Comics of the Weak Comics of the Weak

Say You’ll Love Me Forever

I am the absolute worst at remembering song lyrics, but man do I remember the song lyrics to "Un-Break My Heart". A lady named Diane Warren wrote it, she also wrote songs for Michael Bay movies, "Rhythym of the Night", a bunch of stuff. The Braxton track is the one that gets me. It's been in my head longer than I've been sexually active. I've probably run through it silently in my head while doing other things more times than I've told my mother that I love her, and I was a very verbal, very needy child. Why am I telling you this: because I thought of those lyrics over and over again whenever I read comics over the last few weeks, to the point that I finally looked up who it was that wrote the song, and I have no idea why and absolutely no theory whatsoever. I'm vaguely convinced that I didn't even realize how often I think of Toni bawling

Un-cry these tears
I cried so many nights

until this last month, or like that thing with the quantum mechanics or the invisible cat in the (German?) [Ed.: Austrian] guy's box, maybe it was just a weird couple of weeks aggravated by hilarious tragedy and little sleep and bad nutrition and weird, deeply problematic intimacy choices and I don't think of the lyrics that often, because I looked it up and this

Come and kiss this pain away
I can't forget the day you left
Time is so unkind

doesn't seem familiar at all, I'm sorely tempted to listen to the song, which honestly hadn't crossed my mind until this very second, because I cannot for the life of me even imagine how those words sound, which is, again, why I'm never going to be regarded even by my most charitable friends as a good rememberer of song lyrics, because I can at best remember the chorus (I believe that's the word you use for the part of a song that gets repeated), and even then it's questionable if my obsessively, mentally unstable manglings are even memories in the first place, and not more accurately described as a form of mantra that I use to relax, as I often find myself taking extremely shallow breaths when I'm left to my own devices, and by own devices I mean imagining past slights as being worse than they actually were in a vain, masturbatory attempt to be included in all possible situations.

Anyway. I bring this up to say hello, because this column is different than the last one, which was weeks ago. I have only taken a cursory glance at the new superhero comics, which is what this column is usually focused on, so instead I will steal a page from those old Nick Hornby book columns in The Believer, which I always liked until I felt for some reason that I needed to dislike them because I no longer wanted to read his novels. Foolish of me? Absolutely. Here's what I read since we last spoke:

Detective Comics 434, 1973
Cerebus 1-2, 1977
The Comics Journal 91-92, 1984 
Video Jack 1, 1987
Love and Rockets 18-20, 1987
The Shadow 1-2, 1987
X-Factor 16, 1987 
Daredevil 239-243, 245, 247, 1987
Batman Incorporated 9, 2013
Crossed Badlands 25-26, 2013
Copra 4-5, 2013
Red Team 2, 2013
Fatale 13, 2013
Fury 10, 2013
End of the Fucking World 16, 2013
Battlefields 5, 2013 
Donald Duck: A Christmas In Shacktown 
The Incal 
Nemo: A Heart of Ice
Comics Journal 302 

So it's been that. A lot of bad Garth Ennis comics, a lot of weird Ann Nocenti Daredevil comics, some straight up classics, nothing that read like a drill to the brain. That old Batman comic, the Detective issue from 1973 is just a pretty mediocre comic about a guy who essentially sells Get Out Of Jail Free cards, and it's a multi-part story to boot. Most of the '80s comics are interesting if they have interesting art, although Keith Giffen doing his Muñoz heist in Daredevil is way more interesting than when he does it in the first issue of Video Jack, because in Daredevil he doesn't have it at all figured out, and there's all these random disconnected images of beanpole people with inset close-ups of teeth and fists as result.
 Video Jack probably gets better after the first issue. At least, I've heard that it does from people who share my interest in Giffen's Muñoz-swiping period (which is way, way more interesting than his Kirby-swiping period has turned out to be), but I have a hard time seeing Cary Bates (Video Jack's writer) turning out something as weirdly perfect as Nocenti's script for this issue of Daredevil turned out to be. It's a twisted, off-key riff on Miller's Nuke character in Born Again (the 3rd of such riffs, and Nocenti's 2nd), far more interesting by its very strangeness than any of the issues surrounding it. They aren't bad, they're just regular comics. This one is something else entirely, and I couldn't get it out of my head.

That could also be because I've started reading Andy Helfer's Shadow comics again. I'm not sure how far I made it into these comics the first time, but this time I plan to take the train all the way to the cybernetic conclusion. These have to be some of the best comics Bill Sienkiewicz ever made, they're without peer amongst DC's output. Gnarled, nasty, incredibly funny comics.

What else? Those Comics Journals were okay, one of them has a photo cover... Is there a single photo cover the Journal has ever had that doesn't now look dated and terrible? Maybe the Eisner tribute issue. I've never read it, but the Bendis issue? Horrifying cover. The one where Marv Wolfman has a target on his face? So bad. This one is just low end cheapsville, but based off the editorial in a later issue, that was because the issue was put together when most of the team was moving to California and/or getting wasted in Mexico. Which makes sense with the content as well, most of the issue is just transcripts of convention panels. The new issue of the Journal is pretty good; the Tardi interview is great. It's kind of odd to talk about it even abstractly here though, so never mind. I can't really talk about Copra anymore either without feeling a little sleazy. Obviously, I think it's great and that you should buy it as often as possible. I think you would love it and it should replace gift cards and scented candles as your go-to present for those you love. It's a better comic than that '80s X-Factor thing.

New stuff... What to say about Ennis? Red Team isn't horrible, it's just bad and dumb. Battlefields is scattered and ugly, Crossed is just ugly, and Fury 10 is the talk issue that introduces the ultimate violence issue. It's not my favorite of the series so far, but it's still light years ahead of his Dynamite paychecks. Nemo: Heart of Ice was good, although--and I'm sure 8 billion people have already said this--it would have been way fucking better if it had been published as a cheap n' pulpy paperback. All League comics would be, it's how they're spiritually supposed to exist. A 15 dollar hardcover? And it's not even a well-made 15 dollar hardcover? Splendid decisions. The Incal, End of the Fucking World, Carl Barks--these are all good times, but they were also the comics that I most often found myself thinking of that Toni Braxton song while reading. Why? I don't know.

Anyway. I'm back. So is Abhay. Let's fuck around and get married.



Here's something totally normal and sane and not at all weird: Image used to publish comics about this "bad girl" character named Angela? She was an angel-from-heaven/bad-girl who hunted hellspawns, while wearing a metal bikini. Hellspawns were the subject of a 1990s Image comic called Spawn, named after salmon-fucking.

This made more sense in the 1990s. It made total sense back then. That was a different time for us all though. Something like 20 years ago, this month.

The Spawn comics were made at first by a guy named Todd McFarlane-- he was one of the cartoonists who founded Image Comics. He'd been working for Marvel Comics, but Marvel didn't let creators own anything they create. So, he very dramatically quit the company, and formed Image, which is still where people in mainstream comics mostly go if they want to own what they create.

But McFarlane ended up in lawsuits. Lawsuits with all these people: a hockey player; a guy with the same name as Spawn; and a writer named Neil Gaiman, a writer popular in the 1990s for writing comics about alternative people having dreams, mostly dreams about other alternative people. And arguably more popular since thanks to success in print, on television, and in Hollywood.

Gaiman claimed to have created Angela, and, after the dust of the various ensuing lawsuits cleared, Neil Gaiman indeed owned at least 50% of Angela. So, this month, he's turned around and licensed Angela back to Marvel comics. The company Todd McFarlane had made a big whole point of quitting in the first place. Marvel Comics had famously stolen all of their good characters from Jack Kirby, back in the 1960s; stole some other stuff, too, though-- Blade from Marv Wolfman; Howard the Duck from Steve Gerber, etc. But gosh, it had been a while. It had been too long-- too, too long.

Good news, though: Marvel can now say not only that they have their hands on an Image comic character, but that best of all, it's against the obvious wishes of one of its co-creators, too!

Yay! Neil Gaiman has finally struck a real blow for... revenge?

This is all in the context of a Marvel comics crossover named The Middle-Age of The Ultron, which I think is about an evil robot, wearing a leather jacket and hitting on high-school girls at Denny's? The crossover is only about half-over, but the Wall Street Journal or JAMA or whoever have already reported that the top-secret, ultra-secret, "no-one will guess" secret finale three or four months from now is, apparently, that an angel from heaven in a metal bikini will show up to hunt the 1990s Image Comics character Spawn? Sure, sure: exactly how a Marvel comic about a g-damn robot should end.

The crossover is written by Brian Michael Bendis, as is a subsequent issue of the new Guardians of the Galaxy series which will be co-written by Gaiman, and is said to feature Angela. Fun-fact: Bendis himself started his work-for-hire comics career working for Todd McFarlane ... before also having a falling-out with McFarlane.

Marvel, Gaiman, and Bendis's collaboration will ship in an airtight plastic baggie, to better keep the erotic stink of their revenge-fucking away from the deteriorating effects of oxygen presumably. Gaiman and Bendis are then expected to team up to place a paper bag filled with a dog's feces in front of Todd McFarlane's front door, light it on fire, ring the doorbell, and watch from the cover of night (so goth!) expecting Todd McFarlane to run onto his porch and stamp out the fire, with hilarity to ensue. But McFarlane will not be at home that night, and it is expected that they will instead watch Todd McFarlane's home catch fire at a surprising speed. As they watch the bonfire that ensues, each man will feel a single tear roll down his cheek. They will hug, exchange briefcases, and walk away from each other, never to see one another again. The briefcase given to Neil Gaiman will contain a copy of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" with a tender, grammatically-horrifying inscription from Bendis. The briefcase given to Bendis will contain half of a shrimp-salad sandwich that had gone bad on the Tuesday of the week before.

It'll be like a dream. Or at least an alternative person's dream. Congratulations, Kennedy.

This was all hinted at by Rich Johnston in an article where the first letter of every sentence of his article spelled the word ANGELA. Similarly, every letter of the second paragraph of what I've written also forms a word, as well. Solve the code-- a treasure awaits you!

24 Responses to Say You’ll Love Me Forever

  1. jeremy says:

    happy this column has returned.

  2. Tony says:

    Leaving aside the cheapskating, how exactly is the NEMO hardcover “not well-made”? I have it and I don’t get it, is that about the production values, binding, paper, the cover design, what?

  3. Christopher M says:

    I missed you both!

  4. Zack Soto says:


  5. Zack Soto says:


  6. Nigel Higgenbottum IV says:

    Weak. A lot of people with no lives depend on your column. You make us wait for weeks and pull Toni Braxton out yo rear because you got nothing to write about. Don’t worry – I will stop looking for your column.

  7. Chris Duffy says:

    for me it was disappointing that the black line was weak throughout. A bad printing, though I can’t fault the rest of the package.

  8. British Steel says:

    Nigel is not outspoken, but he likes to speak, and loves to be spoken to.

  9. mateor says:

    “This made more sense in the 1990s. It made total sense back then. That was a different time for us all though. Something like 20 years ago, this month.”

    Not fucking cool and also a buzz kill.

  10. Dan Ahn says:

    Great column and I agree with everything you wrote, except… I think it’s kind of tacky to say that Marvel straight-up “stole” Kirby’s characters. Of course they didn’t do right by him and I’m not one of those “He signed a contract!!!”-apologists, but saying they outright “stole” is overdramatic hyperbole that our side doesn’t need

  11. Blair says:

    This comment has got me in ecs ta see

  12. R. Fiore says:

    Licensing characters to companies is one of the things you do when you own them. The 50% deal confuses me. Does he own her from the waist down? I suppose licensing the half with the breasts would be more practical, and an interesting challenge for the artist. I’m reminded of the line from Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson about the dog that wouldn’t stop barking: “If I owned half that dog, I’d kill my half.”

  13. Kit says:

    Glue binding and a too-thick-for-the-contents, too-stiff case indicate a sad cash grab, rather than a desire for an upscale presentation.

  14. Tony says:

    The glued binding is true, although I don’t think it’s really a big deal, but everything else looks impeccable to me and I do see a desire (and a mission accomplished) for an “upscale presentation”, only this time from the get-go, when it was usually the other way around, first the cheap premiere, then the upscale presentation. I’m sure they’ll release a softcover version soon enough.

    I’m also looking forward for all the announced new installments in this same format.

  15. Lightning Lord says:

    I have a rich life that is only made richer when Tucker fucks his column up.

  16. Lightning Lord says:

    You know what site you’re on right?

    (I disagree with you, just for the record)

  17. Lightning Lord says:

    …It obviously means McFarlane gets 50% of the royalties…

  18. R. Fiore says:

    What seemed odd to me was how the owner of one half could license it if the owner of the other half didn’t want to.

  19. mateor says:

    If this is actually structured like the Marvel deal makes it appear, it was a massive court win for Gaiman.

    Either guy can use the characters, but just owes the other 50% of the take? When would Macfarlane ever want to use those characters then, just so he could donate half the issue’s receipts to Neil Gaiman?

    And it is basically found money to Gaiman. He just throws Marvel a risk/cost-free news item and goes home to spend his money, laughing at the Todd all damn day.

  20. Jay Evans says:

    Glad this column is back.

  21. Knut Robert Knutsen says:

    It is a standard part of copyright law that when an indivisible property is split 50/50, then either party has a right to make money off it as long as the other gets a fairly accounted 50% of the profits (taking into account costs and royalties).

    Neither party has the right to block the other, but if the property is already making money in one incarnation, there are some restrictions about not using the other half of the license to “poison the well”. All actions have to be in good faith.

    This rule about a 50/50 split is why DC Comics only needed to secure half of the continued copyright for Superman in order to keep publishing.

  22. I could’ve sworn in a later trial, Gaiman got back 100% of the rights to Angela.

  23. James W says:

    I only spent a limited time googling this, but it seemed to me that the ownership of Angela was settled out of court, and details were never released. The earlier ruling, with the judge talking about how many HellSpawns a Malebolgia can make per century, was about whether McFarlane owed Gaiman royalties earned on Not-the-same-Medieval Spawn and A Totally Different Spawn-Hunting Angel.

  24. David says:

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