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Monday, February 02, 2009 

Central Jersey Courier News pans "Batman RIP"

It's actually a pretty simple and brief article they publish here, but they do make some interesting points about how the major publishers have put stunts and shock tactics above real, quality storytelling:
Ostensibly the first responsibility of comic book publishers is to be the purveyors of great stories, and to set themselves apart from the competition through distinctions of quality.

The biggest publishers, Marvel and DC in particular, are burdened with a second responsibility, to be the curators and caretakers of American icons and essential pieces of our mythos. Increasingly, both companies are failing at the latter task, and in the process, failing at the former as well.

As publishers shrug reverence in favor of shock-and-awe sales tactics, the mean quality of their stories continues to plummet, leaving in their wake a years-long paper trail of lackluster tales like Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P."

Morrison has become something of a legend in recent years, and I confess, I've never really understood why. Beyond the fan-boy complaints I have about his handling of characters over the years, I've never seen him as a particularly good craftsman. His stories are often convoluted and confusing, offering little merit in reward for their pretensions of complexity.
It's said one needs to read his stories more than once in order to make any sense out of them, but really, what's the use of reading most of them at all, when some of them involve quite a bit of excess.
There's a tendency in the generation of writers who've come about in the age of independent and creator-owned comics to try and leave their mark on a character — an attitude that takes precedence over telling good stories. While Morrison is far from the most guilt party in this regard, his work is often emblematic of that attitude, and "Batman R.I.P." is no exception.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this story, is that it has all the makings of great superhero comics — identity crisis, exploration of duality, perseverance of will and power of conviction — and yet Morrison fails to fuse those elements in an evocative or meaningful way.

Where juvenile simplicity and a lack of ambiguity were the shortcomings of many bygone-era superhero comics, it seems fans now have to learn to contend with the inverse. Pointless complexity and meaningless breaks from convention are now the dead-weight keeping much of the genre down. There are plenty of explanations for the changing climate of the superhero genre (and I could expound on them at length) but what it all boils down to is a lack of dedication toward that first responsibility, striving to tell great stories.
It's good to see that someone at a mainstream newspaper gets what's wrong with today's writers, editors and publishers!

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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