I'd heard this series was profoundly tolerable by many a sage, and having a bit of free time on the old "hands" I thought I'd give it a quick, er, paper shake, as it were.
Pretty disappointing stuff. First off, the dialog is altogether mundane, rather like a distilled version of Law & Order through the mouth of Donald Westlake characters, and second? The art? I don't know anything about how Criminal normally looks, because I only read manga and Winsor McCay, but this Val Staples guy can't draw for shit. All his characters have this blocky quality that makes it look like a Charlie Brown story where all the people are constructed out of rusty squares. It just doesn't move me. On top of that, the layouts are just blandly designed, more thrown on the page then actually placed there with any care or forethought. It ends up reading like a crappy episode of Colombo with all the Peter Falk portions cut out, leaving behind little more then stock characters in a derivative "man betrayed by femme fatale" plot. It's no Little Nemo in Wonderland, that's for goddamn sure.
Another chapter in the ongoing study of pointlessness for mouth-breathing super hero addicts that doesn't deserve to be classified alongside Daniel Clowes' flawless Ghost World, which may be the finest statement ever made in comic book art (if not for Chris Ware's brilliant oeuvre), released by Marvel "Comics," a publisher that is second only to the devil himself in the unethical department. Featuring Lady Bullseye. I can't be bothered to even look beyond the cover. It's obviously nowhere near the level of Mark Waid's Captain America run.
Also, you should use a bank and get a credit card. I have a kid.
WOW, there is a lot going on here, definitely a comic book people are talking about huh? Whether it's a missed kiss between Ollie and Dinah (Ollie! Pay attention to your wife!) or a scary-as-hell Wonder Woman handling the "recruitment drive" for Darkseid, Final Crisis # 4 is a big deal and this has already been one crazy summer. There's almost too much going on here, and due to a crazy schedule here at the ole' Factual headquarters (deadlines, Grrrr!) I'll have to deal with this in a later essay. Slow posting for the rest of the evening...What do YOU think?
Alphonso: Look, the art in this is fucking awful. It's so goddamn hideous to look at, so poorly designed in structure, that it actually serves to obscure what happens to be a pretty generic action movie script. I guess I was supposed to get so distracted by the shitty pencil work that I wouldn't notice I've seen this plot before, and it was better when Jared Leto was involved.
Theodore: I think your usage of the word "awful" is a trifle suspect. Awful in what sense? It achieves the goal of defining the characters so that I might use my human eyes to distinguish that one is Black Lightning while the other, what one might call "a doubler," is the Tattooed Man. The story, a gentle throwback to the almost neo-Eastern beach of the past, is one that is quite striking in its simplicity--a man must deliver the paper, but he must save the American family as well, and if he is to sacrifice himself, not his life, but his Very Soul, to do so, then One Is Introduced To Hope by the "lifting of burdens" that the Tattooed man performs. As the ex-villains wife says "He was a super-hero all along." Are we not all super-heroes when we see hope and honor smote before us?
Alphonso: What? Look, even if all that ridiculously convoluted shit is there, which it fucking isn't, it's not a well constructed piece of fiction, it's unattractive to look at, and even if it is replete with some kind of goddamn "meaning," it's a stupid meaning anyway. A fucking super-hero wants to deliver the newspaper but he isn't tough enough to fight off a bunch of super-dogs and a two-bit loser is inspired by his sacrifice to finish the newspaper delivery job? That's not deep. That's not thematic. That's a simple A to B story, and this fails to even tell it well.
Theodore: I don't appreciate you calling the Tattooed Man a "two-bit loser." He's a character with a rich, multi-textured history, and I'm certain there's a metaphorical meaning to his existence. I have yet to check further, but that's indicative of the lack of high-quality academic criticism on the character--which is no slight to the character, but part of my current distaste for the lack of serious anaylsis regarding super-hero comics. Few of our fellow "critics" seem to realize that they are doing the entire media (mediums?) a disservice by their, for lack of a better term, "bellyaching."
Alphonso: Well, why don't you fucking cry about it some more, and I'm sure somebody will find the time to write a dissertation on the second iteration of the fucking Tattooed Man. Jesus Christ, he's just another on of those jackfuck DC characters with no discernible explanation for what he can or can't do that Grant Morrison can use as a walking plot device. It's a Swiss Army character, one that'll always have the perfect tool for whatever narrative hole he dives into.
Theodore: I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.
Alphonso: Theodore, I'd rather run you over with a fucking car then agree with you on anything.
In the interest of helping the mainstream comics industry by pretending that they publish good stuff and pretending even harder that they have other stuff which is exactly the same as what's been determined "good stuff" but is somehow deemed not as good, usually because it has something in it that is offensive in the abstract sense that the world would be a better place if everybody would smile more often while holding hands and giggling, it should be said that the New Avengers is a comic book featuring super-villains who wear color costumes and has a big final page reveal (don't worry! spoiler-free zone here!) where it is revealed that one of the characters, the one with a name that rhymes with "The Good" happens to be a sort of human vessel for an old school Dr. Strange villain who's name rhymes with Mormmamu. By having these things, things like costumes and recognizable characters, New Avengers is the sort of stuff that makes super-hero comics so great. Make sure to turn off your brain while reading it.
Recently reviewed by me here: Secret Invasion #7, about which I write the following sentences: "This comic is so good. It is drawn so good, and the art that is made out of the drawings is so good, that it doesn't even need words. It does have words which makes it even better and makes it even better art too. There have been a bunch of people saying that they wish this comic was better before when it came out six times but i didn't agree with them then. But now I have to say that this one makes those other ones look like they weren't as good as they could have been because this one has everything you read a superhero comic for like big fight scenes and drawings of big fight scenes man it is so good, maybe the best marvel comic except for Ms. Marvel or 1602 if thats even possible."
You just read the entire review HERE.
I couldn't decide what comic I should read this week, and I picked this one even though it had a gross cover just because I felt pretty sure it wouldn't be about super-heroes, and I hate super-heroes.
This is really violent, at the end here. And the art is pretty good. And the story is pretty okay, I guess, but it sort of reminded me of a television show. It would be better as a television show?
You know, this comic is really colorful. It didn't make me tired or anything.
So I guess check it out I don't know?
Every week, I go to the comic book store and spend a bunch of money that I then complain about not having later so that I can take home a bunch of comic books that I don't enjoy reading and then I write gloomy sad posts about how much I miss the original Infinity Incorporated comic which Todd McFarlane used to draw and I've been doing this for like 15 years and even though now that I have the internet and I've made so many awesome comic friends I am tired of being sad all the time and it feels like I am paying somebody money every week for them to punch me in the face and you know what i think im not going to do that anymore. Oh and this old Nick Fury comic is almost unreadable, it's just that bad. But they do kill Dum Dum Dugan and his whore wife in it and that part made me happy because it reminded me that cheap superhero comics about dumb bullshit villains killing side characters goes back a lot longer then the summer of 2005.
-Tucker Stone, 2008