Progressive Panels: Too Educated? Too Bad!
By Andy Frisk
Some might think that the reviews here at The Bin, especially mine, are too “educated, progressive, or left leaning.” Well, too bad! We’re here to make you think!
A friend of mine, who also happens to be the owner of the local comic shop I frequent, recently suggested, pretty firmly tongue in cheek, that my reviews, and others of those here at The Bin, are “too educated.” Basically, he ends up disliking some of the books that we review, ones that he’s already read and liked, after he reads our reviews of them. We often end up pointing out problems, such as the overly sexualized nature of The New 52’s Catwoman #1 and the glaring banality of some of the Marvel Comics’ formulaic books. Pointing out these flaws in turn points out to him that the books that leave a favorable impression on him, after a topical read over, often lose much of their luster after we have examined their flaws and suggested where the particular artist or writer has gone irrevocably wrong in their portrayals of our beloved characters and mythologies. I totally get what he is saying. Comics can be, and in many instances should be, a simple and fun form of escapism that doesn’t need to be broken down and analyzed as one would a Shakespearian sonnet or political diatribe. Sometimes Superman’s sun powered super powers are just a sci-fi convention used to tell some action packed stories about a man who is super strong, instead of a mythological and shamanistic reference to the power of the sun-god archetype that resides in the collective human unconscious. I too enjoy a simple, rock ‘em sock ‘em, throwaway and fun Superman adventure now and again, but…
..writers like Grant Morrison actively craft stories that focus on defining Superman as an archetypal sun-god metaphor and endorse this type of reading of the character. Some entire comic book institutions, like The X-Men, are steeped in social commentary and allegory, and were intended to be as such from inception. Other sequential art works exist solely to address an injustice or warn of potential future injustices such as Ted Rall’s brilliant 2024 and Joshua Dysart’s equally brilliant and important Unknown Soldier. Going even further, there are scholarly works that focus solely upon the powerful and uniquely artistic qualities of sequential art such as This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature by Rocco Versaci. While there are plenty of sequential art stories out there that exist to provide simple (and sometimes simplistic) escapism, there are just as many that are intended to be perceived as works of art, and at times high art, that are packed with intelligence and importance. It is this type of artistic sequential art that stands the test of time, are most widely read and revered, and in the long run sell…
…I like to think that the opposite of my friend’s experience is also true. When I, with this column, and my colleagues, with their reviews and equally brilliant insights, discuss the problems and aspects that detract from the artistic value of a certain work, we are showing the writers, artists, and industry heads what we really want from our comic books: intelligence, importance, and relevance. When we get all giddy and gushy over a work, or point out a theme in a work, that might not be as well known, widely read, or easily recognized, and then intelligently analyze it and, to borrow a phrase from the world of literary criticism, “advance the critical conversation” about it, we bring to light a work or insight that you might not have heard of, but now, to borrow Mr. Mark Twain’s phrase, are in “a sweat” to read about, then I, and all of us here, have achieved our goal. Writers, including sequential art writers, have something that they want to say, expound upon, or reveal. Otherwise, why would one even write? The same goes for literary and “progressive” types like myself. I want you to read what I read and see what I see in a work, but more importantly I want to inspire you to challenge my interpretation. That is the essence of intelligent dialogue. That is my goal. I want to get you talking, but perhaps more importantly, get you reading.
July 11, 2020 - 14:20
Any excuse to bring #GodLovesManKills back into print is a worthy one, especially now. Even if the expansion is a story frame rather than an expansion.
August 7, 2017 - 18:23
Minus the well meant, but creepy, ending..."Independence Day" is a good story despite what your liberal friends might think.
May 9, 2017 - 22:20
Is social justice back or is Marvel bi-polar politically, or is all this just a brilliant re-branding?
April 8, 2017 - 18:37
The progressive era is over at Marvel Comics.
March 15, 2017 - 23:14
A moving, violent, and poignant film.
November 9, 2016 - 23:20
Enough Americans still believe we are stronger together and in the audacity of hope to truly make America great.
June 5, 2016 - 19:35
The Post-Crisis (or Gen X, as I call him) Returns.
May 23, 2016 - 00:20
Cult favorite Vertigo Comics series Preacher finally makes it debut, but does it do the original comic book series justice?
June 17, 2015 - 22:04
Much has been made about the feminist aspects of Fury Road, but the film is more humanist than feminist.
May 11, 2015 - 18:54
Money tells the stories at Marvel Comics now as Marvel seeks to segregate the X-Men from the rest of the Marvel U's humanity and heroes because of movie rights.
January 28, 2015 - 22:09
A great way to share your favorites: What are your #FourComics ?
July 17, 2014 - 22:42
...at least until next year's Avengers Age of Ultron?
December 3, 2013 - 22:09
@Marvel offs a few more mutants. Honestly, who cares?
October 12, 2013 - 21:55
@kirongillen writes a more realistic look at the now Miller-mythologized Spartans.
September 28, 2013 - 19:04
@DCComics attempts to reintroduce the origin of one of their Post Crisis Superman villains that shouldn't need a reintroduction in the first place.
March 4, 2013 - 22:10
@Marvel Comics' mutant flagship book continues to find its way under Brian Michael Bendis...and it's starting to...
September 21, 2012 - 18:04
It is impossible to recount the amount of times I’ve seen Raiders since it debuted when I was 8 years old, but seeing it on the big screen again for only the second time in my life I was magically 8 years old again…
September 7, 2012 - 23:00
DC Comics' (@DCComics)decision to create the first #ArabAmerican superhero is a good idea, but his origin story could have been way better.
September 4, 2012 - 00:27
Irresistible from Zenescoope Entertainment (@Zenescope) is a delightful menage a trois of the debate over censorship, comic books, and sex.
August 22, 2012 - 17:28
@geoffjohns says he "welcomes the watercooler chatter" over the new #Superman loves #WonderWoman plot. How's this for chatter...@DCComics just made the blunder of the century.
August 14, 2012 - 21:47
In a world filled with the #KochBrothers, #CitizensUnited, and the Romney/Ryan #oligarch funded ticket, @TedRall 's 2024 is an increasingly prescient read.
July 23, 2012 - 21:49
Men are often attracted to evil...and most evil men are enabled.
July 11, 2012 - 10:35
Before seeing The Amazing Spider-Man, take a trip down memory lane with one of the most memorable and important comics ever published.
June 25, 2012 - 22:31
A crowning achievement to a life-long passion for reading comics.
June 19, 2012 - 23:30
Mutants, guerrilla media, barbarians, and post-apocalyptic environmentalism are just the tip of the iceberg of Brian Wood's brilliant progressive subjects and characters.
May 22, 2012 - 22:41
A sales stunt or a true adherence to Marvel's history of progressivism ?
May 9, 2012 - 19:43
Legendary sequential artist Walter Simonson draws Thor once again in The Avengers (2010) #25…and all is right with the world.
May 2, 2012 - 17:42
In classic metaphysical Grant Morrison style, the Superman of Earth 23 is unlike anything we’ve seen, but it’s Sholly Fisch’s short story that’s really interesting.
April 22, 2012 - 17:07
A rousing reintroduction to classic hero team, peppered with appropriately dark undertones and a perfect companion to the upcoming movie.
March 20, 2012 - 19:11
In all honesty, it’s not something that I’m really looking forward to.
March 6, 2012 - 20:17
Will Harbinger #1 (2012) be the comic of its decade?
February 28, 2012 - 19:39
…don’t buy it? Or give it another chance?
February 22, 2012 - 21:04
One of those rare projects that crosses rock music and comics and actually works.
February 16, 2012 - 22:18
Why I love the filler issue.
February 8, 2012 - 20:32
Speculative science, science fiction, history and great story define Hickman’s stories.
February 1, 2012 - 13:31
It’s a great idea. Alan Moore's opinion be damned.
January 16, 2012 - 20:09
Subjective, objective, free, or comp...these things matter
January 10, 2012 - 21:17
...for intelligent and all around great superhero reads once again.
January 5, 2012 - 17:53
100 articles in…just what is this column about anyway?
December 22, 2011 - 15:19
The timeless, and newly relevant, Christmas story brought faithfully to life.