I walk the line

Well, yesterday I had a very bad day. In combination with a typical Monday at work -- a nightmare of epic proportions as we wind down the claim year and everyone tries to get their one yearly claim in and processed so they can have money for Christmas -- I well and truly pissed SuperGirlfriend off, to the point where she sent me an email forbidding me to call her during the day, saying she'd talk to me about things when she picked me up that night... and I spent the day wondering if I'd have a place to sleep that night (yeah, what I did was that bad).

We talked in the car, and managed to salvage things, but I put a big ding in her trust for me yesterday, and gave us both an absolutely miserable day, and I regret it abjectly, but I have no Wayback Machine, and I'm just going to have to buckle down and do what we non-cartoon mortals have to do when we screw up righteously and are lucky enough to get another chance... make it right. It's going to take some pretty serious work on my part, but, well, without SuperGirlfriend and the SuperKids I really have no life, and anyway, if this thing fails because of me, I'll be letting them down terribly, and I can't stand that. So I have to make it work. And I will.

Anyway... a little housekeeping blogging for the morning. SuperGirlfriend and I did go see the title movie last weekend, and I kept meaning to blog about it, and not getting around to it, so I'll say here that, given that the film represents a reality tunnel I have very nearly no interest in, it still impressed me deeply. It's one of those films where the lead actors do not seem to so much portray their characters as channel them from beyond the grave... you just can't look at Joaquin Phoenix in this movie and see or hear anyone besides Johnny Cash. I grant you, the whole 'pill popping pop star' thing has become such a cliche these days that much of the movie's storyline seems hackneyed (a terrible thing to say about a man's life, I guess) but it's important to realize that Cash was one of the generation (along with Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley) who first brought that cliche to life, at least, as far as mass perception was concerned.

It's a beautifully made movie. Even if you're not wild about country and western music (and I'm certainly not), I'd say it's still worth watching. Think of it as kind of like Tender Mercies, but about real people.

A minor disappointment for me over the last week was watching the cartoon adaptation of Alan Moore's now classic Superman story "For The Man Who Has Everything". SuperGirlfriend and I were shopping for SuperDependable Teen's birthday (which, as she constantly reminds us in sing song cadence, is tomorrow) and I spotted a DVD with three episodes of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED on it. I've kind of enjoyed the odd, parallel continuity that this cartoon series has established on the few occasions I've managed to catch it in the past, and when I saw that the first episode on the disc was an adaption of that Moore story, I had to have it. But if they'd only put actual credits on the DVD jacket, I'd have known better, since the actual script was written by J.M. deMatteis.

deMatteis seems to have landed a comfy job writing a lot of these things, and it just sickens me, since out of everybody who has ever handled the Justice League concept in the comics, he's the one I would least like to see entrusted with any other aspect of the franchise. And giving a hack like him the job of reinterpreting Alan Moore for a different medium... this is kind of like letting Jack the Ripper do an ice sculpture of Michaelangelo's David.

deMatteis rewrote the story fairly extensively, dropping out the near-essential Robin part in order to focus on just the three adult heroes. He also vastly simplifies the various dream sequences, turning Superman's 'happy fantasy' of a life on a Krypton that never exploded into, well, little more than just an idle daydream with none of the more interesting (if ultimately more cynical and deconstructive than I've ever believed the Man of Steel could truly dream up in such a scenario) details Moore fleshed out the original story with.

Batman's brief dream state never progresses beyond the point where his parents get mugged and his father steps up, grabs Joe Chill's gun, and just starts beating the crap out of Chill over and over again... and while Superman's rather more simplistic and Utopian 'I'm living on a Kryptonian farm with a beautiful redheaded wife who throws me surprise parties for my birthday and I have a lovely son named Van' fantasy does, admittedly, seem more in character for the rather idealistic Kal El (if considerably more boring than the original, darker vision of a still extant Krypton that Moore presented us with), Batman's incredibly simply fantasy would seem to mark the Dark Knight out as being rather unimaginative and, well, brutal.

Both characterizations are spot on for the Modern Age versions of Batman and Superman, and I've made the point before that Moore, in his original story, seems to have mixed up his dramatis persona, giving Superman a grim n' gritty, very cynical vision of a still surviving Krypton that is the sort of thing we'd expect Batman to come up with, while he gave Batman a very pleasantly idyllic normal life on Earth, in which he was married to Kathy Kane and had children, which we'd really expect to be the kind of sweet fantasy Superman would dream up for himself. deMatteis seems to have corrected this, but his corrections are, honestly, just plain goddam boring, which is always a sin when you're writing to entertain.

Beyond all that, deMatteis occasionally lets some of the original Moore dialogue survive, but every time a snatch of it surfaces, all the emotional subtext Moore has carefully laid is gone, so the dialogue itself is little more than meaningless noise. And, well, if you've read the story, you really have to miss the presence of the now missing (and in the DC Universe, now long dead) Jason Todd.

All in all, well, it was a fair let down, watching this cartoon. The other two on the DVD, though, "The Return" and "The Greatest Story Never Told", were pretty entertaining.

I'm getting towards the end of the the GREEN LANTERN SHOWCASE edition SuperGirlfriend got me for my birthday, and it's been a delightful trip so far. A few of these very earliest issues of the Silver Age Green Lantern are so painfully poorly plotted you just have to dismiss them as 'bad reporting' (to use Mike Norton's wonderful phrase for comic book stories about our favorite characters we simply cannot accept as 'real', no matter how hard we try). But most of them are a lot of fun to read. As someone who has always wanted to write comics, I cannot help but be struck by the significance of what John Broome was doing in these early stories... inventing not only the entirety of Green Lantern's future continuity from one issue to the next, but very nearly making up all of DC's outer space terrain as he went, too.

The Gil Kane art is fabulous, especially when he's inked by Murphy Anderson. Kane isn't a particularly good graphic designer, however, which is one reason why the Weaponers of Qward still look pretty retarded even to this day. Still, this artwork is beautiful and clear, something that is absolutely necessary when you are drawing a character like Green Lantern, who can literally do anything he can imagine at any instant.

There's a lot of nonsense physics in this comic, especially the stuff about the color yellow, which is the one thing GL's power ring cannot affect. This was always a bad idea because color is largely dependent on surrounding conditions, and if GL had had half a brain in his head, he would have simply created lightproof containers around every threatening yellow object he encountered. Without light, there is no color, so once GL put whatever yellow maguffin was messing with him this issue into a total blackout, he could have done anything he wanted to it.

This point is especially underscored by a story in which the Weaponers of Qward shoot a 'red' missile at Green Lantern. Naturally, he tries to stop it with his power ring because, you know, it's not yellow... but his power ring won't do anything with it, so he has to dodge it instead (hey, that was hard). After it blows up some poor guy's barn, GL gives the pieces the fishy eye and discovers that the goddam thing was yellow all along... it just had red lights radiating a red aura around it through its transparent casing. Those wiley, wiley Weaponers! Geez! And to think, he almost didn't bother dodging the darned thing! Boy, the joke would have been on him then!

Honestly, the brain boggles at this nonsense. The frickin' weapon has a transparent casing, with red bulbs underneath it radiating a red aura... and yet, somehow, it's really yellow! I'd ask what John Broome was smoking when he wrote this crap up, but, well, all us old Silver Age comics fans already know...

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