Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Idea for a New Feature

I'm getting a little tired of just bouncing back and forth between X-Men and Batman as I have been for awhile now. I still plan on finishing up my X-Men analyses. Juggernaut is next, then Wolverine and Cyclops, the Sentinels, The rest of the more minor X-Men, and finishing up with Apocalypse. I've been thinking of a new running feature I could do between those articles, Lame Hero/Rogue Reclamation. Readers could send me examples of characters who they feel are too losery or lame or just plain boring to function properly in their roles, and I will think about the character and see if I can think of a way they could be rehabilitated. Ideas will be accepted here, on my twitter and Facebook accounts, and at my e-mail address if you have it. The only ones I wont do are Aquaman, because I'm bored with hearing reasons why Aquaman is lame (He's currently getting a revamp from Geoff Johns anyway.), and Wonder Woman characters, because I plan on tackling Wonder Woman as a whole after I'm done with X-Men.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Bat Symbol Throughout the Ages: A Visual History.

Some time ago I read this post about the ways that the Bat-signal has changed over time. It's an interesting meditation on the uses of said signal over the decades, and now in a time when its function could easily be replaced by the Bat-beeper or the b-Phone. In particular, I'm like the portions of the above article that discuss the way that the bat-signal of years past has functioned as an almost physical object symbolising Batman's dominance whereever it's projected. You see, I've been playing Arkham Asylum off and on since I got it in October. This may spoil part of the game for some people, but it came out in 2009, so yeah, spoilers away. Early on, Batman is exposed to Scarecrow's fear gas and experiences vivid hallucinations. This culminates in a platforming section, where the player is stalked by a gigantic manifestation of the Scarecrow whose gaze will kill you if he sees you. How this is relevant is that after reaching the top of a tower of ruins Batman defeats giant Scarecrow, for the moment. How? By shining Bat-signal onto Scarecrow that blasts him like a big freakin' laser beam.


In the spirit of that article I linked to before the nightmares started, though with less analysis and sophistication, I present: The Bat Symbol

Monday, November 21, 2011

"From Her Ashes Risen"

While she's been part of the X-Men books from the beginning, she rarely gets stories or treatment in general to match her teammates. She doesn't make an easy metaphor for male adolescent aggression, or struggles with relinquishing a sense of control. In fact, for most of her history she's been relegated to facilitating those metaphors. There's really only one big story she's known for, granted it's one of the two or three most important storylines in the history of the series. Still, Jean Grey, or Marvel Girl, or Phoenix is mostly known for being the rope in a romantic tug of war. Like most Marvel heroines of the Silver Age she was subjected to unfortunate moments like this:

Note that Professor X has his hands in the pimpin' formation. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Magneto, and How He Works.

So we talked about Professor X. I outlined the various reasons I, and others, find the comparisons between  Professor Xavier and Magneto, and Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X problematic. This isn't to say that it is entirely a mistake to evoke historical figures in the construction of the two characters. I linked Professor X to the likes St. Francis Xavier, and people like Carl Sagen who preached a "gospel" of secular humanism and scientific progress. Likewise, I do think there are a number of  historical figures that can be drawn upon to inform Magneto's character.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back to the Batcave Part 2

And we're back.

When we left off, Batman was drugged at the wheel, and Robin's demise seemed eminent.

Now the concluding episode: Smack in the Middle

Act I

Space Medicine: Back to the Batcave

Since 1938 Batman has been adapted to the changing tastes of pop culture. In the thirties and forties he was a pulp detective/vigilante, in the eighties he was the reactionary answer to crime and urban blight, and in the late sixties he adapted to the tastes of that generation as well. In 1966 ABC began airing Batman two nights a week. Unfortunately, for complicated legal reasons, none of the series has been released in a home video format. Fortunately, some guy on YouTube called FanOfBats has a bunch of episodes online. Many people object to the series for not taking Batman seriously or just for being silly. Silly is a matter of taste. As for not taking Batman seriously, I suspect it's really a fairly recent phenomena for fans to take Batman seriously. It probably doesn't go much further back than the mid to late seventies. However, even if we are taking Batman seriously, it's a mistake to try and act like such a significant portion of Batman's cultural history just didn't happen. No matter what box one tries to fit Batman into he's bound to escape sooner or later, and then you find that you've been in his box all along.

Instead of selective amnesia, as if there's been some kind of traumatic Bat-molestation that can't, musn't, be remembered, I propose embracing the thing with all its campy deconstruction of the super hero story and off-putting attempt to be humorous, and seeing if there's actually anything we can learn from the thing.

Thus I present the full pilot episode Hi Diddle Riddle.

Act I

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Professor X-savior?

Everyone knows the head, and we do mean head, honcho of the X-Men. Professor X is the ultimate teacher/mentor. We know he's a benevolent tyrant at the head of all X related projects, when he isn't presumed dead or on sabbatical. He has to be a goodie, Patrick Stewart played him for gosh sake. A lot of people, Stan Lee among them, make a natural leap and paint the Professor as a Martin Luther King Jr. stand in. It's a bit problematic, especially when you take into account who his opposite number is supposedly meant to stand in for. It may be more useful to think of Xavier and that other guy (More on him at a later date.) along religious lines, rather than as a stand ins for real historical figures. Xavier representing a gospel of accord, mutual benefit, and belief in the invisible world that links all be they mutant, human, or alien, as for Magneto, well, we'll get to him when we get to him. It's right there in his title, he professes.

Heck Xavier, mutant not saint, already sports a halo of sorts in quite a bit of the promotional art.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Space Medicine: Thoughts on Thoughts

It's been awhile, but here's something to chew on.

There are a few ways to indicate a character's interior thoughts and feelings in the comics medium. They can remain silent, expressed entirely through the way an artist chooses to portray a character. In that case all one would have to go on is dialogue, and facial/bodily expressions. Another way of showing a character's interior life is through narrative captioning. In this form, thoughts are expressed directly in text narrated by a character itself or perhaps by some unseen omniscient narrator. This method has gained great popularity in superhero comics over the last twenty to thirty years. There is however one very classic method of depicting a character's thoughts that seems to have fallen out of favor as narrative captions have come to dominate: thought balloons.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The value of X people.

I had a conversation about the X-Men this evening that reminded me that I haven't posted anything here since February. They're probably the most popular super team franchise ever and they have a movie out right now, a movie that I haven't seen yet, so few spoilers, please, so they seem as good a place to start as any.The X-Men are mutants sworn to protect a world that blah blah blah-blah, you all know it by now. Let it be clear. I love the X-Men. Despite some of the things I will say throughout the rest of the post, the X-Men remain one of my favorite ideas to come out of superhero comics. Still I have some issues with the X-Men franchise itself, as well as some of the ways it's been presented and perceived over the years.

One of my main problems with the comics is the way that mutants, as a metaphor, have been used. You know the whole thing where mutants represent racial, sexual, social minorities? Despite its popularity with fans, and in the face of many of the series' best known writers overt use of this metaphor, I don't buy it. If this metaphor has given you succor in your own struggles with feeling different, as I know it has for many, I don't mean to sell short your interpretation of the X-Men, but I have some trouble getting behind it for a few reasons. The primary reason is that fear of various social minorities in real life is irrational, fear of mutants in the Marvel Universe is actually kind of rational. A gay person can't blow my house down just by looking at it; a black person can't walk around inside my mind to learn any personal secrets I might have; a Jewish person can't grow footlong claws, making them an instant killing machine. (Except for Mossad agents, who I have been assured have all these and many more powers at their disposal.) I think it sells short both the X-Men's metaphorical potential and the very real problems faced by actual members of minority communities to equate mutants too explicitly with these specific issues.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Current Age, and the Age Yet to Come

If The Mindless Ones are to be believed, we are currently living in the Prismatic Age of Superhero Comics.

Details to be found here and here.

That was roughly three years ago. I'm a little late to the party, but it can't be helped. I am on the west coast of the U.S. They are in the U.K., and will always be about a third of a day ahead of me.

If you detect stylistic similarities between these two blogs, good for you, they are intentional. It occurred to me that if this is the age of the prismatic superhero, who is so often running into variations on his or her self, that a Prismatic blog about superhero comics should be entirely appropriate. Thus, here we are, slightly aping the style of a somewhat older blog. Adding our own particular wavelength to the spectrum. This is not intended to be antagonistic, I enjoy the Ones' observations. It is more of a variation on a theme.

Assuming you have read the two blog entries linked to up above, you have read Botswana Beast's take on the current Age. I, more or less, agree with it. I like the idea especially of Comic Book Ages being defined by qualities of light, rather than metals. The Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron progression seems to suggest that comics have been going through a decades long alchemical debasement. Will we be left with a Tin Age, A Lead Age? Perhaps, we'll reach the Dross Age somewhere in the 2030s. Just in time for a certain super someone's 100th birthday.

The obvious question: What's next?