COLUMNS

Comics of the Weak Comics of the Weak

I JUST MET YOU AND AM AWARE THAT THIS IS CRAZY

Nate Bulmer taking a stab at the latest hit of the cartoon season. He’s doing this every day at the Eat More Bikes website, people, you should click on the hyperlink in a web browser.

So, you probably heard the big news, right? Not the Karen Berger thing, Abhay will cover that, that doesn’t get my register clanging. No, the big news is this: a perfect comic book has finally arrived. That’s right, asshole. A comic has finally arrived, courtesy of your dad’s favorite comic book writer, Jonathan Hickman, that is infused “with a sense of grandeur and myth, that sort of epic poetry that links the Avengers with stories like 300.” That’s right, cocksuckers: a super-hero comic almost as epic in scope as Zach Snyder’s 300 has finally escaped from Mount Olympus to prance amongst us mere mortals. The praise doesn’t stop there, and neither does the criticism–why, Mr. Pepose almost immediately points out how much Hickman is able to get across with one Thor snort: an amount far greater than what Jason Aaron has managed to conjure in two full issues of the Thor comic. Take that, Jason Aaron! You just got Peposed!

After that bit of snark, the dial turns back to kind words, concluding with the ultimate declaration that the favorite series of Avengers fans has finally arrived. It’s a tremendous review, packed to the brim with the sort of bon mots that us ‘Rama Readers have been addicted to for years, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone out there who needs a refresher course in how mind-chortlingly delightful the Newsarama website is, and how breathtakingly far some of their contributors will go in their attempts to wrap their chapped lips around the shafts of Big Two super-hero comics in a way inventive enough to earn those rare grunts of pleasure that keep them going in the long winter in between renumberings of Fantastic Four comics.

Anyway. I didn’t get a chance to read that Avengers comic. Well, technically, I had a whole bunch of chances, but I passed on all of them, because every time I look at one of those two-page spreads where Hickman puts up the umpteenth title page of blank white space and stylized lettering and maybe sometimes a faint half-circle, I just roll my eyes so hard it makes my forehead hurt, and who has the time, right? Anyway, here’s some garbage I did read. Some of it was okay.

Sincerely
By Benjamin Urkowitz
Handmade
This is a compilation of comics, ranging from a six-panel piss joke to a four-page bit of conversational warfare from a couple of post-millenial Beckettian clowns. Urkowitz likes to draw people drowning themselves in inner thighs–these are the pages of a man with a deep, consuming fascination for cunnilingus, and more power to him–and yet my favorite of these comics isn’t one about sex at all, but the metronomic piece of self-destruction that is “Breakfast Time”, where a Wolverton/McManus/Avery hybrid stomps and slings his way into a Looney Tunes suicide. It’s a good comic, even better because he just handed it to me and I didn’t have to give him money or anything. 96 out 13.

Copra #2
By Michel Fiffe
Published by Copra Press
Although Dr. Strange fans will be happy to know that someone finally came up with a Dr. Strange comic that won’t make them feel really tired and irritated that they picked that character out of all the possible characters to be a fan of when they were too young to know better, because wow, how many decades has it been since Dr. Strange comics weren’t completely terrible? All of the decades? I bet that’s the answer. For example, did you know that the whole dramatic conclusion of the last few issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ 47-year run on 13 different Avengers comics was Dr. Stephen Strange replacing the black guy who had previously replaced him for a couple of months in the role of the totally unimportant “Sorcerer Supreme”? Of course you didn’t know that. Why would you know that? I’m not even sure that’s what happened, and I should know, because I just said something. Anyway, that first sentence started with an “although”, so “although” blah blah blah, the big boner to be had here, in this, the comic that I like more than all the other comics, is that a Captain Boomerang analog shows up for exactly two pages and it is absolutely wonderful the whole time seeing him. He gets a peanut thrown in his mouth while he is sleeping, he lives on a houseboat just like Tony Leung did in the movie Hard Boiled, and it turns out that in the Copra universe there’s an organization called “D.I.P.P.L.E.” and that this is an organization Mr. Boomerang has some reason to live in fear of. PS: Mommy hopes you had a great summer vacation. 36 times in a phone booth.

Samurai Executioner Volume 10
By Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
Published by Dark Horse, is old
This isn’t as highly regarded as another work by the creative team, Lone Wolf and Cub, and that’s because it’s not at all as good. None of its failings rest on the shoulders of Goseki Kojima–he draws as well as you would expect a master to draw, although you’ll keenly feel the absence of small, adorable children, because he’s really good at those, hubba hubba. Wait, scratch that. See, it’s all grown-ups all the time, and while Koike and Kojima take as many narrative breaks as they can from the lead character, most ingeniously by creating a pseudo Nick & Nora Charles type couple that serve as excellent protagonists, the rules of the title demand that they return to the shogun’s titular decapitator, so that he can speak in boring riddles while cutting off the heads of people who are seated in front of him. “River and cherries…does nature know a flower? CHOP. The flower knows.” Over and over again. Barf out of 10.

Punisher War Zone #2
By Greg Rucka, Carmine Di Giandomenica, Matt Hollingsworth
Published by Marvel Comics
The second of three comics this week alone featuring the Punisher and the only one where he’s supposed to be the star of the book instead of stealing every scene he’s in; it’s also the worst of the bunch, despite being better drawn than the Thunderbolts comic, which has potential because it looks irresponsible and disgusting. In this issue of Punisher War Zone, Frank Castle has to fend off the Black Widow, a character that Greg Rucka has been so hungry to turn into the same monotone lone wolf sociopath stereotype that all of his female characters become that he shoots the moon and completely forgets to give her an alcohol problem, thus making it the most unique comic book in his catalog of classics. The easiest way to beat the Black Widow is to play upon her inability to conquer white guilt–Frank Castle has no such flaw–and one cliched army of young, doe-eyed African child soldiers to patronize later, the Punisher is free until the next issue. Which, by the way, will feature Thor front and center in what has to be the most incongruous match-up of creator and character since … well, since Marvel decided it would be a good idea for Greg Rucka to write the Punisher, actually. Four chaste hugs.

ABHAY KHOSLA BRINGS YOU:


Karen Berger didn’t die, but comics eulogized her this week anyways. It was announced on Tuesday that Berger, who at time of press is still very much among the living, would be “stepping down” as “Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo brand” after 20 years as head of Vertigo, and 33 years with DC. Merry Christmas.

Ordinarily, “doesn’t have to read Saucer Country anymore” would be a cause for celebration for most people, or at least an Xbox achievement. (Oh, I kid Saucer Country because I can’t think of any of the other books they publish right this second.) On this occasion, however, Berger’s departure triggered a quantity of regret usually seen from the comic industry only after buffets. “My childhood!” cried Sanford &/or son, while clutching his chest.

Berger’s numerous achievements were significant in the lives of many readers, readers for whom Vertigo was perceived as breaking new ground in comics. Finally, comics could be about things like dumb-ass observations of America from British writers, the kinds of shit they have in London, the color brown, Brian Wood comics, and <insert some other bad jokes here>. Many writers aspired to write the kind of comics associated with Berger, individual comics featuring original ideas and unique points of view, until they grew up and realized they could make more money writing regurgitated widescreen crossover revamp hot-new-#1 gimmicks– and they lived happily ever after. “But now we have Image and IDW,” said someone easily entertained.

Likely to be regarded as a key editor for English-speaking comics, when such a history gets written by someone with too much time on their hands, Berger’s many hits make it extremely difficult for this to be one Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child joke after another. She is expected to help pick her replacement at Vertigo, which … just sounds like a shitty time. Don’t really have a joke or a point there– just sounds like a shitty way to spend a day.

Berger in 2008, speaking to comics-news-story-type-person (they should figure out a way to shorten that) Tom Spurgeon: “I think the reason [other comic companies] haven’t been able to pull it off [i.e. their own Vertigo imprint], and not to sound snarky or conceited about it, is I think you have to be willing as a company to really make in a stake in the creative people who are going to be writing and drawing the material, in terms of the freedom you give them creatively and the ability to really go the creator-owned route and original-idea route.” So, yeah, duh-doy, that person’s gone, so gone. Good luck, suckers.


41 Responses to I JUST MET YOU AND AM AWARE THAT THIS IS CRAZY

  1. Jason Michelitch says:

    Before you ever started this column, I missed it so bad.

  2. Erik says:

    Hello. I just came here to say that you cannot be this imbecilic towards Greg Rucka’s Warzone book. Do you seriously think this better than Way or are you just spouting nonsensical shit and disguising it as a review? Frank’s only defend at the moment was the use of civilians, not because of some made up “white-guilt” he supposedly had. His fight (or “escape” as anyone with even an inkling of a brain cell will tell you) with The Avengers is mostly about him trying anything in his reach to stay alive, not attacking the entire group and killing them like if it was one of those idiotic “____ Kills The Marvel Universe” books. Honestly, I can tell you desperately try to make this book seem like it’s the worst think since Hitler in your non-review, but any person willing to pick it up and read (a skill you seem to lack) will call you on your bullshit.

  3. Eric Reynolds says:

    Yeah, really, Tucker. C’mon.

  4. Don Druid says:

    This column never disappoints.

  5. Joel says:

    But how does that mythic Avengers opening sampled in the Newsarama review compare to the “First there was nothing…then there was CALVIN!” Sunday strip prologue that Bill Watterson lamented as a waste of space due to adhering to strict limitations in the format? Because I’m willing to argue that Calvin’s two-panel ascension to godhood is way more mythic and 300-esque and worthy of a full-body rubdown than Hickman’s apparently endless (if these sample pages are any indication) Biblical prelude.

  6. Jayhawh says:

    “The Avengers are back, and they’re better than ever.”

    And some might even say they’re tougher than leather.

    Or something, thith.

  7. David says:

    “Finally, comics could be about things like dumb-ass observations of America from British writers, the kinds of shit they have in London, the color brown, Brian Wood comics, and .”

    Perfect.

  8. MW says:

    I guess you hate quality comics, seeing as that’s what Rucka produces on a regular basis…

  9. Dennis Wyatt says:

    Ha ha, yeah, fuck Karen Berger and anyone who ever enjoyed any of those comics! They were all shit! Hi-5′s all round guys!

  10. So, are people who’ve expressed any kind of sadness at Berger’s departure just weak-minded assholes then? Could it possibly be, that under her editorial steer, much like Archie Goodwin with Epic, a number of interesting genre comics were produced that had some pretty decent writing and occasionally did actually push the odd boundary every now an then? No, of course they weren’t ‘adult’ or truly revolutionary, but you know when you’re a young comics fan looking for something new or different they really hit the mark. But of course, no, that doesn’t mean anything. All those English writers and their London shit. Hard to believe we were all fooled for so long. Fuck her – anther corporate stooge. There’s no way could she have had any good intentions or had any positive impact on the industry. Bile is best. Keep spewing.

    • Don Druid says:

      But the article seems pro-Berger and pro-Vertigo.

      • The Beast Must Die says:

        Yeah? I assumed this for example; “Berger’s numerous achievements were significant in the lives of many readers, readers for whom Vertigo was perceived as breaking new ground in comics. Finally, comics could be about things like dumb-ass observations of America from British writers, the kinds of shit they have in London, the color brown, Brian Wood comics” seemed pretty snarky. As does the rest. Maybe I’m misreading it but it seems to be a sneery rebuttal of the various articles that cropped up after the announcement of Berger’s stepping down.

      • Abhay says:

        Are you okay?

  11. Dave Loupre and Dan Sweetman’s American Freak
    Peter Kuper’s The System
    Peter Milliagn’s Girl, Face The Enigma and Egypt
    Jamie Delano’s Tainted, Hell Eternal and 2020 Visions
    Keith Giffen and Mick McMahon’s Tattered Banners
    Garth Ennis’ Unknow Soldier and War Stories
    Kyle Baker’s I Die At Midnight and You Are Here
    Ed Brubaker’s Deadenders
    Grant Morrison’s Seaguy and The Filth
    Ted McKeever’s Junk Culture and Industrial Gothic
    Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid and 100%
    Marc Hempel’s Breathtaker
    Harvey Pekar’s The Quitter
    Matt Wagner’s Sandman Mystery Theatre
    Dean Motter’s Terminal City
    Matt Howarth’s Dr 13
    David Lapham’s Young Liars
    MF Grimm’s Sentences
    Ed Brubaker’s Scene Of The Crime
    Steve Gerber’s Nevada

    to name a few

    • mateor says:

      I could go ahead and pick out the books above that personally drove me nuts (MF Grimm next to The Filth??) but instead I have decided to calmly recommend that you reread the article, but this time go past the part you quoted.

      • The Beast Must Die says:

        No, I get that the main point of critique is the current shitty corporate focus at DC. Just not sure what the focus of the preceding paragraphs was particularly. I liked the brown joke though. Maybe I was in a shifty mood last night, but it just felt a bit snarky.

  12. Lightning Lord says:

    I’d be much more enthusiastic about this column’s derisive tone if it was more egalitarian. As it is, the types of comics that are the bread and butter of “Journal types” seem immune. Where’s the mockery of, for example, Chris Ware’s contrived sad sack persona?

    • Moses says:

      Yes! The smartly designed box full of smartly designed yet punishingly boring to decipher books is certainly better than the bad-everything Avengers, but must it be at the top of all the “Best of 2012!” lists? I guess “pretty to look at” trumps “a good read.”

    • Don Druid says:

      Is your problem really that superhero comics paint a target much larger than Ware? Because that’s not really a problem with this column per se . . .

  13. Yeah, I guess the question would be where the Fanboy Rampage factor is in people getting upset about Berger going, or paying tribute to her achievements. Abhay has that great tag for comics shit on his tumblr*, “Worst Hobby or Worstest Hobby?”, it always makes me laugh to see it but I can’t pretend that the REACTIONS to this bit of news made me feel that way about comics.

    The news itself, on the other hand, is yet another example of the commitment to making great comics that we’ve all come to expect from DC, and as such fits the “Worst Hobby” frame just nicely. As TBMD (The! Beast! Must! Die!**) has already noted, this is the final subject of Abhay’s bit, but I don’t think that means that Sir Beasts a Lot was crazy to question where some of the damage falls here.

    Much as I love Abhay – and I do love him, as this here restraining order will gladly attest – he tends to take out the whole building that his target is in when he opens fire. If he was a village sniper, that job wouldn’t exist for long, is what I’m saying. Now, this column didn’t bother me***, and I think that Abhay’s second last paragraph is actually a sneakily sympathetic bit of writing on Berger’s current situation, but I can definitely see where TBMD was coming from here.

    Well, except for the bit about that MF Grimm book. I’m not sure what that was about.

    [REASSURING EMOTICON GOES HERE]

    *This is a sentence that I have just written. My mother, she is proud, oh so proud.

    **With regards to Abhay’s question about whether The Beast is alright, well, last time I saw him he was in rude mental and physical health, lifting SILENCE! fans above his head with one hand while scribbling down notes on what to do with those Cindy and Biscuit millions with the other. He was also looking double-plus handsome while doing it, so – why do you ask?

    ***Journalistic vandalism is pretty much what Comics of the Weak is for, and there were some good jokes**** in this piece alongside some backhanded compliments, but please note that I’m not wearing “didn’t bother me” as a badge of pride here because I’m an adult. Or at least, because I play one five days a week.

    ****Vertigo Brown gags never go off, seems to be the moral of the story here.

    • This was supposed to be a reply to The Beast’s last comment, but I fucked that up because apparently this is a Twilight Zone story where the twist is that I’ve been an idiot all along. Oh well!

      In other possible “i’m an idiot” news, I’ve yet to get to the end of Lone Wolf & Cub. Thanks for (accidentally) reminding me Tucker. Reckon that’s my girlfriend’s Christmas sorted…

  14. The Beast Must Die says:

    No love for Sentences here then?

    In the sober hours of this morning I kind of wish I hadn’t really said diddly. It was a mild reaction at best fuelled by copious red wine, and I generally enjoy the slash and burn style of COTW. For some reason it rankled last night.

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