Now We Know The Price Tag On Your Esteem

Nate Bulmer! Eat More Bikes! Wait what about


The big news recently was probably that bit where people fought for their lives against the elements, and the massive property damage and loss of life that ensued, which would normally be a sufficient quantity of news to digest for a week.  But rather than take some time off, the entertainment business decided this was the ideal time to announce the purchase of STAR WARS by the Walt Disney megacorporation.

Yes, the company that owns Marvel Comics as well as Pixar now owns some of geekdom's favorite characters, and fans have their fingers crossed about the crossovers that might ensue.  Captain America vs. Captain Kirk!  Spiderman vs. Sulu!  The Incredibles fighting  the Romulans!  Wolverine vs. Worf!  Who would win?  Who would lose?  Will Lieutenant Commander Data learn lessons about humanity from the Incredible Hulk?  Will Buzz Lightyear be able to make friends with even Bones, the curmudgeonly ship doctor?  Needless to say, STAR WARS fans on the internet are reeling from the possibilities.

Certainly, if the same company that brought America the hit movie AVENGERS will release STAR WARS EPISODE 7, there is more than one STAR WARS fan out there ready to say "Beam me up" to that, and now eagerly look forward to loading up the family station wagon and rushing to their local theaters, at warp factor five, engage.
But danger, Will Robinson, danger! "How will Dark Horse Comics be affected?" asked someone probably.  Dark Horse Comics had long been responsible for years upon years upon years of STAR WARS comics that probably were even read by someone, I would assume-- I mean, it's at least possible.  "I really care what happens to Dark Horse Comics," maybe someone said at some point, you would think.  Needless to say, more than one STAR WARS fans is hoping Dark Horse manages to "live long and prosper."

But what about HE-MAN?  No, no, seriously-- what about fucking HE-MAN?  On October 30th, i.e. a day where people really cared more than anything about HE-MAN and his MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE,DC Comics and USA Today promoted the new DC Comic MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: ORIGIN OF SKELETOR, "a powerful one-shot tale featuring the skeletal 1980's cartoon and toy villain and He-Man's greatest foil.  The timing couldn't be better either." Sure, sure: October 30, 2012-- perfect timing for a powerful story about Skeletor...

SKELETOR author Joshua Fialkov was quoted as saying, "Before, it was more about 'Let's do what we think the kids want,' whereas now we get to tell stories that are what the adults want."  USA Today agrees, "The interest in He-Man and Skeletor, and even for oddball bad guys such as Stinkor, continues for people who, like Fialkov, are in their early to late 30s — a huge chunk of the comic-reading audience — so deeper stories with these characters hit the sweet spot for everybody."

Oh, it's a glorious time to be an adult.  Sure, there's the part where your parents grow increasingly sick and begin to die, and the people who will have loved you more than anyone else your entire life will then be gone forever.  On the other hand, Stinkor comics are finally telling the stories you want!  Adults rule-- kids drool!  Jacks and sevens are wild!  Ptooey Ptooey!  (shooting six-guns into the air).  Ptooey Ptooey!  And there's going to be more STAR WARS!  This VITA sure is LA DOLCE for people in that wet [CAN WE CROSS OUT WET USING CROSSOUTY FONT?] sweet spot of their late 30's.  Yes, I can confidently speak for STAR WARS fans everywhere when I say KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN.


Sergeant Rock #404
By Bob Kanigher, Joe Kubert
Published by DC Comics, 1965/85
This issue of the well known war comic once featured in the closing credits of the John McTiernan film Predator took place right before a two parter titled "Angels With Black Wings", a story familiar to most 80's DC readers due to the fact that it had a full page house ad for what seemed like a full calendar year. The two parter, which I have never had the pleasure of reading, was reportedly about prejudice towards African Americans, and in classic tone-deaf DC fashion, the tagline for the advertisement was "PUT ASIDE YOUR PREJUDICES--HERE'S A WAR BOOK THAT'S DIFFERENT", reminding the reader that prejudice towards black people is a bad thing, but so is the prejudice of you motherfucking super-hero readers towards war comics. Guilt trips work exceptionally well when spouses or stereotypical mothers (either of the Jewish or Italian variety, Irish women are more consistently portrayed as martyrs), but they almost never work when the guilt trip is being laid down by DC or Marvel Comics. At least, that was the rule up until the last ten years, when all of a sudden everybody with a passing interest in comic books was expected to rush to the movie theater on opening weekend to watch whatever dipshit super-hero movie happened to be out, or else Jimmy Palmiotti would get his feelings hurt. Maybe instead of bitching and moaning back in 1985, the Sgt. Rock team could've mustered up the desire to make new issues? This one is just a reprint of a story from 1965. Featuring a seriously convoluted series of flashbacks, nestled within each other like a crotchety Russian doll, the story offhandedly depicts the death of a Rock's younger brother in a hilariously irresponsible training exercise where the two men jump off the Golden Gate Bridge without parachutes so they'll be prepared for all the times when such an absurdly unnecessary skill is required. Lucky for Rock, one of those times occurs in this comic; unlucky for his brother, who ended up leaving San Francisco in a pine box. As with many Joe Kubert comics, the whole thing looks so great you'll have a hard time believing your brain as it screams at you about how boring reading the whole thing is.

B.I. Buke
By Michael Olivo
Published by Hirnplatzine
I like everything this guy makes; I like it even more when I can see printed versions of it, and this happens to be a printed version of one of the things that he makes: all and all, that's a good deal. Except for an opening "fuck"--still the best word ever, people who don't use it should be murdered in front of their families, Prime Movers style--the comic is a silent one, tracing the journey of one humanoid creature and his interactions with some sort of cult/collective. A good bit of the comic focuses on the yanking off of someone's head and then the delivery (or rescue?) of that headless body, which spouts blood continuously. While Olvio is no slouch with color, as you can see on his website, B.I. Buke is black and white, contains close-ups of genitalia and...I'm not gonna use the word "weird", because that word seems a little too dismissive. This is a comic more in line with comics-as-music than it is comics-as-screenplay, and its the sort of thing that there really should be more of.

Winter Soldier #12
By Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Brian Thies, Bettie Breitweiser
Published by Marvel Comics

The only way Bucky (the Winter Soldier of the title) can get his girl back is if he allows the bad guy (who has brainwashed his girl) to also brainwash him for the purposes of making him assassinate somebody. If that seems unnecessarily complicated--why not say "you have to go kill somebody" instead of "you have to let somebody brainwash you into going and killing somebody"--Brubaker at least addresses that directly, with Bucky (the Winter Soldier of the title) describing the mind-control experience as being like "some small piece'a you is awake..watching. Like a passenger in your own body", which is the not so subtle way that we are told how bad this bad guy really is, because he doesn't just want Bucky to murder somebody, he wants him to really suffer through the experience in a meta fashion. I'd say "don't think about it too hard", but we weren't going to anyway, that's why we read things like Winter Soldier. When half the country is seriously thinking of voting for a Mormon so full of shit that even the Salt Lake Tribune won't back him up, just because the guy's road dog is a sexy P90X fan who never grew out of Ayn Rand, you're god damn good and right that those of us safe in the bosom of a city willing to prosecute rapists is going to flail around for the closest possible Wolverine related title we can find just to forget the world we live in as soon as humanly possible. He's the best at what he does, but even if he wasn't, real life is giving him a massive head start.
Like Hawkeye's recent appearances in the title, Wolverine (and Captain America, who shows up briefly) is as unnecessary from the purpose of narrative--allowing if you will the belief that what's "necessary" in a super-hero comic can be gauged on a sliding scale, meaning we ignore for now the ripe potential that maybe the inclusion of popular super-heroes is merely to spike interest in a comic title that could use a sales boost--as it is to use Daredevil as the target of the aforementioned assassination...unless one recalls that those characters are all characters that Ed Brubaker has had some decent level of affiliation with during his stint as a freelance writer of Marvel comics, and as he seems to be making good on his earlier claims of a departure from Marvel Comics, maybe he's just got a kitchen sink thing going on right now. Either way, this issue isn't very good--most of the others ones have been, so a slow one like this, dependent upon exposition and infinitesimal plot movement, well, that's going to stick out--but it's still a pleasantly hideous comic from an artist who is obviously relishing the free pass to faux-Steranko town he's been given. Marvel isn't going to be without good writers when this comic ends--I don't know if I believe that, but i'm trying to have something to look forward to--but it won't have any more comics like this, and that's going to be a loss.

Batman Incorporated #4
By Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn
Published by DC Comics
This is as good as that Happy comic is terrible, and whoa, that Happy comic sure is an embarassing piece of garbage, huh? Jeez. How good is it gonna be though, when the movie of that is coming out and Morrison will have to stand around pretending he knows something about the RZA and Wu-Tang and--just hip-hop in general. That's gonna be some serious trainwreck watching. Batman, whatever: this is a good long fight comic, nothing in it is abbreviated or moronic, it also looks nice, which happens so infrequently in DC comics these days that "completely hideous work by ferociously untalented amateurs who should have been drowned in the toilet bow" seems to be the official house style.  Chris Burnham is to Frank Quietly what Marc Silvestri was to Jim Lee, and while that means Burnham shoots higher, that doesn't change the fact that he works in a style that constantly reminds you of someone else that you like a little more. The illusion that this story is moving forward continues--Morrison even goes so far to insert another who-guessed-it moment as a way to pretend there's things left to reveal--putting the reader firmly in the seat of when this particular writer is at his historical worst, that being when he tries to wrangle years worth of fake-outs and goof-offs into some sort of literate conclusion. That being said, except for that totally unnecessary zero issue, Batman Incorporated has been a solid book since it started up again, and this issue might be the best one since the one where Morrison inadvertently made fun of people who took those Scalped comics seriously.