The Week In Which I Read And Liked A Lot Of Terrible Comics Instead Of Building Stories, Which Is Just Sitting Right Here Being Gloomy

Nate Bulmer and his Eat More Bikes, nailing it once again. Guy has a book coming out through Koyama and everything, you know that? That's good eggs, it's a quality breakfast.

THIS WEEK IN COMICS there was a bunch, man alive there were so many, we barely scratched the surface when we sat down to read them and there are still more to come, it absolutely does not ever stop, does it? We start off with ABHAY KHOSLA bringing you the only news that matters, then some comic books that came out 9 days ago, then some comics from this week. Then there's an interview! It's all coming up Comics Journal, buddy. Here's mud in your eye!

I have been having kittens lately. Kittens, I says. Just having kittens over a sentence, one single I-am-not-kidding-kittens-KITTENS sentence, from an interview given by Lord Viceroy Sir Duke Grant Morrison, Knight Templar and Encastled Member of the Working Class of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, to the New Statesman last week.

The interview was gross, and by the word gross, I specifically mean “horrible, grotesque, nauseating, stomach-churning, flesh-crawling”—basically, all the worst parts of the Bible. But the GOOD part is that Morrison talks about why he is going to quit writing America's Second-Favorite Batman stories: because of comics fans. COMICS FANS. Oh, those comic fans are some mean old nasties, cold-hearted son-bitches, the very dregs of humanity (the actual dregs, not the band). Oh, somebody get him a pillow for his head, having to deal with the Grinches. Just because he tried to propagate a teeny-tiny, measly, miniscule bit of ahistoric propaganda that flattered the repeated misconduct of his long-time corporate masters and dismissed the intense suffering of the comic creators who paved the way for his current success. Damn you, comic fans. Damn the dark places you live!

And so, in our darkest hours, Sir Morrison stood firm against the night and proclaimed: “There was a sense of, a definite sense of the temple was being burned down and it was time to run away.”

Run, Sir Robin Morrison! 'Tis comic fans, loud of bellow, soft of belly, armed to their mother's teeth with plastic Mjolnir and styrofoam Hulk Hands-- run, for ye gallantry is for naught to the fiends!

More importantly, and also HOLY SHIT: it turns out DC Comics is a TEMPLE, you guys!

But wait: if DC Comics is a temple, what does that make Grant Morrison, MBE, as one of the authors of its infallible proclamations (i.e. that comic where Superman sings at a 3D space-vampire)? Is he a High Priest of the Temple, pontiff anointed first among equals? Do we bow? Or salute? If Morrison turns out to be both a knight and a priest, under the rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, does that technically make him a paladin? Does he get +3 on his saving throws if confronted by an advanced Dungeon or a slightly less advanced Dragon? If I have a gelatinous cube problem, hypothetically located at or about the scrotum region, could he recommend a good paladin or penicillin? And in this rarefied papal bureaucracy that Sir Morrison has ascended through, by virtue of having written Howard Porter comics, what does that make you or I, the lowly pox-ridden serfs who tithe every odd Wednesday? What is our lot in life, the templegoers, but worship, reverence, obedience?

The question is moot. Now, the temple is burning, alas.

Which is also an interesting image, a burning temple. I did a Google search, of temples burning, and Google turned up some Bible quotes. Now, I’m no one’s idea of a Bible scholar, but close as I can figure it, the Book of Chronicles tells the story about the Temple of Judah burned by the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: “They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.”

However, if I read this correctly (and again, I'm not a Bible scholar), here’s the bit that strikes me as funny about the image of temples getting burned down: God sure doesn’t seem like he was on the side of the temples? God was angry-- Old Testament angry-- that “the people had become extremely corrupt and idolatrous” and thus spaketh or speak-eth or sayeth, probably one of those: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to [the temple] through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar.”

If you have to run away from a temple you worked at because it is now on fire, on fire because even the Lord God who you falsely professed to worship himself is ashamed of your corruption, your thorough, total corruption—well, I don’t know if that’s something you really want to go bragging about to the New Statesman? “News flash! I’m too stubborn to notice God is repulsed by my corrupt mentality. Stop the presses!” Though to be fair, Grant Morrison, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, only gave the interview, and was then given the opportunity to "review" the interview, in its entirety, and made sure to include in the interview that nothing he said in that interview or any other interview necessarily reflected his actual views, or the actual views of anyone else located in the United States or Guam, in that his views exist outside of time, space, the understood rules of causality, and thus any human capacity for critical judgment, but that if his views cause side effects, up to and including an erection lasting over four hours, with a mix of blood and semen erupting periodically such that... Look: I just don't have the space to explain all the fine print, in full-- the internet is simply too finite.

Meanwhile, all this happened at roughly the same time that (a) we were all blessed with DC’s latest hot rape-comic-- Oh come let us adore it, and (b) Sir Morrison’s former 52-cowriter Greg Rucka spake unto the Mainstream Comics Temple of Mike Love Super-fans, thusly: “I gave seven very good years to DC and they took gross advantage of me. That’s partially my fault, but not entirely. At this point, I see no reason why I should have to put up with that [...] There is far less a desire to see good work be done. [...] They can stop selling the Batwoman: Elegy trade and stop selling the Wonder Woman trades and everything else I’ve done, because clearly I’ve not done anything of service and those guys aren’t making any money off me.”

Rucka's words are hard to reconcile with the divinity of Morrison's repeated chant that "My own experience proves [DC Comics] can be reasonable and honorable, if you deal with them in an adult fashion." Morrison's words would thus seem to suggest that Rucka was right to be excommunicated from the Temple, for he is a most unholy child. But must Morrison go further? Must Morrison smite or indeed even smote Rucka for having defiled the Temple? Shall Morrison seek blessings to launch a Crusade upon Rucka and the other heathens? Will Rucka and Morrison together attend the next Barcelona Comic-Con? If so, does Greg Rucka expect for there to be a Spanish Inquisition? No. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

In conclusion, you have just read jokes about Dungeons & Dragons, Monty Python, and Comic Books. Welcome to my temple of life-long celibacy!

The Shadow #5
By Garth Ennis, Aaron Campbell & Carlos Lopez
Published by Dynamite Comics

This is another issue where what seems like an awesome piece of hyperviolent pulp is undercut by art that is either confusing, illegible, or just plain old vanilla shit. It's impossible not to enjoy at least some of what Garth Ennis gives these horrible, horrible characters to do here--anything so virulently hateful is, ultimately, going to end up conjuring its own noxious charm--and considering how only the most unabashed fans of the writer (or his murderous lead) will be willing to trudge through Aaron Campbell's image swamps, those who make it to these issue's final pages are, through that weird form of eugenics that fanaticism ensures, likely to find them immensely rewarding. Everybody else will have left long before. I'm fine with that, friend. This is my kind of filth.

Daredevil #18
By Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez
Published by Marvel Comics

It would be nice if Chris Samnee would turn his cutesy bullshit meter down a couple of notches; unless the man is bucking for a stint drawing IDW's upcoming My Little Pony title, his work could do with a little more evidence that it's been ejaculated from the pen of someone who stays up past 7PM. That being said: this is a solid piece of entertainment, the strongest issue since Paolo Rivera left the title, and while Waid's loosely paced script underlines once again that Marvel's near bi-weekly schedule is crippling even its most experienced writers, most of its flaws exist only in comparison to the title's stellar installments. It stretches believability to think that Marvel will right the ship anytime soon--they are, after all, the ones responsible for scuttling it--but at least some of the chapters might be fun on the way down.

Happy #1
By Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson,  Richard Clark
Published by Image Comics

A four-issue mini-series may not be beyond the reach of Morrison, Robertson, or Image Comics, but history is on none of those participants' sides when it comes to getting a comic out on time. However, only the most virginal of comics readers will be incapable of filling in the gaps in case a delay in publication does occur--by the time the comic gets around to describing its lead character as a "tragic, paranoid husk of a man" that "used to be the best detective in the whole department" for the benefit of a couple of non-speaking cops that were probably added right before publication, when this comic's unlisted editor realized that Darick had forgotten to include an audience for that lead balloon of exposition ... well, by the time you read that part, you will have figured out which closet of stock characters Grant is weaving from this time around. (That is of course, if you make it through the part where Morrison attempts to pull off writing profanity, which he's only marginally worse at than he is at trying to write the ending to a story.) The end of this comic is, ultimately, where you find out what it's going to be about: a grizzled ex-cop and his concussion-based hallucinatory friend. Or it's about a grizzled ex-cop and an actual flying cartoon pony the size of a coffee mug only he can see. And travails. There's some of those in it as well.

Crossed Badlands #14
By David Hine, Georges Duarte & Juanmar
Published by Avatar

For my money, fake Morrison--here presented as an Anton LaVey/Harlan Ellison/Zaroff/Grant Morrison hybrid calling young impressionables out to the mansion for some carousing--is way more fun to be around than the real Morrison, judged on the way he spends his time, but after you get past the initial introductions, the haw-hawing is abandoned and the regular Crossed shtick gets going, full tilt. Hairless asses and inhuman facial expressions abound, with entrails as ties. There's even a dog getting raped, which might be a first. There's probably a chart somewhere that lists all that stuff.

Hit Girl #3
By Mark Millar, John Romita Jr, Dean White
Published by Marvel Comics

Ah, this fucking thing: life is too goddamned long, if you ask me. Even when the lead is a tiny little girl, the fantasy being played out is that of a obsessive fanboy, convinced the world is still against him, and his most fervent fantasies is that he could pull a page directly from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and hang his tormentors of yesteryear over a rooftop. You can't fault Mark Millar for wanting to make money, but it would be nice if he didn't go about it in so craven a fashion. The curtains at the back of the video store aren't up for your privacy. It's because the rest of us don't want to know what gets you off.

Fury My War Gone By #6
By Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov, Lee Loughridge, Sebastian Girner
Not Fucked Up by Marvel

As this column has pointed out many times before, Fury: My War Gone By (also affectionately known as FURY MAX) is not only the best Marvel comic published since the heyday of Jack Kirby, it, along with Prison Pit 4 and Joe Lambert's Helen Keller comic, is one of the only comic capable of taking this year's Prettiest Pony title away from Chris Ware's Building Stories. As such, the time wherein it was necessary for this column to review it favorably in hopes of convincing you to purchase it instead of whatever crap Top Shelf is shoveling out of their warehouse at prices so cheap the guys at comiXology were heard to mutter, "Jesus, have some fucking class," before sending out a press release that all Aspen titles were now 69% off, slurp it up fanboyz -- well, that time has passed, we've done our product-pointing-out job as best we could be expected to, and it's time now to move into the educational phase of the Fury MAX conversation, wherein we here at the Comics Journal provide you with the sort of hard-to-fake analysis that will give you a leg up when it's time to embarrass some socially awkward jerk-off who just schooled your ass on Kirby's contributions to bricklaying right in front of a vaguely attractive person (different strokes, no judgment) who is planning to drop trou for whoever knows the most trivial bullshit. And the way things are nowadays, the randy sort of content that Fury provides--hardcore violence, nudity, and language--can be touch and go, and in keeping with the prescription of behavior explicated in Darryl Ayo's recent post, entitled "Comics criticism, or whatever", we here at Comics Of The Weak thought it would be best to reach out to someone whose flesh runs hot with due to the coursing fire of Cuban blood, as this comic's story takes place amidst that land's fabled shores. Michel Fiffe--a Brooklyn-based cartoonist responsible for titles like Zegas and Deathzone--was able to carve time out of his schedule to sit down and touch upon the subject of Cuba, violence, and "la revolutionary!"

Michel, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. First things first: as a Cuban immigrant, do you find the portrayal of your people by Garth Ennis to be an accurate one? How about the way Goran Parlov draws the people of the Cuban isle—do you find yourself thinking: ah, yes, they could be my sisters and brothers!

Michel Fiffe: Not if Joey Q has anything to say about it. Quesada, and other high ranking Cubans (Cameron Diaz, Andy Garcia, the singer from Ministry), aren't allowed to express sympathy for what the Left describes as a glorious takeover. But if there's a Northern Irish mainstream comics writer who's willing to work with what he's given, Ennis is your guy. Parlov, too! He clearly used my family photo album as ref.

TCJ: Well, first things first: does the violence in this comic upset you? Do you feel that "la revolutiony" has been depicted with the proper amount of respect? Is this the way the land was won, through "violencia" and "torturia"? I don't know how to make that upside down exclamation point I'm sorry!!

Fiffe: 1) No, it's a MAX comic. 2) No, it's a MAX comic. 3) Yes, of course, Tucker... "violencia". How else are you gonna wring control of a nation with your bare hands? Now, the only "torturia" in reading comics about Cuba is sitting through all the crying (the characters', not mine). Fury Max had no tears, not even when the Cuban soldier gets his face chewed off and the other guy gets his balls stabbed. Spoilers.

TCJ: Okay, so first things first. Now, knowing that hot blood runs through your people's veins, do you find yourself more attracted as a man to Nick Fury because he so best represents the masculine ideal of a statue (like Michelangelo or other classics) or does your loyalty to your family-of-origin run so deep that you turn from him, embracing the evils of the godless communists he faces?

Fiffe: As a hot blooded immigrant, I can safely say that I want to murder you for trying to make me admit that I'm attracted to comic book characters. You're wrong on both counts, anyway. [The American woman] is the most attractive.

TCJ: I am sorry for being rude, does it make you mad, me calling your people godless communists?

Fiffe: What's the problem here? I don't see the problem. Except maybe your tone which, frankly, could stand to use some vice-type disciplining.