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February 11, 2014 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Ng Suat Tong presents the best online comics criticism of 2013. Particularly recommended (by me): who white washes the Watchmen.
posted by MartinWisse (23 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, the Watchmen piece is blowing me away. I knew Before Watchmen was a cluster from start to finish, but I had no idea Darwyn Cooke gave himself so much extra tarnish. Huh.
posted by COBRA! at 12:32 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I'm pleased to see my friend Hillary Chute's piece listed, "Secret Labor: Sketching the connection between poetry and comics".
posted by jjwiseman at 1:07 PM on February 11


Seconding the Watchmen piece. I don't read a lot of comics but I really liked Watchmen. That article helped point out why.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:07 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Thirding the Watchmen piece, and especially Part 2.
posted by cjelli at 1:17 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


From the Watchmen piece:

"Silhouette/Ursula Zandt is the lesbian in the group...what we saw of her suggests she is the opposite of conventional. As drawn by Gibbons, she has a sharp, angular face, an androgynous haircut, wears a kinky black leotard and smokes a phallic cigarette. That her only line in the book is a sarcastic jibe about Sally’s Polish heritage suggests that she wasn’t meant to conform to any “nice girl” stereotype....

[Cooke] refashions her into a romantic martyr and erotic fetish for straight men. He claimed without a hint of irony in the interview: “[P]eople are really going to dig her” (Truitt par.13). As drawn by Cooke, Ursula has become a petite, chicly dressed and conventionally attractive young woman, and her main function in the book is to serve as the 'conscience' of Minutemen and an object of unrequited love for the straight male narrator, Hollis Mason."


Ahem.

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? SERIOUSLY, COOKE, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?

Did that seriously happen?

Of course it did.

-sigh-

There are days when you just want to hit a man in the face with a trout. There just are.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 1:37 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


[reads further in article] Oh, and it gets worse, I see.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 1:41 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Without disputing many of her criticisms, I think she's trying a little to hard to make the story align with her interpretation. Case in point: Silk Spectre as a stand-in for Wonder Woman. Well, hurm! The Silk Spectre was clearly derived from the Phantom Lady (one of the Quality characters that DC acquired), while Laurie is a take on the Black Canary. The mother-daughter story is really most like DC's notion, contemporaneous with Watchmen, that Black Canary is the literal daughter of the original Canary, trained to follow in her footsteps.

That said, I'm glad I never read Before Watchmen. Even what little I see here of it disappoints me.
posted by SPrintF at 1:43 PM on February 11


[reads further in article] Oh, and it gets worse, I see.

Just wait until you get to the panel-by-panel recreations in Part 2, which, really, I can't believe anyone ever thought were a good idea -- DC clearly knew about it, given that they're described as "fun easter eggs...cleverly hidden little winks, nods and homages."
posted by cjelli at 1:45 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Great bit on Before Watchmen so far (just finished part 1). I read them recently and was just more and more unhappy. The Comedian and Ozymandias in particular seemed written by fanboys who missed the point of the characters and decided to retcon and rules-lawyer their established cannon until they got to be the best badasses all along.
posted by postcommunism at 1:54 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I think she's trying a little to hard to make the story align with her interpretation.

You can't fight here, this is the war room.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:58 PM on February 11


> Just wait until you get to the panel-by-panel recreations in Part 2

holy shit, that juxtaposition. who the fuck was thinking what.

And DC highlighted that on their website?
posted by postcommunism at 2:05 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I knew before Watchmen was awful, but that weird little remake really tips it over into "truly loathsome" territory. What the hell were they thinking?
posted by whir at 2:32 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


By the way, thanks for the links, looks like a lot of good reading in there, though I'm unfamiliar with a fair few of the works being discussed in the articles. Anyone know whether Sarah Horrocks is any relation to the kiwi cartoonist and comics critic Dylan Horrocks?
posted by whir at 2:41 PM on February 11


Ha, that Watchmen article was an awesome Borges pastiche. It had me going up until the point where the fictional author retcons Sally's rape. Sorry guys, disbelief un-suspended.
posted by PMdixon at 3:18 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


that Watchmen article was an awesome Borges pastiche

I want to believe.
posted by Slothrup at 4:11 PM on February 11


While the Before Watchmen takedown is pleasant (because the source material seems truly awful and deserving), I actually would recommend that folks look through some of the other linked pieces, too. I was intrigued by the Gaiman criticism. I recently re-read Sandman, and while I do still enjoy and value the series overall, it is hard to read the works and not interweave Gaiman's own autobiography into the story itself (particularly his divorce and subsequent marriage to Amanda Palmer).

The most interesting piece I found was Eddie Campbell's counter-criticism of the comic critics being listed. Campbell is quite a lucid thinker and essayist himself, so it is a fine read.

MartinWisse, I love that you bring so much comic content to MeFi. Please keep doing so!
posted by Slothrop at 4:47 PM on February 11


It's been ages since I read Watchman - but I remember Hooded Justice being a very sympathetic character who was forced to hide - even from the other costumed vigilantes- due to homophobia. And that when the vigilante laws came out, he just disappeared. Am I forgetting the violent bits? (I don't remember Nelson at all, and just a bit of Ursula - they were very minor characters. And the gay couple in the restaurant passed me right by - maybe as they were supposed to).
posted by jb at 9:54 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Yes - and I remember Hooded Justice being protective of Sally.
posted by jb at 9:56 AM on February 12


Yeah seriously. That comic as described sounds like the first step in a free energy machine. Step 2 is to buy a casket lined in iron wire and a suit lined in rare earth magnets. Step 3 is to kill Alan Moore.
posted by PMdixon at 10:45 AM on February 12


After reading that I needed the catharsis of laughing at the idea of a Watchmen video game again.
posted by straight at 11:03 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


the catharsis of laughing at the idea of a Watchmen video game again.

If only.
posted by cjelli at 2:10 PM on February 12


"You have to convince Dr. Manhattan that humanity is worth saving! Jiggle the Wiimote!"
posted by straight at 4:18 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Wow. Before Watchmen is even worse than I imagined.
posted by homunculus at 9:18 PM on February 12


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