Tagged: Warlock

Glenn Hauman: Is Binge-Reading Bad For Comics?

On a whim the other day, I decided to go re-read some old Warlock comics.

It was an extremely mind-blowing experience, and not for the usual reasons when reading Warlock.

The issues blurred by in a smear— or maybe that was the old crappy printing. The seams in the stories were much more visible than I remembered. Things that seemed deep and profound just came off as silly and obvious. Even Adam Warlock himself, instead of being the tormented golden child trying to find his place in the universe, sounded and acted like a whiny brat.

Why? What happened? Was this book hit by the suck fairy?

No, that wasn’t it. It was because I was taking it in waaaay too fast. These books were simply not designed to be consumed one after the other so quickly.

You may have noticed this phenomenon yourself.

Scott McCloud spends a chapter in Understanding Comics about the way time flows when you read comics, how time is perceived, and the relationship between time as depicted in the comics by the creators and how it’s perceived by the reader. But, amazingly, he missed one important unit of time— the gap in time (and therefore reading) imposed from publishing.

We’ve talked for a long time about comics being written for the trades — that moment where we gather up six or so issues at a time, every six months or so, and put them together for a single unit of consumption. But for a lot of history, comics weren’t like that. There were no trades to be had. There were just single issues that you had to wait a month for. (Or, depending on where you grew up, you waited a week for 5-8 page chunks of stories, either in The Spirit section of the Sunday paper or something like 2000 AD.)

There were gaps of time. Cliffhangers. Come back next issue, kids!

Comics creators in the past used those intervals at the same time they were constricted by them. Chris Claremont was mocked for years for reintroducing all the X-Men every single issue, but he knew that every issue was going to be somebody’s first, while other readers were just going to have forgotten who was who over a month’s time. (And over time, X-Men became the most popular title Marvel published. He had to be doing something right.)

The biggest beneficiary of this gap? I claim it was Watchmen. Readers were tossed into a such a deeply detailed world where we were trying to just get more – we had to read the back matter of the issues, the non-comics stuff which hinted at a much larger world because there was nothing else to read. And fans would pore over it and discuss and argue while waiting, waiting for the next issue.

Around 400,000 readers read Watchmen episodically, you can tell who was screaming over the three-month gap between issues #10 and #11. But since then, there’s been the Watchmen collected editions, which is the way most people have read it in the three decades (yikes!) since with a total print run well over 4 million copies at this point.

And I really have to wonder… how are the new folks reading it? Are they going straight through? Are they skipping over the text pieces, and maybe coming back later? I don’t know, but I do know that they don’t have to wait for the next installment… and that has to change how the book impacts you.

What do you think?

The Law Is A Ass


Georgia_Dakei_(Earth-616)_from_X-Factor_Vol_17_001See, now this is why people need lawyers.

I’ve written this column long enough and covered so many topics that the “this” to which I alluded in my first paragraph could be just about anything. But in this case, the “this” happens to be All New X-Factor #7. And the “people” happen to be the members of the all-new X-Factor – Polaris, Gambit, Quicksilver, Cypher, Warlock, and Danger. So let us proceed there with all due haste.

The story opens with a young girl named Georgia Dakei. Georgia is the daughter of Scott Dakei who is, himself, a piece of work. Not just because he’s a fictional character so is, by definition and like all fictional characters, a piece of work. Scott is an anti-mutant bigot and an ultra-conservative multi-media mogul who owns a half dozen major newspapers and a major news network. So Scott’s Rupert Murdoch. In addition to being a media mogul, Scott writes best-selling spy thrillers; which also makes him part Bill O’Reilly,  part Glenn Beck, part William F. Buckley, and part every other conservative pundit who has turned to writing action thrillers. Finally, Scott is a paranoid who lives in constant fear of what he believes is an over-reaching government that’s poised to attack him at any moment. Because of his extreme political views, not because it doesn’t like his books. So Scott lives in a heavily-fortified underground compound in New Mexico called The Bunker. Seriously, the man’s got a bunker mentality and lives in a compound called The Bunker? That’s a little more on the nose than Pinocchio playing Liar’s Poker.

Georgia lives in The Bunker with Scott, where she is home schooled and completely shut off from the rest of the world. Like most teenagers, Georgia is naturally rebellious. She just happens to have a little more to rebel against; i.e. her cut-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world lifestyle which she calls boring and frustrating and depressing. The problem arose, when Georgia called her lifestyle boring and frustrating and depressing on a live video blog, against her father’s express orders and warnings. And when her father found out about it in the middle of her blog, he reacted violently. He physically yanked Georgia off screen and his bodyguard shot Georgia’s computer to turn it off.

The all-new X-Factor saw Georgia’s blog and decided to get involved. They determined that Georgia was a girl in trouble so decided to go to New Mexico and, if Georgia wanted to leave, to take her from The Bunker even against her father’s wishes. After all, as Quicksilver put it, “It’s not kidnapping if she wants out.”

And that’s where the whole X-Factor needs a lawyer thing comes in. See, a lawyer – like me – knows where to find the pertinent criminal code statutes that define kidnaping in New Mexico. Okay, you probably know where to find them, too; the Internet. But a lawyer – like me – knows how to interpret those statutes to determine whether taking the girl from her father might still be kidnaping even if the girl “wants out.”

Kidnap in New Mexico is defined in New Mexico Statute § 30-4-1 as unlawfully taking, restraining, transporting or confining of a person, by force, intimidation or deception. Now when X-Factor arrived at The Bunker, it was met with resistance in the form of multiple machine guns that Scott Dakei had ordered discharged at the team. When that didn’t kill them – come on, they’re mutants and the heroes of this comic, you expected some puny machine gun fire to take them out – Quicksilver reacted physically by knocking Scott and his bodyguard unconscious. That covered the “by force” part of the definition. So, if X-Factor actually transported Georgia from the Bunker after using force to get into it, would that be kidnaping?

Well, no.

See, I cheated a bit. I didn’t give you the full definition of kidnaping in New Mexico. It isn’t enough merely to take a girl by force. To kidnap her, you have to take her for the purpose of ransom; to use her as a hostage or shield; to enslave her; or so that you can inflict death, physical injury, or a sexual offense on her. As X-Factor didn’t have any of those motivations for taking Georgia, their taking her wouldn’t be kidnaping.

But wait. There’s more. And not just a second Ginsu knife.

The “more” is the part where the lawyer – not like me; me – tells X-Factor they need him because he knows you have to look at more than just one statute. See there’s always the possibility that, even if X-Factor wasn’t kidnaping Georgia, they’d break some other New Mexico law by taking her from her father. A lawyer would know that it was necessary to read the other statutes in New Mexico’s criminal code – such as NM Stat § 30-4-4 – and determine whether X-Factor’s actions might violate one of them – such as NM Stat § 30-4-4.

So what is NM Stat § 30-4-4 and why, as you’ve probably already guessed, would X-Factor violate it, if they took Georgia from the Bunker?

NM Stat § 30-4-4 is the Custodial Interference law. It says if a person who does not have a right of custody over a child under the age of 18, which Georgia is, maliciously takes a child from someone who has custody over the child, which Scott has, the person is guilty of Unlawful Interference with Custody; a felony of the fourth degree.

I don’t think that any court would be too hard pressed to find that if X-Factor knocked out Scott Dakei – the malicious part – and then transported his daughter away from him, the members of X-Factor would have unlawfully interfered with Mr. Dakei’s custody. Do you?

So, did X-Factor take Georgia away from her father and break New Mexico’s Custodial Interference statute? I can’t say.

No, really, I can’t say. Telling you whether X-Factor took Georgia and broke the law would be a spoiler and I’ve used up my allotment of SPOILER WARNINGS for the month.