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Kill Bill Foundations: Audience

I’m still not into the meat of my discussion of Kill Bill, but I have a few comments about the moviegoing experience. I don’t like being in crowds much in general, and I particularly dislike it in movie theaters. It’s possible that I gravitate to non-Hollywood movies in part because there will be fewer people in the audience to make me wonder whether they’re observing me and, if so, what they think. But we were lucky both times to be in fairly sparsely populated theaters, and I’m getting over my awkwardness anyway, so it worked out, although there were tough spots.

What I hadn’t expected was that Kill Bill Vol. 2 would be such a comedy classic, at least if the audience was to be trusted. They thought all the fight scenes were exhilarating and funny and any character mannerisms were hysterical, particularly Pai Mei’s beard toss. I realize I have a stronger than normal response to violence, but I guess I’d hoped people would be more shocked or disturbed than amused by at least some of the fights. Then again, maybe the horrified people were as quiet as I was. On the other hand, the audience seemed at best lukewarm toward the dialogue, shifting awkwardly during any emotional episodes. I was somewhat chagrined by the family behind us, who had brought two elementary school children with them, but I’m sure there are benefits to introducing violent imagery early, at least one of which is that it will keep your kid from growing up like me.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 was a different setup. There was a group of maybe four college-aged guys and another couple there, and that may have been it, so there were two women watching the movie. The more recent crowd had something like a 3:1 ratio, I guess. The first crowd, particularly the guys, laughed some and sort of grunted approvingly during action sequences, but it mostly seemed to be in keeping with what I saw as the tone of the movie. Maybe it was what seemed like a drastic change in tone between the two that made the second audience so rambunctious. All I know is that it took me a long time to settle in because of the ridiculous giggles, and that I probably liked the movie less because of it, but that’s a criticism of myself as a viewer.

The reason I’m writing this at all is because I never got a sense of intended audience for the film. It’s possible the intended audience is just Quentin Tarantino, but I don’t know. I just don’t know if the rest of our audience left wondering whether Bill had loved The Bride and whether he would have been able to stop hurting her, and to what extent her total adoration had made him want to hurt her in the first place. I know one audience is geeks, the kind of people who are excited by the namedropping and the intertextuality, and that’s a valid group. I just wonder whether Kill Bill would have been better served by being less accessible and making viewers work a little harder to enjoy and appreciate it. Should it have attracted the same audience that went to see The Punisher? I guess I was hoping the answer would be no, because I’m so sick of revenge stories glorifying that ideology and am not much of a fan of women-in-peril pieces, though Kill Bill managed to subvert that at least a bit. As with Hellboy, I might have liked it more if it had been targeted at me more closely, but I liked it enough on its own merits. A lot of things would be easier if I were a fanboy, but I’m much happier as is, even if it means silently cursing moviegoers while they laugh and laugh. They should be glad I don’t support revenge!

Kill Bill Foundations: Good and Worthy Death

Here’s more prep work for discussing Kill Bill Vol. 2, the second of my two reflections on Kill Bill Vol. 1. Again, I’ve changed only coding and pronouns.

Originally posted 31 October 2003

Last time, I wrote about why I don’t like the characterization of rapists in Kill Bill. While I still don’t and don’t concede any of my objections, I have a thematic defense for it.

This is a revenge movie, but we don’t know (and perhaps never will) the reason why revenge is necessary. Sure, The Bride is betrayed by her (former?) fellow Assassins and left for dead, a massacre carried out at the word of the father of her unborn baby. But what’s her motivation? I joked that The Bride now has to wipe out all the people who’d seenher whimpering and begging not to be killed to be able to live with her bad-ass self, and in retrospect I think that could be partly true. There’s a pattern of how people die and how they deserve to die. An honorable warrior deserves an honorable death.

Other than giving me Tyrtaeus flashbacks, what does this involve? I’m not entirely sure; I was too caught up in Tyrtaeus. Still, the point is made early in the movie. Vernita and The Bride are evenly matched when sparring with knives and life histories, finding almost a comfortable camaraderie, but this changes when Vernita changes the rules. As quickly as she shoots from behind the symbolic shield of her daughter, she is killed conclusively and bluntly. Against an opponent who fights by whatever code they recognize, The Bride allows the battle to be a contest of skill and athleticism and all sorts of endurance, but those unworthy of such a display are summarily slaughtered.

It’s possible that this is why the rapists are basically caricatures, because without honor and principle, they are nothing more than beasts. They have no humanity, no depth because they are not a part of the world The Bride acknowledges as human, as on her own level. They die bloodily but easily, without fighting back. The dull die quickly.

I’ll go ahead and post this now and then go away for the weekend, part of which will be spent discussing the movie. Maybe I’ll understand more or better on my return.

Kill Bill Foundations: Self-Righteous Indignation

As Steven said, we saw Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 this weekend, and in preparation for saying more, I’m reposting my comments on Vol. 1 from the older version of our blog. I’ve standardized formatting and switched to gendered pronouns from Spivak varient nongendered pronouns.

Originally posted 29 October 2003

Last week was a much-needed vacation not from work but, to a large extent, from the Internet. Now I’m back, refreshed and exhausted and working 10-hour days.

In the interim, though, I saw Kill Bill and I’ve been writing and thinking about it in relation to everything else I run into. It was a very frustrating half-movie, all the more so because I feel unable to critique it fully without recourse to the story’s end. All I’ve got are a bunch of references and reminders and preliminary theories, and they all make me want more. I’m not sure if that means it’s a good movie. I don’t think I’d talk about it in those terms, but it’s compelling to me and I enjoyed watching the later parts, although the first half hour or so (maybe hour, one of the benefits of wearing no watch) left me awkwardly uncomfortable.

I held off posting at first after seeing it because what I was going to say was too personal, and because I thought that most of the failure was my own. It’s not that I’ve changed these views, but just that I don’t see the point of not saying anything just because I’m unable to escape autobiographical criticism.

I have very strong views about rape. It’s an issue that impacts me directly and strongly. I’m interested in theory that surrounds sexual assault and can discuss it intellectually, but that doesn’t mean that I can give up my instinctual emotional impact, either. And Kill Bill really annoyed me on this front. I now have an alternate explanation for the way the scenes went, but I want to talk about my immediate understanding of and annoyance with the scenes involving The Bride and Buck, the hospital worker who sold her body while she was comatose.

First of all, Kill Bill is in many ways a superficial movie that seems basically devoid of social commentary. I mean, it’s not terribly difficult to interpret various stances and arguments into the movie, but, particularly because we don’t have all the data, it’s very difficult to see if there are moral judgments at work or just what Tarantino is doing. I know this.

Still, it seemed to me problematic and cowardly that Tarantino broadly stereotyped the rapists in the film in the way he did. Buck and the hapless redneck whose name I didn’t catch (if it was ever given) are nasty, miserable, ugly people. Both of them die in nasty, bloody ways as The Bride awakens to begin her arc of revenge, taking as spoils Buck’s outrageous “Pussy Wagon.”

The trouble for me is that unlike anyone the Bride kills later (in “real” chronological, not the movie’s narrative, order) they are both just caricatures of brainless hormones, Bad People. Or are we not supposed to read them that way? Are they just pitiful exaggerations of particularly sex-starved “normal” guys, albeit hideous and filthy ones?

The reason I called this depiction cowardly is because it’s easy. I mean, if they’d been black rather than white, it might have raised an outcry about the perils of racial stereotyping. However audiences just rolled with this characterization, laughing a bit in the audience I sat with. What makes this crime different from the others in the movie is that while most of the people in the audience haven’t executed an entire wedding party or disemboweled a man at a bar, a fair portion of what I presume is the target audience has (or knows someone who has) had sex with someone who wasn’t entirely awake or sober or otherwise consenting. To have the characters in the movie who do this be vapid idiots seems to me to allow viewers not to have any thoughts that might indict them or the sorts of things they believe in, since there is no entry for identification with these characters.

I don’t think Tarantino has any responsibility to advance my political views, and I’m not surprised he doesn’t seem do so. I was just troubled by this in the context all the violence toward and between woman, and the audience reactions to all of it. I’m not sure what I’m asking for, which is why I’ve come to different views of the scene, but it was upsetting to me basically because it doesn’t humanize a very human issue and because it lets stupid guys (and I’m stereotyping on gender and many other grounds, I know) go on being stupid guys when there was a clear chance to challenge them. I shouldn’t be looking for verisimilitude in a movie like this, but it’s there to some extent, in a chilling and emotionally compelling scene, and yet it could have been so much more and, for me, made the movie so much less.

Red Right Hand

n.b. This was initally posted Monday evening, when we realized things were going wrong with the blog, and this realization arose from the fact that I don’t believe the post ever arrived in a form visible to people other than me. Now that we’ve settled into our piratical new home, I can revive it. Remember this is Monday Me, far less world-weary and generally weary. I’m not sure I agree with myself anymore.

I had a fun weekend, though not a relaxing one, so most details will have to wait until I’m more alert. I must be getting old; this time change has done me in! But I know you want to hear about Hellboy before I toddle off to bed.

First, though, a message for Rick Geerling. I went ahead and bought the Negative Burn collections for the first and second years. So far so good, but I hope to say more later.

Now, Hellboy! We liked it. I thought it was a lot of fun. I haven’t read many of the Hellboy stories, but I think the movie could have benefited from a certain sort of adherence to their mold. I’m just not especially interested in stories where the fate of the world is at stake. This is an ongoing problem with superhero stories in general and particularly in movies. I just think superhero movies would be more fun for me if they weren’t action movies (and I realize there’s no hope for this coming true) and the same holds for roleplaying games. I prefer smaller stakes because that leaves more room for character development, for personal impact. Then again, this could be linked to my peculiar disdain for property damage in standard Hollywood action sequences, too.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not a purist who was offended by the love story in Hellboy, but I would much rather have seen more of a Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense slice-of-life story, in which a love story would fit, than the way the love story got manipulated by the Bigger Plot into something more trite than special. A lot of things would fit, like more pamcakes scenes, and there would still be fights. But it would be easier for me to get invested if it were just another day, another monster, none of this threat of eldritch horror from another dimension melodrama shit. And I think if this weren’t set up like a video game with a final confrontation with the biggest baddie maybe other people wouldn’t have minded the special effects or the rather standard way in which the threats are resolved. And maybe if the movie hadn’t been set up to culminate in one big magic moment the creators could have focused instead on expanding the characters to let the audience connect with them.

And I’m saying all this as someone who had a great time at the movie. I’d prefer something different, but that’s how I feel after I see many films. And Hellboy featured excellent performances, allowing for plenty of characterization (at least for the good guys) in a fairly small space, so it wasn’t totally lacking. I’m just curious why this is the way superhero movie stories have to work, since it’s the characters rather than the deeds that keep people coming back, right? I realize Superman’s death sold awfully well, but I don’t think people follow Wolverine for years just because they can’t wait to see who he’ll slice next. Or maybe I’m wrong. I’m not in the target demographic for superhero comics or Hollywood movies, but I sure wouldn’t mind a film that catered to me more. But I know what sells best is big explosions in HDTV surround-sound, and that doesn’t interest me. I’d like more cigar-lighting scenes, more stock heroic poses in moments of pain rather than victory, more pivotal Nick Cave moments (or Leonard Cohen, if applicable) and more pamcakes. Definitely more pamcakes.

“Woe to people under a ruler without a sense of shame.”

Last night I finished reading Naguib Mahfouz’s book Arabian Nights & Days. It’s a beautiful, brilliant work, a set of interlocking stories about the habitues of the Cafe of the Emirs and what happens to them when stories are set loose among them. The sultan’s wife Sharzhad has just finished telling her famous tales only to find that her life has been spared, that her husband Shahriyar has lost his desire to wed and kill the city’s virgins. But the tales’ lives are not over, as Sindbad suddenly feels an urge to go to sea. And there are treasures and genies and magical rings and plenty of thievery. And assassination and regime change.

In some sense, regime change is at the core of almost all the stories. Various men get various kinds of power and, while thinking themselves good men in good standing with God, they decide (or are coerced) to use their power to bring about what they see as right, which typically results in the death of the governor of the Quarter, not to mention other people involved. Several men serve as police chiefs, and widows and daughters are married off. At the center of this tumult and change are some genies and even an angel, Shahriyar and his immediate family, and the implacable Sheikh Abdullah al-Balkhi. And yes, there’s plenty of creation of self, and self-characterization and self-delusion. It’s not that power corrupts but that people who aren’t used to it don’t know how to wield it, and those who have it can’t survive without.

This is a book they ought to be using in those everybody-reads-the-same-book programs, because the power of an open metaphor is constantly evident. It would be a hit with the antiwar folks because of quotes like the one in my title, though Shariyar’s shame drives him through the looking glass to madness and love. And there are more than enough corrupt officials to be compared to the modern set of the reader’s choosing. There are also men killing for the sake of their understanding of Islam and men who refuse to kill or refuse to die. Women are a subtle, subversive undercurrent, despised and desired but incomprehensible. They know and tell and understand different, hidden stories. There’s romance and violence and magic and religion, and it’s all packed into precise and simple prose. I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep, or I’d have read it in a night.

Arabian Nights & Days is more than a fairy tale revision, if it’s that at all. It’s an explosion of stories into reality, a picture of the way narratives move and stories change and people change. It’s not clear that Sindbad knew of Sinbad’s adventures when he embarked on his own, but he figured out how to deal with rocs nonetheless. We all know how our stories will end, but this is a clear reminder of the numberless ways to get there, the unexpected jolts in life, out own character development. And after any story ends, another takes its place, but perhaps that means it doesn’t end at all.

Back to Blithedale

Yesterday I teased that I’d compare The Blithedale Romance to Joan of Arcadia, but what it really reminded me of was I Capture the Castle. It’s perhaps not immediately obvious why I’d think about the story about becoming a woman amid a family of eccentrics in the English countryside while reading about a poet becoming an older, crankier poet among utopians in Massachusetts, and if it is obvious you can probably safely stop reading now. Actually the commonalities that jumped out at me don’t lie in idealistic eccentrics trying to make ends meet in a bucolic setting. It was that both feature brashly uncensored narrators. I started to say “unselfconscious,” but both Cassandara Mortmain and Miles Coverdale are intensely selfconscious and self-aware, though both have a tendency to miss or mistake crucial issues. And they’re about trying to distinguish love as it happens from the Platonic ideal of love that you can think about, which is perhaps impossible if you want to maintain that ideal.

Really, these are narrators and narratives obsessed with the overlap between ideals and dreams and realities, with the questions that arise from observation and a search for certainty. And how much murder guilt should you feel if the death is not at your hands? How long do love and promises hold? Or are promises only wishes and dreams? Can you really be a martyr if you revel in your doom? And should you have noticed those clear, inauspicious signs, or were they only visible when you looked back? Is it worth not being rich to be honorably poor? And why don’t people behave like the people in books? or do they?

I’m getting too tired to think more about this, but I’m going to go ahead and publish this in hopes it will urge me to clarify my thoughts further, which hasn’t worked yet. I’m not sure whether this means I believe in hope or the redemptive possibilities of publicly stated goals or just that doing a lousy job is better than nothing at all.

Skating on Happy Valley Pond

Well, I’m wrapping up a comics-free weekend, and it’s been a good one. I’ve just returned from a ceili in which I actually danced and didn’t play music at all. (Aside to those not in the know, a ceili is an Irish set dancing party, basically extreme square dancing. And I’m awful.) I always manage to forget how good it feels to exercise, but I remember right now and it does feel good. This perhaps goes hand-in-hand with my other major adventure this weekend, naps!

In between all that exciting activity - not to mention laundry! - I managed to finish Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, obviously inspired by David Fiore, who has managed to build a life around it. This is one weird little novel! I think it would benefit greatly from being read aloud, but that might make it funny when it’s supposed to be serious. The trouble is that it’s hard to take it seriously when it’s about a bunch of self-absorbed artists and mystics and dreamers and philanthropists trying to make a go of a Utopian farming community. Dave, if you push me, I could explain how it’s like Joan of Arcadia, like any narrative of adolescent enthusiasm. But I think what really matters is that it’s about a poet who scorns mystics and mesmerists yet finds himself wishing he’d noticed portents at the time. It’s about a feminist who has all the womanly flaws imaginable, in addition to rare beauty. And there’s enough discourse on poverty and revelations of shocking family histories to put Dickens to shame. Miles Coverdale, the narrator, gives the book a clear, consistent voice, though a quirky one. It’s a story about the disjunction between who people want to be and who they are and the longings that arise because of this. Perhaps the unexamined life is the only livable option.

I’m most intrigued by what sort of needlework Priscilla used to make her cunning little silk purses (and any pig-related insights are unwelcome) but I’m assuming that Hawthorne may have been ignorant of needlecraft and didn’t elaborate for that reason. I was rooting for more knitting scenes! Of more general interest is the problem with philanthropy. I was a bit surprised to find that a group of idealistic artists would be opposed to systems for rehabilitating criminals. I was never able to figure out exactly what it was about this idea that made it so abhorrent to Coverdale, who admired (and idealized) honest poverty. I thought at first it was a sort of moralistic position that people needed to pay for their mistakes rather than get help, but by the end I wasn’t sure if it was more that the people with the power/wealth/influence to be philanthropists can’t even save themselves and shouldn’t be attempting to save others.

There were striking insights and lovely quotes on almost every page, but more will have to wait for another day when I’ve adjusted to the time change and gotten some rest.

“I said exactly what I wanted to say, exactly the way I wanted to say it.”

Dave Sim was actually interviewed by The Onion (not a permalink), and this is the quote that sticks with me most:

“There was no “storm of misinterpretation” following Cerebus’ “marriage” to Astoria. I’m not sure the quotes belong on there. That was part of my point. If Cerebus is the Pope and he declares himself married to Astoria and has sex with her, is that rape? There were a number of levels to that one, but that was the joke as far as I was concerned.”

I’ve never read Cerebus, mostly because I didn’t really see the point in giving money to someone who doesn’t think I deserve to be able to make such weighty decisions. Then as the end drew near and other comics bloggers talked about all the interesting things going on in Cerebus I got more and more convinced that I should give it a chance. But I haven’t yet, and it’s partly what’s contained in that quote that holds me back. I realize I may sound like the sort of “hysterical” feminist Sim so despises on this one (and, let’s be honest, that’s basically my normal state) but I’m utterly put off by a writer who can’t think of a better way to deal with an abstract concept like “what level of power makes you able to make something true/real/existent just by saying it?” without throwing in a “joke” sequence in which his main character rapes the character based on the author’s by-then-ex-wife?

And I hope I can be emotional without proving Sim right about the nature of women, but this all hits me far too close to home and I really don’t understand how it gets to be such a laughing matter. So an established, nuanced character gets raped (or maybe not, since apparently in Simworld there’s no such thing as marital rape) to lend gravitas to some adolescent musings on language and meaning and that’s supposed to just make the point stronger or something. Perhaps it does, but not in the way Sim intended. I realize that the tragedy is that people who weren’t themselves adolescent fanboys were reading and were betrayed by writing like this, not to mention Astoria’s human counterpart. And I just don’t know whether I could read and enjoy this, even without the question of what my money supports. I know other people read and I trust their judgment, but I don’t know how to make this decision.

Not really switching gears, my interpretational fixation just before we began this version of the blog was how people can do wicked, hurtful things and be utterly convinced they’re doing something right. Dave Sim seems to be one of those people, sure of himself and utterly remorseless, although it’s unfair of me to say that when he’s perhaps repented in his way for the things he did before his vow of chastity and so on. What he’s done, though, is build a world in which he doesn’t even seem to have the “number of levels” he put in Cerebus. He knows what’s right and what’s real and what’s best, and never seems to question whether things he says are so. At least he realizes his own thoughts are out of step with many other people’s. They are with mine, and I think because of who I am this may be a fatal disconnect. I don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing.

What I Watch (and a little why)

David Fiore wanted to know what movies other comics bloggers love. I can’t comply with a list of 30 or more like other people, although if I did a longer list, I would have some overlap with those and especially with Eve Tushnet’s. Instead these are the pivotal references in what Dave and Rick Geerling are calling spiritual autobiography, and they seem to come in pairs for me. And since one goal of this is analysis of the links to comics preferences (ok, and simple voyeurism/curiosity and characterization, I assume) I should let it be known that I’ve just realized that most of my favorite superhero stories are fill-ins not parts of storyarcs.

It’s only a roughly ordered list, but I still need to start with A Moment of Innocence, Farsi title Noon va Goldoon, literally Bread and Flower, directed by the Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf. It’s about autobiography and representation and love and idealism and, well, the loss of innocence implied in the title. In reality and the movie, back in the 1970s young dissident Makhmalbaf attacked a policeman with a knife, trying to steal his gun. Makhmalbaf was jailed for the offense, and the young officer left the force. Years later, Makhmalbaf, now a respected director, reencountered the policeman, who’d shown up at a casting call for extras. They decided to film their story, and this is the result. Each picks a younger version of himself, perhaps a bit more handsome. Each independently (and this is where I have to take the story on its own logic; I don’t know whether Makhmalbaf actually oversaw all the shooting or if he didn’t know until afterwards what the police side of things was looking like) took and trained his younger self to understand what he was thinking and feeling, how to live his memories in the days leading up to the event. That’s all I’m going to say for now in hopes that someone among my readers will then go see it (or has seen it already) but this was heavily on my mind when I started talking about “creation of self through narrative,” and it sticks with me still. No movie has given me chills like the last scene here did, because how people make themselves is the most compelling story.

Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders. I could believe in angels who exist only to pull the tiny fragments of poetry out of life and record them. I know well how that life is not satisfying. And the music!

Moving way back to me as a 5-year-old, Return to Oz was a formative experience indeed. I’d read the books and so my parents took me to the movie, not knowing how much I’d be overwhelmed by the visuals. I grew up without television and remember this and a few other movies I saw as a child as engrossing and amazing movies, so big I couldn’t even really process them. Steven and I saw this last winter and it’s entertaining, but odd. I realize I’m also obsessed with the idea of audience, but I really don’t know how this movie got made. It’s too dark and disturbing for children (and I carried with me a slight distrust of optometrists’ machines, even though I knew that they weren’t quite what threatened Dorothy) and far too simplistic for adults. But it’s lovely, and perhaps where I started an obsession with set design.

I was perhaps nine or ten when I saw Picnic at Hanging Rock on television at my grandparents’. I was surprised to find when I saw it again last year that the scene I remember most vividly didn’t occur onscreen but was merely narrated. Typical! I haven’t seen any of Peter Weir’s films, but I probably should if they can manage the chilling, understated longing and melodrama that captured me then and now.

High school means Heavenly Creatures, and I’ve certainly gone on to watch more Peter Jackson! At the end and for half an hour after my first viewing my stomach was clenched with the thrill and horror of a love not worth killing for and the pain and power of self-delusion. My mother had taken me to see it since I wasn’t technically old enough to get in alone and she, perhaps predictably, was unimpressed and disgusted.

A few years later I developed a not-quite-inexplicable addiction to The Full Monty. It managed to humanize men for me, which seemed at the time like a fairly impressive feat.

And then there’s the last year or so, in which I’ve seen more films than probably any other time in my life, which isn’t saying much. Russian Ark was a standout for its audacity and precision and costumes and for a tiny unspoken subplot about quarreling lovers that I think I see. My favorite, though, was Dirty Pretty Things, almost a template for what I like in a movie. Sensitivity to culture, gorgeous dialogue, strong settings, candid and not exploitative looks at gender and violence as part of an actual story with actual characters. Actually, I’m not sure how it could be replicated, so it probably isn’t a good template, but is an impressive movie.

And then there are life-changing experiences. Casino Royale has opened me up to amazingly ridiculous humor and light-hearted happiness and Burt Bacharach and the Tijuana Brass! And after Annie Hall I cried for three days and then got the first burst of strength to really stop for good.

Consumer Taste Test: Animal Man

Finally, a relaxing weekend! Well, a little at least. Steven and I did see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which we both enjoyed, though our interpretations of the ending differ greatly. I began reading The Invisibles and just finished Spooked. And I relaxed and got a full night’s sleep for more than one night, which is the best news of all.

Steven had said earlier that as a 12-year old he would have preferred Animal Man to a straight-up power fantasy, but since we lack the time travel technology to test this assertion, we lent the trades to my 12-year-old brother. He really enjoyed them and says he sympathized with Animal Man. The stories featuring Bwana Beast were favorites. The ending of the series, however, was too “cliched” for his tastes. I couldn’t tease out exactly what he meant by that, but it may be related to the fact that he’s been writing stories for several years now in which he, as author, interacts with his characters, so maybe it’s child’s play. Or maybe it seemed like just another “and it was all a dream!” baby-meta ending. At any rate, apparently Animal Man is more serious and compelling than the Essential X-Men volumes he’s read, but not nearly as funny as Young Justice. I’m not sure what this proves except that every time I lend or give him comics I end up with him demanding more and checking in with me whenever he sees me just in case I’ve unearthed another appropriate text. And that he’s going to be really thrilled when he finds out there’s a Bill & Ted comic! Wow!