Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Week 2: Lorem Ipsum Goddam

Thanks, everyone, for all the kind words and helpful tips on the first installment of this blog. This one is going to be a little bit shorter, as I'm about to duck out of town for a few days. (I might post a bit of commentary on the newly unveiled batch of covers, if whoever's messing with time manages to slip a few extra days into this weekend.)

So somebody is kidnapping mad scientists. That's awesome, and I'm not being sarcastic: there's a whole world of pleasure tied up in that phrase, "mad scientist," and I'm happy to see that as crammed with plot as it is, this issue's reaching toward a very comic-booky kind of fun. But, like Montoya says, I still have questions, and lots of them.

The Red Tornado had a brother called the Red Inferno, huh? A great idea (with Grant Morrison's fingerprints all over it), but now I'm wondering who the other brothers are. The Red Volcano, maybe? The Red El Niño? And if we're going to go with the air/fire/earth/water/spirit setup Morrison used in The Invisibles... well, what's a three-syllable word ending in "o" for something having to do with spirit? I'll open that one up to the comments.

The last time something was called "Looking Back at Tomorrow," it was the first section of the Horizons ride at Epcot--a retrospective of antique images of the future. I love the idea of retrofuturism, and Mark Waid has played with it a little bit in Legion, but that's not quite what's happening here. Instead, we've got a group of characters with an uncertain grip on what the future's going to be--or, rather, what they thought the future was going to be turned out to be wrong. Even Montoya counts here: she thinks she's quit being a detective to be a drunk, but the Question knows otherwise, or at least asks otherwise. ("Are you ready?... Who are you?") The only one who's actually certain of things to come is T.O. Morrow: the near future is that something bad will happen to him, the far future is Ashton Kutcher as an old man. (And by the way, would it have killed someone to get Morrow's full name into the story, given that it's in the title and you have to be a serious continuity wonk to remember him?)

Skeets, though, has the excuse of glitches for his inconsistencies; the not-quite-there details of this episode don't, because 52 relies so heavily on details. Like on page 14: would that be flight 2824, or flight 2428? (Yes, if you split it into two two-digit numbers it adds up to DUNT DA DAAA 52, either way.) Is there a big ol' fold in the space-time continuum, or is somebody in DC's production department just asleep at the wheel? What bugs me most, trivial as it is, is the content of the newspaper clips we see on page 8. If text is big enough to read, it needs to say something--the repeating, half-formed text in a few of them just made me think "Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood..."

And the "History of the DCU" backup is just a Godawful mess--it's an "explanation" of history that makes no sense at all for anyone who doesn't already know that history. (And others. I've been a pretty heavy DC reader for well over 25 years, and I still couldn't quite parse some of it. Can there really be a "New Cronus" and a "Krona" on facing pages with no connection between them? Do Jonah Hex and Enemy Ace really count as "forerunners of great heroes"? Did the fisheye effect on the humorless floating Skeets-like robot that changes its color halfway through a four-page story really have to be arranged to make Donna Troy's boobs the focal element of the panel?

Some more notes:

The cover: There's something oddly amiss with Booster's cheekbones, and I really hope there was at least a brief debate in the DC offices before the apostrophe appeared between the heart and the S. I like Clark's grouchy expression, though.

Pg. 2: What exactly is "OPrK"? We see it on the T-shirt the Booster-fan with the 1994 goatee is wearing, and the right leg of Booster's costume is endorsing it again two pages later.

Pg. 3: A little present for the old-timers: that would be Ralph's nose twitching in the last panel, as it did in the old days when he smelled a mystery. But it's nice to see him getting out of his funk and back to the business of detection. I also see he's once again making horrible sartorial choices, which is sort of sweet too.

Pg. 6: A small but lovely touch: Morrow saying "an historical journal," instead of "a historical journal."

Pg. 9: Not only are Montoya and her date both wearing bras and panties as they drift off to sleep, Montoya's left ANOTHER bra--a more utilitarian-looking one, more her style than the one she's wearing in this scene--and a pair of pink panties on the floor. What, is she a never-nude or something? And is she eating pizza because she missed it when Daria was cooking her gourmet meals every night? And why does the magazine's "No More Heroes" article have centered but unjustified text?

Pg. 11: "520 Kane St."--a reference, of course, to Bob Kane, who managed to get his name printed lots of places where Bill Finger didn't. Not to repeat myself, but please tell me that the answer to "Who are you?" is not "I'm the goddamned Batwoman."

Pg. 12: "You said north, right?" Very nice.

Pg. 17: The Question seems to be leaning hard on the issue of who Montoya is, along with the idea of judgement. Curious.

Pg. 18: She hooks up with him once and now she's adopting his religion? Actually, not even his religion? And where did she dig up all that Kryptonian crystal-stalagmite decor, anyway?

24 Comments:

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

She hooks up with him once and now she's adopting his religion?

I was planning to give 52 a month or two before deciding whether to stick with it or not, but that one scene pretty much put it on the chopping block as of the next issue. Blech!

PS: I also am not the least bit excited about a Montoya Batwoman. I'd rather have had her take on the Jason Bard role in Robinson's OYL crossover.

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger Ian said...

I guess the DC guys took it in stride that Battlestar Galactica stepped on their toes a bit with the One Year Later jump. There was a nice BSG ref in the Wodner Girl scene ("So say we all!").

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger Sano said...

With regard to the page 14 2824/2482 thing, I thought that was an indication that Skeets is -still- not quite working correctly, and a bit of foreshadowing that maybe this will create a problem for Booster in the future.

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

I agree with Sano. I think the number mix-up meant that, sure Booster saved the Metropolis flight, but that wasn't the one that was going to crash, it was the Syndey flight with the similar number. Maybe "the time stream" is resisting Booster's attempts to "make things right". Maybe we'll see the return of the classic Legion villain the Time Trapper, who has sometimes been really cool and sometimes been Cosmic Boy.

Further to the forensic examination of Montoya's apt., doesn't the presence of American Science magazine seem a little incongruous? Maybe D the chef was a closet science fan and hasn't had her subscription forwarded?

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

my favorite booster theory is that there are two boosters. i'd say more but I don't want to spoil, since it does touch on stuff that has appeared on upcoming 52 covers.

i was pissed about the lazy greeking of the newspaper story text, too--especially in a book that has had its editor already saying that every page is full of "clues." that is NOT a good way to reward readers.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Matthew Perpetua said...

I'm thinking the explanation for the bra thing is that she just has a messy apartment and leaves bras all over the place.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Red Tornado = Air
Red Inferno = Fire
Red Torpedo = Water
Red Suelo = Earth

I also took the 2824/2428 thing to be intentional, indicating that Skeets has some kind of temporal dyslexia and sent Booster to save the wrong flight.

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Sano said...

The 2824/2428 mixup would also explain why Booster thought he was supposed to be facing north... it'd fit better if the flight was supposed to be Sydney, not Metropolis.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger Steven said...

I'm pretty sure Montoya and her date's lacy underthings were an example of the denudifying effect. Not only is there a bra already on the floor, the Question is holding up someone's panties and every shot of Montoya and Renee has their arms or a shadow or a blanket covering up where a nipple might have been.

Having it be lacy underwear rather than a swim suit makes it slightly subtler, but it looks like DC editorial objected to two post-coital naked women in their flag ship book AFTER it had already been drawn.

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

I also took the 2824/2428 thing to be intentional, indicating that Skeets has some kind of temporal dyslexia and sent Booster to save the wrong flight.
Which is what I thought it was trying to communicate. But the flight Booster does save is in a mayday situation, with flames gushing from the engines. So it's not like Booster accidentally saved a flight that was going perefectly fine ... it looks like he averted a crash.

On Cassie .... there was a real storytelling problem there, I thought. We see a from-behind of the robed figure at the altar, then a from-behind of the robed figure at the window, then a full front shot of Cassie with the robe nowhere in sight. Took me a minute to put together that Cassie was the "priest", but if the reveal had included the robe it would have been simple.

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger spirit of louis st. said...

I think the "OPrK" is actually "ΟΡΓΚ" - the Greek letters Omicron Rho Gamma Kappa.
Googling it does turn up some pages where the word is used but I haven't found a translation yet.
The order for the letters are 15-17-3-10 so it isn't a 52 sum thing.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Kiel Phegley said...

I hate to get off topic and back to the fist issue, but nowhere have I seen it mentioned that when Sivanna was kidnapped, it was the arms of Ultra the Multi-alien that nabbed him.

I'm not sure how much of a clue this is as I've never read any old Mystery in Space, but Julie schwartz scifi buffs please catch us up.

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Which is what I thought it was trying to communicate. But the flight Booster does save is in a mayday situation, with flames gushing from the engines. So it's not like Booster accidentally saved a flight that was going perefectly fine ... it looks like he averted a crash.

But Booster still thinks that Bats, Supes and Diana are still around. His history is telling him they are. And maybe he's right and in his history, Supes saved the Metropolis flight and Booster was supposed to save the Australian flight.

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said...

A couple of things:
I agree about the disappearing robe thing, that threw me off too.

Note that Rip Hunter was also kidnapped, or at least went missing, according to one of the articles. Seems like there might be someone else messing with the timestream.

What's lovely about "an historical"? I like that it makes T.O. Morrow look a) pretentious and b) clueless about real grammar, but a genius ought to know that "a historical" is correct. You only precede an h-word with "an" if you don't pronounce the h, as in "hour."

 
At 9:09 PM, Blogger matty said...

What's lovely about "an historical"? I like that it makes T.O. Morrow look a) pretentious and b) clueless about real grammar, but a genius ought to know that "a historical" is correct. You only precede an h-word with "an" if you don't pronounce the h, as in "hour."


unless you're british, in which case an historical is correct. i don't know much about t.o. morrow, but i assumed from that line that he was a brit.

or, maybe it belies the fact that morrison wrote this chunk? (i often feel like those brits forget to check up on american v. brit idioms when writing this stuff -- millar's the worst.)

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger tom west said...

"an historical" is a v professorly usage: "historical" didn't used to have an hard "h", or at least it's some nebulous proper-english explanation that i've contracted to that in my head. it means t o morrow is a very academic type. i wish i'd noticed that, actually. which means, yay blog.

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger Gabe said...

"what's a three-syllable word ending in "o" for something having to do with spirit?"

The Red Libido?

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger Scipio said...

What exactly is "OPrK"?

It's the DCU's parody of DKNY, just as Soder is Coke and Zesti is Pepsi.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Batiduende said...

I thought Oprk was just PORK for dyslexics.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger Dr. Flem said...

I hate to get off topic and back to the fist issue, but nowhere have I seen it mentioned that when Sivanna was kidnapped, it was the arms of Ultra the Multi-alien that nabbed him.

Were they? It looked to me like the arms belonged to two different people - perhaps a Crocodile Man and that rat guy from the Monster Society (or their analogues from the Monster League of Evil).

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger acespot said...

p.3 What does "Paris, Cairo, Monte Carlo" have to do with anything?

p.6 T.O.Morrow's name is hinted in panel #3: "Things of Tomorrow"

p.7 What's with the constantly shifting clippings on Morrow's bulletin board? I was also annoyed with the sloppy text in the articles, ie: attourny(!), proper nouns not being capitalized, articles repeating themselves.

I agree...Montoya is just a slob, hence the extra clothes around her apartment, but isn't it interesting that both she and her lover wear the EXACT SAME bra?

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger acespot said...

Regarding the "mad" scientists mentioned by T.O. Morrow:

Ira Quimby (I.Q.): Five total DCU appearances; first app. in Mystery in Space #87 (Nov '63); most recent app. in Brave and the Bold #192 (Nov' 82)

Dr. Cyclops: First/only app. in Brave and the Bold #64 (Feb/Mar '66)

Jeremiah Clugg: unknown, but referenced in Entry (p. 97) in The Encyclopedia of Super Villains / Jeff Rovin (New York : Facts on File, 1987)

Doctor Tyme: First/only appearance in Doom Patrol, vol.1 #92 (Dec'64)

Doctor Death: oldest reference; first/only app. in Detective Comics #29 (July '39)

What's up with the obscurity? I'm sure there are mad scientists who have ACTUALLY APPEARED in post-crisis comics...aren't there?

 
At 7:26 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Were they? It looked to me like the arms belonged to two different people - perhaps a Crocodile Man and that rat guy from the Monster Society (or their analogues from the Monster League of Evil).

Which is the point of Ultra, the Multi-Alien - check out Don Markstein's Toonopedia page on him.

 
At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, don't I remember I.Q. appearing in an issue of Power of the Atom?

 

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