Jul 7 2016

Batman kills

Adel Gabot

10:13AM

I really don’t know how to feel about director Zack Snyder’s revisionism of our classic comic book superheroes.

In Man of Steel he had Henry Cavill break the cardinal rule of being Superman: Do Not Kill Anybody, when he killed General Zod (Michael Shannon) to save a family from being burned to a crisp.

This is not to mention the many hundreds of others in Metropolis he indirectly killed when he went mano-a-mano with Zod in that urban battleground, people inadvertently crushed in the fallen buildings or killed in the streets and in their cars in the aftermath of their clash.

You don’t kill when you’re a superhero. Cardinal Rule No. 1. It’s easy to indiscriminately kill people when you’re that powerful, so the solution is never ever kill them, directly or indirectly. In fact, you take extra special care that you never do. It’s a line all the DC superheroes of my day never crossed.

It’s an old-fashioned Victorian aesthetic, a near-Puritan moral code that the comic books instituted in the old days because it was easy to cross the line when you reach the rarefied air of superhero-dom (to mix a couple of metaphors). Who decides who lives or dies? Superman? Who made him God?

Yet Snyder had Supie break that Cardinal Rule, that strict moral code, in the interest of cinematic license.

Now, again, he has Batman (Ben Affleck) doing the same thing in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now that they’ve released the Ultimate extended version, I got an even closer look at the movie, and I’m kinda appalled.

In fact, someone made a supercut (linked above) on YouTube detailing the Batman’s kill count in that film: 21 people, as far as we know. And that’s just in the days of the Batman-Superman thing. God knows how many he’s killed since he first became the Caped Crusader. And will kill in the future.

Hell, the Batman’s not even supposed to own guns, yet Snyder has him shooting from the hip with assault rifles and assorted weapons, killing the bad guys. It was another cardinal rule in the DC universe—you’re not supposed to own guns when you’re a superhero, and you’re never ever supposed to shoot anybody, even if they’re evil as all get out. Maybe with gas pellets or rubber bullets. Maybe, but only then.

Yet here we are. It’s the new 21st century morality.

Of course, I still enjoyed the movies as separate, independent entities from the comic book world, and I took them at their cinematic value.

But it’s never gonna be the same. Sheesh.


Nov 7 2015

Mad Mad Moore

Adel Gabot

Alan Moore

10:32AM

Posting about V For Vendetta the other day got me to thinking about Alan Moore, the creator/writer, and his work over these many years.

The guy certainly has conjured a stellar line-up of comic book work that I’ve long admired: his run/revival of Miracleman/Marvelman; the aforementioned V For Vendetta; the legendary and seminal Watchmen (not to be confused with the Zack Snyder movie made from it; he abhorred that version and wanted nothing to do with it); the wonderful one-shot Joker origin story Batman: The Killing Joke; his run on Swamp Thing; the fantastically detailed Jack The Ripper tale From Hell; and a host of other notable work on various titles.

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him as I have my other comic book idols, like Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller, and by the looks of it I doubt if I ever will. It’s just as well; by all accounts he’s a real character, that one. Wild with his unruly beard and hair, and eccentric, with that aura of crazed, unreasonable brilliance that seems to be the province of anyone who’s remotely considered a genius.

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I especially loved his work on Miracleman. Moore revived a fifties milquetoast dead-end superhero (originally called Marvelman, but copyright issues with the DC character Captain Marvel prevented him from using the name) and recast him to be a god among men, and all that entailed. He created a realistic world that had an actual superhero living among puny humans.

Likewise his work on The Killing Joke, a unforgiving take on the Joker’s origin story that had Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) brutalised, raped and paralysed by the Joker and his henchmen. Strong stuff, and unyielding.

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Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman form the supreme triumvirate of classic comic book gods in my book. All others can only aspire to try to at least match their combined work. Frank Miller stands out for his work on Daredevil, Ronin, and of course the classic The Dark Knight Returns; Neil Gaiman for his landmark Sandman series, among many other different and varied work.

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A warm salute to my heroes!