"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Or, "Hulk Smashed."

I like to think that I am a man who can concentrate sufficiently to understand basic texts and even to a degree complex ones. Post-war philosophy has long been my Achilles heel but I believe I can cope with this shortcoming manfully.

Is it that contemporary "continental" philosophy is especially complex, or is it that it is routinely boring, poorly written and wilfully introverted? I further wonder aloud, Is it a coincidence that the foremost readers and espousers of theory at university were also proud members of the juggling society?
I used to sit in the postgraduate methodology seminars, batting my bottom lip absently, listening to (no, listening around) the voice of Richard Robinson as he spoke of Heidegger and that interesting Nazi's dull textual sleights of hand, or of Deleuze and Guattari and their eccentric but nevertheless thrilling "rhizomes," and I used to think, "In less than an hour I can be drinking hard cider and shooting wicked-ass pool and we can forget this flimsy pretense for being here."

Given my proven excellences as a reader, then, I have nevertheless come to doubt my certified "powers" as I attempt to make sense of the recent Hulk storyline.

A Guggenheim "genius award" to the first person who can explain this thing to me.

It's hard to work out any of what's going on in the Marvel Universe right now. The Hulk comics are especially mind-bending, and not in a particularly good way. I don't know who's where when and I definitely do not know why.

"Riddle me this, me Trinity scholar":

The Red Hulk was a double-agent between MODOK's grisly crowd of misfits and maniacs on one side and Bruce Banner on the other. Hulk's son Skaar, meanwhile, wants to kill Bruce Banner but only when he turns into the Hulk - which Dr. Banner shan't do. He simply refuses to comply. His resolve is marvellous to behold.
Skaar and Dr. Banner are also in the Wolverine titles at the moment with Skaar double-crossing Wolverine with Wolverine's grandfather (or whatever he is) Romulus. Are you following this rubbish?
Doctor Doom was kidnapped and knocked "the fuck" out with what amounted to a "stupid bomb" so he couldn't think straight. I know the feeling. The eminent Herr fon Doom is, "simultaneously", appearing in titles across the board with a marked knack to be in a dozen places at once almost equal to Deadpool's. Out of alarmed curiosity, Who apart from me is doggedly, perversely reading Doomwar? As a general rule, any story involving the Black Panther (or Storm) is boring beyond measure. This one proves the rule entirely.
Then, in the Hulk titles, every major superhero gets turned into a "Hulked-out" version of themselves. They are really called the "Hulked-Out Heroes." I think that "Hulked-Out" should enter the common parlance, because it describes my condition quite remarkably. I am wholly hulked-out.
Regardless of me and my refined sensibilities, Deadpool-as-Hulk (yklept "Hulkpool") disappeared into the time-space continuum for to kill Deadpool. That is, to go back in time and kill himself before he became "hulked-out". Why any person would suddenly conceive of this powerful drive is not explained by the exellent craftsmen at MARVEL COMICS; but we keep on buying right along. It is a time paraodox: accept it and stare out of the window, as if you are in the postgraduate seminar again and letting the venerable Richard Robinson's paper pass over your head like gamma rays on a balmy afternoon.

Hulkpool Adrift Thru Time was actually a good story but what it added to the larger narrative escapes me. More Deadpool money for the Marvel coffers. Deadpool is in twenty titles a month - even Marvel is making embarrassed jokes about this, even as they scoop up my money into their bulging pockets using a large trowel.

At this moment in my life I don't know if the denouement of the Hulk arc has even happened or not. Has that story finished? Nobody seems quite sure.

Now to DC: Batman is finally returning from the dark confines of the, yes, the space-time continuum. Perhaps out there he'll run into "Hulkpool" and the "Dark Knight Detective" can figure out what is going on in the Hulk titles cause I can't. In their Blackest Night ("Dullest, Wettest Afternoon") maxi-crossover fiasco the sum of it was that DC brought back the Martian Manhunter. Bet you'd been missing him I know I had.

Now you're up-to-date and will have something good to say if you ever have the excellent fortune to be in a drawing room with Tinsley Mortimer or Paul Johnson Calderon.

[Portions of this article first appeared in an e-mail to Damian Morgan.]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crinkly Headers: Secret Origins (Or, "Secret Rogerins")

Corin Depper is here. With his patented passive-aggressiveness.
Never comes out and has a row –– but he foments trouble everywhere he goes, as if by magic.
I said to him, "Have you ever said 'Boo' to a goose, Corin?"
He goes, "Boo."


I was walking down through Union Square West heading north, thinking, "Apropos of boring comics, all stories involving the Shi'Ar and the Imperial Guard are boring. Also any stories containing or involving Alpha Flight. Likewise anything set in the Savage Land."


The scene: The Time Machine

The time: What is time, after all, in a time machine?

The circumstances: I was trading my Deadpools for numbers of Cable and (pre-Max, MU) Punisher War Journal. Slipped in a Silver Age Doctor Doom special "under the rose". Roger was generous & allowed the trade.

Sifting through some Spider-Man copies and frowning, I coughed and straightened my tie and went to Roger, "May I approach the bar and ask a question?"

Like a slip of a lad hesitantly asking one of his parents where exactly babies come from --- and why.

Roger assenting in his nebulous way, I approached the "bar" bearing a copy of an early-Nineties Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man which was warped and rippled in bumps along the tops and bottoms of the pages.

Nigh every copy I have seen of this title, between #159 and #188, is so corrugated. Also issues of GI Joe and Web of Spider-Man from the same benighted period.

I went to the bar, and showed them to Roger. "Do you mark these bumps along the header?" I asked.

Roger squinted a spell, and looked perplexed. Finally he realised that I was not complaining about the art. (Far from it - Sal Buscema was drawing this title for a long and excellent run at the time.)

When he had ascertained the source of my complaint, he remarked, "You need to see a psychiatrist."

It's going badly with you when your comics guy is remarking that you are in need of therapy. That said, Roger's proffered solution did not satisfy me. He reckoned that the comics were warped and crinkled by sitting in damp. He goes, sheepishly, "Did you get your wrinkled comics from us? Cause we used to keep our longboxes in a damp basement..."

Nice to know that my esteemed comics guy keeps his valuable back stock in a balmy subterranean mangrove swamp - a real winning recommendation there, Rodge. It isn't that though. I think it is a problem with Marvel Comics across the board (or at least certain titles) from that period, irrespective of where they come from. They aren't all from Roger's soggy basement. I just got some numbers of Punisher from Lone Star Comics in Texas and they have the same "crinkly header" problem.

Roger said, "There would have been some comment on this phenomenon among the comics community in the last thirty years. I don't think you have just discovered something that has eluded the greatest minds of the comic-collecting nation . The comics collecting fraternity is traditionally, shall we say, vigilant , ah, exacting indeed, on such minutiae concerning, ah, condition."

I kind of bridled at this, "slightually". Like I wasn't able to out-think the paltry comics buff community with my excellent eye for detail? Like I, with my larger knowledge of the universe, couldn't see beyond the petty purview of the fanboy?
"Or perhaps it's just that I'm a pioneer, and you men gathered this day in this room have not the 'eyes to see'" I yelped faintly, to dull chuckling from the room.

The fact remains that I keep finding crinkled comics from that period in select Marvel titles from a variety of sources. Should "they" ever come to notice this phenomenon, say in the pages of Overstreet or even Wizard, I hope that some honest soul will rightly attribute its original recognition to me.

[In the voice of Crispin Glover, in River's Edge:] I feel like... Cotton Mather!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Puppies "4" Sale

Watched another episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter where the cops beat Dog to the suspect. Should this show be renamed Dog, That Whipped Puppy? Should this show be renamed Cringing Cur Cowed by a Rolled-Up Newspaper? Or should this show be renamed, succinctly, Cops?

Nothing daunted, after wasting fifteen minutes of my time with a case that goes nowhere, Bobby Brown and Dog and his family now rallied and went after a female petty thief. Surely even they can’t bitch this one up.


Perp worked out of a “video store” as a "model" and so Dog says, “Bobby you go into the store and pretend you want to hire her and get an appointment with her and then we’ll pounce.”
At this time Bobby is dressed in a t-shirt that says in large letters “Property of Bobby Brown, Bail Bonds” and he has his big bounty-hunter badge swinging from around his neck. Surreptitious as ever. He flaps into the store and soon he bounces out again, saying, “He’s setting up an appointment now.”
Here be stealth.

So they're like a bunch of Scooby-Doo detectives scurrying and panicking in the forecourt of a mini-strip-mall and they go, "Quick she's coming, let's hide!" They duck into a building and Dog goes, as they scram through the plain wooden door, "Can you see through the peep-hole." A moment later as the door shuts: "Is there a peep hole."

The room they were in was a sort of abandoned seminar room.

When they "pounced" on the girl she just passively stood there and singularly failed to enter into the excitement of the moment. It's often that way on this show; the bounty-hunters get all worked up and enthused about the job and the chase and the thrill of the hunt, the spoor of the quarry, view halloo! and tally-ho!, right up until the moment when the perp has been caught and the perp is so bored and bland that the illusion is dashed. This girl simply misunderstood the arrest warrant. She said she didn't want to check in with the police until she had paid off her cell-phone charges.
This is, I believe, precisely what Hannah Arendt had in mind when she coined the phrase "The Banality of Evil."

Another idiocy while we’re at it: On the side of my Kellogs “Smart Start” cereal box (“Dumb Start” more like - a vapid cereal we bought while they were on offer and now that I have established conclusively that I hate this shit we have about ten boxes to go) is an offer to get the DVD of Marley and Me. What I ask you could possibly go wrong with a post-suicide-attempt Owen Wilson, a labrador puppy and Jennifer Aniston as the stars. Anyway, on the side of the box it says, “Get a $3 rebate when you laugh and fall in love with Marley and Me.”
I naturally thought of the following “exchange”:
“What if I don’t laugh and fall in love with Marley and Me?”
“Then you don’t get the rebate.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peculiar episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter I just saw.

Peculiar episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter I just saw.

You want to hear about it?

It was a bit like Otto Preminger’s Angel Face starring Bob Mitchum. The end was protracted and impotent – there was a false crescendo, a premature ejaculation, and then half an hour of just noodling. Like A Passage to India or Huckleberry Finn. Imperfect resolutions in each.

Leland it was who said, “I only had three hours sleep. I wasn’t even halfway through my dream.” Leave it to Leland to come up with the gnomic Heraclitean summary of the episode. Actually, isn’t that the beginning of Dante’s Commedia?

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
In the middle of the dream that is our life
I awoke to find myself
In the SUV with Dad chasing a fugitive
Who was no longer a fugitive.

The fugitive in question, one Nono, a serial beater of women (although everybody who knew him swore he was a swell all-round fellow), had gone down to the county sheriff’s “around about midnight” and had his girlfriend Mary “go his bail.” They kept quiet about this and went ahead made a deal for Nono to “give himself up” to Dog and his crew. The idea, it was surmised, was to catch Dog and his team for false arrest and so get them in turn humiliated and arrested while Mary – the schemer behind the scenes – would simultaneously collect some money off Dog for her “informing”.

A scheme worthy of Machiavelli – or the sinister minds behind the JFK assassination.

That’s complicated I realize. Imagine how I felt watching it. There were conspiracies everywhere. Beth said she was conducting “the investigation behind the investigation” and she made it a gendered issue (as they say in the academy) by solving the mystery with Mary Ellen while Dog was blundering around with this guy “Scott”. She kept making the same joke: “Girls rule, dogs drool.”

Scott was a four foot ten double-agent sent by Nono’s malicious shadow militia to sabotage the Dog camp from within. Scott was expert at this, blundering and stuttering the whole time and ballsing up any investigation with his vacillation and hemming and hawing. Dog was naturally incapable of combating this cause he’s prone to hem haw and space out vacantly himself.

Scott was so short he was like a sinister dwarf from a circus of crime. I expected him to turn up at any point in a clown suit and turn somersaults while throwing skittles at the team. But he lost out in the end because Beth donned her deerstalker and solved the conspiracy and begad she had the last laugh. She said, “Scott, we caught you out, interloper at the margins that ye are, and now you are expelled from society.” Scott, who you see had once been a bounty-hunter himself and had found a sort of kinship there that he had never felt before outside of the circus, walked across the parking lot sniffling with his head hung in shame. He looked even samller than usual, the figure he cut there as he trundled into the distance. He walked out to the perimeters of the outer city limits and then he kept walking down tords the creek. Perhaps he is still walking – or perhaps his figurative hat is floating.

I was puzzled, though, why Dog and crew would pursue Nono after they knew that his bail had been paid and his warrant had been pulled the night before. They knew he was trying to scam them, but they still showed up. For what?

To taunt him, was the reason. I watched this story unfold for an hour just to see some childish chest-puffing and drubbing at its end?

Dog and his “pound” need to really work on their narrative endings.

Sometimes the cops come into Dog the Bounty Hunter and foul up the whole story. Dog is always put out by this, largely because he doesn't get his money when the cops arrest the perp. But also it makes for a poor show. Sometimes Dog is duly obeisant and says that the cops are "our big brother" but other times - like today - he spits the word "cops" like everybody else does.

It really is important to be able to finish a narrative with a flourish.

Wisht I coulda-------