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New Escapist Column! Rorschach, White Supremacy and “Watchmen”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last Friday. One of the more interesting aspects of Watchmen has been the controversy that the series has demonstrated by looking at white supremacy head-on.

In particular, the show’s treatment of the legacy of Rorschach has been controversial to some fans, who have objected to the idea that his iconography would be adopted by a white supremacy group like the Seventh Kavalry. However, these concerns suggest a misreading of the graphic novel, which offers a very start view of Rorschach’s politics. Indeed, any close reading of Watchmen suggests it is almost inevitable that Rorschach would become a beacon for the sort of reactionary views that power the modern alt-right.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! “Watchmen” and the Limits of Textual Fidelity…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine last Friday. With the release of Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen, it seemed appropriate to cast an eye back to Zack Snyder’s cinematic adaptation.

I have a huge amount of admiration for Snyder’s version of Watchmen, even if I don’t think it actually works. It is a Herculean effort to bring the story to the screen, one committed to directly transposing as much of the source material from page to screen, but often without really stopping to think about what the dialogue or imagery actually means. It is in many ways a demonstration of the limits of slavish devotion in adaptation. It is a counterpoint to the argument that all it takes to adapt a major work from one medium to another is literalism.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

The Flash (1987-2009) #1-2 – Happy Birthday, Wally!/Hearts… of Stone (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please share the link love and let me know in the comments.

Like the rest of the comic book industry, DC comics went through some serious changes in the late eighties. Books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had re-shaped expectations of the comic book world. There was a sense that things had to change. DC was worried about its own expansive and increasingly convoluted continuity. In order to streamline that continuity, DC decided to stage a massive crossover event. Crisis on Infinite Earths was a truly epic comic that reshaped the shared universe.

It made quite the impression, providing the opportunity for a clean start for many of the characters. George Perez gave Wonder Woman a new origin and back story. John Byrne reinvented The Man of Steel, making several additions to the Superman mythos that have remained in place through to today. Frank Miller offered one of the defining Batman origin stories with Year One. There were obvious continuity issues around certain characters and franchises, but Crisis on Infinite Earths was a new beginning.

If the suit fits...

If the suit fits…

This was arguably most true for The Flash. Cary Bates had finished up a decade-long run on the title with the mammoth storyline The Trial of the Flash, where Barry Allen was accused of murdering his arch-nemesis in cold blood. Although the arc ended with Barry retiring to the distant future (comics!), the character went straight from that extended arc into Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he eventually gave his life to save the multiverse in what became an iconic death sequence.

More than that, Barry Allen stayed dead for twenty years; a phenomenal amount of time for a comic book character. In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC offered a fresh new beginning for the Flash. Wally West, the former “Kid Flash” and sidekick, stepped into the iconic role and headlined a monthly series for over two decades.

His heart might not be in it, yet...

His heart might not be in it, yet…

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Infinite Crisis: The OMAC Project (Review)

This month I’m taking a look at DC’s massive “Infinite Crisis” Event. Although it was all published in one massive omnibus, I’ll be breaking down the lead-in to the series to tackle each thread individually, culminating in a review of the event itself. Check back for more.

Infinite Crisis was certainly an ambitious project in scope. With the bulk of the major tie-ins collected in a gigantic 1,500-page omnibus, you really get a sense of just how expansive this gigantic crossover was. It’s remarkable how thematically consistent (and yet tonally distinct) so many of these tie-ins were, but The O.M.A.C. Project makes for a suitably grand opening to this gigantic epic crisis crossover, perfectly encapsulating a lot of the core themes that DC seem to have been striving for, while setting up an interesting central conflict.

What do you call a Corps of One-Man-Army-Corps?

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Alan Moore’s Run on Swamp Thing – Saga of the Swamp Thing (Books #3-4) (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” You can probably guess which event I’m leading into, but I don’t want to spoil it…

I have never read Swamp Thing before. This trip through these lovely (but sadly not oversized or filled with extras) hardcover editions of Alan Moore’s iconic run on the title has been my first encounter with the character. This is Moore’s longest tenure on a mainstream comic book, and the one which introduced him to the mainstream. What’s astounding here is not only how Moore manages to offer something which still stands up as something unique and challenging, but also offers a fairly exciting and well-written book on his own terms.

I have a burning desire to read more...

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Y: The Last Man – The Deluxe Edition, Book II (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Y: The Last Man. In April, I took a look at all the writer’s Ex Machina.

They can say ‘fuck’ in comic books?

I guess.

Jeez, they never said stuff like that in Superman.

– 355 and Yorick get “meta”, One Small Step

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s crappy works of fiction that try to sound important by stealing names from the bard.

– Cayce, Comedy & Tragedy

You know, even if the central premise wasn’t brilliantly intriguing, and the execution wasn’t top notch, I think I’d still read this, simply because Vaughan’s Y: The Last Manis just so damn charming. Thankfully, the comic is everything I mentioned above – and winningly self-deprecating to boot. Awesome.

A thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters...

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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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