Thursday, August 29, 2013

Great Strips: Garfield Confronts Death

Great Strips 1: I'm re-posting cool, self-contained comic strips I find in a .cbr files or on the internet! If you made/own the rights to this comic and don't want it up here, I'll take it down!

For a week in 1989, Garfield thought he was dead and must confront raw existential terror. Garfield creator, Jim Davis speculates Garfield and Odie are figments of Jon's deranged imagination (which makes Garfield Minus Garfield so consistently hilarious). But read this "official" Garfield strip where the cat feels the soul-shaking chill of being alone.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Ketchup on My Lady Fingers" -- Disney's Menstration Panic

While Disney Channel viral videos promise to be, "So Random," 2011's "Ketchup on Everything" is anything but. I read it as targeted exploration of menstration fear in pre-teen girls. The visualization of a girl spraying her peers with red liquid may relieve unconscious fears in teenage viewers; or, it is the sick under-age period fantasies of a Disney viral videographer. You decide: watch the video.

Did you catch it? A group of older teens, dressed in all white formal attire at an "adult" meal, are drinking "milk". They  exist in a highly saturated world of whiteness (purity). Then, a pre-teen girl with red liquid "ketchup" matted in her hair, carrying ketchup shooters, and spraying their body and clothes with ketchup bursts in to humiliate them--or liberate them? At the 0:40 mark, a boy touches the ketchup and comically puts it to his lips (a la Tim and Eric), to taste the blood/condiment. At 0:45, the girl aims her ketchup at the crotches of the dinner guests. Then, the girl is picked up by two muscle boys and proceeds to put close-ups of ketchup on strange foods. The girls seem disgusted, the boys seem surprised, as our ketchup queen slides down the dining table, covered in red, like a fetus sloshing out of the womb. As the girl screams proudly, "Ketchup on my lady fingers!" she holds back the face of another girl and sprays the ketchup from her bottled phallus directly into her nostrils. That girl, who looks like the video's oldest, soon firmly grasps a glass ketchup, yet cannot eject her condiment. Our ketchup vixen shows her three jostling's to the bottle's bottom will free the tomato paste from its capsule. The girl shakes the bottle up and down, ketchup coming out all over her plate. She puts some ketchup to her mouth, smiles a coy, baby smile, and flaps her hands like a child. But in the end, the guests embrace the ketchup at the end, in choreographed dance. The teens spray one another with the red liquid, gleefully unembarrassed about their childish food waste.

A friend showed me this video expecting I'd find it funny. Of course I do. But I also find it creepy, especially considering adults created it. Someone pitched the trite childhood premise, "Little Kids LOVE Ketchup" but executed it in such a way that a cast of teens are running around playing "grab ass" despite probably outgrowing this phase of culinary-taste development years ago. No teen likes ketchup this much! I just imagine some creepy old dude standing off screen and shouting at confused young people, "Yes! Shake the ketchup! Get ketchup all over the girl's face and clothes!"

Is this a subliminal attempt at shaping pre-teen sexuality? A cursory Google search reveals, I am alone in this reading. Maybe it's not insidious: this video could be a safe space to alleviate menstrual fear. The end shows a revolt into female menstruation acceptance...sorta? Or, is this strange abstraction too crude to do anything but register confusion in young viewers--making them sexually aroused, but offering no release or explanation for their arousal? Disney has enormous power in shaping the standard of sexual desire in America's youth--countless pop idols are former Mouseketeers, including Britney Spears, Christina Agularia, Lindsey Lohan. Disney instructs young people on what "looks" normal for sexuality.

Now let me ask you: does "Ketchup On Everything" look normal to you?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Incidental Issues #3 -- Captain Planet

Volume 3 was scheduled to have more than one issue, but I hate the Planeteers so fucking much.

Captain Planet #5
Released: February 1992, by Marvel Comics
Original price: $1.25
IMHO: 0/5

I hate everything about Captain Planet. I didn't when I first watched it (age 7), but I do as a college graduate--pedantically, the hero is "duplicitous neoliberal bullshit." This comic should get two points for being marginally more interesting than an episode of the cartoon; however, I refuse to critique Captain Planet aesthetically because the show is so pseudo-sublimnally political! As such, I staunchly object to the ideologies of Captain Planet. On the surface, that is "Go Green! Pro-Enviroment!" but this is utter bullshit.  The cartoon is no more eco-friendly than any other cartoon not expressedly about the environment, yet CP is infinitely more disingenuous than most cartoons. Even as a little kid, I was vaguely aware that this show was “propaganda-y” before I really know what that word meant (my mom said it in reference to, "the liberal media"). I remember feeling similarly about Ferngully. As an adult, I can articulate exactly what's so troublesome about this show: they broadcast "awareness" about environmentalism in such a simplified, fantastic way it completely hides the real cause of pollution. It individualizes environmental responsibility, constructs imaginary environmental antagonists, and frames multi-culturalism as the savior of the planet--when really, colonialist Western industrialization is arguably why we're in the environmental crisis we're currently facing and continue to face!

The reason there's a "pollution problem" on earth is because of over-industrialization and the privileging of capital over people. While I love cartoons and comic books, these are harmful symptoms of over-production of consumerist bullshit. Albeit, they're cool; but burning petrol to produce kitschy action figures and hundreds of half-hours with the same exact plot is obviously wasteful. Captain Planet is specifically designed to sell useless consumerist bullshit. The Planeteers are apart of a cool group of eco-terrorists (of course, the show never frames the children as terrorist, but environmental activists who truly challenge the status quo are terrorists to hegemonic ruling powers) who have exclusive membership cards and stylish, personalized t-shirts. And you can buy one too, kids! Captain Planet is drawn like a ready-made action figure with limited joint-articulation. The bad guys are all cooler looking than the good guys (typical TMNT logic of selling more toys) and the Planeteers have a collection of awesome vehicles--sucking up lots of fossil fuels, based on their speed and size. Even the most recent inception of the real-world Planeteers sells collectible power rings on their website, which they promise, are made from "eco-friendly materials." The bullshit never stops! Like all cartoons, Captain Planet's primary purpose exists to get you to buy more stuff.

This is duplicitous because CP preaches the trite-and-true three-R approach to material consciousness: reduce, reuse, recycle. But undoubtedly, the first R is the most important. Ted Turner pretends he made CP to help save the world, but really he funded its production (remember: cartoons are fucking expensive, even when they use cheapo animation like CP does) because it was a solid business investment. Once again proving, business and the environment are at contentious odds.

Now, some readers (that's a lie, I have no readers), might be thinking, "Why fault Captain Planet for what every other cartoon does if it's still making an attempt at symbolic gestures of goodness?" Good question. Plenty of shows are merchandising heavy but still able to "send" a positive message to viewers (like, Adventure Time teaches kids to view all things as a playground for discovery, or My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reminds little girls and bros that it's important to be a good citizen). But Captain Planet don't do dat. In fact, the environmental consciousness fostered by this terrible show is actually really harmful to making any positive environmental change on earth. I'll show you why...

Take any episode. I watched one at random, "The Energy Vampire", where energy waste is attributed to a female Dr. Frankenstein who creates a freakish yellow monster that eats energy. So fucking stupid. This is a dangerous abstraction because it doesn't demonstrate the way energy is really "wasted" As mentioned above, it's wasted making toys and cartoons to pacify the masses and to power TV sets broadcasting mindless content. Pretending there's a villainous monster who actually wants to pollute the earth is laughable. No one wants to ruin the planet. The planet is ruined thanks to passive carelessness.

It's hard to argue against multi-culturalism, but this is another of my major problems with CP. Multi-culturalism cannot exist without industrialized globalization. Because we can have "3rd world" nations producing cheap goods (i.e. Captain Planet toys) for bad wages in toxic work environments, pollution persists. The cartoon acts as though people from all nations should just "get along" It doesn't say that specific world powers (America) benefit when other parts of the world are covered in oil and smog (Asia). There’s no real intersection of culture in the show. The kids all speak English and hang out to fight super-villians. It doesn't matter what country they're from. Take the Fire Planeteer as the most heinous example. He's presented as an American boob whose powers are far more useful than any of his comrades. This doofus accidentally lights things aflame all the time, over-reacts, gets into trouble--but he always ends up saving the day because his heart is in the right place. This is not how the world will be cleaned. Why does the American have to be white? Why not a Native American? Their ideas of conservation are so forward-thinking we're still no where near their level of sustainability. I'll tell you why not: Native American children probably don't watch enough cable.

Worst of all, the show individualizes environmental responsibility. I mean, by saying "You can fix the planet! You can make a difference!" is actually polluting children's brains as to how a crisis like the environment can actually be stopped. This is embodied by the public service announcement at the end of every episode/comic.

Sad to say it but, you, dear reader, will probably have nothing to do with fixing global crisis. Why is it so important to cut up six-pack ringlets? Lawmakers should tell corporations to stop making six-pack rings, that’s who we should hold responsible. We’re not the ones who need to cut up six pack rings. WTF. The people in charge of that, government leaders, industry producers, and scientists cary very little individual agency as well. No one person could save the world--truly, not even a superhero. What's needed is a change of ideology, something I've demonstrated CP is too contradictory to accomplish.
Unfortunately, me complaining about a crappy cartoon probably won't save the world either. Captain Planet is back on the internet, and the Planeteers raise money to get the show back on the air (my research found the Planeteers support very few environmental causes). But hopefully, critically evaluating cartoons and the messages they send will make viewers more critical of political action cartoons. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Telling Stories Again: Scott McClanahan, The Collected Works Vol. 1

When authors write short stories rarely are they writing actual "stories" that anyone would want to say or listen to. Usually, they're writing a short mood, character, or theme. In my experience, "literary" short stories might read like creative writing exercises taken too seriously. Or genre fiction short stories can get really plot-heavy and too far-removed from reality. This doesn't mean those stories are bad, most are fun to read and full of intellectual vigor! But, hardly anybody writes stories like a good story your friend could tell you.

Except Scott McClanahan. He possesses the most effortless writing voice in print. I don't mean lazy, of course, (he released two books and a rock album this year), but rather, McClanahan's voice is so honest, engaged, and precise, you can almost hear a person telling you the words as you read them. David Sedaris' stories achieve a similar affect; perhaps-not-coincidentally, both writers hail from the south. But whereas Sedaris describes the disfunction of a baby boomer suburb families, McClanahan writes Rainelle West Virginia as a strange place of surreal proportions. He's only a little older than I am, so his Virgina is set in the 80s up through today. Another note of comparison:  the real seperation between the two is that nobody talks like David Sedaris (except David Sedaris); I reckon McClanahan's style is more raw. Both are quite funny though, and I'd imagine people who like one would enjoy the other.

McClanahan's stories are quiet, but captivating. Subjects of interest include things that happened to him, local legends, stories about his parents, or sometimes just made up stuff. But with a voice is so compellingly honest, it's hard to tell which is which. This makes McClanahan's stories satisfying for re-reading or casual page-thumbing. You might read the book in one sitting (it's only 130 pgs), but you'll probably read it again a few sittings later.

The Collected Works Vol 1, from Lazy Facist Press, collects the chap-books Stories II and Stories V. Each short story is about 4 pages, none over 8. Most yarns are narrated by the main character, Scott, who is not exactly the book's author, but is pretty darn close. It's hard to seperate the author from the character, the Scott from the McClanahan. Especially since most stories start so colloquially, some start mid-sentence or with an introductory phrase like "So I was...". You know, like a regular story. That's what makes it hard to think of the real McClanahan as anything but an extension of his stories. He writes in clean, perhaps plain, prose.  Rarely does a particular passage stand out from the rest of the story. What makes the stories interesting is what actually happens in them. The characters are well-observed, but the narrative is what allows you to see each person more clearly. For lack of a better word, there's a lot of weirdos in West Virginia, Rainelle especially, and the reserved, but ethically centered, voice of Scott is the perfect recorder.

Scott shares local wivestales, like the life of Randy Doogan, the meth using divorcee who borrows money to buy decongestant medicine. It's funny that McClanahan picked this story as the first in the volume, since his yearning to do good in life is mocked pretty astutely. If you enable an addict, it's pretty hard to write your actions off as simply "good" It's kind of hard to label anything as good, I guess. But it's easy to label things as bad: like when Johnny the logger gets his hand cut off in a logging machine after years of bullying leads to a prank gone too far. These legends are good stories unto themselves but they also reveal the setting of the Rainelle. It's a real place where almost-unreal things happen. Maybe that describes any place--but this place is also in the impoverished rural South, which is not true of all places.

Most of the stories are firsthand experiences. Scott records the times he sees a car crashes, or the  embarrassing details of an encounter with a homeless man while he's out with his girlfriend and her mom. These Scotts try to be good people, but often end up looking like an assholes--whether or not the realize it. However, in the book's two best, and longest, stories, our Scotts just seem like nice people being hurt by the broken system of the world. In "The Prisoners", Scott volunteers at a local prison to teach writing. He meets prisoner he thinks is a good person, but finds out he might just be a phony. Then he meets a guard who claims to be a good person, but he's a huge phony. Scott wonders what prison really is and what it does to the people on each side of the buildings walls, prisoners, workers, and citizens alike. He writes,
"...I lay me down to sleep and sometimes I dream this strange dream. I dream that we're all back at the federal prison except we're outside the prison walls now. We're all there, all the people I've ever known and all the people in the world are there. And you're there too. We're all cold and scared and shivering...They're arguing over this life and what our actions are guided by. No one can figure it out. No one can figure out who the prisoners are and who the prison guards are, and who even the guilty are. And so we're all standing outside the prison walls and we're arguing over this. It's night. And there's lightning--a black and white night..."
Scott oft wonders why bad things happen and why nobody cares. In "Suicide Notes" he tries to pry at the contagiousness of suicide. How when you hear about one person who kills themselves, your ears perk up whenever you hear about more. And how the sadness of it all starts to compound and then it's hard to say exactly why someone might kill themselves or why they might not but really why are you choosing the choice you choose, do you think? It's a story better left read.

McClanahan also writes in detail about this parents. Scott's dad seems like a loving hardass. He works in the produce department of a grocery store and he probably isn't happy with his life but then again who is? Scott's dad sees a man and his daughter get turned away from a restaurant without doing anything, but finds the family walking home to make up for it. Every day, he the same conversation with Rex, the mentally handicapped bagger, during his smoke break ("What time is it?" "11:15."). Every day it's the same conversation. McClanahan's mom seems kind, loving, and superstitious. It is clear that Scott loves her very much. Her roots and origin seem to inform most how Scott relates to the world. McClanahan can communicate the deep knowing of a person in only a handful of pages. It's very impressive.

Finally, there's strange stories. These are almost definitely madeup, but they're still good. Like Scott finding out he can predict the future. Or, my favorite in the collection, a little boy who dresses like a beautiful baby doll, a little girl. He is shunned by his friends and mocked by his teacher, but as a beautiful baby doll he feels more comfortable than he ever felt before. I think this was my favorite story just because it made me feel strange.

I really can't recommend this book, or any Scott McClanahan enough. It's a quick read, but very re-readable. If you want firsthand proof of how great McClanahan's stories are, check out this one published by The Fan Zine. It's about Scott's girlfriend and her experiences as a nurse. It's quite funny, starts by recording the experience of nurses but turns into a meditation on what it means to be sick or crazy. I'll read and write about Scott's new book sometime in the future.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hidden Meanings & Digital File Sharing in China Mieville's Dial H #15


Dial H was the best comic DC published in 2013; unfortunately, it was canceled and August 7 saw the release of its final issue (...but a V for Villains special issue next month in Justice League?). Thankfully, the series finale makes me want to re-read all 17 issues because it seems the dials are an allegory for media piracy and file sharing on the internet! The story imagines a space where peer-to-peer networks topple privatized production monopolies. And, not only do the downloaders win, but in Dial H, those who uphold data commodification never even stand a chance!

My roommate noticed this cryptic acronym in a exposition panel...

The Material Protection Alterity Army (the MPAA) and the Rapid Interreality Assault Alliance (RIAA)  are the revealed as the insidious institutions covertly controlling Canada's government. But the actual MPAA and the RIAA are the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America: the two groups responsible for protecting media copyright in court. Our heroes are up against the same force of evil all internet users fear; the evil force that doesn't want you to download movies or share scans of comic books.

In the first few pages, Nelson, Roxie, and Open-Windowman find the control center of "evil": the Exchange. The Exchange is a monolith of crossed wires and connected metal that houses Dial H's most powerful villian. From the front, it looks like a community of houses all connected with wires (a peer to peer network). The monolith's back has plugs and wires coming out, like the back of a computer.

The issue fully explains what the series has slowly terse out over the past year and a half: the dials were created in an alternate dimension to allow people to summon whatever they want or need. Information, equipment, power--all are possible with the dials. Dials are made out of old trash, the husk of discarded consumer goods (similar to what's downloaded on Pirate Bay, no?). Dials, then, are the key to a post-scarcity social structure; you can get whatever you want just by making a magic phone call. Interestingly, and more evidence to the theory that dials are modeled after file sharing, dials work better if they're broken, faulty, or incomplete. The idiosyncratic nature of each dial effects its power, what it knows to summon. Hodgepodge collections are superior to finely tuned machines--thus proven by The Internet. When members of a community are free to collaborate, share resources and help one another, everybody benefits. Wikipedia is a practical example of this. So is Anonymous. The dials too work by sharing of information. In these three panels, we see a very strange, but quintessentially Dial H, depiction of how file/idea-sharing works

The ultimate enemy of the dial is revealed to be the grand controler of dials, the Operator. The lost Operator is the dial's inventor, who still feels entitiled to ownership of his creation. But in Dial H, no one has ownership over their own creation; creations are merely a result of everything in existence converging upon one particular instance. The only way to defeat the Operator, the producer of power, is to become an operator. And, spoiler reminder, that's exactly what our heroes do.

The Operators represent those in power desperately vying to further consolidate their power. Our dialing heroes become the owners of their own power by use of radical communication technology, the dial. The real world analog is the internet. After winning, the heroes are able to see infinite possibilities in their future. They are the controllers of their own power. And the specific way to defeat an operator is also the way for media-sharers to defeat media monopolies. Remixing!

Remixing two superheroes into one is how Nelson and Roxie beat the Operator. The new, more powerful hero has recognizable traits from its source material. Eventually, our heroes combine the ideas of every hero they previously summoned to make one mega hero who can control all powers at will--thus, the Operator. Dial remixing is a lot like Creative Commons licensing. If every idea is smashed together with every other idea, there is no way to tell who owns what. Modifying a work can strengthen the integrity of the original and the new work. Remixing is what will topple the Exchange!

As our heroes turn into the ultimate hero, they openly acknowledge their perpetually-changing identities. In fact, I thought identity construction was the main thematic thrust of the series until this last issue. However, pro-file sharing ideals are in no way contrary to dynamic identities. If all knowledge is freely accessible, it will be harder to trick individuals into conforming to an ideological platform. Identity will then be defined by individuals, as it's always meant to be.

You are what you download. Downloading new information lets the downloader change what they believe at a button's press. You can be whatever identity you want to be! Just like Nelson and Roxie with their dials. By becoming the operator and controling the means of production, our heroes gain ultimate power; they will never again be forced to submit to the wills of the gatekeepers.

The series' primary villain and it's (perhaps?) primary superhero are direct foils to one another, both in allusion to media piracy. The Centipede is a clean-cut white man in a suit: the traditional icon of authority. He can make thousands of copies of himself, gumming up heroes progress where ever they are. But, as this last issue reveals, Centipede is pretty powerless. He can make clones, but only one can do actions in the physical world at each time. To me, the Centipede represents copyright lawyers. He may have some power--like suing someone for a quarter-million dollars for seeding a Metalica album--but eventually he'll lose because almost no one is on his side.

Open-Windowman is Centipede's foil. His origin is revealed in issue #12 as a messed-up Batman from another dimension. His parents killed by a mugger in crime alley, Open-Windowman promises to adopt a super-(alter)ego to avenge them. But, when he looks out the window for inspiration, he misses seeing a bat and instead just focuses on the window. Thus, Open-Windowman is a character that provides a way of seeing the world, a defamiliarizing of what's right in front of us. The most powerful tool in eroding private ownership is the "idea" of the internet--the free, un-commodified exchange of information. He's a self-conciously cribbed Batman, but he's remixed into something entirely new. He's...Open-Windowman!

So now, let's re-read the series together and see how this interpretation holds up! This interpretation is informed by knowing of Mieville socialist leanings. The whole time reading the comic, I wondered when we'd get to see a property-free utopia. It's kind of a bummer it happened in the last issue, but the finale was one of the best issues yet. I think when people read the series in trade collections, preferably in one sitting, they'll like it better. DC royally screwed up by not putting this book on Vertigo (...and for just killing Vertigo in general, fore shame Jim Lee!) but to their credit, they let it last a good while despite being low selling, not a known property, and, perhaps confusing to readers (I'd call it dense). Hopefully, we get a nice hardcover edition of the series and China Mieville comes back to comics sometime in the future.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Incidental Issues #2 -- Zero Hour! edition

When I was 10, eBay was new, so I bought 400 random comics for about $100. I read almost none of them. But now, I will read them all! Welcome to the Incidental Issues--Batman: Zero Hour tie-ins edition! 

Zero Hour! Crisis in Time was marketed as sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths--but really, it’s exactly the same story as Infinite Earths except where the former was about unifying many universes into just one universe, Zero Hour unifies a few timelines into one. The main gimmick was Hal Jordan becomes Parallax (seen above) and decides to do exactly what the Anti-Monitor decided to do in CoIE. As Parallax destroys time, the universe collapses; to convey this, books were printed with blank, white pages at the end (, a lame waste of paper). Dumb idea, but I read the tie-ins! So these have the potential to be really bad, or just awesomely weird (as two ended up being). HOWEVER, the art allows for a neat mash-up of styles from era of comic books, 

Batman #511
Released: September 1994, by DC Comics
Original price: $1.50
IMHO: 2/5

Almost nothing happens in 22 pages. Joker gets beat up by (surprise!) Batgirl in an alley--and it’s really Barbra Gordan! “But that doesn’t make sense,” Tim Drake whines, “Barbra Gordan was shot and paralyzed years ago--by the Joker!” Duh. Then, Joker throws a flash-grenade, steals a helicopter, and chuckles. Batman realizes that New Batgirl is from another universe, or timeline, or past--since he’s readily familiar with scenarios like, as it’s the exact same plot to CoIE. In the bizarro timeline, Joker kills Jim Gordon and never shoots Barbra but that doesn’t matter at all. The day is saved when Batman knocks Joker from his helicopter and New Batgirl disappears into thin air. The cover promises a confrontation between Oracle and Batgirl, but this never happens. Plus, all the drawings in this book STINK!

Shadow of the Bat #31
Original Price: $1.95
IMHO: 4/5

This comic though, was alright! Great retro cover promising what looks to be 1940s Alfred. Inside, that’s exactly what we get! Chubby Alfred getting into hyjinx. Alfred wishes he had become a detective but never learned how. So, Bruce gives him a book about it while he tries to figure out why Crisis on Infinite Earths is happening a second time. Distracted with other things, Batman tells Chubby Alfred to stay in the cave. He, thankfully, disobeys and finds Batman & Robin right as crooks are about to push them from the roof! Chubby Alfred tries to make an attack, but just ends up falling on the crooks, which is both effective and funny as Chubby Alfred is chubby. Then, 1940s Chubby Alfred accomplishes his dream and disappears into thin air just like New Batgirl! Batman knows only one person can stop this: Superman! And good news, he’s right! 

Superman: The Man of Steel #37
Released: September 1994, by DC Comics
Original Price: $1.50
IMHO: 5/5

This one was actually really cool. It’s set in the era of Mullet Superman! (i.e. 90s). First, Batman and Superman meet and shake hands. This Batman is drawn really muscley, cowly, and overall like George Clooney. Thankfully, we don’t have to spend much time with Clooney Batman, as Frank Miller Batman suddenly appears!

He beats the tar out of chumps in an alley, until he's intercepted by Batman and Superman. They all team up lookin' for clues until 1940's Batman appears! The original detective of the night! 

They decide to team up at the strange, "Children of the Night" concert going down that night (the same one Clark Kent is supposed to cover for the Daily Planet)At the rock concert, gangsters in a tank show up to kill our heroes (the gangsters look straight out of Miller's Dark Knight Returns). The lead singer of "Children..." turns into a Man-Bat (woman-bat?) to suspiciously escape--but is quickly caught by, none other than trippy 1960s Batman!

Unfortunately, everybody quickly disappears, but Metron comes to leave an ominous warning. The last page of the book is Jor-El and Lara, Superman's parents, expecting their son to abandon Earth and return to Krypton!

This issue was totally wild. It would have fit in well alongside the ideas in Grant Morrison's Batman epic (maybe an RIP sensory deprivation hallucination!). Really, it visually demonstrates the fractured identity of a superhero, and how constant reframing of the symbol--to keep it relevant, current, up to changing audience expectation--reinforces the power of the symbol itself. Keep your eyes peeled at garage sales and bargain bins for this one!