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Monday, May 21, 2007

Gore Watch! 21/05/07

Hither and thither, the tiptoe of Gore Watch!

Okay, I missed another week. No defence really. I was just too caught up in my deer-skinning night class. So I'm a little behind, but I can gut a 14-point stag in seconds.

COUNTDOWN #51 & 50

This is the new weekly followup to 52, cleverly numbering itself...guess how? Anyway, before getting into any actual gore, let's pop by the secret layer of wacky Flash rogues Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, Heat Wave, Trickster and Mirror Master (and yes, they pretty much do what it says on the box). Bunch of crrrazy guys in their colourful costumes, no doubt pulling off some nutty caper or other.

Oh...or maybe hanging out with prostitutes, snorting cocaine. Like any good city banker I suppose. As an aside, click on this to blow it up and check out the lovingly rendered pimples and bruises on the legs of the girl on the couch. Nice one DC. Always looking to pull in that future generation of readers. Anyway, where is that rascally Mirror Master?

Oh MM! Always the joker!

Meanwhile, the week before in Countdown #51:

No, I don't know what the hell he's doing either, but I'm sure it gives him job satisfaction.


Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

"C'mere Alvin, I'm gonna break your arm, like Spidey does!"

Okay, so we don't see the bone bursting through, or blood pumping out, or even an actual clear shot of the break. I credit that to Ron Garney, who I think is a fine artist and who often shows a great deal of restraint with violence. In a way I should be advocating panels like the one above if this kind of thing absolutely has to be in pages of a comic about one of the world's most recognisable (and kiddie-appealing) comic characters. But, y'know what? This kind of thing doesn't need to be in pages of a comic about one of the world's most recognisable (and kiddie-appealing) comic characters.

Oh, and speaking of broken arms,


I'm from the school of thought that All Star Batman & Robin is a special kind of genius. There are very few comics out there that make me laugh this much, and yes, I do believe Miller is doing it intentionally. But Mary McDuff of Perthshire, bringing home a copy for little Dougal, might not be expecting this:

Nice bloody broken arm going on there. Meanwhile, dumpster-eater is left looking like something out of Watership Down.

Nice one Bats!



Actually, what I find funny about this is that they just couldn't resist that little spurt of blood. This could be done in a fairly restrained manner in this kind of profile shot, but at some point the decision has been made to get some brain sauce a-squirtin'.


Ahh, I for one am glad that they used the whole Infinite Crisis thing as an excuse to lighten up the DC universe and add a bit of fun back into Batman. Because nothing spells F.U.N. like a dead prostitute!

As a matter of fact, what the hell is up with all the prostitutes showing up in DC books? Is there some kind of editorial hate-on for sex-workers?

Magic Eightball says: Yes!

Seriously though, I know this is the bad guy, and we're supposed to hate him and all, but really, do we need to see him smashing the broken and battered body of some poor dead woman into a wall? Especially in a book that would never dream in a million years of showing a healthy, happy woman's nipple*.


Damn! You would think Wolverine would get a kevlar polo-neck or something!

Rated "A" for All, folks! Unlike the following...


Ah, Moonie, Gore Watch would be half the watch it is without you. What's been going on this week, under Marvel's dubious "Parental Guidance" label? Well, how about this:

and this:

and some of this:

(Let me help you out on that one: SHHRRRRIP!)

Look! A special guest appearance by the Punisher! Will they battle and then come to an understanding to fight the real villain? Or perhaps Moon Knight will just sit around and watch while the Punisher dispenses some Street Justice. Maybe have a little conversation about how appropriate it is.

"Really, Frank? Oh well, I'm not sure I totally agree. I mean, it could be argued that until we address the problems underlying this kind of thing, then we really are just fighting a losing battle."

<Wait--did he just say 'culling the herd'? This guy is nuts.>

"Nice shot, Frank! Of course it could be said that crime is a completely normal a part of society which will naturally fluctuate over time. You may be interested to know that violent crime has actually, in the bigger picture, continued a downward trend throughout the history of recorded crime statistics. Not that we can ever totally eliminate crime. Wherever there are laws, after all, there will always be criminals."

"And I must say, Frank, in the words of Nietzsche: 'Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster and if you gaze --Oh my God! You just totally blew the top off that guy's head! HIGH FIVE!"

Okay, so I rag on Moon Knight. I do always come fairly close to giving it a pass; it's clearly not meant for kids, and does after all carry a (barely distinguishable on the cover) Parental Advisory label. But then it never fails to do something to make me think: bull####. Yes, I said "####". Because guess what? Moon Knight can show us people's brains spilling onto the street, but not a "ca-ca" in sight.

What the fuck kind of sound does a motherfucking cunt of a symbol like # make anyway? Shit, fucked if I know. I'm just glad I don't have to explain it to my son.

Honestly Marvel, if you want to do this kind of book, make it a Max title. Because the only thing that makes this any different from virtually any issue of the Punisher Max (other than the fact that this is rubbish and that is one of the best titles on the market) is the language. Because the violence is easily on a par. Wake up!

Oh, also, are they really calling it "the 'Raq" now? Has anyone heard that used anywhere else?

Phew...I need to go sit down with a cool drink. Back next week. Promise!

*Head over to Iron Man for that kind of action!


  1. I agree that Miller is doing it deliberately, but that doesn't make it alright. Hes doing it because he has contempt for you, for me, for everyone who buys or reads superhero comics. Worst of all, he has absolute contempt for superheroes and superhero comics. That much was obvious in DK2, and in All Star Batman hes just throwing it in our faces. The worst part is that you get the feeling that Jim Lee doesn't get it.

    The Morrison Batman makes Miller's look like the catastrophy it is.

    I preferred when they'd use a series of varied symbols to denote foul language in comics, along the lines of "&@$% you". But the drokking Dredd gambit works better, somehow.

  2. Firstly, just let me say that for swearing in comics, nothing will ever top the symbol use in Asterix. When a skull and crossbones start making it into your symbols, you know that's some foul language.

    Regarding Miller, I don't necessarily think this is down to contempt. I certainly don't think it's down to a contempt for fans, or that what he's doing has any kind of malicious intent. He doesn't think a hell of a lot of the modern super-hero trope that he was in part responsible for creating, that much is obvious, and I do think it's interesting that a readership still expects the po-faced Batman from him, given that any Batman he has written since Year One has been headed down the track toward ASBR.

    Spawn/Batman ("punk") and Dark Knight Strikes Again both feel self-consciously steered away from the Dark Knight Returns. DKSA, as much as I couldn't stand it, showcases anything but a contempt for superheroes. To my mind, Miller was clearly having fun with DC's toys. With ASBR he has just gone for something which totally throws the book out the window. It's ridiculous and over-the-top and totally drenched in the kind of pulpy conventions that Miller loves. I imagine writing it for him is a blast. And I think that's his main consideration here: not a piss-take of the fans, but rather writing Batman in a way which is fun for him.

    The addition of Jim Lee could, I can see, add to the sense that we're being mocked. Lee draws this totally straight. If this were being drawn in a moody, shadow-drenched style I'm sure that, although it would still have its detractors, it would be far more apparent as the pulp homage which I believe it's Miller's intention to write. From the crazed, laughing anti-hero to Superman and Wonder Woman's goofy, dramatic kiss, it's all silly pulp fun. But Lee's handling of the material doesn't let us take it on anything but straight super-hero terms. But that's fine by me. A happy accident, if you will, as it has created a weird mish-mash which I think is brilliantly funny.

    I would even go so far as to say that if were drawn in any other kind of style I'd be much more willing to write it off as seen-it-all-before-Frank rubbish. But somehow it just works for me. I can see why it wouldn't work for everyone, but I don't think it's his intention to shit all over the fans. He's having fun, intending to write something fun, and fun is what I'm having.

    I should say that I'm no die-hard Miller fan, by the way. As much as I loved a lot of his earlier output, enjoyed the original Sin City, and thought 300 was an (artistic) triumph, it's been a long time since he did anything that I would consider genuinely worthwhile. In fact, even Dark Knight Returns hasn't aged well to my mind.

    But ASBR? Well, it just tickles my funny bone.

  3. Oh, also I must say that jury's still out on the Morrison Batman run for me. I'm enjoying it so far, and loving the resurrection of Bruce Wayne: Billionaire Playboy, but it still feels a bit all over the place. But then I'm sure he's got a bigger plan.

    I should maybe mention also that I'm not a great Batman fan. Never have been, although there are the odd stories that transcend that, or make use of the character in a particularly effective way (Morrison's first JLA run, for example). But I guess that might help explain why the liberties Miller has taken haven't really galled me at all.

  4. I think when people say its meant as comedy they're giving him far too much credit.

    The thing that makes it feel so contemptuous to me is that its barely written at all - it feels so lazy, so tossed off. Theres no plotting so far, really, just a load of generic scenes. The characterisation is all over the place. One issue - the one with Black Canary - felt like he had gotten bored with the story he'd already started so he just decided to start another one halfway through. And the scripting is just as lazy as the "plotting". "Chunks", "I'm the Goddamn Batman" etc. Dear God.

    I thought he'd lost it with the last Sin City arc and even in 300, which is terribly paced and shoddilly written, and DK2 is a great example of somebody taking a big cheque and faking it, but ASBR is insulting.

    By the way, I'm not expecting the po-faced Batman from him. The Batman stories I grew up on were the Neal Adams/Marshall Rogers ones from the 70s, which is what Morrison is aiming for in his run. Batman as a globe-trotting Superhero, not necessarily just a "Dark Knight" (though I love that side of the character too). But the Batman we're seeing in ASBR isn't any Batman I recognise.