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Prepare Ye The Way of the (Old) Lord

On April 29, 2013, comics news/lifestyle site Comics Alliance was regrettably shut-down by AOL. However, news was “teased” last week suggesting that might not be the end of the story, as Comics Alliance began posting Batman-related imagery onto social media, including this image from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns:

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Since then, more Batman images have appeared, thus reminding all of us exactly what we’d been missing: Batman! While some comics-savvy readers have touted this as the heralding of the returned Savior, a veritable “King Back” for a segment of the industry figuratively held at gunpoint by a crank, a sackcloth of ashes and a bag lady, this was extremely upsetting to Abhay and I, as you might imagine. I think it’s been an open secret that we’ve been planning for months (if not years) a social-media teaser campaign for his return to this column, which was also going to feature images drawn from comics to herald my triumphant resurrection. Granted, our choice of image was slightly different, though I would argue no less apropos:

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But the point remains: the corpse of Comics Alliance has wronged us. Grievously wronged us. A thousand injuries by Comics Alliance were borne as best we could, previously, but as that site has now ventured upon insult, we have vowed revenge. You took from us, Comics Alliance. You took from men, and now, we’re going to take from you, Comics Alliance. See how you like it.

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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
Best Cosplay Ever (Pretty Much All-Time) — 05.31.13

Godzilla, cosplayed by Haruo Nakajima
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Aileen Wuornos, cosplayed by Charlize Theron:
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Muenster, cosplayed by Daniel Day-Lewis:
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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
ComicsoftheWeak Reviews “Batman: American Princesses” (1997), Part Eighteen

This movie started with an unusual but very promising premise– as part of their war on crime, Batman and Robin (played by Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle-Reid) are posing as waitresses in a soul food diner who dream of opening a combination hair salon and soul food restaurant. But from there, the plot became extremely confusing. Robin hears about a contest to choose who gets to go on tour with Heavy D, so the Dynamic Duo flies out to LA but instead somehow end up caring for an aging millionaire (Martin Landau) who welcomes them into his mansion and encourages them to “live large and take charge” among the rich and famous.

I kept waiting for the Joker to show up but he never did– I think because he overdosed on some shit in real life. But the movie still had a lot of heart. Four-and-a-half out of five stars.

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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
David Brothers and Chris Sims Are Both Wrong About Jim Lee’s X-Men

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When I was a kid, I was a dumb-ass. Who cares? Good news: I grew up. I want to talk you about why Chris Sims and David Brothers are both wrong about Jim Lee’s X-Men.

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What’s hard to ignore about the Jim Lee X-Men is that Lee got the job when Bob Harras forced Chris Claremont out of his job, after Claremont spent seventeen remarkably successful years building a franchise that continues to be enormously successful to this day. The writing was on the wall FAST as Lee immediately began introducing supposedly wildly significant characters who were deeply entrenched in the main character’s mysterious pasts, but that the reader had somehow never seen– welcome to the Chris Claremont Fan Fiction era, X-Men; you will not survive the experience, not in any way that matters.

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Lee combined this low-grade fan-bait with an introductory basketball sequence. No more baseball; Gambit plays basketball in a doo-rag because EVERYTHING is KEWL; the cheapest available signifiers of kewlness will do. Lee has Gambit playing like an utter asshole in a game of basketball among friends– literally depicting a woman gasping in horror at what a dick he’s being– presaging the years Lee would later spend on WildC.A.T.S. unable to figure out how to create likable characters that the audience had any reason to ever root for.

Lee also confused bland references to popular commercials of his day with the actual craft of writing jokes. Wazzzz uuup, hacks?This was all understandable: the X-Men were to become pitchmen. Indeed, in the future, these trademarks would even themselves all be maintained by relentless internet self-promoters, closing the circle. “You just tweeted a link to a Tumblr reblog of someone drawing fan-fiction of a character you didn’t even create. Is it the shoes??? Evil, evil shoes!”

The work conditions were, of course, intolerable even to the biggest of assholes. For example, in Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story, John Byrne tells a story about being asked by Bob Harras to script an entire issue overnight. Byrne: ”This is insane.” Harras: ”We’ll take care of it.” Harras hires Lobdell, who scripts the entire issue overnight. Byrne: “Years later, I was told you should always be careful when Bob says, ‘We’ll take care of it.’”

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Nobody cared. Claremont took his strong women characters with him and the X-Women could finally be masturbatory imagery for pre-adolescents still drawing maps to their dick. Junior Penile-Cartographers of America, Jim Lee’s Psylocke awaits. Why did they bother with word balloons? But bother they did– pages flooded with word after word, none of them interesting or ever worth remembering.

This would all be an interesting footnote, but past is merely prologue, the hysterical is the historical. Low-craft fan-fiction starring “heros” now originating from Kewltown USA (population: Jim Lee and Bob Harras), made by people trampling all over those who provided past successes, with talented writers being driven crazy by editorial run amuck? This is the story we hear every day of DC Comics today, though occasionally a fun rumor will eke out about how some DC writers got to spend a leisurely weekend having suits lie to them about how very, very sorry they are or whatever. I lived through all that shit already once. Nah, Omega Red wasn’t that good.

May 31, 2013 By: Tucker
Best Art Ever (This Week) 05.31.2013.02.53.21

Congress, by Gary Trudeau
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Congress, by Gary Trudeau
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Congress, by Gary Trudeau
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Congress, by Gary Trudeau
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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
Ask Abhay

Q: Is Vril Dox smarter than Metron? — @factualopinion

A: Smarter? You can’t say who’s smarter between a rattlesnake or a mongoose, when they’re both trained to fight for someone else’s amusement. Society’s a rattlesnake– trying to bite at us, and infect us with its lies and the poison of its reptile logic. You can’t spell snake without a-k-e, because society makes us all ache, in our stomachs, as well as in our tummies. But is the mongoose smart for fighting back, when it’s just going to get him dead more often than not? So, probably Vril Dox because he’s smart enough to know that sometimes, even the “smart one” needs other people around them.

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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
Ask Abhay

Q: Does Batman think of Cyborg as an equal? – @factualopinion

A: Batman’s a fantasy of the super-rich waging class warfare against an already disenfranchised underclass, legitimized by a police force all too happy to set the heavens ablaze with brand logos, all in order to further propagate the status quo of a city in whose corrupt ruling class Batman is firmly entrenched. We’re all “cyborgs” to the elite, flesh they can cram machinery into– culture’s just a “machinery” to keep us all docile, installed into us by schools and television and bureaucratic institutions that reduce our successes and failures to numbers and binary code. On the other hand, Batman and Cyborg both had complicated relationships with their fathers.

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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
Ask Abhay

Q: Couldn’t it be convincingly argued that Wonder Woman’s greatest weakness is that she is a woman in today’s society? — @factualopinion

A: No, Wonder Woman’s greatest weakness is an evil woman wearing a cheetah costume whose name is Cheetah. She utilizes claws as a weapon and is a member of the Legion of Doom, an evil organization that counts Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Solomon Grundy, and even the Riddler among their members. A battle between Cheetah and Wonder Woman featured in this YouTube video showcased Cheetah’s ability to use 3-d holograms, but more importantly features Cheeatah’s cunning. A woman in a cheetah costume’s cunning is the most dangerous of all the superpowers, some would say. On the other hand, the patriarchy is a suffocating and toxic cloud that is so often normalized by mass media and made to seem more diminished than it is that we always risk underestimating its toxic effect in all of our lives.

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May 31, 2013 By: Abhay
JULES ET JIM TRAILER OFFERS BICYCLES, MAILBOXES, FRANCE TALKING AND OSKAR WERNER [LA NOUVELLE VAGUE]

A trailer has been released for Jules et Jim. While the film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, the full cast includes quite a few names that might be familiar to comic book movie fans, including Henri Serre (Fantomas Against Scotland Yard) and Jeanne Moreau (La Femme Nikita, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Also, Dark Horse Comics.

The trailer features some mysterious shots of Jeanne Moreau running. BUT FROM WHOM…? Also, what are they saying? I don’t speak French. Take a look.

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May 31, 2013 By: Tucker
Behind Closed Doors, An Industry Was Robbed

When the internet came along, it changed a lot of things, but almost none of those things (like reading, comic books, Iran, journalism) mattered to more than 16,000 people. But there was one thing that did matter to millions of people that was fundamentally changed: Pornography. For years, porn had exerted a grasp over its fervent fans that closely approximated the behavior seen most often in drug addicts and alcoholics, an impact that’s been dramatized and studied by individuals as disparate as Kirk Cameron and Davy Rothbart. The self-loathing of porn fans, coupled with the rampant price-gouging always prevalent in porn (excepting video rentals, pornography was notoriously overpriced) cultivated the perfect user base for online piracy. With the ”share everything” mentality that the internet propagated, free porn flourished and spread online faster than anything else, and within months–weeks, frankly–there became a general acceptance that regular people, people who had never before been given much of a spotlight excepting the “amateur” and/or fetish category, were now just as viable superstars as the surgical masterworks had once been.

While the larger porn producers shared many of the problems that music labels had–the larger, more unwieldy boards of power in entertainment are often incapable of making swift adjustments in content delivery–pornography had a long history of wildcat decision making, and, seeing the money they were losing (overnight, as it were), many were able to leap online with a speed that now puts the lie to how “difficult” the rest of the entertainment & journalism industry claims such a shift can be. And yet the DVDs, bewilderingly, still mattered. But how?

Always sold at a much higher price than any other type of film, porn DVDs now had to be something (something very, very special) to make those commodities worthwhile. After all, most people rarely watch pornographic films in their entirety in the first place, choosing instead to rely on the “key scenes” menu with a specific, utilitarian bent. (While blooper and outtake reels have been available to porn fans almost since the technology was available, the level of interest in that sort of realism–mostly toilet humor and displays of performance inadequacy–is traditionally very low.) The internet now rendered the shame problems of an in-store purchase a non-issue. The films themselves were overpriced. What, the companies asked, could they pile on? The answer was an old one, a LaserDisc trick that porn producers had experimented with long before the Criterion Collection had even begun.

They called it alternate angles.

Alternate angles is exactly what it sounds like–footage shot from a different camera angle–but in pornography, it took on an entirely new meaning. Now, a high-priced porn film could become an omnibus of fetish, with feet focused shots, anal cams, high-res close-ups for scab enthusiasts, facial and audio secondaries for the viewers who hate seeing (or hearing) any kind of cock but their own–the end result being a film that was far, far longer than whatever its run-time might advertise. Because of the budgets that the larger studios came equipped with, the films were capable of providing a level of content that no single website could compete with. At the end of the day, their product–still expensive, and with a negligible difference in production cost that barely impacted their bottom line–was now far more beneficial to the end-user. It was, because no other words can fit, an excellent bargain. There was more bang, and yet it was the same amount of buck.

It was with Siege: Spider-Man–released in April of 2010–that Marvel created its own alternate angle. Unlike the pornography it is modeled after, it existed as a separate entity unto itself: it is a fetish-fulfillment project alone, existing only so that the user can experience what Spider-Man experiences during the Siege mini-series. In keeping with the description above, it’s the pigtail cam, if Spider-Man’s side trips around town during a crisis could be considered the pigtail, but instead of being a specific feature–a button one clicks on the Siege DVD–it’s sold separately. It’s a cost doubler, an add-on book that capitalizes on the tendency of the fetish chaser, at the moment of decision, to have difficulty recognizing that the pleasure he’s being offered is fleeting. Satisfaction, however, has its cost.

May 31, 2013 By: Tucker
Parting Shot: Minimalist Movie Posters

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26 Responses to Prepare Ye The Way of the (Old) Lord

  1. this is some gangster shit of catastrophic proportions

  2. Dan says:

    I enjoyed whatever this was.

  3. Rick Vance says:

    I feel cheated that you guys haven’t been doing Ask Abhay every single week this has been here.

    • I always felt Abhay’s posts were long answers to questions he knew we wanted to ask, but didn’t for fear that DC would take us off the comic we were writing. What? I’m not on “Green Lantern” anymore because I said that? Wait, I was never the writer of a DC comic? Well, thank God.

  4. Okay, “minimalist movie posters” was brilliant. Art students, please stop now.

  5. I’m glad that there is finally a REAL Comic Book Site for REAL Comic Book Fans to ask REAL Comic Book Questions about REAL Comic Book Characters!

    REAL Q: Who’s better at snorting coke off of dead hookers? Captain Planet or Captain Crunch?

    (Although, now that I think about it — those aren’t REAL Comic Book Characters so please ignore that question!)

  6. I was confused where the “Behind Closed Doors” mini-article was going until suddenly it became hilariously cynical toward the admittedly cynical “tie-in” issues we get during major comic events. Plus, you feel just as embarrassed buying a tie-in issue in front of people as you do a dirty movie–e.g. you either feel really embarrassed or are at the point where you can no longer feel shame from the years of desensitizing exposure to your desires. Whether that’s a reference to comics or porn is up to you, I say its a reference to the always-on nature of our society, or some deep-sounding BS.

    Also, I kept clicking, “Keep Reading” and it didn’t work. Is this one of those things where the website scans your computer and if it finds too many files of super-hero fan-fiction it decides you aren’t cool enough to read the rest of the article? I ask because, um, that couldn’t be why it’s doing that to me…

  7. Juhawh says:

    Jon K Pe-ta, the master of birth canal shots. I used to like his comics until I saw translated versions of them and I realized that they’re actually quite grody. This is why I never read translated animoo porn comics, knowing what they’re saying never adds to the experience, only subtracts.

    I used to run a livejournal called “birth canal or not.” Dot livejournal. I would post pictures of all those panels from Jon K Pe-ta comics where some guy would look straight down to some girl’s cervix, or you know, fun stuff like that, and let readers judge if it was birth canal or not. Sort of like those “hot or not” livejournals where people judge if the submitter is hot or not, except with birth canal. Then some dope started posting real life pictures of birth canals and it just wrecked it. Can you believe such a thing? The nerve of that guy.

    But anyway yeah Pe-ta’s comics would’ve made a great “top 10 sexy comics” entry for comicsalliance.

  8. lulz.

    Where is that eyeball page from?

  9. george says:

    The comments about Jim Lee’s X-Men are some of the funniest (and most accurate) critical writing I’ve read recently. EVERYTHING is KEWL, indeed.

    I’ve never understood why, of the Image founders, Lee seems to get a pass from fans who reserve their bile for Liefeld and McFarlane. I’ve never been impressed by anything Lee has written or plotted (and he was supposedly plotting X-Men while Claremont was still the credited writer, in the sense that he would ignore agreed-upon plotlines and draw what he felt like drawing. This was one of the things that led to Claremont’s departure.)

    • After Kirby and Ditko, Claremont seems like the guy least justly treated by Marvel. That guy has made the company billions, and for his efforts got booted off the book that got them there. He couldn’t even get “created by” credits even if they gave them, since he didn’t create his most popular character, Wolverine (except that he totally did create him). Without Claremont, there is no X-Men.

      Seriously, that poor fucking guy.

      • J says:

        On the other hand, he did make enough money off X-Men to do things like buy his mom a freaking air plane, so it’s not like he was living off 35 grand a year like Jack Kirby.

        But with the money Marvel made off X-Men, he should have been able to buy an airline.

    • Mike says:

      “I’ve never understood why, of the Image founders, Lee seems to get a pass from fans who reserve their bile for Liefeld and McFarlane. ”

      Liefeld and McFarlane were much more outspoken and loudmouthed. Lee didn’t make himself as much as spectacle as they did.

  10. george says:

    Yes, Liefeld and McFarlane were much more obnoxious. But Lee’s comics weren’t any better than theirs were.

    • mateor says:

      Um…X-Force was cool! Cannonball was immortal, yo!

      Except I mistakenly thought I was a Fabian Nicieza fan for YEARS afterwards. I kept trying his later comics and then being like WTF?! I wasn’t aware that Leifield was writing the damn thing too.

  11. Juhawh says:

    Comicsalliance has been back for a day and I already wish it were gone again.

  12. James W says:

    This was great, but I need Tucker’s reaction to Mark Waid’s answer song in the back of Daredevil

  13. Dan Coyle says:

    Well, at least you two signed your names to this, unlike Ken “Comics Blogger” Lowery.

  14. I laughed out loud at the “minimalist movie posters.”

  15. mike shea says:

    A+

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