B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death #2
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, James Harren & Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse
It should come as no surprise that this is an extraordinarily good comic book, albeit one that’s built around such extreme depictions of frenetic savagery that it probably deserves some kind of epilepsy warning. But to the cynic goes the spoils of expectations met: this is a great fucking comic, a thorny excursion deep into the arms of the thing serialized stories are most terrified of, conclusion. Tracing a trail of horror that stretches back to 2008’s superb Killing Ground arc, The Long Death is a blood-doused chamber, engorged with violence and resounding with finality. It isn’t the first time that a B.P.R.D. series has centered around a throbbing heart of scream-lined action; last year’s New World arc saw multiple sequences involving two-fisted handgun combat, as well as Roadhouse-styled pick-up truck aggression. But it is the first time the action isn’t being drawn by Guy Davis, and while it’s rather disconcerting to see “his” characters under another’s hand, James Harren’s work is beyond reproach. Mixing stiff, angular lines against the bulbous ripples of distended flesh, the increasing pace of Harren’s panels (multiple panel sequences in this comic take place in fractions of seconds) work like compressed explosions, popping like an underwater flare. The point of view swings wide, ignoring most of the rules of action movie filming, embracing the freedom of the comic page instead--we can tell a man apart from monster, so right to left can be interchangeable--only to find moments of terrible pause, while Dave Stewart’s tableau of sprawling red lists the outcome. This is it, right here: the major comic of the day, waiting for its coronation. Nothing else comes close.
Moebius 8: Mississippi River
By Jean Giraud, Jean-Michael Charlier
Published by Epic
This is the substitute for Blueberry that Charlier and Giraud came up with during a fight with
Darguard Dargaud, and like Blueberry, it focuses on a the trials and travails of an ex-soldier following the Civil War. But beyond visual appearance, the similarities pretty much end there. Described by his translators (with some kindness) as “a loser,” Jim Cutlass isn’t the sort of character one is likely to fall in love with, and watching him suffer constant betrayal at the hands of everyone he comes across never stretches believability. Jim is a born loser. Under Giraud’s able hand, he looks like Jimmy Olsen swallowed Jay Leno’s jaw, and he emanates a gawkiness that can’t be hidden by the tufts of hair he sprouts during the war years. There’s something engaging about watching him try, which might be in part because he doesn’t seem aware of his own dire track record, but it’s hard to imagine spending a long period of time with him. Still, Giraud must have seen something, because he returned to him plenty, albeit only as writer. It's a pretty book nonetheless!
Wonder Woman #7
By Cliff Chiang, Brian Azzarello, Jared Fletcher
Published by DC
It’s in the best financial interest of DC Comics to hitch their wagons to any controversy that might come their way, so don’t be surprised to see mention of this issue if you happen to go to any comics website besides the one you’re at right now: around these parts, we promise to give Not The Fuck. Hanging out in the back of this tale, following the introduction of Cliff Chiang’s inspired take on Hephaestus and a quick shout-out to the conclusion of Alien 3—which was a (this should sound familiar) big studio movie liked by almost none of the people involved in its construction, due mostly to the absurd demands placed on them by its producers, rich morons whose idea of creation was to create fake movie posters years in advance of the hiring of a creative team—you'll find the new, the true, story of how the Amazon society works. Short version, delivered without Azzarello’s cum jokes (there's at least three on one page alone!): three times a century, the Amazonians pick out a boat, fuck the dudes on the boat, murder said dudes post fucking, and then head back home, where some of them have babies (because of the fucking). If any of the babies are boys, they swap them with Hephaestus for weaponry. He makes the dudes wear those underwater diving suits from Garden of Souls, and that’s the tale of the tape. That’s why the Amazons are all women, and also why they have weapons. As of yet, there has been no controversy over the fact that Amazon women cannot make their own tools. However, the rest of this story has been received with some controversy, as millions of women attribute much of what they understand of femininity and virtue to the character of Wonder Woman. She is, without a doubt, the most important singular female influence of the last fifty years, which is why so many little girls often turn to their mothers, tears streaming from their eyes, drunk on gratitude for the stacks of Wonder Woman comics they’ve been lucky enough to call their own. And at a time when the rights of women are fast becoming another casualty of governmental manhandling, when the crude, sublimated misogyny of Santorum-types is treated like a viable public policy, what better way to stand up and fight for one’s feminist ideals than to look sternly at Messrs Chiang, Azzarello, & Fletcher and say, “Not on my watch will you sully the fictional history of my precious fucking Diana whatever-her-last-name-is.” We shall overcome, indeed.
OH MY GOSH HERE IS A GUEST COLUMNIST BREAK
To give the Weak In Comics some context, here's ABHAY KHOSLA with the only comics news you need:
So, there was a Wondercon last weekend? Wondercon is a mainstream-oriented comic convention, somewhere in California -- which meant mainstream comic fans got to meet mainstream comic creators, and ask them the important questions of the day. An example from CBR: "One audience member asked the intriguing question of whether Ultimate Peter Parker died a virgin." Marvel editors in attendance dodged that question, presumably in order to avoid a wave of existential panic rippling through the audience and triggering a stampede. The way these conventions are reported on, it always seems as though questions of well-meaning fans are received by the Comedy Revue of the Damned: "Someone asked [Mark] Waid what he thought of the 'Elektra' movie and he paused for a good five seconds before asking his iPhone. 'Siri? What do we think of the Elektra movie?' he asked, and he was met with complete silence."
The story that received the biggest response from comic news sites is that Marvel Comics intends to revive its "Dazzler" character. Dazzler was an early 1980s superhero comic about the emotional travails of a female singer/mutated-human -- sort of like the Marvel Universe version of Stevie Nicks, except Dazzler never had cocaine blown through a straw into her own anus. At least that was the famous rumor about Stevie Nicks, that during her addict years, she had groupies blowing cocaine into her rectal cavity due to the hole cocaine had bored in her nose. Nicks has denied it, but some stories, no matter how horrible, pointless, or implausible, refuse to die-- Stevie Nicks with a straw in her ass; Richard Gere shoving a gerbil up his ass; King Edward II dying from having a red-hot poker shoved up his ass; Dazzler...
Across the aisle, DC had publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee host a "Meet the Publishers" panel where they talked about ending hunger in Africa. DC apparently plans to use their expertise making comics to solve the problem of hunger in Africa, or to put it another way, millions will soon be dead of hunger in Africa. Whereas the similarly Africa-themed KONY campaign recently saw reports of its figurehead allegedly running naked through the streets, "perhaps masturbating," the DC publishers tragically promoted Watchmen 2. Public masturbation would've been less disgraceful, but silver lining, coverage of the Watchmen 2 promotional activity included this delightful sentence: "A fan who had never read [Alan] Moore’s 'Watchmen' wanted to know if she had to read the original graphic novel."
Didio and Lee also discussed their plans to publish a Girl With a Dragon Tattoo comic, so if you want to purchase a "Big Two" comic where a female protagonist is savagely raped, you can now purchase... let's see... "all of them." The correct answer is all of them.
The best news I saw relating to comics this last week, though, occurred prior to Wondercon: Image Comics partner Todd McFarlane admitted that he's been writing under a pen name of Will Carlton for the last couple of years. Plus, he's been giving interviews as Will Carlton in which he described in detail having gotten the job ... from himself: "I feel like Todd [McFarlane]’s been good at giving opportunities to lesser known artists and writers, like myself [i.e. Todd McFarlane]," [said Todd McFarlane]. How much thought had gone into the Will Carlton persona? Was Will Carlton a virgin when McFarlane negated his existence? Did Will Carlton ever have cocaine blown into his anus? Did McFarlane name Will Carlton after the lead characters of the French Prince television show, as Bleeding Cool speculates? Did McFarlane end the charade after tabloid gossip this last month of Will Smith's alleged down-low "bromance" with actor Duane Martin? The correct answer to all of these questions is that no one cares because no one reads Spawn anymore. If we're lucky though, Mark Waid might ask these questions to his iPhone, and comedy will ensue.
NOW HOW ABOUT SOME MORE NEGATIVITY
Super Crooks #1
By Mark Millar, Leinil Yu, Nacho Vigalondo, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho
Published by Icon
The first of five new series to be released under the Millarworld banner, Super Crooks sees the prolific writer teamed with Leinil Francis Yu, most recently the artist on Millar’s Superior, which was a comic that totally existed, regardless of the fact that you will never meet anyone who remembers reading it. Super Crooks, like everything else in corporate comics nowadays that isn’t a post-apocalyptic tone poem, is a pretty generic concept exercise (the band-back-together stuff from Ocean’s Thirteen plus the overseas setting from Ocean’s Twelve as well as the sorry-i-fucked-up-our-relationship-but-could-we-bang-some-more-anyway? thing from Ocean’s Eleven) with super powers tossed in haphazardly. As with everything Millar does, Super Crooks is an indictment of the genre it is desperate to be a bestseller in, which is completely due to the fact that Millar’s creative muse makes for the weak sister when cast against his financial acumen: in other words, Mark Millar thinks he can’t make any money selling an overseas heist comic unless he puts the characters in spandex. He’s probably right; either way, this comic is about as interesting as laying in bed and trying to remember how the names of James Bond movies relate to their plots. A View to a Kill: there was a bridge?
The Avenger’s Prelude Fury’s Big Week #2
By Christopher Yost, Eric Pearson, Luke Ross, Daniel HDR, Mark Pennington, Chris Sotomayor
Published by Marvel Comics
Whereas Avengers Assemble is a “real” (meaning in-continuity) Marvel comic designed to draft off the upcoming film’s assumed success by presenting a super-team analogous to the one in the film, this is the actual Marvel comic movie tie-in, with traced photos of Hollywood stars and everything. (The image above? That's supposed to be Scarlett Johansson.) It’s an ungainly beast, a mish-mosh of art styles delivering a plot that’s made up of odd, half-references to moments in the various Marvel films that have already been released. For example, it cuts scenes from the Thor film (in one case, it actually depicts one of that film’s characters watching what is, in effect, the film itself) together with scenes from the second Iron Man film, and then, surprisingly, the second Hulk movie, thus setting up the definitive timeline of the Marvel movies. (Apparently, all of those movies took place over the course of the same single week.) Having not read all of the issues, one can only assume that the four-part series will conclude with whatever happened at the end of the Captain America film, which I failed to watch for the understandable reason that I discovered the XVideos website right around the time it was in theaters. So, if you’re interested in having a Marvel creative type play all of those movies in a piecemeal, stop-and-start fashion, constantly pausing them to tell you all the bits that were deemed too boring to film, then this is as close as you’re going to get.
Saucer Country #1
By Paul Cornell, Ryan Kelly, Giulia Brusco
Published by Vertigo
This is the second new ongoing series from Vertigo. In keeping with their current paradigm, it has something people actually want (in this case, Ryan Kelly) along with something they are ambivalent or openly hostile towards (that would be the work of Paul Cornell, excepting a recent Lex Luthor-focused run on Action Comics). The hook for the series is on the final page, that is, unless you look at the cover, which spells it out pretty well. The main takeaway from reading it is that it has the potential to be extraordinarily preachy (“America is ready for a female, divorced, Hispanic President, if it’s you”) while still being pretty offensive. There’s an unusual couple of pages where it seems as if the main character believes her ex-husband anally raped her, only for it to be determined that, actually, it was just some aliens. Or maybe she just had her period. Or her eggs were stolen? Certain doors should either be fully opened or not mentioned at all in a comic book, and one of those doors is “why did the lady in the comic wake up in shock bleeding from her bikini area?”, because God knows that DC Comics has zero fucking business expecting the benefit of the doubt regarding the situations they put female characters in, especially when it comes to situations that might involve items going in and out of their bathing suit area.
Avengers: X-Sanction #4
By Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, Morry Hollowell
Published by Marvel Comics
This is the final issue of a series few people seem to have paid attention to, if we’re going solely on what I feel like believing as I write this sentence down. It was a mini-series featuring Cable, the character who had previously “died” in an X-Men crossover that is mostly notable for being so bad that reading it caused TCJ.com editor Tim Hodler to give up on super-hero comics entirely. [Editor's note: I only read the thing in the first place based upon the enthusiastic personal recommendation of Tucker Stone. Caveat lector.] Cable returned to hunt the Avengers, who he believed were going to someday be responsible for killing his adopted daughter, Hope. Hope is a new character that no fan has any real emotional attachment to despite the fact that she has been a part of the X-titles since her birth, which may have been depicted on panel, perhaps by Chris Bachalo, because he used to draw the book when that story was published. That would be interesting to see, if it exists, as Bachalo draws hideous things extraordinarily well. The concept of him drawing human childbirth, which is diabolically revolting to anyone not emotionally and financially invested in its outcome, is the sort of concept that comics would do well to exploit more often, especially now that motion pictures do such a better job with super-hero stories.
Obviously, this comic did not end with Cable killing anyone; due to its brevity, it was pretty much just the story of those couple of hours when a sick old man kidnapped some guys who were then easily rescued by some other guys, who then made sure to humiliate the old man by making him go take a nap. Also, it turns out Hope is Phoenix, which means that Cable adopted and raised a little girl that in some ways used to have sex with Cable’s dad, Cyclops, and then he brought her back in time so that she could get older and maybe have sex with him again? That would probably be gross if I could understand what it means.
Kick-Ass 2 #7
By Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Tom Palmer, Dean White
Published by Icon
This used to be a big favorite for non-super-hero comic readers, but then it kind of went sideways into this big art hole and all of a sudden it became really important that everybody shook their heads sternly at how racist and homophobic the whole thing was, especially as all of the other comic books were really impressive lighthouses of tolerance except for Kick-Ass, which was doing a bad job of advertising the medium to the content management firms that have come a-knocking so frequently as of late. The comic does pretty much suck, however, so it’s not like you’re going to find a defense of it here. The most interesting thing to say about it is that it comes across as way, way more fucked up after you read Super Crooks and realize that Mark Millar is perfectly capable of writing a comic book that features very limited hardcore violence and no racism or homophobia whatsoever. Kick-Ass: it was that way on purpose.