The Greatest Comix Ever

faked by Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Just thinking out loud here. I figure I have to or this becomes another one of those “essays” I “ought” to write instead of a fun thought that others might want to elaborate.

What I have in mind isn’t a list. What I have in mind is whys and wherefores, sort of the way professor fury writes about G.P.R.D.

Okay, define your category. Not to exclude other possibilities but so as to not waste time arguing over.

And the Oscar for Greatest Superhero Graphic Novel (or Series of Graphic Volumes Telling One Story (or World Evoked by a Complex of Interlinked Stories)) goes to . . .

First of all, the magnificent Willworld. This thing is genius from start to finish: The glorious colors, the scope of the imagination, the perfect drawings and inkings, the sense of space, the weird beings of a weird universe that somehow makes sense, just repulsive enough to be real, the looming menace of the floating heads despite all the comedy, the Holy Head Cheese, the little boy. Like they say, I could go on and on. I haven’t begun to touch on the subtleties, the echoes, the harmonics, the satisfactions. This comic is Alice in Wonderland quality. I go back to it regularly. My thanks to J. M. Matteis, writer; Seth Fisher, artist; Christopher Chuckry, colorist and separater; and Tom Orzechowski, letterer.

I wish I could give more DC comix a nod, because I grew up with DC, but I can’t think of any others I would call great. Classic, yes. Great, no.

Batman is the victim of the age’s preconception of the hero. He’s been seriously modified in response to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. No matter who writes or draws Batman nowadays, he’s portrayed the same way: with the aloofness, the hauteur that Miller contributed, but with a good deal less brutality. This Batman never feels doubt and is always right, but is so distant from people that what is conviction comes off as arrogance. Nevertheless, his friends forgive him. Come to think of it, this Batman is a whole lot like John McClain. He is also, like McLain, capable of incredible feats of athleticism and control. He’s a master of many esoteric physical disciplines which confer such physical abilities on him. Never mind the fact that it would be impossible to be adept at any one of at least half a dozen of those disciplines and yet allow oneself to continue the mental suffering that Batman supposedly routinely endures on behalf of his murdered parents.

One thing I think that demonstrates is that the narrative preconceptions of the age seldom rise to greatness. No age reads itself accurately.

The early Batman was, well, cartoonish.

Superman is harder to say no to. I love Superman. Superman has always been my favorite. But nope. There aint any great stories. There was one that came close, was it called Secret Identity? In the world of the story, Superman is a character in a comic book—but there is a “real” Clark Kent, living in Kansas, who has been affected by a meteorite, and develops the same powers. He takes the identity of the comic character, is hunted by a secret government agency, comes to an agreement with them, keeps his freedom and powers. But he ages, and it is clear he is going to die and knows it. But he has a child, and the child has powers. Last panel, he’s hanging in front of the sun in space, thinking it over. I can’t give the names because I don’t have the book any more.

Damn good comic. But not transcendent.

A more recent Superman candidate might be Emperor Joker, by a whole crew of writers and artists I’m not patient enough to list. It works, it’s impressive visually, it’s a damn good book. But there is just that little tootle of vaingloriousness which dooms most superhero comix nowadays. Infinite City, by Mike Kennedy and Carlos Meglia, is a fine inventive story, a lot of fun. No vaingloriousness—what there might be is handled with humor. I really like it. But not what I mean by masterwork.

The continuing sagas of The Authority came close for a while, but then it began to seem the heroes gloried a bit much in the slaughter they habitually wrought—always on those who deserved it, of course. Lovely images of skulls knocked out of skins, brains out of skulls, spines out of bodies. Soliliquies in which the characters justify their carnage with righteous outrage. Realpolitik, no doubt.

Over to Marvel. My favorite is Spiderman. Read a lot of Spiderman. Prefer the modern one. The old Stan Lee stuff looks awful now. Yay for computer graphics. But I am getting sick of wisecracks from impossibly wise and cute and big-eyed teens and I don’t buy the whole older and married bit and House of M is just an attempt to drum up importance from what was a godawful idea in the first place, The Civil War. Not much use for X-men and I despise supersecret superpowerful government agencies who know what’s best for us all and will, albeit it sadly, do the most horrible things if that’s what it takes to keep America free, so you can guess how I feel about S.H.I.E.L.D. I like Wolverine, but as it turns out only one book. I don’t have it anymore, keep meaning to buy it. Can’t remember the name. It’s the one where he’s short and grubby, isn’t with the X-men, and doesn’t wear a uniform. The cover has him astride a motorbike under a sign with the name of the town. The name of the town is the name of the book. That’s the one Wolverine that seems to me to do a genuine job of imagining what it might be like to actually be someone like that. The next one, where he crosses the Rio Grande and gets involved with a murderous female drug dealer and causes her death but rescues her child, is pretty good. Different artist. The conception stems from the previous one but seems more weakly realized somehow. The others are all full of hoo-hah superspook supersoldier crap.

From one of the realms I would least have expected it, though, comes number 7 in the Ultimate Fantastic Four, God War. I quit reading FF quite a few years ago, when I realized how silly their abilities were, how much based on cartoon reality and not physics. Now this new series, by an impressive succession of the very best writers and artist. The whole series is smart, well-imagined, beautifully drawn, consistent, a delight to read.

There is a bit overmuch of scientificish, the opposite error to cartoonish. RR is given to babble ceaselessly in pseudotechnical terms that seem to offer glimmers of insight into how things actually work but are actually the window-dressing we demand before we will accept the miracles. I find it unsurprising that in an age which considers itself scientific, we require these litanies of apparent technological chatter. I say apparent. Surely no one would argue this is real science? But if it isn’t real science, why is it there? I say to suit the taste of the age.

But number 7. Number 7 is something else. Written by Mike Carey, art credited to Pasqual Ferry, and credits to a whole host of others, who again, I have not the patience to list. Since this is unofficial, don’t guess it matters, huh?

Anyhow, the stunning visuals that make incredible beings and abilities seem real, the profligate invention and yet consistency. I respect minds that can evoke—not merely suppose, but evoke—worlds, realms, orders of existence wholly different in organization to our own, and yet consistent enough and familiar enough to make me want to inhabit them. This is a hell of a book, deeply cross-connected and involving. I love what it implies for hope, love, beauty, fierceness, ability across the range of universes.

I’ll close out, weary at having gone on too long, with the Local Cluster that is the assembly of galaxies including Top Ten, Smax, and The Forty-Niners. Can’t do them justice with the energy I have left, but the sympathy combined with comedy, the stimulating and wildly imaginitive mix of beings, the easy way with translating the essence of the police procedural to a wholly fantastic realm, the evoked reality of the worlds set forth, the interconnections, the layers and layers and layers of implication and joke and cross-fertilizing concepts: the cross-over war of the supermice, you think all us blue guys know each other, the beautiful pathos of the death of the western cavalry. Then to move to the imagined prestory of the Forty-Niners, which seems to have been implicit all along when one revisits the two volumes of Top Ten. Or to the high comedy of Smax, the absolutely delightful imaginings of the magical world Jaffs Macksun has come from, somehow featherweight humorous fantasy easily balancing all the darkness that shadows the equally wonderful but grimmer humor of Top Ten.

Everybody knows Alan Moore is tops, of course. There are quite a few artists responsible, most notably Gene Ha and Zander Cannon. What a satisfying world they have created.

The Tom Strong series is delightful, as are the ABC comix. Love the droll humor of Jack Quick (takes a thorough conversance and fascination with physics to play such jokes with it), the B-grade melodrammer of Greyshirt, the social and comix satire of First American.

I know most people would nominate League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Watchmen or V for Vendetta, but me, not quite. LEG is a blast, and very satisfyingly brought to life. It is the best of adventure stories, but doesn’t rise above the genre.

Watchmen seems to me a tour de force by someone of unmatchable ability, but it doesn’t have the heart or wit of the Top Ten group. I am offended by the Comedian, yes, which does not mean I do not think such a behavior would be possible, given the world. The Nixon-forever background brings back my nightmares from the late sixties and early seventies. But I do not believe, as Ozymandias appears to, that human history is deterministic, and can be predictably guided with just the right push, his justification for killing half a million. And I don’t think the book is clear enough about his error. On the whole, it seems a parade of grimness to impress. As for V—impressive. Impressive. Don’t think the opposition of 1984 to Shakespearean fatedness and beauty quite takes. The formal structures do not quite mate with the would-be serious theme. But it nevertheless gets at some pretty profound stuff. And he was how old? Twenty-Two?

Okay. Out of words and ideas. See you in the funny-papers.

13 Responses to “The Greatest Comix Ever”

  1. brd says:

    So, if I went out to buy just one “comic book” that would exemplify the “art” of it to me, which one would you suggest? Willworld?

  2. Jack Butler says:

    Probably two, not one. My own favorite would be the two Top Ten volumes. It may be too science-fictionish for you, but the characters and jokes are simply wonderful. If you treat all the “abilities” stuff as background, and pay attention to the plotline, it gets really good.

  3. I got a real kick out of this list, Jack. Willworld is indeed really amazing; DeMatteis has not always been well served by his artists, but (the sadly departed) Seth Fisher is perfect for that book, for that vision of the world. A lot of this I haven’t read and am now going to need to—I think my comics store has a discounted copy of Emperor Joker. And Infinite City sounds really interesting—I hadn’t heard of it before.

    Top Ten is beautiful, and Betsy, I think you should give it a shot. Moore has allowed some other writers to play in the Top Ten sandbox in the last couple of years, in a mini series called Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct (written by Paul Di Filippo) and the new Top Ten: Season Two. The latter is written by Zander Cannon with art by Gene Ha, but it still doesn’t come close to matching the spark of Moore’s original. (And the less said about Farthest Precinct, the better.)

    I’m teaching Watchmen this semester (seemed like a good time, with the movie coming out next month) and this time through Ozymandias seems more clearly pathetic and deluded. (I mean, he’s so mired in his version of the ancient world that he hasn’t even read up to Shelley to see that his name might have some ironic connotations.)

    I’ve been interested to follow the various news stories about what the movie is leaving out and changing. They aren’t including the Tales from the Black Freighter comic, which is I guess understandable given that it’s one of those things you could only really do in comics, not in film. But it’s that comic—the tale of a sailor who murders his friends and family under the false assumption that he’s avenging them—that gives us the clearest clue that Ozy is wrong—not that the action he takes isn’t justified, but that the very premise that he founds that action on is mistaken. Without that in the movie, without that ironic counterpoint to Ozy’s grandiose master plan, I think the film runs the risk of suggesting Sometimes Real Leaders Make Necessary Sacrifices in the Name of X. And I think we’ve more than enough of that the last few years.

    Anyway, not to sidetrack: I love this list and I should really make one of my own. Maybe I could even post again one day soon!

  4. Jack Butler says:

    Professor Fury, would love to read new posts from you. In another connection, I should really send my post about pastiches to gorjus more directly—my mind is so distributed nowadays that I carry on what seem to me simultaneous conversations and I come back to them with something to say only to find that time has moved on, and the conversation is no longer considered extant. No reason to suppose anyone would go back (except you, except you) and read old comments on old posts.

    Betsy, keep in mind that the comix post was by definition only about superhero comix. I have a weakness for superheroes. There are plenty of other graphic novels whose accomplishments are equivalent to fine literature. Maus. Persopolis. Maybe some of the works of Los Bros Hernandez. Many others. I was just giving my reasons for thinking that a few superhero comix were good enough.

    Prof, I wonder if there are twenty other people in the world who are aware of that issue of Cavalier. It was 1969, I’m pretty sure. July issue, I think. Somewhere around then.

    And you really should check out the new Ultimate Fantastic Four series. I recommend the whole thing, because it’s fun, and number 7 sort of makes more sense with the others as a background, though it is not required.

    Thanks for the warning about Farthest Precinct.

    You know, you’re right about the subtext of the Black Freighter story. That is a counter to Ozymandias’s assumptions, and I failed to read it that way. Another thing that bugs me about Oz is his sad-eyed posture of moral suffering. Reminds me of certain “leaders” again. If you kill half a million people, no matter how good you think your reasons are, it strikes me as insufferable self-absorption to act as though you think your own qualms have any importance whatsoever by comparison.

    Would love to see your list.

  5. gorjus says:

    Okay, lots and lots to think about here—and some of my favorite stuff. Not, what’s so terrible about comics? But—what do you love?

    Because: so many things.

    I’m going to go short:

    Top Ten—I recently reread the first two “seasons,” and had to stop short of reading SMAX for the fifteenth time. Yes, it’s a “lesser” Moore work; there’s tons of humor—but—”I’M A POLICE”—the gallantry of Robyn, the horror of Jaafs’ past—the (loving) perversion of his, ahem, significant other. There is so much to love here, not the least of which, the deeply complex of wondrous world. To say nothing of the lovely Forty-Niners—which I adore for Vampire mafioso, Nazi scientists, and gay Blackhawks, who aren’t caricatures, but real mean, who fight and drink and make out, just like—well, real men.

    Does Fables count as superheroes? I’ll wait on a ruling before I blather on about its joys (and there are many, along with its sometimes glaring failures). There’s no capes, but there is myth.

    An overlooked gem: World’s Finest, as written by Dave Gibbons, and rendered by Steve Rude. This three-issue mini came out many moons ago, but I never tire of soaking myself in it. Batman and Superman distilled down to their purest, plastic, most perfect essences—with some of the greatest visual depictions of capes’n’battlin’ I’ve ever seen, down to the treads on Bat’s boots.

    Animal Man, Animal Man, Animal Man: increasingly flawed in retrospect, it was the first time I ever “heard” a hero complain about not having pockets. It was the first time I ever “heard” a hero’s wife mad because he wasn’t pulling his weight around the house. And it was the first time I ever thought about what having a transporter in the basement, or a Martin for a boss, might practically mean; it was the first time I considered the world of caped fiction as reality, as a realistic world (something Top Ten does amazingly well). In the end, it broke Buddy Baker, and his family; but fiction saved him, as well—a concept Mr. Morrison has never quite let go of, and one that embedded itself in my young mind.

    Its spiritual cousin, Doom Patrol—another years-long battle against fiction and lies, history and cartoons. Listen, it wasn’t that I liked them—I didn’t, really, they seemed creepy, and Cliff Steele, the erstwhile Robotman, seemed like a jerk—but Crazy Jane is the type of character you can fall in love with, certainly one you can admire, and cheer for.

    Enough with the high-brow teenaged existentialism and REM lyrics—what about FIGHTIN’?? Listen, Marvel Super Hero Secret Wars—even when it was brand new and I was little—had flaws. When there is a buck-toothed freckled 8-year old brat with a cowlick in Sandusky, Alabama, thinking your characterization of the X-Men is somehow out of character? Then, Mr. Shooter, you should go back to editing, and leave the writing to your employees. But what grandeur! Dozens of heroes and villains stranded on a patchwork world, light years away: new costumes, odd powers, great danger! It’s the 4th issue that I will never forget: trapped beneath a mountain thrown by the Molecule Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four devise a way to free themselves.

    Now that Big Jim Shooter’s name has been invoked, let’s talk about his touchstone: the Legion of Super-Heroes. I’d be hard-pressed to find a single run I love, but let’s go with the LLL—not “Long Live the Legion,” but close—the Levitz/Lightle/LaRoque and, of course, Keith Giffen runs in the 80’s. Here’s the pitch for the straights: it’s the 30th century—inspired by the exploits of Superboy, one of the greatest heroes, a group of teenagers starts a club full of maxi-powered wanna-be heroes. It’s a Klordny-fest! The rules: to join, you have to have a power nobody else has, and have a gendered appendage to your name—so Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, and Matter-Eat Lad coexist happily with Light Lass, Chameleon Boy, Night Girl, and the list goes on and on . . .

    What kid doesn’t want to have a ring that lets her fly? What kid doesn’t want a super power and a costume, with the president on the phone, asking for their help? The Legion of Super-Heroes is the perfect end to the glorious 4-color struggles of the 20th century: a future where Hero is an occupation, one you aspire to, one where there’s a club and a training academy and nothing ever better.

    Okay, I gotta run home tomorrow and take notes on my bookshelf. This is getting me hyper. I have to say that somewhere, somehow Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men belong here, because they made me love super-hero opera, and broke my heart overt the deaths of cartoon heroines. Ah, Jean Grey!

  6. plok says:

    Gorjus—of course Fables counts as superheroes!

    Jack, it’s difficult—I have to name Steve Englehart’s “Coyote”—the diamond perfection of the omniscient narrative voice in the yellow caption box, to me it remains a revelation. Along with Gorjus I would say “Doom Patrol”, except…what anchors that to greatness is the strange notion that Cliff Steele and Crazy Jane may be in love, or at least something orthogonally-related to it…and so I can’t elevate it as perhaps I should, Because the perfect version of that relationship was set in the Seventies by Gerber and MIlgrom’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and it is TOUCHING.

    Have been drinking Scotch, just a heads-up for all you PrettyFakers…

    I’ll choose Gerber’s Howard The Duck MAX comic—slapdash off-the-cuff and rather coarse satire really, but the moral of the closing issues’ final two pages is enough to make it great. But maybe I just say that because in retrospect it’s so sombre. Likewise Grant Morrison’s Zatanna #4 and Mister Miracle #4—made me actually gasp, such virtuosity. Moore, of course, and the stunning smartness of Jack B. Quick made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion—“we just figured they’d want to have guns”—but the funny thing about Moore is that he is so BRILLIANT a collaborator, it’s always very difficult to hand it all to him, instead of his team. A compliment to him: he can’t crack such a list as this! Not even with “Lost Girls”! Although if I may I’ll nominate the first chapter of Voice Of The Fire, I believe entitled “Hob’s Hog”. For formal exercises of a certain kind no one beats Alan. But, it’s not comics…so…

    So I’ll say instead the William Messner-Loebs/Sam Kieth “Epicurus The Sage”—a must-read, Jack! Right up your playful alley! I guarantee satisfaction!

    But I can’t make lists: once I start I can’t stop. I’ll say “Ed The Happy Clown” by Chester Brown, who committed the sin of dating a girl I liked in high school. Flaming Carrot. And the madness of Stan Lee and jack Kirby’s “Beehive” issues of Fantastic Four—mammoth stuff.

    Scotch well and truly hitting now. I may have more to follow up with. Of course everything Englehart and Rogers ever did together. Ditko’s Shade and Dr. Strange. And now to bed.

  7. brd says:

    Hm.m.m.m. You know I don’t even know how one would buy a comic book. Top Ten is the name of a comic book or a series? Back in the day when I did know how to buy comics, I would go to Van Zandt’s store and there was a spinning rack and you would look at the pictures and buy one. But even then they had volume #’s. Do I need to look for a volume #?

    Jack, I actually did read Persepolis over Christmas. It was quite interesting. My sister lived in Iran immediately preceding the fall of the Shah, so I felt a certain personal relationship to that content.

    Next time I am at McKay’s, the Knoxville version of Choctaw, only not as nice and judging from the pix, way more crowded, I will see if I can figure out the comic section. (Prof—I do have some McKredits in my wallet!)

  8. Jack Butler says:

    Plok: It is my assumption that ALL p-fakers have been drinking either scotch or bourbon when they post. I thought it was required.

    One of the great things about this thread is all the suggestions I get for new (to me) issues to check out. One thing I should say is that compared to most on this site, I really don’t know comix that well. I’ve come back to them, beginning in roughly 2004, after having let go of them mostly for almost forty years. I glory in the new graphic novels in a completely untutored way. Buy almost only gns now—too impatient for the trickled-out storylines of the monthly issues, as I was with movie serials back when you could see a Roy Rogers double feature, a newsreel, previews, a cartoon, and a serial for 12 cents.

    Gorjus, I thought of Animal Man and Doom Patrol. I really did. Have not traveled enough with Animal Man. Love Doom Patrol. I suppose part of me thinks it is just TOO aware. A ridiculous attitude for a meta-meta like myself. Incidentally, as a kid I loved The Metal Men, despite the obvious dereliction of physics. Now they are treated mostly as humorous foils, but I really loved them.

    Plok, how can you say Alan Moore is not comix? He is to me. He’s tops. I find amazing humanity and sympathy in Top Ten, all the more amazing because of the potentially silly nature of his heroes. And the fact that he collaborates so well is more evidence of his genius, to me. His visions stimulate his collaborators to greater heights. Put it this way: Which of his collaborators have achieved anything like the heights they achieve with Moore? And to me, what I have seen of Lost Girls is just Moore on his all-our-sexual-mores-are-a-crock rant. He’s right, but the attitudinizing bores me, despite the masturbatory-worthy illoes.

    I’ll put it down to the scotch. Incidentally, I am developing a long response to your last comment on another post about expanding space. Has required a lot of thinking. Apparently the conversational part of my brain does not keep track of elapsed time. Or doesn’t care.

    And thanks for recommending Epicurus the Sage. I really look forward to it.

    Brd, Top Ten, the Alan Moore Top Ten, is a single narrative published in two volumes of graphic novels. You buy a comic at a comix store. Sometimes the chains, and sometimes other book stores, have good graphics novels sections, but don’t count on it. Ask Professor Fury. He knows. Also, I think you can buy online now, though probably not the older stuff. Actually, if you want just a single volume, Willworld is a hell of a book—but be ready for mind-expansion and some of the most fun surrealism you have ever seen. I didn’t recommend it to you mostly because I think you get more out of it if you are familiar with the DC character Green Lantern already.

    Back to gorjus: I LOVE Smax. May be lesser work in some sense, but it is so wonderfully realized I can’t think of it that way. Fables definitely counts for me. I thought about it. Didn’t put it on my list for an unfair reason: It suffers by comparison with Top Ten—another isolated group of beings with supernal powers, who develop a rough-and-ready but workable and workaday society. It’s fine work, and glad to see you mentioning it.

    As for the Legion: I suspect that even as a youthster, I preferred individual heroics to groups and organizations. I did like Superboy, but I thought Krypto was supremely ridiculous (I’m talking narrative tone here—obviously Superboy is ridiculous in quite another way). World’s Finest—I missed out on the issues you are talking about. All the WF I saw were so patently silly, so obviously DC attempting to capitalize, that I wrote the whole thing off.

  9. Jack Butler says:

    Just saw the trailer for the Watchmen movie. I gotta see it, but am afraid you may be right about the Sometimes Real Leaders Make Necessary Sacrifices in the Name of X take. Love the phrase. May I borrow it (crediting you, of course)? I blog on Open Salon, and feel like saying something about this pernicious and persistent meme, which, like you, I despise. It is stupid and mistaken in a thousand ways. Mainly though, the ones who invoke it somehow never ask my consent. They flatter themselves warriors (though this latest batch sure set a new record for avoiding combat). But a member of a real warrior class, like the samurai, doesn’t make all that self-congratulatory noise. A member of such class considers that he or she has been born to die. He or she sees life as a role, each human as playing a necessary sort of existence. The warrior’s role is to put life on the line. It is not to the role of the warrior to examine the dogma or noble for whom he or she risks death.

    True warriors, then, do not seek to govern.

    Gorjus, that patch about the kid with the cowlick in Alabama, your admonition to shooter, is a fine piece of writing.

    Did you guys notice—assuming you have both seen the trailer—that he does Night Owl as a kind of Batman? Which is reassuring, because that’s how I read him, as Moore’s version of Batman.

    Reassuring, because unfortunately, I discovered, the movie was made by the same guy who made 300. Which I consider way way way over the top and sneakily homoerotic (the homoerotic is okay but the sneakiness is repulsive) and also very Poe-esque in its romance of death.

  10. Absolutely! Borrow away! Feel free also to make it better! No credit necessary.

    Yeah, Moore has been quoted saying that while he wasn’t keen on them making a Watchmen movie in the first place, he’s even more pessimistic now that Zak Snyder is in charge.

  11. Jack Butler says:

    Just saw the movie V for Vendetta. Not at all the same as the gn. They dropped several subplots, changed motivations—V becomes more nearly a Phantom of the Opera character, motivated by love and revenge, not by justice. He is treated as a monster with a hideous no-face, which is why the mask, and he falls in love with Evey, but because of his face knows he can never have her. She does not replace him, and when he rescues her, she is not trying to prostitute herself, but is “nobler.” The whole FATE computer business is dropped. The bad guys took over in a coup, but not because of world-wide devastation (though there is some). The experiments at Larkhill were with a bio-weapon virus. And so on.

    In other words, they moved it closer to pop expectations and familiar narratives. All in all, if you can forget the gn, a good movie, though.

    So good I have wondered why I had never heard of it till recently (it came out in 2005). My theory is that we were well into the bush league repression, and while there was probably no overt censorship, its message probably made the intimidated citizens nervous. There are some pretty obvious takes on the actions of bush and his cronies. I suspect some of the gn was changed to make the narrative more “timely.”

  12. I still haven’t seen the film of V but I’m not at all surprised about the changes you describe. I suspect you’re right that its political moment inspired a lot of changes; in some respects its amazing that the film got made at all, given how interested the book is (in my dim memory at least) in exploring the line between “outlaw hero” and “terrorist.”

  13. plok says:

    “Street Fighting Man” over the closing credits of V damn near killed me.

    I’m surprised you folks don’t remember the reviews of V, with their scrupulous condemnations of V’s actions, even if his cause was just…

    I think the parts of the movie that work the best are the parts which survived from the comic in a reasonably unaltered state—Moore creates sequences with “cinematic” dramatic punch almost effortlessly, it seems—with one exception, and that’s Evie’s torture. Not their fault, really: to my eyes, the power of that story comes out of the time and space control that’s specific to the comics form, even to the serialized comics form, and it just doesn’t translate well to film. And yet, it clearly can’t be done without!

    But that’s all what’s in the movie. What’s missing from it is, obviously, everything else. I miss the girl on the playground saying “Bollocks Mr. Susan!”, and most of all the passage where Evie deliberates over removing V’s mask.

    I’ll say it was probably always going to be an interesting failure…but that they still dropped the ball a time or two, when they didn’t have to.

    Still, people who never read the comic seemed to like it.

    On the other hand, every one of these people I’ve given the comic to afterwards tells me they can’t believe how much better it is than the movie.

    V For Vendetta as “gateway” comic book?

    Another ball dropped, I suspect.

    And on Alan: oh, I think most of Voice Of The Fire is absolutely comics! But the first chapter succeeds so spectacularly as prose (in my humble opinion) that it eclipses those more comicky transpositions, as good as they are. As to Lost Girls, I think what’s in it most of all for me is the perfection of Alan’s signature double vu technique—and Melinda’s art, of course. Point taken about Alan’s collaborators, a partnership definitely works both ways—and about Top Ten, since it’s your favourite: yes, it’s a more remarkable piece of work than I think it gets credit for, and another brilliant conceit, or rather another brilliant exploration of a tired old conceit that’s really never been used well. Again, he seems to produce these things without effort—his quotidian superheroes have a humanity that the quotidian superheroes of others are puzzlingly vacant of…maybe because their purportedly “realistic” settings are anything but. A lot of the people currently working the superhero material seem almost to have a disdain for character, don’t you think? Why the movies can often do better…but not in Alan’s case.

    After having seem the movie of “From Hell”, I find the prospect of a crash-and-burn Watchmen less upsetting—naturally I expect it will crash and burn, but From Hell was such an astonishingly empty viewing experience I can’t see how Watchmen could slip under the bar it set. From Hell, just turned into pure Hollywood “serious movie” boilerplate? Watchmen will miss the mark, probably brainlessly…but From Hell didn’t even try to hit it.

    Well, thoughts of the moment, anyhow…