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Comics of the Weak Comics of the Weak

Nope, No Need To Call That Brinks Truck

Thought we’d open up with some pure octane Eat More Bikes from Nathan Bulmer.

Now? COMICS.

Fury: My War Gone By #2
By Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge
Published by Marvel Comics

It’s been remarked that this is the most Ennis-y Ennis comic ever made, which will only prove true if someone with a deformity (mental or physical) shows up for ridicule, but thanks to this issue’s against-all-odds mega-slaughter sequence, we’re a little bit closer. There we see Nick Fury, some Nazi, and Ward Littell another guy kill so many people that you can’t help but like them more than you have ever liked anybody. On top of that, the issue opens with a delightful Jordi Bernet sex scene drawn by Goran Parlov, which is a wonderful thing for him to do as Jordi Bernet was stuck drawing that god awful Jonah Hex comic for so long that the sight of the man’s delightful line often meant you had fucked up and bought a Jonah Hex comic again, despite knowing that you were never going to like it because it was always terrible. Of course, maybe you don’t like Garth Ennis–that’s okay! Some people just want to be sad, and left alone to die in fires, and sometimes you have to tie them to a chair and light them on fire while you read your Garth Ennis comics, and that’s why we have the internet in the first place because that way we can find out all of those people’s names and then we can write them down on a sheet of paper for later when the time is right for cooking up some sweet hobo dinner, which is when you put whatever random food you can find in a ball of raw ground beef that gets wrapped in aluminum foil and thrown into the coals of a fire that you started with a human body.

Winter Soldier #5
By Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Stefano Gaudiano, Tom Palmer, Bettie Breitweiser
Published by Marvel Comics

There’s nothing about this that isn’t positively wonderful, and that’s no mean feat when the art is this fucked up. That’s the lucky conundrum: Butch Guice has been given no time whatsoever to get anywhere close to completion, making for a comic that’s mostly dependent on colorist Bettie Breitweiser to create the unified visual aesthetic that you usually get out of a penciler. (You used to get them out of an inker, but Marvel’s absurd business strategy of double-shipping comics has effectively turned the single inker into an archaic concept.) Page to page, panel to panel, there hasn’t been a single issue of Winter Soldier yet that lacks some bit of visually incongruent weirdness, be it as minor as constant hairstyle and costume changes, or as major as in the panels where it appears all of the human characters have abandoned their physical cages, leaving behind flattened sheets of buckling skin. But so what, the team says: why not just find a way to trace the tiny moments from panel to panel, and when that won’t work, layer them in hot pinks and candied orange and pump the discord louder? Embrace the acquired taste of a comic like this–one with machine-gun gorillas, old Frederick Forsyth plots, cyborg patriots, and a woman in vinyl who fights with teased-up hair and 8-inch bangs–and go weird. There’s no reason to play nice. Look around: there’s nobody left, and no one is coming.

Fatale #5
By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Dave Stewart
Published by Image

It’s not often that one reads a new comic and wishes that it could have been longer. Most of the time you wish that everyone involved in a new comic had spent their time doing anything else, like murdering their fanbase while chugging drain cleaner. This issue of Fatale is an exception to that rule, pleasantly enough. Expanding a bit upon a doomed character’s final, exhausted march towards revenge and oblivion would have given that scene’s final twist that much more of a punch, and the fact that the Sydney Carton moment gets a full two pages grates as a result. Have your cake, we’ll join you, but why not cook the thing a little longer? Otherwise, though? This comic is pleasant.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #5
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tonci Zonjic, Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse Comics

They didn’t make a big thing out of it, but one of the big pleasures of this Lobster Johnson mini-series was that the pulpy, heavily referential character spent most of The Burning Hand failing to accomplish much of what he set out to, and often ended up being rescued by circumstance and exasperated walk-on characters—except for the times when he just murdered everything he could find. It’s a nice change from the obsession with competence that’s taken for granted as basic fabric in today’s super-hero comics. This guy just KILLS people, with a gun, and sometimes that gun happens to be big. He doesn’t have much of a personality, and he’s surrounded by a cast of supporters who, if we’re being honest about it, don’t have much of a personality (or intelligence) either. Violent people who do violent things, trusting in the forward momentum of destruction and arrogant ideology to cure society of its ills. Lovely to look at, too.

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OH WAIT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE COMICS NEWS THAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK I BET YOU DIDN’T SO HERE IS ABHAY KHOSLA TO TALK ABOUT IT

In the “Too Many Rappers and There’s Still Not Enough MCs” Department, tickets have gone on sale for MorrisonCon, a comic convention at Las Vegas’s Hard Rock Hotel celebrating the persona of Grant Morrison (Vampirella, JLA/WildCATS).   In the past, Morrison famously invited fans of his comic The Invisibles to jerk themselves off in order to energize a magical spell to save the $2.50 comic from cancellation.  For his next trick, Morrison is charging his fans $767 to jerk him off.

So… Abracadabra, bitches.

Yes, $767 for tickets, airfare not included. How much is $767.00? In terms a mainstream comic fan can understand, a four-day pass to the San Diego Comic Con costs about $150, so you could attend a San Diego convention for twenty straight days for that amount– though any longer than two days violates the Geneva Convention.  In terms an art-comic fan can understand, assuming inflation, anticipated increases in the cost of living, and the latest projections from the Office of Management and Budget, $767 is about how much a new issue of Kramer’s Ergot will probably cost three whole years from now.  (It’ll be on paper that’s, like, big…?)  In terms Chester Brown fans might understand, $767 is enough for some hours with a woman who speaks English and even understands what’s happening to her and/or where she’s been taken. See, Appendix MCMXCVIII.

What does a $767 ticket buy you from MorrisonCon? The chance to hang out with comic book luminaries like DC co-publisher Jim Lee and Marvel architect Jonathan Hickman, breakfast with Chris Burnham (who draws), admission to an after-hours party DJ-ed by Morrison, a copy of a Darick Robertson comic book, and for a lucky few, a moment of clarity followed by a lifetime of shame. Musician Gerard Way is attending, and based upon promotional photos, might be cosplaying as Sting’s character from David Lynch’s Dune.

What will happen at MorrisonCon? So far, no schedule has been announced. As mentioned above, part of MorrisonCon will involve promotions for Morrison’s upcoming work for Image Comics with artist Darick Robertson. Morrison explained his Image work in one interview: “I think it’s important for any writer in the comics business to maintain a healthy portfolio of creator-owned material and IPs, and I’m encouraged and inspired by the fact that companies like Image exist to provide that platform.” Inspiring words. Finally, a comic convention that celebrates portfolio-minded comics businessmen and the intellectual property platforms that encourage them. How did we ever live without that?

Until a schedule is announced, we can only speculate what a $767 ticket purchases. Maybe Morrison will talk about his upcoming storyboards for director Barry Sonnenfeld’s movie about dinosaurs fighting moon-men (or something like that), the latest in the thriving genre of high-concept comics made only in the hopes of fooling Hollywood executives into thinking that some half-formed elevator pitch has “cred” with “geek audiences.” Maybe Marvel architect Jonathan Hickman will talk about how his comics get sold in “death-bags,” in the hopes that a percentage of fans will feel compelled to buy the same comic twice, one copy to read and one to store away in whatever dark, musty place they’ve placed their dreams for a better life, in the desperate hope that Hickman’s pap will someday magically be worth enough money to rescue them from their humdrum lives.  Maybe Jim Lee will talk about how he chose to have the  legacy of his career in comics be Watchmen bondage covers and Watchmen toasters.

“Gee, I don’t know– that all just sounds spiritually deadening,” a one-armed meth-addicted Las Vegas prostitute, selling herself on the doorstep of Slots of Fun, is expected to say. But the good news is Jim Lee can make her toast.

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THAT MADE ME SAD, AND IF THERE’S ONE THAT CURES MY SADNESS IT IS OLD COMICS THAT REMIND ME OF A TIME WHEN MY LIFE HAD POTENTIAL

Vanguard Illustrated #1
By David Campiti, Tom Yeates, Rick Bryant, Joe Chiodo, Steve Rude, Mike Baron, Phil Philipson, Brendan McCarthy, Peter Milligan
Published by Pacific Comics, 1983

It’s one thing to give Brendan McCarthy and Milligan’s bravura first installment of “Freakwave!” the dead-zone last spot in an anthology, it’s another thing when the story is the only good one out of three. The artist’s first American work is described by the duo as “Mad Max goes surfing” and it predates that oddball Waterworld film by long enough that you can bet the farm that there’re at least 200 comics fans convinced these boys done got robbed blind. It’s good shit, teeming with excitement and spastic with wit, the product of a dog being let off the leash. It’s no cat comic, but hey: some poor bastards have to make do with the burden of actual imaginations.

Detective Comics #295
By Sheldon Moldoff, Nick Cardy, Various Uncredited People
Published by DC, 1961

This is a very, very earnest comic about what happened after Batman’s friend–who happens to be a time-travel inventing archaeologist adventurer–discovered some ancient cave paintings that depict Batman murdering giant monsters and generally just being totally awesome. While examining the paintings, the monster-fighting events depicted in them actually occur, and … well, if it was a comic made after the 1960s, it would have turned out to be a mad scientist or something, but nope, this is a comic made in the ’60s, so Batman goes back in time to find out more about these cave paintings, which is around the time he teams up with some young Egyptian pharaoh types to fend off an alien invasion. It turns out that the aliens can’t see the color red, so Batman and Robin douse themselves in paint and get down to the business of what Joseph Goebbels once called “Total War”, and the genocidal aliens bail out frightened and bleeding, never to return. There isn’t a thing about this comic that doesn’t rule, making the Martian Manhunter back-up story–which features that character obsessively ruining some cop’s chance at winning a free European vacation–a bonus on par with the proverbial cherry.

OKAY I FEEL BETTER HOW ABOUT SOME NEW COMICS THAT ARE NOT VERY GOOD

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Devil’s Engine #1
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Tyler Crook, Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse

This is the comic everybody was worried was going to get published, the one that readers have been getting hints of for a while: a shitty B.P.R.D. comic. Focusing on a character who couldn’t be less likeable except for all of the times when he starts talking, it spends three pages watching him try to get a girl on a train, flashing back to the part where she says she’d get on a train with him, two more pages of her getting psyched up to tell him she won’t get on the train, then them getting on the train because of circumstances, a five-page flashback to a completely separate story that everybody liked a lot more when it wasn’t being mentioned all the time, and then four pages of the girl wanting him to let her get off the train, and then her jumping off the train even though he doesn’t want her to, and then five pages of the train crashing. PS: It’s called The Devil’s Engine. Get it? Because the comic has a train in it.

Dancer #1
By Nathan Edmondson, Nic Klein
Published by Image Comics

You can just imagine how excited the guys at Image must have gotten when Nathan Edmondson came in and said, “Guys, I got it: you aren’t currently publishing a comic featuring an ex-hitman being pursued by his former employers, with a twist.” Because it was starting to look like that particular blank hadn’t been filled up on the generic product whiteboard over at wherever their headquarters is, and if Image doesn’t have a generic hitman with a twist comic, then we’re one step closer to whatever weird-ass political system it is they have in Iran, you know? That’s how it all starts: Image decides to take a breather on generic hitman-with-a-twist comics, and the next thing you know they’re taking a break on generic superhero-with-a-twist comics, and before you know it Buster Brown might start to pay attention and realize that he doesn’t miss either of them, and then you’ve lost another comic-book buyer and we’re that much closer to the day when we really will have to pick a side in the debate over whether or not Garfield is a homosexual, because all the comics with twists will be long gone, and the only twists will be the color of the drapes in our own private hell.

Justice League #9
By Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Scott Williams
Published by DC Comics

This comic reads like it was written by a truck, like all the words are trucks, backing up. Beep beep beep, but really slow. That’s what this comic reads like. It reads like the AIDS virus. It reads like the sound of Tom Spurgeon pouring pancake syrup on Jim Shooter’s tits while somebody mumbles the lyrics to The Jungle Book‘s “Bear Necessities” in the background, so the whole thing takes on a hallucinatory oompa loompa quality, but with really slowly moving pistons in a constant, methodical, unchanging pump. It’s flattened, it’s tap water, and so they throw in a break-up scene involving a couple we don’t care about and a torture scene we care about even less. It’s telling, that a huge part of the comic–all of the parts that don’t involve Steve Trevor, who Geoff Johns apparently wants us to think of as some kind of a tragic figure despite the fact that we know almost nothing about him beyond “grizzled whiner who likes to talk about holding hands”–spends fourteen pages or so building up to the moment when a couple of rebooted Justice League villains we’re meeting for the first time refer to the new bad guy by name, and it’s the same name a murderous cripple had from the beginning of the comic. You’re supposed to be interested, to wonder how a dying crippled writer (did we mention this character is a published writer of the “9/11 was an inside job” variety? Because, of course, he is) has become a terrifying super villain capable of capturing and torturing some guy Wonder Woman dumped because she was looking for a guy whose personality had developed beyond choosing not to shave for a couple of days. But instead of getting interested, you just take in the information, rearrange the files inside your brain where this kind of information is stored, and then determine whether or not you will tell people you had positive or negative feelings regarding the flavor of oatmeal that the prison is providing this morning, if they ask, which they won’t, because that brings oblivion closer. It’s like the Harvey Pekar plan in reverse: you go to comics so you can alphabetize some file drawers, instead of the other way around.


36 Responses to Nope, No Need To Call That Brinks Truck

  1. Thrills says:

    I got Vanguard’s 1-3 in the mail today. It is odd to see it also appearing in Comics of the Weak. Coincidence, or Morrisinian hypersynkronicité?

    (Coincidence)

  2. Let’s share David’s thoughts because he likes crack-wise and talk in the third person too for his intro!

    Garth Ennis is a weird writer in that anything he does is good, even if it has his ticks of an old angry soldier, blood everywhere, spies, disfigured-yet-deadly people, and of course hot women. When Ennis does his rare occasional super-hero story he seems to put all the effort into it of sitting on the toilet but even that produces something that is a joy to read (excluding maybe Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe, which unless you look at it as satire is too strange to live, sort of like my own deadly-and-deformed twin I keep locked in the attic named Hubert. I think I’ve mentioned him before. He has internet access and likes to know I tell at least someone about him in the vain hope a person cares).

    Incognito, another of the collaborations between Brubaker and Phillips wasn’t anything too special until around its last two issues of the 2nd mini-series when it introduced these weird meta-textual elements and seemed to take the story off the rails in good way. I tell you this because I think that exercise in letting a story go absolutely bonkers was practice for what we are seeing in Fatale, with its off-the-wall story of detectives, demons, dames, and sheer insanity in a slight Lovecraftian-style. Thank God while emulating Lovecraft they didn’t copy his racism or antisemitism though. Seriously, the man married one of my people and would start bad-mouthing the Jews right in front of her until she had to gently remind him, “Hey, you know, I’m one those people you say are ruining the world, and I decide if we have sex, so shut up.”

    Is it me or wouldn’t, “Violent people who do violent things, trusting in the forward momentum of destruction and arrogant ideology to cure society of its ills,” describe a lot of today’s so-called heroes in comics, politicians, and people in general? Hell, the Avengers movie for all of its fun is about trusting in the government to send some heroes to beat up the big bad guys for you and save the day, so go ahead and keep texting while driving because that’s what real Americans do. Plus, even if you crash and die Iron Man will spread your ashes across the sky. USA! USA!

    I would pay the 700+ dollars for Morrison-con if instead of us stroking Morrison figuratively he gave us a handy literally. It would make a good story, “Hey, did I ever tell you bunch about the time the writer of my some of my favorite comics rubbed me off?” but unless I get that I refuse to pay such a huge amount for something. Well, that and I lack the money to do it because I blew it all on meth, but that’s besides the point.

    I thought dancer looked slightly interesting. Then I heard it had a hitman on the run. At that point my eyes glazed over as they tend to when I hear trite plot points. When I came to I was in Mexico dressed up as Donna Summer for a tribute concert and the crowd was booing me because I can’t hold a key. The weird thing is, this was months ago before she had even died. RIP Donna, seriously, you will be missed, that’s not me making a joke.

    Justice League is something I think I’m still reading just out of a morbid curiosity. I don’t have a smart-ass comment besides that, it just needed to be said. Well, I could say Steve Trevor is such a cardboard cutout of a character that I fear anyone bumping up against him gets a papercut, but we all knew that.

    I’m done, time to drop the mic and walk off the stage to some nice cold tomato soup. The Russians call it gazpacho!

  3. Pete Bondurant says:

    “…and for a lucky few, a moment of clarity followed by a lifetime of shame. ”

    Thank you.

  4. “It reads like the sound of Tom Spurgeon pouring pancake syrup on Jim Shooter’s tits while somebody mumbles the lyrics to The Jungle Book‘s “Bear Necessities” in the background,”

    A Geoff Johns comic couldn’t possibly be that interesting. (Unless James Robinson wrote it for him.)

    Question- How is Shooter positioned? Standing? Sitting? I imagine he’s naked, bound with black electrical tape and gagged with a plush Nightcrawler doll on the floor of an abandoned Diamond warehouse. John Byrne is mumbling in the back ground. I can barely make it out but I think he is peeling an apple.

  5. Frank Santoro says:

    McCarthy is one of the fanboys convinced Waterworld ripped off Freakwave. He says as much in that wacky best of McCarthy book he self published years ago which I forget the name of…

  6. I get a Nathan Fox vibe from that WINTER SOLDIER page. Is that Tom Palmer or Stefano Gaudiano?

    Palmer was one of the first inkers that made me think about what precisely it is that inkers do, back when I read shrunk-down German reprints of the Stern/Buscema AVENGERS, 20 years ago — and he was a “veteran” even then.

    Anyway. You may have sold me a copy of that paperback, whenever it comes out.

  7. Ales Kot says:

    David Bitterbaum: “Hey, you know, I’m one those people you say are ruining the world, and I decide if we have sex, so shut up.”

    Considering Lovecraft very likely suffered from coitophobia, this is good.

    • Lovecraft’s thing was sort of a fear of sex and the other, with his writhing tentacled monsters being like a horrible personification of sex in my view, so you do make a strong point.

  8. This issue of BPRD was certainly sleight, but I didn’t find it to be such a noteworthy leap down. I think Devon is a good character, I don’t think it’s an accident that he’s unlikable. In the larger picture this issue set up credit for the BPRD to trust Fenix, they just didn’t find a particularly interesting way to do it.

    • Zack Soto says:

      Yeah, the plot may have been flabby (as Tucker points out) but I wasn’t offended by it. I think compared to the Long Death and Lobster Johnson it suffers. The least of them recently (at least any of them not focusing on Abe Sapien) was the first Crook series set in a trailer park. That was a thankless job.

      • Pete Dantic says:

        “This issue of BPRD was certainly sleight”

        I enjoyed its slight of hand approach.

      • mateor says:

        I was sad. Right as I finished it, I tried to decide if it was worse than the one the fucking editor wrote. The one with sadness, flashbacks, and fire not the one with vampires that suck plot, purpose and coherance instead of blood.

        You really did fear this was coming, Tucker, you’re right. But the last several runs on Hellboy were so strong, you could talk your way out of it.

        I don’t want BPRD books to not be awesome. Can’t they throw some money at this problem?

        John Arcudi needs to go MorrisonCon and recharge the juices. You know?

  9. Chris Jones says:

    “the sight of the man’s delightful line often meant you had fucked up and bought a Jonah Hex comic again, despite knowing that you were never going to like it because it was always terrible.”

    Oh my God dude, you just 100% described something that happened at my comics store every three months or so. Every time I’d be like “Oh look who’s drawing this one!” and then I’d get home and be like “Chris Jones you absolute fucking simpleton.”

  10. JP Gordy says:

    Did anybody hear READ Dancer? That book was freaking sweet–it may have been advertised as a “hit man with a past” kind of book, and it is, and it is a really great one, I think, but, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, there’s a major HOOK in it that’s not advertised. Like a big “what the hell!” moment int he first issue. Really one of the best first issues I’ve read in a long time.

    I’m not sure what the review above meant but if you mean that Edmonson has done two of these sorts of books, like this one and WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?, then yeah, but they’re both very good so far, and very different. Reading Dancer I didn’t really think at all that it felt or read like Who Is Jake Ellis.

    I highly recommend you try Dancer.

  11. Jayhawh says:

    So I assume that bad guy gets into the Justice League satellite, then the Justice League punches the bad guy and kicks him out (but still alive so he can come back later).

    Or even better, the bad guy kills this guy and his family, then goes to the Justice League place, he kills one of the Z listers and the Justice League punches the bad guy a lot and then kick him out but alive so he can etc.

    CAN’T WAIT

  12. “the pulpy, heavily referential character spent most of [the comic] failing to accomplish much of what he set out to, and often ended up being rescued by circumstance and exasperated walk-on characters”

    …this is, like, the whole plot of every League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, isn’t it?

  13. bad wolf says:

    If anyone’s been reading Aquaman–isn’t that “Villain threatens to kill family” just used there?

  14. DC = ideas says:

    But that villain is wearing scuba gear.

  15. Morris Kearning says:

    Great work as always, Tucker, but looking at the panels at 4thletter, I feel like the Big Two may be edging you out this summer . . . it’s like the hate comes boxed along with the issues.

  16. Morris Kearning says:

    Oh, and has a gay guy shown up for his comeuppance yet so Ennis can have his male lead explain that we’re all cool with gay guys and just having a laugh?

    • Shhhh, Morris, you’ll ruin the probably-going-to-occur epilogue for that character in the last issue. Also, now that you pointed out how Ennis does that tic too I can’t stop thinking of instances he uses gay male characters and they get some form of revenge or his hero delivers a message along the lines of, “I’m not gay, but gay folk are cool!” Maybe he should be writing the Northstar and Kyle wedding–it’d be more fun with lots of swearing and Ennis’ trademarked gore. Yeah, that news just occurred, Marvel is having a gay wedding, which would be big news if not for the fact that the people who publish Archie comics and used to be the most conservative comics you could think of had their character Kevin Keller do it in a comic set in the Archie-verse future when he grows up from high school. Seriously, the people who make fucking Archie now are doing progressive things before Marvel. I wonder when the day will come gay characters and their lives won’t be used to get press by comic companies. Maybe when Greg Land quits drawing all his female-characters in pornographic poses, e.g. not soon.

  17. I can’t believe I fucking said, “Archie-verse.” I’m going to go cry in a bathtub.

    • mateor says:

      I don’t know if you can call Archie’s stunt progressive. Although I’m sure you know that, in your heart.

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