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By the way

New feed URLs (for uninteresting reasons related to the upgrade of our WordPress system which was necessitated by my earlier erroneous upload): see http://blog.peiratikos.net/feed/ or peruse the menu to the right of the screen.

Peiratikos 2.0: Nested categories, too!

We’ve completely restructured our categories to give them more, well, structure. We’ve also eliminated a few superfluous categories. The new category structure looks like this:

  • Comics by Steven
  • Peiratikos
  • Politics
  • Roleplaying
  • Textual Criticism
    • Media
      • Comics
      • Literature
      • Movies
      • Television
    • Superheroes
      • X-Men
    • The Fantastic
  • Theory
    • Postmodernism
  • Web/Internet
    • Blogging
    • CSS

Good structure? Suggestions very much welcome!

Peiratikos 2.0: Nested menus!

If you’re using Mozilla or Netscape browsers, you’ll note our site menu across the top of the web pages has been replaced by a sidebar menu with popup submenus. No Javascript—it’s all CSS (link to the web site of Eric Meyer, international man of mystery/CSS expert). For those who care, it’s an easy effect to achieve:

li ul { display: none; }
li:hover > ul { display: block; }

is the basic CSS foundation, add formatting and positioning code to that and you’re set. Of course, it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer. Our menu there is not in its final state, but still, I think pretty neat.

Technical difficulties

Yes, we’re experiencing some technical difficulties here (the result of my uploading some test scripts into the main blog directory rather than the test directory on the web server, oops). Until those are resolved, enjoy our fun new look as I switch over to the default WordPress index page for now.

Fun with contradictions 2

I don’t often bother joining the comics-blogosphere (stupid awkward term, it needs an abbreviation—coblo? comicsphere?) conversations about the economics and politics of the comics industry, but since everybody ( Laura Gjovaag, Johnny B, David Fiore, Sean Collins, Christopher Butcher) is talking about this Jeff Parker interview which I so cruelly mocked, and since some of those people linked to my cruel mockery, I guess I’d better go ahead and say my own piece…

Laura thought I misread Parker’s point, but honestly, I didn’t even address the actual content of Parker’s statements (I was just making a little joke about a tangentially related irony), so I don’t think my reading of the point is relevant. His basic point, as I recall, once you strip away the somewhat moralistic tone of “Adults are stealing comics from kids!” seems to be that comics publishers who want to sell comics to kids should publish comics for kids. Which, well, yes. (As David points out, writing good books for kids can be very hard indeed.) I don’t think selling more comics to kids is necessarily the only or the best way to “save the industry,” but I don’t really care about the economic survival of DC or Marvel that much anyway. And as for the moralistic tone, well, whatever. Kids are no worse off for having their American superhero comics stolen away from them and made “adult”—they have plenty of manga and other things to entertain them. I’m sure it would be great if kids had more American comics to read, but Parker’s allegory of a poor child desperately grabbing for comics as the mean adult comics readers horde them away is really overstating the problem (calling it a “problem” is overstating the problem, really).

“Live, Scott.” “Live.”

“All I ever did was die on you.”

Wow. I said a while ago that I suspected one of Morrison’s goals in New X-Men has been to blow the X-Men out of their rut so they can escape the gravity of bad soap opera and go have fun new stories. I believe my wording was something like “explode the living fuck out of it all.” Well, now that I’ve read New X-Men: Planet X… that was an understatement, wasn’t it!

I really wish Marvel would print page numbers in their TPBs. At the end of issue #148, a little more than halfway through the book, Jean is dead, killed by Logan to end her misery. Logan picks her up, walks out of Asteroid M, carries her into the sun. They burn up, begin to disintegrate—but Jean wakes, opens her eyes… No, there is no Jean here, this is Phoenix. In three panels, Phil Jimenez and Grant Morrison (and to be sure, inker Andy Lanning and colorist Chris Chuckry, but one of the many disadvantages of corporate comics is the unwieldiness of listing all the contributors) give us Phoenix risen from the ashes in her glory, the terror of those eyes. Asteroid M breaks apart and is consumed in the white void of the sun—this is the final panel of the issue, a full page of white with Asteroid M reduced to gray bits of paint in the middle of it.

Phoenix has come to judge, and she does: “Magneto? You don’t look anything like him. How can you be Magneto when Magneto is dead?” Oh, but Magneto’s reply: “I will not be judged by children. Give me death. Make me immortal.” Alas for him, he ruined his bid for immortality by returning from the dead! Charles Xavier’s judgement is not as succinct as Phoenix’s, but he gets the point across as he scolds poor Erik that “[you’re] just another foolish and self-important old man, with outdated thoughts in his head.” Of course, even Charles knows now (after the debacle of Open Day in New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s) that there are two foolish and self-important men in the room…

But now Jean is dead again too. And look at this, in the final two pages of the story (minus the “150 years later” coda), this rift begins to open in the page, white bleeding through into the black of the panel gutters. It grows until it fills half the page, and as Jean dies the panels shrink smaller and smaller and finally crumble and disintegrate into the white, alluding to the final image of Asteroid M falling into the sun. Jean died and returned to life in the infinite fires, but now she dies fading into the void.

As Three-in-One say, “Something’s gone wrong with the whole universe now.” Professor X and Magneto, the two poles according to which mutants set their politics, have been discredited and stripped of power, the School is destroyed, New York City is destroyed, hundreds of humans must have been cremated before Magneto was stopped. Logan’s falling and losing his personhood as he loses control of his life (after seeing whatever he saw in those Weapon Plus files). Scott finally lets his rage go and it’s so strong and out of control his eye-blasts apparently start burning people. Everybody’s dying. And it’s like the world just can’t take it anymore and splits open at the seams and dies itself.

Is this end of the X-Men? Well no, Reload, right? They’ll be around when Morrison’s gone. Except… this sure feels like The End, doesn’t it? This is apocalypse, the doom of the X-Men, their final judgement.

But then there’s that epilogue, 150 years in the future, as some people in a flying convertible on the moon discover the Phoenix Egg. Here comes tomorrow indeed, the beginning of a new day as the sun rises and the X-Men are born again. And what now, for these new X-Men?

Referral Spam

I was looking through our referrers list here at Peiratikos just now, and I discovered three rather odd referers. I won’t link to two of them, because they’re real sites. I will give you the third URL: http://paris-hilton-sextape.blogspot.com/. That’s not a real URL—there is no Paris Hilton Sex Tape blog. So that’s clearly not a legit referral, but the other two are highly questionable: one is an Internet service provider and the other appears to be a Belgian company. I.e., not web sites that are likely to link to us.

Folks, the newest innovation in spam has arrived, and it is referral spam. Apparently a lot of bloggers are getting hit with referral spam for John Kerry’s blog, whihc is pretty pathetic—Paris Hilton spam is to be expected, but when Presidential campaigns start spamming… or maybe it’s some Republican script kiddie trying to turn tech-savvy people against Kerry.

At any rate… come on, referral spam? It’s wasted on our site, since Rose and I are the only ones who can look at our referrers list. It would certainly cause us a lot of difficulty if we start getting hit hard by this method—not least because of all the wasted bandwidth used up by serving bogus referrals—but nobody will actually see the spam ads except us, and it’s not like we’re going to buy something from a company that 1) spams us and 2) wastes our precious and expensive bandwidth. So whoever decided to spam our referral list made a poor marketing choice. For people who list their referrers on their web sites (I know several bloggers do), this could create a larger public annoyance.

But still, referral spam?

God Hates Shrimp!

God hates shrimp! It’s in the Bible! Join the crusade against all things which hath not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters. If you eat a lobster then God hates you!

Fun with contradictions

Jeff Parker wishes adults would stop reading superhero comics, because superhero comics are adolescent power fantasies and adolescents should them, but not adults (thanks to Christopher Butcher for the link). And yet, mystery of mysteries, he loves The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Which is, last I checked, a superhero comic. Right? It’s about a team of people who are in some way greater than regular people (you might say they’re… superhuman!), doing heroic deeds and battling villains who are in some way greater than regular people. I.e., they’re superheroes fighting supervillains. Right? Or is it not a superhero comic if the characters don’t wear spandex costumes and have funny superhero names? But surely our conception of the genre isn’t that superficial. Or maybe the fact that the characters are borrowed from non-superhero literature makes it not a superhero comic? But the characters are obviously being placed in a new context here, so the fact that Mina Harker wasn’t a superhero in Dracula doesn’t change the fact that in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen she joins what certainly seems to be much like other superhero teams despite being superficially different. Or wait, I’ve got it—superhero comics are adolescent power fantasies, and The League isn’t, so it must be not superheroes. But wait, the notion that superheroes that superheroes are just adolescent power fantasies requires a superficial and ignorant reading of the genre. (Cf. David Fiore, David again, Sean Collins, J.W. Hastings, Rose.) And besides, I must say The League is nothing if not adolescent—it’s not even trying to be morally sophisticated. Oh, oh, yes, now I’ve figured it out—Jeff Parker doesn’t think adults should read superhero comics, and he reads The League, and he’s an adult, so it must not be superheroes.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Jim Henley wonders what’s up with the X-Men’s return to spandex. After all, as Jim points out, Marvel seems to want to make their comics more “Hollywood friendly” so they can license more movies, but the spandex look is actually much less like the movie version of the characters than the New X-Men stylish-black look (although the movies don’t have the crazy puffy yellow vest things that the characters wear in New X-Men). I think the most obvious answer is that Marvel, in addition to deciding to become more movie-friendly, has decided to stop alienating their old loyal readers who were apparently threatened by the nonspandex costumes. This is especially clear considering lines like these in the Astonishing X-Men preview (which is apparently from Marvel Previews, I didn’t know that yesterday when I found it through Alan David Doane):

Scott: Sorry, Logan. Superheroes wear costumes. And quite frankly, all the black leather is making people nervous.

As I said yesterday, that sure looks like a little meta-assurance to the old-school readers that Marvel feels their pain, so to speak. In catering to this group of readers, though, Marvel is apparently alienating another group of readers, who have been complaining loudly about the return to spandex even as many readers are joyously celebrating the return to spandex in various comics message boards. Jim says:

The outrage is mildly ironic, in that devotion to the Morrison run signifies sophistication and the complaints about the clothing change have a whiff of You’re messing with my continuity! about them.

Uh, you know what, I was just about to type up to a whole five sentences explaining why I don’t think a return to spandex is necessarily a sign of lesser sophistication, but I actually don’t really care. Anyway, I hope that whiff of “You’re messing with my continuity!” didn’t come from this blog… now where’s that air freshener? It’s not like I’m offended by the spandex. I’m much more bothered by Chris Claremont’s insistence that the X-Men should be escapist fiction in which the “good” guys defeat the “bad” guys, and I think the fact that Joss Whedon has Scott calling the X-Men “superheroes” apparently without irony plays into that. But I talked about this already, so I won’t repeat myself.

And yes, I realize that this very post is, rather ironically, in the “Superheroes” category. I think we should probably delete that category, so we’ll see what Rose thinks…