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Scott Keith On Batman’s Death That No One Cared About

I liked the scene (and that issue of Final Crisis in general) where Batman met his doom that no one cares about at all. One of the Internet Wrestling Community (that is an actual phrase, for the non intiated) biggest luminaries did not. Just felt like bringing that to everyone’s attention. A week late.

While I don’t share his reaction (nor do I think keeping the comics in line with the movie versions is/should be much of a concern at this point, as years of big budget movie adaptations have shown that trying to line these things up doesn’t effect sales much, for a variety of reasons), I did find his “every issue should be someone’s first argument” in the comments interesting. It’s the kind of thing you get when you’re someone for whom the content of something like FC is something you are intimately familiar with and thus you have no problem following it.

Even if my not picking some of the tie-ins and Superman Beyond’s lateness did throw me off a bit. Which is why I hate crossovers on principle except when Morrison does them. Or when Hulk is beating up the entire Marvel Universe. Or when Abhay writes about Secret Invasion, which I sort of liked for reasons I can’t explain, even if I can’t be bothered to buy the last issue. Otherwise; cynical, shitty garbage!

So; has everyone’s apathy turned around now that this is even slightly relevant? Can the interest curve around walls and catch you no matter where you run from it, like Omega Beams? Possibly?

90 Comments

Well, and I doubt this makes up more than 10% of the apathy surrounding his death, the people who read Morrison’s run should know that Morrison has set up Batman as irreplaceable and God-like. So just on a thematic level, no one should be taking Morrison’s killing of Batman seriously.

Second, and this is probably like a good 40% of the apathy, most of comicdom are old vets who’ve seen this shit a couple dozen times before and know that this, without fail, will end with a 6 issue arc about Bruce Wayne’s “epic” return to the Bat mantle.

And the remaining 50% is due to the huge amount of outs DC’s given itself. Historically, Omega powers have sent people to the past (and not killed them) or forced them to relive different versions of their lives (and not killed them). Darkseid even calls his omega sanction “the death that is life.” And when Superman comes resting the drooping corpse of Batman on his arms, it’s not difficult to connect that with the chamber containing dozens of Batman clones.

It’s difficult to take the death of a major character (Batman) seriously in the pages of a series that already resurrected another character (the Flash) whose death was so powerful, meaningful and integral to his own mythos that even his biggest fans wanted him to stay dead.

At least Batman was allowed to “die” heroically. Pity the Martian Manhunter, whose death in the same series seems cheap and meaningless by comparison, and who will probably stay “dead” even longer.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 21, 2009 at 4:10 am

Batman’s dead ?!? What have I been missing???!!!???

Just kidding. ;-)

Just wondering how long before Batman turns back to normal. Pre-Morrison-wise, that is.

Rob nails it. It’s kind of hard to care when you’re told, almost in the same breath, “We’re bringing back Barry Allen because we like the character and frankly, nobody should take the death of a fictional character too seriously. This is just fun, people, fun!” And, “OMG WE’RE KILLING BATMAN AND THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS BECAUSE IT WILL CHANGE THE DC UNIVERSE FOREVERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

My new rule: Is the story actually any good if you assume that in five years’ time every single change it makes will be retconned back? If “no”, then it’s not a good story.

Stephane Savoie

January 21, 2009 at 6:09 am

I seriously don’t understand what the problems with most fans are.
Is Batman permanently dead? Of course not. Nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a moment in history, it’s an opportunity to tell stories.
Was the story of his death good? Pretty good. At least as good as Cap’s. It’s still only as middle chapter of Morrison’s Batman epic, and the penultimate chapter of Final Crisis, so it’s not completely done yet.
Will the stories while he’s gone be good? We can hope.
Will the story of his return be good? God willing.

The real problems with the Death of Supes and Knightfall were never that they were gimmicks… it’s that they couldn’t live up to their own concepts. While the publicity and editorial depts at DC could have handled this better, I’m trying to be optimistic that DC will do something worthwhile with all this.

This is my third try getting this through so sorry if three of the same message from me just pop up.

I don’t know why everyone’s treating the throbbingly obvious “hints” to Nightwing becoming Batman as legit. I’m fairly sure Tim will replace Batman, and I will resort to shameless self-promotion if it makes people understand why. Plz click my name to read my essay on this matter. :) Cheers.

It really could be the “End of Bruce Wayne as Batman”…

Why not have a Batman Beyond situation, with Bruce now in an Oracle-style role, masterminding the new Batman from the Bat-cave?

The Omega Santion having drained him physically, but not mentally?

Actually I don’t think anyone in the IWC has given a shit about Scott Keith in several years…but then these days the IWC is basically a handful of guys posting on deathvalleydriver.com and jerking off to KENTA matches…

The Omega Sanction isn’t fatal. It just sends the victim spiralling through worse and worse alternate versions of their own lives. The reader, in no way, is to believe that Batman is dead.

Yeah, as Joe mentioned, the great thing about this “killing off” of Batman is that Morrison explicitly does NOT “kill off” Batman, and does even pretend that he does.

The only people who think Batman is dead are the fictional characters of the DC Universe, which is a great way to handle it.

“Batman met his doom that no one cares about at all. ”

Exactly.

I care not to read comics that will make me feel like a dupe. That make me feel the writer is lying to me.

I finally read Keith’s piece.

I can’t believe we seriously have a link up to one of the most idiotic pieces of “commentary” I’ve seen about comics. Maybe if it was a sort of “look at what this moron is saying!” type of deals…

Yeah, as Joe mentioned, the great thing about this “killing off” of Batman is that Morrison explicitly does NOT “kill off” Batman, and does even pretend that he does.

Okay. This in a nutshell is my problem with most of Final Crisis. You have to ALREADY KNOW this. It’s not laid out in the story except in the most ambiguous way with a couple of enigmatic comments from Darkseid. If we are coming to this cold, as a great many of us who haven’t gotten around to Seven Soldiers did, we have to go look it up on the internet just to grasp what the hell’s going on.

There are a lot of people that take the position “so what, that’s how comics work any more, it’s only for us anyway, get over it.” But I am not one of them. I really think it should be right there in the book. At least more than it actually was.

The only people who think Batman is dead are the fictional characters of the DC Universe, which is a great way to handle it.

Again, it’s not in-story. It’s only “obvious” to people so steeped in Morrison’s other work that it jumps right out at them. Most of us disbelieved it because we’re cynical and fed up with these artificial events. Banking on your readers being cynical enough to instantly disbelieve a major story climax/plot point seems to me like a strategy designed to invite scorn and burnout. Judging by the numbers for DC books I think it’s working.

I really, really hope I’m wrong and Morrison subverts my pessimistic expectations with the conclusion.

A comic book ends with a cliffhanger of a character seemingly dead and it isn’t explained in the actual cliffhanger what really happened?

Effin’ Morrison!

Seriously, it will be in #7.

The only reason it is obvious to certain readers is because they HAVE read other Morrison projects. It’s just a bonus for those fans who have been reading his previous work. The ones who haven’t will find out next issue.

A comic book ends with a cliffhanger of a character seemingly dead and it isn’t explained in the actual cliffhanger what really happened?

That’s exactly what you and Joe ARE saying. “Batman’s not dead it’s right there Omega Sanction you morons! How can you even think for a second Batman’s dead?” Allegedly right there in the cliffhanger.

So which is it? We’re stupid for not knowing about the Omega Sanction or stupid for playing along with the cliffhanger and thinking Batman might be dead? Clearly, though, whatever the case, it must be READERS who are at fault. God forbid it might actually have been a poorly-thought-out bit of business from Morrison and his editors who instituted a followup put-a-new-guy-in-the-suit storyline to milk a death no one believes in.

I want to second what Brian stated about the existing condition of Batman’s “death” in the DCU as the valuable outcome of that scene, and add that, in my opinion, the last panels of Final Crisis #6 is what make’s Batman’s death relevant. Superman scorching Bludhaven to retrieve his best friend’s gnarled corpose, then holding it and looking like he’s too heartbroken/mad to give the spinaroundtheearthreallyfastandmaketimereverse trick is the rare superhero comic moment that’s exciting in a full-out action way, but also touching (maybe even a bit of a tearjerker?) That last page suggests such devotion, it feels like it could’ve fallen out of All-Star in some epic Morrison note-jumble. Sure, none of us believe Batman is actually dead – but doesn’t it make your heart hurt a litle that Superman does?

while i disagree that every comic should be written as if it’s somebody’s first comic, i do agree in spirit that every comic should have a certain level of accessibility (be it a recap page, a bit of context placement within the story, or something else). i’ve been reading comics for over 20 years at this point, since the age of 4 if you can believe that. not only was i confused by the first issue of Final Crisis, but i was confused by this sixth issue as well, even after having read the first issue and following all the Internet buzz around the plot. i think the complexity of Final Crisis and it’s rare form of of inaccessibility is a flaw within the storytelling. conceptually it’s strong, but the method of delivery is obscure to me.

I’ve basically hit a real numbing point with death in comics. If I heard DC was going to have Superman’s entrials spread across two pages I’d be mad but the thing I wouldn’t be is shocked. It would just be like “Oh, guess they finally marked that off their to-do list.” I feel like it has reached a point where if it’s extreme, grimdark, and stupid DC or Marvel will probably do it. They should be honest and change the name to mean Death Crisis comics because that’s really all that ever seems to go on.

Regardless of it’s temporary or not it’s just hard for me to care when anything and everything can be thrown on the slab at anytime just to get that temporary sales boost. It’s all about the convoluted clusterf**k event and which character on the editors list gonna get gored out next. That’s not even to say there weren’t some cool aspects to how he “went out” but its funny because for all the lipservice modern comics give to bucking cliches from the Silver Age they’ve damn sure made a cliche out of one thing. Death.

Besides, even if this is all some big swerve haven’t we done the multi-part Batman gets replaced event already and it wasn’t that cool the first time? Only now I guess everybody and their mom gets to try out. Two-Face as Batman? Does the Penguin get to be Batman to? Hey, how about Lord Death Man? :P

That’s exactly what you and Joe ARE saying. “Batman’s not dead it’s right there Omega Sanction you morons! How can you even think for a second Batman’s dead?” Allegedly right there in the cliffhanger.

So which is it? We’re stupid for not knowing about the Omega Sanction or stupid for playing along with the cliffhanger and thinking Batman might be dead? Clearly, though, whatever the case, it must be READERS who are at fault. God forbid it might actually have been a poorly-thought-out bit of business from Morrison and his editors who instituted a followup put-a-new-guy-in-the-suit storyline to milk a death no one believes in.

Again, it’s right there for the readers who know about Morrison’s previous work (me, Joe, other people, etc.) For the REST of the readers, they will find out next issue, like every other cliffhanger in the history of comic books.

In fairness to Brian,. I forgot to add that he’s right about the original article that’s linked being INCREDIBLY lame.

In fairness to Brian,. I forgot to add that he’s right about the original article that’s linked being INCREDIBLY lame.

Yeah, agreed, it’d be a lot cooler if the impetus for this argument wasn’t so mind-numbingly dumb.

Again, it’s right there for the readers who know about Morrison’s previous work (me, Joe, other people, etc.) For the REST of the readers, they will find out next issue, like every other cliffhanger in the history of comic books.

How do you know that? I thought DC intended for Batman to be “dead” (even to the ill-informed readers) for a little while and then at the end use one of the “outs” I mentioned in the first comment to resurrect Batman. The whole battle for the cowl stuff does lose its immediacy when every single readers know for a fact that Bruce Wayne is not dead.

I enjoy Scott Keith’s wrestling related reviews, but I find his other pop-culture commentary to be on the low-brow side. It’s like he’s still stuck in 1991 and the greatest things in the world are T2 and Motley Crue. As for his review, he opens with swearing, which immediatly turns me off. In my world, if a reviewer can’t think of more clever ways to express their opinion than by swearing, then their opinion can’t be terribly insightful or clever to begin with. It’s not set in stone, but 95% of the time a curse-laiden review comes off as less thought out than one lacking swearing.

However, it was pretty surreal finding a link to Mr Keith’s site here.

When it comes to all things Morrison, I can always count on the 2 Gregs for a clear assessment on this blog:

There are a lot of people that take the position “so what, that’s how comics work any more, it’s only for us anyway, get over it.” But I am not one of them. I really think it should be right there in the book. At least more than it actually was.

Yes, right on. It’s not even for all of “us,” just the people who read “Seven Soldiers” and are extremely steeped in DC lore. As someone who read the first few issues of Seven Soldiers and quit in disgust and refuses to ever read any more of that self-indulgent masturbation parading as a story, I hate that I have to read that book to totally get what’s going on. I hate that even for a longtime comic readers like me, I need to look up annotations and explanations on the Internet.

Darkseid’s beams have always been transformative/reversible. I remember that from my old Super Powers toy.

And knowing that Batman isn’t really dead isn’t cynicism. It’s common sense.

Seven Soldiers masturbatory and awful? T’s comic ideas are almost as idiotic as his gender thinking.

Insofar as “every comic should be someone’s first”, they used to try that approach with t.v. series, too, and shows have been much better since they just said “screw it, we’ll give them a one minute ‘Previously…’ segment and get on with the convoluted story, already” (see: Battlestar or 24, for example). Something like Peter David’s quick recaps on the front page of X-Factor works well enough.

I’ve never been an avid reader of DC comics, though, so I’m firmly in Camp Apathy on this one. I do wish that character death in comics hadn’t become such a laughable phenomenon, though. Isn’t Sue Richards dead or something?

And knowing that Batman isn’t really dead isn’t cynicism. It’s common sense.

I guess my problem with this, Joe, is that this sentiment only really works within the ONE story. If it was all contined within Final Crisis I’d have a lot less problem with it. But it’s not. It’s sprawling all over a bunch of other books and is the instigating event for a whole new crossover. We know going in it’s a false premise but for the event to have real impact we are expected to treat it as real. “Just go with it” is a sentiment we should all be used to in superhero stories, but, I dunno, I guess I’d like to feel as though they were trying harder to meet us halfway on the credibility of these fake deaths. Or find a new riff altogether.

I dunno, I like the honesty of saying, “Hey, the characters think he’s dead” (if they even end up thinking so) “but you know he’s gonna be fine one day!”

Agreed.

I think this is Morrison trying to COMBAT cynicism. He KNOWS that people have become cynical about stuff like this, so he’s going out of his way to “kill” Batman withOUT having to pretend that this is some permanent death.

That said, sure, while Joe has a good point that the Omega Beams have always had a reversible effect, the Omega Sanction change Morrison made in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle is fairly important, so if #7 contains nothing implying that Batman is within the Omega Sanction, then fair enough, complain then.

Just don’t complain about a cliffhanger not making sense when it has not been resolved yet.

Don’t forget, Morrison’s already set up a precedent for Batman not staying dead… (as perceived by the other heroes) in Final Crisis, I should add…

At J’onn’s funeral we had Supes say “… and pray for a resurrection”

Damn you..I stopped reading Keith years ago, and now I’ve spent 2 hours reading thru his blog!

Or Bats could be dead in this case, R.I.P is all about him ‘dying’ BFTC is about people trying to live with out Bruce, him showing up/waking up/getting out of the brain washing what have you taking his place back and THEN dying after braking his own code and shooting a god.

Only then after being broken by seeing what he could have been, could have lived, after finally dying to what this earth bound Dark God has done, will he come back as an undead aberration with a Black Lantern Ring.

Or has no one thought about what happens if Blackest Night has the Dark Knight?

Hell it would be about the only way I could live with Bats dying and Coming back. To this day ‘Quiver’ is the only death to life story that doesn’t tick me off.

While the details of the Omega Sanction are spelled out in Seven Soldiers, I think it’s very important to a discussion of FC6′s accessibility that Darkseid’s Omega Beams have always done basically whatever the writer wanted within the context of a story– including killing and then resurrecting people.

Even if you haven’t read Seven Soldiers (which is, let’s face it, a lot of comics fans), the fact that Darkseid can “kill” Batman in a fundamentally temporary and reversible (but still gruesomely unpleasant) way is still comprehensible from context with just one caveat. You do have to know, generally, how Darkseid’s Omega Beams traditionally work, but it’s inarguable that more potential FC buyers are going to know this than have read Seven Soldiers.

Now, it’s fully debatable as to whether or not it’s appropriate for a major scene involving the death of Batman should rely on knowledge of how a significantly more obscure villain’s powers work in order to be comprehensible. I don’t think you can fairly call the scene out for not being comprehensible without having read a tremendous amount of Morrison’s DCU body of work, though. If anything the scene reads better if you haven’t, and therefore aren’t inclined to compare it to Morrison’s previous, inferior Batman/Darkseid encounter from JLA.

“I really think it should be right there in the book. At least more than it actually was.”

I did think it was pretty silly that if you didn’t read the last rites tie ins (especially as I seem to recall Morrison & co repeating that you didn’t have to read the tie ins to follow the story), you’d have absolutely no idea why Batman was suddenly free of his capsule thing and walking around.

Same goes for Lois Lane suddenly standing around saying “he’ll come” or whatever. Bad enough the superman beyond tie in is late, worse still that (again) there’s not even any explanation as to how she’s suddenly up on her feet IF you’re not reading the spinoffs.

Although I liked much of Morrison’s run on Batman, R.I.P., to me, was very unaccesible. I picked up a comic in the run, and had no idea what was going on at all. It didn’t make me want to buy every issue prior because one, I shouldn’t have to, and two, I’m broke. I don’t think a story should represent the fact that the issue held may be someone’s first comic book, but at least have a “Previously In” to catch readers up to speed. (Seven Soldiers, I had NO clue what was going on.)

I don’t believe either of the BIg Two is necessarily better than the other; they both have pros and cons, heroes and villains amazing and mort-like, but at least with Marvel … for the most part … I can pick up a title and I’ll have an idea of what’s happened prior so I’m not stuped.

With Final Crisis, I was stuped, and I had read each issue as it appeared. I eventually figured things out, but sometimes after I read everything more than once, and with online commentary. I’ve been reading comics for 30 of my 33 years, and if I have trouble with a comic, I shudder to think about a newbie who comes onboard because s/he hears FC is supposed to be “big”.

As for the matter at hand, I didn’t care Batman died because of the hype involved. Overall, after reading the full R.I.P. arc from downloading it, I felt it would have been a great read, save for the ending. The ending was sooo built up as something astounding, but it ended with the apparent death of Batman by the devil (?) which was lame … but at least it could have been better if it had ended there and not … “Read Final Crisis for the real ending!”

Granted, if a story in itself is good, then that shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s what surrounds a story that can make or break it.

R.I.P. and BFTC could be good stories when one thinks of the impact Batman’s “death” has on the characters surrounding him. Sure, we know he’ll come back at some point, but his friends and family only can guess if it will happen, and so it brings an additional level of characterization for each one. This man is HUGE in so many lives in the DC Universe, so his death would be felt by many.

Even how he died in Crisis was pretty cool. But again, I didn’t care really because of the hype that was involved. Things were played up for the hype, I think, rather than for the story.

The hype that “R.I.P.” doesn’t necessarily mean “Rest In Peace”; Batman may not die, but then his “Final Fate” is played up towards the end. I can understand that companies need to sell and create hype for their product, but they should be aware that for many fans it is difficult to take something seriously when death means relatively nothing in the superhero genre; or, at least, that to make long running story arc in one series only for it to mean one has to get another series, than fans aren’t going to be necessarily thrilled. (Like the search for Atom across the Multiverse … with the final issue saying, “oh, if you want to know what happens next, you have to buy subsequent issues of Countdown.)

As a nine year old kid I was devastated when Kara and Barry were killed in Crisis, but now I’m able to read new stories about them. So, it’s nice to think that with canon and continuity that a character one likes may come back in one form or another. With Barry, for example, it doesn’t detract from the sacrifice he made in CoIE; he still sacrificed his life and showcases the fact that he is a hero through and through and if it ever had to made again, he’d do it.

Storywise, it is more shocking to see a smouldering corpse, and it does make the reader wonder how Bruce Wayne will come out of that one. I think Battle for The Cowl may be a fun read … especially when one wonders how CatWOMAN or BatGIRL can be the new BatMAN, for example, but DC should be aware that fans may not get too excited over something that was essentially done with Superman, and the fact we have seen Batman replaced before more than once.

If the storyline is rewarding and the done with justice like with Captain America (who I’m sure will be back to Steve Rogers at some point) than if may be a decent ride until Bruce Wayne returns. Especially if, for example, the Dark Knight is even darker as a Black Lantern.

DC perhaps realizes that promoting this asomething exciting and new is rather redundant for many who were there for Superman’s demise and return, but then again, there’s lots of Batman fans that weren’t there when it happened, and some who only know Superman died because of a recent animated DVD, so maybe they are looking at it like that.

Still, would I buy it if I wasn’t a Catwoman fan, I doubt it, but at least it may be more accessible to to read than what Morrison currently shoots out.

I don’t think you can fairly call the scene out for not being comprehensible without having read a tremendous amount of Morrison’s DCU body of work, though.

There’s a world of difference between “incomprehensible” and “not obvious.” My original point, which seems to be getting lost in a lot of side arguments, was that Joe and Brian were saying that it was OBVIOUS Batman couldn’t really be dead because the Omega Sanction ‘out’ was RIGHT THERE, and I replied that it’s only OBVIOUS if you’d already read Seven Soldiers.

To amplify the original point, take Seven Soldiers out of the equation and you’re left with not one but two stories with Batman dying a big hyped-up fake death within a few weeks of each other, R.I.P. and Final Crisis, and these are going out to a readership that’s frankly saturated with stupid fake-death ‘event’ comics already. Brian and Joe seem to be of the opinion that it’s so obvious Batman can’t really be dead that there’s no reason to find this annoying, it’s just a plot point.

I, on the other hand, disagree. My feeling is that if it is so obvious Batman can’t really be dead then why screw around with yet another riff on it? Especially after doing it with Superman, Aquaman, the Flash, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and even (sort of) Batman himself in Knightfall? “We all know it’s just a stunt so why get upset?” strikes me as a pretty lame defense. I think I’d like it better if DC would find some other hook to hang their big event books on than fake-killing a franchise character and doubletalking him back to life.

It doesn’t RUIN Final Crisis for me, but it does take me out of the story a bit. The thing I always come back to– ever since I was a wee lad getting annoyed at episodes of Star Trek that pretended to kill Capatain Kirk– is this: if we all know it’s not going to stick, why even go there? Quit screwing around and tell a real story.

If we all know it’s not going to stick, why even go there? Quit screwing around and tell a real story.

EXACTLY!! I agree 100% with everything Greg’s said. I’ve been reading DC Comics for 30 years, and I found Final Crisis incomprehensible. I gave it up in disgust after issue #4. When a long-time reader like myself is finding the storytelling too obscure to follow, something’s seriously wrong.

Seriously — What the hell is the point of telling a months-long storyline where Bruce Wayne is replaced as Batman when he’s just going to come back eventually? Not only is it a dumb rehash of Knightsfall, it’s utterly lacking in suspense because it has a foregone conclusion. Just tell interesting stories with Batman.

As with the Martian Manhunter funeral, I think the fact that it won’t stick is PART of the story he’s trying to tell. It’s not just a plot point, it’s a thematic point.

It’s hard to know whether to care too much about the reaction of people who can’t understand what they’re reading.

I’m not saying whether this solves whether this is a good or bad story. I think it’s ok…some good notes, some eh notes. But Final Crisis #6 follows on a two-part Batman story by the same author in which Batman defeats two Apokoliptian gods who are messing with his mind by adapting to and overcoming every condition they can create for him. This clearly sets up why Batman is the singular person who can overcome what this same author has established elsewhere as a condition worse than death, in which one suffers worse and worse and worse alternative versions of one’s own life.

So: the character appears dead to his fictional friends and allies. But it’s not being hyped to readers as a death precisely because the author clearly means us to understand that it’s not a death, that it’s a fate worse than death for most but not for the The Batman, who were told has trained himself to overcome even this, perhaps especially this.

You can complain that this is clumsily said, or broken up over too many separate books, or is an uninteresting characterization of Batman, whatever you like. But don’t complain that this is a “death” that you’re meant to take seriously as a reader and thus you’re outraged because you can’t take it seriously. The story you’ve been reading over several different books quite explicitly tells you: this character is not dead, he’s just trapped and suffering but that he is one of the few who can and will overcome that trap.

if we all know it’s not going to stick, why even go there? Quit screwing around and tell a real story.

If the story is good, I don’t care if it “sticks” or not, and that’s why I enjoy Morrison taking the “whether it will stick” question out of the equation, as opposed to stuff like Death of Superman, Knightfall, Our Worlds at War, etc.

To Greg Hatcher above:

There’s a strange history to “death in superhero comics” in which death itself is seen *as* the story, where fans get a kind of weird pornographic thrill when they think the death is “real” as opposed to an “imaginary story”. If you can get beyond that fetish, you can indeed ask what you’re asking: “Why not tell a real story”? When you ask that without getting hung up on whether the death is “real”, you start to see that the difference between a real story and a fake one isn’t about whether the character died or not.

Star Trek, for example, used a few of Kirk’s “deaths” to tell good stories about the *other* characters (“The Tholian Web”, for one). It would be flatly stupid to complain, “OMG, I knew Kirk wasn’t really dead, what a dumb story” if the story is using the supposed death to build some interesting narratives, characterization, and so on. If you’re reading stories in fictional settings where it’s common to undo “deaths”, then the issue isn’t the undoing, it’s the ends to which it is put. By this standard, for example, the “Death of Superman” kind of sucked because it didn’t really use the death to tell an interesting story about anything else–but not because it wasn’t “real”. By the same standard, what’s happening in Captain America is a good story, even if we all know that in the end, the story will be in some respect undone.

That’s the issue: is this an interesting story in its own terms, told well? On the whole, I don’t think FC #6 is: the intertextuality of Morrison’s work is becoming a leaden weight on his storytelling rather than an enabling condition. But the death isn’t the issue.

Scott Keith is still alive?

Wife: Did you know they were going to kill Batman?
Me: Well, technically, Darkseid used the Omega Sanction, so he’s going to come back after reliving the worst moments of his life.
Wife: … rolls eyes, sighs Comics are so weird.
Me: Yeah hangs head in shame

Just to inject some reality back into this discussion.

There is textual evidence in the story cluing the reader to Batman’s fate, that DOESN’T require you know anything about Omega Sanction or SEVEN SOLDIERS.

Describing Orion’s “destiny to fall in final battle,” Darkseid says “splintered like light through a prism in an infinite number of deaths,” giving us a hint about what death might mean to a New God.

More blatantly, Darkseid calls the Omega Sanction the “Death that is life!” before using it.

So no, you don’t need to know anything about Morrison’s previous work to “get it.” Like Brian said, readers of MR. MIRACLE will know exactly what’s going on, but this is more of a bonus than a prerequisite.

I suggest commentators actually RE-READ the story (perish the thought!) before making their minds up about it.

It would be flatly stupid to complain, “OMG, I knew Kirk wasn’t really dead, what a dumb story” if the story is using the supposed death to build some interesting narratives, characterization, and so on. If you’re reading stories in fictional settings where it’s common to undo “deaths”, then the issue isn’t the undoing, it’s the ends to which it is put…..That’s the issue: is this an interesting story in its own terms, told well? On the whole, I don’t think FC #6 is: the intertextuality of Morrison’s work is becoming a leaden weight on his storytelling rather than an enabling condition. But the death isn’t the issue.

That’s kind of where I was going with all this before I had to run off to work. Honestly I don’t give a damn WHAT they use to ‘get out’ of Batman’s alleged death. What irritates me is mostly this fetish that DC has of jamming a major character death into every major event crossover they’ve done in the last decade or so, and then walking it back.

Why go there again? Especially in a story that’s already under fire for being a bit much of an echo of “Rock of Ages”? This idea that people have of Grant Morrison doing a big death scene for Batman and then “not even pretending it’s real” … first of all, that’s certainly not the attitude I’m seeing in the interviews he’s been giving, and secondly, even if it is the case, why is that a virtue? Why set up a climactic cliffhanger like that if we all are EXPECTED to see it as bogus? Why not pick something with actual suspense as opposed to pretend suspense?

But put all that off to one side. Let’s say that Brian and Joe are right and this is all going to be resolved in the genius work that is Final Crisis #7 and I’m a grumpy old man. Okay. But that still leaves the fact that DC is marketing all this Battle For The Cowl stuff that Morrison’s not writing, and sucked a lot of the wind out of the big climax of R.I.P. by teasing essentially the same ending. One bogus death ending should be enough. Instead we get two in a row… and I think it’s a fair bet that whatever resolves in FC #7 won’t count for much because DC’s already decided to milk it way beyond that in the regular Bat-books despite the fact that common sense tells us it’s temporary. I will freely grant you that it’s all in the execution but honestly I am not filled with confidence given the precedent of the last few years. That’s what irritates me. Part of it is Grant Morrison recycling stuff but I’m sure that at least part of this was something that editorial stuck him with. Far, far more of my annoyance over this is simply the gut reaction of “Christ, it’s another bunch of BS funeral stories.Is that the only event they know how to do?”

I suggest commentators actually RE-READ the story (perish the thought!) before making their minds up about it.

I did. I even mentioned it. It’s not that I didn’t see the dialogue from Darkseid, it’s that I disagree with your assessment of its obvious meaning. It’s NOT obvious. Those two lines from Darkseid is all we get. It’s hardly definitive enough to be worth the kind of sneering “It’s right THERE, you dumbass” response that I keep seeing. Sorry, it’s just not.

And it’s hardly the only instance in Final Crisis of an “obvious” plot point like the Omega Sanction, or Batman’s willpower defeating Apokolips technology, being tucked away in some other place that’s not in the miniseries at all. Personally, considering the cost of the books being what they are, my feeling is the main story should be in the main book. I am hoping that #7 will prove me wrong, but I’m not nearly as confident that it will as, say, Brian is.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 21, 2009 at 8:45 pm

It’s not just a plot point, it’s a thematic point.

pfft…themes.

You suck Rice!

I wish that I would stop sucking. I try sometimes, I really do.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I can’t believe we seriously have a link up to one of the most idiotic pieces of “commentary” I’ve seen about comics. Maybe if it was a sort of “look at what this moron is saying!” type of deals…

Idiotic for comics – yes.

But for the ‘Internet Wrestling Community’ – poetry.

The point is that it’s NOT obvious. A lot of good work isn’t. But there’s enough there if you’re reading carefully. Somehow movies, books, and even television as media are more comfortable with this notion than comics.

It might stem from decades of hitting readers over the head with expository dialogue and superfluous captions. The habit is not to look for meaning on any level besides the obvious one. I imagine most comics on the rack can be read in about 5 minutes flat without missing a beat. Any confusion that crops up is due to an artist’s bad storytelling.

Morrison and writers in his league ask the reader do more. Like read more carefully or pick up a motif. Seriously folks, a freshmen English major would laugh at Morrison’s “subtlety” here. But still, kudos to DC for putting an author like him on their flagship event, when they could have easily done the “Worlds will live! Worlds will die!” crap again.

Anyway, I don’t even think FINAL CRISIS has been that great. But my criticisms don’t stem from non-comprehension.

“The habit is not to look for meaning on any level besides the obvious one.”

This is at the heart of many cristisms, I think. We are so used to having everything be either simple or obvious that the moment we read a story that requires a bit of thought and examination we claim that it didn’t make any sense or was confusing.

This is at the heart of many cristisms, I think. We are so used to having everything be either simple or obvious that the moment we read a story that requires a bit of thought and examination we claim that it didn’t make any sense or was confusing.

Too true… The one that leaps to mind as the first example I can think of is Arkham Asylum… So many people dismissed it (and still do) as a messy confusing book..

I’m sure there were similar stories before that with similar issues, but that’s the biggest one I can think of…

Took me about three reads before I started tying up (what I thought was) the majority of the story… Having since read Timothy Callahan’s Grant Morrison book, I realised I’d still missed a HUGE chunk of symbolism and stuff…

We are so used to having everything be either simple or obvious that the moment we read a story that requires a bit of thought and examination we claim that it didn’t make any sense or was confusing.

Could be. But that’s not actually what I’m claiming. I’m saying no amount of rereading or examination is going to give readers a clue to a plot point that isn’t in the book at all no matter how many of you keep talking about how reversible the Omega effect is. It’s not some piece of common lore like Superman being from Krypton, and it’s ridiculous to suggest that READERS are somehow at fault for not running out and buying a lot of extraneous titles or spending half an hour on Wikipedia in order to comprehend the full context of the book in their hand.

And the other complaint is that the plot point of a hero getting ‘killed’ is so overdone, to the point where “DC superhero funeral” is becoming an industry cliche, that it hurts the intrinsic entertainment value of the story itself. I’m saying it’s tired and it’s lame and I expect better from a writer of Grant Morrison’s caliber. I even pointed out that it doesn’t RUIN the story for me… but it hurts it. I think Morrison’s good enough that he could have found a different way to get there, and it’s beneath him use his big climactic moment to contribute yet another statistic to DC’s ongoing Crossover Event Dead Pool, no matter how well or badly it’s done.

Having since read Timothy Callahan’s Grant Morrison book, I realised I’d still missed a HUGE chunk of symbolism and stuff…

Not to be rude, but aren’t you kind of undercutting your point when you say you needed to read the annotations in order to ‘get’ the book in your hand? This is the sort of thing I’m talking about. There’s a difference between ‘challenging’ and ‘incomprehensible without footnotes.’

Not at all, Greg. I’m saying that there are layers and layers. I really enjoyed it BEFORE reading Tim’s essay. His analysis just added more layers to it. Like one of those paintings that you’ve been looking at for years, when suddenly you spot a piece of detail in the corner that adds a completely new dimension to it!

I’m just saying that a lot of people came onto Final Crisis expecting something as simple and straightforward as Infinite Crisis or Secret Invasion. I also really don’t think the delays between issues have helped…

Before reading #3 I HAD to go back and re-read #1 and #2, then suddenly, a bunch more stuff clicked…

I am definitely re-reading #1-6 again before picking up #7…

The only thing that suddenly struck me as jumbled was Superman…. How do Legion of Three Worlds, AND Beyond 3D happen at the same time?

Greg, you seem like an intelligent guy, so I think what it comes down to is expectations. You either (a) expect superhero books to be very explicit or (b) are miffed that a development in another story gives those readers a better understanding of the material.

One thing to remember is that Great writers intend the things they write. Great writers pack meaning into every word choice, turn of phrase, motif, etc. If we think Morrison falls into this category of writer, then we have to read more carefully, with an open mind.

Concentrating on just the Batman bits of FC #6, I would argue these following elements are suggestive of Batman’s fate at the end of the issue:

Mr. Tawky Tawny almost dies–twice.
Comic readers are conditioned by “event” comics to expect secondary and tertiary characters dying in droves. And for each individual death not to mean much, frankly. Morrison teases us with Tawny’s death in the fight, but doesn’t do it, challenging that expectation. At the same time, he makes us care about the fate of this minor character by actually spending a lot of time with him, making the stakes higher.

The letter tattoo.
The letter Mr. Miracle has the other paint on their face looks like the famous cape and cowl, and is colored blue-gray. He also calls it a “living symbol” (sound familiar?) that means “freedom from restriction.” Batman is famous for working outside the law (restrictions) to get justice and we’ll find out later he’s willing to throw off his last restraint–not using a gun. Finally, Miracle says the mark “protects against anti-life” aka death.

I think there’s plenty more in the text, but those two jump out at me as being easiest to explain (without writing a dissertation). One moment challenges your expectations about death in this series. The other marks Batman as special and perhaps immune to permanent death, the way a god or “symbol” might be. That, plus Darkseid’s pretty explicit statement, all guide the reader to the idea that maybe Batman isn’t really dead. NONE of these clues require reading any outside text, beyond some familiarity with Batman.

Like Blackjak said, good art gives you new meaning each time you reconsider it, because there are intentional ambiguities to work out. That’s a GOOD thing, if you want more out of your superhero comics than elaborately staged fistfights (which the issue still has plenty of).

While I’m reading it, the panel with Superbat on page 16 is also really instructive.

First, notice the Bat element on his helmet completes the tattoo design!

Superbat also says:

“I have the greatest power of ALL … I am SO RICH I can do ANYTHING.”

Which should immediately remind you of Batman, as this is a popular misconception about the character. Comic fans know what sets Batman apart is really his determination, intelligence, sense of justice, etc. NOT his cool toys. So while Superbat misstates Batman’s power (a joke) he really does get you thinking about Batman’s seeming ability to do anything. Maybe he really can, through sheer force of will, cheat death?

This ties into the larger theme of the work of anti-life, of despair. When Ollie’s helmet is removed he says “Anti-life’s so easy …” and he’s right, it’s much easier to give up, to stop fighting and submit. But Batman doesn’t. Like Ollie, he’s only human, but Batman never quits even when any normal person would have easily.

If Morrison’s Superman is the ideal, inspirational science superman, then Morrison’s Batman is the imperfect hero, always struggling to be better. Of the two, it’s more heroic that Batman never succumbs to anti-life, because he would *actually* be tempted.

Greg, you seem like an intelligent guy, so I think what it comes down to is expectations. You either (a) expect superhero books to be very explicit or (b) are miffed that a development in another story gives those readers a better understanding of the material.

I’m thoroughly miffed about B. But what got me going in the first place was the suggestion that somehow those of us that don’t share that better understanding because of it are at fault and somehow missing the ‘obvious.’ Which, again, is the word that people keep using. I suggested it’s the wrong word and got gently lectured on how maybe I shouldn’t be trying to read comics that are too hard for me, which is the reason I keep worrying at this, I suppose, because I don’t feel like that’s the problem. I SEE these things you all are pointing out to me. I just disagree about their obviousness and in some cases even their deeper meaning.

First of all I saw the bat-symbolism in the facial mark and understood it, thanks, but it’s hardly OBVIOUS. We don’t actually know yet how all this plays out. My suggestion was that there’s a really good chance we won’t see it play out in FC at all because DC’s already bellowing about a whole bunch of Batman-less Batman comics like “Last Rites” and Gaiman’s thing and “Battle For The Cowl.” It suggests to me that probably whatever Morrison has in mind may well get subverted because of hamfisted editorial policy and DC’s need to market the hell out of yet another funeral. That’s a stupid thing to do to ANY piece of writing, Great or not. And it means that one story got split off over three different event crossovers, one of which is being done by a different guy. I find that really annoying. (Honestly, I’m surprised more people don’t.) I’d love to be wrong — you have no idea how delighted I’d be to be wrong, seriously. But I don’t think I am, given DC’s track record of the last decade.

The Tawky Tawny argument strikes me as a bit of a reach but to be honest I was too busy being grossed out by the inappropriate use of Tawny in such a bloody scene to think of it as foreshadowing or symbolism. I’m a little surprised Joe didn’t have a fit over that; he’s usually very critical of the way the Captain Marvel cast often gets shoved into absurdly ‘adult’ situations.

Anyway, to sum up: I don’t regard Grant Morrison as a Great Writer. I regard him as a pretty good one. And he’s already had a bunch of stuff he had planned for this undercut by his editors and it looks like there’s more of that kind of stupidity to come. Because of that I’m not nearly as optimistic about #7 as many others seem to be, especially given the track record of the company he’s doing it for. Even if he pulls off a miracle in Final Crisis #7 and resolves everything to my satisfaction and makes me look stupid for publicly doubting his genius — which I would LOVE! Honest! I am rooting for that to happen!– I still maintain that building a big dumb Event Death with a lot of upcoming spinoffs into the story weakens it considerably. Others may differ. But THAT’S my position.

I’m starting to feel silly about spending this much time explaining it, though, so let’s just agree to disagree about ‘obvious’ and leave it at that.

I agree that editorial fiat can really confuse the issue. But I look at the relatively low number of deaths in the series so far, the fact that the stories are much more intimate, and Morrison signalling Batman’s death as problematic as ways that he’s pushing back against this regime.

It’s entirely possible FC will end with nobody really dying. I think that’s very subversive. It cuts against past Crises, the tone of DC these past few years, and even Marvel’s rival event.

It’s unfortunate Batman: RIP was named what it was. “The Last Temptation of Batman” might have made more sense, considering what actually happened. But like you say, editors and money men did what they did and do what they do. I think what Morrison got away with (a non-event “event”) in that context is highly commendable.

I’m waiting for FC #7 to give me the “So what?” of the series, which has been lacking up to this point.

This is my first post on this website but i just felt compelled to reply, I love Grant Morrison and I am loving this story. However,

If you find this story to complicated and involving why continue to read and then complain about it. There are enough people that thought what happened was obvious enough and the context of which it happened more than explained the necessary facts. Thats what makes it unique and entertaining, it is a thinking mans story. If you want a plain simple narrative there are hundreds of other books published each month that should suit your needs.

I think my response to Anthony would be simply that a subtle and obscure subtext is good writing; a subtle and obscure text is not. You’re allowed to spend years arguing over the meaning of what happened, but if you’re actually spending years arguing the basic point of what the hell you just read, then the writer didn’t do his or her job right. :)

And in this case, I think Morrison really didn’t do his job right, because his job is to get me to care about what happens in this story, and he’s going around everywhere saying very explicitly, “Don’t care about this.” Telling people not to get worked up over super-hero deaths because they’re all meaningless, then putting two big super-hero deaths into his story, is like saying, “Excuse me, could you please react with apathy and cynicism to all of the big emotional moments in ‘Final Crisis’? Thanks, I wouldn’t want anybody to actually give a hoot about this. Well, I mean, you should still buy the next dozen or so issues of the various Batman titles where we loudly and repeatedly ask, ‘Who Will Be The Next Batman?’ But, you know, don’t get worked up about it. Just buy it.”

John, I would just ask: is it Morrison’s job to get you to care about the story? Or care about “what happens” in the story?

There’s a difference. My sense is that there’s a “get to the point” or “just tell me what you’re trying to say” buried in the complaints. If we only cared about “what happens” i.e. who lives, who dies, who the bad guy is, then just wait for Wikipedia updates and find out that way. Don’t bother reading the actual story.

(I don’t mean this in a critical way. I do it all the time when I just want to know more about a character or team’s history without reading the actual run)

On the other hand, if “the story” is what matters, then everything’s there in the text, if you’re looking for it.

I’m also suggesting that Morrison knows everyone is tired of stunt deaths in event comics, and is trying to get past it. The “Is he/isn’t he really?” is no longer the point when everyone knows the character will come back eventually.

So what’s left? Seeing the impact on the characters he leaves behind. And it started with Superman’s rage at the end of FC #6. Brubaker’s doing the exact same thing in CAPTAIN AMERICA, and no one seems too flustered by it. Morrison and DC are just explicit about it in interviews, as opposed to Brubaker and Marvel, who’re nodding and winking the whole time.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

John, I would just ask: is it Morrison’s job to get you to care about the story? Or care about “what happens” in the story?

I like how you separate the two – it’s his job to get you into both. In fact, I’d put greater emphasis on the first one, as plots are a cheap – it’s all in the telling of the story and how it makes you feel that matters.

I’m also suggesting that Morrison knows everyone is tired of stunt deaths in event comics, and is trying to get past it.

By doing another one?

Across to highly publicized titles?

Pretty shit house way to do it.

Morrison:’People won’t catch on that Bamtan’s death isn’t permanent – they’ll never even believe it for a second’.
Comic editors/fans in need of intellectual validation: ‘Whoa’.
Chuck Dixon: ‘And yet I’m the one they hate’

Anthony Cheng said:

“John, I would just ask: is it Morrison’s job to get you to care about the story? Or care about “what happens” in the story?”

He’s failing at both. :)

Too much story, not enough engine for Seavey.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 22, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I gotta say kids, wait for the trade.
At least then you can read the story divorced of press releases and blog opinions.

Turns out ASBAR doesn’t kill your kids, and is a fun enough read if you don’t stop to think, and World War Hulk wasn’t horrible, but nor was it as fun as people said it was.

Again, I’ll just point to Brubaker on Captain America. He’s told a very good story about Cap’s supporting cast that requires a dead Cap. Yet no one honestly thinks Steve Rogers is going to stay dead.

So is there some kind of pro wrestling aspect to this, that you can’t enjoy the fiction unless everyone pretends it’s real?

I have been “lurking” on this blog for a few years now, and I cannot believe the twists, turns, and backflips that are being done here to pass off murky, choppy storytelling as “genius.”

If another writer, especially Geoff Johns or the like, had written this exact same story, he would be raked over the coals here for his confusing storytelling, poor characterization (Tawky Tawny, etc.), fan service (you wouldn’t even have any idea who Sonny Sumo or some of these other characters are without having read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World titles), and overdependence on events in other titles (Seven Soldiers, Batman R.I.P., etc.).

But because this happens to be Grant Morrison, he gets the benefit of the doubt and a pass? Please!

I have been “lurking” on this blog for a few years now, and I cannot believe the twists, turns, and backflips that are being done here to pass off murky, choppy storytelling as “genius.”

If another writer, especially Geoff Johns or the like, had written this exact same story, he would be raked over the coals here for his confusing storytelling, poor characterization (Tawky Tawny, etc.), fan service (you wouldn’t even have any idea who Sonny Sumo or some of these other characters are without having read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World titles), and overdependence on events in other titles (Seven Soldiers, Batman R.I.P., etc.).

But because this happens to be Grant Morrison, he gets the benefit of the doubt and a pass? Please!

Man, Scott Keith is looking a lot smarter in comparison to some of these comments (not really, of course, as he’s still a lot worse than your comment, but your comment is still quite dumb).

“Man, Scott Keith is looking a lot smarter in comparison to some of these comments (not really, of course, as he’s still a lot worse than your comment, but your comment is still quite dumb).”

If FC #7 turns out to be the work of sheer genius that some here are claiming it’s going to be, and it truly sets everything straight, fills in all of the gaps, and brings the story to a true resolution, I will be the first to admit that my previous comment was “dumb.”

Based on the first six issues, I just don’t think that FC #7 is really going to do all of that, though.

Some people don’t get or like the story. That’s fine. I don’t get or like celery. It’s not for me. But when someone DOES get or like it, I don’t say, “You only like it because it’s celery.” Or “you’re tasting too much into it. It’s really not good.” Or “you only like that celery because before you had ice cream. I didn’t have ice cream and I should be able to enjoy all foods independently.”

It’s fine, folks. You don’t like it. No problem. Stop reading into the fact that there are those of us that do.

‘Zactly.

Having a place where we can talk about comics without that nonsense was a big part of us starting this blog four years ago, so it definitely pisses me off when I see it pop up here.

I don’t have a problem with other people being into Grant Morrison. What I have a problem with is the implication by many in this thread that those who criticize Morrison are either too stupid and/or dense to “get it,” or too intellectually lazy to try. Believe it or not, “Grant Morrison’s stories can be murky and hard to understand” can be a valid opinion without reflecting on the intellectual deficiencies of the person stating it.

I have seen many people who make comments on this blog derided as “fanboys” or being into “fan wankery” because their tastes are too mainstream. (Perish forbid that someone should actually have enjoyed “Identity Crisis;” just don’t say so on this blog unless you want to get rolled over.)

All I’m saying is that if other writers can be criticized here without the commenter being derided as too simple or too intellectually “soft,” then Morrison should be subject to the same standard of criticism.

Oh, and just for the record, I thought Identity Crisis was pretty lame, myself.

There seems to be this rule that some commenters have that boils down to “you can’t enjoy change in a story if you know it will be reversed”.

Why the hell can’t I enjoy change in a story if I know it will be reversed. All that it takes is suspension of disbelief. I am perfectly willing to believe that Batman is really dead and actually not dead simultaneously. All it is is doublethink. Now some people’s disbelief won’t stretch that far, and that’s fine, but when we are discussing stories with superheroes and alien gods, it seems contradictory to criticise someone for having too much suspension of disbelief.

Now I think that those that want change would prefer real change to fake change, but I think we all know and accept that real change can’t occur. Some people don’t like fake change, and that’s OK, but I don’t think those that do are wrong for liking it. Now if you complain that in the big two you can’t avoid fake change then you have a valid point, but event comics are all about fake change. If you don’t like fake change then you won’t like event comics, but I don’t think that speaks to it’s quality.

Actually, Brian, I hate to say it, but I was thinking the exact same thing (well, not the _exact_ same thing; I was going to say “Rob Liefeld” instead of “Geoff Johns”. But very very close.) I like Grant Morrison, don’t get me wrong, but I do think you give him a pass on some things you wouldn’t tolerate from other writers because he’s a personal favorite of yours.

Nothing unusual about that, of course; we all have favorite writers and artists that we see through rose-colored glasses. I had a period where Peter David simply could do no wrong, and I still feel like something must be wrong with me for not liking ‘The Black Dossier’, because it’s such an article of faith with me that Alan Moore is perfect. :) But it does happen, and yes, I do think it’s happening here. I think you’re a little predisposed to defend Grant Morrison because you have seen so much good work from him in the past, instead of considering the possibility that maybe he made a misstep this time.

I guess that’s “quite dumb” of me. :)

Saying someone doesn’t “get” something isn’t necessarily an intellectual thing. I don’t “get” asparagus. It’s really not for me. I don’t even “get” scotch even though I LOOOOOOOOVE bourbon. People should stop looking for reasons to be offended and move on with their lives. People should also stop trying to guess what other people are thinking or what their motivations are.

Seavey, some people just think this is a well-written comic. It’s not because of some ulterior motive. It’s silly to imply otherwise.

Final Crisis is atmospheric, moody, and altogether exciting for many of us. Not for others. That’s fine. Move on and stop reading into our motives for liking something.

I guess that’s “quite dumb” of me.

Basically.

Looks like Final Crisis is really becoming the “Marmite” comic of 2008/9…

You either love it or hate it…

Is there anyhone just coasting through going “yeah, so-so” ??

I’d be fine with “I hate it,” I’m complaining about the BS “you just say you like it because ____” stuff.

Is there anyone just coasting through going “yeah, so-so” ??

Actually, that would be me. My issues are not nearly so much with the story as a whole as the way the Batman end of it is being handled… and by ‘handled’ I mean ‘stretched out interminably over a bunch of titles in an attempt to duplicate the sales phenomenon that was Death of Superman.’ I don’t know how much of that structure Grant Morrison himself is responsible for and how much is editorial telling him to stretch it out so they can sell a bunch of tie-ins (and I have tried to be fair about making this point, that it might have been a directive he was saddled with) but I think the death-of-Batman hype weakens the story.

But it doesn’t kill it for me. I’m still reading it and liking it okay. I just wanted to like it a LOT and I don’t. A lot of binary-minded commenters are reading this as hatred, which shouldn’t surprise me any more, but it always does.

I’m not saying there’s an ulterior motive; I don’t think Brian is defending a series he hates just to score points on a message board or anything. I’m just saying we all have blind spots in our personal tastes. Like I say, I read Peter David’s DS9 novel, “The Siege”, and I really liked it. I was very surprised and annoyed to find out that a lot of DS9 fans didn’t like it, and were criticizing a lot of the character turns and plot points. Later on, as I gained some distance from the work, I went back and re-read it, and found that a lot of my earlier enjoyment had just been enthusiasm for a new Peter David novel.

And it’s very hard to see your own blind spots. If I had to guess, I’d say my current man-crush on Steven Moffat constitutes one, but honestly, I’ve never seen a bad script out of the man. I even liked the ending to ‘Jekyll’ (although I think it’s pretty clear that it was a set-up for a second series that never happened.) But I’m not the best at seeing these things, because by definition I don’t have the distance from my own perspective to be able to see them.

But, well…that doesn’t mean they’re not there. For any of us.

John, I think there is something to what you’re saying because different authors elicit different expectations. I wouldn’t read Chuck Dixon like a lit-crit professor, but I would with Alan Moore. Would you read a Tom Clancy novel the same way you would a Salman Rushdie? Of course not. The latter might pack significance into every detail; the former just wants to get you from point A to point B.

So I don’t think it’s coincidence or happenstance that the near-death of a minor character (Tawny) and the death of a major character (Bats) are in the same issue, and that’s partly based on expectation. I expect Morrison did that intentionally, therefore I pay attention. Conversely, I didn’t pay much attention when Judomaster was offed in a single panel in INFINITE CRISIS. Neither the context nor the author gave me any reason to think there was more going on than “we need a body count.”

That process is more than just “Apples v. Oranges” or pure personal taste. I can both enjoy or dislike a Dixon or Moore comic, but it’ll be on completely different terms.

P.S. I’ve enjoyed the convo so far, which would have easily degenerated into name-calling anywhere else. I hope no one’s taken offense to anything I’ve said.

John seavey, I think you are making great points. I don’t know why people seem to be getting so defensive about it. It’s a perfectly valid and constructive criticism in my opinion. My “blind spot” guy is Ed Brubaker for example.

John Seavey, you did a much better job of explaining my point than I did.

I can see how telling someone that they are incapable of properly perceiving reality could bother someone. In fact I can’t see how it doesn’t bother people that they don’t see the world how it is but how they think it will be. Which is not to say that it isn’t true to a degree, and probably to a greater degree than any of us wont to admit.

The problem is that this really isn’t constructive criticism. Res and co are effectively telling Brian that he is incapable of seeing Morrison’s work as it actually is and thus that their opinion is more valid. This isn’t constructive because Brian can take no view point but his own. They have effectively locked Brian out of the discussion with a thought-ending cliche. Anyway, who’s to say that their point of view doesn’t interfere with their opinions of the work?

What would be more constructive, rather than casting vague aspersions, is to specifically point out a simular text which Brian has reacted differently to, and then if Brian can’t disambiguate between his opinions then the claim of bias will be proven. I realise that that is probably an unfairly difficult request, but the current claim is unfalsifiable and therefore Brain can’t defend himself against it. It is unfalsifiable and this is why in fairness it must be dismissed.

If we believe that literary criticism is so entirely subjective, in such a fashion as is being claimed, then I don’t see why we bother to have this site at all. We may as well pack up and go home.

And T, I can’t see how you can reconcile this view with personal responsibility. If your circumstances define your perception, then how can you blame criminals for their wrongful perception if it is born from circumstance. I can’t reconcile that opinion with free will or moral responsibility at all.

How is anyone claiming he can’t perceive reality?

We know that Morrison puts a lot of thought into his writing, so we assume that all the pieces will come together in the end.
We have faith that Morrison doesn’t have contempt for his audience’s intelligence, so we don’t think he expects us to think Batman’s never coming back,
We don’t think Morrison is a racist, so we’re not offended by the caricature Japanese heroes.
We’ve seen Morrison show respect for Jack Kirby’s work, so we don’t think the changes he’s made to the New Gods are misguided attempts to “update stodgy old characters.”

It’s called “benefit of the doubt.” If someone who hadn’t written anything for publication before tried some of the things Morrison does in Final Crisis, it would be only natural to have more reservations, because that person wouldn’t have the accumulated good will Morrison has. If Chuck Austen did it, we’d be debating whether he was merely incompetent or actively malicious.

It’s not only human nature to take your preconceptions of an author into account when deciding whether to think “This is going to hurt” or “Let’s wait and see where this is going” or “He’s building to something, just you watch,” it’s a good idea. No one goes through life responding to everyone as a tabula rasa, nor should they.

It’s the people who seem to think that it’s impossible for two perfectly and equally intelligent, rational, and perceptive people to read the same work and have opposite opinions of it’s quality that have problems grasping reality.

Call me dumb if you want, but that’s how I see it.

I don’t doubt that two “equally intelligent, rational, and perceptive people” can have different opinions. But Res was claiming that Brian’s opinion was shaded by his love of Morrison and therefore was IRRATIONAL. Res isn’t only claiming that his standards are different from Brian’s, he was claiming that Brian wasn’t assessing the work according to his own standards. Therefore while Res’ opinion was possibly wrong, Brian’s was unarguably wrong.

When Brian read the work he perceived it as clearly told (or at least clear enough). Res was claiming that had the work been by anyone else then Brian wouldn’t have perceived it as clear. Therefore Brian wouldn’t be able to perceive the work as it actually is, which to me not perceiving reality as it is. It is one thing to have different criteria by which to judge art. Obviously this will be the case. But it is another to say that a person can’t judge a work by their own criteria.

Absolutely there is the benefit of the doubt. But when a work exists there is no more doubt. The work is what it is. I believe that we can judge the work as it exists and not have to give anything the benefit of the doubt. If the work is racist or contemptuous then I think that can be judged without considering Morrison or his intent. We do have preconceived notions when coming to a work but we must, and I believe we can, dismiss these and judge the text independently.

To say that someone’s opinion of a work is based on preconceived notions is not just to say they’re opinion is different, it is to say that it is wrong. To claim that Brian’s opinion is not just different but wrong is a significant and I believe unfair slight on his criticism. It is definitely alright to respectfully disagree with an opinion. But Res wasn’t respectfully disagreeing, he was assuming bad faith. If anyone disbelieves that two rational people can disagree with a work then it is Res, who must resort to accusations of irrationality to justify but his disagreement with Brian and why he is right.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 26, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Or Brian and Joe just enjoyed it…

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