What I thought of The Flash #21

When watching a car crash it’s said to happen in slow motion. Well, it doesn’t and DC’s attempt to integrate Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen into the DC Universe and blame it for all of DC’s fuckups continues from the last issue of Batman to the latest issue of The Flash. To be fair the issue starts well as being a fan of the Justice Society of America it is nice to see Johnny Thunder at the start of this issue.

However the issue picks up from Batman #21 with Barry Allen finding not just Batman having had the living shite beaten out of him by the Reverse Flash, but the corpse of the Reverse Flash.

This isn’t actually bad superhero comics. Barry Allen is a bit too draped in misery to be the Barry Allen I grew up with but this is all decent, even passable stuff. It just feels a tad forced but there is a nice scene between Barry and Bruce Wayne which allows both characters to breathe a bit.

During this chat Bruce reveals to Barry he saw his father in a vision.

It seems also that the Comedian’s badge from Watchmen didn’t return with the Reverse Flash,not to mention Barry’s been having visions of Jay Garrick’s helmet.

In this reality Jay Garrick (the original Golden Age Flash) never existed, but yet Barry can’t stop thinking about his helmet and how it makes him feel. There’s a suggestion a lot of things from the pre New 52 era of DC is about to make their return, and indeed, when Barry goes to the JLA’s Watchtower there’s clearly been some tweaking going on.

After some faffing around The Flash and Batman go off in search of the Comedian’s badge, or to be exact, where it came from. To do that Barry digs out the Cosmic Treadmill which takes him and Batman though time and space.

What they see are all the missing out of continuity stories DC decided to dump for one reason or another.

Barry and Bruce end up back in the Flashpoint universe with Bruce’s father who is the Batman of this universe. Confused? Of course you are if you’ve not got any idea of the history of DC Comics. and frankly, it’d have been easier to just reboot DC’s superhero titles from the start but being attached to continuity means this complex bollocks.

Still, it seems that DC are heading towards at least making things more accessible unlike Marvel who are stuck in a mess of their own making. Still, two more parts of this story arc to go and we might just be nearer that Batman-Rorschach team-up people have been wanking themselves into a frenzy for.

What I thought of Batman #21

The ongoing car-crash that is DC’s Rebirth (DC’s attempt to integrate Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen into the mainstream DC Universe and blame it for everything ‘dark’) continues with Batman #21, a comic that makes the Watchmen link very, very obvious from the off.

That’s Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes who has been locked up in Arkham Asylum since the Rebirth reboot started.She’s a telepath from the future so has knowledge of the 21st century and can read minds, so she knows (we think) what’s coming. As for the reader what’s coming is a bloody unsubtle reminder of what DC are doing with Watchmen.

Yeah, that isn’t subtle. Neither are the pages on 9-panel grids as Batman watches the same hockey game Saturn Girl was, which also adds as a meta-commentary on the nature and voyeurism of violence in comics. Of course Watchmen had very little violence in it, though what their was was either repulsive or there to make a point about the nature of violence in comics was never reflective of the nature of violence in reality. Here the point seems to be muddled, not to mention blaming Watchmen for the violence in comics after its publication.

A brush with the Psycho Pirate’s mask sees Bruce Wayne encounter his father, the Batman of Flashpoint.

Bringing the Flashpoint Batman back for a glimpse reminds us of The New 52,one of  DC’s previous attempt to reboot its universe in a ‘gritty’ way. it’s also blamed for generally poor sales and the company struggling before leading to Rebirth last year.Anyhow, after contacting The Flash, Batman ends up in a fight with the Reverse-Flash as it’s hinted that a ‘power’ (Dr. Manhattan?) brought him back from the dead.

So we get a few pages of Thawne beating up Batman (MORE VIOLENCE!!) before Thawne finally wins thanks to The Flash being late. Picking up the Comedian’s badge does this to Thawne…

That does look like a Dr. Manhattan style ”BZZT’ there. Unfortunately for Thawne he comes back a tad worse for wear.

The story picks up in The Flash #21 due out next week but it’s clear DC are pushing on with the integration of Moore and Gibbons work into the DC Universe even if its clear they don’t seem to really have got or understood Watchmen, or what Moore and Giibbons were doing with their work. I don’t blame writer Tom King as he actually does a pretty good job in working with a shitty stick to create a pretty reasonable superhero tale, but the entire idea seems seedy.

I don’t think the higher-ups of DC get how integrating Watchmen changes the meaning of it, but they are counting the praise for that work rubs off on titles like this. It’s a bit like the Fearless Girl statue in New York and the controversy around that. This is just simply another example of late capitalism of course, but as a sales tactic it’ll work as already on Ebay issues of Batman #21 are being advertised at stupidly high prices.

So I’ll take a hit for the team and carry on to the next part in The Flash to see what happens next…

What I thought of Providence #12

Thoughts about #1#2#3,#4#5#6#7#8, #9, #10 and #11.

Finally. The last issue of Providence. It seems like a lifetime since this series started but we’ve reached an ending and what sort of ending do we have? Well, it starts in the present day with people discussing the work of Robert Black.

Events here take place after Moore’s previous Lovecraft work, Neonomicon, and here it seems a Lovecraftian hell has enveloped the world as the FBI try to solve the mystery outside their window. I will say that if you’ve not read Neonomicon then do so now because you’ll be utterly lost.

This world is a dark place though Black’s book may well be a guide to getting out of it.

Moore handily drops in some exposition for readers to explain what’s happened just in case you’ve missed it by now, and in fact much of the early part of this issue is establishing what’s passed so we can understand what’s happening in the now of the comic’s timeline.

Once at Miskatonic University we see the madness that’s been unleashed.

Dreams have melted into our world not to mention a nativity is about to happen.

As said, you really need to have read Neonomicon because if you haven’t by this part of Providence #12 you may as well cut the grass or paint the ceiling.

There’s an ending here to all of Moore’s Lovecraft-inspired work for Avatar that leaves it hard to see where it could go next as things are pretty final here. It’s a bleak, sad ending that’s also rewarding as the only ending that could work and be faithful to Lovecraft’s work is something as painfully bleak as this.

Overall Providence isn’t Moore’s best work as being tied to the (in my eyes) poor Neonomicon holds it back from becoming a truly great Moore work but this is definitely in the second tier and now completed, may well improve that rating when I get round to read it in a single sitting with the rest of Moore’s Lovecraft work. This work has made me learn more about Lovecraft and even Moore himself as this is a work that reveals much of how Moore sees creative fiction, even reality itself. This is a work to reflect upon and you really don’t get that much in comics these days…

Is this the return of the KLF?

The answer is yes, the KLF, aka, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu aka The Timelords, aka The JAMS, are back. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty have been doing their own thing for the last 23 years (and those who’ve read John Higgs excellent book on the KLF know the significance of the number 23) and now look to return in August with new material.

The Quietus outlines the story of their return, but as always there’s holes in the story which means the ‘truth’ will be something we never know and that’s a good thing in an age where everything is spelt out in minute detail for the hard of thinking.

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The excitement started on New Year’s Day when this video was leaked online.

This was the video made for the KLF night a few months back at the Cube in Bristol which in retrospect looks to to have kicked Drummond and Cauty into some sort of action but again. we’ll probably never know.

I’m sure whatever happens they’ll be a bit more to the story of the KLF and if that results in new music, art or whatever the hell they decide to do it’ll be one of the most interesting things in what promises to be a potentially bleak year.

What I thought of Providence #11

Thoughts about #1#2#3,#4#5#6#7#8, #9 and #10.

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Robert Black hasn’t had a fun time in this series. Sure, he’s had the odd bit of slap and tickle with the odd young lad, as well as meeting some of his idols but on the whole his time in this series has been shite. At the end of last issue Alan Moore had him in pretty dire straights.

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We rejoin Black on a strange train back to New York, and once there if you, the reader, haven’t worked out where Black’s probably going, Moore makes it clear during a piece of dialogue.

providence19Black returns to prohibition era New York a broken, and changed man as he takes a huge risk in admitting his homosexuality to an old work colleague.

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Things are clearly too much and seeing as everyone has a breaking point, Black breaks as he decides upon suicide as the only way to escape what he’s been put through.

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Things aren’t too good for those people Black met in his travels either, and that includes H.P Lovecraft.

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There then follows a potted history of events after this, mainly drawn from the works of Lovecraft, but Moore takes us on a sometimes gory journey.

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We get the ramifications of the authorities finding out about Black’s research, Lovecraft’s success, his influencing of Conan creator, Robert E. Howard and a trip through time.

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As well as a on-page mention of how Lovecraft’s most famous creation has become a pop culture icon.

 

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We pass the events of Moore and Burrows previous Lovecraft related work, Neonomicon, and beyond before landing in a present where Black’s work has spawned some awful, awful things.

Providence has been an amazing journey through the works of Lovecraft as well as pulling together Moore’s Lovecraft inspired work for Avatar to create something new, and quite special. I will say that Providence is going to probably read better as a single work rather than as 12 issues which have not exactly been published monthly, which leaves us with one more issue that promises to wrap things up. Though I’m sure Alan Moore won’t make it as easy as that.

Mind Your Language

Moving back to Glasgow after several decades is an interesting experience in terms of language and dialect, as in picking it up again, or seeing how the decades and things like gentrification have changed how people speak.

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Language changes all the time, but words and phrases get lost in time. This piece from Dominic Wells is the out-takes from an interview with Alan Moore has a relevant point to make which rings true of my current experience as well as having a pop at Sun readers, which is nice.

“To be able to read the Sun, I think you need 100,000 words in your vocabulary; that’s a Sun reader’s vocabulary. [NB: Alan Moore is massively overestimating here, perhaps owing to his own sesquipedalian range. The average vocabulary is 20,000-35,000 words.] So that is painfully limited. And by the opposite thesis, if you expand the amount of words within a person’s reach, you’re also expanding their consciousness, potentially.

“It’s this whole thing of perception, and our perception is made of words. Language precedes consciousness, we are told, and also you can see it even in the present day. Say, for example, before we had the word ‘paedophile’. Or before we had that word in common clearly understood usage. Isn’t it funny how all the paedophiles appeared after that word? You’ll sometimes talk to old people, and they’ll say, ‘well, we never had those paedophiles when I was a girl or I was a boy’, and I’m ‘yeah you did, you just didn’t have a word for it’. So it was worse then, because you couldn’t even conceive of them.

“So yeah, in Jerusalem there is a strong strand about the development of language. Take ‘Third Borough’ [which in Jerusalem is the word used for the deity]. In the early 20th century there was a Third Borough in the Boroughs [the area of Northampton in which Jerusalem is set]. What they were was a combination of rent man and policeman. If somebody defaulted on their rent, they would be collecting the rent and also punishing the defaulter. “The word ‘Third Borough’ doesn’t exist anywhere outside Northampton, and is believed to be a corruption of a Saxon term, ‘frith burhh’, which meant a tithing map.

“As far as I know, ‘deathmongers’ [who assist at both births and deaths] didn’t exist outside the Boroughs. Maybe there were people who fulfilled that function, but they weren’t called deathmongers; and they probably didn’t have quite the same aura. So I wanted to be build this up from the language, the lost language of Northampton.”

I’ve moved back to Glasgow and my own language, accent and dialect is a mongrel mix of all the places I’ve lived. There’s Glasgow in there, a bit of Liverpool, a lot of Bristol, some London, and a chunk of East Midlands. In the three weeks or so I’ve been back I’ve been considered as English, had a chat with some folk from Macmillan who thought me to be from Edinburgh.

But it’s language that’s the most fascinating for me. As Moore says in that excerpt there’s words which are only used locally. Take the Glasgow phrase, ‘a doing/doin’ meaning giving someone a beating when you’re having a benny, which is a Bristolian phrase meaning you’re losing your temper. I don’t know anywhere that uses these words and it’s wonderful such local phrases add to the culture of areas like Glasgow or Bristol.

What is a pity is how these snippets of local language is being lost, or not being used as often as estuary English dominates, and gentrification drives traditional communities, and their language/dialect gets lost. People like Alan Moore who try to keep these bits of ancient language, and the history behind it, alive are to be applauded as we all face a future of sounding like a CBBC presenter…

Alan Moore’s Maxwell the Magic Cat-30 years later

Maxwell the Magic Cat is one of Alan Moore’s less well known creations that appeared in the Northants Post back in the halcyon days of the 1980’s when a hard right demagogue was in power in the UK and US, while we all lived with the threat of imminent destruction be it nuclear or terrorism.

Obviously 2016 is a nirvana compared to those terrifying days of the 80’s and we’d never return to those awful days, however Alan Moore has braved returning to the past to bring us a new instalment of Maxwell the Magic Cat; 30 years later. It is a small nugget of brilliance, enjoy.

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