Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sketch Reviews (February 9 2012)

Fuck it...

Some Brief Thoughts on Before Watchmen (which aren't meant to be nuanced or deep, but quick summations of where I'm coming from after reading 28,000 arguments for why this is the worst, most evil thing to happen in comics since forever... but, please, present those arguments again in the comments and see how much I care)

I honestly have no problems with Before Watchmen. None. I don't see the moral problem. I don't see scabs or traitors or anything wrong. It's not because I'm cynical or apathetic or unsympathetic... it's because Alan Moore signed a contract. Did something unexpected happen? Yeah. Watchmen stayed in print. You know what that makes DC? Lucky. You know what that makes Moore? Wrong. It's not a moral issue, it's a matter of someone signing a bad deal and it biting them in the ass. Let's not all pretend like DC stole anything from the poor victim Alan Moore. Especially if you've gotten a copy of Watchmen after its initial print run, you hypocritical fucks. You kept the book in print.

There's much more to it, of course. I guess it comes down to how much you expected DC to rework a deal that wound up benefitting them greatly. Or how much you blame them for exploiting a deal that benefitted them greatly.

One thing I keep wondering about is what exactly people are fighting over. I mean, literally, what is there about Watchmen and its characters that's worth fighting over? What made Watchmen so special, such a great work? Was it the Charlton analogues? (And, make no mistake, 'analogue' is just another word for 'rip-off.' Don't pretend like it's not. Don't pretend like these characters are everso original and sprang fully formed from the mind of Moore. They're different enough, but come on... if you're going to start arguing bullshit technicalities to bolster that side of your argument, then I'll have to direct you back to the 'Moore signed the contract' part of what happened...) If it was just the characters, then, yeah, I guess it's all wrong. I was always under the impression that Watchmen was more than a bunch of analogues... more than anything in the plot... it was style, technique, and innovation -- a bunch of things that Moore doesn't (and can never) own. DC is publishing a bunch of books featuring analogues of characters they already own... it's like they own the empty shell that looks like a crab and are trying to make everyone think it's a crab. All I see are a bunch of people arguing over an empty shell.

And, just to add one more point to make people hate me: I did laugh at Moore's arguments against the idea of Watchmen prequels considering he's been pretty close to doing more work with the characters and the world in the past. I understand that the real argument is over whether or not it should be his say no matter what he thought in the past (and people can change their mind), but it really came off as a convenient shift in position. It's not so much that Watchmen doesn't need (or shouldn't have) prequels, it's fuck DC for doing them without him. Which, fair enough. I get his perspective... Everyone else? Keep arguing over your empty shell that he gave away willingly and you helped keep away from him. Me, I'm going to read (and hopefully enjoy) some comics by creators I think are talented.

(Also, go buy Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen featuring "The Smartest Man in the Morgue," an essay where I apply Raymond Chandler's "Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story" to Watchmen!)

Now, onto brief words on this week's comics (like anyone will care now...):

Batwoman #6: What do you do with a comic you were buying for the art when the artist isn't drawing it anymore? I like Amy Reeder's art... or, I have in the past. Here, it's got the added 'benefit' of two inkers who I'm not a fan of (Rob Hunter particularly has been an inker whose work I've loathed since seeing the job he did on Jim Starlin's pencils). The mediocre writing was a lot easier to stomach when it had JH Williams and Dave Stewart dressing up into something amazing. Somehow, the 'new 52' has started falling apart on me lately... This may have to be a book I buy every other arc. [**]

Captain America #8: Conceptually, an issue that didn't add much to the first two parts of this story. There are a couple of plot points worth seeing happen, but, for the most part, it's more of Cap dealing with his problem. I did really like the way he overcompensates and how that winds up biting him in the ass. And Alan Davis art! That opening fight scene is absolutely gorgeous. [***1/4]

Haunt #21: When I wondered a few weeks back if this issue had come out, I know now that it had not. Always nice when Diamond's own list is wrong, right? Anyway... Bickering and fighting dudes on motorcycles while a guy reads from his evil Bible? Joe Casey's brain is a fun place -- made even better by Nathan Fox's art. [****]

Journey into Mystery #634: Richard Elson's art looks different in this issue. Slicker, faker... maybe the colouring changed? I don't like it as much. Otherwise, an entertaining issue. The banter between Loki and Leah was funny -- and the way that Loki figured out Nightmare was trying to trick him was clever. [***1/2]

Secret Avengers #22: I really like Gabriel Hardman's art and I'm digging on Rick Remender's take on Captain Britain. The rest? Not as much. This story here didn't keep my interest at all. The villains come off as tedious -- there's nothing there for me to hate and nothing there for me to like... they just are. Unsure if I'll give this another issue or not. [**1/2]

The Unwritten #34: Goddamn, that's a great issue! The reversal of Tom's fortunes was genuinely surprising and the way he took down the members of the Cabal was shocking in its execution -- mostly because this was more organised and capable than we've seen these characters act yet. It's the perfect time for them to get their act together, of course. And, the cliffhanger has me genuinely excited to see what happens next. Tom and Pullman. Goddamn. [****]

Wolverin and the X-Men #5: A charming comic if there ever was one. There's a bit more plot to this issue than the fourth, but the things I liked best about last issue continue: namely, wonderful little character bits. Pieces of dialogue that just pop. Jason Aaron has zoned in on these characters to such an extent that I don't care about the plot. There doesn't need to be a plot as far as I'm concerned. I could read a comic about lunch in the cafeteria every month, I think, and find it wildly entertaining. Hell, the thing I liked least about this issue was the plot. A rare thing in comics. Nick Bradshaw's art is a bit hit or miss for me: it depends on the characters and, sometimes, the individual panel. His style tends to make characters look like children, which I find annoying -- at least for the adult characters in the book. There needs to be a better distinction between the students and teachers visually, I think. But, he absolutely nails stuff like Kid Gladiator sulking and Toad's surly annoyance. [****1/4]

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #2: Poor Quentin... girls aren't impressed by the way he's taken down Wolverine and made him run through his Construct. That's a shame. [***3/4]