Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Oliver Coipel, Mark Morale & Laura Martin
Published by Marvel Comics
Here's what they were hoping you'd feel while reading this issue:
Steve Rogers beheld the earth,
And, lo, it was waste and void:
And the heavens, and they had no light.
Tony Stark beheld the mountains, and, lo,
And all the hills moved to and
Thor beheld, and, lo, there was no
And all the birds of the heavens
Even boring ass corny stock characters like Mockingbird beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field
was a wilderness,
And all of the cities thereof were
At the presence of the Sentry,
And before His fierce anger.
For thus saith the Sentry:
The whole land shall be desolate;
Yet will I not make a full end.
Did you feel that way? Because that's how this was supposed to make you feel.
Didn't work, did it?
This is another in the long line of recent Titans comics that focuses on the reaction of Titans-related characters to Titans-related instances that have occurred in other comics (because nobody reads the Titans comic itself, so you can't actually do anything of Titanic importance in actual Titans issues), and all of its successes are negative ones, the most heinous portion being the depiction of the used-to-be-really-popular Teen Titans stomping on a bad guy like they're the LAPD and the bad guy is some random INSERT RACIAL SLUR THAT OFFENDS YOU THE MOST who made the mistake of wearing a X-Men 4 Life t-shirt while walking by their headquarters, which, in case anybody ever forgot, and they didn't, is a gigantic T standing up on an island. (Because T for TITANS, you know? Like this, these people make baskets in a factory shaped like a basket. But those employees and that basket factory are actually a Combo Breaker! if the kids in that Denzel movie were debating underneath a sign that said These Titans, They Stink, because at least the Titans aren't real people who go to work in a building that's shaped like what they do for a living, in case they forgot the choices they made that put them in this position, which is the choice to work in a building! Shaped Like A Basket!)
Oh, and yes, this comic had another page where Speedy is banging up his veins and even a page where Wonder Girl revealed that it took a human individual--in this particular story, a male human individual--to teach her the magic trick that is kicking a guy in the balls. And you know, the Factual Opinion has a Google Alert set up for the weirder edge of the comics blogosphere, and nobody seems to have stepped up to the plate and created a petition to criticize Eddie Berganza for inserting the kinda sexist concept that a young teenage girl needs to learn about the magic of Kicking a Dude In the Junk from a man, and like, really: what the fuck are you for, Internet? Besides that website where they put Ron Perlman's head on Jeanna Fine's body, that was totally years ago.
Speedy shooting up, teenagers stomping on people. Leads you to this:
Everybody's always hankering to walk away, it seems. "The Legion of Super-Heroes was so much better when Keith Giffen wrote it", and maybe that's true, but however good it was, it apparently wasn't good enough to just re-read those Giffen issues, there had to be more, more, more, gotta get some more blood into the pipeline. But--the Titans aren't any good. The golden moment for this title was over a long fucking time ago, and the best thing it did after those golden moments, back when the title used to outsell the fucking X-Men so hard that they even did a cross-over where Kitty Pryde held off on being a bitch using racial slurs being a progressive forward thinking pre-Vertigo female role model for 13 year old boys long enough to make kissy face with green-skinned Beast Boy, was when they spent the better part of two years having one of the Titans (the gay one back when comics were scared of having gay characters because it might upset, oh, who knows, probably the people that published them, it's impossible to believe anybody else ever cared, or if they did, that those people that cared weren't the same childless freaks who wear undersized novelty t-shirts and complain about gay characters now) kill his way through the lamer members of his own team before his father came along and shoved a sword through the body attached to his shitty haircut.
Otherwise, all of the Titans comics are terrible. The Titans comics right now: also terrible. There was a brief moment where DC's can't-go-wrong-with-sales guy Geoff Johns came along and did a bunch of stories under the Titans moniker, but that was a whole bunch of new people. But this Nightwing team? The one with Speedy on it? And Beast Boy? And fucking Raven? This shit hasn't worked for a hell of a lot longer than it has worked, and it's never ever going to work that way again, because you have to add new pussies and cocks to a soap opera because nobody wants to read a Will They or Won't They comic if the people involved have already Done So, Yep, Him Too.
But why walk away? Change the game, change what you want: this is what you wanted all along. They're running this shit like a mug's game. This guy, he seems nice, look at the way he writes, he made a good point, that this may be the one time you get to see a DC super-hero shoot up in the one arm he's got left, and while he's totally on the money that will be worth the price of admission--especially since its the same price of admission you'd have to pay to read another issue of the Avengers where Luke Cage talks about how he gets along with his mother-in-law with his shut-in wife and that hideous troll baby--the best part of reading the Rise of Arsenal is that you just know that someday in the near future there's going to be an issue where Roy Harper has to re-kill his dead eight-year-old daughter because of some left-over Black Lantern ring that Hal "I Can't Stop Judging People" Jordan forget to pick up because he was too busy thinking how best to remind people that he's better than them before somebody remembers that he's a fucking ex-con who believes you can best protect America by negotiating with terrorists.
You change what you're looking for. You start looking for this, you start getting excited by those soon-to-be classic "Comics Suck, Here's A Trick From The Movies" page layouts where the guy is screaming but you can't hear him because it's a slow-motion wait-for-it while a piece of thrown hospital bed heads towards the glass and then you get a one-armed man crying over the body of his dead daughter and he's fantasizing about how much she suffered right before he died, and that's comics, all of a sudden, comics. You're reading something that finally caught up with America, and America, we don't want something we like, we want something sleazy and wrong that we can hate, because we're better at hating than we are at anything else, and guess what, this is the future, this is comics that actually are relevant and right now. They just got contemporary again.
This isn't bad at all! Aaron's a little more fun when he bows to his deployment of bad taste peanut brittle exploitation stuff, but the general rule of thumb with Scalped is that it's His Serious Book, the bookshelf collection that he can point to as proof-of-brains when being asked to defend his occupation in that mystical court of public opinion. (That court, the place where people sneer at comic books more than they sneer at, say, the Left Behind series or a television show about overweight beer enthusiasts--it doesn't exist, but you can't fault comics people for wanting to better their imagined social status; they are, in point of fact, people who produce things that require reading, and reading has rapidly become a surefire checkbox on the list of things that determine whether or not you're going to lose your procreation tools if (or when) the terrorists win, which they are sure to do anytime now, probably before anybody gets a chance to show their kids that whipsmart webcomic about the wacky best friends of a sentient aluminum can, because you just know that some of these serious American thinkers rolling deuce rightaboutnow are going to refuse to pay their income tax next month and both of those heinous fucking wars really need that cash, for bullets and body armor and drone missiles but mostly for bullets, the Lord God himself is looking down right now and thinking "look, i can't just step in and carve the fucking shells for you, that level of Intelligent Design would totally blow the whole Am I Real Or Not question that motivates my fan club to keep checking in at the local Rape Some Deaf Kids For Decades clubhouse, and in case you didn't comprehend what sleazy old Timothy Fingerfuck said last Sunday, i sort of need those gold-plated spires to stay in operation because i just can't break myself of the whole incense habit and those chuckling child fuckers are the only Pals o' Christ left willing to swing the bucket, because Episcopalians don't count due to their fundamental inability to stick to any, like seriously, i think they've kept one, of the Commandments and that's probably just the Don't Kill Anybody one which never really meant that much to me anyway".)
You read enough individual issues of something, you either turn into a crazy person ranting about how a shitty franchise comic with consistently horrible art and a never-ending story involving tables and talking somehow Has Promise, despite having a label on the front that indicates, on a weekly basis, how long this shitty piece of shit has been a shitty piece of shit, or you turn into the kind of dejected whiner that you never wanted to be in the first place, because you've met the dejected whiners, those guys who take a twenty ounce Mountain Dew bottle and pour into another, bigger bottle of Mountain Dew, those guys who use words like Integrity and Decency and Portebellum in reference to some fucking newspaper strip from 100 years ago that was created to entertain monstrous robber barons who raped their maids and beat their cloven hoofed children with rubber tubing, but hey, that's life, right? You piss and moan a bit, you get on with it, nobody is gonna take away your Orc Stain, and yeah, life might turn out okay, because here's this book that's all Mash-Up, it's got penises getting cut-off, it's got cool guys, it's got all this intricate shit shoved into every page, it's got a different color scheme than the one that you see all the time, and it's Conan-y and Moebius-y and Geoff Darrow-y and here's the thing, maybe you're the fucker, and maybe you like things for the Wrong Reasons, but it's like the man says, "Meaning is the biggest suckers game out there", and you know what?
The kind of ass you get when people look at your book collection is a really shitty kind of ass. You like penises getting cut off. You like shit like this.
The problem with All Star Superman, if you liked it: it fucked up a firmly held belief, one that DC has spent the better part of their publication history driving home, which was that Superman comics aren't very good unless they're really old & weird and they involve Supergirl and that pony who wanted to have sex with her. You go through life, you think you got it figured out: you read Batman comics because they're mean and (most of the time) the people who get the Batman gig try really fucking hard to make it work, and you skip Superman comics, because Superman has like one bad guy who doesn't suck apples (Intergang? the Banshee? the CADMUS Project?), but also DC refuses to pony up more than minimum wage to whoever draws the fucking things, and you learn to accept that occasionally Superman is going to show up in Gotham City and act like Helen Lovejoy whenever Batman eats the fingers of a purse-snatcher. "Oh my it isn't like this in Metropolis" yeah well why don't you go back there you gigantic pansy take your clown outfit with you
Then there's this shit about the family, or copyright, whatever, you read that stuff about copyright? Yeah i didn't read it either, i get some stuff cooking, that stuff is called pornography, i watch a lot of fucking pornography and some of it is pretty dicey and by dicey i mean you better not come a-knocking because you might just see some shit that you can't unsee my friend. But here's the thing about Copyright that those jokers didn't tell ya: Sonny Bono was a fucking Scientologist, he was like OT X-Men, he was the fucking Beta Ray Bill of the Church of Scientology meaning that they didn't have much use for him except for occasionally making him Do His Thang, which was pretty much singing that Cher duet with a baby Kelly Preston while Lord Mage Elron rubbed his nubbins with cottage cheese on the Freewinds Express Boat Outings, and then all of a sudden a big deal thing came along, which was that some of Grand Dragon Hubblier's creep-o "writings" or "sacred texts" or "drug fueled run-on sentences like this one" were going to hit the public domain and that was a serious problem, because if that shit hit the open market and everybody found out that this (allegedly) fat wife-beating junkie was, well, an allegedly fucking junkie who wrote about space aliens who flew around in DC-10's, than they were going to have trouble corralling some more scaredy-cats willing to fill the coffers in the (allegedly, these people are fucking mean), underground temple, so somebody slapped old Sonny until he was sober enough to shitbox that grin of his around a copyright extension bill and Time Warner got to ride that train along with everybody else, that train that kept precious fucking Superman in their hands, and by the way, did you know that the last surviving Warner brother that actually had power used to make people beg him on his hands and knees to keep their job every six months or so, even sometimes the janitors who'd been there for decades? Because that's what he did, and while there's not much in life that's as irritating as when somebody throws their eyebrows so far up their face it looks like the caterpillar just jumped out of its cocoon, all to further accent their "corporations are evil" response in a trying-to-kill-some-time debate about whether the greeters at Wal-Mart should get unionized, but really, Superman's had almost 80 years of stories, and if that isn't more than enough time, than nothing ever will be, and the SuperVirus that's going to reset humanity to Let's Fuck Before And After We Eat What We Can Catch status can't come soon enough.
The Metal Men are fine. Two of them seem to have the same personality, maybe even the same brain, one of them is a whiny little stutterbox who usually behaves like one of those gay male stereotypes who wear glasses and are really uncomfortable with physical expressions of intimacy, one is a girl, and her personality is dictated by, you know, "is a girl", and one of them is the de facto scumbag just because he's been known to want things that his daddy didn't expressly offer him. Oh, and there's a jolly fat guy, because hey, what's not funny about obstructive sleep apnea and negligible romantic interactions? HA HA HA, the fat guy says.
The thing is--the Metal Men are pretty much it if you don't want to read about Sad Robots Who are Defined By Sadness. (As long as you ignore the Japanese, and pretty much everybody except most people and the Japanese ignore the Japanese. You, i know you. You ignore the Japanese all the time. Who's that fucking your sister? It ain't Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam has a hat.)
Red Tornado? SAD. The Vision? SAD. Cliff Steele? Cool guy, but is sad all the time. Cyborg? Not fully robot, but he's sad all the time. Remember those old stories where he'd put on a hooded sweatshirt and watch kids playing on the swings and fantasize about when he had a real flesh and blood body? Lot of pathos in those stories. (Also some creepy ramifications, but hey, the creepy ramifications audience has kept a lot of companies afloat for longer than you've been alive, hate the player, not the game. Comics are sort of like amazing feats of architecture, in that you go through life hating slavery, but then you hit Egypt and start getting your cap peeled back thinking "man, these pyramids are really fucking incredible" knowing the whole time that there's no way those pyramids would've been built if, well, SLAVES, you know. And comics, it's like: man, this is really good. This is good, you read this? Good shit. And then you meet the guys who buys every appearance of the Huntress, and he has that whole Look, The HUNTRESS, and you're--this guy, he's keeping it afloat, right? Because shit, i'm just buying the Brubaker/Morrison shit, it ain't me they're counting on. Mr. Huntress, he's looking at those sleazy variants, he's licking his lips. This Is How Much, He says. Gimme some more of this, he's saying.)
Marvels Project: this issue was better than the first three or four, and that's in spite of the whole LOOK AT THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS pages, which, oh well, it's set during the War That Makes Everybody In The Entertainment Industry A Shit Load Of Money, (also lots of russians died), and it's not like Brubaker is to blame for the fact that there were three straight of weeks of Batman versus Swastikas just a few months back, or that just: NAZIS AND HOLOCAUST, it's HOLOCAUST-IC, still, how many times in your life do you want to go to comic book depictions of Auschwitz, my damie? Dead people. It's a lot of dead people. Also, there's a robot. And the robot! Is sad! He flies around, sad. He has super-powers, sad. He won a fight, sad. He got a sidekick! Still sad. Brooding, depressed, sad.
Oh, and the Angel character: he better die in the last issue. He's a fucking baby. He looks, talks, is. Baby. He should die.
Drawn & Quarterly doesn't really like publishing new comics anymore, but they do publish these, which are awesome. Even if they hadn't included the little interview in the back, where Tatsumi says that he made this shit when he was twenty in a forty day blitz, you'd probably guess that by reading it, because the fucking thing moves, it's a goddamn speed-high. There's these panels where a couple of guys hear the cops, start freaking out, and it's--you can see them running, you can see the snow forcing them back, and you're just right there with them. And the best part, and this might sound like a mean part, but it is the best part, is that the whole enterprise doesn't feel the least bit special, it doesn't feel like it's a high-water mark for manga or comics or anything like that, which is probably the only real negative thing you could say about all those Tezuka books that come out, which is that they all come bearing this This Is More Important And Integral To The Artform Than Anything You Own You Sensitive Prole. No, Black Blizzard: it's just an extended play piece of rubber, it's simple and plain and it gets to be expressive and fast and explosive because it never stops to try and make sense of the place where it stops, because it never actually stops until the end so you can see the part where people hold hands by choice and not chains. Grimy faces, repetition, everybody's yelling, and you gotta give D & Q credit, because while all they had to do was print the thing, they printed it like this: sloppy, yellow, silly.
This is what doing looks like. It's sitting on the shelf, they file it next to "trying".
Electronic Arts came onto the whole "replicate the same product with negligible differences on a consistent schedule" market a long time after comic books had, but they did it better than anybody else--it helped that they bought or litigated into oblivion every competitor they could--eventually resulting in them being one of the most successful video game companies on the planet.
So why involve themselves with publishing comic books? Why do this? They haven't even bothered to update the EA Comics website or the regular EA website to notify anybody who cares that there are three issues of the title out. Like--EA isn't the nicest bunch of guys in the world, they deserve whatever criticism people who care about that sort of thing has to dish out, but still, they are a pretty successful company capable of making more money on Tuesday than they made last Thursday, and it seems really unlikely that they're going to increase the massive audience that their video game titles have already by bringing on board the few thousand they can expect to grab in the comics market, and that model only holds water if you're willing to believe that the people buying the comic aren't already familiar with the particular video game in question, which, seriously, video games beat Avatar when it comes to profit margin and exposure, thanks to the Wii, your grandmother is clocking video game time that rivals late-90's Goldeneye drinking parties.
"And when they meet those who believe, they say, We believe; and when they are alone with their devils, they say: Surely we are with you; we were only mocking.
Allah will pay them back for their mockery, and He leaves them down alone in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on." - Qur'an
We are taking names, and when this dark age has passed, you, your backs, placed against walls. Your tears will be aborted with the curdled infant of mercy, your mewling pleas will be rendered mute by your ashen tongues. We dub thee Appeaser! We call your crimes Negotiation! Your surrender has been documented, your consent has been noted, you have sold asunder your honor, you will be given No Quarter. Enjoy your Catgirl, for her hot pink and high tops have penned your eulogy.
-Tucker Stone, 2010