Gantz stopped being good not too long after it stopped featuring hardcore sex, but that's no excuse for opening up to the cast to include a bunch of uninspired vampires (most of whom seem to be operating at a heightened state of arousal that is never explained, acknowledged and worse, never capitalized on) and having these vampires behave as if the Gantz-ian regulars are some long standing mortal vampire enemy. It's not a huge surprise that things have gone down the always treacherous road of "let's explain this shit"--that's pretty much par for the course in science fiction stuff that goes on to long--remember when Star Wars tried to explain the Force?--but the fact that you know why something is a bad idea doesn't make it any less tedious to wade through. That being said, the portion in this volume where the spree-killing sociopath (let it never go long forgotten that one of this series main heroes is a sexed up version of Anders Breivik, with all that pesky racism firmly intact) puts on the Predator's chameleon suit and kills 40 people with a samurai sword in the streets of suburban Japan is as irresponsibly compelling as the violence in Gantz always is. If Oku could stand to return to his other obsession--ridiculously oversized breasts, and the heavy panting obsessives who would storm Hell to motorboat betwixt them--he'd quickly find that all would be forgiven.
While the previous SF Supplementary File was a brief mini-comic exploring one of SF's many team members, this issue--split into three limited edition minis, two of which have been released--looks connected to its parent series in theme only. Described by its creator as a "hand-drawn....hand-written reproduction" of a Japanese work by Matsumoto Leiji published in 1979, the comic sees Smith hewing pretty respectfully towards the original work in the same way that he does with his Two Eyes of The Beautiful comics, a similarly designed take on Kazuo Umezu's horror work. And while it seems like a limited exercise--in some ways, it's a heavily choreographed edition of one of those theme sketchbooks people used to not be able to shut the fuck up about--Smith's sincere approach and formidable design skills lift the experience safely into the realm of honest-to-goodness art.
While there's way, way too much talking here for this to be anything more than a tolerable issue of Godland---in all seriousness, anyone who thinks the most exciting thing for Tom Scioli to draw is pointed fingers and turns of phrase should have their nuts stapled directly to their tongue, sack still intact--the final pages, where Adam Archer (our personality deficient hero) has his official team-up with Friedrich Nickelhead (our Joe Casey stand-in, dial turned three degrees north of Extreme) come as close to redemption as one could hope for.
Although the body screams for more of the violence that closed the last installment, the head understands: for death to mean something, it is best if the audience cares about the living. And while we're completely down that road for the detectives, exasperated and estranged as they may be, as well as with our victim heroes (an ape man bearing our national failure and the orphan girl who heralds the cultural demise), the rest loll like meat in the butcher's window. That's fine, actually: it's only the cheap optimism of the dumb and enslaved to theorize that pop celebrities are more than the shallow face they wear, and it's a mark in Azzarello's favor that he honestly depicts them as the frauds they'll forever be. If anything rings false--and little does--it might be the hint of a heart of gold heard in the hooker's final cry. But even that could play by Queensberry; she is still naked, after all.
There's something kind of unnerving about reading a DC comic that has all the requisite trappings of a photoshoot in Penthouse magazine, and yet decides to go completely sexless. (Schoolgirls, locker rooms, a latex skirt wearing headmistress and that "watch your rear" closer--ask any 14 year old what story that's telling.) It's almost as if Stewart and Morrison are making some weird comment about the state of geek culture today, the way it wishes to advance its backwards sexual attitudes by loudly proclaiming that sexual attitudes need not exist at all in any form, along with the even more disturbing pretense that the highest art should go should be a place where the smallest hands can still reach it. All this tolerance is cute, goes the rejoinder, but maturity dictates that the language of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X was never meant to cover the hurt feelings of 40 year olds obsessed with the My Little Pony franchise: intended or not, the big message of the Morrison/Stewart exercise in Stephanie Brown-ing is that some comics should just grow the fuck up.
It's after that first story that the comic actually gets going, though. There, Morrison and Chris Burnham continue the weird amalgamation of candied violence and neon exploration that's been their beat for a while now; call it Joker comics, his absence makes more sense that way. With the weight of continuity having been abandoned--like Marvel's hands off approach to Uncanny X-Force, Batman Incorporated stories now are free to operate without any of the "help" that produced prizewinners like Countdown, Trinity and Superman: The Gigantic Pussy That Everybody Can't Stand--Morrison is freed of expectation or responsibility. It's a refreshing feeling, and while the Incorporated recap that closes the issue serves mostly as a reminder of how messy and ill-thought Incorporated seemed at the time, it's difficult to fend off the sensation that somebody decided they might still have something to prove, after all.
While this issue is primarily the conclusion of the new "origin" of Wonder Woman (short version: a penis was involved this time), it's also the issue where her new personality is completely introduced. The short version of that is that she's sullen, pissed off and based off the final pages, probably guilt-ridden as well. We'll have to see if that personality shift is here to stay, but for now, it's a welcome one. As Dave Sim decisively proved, women are inherently angry creatures; petulant and cold beings who wander the land ruining everything fun. It would only stand to reason that the "Wonder" of women would be the worst version imaginable, a hellish, screaming harpy addicted to the genocide of joy. This is also the issue where Cliff Chiang draws Brian Azzarello into the comic, playing the part of Ares, which only cost him a blow job.
which him did i mean
-Tucker Stone, 2012