The Intermittent

Why Are You Still Here?

Monday, October 17, 2005


An example of what I was talking about below; how audiences just in it for the entertainment handle change. We've just gotten an announcment of the new James Bond. He's the sixth guy to handle the role.

And the audience just accepts it. There is no movie explaining away the change from Pierce Brosnan to the blond guy. No tortured narrative feints and dogdges about surgery gone bad, or how Bond is now undercover and officlally dead or somesuch. Nope. Just a new actor, new movie, new explosions, same audience. When the franchise turns more serious after the Roger Moore era (see here for a little summary of Bond through the ages) there is no explaining the previous films as the product of drugs, or SMERSH plot. The tone of the film simply changes, no explanation needed nor given. No one tries to explain how Bond fought was around during the Cold War and is still thirty.

Which is a healthy thing. There are only so many people willing to get so emotionally entangled with a character to need justifications of change. The rest--the ones who make up the bulk of the people who spend money in the world--simply want a good, entertaining story. If your market is such that a story explaining the story is a blockbuster....well, it seems to me that you've already lost the casual fan. There really shouldn't be that many people who desperately care how different Supermen compare to each other; there should instead be lots of people who care how the Superman story is going to turn out.

Well. I was compelled to take drastic measures to save my blogger credentials; the bill was way past due, and the interest, she was a bitch. So: I've read Infinite Crisis. The sacrifices I've made, and all for you.

This is perhaps an overstatement. The story isn't bad, per se; rather, it's sort of inert, as a story, despite the fact that roughly six thousand plot points occur. There's a war! In space! And Mongul! And Omac's circling like hammerhead sharks! And the Spectre! And, Uncle Sam getting beat up, and not by Karl Rove! But a story that's all peaks is of course a narrative flatline, albeit a very loud one. The definition of a dull roar. Of course, your mileage may vary.

The book is, I think, more interesting as a little cultural artifact than a story. Start with the metafictional weirdness: a book where the writer actually lectures to the characters. Evidently Morrison's notions of 2d agency have taken root at DC editorial; infinite Crisis is an elaborate way of arguing a point with fictions. Do we need to have a second Superman mediate a dispute between the audience and the "real" Superman? I mean, I've always enjoyed me some comics, but I don't have enough emotional investment in these things to need a story like Infinite Crisis to hold my hands through change. I'm not mourning the loss of fictional characters, who, after all, can't really be destroyed. To the extent that this series is not simply wanted but needed by fandom, we've learned some very interesting thing.
A healthier audience--one, that is, with a healthy proportion of dilettantes and hobbyists--wouldn't much care about this kind of exercise, I think. This book is only necessary if we're all obsessives, now.

A wagering point: how long it takes before some future Turk, young or otherwise, seeks to revert the landscape post Infinite Crisis status-quo to the pre-Infinite Crisis post Crisis on Infinite Earths landscape. I mean, we have, twenty years of stories to selectively parse? The same exact problem being solved, at least partially, by Infinite Crisis?

A similiar point, with respect to the post-House of M Marvel U. The whole point of that is to allow writers to keep exploring mutants as a metaphor for minorities? How dull. Marvel has a stable of characters that could be used to explore a whole range of issues, if that is what you really want to do. Morrison's greatest gift to Marvel, after all, was a glimpse at how the X-Men could be used to address a host of other issues. I mean, we're standint at the biological threshold (and you have to imagine that Hank Pym is running far more advanced stem cell research than is the NIH) and we're using the X-Men to keep arguing about race? Not that you can't tel very interesting stories in this vein, but still: weird that Marvel felt the need to foreclose the ability to talk about other issues.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Via Belle Waring: Hairy Polarity and the Sinister Sorcery, far and away the best Evangelical anti-Harry Potter manga I've ever read--to put it in words the book's characters might use, it was crazy wack funky! Best moment: the fact that the Temple of Elemental Evil apparently lies underneath Ye Olde Local Booke Chain.

No clue as to whether the creator was paid Tokyopop page rates.

Also, "the brew of brainstretching?" I'm totally drinking some of that this weekend.