Sunday, February 23, 2014


I haven't done one of these Elsewhere posts in a few weeks, mostly because I've only published one piece each week this month on any sites other than Comics Matter. Work, weather, and illness have slowed me down, plus I was pumping out those 12 Days of Birthday posts, so I ended up being less productive than usual elsewhere. That being said, I still want to link to everything from here, if for no other reason than posterity. Since, you know, future generations are bound to be extremely concerned with what I wrote, when, and where.

Three weeks back, I did a column on PopMatters looking at what the science of science fiction should do/look like and how it ought to fit into and influence the narrative. There's been a crazy amount of awesome sci-fi comicbook material lately, and it's had me thinking about how the fake sciences of these fake realities function. Last week, also on PopMatters, I expressed my frustrations with the difficulties of avoiding story spoilers while still trying to keep an eye on upcoming comics news. I don't mind when people spoil things that have happened in already-published issues (as evidence by most of what I write) but it's annoying to have solicitations, interviews, or other official promo material ruin surprises or reveal plot points just for the sake of trying to rope in more readers. I understand why it's necessary, and I'm sure if I was a publisher I'd do the same, but I'm a reader instead, so I get to bitch about it. Finally, just two days ago, my newest "1987 And All That" column went up on The Chemical Box. It's been just over a year since I began working on that project, so this time I looked at both "Batman: Year One" and "Batman: Year Two," comparing them while determining that there's no way they could reasonably be viewed as taking place in the same continuity or even being about the same man. They are totally disconnected visions of Batman, having as little to do with one another as they have to do with...I can't think of a decent punchline for that, but whatever, you can read the post if you want to know more.

Something I Failed to Mention
I didn't delve very deeply into the art of the two Batman arcs, except to say that "Year One" was all drawn by David Mazzucchelli while "Year Two" began with Alan Davis and Paul Neary for one issue before Todd McFarlane and Alan Alcala came aboard to replace them, and that the visual instability of that latter tale contributed to its overall less impressive performance. I don't want to get into a long comparison of all the different artists' work on both of the stories, since I'm not sure that would amount to much more than rehashing what I already wrote, just in more art-focused terms. However, I would like to very quickly repeat a sentiment I know many others have expressed before and, I sincerely hope, many more will express in the future: Mazzucchelli knocks it right out of the fucking park on "Year One." It's dark, it's gritty, it's perfectly grounded. The characters are wonderfully expressive, not just in their faces but their body language. You can see the weight of the world on Gordon's shoulders, and the intense drive and focus behind everything Batman does. There are so many unforgettable panels or scenes, my favorite being the panel from part two that I used in the Chemical Box column where Batman shows up to ruin a gathering of Gotham's most elite and corrupt citizens. A close second would be the entire sequence where Gordon's son is dropped from a bridge, only to be saved by some last-minute acroBATics by an out-of-costume Batman. And the full-page splash at the end of part three where Gordon is sitting on his bed in front of his sleeping pregnant wife, staring at his gun, contemplating the problems in his marriage and his city—that's another image that'll stick with me forever. It's lit so brilliantly, and Gordon's depression dominates the atmosphere oppressively. I could continue to list things, and I even considered just going through all four issues and finding a whole bunch of scans to put up here, but I have to guess that, by now, there's probably a lot of Mazzucchelli "Year One" artwork available for viewing online. Also, I'm not saying anything that the rest of the comics-reading world doesn't already know, anyway. Mazzucchelli is an amazing artist, and his work on "Year One" remains some of the best and most famous of his career.

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