Monday, May 23, 2016

DC Stokes Their Vast and Terrible Engine of Hate

I've had this theory for a while now. It sounds kind of crazy, I know, but it's really kind of the only explanation for certain business moves that DC (and its parent company Warner Brothers) makes. My theory is that they have some sort of mystical engine hidden away in the basement of the DC offices, a vast and terrible engine performing some sort of arcane function that is absolutely vital to the company. And this engine is fueled entirely by Alan Moore's fury. So every once in a while, DC has to just go out and do something for the sole purpose of infuriating Alan Moore.

That's really the only explanation I can come up with for this. There's certainly no creative reason for it; nothing Johns is saying makes a lick of sense as a plausible piece of story logic. This quote: “If you’re going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, you need to have someone who represents a cynical view of life and also has the ability to affect this," said Johns. "I know it’s crazy but he felt like the right character to use," highlights the fact that Johns apparently either didn't read or didn't understand a comic that was all about Doctor Manhattan rediscovering the tiny miracles that are all around us and setting out to do something wondrous and transcendent instead of being imprisoned by cynicism and despair. (Well, insofar as 'Watchmen' was "all about" any particular thing, because it really did have a multiplicity of ideas, but certainly that's what Doctor Manhattan's arc was about.)

And it's not a sensible business decision, either. Setting aside the plan to once again urinate on the smoldering ashes of your relationship with the man who penned all the best sellers in your back catalog, it's not as if the world is really clamoring for more 'Watchmen' written by people who aren't Alan Moore. If 'Before Watchmen' settled one thing, it was that. Nobody is interested in 'Watchmen' for the characters, they are interested in 'Watchmen' for the writing, which is the one thing that DC has, largely through their own actions, placed entirely and permanently beyond their reach.

(Perhaps that's actually part of the problem--DC, like Marvel, is predicated upon the notion that creators are valuable but ultimately interchangeable, and that the true value is in finding intellectual properties that they can continue to sell no matter who is behind the metaphorical camera. Having a series like 'Watchmen' that they cannot exploit in any meaningful sense without respecting Alan Moore's talent and autonomy is like a poison pill for them.)

Honestly, given Johns' tone in the interview, the decision seems to be entirely motivated by petty spite. It's as if Johns is saying, "Hey, comics aren't fun at all, they're joyless and despondent and filled with unlikable anti-heroes! Who could possibly be responsible for that? Well, I told everyone back in 2005 that it was all Marv Wolfman's fault, and yet somehow things still haven't gotten any better in the ensuing eleven years? I know! I'll write a comic that blames Alan Moore!" And meanwhile, the guy who's been working at DC for the last sixteen years and who's been their Chief Creative Officer for the last six somehow skates. (Who could that gentleman be? I wonder...)

Honestly, I really hope that engine is doing something useful. Because I've pretty much given up on any hope of getting good comics out of the whole deal.


Jim S said...

Well that is Johns. Rip off older work. Alan Moore in one story in 1984 mentions a vague future incident in which "the greatest Green Lantern" destroys the corps and it becomes the basis for his run.

And Johns is a poor camper. He does not leave the place better than he found it. The multi colored corps plot trapped Green Lantern. It is all about that and is ultimately limiting. Johns is big on one thing being responsible for everything. So Lex is responsible for all of Metropilis' evils. Barry Allen is responsible for the entire reboot. If it didn't happen in 1985, it did't happen.

Eric Teall said...

John and Jim S: Well said, both of you. How they think that Johns is the answer to their problems when he's authored so many of them is beyond me.

Plus, haven't we been promised a "return to optimism" by DC at least once or twice since Identity Crisis?

Tony Laplume said...

Dr. Manhattan's story, ultimately, was about cynicism. He decides it isn't worth interfering in human affairs. How is that not cynical? He seems to use Laurie's experiences as an example, and while he ultimately views that as a positive, he refuses to intercede in Ozymandias's plans, and thus allows Rorschach to be sacrificed. The cynic in the reader will assume he does this because he knows Rorschach's journal will undo everything Ozymandias attempted to accomplish, but it's highly unlikely the public would care one way or another what really happened (as with every conspiracy theory ever), so the journal is pointless (except, perhaps, as a way to explain why we were reading it the whole time). The point, I think, of his interactions with Laurie is to justify his decision in the opposite direction, because he thinks it illustrates his point, that good will come from evil regardless of what he does. That's cynical reasoning. The good that comes from what Ozymandias did is exactly what Ozymandias thought all along. Dr. Manhattan sides with Ozymandias, as a cynic. But we all know peace doesn't work the way Ozymandias thought it did. So the reader should side with Rorschach, with Laurie, with Nite Owl. And yes, with the Comedian. That's the perspective you were thinking of, maybe...

John Seavey said...

I think that's kind of a limited reading of the series. He doesn't refuse to intercede in Ozymandias' plans any more than anyone else does, and for pretty much the same reasons--by the time he realizes what's going on, thanks to the tachyon generator blanking out his precognition, everyone in New York is already dead and he can't do anything about it. He makes the same decision most of the other characters make, which is that revealing Veidt's plan post facto would do nothing except push the world into nuclear war. His murder of Rorshach is brutally pragmatic, but it's not cynical at all because it presumes there's value to be had in not having the human race wiped out by an atomic firestorm.

As to whether the reader should side with Rorshach, that ignores one thing: Rorshach is a lunatic. I mean, in some ways he's the comic relief of the story--his "investigation" is nothing but crackpot conspiracy theory nutbaggery of the highest order, he initially focuses on Veidt because he thinks Veidt might be gay (which makes Snyder's film version almost unintentionally hilarious as he makes Veidt both more evil and more metrosexual), and the punchline is that just this once he actually happens to be right, but nobody will ever believe him because he delivered his journal to a tabloid that makes the Weekly World News downright respectable. He's in no way meant to represent a rational counterpoint to Veidt's vision; instead, they're the twin extremes that need to be avoided.

Which is what Manhattan ultimately does. Having decided that doing nothing is the most productive thing--inaction not through despair or cynicism but as an alternative to action for its own sake--he decides to try to start again. The finale ("I think I'm going to create some") is an act of pure optimism, a belief that he can make something good and pure and wonderful in this universe. A cynic would be incapable of that act.

No, the Watchmen are cynics because metatextually, 'Watchmen' introduced cynicism into Geoff Johns' conception of comics. And he's never forgiven Moore for that, any more than he was able to forgive Marv Wolfman for 'Crisis'. (In the exact same way that the Watchmen are apparently getting an inexplicable personality makeover for this series, Superboy and Alex Luthor and the Golden Age Superman of all people became bad guys primarily because they symbolized the original Crisis, which brought rot into Geoff Johns' universe and had to be eliminated.)

Tony Laplume said...

Dr. Manhattan can literally go anywhere in time he wants to. Ozymandias prevented him from seeing what was going to happen, but that is hardly a deterrent for Manhattan to then go back and stop it from happening, once he does know. You're also selling Rorschach very short. He was always meant to be a parody of the Question, which was always a variant on the Question/Spirit and, ultimately, Batman archetype. (Is it any wonder that the grim avenger reared his head for the first time in the Watchmen era?) You call him a crackpot who can't be taken seriously, but literally Nite Owl's whole arc is taking him seriously, as they used to, in the old days, when Rorschach's activities weren't considered so nutty. I mean, everyone was doing it! The Comedian at his worst was definitely worse (I mean, that's the whole point, but then, Moore's whole story is about moral relativism), but he finds redemption, pointing the way to Ozymandias and what he'd engineered, despite the reader's lasting impression of him as the jerk who raped Sally Jupiter and got carved up in Vietnam as just punishment for his crimes.

The cynics are Manhattan and Ozymandias. No question. They don't see their old idealism as being worth it. Everyone else does. Manhattan goes off on a quest to create new life, in search of something less complicated. And yet, that's just being naïve. His god-like perspective amounts to nothing because he learned nothing. That's why Laurie was so upset with him. If there's a happy ending between her and Manhattan, it's that they both managed to find peace. It's just, one of them did a better job of it.

John Seavey said...

Doctor Manhattan can't time travel. He can perceive time in both directions, but there's never anything in the series that indicates he has any power to alter the things he's perceived. In fact, that's part of his problem--he can't change his future, either. He sees time as a discrete, entire structure, and he can no more decide to do something different tomorrow than he could decide to do something different yesterday. The only reason he doesn't know the events of the back end of the series in advance is due to Ozymandias' meddling.

(He also clearly doesn't know how to restore human beings to life, as evidenced by multiple incidents in the story.)

As to Rorshach, the whole absurdity of the situation is that for all of his conspiracy theories, he's not right about everything when taken seriously. He's just as wrong about everything as ever, postulating that the Big Figure or Moloch or any number of their old enemies is behind things. Even when he does guess right, it's for the wrong reasons ("Possibly homosexual? MUST INVESTIGATE") and his ultimate deductive triumph is just stumbling blindly over the truth in the course of his peripatetic wanderings. He basically makes six billion guesses and one of them turns out to be right. He's not intended to be a figure to admire--he's a brutal sociopath who imposes his own twisted moral code on the world because he doesn't believe that any underlying morality exists save for force and the will to use it. He is no different from Ozymandias. That's why one of them has to die.

(I also think your redemptive reading of the Comedian is a huge stretch. It's not like he does anything he does in the series on purpose; he's a catalyst, plain and simple.)

Also, how does Doctor Manhattan qualify as one of the cynics, while being naive at the same time?

Jim S said...

At least they didn't make Captain America a Nazi/Hydra agent "for real."

Tony Laplume said...

Rorschach's the investigator in the story because he was based on the Question. He asks questions. He's not always right. That's how all investigations go. That Dr. Manhattan may or may not be aware of all his abilities (if he can create life, he can most certainly travel through time) is another sign of his ironically limited perspective. He's naïve and a cynic at the same time. That's easy enough to accomplish. Any war ever was entered into with cynicism (it can't be solved otherwise) and from a naïve mindset (no war was ever concluded at its outset). Superheroes are essentially soldiers engaging in wars. These are attributes that often go hand-in-hand, and in Dr. Manhattan are practically archetypal. Alan Moore often tells stories like this. For instance, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," in which he posits Superman can easily retire, or "Mogo Doesn't Socialize," in which Bolphunga the Unrelenting hunts, unwittingly, a planet.

I think Moore was pretty aware of the elements he was using. He last believed, unquestioningly, in superheroes when he was a reader, during the more simplistic Silver Age. All his tales are cynical or hopelessly nostalgic. When, for instance, he deviates, he has to step away from the superhero genre entirely (V for Vendetta, for instance, in which the heroic figure is a faceless vigilante hoping to inspire change more than affect it personally, which can be read as a rephrasing of Ozymandias from Watchmen, actually). The whole purpose of Watchmen was to refute the superhero genre, and ever since it's been regarded by a lot of observers as the last word on it. That's why all the heroes seem so flawed, and Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan, seem like they're using impeccable logic, when they really aren't.

Dr. Manhattan is Captain Atom, but he's really Superman. Put aside everything else about him, and he's the only superhero with powers in the story, which is to say, the archetypal superhero, which is to say, Superman. As with every story attempting to get around the fact that Superman seems to be too powerful to create real drama, Moore decides to give Manhattan a mental problem. Kind of like, well, everyone else in the story (to single out Rorschach is way too simplistic).

Watchmen survives, ultimately, because it's a complete, expansive statement, and to that point in superheroes comics, that just didn't exist. It's the first mature superhero comic. That doesn't mean it's infallible, despite what Moore's legion of true believers have suggested for three decades...

John Seavey said...

Nobody here is arguing the fallibility of 'Watchmen' as an artistic statement or otherwise. I am arguing that casting Doctor Manhattan, as of the end of the series, as a cynic with no faith in humanity whom the noble and idealistic heroes of the DC Universe must oppose is a fundamental misreading of the character as written. Your counter-argument so far has been that he probably could travel in time and just didn't know it, therefore he let all those people die and is bad. I am unconvinced. :)

Tony Laplume said...

The thing is, Manhattan literally spends the whole story in a stupor. He's aware that he can see whatever point of his life he'd like, but never considers doing anything with that knowledge. If you're aware of the past, present, and future, you're able to make decisions based on all that knowledge. Moore also wrote a story about causality, and it's safe to assume that if Manhattan chooses not to do anything, it's because he's decided that there isn't a point to doing anything. Therefore, one way or another, he's chosen not to act, not to be, for all intents and purposes, a superhero. His decision is a cynical one. He feels as if he had no control over his life, once the accident transformed him. Yet he's fascinated by the possibilities of his new existence. So he can't, or chooses not to, undo that, which for him means there's no point in undoing anything else, including the mad plotting of Ozymandias. This is a positively cynical outlook, or a naïve one. It's either a conscious or a subconscious choice. Depending how you view it, he's ultimately naïve or a cynic. I think, based on his interest in going off to create something entirely under his control, he does know what he's doing. So he's a cynic.

John Seavey said...

You may want to go back and re-read the series before you discuss this further, because you seem to be pretty confused about key story points. Issue #4 establishes that Doctor Manhattan, in addition to his ability to restructure matter, has a perception of time that differs from normal people. Basically, his memory works both ways. He can remember the future as well as the past.

Issue #7, and his conversation with Sally, establishes that knowing the future doesn't mean he can alter it, nor does knowing the past. He's just as much a prisoner of causality as the rest of us. In some ways he's worse, because he remembers future events but can't change them. (Key line: "We're all puppets. I'm just one that can see the strings.") In his mind, he's not making a decision not to act, he's simply following a preordained course of causality. All this is purely described as memory, though. At no point is it suggested that he has the ability to alter events in the past, any more than my ability to remember 1989 very well means I can go back and change it.

Issue #7 also establishes that a source of tachyons from the future (later established as Veidt's device) is interfering with his memory of future events. All he knows is that he will at some point a) be in New York standing next to bodies, and that b) he will be in the snow, murdering someone. Sally points out that this means his future isn't set, and he responds more or less that there's no point anyway because human life adds no intrinsic value to the universe. (This may be where you, and Geoff Johns, are remembering his cynicism.) At that point, there's the famous scene where Sally realizes she's the Comedian's daughter, and Doctor Manhattan realizes that the incredible improbability of any human life makes it meaningful and worth preserving, and they go back to Earth to try to stop what they think at that point will be nuclear war.

But of course, it isn't and they arrive after Veidt "kills Blake and half New York." You are assuming that he could use his time travel powers to go back and stop this, but he has no time travel powers, no time travel powers are ever mentioned in the series, time travel is not mentioned in the series, and (I cannot stress this enough) you are entirely making up superpowers for a character in the story so that you can attribute moral failures to them for not using them.

Which, if you want to do that, fine, but why stop there? Let's just all decide that Gatsby had time travel powers, and is culpable for the death of Myrtle! Let's argue that Ahab should really use his heat vision against Moby Dick! Let's complain about how unrealistic it is that Celie didn't just teleport away from Alphonso in 'The Color Purple'! Once you've decided on that particular interpretation of "death of the author", there's really no limit to the number of ways you can make fictional characters out to be awful people.

Come to think of it, maybe the problem is that Geoff Johns needs to re-read 'Watchmen'.

Tony Laplume said...

As you describe Manhattan, he's even more a stand-in for Moore than I could have imagined. This whole story is literally Moore's indictment of the superhero genre, once he grew up and, ironically, had the chance to write in it himself. It's disheartening. The old narrative had him growing increasingly frustrated with the Big Two's lack of respect for creators. And yet, creators from his era, who were most likely to rebel, really had no concept of what they were rebelling against. As much of a milestone as Watchmen is, it doesn't really compare to the rights stolen from, say, Simon & Shuster, Jack Kirby, or Bill Finger, who for decades was denied any credit for his role in the creation of Batman. And yet here we have Moore taking this great moral stand for creators, and creator rights, and for what? A story literally ripping off, in shameless fashion, characters he didn't create? That he produced skins for? And literally attempted to trap in a narrative he wanted sealed off forever? Babe, in the old days, most creators wished they could avoid such a fate! And most ironically enough? Marvelman/Miracleman, which is literally Moore tearing apart the legacy of one of the characters who lost the most from the battles he then decided he would champion! From the wrong end!

So you'll excuse me if I don't allow Moore's logic to dictate this argument. I can agree that Alan Moore had a profound effect on modern comics, but to compare him to the likes of Will Eisner, to say his creations can't be questioned, can't be used again, is nonsense. We all saw how this played out, the budding creator revolution, the early days of Image comics, and what happened to all their superheroes, except the ongoing and increasingly irrelevant Spawn and Savage Dragon, how Moore himself received permission to reinterpret Supreme, which turned out to be a pastiche on Silver Age Superman, and eventually, the genesis of Tom Strong...

This has always been an argument about Moore, and not Dr. Manhattan. When you start citing Watchmen that closely, you begin to admit that the source material needs protection...

Anyway, this is all to say, agree to disagree...

Anonymous said...

TL;DR of Tony's last post:

I was wrong, my point was invalid, but if I go off on an abstract, artistic-sounding tangent, maybe I won't have to admit that my central argument was erroneous.

Tony Laplume said...

That's perfectly okay. Clearly there are two distinct impressions on the Manhattan issue. Mine is that it's not okay to justify impressions based on Moore or the comic. It's perfectly valid, I accept, that there will be people who do. I'm just not a part of that. It's the risk you take when you express yourself. People will disagree with you. Isn't that kind of why you said it to begin with? Or are we shamelessly hoping everyone will just shut up and agree, or at least validate us by saying we were right?

Unknown said...

> Clearly there are two distinct impressions on the Manhattan issue. Mine is that it's not okay to justify impressions based on Moore or the comic.

So... your position is that it's not okay to base your impression of a character's personality on all the canonical appearances and actions of that character, but instead that it's better to invent powers for them to recharacterize them in a way incompatible with the source material?

I'm not sure what you think I "said to begin with", though, since you're responding to the exact comment where I "began". Personally, I don't care if you agree, but if your basis for disagreement is "I've invented a different version of this character in my head, and this behavior, while not consistent with the character portrayed in the comics, *is* consistent with the character I have invented for myself", I don't think you can really have a meaningful discussion with another human being about it.

Tony Laplume said...

Well, you're absolutely right. I don't know, or care, who Unknown is.

I think, if you follow my reasoning throughout these comments, that it's pretty obvious that I've been arguing that Manhattan's entire existence, and his actions, and everything about him, are an argument about Alan Moore's creative vision. Isn't that what the whole discussion about Watchmen has become anyway?

Based on the story itself, excluding everything else that can be said about it, it's absolutely valid to say that my comments don't make sense. But I'm not making that argument. So any further discussion about our disagreements will lead nowhere. Have a good day.

John Seavey said...

Well, if we are going to violently tangent off on a different tack, let me just say that you're just as wrong there. Moore has never said he's been the most ill-used and hard-done by of all the creators DC has screwed over--he's just the one with enough leverage to make a fuss about it. The reason you didn't hear about Bill Finger was that DC went after him so hard he didn't have a choice but to accept their terms. He was destitute and had no options. Moore is able to speak on behalf of creators who may not be in a position to anger DC.

And your argument that somehow he stood up for creators while violating creators' rights and is therefore a hypocrite fundamentally misunderstands...well, everything. When Moore wrote 'Watchmen' and 'Miracleman/Marvelman', he was fundamentally operating on the assumption that everything had been cleared with the creators involved and that he had a free hand to operate. Colossally naive of him in hindsight, but at the time Moore really believed that contracts were agreements in good faith and that Dez Skinn, Paul Levitz et al were operating on an ethical level.

He found out the hard way that this wasn't the case, and was entirely supportive of Mick Anglo reselling the rights to Marvel, but it was and is his continued opinion that as long as they are alive, a creator should have the right to decide how their creation is used (not necessarily to "seal it off forever", but merely to be in control of the stories they wrote) and that after they die, their creations become part of the general culture and can be treated with slightly less reverence. It's a perfectly comprehensible ethical stance, and I've found that people who disagree with it either haven't really paid attention to what Moore is saying or just are looking for an excuse to slag him. Given your wild topic jumps with the single consistent theme of "Alan Moore is a jackass", I think I can guess which is the case here.

Tony Laplume said...

So, once again, I don't know if it's been you responding all along, and it really doesn't matter, but now that we're talking about the issue I've been talking about, I guess it wouldn't be right of me not to respond again...

Moore's creative stance never made sense to me. Clearly. The '80s generation was clearly what gave birth to the '90s Image/indy revolution. '80s creators as diverse as Moore, Dave Sim, and Scott McCloud all had something to say. Heck, the smartest guy to learn from the '80s was Jeff Smith, because he managed to create his own brand, and was comfortable once it exploded.

I'd say success made Moore increasingly uncomfortable. There are people for whom success is the worst thing possible. They don't know what to do with it. I think Moore took his success and ended up fighting someone else's fight. It just didn't make any sense for it to be him doing the fighting. I mean, it would have made sense, had he made the fight about anything but his own work, but it was about his work. Everyone knows he created Watchmen because he couldn't use other characters. If he had? What would be Moore's big ethical stance today?

Again, you hate hypotheticals, so let's just forget that last question. The thing is, he just kept using other people's characters, again and again, either directly or as the basis for his own creations. Which is fine. That's comics history all over the place. What sets Moore apart is that he sets this big moral standard because of his success, and wants all this stuff he did to not be touched. He's uncomfortable with people doing stuff with the stuff he did when he's still alive. I get that.

I get that Bill Watterson had these kinds of problems, too. He didn't want his creation to make him the next Jim Davis. (I don't think anyone would ever confuse his creative output with Jim Davis's, but you get the point.) Creative rights were a big, big deal at the time Alan Moore became famous.

If I didn't hear so much about Alan Moore trying to protect Alan Moore's legacy, I would take Alan Moore's bone in this fight more seriously. If the guy championed others as loudly as he does himself, I would take him more seriously. But it just sounds, to me, like a guy who is only looking out for himself. To me, it's not about the moral, the ethical standard. It's about Alan Moore.

It sounds to me like he expected everyone to just, sort of, bow down before him, like he was going to be the new king of comics. The new Stan Lee? Sort of.

But I have the sense that, once again, I will have to try and assert that we will simply have to try and agree to disagree. Don't expect it to work, though...

John Seavey said...

Honestly, it's not so much that "we will simply have to try and agree to disagree" as I will have to once again explain that you literally don't know what you're talking about. Not in a pejorative sense, but you are ascribing motivations to Moore that aren't supported by his many, many public statements over the years, and making up facts to support your ascribed motivations.

I would recommend, before you participate in this any further, reading at a minimum "Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore". I would also recommend "The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore", by George Khoury (a compilation of Moore interviews over the years) and Phil Sandifer's "The Last War in Albion", which is about as detailed as you'd get.

Or you can just believe me when I say that you're getting your history wrong here. I'm good with that too.

Tony Laplume said...

If I've gotten a lot of things wrong, it's because that's what the narrative is. What the majority of fans know about Alan Moore, today, is that he is nearly universally revered, and that he has become a very private, and by most accounts embittered creator. Obviously his biggest supporters will know different things, because they'll have been paying closer attention to what he says, such as the several books you've just referenced, and which I have no doubt you've read with great relish. And listen, I like Grant Morrison as much as you like Alan Moore, but I don't need to quote Supergods to defend him. It's not the man I admire, necessarily, but the work, and not even necessarily all of it. Every creator in this business is fallible.

The irony here is that we've been talking about Alan Moore all this time, and you take great exception to everything I've said, when this whole thing was sparked by your saying, what I say about Alan Moore, about Geoff Johns. We all have our heroes, John. I became agitated because you were far less kind, and far less interested in discussing Geoff Johns and his creative worth, than we've just spent several weeks discussing about Alan Moore. We both know you wouldn't give Geoff Johns anymore credit than you will no doubt believe I've given Alan Moore.

And here's where you will once again point out that I've gone off on another pointless tangent. When I really haven't. Probably, because of the "feud" between Moore and Morrison, you may have just made up your mind about me. That's your right. I came here because I didn't agree with your original statements. And you don't agree with mine. That's called a failure to agree. Several times I've said that from a certain point of view, the other side would be accurate. I would hope, instead of repeatedly suggesting I'm an idiot, you could at least just agree that there really are at least two ways to view this whole thing.

John Seavey said...

I'm not saying you're an idiot. I'm saying you don't know what you're talking about. Your response to that has been to say, "Well, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but you're being mean to Geoff Johns!" And yes, I will point out that you've gone off on another pointless tangent here, because you have. You keep changing your argument whenever you realize that your lack of information has caused you to make a mistake, because all you're really looking for is some justification for your dislike of Moore.

I'll point out another made-up fact you used to ascribe a negative motive to someone--why do you think I don't like Grant Morrison? I've got his Animal Man, Doom Patrol and JLA runs on my bookshelf. He's a talented writer and I don't care even a little bit about his feud with Moore or Moore's feud with him. I find it interesting solely as a piece of comics history. But of course, since you have to see me as biased in order for you not to simply be wrong, suddenly I'm a Morrison detractor with an axe to grind.

I do agree that there are two ways to look at this. Of course I do. It's just that your way happens to be wrong on several factual matters and is mostly you arguing with the made-up point of view in your head, and mine's not. Just because there are two sides to every story doesn't mean they both have equal merit.

Tony Laplume said...

Wow. Okay, so clearly you just won't give an inch. I didn't say you were in the camp where Grant Morrison must be hated because of the so-called Morrison/Moore feud, but as a clear Moore fanatic (as you clearly presented yourself in your opening harangue), it would have been natural for me to assume as such. It's the ideas, John. You started with an idea, I presented a counterpoint. I kept spreading the argument, because you seemed to think it's a completely limited, self-fulfilling conclusion. Which is insane. So you keep presenting me as insane, because you refuse to reconsider your argument at all. Which again, presents you as assuming you're infallible. Which again, is insane. You say I keep changing the rules? I say I keep looking for ways where you'll realize how insane your single-mindedness is.

I don't want to be nasty about this. Doing a little research, I realize this isn't even the first time I've had a ridiculous argument here. I'm half-surprised that you didn't question my conclusions about Ms. Marvel. That series ended up being a rousing success for Marvel, a cornerstone of its current lineup, and I ended up an early supporter. You wouldn't know it by the comments I made here. I learned more. I gave it a chance. But looking back, it made me realize you love picking fights. Your posts are designed for it. And yet, you're surprised if someone disagrees with you, and you assume it's insane to think other than you do, and you say that whatever I can come up with as counterargument, that's insane, and not worth taking seriously.

I don't like Moore. You're right. I think he's a smug, arrogant bastard. But undeniably talented. And completed isolated. That's insane. So that one of the most influential comic book creators of the past thirty years has reached the point where he won't work with a major publisher, and this creates that hardened fanbase around him, that's an increasingly unquestioning one, a fanatical one. Listen, I like Watchmen, too, but that has never meant that I apply different rules to it than I do to anything else I've loved. It's not every single component of a story that makes it great. If you're that kind of reader, who needs to keep obsessive track of everything, and if anyone questions any of it the whole thing is in danger of falling apart...So you go on the attack before that happens...

You increasingly boggle my mind. Good going, John. I offer you several chances to walk away, and you don't. You just keep going on the attack. I don't get it. I extend olive branches, and you attack. I say that I can agree where I would be wrong, and you attack. I don't even need you to say I'm, in some insane universe, somehow right. I just need you to acknowledge that you clearly opened yourself to someone, anyone, with an opposing view. And the proper response to that maybe isn't to say they can't possibly be right, because you don't share the same viewpoint, on nearly any level.

Just saying, John...Go off and have your fun. I hope this is the last argument I blunder into here...It's just not worth it.

John Seavey said...

So your argument is that because you were previously wrong, I should reconsider my stance? I think something may be a bit off there.

Look, the reason you feel like you're being attacked is because...well, because you present my views as the "opening harangue", and classify me as a "single-minded fanatic" while simultaneously insisting that you're "extending olive branches", so clearly part of the problem is that you're not looking at the things you write before you click the comment button. But the other part of it is that you feel like you're being attacked because I keep telling you that you're wrong.

But you are wrong. I'm being as nice about it as I can. I'm trying to disarm it with a bit of humor, suggest that maybe you should do a little research before talking further on the subject, pointing to places where you went wrong and where you could start learning about the subject before you share your opinions on it. But there's only so nice you can be while telling someone that they're factually misinformed, that they're presenting arguments that are contradicted by multiple sources, and that they've not just misinterpreted but completely made up their case from things inside their head. That's the truth. I can't make it any nicer.

And your response every time has been to change the subject to new ground and treat the fact that you've been wrong about everything you've said as some kind of minor inconvenience that shouldn't prevent me from listening to your new points with all due consideration. Which I do. And that's wrong too. Maybe instead of investing all this effort into trying to convince me that it's mean to point out when you're wrong, you can perhaps try doing some of that research? Read some of those books? They're good reads. Spend less time imputing motives like "single-minded Moore fanatic" to others while pretending that your own stance of "I don't like Moore. You're right. I think he's a smug, arrogant bastard" is some sort of clear, dispassionate opinion of him as a human being? These are all suggestions that would maybe keep you from "blundering into" so many arguments, here and elsewhere.

Worth a thought.

Tony Laplume said...

You're absolutely right: You're a funny guy. What else can be said? I've actually begun anticipating your responses. This will be my last comment. You made up your mind a long time ago about this, and you even said in the very first thing said in all this that you've given up. Great. That's all the points for you right there. Clearly I should just accept that Alan Moore is the god you've accepted him to be, and be done with it. Anything else is a grave mistake. Any thought at all, really. I really, really hope you don't get suckered into worse cults, because with that wonderful thought process of yours...Oh, I know, I know what you'll say to this, and there's no point for you to say it. You've said it over and over again. Apparently repetition makes good argument for you. Well, congratulations, because you won't have to repeat yourself again. I get it. Read Alan Moore. Hate DC. Alan Moore is great, and nobody else is. Or whatever it is you might think, in whatever it might look like for you to expand on your thoughts. You'll no doubt put all this behind you, dismiss me once I've finally stopped responding, laugh it off, because that's all this is to you, just one big joke.

Hey, I know a character like that...

John Seavey said...

I gotta be honest--the last time I saw this much projection, I was watching 'Inception' the way Christopher Nolan intended it. Seriously, this is your only answer? Anyone who thinks that DC behaved badly here is a "Moore cultist", while you, the clear-eyed an unbiased realist whose only avowed flaw is that you think Moore is a "smug, arrogant bastard" can see the unvarnished truth of it all? If you're wondering why I keep laughing, it's because that's frankly ludicrous.

But. Since you seem to think I need to explicate this more clearly for you, let's cut aside the obfuscation and the distraction and lay out some cold facts. If you want to come back and argue with those, feel free.

Fact One: Alan Moore signed a good faith agreement with DC which he believed would give them the rights to publish the original 'Watchmen' limited series, with an option to reprint the issues if they proved unexpectedly popular, one year after which said rights would revert to Moore and Gibbons. You can "yeahbut" that all you want--yeahbut Moore was inspired by the Charlton characters, yeahbut Moore should have gotten a lawyer--but those are obfuscations. Based on the state of the industry at the time, a reasonable person would have assumed the rights to 'Watchmen' were being granted on a limited basis.

Fact Two: DC exploited a loophole in that contract to hold onto those rights for thirty years and counting, making literally hundreds of millions of dollars by doing so. You can try to yeahbut that away by suggesting that other people have been screwed over worse in DC's long and storied history of being shitbags, you can try to yeahbut sand into people's eyes by changing the subject to "Marvelman" (which is actually another case of a publisher lying to Moore, but it's also a meaningless attempt to change the subject so we'll do the right thing and ignore it) but they did, indisputably, exploit the wording of the contract to make millions at Moore's expense.

Fact Three: Having decided that no profit could be obtained from respecting Moore's repeatedly-stated wishes that they not do sequels, prequels, adaptations or further appearances of the characters, DC began selling 'Before Watchmen', the film adaptation, the DC Rebirth appearance, et cetera. Not coincidentally publicizing the original series and driving sales, thus keeping the rights from reverting to Moore for even longer. Try to yeahbut all you want (yeahbut they had the legal right to do so, yeahbut Moore wrote things that used other people's characters without checking with em just because they were dead for years at the time) but that fact, very stubbornly, remains. DC knew that the original writer of the series did not want it to continue and they continued it anyway.

Those three facts are the basis for my disgust with DC. Not Moore's identity, not my admiration for his work, just that. DC exploited a good-faith agreement to cheat someone out of millions, and having done so proceeded to exploit the property in ways that the creator never anticipated and expressly and repeatedly asked them not to do...while casting them as the villains of the piece and giving interviews blaming that creator for the tone of their titles. That's what bothers me.

So tell me, since I know you're still reading this: Which of those three facts do I have wrong? What creators do you think I wouldn't be upset about if they received that treatment? Oh, right. "Smug, arrogant bastard." Thank you so much for your clear, unbiased opinion on the subject.