Due to Free Comic Book Day and the fact that the entire staff of these Factual offices have spent most of its non-P90X time holed up with Portal 2, Comics Of The Weak was even more neglected than it usually is, which translates to "Not Dealt With At All". Thankfully, almost nothing was released in the past week, to the point where the Factual's purchasing agent returned empty handed, even though he'd been ordered not to open the front door without a copy of Darkie's Mob. In service of the greater comics community, our intrepid super-hero reader and erstwhile David Allen fan braved a beautiful spring day, grabbed a stack of what fictitious American drug dealers like to call "the shit", and set it down next to the computer for a bit of the old live blogging. If you're seeing this post and there's lots of words missing and no picture, well sister, you showed up early. Otherwise, this is later and you missed the whole goddamned thing. (For those with long memories, yes, we did one of these once before--it ended with a book burning and a whole mess o' follow-up bitching. It is unlikely that will happen this time, but mostly because Tucker doesn't smoke anymore and is thereby less willing to go up on the roof, which is where all the rapists like to sleep.*)
The draw here is Martin, and some of what he does in here is worth looking at, for sure. It still isn't one of his best times out of the box--the story contained in this comic was delivered in two page installments in the backs of some pretty hideous issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and that gives the whole thing the same herky-jerky up-down quality that Wednesday Comics or Strange Tales had, where one's investment lasts only as long as it takes to turn the page and get let down again. Basically, this isn't Martin at his best, and since Stan Lee's story doesn't even muster up the brain damaged earnestness of that Spider-Man newspaper strip, the ultimate result is a thing that's just sort of there for awhile, and then is just sort of over. Like chlamydia, except you buy it in a store, and that means other people know you have it for a little while, although they'll probably forget an hour after they see you.
If nothing else, this thing actually increases the interest factor of Martin's upcoming stint on Daredevil, even if it's only going to be two issues. Mark Waid's the kind of guy who seems to actually enjoy giving artists comic-book-type-shit to draw, as opposed to these miserable fucks who seem to think that a 25 dollar book about poorly drawn heads arguing in poorly drawn rooms is the pinnacle of achievement, and you just know that he's chomping at the bit with some goofball shit after spending so much time with the poverty page rate crew over at Boom Central. Considering Daredevil's historical record as being extremely good for brief periods of time, with those periods often sandwiched between unholy garbage, this next slide might be the ticket. But even if Waid's run turns into Murdock Fucks 'Em, Then They Die, as so many Daredevil runs have before, Martin's still got the potential to make a neat poster out of the whole thing.
I couldn't really figure out a way out of that last chunk there. Do people still have posters? Teenagers aren't people.**
Somebody--it was Tim Callahan--wrote about how there aren't any conversations with super-hero comic book creators anymore on the same level of honesty that the old Comics Journal articles had***, and here's another one that was missed: somebody getting Dean White to explain why he didn't do all the backflip twists that he used in the eighth issue of Uncanny X-Force to make it look like Billy Tan deserved to be in the same class as Jerome Opena, because holy god did all that classic Billy Tan bullshit come right back into the mix this time around. It's like somebody throw a full diaper into an industrial dryer, there's just nothing in this issue that was left untouched. The story goes like this: Magneto comes to see Wolverine. And he cries a little bit, and then he hands Wolverine a picture of a Nazi and asks him to go kill the Nazi, because the Nazi is still alive? and so Magneto wants him dead, but for some reason he can't do it himself? and so Wolverine goes to kill the Nazi, and he arrives way too late, as in he arrives after the Nazi has lived a really full life that involved him being married to a pretty woman who loved him to pieces, and then she passed away and now he's just waiting for someone to come kill him, and that someone is Wolverine. And then, because Nazi characters are like kryptonite for intelligence over at Marvel Central, he has one last moment of being like "fuck you, I'm a bad ass Wolverine" before Wolverine cuts his head off with a samurai sword. And then the issue is over, and you're left wondering if the whole thing was a joke or something...because, seriously. This comic JUST STARTED. There was no reason to come out with so many issues--this is the third one in four weeks--when you just could have put issues out on a monthly basis and never done either of these Billy Tan issues, or at least just not done this one.
Mainly, it comes down to this: unless you're doing the Red Skull or Hellboy, relying on Nazi stories makes you a lazy fucking asshole. They should set up a room at Marvel Comics, and that room should be full of all kinds of horrifying Nazi iconography, like buckets of stolen gold teeth and lamps made out of human skin and close up pictures of emaciated concentration camp victims, pictures where you can see what infected bed sores look like, and then everytime somebody wants to write a Nazi story they should make them sit in that room for an hour while listening to an audio recording of iFanboy or Awesomed by Comics or any of those kinds of comic book podcasts, and then after that hour, if they're still convinced that Nazis and super-hero shit goes together, they can do their story. Otherwise, grow a fucking pair and learn how to make a Mister Sinister storyline work.
It would be an insult to waste time talking about the story in this comic, so let's just say that it seems to be a riff on that Man Who Has Everything story that a bearded wizard wrote back when comics cost a nickel and they kept Dr. Who fans in cages. But fuck the story, if Jeff Lemire wants to do that story, he should have at it, it is not like anyone on Earth gives a shit what Superboy comic book stories are like. He's a super-hero whose costume consists of a t-shirt and jeans, for christsakes. Fuck the story, because boys and girls, this is it, one of the ones that'll slip through the cracks if you're not careful: this is as weird as Big Two comics gets, now that Bill Sienkiewicz inks everything with a bunch of broken sticks he stole from a Boy Scout troop. Take a look at this opening page:
Make no mistake, sarcastic guy: this is the DC equivalent of Brecht Evans right here, in terms of coloring. This is somebody digging around for something in photoshop besides the regular SHINY and SHINIER and SHINY ENOUGH TO SHAME GOD buttons that everybody usually relies on over at DIGIKORE and SLICE and TWO LIVE STEWS as well as all those coloring places that don't use horrible names and yet still suck the life out of comics in a way that the most trans-media Hollywood pitchmeister fuckface writer type can't even begin to imagine, which of course is why they're plying their ten year old high concept idea about bears and knife-fucking in comics in the first place, because they lack an imagination and are probably Catholic. THIS:
These pages aren't really going to do the whole beast justice, but yeah, this is the other guy who draws the comic, and he really digs on these arbitrarily designed layouts (of which what you see above is a mild case), to which I guess one could thank JH Williams, because old Superboy 7 is right up there with those two Batman Annuals about how Batman will only hire Muslims who have no discernible accent to go along with an absence of any political awareness, and all three of these comics prove that DC's editors put "randomly designed panels" on the left side of an equals sign, and on the right side they put a picture of those Batwoman comics that will probably never come out. Because they can't tell the difference oh never mind, look at this:
So fucking weird, this comic. I'm really not doing it justice.
Has any other character had as many chances in the last few years as Moon Knight? I don't mind if Marvel wants to keep acting like there's a big demand for the character, it doesn't bother me or anything, but this is one of those titles that serves as a head and shoulders example of the same dearth of creative thinking that has resulted in millions of dollars being spent so that Zach Snyder can climb the heights of Mount Brainaic and remake Superman II, only in this case it's a bunch of guys who were actually working at Marvel during the last two attempts to make Moon Knight a palatable choice, and neither of those times was the comic in direct competition with 17 Thor books and 29 Captain America comics, none of which are distinguishable in terms of quality against Moon Knight, which seems to be a comic designed for the people who complain when the New York Post spoils plot developments on 20 year old reruns of Remington Steele.
Nina Stone will be handling the Factual's "official" take on this later in the week, and I'll be participating in something else somewhere else, but I did think it might be un-Christian of me not to admit that I liked the dialog where Odin and Thor talked back and forth to each other about humans and obligations, etc. It worked, whatever. The rest of this comic felt like the same kind of tired you feel when you're stuck in a conversation with someone about 'zine culture or how much things used to cost. At the end, there's a drawing of some flying versions of those battle suits they had in Avatar destroying the White House, and it was a great reminder of a simple rule that nobody ever mentions because I'm making it up right now, and that rule is the reader should never be able to count how many bad guys there are in a gigantic destruction scene, because it just makes it seem like it's not that big of a deal when there's a specific number of a thing.
The Boys #54
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by John McCrea
Published by Dynamite
I quit reading this comic. Dynamite is the fucking pits.
This was going to be where I dumped something on the other comics that came out this week, but I just can't keep going with these things. They're horrible! What a lousy week. Try this instead:
It's obvious that the marketing money is way behind Chester Brown's crybaby book about why girlfriends are scary instead of Noble Deaths, but that's okay, Mizuki was born in 1922 so it's not like D&Q have to dodge his phone calls that much longer. But this is a good one, a diabolically special book that stands in stark relief against so much World War II fiction that it ultimately makes a huge portion of the History Channel's programming block look shallow. Even if it was just the song lyrics that are being presented here, this book would be a revelation. Great stuff, and a firm (and necessary) return to the Tatsumi level of quality that had made D&Q's manga line so exciting in the first place.
This is the Apocalypse War story arc that explodes out of Block Mania, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find something that does exactly what this story does to the extremes that this story does it. It's basically a perfect Judge Dredd arc--you can tell that he's going to win, because he's Dredd, but it takes a while before you really grasp how incredibly far he's going to have to go to get the win, and the skill at which Wagner (and Grant, apparently?) manipulate the basic "fascism works" Dredd shtick is really at its best. It's a crime how rarely Wagner gets mentioned in terms of quality serialized storytellers. I really wish I liked something else he did. Anyways: Apocalypse War. It's unmissable, and so much better than mini-comics.
I think that's it. Phoenix 1 (Tezuka) was really good, and that second Krazy Kat collection (second in terms of chronology, release wise, I think it was the 12th Fantagraphics book) was very good as well, but I don't know that I have the energy to say anything beyond that. The previous Krazy Kat book was a bit of a chore to read--some of the panels just went on and on and on, and I far prefer the ones that maintain the what seems to be Krazy's natural rhythm, which is a quicker, loping pace--and the latest installment had more of what I like. It also had a page where Ignatz explicitly attempts to murder Krazy by drowning him, which added a level of nasty to the relationship that I think only makes it more rewarding.
*One of the things that I've been told about working at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater is that they're heavily invested in one kind of humor, and that kind of humor is classified as "Lasers 'n Rape", and I totally believe it, because just saying that phrase out loud conjures up a very specific kind of person, and that person really likes improv, and is a total fucking asshole.
**Neither here nor there, but I was looking at the last issue of New York Five and it struck me that making comics, or books, or basically anything that involves reading for teenagers is probably the worst possible idea ever, because aren't teenagers the most unlikely group on earth to sit around and read? And wouldn't the audience of teenagers who sits around and reads be the bottom of the gene pool kind of audience anyway? Teenagers should be out screwing up their lives and banging into each other at concerts, they should be doing all the shit that college and student loans and credit card debt will eventually neuter and make terrible. They can sit around and read and get fat and be superior to each other later, when they don't have a choice and no one wants to kiss them anymore, but they shouldn't be doing it now, it's practically criminal to suggest otherwise. This isn't New York Five's fault, and it seems pretty obvious that New York Five isn't for teenagers anyway--one of the main emotional beats involves a girl dumping a boy's Compact Discs on the street, and if there's one thing that screams 30-somethings, it's punishing a man by messing with a box of *gulp* Compact Discs. It just made me think of teenagers, which is sort of (maybe? who cares?) what the Minx line, which New York Five was spun out of after being apparently one of the only ones people liked, was supposed to serve.
***Tim's half right--comics people don't talk shit in an actual print magazine anymore, but they still talk as much (if not more) shit than they did back in those old Journal interviews. They just do it via email, via twitter, via message boards, via signings and conventions and all the rest. And while that stuff is sort of semi-private at first, it never stays that way...but even if it did, there's shit out there worth looking into on the margins. The question is: why the fuck would you want to? Hickman gave a pretty telling interview of the original ideas behind what became that boring SHIELD comic he does, an interview that pretty much laid bare how the House of Ideas was embracing the House of Make Sure This Idea Won't Result In Us Sharing Movie Profits With Sony, but do you have the time or patience to listen to the 20 other interviews Hickman gave where he didn't mention that kind of stuff and instead stuck to the boilerplate ad copy? And if you do, wouldn't you be happier fucking whores, like Chester Brown did? I saw a picture of the way he drew himself after he paid a woman to fuck her, and he looked like the happiest skeleton that had ever appeared somewhere besides a vinyl sticker attached to a front door in October. All it took was money and the willingness to fuck whores!