Mar 2, 2009

A stopped clock

From my review of Watchmen, which loosed a tidal wave of fanboy snark in Slate a few years back:
Whether you take this self-reflexivity as evidence of a newfound sophistication on behalf of the comic book, or as self-consciousness tricked out as superiority—that old adolescent standby—is up to you. Watchmen was unquestionably a landmark work, a masterpiece, even. Before Moore came along, comic books were not generally in the habit of quoting Nietzsche, or scrambling their time schemes, or berating their heroes for their crypto-fascist politics, or their readers for reading them. It was Moore's slightly self-negating triumph to have allowed it to do so... The last time I looked, the only ones reading Ulysses and quoting Nietzsche were teenagers. No adult has time for aesthetic "difficulty" or "self-consciousness." Life is too short. Frankly, we'd much rather be watching The Incredibles.
Thinking about it further, I'd hone my objections a little further: too much backstory and not enough story. Moore is a dead-end for movie-makers. The same thing happened with V For Vendetta, which spent its entire time taking us on a guided tour of the fascistic future it inhabited, and left approximately five minutes for an actual plot to get underway. Moore is way too fond of the world he envisions — or to be accurate, the political points scored by that vision — to ever let his plots run away with him. The clock ticks backward.

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