Saturday, April 17, 2010

What is it about that Parker fellow?

*Originally posted 3/31/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

o-lee crap, Sunny Day Real Estate's made it to the overhead at Chapterhouse, and I feel like such a dweeb for having missed most of their oeuvre.

So, I have a lot of posts on here about the depiction of sex, gender, etc. in comics, and ways I feel the industry falls short of my rather lofty social expectations. Well, then this guy comes along and throws up a post that makes me quite, quite happy on many levels.

Responsibility and repercussions seem to have long-standing resonance in the comic book collector world, seemingly without regard to genre. That said, those are subjects I feel that just about any of these genres could explore admirably. Spider-Man's flubs and social misalignment stand as the primary example of this, yet perhaps other, less central matters could explore these topics, in smaller details in the margins and corners.

One element few people wish to touch in post-human stories without absurd amounts of pathos are responsibilities around the extraordinary abilities. How does the way Superman flies differ from Wonder Woman? Can we get some little side notes on the ways that Peter Parker satisfies his predatory Spider instincts in the bedroom, like the way his fingers stick to skin, or the unorthodox positions his flexibility allows? How do characters who convert back and forth between solid and energy forms feel about having guts one moment, and a nuclear fusion/fission reaction the next? How much does Wolverine really use his eyes when he can smell what you ate on your sixteenth birthday in your sweat, and what does it mean when he decides to look at you? I really would like to see a little more of how individual and alien the lives of post-humans are to humanity, in those little ways that each of us differ.

Although Marvel's scientific experiments gone awry exemplified the element of trauma in the awakening of post-humanity in an individual, even Superman carries an element of this phenomenon in the revelation of his extraterrestrial heritage. A boy grows up in a middle-of-nowhere town that, to this day, probably gets one bar on a cell phone, worrying about things like fixing the tractor and that godforsaken social studies test, when he starts ripping steel in half and shooting fire out of his eyes if he gets a half-mast from Lana Lang's thong strap peeking out from her Dungarees. Eventually, Pa takes him into the cellar and shows him this contraption that seriously can-not have come from anywhere we know, lighting up in the dark in increasingly subtle ways and incongruous color schemes that make no sense under a yellow sun. Something lights up, and a defeated, terrified scientist fellow appears like Leia out of R2D2, with a voice ringing with that despair that comes from wishing that you just weren't right. This man, this weird ghost-man, has these little gestures and features that drill right into the boy's heart while he listens to this mysteriously familiar guy address himself as the kid's birth father. The dude's already staring into the proverbial void while preparing to fire his child out into the physical one. The end of Krypton must have been absolutely gruesome. He's left, this confused tween boy, with the usual maddening drug trip of puberty, the confusion of coming from a completely inaccessible origin, and heretofore unexplainable abilities and physiological functions that he has to learn to manage on the fly (pun totally not intended, but kept in.) That sounds pretty traumatic to me.

In what ways does post-humanity process this trauma? How does the nature of the trauma creep up for these people? Does Cyclops of the X-Men rub the back of his head before getting on a plane after falling out of one and hitting his head as a child? Does Luke Cage's unbreakable skin ever itch, and how does it register touch? How does Carol Danvers feel about her body, even having a body, when her consciousness and form have drifted up and down the vibrational wavelength?

Comics do cover trauma, yet often times the characters seem to feel sorry for themselves until someone comes along for them to hit, and in hitting this someone, they find the strength in themselves to project their problems onto some stupid thug with pimped out riot gear and feel contentment in mauling their fellow man over what's "right," or saving some morons from a burning building to renew their basic sense of humanity. Savagery and compassion are to superheroes what boredom and disappointment are to us; part of the deal. If we take into account that a superhero will, most likely, save someone in trouble, then what would pose to them the real challenge of living their "everyday" lives and permitting themselves to feel their woundedness? What can a superhuman accomplish with a little humility, flexibility and ingenuity?

The Snarling Well Hvergelmir

*Originally posted 2/12/10 on Black Elixir Neat*

Since I just don't give enough of a fuck to load up my iTunes with all manner of music, I'm starting to get sick of everything media related. I can feel the sun dig in its heels and tear up at the prospect of diving into Pisces, after spending a month in the unfeeling chaos of the void reminiscent of Aquarius. It's like locking someone in a dark room for a month with nothing but their neuroses to keep them company, then tearing them out only to submerge them in the ocean of the screaming dead. Boy, I'm a chipper one!

Look, I could take the piss and pretend that I like wearing long vests and babble about all the good people you meet amongst the dead, but it's still fucking jarring, especially when you aren't some goobery medium convinced that the universe speaks in linear sentences and coherent faces, only discernible by those with "special powers" or some bullshit like that.

I've been stuck playing Dante's Inferno a whole bunch during my less productively oriented moments. I keep going and going through the game, scrambling through all of the various puzzles and the like, smacking monsters about the face and generally going through all of this gory catharsis, but then my ears key in to the pervasive shrieks and gargles of pain that constantly waft through the environments, all vicious and stomach-turning.

There's some point where I begin to question what the game's really doing. Some passive-aggressive sort might dither about the level of violence in the game, but seriously: it's a game dealing with the Crusades and the Renaissance vision of Hell. On some level, the game actually makes Hell the infected anal sore of the cosmos instead of a cheesy black metal album cover, but on another, certain circles could have stood to have been examined in more excruciating notions of hypocrisy or have had some form of elucidation. The City of Dis, the circle relating to Heresy, kind of left me cold. I mean, D&D undead wizard things with goofy magic staffs, under the name of Pagans? Come the fuck on. Pagans gave the Church fucking Christmas in December, Mother Mary (cognate with the Latin mare, meaning sea), incarnating and resurrecting godhood, and... hold on a sec... HELL! Oh, but why no Pale Queen in the Darkness? Why offer us as the only powerful women of Hell some stupid giant half-naked "Egyptian" with a Glasgow smile climbing a massive cocktower and Dante's sylphid paramore in a pathetic virgin/whore complex? Maybe I'm just too into this kind of thing, but it'd be nice to see the nasty soddering done where the Christian dualist ethos tried to nestle its way into the black womb of Hel, where the cosmogony starts to fall apart and point to its own failures at unifying humanity with Creation, or in fact where it pulls humanity away from Creation so forcefully that one might take a look at the devilishly fabricated dreck such as national origin or creed and vomit on the face of God upon realizing how such associations lead us into the sterility of binary thought.

I demand games of a higher caliber and sophistication of thought than this. It needn't be so goddamn rare. It's fucking lame, and I'm sick of excuses as to the perpetuation of this crap. I want Kratos to fight Atalanta. I want to see vicious, corrupt industrialists with ovaries that commoners swear shoot buckshot and sulfuric acid. I want more of Amanda Waller and Helena Cain. I want to see women antagonists capable of such intricate and brilliant cruelty that none dare consider them some misunderstood soul deserving of empathy, and none would venture to consider themselves lucky to run afoul of them. I want the anti-Lilith, not some blustering gasbag with a mouth full of talk kept closed by a smug smirk holding back the urge to wretch all over her shoulder-padded jacket at her sheer ineptitude at being anything other than a mild frustration and vague sexual interest to a protagonist. If anything, a higher caliber of female villain might hopefully stir some more interesting female heroes.

I want too much from the world of media. The expression of the collective dream has become a vapid, derivative waste. We've become so quick to excuse diversions of our attention toward the manipulations of our time and resources, if only to fuel the self-flagellation that diverts our psychic and emotional ability to heal. We're placid miscarriages still dangling from the rotting placenta of retrospective, in desperate need of resuscitation and a fucking belly button. I want to remember blood, pain, vigor and victory. We deserve life, in all its teeth, venom and horns.

Tesla's Wireless Electricity in the Erogenous Zones

*Originally published 11/28/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Mmkay. Pluto has entered Capricorn. Thank Fucking God, the God of Fucking. Planetary position's as meaningless as everything else, but to go on association, the transformative essence of Pluto applies to the fundamental Structure of our human perspective when in Capricorn. That's neither here nor there, but I guess I have some hopes for certain fundamental changes. I want to change the world to be more accepting so that I don't have to act demonstratively. It's selfish and stupid.

Anyhow, gender identity's been on my mind a lot lately. Of course, I could go on about Batwoman for days. I could talk about how Greg Rucka has written her as a full human being and how that seems so fucking mind-blowing in the reactionary field of superhero comics. I could write about how her scary straight-browed mask offsets the chalk-white skin and blood-red lips, how her body language becomes both intimidating and arousing simultaneously, how White Town's "Your Woman" goes through my head when she flirts with her future Big Ex and future Question, Officer Renee Montoya.

Thing is, I don't know that this should feel as special as it does. I should be more critical of the stilted dialogue during the Baroque Horror of Gotham moments with the Religion of Crime. Frankly, it says something to me about the world that Batwoman doesn't get a title all her own. I can complain that DC Entertainment "should" have done a Batwoman book, but as a retailer, I don't think that it would sell as well as it would within Detective. I'm kind of sad that a character as human as she is seen as new and innovative for a lead role, that LGBTQIA characters most often flesh out ensemble casts as something separate or novel.

There's also the shapeshifter/intersexed character problem that dogs me. "Shapeshifter" as character type seems to carry the dichotomy of Trickster/Sociopath, and, with the exception of a few X-Men or aliens, seem mostly male/masculine in disposition. Mystique, the most high-profile of the feminine shapeshifters in the superhero genre, is a notably oversexed sociopath, all the way to fighting Wolverine while naked and carrying all sorts of phallic artillery. Her callousness seems only portrayed through her cavalier use of sex appeal and through few other outlets. We could argue that it's "part of her character," but she's barely a character in contrast to the potential she has. Secret Invasion, where Earth has been invaded by a shapeshifting species of extraterrestrials, exemplifies this by displaying the War Skrulls as bulky, steroidy Man-Dudes with the ladyshaped ones acting in a more manipulative role. Why does it take so damned long for media to move forward? As much as I love Mad Men, I feel frustrated that a show that takes place in the early 1960s seems more relevant than the most bleeding-edge dramas.

Sure, I get it: it's comic books. Most somatypes are relegated into extremes and visual shorthand due to the limitations of publishing, as well as a given artist's skill. I'm as incapable of living up to Batman's physique as the lady sitting next to me is to Wonder Woman, but with so many opportunities to explore the fallacy of any identity, especially in a genre where identity is writ so large, the stagnation feels like a waste.

Having LGBTQIA characters work in comics would, in my opinion, come through making it less of a big deal. A character's gender identity, or rather gender tendencies, act as window dressing for the person beneath all of those motivations. In the words of Mark Renton, "It has everything to do with aesthetics and fuck all to do with morality." I'm getting kind of tired of two women getting intimate as being seen as "hawt" and marketed toward this weird harem fantasy for the hetero male. Maybe I take all of this too seriously. Maybe it's that focus on sensory intimacy as, well, intimate that makes this whole scenario seem more frustrating than it should be. Maybe I just want the world to change so I don't have to think about how to act like a Man all the fucking time.

Spitting Out Golden Apple, Rinsing the Mouth Out with Mes

*Originally posted 11/25/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Unfettered information shrieks through the mind at a terrible pace when stimulated and given little chance to absorb. The focus of the mind narrows to increase the velocity of the information's processing, yet more often than not a bottleneck occurs for those who tend toward a visual-simultaneous information processing method to their mind. The proverbial log jam thus creates anxiety, since the perspective views all of this information building on itself from all angles instead of a single line. Of course, non-physically-oriented anxiety leads to abstract sources for solutions; imaginary cobra problems require imaginary mongooses.

So anyhow, Assassin's Creed II can share some blame for the length of time it's taken between posts, yet it can take a lot of credit for inspiring this Town Madman to rattle his box full of thingamajigs and scream to high heaven once more. The first Assassin's Creed dropped us into the Crusades of the 13th Century CE, highlighting the effect that dogmatic organized religion has had on civilization, primarily for the worse but without being uncouth about it. While the player operates the Assassin Altair (pronounced all tahyEER), the main character of the game is a fellow from 20 minutes into the future, Desmond Miles. The premise comes from a corporation interacting with his memories to find a particular maguffin artifact, the Apple of Eden, presented as a gold sphere that contains all human knowledge (but of course, not all human wisdom). So, Desmond gets into a machine which allows him to operate within his own memories, synchronizing with the actions of his ancestor, Altair. This ancestor in question had, as far as the first game went, very little in the way of personality, and was a bit like Mr. Spock with a hard-on for libertarianism. You had only so much you could do in the first game, and the gameplay eventually became something you had to do to get on with the story... until you beat the game and have the development of a) Desmond developing similar ESP to Altair and b) the entire lab in which Desmond was imprisoned covered in strange glyphs and symbols, most (if not all) of which come from real sources. (Nazca plains animals, Hebrew phrases, Quran scripture, Newgrange spirals, etc).

The second game comes right after the weirdness of the first, and shoves us immediately into a game whose scale goes absolutely berserk in both macrocosm and microcosm. Desmond escapes the corporation to a hideout of others who belong to the Assassin bloodline (or cause or whatever). Their machine's better, of course (cuz it's made by a cute girl! Haw!) and the premise of the current game is Desmond learning through the memories he accesses with this machine the ins and outs of Assassin training.

Now, let's clarify: "Assassin" in this game comes from a hypothesis of a radical, rational humanist sect coming off of the Ismaili sect of Islam, rather than the mercenary. It doesn't overtly recognize the notion that "assassin" was a pejorative epithet of the Ismaili made by opposing sects and picked up by Christian scholars. While the games use history as incredible window dressings for the game, it does digress wildly.

This round, the Assassins cue him up for the career of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio begins as a pugnacious rich kid who isn't quite used to consequence. In contrast to the angular, cold features of Altair, Ezio has rounded, earthy features. The only real mark that possibly sets him as worth mentioning is a from a split lip he received from a rock to the face during a very demonstrative brawl with a rival family. Once the story requires he accept his role as Assassin, he goes through various stages of helplessness. Where he had been used to punching and yelling, he must now work in secret, skulking in crowds and ducking into alleyways to avoid detection. The designers put a lot of work in the subtlety of his emotional shift from extroverted snarls and barks to cautious speech and chilled stares at odd corners of the room.

One of my favorite things on this game is the introduction of money. Not only does Ezio have numerous ways to gain income (completing side quests, treasure hunting, looting bodies, pickpocketing, maintaining his villa) and utilize income (artwork, weapons, throwing money to distract minstrels and guards, hiring courtesans, thieves and mercenaries, bribing town criers), the power money has becomes more emphasized in this game. Most of the targets in this game have more of an economic influence than religious, although the Church still plays a large part of the story. Lorenzo de Medici has a strong connection with the character, and yet he challenges the player's perceptions of their actions. Aside from the assassinations that move the story forward, Lorenzo sends contracts through carrier pigeons to different cities for you to collect and act on. After about five, I began to wonder about these contracts myself, and exactly how many people Lorenzo wanted me to kill for good reason, how many he wanted me to kill for his own purposes, and how many out of pure paranoia. I've stopped doing those missions altogether, and with the amount of things to do, I don't feel that bad about it.

For me, one of the most important features in the game comes from the glyphs hidden throughout the world on important landmarks in Italy, and the Codex pages penned by Altair after the events of the previous game. These unlock computer code written by the previous person to enter the Animus, which opens into puzzles that bring into question contentious moments in human history (Oppenheimer, Gandhi, JFK, Nikola Tesla, Atilla the Hun, etc) This is where we get into the meat of what the game wants to express ideologically. How does a person fight a war against ideas? What will a person find himself willing to do when rational humanism devolves into atheism and nihilism? What is the responsible use of knowledge? How does a person fight a battle against ideas? How do we outgrow civilization and how can we initiate this next stage in our species' evolution?

I feel like Assassin's Creed will be the next Metal Gear series, and I hope that we'll be able to see this kind of sophistication in subject in future games.

Ajna Heat Vision, Anahata Super Strength

*Originally posted 11/7/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Lately, in very ordinary ways, I've been dunked in the well of Myth for sustenance. The offer to cover one coworker's shift at the comic book store has spun out into two weeks straight of counter-jockeying, bagging, pricing, grading, reading, bag checks, and so on. One tarot reading tends to spill into three at the drop of a hat, and astrological Samhain snorts in laughter at my attempts to act skeptical, rational and detached.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "Hero" derives from the same route as servare, to protect. This said, one wonders how much stock "protectors" receive. What of the abstract preservation brought through development? The moment in Flex Mentallo when Vic Sage remembers the magic word has stuck with me, and I wonder: what would we consider a super-shaman, super-sadhu, or other such figure? In one way, the attribution of post-human bombast with these social roles might seem counterintuitive, yet there's that there show Avatar that made many transcendental concepts accessible for even eight-year-olds. How would we strip down the scriptural trappings and faces given to the basic ideals that underpin philosophy and paint them in bright primary colors? Would the character really need to wear their briefs on the outside? Does the character require a secret identity? How does identity play into a role of non-civilized living and liberation? How does a person apply extranormality to their position? How does the individual explore a genius phenomenon that gives reason to their manifestation in the reality continuum? How about the super-construction worker or super-chef? Need post-humanity remain purely defined by militarism, with uniforms and stripping of the individual into sickening self-deification and strong reference to deeds as noble in and of themselves?

So now, the caffeine has worn off. Whoops.

The Lion in Winter

*Originally published 10/23/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Still going on comic books. My feelings on and around them are going through a putrefaction for a variety of reasons, so I may as well get some curd from the fermentation.

Andrew Hickey, the Mindless Ones, and others have touched on a lot of these points. All eight people who read this blog, if you like the comics rambles I've been doing, check these guys out.

I've always dug legacy heroes. If anyone got the opportunity to watch "Son of Rambow," the little Mormon boy shows a lot of how Little Ben interacted with and conceived of the universe. I didn't feel right as playing the established character, as most of what I experienced of, say, the Justice League or Marvel characters were from continuity dense works bought sporadically or from the mini-comics I'd get in the Super Powers action figures. I had it in mind that Hal Jordan meant little to me outside of a name, that Superman may or may not have had that Superplane thing, and that Batman seriously didn't have a shiny blue costume for fighting Mr. Freeze. So most of the time I'd conceive of some derivative, some new fellow who would receive endorsement from the Big Grown Up Heroes who had their grown-up things to handle that I didn't recognize all that well. (I'm still waiting for editorial to treat Green Lantern more like The Wire and less like G.I. Joe meets Star Trek.) That said, whenever some young buck would take over the mantle from the Big Grown Up Hero, I'd be excited to no end. For me, it showed that it was possible to take that idea popularized by these unassailable, emotionally inscrutable things made to look like people and make it viable through change.

Unfortunately, most comic book readers never saw it that way. The idea of growing up into a hero meant needing to grow up, and that scares a lot of them. Somehow, "growing up" means things like "get married, have kids, feel guilty about enjoying yourself, overdo it, get chided by Mother-wife-thing." Thus, comics became normalcy. The popular, emotionally inscrutable fellows in the costume became fundamental pillars instead of benchmarks. To my perspective, it's like being mad that Barry Sanders isn't playing football any more. Just because he isn't out there doesn't mean that his contributions to football and the masculine identity aren't valid.

Also, some characters were poor, poor excuses for follow-ups. Ben Reilly had a convoluted origin involving genetics, enough so that he contributed little as a stand-in Spider-Man. He had little with which I could associate, while Peter Parker's acceptance of an ambivalent totem due to an acceptance of his less-than-stellar traits and his desire to redeem them at all costs was something universal. Kyle Rayner had the greatest potential as Hal Jordan's replacement as Green Lantern, yet he was kept too closely in check by shortcomings on both writing and editorial staff. He never showed us what a visually-oriented person could manifest if given the ultimate artistry kit, and he had nothing of a relatable personality, except for the inferiority complex manifested in his appearances in JLA. The entire Marvel Next line, for all of the interesting details, had been far too sanitized. None of the characters dealt with anything heavier than a slightly bad day or a bombastic, vague cosmic threat.

However, some characters taking up mantles were quite successful. Wally West, the original Kid Flash, graduated from sidekick to full-fledged Flash, and with it he brought a hyperkinetic, childlike enthusiasm that the doddering, stiff Barry Allen lacked. Bucky Barnes was retrofitted as a damaged, dark young man who had been a part of numerous questionable moments in history, and his accession to Captain America after the ethical perfection of Steve Rogers gave him a path to show that he was, beneath the wretched history and rightful political cynicism, capable of altruism and evolution.

With that, however, Barry Allen and Steve Rogers have returned to remind us that comics are governed more by fear more than by possibility. The past returns, and with it a message that our futures are useless and meaningless in the face of nostalgia. Wolverine, along with the return of his memories, has been gifted with a son, a successor. However, his successor is a morally bankrupt, manipulative horror, capable of cruelties that even his hard-boiled father cannot match. The same goes for Bruce Banner's son, Skaar. The younger generation is seen as a blight and a terror, bloodthirsty monsters who would sooner eat a live kitten than save one from a tree. The future holds nothing but aggression and pain in the world of Superheroes these days. Those who empathized with the characters who had bad fathers are now perpetuating the same Zeus/Kronos complex that had damaged them.

I really hope that this is a last-ditch effort before the human spirit kick-starts itself into the realms of the impossible, where science and religion aren't seen as proving what doesn't exist, but as displaying what can become manifest.


*Originally published 10/20/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Thanks to B.L. Donnelly, Batman and related material have gotten a lot of mental airplay over here. Batman has strong roots in the Mystery Man pulps, not to mention Aristotlean philosophy (as often exemplified by Frank Miller's literature). However, I choose to examine the phenomenon of what allowed "Batman" to form as an idea and take the reins.

The canon of Batman's genesis goes as follows. Thomas Wayne, inheritor of the preposterously exhorbitant Wayne family fortune (money as superpower), goes to medical school and becomes a surgeon. Somewhere along the way, he falls for a powerfully idealistic woman named Martha. The two marry and have a son, named Bruce. Although often estranged from other youths and easily startled, Bruce had a good heart and a singularity for a brain. The family resided at Wayne Manor, which has a rich history. Set over a vast cave network, Bruce had his first encounter with live bats after tripping into a well. The event left him shaken, but otherwise unscathed. Most scribes put Bruce at around 7-10 years old when he and his parents set out to see Mask of Zorro on the big screen, as an endulgence for Bruce. This endulgence coincided with a very strong desire, or perhaps even need, for liquid assets in a gentleman named Joe Chill. Agitated by circumstance and possibly other stimulants (or lack of opiates), Joe Chill attempts to mug the Wayne family and in the scuffle shoots the parents before scrambling away from the devastated child.

Here's where the recounting gets shaky. The point at which Bruce re-encountered the bat shifts and changes often, implying a moment out of time. This is where I feel that Bruce interfaced with something much, much bigger than his individual consciousness, the moment in time that sent ripples through his short life. The well of bats didn't exist in Bob Kane's original story, instead coming from later authors. That said, it has been used repeatedly since its inception. Bruce was, nevertheless, left with nothing off of which he could project a Paternal or Maternal role directly, which left him open in that moment of trauma to recognize the Living Idea Being which he identified through the same sensation as a child trapped in a well with an endless stream of bats flying past him. Many authors have projected the idea of what he must have felt, yet it all seemed to ring strangely. It seemed clear-cut and softened, neglecting the raw uncertainty that comes from the loss of fundamental psychological rudders.

As with all great works, Batman started out in utter dreck. Bruce, understandably, felt responsible for the loss of his parents. He pleaded for hedonism's sake; he wanted to see one of his favorite action characters ride around on the big screen when he could experience the same from recording equipment at home. He wanted his mother to wear pearls to make the excursion a noteworthy event. If we take a step back and remember Bruce's exploratory and literate nature, he perhaps "remembered" sacrificial rites in Dionysian tradition, in which the vessel would receive the greatest accolades and endulgence before getting ripped to shreds. Seeing meaning in everything, this seemingly random event may have been part of a larger process of manifestation. If they hadn't gone out, and if he hadn't wanted to make a gaudy spectacle of it, his parents wouldn't have died. Bruce's sense of self-chastisement made any sense of enjoyment for its own sake something to be discarded. Bruce Wayne was responsible, so Bruce had to be cast out as the lead role. The child had such an aversion to the psyche responsible for the sacrifice of his parents on the altar of crime that he chose to embody everything that would send Bruce Wayne running: discipline, vigilance, and control. He chose the trauma in the well as his starting point. Considering Bruce Wayne as co-conspirator, he chose the very thing that would make the boy panic, and used it as his template for future endeavors. The Bat requires the absence of a commanding figure or figures before introducing itself. Bruce Wayne became the puppet, the unwanted thing that the controlling consciousness would use to avert people's attention to its doings. Despite continuing his Father's business and his Mother's philanthropic work, Bruce Wayne would do his best to come across as an idiot and dilettante, in order that the consciousness could return to lashing out at this vague "crime" thing of which Bruce was an unconscious part, using the spirit of the animal that brought the boy to quivering trauma. He would act as the vessel of the Bat.

I don't know how relevant, cohesive or sane any of this sounds, but I'm going to keep at it.

So, a man in a Bat costume runs around, ruthlessly mangling and mutilating those who would choose to bring pain to others through illegal means all throughout his city. Much of this, however, was beating the living shit out of drug addicts and other people whom life handed the short end of the stick. Chances are, Batman began in an ugly, ugly place. Just as it required the sacrifice of two outstanding people, the Bat-monster must have chewed on a lot of furniture and shat on a lot of carpets before the controlling consciousness could get a leash on it. Batman would now give rise to his antithesis, as if to create limits for himself. This he would manifest in the autocratic need for violence and justice in the Man, who would carelessly knock an externally unremarkable fellow into a vat of chemicals, out of which would arise The Joker.

Just as Batman became defined as Not Bruce, this Joker would become defined as Not Anonymous. Every act would be an indulgence. Everything would be seen as a source of amusement. The Joker has no alter ego, for his world is all for fun, and thus he has no need to act in shadow or in secret. The terrorization of the Bat-monster run rampant has consequences with the Joker. No one is an anonymous vessel for crime when a person chooses to become the opposite of their fears instead of the embodiment of them.

The Joker's inception perhaps initiated the Robin scenario as well. Seeing the effects of his works, Batman would perhaps see a unique opportunity in the newly orphaned Dick Grayson, already a child so different than the young Bruce Wayne of an equivalent age. The forgotten Little Boy Bruce found a peer, and Batman found a person in whom he could affect change without terrorizing. Although Robin and Joker share red and green elements in their appearance, Robin chooses yellow which complements the Joker's purple. From here, the Robin figure would act as the synthesis of Joker and Batman.

Grayson would eventually distance himself from Batman. Many authors have attempted to cover this disagreement, yet the result remains the same. He would take a new sobriquet not from the polarity of Batman and Joker, but instead from Superman's mythology, something foreign to the Matter of Gotham. The next Robin, Jason Todd, would not escape the polarity. Jason lacked the discipline that Grayson had learned as an acrobat, and had no desire to develop it. This would, inevitably, lead him to fall into the Joker's hands, or rather his repeated crowbar blows and explosives. Jason at first hung like a scarecrow, a bogeyman story to spook aspiring Robins. He would rise later as the consummate counterpoint, dressing in the rags and castoffs of others to attempt to put a name to his senseless rage. He would come to embody the self-loathing of young Bruce Wayne, the all-consuming sense of abandonment that would burn through whatever stupid outfit he'd put on. The third Robin, Tim Drake, was more of a mirror for Batman. Although he dressed in the colors of Robin, the vibrance and hyper-activity of Dick and Jason gave way to a predatory coolness and diamond-like intellect. Tim was the Detective personified, scouring for solutions to the mysteries that would present themselves before him. Unfortunately, Tim's emotional center hadn't the years of processing that Batman was afforded, and after his father's death, he would retreat into the indestructible mind of his for any and all trauma. When he sought initially to become the next Batman, the "death" of Bruce Wayne brought him to evolve the idea of what being Robin meant in and of itself, without connection to a Batman. Donning one of Jason Todd's Robin-derivative costumes, Tim would step out to solve the mystery of Bruce Wayne's death.

I think this is all I can do for now. There's a lot more to say on the matter, but the Mindless Ones have said it before and have said it better than I have. It's sometimes just nice to vomit information.

The Hangman's Banner

*Originally posted 10/17/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

I just could not get through the snarls, today. They run too deep and too far, but I may as well get them out of my system. The Internet is our collective Shadow, and I may as well own it.

I love comics. I dare say, I will love comics for a long time, especially those silly superhero ones. That said, the past year has made the Superhero comic into a form of rage-inducing tedium. Meandering hipster chatter about the creation of an issue replaces content, even though that little smidge of content's fucking great. A story with a novel and inventive take becomes bogged down in grindhouse camp and devolves into '90s-style posturing and flexing on who can claim the "baddest ass" title while mowing down redshirts in rockin' cool ways. The bad guys had supposedly won the day in Marvel's Dark Reign, yet after the inception it's become increasingly flaccid and uninspired. We're on the fifth Marvel Zombies iteration, with a sixth, now including zombie superhero monkeys, in the wings. Superman is on some new version of Krypton, and guess what?!? Kryptonians are still the same stiff, dull, soulless alien tropes I've had to suffer through for so many years. I mean, there's no artwork on an alien world aside from architecture, everyone's clothes are plastic, nothing wears down, and everyone has a stick in their ass. Spacemen can say "Fuck." You hear that? Little green men have probably called someone an "unwashed anal bead" or some equivalent. I mean, seriously: where are the rude people, the working class, the sports fans in space? Why don't I see Non of the New Kryptonian military pissing on a building and knocking it over after too much Superlager? Ohhhh wait, speaking of dense and uninteresting aliens, let's get into the great big DC jam-bo-ree called Blackest Night! I barely know any of the characters coming back from the dead, and I have to deal with every dickface who's read DC since they were 8 staring down their nose at the latecomers for not giving a shit about Magpie, Hawkman's unrequited love, the Dibny's, and Necron.

The Batman property, so far, has kept afloat. All anyone needs to know is Bruce Wayne's dead, the first Robin is now Batman, and his biological son is now Robin. From there, it's all crazy adventure. The world of Batman has burst open with possibility, and one needn't have read it for eons to enjoy the story. It feels... unburdened, and I like that a lot.

Well, that's that.

Metropolis vs. Transylvania: A Guidebook to Modern Dreck

*Originally posted 9/11/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

Yup. Feeling a lot better, today. Just like any cycle, the uncomfortable skin has been shed and new eyes look outward into the opened system until it finds the closure, and newer eyes manifest. Yay Lunar Churning!

"America: Fuck yeah."- Team America theme.

"Are you being sarcastic?" "I don't know any more." -Simpsons "Hullabalooza" episode in the '90s.

Today's been all Superman and Vampires; Final Crisis in a nutshell, I guess.

I wish people could see the Evil Empire in themselves, and I'm not talking about just the Suits and gelled-hair yuppies; I'm talking every person who involves themselves in this mess. If we attempt to push it away, we end up the "enemy" of the Evil Empire, raising flags in opposition and presenting them with a target as much as we ourselves have painted one on "them," with the presumption of an Us vs. Them scenario. It's been exploited too damned much.

See, that's something we forget about Superman: he doesn't give a flying fuck what Lex Luthor does in his spare time unless it fucks with people. He doesn't hate Lex, since Lex is just the opposite end of the Superman spectrum of amplified humanity. Lex's brilliance is all geared toward reflection and validation, where Superman's actions are, in his mind, just what he does. He places no more importance on moving the Earth in and out of orbit than he does saving that kitten from a tree. He doesn't agonize over what he can't do, but enjoys what he does. To put in simply, Lex is the separation of self from collective, and Superman is in unity.

I guess when we're considering the Sun and Superman, we can get into vampires as well. I'm a bad blogger cuz I forgot the link, but someone put down that vampires fear the notion of self-sacrifice that the Cross embodies. The idea that someone chooses to avoid a predator/prey relationship, to avoid victimization for one's own benefit, makes the Vampiric essence go cross-eyed. The lack of a reflection represents just that: lack of reflection. The Vampire, despite being a night creature, has a remarkable lack of self-awareness. The instinct and Will to Power override all higher cognitive aspects. It's the sociopathic aspect of the animal instinct and solitary non-mammalian critter. The coldness and deadness are remarkably reptilian (If I hear any bollocks about Lizard People I am going to fucking scream). Warmth has a metaphor in human language as reciprocity, and the lack of it displays that inner Void so well. There's no way to fake Dead Body Cold. It's too chilly and squamous to pass off as bad circulation. The wooden stake, fire, and sunlight represent pretty much the same thing: Life. The stake was cut from a living entity and will eventually decompose. Fire is a chemical reaction with remarkably life-like characteristics. The Sun, our relative position to it, etc. is that reductionist source of Life. All three act like Wilhelm Reich muscle memory to send the frozen essence back into the living cycle of elements. Garlic seems so basic that it's confounding. It's a bulb, it's living potential, it promotes circulation, it's an overwhelming spice... it just seems the opposite end of the vampiric spectrum of Subterranean Entities.

Vampires, to me, feel more Saturnian than anything else, and getting acquainted with that sort of energy in oneself's pretty daunting, but useful. Vampires have gone from Apotropaic funerary ritual to modern Frost Giant, calcified elements of human nature that require recirculation when left unaware. Like Frost Giants, their position is ambivalent instead of purely pernicious, not unlike the "Asura" in Hindu literature. The key comes to getting that Vampiric part to see itself in the mirror, to enact that self-recognition that accompanies a cognition of one's soul. (I'm of the idea that everything condemned to existence has a soul, but self-awareness and sentience have the unique prerogative to examine it.)

When we consider the Killer of Monsters, from the Winchesters, to Buffy Summers, to Batman, to Thor, we consider the symbolic utilization of destructive instincts for the cause of Life. Sam Winchester flirts with his possession of demon blood, Batman toes the line of power-mad and oppressive Hades, and Thor's brutality and characteristics make him almost indistinguishable from the Giants he bludgeons to death. That said, all have romantic ties, for good or for ill, to members of their quarry. Sam and Ruby, Dean and Anna the Angel, Buffy with both Angel and Spike, Batman to Thalia al-Ghul and Catwoman, and Thor to Jarnsaxa.

In conclusion, to be effective in counteracting the demons which we feel compelled to spit upon and villify, we must understand sacrifice without power-over, we must understand the deed as villainous instead of the perpetrator, and we must, in some way, romance that evil in order to combat it effectively. Love is what conquers all of it, and in the end the poles shall collapse on themselves and become distinct from their previous nature, just to find new oppositions and repeat the process. (Thor and Jormundgand annihilate each other, and find reconciliation in Magni and Modi, a dual-divinity at Rangarok.)

A Playground Covered in Vines

*Originally posted 3/29/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

So, Saturn's the only planet in retrograde right now, but a lot of weeeeird elements of dredging up repressed or forgotten memories seem to be a theme.For one, Bleach started this awesome storyline that took place long before the "present" of the series. Two, Dollhouse's new episode features psychedelics and unveiling of repressed memories. Three, Brendan and I have been getting into the third season of Venture Brothers, once again with many episodes dealing with the elements of the story's "past."

It's not that big of a deal, and I might be making more of something out of nothing since I can loosen my sphincter over doing psychoactives these days, yet I'd rather follow the connecting elements than let them just dangle as if they had no personal relevance. I am experiencing it, after all.

Bleach doesn't necessarily make itself into the "best cartoon series ever" category, but its soapy long-form story, subtitles and style-heavy visuals make it a good subject for iTunes shuffle experiments. Usually, I pick a song that fits the tone of the opening credits for the story arc, and just let the shuffle go from there. It lines up more often than not, but sometimes the shuffle starts working in verrrry mysterious ways.

I could go into the elements in Dollhouse, but I won't. It's too fresh. However, I would like to touch on the half of Venture Brothers season 3. The episodes seem to be structured more around film than TV plots this season, and it's getting real freakin' heavy real freakin' fast. Regardless of the intent of the writers and directors while working on the series, the interrelated nature of some of these characters gets mind-blowing: Dean Venture and the Ape Monster/Boxing Orangutan manifesting after his freakout, Hank and Dermott, Brock trapped in a room with the Atom-like fellow, the Moppets in general. I feel fucking dense looking at some of these elements. I feel like a silly, small little man probably looking too hard at something meant to be a gag, but I feel like there's something else there. The "strange places" feel really, really strange in that David Lynch kind of way, where it's juuuust familiar enough that characters seem more parts of a gestalt than framing for gags. I know what it's building towards since I've seen the last episode (and only the last episode before this viewing), but the material leading up to it just makes the end even more striking.

Well, guess what I'm gonna have to do?! Yaaaaay regression. Fuck.

Planted Zygote Narrative

*Originally posted 3/8/09 on Black Elixir Neat*

It's been a weekend of eating ducks, bats, and a dry, curt laugh watching people funnel out of a theater.

The trailers before Watchmen, aside from that Night at the Museum crap, were pretty freakin' cool. Transformers looks like the "bad robots fuck things up, good robots stop 'em" formula from the first, but this time without any of those pesky character moments. Leave your left hemisphere at home. Say, does anyone else get really uncomfortable when folks have a very strong opinion against Shia LaBeouf? I mean, sure, he's a little geeky for the action movie roles he's in, but the sheer amount of venom folks spit about him seems a little out of proportion.

On a whole other track, the trailer for the next Harry Potter film is probably one of the best trailers I've seen in forever. It's everything I wish a trailer was: archetypal whisps of the plot, psychedelic shifts in imagery, a handfull of reaction moments to remind us of terror, quick cuts between a series of dread-inducing yet unrelated scenes with nothing given away aside from the notion that Everything's Going to Hell. Sure, we've all got it in our heads what happens in Half-Blood Prince (I fell off the wagon at Goblet, but working in a bookstore handled that just fine), yet the movie stil seems to paint this picture that we're not going to know what Unspeakable Blackness will drag through these characters. If this movie came out when I was 8 (in a magic world where we had that kind of special effects tech in the early '90s), this would have been the movie that I'd make a big fuss to see. Shit, I'm 18 years older than that and I want to see it.

The last of the trailers worth mentioning was, of course, Star Trek. Mo-Ther-Fuckers. Having watched all iterations of the damned show, even a few episodes of the epicly dull Enterprise, the preview of this movie might be the first time I've ever experienced a hard-on for the franchise. I mean, the little snippet of the space battle looked, well, exciting for once. Mmmmaybe this time someone will have the foresight to install seatbelts in the Enterprise for when "the inertial dampeners go offline" or whatever shitty line they give for the cue to flop about like a spaz.

So, here's my problem with the Watchmen: the audience. Thus far, that's my only valid gripe about the movie. If you don't mind having questions raised without any easy answers, if your emotional maturity has evolved past that of a prepubescent boy, if you can handle having no immediately discernible mustache-twirling antagonist, and if you really like good musical cues, then this movie's for you. If you're afraid of seeing penises, then maybe you'd be better off with Madea Goes to Jail.

That's that, folks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mitosis God-vomit

Hey folks, here's the first post on yet another blog where some chap wants to dither on about comics and post-human media. Whoopity doo.