Archives for posts with tag: Batman Inc

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This morning I finished reading Grant Morrison’s Action Comics (New 52) run.  Before reading Action Comics Vol. 3, I re-read the first two volumes and it wasn’t many weeks ago that I finished reading Grant Morrison’s allegedly final Batwords in Batman, Inc. Reading a ton of his work in a fury helps you take a bit of the absurdity with a greater suspension of disbelief. I know he’s a bit of a divider among comic book readers and from what I can tell, I’m in the minority because I particularly like his weird stuff. When I finished reading Action Comics, I wanted to re-read The Filth, one of Morrison’s weirder pieces, but I remembered I had lent it to a friend a while back and he had not returned it. Before you judge my friend too harshly, I don’t mind that he still has the book and earlier this week, he gave me a book for the holidays- a real book, one with very few pictures and none of them in color. Under the circumstances, this book seemed like a logical next step. It’s by Kay Larson and is called Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists. As you can tell from the title, it’s about John Cage, his contemporaries,  and their experiences with and understanding of Zen Buddhism. I see a handful of notable similarities between Grant Morrison and John Cage:

1) They’re both recognized for pushing the boundaries of their fields/mediums. Their boundary pushing is seen and celebrated in both their creative work and personalities.

2) Both have been met by “emperor’s new clothes”-style accusations by critical audiences terribly nervous that a joke might be pulled on them. Similarly their enthusiasts feel compelled to prove how much they “get it.”

3) They helped introduce Eastern ideas to the West in a way the West, in its current state of collective immaturity and general lack of sophistication, could appreciate and create an understanding around. Marco Polo, Herman Hesse, Pearl S. Buck, Allen Ginsberg, Quentin Tarantino, this sort of stuff has been done before. All sorts of technologies are assimilated by way of convenience and necessity when being transported to a different culture.

Both John Cage and Grant Morrison cite experiences with Eastern cultures are having profound influence upon their work. Morrison’s Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero frequently refers to an otherworldly experience that he has during his Eastern travels, which he recreates in 52 among other places. Cage studies Zen Buddhism first at Colombia University and spends the rest of his life pursuing further study. The end product for both of them is risky, but far from unintentional art. Their products are neither copies of the Eastern ideas they attempt to integrate into their own understandings of the world. In their sloppy and unfaithful reproductions of Eastern ideas, they convey an authenticity, a personal experience, something along the lines of art. In time, the Japanese music community has received John Cage quite positively. Listening to the post-rock, electronic, and other avant-garde forms of music that Japan has been exporting since the days of John Cage and Yoko Ono, one can easily recognize a kinship. During my time in China, I never met a local familiar with The Great Ten, but the idea of a Chinese superhero team appealed to the students of my History of Superheroes course. I predict that history will the Chinese approve Morrison’s creation and it will represent something distantly akin to ping pong diplomacy.

The book was a thoughtful gift- I like it when people remember that I’m an experimental music pioneer dodging the spotlight that chases tortured geniuses. The bl-gging stopped for a while when AT&T destroyed my relationship with the internet, but I hope to turn that around and I hope to use this text and other sources in relation to the sequential arts year.

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Ten Best Comics of 2012 2013

Like US military intervention in Syria,  Dragon Con looms in the very near future. Feeling less informed on Syria than comics, I present what I hope will be an annual tradition for Wayne Xiaolong. I present my list of the best comics of the year. These are comics that I read between last year’s Dragon Con and this year’s Dragon Con, so rather than mark the year from New Years to New Years, we’ll be marking the year from Labor Day to Labor Day.

THE BEST COMICS OF THE YEAR (in no particular order, but the first one is the best one)

Saga

In my opinion, Saga is by far the best comic book of the year, if not the best comic book ever. Saga continues to amaze not only with each issue, but with each page and in every panel. The dialogue will make you think, laugh, and smile. This book compelled to read most of Brian Vaughn’s back catalog and I highly recommend you read  Y: The Last Man in its entirety and also check out Pride of Baghdad. He’s also producing “Under The Dome,” which is starting out interestingly enough. Fiona Staples’s art is amazing and I am drawing much inspiration from her style on some of my own projects.

Pinocchio Vampire Slayer

This is a fun book put together by two creators slated to appear at Dragon Con, Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins. It was announced at Comic Con that all of the volumes of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer will be collected in an omnibus edition, which is probably the way to read it because the individual volumes are quick reads that leave you wanting more.

Batman

The whole Bat-family of books has been a joy to read since the launching of the New 52 despite the death of my favorite Robin of all-time, which happened in Batman Inc. not Batman. Batman has carried the weight of the two major crossovers in the Bat-family of books, “The Night of Owls” and “The Death of the Family.” Both have been really creepy. Greg Capullo’s art compliments Scott Synder’s twisted imagination to create an almost fatty macabre noir. Really great stuff. Seriously though, all the Bat-books are worth reading- Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Detective Comics, etc.

68

68 is a zombie book that takes place mostly in Vietnam during the late 1960s. Rich in historical reference and detail, overflowing with sophisticated humor, and filled with consistently creative art (which is often difficult for a war comic), 68 continues find value in an idea that lesser creators would turned into a dull gimmick.

Revival

Like 68, Revival is a book about the dead coming back to life, however the walking dead in Revival retain a lot more motor function.

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The Flash

The Flash puts the science back in science fiction. The art in The Flash is arguably the best in the New 52.

Batwoman

Remember when I said the art in The Flash is arguably the best in the New 51? Batwoman is the reason for the argument.

Strange Attractors

Nearly all the books on this list use the comic book medium in new, exciting ways specific to the medium. Perhaps most so in The Flash and Strange Attractors. Strange Attractors actually makes me want Charles Soule and Francis Manipaul to team up- the whirring lines in both books almost create a new dimension in the format, elements of movement that challenge the medium but also echo Silver Age Flash as well as the Family Circus. This book is a great gift for anyone from or who lives in New York City. There are a lot of great lines in this book.

The Manhattan Projects

This book is crazy and crazy in a well-researched and incredibly creative way. Hickman’s writing is absolutely top notch and nearly overshadows Patarra’s incredibly innovative art and approach to story telling as well as the book’s sleak overall design.

Lost Cat

More greatness from Jason.

No Place Like Home

I love this creepy spin on the Wizard of Oz and can’t wait to learn what’s really going on.

Hopeless Maine

Tim Burton should direct this comic book. If you like Coraline or similarly creepy stories with assertive young girls facing physically impossible odds, you’ll appreciate this spooky story of orphans and friendship.

Anyway, that’s the list. I better get to bed as I’ll be volunteering all day tomorrow for Dragon Con- figured I’d get as much of my volunteering out of the way on Thursday, so I can enjoy the actual Con. I’m looking forward especially to “Gender, Race, and Identities in Comics” on Friday; the parade, post-parade brunch, Amanda Connor, Darwyn Cooke, Neal Adams, and some Bootie mash ups on Saturday; Jimmy Palmiotti on Sunday (and of course, my own panel “Comics Through a Socio-Political Lens”); and being able to still stand as I do my last volunteering on Monday.

It’s going to great weekend, Atlanta. Maybe it’ll even be a great year.

 

 

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