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Friday, March 15, 2013 

Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi sugarcoat the shock tactics in Damian Wayne's demise

USA Today paid lip service to editor Peter Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason's work on Grant Morrison's pointless elimination of Bruce Wayne's son. First, here's something Tomasi says:
He also adheres to an old Alfred Hitchcock adage: that a well-made film is one where you can turn the sound off and still understand the story and characters' journey.

"Comics and movies are very different animals when it comes to their distinct story delivery platforms, but it's something I keep in mind when I start every script," Tomasi says. "So in other words, I do like to let the visuals be the engine and I'm lucky to have an artist like Patrick who can terrifically illustrate not just the action beats, but also the characters' emotional range even in quiet/subtle moments that I'm asking for in the story."
Sure, comics and films are different in many respects. But I can't understand the point of this story, and it's a road better left untraveled for a change.
Gleason is used to spending hours on the phone with Tomasi brainstorming about ideas and building concepts, and then giving the writer's script visual depth, context and hopefully emotional connectivity with the reader. But for this silent issue, he says, "we were really just operating the same way we always have been. Although I suppose there was a bit more pressure on me to come through in the art this time!"
Gleason can unhope. Nobody's buying the issues for the story either; the real market they're going after is speculators who think death of a character makes the issue valuble.
The artist found out he was going to be drawing Batman and Robin, but it gave him pause to learn that half of the team was going to last.

It was a challenge to face on the front side of a project for sure, Gleason says, but Tomasi's involvement gave him confidence it would be worth it and continue what Batman Incorporated writer Grant Morrison had built into something really special. [...]

While it was hard to say goodbye to a character he was connected to and enjoyed such as Robin, there wasn't any shock factor or edict from editorial because Tomasi knew going into the series he was going to die.
Wrong. If they intended to wipe out Damian with the kind of ugly, lurid violence they did, like an orange having the juice squeezed out of it, then there was shock factor. Both Morrison and Tomasi knew it, and Gleason was bound to know it too. This is a very stupid way to pretend nothing's wrong with the MO in the scriptwriting. What it really says is that Gleason saw nothing wrong with such a nasty way to bump off a 10-year-old youngster, nor does he have the courage to bring it up with the interviewer.
Deaths have always been a part of comic-book history, and it affects the fans, too.

A few have mattered to Tomasi over the years, including the death of Jason Todd as Robin in the late 1980s by writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo — especially the way it occurred, at the hands of the Joker and also a fan telephone vote. John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's Spectre from the 1990s also had some intense emotional moments in the first year and the last that have always stuck with him.

"Then of course when I was much younger, the story by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane where Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin die in The Amazing Spider Man was a real gut punch that floored us as kids," Tomasi says of the 1970s story line.
But the difference is that when that story was originally published, they didn't go for the kind of graphic shock tactics that became the norm a few decades later (i.e-the death of Kyle Rayner's first girlfriend in Green Lantern). And, there's a difference between the death of Gwen Stacy (and even her dad, George Stacy) and that of Jason Todd - when Marvel had it done, it was far from a publicity stunt and was stand-alone, not intended to affect an entire universe, nor did it objectify Gwen in weird ways. This was admittedly the case with Jason too, since his curtain call was made the subject of an advertising campaign, something I think was a big mistake. But in fairness, they kept that largely self-contained too, and it wasn't part of a company wide crossover.

Nevertheless, I don't think it was a good move they made to invite the audience to make the decision, because of all the poor influences it could've led to, including multiple voting: a decade ago, I spoke to a man who'd worked as a moderator for a Disney website forum who said that when DC advertised the options in 1988, he dialed and voted at least 3 times. How anyone can loath a character whose surly personality traits post-Crisis weren't his fault enough to "stuff the ballot box" is beyond me.
The fact that comics deal with life and death is one of the first things that got my attention in the medium, according to Gleason. "The Death of Superman" gripped him as did an issue of G.I. Joe early in his childhood that killed off many of the characters he loved.

"It was an impossible concept to me at the time, that these characters can die," he says. "But for the first time a comic book took on a sense of real drama I hadn't seen anywhere else before. I started to be more engaged with the lives of the characters, and I started reading comic books more and more.

"It's never just about the death of a character," Gleason adds, "it's about the lives they lead and the way they affect people along the way."
Well he obviously didn't ever read about the deaths of Superman and Batman's parents. Obviously, he's very new to the scene, but what's really dumbfounding is his bragging about how life and death in comics are what got him hooked, not the action and suspense factors, and his take on how lives are led and how it affects people is ambiguous. Because today, despite all their claims to the contrary, it doesn't.
And for a creator, that means being absolutely emotionally invested in a character — otherwise a reader can smell fake sentiment a mile off when someone major, or even minor character, dies in a story.
And many actually did when Identity Crisis was foisted upon the world in 2004. So why's he saying it's never just about the death of the characters? Baloney.

I find it laughable how he considers the Death of Superman story from 1992 a classic, when today it's long ceased to have any impact and wasn't a very good story to start with, and the way they go droning on and on about how death of the goodies in itself is such a great thing is a head-shaker. How does that have drama but not when a woman gives birth to a child or a husband and wife get married?
Tomasi and Gleason have a big story in the planning stages "that spins out from all this craziness," the writer says. However, he'll only reveal for now that the next few issues will have Batman dealing with the five stages of grief "in his own inimitable way with several characters of the Bat-family in unexpected twists."
Big is in name only, it could be more like small peanuts in the end. And Damian wasn't even killed by a real supervillain, but by a corrupt clone. What's so special about that?

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Each of these feeble "events" pads out another interminable year or two of drain circling pseudo storytelling whilst the marketers see what's sticking to the wall after they throw spaghetti each month.

I'm more upset that they just did a big "Death of the Family" crossover that was worthless, and then did this in a side book that no one reads.

To be fair, Avi. Damian was a pointless overhyped character with an overhyped writer to boot.

Got that right, Kory. They never made the character likeable. And yeah, Grant Morrison is overrated.

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