Saturday, December 15, 2007

Swamp Thing... and The Golden Compass?

One of my favorite all-time comic book characters is yet another alienated outsider: Swamp Thing. DC doesn't seem to know what to do with the character anymore. What's worse, they still haven't gotten around to reprinting the amazing issues written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar and drawn by Phil Hester. 

These are all fan-favorite creators. I would think at least a Showcase of those stories would be a gimme. There are plenty of great Swampy trades out there including the Wein/Wrighton, Alan Moore and Rick Veitch material, but there is a lot more that is rotting in the vaults besides the Morrison and Millar material. I'd like to see a Showcase of the Marty Pasko Saga of the Swamp Thing issues, comics that I think are underappreciated.

It's a shame that the past few attempts at reviving the character not only failed but seem to have soured people on the character himself. It's one of the things that frustrates me about DC-they have 70 years worth of great material gathering dust, but can't wait to reprint deathless classics like The Haunted Tank or Elongated Man. 

I really don't get it. Nor do I get why DC can make such great cartoons but can't seem to get their act together when it comes to films. Hollywood is desperate for concepts yet most of DC's enormous catalog of intellectual property -- which, technically, is the reason the company even exists -- is languishing.

TimeWarner itself puzzles me. For all I know, Philip Pullman's books may be wonderful reading, but to spend 200 million dollars adapting the work of a man who is an extremely miltant atheist and then put the film out during the religious holiday season in the most religious country in the western world seems, well, I don't know what the hell it seems. Ill-advised, certainly. 

Contrary to popular stereotypes, most Evangelical Christians go to the movies as much as anyone else. And if you're going to expect Christian parents to spend 70 or 80 dollars taking all the kids to a movie that is a thinly-veiled attack on their belief system, wouldn't you at least make sure the movie was good? 

Golden Compass has a dismal rating of 43% at Rotten Tomatoes, not exactly a hotbed of Fundamentalist enthusiasm. I'm not big into fantasy and my kids have expressed no interest in it, but I must say Pullman's attitude colors me against the film. 

Surely, there are other ways to protest the myriad excesses of organized religion than becoming a dogmatic scold yourself. Pullman's rhetoric, like that of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, may embolden some atheists but more often than not it gives Evangelicals an excuse to portray themselves as poor, downtrodden martyrs. It may be good for business in the book trade, but it's box office poison. 

My question is will whoever signed off on a $200 million budget for this project still have a job come springtime?