The Grand Prize will be not getting laid
Ahhhand now we pick things up again, yes indeed! Okay, so the previous issue was pure lowest common denominator stuff--essentially tweet comics, the sort of thing that usually comes straight from the mouths of people saying "kaiju...versus cage" and then proudly jutting out their chest like some manner of overweight rooster. It was not horrible! Parker doesn't do horrible, or if he does, he holds onto it until he's saddled with event tie-in tumors, which is interestingly enough the same time that Kev Walker is nowhere to be found. The previous issue's bottom feeding was, however, by the numbers, a point-for-point piece of predictability that could've been made by any/all of those people who make webcomics and call themselves "creators". (No, not everybody who makes webcomics is like this, but yes, whole bunches of them are, and yet: they are most assuredly not.) This issue picked things up both by ratcheting up the fanservice (someone explicitly got fearful and found out what sort of "touch" that resulted in", but it wasn't fanservice in the queasy Geoff Johns way, more fanservice in the hit-you-on-the-back and get all Randy Savage selling-beef-jerky kind of contagious excitement way), and also by just being the mysterious mixture of the word "better" all around, which is nice and pleasant and all oh so sweet that we should check in on something like this, which isn't.
It won't be that tough for Daniel to set the bar at its lowest in terms of "how lousy can one individual do Batman-y comics", he just has to keep following his current track and he'll meet the only requirement soon enough, which is length of time, as that's all that keeps David Lapham in the winner's circle. Just an update: on top of the "why?" sidekick that Catwoman has (Catgirl, she wears pink hi-tops and poses a lot) there's also Enigma (who belongs to The Riddler as played by Evan Stone, also that ten year old Robin wants to fuck her, pay attention I guess?) now we have a female Two-Face, probably to go along with all those female versions of Bane and Mr. Freeze that they came up with back in Gotham Underground and yet no one ever used. During the same conversation where a corporate job at DC was being dangled in my face like a dead, festering turd last week (yep!), it was mentioned that all these horrible Batman comics are basically the fault of Mike Marts, but there was no real implication that anyone cared. Which is funny, because, and yes I know it gets old mentioning this but "Hey, Batman things make lots of money in everything but the new comic books that get published", meaning it's the sort of thing that you shouldn't really be able to fuck up, because you know, there were Batman toys that caught on fire and contained metal wires that cut upon kids faces like less than ten years ago and if permanently scarred children can't fuck up your brand, the comics should really probably not be all across the board be catering to really specific deviants, y'feelmedogforrealnow.
Brightest Day # 20
Written by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi
Art by Same People Who Always Draw It, Probably
Published by DC Comics
There's no cover this week that compares; put simply, this is the one to beat. Even if you're zeroed purely on the blood spray from Aqua's stump, you're sure to be even more satisfied by what might be the most audacious piece of "in-continuity" (if you don't know, that means that the "ha ha, we did it again" events depicted within the story "count", no imaginary tales for us) cynicism in a career rife with them. Geoff Johns, the overall "architect" of this particular series is best known for having pet characters like Hal Jordan or the Flash spend entire issues of comics wax infinitum regarding their own or each other's importance, a story trick that has won him no small measure of fans, at least half of which only sit through the bullshit so they can see the not-meaning-to-be-hilarious carnage--outside of reality television, there's absolutely no form of entertainment more heavily dependent on an audience who attends merely to feed their own rapacious feelings of superiority to an audience they imagine that enjoys it directly, an audience which of course does not exist. It's the addicted-to-hate show, and Johns is either delighted to provide it or completely clueless to its omnipresence: this is malicious, horrible noise, and yet it's still motherfucking Aquaman with blood squirting out Hong Kong arterial spray style while Black Manta poses like a suburban shut-in obsessed with what he thinks ninjas must do when they're being, you know, ninja-like.
The lucky thing about jacking Alan Moore stories is that you can still kind of enjoy some Alan Moore rip-off stories, even when they've been jacked, because the guy really went milkshake balls out sometimes. (This is probably old news, but guess what phrase shows up as a "here's a name for a stupid fucking event crossover, aren't those things silly" in the unfinished but very awesome 1963 mini-series? Why, the title "Infinite Crisis" did, how about that!) The same, however, cannot be said about free-jacking Grant Morrison tics, which is why certain portions of this comic are most reminiscent of those times when you mistakingly thought that today was the day to be nice to the guy no one talks to at the office, only to find out that the reason nobody talks to him is a very good one, and that reason is that he is incapable of having conversations where the word "spur" bumps against the word "moment", and opening up the door to future conversations about using home surgery to deal with a hydrocele on the testicles for the purposes of "saving on co-pays" isn't worth not feeling like a selfish prick on a cold Tuesday, i.e. Tough It Out, and yes, sometimes being selfish is a warning system, and nobody should want to quit a job just to avoid the socially awkward guy who know thinks we're all pals, that we care, and we don't, because no one does, or should. Which is a long way to say nothing other than: it's a real fucking chore to read Fantomex in the first place, he's neither "cool" or "edgy", he's just an accumulation of traits that don't form any real character, a fictional embodiment of story gimmicks from the New Wave films and too-many-longboxes that Morrison based him off of, which is why he's best experienced around other things and never--as he is here--for extended periods of time.
And yes, if you're wondering why so much is being made regarding the writing of X-Force, it's because Jerome Opena isn't around to draw it, and Esad Ribic can apparently only do that rotoscope digital paintball thing on covers, meaning this comic looks (for the most part) like a decent-to-good riff on that generic unfinished tracing style that Marvel puts on most of their books whenever their artists with actual voices aren't available. (Unfair to Ribic, sure, but when the evidence of what he can do is on the cover of the book that mostly contains a phone picked up and called in on, there's not much else to say but "this is kind of boring.")
It took a few volumes to get the bad taste brought about by some of the previous volume's weird plotting style (if you're going to wipe characters off the map completely, maybe it would help if that was made clear enough so that the impact is felt when it happens and not, you know, two or three volumes later in a place of drawn out confusion), but the last few chunks of 20th Century that have dropped for those of us who don't mind waiting on it have been just bang on the can excellent, especially the inclusion of the so-fabulous-I-should-maybe-be-offended fat male pop singing superstar who used to apparently be a rock and roll drummer because of fuck-yes-reasoning. And sure OKAY, yes, if this was an American comic, the cliched over-the-shoulder "time to go To FUCKING WAR" moment would be criticized for being overused (that is its third appearance in 20th Century alone) and maybe the umpteenth holy-shit-evil-is-at-the-front-door twist would be deserving of abuse. But somehow, the same way that Wong Kar Wai's dialog didn't seem non-moronic until you heard it in English (and then you heard Blueberry Nights and went oh-mi-god this dude is seriously channeling 13-year-old white girls), Urasawa can get by with stuff that would seem totally fucking chewing on the drapery ham-tastic, maybe because he still kills when it comes to the depiction of crying. Nice bloody head wounds too, that's brutal.
The last issue of this had one really great joke and that was pretty much it, but it's understandable that both creators might have just been so drunk on "we get to use Cable!" that they sputtered out upon ignition. This isn't just back on track material though, this is fucking top tier, alongside that "okay, here's why Nazi bad guys don't work in hero comics" moment from before alongside Baker's most delirious combination of stock Mad imagery yet--feels like a lot of Drucker this time out, but god knows it's a mistake to try and chase every influence Baker's ingested, this comic is combustible enough already. It makes no real sense that Marvel is publishing this--there's absolutely no precedent for this kind of work--and while that uniqueness makes for an incomparable curiosity factor, it could hinder it's enjoyment a bit. And sister, this one is actually pulling that off too, so don't get too drunk on what-the-fucks.
-Tucker Stone, 2011