(Soundtrack: Ella Fitzgerald — The Jerome Kern Songbook)
I like the looks of Tom Spurgeon’s brand-new Comics Reporter site… I certainly haven’t always agreed with the man–in the early (pre-formatting!)days of this blog, I came out pretty aggressively against Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book, but, in retrospect, I think I can admit that this was more because the book didn’t give me what I wanted than because of any actual weaknesses in the study itself, as conceived by its authors (it is certainly well-researched!) Yes, I wanted more close-reading, and a look at the possible influence of melodramas like Kings Row on Stan himself, but I don’t suppose that it was terribly fair of me to demand that Spurgeon & Raphael write the book that I would’ve written!
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed interacting with Tom on messageboards and comment-threads, and his accession to a web-fief of his own cannot help but redound to the benefit of the online comics kingdom! He’s off to a flying start–I particularly enjoyed his Numarvel piece… I think he’s absolutely right, by the way (although, to be fair, I’ve hardly made a dent in Morrison’s X-Saga, nor his JLA–which is relevant to this particular discussion–for that matter…it just doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as interesting as most of his other stuff, but I’ll get through it someday, as long as I don’t have to buy it!)–it is (was) part of the charm of Marvel narratives that they do, inevitably, run in circles…
The way I see it, the best “corporate continuity” storytelling is just Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance and Melville’s Pierre; or, the Ambiguities revisited–artificially extended through time by the magic of “dynamic stasis”, which generates incredible existential pressures! (and this is the aspect of these comics that I’m interested in) However, any move forward in this context will trigger the catastrophe that looms at the end of these narrative tunnels. There’s no light out there Dirk! The problem, as far as I’m concerned, is that the “catastrophe” has already happened–back in the early nineties, when the writers lost control of the metatext and the circle was broken… That’s why even Grant Morrison falls into the “nostalgia trap” when he works on the iconic characters–the supply lines have been cut.
So yeah, I agree with Tom that the Marvel Universe is basically an undead monster, and that (contra Dirk Deppey) there’s no way for editorial to resuscitate it–although, as is my wont, I find support for my argument in the texts, rather than outside of them…
Still, given my position on these matters, isn’t it funny that I’ve acquired a reputation as a Big Two apologist? I don’t get it at all!
Good Night Friends!