It's been a pretty intense week for the comics, so let's get you started off with some proper news, courtesy of ABHAY KHOSLA
Friday marked the release of a movie based upon Jack Kirby's Avengers comic book, featuring various Marvel Comics characters teaming up to "avenge," specifically by battling various computer-generated skeksis and boogums. The highly anticipated release marks the beginning of everyone's favorite time of year: Death Threat to Movie Reviewer Season, when scary, enraged superhero comic fans (or as they're commonly known, "superhero comic fans") lose their shit over the fact that the "Rotten Tomatoes Score" of a superhero movie has been reduced from a perfect 100% score by a bad review.
This year's celebration-of-humanity kicked off with a review written by Amy Nicholson of Box Office Magazine, so we got to skip straight to the rampant misogyny. Here is a brief sampling of the comments her review triggered, in response from BOM and the Rotten Tomatoes site:
You're such a joke right now that even major movie and entertainment sites are starting to point out how inept and out of touch you are with the majority of your "peers" and how one tragic hack has brought down The Avenger's score from a perfect 100% to 96%. ... When is this writing thing going to fizzle out, so you can start making your own jewellery? ... See internet, this is what happens when you give your PA the change to write reviews because it's cheaper than hiring a proper male writer... She asked her boyfriend what score she should give. Just stick to rom-coms, bitch... Her boss/lover says it's better than having her make the coffee and answering phones and besides what else was she going to do with that creative writing degree daddy paid for?...I know the first bad review was gonna come from a woman...she liked Green Lantern because Ryan Reynolds, rom-com mainstay, was shirtless in that film. That's why she liked it... self-masturbatory garbage by a self-absorbed cunt ... Bitch what the fuck is wrong with you...This broad is dumbass ... As Loki might say 'a mewling quim' ... Clearly MS.Nicholson has an agenda... You must of been looking in the mirror and got confused because yes you have a bad face but the avengers was a great film... your poor ratings (you enjoyed Twilight - enough said) simply prove how much of an ignorant, uncultured cunt you really are. Please get a real job or consider killing yourself... This dumb cunt even likes Twilight for fuck sakes... DAMMIT WOMAN!!... Amy, grow a pair and change the review.
After that, there was nothing left to be said. Well, except to tell other women who expressed concern about the sexualized nature of the complaints to shut up. Here’s a sample of that:
There is real abuse going on out there in Nigeria, Somalia etc... If you had bothered to read Amy's review, you would know that her writing skills are not that of an "intelligent woman" lol. ... aren't there more important things you could be writing about? ... While the misoginystic comments are out of line, THIS IS THE INTERNET... Sweetheart, do you know WHY she was lambasted by the fans for that amateur ridiculous review she posted, not to mention RT for posting it?? ... As an older gal, I will admit I can be pretty harsh on my fellow females, but that's because I really hate females who give the rest of us a bad name...Though I harshely condemn the kind of language most of the attackers have used for this female journo, but I would also like to ask her "How much do you know about the Marvel superhero universe?" And if your answer is not 'Everything' then you shouldnt have written that review. ... i bet you blame men for the bad weather... Patriarchy is men being reduced to cannon fodder while women stay safe in their homes. ... To be fair though she was a dumb bitch.
Unfortunately, as of press time, the Robot 6 blog at the Comic Book Resources website has not yet picked up on Ms. Nicholson’s perfidy. Commenters on the Robot 6 blog (or as they’re commonly known in my apartment, “those awful maggots”) are expected to explain in precise detail that (1) Ms. Nicholson’s children should be poor, because what did they ever do?, (2) she should have no legal rights to express opinions about The Avengers because of contracts and legal principals and what's law school?, (3) she and every other person who’s ever written anything all “had it coming,” (4) capitalism is a really great system and is being threatened and quit attacking capitalism and how come you don't like capitalism, huh, (5) some of us are still waiting for Native Americans to thank us for those smallpox blankets keeping them warm, and (6) all stories ever written were all stolen from Charlton characters that haven't been published in 200 years, but apparently everyone is a Charlton Comics expert all of the sudden.
This is all, of course, a prelude to the shitstorm that awaits the arrival of the upcoming Batman 3 movie. My guess is the first negative review will be greeted by writers for ComicBookMovie.com wiring the reviewer’s car to explode like the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s Casino, while the Merry Marvel Marching Society parades through the streets with the heads of the reviewer’s friends and loved ones placed upon spikes; I have $50 on writer for HitFix, in the library, with the lead pipe, in my office pool.
The fan comments are especially shocking in light of the fact they’re about a movie concerning superheros, fantasy characters that, as one mainstream comic writer has sold them, speak “loudly and boldly to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations.” Sure! Well. Okay, there was supposedly an Avengers comic where Ms. Marvel, like, got raped, then gave birth to her rapist (it's complicated), who she then shacked up with while the other Avengers looked on approvingly...? Plus, Hawkeye’s wife Mockingbird got raped. And yeah, there were those Iron Man comics where Maria Hill (or as she's commonly known, “Kids, Your Aunt Robin”) got “mind-raped” by some robot and ended up in shower all, like, “Oh no no oh no must be clean” or whatever-- sure, sure, that comic even won Eisners. Tigra ha her clothes ripped off while she was videotaped getting gang-"beaten" by villains. There was a cover for whatshername, Iron Fist’s girlfriend, getting tentacle-raped. Girl version of Hawkeye--totes raped. Spider-Man’s ladyfriend Black Cat, raped. On the other hand, the X-Men’s Storm escaped her attempted rape, and Captain America’s ex-girlfriend Diamondback was only “possibly raped,” while being kidnapped, starved, and "abused." Et cetera, et cetera.
But besides all of that, it’s a real mystery where the audience learned those kinds of attitudes from. Hopefully, somebody will call Columbo (or as he's commonly known, the late Peter Falk). But until then, did Ms. Nicholson fully appreciate the value-filled culture of aspirations and longings that she was cruelly attacking when she only gave The Avengers three stars out of five? That is still to be—oh, ha ha, hey, wait, I forgot to mention that: This was all because she only gave The Avengers THREE out of five stars. Fortunately, Marvel Comics has not been distracted by all of this froofrah over Tomato scores and has instead followed the enormous success of The Avengers by getting back to business and focusing its energies on publishing crossovers and firing its long-time employees, a move Robot 6 commenters are expected to describe as an "orgasmic Christmas miracle, like a department store Santa Claus covering my body in sticky Yuletide cheer."
Congratulations, comics! This is the moment it's all been leading up to!
Ah, throwing some Nate Bulmer and his Eat More Bikes in with Abhay always hits the spot. We should move onto the comics, right? That's the system!
Crossed Badlands #5
By Jamie Delano, Leandro Rizzo, Digikore
Published by Avatar
What would happen to you if your father died while you were wrestling with him? What kind of person would you be if you grew up and your boyfriend died from shitty drugs while you were attaching Office Depot binder clips to his naked body while he was tied to a chair for some sweet sexuals? Would you go on to make big dogs fuck Iraqi detainees because that was the only way to get turned on? What if that's how that stuff happens, man? Why shouldn't there be a comic book that answers those questions? It could be a comic book that also feature naked sisters who spoon, because that's what life is like for some people, sometimes. Stories like that might have kayaks, or redneck survivalists who love their dogs more than they love their own flesh and blood. It could have all of those things, and it could include the line “your vag smells like rotten fish,” because sometimes a girl has to say that to her sister, because life ain't no bed of roses, especially when you're getting ready to have sex with your sister and she hasn't bathed in a while.
Too Many Nitrous
By Billy Burkert, Samuel Rhodes
This is a totally unofficial and yet wholly accurate prequel to the Fast and the Furious film series, featuring the up-until-now-unnecessary “origin” of Dominic Torreto, a character played by actor/skin-covered Roomba Vin Diesel. Rife with pop culture references and unusually clever puns, it’s a legitimately funny comic that vastly outshines whatever expectations one might bring to it, even if those expectations are that the book is going to be really fucking good, which it absolutely is. For those of you at the tail end of giving a shit about this useless, banal, horseshit medium, for those of you happy to lose all the arguments just as long as it means you can leave forever and never hear about these people cheerleading their toy ‘n sadness collections for the thousandth time, take some gosh damned heed: a couple of smart assholes have gone and spun a solid yarn. Give that baby another week to get used to its surroundings. Your bathtub isn't going anywhere.
Fury: My War Gone By #1
By Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge
Published by Marvel Comics
This is the American Tabloid to Ed Brubaker’s L.A. Quartet (Fatale), with the Ennis twist being that James Ellroy never had a guy like Nick Fury stalking the blood-stuck mud. Oh sure, Tabloid has oversized badasses who don’t mind stripmining the skulls and ears of Communists with well-oiled chainsaws; if there’s one place Ennis could have lifted Barracuda from it’s the Tiger Kab offices, but the trick with Nick Fury--the trick that only Ennis seems to still have a handle on, as the rest of Marvel seems to be in a race towards infantile regression--is that Nick Fury is what Captain America would be if that super soldier serum made people smarter: a dead-set patriot, ready to carve out their own heart for the cause, but smart enough to know the cause is still under construction. Fury isn’t stupid, cynical, or selfish: he’s passionate. It’s all right here, in an issue where the real action is in matter-of-fact statements of purpose and a wearied snarl. As of right now, everybody else is in the business of fighting for second place.
The End of the Fucking World #7
By Chuck Forsman
The most recent installment in Forsman’s formidable experiment in his contemporary-youth-goes-Badlands series sees his ever more dangerous couple meeting up with that old road movie chestnut, the aging perv with grabby hands, and while the sequence plays out with less bloodshed than expected, the bigger surprise is Forsman’s hell-for-leather commitment to his male lead’s almost autistic sociopathy. Where one expects violence, one instead finds sluggish curiosity, a methodical plodder so removed from his own culpability that it’s becoming more difficult to lay blame on him for his own acts. He’s in a world of his own, but it's one his fucked up brain chemistry has created; there doesn’t appear to be a lot of choice being made. It's been a while since comics depicted crazy like it really is: completely unpredictable.
Green Lantern #9
By Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, Alex Sinclair
Published by DC Comics
Okay, it’s report card time. It turns out that the Indigo Tribe--which is the group of Lanterns who “wield the light of compassion” the way the Yellow Lanterns do fear and the Reds do rage--is constructed out of brainwashed criminals, described by one Yoda rip-off as “the worst killers and sadists in the universe” during one of those four-page blocks of pure, uncut exposition that could serve as a master class in what DC’s finest talents seem to think is the best way to write a story. You have to hand it to Geoff Johns, honestly. Like--if you were making fun of Johns as a writer, you’d probably talk about how he’s the guy who came up with an entire army of aliens and people (and an abused house cat) motivated by “rage” who happen not only to rely on magic wishing rings, but also on magic red rage vomit to get revenge and do violent stuff, you’d go off on how every character he throws out there has some kind of horrible violent loss in their past, how he fetishizes things like “aviator jackets” and Chuck Yeager biographies, and if you were going to guess at what he’s going to do in the future, you’d probably say, “Ah, he’ll probably reveal that some Green Lantern had a secret prison where he secretly brainwashed the worst people in the universe (one of whom will be depicted by Doug Mahnke as a giant bat wearing one of those gimp bondage masks) into becoming an actual “army of compassion.” And you have to give it to Johns, because even though that’s the exact kind of story you would make up in a fit of exaggeration to hurt somebody’s feelings, the guy just goes ahead and writes like that anyway. He’s already the guy who has spent the last ten years writing super-serious stories about aging Smurfs who live on another planet and have a crazy billion rules about why emotions are the Worst Thing Ever, he’s already the guy who decided that the obvious name for the living embodiment of Love should be the word “Predator,” and here he is, doubling down for the 8,000th time. You like little Smurf characters? Well, how about an immortal dwarf who dresses like an aboriginal wizard and lives inside a secret purple prison? You like it when people’s family members die? No problem, we’ll get Doug Mahnke to draw a splash page of Sinestro holding the bloody corpse of the love of his life on top of a gigantic pile of bodies, one of which is clearly a small child, another of which is some dude who died mid-scream. PS, because we’re running long and we should repeat this for clarity: one of the nameless bad guys in this comic is a giant bat wearing a gimp mask.
The Punisher #11
By Greg Rucka, Mirko Colak, Dan Brown, Jim Charalampidis
Published by Marvel Comics
It seems like there was a time when fill-in issues came from fill-in teams, so let's all throw some props to Greg Rucka for delegating the scut work to the (self-described) lesbian in the mirror. This issue is a one-shot tale filled to the brim with the most immediate clichés available; it’s also about zombies in New York, which would push the thing into parody if Greg Rucka had ever told a joke, even a bad one. The structure is one of those “cop getting interrogated about last night’s craziness” things, and it hits all the beats that story always has. The only real twist--zombies can't count as a twist anymore, not since everybody’s mom started watching The Walking Dead--stems from the quirk factor that ensues when you realize that Mirko Colak didn’t have time to find any photo reference for “when human beings are surprised,” which means that the the only way you can decipher emotional reactions is to see how wide open the mouths are. (Halfway means thinking!) The comic ends with one of a Ruckan staple--undergraduate political skepticism, drink it in--but not before he rips off the best gag in that War Zone movie, strips it of its timing, and uses it to fill up two full pages of comic. Speaking of pages, the Punisher speaks on only two out of the seven he actually appears on, so at least there's a bright side: you can finish reading this issue very quickly.
The Punisher Armory #1
By Eliot R. Brown, Nel Yomtov
Published by Marvel Comics, 1990
Back in the days when the Punisher was the most popular character in the Marvel universe--also known as “the days when the world made a lick of fucking sense”--Marvel was raking in so much cash that they forget they had the power to say no to every random Punisher-related idea that came across their desk. And while this was a business model that resulted in a whole mess of terrible Punisher tales, it also resulted in this: a 32-page comic consisting of Eliot R. Brown’s self-described “still life-with-notes” pages. The format’s easy to follow: some type of object, most often a gun but not necessarily always a gun, and a diary entry explaining the object. (Notice the hand underneath the refrigerator? That's the only way this format allows Brown to depict action.) As the cover promises, you’ll get “his thoughts!” and “his feelings!” as well, and while it took a while for the "feelings" part to pay off, they eventually did, in the weirdest way possible. This first issue doesn't deliver as strongly--probably because this issue is a compilation of reprints--but it's a good set-up for what became one of the more absurd artifacts of '90s Marvel.
By Al Milgrom, Herb Trimpe, Christie Scheele
Published by Marvel Comics, 1983
Everything one needs to know about this comic can be found in the full page explanation for its existence found at the end--trucking was popular in the early '80s because of novelty songs and morons, Jim Shooter had a raging hard-on for both of those things--but really perceptive readers will probably figure it out on the first page, when they see Shooter credited as “Big Smokey,” while everybody else involved goes ahead with the boring old regular job titles, like “drawing” and “writing.” At the risk of alienating any of the forty-something males in the audience, any appeal that one finds in this comic--which is about a long-haul trucker with a half-metal skull that gets him a CB signal, a CB signal that, combined with the weaponized truck that Marvel was helping the Tyco company hawk, he uses to hunt his brother’s assumed killer--will purely be of the nostalgic variety. US-1 was a thing that existed. Thanks to bags, boards and boxes, it exists still.