One might think this is just another Top Cow book about angels/demons/curve-women that has a number one plastered across it in hopes of convincing the Top Cow audience to give them one more chance to try and prove that old Marc Silvestri character designs are capable of sustaining interest beyond masturbatorial satisfaction, and while that's ultimately true, this is actually Big Business material, according to the New York Times, who can copy and paste press releases with a speed that puts Newsarama's Control-C team to shame. Supposedly, this is one of those comics that you recommend to people who are "sick of super-heroes", because under some kind of fucked up reasoning, this is Really Different. And it totally might be true! It might be hard to figure that out though, because first you have to pick which cover you want, as there are 10 options in that department. But if you do manage to pick one out, you turn the page and the interior cover has this phrase: "Separately, 13 Artifacts guide the fate of the universe. Together, 13 Artifacts will end the universe." And dig this: this series is going to be 13 issues long! It's called "Artifacts", it's 13 issues long, and it's about 13 Artifacts. Sounds pretty different to me.
The main reason that Grant Morrison's Let Fiction Be Fiction argument doesn't hold water is that the main complaint with his work of late isn't that "it doesn't follow rules", but that it looks like some shit that he's rushed out so that DC can have non-humiliating Batman products to sell, and also that it just looks like shit in general. There's probably somebody out there still complaining that Countdown didn't make a good lead into Final Crisis or confused about why Superman's Song didn't make an appearance in New Krypton and you can always find a "seriously Lightray got me into comics you have to promise he's not dead" type somewhere, and okay, maybe those people should ease up on the whole Taking Comics So Seriously tactic, but Grant's response to the situation is akin to hitting a box turtle with a Corvette: it's overboard and overkill. Still, there's something pretty fantastic about this by-all-accounts-including-ours shit issue of this gimme-some-money mini-series, and that's that Cameron Stewart decided that he respected his art and his name more than whatever paycheck they dangled in front of him when it was requested that he rush out an issue of what has fast become a case of Countdown Arena: Let's Pretend This Is Vastly Different From Previous Annuals.
2010 doesn't look like its going to be the year where the world rejects minimalist graphic design, which is great, because this looked like a pretty fucking awesome cover. In a mean twist, it turned out not to be the cover of the actual comic, for reasons that could probably be explained through search engines. In a way, a sad, frownie face way, that's probably for the best, because that cover belongs on a comic that isn't the 900th retread of angry lovers who find each other and Badlands/NBK/Honeymoon Killers their way through victim town so that they can fuck in the woods. That isn't to say that the story is completely unoriginal--for one, it completely removes the sense of humor that plot dynamic often has while doling out the violence with what seems like embarrassment--but that it fails to bring anything to that story that could be honestly described as "trying". Considering the nonexistent competition Northlander's particular setting has, that lack of innovation is a bit like a 98 year old man who won the lottery on his birthday, but then passed away the next morning. Never mind.
As this issue features Mr. X, who is a lot like every other bad-ass because-the-hardbitten-dialog-says-so assassin in super-hero comic books, it is, of course, written by Frank Tieri, who is currently following the I Use Hush All The Time career model that obsesses Paul Dini over at DC, right down to the "no one likes him but me!" character selection. It's a good idea, one that has admittedly worked extraordinarily well for Paul Dini, who is so well-respected as a writer that you would have a hard time naming anyone who doesn't consider him the second coming of George Herriman. Like, remember how unpopular Hush used to be? How nobody ever used him, and people in comics openly talked shit about him? And then Paul Dini came along and picked up the reins that Loeb and Lieberman had left, and turned the character into one of DC's Top of the Marquee characters? Mr. X is going to be the same kind of success story.
Wonder Woman # 601
Written by JMS
Art by Don Kramer
Published by DC Comics
The craziest part of Wonder Woman 600 wasn't in the new costume portion, but earlier, when this line showed up:
You hear that? Because it's talking to you, the reader. It's not part of the story, no matter how much it pretends to be. It's not even Geoff Johns talking, even though it's credited to him. It's the corporation, Time Warner, saying "hey, for some reason you still don't care enough about this character, even though the iconography and name have made us millions off of merchandising. We're in a position where having Lynda Carter write the introduction is the best possible choice, because absolutely nothing has happened since a decades old television show that better exemplifies this character to the public...and in case you didn't make the connection when we advertised this comic book in all those newspaper things that non-comics people have heard of, that's who we want reading this issue." This whole attitude continued into all of the interviews that the writer gave about the comic, most obviously whenever he brought up his starting-to-get-well-known obsession with having his comics be "in the top ten"--like, yeah. Got it. You're gross, you think its important that a fucking super-hero character has an explainable place to keep things, like pockets. Okay.
Still, it's kind of funny. A plot in service of a corporate mission statement. Also, the art is funny, because its the same bulbous figures over and over again with different traced faces where the heads connect. But then the comic is serious, and is about revenge.
Geoff Johns: This is the Geoff-erson J at Snargletits University, what is up-
Diane Nelson: It's Diane, you jackass.
Johns: oh shi-HEY, Hello, yes. What's going, I mean, Hello, what can I do for you?
Nelson: I seem to remember us having a conversation where you were instructed on how to answer your phone, correct? Where you were told that grown up jobs need grown up sentences?
Johns: Yes, I remember. I forgot this time, I'm really sorry, things have just been crazy-
Nelson: If you REMEMBER things, you don't FORGET them, that's how that shit works, okay? And don't bother me with your things have been crazy routine, I've got actual money things going on over here.
What's with the fucking noise? It sounds like you're at an Indian casino.
Jim Lee: I'm a tycoon!
Johns: dude you gotta be quiet, it's that lady boss.
Nelson: What did you just call me?
Johns: Sorry, I'm back. Jim was testing some slot machines in the office. Its for this video game thing. He's drawing. Did you ask me something?
Nelson: Neverfuckingmind. Listen up, I'm going into a meeting in a minute, I want this conversation over as quickly as possible. I've been looking at some of the upcoming editorial shit that the goblin is sending out, and I'm not seeing a lot of this Hector Hammond character in your Ryan Reynolds stories.
Johns: Oh. Yeah, I guess I don't use him a lot. He's not really my thing, you know what I mean? He's just some dude with a mustache and a big head, and he's not an alien or anything. Like, I made up these other Lantern Corps that I really like. One's Orange, and there's another one that is Blue, and they all have corresponding feelings attached to them, and-
Nelson: I don't give a shit about any of that, if I wanted to read the fucking things I wouldn't have a Boy Scout troop stomping around my office in their Hitler Youth outfits once a month to take the comp copies back to whatever compound they keep those people in.
Johns: Wait, you're not giving these to kids, are you? That might get us in trouble.
Nelson: Why? Because they'll get cancer of the boredom? I took a look at that Great Ten thing the last time they showed up and I thought I was going to give myself fucking polio. How are we going to sell the toy rights on an alien plane that turns its pilot into vomit? Are you still confused about what your job is, pencil dick?
Lee: ask her if I can ride a pony inside
Johns: dude you have to be quiet, i think she's on the rag or something
Nelson: Did you just say I was "on the rag", you fucking twerp? I swear to Christ, I'll have you fistfucked by a gang of Blackwater mercenaries inside the hour and post screengrabs of your savaged rectum on Wikileaks until my fingers start chapping.
Johns: What? No! No, i told Jim to watch out. For the bag! There was a bag on the floor. Please don't do that thing you said you'd do.
Nelson: This is exactly what I knew was going to happen when I picked up the fucking phone, shiteater. Listen up: the corporation is making a movie out of your precious wishing ring character, and that movie prominently features an actor who might give us some traction in the respectability department, and that actor is playing this Hector Hammond character. You do whatever you have to do, get drunk, read about serial killers on the Court TV website, but you write a Hector Hammond story right the fuck now. You don't like him, tough, you go learn to like him. You write a story with him in it that makes me feel like I'm being electrocuted in Texas, or you're going to wake up tomorrow with yesterday's lunch buried in your fucking eye sockets. Today, right now, when you get off the phone, you're going to write the best Hector Fucking Hammond story anyone's ever read, and if your computer breaks down, you yank out your kidneys and use them as a writing utensil. You're an EMPLOYEE, shitbird, and unless you've got ideas for some more Lantern symbol t-shirts that the sweatshop factories can produce a couple million of, you'll do what you're fucking told.
Johns: how'd you know about the serial kill--I mean, okay. Yes! You got it. Can I make him an Orange Lantern? I mean, may I...produce him, like, as a member of the Orange Lantern squadron? Ma'am?
Nelson: How many times do we have to have this kind of conversation? As long as you don't put the vomiting cat in any of the stories that people might actually read, I don't fucking care what he joins or who he dismembers, I just want something that has his name in it. Fucking Christ, talking to you is like sticking my brainstem into a bucket of horseshit.
Johns: Why do you have a bucket of-
Lee: i spilled my sippy cup on the ipad thing and now i cant see my wildcats
Nelson: goddammit, i heard that. Buy him a bib, for fuck's sake. [click]
Johns: I don't think she likes me very much.
Lee: I like you!
Johns: That doesn't really help me right now.
-Tucker Stone, 2010