Funnybook Babylon

February 2, 2009

FBBP #89 – Final Audio Crisis

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 11:36 pm

Joining us for our final Final Crisis podcast is resident Annotation Ace David Uzumeri, broadcasting himself across nations on THE UNTERNET!

The Toronto Connection

Everyone gets their last licks in on DC’s big “Giving Grant Morrison the Keys to the Summer Event” comic, and while opinions are mixed, we avoid the death threats and boycotts you may see in other parts of the blogosphere.

We’ll see everyone at the New York Comic Con this weekend! Please do not throw shoes.


  1. I can’t pretend to have any coherent judgment of or position on FC, except that I applaud the experiment, successful or not. However, Jamal’s mention of modernism does touch on something that has been bugging me about the series’ strengths and weaknesses.

    Though I think the pop-realism of the last decade or so has produced some amazing work (The Wire, the sci-fi realism of BSG), I’m feeling exhausted with its dominance. Frankly, I think the popularity of this sort of realism has much to do with DC’s waning market share–Batman and Watchmen can exist in such a world, but the DCU in general just isn’t amenable to it.

    So it has been a relief to see Morrison trying to overcome this realism. Opera comics?! I’d love to see it. I don’t feel like that’s what we got, though: FC struck me as more modernist than anything. Trying to devise a perspective for the reader that imitates that of a participant in the story, to blow the hinges off of third-person narration? Only one instance of the comics-modernism at work in FC.

    I guess I’d love to see pop-realism displaced, to see the market shift. But the knowing self-reflexivity of modernism bores me even more than realism. Furthermore, meta-narratives nearly always strike me as cheap: its just easier to tell a story about advancing storytelling than it is to actually advance storytelling.

    All provisional thoughts, though. Will do the complete re-read in order and see how it looks then. (Just completed a dissertation on the relationship of realism-modernism, so please forgive me my niche reading!)

    Comment by nick — February 3, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  2. […] TO ADD: 2 More essential bits – Funnybook Babylon’s Crisis podcast and Marc Singer’s piece, which is also his farewell to comics blogging. I’m going to […]

    Pingback by Final Crisis postmortem linkfest « supervillain — February 3, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  3. Great podcast, guys. Brilliant to have Dave’s input, also.

    Jamaal, your concerns regarding a lack of characters to identify with mesh with my own. I thought, when the series started out, that Turpin would be the gateway character – that idea was quickly nixed; I was then convinced that Nix Uotan’s love story would become front and centre; It never did, except perhaps conceptually.

    The inclusion of a central character arc would have helped sell the story emotionally, for sure, but looking at the completed series I’m unsurprised that Morrison didn’t go that route because it seems to me that Morrison was *experimenting* with the idea of a universe as the central character. It’s as if we weren’t so much looking at a plot as the existential experience of the DCU.

    I need to stop writing about this here, and get writing about it in my own post.

    Comment by Zom — February 4, 2009 @ 7:19 am

  4. Nick, I appreciate that you’re probably fed up with the subject, but don’t you think that rejecting modernism because much of it possesses a necessarily (sometimes purposefully) reflexive component is a little wrongheaded? Modernist fiction has a lot more going for it than mere reflexivism (is that a word?), after all.

    Personally, and in my very non-expert opinion, if one were to apply labels, I think FC is better described as deconstructionist.

    Comment by Zom — February 4, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  5. Zom: I think its a fine line between self-reflexivity and solipsism. I’m tempted to say more, but I’d end up on a tangent.

    As for Morrison as deconstruction, in my reading and experience, deconstruction is nearly always accompanied by a radical epistemological skepticism that doesn’t seem relevant to FC. Morrison’s interest in the ontology of comics–the “is” of the superhero character–sets him apart from most intellectual trends (a point I was reminded of when I happened to read his new interview at IGN after my first post ).

    Comment by nick — February 4, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  6. “I think its a fine line between self-reflexivity and solipsism.”

    Maybe, but I think you’re overstating the importance of self-reflexivity to modernist fiction, and underplaying the form’s strengths.

    I’m thinking the white void might represent a radical epistimological skepticism. Only “might”, mind you.

    Comment by Zom — February 4, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  7. Holy shit, is that where you record your podcasts? We kind of aim for a lo-fi feel with ours, but, you know, literally, apparently…

    Comment by bobsy — February 4, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  8. I was “recommended” here by my Google Reader and you guys actually have a very interesting podcast on FC. Will be checking it out regularly, along with the site, which I can see has some great in-depth reviews. Congrats!

    Comment by pcastelar — February 4, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  9. Zom: In trying to be brief, I’m afraid I have sacrificed clarity. Since we both seem interested, I guess I’ll indulge my tired mind…

    Please do note that in my original post I made a passing reference to self-reflexivity while spending more time on the re-invention of perspective as the indicator of Morrison’s modernist leanings (in the modernist novel, we see an analogue of this toying with perspective in “focalization” or “stream of consciousness”). Meta-narrative isn’t especially modernist, though, and I used the term self-reflexivity just loosely designate a nucleus of elements common to the Anglophone modernist novel and Morrison’s work. Let me unpack my short hand by tracing a few more connection between modernism and Morrison: most obviously, there is his desire to challenge that threshold of intelligibility which determines what is possible within a narrative; his philosophical idealism with its privileging of the sign over the referent, mind over matter; I believe (though I haven’t an instance off the top of my head) that I have also seen him display a rather modernist nominalism.

    To follow Jamaal’s mention of her in the podcast, I think all of these typically modernist qualities are on display in Virginia Woolf’s “The Mark On The Wall”; they are also on display in Morrison’s description of his work over at IGN. Maybe he is something of a skeptic, too, (as I said, my reading of FC is really provisional, though I am inclined to see him more as the great believer of comicdom).

    Comment by nick — February 4, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  10. The Bulleteer’s Legion flight ring is in her clitoris.

    Comment by adam aaron — February 4, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

  11. Thanks for the clarification, Nick. My concern was simply that you were rejecting an entire approach to fiction, which I can’t help but feel is a little wrongheaded, although YMMV obviously.

    In reference to deconstructionism and epistemological skepticism, I think it would be worth noting that Buddhism is a popular religion amongst advocates of deconstructionist theories and methodologies. Very roughly, and as I understand it, the idea here (and I apologise if I’m teaching you to suck eggs) is that the the white void isn’t so much a negation, or endless falling away, but that it is in some profound and strange sense generative.

    I’m not suggesting that Morrison is signed up to either agenda, just that FC, and some of his other work, veers towards this kind of territory.

    Comment by Zom — February 5, 2009 @ 6:48 am

  12. I wonder whether Morrison’s interviews have ultimately done more harm than good. In those interviews, he unveils the depths of his imagination and vision for the series, and the hype often didn’t match the product.

    Furthermore, Morrison in his interviews shows some tension of contradiction. One moment, he states that he’s writing for the Wiki and annotations-obsessed crowd. Then, in the text itself according to David, he’s inviting the reader to let that minutiae go because it’s not relevant to his message about the power of storytelling.

    Hypothetically, if the listed author had been Doselle Young instead of Grant Morrison, Final Crisis would have been ripped unequivocally to shreds. Morrison may have earned goodwill and the benefit of the doubt from the audience, but at what point does goodwill and benefit of the doubt cloud reactions to legitimate criticism of a work? I’m not claiming that I’ve witnessed it here, but defenders of Final Crisis elsewhere seem to dismiss criticism of Final Crisis automatically as anti-intellectual and anti-elitist.

    As pointed out in the podcast, I had difficulty creating an emotional connection to the story, which to me is the core reason for telling stories. I can respect the theme of the power of stories and the worship of Superman as the wellspring of superhero stories, and I can even respect Morrison’s call for a renewal of wonder, grand imagination, and “fun” in comics. But Morrison’s done it better elsewhere, and if his fellow writers didn’t listen when he made similar pitches in Doom Patrol, Flex Mentallo, JLA, DC One Million, or Seven Soldiers, why would he think that they’ll pay heed this time in Final Crisis? Is the Anti-Life Equation based on Morrison’s own disappointment at his fellow writers for not following his lead?

    Comment by Brian — February 5, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  13. Hypothetically, if the listed author had been Doselle Young instead of Grant Morrison, Final Crisis would have been ripped unequivocally to shreds.

    Not by me! I feel really sorry for Doe Young, who did one action-packed, high-concept-up-the-ass, fuckin’ smart SH comic and was – apparently – utterly disowned.

    Comment by Duncan — February 9, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  14. It doesn’t seem like Morrison was really writing exclusively FOR the wiki crowd but rather that was an extra treat. It felt more like a reaction towards people who react negatively when a character they’re not personally familiar with shows up at all in any sort of superhero comic. If a guy you’re not familiar with shows up in, say, a movie, you don’t suddenly just pop it out of the player, you trust that it will be explained exactly who this person is. I guess that same trust is often not extended to superhero writers, which is sometimes fair, since often characters are slotted in without much rhyme or reason, never explained, just there to show that so and so read some comics from the 70s.

    Comment by Lugh — May 1, 2009 @ 11:05 am

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