Friday, February 16, 2007

Batman #663: It's hard to say if it's sad or if it's funny...

I finally got around to reading this thing last night:

It's four things:

1. Weird
2. Ugly
3. Gross
4. Confusing

The writing was...fine...but this was...not...what I like to read. It was lacking...a comic book.

I don't know how you felt about Arkham Asylum, but I did not like it. I guess I only like my Batman stories to be marginally disturbing and dream-like.

The real shame is that this "comic" seems to be chronicling an important event, but we don't get to see any of it. Instead we see this:

Which kind of looks like it's missing something. Like, say, this:

Grant Morrison is a great writer, and there are some good lines and interesting parts of this novella. I'm also impressed that he had time to pump out this much text considering how many books he's writing right now. I'm not against experimentation, but I am against...this. I think it's at least 80% artwork that makes me dislike this. But not entirely because I did find myself repeatedly flipping to see how many pages I had left to read.

Overall...didn't this whole thing just smack of the 90s? Anyone?


Adam Barnett said...

I hate it when people sneak prose into my comics. Hate, hate, HATE!

I also didn't like Arkham Asylum. The writing was very bush league.

elasticlad said...

It's the only book this week that I haven't finished yet.

I can't seem to work up enough energy to care about it right now.

It's too bad because I loves me Morrison.

Benito said...

I like Morrison; in fact he's probably my current favorite writer in mainstream comics. This issue, while it gets its job done, make it clear that his comics writing is much stronger than his prose. I will agree, however, that the weakest part of the issue are the spot illustrations.

Overall, the story serves its purpose: in Morrison's typical metafictional way, it explains the Joker's "transformations" throughout history, and introduces a new, terrifying Joker for our times. The question, of course, is whether we needed a new, terrifying Joker. I guess we'll see.

paperghost said...

The guy in the comic shop decided to rename the comic for me.

After reading it, I agree 100%.

rachelle said...

Ha! That's a great alternate title.

I wonder if this new extra-creepy Joker is more to fit in with the upcoming film...

paperghost said...

Oh God, I hope not. If there's no sense of fun about the guy, it'll just come off as Saw or something. Jack Nicolson really nailed the Joker in the original Batman film, because he kept it playful, if totally insane. God forbid anyone should divert away from the new...I mean old....I mean new / old.....grim n gritty, DEATH DEATH DEATH approach so beloved by DC.

Then again, I'm still twitchy after Didio promised no Superman Returns influences creeping into the books - he lied! He lied to us all! aaaargh! etc

ZC said...

I liked this issue a lot, actually. Though, I'm also a great big fanboy of Arkham Asylum. Early Grant Morrison? [i]Dave McKean?[/i] You're damn right I love that book. Ahem.

Anyway, I agree the art was spotty in this book--generally 3D stuff does not work in comics, or any still medium for that matter. Wasn't this originally solicited with Andy Kubert art? Damn Kuberts can't get any work done, I swear.

Personally, I wish they had dragged Dave McKean out of whatever TV/movie/CD-designing woodwork he's in right now to draw this issue. As much as I love that one page that shows the Joker's new appearence, after that the art just gets worse and worse.

Granted, I still like this a lot.

Maybe it's because I'm glad for any Joker that wasn't Judd Winick's "I'm pretending to be insane" Joker.

Grrrrrrrr Judd Winick.

Anonymous said...

Poser created comics need to die.

Erik said...

Two words: "Digital Justice".

Caleb said...

I dug ARKHAM ASYLUM when I first read it, but upon recent rereading, it did not age very well at all (I think it's the worst thing by Morrison I've ever read)

The illustrations in this issue drove me pretty crazy. Like, Morrison writes about a huge fat clown falling out of a coffin and crushing other clowns in a cemetery. Let's see that fat clown! No, we just get a picture of Peanuts Parker choking.

I coped by rewriting it in my head. Those paragraphs about how Gotham promises you the gutter and kisses you to sleep and all that? ANother, more economic way to say it would have been...

"Page 3, panel 1: Medium long shot of Batman standing on the edge of a building, downtown Gotham in the background"

Is this the same artist who did DIGITAL JUSTICE?

ZC said...

No, the guy who did Digital Justice was Pepe Moreno.

THe majority of that book actually wasn't 3D, interesting enough. It was weird, old-school, 80's pixelated video gameish drawings.

I remember I found my Dad's copy of Digital Justice in my garage a year or two ago and read through it. It was a lot better than I had expected it to be. Granted, I dunno what I'd think of it now.

rachelle said...

Digital Justice. An idea so bad DC decided to try it again.

This comic was like Digital Justice meets Arkham Asylum meets fanfiction.

The cover is nice...and misleading.

ZC - I am interested in the fact that you liked it. I know a couple of other people who were also into it.

Another thought I had: was this just a way for Morrison to write a Batman story and make it as gross and horrific as he wanted, and they wouldn't have to worry about actually showing any of the grossness? Because it would be a bit much for a Batman comic to actually show someone throwing up their vital organs.

paperghost said...

"I coped by rewriting it in my head. Those paragraphs about how Gotham promises you the gutter and kisses you to sleep and all that? ANother, more economic way to say it would have been..."

...."the rain fell like a prostitutes knickers".


Edco said...

True all, true all. Interesting catch about letting Morrison get away with in text what he may not have in panels. But damn, those CG babies were disturbing.

Further dissection:
Batman 663

Johnathan said...

Harley Quinn is supporting herself with an elbow and a thigh muscle.

Girl is TONED.

rachelle said...

Ha! Toned and SHINY!

Nic said...

Not the best page i've ever seen but certainly not a bad attempt at something different. Don't like the look of arkham asylum to be honest, trying too hard to be dark.

Anonymous said...

I think I would have liked the story.... in comic book form.

Rather then as a overly wordy, and pretentiously stylized novella with crappy, PS1 quality video game graphics instead of art. Well, that's not entirely true. If those were stills from a PS1 game I would have been impressed, but as the illustrations in a comic book they don't even come close to cutting it.

Yeah, had it been a comic book I'd have been pleased. Still, I can't be entirely against it. They set up a story where they're totally going to kill a good female character just to prove how evil the male villain is, all WiR style, and instead she fights back. At the very least I can respect the restraint shown in [i]not[/i] killing Harley.

Anonymous said...

Good God! I;m with you! How dare that balding, aging Scottish bloke! He put words in? In a comic? Disgraceful. I don't buy comics to read. Tut Tut

Viagra said...

Could have been better, and i agree it looked like a video game of some sorts. This just proofs that the graphics is not what matters most, but the content