Tag Archives: comics

The Lie of the Conservative Batman

I’ve waited a week to post this until enough people have had a chance to see the latest Dark Knight movie, but it bears mentioning: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Batman mythos runs so deep in our culture, that parallels are easy. Claims now run rampant that the latest brilliant installment of Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy is anti-Occupy, or pro-capitalist in sentiment. That it purports ‘only a billionaire’ can save us. Chris Nolan has dispelled as much, though it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the phenomenally successful series may be inexorably linked to current events, as no writer or director creates in a vacuum, and both life imitates art and art imitates life. All films reflect their times, and the Batman is no exception. The imagery itself has seeped into everyday usage, (much like the protagonist masks in V for Vendetta), the war-painted Joker has been used by protest movements to vilify seemingly every elite from Bernie Madoff to president Barack Obama. Even without the gadgetry, moral code, genius-level detective skills, martial arts, cape or cowl, many billionaires see themselves as crucial heroes, their “sacrifices” necessary for the good of the system. And yes, the probably psychopathic James Holmes seems unable or unwilling to separate reality from fiction, modeling himself after The Dark Knight‘s villainous Joker (portrayed inimitably by Heath Ledger).

But Christopher Nolan’s version of the Batman (dubbed the Nolanverse), had already established an old Gotham rife with political corruption, a recession predating our own by a few years (Batman Begins began in 2005), the excesses of the rich and inequity of their system, and the thievery of Wall Street.

The script for The Dark Knight Rises was written during 2010, with location scouting happening in December of that year. Filming ran from May to November 2011, overlapping the rise of the Occupy movement by mere months. Any similarity is purely coincidental, and furthermore seen through the lens of Fox news analysis and FBI entrapment, where Occupiers have already been condemned as criminals and terrorists. The predominant Beltway philosophy already has established the ‘infallible rich’ as a cornerstone of its power structure.

And the story of haves and have-nots is as old as time anyway, as the Dark Knight Rises draws heavily from A Tale of Two Cities and its historical Red Terror. It’s a false dichotomy (which many pundits love) that one cannot have both a healthy opposition to violent revolution and sympathetic support for a protest movement. It really reveals more about the claimants’ ideology than anything else. Charles Dickens, for one, cared deeply for the plight of the poor, but not for the brutal atrocities of the French Revolution.

We humans will ascribe our own meaning and see what we want in film and comic book escapism, no matter how earnest the telling. This trilogy simply rings true because it dissects the hard ideological differences regarding justice, evil, truth, responsibility, and just exactly who is the real psychopath, anyway. We can all too easily see the divides and overlapping philosophies of the Occupy movement, the police force, the rich elites, and the League of Shadows. And yes, both lone vigilantes and lone nuts.

But even if the movie were a direct allegory to our failed structure, it could hardly be seen as a conservative endorsement, as bloggers on both sides have contended. More likely, the chilling dystopian vision of a city torn into a No Man’s Land reads as a warning against radical demagoguery and institutional deception. And though some may not agree with the aims of the Occupy movement, it takes a willfully ignorant or forcefully disingenuous mindset to equate them with the insane philosophy of either a chaotically sadistic Joker or a frighteningly focused and cold-blooded Bane (portrayed by Tom Hardy).

Indeed, Occupy remains a leaderless movement, constantly worrying about being co-opted by self-interested parties. Bane adopts a populist message in order to peddle false hopes to the citizenry he hopes to torture, populating his army with liberated thieves and killers. Yes, and there are those whom society has forsaken. Bane’s armed revolt plays to the same paranoid fears of Fox News and the State Department, and the same rhetoric of a much less radical Anonymous; it is made up of janitors, shoe-shiners, orphans, ex-cons, sanitation and construction workers. The under-served.

Bruce Wayne’s (reprised by Christian Bale) sins are spelled out for us at the beginning of the Dark Knight Rises. Not only has he taken the fall for the crimes of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and conspired to propagate a political lie, he has turned his back on society and the world. The streets have become relatively clean without him in the eight years since he donned the cowl, but the less obvious ills of a broken system still endure as Bruce neglects the city he loves, and literally atrophies in his elegantly rebuilt mansion.

Gotham’s sins are also many, where betrayal and lies are common political practice, where war heros are expendable during peacetime, where critical-thinking police are discounted as ‘hotheads’, and where even good men like Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) get their hands filthy. The Batman himself, as the Force-ghost of Ra’s Al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) reminds us, “for years fought the decadence of Gotham with his moral authority… and the most he could achieve was a lie.” The overreaching Dent Act, based on Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne’s falsehood, has robbed the imprisoned of any chance of parole. And though it was (hurriedly) agreed that if they world knew of Harvey Dent’s crimes, the guilty would be opened up to appeal, it is this very act of conspiracy that threatens to help blow apart the system, once finally discovered. The career politicians, police bosses, day traders and rich elite are anything but sympathetic figures.

Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is the only decent representative of the 99%. She (as well as her politics and moral code) is adaptable, values anonymity, and doesn’t seem to care much for gun control. She embodies the ‘honor among thieves’ adage, she is generous, and sees herself as somewhat of a Robin Hood, at least more than the society types she robs from, who ‘take so much and leave so little for the rest.’ However, she is equally horrified, frightened and disgusted by the madness that ensues during Bane’s “revolution.”

John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), on the other hand, is your stereotypical corporate vulture, a literal blood diamond opportunist looking for his next hostile takeover, who doesn’t have time for “save-the-world vanity projects.” In fact, Daggett doesn’t care if the world is destroyed with his help, so long as he acquires more money, and the “power it buys.” It is the likes of Daggett and the other one-dimensional capitalists who worship the status quo when it suits them, and then collude with criminals on the side. Daggett only sees Bane as ‘pure evil’ once he realizes the imminent threat to himself and his riches. Once it’s no longer himself who’s in charge. It should be noted, for the record, that there are no real-life Occupy figures who could cow a crooked billionaire by placing a hand on their shoulder like an alpha dominant.

But of course these unsympathetic crooks are surely served up as contrast to our hero: the billionaire who would save us.

And though the Batman/Bruce Wayne may be heralded as the authoritarian’s dream; willing to employ mass surveillance, extreme rendition, and solely deciding what technology the people deserve and can be trusted with, he is no societal Superman. He is not a billionaire’s billionaire, for though he has more cars than cares to count, has never answered his own door, and “doesn’t even go broke like the rest of us,” he is also easily displaced within his own boardroom, decries the egotistical hypocrisy of charity balls, and has not been watching his own money carefully. Notably, he wants to fail. He relishes the opportunity to be destroyed as the Batman, if it means saving the lives of everyone; the rich, the workers and the poor alike.

Neither, however, has he been serving his own people and city of late, trading in his once rich playboy identity for a Howard Hughes shtick. Not only is his corporation floundering, his beloved charitable foundation is practically defunct. Orphaned boys age out of Gotham’s social programs, neglected by a city with no homes of jobs available. Here they become easy prey for vaguely Middle Eastern terrorists and organized criminals, where they die in the sewers and wash away once they are used up.

The progressive responsibility of socially conscious and civic-minded billionaires, (an extremely endangered breed both in Gotham and out real world) had to be summed up by an ecoterrorist acting the part of a lovely socialite (Marion Cotillard); “You have to invest to restore balance to the world.” Bruce has been lacking in his duties, and that evil that he and Commissioner Gordon buried isn’t dead, but rising up once again.

Bane’s movement is a false one, as he tells the people of Gotham that he is not a Conquerer but a Liberator, but in actuality he is neither. Bane is the Destroyer. Spinning a hopeful message in the wake of his havoc, telling the people to “take control” of Gotham, Bane uses his “truth” to get the citizenry to “tear down a corrupt city” and reclaim what is theirs from the rich oppressors who had peddled their myth of opportunism.

And it is not just any “ordinary citizen” who holds the detonator to their destruction, but equal parts rich girl and terrorist-anarchist. These masterminds did not just create a populist movement to fulfill their diabolical plot, but infiltrated powerful corporations with their subterfuge as well. For comparison, real-world anarchists, despite practicing just another political philosophy, are readily depicted by the media as murderous terrorists. Protestors, despite exercising their constitutional right to assemble, are either beaten or made into bridge bombers by the FBI. Even those who have read the anarchist or socialist literature pale in comparison to the bloodthirsty Bane army. But the fear has been writ large in the news: if a lone nut like the joker can inspire a depraved massacre in a theatre, what would an evil warlord and his army of mercenaries inspire?

Like the Batman, authoritarians do seem to create their own enemies.

What follows once the structures fail lacks even more subtlety; in the face of such wanton violence, the government will abandon you. The good cops will attempt to salvage the status quo, and the bad cops will either desert or work against the people. Idiotically and blindly following orders, in fact, could get orphans and priests killed. Only the Batman can save us.

As even Selena realizes too late, this is not what the 99% ever wanted. Their system has swung wildly from an authoritarian, decadent state to the bloody turf of a mad warlord. It is the Dark Knight who is the hero we need, but unlike any known billionaire, he is now humiliated and humbled, fearful, responsible, accountable, and thus strengthened, empowered, respectful and focused. “Hardened by pain… not from privilege.”

It really should go without saying, by the way, that is not until Bruce Wayne loses all of his money, loses nearly everything, in fact, and is dropped into a pit to rebuild himself, that he is worthy of becoming a savior. And even those he still uses all those wonderful toys that only his privileged life could have afforded him, there can be no analogue for his virtuosity. Nobody has done as much as the fictitious Wayne family. And no playboy industrialists don a mask and fight crime.

As super-fan of the Batman, Kevin Smith, points out:

“In our world it’s not the case. The richer one gets, the less moral one seems to become. Not in all cases, but you hear about everything that just happened to our economy in the last few years… at the end of the day, Bruce Wayne/Batman [is] a moral example of a billionaire… Right then and there you should be able to divorce yourself from reality because no billionaire would waste their time helping others.”

This establishes the film’s central conceit as high fantasy. The Batman doesn’t have what we’d normally call superpowers, and we’ve seen it’s not simply the gadgets or money that keeps him going, but his rigid moral compass and drive to do good that makes him superhuman.

It isn’t just allegorical. It’s not just a cautionary tale. It’s a mad thought experiment. Fiction. Fantasy. Though some of us do have trouble separating that.

For there is no Ayn Randian perfect citizen or engine of the economy that somehow magically makes everything better. There is no Nietzschean Übermench. In the face of the very real threats of depraved elites, deadly terrorist groups and savage gunmen, there are no real superheroes.

Batman will not save us.

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Influence

A large version of the influence map originally memed by fox-orian.deviantart.com. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop! And inevitably, I’m sure I forgot some artists/animators/cartoonists.

influence map

Reading List

Some of my top favorite authors and titles as per my Good Reads profile.
My tumblr follows the publishing industry, retail books, the e-book revolution, libraries and other bibliographical, bookish-type things at Likely In Store!

By Genre

Classics & Fiction
Things Fall ApartThe Canterbury TalesParadise LostSilas MarnerWhite NoiseHeart of DarknessThe Picture of Dorian GrayInvisible ManUp the Down StaircaseA Clockwork OrangeThe New York TrilogyThe Sadness of SexFuck MachineA Modest ProposalIt Can't Happen HereFlowers for AlgernonTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Catcher in the RyeThe Great GatsbyAnimal FarmOf Mice and MenThe Grapes of WrathCannery RowTravels with Charley: In Search of AmericaMe Talk Pretty One DayLord of the FliesLittle WomenA Tale of Two CitiesThe Count of Monte CristoMoby-DickMemoirs of a GeishaMiddlesexLolitaGone With the Wind1984Veronika Decides to DieAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAnd the Hippos Were Boiled in Their TanksBeowulf: A New Verse TranslationBig SurOn the RoadThe Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other StoriesCandide: or, OptimismThe Brothers KaramazovDemonsThe Old Man and the SeaThe Sun Also RisesTo Have and Have NotA Hunger ArtistIn The Penal ColonyThe MetamorphosisThe TrialR. Crumb's KafkaThe Cheese MonkeysOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestThe ChosenThe Tevye Stories and OthersAdventures of Mottel: The Cantor's SonA Christmas CarolOliver TwistThe Divine ComedyDoctor FaustusThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeTreasure IslandNaked LunchLove is a Dog from HellHam on RyeThe Most Beautiful Woman in TownHot Water MusicThe StrangerThe Satanic VersesPortnoy’s ComplaintAtlas ShruggedChokeDiaryRantLullabyFight ClubCatch-22FaustLife of Pi
Poetry
Budget Travel through Space and Time: PoemsThe Collected Poems, Complete and UnabridgedPoetry as Insurgent ArtA Coney Island of the MindHowl and Other PoemsSongs of Innocence and of ExperienceThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other PoemsMeditations in an EmergencyLord Byron: The Major Works
Drama
Les MisérablesThe Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, and Selected StoriesOedipus RexArsenic And Old LaceThe Odd CoupleRosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadThe CrucibleDeath of a SalesmanFocusThe Portable Arthur MillerThe Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / AntigoneHamletA Midsummer Night's DreamMacbethThe TempestOthelloRomeo and JulietShakespeare's SonnetsThe Taming of the Shrew
Mythology
Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round TableArthurian LegendsKappa; A NovelThe Saga of the VolsungsThe Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One NightsEgyptian Ideas of the AfterlifeAncient Egyptian MagicSir Gawain and the Green KnightAesop's FablesThe Hero With a Thousand FacesBeowulf: A New Verse Translation
Paranormal
The Coincidence File: Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance or Pure Chance?The Young Oxford Book of AliensFaces of the VisitorsThe Mothman PropheciesCasebook on the Men in BlackThe Lost Continent of MuCommunion: A True StoryThe Celestine Prophecy50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals
Science
CosmosBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexElephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre ExperimentsThe Golden Section: Nature's Greatest SecretThe Man Who Tasted ShapesI Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively DisruptedThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & Other Clinical TalesFlatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsThe Man Who Tasted ShapesWhat We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of CertaintyWhat Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the UnthinkableWhat Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting BetterWhat Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink EverythingTricks of the Mind
Business
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and RealityHey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great AdsThe Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing CapitalismThe 48 Laws of Power
History
The Iliad & The OdysseyThe IliadThe OdysseyI, ClaudiusNazi GermanyWhat a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to DeathGuns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesA Little History of the WorldOne Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear WarThe War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-08Lincoln's DevotionalLies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got WrongCrossfire: The Plot That Killed KennedyBenjamin Franklin: Wit and WisdomNightThe Diary of a Young GirlNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaThe Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian SuperpowerA People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the WestYou Can't WinThe Prince
Philosophy
A Little Book of LanguageA Little History of PhilosophyMeditationsGod's Debris: A Thought ExperimentUniverse and EyeCommon SenseThe Communist ManifestoThis Is Not a PipeAstonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday LifeDo You Think What You Think You Think?The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair PhilosopherComing of Age at the End of HistoryThe Society of the SpectacleOn BullshitGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden BraidThe Five People You Meet in HeavenAristotle and an Aardvark Go to WashingtonPlato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through JokesZeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a PhilosopherWays of SeeingLateral ThinkingDo You Think What You Think You Think?Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?The Michael Eric Dyson ReaderBullshit and PhilosophyTwilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ
Media Theory
Extra Lives: Why Video Games MatterThe Medium Is the MassageArt & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingMad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s AmericaHow to Watch TV News: Revised EditionDon't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives50 Things You're Not Supposed to KnowImpro101 Things to Learn in Art School
Humour
The Devil's DictionaryThe Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus; All the Words Volume OneNapalm & Silly PuttyBrain DroppingsLies & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair & Balanced Look at the RightThe Illustrated ManStuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of MillionsWhere's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never ArrivedHow To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming RebellionHow to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!I Am AmericaCurb Your Enthusiasm: The BookThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme EditionThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and SexThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: TravelThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookHeaven and Hell: A Compulsively Readable Compendium of Myth, Legend, Wisdom, and Wit for Saints and SinnersOur Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet EarthOur Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News SourceI'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have YouThe Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st CenturyThe Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-WorkersThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsGreat Comedians Talk about ComedyHow to Rule the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring DictatorThe Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
Horror
At the Mountains of MadnessThe Complete WorksFrankensteinThe ShiningThree Ghost StoriesWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadRudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy
Don QuixoteThe Confidence-Man
Crime
Homicide: A Year on the Killing StreetsThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the InnocentThe Maltese FalconThe Big SleepThe GodfatherThe Complete Sherlock HolmesDetection by GaslightThe Big Sleep & Farewell, My LovelyThe Murder of Roger AckroydAnd Then There Were NoneThe SicilianOmertaThe Thin Man
Science Fiction
The Challenge Of The SpaceshipTimelineJurassic ParkThe Lost WorldPrey2001: A Space OdysseyR Is for RocketThe Martian ChroniclesA Sound of Thunder and Other StoriesThe VeldtVenus on the Half-ShellMore Stories from the Twilight ZoneStories from the Twilight ZoneBrave New WorldFahrenheit 451The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Time MachineStar Wars: A New HopeThe Lost WorldThe HobbitEnder's GameDuneStranger in a Strange LandParis in the Twentieth CenturyThe First Men in the MoonNeuromancerSnow CrashThe Island of Dr. MoreauWhen the Sleeper WakesThe Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction StoriesThe Best Time Travel Stories of All TimeFrom the Earth to the MoonJourney to the Center of the EarthThe Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th CenturyBrave New World/Brave New World RevisitedStarship TroopersMona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Children’s
Mr. Popper's PenguinsWatership DownBunniculaThe Complete Grimm's Fairy TalesMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHThe Indian in the CupboardFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. FrankweilerA Wrinkle in TimeA Wind in the DoorRikki-Tikki-TaviJust So StoriesThe Jungle BooksThe Princess BrideOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishHorton Hears a Who!The LoraxGreen Eggs and HamThe Sneetches and Other StoriesFox in SocksOh, the Places You'll Go!The Cat in the HatThe Butter Battle BookThe Cat in the Hat Comes BackHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!I am Not Going to Get Up Today!Where the Sidewalk EndsThe Giving TreeThe Little PrinceThe Polar ExpressSix MenStrega NonaWhere the Wild Things AreThe Night Before Christmas
Art
Mad Men: The Illustrated WorldThe Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly AreGnomesThe Complete GnomesThe Magic Mirror of M.C. EscherThe Graphic WorkH.R. Giger's NecronomiconDynamic Figure DrawingEx Libris: The Art of BookplatesThe Small Stakes: Music PostersThe Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese InventionsBanksy Locations & Tours Volume 2: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs from around the UKBanksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, EnglandWall and PieceStreet Art San Francisco: Mission MuralismoGraffiti World: Street Art from Five Continentsi am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80sThe Art BookThe Cult of LEGOCartooning: Philosophy and PracticeWreck This JournalThe Book of TikiInfinite City: A San Francisco AtlasMid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men EraUnpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Graphic Novels
Rex Libris, Volume I: I, LibrarianHandmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home DesignScud: The Disposable Assassin -The Whole ShebangThe Sixth Gun, Vol. 1: Cold Dead FingersThe Perry Bible Fellowship AlmanackThe Walking Dead, Book OneCats are Weird and More ObservationsI Kill GiantsInvincible, Volume 1: Family MattersJack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing Vol. 1Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodThe Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse SuiteSweet Tooth, Vol. 1: Out of the Deep WoodsDaredevil Legends, Vol. 1: YellowThe Sandman: King of DreamsFrank, Vol. 1The Complete Far Side, 1980-1994Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The RoninDarth Vader and SonKick-AssAmerican Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey PekarDr. Horrible and Other Horrible StoriesTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetChew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceEverything Can Be BeatenBatman: The Long HalloweenWiener Dog ArtThe Far Side GalleryChris WareHow to Draw Comics the Marvel WayEverything is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee CollectionAll Over CoffeePaula Scher: MAPSKirby: King of ComicsY: The Last Man, Vol. 1: UnmannedThe Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other StoriesThe Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy TalesPinocchioThe Complete Calvin and HobbesThe Complete MausMaus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles BeganRamayana: Divine LoopholeEssential Doctor Strange, Vol. 1Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1The Art of Steve DitkoStrange and Stranger: The World of Steve DitkoNew GodsSavage Dragon Archives, Vol. 1Mouse Guard: Roleplaying GameMouse Guard: Winter 1152Mouse Guard: Fall 1152Moomin Book Five: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Four: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Three: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Two: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book One: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripTintin in the Land of the SovietsCigars of the PharaohTintin in TibetThe Complete ConcreteDiesel Sweeties: Pocket Sweeties Volume 1A Zits Treasury 02: Big Honkin' ZitsEditorial WorksLittle Nemo: 1905-1914Zippy: Walk a Mile in My Muu-Muu (ZippyZippy StoriesAre We Having Fun YetHow To Go To HellAkbar and Jeff's Guide to LifeWork Is HellChildhood Is HellThe Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite FamilyBart Simpson's Guide to Life: A Wee Handbook for the PerplexedSimpsons World - The Ultimate Episode GuideThe Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of HomerSchool is HellThe Big Book of Hell: The Best of Life in HellThe AlcoholicScott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim Vs. the WorldScott Pilgrim & the Infinite SadnessScott Pilgrim Gets It TogetherScott Pilgrim Vs. the UniverseScott Pilgrim's Finest HourUncle SamDrawing Words and Writing PicturesSilver Surfer: ParableThe Halo Graphic NovelZot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic NovelsUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtReinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art FormRed Meat GoldThe Goon, Volume 8: Those That Is DamnedThe Goon, Volume 9: Calamity of ConscienceThe Goon, Volume 7: A Place of Heartache and GriefThe Goon, Volume 6: Chinatown and The Mystery of Mr. WickerThe Goon, Volume 4: Virtue and the Grim Consequences ThereofThe Goon: NoirThe Goon, Volume 5: Wicked InclinationsThe Goon, Volume 3: Heaps of RuinationThe Goon, Volume 2: My Murderous ChildhoodThe Goon, Volume 1: Nothin' but MiseryThe Collected Sam and MaxThe Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the HuntersThe Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to SufferThe Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind BarsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind UsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeSin City, Vol. 7: Hell and BackSin City, Vol. 6: Booze, Broads, and BulletsSin City, Vol. 5: Family ValuesBatman: The Dark Knight Strikes AgainSin City, Vol. 4: That Yellow BastardSin City, Vol. 3: The Big Fat KillSin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For300Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard GoodbyeBatman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: Year OneElektra Lives Again Beanworld, Vol. 1: Wahoolazuma!Beanworld, Vol. 2: A Gift Comes!Arkham Asylum: MadnessWolverine Legends Vol. 1: Wolverine/HulkThe Maxx, Vol. 3The Maxx, Vol. 2The Maxx, Vol. 1Empowered, Volume 1Empowered, Volume 2Empowered, Volume 3Empowered, Volume 4Empowered, Volume 5Bigfoot: I Not DeadIn Me Own Words: The Autobiography of BigfootBoneCagesThe Fate of the ArtistThe Big Book of the UnexplainedThe Big Book of ConspiraciesThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black DossierSwamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp ThingThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2From HellThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1Batman: The Killing JokeV for VendettaWatchmenThe Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious ObjectsDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentHellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and OthersHellboy, Vol. 9: The Wild HuntHellboy: Odd JobsHellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness CallsHellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and OthersHellboy, Vol. 6: Strange PlacesHellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror WormHellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of DoomHellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and OthersHellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the DevilHellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of DestructionDonald DuckPogoTales from Outer SuburbiaThe ArrivalMirrorMaskThe Sandman: Book of DreamsThe Day I Swapped My Dad for Two GoldfishThe Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly OnesThe Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream CountryThe Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's HouseThe Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and NocturnesMarvel 1602MarvelsThe Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the RenaissanceCartoon History of the Universe II, Vol. 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of RomeCartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the GreatBat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in JapanBeasts! Book OneGorillaz: Rise of the OgreTank Girl (Tank Girl, #1)Sloppy SecondsHair HighMutant AliensThe Sleazy Cartoons of Bill PlymptonWhen We Were Very MaakiesMaakiesAlias, Vol. 1GoldfishPowers, Vol. 3: Little DeathsJinxPowers, Vol. 7: ForeverPowers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?Fortune & Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book StoryPowers, Vol. 11: Secret IdentityAlias, Vol. 3: The UnderneathPowers, Vol. 9: PsychoticPowers, Vol. 5: AnarchyPowers, Vol. 4: SupergroupAlias, Vol. 2: Come HomePowers, Vol. 8: LegendsPowers, Vol. 6: The SelloutsPowers, Vol. 2: RoleplayPowers, Vol. 10: CosmicAlias, Vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica JonesHouse of MSecret InvasionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Book IThe Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie AvenueWill Eisner's New York: Life in the Big CityThe Best of the SpiritTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1, Revised: Back on the StreetBatman: Joker's AsylumX'ed OutLiberty Meadows Volume 1: EdenLiberty Meadows Volume 2: Creature ComfortsLiberty Meadows Volume 3: Summer Of LoveClerks: The Comic BooksChasing DogmaBluntman and ChronicCerebus, Vol. 1Cerebus, Vol. 2: High SocietyCerebus, Vol. 4: Church and State IICerebus, Vol. 16: The Last DayCerebus, Vol. 6: MelmothCerebus, Vol. 9: ReadsCerebus, Vol. 7: FlightCerebus, Vol. 3: Church and State ICerebus, Vol. 5: Jaka's StoryCerebus, Vol. 11: GuysCerebus, Vol. 10: MindsCerebus, Vol. 8: WomenCerebus, Vol. 13: Going HomeCerebus, Vol. 14: Form and VoidCerebus, Vol. 12: Rick's StoryCerebus, Vol. 15: Latter DaysDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentBlanketsThe Acme Novelty Library #17The Acme Novelty LibraryThe Acme Novelty Library #16The Acme Novelty Datebook: Sketches and Diary Pages in Facsimile, 1986-1995Quimby the Mouse: Or Comic Strips, 1990-1991Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on EarthThe Acme Novelty Library #18The Acme Novelty Datebook, Vol. 2The Acme Novelty Library #19The Acme Novelty Library #2The Acme Novelty Library #1The Acme Novelty Library #3Kingdom ComeThe Best of Gahan WilsonJohnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's CutSquee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable HorrorsFillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!JellyfistI Feel Sick #1Fillerbunny #1Revenge Of The FillerbunnyI Feel Sick #2The Bad Art CollectionA Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks TreasuryAmphigorey TooAmphigoreyAmphigorey Also

Favorite Authors

Douglas Adams
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySo Long, and Thanks for All the FishLife, the Universe, and EverythingThe Restaurant at the End of the UniverseMostly Harmless
Isaac Asimov
The End of EternityDavid Starr, Space RangerThe Foundation TrilogyFoundation and EmpireFoundationSecond FoundationMort
Philip K. Dick
UbikDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The Man in the High CastleA Scanner DarklyThe Collected Stories, Vol. 4: The Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 2: We Can Remember it for You WholesaleThe Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown OxfordPaycheck and Other Classic StoriesThe Shifting Realities of Philip K. DickThe Philip K. Dick Reader
Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. ThompsonThe Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonGonzoGonzo: The ArtFear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamThe Joke's OverHell's AngelsThe Rum DiaryBetter Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of ChampionsCat’s CradleWelcome to the Monkey HouseGalápagosThe Sirens of TitanMother NightGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A NovelA Man Without a CountryPlayer PianoTimequakeDeadeye Dick: A NovelBluebeardBagombo Snuff BoxGod Bless You, Dr. KevorkianWampeters, Foma and GranfalloonsArmageddon in RetrospectLook at the Birdie: Unpublished Short FictionSlaughterhouse-Five
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom SawyerA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtThe Prince and the PauperThe Complete Short Stories of Mark TwainPudd'nhead WilsonThe Diary of Adam and EveLife on the MississippiThe Bible According to Mark TwainThe Mysterious StrangerThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark TwainMark Twain Tonight!Mark Twain's San FranciscoThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other SketchesThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Stranger’s Superheroic Four-Hour Show

A double-wide feature for you listeners this week, as I unsuspectingly find myself filling time, while putting the finishing touches on the Superheroic Stranger in a Strange Land! Four hours of music, experimentation, and news!

For Psionic Dehiscence I pull out some lightly seasoned tapes, the Frank Zappa Crossfire debate, Michael Hedges, the great William F. Buckley/Noam Chomsky debate, and the Firesign Theatre.

Lionel Hampton – Glad Hamp – Jazzmaster
Clatworthy Saunders – In Your Own Sweet Way – All That Jazz
Cannonball Adderley – Moanin’
Louis Armstrong – Let’s Do it (Let’s Fall in Love)
The Firesign Theatre – The Ralph Spoilsport Mantrum – How Can You Be In Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at all
Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington – It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Don’t Have That Swing
Michael Hedges – Because its There

On The Stranger in a Strange Land we battle back the forces of evil, do the Batusi, ponder powered musician battles, super-politics, and every agency from the cia to the x-men.

SRC – In the Hall of the Mountain King
The Bagdhdaddies – Wonder Woman – Katchyazafta
Al Hirt – Green Hornet – Kill Bill Soundtrack
David McCallum – Batman Theme – Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 13: TV Town
Jan & Dean – The Joker is Wild – Meet Batman
Paul McCartney & Wings – Magneto and Titanium Man – Venus and Mars
Mel Tormè – Sunshine Superman – Ultra-Lounge: On the Rocks
Sun Ra – The Bat Cave – Batman (Original Motion Picture Score)
Sun Ra – The Penguin Chase – Batman
Sun Ra – Penguin’s Umbrella – Batman
The Apostles – Super Strut – Acid Jazz Story
They Might Be Giants – John Lee Supertaster – No!
Moe. – Captain America – Warts & All
Spin Doctors – Jimmy Olsen’s Blues – Pocket Full of Kryptonite
Weezer – In The Garage – Weezer
Sun Ra – Batman and Robin Swing – Batman and Robin
Sun Ra – The Riddler’s Retreat – Batman and Robin
Goldfinger – Superman – Hang-Ups
The Aquabats – Powdered Milk Man! – The Fury of the Aquabats!
Fastball – Human Torch – Make Your Mama Proud
Serge Gainsbourg – Comic Strip – Love and the Beat
Jelly Roll Morton – Wolverine Blues – Doctor Jazz
Black Sabbath – Iron Man – Reunion
Entombed – Wolverine Blues
Apollo 440 – Spider-Man Theme
Roam The Hello Clouds – Geoff As the Hulk – Near Mises
Deacon the Villian – X-Men
Dangerdoom – The Mask feat. Ghostface Killah – Mouse and the Mask
7L & Esoteric – Incredible Hulk Rap – Egoclapper
Lee Hazlewood – Batman – Batman and Robin
Gil Scot Heron – Ain’t No Such Thing as Superman
Wesley Willis – I Wupped Batman’s Ass

Stranger in a Strange Land 2010-04-03: Timefill/Superheroic! (Psionic) by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

“It’s just words.”

GAH!

I can’t believe I just figured this shit out! I’m too old to not know this shit! There is more of this kind of crap over at dahawaiian.deviantart.com

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Spider-Man Sucks So Hard

What the hell is with Spider-Man? Aside from the fuh-LAMING costume, which I won’t even get into, what kind of powers are those to fucking have?
Do spiders really have the ability to sense things before they happen? I don’t know any that did before I squished their asses. There’s a good villain for Spider-Man; the Indomitable Shoe, or Rolled-Up Newspaper-Man. Or; and this is my favorite, the Aerosol Avenger. Now, a fly I could buy, because they always jump away before I can fucking squish them. But spiders are slow as all hell.
On top of that, since when do spiders have super-agility? Aren’t they slow-moving? They don’t have to move fast, their prey gets stuck to their web and then they can take all the fucking time in the world getting around to eating it. It’s like a fucking roast just walks in your house and asks if you’re hungry.
“Hi, I’m the walking, talking roast dinner, want to eat me?
“No, roast, I just ate.”
“That’s cool, I’ll just wait in the fridge until you feel peaked.”
“Thanks, be a pal and grab me a beer, will you?”
See? No agility required. Okay, fine, spiders need to be able to balance on their webs, but doesn’t that come down to the wall-crawling more than anything else? They don’t get stuck in their own webs, and they use the little fibers on their legs to traipse about them.
To be thoroughly accurate, a real Spider-Man would just web every bank in New York, wait, and then eventually catch himself a villain. Then, he wouldn’t just leave them for police, but suck the juices from their bodies, the marrow from their bones, and leave an emptied husk to confuse the coroner.
And why the hell did he become all buff? Spiders aren’t buff! They have a giant fucking rear end! In reality, Peter Parker wouldn’t have had to throw away his glasses, he’d have to get three more pairs for his eight fucking eyes.
Oh, and for people who take the movie as gospel, let me tell you something; that webbing wouldn’t really come out of his hands.
Don’t give me that crap about him actually becoming a spider for a short time, because I read the Man-Spider saga, and it was lame. L-A-M-E.
And I don’t buy this whole ‘radioactive spider’ thing. Yeah, okay, fine. Change it into a DNA thing for the movie and the Ultimate Spider-Man series. I still don’t buy it. In fact, I’m more offended now that you’re trying to make it more scientifically viable, and its total bullshit. Last time I checked, DNA doesn’t get transferred from one species to another, otherwise there’d be a lot of half-human, half-sheep out there looking for child support.
At least a radioactive spider was campy. Back in the sixties, everything was radioactive. The Hulk, the cosmic rays that changed the Fantastic Four, even kryptonite radiates and harms Superman. I’m sure there’s some way to get the Green Lantern in on this, but I never really read that because it was crap, too.
A virus, now, that would explain it. Maybe some mad scientist (as they’re always a staple of comic book literature), injected his spiders with a disease that, if they bite a human, they get freakin’ spider-powers. Why? I don’t know, maybe he wanted to inject it into himself but then a freaking tour group of college students interrupted him. What, mad scientists can’t give tour groups? Okay, maybe it was a mad janitor. And he did it just to be mad. Do not question his methods! He will mop you!
Viruses explain everything! Vampires, zombies, werewolves… You know what Captain America got? A serum. A chemically manufactured and not biologically random injection. They created something specifically for the purpose of making him stronger; and that’s believable because I could actually see our government doing some guinea pig type shit for the sake of a military endeavor. Badass Sam Elliot in between Hulk-busting, trying to develop a super-soldier. Then it gets stolen, industrial espionage, happens every day.
Spider-Man? Gets bitten… BITTEN, by a spider who just happens to have been randomly altered or randomly fried by some random radioactivity in which its body randomly reacted by making its blood some sort of human-DNA-changing engine. Was it an all-encompassing DNA catalyst? I mean, had the spider bitten a cat would the cat walk up on your ceiling and then spray webbing out of its ass? And by the way, spiders don’t inject you with blood, they inject you with venom. Venom is not blood. What, in fucking hell, does a spider have to gain by injecting its prey or an attacker with its blood? And, in nature, if the spider-DNA infected its predator or prey as it did Peter Parker, that would only disadvantage the spider. “Oh, shit, I just gave this predator that’s attacking me, or prey that I plan on eating, all of my powers in addition to whatever it had before. I’m fucked.” If anything, a spider would develop, through DNA enhancement or radiated whatever, an ability to steal other peoples’ DNA. If the spider suddenly learned to talk, maybe, but not when it gives a human a useless injection of blood.
Go ahead, explain away that there was blood in the spider venom. I mean, he was fucked up. He was traumatized by radiation. I bet if I stepped into the path of some gamma rays I’d be spitting blood with my saliva, too. What they don’t tell you about Bruce Banner is that he shits green blood at least twice a week.
Let me go off subject for a second here and talk about Venom. Venom is awesome. You know why? Because I buy it. You try to explain to me, in Earth terms and scientific methodology, how a burnt spider, who just happened to survive a radioactive blast, imparts his genetic makeup onto a human being, and I cannot accept that. But you say, oh, some alien with incredibly adaptive abilities copies the superpowers of another, and, as it seeks a new host, takes those remembered powers with it, then I buy that. You know why? Because I have no reference for it. There aren’t any aliens coming down all offended and saying, “No, it would never happen that way.”
Whereas, I’ve micro-waved spiders. I know they don’t survive.
You know what else is great about Venom? He straight kicks ass, yo. He won’t leave your criminal ass for police to find. In fact, if somebody ever did find your ass, or any other part of your body for that matter, then Venom didn’t do his job correctly. He could have killed Spider-Man years ago, and would have too, buy they have some deal going on or something. A respect issue. Yeah, you fight crime too, I’ll let you go. You helped me stop Carnage, I’ll let you live. For now. And then Peter Parker’s all like, Gee, I wonder if it was a mistake to let Venom go. Bitch! He let you go! What were going to do? Take a picture of him? Okay, fine, you tricked him with the sound vibrations once. Whoopty-frickin’-doo. You’re a science whiz. But you can’t trick Venom again.
Let me quote president Bush here; “Fool us once, shame on you… fool us twice… uh… you can’t fool us a second time, that’s just the point. It ain’t happenin‘.”
Douche-bag! He knows your secret identity! Your secret identity. You know, the thing you told Mary-Jane, Doctor Octavius, Harry Osbourne and your fucking landlord, I’m sure. The thing that Robbie Robertson and Aunt May have figured out because it’s not real freaking difficult when your job is to take fucking pictures of yourself. “My, what a lovely shot of Spider-Man’s crotch, however did you get it?”
I tell you, if Venom or Carnage really wanted to fuck Spider-Man up, they could and all he’d be able to do is sit in a corner with his little web shooters all ready, which they can tear through like butter, and pray because they don’t set off your precious little spider-sense.
It seems to me that having spider-sense would be a very useless thing to have.
Let me support that; You see, Spider-Man, in the comics, would get his flashy little squiggles around his head anytime anything bad was about to happen. However, he didn’t know what form the bad thing was going to present itself in. It could have been a super villain, or a flood, or a burglary, or perhaps simply a punch in the face. But since you don’t know what it is, who really fucking cares that you’re going to know something is going to happen sometime. That’s like paying money for a psychic to tell you that, someday, in the future, you may possibly die.
Now, granted, this gives Spider-Man the advantage of being prepared for something. No enemy can really get the jump on him, because ten or twelve seconds beforehand, he knows, shit, something’s going to go down. In the comics and in the cartoon, immediately after he would see what it was that was going down, like a fire or the green goblin flying by. But, this doesn’t really prepare him for anything. Just because you know something is going to happen to you, it doesn’t really help when eighty pumpkin bombs are suddenly falling from the sky and decimating the roof you’re on.
Also, I’ve seen Peter Parker get the spider-sense for extended periods of time. He’ll be at a fancy party, or a press conference, or a gala event, some other photo opportunity for Jameson’s rag, and for like a solid twenty minutes his spider-sense is buzzing saying, listen! like that Goddamn fairy thing in Zelda 64. Then he gets all paranoid and starts looking all over the place for something that could be wrong. What, is the scaffolding going to fall down? Is Mary-Jane going to get gang-raped by monkeys? Is the Shocker or some other 80’s reject villain going to jump into the building via the nearest window, with his goons in tow, and raise some hell? Granted, it gives ole Pete time to do a wardrobe change, but this never seemed like a problem for him anyways. All it would do for me is equal a great big headache and possible a trip to the insane asylum for worn-out superheroes.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. In the movie, Pete was able to duck Flash Thompson’s fist, and catch Mary-Jane when she fell down with a tray of food, then catch all of the things on her tray. Alright, I’ll give you that. But that is a distinctly different power. Those are spider-reflexes. When you see somebody fall out of the corner of your eye, or you see a fist coming at you, or even the Green Goblin’s glider, shit, yeah, move out of the fucking way. I mean, you’re fast. Jump, idiot. But that’s not the same thing as just having flashy squiggle things rotate around your head and you suddenly know, damn, it’s time to duck.
I mean, what the hell is that!?
So, in conclusion, Captain America rocks, and Spider-Man can take a giant metallic Octopus tentacle up the ass for all I care.
Thank you.