« Home | The signs aren't looking good for the new Aquaman ... » | Rob Liefeld is not a reason to read X-Men again » | CBR thinks Batman's race should be changed » | The failure of the recent Inhumans projects is why... » | Karen Page's death was a mistake, but the MSM won'... » | A British writer's experiences reading Peanuts and... » | The Hulk's turned into a dismembered entity » | New Sabrina TV series is targeted by a satanic cul... » | Geoff Johns cannot be trusted with Shazam » | Two papers don't make a satisfying case about Wert... » 

Saturday, November 10, 2018 

What does Rags Morales think of Identity Crisis in the post-Weinstein era?

I found an interview with overrated artist Morales on Newsarama from nearly two months ago, coinciding with the release of Tom King's awful Heroes in Crisis, where they asked Morales what it was like working on such a perverse, repellent book as Identity Crisis, though predictably, no questions were ever raised about whether he thought the structure minimized the seriousness of issues like sexual assault, let alone denigrated notable creations for the sake of narrow-minded publicity stunts:
DC Comics' newest event, Heroes in Crisis, will focus on the trauma and psyche of the modern superhero - but its not the first. The comparisons between this week's Heroes in Crisis and 2004's Identity Crisis are on the minds of many readers, as both delve inside the lives of superheroes and explore the psychology of being a superhero.
Sigh. The 2004 miniseries doesn't explore psychology so much as it depicts quite a few of the cast members out-of-character, and makes things worse with a joyless, contrived atrocity laced with repellent shock value. One of the most offensive things besides the belittling of serious subjects is how it implied spouses are unreliable and dangerous, as it not only forced Jean Loring into an abominable role, it also, out of the blue, depicted her somehow knowing everyone's secret identity. Now, here's where it gets odd, as Morales brings up his meeting with Meltzer:
We talked about it, we started talking about certain characters – the Calculator being one we talked about a lot. Since he was a pretty important character. I went home with just the first two issues. They didn’t want to give me the whole thing all at once yet. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I didn’t know what to think. Okay, it’s my next job. Geoff [Johns] said it was a big deal, and that can mean anything.

I remember going home with it, sitting in my bed, and the only thing I knew about Brad Meltzer is that he took over for Kevin Smith on Green Arrow for that arc. My first impression is that he’s a novelist – I don’t know maybe I had a weird prejudice at the time, but no novelist comes in and tells me what to do in my industry. I’d been marinating in it for 15 years at the time.
Gee, if that be the case, how come he took the assignment to start with? As I once found, Alex Ross, by sharp contrast, refused any art assignment on the book, and he should be congratulated for showing he had a backbone, while Morales is nothing more than a huge disappointment, even more in terms of morale than in his art talent, which is very mediocre in hindsight. Also, what's all this babble about a NDA? Why keep anything secret in something that's not a legal affair? There's more:
And so I’m reading it, and I got to the part where the Atom is breaking through rope – and I said 22 panels over 2 pages, that’s insane. No one does more than 9 panels a page. Maybe if you want George Perez, he will do 15 panels a page. I was just like "Who does this guy think he is?"

But the time I got to the rape scene, I found myself getting really angry over the scene because I was really invested in the story at that point and I was really upset for Sue Dibny. And then I realized this guy was communicating to me at levels that I never had anyone communicate with me before. His ability to convey the story to artist without it being – in this panel this happens. He had a way of being able to write it like a novelist would write it. It was almost poetry the way he wrote it. By the time we got to the rape scene – I was like "Dude, if he wants 22 panels. He is going to get 22 panels." I was fully invested at that point.
I was about to say, "now he tells us!" But not only does he make clear that, in the end, he wasn't offended by the shock value, he comes off sounding more like Brian Bendis did, when he said he cried like a big baby when he was putting an end to Ultimate Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man, to make way for Miles Morales, who became an early example of Marvel's superficial diversity-pandering. And I'm wondering, what kind of man says he's angry over a badly scripted scene featuring anal rape that's obscured as the story goes along, and then suddenly, he's "invested"? Didn't he even realize or recognize the one-sided approach the script used? I just don't get this at all.
Nrama: Can you expand more on what your collaboration with Brad was like?

Morales: I like to joke around, only because it’s true, that he is a taskmaster. He had a specific vision. He had a certain pacing that he wanted to do. As an artist you have to convince your writer that he’s the screenwriter, I’m the director. And yes give me the story, but it will go through my machinations before you see it. I was a little put off of the inability to have that flexibility and freedom, but I couldn’t disagree with most of what he was doing.
Well, this pretty much says everything you need to know about where he stands, even in the post-Harvey Weinstein era, even though it'd be much harder to produce and market such a monstrosity today without a higher chance there'd be some backlash from even the most questionable feminists over a story minimizing rape, a word that only seems to appear twice in the interview. And what's he say about his handling of Elongated Man?
Nrama: There are so many strong and important beats in this book. If you had to pick a favorite moment in the series what would it be?

Morales: I pulled off the twitchy nose during the funeral scene. That was one of the ones I had to talk to Brad about because he didn’t specify he wanted it in there, but I did. Because in the beginning of the story Oliver Queen is talking about how he thought it was a publicity stunt and that it wasn’t a natural thing. I kind of liked the idea that it had a mind of its own and that it could really tell him about a clue or tell him about his emotional state. It would vibrate almost like a beacon of sorts.

I told Brad that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to answer that question that Ollie proposes in the beginning. He said "Sure, just don’t let it look stupid." I said I think I can do it.

Just him grasping his face, it dripping down around his hand, and the loss of control. I’ve seen enough movies. I’ve seen enough life where people when they are very emotional lose their shit, essentially, and they don’t look like themselves anymore. I didn’t have any qualms about getting straight into the emotion. Not worrying it would look weird because the pacing of that particular scene just prior to it was so engaging that by the time you opened up and got to that point you have forgotten that he is just odd looking. This man has just lost his shit over his wife. I was able to latch onto that. So that particular scene was very gratifying.

The double-page spread at the funeral, getting it done, that was gratifying. I added the little bit about segregating the photographers and the reporters away from the heroes. I really thought my way though that, how that scene should play out. That there should be a police line keeping people away from the thing. So I kind of enjoyed that.
They don't specify here how the whole scene did little more than to drain the comedic potential out of Ralph Dibny, all for the sake of the dark vision they thought was best for the entire line, and Morales sounds little different from what Tom King thinks makes for a perfect tale with Heroes in Crisis, by forcing emotions in real life onto fictional characters in a contrived fashion. Even going so far as to make the hero look stupid and almost creepy. And the interviewer's assertion there's "strong, important beats" in the story is insulting.
Nrama: When did you find out Jean Loring was the killer? Did you know the whole time, and how did that affect your illustration of her character?

Morales: I think I modeled her after Susan Sarandon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the earlier Susan Sarandon. As far as the modeling themselves, I always try to, in varying degrees of success, attach it to a specific actor, sports figure, even a political figure. I remember using Patty Hearst as a model for Firehawk because she had a background similar to it. So I was trying to channel some of that.

As far as the rendering itself of the character Susan Sarandon I think makes a good evil character. I think she has that type of range. So for her to be able to turn her into this psychotic character at the end that wasn’t much of a stretch.

Again I got the first two scripts at home, and then one at a time, one at a time. In order for me to do my job artistically, I have to have an idea of where the book is going so I can set up for it. This was 14 years ago, so I can’t remember specifically what made me call Brad to ask who the killer was – Oh, it was the scene when Sue Dibny was being torched. I was at that point drawing the silhouette of the character with the flamethrower to burn Sue Dibny.

I had to have an idea of the form I was drawing, at that point I still didn’t know who the killer was. I had to call Brad, and I talked him into telling me. He didn’t want to tell me at first. I don’t know why it was such a big secret to be honest. It was one of those things he was keeping to himself, and I finally got it out of him just so I could finish that picture.
You know something? I don't buy his claim he didn't know who the "culprit" was. I do know he sounds like he's saying Jean turned herself into something she never was, which echoes the whole blame-fictional-characters-but-not-writers/artists cliche.
Nrama: There were so many characters affected by this event. In your opinion who was affected the most?

Morales: Well certainly Ralph. He’s the one most personally responsible for the emotional content of the book. He changed dramatically, when a person loses the love of their life it makes it hard to see your future. It’s a lot easier when you have someone, you can make these plans and you can visualize it. But when that one person that was there for you is gone then that makes the future harder to see. I think at that point everything becomes more about the immediate. Let tomorrow take care of itself.

They were all affected. It was really interesting how everyone was taken aback by it all. Certainly, the wives. Lois Lane was affected by it. I always tell people to read this by looking at this as a bunch of cops and their families – there’s a cop killer is what it boils down to. That’s the best way to really grasp the whole thing. Certainly the wives in that scenario because there is always that fear that they don’t come home. Despite the heroism, the abilities, the super powers, and all that they go up against people who are equally as equipped to do some serious damage.

Of course, Tim. He can no longer be a happy-go-lucky Robin. Dick Grayson was the only one who was able to survive being Robin. All the other Robins have been tortured. He’s the only one to maintain his own sense of light heartedness and looking at life through a smile. The wives, Tim Drake, and, of course, Ralph were the most affected.
This definitely isn't funny. It goes without saying they destroyed Tim Drake as a character, and trashed his father in the process. Chuck Dixon once spoke of how his editors made petty issues when he was writing the Robin solo for nearly a decade over getting rid of Jack Drake, which they finally did in the worst way possible after Dixon's departure, and evidently haven't made any attempt to reverse since. But what's really telling is their avoiding the subject of whether these vile steps led to any good story quality. Clearly, they never did, but do they actually admit it? Nope.

Then, they turn to the subject of Heroes in Crisis:
Nrama: This week Tom King and Clay Mann will be launching another psychologically-driven DC Crisis event called Heroes in Crisis. Do you have any thoughts on the event and what you would like to see personally come out of it? Any advice for what the event can learn from your work on Identity Crisis?

Morales: You guys know things before I do. I’ve been out of the mainstream for a while, working with Claudio Sanchez on his Amory Wars book. I really haven’t been paying much attention to what has been going on. So I couldn’t tell you. I can only hope it’s successful.

If I can give any advice I would say listen, you are going to get what you signed up for. The idea of art is able to tap into the human condition. Anytime you can draw any type of anger from fans because you killed off one of their favorite characters, as if the people who hired me is going to fire me for doing my job, but if I get that kind of emotional response ever I feel pretty good with what I have done. Not for hurting people’s emotional attachments, but I feel happy because I’ve done my job as an artist.

I think every artist should be rattling some cages here and there. [...]
So every artist/writer/editor should be going miles out their way to alienate core audiences, and worse, offend victims of serious crimes in real life by trivializing them in the process? This is practically why Comicsgate's come to be. The very cynical attitude Morales puts on display here was a precursor to a lot of the creators now attacking the consumer movement. Even Bill Willingham was an early example of a writer acting gleefully crude. And then, Morales has the gall to say the following:
When you do something for that long for over two years you basically said everything that you’re going to say. To only go back and to do it again it’s more of the same so let someone else do it, give them the chance to do something different and I feel the same way about Identity Crisis. If they would ever do a Ralph Dibny chronicles, cool, I hope whoever does it does a great job, but I hope it’s not better than what I did though.
Really! That sounds like a real put-down of the material John Broome, Gardner Fox and Bob Rozakis worked hard on for the Silver/Bronze Ages. No matter what you think of your own work, it's in poor form to say you don't want somebody else's work to outdo your own, or at least be just as great, if not more so. But if it matters, I know of some work on Elongated Man and Sue Dibny that's not going to be any better than the already disgusting 2004 miniseries - Gerard Jones' work with the characters in the pages of Secret Origins in 1988, Justice League Europe/International, and a 4-part solo miniseries from 1992. After Jones was arrested and convicted for his horrifying offenses over a year ago, it's clear his work is tainted for years to come, and it's angering how he made a bad situation worse for the Dibnys as characters in fictional stories because here, they'd be abused badly enough in Identity Crisis, and now, Jones has made things worse with his own felonies, which humiliate the material he'd worked upon.

So in the end, it's clear Morales' view of the 2004 miniseries hasn't changed, he's still full of contempt as ever for the audience, and only makes me glad I no longer own 3 trade paperbacks of the 2002-07 Hawkman/Hawkgirl series he'd worked on. Indeed, at this point, there's very little in his resume I care to buy and read through. Besides, his artwork is decidedly overrated and mediocre, and if he hasn't done much work in the mainstream over the past several years, maybe it's because his work just doesn't sell due to the pretensions within. His cynical attitude is no improvement.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

The non-disclosure agreement would have been to prevent any surprise twists in the story from leaking to the fan press.

I understand what he was getting at; if he was angry, it was because the story was good enough to engage him. If it had been a badly written story, he would have been bored with it, not angry.

It was a story that really misunderstood the characters and what makes them interesting and special, though. Elongated Man without Sue is just a poor man's Plastic Man; and Atom's wife was a strong-willed attorney who put career before marriage, not the psychotically jealous woman portrayed in IC.

About Dr. Light, the third entry on the following link show just where his troubles and slide into becoming a joke character started: https://www.cbr.com/post-crisis-dc-comics-villains-losers/

Post a Comment

About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
My profile



  • avigreen2002@yahoo.com
  • Fansites I Created

  • Hawkfan
  • The Greatest Thing on Earth!
  • The Outer Observatory
  • Earth's Mightiest Heroines
  • The Co-Stars Primer
  • Realtime Website Traffic

    Comic book websites (open menu)

    Comic book weblogs (open menu)

    Writers and Artists (open menu)

    Video commentators (open menu)

    Miscellanous links (open menu)

  • W3 Counter stats
  • Bio Link page
  • blog directory Bloggeries Blog Directory View My Stats Blog Directory & Search engine eXTReMe Tracker Locations of visitors to this page  
    Flag Counter

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

    make money online blogger templates

Older Posts Newer Posts

The Four Color Media Monitor is powered by Blogspot and Gecko & Fly.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
Join the Google Adsense program and learn how to make money online.