Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Of The Most Ugly F**king Things I've Ever Seen In My Life

A friend just emailed me the spoiler to the latest issue of Final Crisis, and it was one of the most ugly fucking things I've ever seen in my life.

No class, no respect, sensationalist crap.

They might as well have just taken a dump on the legacy of the character in question.

And for what? Sales? To barely get in the top ten? Was it worth it?

This book comes out the same day as the Spider-Man Obama cover. Such a contrast in energy, direction.

I choose hope.

Want spoilers, pictures, and additional commentary? Read this review.


  1. Given the genius of Grant Morrison, I will wait to see the whole thing in context.

  2. And I don't want to be a DC defender, but please explain how much more hopeful Thunderbolts beginning with Ellis, Dark Avengers, and other mainstream Marvel comics are?

  3. "Given the genius of Grant Morrison"

    this "genius" is truly hit or miss.

  4. I never get the feeling when witnessing a death in the Marvel Universe that they are depending on that character death to "carry" all their sales, like putting a bullet in Captain America is the one thing that will "get the readers interested again."

    But from Identity Crisis onward it's just felt like death, gore, and destruction is part of the overall publishing plan -- the engine that drives it.

    From the company retreat that kicked Identity Crisis off:

    "How can we become as successful as Marvel? I know, they are more grim and gritty than us! If we too become grim and gritty, we will get big big sales!"

    I was there for that meeting.

    And I had raised my hand at the very beginning and said that what made Marvel great was not the grim and gritty, but the fact they had characters, like Peter Parker that readers could relate to. That teenagers gravitated to characters like that because they share the same flaws and foibles.

    But DC took the "grim and gritty" football and ran with it for the last 5 years.

    And they still can't dominate the sales.

    So did that tactic really work???

    As usual, I point to the sales numbers.

  5. It's also possible DC editorial has and/or will compromise Morrison's vision.

  6. Um... so what was the point of anyone reading Batman RIP?

  7. "I choose hope."

    So Marvel is Obama/Biden and DC -- "no respect, sensationalist crap" -- is McCain/Palin?

    I kid, I kid.

    But for real: Aside from Batman (for a lurid interest, and besides, he SHOULD be grim and gritty), I have not been able to pick up or enjoy a DC comic in years.

  8. Open Letter To Dan DiDio:
    I've been reading comic books for 35 years.
    And now we're done.

    I don't undertake this decision lightly. The first book I remember being thrust into my hands was a Dennis O'Neil-written issue of "Batman."

    The first games I remember playing with my dad in the car during weekend visits were "Batman and Robin."

    The character has been part of my inner topography for nearly 40 years, and occupies a place in my heart that I cannot even begin to quantify.

    So when DC "killed" Superman in 1992, I didn't care. I knew it was a cynical marketing ploy, and that he'd be back.

    I didn't really have that much attachment to the character, so there was no emotional resonance.

    But now, it's personal. You've taken an iconic character and, for reasons I can only assume have something to do with goosing sales, you've rubbed him out.

    And I know, because this is a comic book, that Bruce Wayne will be back.


    Because Warner Brothers has a multi-billion tentpole movie franchise relying on it.

    And because if you say "Bruce Wayne" to a village on the Upper Amazon, he will answer "Ahh, yes, Batman."

    So, I know he'll be back.

    But I'll be damned if you're getting my $3.99 anymore.

    I'm through having my trust abused. I'm through having my affections trifled with. And I'm through having my wallet sacked so you publish multi-issue crossover series that lead exactly nowhere.

    I know I'm supposed to "care" about Final Crisis. But no one has explained to me WHY.

    There is no emotional resonance as there was in "Crisis on Infinite Earths," or even in "Zero Hour," where DC killed some of the most beloved characters of the Golden Age.

    I know I'm not supposed to take a funny-book this seriously. But when you go messing with a person's inner landscape, it gets personal.

    And so, at least when it comes to "Batman" titles, we're done. I won't allow you to insult my intelligence anymore.


  9. *YAWN*

    Do we really think this'll stick? I don’t know I've been disappointed with FC...I'll wait to see how this fits in the context of the entire story, but so far 'meh'

  10. I've been thinking about Alias a lot, lately.

    It was just such a well-written book, and the characters were so identifiable. And reading through all the X-Men from the Neal Adams run...the writing there was surprisingly good.

    And...I mean...I read through the review and read the spoiler. Saw the pages. It was...I mean...I don't know. The writing seemed pretty good, but I haven't followed FC at all. The way Messi described it, it seemed well done, just not...enough somehow.

    Not big enough. Not epic enough. And, to me, it wasn't personal enough. I always thought the best Batman stories were, at heart, stories about Bruce Wayne's psyche/personality. That's one of the things that I actually liked about Identity Crisis. Bruce Wayne was a person, and it was that personal connection...remembrance, anger, fear and uncertainty...that made the whole sequence of Jack Drake's death hit home.

    This? He was shooting a magic bullet at a god (wearing jeans, no less) with weird, magic hoodoo squiggles in the background. I don't know where this took place.

    It's like the anti Alias. I liked Identity Crisis. Honestly, I thought it was very well done: not because they raped and killed Sue Dibny...actually that turned my stomach. I liked it because I could identify with everyone. The heroes had personalities and fallibilities that made sense. And the art that Rags Morales contributed shored that up.

    It was an epic, but very personal story.

    This? I mean, it's epic, I guess. The way it's written is epic, even if it's not the way it's drawn or laid out. But it isn't...personal.

    I don't know what to think.

  11. I don't know. Batman being the one to beat Darkseid has a neat little bit of karma going for it.

    The toughest human on the planet takes out a god.

    That said, Final Crisis is going to read better in trades.

  12. Also, no way does Bruce Wayne stay dead. Not going to happen.

  13. I have to say, I will wait to see all this pans out. Because, if the character who is killed is really dead, then DC has shot itself in the foot. Well, more like shot the foot clean off.

    And on the darkness over at Marvel, at least they have some good stories built around their deaths. "The Death of Captain America" was a well thought out and dynamic story. IMHO, it eats Final Crisis' lunch in terms of quality

  14. Anonymous12:01 PM

    Batman is the only comic I read regularly (the price of 1 UK edition containing 3 US editions is the same as the import price of 1 US edition - but the range is limited... Liked JLA, but UK edition was cancelled...), but if Batman, Bruce Wayne, really dies I'll stop reading immediately.

  15. Val, you said I never get the feeling when witnessing a death in the Marvel Universe that they are depending on that character death to "carry" all their sales, like putting a bullet in Captain America is the one thing that will "get the readers interested again."

    I get that impression from almost ALL deaths in comics; AND almost all the stunts that get pulled for publicity. Marvel are better at getting the word out though - I saw a lot of articles on the the death of Cap in the press but haven't seen any on the death of Batman.

    And the story isn't played out yet anyway; isn't it fairer to judge on the final product (or just this whole issue) rather than a couple of scans?

  16. Oh, but I'm with you on the 'genius' of Grant Morrison.

  17. Grant Morrison is an overrated, convoluted, drug addicted, piece of filth.

    Batman RIP, Final Crisis...all of it...crap. Not just crap. Offensive is probably the best way to describe his shotty work.

    Way to screw up Batman and offend readers.

    Ya know it's more DC's own fault. We get it, they want to accurately pull together all the convoluted histories of other companys that they have swallowed up and put them in one universe. Here's a hint STOP GOING BACK TO THE SAME WELL!

    I feel like I need to open up a DC dictionary to understand story lines centered on Kingdom Come, the Legion, or where in hell Power Girl came from. They're included into the current universe so STOP MUCKING WITH IT!

    I feel better...wait no there's more.

    Fix Aquaman!

  18. If you're talking about the death I think you're talking about I'm not sure I can agree that it was as blasphemous as you say. Just read the issue and I couldn't say it was done for shock value, as we'd been prepped for it for like at least half a year already.

    What specifically upset you so much about it?

  19. Just reinforces my pride in being a fan of Marvel comics.

  20. Have you been reading the whole story or you just grabbed those pages out of context?

    Basically, yeah, it's ugly - Death always is no matter how you want to dress it up. But it's also his ultimate sacrifice to save all of creation that was being destroyed by an evil God. And it was an act done by a powerless human.

    And speaking of ugly things, what did you think of the Blob eating Janet's insides in Ultimatum?

  21. After reading that review? [Spoiler Alert] It sounds like the Gotham City version of Superman killing Mxyzptlk in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel?"

    File under O for "One Unbreakable Rule, Hero Must Die After Breaking His." (Or maybe that should be 'Die.' No way Bruce Wayne is gone forever.)

    And cross-file under B for "Bankruptcy, Creative."

  22. My reaction to all this is just, well, eh. Final Crisis has just been a mess.

  23. Heinous. Not only has DC "killed" Batman, but they've killed his character.

    I went off on it on my blog a bit more:

    I'm just done with mainstream DC unless it's written by Geoff Johns and possesses the quality of a Green Lantern or JSA. This is really awful.

    I didn't realize it Batman was the toilet in Didio's personal bathroom, or perhaps Batman is the toilet paper, either way it's pretty awful.

    Time for Didio to be gone, yes?

    Oh and since he's jumped to DC, the only genius from Morrison has been "All-Star Superman." The "genius" is very hit and miss.

  24. Val, I've been reading your blog for some time and I know you've had horrific experiances at DC, but I'd rather read about a comic character as part of an engaging story then sensationalist CRAP like the obama issue. The obama issue is classless, stupid, crass and alienating. I bearly tolerated Joe Q making Steven Coblert the focus point of background images in every marvel comic just to get on TV and try for more sales, but this is just over the top.

  25. I don't care that Bruce Wayne died because eventually he'll be back...the DC licensing guys need him for "Batman/Dark Knight 3" tie-ins and mac & cheese promotions.

    The fact that Morrison, accused since his JLA run of making Bruce Wayne too much of an all-purpose "Bat-god" who is unstoppable, actually resorted to having him use an effing GUN to stop Darkseid is just a complete betrayal of the character. It's the one, ONE defining element to Batman that absolutely has to remain unmarred...otherwise, it's just not Batman. It's like revealing that Captain America was actually a Nazi spy the entire duration of WWII. Actually, no, it's not like that because at least the Cap scenario would make for some interesting "what really happened"-type stories. Batman using a gun is just...not Batman. Not at all.

    This was a hack move, Morrison, the kind designed to excite the sweaty fanboys with the hyped-up "kewl" factor. I wouldn't have expected this from someone like Bendis, let alone you. You're officially now in Chuck Austen country. And you can just go ahead and stay there.

  26. "And I had raised my hand at the very beginning and said that what made Marvel great was not the grim and gritty, but the fact they had characters, like Peter Parker that readers could relate to. That teenagers gravitated to characters like that because they share the same flaws and foibles."

    I'd agree, and I'd add that I can related much more to a corpseified batman then a shameless plug for the Obama administration, which reaks of hucksterism and media whoring.

    Did the conversation at marvel start with "You know what would realy move the spider-man story forward? a backup story about Spider-Man saving the president-elect. That realy develops the character."

    I'm sure it continued with an in-depth discussion of how a cover with Obama giving the thumbs up would develop the character even further! How brilliant the gang at marvel is! Now all they need is Satan offering Obama a sucessful stimulus package if he gives up his marriage and the character development cycle is complete!

  27. RE: the Spider-Man Obama issue

    Obama's favorite comic book character is Spider-Man. If Marvel wants to do a little story about it in their comic book, I don't see the big deal.

  28. "Obama's favorite comic book character is Spider-Man. If Marvel wants to do a little story about it in their comic book, I don't see the big deal."

    And yet you're complaining that DC did somthing just for sales that you disaprove of. How is it different? at least DC is building an ongoing story out of the batman death, the spider-man issue is clearly JUST a sales and media grab.

  29. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Did you read Ultimatum? The one where the now-white Wasp was eaten? That is a million times uglier and more sensationalistic then this.

  30. (To add to above, I'm afraid that if DC did this issue you would have pointed out how it was a Savage Dragon rip off by now.)

  31. "And yet you're complaining that DC did somthing just for sales that you disaprove of. How is it different? at least DC is building an ongoing story out of the batman death, the spider-man issue is clearly JUST a sales and media grab."

    Barack Obama is the first African-American president of the United States, and beloved by millions. I'm happy to see Marvel support him.

    Batman is a comic book character beloved by millions who has just been reduced to a charred, steaming, gaping corpse. He's just had his eyeballs fried out of his goddamn head.

    In these dark times in which we live, what would the majority of people rather read? What would they rather support?

    If Marvel's getting money for the Obama comic, at least they are pushing something positive, something that gives joy and pride.

    Not to mention, the first issue of their "Wizard of Oz" also sold out. So maybe people are looking for joy instead of death.

  32. Hey look, I'm sorry your ugly comic book is still languishing on the shelves of the comic book stores while Spider-Man is sold out everywhere.

    That's totally my fault.

  33. Morrison has always billed Final Crisis as "The Day Evil Won" so I don't think we should be surprised at the darkness of the book.

    The Batman death didn't bother me much because it's pretty much been telegraphed to us for almost year now. Who knows, maybe the return of Bruce Wayne will be as a good as Green Lantern: Rebirth.

    What is the real disappointment with Final Crisis is the muddled nature of the story. It feels very rushed and I was disappointed to see a character like Libra dispatched so un-dramatically. It felt like he was supposed to be a bigger player in this story. I'm also wondering how drastically Morrison was made to rewrite after the reports of that came out. I see this a more of an editorial flop than a creative one, you can't blame Morrison if they didn't let him write the story he wanted to. As much as I hate joining the DiDio Bandwagon, I'm really tiring of this guy.

  34. Personally, I don't see Marvel as one bit more "hope"ful than DC. Both publishers are making major gufaws right now and are barely recognizable to long-time readers. That would be okay if they were getting new readers onboard. I'll still take what DC is doing over what Marvel is doing.

  35. Ok, I now understand your point, and I do respect it. Bill Willingham had an article up recently about the lack of bright moral heroes in comics these days, but given marvel is going into a boffo sales event called DARK reign, I still think marvel is just as guilty on this point.

    Also, It's hard for me to see Obama in the positive light you do, so rather then lift me up, it dragged my whole issue down.

  36. It should never have been called a Crisis and that is not the way Morrison pitched it. It was just supposed to be his sequel to 7 Soldiers. Apparently, Didio decided it should be the next Crisis. I can definitely understand the complaint of it not living up to the hype, for those that are put off by that. But as someone who loved 7 Soldiers and has not not enjoyed a single thing I have read from Morrison, I like it. Sue me.

  37. "Hey look, I'm sorry your ugly comic book is still languishing on the shelves of the comic book stores while Spider-Man is sold out everywhere.

    That's totally my fault."

    Wow. Who pissed in your corn flakes?

    We're all still friends here, right?

  38. "That's totally my fault."

    If you had that kind of power, I doubt you'd be blogging right now.

  39. Yep, I'm still glad I've been skipping Final Crisis.

  40. Anonymous3:07 PM

    Sorry Val, but that's a cop-out answer. Come on, in a practical sense you know that there really is no difference here, both of these are clearly sales-oriented. If anything the Marvel one's moreso of an obvious one.

    Someone selling Obama plates is no different. A sensationalist publicity-grabber of a comic is the same no matter what...if anything a one-shot idea like that with shallow and dumb political jokes (I've read it) does nothing to help having comics taken seriously.

    But then what do I know, I haven't sat in on meetings at DC, I'm just someone who reads a lot.

  41. The President-elect of the United States of America, beloved not only in the United States but internationally, is a big Spider-Man fan.

    Is that Marvel's fault?

    Should they have just ignored it?

    And what does it say that one of the most important and influential men of our time chose a Marvel character over DC?

    The fact that these two comic books came out on the stands at the same time, and one has seized the imagination of both the comic-reading & non-comic-reading public, and one is just a sad finale to a troubled mini-series, says a lot.

    And if you look at the two key images from those comics -- the character death in Final Crisis, and the cover of Spider-Man -- there is no way you can say those two things are the same.

    People don't want charred corpses of heroes right now.

  42. Overall, I agree with the hit-or-miss sentiment. There's just something missing from this story. It doesn't feel as "epic" as Morrison's JLA run, and the Bats/Darkseid battle in "Rock Of Ages."

    And bully for Morrison, I guess, that he got to deliver his "pay-off" for Batman RIP. I get the "uglyness" of the final image as it relates to the overall "THE END IS NIGH" vibe Morrison's been trying to conjure up throughout this story, but, again, it feels like reader's theatre when we're supposed to take it as a big moment.

    What's more, what this Crisis has lacked since it was first announced was coherent, compelling storytelling leading up to it (RIP? Uh, no). What set Infinite Crisis apart and helped it sell, I think -- DC did apparently do well in 2005 was that it was the culmination of a quartet (quintet, if you include the dissolution of the JLA) of good stories.

  43. And there were plenty of issues of Final Crisis still at the comic book store when I got there this afternoon.

  44. "One Of The Most Ugly F**king Things I've Ever Seen In My Life"
    This describes the reaction as much as anything else. I mean really, with the images on the news right now, " of the ugliest?" There's hyperbole, there's emphasis, and there's silly.

  45. "one has seized the imagination of both the comic-reading & non-comic-reading public"

    I hardly think this issue of Spidey has captured the general public's imagination. Hate to sound like a cynic but look at the pre-sells on ebay earlier this week. $200 for this issue! Most non-comic readers buying this are the same people who bought 10 issues of the NY Times on Nov.5th, who buy commemorative 9-11 coins, and Elvis plates from the Franklin Mint. They think they'll turn a profit one day. which they most likely never will.

    And I love Obama and love that fact that he's openly a comic fan. I think it was cool for him to put into his favorite character's title. That said, Marvel brutally murdered The Wasp twice in one week, blown up from inside and then cannibalized. Batman dying in the process of saving the multiverse from a dark god seems pretty noble to me and I still recognize it as a bid to sell books.

  46. "Should they have just ignored it?"

    Is it too much to ask for yes? I was in the tank for the other fellow, and having my escapism ruined by the outside world kinda peeves me.

  47. Maybe we should be comparing the Spidey story to the Youngblood story Rich just posted about.

    I agree, though, with the sentiment that the Spider-Man story is a more obvious sort of cash-in; it's a five-page back-up story, even as "regular continuity," Obama has been mentioned as backing bad guy Norman Osborn's ascent to director of HAMMER. It's good marketing, don't get me wrong, but I don't believe it represents Marvel, as a line of stories, as more "hopeful" than DC -- just more successful as a brand.

    Also, for better or worse, "Final Crisis" isn't over yet -- Morrison has one more issue to (presumably) hit the Magic Reboot button on both the world and Bruce Wayne.

  48. There was a lack of dignity in the way the death of that character was depicted. I love Doug Mahnke's work, but this just depressed the hell out of me. And not depressed me in the sense that I was touched, or moved, or anything like that.

    And yeah, we see horrible images of death on the news all the time. Exactly.

  49. Yes, I felt the charred body might be a little over the top. Would have been fine with just a lifeless and limp Batman. However, I don't think it would qualify as one of the most ugly things I've seen in comics. Now The Wasp having her innards gobbled on by the Blob (Thank Jeph Loeb), that was uncalled for.

  50. "I choose Ultimate Blob eating Ultimate Wasp's innards!"

    Val, both Marvel and DC produce stuff that a reasonable person could find objectionable.

  51. Anonymous3:56 PM

    "If you had that kind of power, I doubt you'd be blogging right now."

    ... did people actually take that quote seriously? Val was joking.

    I enjoyed Final Crisis #1. I waned on #2. By #3, I was aware of the bleeding coming from my behind.

    This has been a manhandled book from the word "go". Only the truly hardcore (read: anal and repressed) readers seem to 100% enjoy it.

    Batman RIP-Off, while BS, had an epic ending. A God killing Batman makes utterly no sense within the context of the character's book or the RIP story as a whole. A God-killing Batman is just funny.

    And now Blackest Night is an effing crossover event? I shouldn't really be surprised. The industry thrives on events.

    As for the Obama-Man controversey, I think everyone needs to realize that you can't compare it to the muddled saga of Final Crisis. You just can't. They are apples and oranges. The ONLY thing they have in common is that they are Event Books. It would be different if Obama-Man was a seven issue arc billed as the cat's meow.

  52. Wait, I'm sorry. Are you complaining about a lack of dignity when you sent all of your readers to a review in which some guy who thinks I'm an "apologist" "cock" for writing an extensively detailed explanation of what I felt the merits of several Final Crisis were can't even use my actual name? I'm sorry, Val, but you can't have it both ways. Either dignity and hope are important, or they're just buzzwords you use to make the other company look bad.

  53. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Huh... I guess Plot Armored Batgod beats Canon Sue Kirby Character...

    ...and nothing of value was lost.

    Though seriously, am I the only person who read this post and assumed Valerie was being sarcastic at first?

  54. One thing I've noticed: the death of Captain America, which came about seemingly out of the blue, was front-page news from the get-go.

    The "death" of Batman, which had been talked about since 2007, isn't even a blip on the news thus far.

  55. I read it, and um...yeah.

    Not horribly bad, but not good either.

    But Bruce will be back. You can bet on it.

  56. Sebastian, my two and a half year old son, adores Batman, sometimes to the tune of waking me up at two AM to play "Night Batman". I read him some of the comics, watch the cheesy 70s and 80s cartoons with a little Timm/Dini and B&B on Friday nights. He loves it, and his sisters get in on the fun, too.

    When my son inevitably finds my handful of Batman comics on the shelf (which he's pretty much figured out the "what's up there", now he's on to "how to get it"), I'll be damn sure he's be spared that ending in Final Crisis--because it won't be in my house to begin with.

    There are plenty of good stories for every age group, both light-hearted and serious, fun and playful, and grim and violent, that are far more appropriate to the character than that.

    Frankly, if there's going to be a Battle for the Cowl after all this, Sebastian's already got it in the bag.

    As he likes to remind us daily:
    "I'm Bat-am!"

    Those drawings in that comic certainly aren't.

  57. "I choose hope."

    That's Ultimate Blob eating Ultimate Wasp in full glorious Technicolor, from ULTIMATUM #whatever.

    I know you're a disgruntled former DC staffer and you have a Marvel comic coming out, but you could at least try to be less of a blatant company shill.

  58. I never get the feeling when witnessing a death in the Marvel Universe that they are depending on that character death to "carry" all their sales, like putting a bullet in Captain America is the one thing that will "get the readers interested again."

    Yeah, they were very austere about that instance; didn't get it published in the mainstream press and drum up speculator fever or anything.

    I do find it ferociously honest that you "choose" the company that's currently paying you to write a mini-series.

  59. People don't want charred corpses of heroes right now.

    No one elected you as spokesperson of "the people." You're a random nerd with a free blog.

  60. Throw Batman in the Lazarus Pit I say!

    And while they are at it throw some of those DC writers in there too.

    Oh, wait, they are alive, it's their careers that are dieing...


  61. Also, if you don't want to hear about the current president in Marvel Comics, get over it. Marvel has always been set "in the real world" as far back as 1961. I doubt anyone whined when LBJ or Gerry Ford showed up in issues of the Hulk or Defenders.

    Just because you don't like the guy it doesn't make him *not* the president or not a big deal to everyone else. :)

  62. Wow. That was really something all right.

    Honestly, at this point can we really be so surprised by the continual shock tactics employed by the Big Two to peddle their wares? And the fact that Batman has died (again?) doesn't really irk me. There's no death in comics, no permanence, only the illusion of same. An illusion I might add that can be dispelled in a twinkling if there's an oppurtunity for money to be made.

    No, the thing that grinds the whole affair to a complete and screeching halt is the fact that Batman uses a gun. Batman, the hero who's parents lay in a bloody pool before him gunned down in Crime Alley pops a cosmic cap into Darkseid's ass. And you can call the gun whatever the hell you want, you can make the BFKG-9000, but at the end of the day Batman used a gun to shoot someone. To kill them. And while that might've been acceptable in the '30s when Kane and Finger were feeling the character out in Shadow/Spider-esque tales, that act in this contemporary comic of the present day sounded the death knell of the character in my mind.

    Batman is dead. In the creation of that scene Morrison betrayed the core of that character in one fell swoop. And I don't care what kind of fast-one bullshit they attempt to pull ('Oh, er, hey you thought that was Bruce Wayne? It was, uh, Jason Todd! Yeah that's it! You never liked him anyway right?!') they took the character of Batman--the core of his storytelling engine--and destroyed it for the sake of the almighty dollar.

    I'm no fool. I know the superhero genre in DC & Marvel comics is a mug's game. There's no change, there's no closure, there's no development, just an endless series of retcons and relaunches. Batman will always be Bruce Wayne because explaining Dick Grayson being Batman now would take too long to explain to the Burger King people. He's a product with the appearance of a literary character. The distinction should be made clear by acts like this.

    When I read Big Two comics these days, I have to actively shut down the part of my critical faculties that knows its an okeydoke to enjoy the books I like, to engage in some escapist fun and get out of the stress of my day to day for a little while. Nowadays that gets harder and harder to do as titles like these and decisions made by the big two to continually up the ante for the next big crossover, the next big shocker, the next big thing get in the way of me just wanting Ben Grimm to punch a bad guy in the face, or Superman to swoop in and save the day in the nick of time.

    I'm still able to suspend my disbelief, but these days that support structure is making some really ominous groans. I've no idea if things will ever improve, and frankly I'd be surprised if they ever did.

    But I can hope.



  63. I still dont understand exactly what is happening in Final Crisis and I have read all the tie ins as well as the whole mini.

    It's just too fucking confusing.

    I read Batman RIP and barely understood what was happening.

    Grant Morrison just can't tell a comprehensive story. There are way too many holes.

    I have hope for this year of DC. I think they realized Morrison was too out there, and that Geoff Johns needs a chance to run the event.

    I can't believe I wasted my money on Batman RIP. It was completely worthless.

  64. Batman is a comic book character beloved by millions who has just been reduced to a charred, steaming, gaping corpse. He's just had his eyeballs fried out of his goddamn head.

    That's our Bruce. Prepared for anything and everything.

  65. Yeah, gotta chime in here:

    How was this really any better/worse than the Blob holding down a full-sized Ultimate Wasp and merrily chewing on her intestines?

    With a "Tastes like chicken" thrown in for good measure, no less?

  66. Final Crisis hasn't been all that I've wanted it to be.

    Whether that's a case of editorial interference or creative failings I don't think anyone will ever really know the answer.

    I absolutely think Batman's 'death' could have been handled in a much better fashion.

    But I trust Morrison enough to let him play this out to the very end. He's got the track record that backs him up. Now, he may dissapoint me or he may pull something out of his ass that makes the whole thing better.

    But for me that call is easier made when I've got the finished work in my hand.

  67. I never get the feeling when witnessing a death in the Marvel Universe that they are depending on that character death to "carry" all their sales, like putting a bullet in Captain America is the one thing that will "get the readers interested again."

    Captain America's death actually made sense, not just as fallout from Civil War, but thematically and symbolically (and even as sly social commentary).

  68. I'm gonna wait and see how the media reacts to all this... Bang or whimper?

    And right now, I'm a little surprised that no one has really commented on the regular cover of Spider-Man. Peter Parker is now dating older women, and using a somewhat derogatory term? I thought he had more class than what is depicted on the cover.

    As for what is shown in comics, DC did it right with "Man of Tomorrow" where we see death but it's not sensational. I'll read Neil Gaiman's "Caped Crusader" story, but really have no interest in the regular Batman titles.

  69. I tried to read that review and failed. It was more a retelling than a review.

    Of course it'd be Batman. It's always Batman. Batman can do anything, create any device to accomplish any feat at any time. His plans have plans, and some of his schemes do, too. And he'll no doubt be back in a year's time, exactly the same as always... an arrogant asshole a whisker away from biting his own head off.

    I find myself less than upset about this. To be honest, nothing DC does anymore shocks or surprises me. And precious little delights or entertains me, either.

  70. Costa said...
    Sorry Val, but that's a cop-out answer. Come on, in a practical sense you know that there really is no difference here, both of these are clearly sales-oriented. If anything the Marvel one's moreso of an obvious one.

    There is one difference. The Obama issue of spider-man will probably have no effect on future Spider-man comics. The Batman thing is going to cause a pretty big ripple throught the DC universe.

  71. Anonymous8:12 PM

    "And what does it say that one of the most important and influential men of our time chose a Marvel character over DC?"

    Maybe absolutely nothing beyond his own tastes and preferences like any other human being?

    Obama also apparently digs Conan. I don't see Dark Horse rushing a Conan/Obama crossover to press. Maybe they should. And isn't Alex Ross' Obama t-shirt based off his Superman work?

    I'm really glad that Obama got in but in terms of general preferences for superhero characters, that's like saying someone who prefers Coke over Pepsi is a better human being or something.

    The more important question is: when will Wolverine inevitably join the Obama team?

  72. Wasn't Amazing Spider-Man the book that, just a few short years ago, showed a guy rip out Spider-Man's eye and eat it?

  73. I don't know what Val's reason is for not addressing the whole Ultimate!Blob eating Ultimate!Wasp ultimately in Ultimatum, but honestly, can you blame her? It's Jeph Loeb, ffs. It's the Ultimate Universe, the lol edgiest edgy universe that ever edgied down the edge.

  74. "I do find it ferociously honest that you "choose" the company that's currently paying you to write a mini-series."

    I sure as hell didn't make up the fact that Marvel almost doubled the market share of comic sales in comparison with DC in 2008, did I?

    Or that some of their higher ups have done things so bad that I have to have separate emails sent to me by "third parties" telling me that it's not "proper" to mention them?

    What of those things did I create?

    Tell me how I invented Marvel's sales advantage and used this false information to my advantage.

    Tell me how I fudged Marvel's numbers.

    Tell me how I made Secret Invasion take most of the slots of comic book of the year for 2008.

    Is this going to be what you cry whenever I disagree with DC?

    Man, I have some good things to toss back at you about DC. "Why is Final Crisis such a clusterfuck?" Gee. I don't know. :-p

    It's no surprise to me the clusterfuck they have found themselves in, or that Marvel is beating them in sales. I have no pity for them.

    Make your own bed, lie in it.

    And if you are such a die-hard DC fan that you can't see past your loyalty, I have no problem with that.

    You are the only people keeping them solvent. That's the only audience they're playing towards, anymore. Because they know you will be there no matter what. And you are.

  75. Wow.

    I was going to unsubscribe to follow-up comments because, well, this has gotten out of hand.

    But Val's "fuck all" response was ... great.

    Man, you people sure take this stuff seriously. :)

  76. it's always interesting for me to see people shocked or horrified with Final Crisis or Batman RIP. Personally, I have enjoyed both series more than I have enjoyed any other event comics in a long time. I think the reason I was about to enjoy them when many did not is partly the wat I read comics. And also partly the following considerations:

    1) Final Crisis is a horror comic. It's a horror comic with superheroes, but it's fundamentally a place where bad things happen. It's happening on "the day evil won". Of course it's nasty. if Batman had rode in on a white horse and saved the day, it would have been a major failing of the series. This isn't meant to be a time when the good guys can just win because they're the good guys.
    2) Grant Morrison loves Batman. He really does. He loves him more than you do, even if you wear bat-underoos and have a dog called Ace. Read Batman 681-683 again and tell me that's not a love letter to a character.
    3) Grant Morrison knows what he's doing. He's plotted more complicated things than this before, and written more horrifying things than this. What's more, he's written the day evil won before. Look at Rock of Ages. Look at Zenith Phase 4. Grant knows what he's doing, and he has a way back with the character.

    Dry your eyes. Stop freaking out. Everything is going to be OK.

  77. I've been reading the "Obama-Man" part of this thread with some interest.
    And, frankly, it seems a completely separate matter to the Batman death and the death of Ultimate Wasp

    On Obama-Man: We're on the cusp of an historical event. Marvel published a keepsake of that historical event that's a touch on the kitschy side. They saw an opening and went for it. I can't get real exercised over it.

    To Batman/Wasp: The Wasp image is miles worse than the Final Crisis scene in terms of its graphic-ness.

    On the other hand, with Batman, you're dealing with the death of an iconic character who's not only part of comics culture, but a towering figure on the pop culture landscape at-large.

    For that very reason, the death (if it's to be undertaken) has to be handled with taste and dignity. From what I can see, it wasn't.

    And I hate to say it, but if you say "The Wasp," to a non-comic reader, you're going to get a blank stare. They won't get exercised over the passing of a C-List character like they might with Bats.

    And, yes, death is never really final in the comics universe -- except for maybe Steve Rogers, and, until recently Barry Allen. That's why it's now cheezy and hackneyed plot device. It smacks of creative laziness.

  78. "Man, you people sure take this stuff seriously. :)"

    Hardcore, baby -- hardcore!


  79. I've just spend the last 5-10 reading the comments section for this post. There's one thing I think we all can agree on; publishers, whether they publish books, magazines or comics, want to sell product. Now, they will do whatever they think will sell product. So if its putting the President in an issue or killing a character its because they think people will buy it. On this we can all agree, right?

    So, Val I respect your opinion, and everyone else on this site for that matter, but I don't really agree with the hope/death light/dark perspective. I see what you mean, but I don't think that's why Marvel is kicking DC's ass. Its as simple as good stories, Marvel tells them, DC doesn't. Simple I know, but that's it, to me anyway.

    While I know things like Cap getting gunned down is done to create publicity, I'm willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt that there is a bigger picture because they have shown me there was time and time again. Hell, I'm even willing to see where they go with Spidey even though I don't think Peter needs to be single. Why? Because they seem to have a plan

    I'm a DC guy. Batman is it for me. I like the larger then life aspect of their characters, I don't want to read about me, I am me. I want escape. But, honestly, is there ANY sense of continuity or an overall plan? Then they want me to forget the last 20 some odd years and go back to the Silver Age even though I wasn't reading then and I don't really think those stories were "great".

    I'm sorry this is so long and rambling, it just annoys me. How hard is it to concentrate on good storytelling? Letting people do their jobs and use their talents?

    So there you have it. Maybe Didio wants "dark and gritty" but that's not the problem. The problem is the stories suck and there is no cohesive plan. Isn't that the job of the EIC? If the man isn't doing the job, then its time for him to go.

    Again, sorry this jumps all over the place and it rambles, you don't have to post it or you can edit it if you like just wanted to vent....


  80. I don't know what Val's reason is for not addressing the whole Ultimate!Blob eating Ultimate!Wasp ultimately in Ultimatum, but honestly, can you blame her? It's Jeph Loeb, ffs. It's the Ultimate Universe, the lol edgiest edgy universe that ever edgied down the edge.

    Well, for one, it's a hell of a lot more grotesque than the DC image.

    For another, it's in an "event" book.

    Seriously, almost all the companies print horrible, horrible things. I don't even think Ultimatum has a mature readers label on it.

    I don't mind criticism, but I tend to prefer it to be fair. You can't fault one company for doing something when the other has done much the same thing.

  81. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Comic books are srs business. When you pretend otherwise, you get things like Blue Beetle, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade and Teen Titans Year One.

  82. I am sorry if I repeated anyone elses statements but the advertisement for Battle for the Cowl shows Damien with Bruce and Bruce has wrappings falling off of his legs. Maybe makes me think the Lazurus Pit may play a role.


    Dignity. Always dignity.

  84. Well to tell you the truth I have avoided the Batman RIP series and also the weekly Trinity series. It was and is too annoying for me.
    I only read Wonder Woman now because she is my favourite super bar none and she appeals to my fangirl heart.
    Batman was always my second love but with this inanity of him dying (you know he will be back because he is money for DC) I just couldn't be asked to care.

  85. Val,

    Why do you feel the need to take every comment that disagrees with you as a personal attack. This is not the only column where you have done this. I enjoy your blogging and the discussions afterwards, but I don't get the vitriol.

    I also realize I am in a minority, especially here, but I enjoy Final Crisis. Does that make me a bad person. I am not saying you should like it. I will say that some of your generalizations are irrational at best.

    And why are you preoccupied with sales? Sales equals quality?

    Does that mean people who make the most money are the smartest or the best? Because, if that's the case you should bow down and kiss my feet.

    I didn't think so.

  86. On the flipside, Nana 14 came out today, and it was pretty awesome.

  87. Anonymous1:00 AM


    I guess Batman shooting evil dead is too at odds with the bullshit faux cynicism of you and most of your supporters anyways. How about you all stop sounding like the most pathetically typical comic books fans with this "I'm done with DC/Batman" shit anyways? Christ.

  88. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Wow. 78 comments.

    My friend just summed it up better than I ever could: "Today is the day Batman died".

  89. Anonymous1:12 AM

    "Batman uses a gun. Batman, the hero who's parents lay in a bloody pool before him gunned down in Crime Alley pops a cosmic cap into Darkseid's ass"

    I'm a little late here, but I don't see this part as such an offensive take. I mean, I think it's great as a character trait that Batman chooses not to use the weapons that killed his parents while fighting King Tut or whatever, but would a Batman who has The God of All Evil and Destroyer of the World in the sights of his God Killing Weapon really not pull the trigger to honour mom and dad's memory? I mean, maybe Batman shouldn't have been in that scene, with a gun pointed at Darkseid, but if he is then I think it would be ridiculously silly for him not to use the weapon based on some arbitrary rule meant more for taking out Rupert Thorne than a new god.

    All that in mind, I get what Morrison's trying to pull off with the scene. And I like that he's not only (according to that Wizard interview) having Bruce find some sort of mirror closure by shooting Evil itself out of this world, the reason and way he became Batman, but also that it reinforces the whole idea that the new world DC is entering is one of "men" and not "gods." But the story and pacing is a bit muddled.

    I am curious though, that Obama-Man comic is quickly thrown together and really poor story wise. While I could pretty much read anything Morrison writes, and even the confusing stuff would be interesting. So I get that the company's future should look towards what sells, but artistically speaking, should comic companies care at all then to put something out that pushes the medium forward?

    Should DC just give a career contract to Kevin Smith to write all the disgusting, horrendously drawn fratboy comics he wants?

  90. Just to be clear, I'm not reading Final Crisis, and I'm in no way a a rabid DC booster. But based on the pages posted on that review blog, I don't see how this is different from 99% of comic book deaths. I love your passion Val, and that's why I read this blog, but I think your reaction is at least in part based on your experiences at DC.

  91. Anonymous2:50 AM

    It's already been stated, but my mind is absolutely blown by the fact that you can say that Final Crisis is only being done to sell issues when in fact (and it has been pointed out in this very blog) it has been reported very little to the general media.

    I mean, that's one thing, but the fact that you then turn around and say that this Obama comic is such a great thing and then point to it's sales figures. How is that not a cash-grab. I can understand what you are trying to say, that it was partly done because Obama is a big fan, but at the same time, it's still obviously a cash grab. You yourself say that the issues are flying off shelves!

    Also, Batman's death was not needlessly gruesome or stupid. Batman is supposed to be the pinnacle of human achievement, what one can do without any help from anything sort of special power or whatever.

    He was made by a bullet.

    He destroyed the living embodiment of evil with a bullet. A god, even. Him being destroyed in the process keeps it from betraying Batman's persona.

  92. DC should have really re-solicated Seven Soldiers to coincide, and heavily promoted it. I remember this actually happening to Shiloh Norman, incorrect? The death trap? I always thought the omega beams don't kill the victim, but hold them in mental stasis until the victim kills his own brain. Or I thought...

  93. I loved the issue and that scene. It's not as if Batman is really dead, eh, as he is fictional and Bruce sells books. ;)

    I was a bit pevved that Shiloh Norman has apparently been colored as a caucasian for two issues, but that's a small quibble. Can't wait for FC 7 and the second part of the Superman 3-D story.

  94. While I do agree that FC#6 had some pretty big flaws, I think I know what moment you're referring to... and I have to respectfully disagree.

    First, because they didn't kill Batman, only got him out of the way for awhile. I don't mean that as meta-commentary, I mean that as saying what literally happened in the issue.

    More so, though, because it was really the perfect end to a chapter of Batman's career. Everything he's done has been towards one goal - to eradicate evil, as he was first introduced to it when his parents were gunned down. And he just came full circle to shoot the God of Evil. He literally got to shoot and severely weaken Evil. That's great poetry, there, at least to me, and one of the few ways the character COULD go out feeling fulfilled.

    Also, really? The Spider-Man/Obama thing? Marvel is all about classless, respectless, sensationalist crap right now - that's 99% of their line. I love some of their stuff (Noir, Hellcat, Iron Fist, Cap), but most of their line is grim, grit and garbage right now.

  95. Oh, and apologies for the double post - please don't take my post as a defense of DC as an organization. I firmly believe that DC, under Didio and Johns, are doing everything they can to drive me personally away from comics... I just believe that Marvel is just as bad. Neither company is concerned with just publishing great stories - they're too wrapped up in a single everlasting EVENT in which they have to constantly top themselves in a parade of senseless spectacle that won't stop until we as consumers grow up and make it.

    I was just a little bothered by your implication that Marvel, who has in the last couple years been getting progressively more dark and misogynistic and just generally unfun in many of their main titles was somehow more 'hopeful' because they had someone chill with Obama for six pages. I mean, after they had Obama put a known supervillain in charge of the country, of course.

    The point of my last post was merely to say that 1) Final Crisis is not over yet, and 2) what happened to Batman was at least done in an interesting way that both respected the character and brought him full circle. Was it done for shock value at the request of Didio? ABSOLUTELY. But at least it was well-handled on many levels.

    And if you are genuinely this upset, this disgusted by this issue... you really shouldn't be working in mainstream comics right now. Marvel & DC? Just as bad.

  96. Once again we get to read a big rant about something you haven´t seen/read but still judge upon some other reviews and your personal bias.

    Batman RIP and Final Crisis are the result of the years of work and build-up by one of the best writers in comic book history.
    I don't believe this statement to be subjective, so I won't bother justifying it.

    You may like the story or you may not, but to call it a sales gimmick (when it hasn't been promoted as a "death" issue or nothing of the sort) is not only disrespectful (especially you being a comic book writer yourself) but just plain false.

    I think it's pretty reasonable to say that Grant Morrison cares a lot more about Batman, his legacy, and the other nerdy stuff than you do.
    So excuse if I trust him on this one.

    The praise on the Spider-man/Obama issue doesn't even deserve comment.

  97. What confuses me about how DC handled this "major event" is looking back at the LAST one. Death of Superman was advertised and promoted and people knew it was coming in advance to prepare. They had a PLAN. And should folks ONLY buy that issue he died in, they still got a story. Sure the splash pages cut down on the AMOUNT of story but it was still all there so they could follow what was going on. And all splashes probably made it EASIER for the "newbies" to follow it.
    Now take those same types of folks and hand them FC6 so tehy can see the death of Batman. Heaven knows it wasn;t in the guy's own BOOk (or even in the storyline that made it SOUND like it would be). And then ask them what the hell happened?
    DC blew this one hard.
    At least Marvel got the sales and the exposure they wanted out of the Obama issue. Didn't get it, didn't want it but good for them.

  98. "And if you are genuinely this upset, this disgusted by this issue... you really shouldn't be working in mainstream comics right now. Marvel & DC? Just as bad."

    She should also probably [b]READ THE ISSUE[/b] before shame makes such a damning review of the book, and such a condemnation of DC comics as a whole.

    Reading Batman R.I.P., Last Rites and Final Crisis showed a great break down of the character and a fitting coda for him (for the time being). But I suppose in order to grasp all of that you'd actually have to go out and [b]read[/b] the books. Apparently that's too much effort for some people.

  99. Every time I picked up an issue of either Final Crisis or Batman RIP, it was incomprehensible garbage. From the first issues. Not new-reader friendly, very obtuse, and demanding an encyclopedia-level volume of knowledge of past DC history. The only one I found moderately entertaining was a recent "aftermath" issue of Batman that recapped his history.

    I'm not the only person who thinks FC/Batman RIP was botched, or feels cheated. Go Google "Final Crisis review" and have fun. Or I can put together a nice sampler of reactions to the FC and Batman RIP clusterfucks so you can have it all at your fingertips.

    But you are so sucked into the Grant Morrison cult of personality, you'd buy an issue that had nothing but his bad high-school poetry. And that's why you put up with such botched events. And DC is depending on you for those sales. They've given up on the new reader. And the stuff sure as shit isn't good enough to be remembered as classics 5, 10, 20 years from now (and recoup money as a best-selling collection).

    These rabid, hardcore DC fans who have swallowed FC whole & unquestioningly are like a girlfriend with bad self-esteem. She'll always be there, no matter how bad she's treated. But,in some way, the boyfriend, DC, really kinda needs her.

    Wasn't enough to put DC over the top in sales for 2008 though.

    Oh, that's right -- "sales don't matter." FC was just a niche project for you alone. It must be flattering.

  100. ...and that's an even 100 comments.

    The thread endeth.