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Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Nitz the Bloody

Subj: Re: And yet more from the Cee Ess Bee Gee
Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 12:16:38 pm EDT (Viewed 506 times)
Reply Subj: And yet more from the Cee Ess Bee Gee
Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 11:20:14 pm EDT (Viewed 474 times)

Previous Post

Of course, part of my dislike for Hickman's run might be based on the description of Secret Warriors by Tim Callahan; "It's complex in a way that an Asperger's kid might tell a story". I don't know (and ultimately don't care because it's not my business) if Hickman has Asperger's, but I never felt like his work was the honest expression of someone who neurologically could only see meticulous structure without empathy. In some ways, I get the impression from reading Hickman's Avengers that it's cynically plotted and scripted to appeal to the current comics audience.

To whit: the character beats are there to remind the audience that these are the heroes we're supposed to like, and the big characters like Cap and Thor get the Jeph Loeb-style "grace note" moments with which we're comfortably familiar. The plot is structured so that it's part of a huge saga across multiple books, but the connections are extremely literal, and the call-backs are obvious ("One was life, one was death"). The plotting doesn't have any larger theme beyond the typical good vs. evil stuff of superhero comics (with even New Avengers ultimately being bad heroes vs. worse villains, at least the last I checked). It's got the meticulous long-term structuring you'd see from a writer like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, but it doesn't have much connection to themes outside comics and Marvel, and there really isn't anything that would take the comics reader uncomfortable.

Since I am A.) on the spectrum myself, B.) not a big fan of those kinds of stories if they don't have characterization behind them, and C.) do my own comic where the empathy towards the characters is KEY, it kinda bothers me.

Wow, that review appalls me in the way that it treats a real person on the spectrum as a prop in Callahan's critique of Hickman's failings as a writer. Asperger's and aneurotypicality aren't synonymous with "lack of empathy," not least because empathy isn't a unidimensional concept (there's behavioral, cognitive, etc.). They've much more to do with different modes of processing and producing social cues like facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and so on.

If anything, Hickman's overreliance on "grace notes" like those you mention is about taking for granted the shallow empathy of the typical reader for familiar fictional characters or their images, letting that familiarity-as-narratological-empathy do the emotional work the stories can't be bothered with.

And I think a lot of what you're calling "comfort" and "discomfort" are really more like "familiar" and "unfamiliar;" a reader who finds unfamiliar ideas or takes on characters exciting or provocative isn't necessarily uncomfortable, and there are also unproductive or unhelpful ways to make a character unfamiliar, such as clumsy shock-value tactics (Revealing that Spider-Man was abused by his uncle with no follow up or very poor follow-up or something like that is a good example; it'd be uncomfortable, but mostly because its trivializing and triggering.)

Maybe an even better idea is something like "committed, reflective sincerity" in a writer, if not in a story, which can surely use humor or irony to structure and communicate a writer's sincere and well-considered commitments. With Hickman's characterizations and lavishly diagrammatic plotting, I sense something closer to apathy, not an atypical or distinctive emotional processing or experience of the world.

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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