm having difficulty seeing how *anyone* could think 'nothing happened'. This is really what superhero comics *should* be.

This has still, of course, been incoherent - I hope that the later posts will be more organised, but this is the kind of comic that sets off my inner fanboy, with my thoughts racing in a million directions. It's exactly the kind of comic the industry needs right now, and I love it.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Ask Not What Your Comics Can Do For You...

A warning here, before I start. This isn't a comics review. This week looks like one of the best in comics since I got back into them, and I will be looking over some of this week's comics over the next few days (except Judenhass, which I already reviewed a couple of months back). This is an incoherent rant.

In this rant I will be hypocritical - making exactly the same mistakes I accuse others of - and I will no doubt say some intensely stupid things. I will almost certainly delete this post, unless I don't, because I know going in that it's going to get nasty. Please read this with that in mind, or skip it. This isn't a well-reasoned piece of logic, it's a scream at the stupidity of the world, purely in immediate reaction to something I've read. I wrote this because I had to get this off my chest.

I was reading Newsarama today (I know... I have only myself to blame) and I read something that shocked me to the core. A statement so callous it bordered on the sociopathic, but one that seemed to go unnoticed by everyone reading it - so much so I had to triple-check if I'd actually read it correctly:

"Just think for a second about the pinch on the budgets of millions of Asians and fears of civil unrest that are being raised. In fact, food riots have erupted in recent months in Mexico, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Guinea.

What do all these mean for the comics industry as a whole?"

You read that right. I didn't cut out any context that would put this in a better light.

"People are starving - there are riots in six countries because the people there don't have enough to eat!"
"Really? That's terrible! Ultimate Hulk Vs Wolverine may never come out if this continues!"

Now, you might think this is just an isolated example of idiocy from Benjamin Ong Pang Kean - a man who, after all, less than a month ago thought the best response to being pulled up by Paul Cornell on his witless bigotry would be to try to make a joke about Cornell being British and then publish the whole thing. We're not talking here about someone competent, after all.

But to me this seems to fit a pattern of thought that's observable in a lot of comic readers - when the Siegel family won back their share of the copyright for Superman the other month, the response among the message board posters wasn't generally a discussion of whether justice had been done, or the intricacies of 'intellectual property' law and whether the decision made sense, but revolved around two questions - "Does this mean I won't get my comics?" and "Does justice being done in this case mean it might happen in other cases, thus denying me other comics?"

Now, I think the article that got me so infuriated had everything exactly backwards. When something terrible is happening in the world, the response of 'the comics community' should not be 'what will that do to my comics?' but rather 'what can we, as 'the comics community', do to help?'

(Please note, I'm only talking about what 'we' can do here qua 'comics community' - I'm assuming for the sake of argument that everyone who cares about the state of the world is doing all the other Good Citizen stuff like contacting your elected representatives, giving money to charity, and so on).

Now, this particular problem is, alas, not one that is wholly soluble by comics (unless we were to pool our collective resources into a gigantic magical ceremony led by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison to pull Superman into the real world from ideaspace and have him sort out the economic mess - a solution not noticeably less practical than those offered by many leading politicians) - the problems that are caused by having populations grow while resources shrink were pointed out quite effectively by Thomas Malthus 210 years ago - but other problems can be helped by comics.

That sounds like a grand claim - but remember that comics are an art form and medium of communication, and an effective one. Art can and does help find solutions to social, economic, political and even technological problems - by giving us new ways to think about them. Probing the limits of the possible allows us to try out ideas, and the impossible can be used as metaphor, allegory or analogy.

The problem is, I think, that a large number of comic readers now read little or nothing other than comics - or more precisely, other than superhero titles taking place in the shared 'universes' of the Big Two. And increasingly, those comics, when they're about anything at all, have become about nothing more than other comics. As Douglas Wolk puts it in his rather wonderful book Reading Comics, "More and more superhero series are readable really only as metacomics, because they're mostly about where their plots and characters are positioned in the matrices of the big superhero narratives".

The problem is, when a large majority of superhero comics are only about superhero comics (to the extent they're about anything) then... well, they're not about anything else, are they? And is it really surprising that a genre that has essentially turned into navel-gazing on an immense scale produces fans who wouldn't care if the whole population of Asia were to die so long as they got their comics (though they'd probably complain at the price increases because of the lack of that cheap (slave) labour that lamentably even the more 'ethical' indie companies use to print their comics).

(Art comics don't get a free pass here, either. They're not usually about other comics - not since they finally got over defining themselves by what they're not - but a staggering number essentially boil down to 'my life is the most fascinating thing in the world'. Save it for LiveJournal.)

I think in order for comics to actually matter, they have to start containing actual ideas, about things other than comics. Meta-commentary is fine as one element of a larger story, but when it's the only thing approaching an actual idea in the comic, then there's a serious problem. The ideas can be about anything - from a new formal idea about the medium (a different thing from the genre, note) to 'a superhero who only speaks in Irving Berlin lyrics' to an alternate universe in which the introduction of crop rotation never took off thanks to a new species of insect wiping out all turnips in the 15th century. So long as it's an idea. Start putting in ideas, and the readers will start to think. Get a few hundred thousand people thinking and who knows what will happen?

But pressure needs to be put on the comic companies to do this, in the same way feminist comic bloggers have over the last few years put pressure on them to moderate at least their worst excesses (so we still get Black Canary posing as if she's presenting to someone just off-panel on the front of her comic, but Spoiler is no longer dead). We've tolerated the lack of ideas in comics for too long. If you read a comic and come away thinking 'meh. Nothing happened. What was the point of that?' then that comic is contributing to the creation of morons, and needs to be held up as an example of everything that is wrong with the medium.

Because if we want to know what good comics can do, the single most important thing they can do is change the mentality of people who prioritise comics over starving human beings.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Black & White & Red All Over

I've more or less avoided the Big Overarching Story in DC Comics over the last few months - since dropping the appaling Countdown with the tenth issue, I've made an effort not to read anything that tied itself in too strongly to that storyline. However, I've been looking forward intensely to Final Crisis, and I'll read anything by Grant Morrison, so I picked up DC Universe Zero with a reasonable amount of hope.

Written by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns (who's shown signs recently in Action Comics and Booster Gold of actually being the decent, solid writer his admirers claim rather than the incompetent I thought of him as previously) and drawn by eight different artists, this is meant to be a fifty-cent preview of what's to come in DC's superhero titles for the next year or so, something you can hand to anyone and get them up to speed and interested in the titles.

On that score, it's a total failure. Because of the sheer number of different storylines it's teasing (along with a framing sequence), none of the previews could be comprehensible to anyone who isn't already reading those titles. It's a shame, because there's a clear attempt to give some unity to a fundamentally disjointed comic, but there's no way to tie all this information into a single narrative.

There's a framing 'story' here (Barry Allen is back... or is he? Or... is he? ) and some clear attempts to tie everything together thematically (the colours red and black appear a lot, and Morrison's recurring obsession with hands turns up again) - Douglas Wolk has provided a good set of annotations to this at - but it all seems forced.

The narration is on the level of "There is good, and there is bad. Bad and good. Dark and light. Shadows and some more light. Black and... red? (go with it) The dark and the light are in balance. Balance is important. It's in his hands now. He'll have to take it in hand. His left hand and his right hand. Two hands. For balance. Balance. Good Superman and bad Superman. Good me and bad me. Shadows. Black. Red. Like the suits in cards DO YOU SEE?"

Possibly not *quite* that subtle, but on that kind of level.

It's not really fair to judge this as a unified whole though - it's structured as a four-page intro plus a sequence of three-page previews (of stories in many cases not written or drawn by the people creating the comic) so it's probably best taken in that way.


This manages to sum up quite effectively both previous Crises in a mere four pages, and assuming we need to know anything about that for Final Crisis it does a good job of bringing people up to speed. However, already I'm getting a sense that this has been put together with a lack of attention to detail. The image at the bottom of page three, of parallel earths exploding, probably looked fine as pencils. But someone's dropped a photo of the Earth in, repeatedly, with Photoshop, so now we have five earths breaking apart with giant cracks over their surface that manage also to be visible on the water, with no distortion whatsoever of the shape of the continents, and with giant plumes of flame shooting out as far as the moon while causing *no disturbance at all* to the atmospheric patterns from the previous panel.

Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds
This preview has three pages, and two of them are taken up with a double-page spread of a fight scene. In the one page of narrative we get to see some Patent Geoff Johns Dismemberment and discover that Superman is in the 31st century, fighting what look like shadow demons with the Legion, and that's about it. It looks pretty, but gives no real reason to read the comic.

Batman: RIP

This is much more like it. The symbolism is actually at its most overt here, and the dialogue is frankly ludicrous (Batman actually getting lines like "Red and black. Life and death. The joke and the punch line.") but it works for Batman in a way it doesn't for other characters.

There is more in this three-page sequence than anything else in the comic. It's almost a textbook in how to construct a talking-head sequence in a superhero comic. It contains allusions to other comics, but in such a way that anyone who hasn't read them won't be missing anything, it stays with the established characterisation, and it makes great use of the page.

Sticking with the duality theme, Morrison has Batman on a checkerboard floor seen through red-tinted glass by the Joker, who's in the dark with only spot lighting. The panels are done as powers of two (first two panels with a four panel inset, then eight panels on the next page, then sixteen on the page after).

Hands are used here as a means of expression - the Joker's body language reminding me in some ways of William Hartnell, who always used to keep his hands close to his face because the TV camera could then pick up both. The Joker barely speaks, gesturing to make most of his points, a creature of the body rather than the mind. Batman on the other hand only has his hands shown in two panels - the first panel in the sequence and one close-up panel of clenched fists when he gets angry and his emotionless facade breaks down. Instead we see only his mostly-covered face, or his body in silhouette. We know Batman only by his words, but the Joker only by his actions.Close-ups on Batman's eyes (another recurring feature of this comic) show nothing, of course, while the Joker's eyes are cracked, red and bloodshot.

The increasing number of panels, and decreasing number of words as the Joker appears more and more in control of the situation, ratchet up the tension, while allowing Morrison to homage several different comics (the situation is clearly referencing The Killing Joke, the last panel is meant to make us think of Watchmen, while the 16-panel last page is laid out in the same manner as The Dark Knight Returns).

This makes me want to read more of this story, and is by far the best thing in the comic.

Wonder Woman: Whom The Gods Fail

"She is peace and she is war" apparently. This seems like it could actually be teasing quite a good story (or a terrible one - tying real-world genocides into a superhero story could be a very tasteless decision) but the single-panel bits will only make sense to people who've been reading a lot of other comics. It might make people who read 52 want to read Wonder Woman but it won't bring in any *new* readers. And the last panel just says to me that someone wants some of that 300 money for themselves.

Green Lantern: Blackest Night Prelude

I have no idea what is going on here at all, having not been reading Green Lantern, except that I would be very surprised if the Black Hand (mentioned here, an old Green Lantern villain) and the Black Glove (the behind-the-scenes villain of parts of Morrison's Batman run, mentioned earlier) were either unconnected or the same character. The two-page spread of 'refracted light' is more-or-less incomprehensible, except that someone (or someones) are going to be followed. Given that Final Crisis is meant to tie into Seven Soldiers the colours-of-the-rainbow thing here might be interesting later on. This seems actually to tie in to some of the other stuff, but I'm left confused.

Final Crisis: Revelations

Nigel Blackwell said it best:
If you're gonna quote from the Book of Revelation
Don't go calling it the Book of Revelations
There's no 's', it's the Book of Revelation
As revealed to St John the Divine
See also Mary Hopkin
She must despair

Final Crisis

This, along with the Batman section, is one of the more comprehensible sections, and actually gives me a sense of anticipation. It appears to follow on from events and concepts from 52, with Darkseid being equated with Lady Styx in some way and with Libra trying to get the Secret Society of Super Villains to join the Crime religion. The foreshadowing suggesting that Libra is Barry Allen is so obvious that it must be a bluff.

As for that last page 'reveal', Mark Waid, the only one of the four 52 writers not involved in some way with this latest crossover, said just before this came out, about The Flash

"Tom will make that book shine. And he’ll do it on the strength of Wally, not on some creatively bankrupt, desperate stunt like bringing Barry Allen back to life or something."

While there appears to be no love lost between Waid and DC editorial right now, he still appears to be friendly with Morrison (and presumably Johns), and I don't see him using terms like that about an idea that would have come from those writers. So either the 'return' is no return at all (most likely as far as I can see) or it's been forced by editorial edict against the writers' will, or I'm completely misreading the situation. We'll see.

I intend to buy Final Crisis and possibly several of the other comics trailed here, so you can expect more regular posts from here on in. I think, though, that this comic would have been infinitely more successful had they cut out the Revelations and Wonder Woman sections, and maybe the framing material, and concentrated on the Legion, Batman, Green Lantern and Final Crisis sections. They all seem to fit together, and a little more work could have fit those four sections into a 22-page narrative with some actual point to it, rather than this collection of sketchy trailers.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


I thought for a while we'd have a contender for what Fred at Slacktivist describes as The World's Worst Books - the Left Behind series. Rob Liefeld's Armageddon Now: Word War III deals with many of the same things and, you know, it's by Rob Liefeld. I thought we could look forward to all the same clunky dialogue, perverted interpretations of Biblical passages (anyone who tells you there's anything about a 'Rapture' in the Bible has either actually never read the thing or is deliberately trying to mislead you in service of another agenda), unintentional homoeroticism and total disengagement with reality, but turned up to eleven.

Essentially, what I was hoping for was a Chick Tract, but with Liefeld art. As someone with a strange fascination with the outer realms of religious belief, the opportunity to see premillenial dispensationalism illustrated with one-eyed cyborgs with no feet exerted an almost unbearable pull. It seemed like it could be a perfect storm of awfulness, possibly even being a new contender for the title of Worst Cultural Product In The History Of The Human Race (previous title holders Mike Love, 1981-2000, for Lookin' Back With Love, John Travolta, 2000-present, for Battlefield Earth).

But instead, looking at the previews on Newsarama, it just looks depressing. It's horrible, of course, but the kind of horrible that fills up the pages of a hundred mid-list superhero titles a month - all pseudo-photorealism, bad photoshop and big chunks of the page with no line art, all the detail being in the colouring - rather than truly Liefeldian awfulness. A team of artists 'digitally painted' this over Liefeld's layouts, and in the process appear to have removed all the preposterous incompetence for which he's so well known, replacing it with the bland, lazy semi-competence which we can find anywhere.

It appears Liefeld is incapable of meeting even low expectations...

Sunday, 30 March 2008

This Is Going To Change Everything

Before I start this rather long post, some of you might like to know that I've written another post about Brian Wilson over on my music blog.

DC comics have not really served Superman very well. In fact, they've been positively negligent. Given that he's 'iconic', the most recognised comic character on earth, that everyone knows the character and his supporting cast, how many good comics have there been about him in the last twenty years or so?

People go on about the 'triangle number' era, and when I was eleven or twelve I must admit Dan Jurgens' overwrought melodrama had a powerful effect, but those comics don't stand up at all to rereading. Other than that, how many good - not even great, just good - comics have there been about Superman in that time?

Oh, he's been a character in a few good comics - Morrison's JLA, for example - but as far as his own titles go the pickings have been very slim indeed. I would be very surprised if out of the hundreds upon hundreds of comics worth of 'product' that have been turned out during that time more than at most twenty or thirty are actually any good. That's a horrible hit rate.

Recently DC have been doing better about this. Kurt Busiek must have written or co-written close to fifty Superman comics in the last two years, thanks to delays, fill-ins and covering for other writers, and he's a decent choice. He knows what makes Superman tick, and at least his first (co-written with Geoff Johns) story was actually very good. The rest have been variable, but they've been decent. Now he's moving on to Trinity, he's being replaced by James Robinson. I'm sure Robinson will be very good too. Superman comics are currently the best they've been in decades.

But it's hard to write a Superman story. After all, he's seventy. He's getting old.

Back when he was a youthful forty (and when his good friend Mickey was fifty, and I was busy being conceived), US copyright law changed. It still took thirty years before Jerry Siegel's rights reverted to him. That's a long time. Twelve years more than Siegel lived, in fact. Still, he got well-paid when he was alive - $35,000 a year is hardly peanuts, is it? Why, that's even more than I make, if I don't work overtime.

As is the nature of these things, the debate around this on the internet has pierced right to the crucial points, with people falling roughly into two camps. On one side there are those who think that using the courts to enforce your legal rights against a multi-billion-dollar corporation is un-American, while on the other side there are those who think it's fine so long as they get their comics.

Me, I'm wondering if Ub Iwerks has any family.

Because, really, does it matter if we don't get any more Superman comics? After all, what more stories can there be to tell about him? After seventy years, what's left to say? Superman's grown old. He's a relic of a previous time. Better to just put him out of his misery.

Because fighting over the ownership of an idea as powerful as Superman is both important (for the money for Siegel's family, and the money Time Warner stand to lose) and utterly unimportant. DC Comics no more control Superman than they control Hamlet. Superman is surviving not on the quality of the comics, but on his 'mindshare'. Even though nobody's reading the comics, everyone knows who Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor are, what Krypton and Kryptonite are. Despite what many comics fans think, he's independent of context and certainly of 'continuity'. He's a myth, in the category of Robin Hood or King Arthur rather than of Green Lantern or Firestorm. He's Christopher Reeve, a Curt Swan drawing, a Max Fleischer cartoon, John Williams' theme, "Look, up in the sky!"

Apparently in the 1990s Ted Turner wanted to move ownership of Superman and Batman away from DC Comics and to Cartoon Network, on the grounds that they'd look after the characters better.

The logo of All-Star Superman has changed over its ten issues. The Superman has got bigger, the 'All Star' smaller. The implications are clear - this is the real Superman, not that impostor in those other comics.

Van-Zee, Superman's Kandorian double, says "In Krypton's second Golden Age, men and women lived five hundred years and performed mighty feats of great renown. I found another gray hair today" as Superman's compassionate eyes look on from the sky.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, "the true man of Steel! The authentic man of tomorrow!" is chasing Luthor. He has to drive a giant robot, of course, because he's only an old man with Alzheimer's.

Is it only me who thinks that Kandor on Mars looks like Dr Manhattan's structure from Watchmen 9? Possibly a stretch, but both men do decide to create life. (Edit - Marc Singer thinks so too) .

Do people really name their daughters Regan? That's just asking for trouble.

We've already seen Earth-Q, of course, in Morrison's JLA Classified prequel to Seven Soldiers. And we knew Superman had entered our world to try to prevent the evil seed that had entered there from spreading. And Superman has been presented throughout the series as a solar deity, more Mithraic than Apollonian in nature, descending from the sun into the darkest depths of the underworld before slowly rising back up. At this point in the series, he has returned to the level of normal humans (though as with the 'as above, so below' nature of the whole story, events affect and are affected by events on many other scales), and this is the issue in which he creates the world (in only one day - he doesn't have time to spend six days on it, and certainly can't afford a day of rest) and in which he dies for us.

And the last we see of him, he's stretching out his hand to us. But unlike Zatanna, he isn't reaching out for our help, but even when he knows he's dying he's reaching out to help - to cure sick children, because that's what Superman does.

Yet ten minutes after his death is reported, but a page before, a young man sketches an image. It's an image of a muscular man with a friendly smile, in a tight-fitting costume, with a shield on his chest and a cape on his back. He looks strong, but utterly relaxed, confident but with no arrogance at all. He's a man who can take on the world, and he's being born again.

The legend under this birth reads 'Neverending', but this series only has two more issues to go. You see, it's not the 'real' Superman - even as Morrison obviously thinks of this story as belonging in the same world as his JLA and Seven Soldiers stories - it's 'out-of-continuity'. An imaginary story.

Of course, Grant Morrison did once ask to write the 'real' Superman comics. He submitted a detailed proposal with Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Tom Peyer, but they were turned down flat. DC decided instead to do stories like President Luthor and later Infinite Crisis, in which Siegel & Shuster's original Superman is beaten to death by Superboy. But they told Morrison, Waid, Millar and Peyer that they would never be allowed to write the 'real' Superman comics. They'd have shaken things up, been too daring.

And after all, they had to protect the copyright.

Saturday, 15 March 2008


Yesterday, for the second month in a row, my local comic shop gave me their free preview edition of a new Dave Sim comic, this time Judenhass which comes out in April.

While Judenhass shares with Glamourpuss some elements of style (both are done in black-and-white line art that aspires to the quality of photographs, neither are narrative as such, being more an illustrated essay), it couldn't be more different in tone and subject matter, being a look at possibly the most serious subject it is possible to deal with, the Holocaust.

Of course, any comic dealing with the Holocaust must be compared to Art Spiegelman's Maus, the Great Untouchable Classic that one must not criticise , but this probably owes more to Will Eisner's not-terribly-good The Plot, being as it is an attempt to trace the historical roots of the Holocaust in the anti-semitism that pervaded much of Western culture prior to World War II.

In terms of Sim's other work, this is most similar to Melmoth, being made up as it is of drawings of real
people along with text from primary sources, but unlike Melmoth (still my favourite of Sim's works) this doesn't even attempt to be a narrative.
Rather, Sim lays out his reasons for doing the comic at the beginning (he thinks all artists, especially non-Jews, have a responsibility to deal with the Holocaust, and that this is especially true of comic creators because so much of the industry is based on the work of Jewish creators) and then places images of the terrible suffering in the camps next to pictures of the 'great and the good' (Martin Luther, Mark Twain, Mencken, Pius XI and so on) and quotes from them about 'the Jews'.

Sim places the Holocaust firmly in a historical context, not as an isolated event but as the culmination of centuries of active persecution and, more perniciously, of people saying that the Jews' persecution is not right but still somehow brought on by their own actions somehow. Of course, there is one quote that is conspicuously absent when Sim attacks people for saying the Jews brought their persecution on their own heads:

How many of these off-limits cattle do you suppose your people mutilated and burned trying to please the living thing, the big light and the big fire in the middle of the earth?

Once again, I decline to answer on the basis of feeling even more nauseous than I did a few minutes ago. [thinks] Millions, probably

There's the sad part. Someday, Yoohwhoo is going to demand that that "debt" be paid. And... millions, you said? Millions of your people are going to... um. [Long pause] [clears throat] [another long pause]

Maybe Sim really does think that literally no-one read 'all those pages of tiny little text'...

Having said that, here at least Sim reigns in his madness and his strange views and produces a powerful look at the end result of bigotry. It's a shame that Sim appears not to see that many of his own views lead down the path to Auschwitz just as easily as the quotes from Voltaire or Mohammed he uses, but in this book at least he is on the side of the angels.

Judenhaas is intended primarily as an educational tool for schools, so in some ways it's a little dry, just presenting facts and images of what happened, but that makes it all the more effective. When I first heard that Sim was tackling the Holocaust, given that he's primarily a humorous creator I had a horrible vision of something akin to Life Is Beautiful or (given his recent turn towards the borscht belt) The Day The Clown Died, all mawkish sentimentality and ill-advised humour. In fact the dry, simple presentation, combining the views of Very Important People who had Very Important Lives and pontificated about The Jewish Question with images of the people who suffered and died because of this, is far more effective than any dramatisation could ever be.

Artistically, this is far and away the best thing Sim has ever done. I was expecting to feel the loss of his 20+ year collaborator Gerhard, whose backgrounds were gorgeous even when the comic was at its worst in the last half of Latter Days, but Sim's work here is every bit as good and detailed as Gerhard's was. Sim also makes great use of the potential of computers for reproduction (assisted by Digital Production and Research Assistant Lou Copeland and scanner Sandeep Atwal), having pages be made up of dozens of panels zooming in and pulling out of aspects of the same image, so an almost abstract pattern of lines becomes part of the face of someone who has died in horrible agony.

My only real quibble with this book is a tiny one - in the endnotes Sim dismisses a quote he'd apparently found from Bernard Shaw as a fabrication (he doesn't give the quote) saying Shaw was no anti-semite. Sadly (given that Shaw is a hero of mine) that is not the case - one of the last things he wrote, in fact, was an attempted defence of the holocaust in the explanatory matter for the book version of his play Geneva.

Dave Sim is entirely right that a work of this nature is needed now. Rather worryingly, even some on the progressive left have been showing signs of anti-semitism recently. It is all too easy to go from 'the current Israeli government is in the wrong' to 'Israel is in the wrong' to 'the Jews are evil'. The first statement is defensible and probably right, the last is utterly wrong. Along with this has come a wave of holocaust denial.

The proper response to odious fraudulent scum like David Irving, who deliberately pollute the historical record in an attempt to lend some legitimacy to their repugnant bigotry, is not to lock them up like the Austrian government did but to get the truth out as widely as possible.

For me, the bits that hit home the hardest are the parts where Sim quotes people who refused to allow refugees into their countries - the Canadian government saying "none is too many", the US government saying they should "put every obstacle in their way".

Yesterday I listened to a Doctor Who audio play in which a group of blind, slug-like aliens take over a planet and subjugate the white people humans by claiming refugee status and demanding special treatment as a minority, including banning Christmas, and used 'positive discrimination' to take over. The reviews I read of this online didn't seem to find anything disturbing in this, although a couple of people did find it a cutting satire of what happens when 'political correctness goes too far'.

Today, right after reading Judenhass, I had a look at Andrew Rilstone's blog, to see if he'd read this yet (Rilstone is the most perceptive writer I've read on Sim, seeing his strengths and flaws more clearly than almost anyone). He hadn't, but he had posted about Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old from Iran who the British government, to our eternal shame, want to deport to Iran where he will be executed for his homosexuality as his boyfriend already has been. One of the commenters on that post stated that 'we' can't afford to allow in as many asylum seekers as 'we' do, and so while it's obviously a terrible shame to see a teenager strangled to death for the 'crime' of having a boyfriend it's better to wash our hands of the whole nasty business.

I have now done something I meant to do many years ago. I've joined Amnesty International.

Judenhass is 48 pages, black and white with a colour cover, on glossy stock, and costs $4. It is published in April, but your local comic shop will have a preview copy as of this week unless, like mine, they gave it to their 'Dave Sim customer'. It's published by Aardvark-Vanaheim and will remain in print indefinitely.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Holly Reads Glamourpuss So You Don't Have To

Given that Glamourpuss is supposed to be aimed at non-comics readers, and that it appears to be aimed at women at least in the promotional material on the website, I thought it would be interesting to see what my long-suffering wife had to say...

Hello, it's Andrew's imaginary wife here again. (I'm sure the rest of you have long forgotten that someone accused Andrew of making me up, the last time I did Holly Reads the Comics, but I am still amused by it.)

Andrew has insisted that I not read his entry about Glamourpuss until I've written my own (apparently so his geeky reactions don't sully my clumsy-layperson ones, but how likely is that anyway? much of what he says in this blog is gibberish to me, and that's just how I want to keep it!). So all I know about this comic is that he's told me it's like "twenty pages of Understanding Comics sandwiched between five pages of Mad magazine" and he's also compared it to Fate of the Artist and Alice in Sunderland. All of which makes me very dubious, as he knows what a sucker I am for things like that, and I think he's trying to trick me into playing along.

But there's always the chance that he might be right... So here we go.

I probably shouldn't be surprised, with all these allusions to other never-mind-that-fourth-wall comics, but I still wasn't expecting something that started off so chattily.

For context: I have read some of Cerebus (um, Church and State through Melmoth I think, though Andrew will correct me if I'm mistaken there... and I read all that in completely backwards order anyway and about four years ago, before I'd read any other comics, so it probably left a weird impression on me and certainly a vague one) but I didn't really know anything about its author at the time. So all I know about Dave Sim is sort of like those scenes in plays where they just have a messenger come in and tell you of a huge battle that's conveniently happened offstage so they don't have to choreograph it. (The battle is of course the one over whether he is worth anything as an artist or whether his personal ideas mar all of his achievements, and the messenger of course is Andrew, who's definitely on a particular side of this battle.) But the subject of the debate matters less than that the nebulous, wildly unfair, and possibly completely wrong impression I have gotten of Sim as a sinister baddie with big, pointy, nasty ideas that hide under your bed and watch you while you sleep. To find that the bogeymen have artistic heroes and preoccupations (even obvious ones like "cute teenage girls") is remarkable but a relief; it's something I can relate to, something refreshingly normal.

At least for the kinds of comics I read. I'm not a normal comic reader; I just want for Andrew to insist for months or years that I should read something and then occasionally give in (and then often complain that he let me go so long without reading it, as was the case with things like Promethea). I'm especially susceptible to the kind of discursive-essay sort of things, that give you some idea of the actual person writing and/or drawing this that Andrew compared this to. I'm pleased to say that it is indeed enough of that kind of thing to keep me happy all the way through reading it. It takes me an enormously long time to read a comic, and I have very little patience with them, so this was quite a big thing for me.

Of course there were lots of words too, but I never find that as disheartening as I suppose it is expected to be. Especially with a subject like this; if you get too close to filling every place with pictures of fashion models, you pretty much are drawing a fashion magazine. I shudder to think.

That's another thing. I'm sure that Andrew is asking my opinion not just because I am a convenient target, living in his house and all, but because I am a lady. But I'm the kind whose wardrobe mostly consists of things other people get her for Christmas presents, the kind who truly feels sorry for him for all the fashion magazines he would've had to actually read in order to find all those pictures (until I remember that he, of course, chose to do so! maybe he actually is crazy) and that familiarity with the top designers. I've only heard of any of these brand names thanks to my cheerfully shallow sister-in-law.

If Sim's being misogynistic (the subject that both the subject and his reputation make unavoidable) I wouldn't say I'd be the last to know but I don't think I'm terribly sensitive to that sort of thing either. Though I feel I should say something harumphing that starts, As a woman... in the way that so many complaining letters to editors and suchlike seem to start As a parent, I'm deeply offended by the idea that my children might be forced to learn about evolution, or whatever. But I have no particular reaction to this "as a woman." I'm not terribly good at that sort of thing (which is perhaps just as well; as a reader I tend to yawn at and ignore such sentences). I'm afraid I am a poor litmus test for the feminine experience.

But from what Andrew tells me, there are people — even people who aren't rabid feminists — who are not going to touch Glamourpuss with a ten-foot pole because Dave Sim is such a misogynistic misogynist ... and I think that's kind of a shame. Because it seems kind of fun, so far, blessedly unusual and kind of promising, and it'd be a shame to shun it for something that I don't think is really present in it. Especially if that judgment is made sight-unseen. Oh well; their loss. Except, well, the comic industry is so warped that if enough other people don't want to read it then I won't get to read it either... but it's too late (at night) and too early (in the grand scheme of things; there won't be another issue of Glamourpuss for me to read until, what, July or something) for me to worry about that too much.