Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Easy to look after, even easier to dispose of


Now that's what's wrong with comics these days - you can't buy sea-monkeys from them anymore.

But exactly how can these delightful amazing, live pets be trained, did anybody ever figure it out?

What would Batman do?

The aim of the game is simple. A situation will be outlined, and it will be the reader’s job to try and think what Batman would do, under the circumstances.

I appreciate that there are a number of different Batmen in existence. So, feel free to specify whether you mean Camp 60's Bats or Batman/Superman uber-Bats. I’ll give the blogohedron a day or two to suggest his actions before offering the solution.

Today’s dilemma:

You know that your best friend’s wife has cheated on him. You also know exactly who she was unfaithful with. They’ve been doing it for ages, and obviously you’ve know about it from day one – come on, you’re the World’s Greatest Detective. However, you put it to one side as you have bigger fish to deal with (e.g. the Joker, and his laughing fish).

However, you cannot ignore the issue any longer because your best friend asks you point blank whether you know if his wife is cheating on him.

What would Batman do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Whoops, I didn't do it again.

Apologies for the lack of updates – there’s been a huge increase in traffic on the site recently (great – thanks to all of you for reading) which has unfortunately coincided with an increase in business and busy-ness in other aspects of The Blog Cave (not so great). So all these new visitors have nothing to read. How annoying!

Fear not. Bear with us until Monday 17th October – we will kick-off a series of posts for which there will be near-daily ammunition. Posts which will have relevance to all our lives and tear apart the blogohedron in controversy (what's Infinite Crisis?).

Get ready for “WHAT WOULD BATMAN DO?
...
He certainly wouldn't neglect his blog for this long, I know that!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Free Comments Day V - "...Then I hit him with the Hypersonics"

It's been a while, but it's back. This is a strange “Free Comments Day” because the post is being written and put up before the comment (which will probably end up as a link to here!), but I had so many thoughts jump into my head upon reading “the object of my attention” that I’ve had to react immediately and at length. Yep – you’ve guessed, it was in reaction to something at The Absorbascon.

One of my favourite bloggers, Scipio, posted this.

In his response to one of the comments, he writes that he is “just trying to put (his) finger on why Batman is more popular than Superman, because the simplistic "superpowerless versus superpowered" doesn't explain it.”

So, someone wants to know why Batman is more popular than Superman, eh? As the hoi poloi are never wrong, surely this is indicative of the Bat’s superiority over the err… Super? Of course it is, and I’m going to tell the world why.

1. Batman has engrained himself into the popular psyche more then Superman: This is almost certainly thanks to the 1960s TV show. Since then the Batman movies, Animated, Batman Begins, even Dark Knight Returns have all helped to cement his position as the number one pop-culture icon in the world (a slightly biased statement!). In competition, Superman has had the films, Lois and Clark and his own Animated (which very few British norms I know have even heard of, let alone seen). The less said about the absolute, meritless turd that is S****ville, the better!

2. Won't somebody please think of the children: I can’t speak about America, where everyone is cool like in that documentary about life over there I saw called The O.C., but in Britain it tends to be pathetic nerds who read comics. Luckily, all tends to work out for the best, and the geek shall inherit the earth.

OK, offence to all aside, comics and science-fiction attract a readership from children who are on the whole brighter than others. When I was a kid my heroes were Odysseus, Doctor Who, Batman and MacGuyver. (I can just hear Homer shout “NEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRD!” from across the pond). What links these guys? – they all use their brains to solve problems. Batman has trained his mind to be able to do anything. And no piece of information was a waste, because he never knew when it would come in useful. When I was a lad, Batman wasn’t a paranoid whack-job, alienating friends and letting his spy satellites be taken over by other paranoid whack-jobs. He solved crimes in 22 pages. He was the World’s Greatest Detective, and he made me sit up and go “wow” whenever he reasoned something brilliant.

The counter-argument to this would be that he’s no slouch in the athletic department himself. But Batman’s athleticism is something self-taught and thus identifiable. He practises martial arts, a disciplined and scientific dispensation of violence, rather than Superman, who smacks people really hard.

3. Batman’s origin is the best in comics: On the way back from a movie Bruce’s parents are shot dead during a mugging and he decides to do something about it. Brilliant, simple and accessible. These are things you hear about on the news every day. It builds an illusion in the young mind that it really could have happened. The above two points are the crux of “superpowerless versus superpowered”.

4. Villains Galore: The campness of the 60’s popularised not only the Bat but his Rogue’s Gallery. If the same thing had happened to the Flash, we’d all be talking about Captain Boomerang, the Weather Wizard and the Top. Any comic fan worth his salt knows that Superman has a pretty lame Rogues Gallery. The only reason norms know Lex Luthor is because he’s the only villain consistently featured in all TV/Film interpretations of the Superman legend.

5. Matures with age: As you grow older, you realise the world is not as Black and White (or Superman and Bad Guys) as you thought when younger, and your appreciation of the grey world of Batman – one of the few mythic archetypes to have co-opted the tools of evil for the side of good – grows.

Grant Morrison once said that "Superman should be a huge, positive role model, an almost Christ-like force." I agree. If he only appeared in JLA, like the Martian Manhunter, that would be ideal. However, this treatment does not provide enough stories to sell three individual titles a month.

Not only is Batman cooler as a kid, Batman continues to be relevant as you grow older.

6. Batman is an ass-hole: It would upset the Dark Knight Detective himself if I didn’t look at the evidence and Occam-shave my way to a sensible conclusion, but currently the Caped Crusader is a tosser. When Batman’s fall began in War Games I was upset at first. But I soon realised that even the very best make mistakes. And that’s realistic. Batman’s mistakes can occur because his body may fail him, or his mind may not be quick enough, or his emotions (pride) can cloud his judgement. Superman’s body won’t fail him – he could only be killed by things that are unbelievably powerful (see next point). Superman’s mind shouldn’t fail him. He’s rarely in situations where strategy form the biggest part of his arsenal, and even when he is they are never so fiendishly complex as to be inescapable. If Superman displays any emotional weaknesses, he just appears to be a whiny brat, who’s got everything but still finds a way to complain.

7. Faster than a Speeding Bullet?:
Not anymore. Nowadays, Superman is “Faster than a launching rocket, more powerful than an atomic bomb, able to leap between worlds in a single bound” (Superman- the 10c Adventure). The more powerful he gets, the more difficult it becomes to write stories about him where the stakes are high-enough that you care. This “unquantifiable-ness” of Superman’s power (a definite Marvel trait that) makes one lose touch with him. On the other hand, one bullet or broken back (!) and the Bat’s gone (not withstanding Shondra Kinsolving’s magic touch).

8. Must be the reason why he's King of the Castle: Bats has acted as an inspiration to others who have sought to join the fight with him (Babs/Batgirl, Tim/Robin, Steph/Spoiler/Robin). Cass/Batgirl wants to succeed him and Nightwing was pissed off when he didn’t get that chance during Knightquest. Even Old Skool Jim Gordon saw the adventurer he never was in the Bat (how Silver Age!). By definition, few/none could be Superman.

While Batman’s combined abilities are beyond belief, he is an asymptote that one can aspire to. Superman is an incomprehensible infinity, so archetypal and paragon as to end up collapsing under his own weight.

Q.E.D.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's raining comics and blogs

I’m an idiot. And I need help.

This may not seem like such a revelation to anyone who has been reading this blog regularly. However, today’s point of idiocy revolves around the number of comics I have.

I often rant about this to nerds and norms alike, and now I feel the whole world (or at least Spider-Sam (who’s heard it before) and rheiny) needs to hear it.

I have too many comics. They are currently split across three sites. Most of them (13 long boxes, plus two other large boxes yet to be sorted.) are in my parents’ home and are visited at Christmas. Almost all the rest are in my room in London. Finally, there’s a small stash at a friend’s place which I bought when I flew from Edinburgh to London for a comic fair and couldn’t be bothered to lug back to Edinburgh only to transport back to London at some point. These include a copy of JLA #2 I finally found for a decent price and lots of Kyle Rayner Green Lantern back issues. .

My room in London is tiny, and yet I’ve still found a way to fit in seven long boxes, four short boxes and piles and piles of comics I have to carefully tread over before I can get into my tiny single bed. There are also 400 comics currently in the living room which I had to transport down from Edinburgh by courier. However, my collection is growing (through ongoing series and back issues bought at fairs) at a rate of one long box a month and has been doing so for the last year. The situation has got to such an untenable position that something drastic needs to be done, and fast.

Here are my options:

1. Put some comics into storage. I can send lesser comics to a big warehouse for a fixed charge per month and periodically go and visit them to look at.

2. Sell some runs which I don’t want (Bruce Jones’ Hulk run is top of this list). I’m not a fan of eBay. I’d rather sell to friends (if they want them).

3. Get rid of all of the odd issues I’ve accumulated over time that I really don’t want by giving them to Ian (a comic retailer friend) in exchange for store credit.

I’m not sure if psychologically I can give away or sell my comics. All the comics I have bought are a small part of me in some way – even JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS #25.

In future posts I'll be describing how this situation has arisen, but in the meantime I need help from the blogosphere. How can I reduce the number of comics I own without needing psychotherapy or losing too much money?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Loeb-otomy

I’m sure I’m not the only one glad to see that Jeph Loeb has signed an exclusive with Marvel.

In August 2003 I was sat on Brighton Beach with a copy of each of the two covers to Batman/Superman #1. Yes, I know that’s not the proper name of the title, but that’s a story for another time. I was going out with a girl who had no appreciation for comics at all- after we broke up she binned my friend’s copy of Watchmen I had given her (well, I wasn’t going to give her mine, was I?). While she lay sunbathing I read the issue. Don’t worry, it was a pebble beach.

I was so excited. I’d loved Ed McGuiness’ art since seeing it on the covers of all those Deadpool comics which I bought when they came out and am planning to read this Christmas. And as for Loeb – I didn’t think much of Long Halloween the first time I read it, but I absolutely loved Dark Victory – the pinnacle of Tim Sale’s career. Jim Lee, a hero of the Blog Cave and recipient of several chants in his honour, made me overlook the story of Hush.

I remember excitedly exclaiming on the way to the beach that I’d never thought I’d see a Batman/Superman title in my lifetime, and how I loved team-up books. She didn’t care, and I didn’t care that she didn’t care. It was one of our happiest days together.

Reading other blogs, I get the impression that I’m not a discerning as the average comic book reader, because I quite enjoyed Loeb’s run. At least, I convinced myself that I did – overlooking each plot inconsistency and blatant attempt to crowbar anything Silver Age into the title.

However, having just read B/S #22 – it is time to speak out. Loeb does not know how to write serialised fiction that makes sense when read with more than a quarter of one’s brain in gear. Period. He has had the amazing fortune of working with some of the best artists in the industry, who have carried him through all those inner monologues that make the Victorian novelists look like Rob Schneider.

Joe Quesada, please please give Jeph Captain America to write – the only title I can one hundred percent guarantee I will never ever read if it was the last comic book on Earth.

Many thanks.

To the Radio Studio!

It’s been a while since something new has appeared in the hallowed enclaves of The Blog Cave.

One reason for this is that I end up writing far too much with no definite end - the ideas flow so freely once the fingers hit the keyboard - and I easily end up off-topic.

Simple is often best, as I learnt from JLU recently. So, let's cut to the quick:

SUPERHERO RADIO IS FUCKING BRILLIANT

‘Nuff said (There’s irony in that sign off, btw!)