The End of the Night.

27 09 2013

Despite my unwavering love and adoration for Nika Roza Danilova (better known as Zola Jesus), February 18th, 2012 went down in history as one of the most miserable and aurally offensive concert experiences in recent memory. Zola would take to the stage at New York City’s Webster Hall in support of her latest album, Conatus. Unfortunately, any enjoyment to be gleaned from the majestic vocals of Zola Jesus was soured after having our eardrums viciously assaulted by opening band, Liturgy. How on earth a “Brooklyn-based, death metal” band was supposed to compliment the ambient, ethereal wave of Zola Jesus’ operatic voice is beyond me.

One concert-goer even took to the music blog, Brooklyn Vegan, to accurately describe the experience as thus: “Liturgy was one of the worst acts I’ve ever had the horrible displeasure of seeing. Samples of garbage trucks backing up and the same guitar riff over and over. Utter crap. Zola was awesome.”

Flash-forward to September 13th, 2013. Versions, Zola Jesus’ fourth LP, has been in record stores for almost three months and her tour with composer J.G. Thirlwell (a.k.a. Foetus) and a string quartet was just beginning. That night’s stop was the Foundation Theater at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). We really had no idea how majestic of an evening was in store for us. The agonizing, auditory pain experienced at Webster Hall at the hands of Liturgy would all but be forgotten.

9753060063_cbff17c007_zIt shouldn’t have come as a surprise, really. When you mix a string quartet with a talent like Zola Jesus, the end result would be nothing short of brilliance.

We arrived at the gallery early enough to guarantee front row seats for the show. The theater, with its pristine hardwood floors and floor length windows, was incredibly intimate despite the beautiful view out onto the Boston Harbor.

Zola, looking like a living Grecian statue, delivered a performance that would leave the crowd in awe. “Run Me Out” would see the petite singer travel up through the seated audience, vocals building into a powerful crescendo. Will would later joke that I appeared about ready to tackle her in a swooning frenzy when she came within arm’s length of where we sat.

As someone who has been to more live shows than I can recall, I can safely say that, at this point, it really takes something special to make a show memorable for years to come. Zola Jesus’ performance at the ICA was not just a concert but a living piece of art, thus making the venue a perfectly appropriate setting.





Editorial: The New World Order.

6 09 2013
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Batwoman #25

The beautiful cover of the upcoming 25th issue of Batwoman (as drawn by J.H. Williams III) is just a little bit more ominous, if not foretelling, in light of yesterday’s news regarding the title’s creative team.

Twitter was ablaze since early yesterday morning with a barrage of furious tweets from comic book readers. The common denominator? A Batwoman hashtag. Thanks to a powerful combination of social media and the outrage of fans, DC Comics was about to experience a public relations nightmare… something that appears to be the latest trend from the publisher since the launch of The New 52.

To sum up the drama, editorial has once again driven a creative team to the point of abandoning the slowly sinking ship that is DC Comics. This time, the casualty was the creative team responsible for the monthly exploits of the fiery-haired socialite in a cowl, Kate Kane a.k.a. Batwoman. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman released a joint statement regarding their voluntary departure from the Batwoman title in which they sited conflicts with editorial such as a demands to axe a planned origin story for Killer Croc and alter the planned ending for the current Batwoman vs. Batman arc.

Most notably, Williams and Blackman were also forbidden from ever depicting the wedding of Kate Kane and her long-time partner, Maggie Sawyer, on panel. While DC claims that this decision was not homophobic in nature, one has to wonder if they even bothered to consider how the prohibition of a wedding between two lesbian characters, regardless of the reason, would translate to readers… especially readers from the LGBT community.  

Many comic book marriages have been dissolved in the past (Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Clark Kent and Lois Lane). Publishers usually chalk it up to the fact that marriage can often stump a character’s growth and limit future storytelling. This explanation could easily be applied to the Kate/Maggie wedding debacle. However, gay and lesbian fans were bound to take this as a slight against homosexuality and rightfully so. Society is finally just starting to slowly come around to the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Up to this point, marginalization and discrimiation has been commonplace and, sadly, still expected.

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Over the past year, we’ve seen Robert Liefeld walk away from The Savage Hawkman. James Robinson cut ties with the publisher in the midst of his work on Earth 2. Gail Simone was fired via email from the Batgirl title (she was subsequently rehired after the news went viral and caused a massive internet backlash). All were attributed to the heavy hand of editorial.

At what point did editorial stop concentrating on the quality of the product and making sure story continuity flowed properly? When did they decide to start dictating what to write to the actual writers?To demand revisions and rewrites How long before “Edited By:” appears on the cover of each book in bold lettering and twice the font size as that used to designate the artists and writers… the actual talent behind the title?

Williams has stood by Batwoman since her days on Detective Comics. He soldiered on when Greg Rucka left the book in the wake of the launch ofThe New 52. It’s truly tragic that a man so talented and with such a passion for this character was given no other option than to bid farewell.