Skip

Such a thing... such an octopus of a thing
March 20, 2011 12:26 AM   Subscribe

Neal Adams is one of the greatest comic artists, best known for drawing the most reprinted comic sequence and revitalizing Batman after the campy Adam West show . Now, Neal Adams is returning to Batman with a 12 issue mini-series titled Odyssey and six issues in, some are already calling the story " without hyperbole... the most insane comic book we have ever read ." While some might be shocked that the famous Adams seems to have lost his way and is acting a little crazy, Metafilter readers probably should have seen this coming
posted by jaybeans (80 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't... I... what?

I'm going back to the dogs eating dinner. At least there was a coherent narrative structure there...
posted by Scattercat at 1:14 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Comics Alliance link is shudderingly hilarious.

An octopus of a thing.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:15 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The butler did it
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:24 AM on March 20, 2011


OH NUDE BRUCE NO
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:29 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eventually, all great comic artists go completely bugfuck insane. But that's OK, because so do all comics reviewers. It's inevitable when cradling with the comics industry, which is why you should stick to webcomics. Remember; you can turn your back on a computer, but not on a comic artist.
posted by happyroach at 2:27 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


well, I always preferred the Adam West version anyway.
posted by philip-random at 2:30 AM on March 20, 2011


Moby dick, as retold by Batman as retold by Neal Adams:
"Sweet Mother of God! A whale?
A whale?
A WHALE!!!!"
posted by kaibutsu at 2:32 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can anyone who has read these comics tell me if they're crazy enough to make a non-comics person like me enjoy them?

I thought Abstraction by Shintaro Kago was pretty crazy.

and the Scrooge McDuck Inception comic was pretty cool.
posted by surenoproblem at 2:36 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


SOMETHING SOMETHING ORANGES SOMETHING
posted by alasdair at 2:36 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


"the entire series represents the fractured recollections of his life that ran through his mind in his last moments, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge style."

I support this interpretation, just because... (SPOILER)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:44 AM on March 20, 2011


Grant Morrison's been writing Batman for ages, right? And people - fans and critics - like it? I haven't read his run but I know his style. So maybe Adams read Morrison's Batman and figured that's how Batman is now? So he wrote it all weird-like
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:29 AM on March 20, 2011


I'm the goddamn post-modern Batman.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:30 AM on March 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


what
posted by anigbrowl at 3:31 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: There's time for talk... and there's time to grab the family jewels, shut up and... WHOA... ride the wind.
posted by Chichibio at 3:41 AM on March 20, 2011


That Riddler puzzle is even more oblique than the ones on 3-2-1 used to be... something I'd not have thought possible
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:49 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what's so great about this MetaFilter. Yesterday, I had no idea that this mini existed. Today, thanks to that EPICALLY hilarious Comics Alliance link, I know that the story so far--if one can call it a story--makes no sense, and will likely continue to make no sense for the next six issues, right up to the final panel, which will also make no sense.

And now I can't fucking wait for the next issue.

David: And then we flash back to the museum where Batman is pretending to be badly wounded, and we get the best narration ever as two thugs talks about shooting Batman in the face.

Laura: While Batman also talks about them shooting him in the face. From the future. I honestly think this is a fair paraphrase of their conversation:

Batman: Then they decided to shoot me the face.
Alfred: Shoot you in the face?
Batman: Shoot me in the face.
Thug #1: You should shoot Batman in the face!
Thug #2: I'll shoot him, but... in the face?
Thug #1: Shoot him in the face!
Batman: Then he shot me in the face.
Thug #2: I'm shooting him in the face!

And then he shoots him in the face.


Thanks, MetaFilter! Don't forget to fight for control of your fictional reality!
posted by tzikeh at 4:19 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is so insane that I'd like to make a set of 30-second videos of each scene (the shorter ones, anyway). It wouldn't matter what order, since none of the story makes sense anyway.
posted by nonspecialist at 4:45 AM on March 20, 2011


I'm trying to imagine what Mike Carlin's role as editor of this title has entailed. Would love to hear some of the conversations between him and Adams.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:24 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I'll wait for the Broadway musical of the movie version of the remake of the first movie version of this.
posted by sammyo at 5:39 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's worth it, just for the art.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This couldn't be that much worse than the Morrisson Batman of Zur-En-Arr thing....

*checks link*

Oh. Oh, maybe it can.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:34 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I resolve to use the phrase "I don't give a hydroelectric dam!" at least once daily.
posted by anthom at 6:52 AM on March 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just wish he would learn to draw a different mouth after all these years.... 0
posted by Thorzdad at 7:31 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my best friends is a comics guy, and he posted that Comics Alliance link a while back. It's amusing to read and go "yeah, freaky comics shit", but then I think "this and the fucking Wonder Woman reboot are the reasons why I'm not restarting my pull" and it's not so funny. I think I'll go rent a season of Batman: TAS from Netflix instead.
posted by immlass at 7:49 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I'll go rent a season of Batman: TAS from Netflix instead.

This is pretty much my solution to everything.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:02 AM on March 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


I will endorse this if only because of this image. Even at age six, that panel made my jaw drop when I bought that issue.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:02 AM on March 20, 2011


Hey, Morrison's Batman is awesome, don't be dragging him into this.
posted by Artw at 8:09 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


This doesn't really seem fun to read...
posted by butterstick at 8:33 AM on March 20, 2011


I missed the expanding earth thread the first time around, so I started with that, then moved on to this comic review.

Combining the two, it would not surprise me in the least to learn about some mental illness. Normal, stable people are not this confused and incoherent.
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on March 20, 2011


Hmm, well. Now that makes me wonder, I'm sure some MeFite should know something about this, I have no clue. If he has some sort of mental illness, wouldn't the drawing show it too? What's the relation between verbal/narrative skills and motor/drawing ones in the common varieties of those illnesses? (I keep thinking about that artist guy with the cats that were turning progressively freakier as he developed a mental illness.)

But yes, might need to track this down and read the whole 6 issues, but this work made me feel uncomfortable (even with the awesome WTF phrases like the dam one) and worried about what is going on in Adams' mind right now.
posted by Iosephus at 8:58 AM on March 20, 2011


Can you imagine if someone were to ask Adams about his writing process, and he was all "Oh, Batman tells me all of this."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHH *dead*
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2011


I would buy KENNY POWERS: AQUAMAN every month.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hasn't there been a pretty clear progression of regarding Batman as increasingly mentally ill, starting with the post-Adam West years?

Seems like this just tries to portray him as an actual schizophrenic as opposed to a borderline psychopath.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:14 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


If he has some sort of mental illness, wouldn't the drawing show it too?

Seriously? Have you really looked at a Neal Adams drawing? Even the characters in his commercial, non-comic work share the same, somewhat spastic, somewhat manic, about-to-come-unhinged expressions. There's no in-between for him...His characters are either stoic or manic.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Numbed to vibrating oblivion, Batman is jacked around like a puppet."

I refuse to acknowledge that this sentence was ever written.

Now, please go away. All of you.
posted by steambadger at 9:20 AM on March 20, 2011


To be fair a lot of his famous collaborations with Denny O'Neil are fairly goofy if you reread them now as well - they were probably pushing what you could do with the 1970s comics readership to the limit, but it was still in 1970s comics style. Here I think maybe Adams is pushing for some kind of dark, complicated pshychothriller, with all the tricks the hip new kids who turned up in the 80s employed, but he's rooted in the 70's and no O'Neill to boot and it turns out pretty awful and crazy seeming... that or he really is nuts.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on March 20, 2011


It really does read like a Chick tract. Maybe it will turn out to be one.
posted by hermitosis at 9:23 AM on March 20, 2011


Also I bet it's still better than the time Kevin Smith made Batman wet his pants.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I keep thinking about that artist guy with the cats that were turning progressively freakier as he developed a mental illness.)

I'd love a link for this.
posted by DU at 9:29 AM on March 20, 2011




nm, found it.
posted by DU at 9:31 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


but then I think "this and the fucking Wonder Woman reboot are the reasons why I'm not restarting my pull" and it's not so funny.

Well, you could just read better comics, you know.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on March 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would like to put forth the notion that Neal Adams is just a really, really bad writer. If you (a) could not write very well, and (b) set out to do something that even people who can write really well do not always manage successfully (I love Morrison at his best, but his Batman run has been hit-and-miss for me, perhaps in part because I can't remember metatextual clues from a comic I read a year and a half ago, or never read at all because DC hasn't seen fit to put that one in a book yet, or...whatever), you could end up with that book.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:37 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


That is basically where I was going with it.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on March 20, 2011


Also in the Batman corner of the DC Universe, Paul Cornells awesome Knight and Squire just concluded. For those not following it, it's basically the British Batman and Robin knockoff that Morrison introduced or reintroduced along with the Club of Heroes, who Cornell takes and spins out his own little hyper-British comics world from. And the last two episodes are amazing, as well as suddenly very chilling and tragic. I loved the hell out of that book. For comics reading that is actually good I suggets picking up the trade when it's out.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on March 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


what
posted by anigbrowl


I have dreams like that all the time.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2011


I couldn't fit it into the original post but it's delightful to see a short Batman: Hobo piece inspired by the Comics Alliance post. And, if you're willing to watch through some of Neal Adams' commercial work, you can see a 3D animation of Nude Bruce.
posted by jaybeans at 10:09 AM on March 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Heh. Bryan Talbot did a Legends of the Dark Knight like that.
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on March 20, 2011


Well, you could just read better comics, you know.

They could also just make better comics featuring characters I want to read. I know, I'm demanding. (Also not willing to go to the effort of hunting down indie comics on a regular basis without some staples in my pull.)
posted by immlass at 10:17 AM on March 20, 2011


But sometimes and this is really weird but sometimes you can read a comic book that doesn't star some character you've been familiar with your entire life and what's really amazing about it is that the unfamiliarity means that the story can be totally different from anything you've ever seen before at least inasmuch as that's possible and all you know and you're all like, "wow, that's really amazing, I never thought of ______ like that before" and the comic is all yes well cool would you be interested in reading other things that might lend you a new perspective on ______?" and you are like "well kind of if they're good you know yes" and the comic is all, "Okay well here is a revamp of something that first debuted fifty years ago but it is totally gritty now and sweet and not for kids it's so mature you can't believe it" and you're like "um" and it says "also wolverine is in it" and you say "but I wanted something new!" and it says, "Oh well there were new comics but everyone's buying this Wolverine thing so all the new comics actually grew tumorous growths and died screaming" and you're like "OMG" and it's like "ha no not really but actually yes, those comics are all no longer existing, why don't you buy this goddamn Wolverine thing now please, BUY IT NOW YOU LIKE IT DON'T MAKE ME TELL YOU AGAIN."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Now I weep..for comics.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on March 20, 2011


I would like to put forth the notion that Neal Adams is just a really, really bad writer.

What?

This is brilliant writing. What's the villian's name? MANIACO? And what do we see thus far? Batman losing his mind. Third-person omniscient contradicting third-person not-so-omniscient. He's playing with the story-telling medium. This is simply an extremely elaborate set-up, one of the best you-are-there moments of sitting inside a crazy-person's head that I've ever seen put to print. I might actually have to go against my comic embargo and pick up this series.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd also like to add that you are denigrating the name of the man who was directly responsible for getting Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster the credit (and money) they deserved after, like, decades of getting dicked over by D.C. Neal Adams even got Jack Kirby his original artwork back from Marvel.

The dude's righteousness is legendary.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's as if Neal Adams sat down to write an adaptation of that 60s Batman porn parody, decided it needed the narrative complexity of Synecdoche, New York, and then took peyote.

He's basically written the comic book equivalent of Finnegans Wake.

Except it makes much less sense.
posted by fryman at 11:21 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's entirely possible for greats to be struck down by the braineater, that's why it's the braineater. Likewise it's entirely possible for greats to turn out to be crap when leveraging their greatness to work out of the field they are known in (often but not always under braineater influence).
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2011


I think Neal Adams might just be a pseudonym for Jeff Lint.
posted by dng at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2011


This makes me long for clarity that is the Super Dictionary from 1978.

A huge whale took Wonder Woman's shoes.
A very big whale took her shoes.

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:27 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


His Bruce Wayne seems ...uncomfortably porny.
posted by The Whelk at 11:28 AM on March 20, 2011


His Bruce Wayne seems ...uncomfortably porny.

You don't say.
posted by fryman at 11:33 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]



I'd also like to add that you are denigrating the name of the man who was directly responsible for getting Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster the credit (and money) they deserved after, like, decades of getting dicked over by D.C. Neal Adams even got Jack Kirby his original artwork back from Marvel.


Who did you get that from? Neal Adams?

Neal was, in fact, an early advocate of artist's rights in comics, and left the field for several years in part because his attempt at forming an artist's guild failed (and in part because he was making tall coin with his commercial work). He did lobby Marvel (successfully) to return his art without having to sign the form that irrevocably gave away the artist's right to sue for rights to characters that they co-created--the sticking point for Jack Kirby--and that may have encouraged Marvel to extend the same rights for Kirby, but there were a lot of other people that fought that fight too, most notably the Comics Journal. And there's no citation in his Wikipedia article for the claim that he "led" the effort to get Siegel and Schuster some of their rights and money for Superman; again, lots of other people had their hand in that.

I'm not saying that this is a pattern of Adams' or anything, but I've noticed in other articles that he's kind of bragged up his contributions to comics above and beyond his legitimate credentials, which include the great number of artists who were strongly influenced by his work (Byrne, Aparo, Sienkiewicz, Grell, etc.). For example, I've seen one article where he claimed to have "saved" the X-Men, when in fact his run ended in the series' temporary cancellation (the numbering continued, but they were reprints until Len Wein and Dave Cockrum rebooted the series). There's a bit of grandiosity there which seems of a piece with his woo-woo geoscience obsession, and this thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2011


"Eventually, all great comic artists go completely bugfuck insane."

Is this true? I haven't ever been all that interested by Batman, but I was fascinated by Terry Zweigoff's film Crumb. While it's ostensibly about Robert Crumb, it gives a very peculiar glimpse into the life of his brother Charles. The feeling of madness coursing through that family is palpable, and what's fascinating is that a) Charles' madness and eventual destruction seems inevitable due to his obsession with drawing lines, and b) Robert doesn't meet the same fate.

Is there something about working in comics that enhances people's natural lunacy, or is it just another shot from the Texas Sharpshooter into a group of highly creative people in high-pressure jobs? Or that raw craziness sells books?
posted by sneebler at 1:35 PM on March 20, 2011


It's certainly true that many, many people were involved in the campaign to win justice for Siegel & Shuster, but it would be churlish to deny that Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson played a very prominent role. Adams was not only an early champion of creators' rights in comics (as you say), but also the industry's hottest artist at that time, and that's what gave his views the clout to matter.

But don't take my word for it....

"Two comics pros, Jerry Robinson and Neal Adams made drawing attention to the plight of Siegel and Shuster a crusade," - The Comics Journal, November 2004.

"[Siegel's] cry for help found him two allies who sprang immediately into action - Jerry Robinson and Neal Adams," - The Comics Journal, February 1996.

"Neal Adams rousted the comic book community. He packed significant clout at National Periodicals [...] When Adams called on his fans and peers to push National to do what was right, the executives felt the pressure." - Gerard Jones, Men of Tomorrow.

I don't think Adams would claim to have played an equally central role in the Kirby fight, but here too, The Comics Journal gives him some credit.

In its Jack Kirby library edition, the Journal quotes Adams remarks encouraging no-one to sign Marvel's coercive form, lists his name among those who signed the magazine's own petition backing Kirby, and adds: "Several promient comics professionals, including Adams, Frank Miller and Garry Trudeau spoke out on behalf of Kirby."

Odyssey is a bizarre and crappy comic book, yes, and I think Kittens for Breakfast (above) has nailed the reason for that. Adams has always been on the side of the angels where creators' rights are concerned, though, and we should be graceful enough to acknowledge that.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:52 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


A hobo Batman would be pretty much Rorschach.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:18 PM on March 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the information, Paul Slade. I'll just note that while Jerry Robinson's Wikipedia page mentions Adams' role in helping Siegel and Shuster, the opposite isn't true.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:19 PM on March 20, 2011


The title makes me think; Is he somehow reinterpreting James Joyce's Ulysses into Batman form? I have not read Ulysses very far, but the shared incomprehensibility makes me consider.
posted by solarion at 2:23 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was about to post the same thing.
Comics are always weird. Sometimes it's self-concious, like Morrison or Moore. Sometimes its Silver Age WTFery
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:40 PM on March 20, 2011


God. I've flicked through them from time to time and I think I can safely assert that neither of the two main Batman books (there are, what, twelve of them now?) have been good since Peter Milligan wrote a bunch in the early 90s.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:57 PM on March 20, 2011


Laura: Then he says this: "They are still POIGNANTLY DANGEROUS."

David: I don't know what that means.

Laura: Nobody does!


This has stayed with me. I'm trying to imagine things that are "poignantly dangerous".

Reuben Blades is on the list.
posted by CCBC at 3:15 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


And thank you, Halloween Jack, for your kind reply. I'm not quite sure what your Wikipedia discrepancy is supposed to prove, however, because who says Adams or Robinson had anything to do with writing their respective entries anyway? Doesn't this simply demonstrate that any publication with as many writers and editors as Wikipedia will have wide variations in the styles and wording of different entries?

Just for the record, here's the two relevant paragraphs:

From Wikipedia’s Neal Adams page:
“During the 1970s, Adams was politically active in the industry, and attempted to unionize its creative community. His efforts, along with precedents set by Atlas/Seaboard Comics' creator-friendly policies and other factors, helped lead to the modern industry's standard practice of returning original artwork to the artist, who can earn additional income from art sales to collectors. He won his battle in 1987, when Marvel returned original artwork to him and industry legend Jack Kirby, among others. Adams notably and vocally helped lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving decades-overdue credit and some financial remuneration from DC.”

This, you will note, says that Adams "helped lead" the campaign for Siegel and Shuster, not that he led it single-handed. And there's actually two sources cited for this paragraph, both of which come from more issues of The Comics Journal.

From Wikipedia’s Jerry Robinson page:
“During the mid-1970s, Robinson was a crucial supporter of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their long struggle with DC Comics to win full recognition and compensation as the creators of Superman. With comics artist and rights advocate Neal Adams, Robinson organized key support around Siegel and Shuster, to whom DC, in December 1975, granted lifetime stipends and a credit in all broadcast and published Superman works.”

Arguably, whoever wrote that Robinson entry was a little more careful, well-informed or courteous than whoever wrote the Adams one, but I don't know what conclusions it's possible to draw from that. At least they both spelt Shuster's name right, though.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2011


Odyssey is a bizarre and crappy comic book, yes, and I think Kittens for Breakfast (above) has nailed the reason for that. Adams has always been on the side of the angels where creators' rights are concerned, though, and we should be graceful enough to acknowledge that.

I, for one, highly respect his stance on creator rights and his art from the 60s and 70s. But I think while he deserves a great deal of admiration and accolades, it's also fair to say that he can produce a really horrid book such as Batman: Odyssey or Skateman.
posted by jaybeans at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2011


This has stayed with me. I'm trying to imagine things that are "poignantly dangerous".

a glacier
Jerry Cornelius
one of those sad, existential assassins you see in the more badass art films and artsier action films (Leon, The American, etc)
the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus
a very heavy rainstorm
Ice Nine
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


A fiddle made out of radiation would also be poignantly dangerous.

And yeah, wow, this is really kind of a mess. Kudos to Laura and David for taking one for the team. Like Valis, I'd much rather read about this than actually read it.

NOTE: I attempted to read Valis when I was young and foolish.
posted by Mister_A at 5:39 PM on March 20, 2011


I'll pick it up when it makes it to trade paperback, I'm a sucker for anything with a naked person telling a story about the time he told a story.

I wonder if he can somehow sneak in Batman reading a comic.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:30 PM on March 20, 2011


VALID is what kicked off my interest in the T-34 tank.
posted by Artw at 6:45 PM on March 20, 2011


Well issues 7 and 8 have been resolicited.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:30 PM on March 20, 2011


"He's basically written the comic book equivalent of Finnegans Wake.

Except it makes much less sense."


+

"It's as if Neal Adams sat down to write an adaptation of that 60s Batman porn parody, decided it needed the narrative complexity of Synecdoche, New York, and then took peyote"

Add a dash of Dhalgren to that, and I think we've got it pitch perfect.
posted by kkokkodalk at 4:20 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. Love Delaney though I do Dhalgren is my VALIS.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on March 21, 2011




Thank you so much for the comicsalliance link.
I laughed so hard I cried.
posted by Catch at 10:49 PM on March 21, 2011




« Older River Transit Maps   |   Bork bork bork. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post