It's CON WEEK! This column's East Coast contingent is holding it down in Chinatown, but never fear: our West Coast Affiliate MR. ABHAY KHOSLA will be in the proverbial house. HERE'S WHAT HE HAS TO SAY 'BOUT THAT.
Time again for another San Diego Comic-Con, and you know what that means: ultra-limited hardcover collectible preview premieres. At least, if you ask nicely. Here's a SCHEDULE of where to find me--
FRIDAY -- 8 pm-- SIGNING at PETE's LIQUOR: Sign a credit card slip which will allow me to purchase a bottle of "Weepy Plumber" wine.
FRIDAY -- 9 pm to 10 pm -- SIGHING at MY ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT: Drink Weepy Plumber; listen to Lilith Fair bootlegs; stare out a window; wonder where it all went, all that potential, all of that capacity for joy. In the distance, an area youth sets off a bottle rocket leftover from the July 4th holiday. Watch it for a moment; it only lasts a moment.
FRIDAY-- 10 pm to 11 pm-- SINGING outside of MCDONALDS: Avoid being stabbed by area youths.
FRIDAY -- 11 pm to 11:05 pm-- PANEL: HORROR IN COMICS: Read innocuous news article about comics on the internet.
FRIDAY -- 11:05 pm to 11: 59 pm-- KEYNOTE SPEECH: Pace around my one-bedroom apartment ranting and raving about innocuous comic article, for benefit of my lonely pet cockroaches.
FRIDAY -- 9:30 pm to 10:15 pm-- HORROR LIQUOR SIGH: Enjoy Time Paradox.
SATURDAY -- 12 am to 1 am-- PANEL: EDITING COMICS: Watch video of animals being friends on YouTube. Sob uncontrollably.
SATURDAY -- 1 am to 2 am-- EXHIBIT HALL: Nickname for my one-bedroom apartment during naked time. Listen to Deee-Lite on repeat. Enjoy having a body, before it becomes a meat prison from which death is the only plausible escape plan.
SATURDAY -- 2 am to 3 am -- HARUHI FUSHIGI KEKKAISHI: Just get real with some Japanese shit.
SATURDAY -- 3 am to 7 am-- BLACKOUT: ?
SATURDAY -- 7 am to 2 pm-- SPOTLIGHT on Special Guest ROBERT KIRKMAN: Read Comic-Con website description of Kirkman: "Robert Kirkman is a New York Times bestselling author known for being the cultural zeitgeist of the comic book industry." Try to decipher what the hell that sentence means, what the heck a person being a cultural zeitgeist means; puzzle over The Sentence obsessively, like a minor character from David Fincher's ZODIAC movie; despite best efforts, ultimately find myself unable to solve enigma of The Sentence. Shrug. Eat Nutri-Grain bar to keep my energy up.
SATURDAY -- 2 pm to 5 pm-- PRESS CONFERENCE: Excitedly declare to bored, cow-eyed onlookers that the fact that people with bad taste have enough money to purchase art of questionable merit produced by dull people with limited ambition for the benefit of sinister corporations means that the "nerds have won." When asked what has been won, pause, stare off into the distance, until finally whispering "t-he pennant... yeah... the pennant... wildcat... Wild....cat..... I'm going to go." Reasonably assume that nerds having won means that someone else will be responsible for my laundry. End up wearing dirty clothes.
SATURDAY -- 5 pm to 6 pm -- PANEL: HOUSE OF IDEAS: Invite area youths to ask me questions, but answer every question with hostility, sarcasm, and condescension, suggesting an out of control ego wildly inconsistent with any of my actual accomplishments.
SATURDAY -- 6 pm to 7 pm -- UTA/ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY/TWILIGHT/TAMPAX PARTY: Stand outside party thrown for the benefit of beautiful, rich people. Whisper, "But I thought the nerds had won. W-what about Obama?" into tree trunk.
SATURDAY -- 7pm to 12 pm-- EISNER AWARDS: Named for famed third-grade classmate Doug "D-Dog" Eisner, the Eisner awards are the most prestigious award in my apartment. Win in every category. Deliver moving, yet boldly subversive acceptance speech to empty apartment. Halfway through speech, slowly realize that the only winner is the only person nominated. Award ceremony still lasts five hours out of obligation to remember elderly cartoonists who have died in auto-erotic accidents within the last six weeks. End In Memorium section by screaming, "We'll miss you most of all, guy who inked two issues of SCAMP AND THE MUFFIN back in 1932, you crotchety old pervert." Scream that loud enough that God finally stops ignoring my screams. Finally. Finally.
SATURDAY -- 12pm to 4 am-- DRINKS outside a noisy, understaffed HYATT HOTEL with SMELLY BATHROOMS WRECKED BY THE EFFLUVIA OF UNDERNOURISHED CARTOONISTS: Just kidding. What kind of person would do that with their time? Went too far on that one!
Blacksad: A Silent Hell
By Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido
Published by Dark Horse
This is that hugely successful great-looking funny animal comic that is unfortunately as dumb as it is pretty, pretty much on every single page. It’s hard to make a done-in-one story about something as generic as a hard-boiled private investigator this confusing, so if you’ve got a burning interest in that sort of misstep, take a gander. It’s called “A Silent Hell” in part because most of the characters are part of the New Orleans music scene, and a few of them are suffering great tragedies in silence--yeah, that's how you do it. Snuck it right in the back door! Depending on your mood, it can be nice to look at something as well crafted as Guarnido’s work is with the knowledge that he’s actually found success by doing hard work, as opposed to the more depressing (and more common) alternative: regurgitating the same meaningless nostalgia porn repeatedly over the course of decades to the plaudits of middling shitbags who think Robocop 3 "had some good parts."
By John Wagner, Henry Flint, Chris Blythe,
Published by Rebellion
In case you were waiting for 2000AD to do little copyright jokes cut from the observational humor cloth about how young children are “disease-riddled carriers” before you gave the ole Progs a go, this is the one for you. If that’s not enough to get you interested, John Wagner just might have written the most audacious fuck-your-hopes and screw-your-dreams dick-shriveler of an anti-climax ever with the way he took the Dark Judges off the table, unless the words “Dark Judges” don’t mean anything to you, in which case you’ll read this installment of Dredd and feel totally left out. Speaking of left out, you’ll probably want to come into the cover-blurbed “START OF THE FINAL NIKOLAI DANTE STORY” with more foreknowledge than "the main guy is named Nikolai Dante," as the story reads exactly like the conclusion to a 15-year series should, which is to say impenetrably.
By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia
Published by DC Comics
This is the sort of comic that a lot of people want to read, one long exposition-in-action fight comic between Batman and the ultimate bad guy behind the last 11-odd issues of problems he’s been facing, a comic that sees Batman surviving the sort of impossible situations super-heroes are supposed to survive while still sweating and struggling, a comic that features heavily melodramatic proclamations and collapsing skyscrapers and phrases like “no bodies found in the wreckage” and then still finds time to throw in an epilogue where Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson talk to each other about what makes them important. It’s a comic that Scott Snyder is getting better at making, and if it’s a little bit soulless--lacking in creativity, ingenuity, and the human touch--that probably makes it even better, as the company that produces it moves further away from art, and that much closer to the intellectual-property laboratory that they're destined to be. If you’re coming for a good comic, you can find one here, one of the best ones that DC is currently making. But you’ll be doing yourself a massive favor to first confirm that your definition of what a “comic” is happens to line up with what they’re calling them these days.
Space: Punisher #1
By Frank Tieri, Mark Texeira
Published by Marvel Comics
This comic is specifically called Space COLON Punisher, which will at first be confusing. Then you’ll read the comic and get that it’s not actually about Space Punisher, it’s about “Space”--a place where all the Marvel characters exist in a sort of Flash Gordon/Star Wars/something published by Del Rey setting--and Frank Tieri and Marvel are hoping that this mini-series will be successful enough to spawn follow up minis, with names like Space COLON Magneto and Space COLON Hawkeye, and when they run out of that they can just use proper space characters, like Nova or that Russian dog with the cliched accent that nobody seems to be able to write poorly. This isn’t as bad as it gets, because to pull that feat off would require Tieri and Texeria to be shooting for serious, and it only takes a few pages for it to be clear that this is supposed to be a funny comic. This isn't a missed opportunity, either, as Alex Toth could have reworked this concept with Tennessee Williams on the script, and it still wouldn't have been any better.
Punk Rock Jesus #1
By Sean Murphy
Published by Vertigo
As will undoubtedly come as a shock to those in the audience who read its cringe-inducing title, this is a great first issue and a good comic book as well. Delivering on the promise of Sean Murphy’s art seen in that tedious Joe the Barbarian series, this black-and-white Vertigo comic may very well end up saying some stupid-ass shit in a stupid-ass fashion--it’s called Punk Rock Jesus, for fuck’s sake--but this first chapter has nothing to apologize for in terms of stage setting and satirical wit. Introducing a Paul Verhoeven-style media-controlled future where science has signed away its integrity for the money to experiment, and featuring an ex-convict mercenary who knows how to hurt people, Murphy proves himself plenty adept at the sort of genre-for-wiseasses that Vertigo used to specialize in before they completely blew their creative brains out of the back of their skull in some kind of weird act of team building. It could go up, it could go down, whatever: this wasn’t bad at all.
The New Avengers #28
By Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Rain Beredo
DC Marvel Comics
Deodato is a really exciting artist from the look-at-these-porn-screengrabs school of penciling, and he’s in rare form this time around, probably because he got to watch a lot of ladies-in-lockdown flicks. See, this is the part of the super-hero crossover where some of the characters get thrown in superhero jail, and while the participants aren’t that high up there on the awesome scale (Jeremy Renner notwithstanding, Hawkeye hasn’t meant shit to non-Marvel employees since right after everybody thought he got killed in that storyline about the Scarlet Witch murdering people because she found out that she never had any babies, and that’s because right after Hawkeye died, everybody reading the Avengers comics started patting their jacket like Columbo, only to realize that the thing they were looking for--the part of their soul where they gave a shit about the character--had never been there in the first place), this is still a Superhero Characters Are In Jail Cells comic, and that’s never not fun to look at, because it’s gooped up with so much irony, because they’re HEROES, but it’s JAIL, that doesn't MAKE ANY SENSE, et cetera. And then at the very end, you find out that Brian Michael Bendis remembered where he filed his copy of Weapon X, and then it's back to square 1, which is JAIL.
By Rim Seeley, Mike Norton, Mike Eglert
Published by Image Comics
OHMIGOD IS THAT CAT THE TOOTH FAIRY unfortunately no, this is a new zombie-esque type comic, one that asks you to believe that the U.S. government would choose NOT to nuke a small town from orbit if that small town had a contagious undead problem and was completely sealed off from the rest of the country. That being said, if you’re still on board for zombie-esque comics, if the last ten years of these type of stories hasn’t exhausted your tolerance for that subject, then you probably are not the type of person who is going to get stuck on that aforementioned hurdle. Nobody is saying you’re stupid or that you should try harder, just that if you haven't gotten sick of Batman yet, you’re probably unlikely to scoff at the idea of Nightwing tomorrow.
The Walking Dead #100
By Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Published by Image Comics
Taking a page straight from the Geoff Johns playbook—“do exactly what everyone expects you to do, but so blatantly that even the most jaded reader can’t help but shrug their shoulders and appreciate the fact that you’re at least self-aware”—this, ladies and gentleman, is the comic book that the world was looking for. The fact that it’s a piece of shit--and The Walking Dead is fucking shit, 100% pure octane trash--isn’t an accident. Kirkman’s never-ending zombie opera is the closest you’re going to get to the kind of megapopular success that is prized in comics above all else; it's a television show that your dad thinks about more than he does your mother's feelings and a comic book that nine-year-olds are going to learn about life from. In this issue, we watch along with Rick (the main character of the series) as yet another character in the series gets brutally murdered, because that's what life is all about in The Walking Dead, man. It's about how you can capitalize off of people's worst possible instincts and the lowest common denominator, and then proceed to collect money, hand over fist, for the rest of your natural life.