So which one are we? The arrogant spy, laughing his way off to an expansive field of chocolate chip cookie puss? The oil-covered bird, still adorable as its cellular structure breaks down, its skin coated in an oxygen preventative shield, all its life changed in an instant to an existence of pure, unremitting suffering? Are we the dead guys, and the sound we make is the sound of the damned?
I can't speak for you, but for my money, I vote for whatever gets me into the ground as fast as possible, dead as Dillinger, baking biscuits in Hell. But that might be because I already know what ABHAY KHOSLA IS GETTING READY TO TELL YOU ABOUT RIGHT NOW OH SNAP HERE HE IS WITH SOME COMIC BOOK NEWS YOU CAN USE:
The latest news in mainstream comics this week is that as it turns out, mainstream comics have shitty drawings, all the time. A nation reeled in shock, and indeed upon discovering this revelation, we drove our Chevy to the levee—but the levee was dry.
Most talked about was this teaser for the cover to Catwoman #0, which features Catwoman's tits and ass erupting out at the reader like some kind of Skinemax xenomorph. (Note: the cover features other parts of Catwoman besides her tits and ass, but those are jammed in as afterthought such that the overall impression is that Catwoman's titties went and grew themselves their own Kuato.) The cover raised eyebrows for many due to being severely fugly, though some might argue that by provoking the viewer into wondering, "Who was this shit made for, and at what age did their soul skid out of control?", the cover successfully captures the essence of what it is to read a comic written by Judd Winick. They're really terrible.
The cover triggered a backlash among a small group of comic creators, though apparently, a backlash to that backlash is now underway thanks to various other comic professionals on Twitter, upset that Guillem March's shitty work (that he got paid for) is being MADE FUN of. Indeed, many agree: "Sometimes he can draw." So. Comic fans, I guess, should feel better knowing that the Catwoman cover is not the result of artistic incompetence, but just reflective of the comics industry's unrelenting cynicism and incessant willingness to target the lowest possible common denominator that the human imagination can conceive. It's not that he can't draw, everybody; DC just thinks you're priapistic assholes whose buying decisions can be easily swayed by a parade of secondary sexual characteristics distended away from any humanity. He can draw fine, if he wanted to. So... yaaaaaaay...?
Comic creators in 2012: Women cartoonists are being mean to us just because our drawings reflect a culture deeply oblivious to their existence as sentient human beings. Waaaah. If only the men working in comics could strike back somehow, like by creating an entire industry that knows only how to caters to the worst instincts of the worst members of the male gender. But... that's too crazy. Or is it just crazy enough to work? Cue theme music!
Meanwhile, thanks to the momentous and earth-shaking events of the Avengers vs. X-Men mega-crossover, [email protected] reports that Cyclops will now be wearing a "bright red thong" into battle with the Avengers.
... Sure, sure.
For those of us only following the AvX crossover through internet news reports, this is extremely exciting news, because this is seemingly the first time anyone's had anything to say about this crossover since it started. Other than that the story is really, really slow, and about how one issue of a comic about the Avengers fighting the X-Men somehow spent six-seven pages on an airplane crash, and that Jason Aaron's script for his Avengers vs. X-Men:Vs story was one paragraph long (P.S. "Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore"!).
So... I guess we can add "Cyclops wears a red thong" to that list. All darned exciting stuff. Avengers vs. X-Men is famously being gang-written by a crack Marvel architecture team, meaning that Cyclops's thong was presumably discussed by an entire boardroom teeming with people at some point, all of whom converged from different points throughout the country to a single boardroom, all to discuss Cyclops's thong. What sort of titanic lingerie lies ahead in the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover? Will Hank Pym wear a seabreeze silk step-in trimmed with delicate lace and adjustable straps?
Only an entire boardroom of people knows for sure. And maybe the MTV documentary crew that they had film them.
But it wasn't all eyes rolling and "what the fuck is going on with these guys," as comic critics celebrated the release of Watchmen 2: Minutemen, a comic some called "stunningly gorgeous."
... I agree with stunning, so at least we've got that.
WELL FINE WHAT ABOUT THE COMIC BOOKS THEN HUH
Green Lantern #10
By Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Ngueyn, Hi-Fi
Published by DC Comics
Although the conclusion to Green Lantern: The One With All The Prison Rape Implications failed, like all Green Lantern stories, to be memorable in any substantive way, it’s impossible to deny the brief moments of entertainment that could be had in flipping through each issue quickly and laughing hysterically at a few of its weirder panels taken totally out of context. Go ahead. Try to deny it. You can’t! It’s the best thing ever! There was that one where the little kid was a suicide bomber, there were all the prison rape jokes about Sinestro (he’s the one who looks like a dark pink Errol Flynn) being “violated” or the part where the aboriginal Smurf character turned everybody into serial killers, and all of this stuff is still taking place in a universe where everybody has a different colored wishing ring that’s tied into a different emotion. In this issue, a guy jumps off a cliff to escape a wishing ring that will make him hopeful ... but also lobotomize him forever. And he fucking dies, this dude, because he’s just a dude in hardcore gimp bondage gear (seriously!), and leather doesn’t save you when you jump off a cliff and bust open your body on the rocks below. But hey, don’t worry, gimpy! You get to come back to life and wear the dead people’s ring, because that exists, and now Green Lantern can have an archenemy again (his previous archenemy is the Sinestro character, but they now live as bros), which certainly bodes way well for our trainspotting future, because think about it: Green Lantern’s archenemy is an undead leatherback geek who killed his family and sleeps in open graves. And now he can FLY.
By Nathan Edmondson & Nic Klein
Published by Image Comics
Does anybody remember those demo files that used to come with Microsoft Office or Windows or something? Fake stationary and fake letters and fake databases about a hot air balloon company--you’d read it and use the example to figure out how to do your own shitty business with your very own Excel spreadsheets? Or Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing—that also had fake business shit. Well, that’s what Dancer reads like, like it's the script that you’d find in a screenwriting program, the example you would read so you'd know which parts of a screenplay get indented, and when its the right time to bust out some brackets. The previous issue’s big shocking final-page reveal was that the ex-hitman lead was being hunted by a dude who looked exactly like him, albeit younger. Does that get people excited? Are you excited right now? Are you upset that the last page of the previous issue of this comic was spoiled for you? Is that how spoilers work, or does somebody have to come to your house and do it while you're raising your children and living your life? The title Dancer will probably end up being referenced in some corny monologue where a character (probably the guy’s angry girlfriend, who actually IS a dancer) compares the art of dance to the art of survival, how one moves across the stage constantly fluctuating between a state of evade & embrace much like one moves through life, evading and embracing certain relationships, and while she’d like to move away from this one because it turns out that the old man she’s fucking--oh yeah, it’s a May/December thing, the second most popular type of male/female relationship, just knocking around being number one, which is the type where the girl goes away except for when the guy needs a blowie--it turns out she’s embraced him too long, and now they’re twirling, twirling until the music stops. How much do you want to bet this comic will feature some panels that follow some blood as it seeps toward a drain, with little text boxes describing what it is like to be a hitman, how it's like being a mailman, or a boxer, or a brush of thin air that shakes the barley?
By Ken Garing
Published by Image Comics
There’s something altogether charming about Planetoid. Partly it’s the fact that everything, including the lettering, comes from just one guy, but it’s mostly that the comic is such a simple, direct thing--it’s just a space pirate who gets stuck on a planet covered in robotic aggression, and he has a powerful gun that his talking computer doesn’t understand. There’s a bunch of blunt, 1-leads-to-2 transitions—dude lands, dude squats, dude throws his helmet on the ground, dude walks forward—and the end of the comic is exposition 101, with a character openly saying, “What’s your story?”, which leads to our taciturn lead describing the entirety of his life, which amounts to, “I used to be in the army, but now I’m a pirate.” Whenever the future gets around to building a decent robot, this is the sort of thing it is going to read for pleasure.
Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX #1
By Jason Starr, Roland Boschi, Dan Brown
Published by Marvel Comics
There’s about 800 of these types of things, and 800 more on the horizon, so let’s boil it down and then never speak of it again: you took the money to write a Punisher story, but you don’t have an idea for a Punisher story. So what you do is you tell a crime story, and the crime story is essentially the sort of thing you’d find in an EC Comic, and you tell it like they would without the great, history-changing artists, and at the end, you have the Punisher show up and kill your main character. There’s a million of these fucking things. They’re terrible Punisher stories, but hey, so what, who cares? The Punisher got turned into an angel once, they published these goofass stories where he dyed his skin black, they tried making him a woman, he has to be in Spider-Man comics so that Spider-Man fans can pretend that they aren’t fans of the biggest piece of shit pansy ass freakshow on the planet, Boo Hoo My Unkie Ben, If Only I Wasn’t Such A Candy Ass Baby My Aunt May Would Have A Hot Schlong To Stick In Her Armpit. So yeah, Punisher can handle a shitty story or two, or two thousand, or however many it is going to take before Marvel can no longer turn a profit off such blatant regurgitation. Which is probably never.
By British People
Published by Rebellion
These two issues are basically the same--a good Judge Dredd story, a weird, terrible thing about time travel and dinosaurs, a mediocre one-shot, some seemingly unfinished Judge Anderson stuff, and Brendan McCarthy blowing way past the pay grade. It’s weird to admit something would have been better if it had included a not-very-good story about a space marine SWAT team leader with a crush on his subordinate, or an even-less-very-good story about a pretty girl in a sweatshirt who overkills werewolves and scowls constantly, but...yeah. Nobody would’ve kicked those out of bed if they had came a-knocking around page 16.
*LET'S GET OUR OLD MAN PANTS ON RIGHT ABOUT NOW, FUNK SOUL BROTHER CHECK IT OUT NOW WHOOP THERE IT IS
By Robert Loren Fleming, Trevor Von Eeden, Ziuko
Published by DC Comics, 1983
This is one of the weirdest comics I’ve read recently, and I keep up with Austin English. Some credit for that weirdness has to go to the fact that it arrives bearing the branding of the least weird comic books of all time: DC Comics. (Okay, there’s a great--and obvious--argument to be made that regular, meat and potatoes DC Comics are some of the weirdest things in pop culture, try explaining the convolutions of the Justice Society to somebody and you’ll quickly see why stuff like Twilight or True Blood--things that can be simplified to “young vampires dating” and “adult vampires fucking”--has millions of unconfused fans. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s agree that the popular fiction, where DC is the straight-laced, “establishment” version of super-heroes, still applies, if only because a whole bunch of people seem pretty invested in pretending that fiction is true, even when even the most surface assessment can see that it clearly isn’t true.) Thriller on the other hand? This is weird by every ruler you have to measure it with. The first issue includes some of the stereotypical concerns of the '80s—the terror of unknown religious zealots probably stemming from all those hours the big creative babies of the time used to spend in line at gas stations, a fetish for war journalists (two items which were also a big part of Doonesbury story arcs at the time, I believe)—but that barely cracks the surface of all the shit that’s in here. Those are just two smokescreens that’ll fool you into thinking you’re in for something you recognize, when the truth is that you probably weren’t. And yet, the ultimate draw--the reason why this comic remains one spoken of highly still--is Trevor Von Eden’s brilliant, impossible art, a thing that survives the fact that Thriller never really got to go anywhere, or end. There isn’t a page in here that isn’t a marvel to look at, and long before the story began its blind, loose stagger away from the commonplace, one might even find themselves abandoning any attempt to read it--as well they should! There’s just too much here to get lost in, too many unconventional pages and too many unreal layouts, it’s just too, much, too much. A lovely, unstoppable comic.
By Dave Sim
Published by Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1980
This issue includes Dave Sim getting worked up in the letters column about Ronald Reagan earning the Republican presidential nomination and a plug for a distributor’s final copies of the first five issues of Cerebus, of which only 2000 copies were printed. The story is about a ball where a bunch of assassins show up to murder the Julius character, and Cerebus successfully fends them off with a similar trick to the one that Bruce Wayne uses in that first Christopher Nolan movie to get all the people out before Liam Neeson burns his house down. There’s also a lot of cross-hatching. Sometimes you look at cross-hatching and wonder if the person responsible only got into comics to cover for the fact that they were into compulsively drawing intricate lines over and over again, and this is pretty much the only place you get to do that outside of when architects add a little flair to a blueprint. But then you realize that’s a stupid thing to think, it’s not funny or mean or even interesting, you’re just an asshole for bringing it up, the same way your mother is being sort of an asshole for not calling you back even though you left really explicit details on when you were going to be available, and fuck it, it’s a 32-year-old Cerebus comic, why not just pad things out with a reference to how the guy feels about women, even if you’ve never actually read any of that stuff and honestly don’t care about it anyway, because it ain’t like he just sent in his resume for babysitting detail? But that’s what everybody wants when you bring up a Sim comic anyway, it’s what they’re waiting for the entire time. It’s like that thing Chekhov always said about the gun, that if you show a gun in the first arc, then you should spend intermission using that gun to murder everybody in the audience, because really, anyone with the gall to even show up for live theater at this point is pretty much openly admitting that they think they’re better than you, that they think you’re stupid for watching the Avengers movie and thinking that maybe contemporary porn has started going too far too often, and I’ll bet you haven’t even read the new Bechdel book yet, you sanctimonious Void-worshipping cretin, you’ll never understand how professional wrestling really works, classic professional wrestling, the kind that had real characters and real people, and also real struggles. Cerebus!