Monday, February 18, 2008

The Resurrectionist - Jack O'Connell

The very fact that you read up on books here and on The Inside Flap says to me that you, the reader, are discerning in your tastes. Without tooting any unnecessary horns, I think it's safe to say that the contributors to the blog (myself included) know a bit about fantastic reads. In this spirit of congratulations all around on taste and meritorious reading, I'd like to ask a question…

How strange are you willing to get?

Jack O'Connell seems to ask this question at the close of nearly every chapter of The Resurrectionist; and it's not altogether unlikely that you'll ask yourself that same question while reading the book.

I hope you're willing to get so strange that a troupe of alternate reality circus freaks led by a chicken boy doesn't throw you off the exploration of what might be a window into the collective unconscious.

I hope you're willing to get so strange that the hard-riding biker gang holed up in an abandoned prosthetics factory and dealing in human bodily fluids doesn't blind you to the thoughtful meditation about fatherhood and family.

I hope you're willing to get so strange that an egomaniacal neurosurgeon and his prized salamander don't obscure the questions raised about ethics and motivation in medicine.

I hope you're willing to get so strange that you can recognize how a story within the story has the power to teach a lesson about happiness and the dangers of seeking it from a storyteller who owes you nothing.

Most of all, I hope you're willing to get so strange that all of the bells, whistles, oddities and weirdos populating The Resurrectionist serve not to distract, but steer you right to the ultimate point; forgiveness is transformative.

If the sort of insanity cited above doesn't faze you, enjoy. If it does, make the leap. You know what they say; The first three hundred four pages are the strangest.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Are They Going To Kill Batman?

Rumor has it that as part of the Final Crisis miniseries and the events spinning out of it, DC Comics will be killing Batman some time this year. Of course, at this point, it is just a rumor.

My own preference would be for DC (and Marvel for that matter) to concentrate less on killing off their icons (or turning them into Satan-bartering man-children) and more on creating interesting and exciting characters.

Who can name an interesting, meaningful, fully-involved in continuity hero created in the past three years by either of the majors? (note: Blue Beetle doesn't count; he's a new face under a mask that's been around for years.) Even better; can anyone name a character that meets the criteria above who currently appears in their own solo title?

I guess I sometimes get worried that all Marvel and DC are doing is acting as stewards for characters and ideas created before most of their staffs and readers were born. Sure, legacy is a great story element (DC excels at that aspect of superhero fiction), and traumatic change can revitalize a stagnant character (Marvel's preferred method, it seems), but familiarity breeds contempt and changes sprung from every corner devalue change as a storytelling tool.

From a selfish standpoint I'd like to be able to say twenty years from now "Yeah, I've been following 'Top Hero's Name Here' for as long as they've been around." Of course, once I shot my mouth off, the publisher would, in quick succession, make the character a killer, de-age them and reveal their hermaphroditism (who says it's not a word?) all in an attempt to appeal to 'newer readers'.

That being said, Grant Morrison (the writer of the Batman ongoing and Final Crisis) is really good at his job. I'm sure the story he's got in store will kick enough ass that I can deal with any change it brings about. I'm not railing so much at this particular change (although I can see why someone would), but more at the artistic culture holding sway in the medium I love. I appreciate blockbuster events and unexpected twists that change the four-color world and its inhabitants, but I also appreciate character study and exploration. I'd like some of both, please.