26 July 2005

Comics Roundup 7/26 (CS)

I finally got an opportunity to nab and read a copy of Will Eisner's posthoumosly published The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. No one would argue with Eisner's skill as an artist and storyteller or with his status as a legend among graphic novelists and the medium of comic books. However, I am not sure how I feel about his execution of what is essentially a history paper in comic book form. I don't mean to say that it can't be done, but in this case I didn't feel like it was quite pulled off. The villainous propagandists are portrayed a tad over-the-top (probably because this is supposed to be historical context and not comic fantasy) and for some reason the pacing and delivery made me feel like I was reading a Jack Chick tract at times (but of course with an intellectual foundation instead of the bizarre nonsense you would get with Chick).

However, for all my complaints, I can't doubt that Eisner's heart was in the right place and that this can (and hopefully will be) a very important work within the comics medium. It was Eisner's dream that this book could go towards the apparantly never-ending quest to discredit "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" once and for all. This is probably the most shocking part of The Plot and the one aspect that truly keeps you reading. Despite various governments, newspapers, and scholars from around the world denouncing The Protocols as a flat out forgery and fake, a copy of it always seems to pop up in one form or another somewhere in the world, and circulated as "proof" that there is a malevolant Jewish conspiracy to rule the world or a particular country.

Therin lies the truly heartbreaking nature of Eisner's final work. One gets a sense that his dreams of using the medium he had mastered as means to further getting the word out on "The Protocols" may work to an extent, but in the end there will always be fools and those looking for an enemy to buy into it. As Umberto Eco puts it in the Introduction, "It is not the Protocols that produce antisemitism, it is people's profound need to single out an Enemy that leads them to believe in the Protocols," or as Eisner notes in his first couple pages, "Whenever one group of people is taught to hate another, a lie is created to inflame the hatred and justify a plot. The target is easy to find because the enemy is always the other." This of course shouldn't diminish the importance of Eisner's work. Again Eco: "...the story is hardly over. Yet it is a story very much worth telling, for one must fight the Big Lie and the hatred it spawns."

And on the completely ridiculous end of things (but keeping with what i guess is a "religious" theme) I recently read a comic book published by Image called Battle Pope. Yep, that's really what it's called.
It's a little silly, a little stupid, quite violent, lighthearted, and entirely blasphemous. And a good time was had by all. These days when so many comic books have gotten fairly grim and serious (The Ultimates 2 #7 was so upsetting and graphic that it actually managed to give me quite a shock) it's nice to have a couple books out there that know not to take things too seriously. I do enjoy the subject matter more geared to older readers, but it's great to have that balance out there. Battle Pope isn't for kids (clearly), but here's hoping they might start putting out more books (along the lines of the Teen Titans cartoon) that younger kids can really latch into. Marvel's New Warriors is also a great book with that sort of attitude and the writing of Brian Micheal Bendis always has at least a bit of humor to it (although he is the guy that killed off Hawkeye....).

Oh, and I really don't mean to spoil it for any of you out there, but there IS a panel in Battle Pope with Jesus picking his nose. Now you just need a copy, don't you?


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