Moomin is so cool! Moomim Moomim Moomim! (Review forthcoming)
I should have known it wasn’t for me by the cover. (What, did you expect me to paste it on this site? I have some standards, at least).
Funnily enough, those costumes aren’t even those worn by the three chickadees either in the comic itself or in the Batman comic. I think it’s all a clever part by Morrison to show the transient nature these types of women have in the superhero funnybooks, to show how unimportant their actual identity is, but it’s done only through actually stripping them of their identity without winking, and that is not a fun time (well, maybe for some, I admit. Fun can be subjective sometimes).
The rest of the issue isn’t much better. Remember the overwrought captioning of M. Milligan? Nicieza has mastered the art of laconic emoting as well, but doesn’t even offer up an exciting tussle with ninjas to tide us over, just panels of Nightwing being smart and all that while billy clubs clash with swords and occasionally the shoulder of a Robin. I shouldn’t be reading this.
There was an interesting discussion stirred up by two individuals three weeks ago, all because of an allusion comparing Joyce and Stan Lee, touching (one might say hinging) on criteria for quality, always an elusive beast. The issue dissipates by the end of the discussion as both parties are complicit in slight miscomprehension of the other (as arguments usually go), but it does touch on the issue of quality and classification in art, two germane topics when I’ve finished lampooning a Batman comic for being a Batman comic (and, no, I will not paint them as concinnities of poor craftsmanship for M. Morrison as I am wont to do)).
Innovation (which might be seen as a criterion for my appreciation of art, given my recurring appreciations of “innovative page usage”) is really illusory and deceptive. It hides the actuality of a beast under a mirage of something new and wonderful. Regarding the flights of enigmatic auteurs, who’s to say that new techniques of portraiture really elevate the quality of art? Surely, one can claim the lines of prose as penned by Joyce inspire and allude to more than the verbiage of Lee, but that only speaks of how people react to a work. And even then, what if an unseen artist scripted a similar event prior to the exhibition of some art? What if Frank Miller’s panel layouts were actually inspired by Japanese Manga, and were actually very derivative of current Japanese comics at the time?
This is all separating innovation from its functions within a piece of art, though. Innovation works best when it isn’t offered as an element to be studied, but as a problem solved, of communicating a complex idea more elegantly than previous methods could muster. It is for this reason that innovation itself should not be counted as a criterion for quality, but a work lacking innovation will not measure up to those blazing trails with wondrous reinventions, now will it?
What is more important than naked innovation is how a work functions in its culture, in its environment (and, as those proclaiming quality to be entirely subjective, of the person reading the work in question, but I feel that groups can be made). Is a work innovative? Compared to those? Does it present a unique vision? Because these are (somewhat) the tenets of what I understand to be quality, but I can honestly say, with finality, that the biggest criterion for quality in a work is its quality, as will be determined by pontification. As dubious as that sounds, as much of an abdication it is, that is how I honestly feel about the issue. Innovation must sometimes be tempered by moderation, and moderation must be tempered by innovation, but it all depends: let’s talk specifics if we’re gonna talk quality.
All of which leads me to how I view Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four and Lee/Ditko Spiderman. If these comics could be read without the following decades of adoration, one might be able to conclude that they are the finest comics published by Marvel and DC, bar none, including Watchmen, Doom Patrol, Animal Man, Seven Soldiers, and all that modernist fluff. The books ingeniously combined the tropes of disparate, stratified comics at the time (romance, adventure, superhero, and big monster) and told wonderfully unique stories within a brilliant new framework. Unfortunately, those comics cannot be read as the revolutions they are except by the most studious of comics readers, devouring DC’s attempts at superheroes and Marvel’s attempts at Big Monster before plunging into the Fantastic Four. And, in some areas, they’ve aged frightfully. While searching for good, even great works, might be a worthy goal, trying to pinpoint two different, disparate work’s abstract quality leads to the rhetoric of subjective quality, and, really, who wants that? Let’s just say that both are in the category of great, and leave the numbered reviews to the unenlightened.
All that’s left is the reaction to the work, devoid of quality. Some critics chase the “best” in fiction and hew a visceral, personal reaction to a demarcation of a work’s quality above others, but, really, such taxonomy is useless. Work is only relative to other works: apposite comments on quality are only culled from comparisons: The Nightwing issue I talked about above really is dreck.
Kinda redundant to say now (oh how I condescend!), but, my blog requires
And is rated
All because of these words
- death (10x)
- kill (4x)
- steal (3x)
- dick (2x)
- crappy (1x)