Comics

Demon Knights, Whiskey in a Jar and the Edge of Woody Allen

Get yer red hot exclusive preview of Demon Knights #3 right here, folks, and understand why comics matters more than ever (again).

Garage Inc. wasn't an easy album. It didn't work in the way that metal should, it didn't hit the right notes with the fans. Ask any commentator and the verdict was clear; Metallica was on a backslide since the Black Album. What could have possessed them to put out a metal album that didn't scan with metal fans?

And therein lies the strange resilience of Metallica. There's a reason your Uncle Farnham's next-door neighbor, Buck has heard of Metallica without knowing about Trivium. Knows he will be buying a Ferrari, without ever having driven one before. Buys an iPhone and not a smartphone.

In a culture defined by nothing more than the polarities of sellout-versus-authentic, Metallica simply demolished expectations. Black demonstrated that they could put out a metal album that appealed to a mainstream audience hopped up on pop melodrama. Black worked, and in working, disavowed the expectations that were drilled into us by the Music Biz in the 80s. That we could have authentic heavy metal, that appealed to a mainstream audience and still didn't sellout.

DC's New 52 definitely embraces the notion that in a 21st century fraught with unparalleled opportunity and danger, comics can yet again be a vibrant medium that focuses the energies of collective life.

It's the things we choose to choose, as Woody Allen reminds us. A New York Observer piece penned by Allen, "Confessions of a know-nothing fan", appears contemporaneously with the release of Garage Inc.. "When asked why it is so important the Knicks win", writes Allen, "since at the end of the game or even the season, nothing in life is affected one way or the other, I can only answer that basketball or baseball or any sport is as dearly important as life itself. After all, why is it such a big deal to work and love and strive and have children and then die and decompose into eternal nothingness?… In short, putting the ball into the hoop is of immense significance to me by personal choice and my life is more fun because of it".

Garage Inc. was supposed to be the comeback album. Not in the sense that Metallica had been away languishing for some time. And not in the sense that they'd grown old and set in their ways. But in the sense that some good PR was really called for. And buried deep on the first disc is "Whiskey in a Jar", the one tune that carries forward that same tradition begun by the band with the Black Album. It is the sensibility of metal, overlaid onto something else entirely. "Here's how to understand metal", the band seems to be telling us. "It's as brutal as anything, as metal as anything. And it belonged to a different tradition first". This is what Thin Lizzy would sound like as metal.

Garage Inc. answers a problem that appears at the edge of Woody Allen. It's the the things we choose to choose, sure. But how to we arrange encounters with the things beyond ourselves? Garage Inc. opens onto the worlds of Bob Seger and Blue Oyster Cult, Diamondhead and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bands and performers that might not be part of the musical education of the average metalhead.

So how do we encounter the rich world of DC history and heritage? It helps that Demon Knights is arranged like a Western. Protagonists are drawn together, they're not necessarily heroes at first but their context and their actions push them along that road.

I'm not sure where Demon Knights is going. But I know it's vibrant and vital and an easy parable for a new kind of society. A society that couldn't have been imagined when Jack Kirby first created the Demon Etrigan, but one for which the character still stands as a secret signature. It's easy to trust in a writer the skill of Paul Cornell, and he's working with a great team. Demon Knights not only works because we choose it, but because, like Garage Inc. it helps us make further choices. So when I put my money down on the counter this Wednesday and pick up issue three, it's an action animated by my choice. But for right, enjoy the preview.

Demon Knights #3 cover

Demon Knights #3 page one

Demon Knights #3 page two

Demon Knights #3 page three

Demon Knights #3 page four

Demon Knights #3 page five

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image