Friday, April 24, 2009

Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

I guess I Always knew that this was how it was going to end. That we didn't have him forever. That one day, someone would say, "Hey Jim. Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader?" I'd tell the, "Pretty much what you'd expect. He's dead."
-Commissioner Gordon

So after a few months of delay, the second part of Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert's two-part requiem for Batman has been published, and from what I've seen it's being met with a collective "meh.." Which is pretty much how I felt, but after thinking about it, I've figured out the problem with the book, and now I think I like it quite a bit.

***Spoilers Ahead***

But let's begin at the beginning, the story (which is better read in one sitting) envisions a ghostly Batman, along with an eventually-identified woman, peering down at his own funeral, watching both his allies and enemies each eulogizing him and giving different accouts of his death. Some of the deaths are brave, so are inconsequential. Through all of these stories, we get the essence of what The batman is, he never gives up, he always saves the day (even if it means his ldeath), and that there is always a Batman. Mirroring Alan Moore's Superman tale, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow", we find Batman moving onto his reward* But unlike Superman's final reward (to live a normal life as a human, with Lois and child), Batman's reward is to simply be Batman, as if this is all he can imagine and his reqard is to be reborn again and spend a happy few years as a child with his parents again until their murder, which he knows cannot be prevented.

There are good moments in the book, even some that are truly powerful, such as Harvey Bullock's eulogy:

However, I ended up having four issues with the book, and they're all kind of interrelated.

1. The title automatically ties it into "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow", probably one of the most iconic Superman stories of the last 30 years. By joining them like that, you're setting the book up to fail if it doesn't live up to something that's almost impossible to live up to.

2. Batman's not dead. Sure, everyone thinks he is, but as we saw at the end of Final Crisis, he's been shunted to stone age, or on an alternate Earth (or both). Yes, I know that's not really the point and this could very well be an Imaginary Story (aren't they all?), but it leads to a certain cognitive dissonance. When Man of Tomorrow was put out, it was the end of an era, whereas no one really believes that Bruce Wayne is going to be gone much longer than Steve Rogers has been(two years, and counting, but it looks like he's back in July).

3. Andy Kubert, while a very good artist, just isn't an iconic Batman artist, and to lend this book some gravitas, that's what it needed. Man of Tomorrow, had Curt Swan (with inks by George Perez), and really, there's no more iconic Superman artist than Swan. Kubert's good, but can you imagine if they'd gotten Neal Adams? Or hell, while I'm wishing, Jim Apparo?

4. And that brings me to the last issue with this book, it wasn't published 25 years ago, at the same time as "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow", that book was put out as a capper to Superman's silver age, essentially giving that Superman a send-off before he was rebooted by Man of Steel. I really think that's the proper way to look at this book. The myriads of deaths presented are the deaths of the infinite numbers of Batmen as the multiverse collapsed into itself at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Bruce Wayne, who is re-born at the end, is the new Batman of the re-booted DC Universe following Crisis. When I think of it that way the book works for me. The idea that the collective Batmen (Batmans?), though different, all had the same ultimate goal and the same, final reward.

Anyway, it is well done, Gaiman's writing does carry the story, and though I think it would have been better served to have been all published at once (or at least without the giant delay), I think the book accomplished what it set out to do, and it does work as a complimentary volume to Man of Tomorrow, but I just don't think it will ever be seen that way, but you never know.

*I find it interesting that while most of Superman's friends died trying to save him in Man of Tomorrow and he gets to live happily ever after. While in Batman's story, he's the one who pays the price to save everyone, including his enemies.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live Tonight: Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3

This is one of those shows that I was excited for as much for hte band, as I was for the venue, the Church of the Epiphany in the West Loop, but alas, they've been forced to move the show to the Logan Square Auditorium, but I'm still stoked, none the less. Hitchcock is an artist I've been a fan of ever sine "So You Think You're In Love" was playing on 120 minutes back in the early 90's, but I've never made it out to see him, and from what I hear, his shows with the Venus 3 (featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, amongst others) are barn-burners, so I'm sure to have a good time. Here's a song from their first album together, Ole' Tarantula:

Both Ole Tarantula ad their current album, Goodnight Oslo, are available on eMusic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

I know it's late, but it's still the thought that counts.

Hope everybody had a good holiday!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Live Tonight: XTC (kinda)

Over the next few days, an astonishing 4 close, dear friends of mine will pass from the shores of youth into the Greyhavens of the grand age of 35. Fortunately, we've all been given the ample venue for this celebration of their passing into agedness, Tributosaurs, a Chicago collective that puts on monthly shows "as" other musicians, is putting on a show as long-time favorite XTC.

XTC has been a favorite of mine for years, so long that I can't really even pin-point when I started enjoying their music, though I do remember stealing my brother's cassette tape of Mummer way back in the day. Regardless, I've been a fan for just about as long as I knew what type of music that I actually liked and it's nice that I'll finally get to see their music played live, even if not by them. Though they're not exactly a going concern anymore, even if they were still putting out new music, I doubt we'd be seeing them anytime soon. Though it's long been rumored that extreme stage fright keeps lead-singer-songwriter Andy Partridge* off the stage, I think it's because he just doesn't like doing it that much.

Anyhoo, the music itself is pretty much just pitch-perfect witty pop. I really hate writing about music because any effort I put into describing it just comes out sounding lame, so here's the Avengers-inspired video for The Mayor of Simpleton:

If you like what you hear, and you haven't yet been exposed to their majesty, I'd highly recommend picking up their Greatest Hits comp, Upsy Daisy Assortment**, really, in lieu of owning all of their releases, that's an album no collection should be without.

Anyway, needless to say, I'm going to be having a good time tonight, hope you are too.

*Incidentally, Andy Partridge also wrote and performed my all-time favorite TV theme-song for the woefully under appreciated Wonderfalls, I can't find the opening on youtube, but here's a link to the song itself.

**Which is apparently out of print, so you could do worse than to pick up the slightly more expensive, yet also more comprehensive Fossil Fuel singles collection. If you're looking for a single disc, grab Oranges & Lemons, still very good stuff there.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What I Got - 4.8.09

Oh man, what a crappy day, but hey, no day can be that crappy when it's nudie magazine day comics day! Anyway, figured I'd give a quick rundown of what I picked up:

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2

Not quite as strong as the first issue, but I'd wager that's because it's th middle issue of a three issue series, all the cool stuff is going to happen in the next one. This really felt like it was moving the parts into place. Taking Damien off the bored and forcing Dick to feel a sense of responsibility over him. Moving the Black Mask's plan forward and setting up what seems to be a apocalyptic gang war in Gotham City. So overall, it's still pretty darn good, but all the real fireorks are being held off till next month. Crap.

Captain Britain & MI 13 #12

Speaking of not wanting to wait a month for that next issue...I had read the first 6 issues of this series and resolved to wait for the trade, but after picking up the first trade and reading the last few issues through *cough* *cough* other means I started picking this up again last month and hell, when you have Dracula and his vampire horde invading Britain via his castle on the bloody moon, well, it's just too cool to wait for. Anyway, this issue sets up some true hope for our heroes, only to see said hope crushed at the end. Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk are doing some fantastic superhero comicing here and I'm glad I'm not missing it (though I could use a time-machine to get me to next month already).

OK, that's it for tonight. I'll try to get something up tomorrow on the other two books I picked up. Incidentally, if you get the hankering for some comics, head on over to The Action Age and check out the first issue of Chris Sims' epic, The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, it's good, real good.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Night Linkage

Hey there folks, I've really been thinking about posting something this week, but man, have I been exhausted. Plus, after the blogosphereageddon that occurred on Monday, with the Alert Nerds' curation of the My Scott & Jean Event, I think the whole geeky internets has been pretty tired anyway.

Anyway, as I'm sure you know, this past week saw April Fool's Day come and go, which is pretty high on my list of fake holidays that I cannot stand, but usually, there's one joke/prank pulled that sticks around either because it was so good or so bad. This year there was one, that was only bad because it was fake, ThinkGeek's Tauntaun sleeping bag:

Yes, a product so truly awesome that they are now attempting to make it a reality. I'm totally buying ones for me and the boys if that happens (yes, they are making them in adult sizes).

In other internet geekiness, part of the reason my blogging regularity has declined is Twitter, I've been wasting spending a lot of time there interacting with fellow colleagues, and...well, it got shamefully geeky the other day. Fortunately, twitter pal Scott Cederlund chose to preserve the conversation for all time, and yeah, it really was rather sad.

In other Twitter conversation news, ms park has taken it upon herself to utilize it as a random poll generating tool. Here's the results of the first few, and though I forgot to mention it in a follow up, I'd totally go with Paris Hilton, because, well, at the end of the day, I'd rather be stuck on an island with a girl.

Oh hey, if you happen to live in South Suburban Chicago, my local comics shop (and it's other locations) is having a pretty nice sale, so I'd recommend you swing on by. The Easter Bunny will even be there, if you're at the Frankfort location, you might get to watch him get messed up by a 3 year-old (I just mentioned that Sean could take him, and now everyone wants to see it).

So there you go, I'll go back to watching TV and you can go back to having a life, but I'll leave you with some music, here's something that's been a fave for a few years, and just never seems to leave the playlist (especially in the spring):

I Wanna Know Girls by Portastatic

Also, speaking of music, check out old friend Ditching Boy's blog as he's been going apeshit with the music bloggery of late.

With that, have a good night and I'll talk at you later.