A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hulk Ipsa Loquitur

Today was the original date for World War Hulk #5, but the mini-series' final issue has been delayed two weeks until November 14. What are Hulk fans to do until then?

Well, it was rumored and confirmed some time back that Marvel's "World War Hulk" is merely the second part of Greg Pak's planned trilogy for the green goliath, which began with the year-long "Planet Hulk" storyline. To date, Pak has been tight-lipped about what is next for Dr. Bruce Banner, and Marvel's solicitations for upcoming issues have been suspiciously silent on story details.

Suspension of Disbelief is proud to share that it has received top-secret information regarding this third act of the trilogy, entitled:

"Hulk Ipsa Loquitur"

From Marvel:

After failing to gain full satisfaction against the Illuminati through physical violence, the Hulk decides to hit the Illuminati where it really hurts: in their bank accounts. With the help of his cousin, New York attorney Jennifer "She-Hulk" Walters, the Hulk is taking the Illuminati to court. Now they're going to pay for what they did to him. Literally.

In the tradition of its Daily Bugle giveaways for their big stories, Marvel's promotions for "Hulk Ipsa Loquitur" will include a copy of the Hulk's lawsuit against the Illuminati.

What courtroom excitement can you expect in the pages of The Incredible Hulk in the months to come? Here's a sampling:

Incredible Hulk #111 - Bruce reaches out to Jen Walters for help. After the events of "World War Hulk," will family come through for him?

Incredible Hulk #112 - The search for Nick Fury begins...in order to serve him with process.

Incredible Hulk #113 - The Illuminati may think themselves capable of a lot of things, but even they know better than to attempt a pro se defense. So who do they turn to in their time of need? Matt Murdock, Attorney-at-Law. Duh.

The 13-part arc begins next month, with tie-ins that include the 4-issue Hulk Ipsa Loquitur: Gamma Court mini-series written by Bob Ingersoll, the 3-issue Hulk Ipsa Loquitur: The Twelve profiling the Hulk's jury, and, kicking the whole event off, the 48-page special, Hulk Ipsa Loquitur: Civil Suit.

So strap yourself in for a year of a whole new kind of Hulk story. Because you wouldn't like the Hulk when he gets angry; when he gets angry, he gets litigious.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Isn't this just nitpicking?

A few readers have at various times remarked upon the necessity or desirability of this blog, suggesting that it's nitpicking, or somehow rude to the artists whose work we critique, or reveals a negative attitude toward the comics in question.

So I'll take another whack at explaining it, only this time I think I'll let an expert do the heavy lifting. Here's Matthew J. Bruccoli, editor of the Cambridge University edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Dr. Bruccoli is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of literature at University of South Carolina and a leading authority on Fitzgerald. On the subject of accuracy, Dr. Bruccoli says, "Factual errors in fiction distract readers who spot them and may undermine confidence in the work and the author.* Many careful readers hold that if an author cannot be trusted in details, he may not be trustworthy in larger matters."

Dr. Bruccoli goes on to explain the two types of errors that occur in fiction, external errors (those regarding the actual world in which the work is set) and internal errors (those involving the fictional world).

Returning to the world of comics, we can call continuity problems "internal errors", and this blog is utterly unconcerned with them. If a given issue of Superman says that Clark Kent's middle name is "Joseph" and another says it's "Jerome", that's an internal error, and fans are welcome to argue over it to their heart's delight (or they can declare that his full name is "Clark Joseph Jerome Kent", as Wikipedia says).

We are concerned here with external errors, that is, things in the actual world that comics get wrong for no good reason. When Loren takes on issues of law here, he seldom deals with the fictional laws presented in comics except as how they interact with real-world laws that are assumed to be in force in the comics world. The primary concern is how real-world law is presented in cases where no comics-world law is in play, as for example in issues of courtroom procedure.

Or as I said from the beginning, I'll accept that Green Arrow can shoot an arrow through an ant's ass at 100 yards while swinging upside-down from a chandelier... provided you first show me that he knows how to hold a bow.

One comic writer, discussing a character's amateurish shooting form, told me that "the guy is just that good, he can still be accurate even shooting that way. He's doing it on purpose." Sorry, that doesn't wash. The laws of physics may not apply to Superman lifting a building, but they do apply to Hawkeye aiming an arrow, otherwise there's no point in having an archery-themed superhero at all. At that point it merely becomes a fashion choice, a theme, and not an ability at all.

Similarly, inconsistencies in the geography of Metropolis are not our concern, but inconsistencies in the geography of real-world places like New York, such as moving the Empire State Building, are an issue for us. I hope you see the difference.

* Bruccoli, "Getting it Right: The Publishing Process and the Correction of Factual Errors--With Reference to The Great Gatsby," Library Chronicle of the University of Texas at Austin, 21, no. 3-4 (1991), 41-60. Quoted in Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby, The Authorized Text, Scribner Paperback edition (2003), p. 192.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Artistic license?

Over at John Byrne's forum, a reader from Hong Kong asks "Mister B., do the pose of the character is an accurate pose of using bow and arrow, or is it involving artistic licence for the sake of a good pose ?"

Byrne replies "Artistic license."

Sorry, Mr. B, but that dog won't hunt. Artistic license is valid for picture #2, since it's clearly a frozen moment in the action, so even though Ollie obviously doesn't know how to shoot a bow, it can squeak by on the argument that he hasn't finished drawing.

Number three might even be arguable, even though the arrow is falling off the bow.

But that first picture is just wrong. Incontrovertibly wrong. Try it yourself. Grab a yardstick and a piece of string, make a bow and try to draw it that way, pulling the string up over your shoulder on the outside of your arm. It does not work, and calling it artistic license doesn't cover it because the pose is awkward and doesn't look good.

Here's what it should look like.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

John Byrne goes 0 for 3

Over at John Byrne's forum (byrnerobotics.com), he recently posted some of his drawings of Green Arrow. Given that Mr. Byrne is a notorious stickler for accuracy (see any of the numerous controversies in which he's embroiled himself, such as the logical inconsistencies of Captain Carrot), let's see how he does with archery...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

First, the positives: Byrne's Green Arrow is consistently right-handed, consistently has the arrow on the correct side of the bow, and consistently has the fingers on the string in the correct orientation. His bow fairly accurately resembles an old-fashioned Ben Pearson or Fred Bear one-piece recurve in most respects.

On the minus side, there's no way that this guy can shoot straight. No anchor. No back tension. He's canting the bow. Arrows only have two fletches, or are nocked upside-down so that the index fletch will strike the riser. In picture #2, GA is pulling on the shaft rather than the string. In #3, the arrow has fallen off the bow and is resting on GA's knuckles.

Worse, in picture #1, Green Arrow is drawing the bow up above his bow arm. The string should be under the arm. Of course, the bow should be vertical, but apparently archery has been affected by the same idiocy that causes gangbangers to turn their guns sideways in order to try to look "cool".

I don't know what those little cuffs on the ends of the limbs are supposed to be, but that's not how the string attaches to the bow.

In a nutshell, if this guy showed up at my range, I'd send him back to the beginner class.

Mr. Byrne, my offer still stands. If you would like assistance in portraying archery accurately, I am happy to offer photos, consultation and reference materials free of charge. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area at any time and would like to try archery for yourself, I am happy to offer free lessons, including the use of all equipment, at any convenient time.

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