Comics

The Ghosts That Haunt Me Still: Exclusive Preview of 'Superman Action Comics #13'

When Grant Morrison dedicates this story to Ray Bradbury, it is more than simple a sign of respect for a past master and admiration for a formative influence. It is an abiding statement about a radical shift in the nature of our relationship to our fiction, and our past.

Just one thought really, and it's an important one. The New 52 is a set of conceptual tools to survey and to engage with a revolutionary shift, not just in popculture, but in culture as a whole. And writer Grant Morrison and artist Travel Foreman illustrate this in the space of just six pages, next week in Action #13.

It's Halloween on Krypton, except of course, no one on Krypton formulates it in that way. But it is the very day that the world door between the seen and the unseen worlds will be opened, the day Krypton enacted Phantom Zone exile.

20 years ago when Malcolm McDowell emerged from the Phantom Zone and onto the Big Screen, the punishment seemed like an intellectual exercise. Cut off from everyone and everything? Obviously there's a huge downside. But what if it proved to be exactly the escape needed from Wall Street, The Musical that was playing across all the airwaves courtesy of Reaganomics? Five years on from Facebook and "cut off from everyone and everything" seems to have real and horrific consequences.

Morrison's unique way of framing this issue (and by implication, his argument for the New 52) begins with Bill Gibson's idea that we're currently living through sufficient technological and cultural complexity that scifi might work better if set in the present. Gibson's recent BlueAnt trilogy was contemporaneous with the years the books it released in; Pattern Recognition hit in 2002 as a kind of excision of the post 9/11, Spook Country dealt with the techno-paranoia coming out of the Second Iraq War, Zero History with the psychology of desirable goods that came out of the financial collapse.

We're only just now catching up to the true horror of the Phantom Zone. But that's not the story here. The story is this: speculative scifi (isn't it all speculative though?, well speculative in this instance as future-oriented as opposed to set-in-the-present)… speculative scifi as a genre has now become deeply imbricated in hard scifi. What are the things we can build? Not just the things, but how can we leverage technological complexity to enact cultural objects, like Halloween being imprinted upon Krypton. Imprinted on Krypton, even before the idea of Halloween.

In the space of just six pages, Grant Morrison has ushered us into a new era, an era where technological complexity becomes a perpetual prehistory for cultural complexity. Imagine Perestroika, imagine that oldtimey movie The Peacemaker with George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. But rather than nuclear warheads being stolen from Russian military transports, we encounter undetonated ideas from science fiction's own past, freed to roam the cultural countryside.

When Morrison dedicates this story to Ray Bradbury, it is more than simple a sign of respect for a past master and admiration for a formative influence. It is an abiding statement about a radical shift in the nature of our relationship to our fiction, and our past. And it is the kind of radical statement that can only be made with the New 52, where DC as a publisher simply jettisoned their 70-plus years of fictive history, and began anew with characters and settings that enthralled generations.

Please, enjoy our exclusive preview of Action #13, because wherever the Grand Experiment in Popculture takes us next, we know it is far from at an end.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


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Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

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The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

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6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

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