Sunday, July 18, 2021

Justice League International #15 (1988)

Martian Manhunter has every power in the known universe but still needs to wear a space suit? Disbelief firmly unsuspended.

The smallest, stupidest things always take me out of the comic book world in which I'm trying to absorb myself in an attempt to momentarily forget about my eventual demise. Usually the thing that upends my suspension of disbelief is the writer doing something that seems more realistic. I'll be reading a comic book about Superman, a guy who gets powers from the energy of a yellow sun, somehow, which manifest in super strength and lasers out of his eyes, and lungs that can regulate internal temperatures so that he can exhale freezing temperatures and the ability to hover in the air and propel himself through it by no visible means of propulsion. I'll be really into it and thinking, "Yeah, yeah! I totally buy into all of this!" And then some editor will be all, "We don't want him to be too powerful. Make it so he can't breathe in space anymore, or hold his breath forever, or whatever the fuck he was doing to survive the vacuum of space. People will see that he's not way too powerful then!" And then I'll be, "What?! No fucking way! This guy can do everything else but he can't super hold his super breath?! So unrealistic! I'm out!"

That may or may not be an exaggeration. Ultimately I usually drop the comic books I'm reading because a writer I can't fucking stand takes over. I'll lobdelleave it to your imaginocentiation as to who those writers kruld be.

To be transparent about this upcoming review, I'm not totally sure what's going on in this story arc. Lord Manga's ship, The Cluster, is out of gas so he needs to siphon everything from Earth to keep the ship running. And so instead of just taking it all, he proposes some kind of scam trade or boot sale swap? I'm not sure I understand what his offer is though, aside from "Consent to us stealing all of your shit or we'll steal all of your shit." I don't blame the writers for my lack of understanding! That's completely on me and my idiot brain that spent more time looking at Fire's butt last issue than trying to comprehend what was happening.

This issue is called "GNORT AND SOUTH!" I guess I'm laughing? Because get it? G'nort's name sounds like a compass direction? But is there a better aspect to this pun here? Maybe the "SOUTH!" part is punning on whatever G'nort means? Why does it end in an exclamation point?! After some consideration, I've decided I'm not laughing at all.

The story begins with a solid "G'nort is a huge idiot" joke.

I might have used the word "solid" incorrectly in the above caption. I might have meant "hack" or "repetitive" or "really, really repetitive and hack." It is apropos because my "joke" about using the wrong word and then pointing out I meant an entirely different word might be the hackiest and most-oft repeated joke on the Internet! I'm currently pumping my fist in celebration of my status as shit writer and wondering if I should repeat the joke for my use of "apropos."

Speaking of shit writers, are those guys at the Weird Science comic book blog still doing reviews and ten hour podcasts? I hope so!

Speaking of shit writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis aren't as entertaining as I remember them being when I was seventeen. Sometimes I complain when an artist uses the same panel. So I should probably complain when Giffen and DeMatteis keep using the same jokes too. They love reminding the readers that G'nort isn't respected by other members of the Green Lantern Corps because he's an incompetent idiot. Which I don't find funny at all. I just find it terribly sad. I would understand if it were just Hal and Guy and Kilowog who thought G'nort was an idiot. But, I mean, does even Mogo think he's a useless jerk?!

At least the joke this time is that G'nort is so incompetent that he's actually become a threat to The Cluster. See, he's too stupid to realize he should retreat and so he accidentally begins doing real damage to the ship. And while he does that, L-ron rambles too much and Lord Manga shouts some more.

No, I'm good, thanks.

G'nort destroys The Cluster's cloaking device which gives the Justice League International a target. Up until that moment, all everybody except Mister Miracle could do was shrug their shoulders and ask each other, "Do you know where that weird home shopping network from space commercial with the chatty robot came from?" And the other members who weren't Mister Miracle would say, "No, do you know where that weird home shopping network from space commercial with the chatty robot came from?" If you're wondering what Mister Miracle was saying, he was saying, "There's something in orbit blocking out the stars. We should probably go check it out." But every time he'd say that, Beetle and Booster would snicker and say, "It was probably Big Barda's tits," or "It was probably Big Barda's ass."

Oberon jumping to the obvious conclusions! And pretty much using my description of the alien broadcast, the little plagiarist! Or did I just remember that's how he described it from reading this nearly thirty years ago?! No, no. Oberon stole it from me. My memory sucks.

The weak half of the Justice League head to Australia to investigate the global power surge while the strong half (meaning Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter) head into space to battle the alien ship. Guy Gardner remains at home on "important business." It'll probably be revealed that he was organizing his boot collection because that's the kind of hilarious punchline that Giffen and DeMatteis can't stop coming up with.

Can nobody survive in space in this era of DC?! It's fucking ridiculous!

Martian Manhunter acts as if Captain Atom was too stupid to make this realization beforehand but what the fuck is he going to do in his suit?! He can't use any of his powers either! Except maybe read some minds! So basically it's up to Rocket Red who was smart enough to make his super suit a space suit as well. And here I thought the team full of idiots went to Australia. I guess I owe Booster and Beetle an apology although who could blame me for expecting their team to be the one that fucks up?

Later G'nort saves the day which was totally expected in that it was the least expected thing G'nort would do.

I guess G'nort is an idiot. He spent the entire first half of the comic book saying he'll prove his worth to those other Green Lanterns who think he's incompetent. And now he suddenly doesn't know who's been saying he's incompetent? No wonder Mogo hates him!

G'nort saves the day by being a Green Lantern with the most powerful weapon in the universe. At least that's what the ring claims it is. But how powerful can the most powerful weapon in the universe be when it can't even protect the wearer from being pissed on?

The ending of this issue becomes a recurring theme in the lives of the Justice League post Superman/Wonder Woman/Batman (although Batman loves to hang around here and there. But, really, he's kind of useless when you realize you could have had Superman or Wonder Woman). They're getting their asses handed to them and then the bad guy simply walks away. Although sometimes the Justice League gets their asses handed to them and then a bunch of them die. It's kind of a coin toss which one the writers will choose at any moment. Luckily for Blue Beetle, Giffen and DeMatteis decide against killing anybody this issue. Writers need to save those moments for big crossovers when they know they'll have more eyes on their story. In this story, Lord Manga just realizes he's suddenly losing money on his attempt to strip Earth for parts and leaves before he loses too much more money. Which is weird that it's such a casual decision when, seemingly according to the previous issue, he desperately needed to strip every planet he came across or The Cluster would run out of resources to keep going. But then again, I did mention earlier how I wasn't really following this story too well. Damn Fire's ass.

As Lord Manga retreats, Mister Miracle gets kidnapped and taken away to be sold elsewhere. Barda isn't happy about the Justice League losing her husband so she decides to finally join the team for real. And so even though none of them can survive in space, a bunch of Justice Leaguers suit up and head into space to find Mister Miracle. Left behind: Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, and Ice. So that means next issue will either be a super exciting space adventure or a bumbling Keystone Cops slapstick farce. Smart money's on the farce, of course.

Oh, this is why Guy was too busy to save the world. He was trying to convince Batman to come back. At least Batman would have been well-prepared for a fight in space.

This month's letters were from Ron Hogan of Melrose, Massachusetts; Chris Nadiez of Thousand Oaks, California; Gerard M. Brown of Brooklyn, New York; Randy Johnson of Oklahoma City, Kansas (ha ha! Just kidding! It's Oklahoma!); Jody Peterson of Franklin, Illinois; Kim Pickford of Vancouver, Canada; Jeff Cranston of Bloomington, Michigan; Leslie Palmer of Chicago, Illinois; and Sean Hanson of Bradford, New Hampshire. Kim Pickford makes a really salient argument when Kim says, "I really like the way Kevin draws Black Canary. She's so pretty, but she's not overdone. I like the fact that she doesn't have huge breasts like most of the heroines in comics. Canary's trim bustline is much more practical for crime-fighting." It's a good thing I don't have a band because our first album would now be called Canary's Trim Bustline and it would be terrible because I can't play any instruments, I can't sing, and I have no friends to be in my band. Meanwhile, Jeff Cranston raise the standard for feminism when he says, "Boy, is [Black Canary] bitchy. That trait and her feminism make for a wicked combination. If I were female, I'd probably be really annoyed that you made the only woman on the team such a whiner, in addition to always leaving her on the sidelines. Good thing your readership doesn't overlap with that of Ms. magazine." Way to stand up for women's rights, Jeff! I also ignored the fact that every single member of the team (other than concussed Guy Gardner) was constantly being a whiny bitch to make my point about how Black Canary was a whiny bitch! At least Jeff got it right when he said, "If I were female, I'd probably be really annoyed." Especially at his own letter, I imagine!

Not one letter praises Bob Lappan's lettering. What a shame. And Mark Waid, letter column editor, puts in minimal effort responding to these letters. It's like he has nothing at all to say! I bet nothing came of his career, the lazy putz!

Justice League International #15 Rating: B-. I'm really sad to announce that there were no good shots of Fire's butt this issue. It's a dark day indeed for my penis. Flags at half mast, if you get my meaning.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Justice League International #14 (1988)

When I saw this issue on the rack at my local comic book shop, I shouted, way too excitedly, "Finally! The Justice League versus space junk!"

This cover is a good example of how I drew stuff in elementary school. I messed up a lot and my mess ups had to be covered up by other stuff. So here, Fire's left shoulder looks dislocated so gotta cover that up with Mister Miracle's collar. And Steve probably fucked up Guy's left hand so draw that piece of debris in the way. Then he probably couldn't get Martian Manhunter's nipples right, so stick that bar there. And of course nobody really knows how to draw Booster Gold's crotch so block that weird ass shit with Fire's head. I think he also may have accidentally given Mister Miracle a Hitler mustache so Al Gordon saved the day by drawing that cord across it.

The issue begins with a lonely alien watching his entire civilization dismantled and repossessed by interstellar salesaliens. The story is called "Shop or Die" so I think the destruction of this alien world isn't as serious as when Galactus or the Anti-Monitor destroys a world. I think this is a Giffen/DeMatteis whimsical world destruction. It's like, "Don't feel too bad for this alien! He just got into a bad service contract in which he didn't read the fine print which he couldn't fulfill! This isn't an exciting and destructive disaster in space! This was caused by bureaucratic legalese which means it's kind of funny. I think." Maybe I'm projecting my memories of the salesalien characters from my memory onto this introduction. Maybe this introduction was meant to feel terrifying.

Nope. I just read the narration and these guys can't be bothered with any kind of earnest storytelling.

I get it! We've all had stray ideas like "What if Galactus was really just some planet-to-planet salesman trying to sell some cheap shit?" But most of us don't have jobs at DC and Marvel. Anyway, you never know when some weird and wonderful idea will become the most celebrated idea in comics, raised up as the moment when everything changed. Who would have thought Alan Moore's shower thought, "What if Swamp Thing isn't a man who became a plant but a plant who became a man?!", was going to upend the entire genre?!

Lord Manga is the captain of this world-destroying ship and he loves to not only talk to himself but constantly remind himself (and be reminded by his lackey L-Ron) that he talks to himself. The joke is that characters like Doctor Doom and Doctor Evil and Doctor Destruction and Doctor Villainous all love to explain their plans out loud so that the reader knows what's happening. But it's an odd comic book trope so Giffen and DeMatteis were all, "What if the villain realized that explaining their plot aloud to nobody was a weird thing to do and commented on it multiple times across one single page?" In a weird, self-conscious way, that idea may have upended the genre just as much as Alan Moore's but in an absurd way that everybody was ultimately sorry for. One thing comic books never needed was for characters to understand exactly how absurd their world was. Nobody needed that kind of existential self-reflection on the part of super heroes! A plant thinking, "Why do I want to fuck a human woman?"? Yes indeed! A villain thinking, "Why do I keep explaining all of my convoluted plots so meticulously?" No thanks!

Either L-Ron is much taller than I remembered or Lord Manga is much shorter.

Look at me in that naïve caption! Thinking consistency means anything in comic books!

Lord Manga and L-Ron decide their next target will be Earth. And not in five or six issues like a good comic book plot would have been seeded in The X-Men! No way! This plot is happening immediately!

Meanwhile back at the New York JLI embassy, Fire's ass continues to outshine Ice's.

Fire and Ice (currently Green Flame and Ice Maiden) would like to join the Justice League, mostly because they're broke but also probably for feminist reasons. When Oberon refers to them, to their faces, as "costumed cuties," I understand why the current League has zero women on it (I think Black Canary has fucked off by now).

Look, I know I introduced Fire and Ice by discussing their asses but I'm not in an important position like "Justice League Manager" or "comic book writer!" I'm just a person who loves female comic book characters' asses and has access to the Internet!

This is failing the Reverse Bechdel Test.

I'm not really sure what the Reverse Bechdel Test would be but it seemed to fit that scene. Is it two guys discussing nothing but women in a sexist manner? Is it women being discussed by two guys in a sexist manner? Is it no women being in a scene while being completely objectified? Are those all the same thing?! I don't know. I told you I didn't know!

Speaking of objectifying female characters, Big Barda really looks sexy in this issue wearing nothing but overalls. The Apokoliptian side-boob alone is causing me lower torso distress.

I never really understood the phrase "homina homina homina" until this moment.

Meanwhile crashing onto the previous planet Lord Manga stripped for parts, G'nort. He learns about Lord Manga's interstellar destruction and flies off to save Earth the way a regular and normal and not-at-all-a-joke Green Lantern would. I think he's getting the hang of this job.

Lord Manga's Cluster lets the people of Earth know that they either share their resources or they'll have their resources confiscated. I think "sharing their resources" is another way of saying "consent to having your resources confiscated." The Cluster is like an interstellar swap shop where you give your stuff to swap and sit back and hope that somebody, somewhere, eventually trades you something interesting in return. It sounds like the kind of deal that needs to be investigated by Batman. But Batman isn't currently available for some reason so the Justice League will have to do it incompetently.

I wonder why Black Canary would have left? If only Batman were still around, he could solve that mystery.

Short-handed? But J'onn just told Fire and Ice to fuck off! Actually, he said, "Ladies, all you're going to be doing is leaving." Which is much ruder than "Fuck off."

Since Fire and Ice don't fuck off, J'onn decides maybe they can be useful. And then G'nort lands on the moon ready to save Earth. Although he won't. He'll just be a big joke like always. He's the opposite of Lobo. I mean he's the opposite of what Lobo was supposed to be until Lobo became a big joke. Lobo's problem was that he was portrayed as being the baddest and most dangerous ass in the DC Universe which meant that every single writer needed to show how the hero or heroes they were writing could defeat him. Which quickly meant Lobo became the one villain easily beaten by every single character in the DC Universe. And not just beaten! Also anally violated by Bueno Excellente. Allegedly!

No letters this month which means the letterer, Bob Lappan, didn't have to weep reading praise by readers about everybody except him.

Justice League International #14 Rating: B. This issue has three different scenes repeated multiple times. There's Lord Manga talking to himself while noting how odd it is that he talks to himself so much. There's G'nort suggesting he's a much better hero than he really is. And there's males casually objectifying their female coworkers (not just in the League! Some of the Cluster do it too!). Other than that, it was, well, not exciting at all. Why did I give it a B? It probably fared no better than a C-!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Justice League International #13 (1988)

Guy Gardner's got some Liefeld back problems happening.

Oh no! I forgot this series crossed over with Suicide Squad! Stupid Past Me didn't prepare for this moment thirty years later by buying two copies of each issue so that I could have the complete story catalogued with each series! And no way is Present Me taking the time to dig through all of my comic book boxes to find Suicide Squad! So here I am, once again, reading only a portion of the story. Just like with Millennium. Just like with, um, whatever. I'm sure there were more. Crossovers were practically the only strategy comics had to sell more comics. The important thing to know is that I'm too lazy to worry about it. Hopefully I'll remember what happens in this issue when I finally do get around to re-reading Suicide Squad in 2034.

Kevin Maguire must have gone on vacation; it's obviously Keith Giffen at the helm on pencils this month.

Keith Giffen was probably the first comic book artist whose work I could identify way back when I first began reading comics for two reasons: it's quite distinctive and I read Ambush Bug repeatedly. His work is a great lesson in subjectivity because I fucking love it but I'd never argue with somebody who hated it. I mean, I probably would. But I'd hate myself later for having done it instead of passive aggressively suggesting they were an idiot. Giffen's work is the opposite of Liefeld's work which is a great lesson in objectivity. Because it's objectively terrible.

I don't see an editor's note telling me to read Suicide Squad first which means I should understand this issue (at least as far as I'm capable of understanding any issue of a comic book). But I'll be left with story blue balls afterward. Like will I ever find out who Mr. Tresser is and why he's locked in a gulag? Will I care?! Sometimes I wish I were one of those nerds who needs to remember every detail of every comic book they've ever read so that they can be the smartest guy in the nerd convention. That way I'd already know who "Nemesis" was and could impress all the imaginary ladies at that same nerd convention. Not that ladies don't go to nerd conventions these days! But you should remember that I'm old enough to remember nerd conventions where only the hardiest nerd women could get past the sweaty snorting gatekeepers of the hobby.

The Russians have let everybody in the international community know that they've captured Nemesis. Amanda Waller thinks it's to lure the rest of the Suicide Squad into a trap which makes it surprising when she doesn't want to send Captain Boomerang into that trap. Batman probably thinks the same thing, especially if Amanda Waller is correct since Batman thinks he's smarter than Amanda Waller. But if it's not a trap, Batman probably mentioned that too because after the mission, people don't remember what Batman said that was wrong. They only remember the correct things he said because he always says, at the end of the mission, "Remember all of those correct guesses and speculations I made?!" Plus he probably doses everybody with some kind of Bat Drug that makes them forget his mistakes. One thing Batman definitely thinks is that Nemesis is a good guy. Weird name for a good guy. Maybe I'll become a superhero named Antagonist Dreamcrusher.

Rick Flag doesn't know how to use a telephone.

You can't fault Giffen for using the exact same image across four panels because usually he only works in three panel rows. He probably didn't know how to adjust.

Flag and Nightshade decide to ignore Amanda Waller's orders not to rescue Nemesis which is weird because the one thing Amanda Waller is known for is being super in control of everything. I guess that's only the case when everybody she's controlling is wearing exploding collars. Might be time to fit Flag with one. Batman, not needing Waller's or anybody else's permission to do something stupid that could cause an international incident, also decides to mount an operation to rescue Nemesis. He goes to Rocket Red for advice and when Rocket Red asks a few simple questions about Nemesis and why he was in Russia, Batman throws a tantrum and walks out. I'm starting to think, for the first time in nearly forty years, that maybe people who claim Batman is their favorite super hero are huge assholes.

That was hyperbole! I've actually thought that for a long, long time!

Flag quickly gets a team together without Amanda's permission. Although Amanda being whom Amanda is, this must mean she wants Flag to go on the mission but she wants to be able to deny personal responsibility when the Suicide Squad fucks everything up all over again.

This is my favorite member of the team: Nightshade's left butt cheek.

Aside from Nightshade's left butt cheek, Flag's Squad is comprised of Deadshot, Vixen, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Lashina, Nightshade's right butt cheek, and some guy in yellow and blue that I don't recognize which means he's going to be the suicidee. Also Lashina might be going by a different name which I don't remember. We're not supposed to know she's Lashina yet. Shhhhh!

They arrive in Russia and somebody says, "Somebody wake Javelin up." So I guess that guy I didn't recognize who is almost certainly going to die is Javelin.

Amanda Waller gets wind of Flag's mission and suggests to Reagan that he send the Justice League after them. So Batman is going to get his way as well. Plus the fans will get another battle between Batman and Deadshot where Deadshot pulls all of his shots instead of killing the Batman because Deadshot wants Batman to beat him to death. It's a tale as old as time! Practically Shakespearian is what I'd suggest if I knew anything about Shakespeare and also if Shakespeare's writings were as old as time.

Batman tells the other members of the Justice League that they're invading Russia again. Pretty sure the Rocket Reds and Gorbachev are going to get a little tired of this bullshit.

Oh, just read his mind and call him on his lying ass!

The worst person in the world is a billionaire saying, "Trust me." Don't fucking trust that asshole! Kick him in the dick and tell him he's out of control!

On the other hand, Reagan did authorize the mission. Reagan authorized a lot of shit that irritated the fuck out of Gorbachev but luckily Gorbachev was the only adult in the room. If it had been up to Reagan, he would have rolled the dice on a nuclear exchange.

You fucking tell them, Oberon! Only sane person on the League.

Oh, apparently Reagan hadn't authorized the incursion into Russia when Batman had the idea to invade. Turns out Reagan calls to authorize the mission just before Oberon commits suicide by challenging Batman on his dumb idea, thus being the only time Reagan actually did anything worthwhile. And since this is a work of fiction, Reagan never actually did anything worthwhile.

You might have guessed that I don't like Reagan. People who lived through the 70s and 80s who somehow think the world didn't become a substantially worse place after Reagan took office are deluded motherfuckers who weren't paying attention. I was only a single digit kid in the 70s but I still noticed!

The team learns that a team of super-villains is attacking a Russian prison. I think Vixen and Bronze Tiger would be a bit miffed to be described as "super-villains." But then I guess if you lie with dogs, you wake up feeling satisfied from all the little puppy kisses.

How would that make this issue any different from the first twelve?! Aside from it being Batman manipulating the League instead of Maxwell Lord?

A battle between the Justice League and the Suicide Squad is old hat. That trick's been done before. So to juice up the drama, the Rocket Reds are sent to stop the Suicide Squad as well. And if they can't tell who is on which team, I suppose they'll beat up some Justice Leaguers as well. Plus Red Star catches wind of the battle so he's got to make an appearance. I think that's all the Russian super-heroes there are aside from that Pozhar Firestorm jerk. And he's more of a Super Frenemy.

In the prison, the Justice League discover that Nemesis has been beaten badly and Batman calls the Russians violent thug monkeys. But then Rocket Red is all, "Please. As if America would treat a Russian spy any better!" And Batman doesn't get to respond because Martian Manhunter finally takes off his Martian diaper and puts on his Martian command pants and tells Batman to shut the fuck up and follow orders. Batman whispers, "So shines a good deed in a weary world," relieved that somebody finally has taken the helm of leadership from him. Now maybe he can find the time to go mourn his parents by finding a quiet corner to sob into.

While the Justice League solve their leadership problems, the Suicide Squad casually saunters down the hallway and bumps into the League.

Giffen stole this moment from that movie where Lou Costello backs into The Mummy and they turn around and are all, "Abbbbboooooooot!" and "Unnnnhhhhhh!", respectively.

Next: the big fight! But that's in Suicide Squad #10 so just put it out of your mind. My guess is the Justice League wins and Red Star murders Javelin.

Letters this month are from Lee Allred somewhere in Utah, Eric Fischler from Bethseda, Maryland, Bill Climer from La Rue, Ohio, Brian Saner Lamken from Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, Roy Hogan from Melrose, Massachusetts, and Malcolm Bourne from Cricklewood, London. Only one letter praises letterer Bob Lappan. So sad!

Justice League International #13 Rating: C+. This JLI/SS crossover was almost certainly spurred on by corporate looking at the numbers of each book and thinking, "Imagine if everybody reading JLI was also reading Suicide Squad!" and then trying to force everybody to do just that. Although I assume there was already a pretty high percentage of crossover of people reading both books. I just remembered I had the poster of the two covers of this crossover showing the entirety of both teams fighting. Where the hell did I get that?! I wonder if it was used as advertising at the local shop and I asked for it. I don't think it was sold or given away.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Justice League International #12 (1988)

Just once, I wish somebody would ask this about me.

Last issue, we learned . . . well, I don't remember what we learned. I don't think any questions were really answered. But this issue, the cover asks an explicit question so I'm guessing we'll definitely learn something this issue. Is Max Lord a man or a machine? My guess is he's a man because his nose bleeds when he pulls a psychic trick. That's definitely human behavior which I learned about from reading Stephen King books and watching The Price is Right. Judging by Maxwell Lord's half-expression on the cover, I don't think he's as confident as I am that he's a man.

This issue is called "Who is Maxwell Lord?" and begins with Metron telling us a little bit about himself.

I call myself a Grandmaster Comic Book Reader but I have to admit I needed to re-read Metron's final line a few times before I realized he wasn't saying, "I am VERY hungry!!"

Metron looks like he's played by David Warner in this issue which means I find myself liking him a little bit more than I usually do. I usually only like Metron about two-thirds as much as I like Silver Surfer. They're kind of the same thing: dudes riding around space on objects. But it's cooler to surf around space than couch potato around space. Unless that's just my California bias. Maybe people from the Midwest are all, "No way! Ya gotta love a guy what rides all up and down the space waves on a recliner, ya know?!"

I realize that the previous paragraph doesn't explain, at all, how much I like Metron because I never explained how much I like Silver Surfer. Oh well. That's life! Sometimes you can do the math problem and sometimes the math problem does you right in the butthole.

Dammit. Now I want some math problems to do me in the butthole.

The Justice League believe they can beat Metron's head in to solve their problems because that's the only play in their playbook. But Mister Miracle warns them to not upset Metron since he's a God. And as a God, Metron has the ability to turn the lights up to 11.

What kind of Green Lantern covers their eyes with their arm?! Make some fucking groovy shades, you dipshit.

Normally, I would lose respect for a character not doing the thing I expect them to do. But Guy Gardner is suffering from knock-on brain damage from Batman punching his already brain damaged face and isn't up to Green Lanterning at his usual high standards. So I can forgive him. Although to be completely transparent, I'm only forgiving him because he's my favorite Green Lantern. I would completely ream the fuck out of Hal or Kyle. Those guys suck.

I suppose I could also complain that the writer or the artist failed at their job but I'm tired of complaining about the real reason comic books are terrible. I'd rather write reviews in which I pretend I don't see the process and the story has come to me fully formed, as if from God Himself. I know that's a ridiculous thing to think because who believes in God these days? Ha ha! Be more believable, God!

The secret computer character whom Max has been working with (or being blackmailed by) realizes its plan has fallen apart because Metron and Mister Miracle are old buddies. It scraps the plan and retreats to wherever computer generated artificial intelligences hide in 1988. Probably a bulletin board that houses muffin recipes. Nobody would accidentally spend dial-up modem time accessing that board.

Meanwhile at the Global Guardians headquarters, everybody learns that the entire operation has lost funding and they'll now be super-heroing on a strictly voluntary basis. Since most heroes aren't Batman or Green Arrow rich that means finding another job. Green Flame and Ice Maiden decide to apply with Justice League International because how can they not get the job? I'm surprised this comic made it twelve issues with Black Canary being the only female on the team. Truly abysmal! Horrendous! Blatantly misogynistic!

Okay, now that I've proved I'm super feminist, I can do some of my "Women are bad drives" material, right?! I've got this great one about Helen Keller driving a car!

I'm not actually going to be making any gender specific jokes because I'm certain that Giffen and DeMatteis will do plenty.

The computer escapes to a lone machine in Max Lord's office where Max Lord begins to rethink his partnership with it. He's about to smash the computer when it decides to remind Max Lord how they met. It's going to answer the question posed by the title of the issue! But will it answer if Max is a man or a machine? That's the crucial question because it was asked on the cover and nothing I hate more than a comic book cover question that isn't answered.

Well, actually, I do hate many things more than that, even just in the "comic book cover" category. Like "Script and Dialogue by Ann Nocenti" or "Art by David Finch." I don't mean to suggest that David Finch is a terrible artist because I have to believe there are fans out there who love men drawn with fish lips and lines all over their faces while all the women are drawn as if they're fifteen (and quite often stepping out of the shower).

It turns out Maxwell Lord's origin story is super boring. He was an ambitious business man who probably would have become the exact person he is now except he met a computer along the way which helped him turn into the exact person he was turning into on his own. They formed a partnership and staged every single conflict the Justice League has faced since Issue #1. It's all been a big lie to advance Max and his computer buddy's agenda for world domination (under the guise of world peace). But Max was killed by the Manhunters in Millennium and repaired by his computer. But I guess the computer accidentally added a conscious when it repaired him because Max suddenly wants to be a good person doing good to help the world. He begins by smashing his computer buddy.

I guess if we ignore the metaphorical aspect of the question on the cover, this page answers the literal aspect. He's human.

Martian Manhunter reads Max's mind to make sure Max isn't still a big jerk and decides maybe he's learned his lesson. So why not keep him on as leader of the Justice League, right? It's not like Batman or Martian Manhunter want that kind of responsibility. I guess as readers we're supposed to pretend that the first year never happened? I'd probably like it better that way since the first year of the Justice League was just the Justice League battling simulated crimes. It was like Professor X's Danger Room but more stupid.

Letters this month were from Richard Heim, Jr, of Asheville, North Carolina; Dorman Earl A. Larr of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Edward A. Rozanski of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Franklin Miller III of Mt. Vernon, Kentucky; David Metz of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Charlie Harris of Tucson, Arizona; and The Purple Pickle of Nepean, Ontario. Of seven letters, only one praises the letterer, Bob Lappan. But one other does chastise him for not being consistent when spelling grey/gray. At least somebody else noticed him!

Justice League International #12 Rating: C. Most of the story was Max Lord's origin and it was just as boring as you'd expect as an origin for a business man. It was all, "Hey! I'm in business! But I want to be in more business! Because getting more and more businessier shows that you've got what it takes for business! I think it's called ambition! Unless it's actually called 'a cosmic robot intelligence with a desire to conquer the entire world.'" We did get to see the first appearance of Fire's ass. Here it is (not for prurient reasons but for, um, record keeping!):

Monday, May 17, 2021

Justice League International #11 (1988)

This issue: the Justice League go undercover as Galactus's cock.

It took me way too long to think up a masturbation joke for the cover that I was satisfied with and yet this one still has so many flaws. Like, why would Galactus be in a DC comic book? And why would he mistake a bunch of Justice Leaguer's miming his cock for his penis when he wants to jerk off? So many questions!

The main problem with this version of the Justice League, a version I truly enjoyed when I was a teenager, is that Max Lord is their main enemy. I'm all for stories having twists but you never need the "member of the team turns out to be their villainous foe and betrays them" story arc. The only reason it's a thing is because it's an easy twist if you want to make the audience's jaws drop as they slowly mutter, "Whaaaaaaaaat?" But it rarely ever helps the story. Plus, super hero stories are supposed to be about heroes being heroic and inspiring the world while also saving the world. Who wants to read a story where they're simply all the time saving themselves?! It's annoying. It's why I hate The Joker. Nobody from the last two generations (maybe three!) can even remember a Joker story where the Joker wasn't doing evil fucked up shit expressly to fuck with Batman. If I lived in Gotham, by the eighteenth Joker attack on the city (every one simply to fuck with Batman), I might think about starting a petition to ask Batman to move to Metropolis.

I just finished Jupiter's Legacy on Netflix and it suffers from this Max Lord betrays the group syndrome. Up until the last episode, the conflict is based in the philosophy of ethics between members, and between the older generation and the younger generation. The seemingly main source of conflict is between the way the Utopian thinks heroes should help the world and the way Sky Fox thinks heroes should help the world. In the end, both of them are actually trying to help the world. The conflict is only in degrees and the stubbornness of various men thinking their ideas need to be listened to without any questions. The show ramps up some of the physical conflict with villains, causing a bunch of heroes to die, so that a lot of heroes begin questioning the way they do their job. But ultimately, if the conflict is between Sky Fox wanting to intervene more in non-super affairs and Utopian wanting to stay out of them, the writers (or just Mark Millar? I never read the entire series) realized there wasn't enough meaty tension on that bone. What's going to happen? The Utopian and Sky Fox are going to slowly escalate their voices at each other in a coffee shop in Paris about whose philosophy should be followed? Not good enough! So in the last episode, surprise! One of the Union was betraying them all! What a shock! What a twist! What a needless and stupid moment. The story was so much better when Walt was who we'd been shown he was, and was growing in the way he seemed to be growing. But no. Instead of Walt thinking, "You know what? This works! I'm glad I changed! I'm glad I became a better man!", he was apparently thinking over his entire long life, "I'm going to fuck up these fucking fuckers for not listening to me and shit! Oh boy will I get them good in like 100 years! Idiots!"

Seriously. The story would have been so much better if the interpersonal relationships were worked on and resolved rather than having one of them simply enact their violent revenge plan. But what did I expect?! It was written by Mark Millar, the guy who blocked me on Twitter for saying that his writing suffered when nobody was being decapitated. And yet, look at Jupiter's Legacy?! The writing was actually better until he decided he needed a bunch of decapitations. Man, that guy needs to figure some shit out.

A bunch of office nerds at DC decided this guy was so cool he should be a major DC villain.

What made Max Lord so attractive as the big twist villain to editors, I'm guessing, is that readers didn't care enough about him to suspect he'd be more than some bureaucratic asshole. The editors were right!

Max Lord has called a meeting of all the really powerful super heroes who recently teamed up with the Justice League International to destroy Manhunter World. But when he learns none of them want to join the team (or were available for Keith and J.M. to use in their comic), he flips the fuck out and calls the other members of the Justice League "weak-kneed second-stringers." That seems unfair, especially when he's yelling it in the faces of Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter, two of DC's most powerful heroes. Although they are sort of second-stringers, popularity-wise, right? And maybe they have weak knees.

No, no. I just looked them both up in Who's Who and no mention of weak knees as flaws.

Even if you take out Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter, you still have Batman and Guy Gardner. In whose book are they weak kneed or second stringed? He must just really be angry about having Booster Gold and Blue Beetle on his team.

See? Batman's A-list material. Would a weak-kneed, second-stringer have the balls to commit a 9/11?

The building doesn't collapse when Blue Beetle flies the S.T.A.R. Labs ship into it which, I'm pretty sure, is proof that 9/11 was an inside job. Or it just means S.T.A.R. Labs makes a sturdy ship and whoever rents to Max Lord makes a sturdy building. It also shows how Batman thinks he can do whatever he wants which totally exposes him as a rich bastard. Nobody would think Batman's secret identity was some working class jerk after this arrogant and nonchalant display of vandalism. You can tell he's previously paid for this kind of damage without second guessing what kind of trouble he might get into, probably on his last date.

The Justice League have flown into Max Lord's office tower to rescue him, J'onn, and Captain Atom. Some mechanical entity has taken over the building and is trying to kill them. Or maybe it's just pretending because it might be Brother Eye who is in cahoots with Maxwell Lord (unless it's a different robot. All the various DC Universes from the past forty years have all become mixed up together in my memory). I think it's all part of some huge con so Max Lord can eventually put a bullet into Blue Beetle's brain. Which seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through to kill Blue Beetle. I think I could have managed it in three issues.

Guy Gardner kills the power to the building so that Max can explain what's happening without all the toasters and microwaves and wiring trying to kill them. Max tells some sob story about some robot hacking his email or something, and Batman is all, "That sounds like The Construct, an old foe of the JLA!" But then Batman also says, "Max's story doesn't ring true! He's lying about something! It's probably not the Construct at all!" Batman hates being wrong so he just spitballs every theory he can think of. He then finishes by listing all the other characters he can think of. "It's probably Joker! Or it's probably Lex Luthor! Or it's probably Metron!" After the battle, nobody remembers the things he got wrong because he keeps saying, "Remember how I said it wasn't really The Construct? Remember that. Remember I said it was Metron? I said that before the mission. It was a really smart thing I thought of and then said. Does anybody know the smartest type of bat because that's probably the one I modeled myself on."

This computer is sneakier than my old Vic-20.

The person the computer is greeting is Metron and it calls him master. Which means this is a computer from Apokolips (or New Genesis). Metron notices it seems to have a new smell of sentience whiffing about it but he's interrupted by the Construct crashing through the wall before he can investigate. That's because this is all part of the computer's plan to free itself from Metron's (or New Genesis's (or Apokolips's)) control. It lured the Justice League and Metron to the same place so that they'll fight and the Justice League will destroy Metron. But that won't happen because Metron has to live for another twenty years so that Batman can sit on his chair and ask the most important question in the universe: "Who is the Joker?!"

The fight doesn't take place in this issue because that might make it too exciting. The Justice League already fought sentient wires and a giant robot. Readers might lose their minds if they also fight a guy in a La-Z-Boy recliner.

Letters this month were from Chris Valin of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jim Ficken of Wrenshall, Minnesota, Bill Behrens of Chicago, Illinois, Ron Edwards of Chicago as well, Gerry Van Booven of Lawrence, Kansas, Erich Mees of Dunwoody, Georgia, and Jimmie Moss of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Out of seven letters, not one of them praised letterer Bob Lappan. Maybe that's why he's been replaced by letterer John Workman this issue! Eep!

Justice League International #11 Rating: C. The banter, which was probably a strong point for most people who loved this comic back in the day (and a weak point for people who hated it), has started to get out of control. It's like DeMatteis and Giffen just gives anybody on panel some stupid line to use on anybody else on panel, every panel. It's a little much, especially when Batman begins to get in on it (although Batman likes to think his stupid comments. It's too embarrassing otherwise). I also didn't care for the plot. I'm never fond of villains (in this case, a computer) attacking the super hero team directly. And so far in this comic book, that's mostly what we've seen. Let super hero teams defend the world rather than constantly defending themselves! I know it's much easier to just have the villain attack the heroes because then you don't have to think up a crime for the bad guys nor a way for the good guys to catch wind of the crime (other than passing by a shop window with a television playing a breaking news alert).

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Justice League International #10 (1988)

This cover looks like somebody has just tossed a handful of their action figures across the room.

Don't look at Arisia's titties on that cover because those are underage titties, you pervert. At least I think they are. Maybe they became older after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Or younger? Anyway, I guess if you're around fourteen, you can look at her titties. Unless it's okay to look at her titties if you're twenty-eight, according to her explanation why Hal should be able to fuck her because her planet takes twice as long to orbit its star. But she's still a teenager by her cultural standards so, well . . . I don't know! Remember how Deathstroke fucked a teenager?! What was wrong with DC?! Or is wrong with them! Because remember how Batman fucks Batgirl in The Killing Joke movie?!

That's probably enough about Arisia's tits. At least they distracted me from her tentative or sarcastic "Oh yay" pose and her Sean Astin looks.

Since the last issue, a lot has happened over in the pages of Millennium. But I don't know what that was because I don't know where my Millennium comic books are. Whatever events took place, they brought the Justice League International to a small rock orbiting a strange pink and blue planet, the homeworld of the Manhunters! They're all old and new members of the highest tier (aside from the Hawkpeople. Why bring the Hawkpeople into space? Are aliens particularly vulnerable to medieval melee weapons?).

He's probably wondering how his head remains on fire in space.

Firestorm takes off on his own and Superman is all, "I'll get him back! I always have to do everything. Especially in space. I sure miss being on Earth when we get The Flash to do everything because it seems so quick to all of us although, relatively, he still has to live through all the shit we make him do. I bet it's all so tedious for his super fast mind! Ha ha! What a jerk!" But Captain Atom reminds Superman that he has to remain behind and do all of the work for the others. So Captain Atom flies off to hunt down Firestorm. Hawkman is all, "Hey! Remember how the old days were better?!" Martian Manhunter responds, "I hate you." No, no. That was me. I responded to Hawkman like that. Sorry.

Whatever happens with Captain Atom and Firestorm takes place in Firestorm #68 which I definitely never purchased because I hated the idea of a grown ass man living inside the head of some teenager. That's almost as creepy as Hal Jordan fucking underage aliens.

I guess J'onn dislikes Hawkman as much as I do. While he didn't say what I said he said, he probably thought, "Hawkman sucks. Why is he here? On a space mission? Idiot." I wouldn't have been surprised if there had been a thought bubble containing that sentiment with little bubbles linking it to everybody's heads, even Hawkwoman's.

I should probably warn new readers now that I'll be discussing Arisia's titties more than the actual plot. But when I do, remember that it's not actually me making the comments but a fourteen year old character I created for this review. He's a total horndog who loves fourteen year olds' boobies. Eventually, he'll grow into an old man who still loves them and frankly I find that disgusting. But he's supposed to be disgusting because I wrote him that way and didn't base him on personal experience.

Also, Arisia is a fictional character. Calm the fuck down.

Forget Arisia's boobies. The real star of this issue is Martian Manhunter's disdain for Hawkman.

Arisia asks Dr. Fate why they can't destroy all the Manhunters with a wave of their magic wand and I find the question rude and distasteful. Why can't she get rid of the Manhunters with a wave of her magic ring?! Yeah, because it doesn't work like that, right? I mean, unless the particular writer of the particular story feels the particular moment is particularly right for it. But at this time, it's not! Doctor Fate isn't as powerful as they used to be when they were a he. It probably had something to do with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Whenever I'm speculating on DC Comics history from the eighties, I always just assume Crisis was the cause.

When the Justice League heads to the surface of the Manhunter Homeworld, they discover everything is yellow, even the particulates in the air. That means, in 1988, the Green Lanterns were useless on this planet. "More useless than Doctor Fate," as it turns out. That's pretty fucking useless judging by Doctor Fate's monthly comic book sales.

Superman recognizes a man-made planet when he sees one and digs down beneath the surface and into the inner workings of the clockwork planet. J'onn and Arisia are all, "What style! What panache! Bravo!" But Hawkman is all:

To be fair to Hawkman (for once in my life), Mr. Rogers was pretty theatrical. I mean, he took off his cardigan and shoes when he got home only to put on a different cardigan and different shoes!

Martian Manhunter lays down the Manhunting logic once Superman realizes the planet is a clockwork: "The whole planet is a machine! It makes sense—a machine race would come from a machine world!" It's the Martian version of "I was just about to suggest that!"

It's a good thing Twitter didn't exist in '88 or the account "Arisia's Tits" would have tweeted out this great idea to thousands of supervillains (who follow her for her witty takes on breakfast foods and not her top-down angled pics while wearing low cut Green Lantern uniforms).

Hawkman has another line of dialogue which means he pisses off yet another one of his group: Katma Tui. Hawkman is like the one conservative friend who hangs out with the liberal group who doesn't realize everybody despises him because of his shitty attitude and uncompassionate philosophy and the amount of times he laughs at people with disabilities. But everybody sort of likes having him hang around so they can be a little bit of a prick at times while still thinking, "At least I'm not as bad as Hawkman!"

There's not a trace of the Manhunters but G'nort shows up because the first rule of Giffen/DeMatteis Club is "G'nort rules." The second rule is "Guy Gardner must be a gigantic asshole." The third rule is "No rules parodying Fight Club." The first rule isn't a rule but it has the word "rules" in it so I think it still qualifies as a "rule."

Nowadays, people would respond to this panel with "Nice!" But I'm Gen X so I read it and think, "69 dude! *loads of guitar noises*".

Martian Manhunter asks, "Who is this mighty Green Lantern? I must get to know him and be polite and become friends with him!" But Hal Jordan is, and these are his exact words because he's a fucking asshole, "Idiot. The word you're looking for is idiot!" Fuck, dude. I can't believe I thought Hawkman was the prick on the team. I completely forgot about Hal.

Maybe it's assholes like Hal Jordan and Hawkman that people are thinking about when they say comics should return to the good old days. "Remember when heroes were also white male assholes? Oh, what a time to be alive!" Although that's pretty rich coming from me, a huge fan of Guy Gardner, the greatest white male asshole to ever white or male or asshole. I also loved Lobo, who was Latino.

This is like when you're playing a team game online with strangers and some toxic asshole, out of nowhere with no context and no justification, just begins blaming their team falling behind on one player. Everybody else, just happy they weren't singled out, decides to agree with the toxic guy, just to save their own skin. "Whew, at least Hal Jordan isn't calling me the yo-yo this mission! That fucking G'nort! What a yo-yo!"

Even Martian Manhunter becomes short-tempered with G'nort after listening to Hal's gossip. I hope G'nort saves the day and everybody has to wind up kissing his ring.

You know which ring I mean.

Doctor Fate detects an intelligence a few chambers away so the Justice League charge in only to find about five million Manhunters all jammed elbow to asshole into a great big yellow ballroom. Why are they there rather than spread out throughout the world? I guess because it's a diabolical trap? Or maybe the Justice League just happened to interrupt Manhunter prom.

I guess the Green Lantern rings still work underground and Hawkman just ran into a ghost with a boner.

Arisia isn't present because she's making some kind of distraction so the Justice League can get the jump on the Manhunters. It works and the Justice League destroy the Manhunters in about three pages. But Doctor Fate still senses an intelligence somewhere deeper in the complex! Time to find out what's behind it all! But first, some creepiness!

"Here I am—big as life and twice as cute and half your age!"

The Justice League find the Manhunter birthing chamber where the Highmaster, mother to all Manhunters, programs all the new baby Manhunters to commit evil and degenerate acts across the universe. Superman burns them all in their cribs before they can wake up. Is he a monster? Probably. I'm sure future Manhunters will grow up with some kind I am Legend myth about the evil man in red and blue who massacred a whole generation.

Even coming from an evil being, you never really want to have this accusation thrown your way.

Mother Highmaster Manhunter flees the world which is only being held together by her power. So now the entire thing is going to shake apart before the Justice League can escape. I bet those fuckers don't even try to find G'nort to warn him. Thankfully, Arisia's tits remember the poor guy.

The entire planet is yellow, Hal. You know that. You just want to see him dead, you jackass.

G'nort is nowhere to be found because he wasn't really important to the plot. Giffen and DeMatteis just wanted to make fun of him. Or maybe they just wanted to make Hal Jordan look bad as Hal Jordan disparaged the poor guy. Although I have to admit, any writer worth their salt would know to make Hal Jordan look like a cocky prick acting like the popular asshole in some John Hughes movie picking on the geeks and the nerds.

There's a back-up story hardly worth mentioning except to mention I'm not going to mention it.

This month we see letters from Chris Garcia of Satellite Beach, Florida, Steve Hockensmith, Leo Whitman of Gainesville, Florida, Donnie Matthews of Ararat, Virginia, Jody Hamby of Robbins, Tennessee, John Andrew Lay of Romulus, Michigan, and John Lim of Concord, California. Letterer Bob Lappan gets one compliment across the seven letters. Not too bad (for a letterer).

Justice League International #10 Rating: B. This was a pretty decent team interaction issue, possibly better than most of the others. Maybe that's because Booster Gold and Blue Beetle were left back on Earth, replaced by Arisia and Katma Tui and Superman and Hal Jordan and Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Not a silly asshole in the bunch! Also, for a story that I haven't been following, having no clue in which comic book box my Millennium books are stored, it wasn't too hard to follow! I mean, I guess it's not like Millennium was a complex story. Some aliens infiltrated Earth and were trying to take it over. Now the heroes have to kill their robot children and destroy their homeworld. Easy peasy! Great job, you monsters!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Cerebus #34 (1982)

This cover is a commentary on how money is imaginary.

Not only are Elrod and money imaginary, but society itself is a concept sprung forth from the imagination of mankind. And yet people treat every aspect of civilization as if it's some kind of natural physical law of the universe. People constantly argue about how something in society can't be accomplished simply because it's not the way we've always done things, as if the way we've always done things wasn't once somebody's imaginary thought of a way to make life better. So now we live in a civilization where everything is half-assed because nobody wants to start over from scratch on any civilized concept even when it's apparent things have changed so much that an old way of doing something doesn't make any sense anymore. We just keep building new additions to existing structures built on ancient foundations instead of scrapping the entire thing to build a new, modern foundation for our civilization's imaginary structures. I'm being general because what I'm talking about is fucking everything. Everybody is attached to tradition and old legal documents as if things don't change, usually for the better. So instead of changing things to make modern life better, we simply argue about what minor changes we can make to the existing, ramshackle structure so that it still sort of works like the old, incompetent way but makes a bit of room for modern thinking.

A good example of what I'm talking about is the constitution of the United States and maybe also The Bible. People worship that shit as if its immutable. Who wants to live their life following rules people made up two hundred or two thousand years ago?! Times have moved on, baby! Maybe you should too!

The problem with my philosophy is that I'm all for burning everything to the ground and starting over. Although I'd be happy simply with the burning everything to the ground part. Let the new generation rebuild things in their image while the older generations just take the rest of their life off. I don't get why older people have such a stake in reality when they aren't going to have to worry about the future. Let it go, old people! What are you trying to prove?!

Speaking of things that eventually burned to the ground, Dave Sim was married to Deni Loubert who writes "A Note from the Publisher" every issue. I wonder if the "Note" keeps up long enough to start being filled with marriage problem subtext? I hope so!

Deni's "Note" mentions a back-up story, "The Salamanders," written by Brent Alan Richardson which appeared in the back of Cerebus #32 and Cerebus #33.

The art was fun and the story passable.

I had been thinking that these Bi-weekly issues were a perfectly adequate stand-in for he regular issues. But now I have to question my entire experience! Not only did I miss this feature in Issue #32, I missed the entire ballot for David Craven's little comics award ceremony. His letter about the ceremony was reprinted in the Cerebus Bi-weekly reprint of Issue #32 but not the ballot! I guess that makes sense but it's still material I missed out on. Maybe I didn't need to buy all these Cerebus Bi-weeklies! I should have just been reading them online.

No, no! I'd rather hold the comics in my hand as I read them. Also, it feels too much like pirating if I read them for free online and I'm not a pirate. At least not anymore. The last thing I pirated was either a copy of Karateka for the Apple IIe or a Monkees song from Napster. Being that I have a pretty good concept of time and technology, I'm putting my money on the Napster thing. I don't mind reading the Cerebus issues online once I get to the place where I began collecting them myself at the beginning of Mothers & Daughters. Or maybe a little earlier since I did buy all the Phone Books and I doubt I'll cheaply find the second half of Church & State, Melmoth, and Jaka's Story. I offered to trade my Walking Dead #1 for a complete run of Cerebus on Twitter a while back but nobody took me up on the offer. Maybe expecting early Cerebus issues in that trade was too much to hope for. How about this? I'll trade my copy of Walking Dead #1 for Cerebus #81-300! Deal?

Dave Sim's "Notebook" feature has lots of practice drawings of Elrod because the last time Dave drew him, Dave's style was still coming along. High Society is where he really solidifies his style. He then begins to perfect it after partnering with Gerhard who takes away Dave's distraction of having to choose between drawing immersive backgrounds or inking all the panels black.

This issue (titled "Three Days Before" which might make a reader ask, "Before what?!" But since this totally imaginary reader is reading a comic book that means it's unlikely they have any friends to answer them. That's a stereotypical and mean thing to say because I remember when I was reading comic books, I had at least one friend with whom we discussed Guy Gardner #19 at length about how terrible it was. Also, the clerks at the comic book store would probably have been my friends if I could stand being around them longer than the time it took for them to ring me up (Dammit! There I go again! I actually liked all of my comic book clerks at all of my various comic book shops across the years! One guy, Jeff at Brian's Books in Santa Clara, even held a copy of the Death of Superman issue for me when I never even asked him to!) begins with Elrod greeting Cerebus by calling him his "old friend," just in case the reader couldn't remember just exactly how clueless Elrod was.

Cerebus knocks him out as quickly as possible. It's a smart attempt at making his life easier. I've suggested before (I know he can't hear me but that doesn't stop me talking to Cerebus while reading the comic) that he should kill everybody he meets if he wants a less complicated life. This move where he knocks Elrod out almost immediately is a step in the right direction.

Elrod's stay doesn't last long.

I say Elrod's stay doesn't last long but he's a Looney Tunes character so he'll turn up again in a few pages with some ridiculous story about waking up on a barge and, worried that Cerebus might also have had some dangerously mysterious abduction as well, found his way back to the Regency to check up on him.

After ditching Elrod, Cerebus discovers another old "friend" has arrived: Bran Macmufin. He's ditched the loincloth for a nice tailored jacket, waistcoat, and trousers. But he hasn't ditched the Earth Pig prophecies. He still thinks Cerebus is going to start a new and better age, "better" being quite subjective, depending on how enjoyable you found Latter Days.

I love that Dave has had Cerebus recognize that all the people who enter into his life just make his life more complicated. I believe he realized it after not killing the Cootie after which the Cootie squashed some members of the Church of Tarim's inquisition.

Elrod is waiting for Cerebus in his room, soaking wet, returning as quickly and mysteriously as a Looney Tunes character would return. He attempts to murder him by throwing him out of the window (finally! Some sense!) but Moon Roach shows up to threaten Cerebus too. The Roach plans on killing anybody in Iest who plans on helping Cerebus. It's going to be a bloodbath if Astoria doesn't rein this guy in.

Cerebus is about to throw in the towel in the face of completely incompetent adversity when Elrod gives Cerebus the current state of politics in Iest: apparently the Church backs Cerebus's tariffs position and the Inquisition has lost power. Elrod claims, "If that old bug wants to kill all of your supporters, he'll have to line 'em up and use a semi-automatic cross-bow, son." That's called foreshadowing!

Astoria pops in on Elrod and Cerebus causing Cerebus to try to figure out how to explain being friends with such an incompetent and embarrassing character.

I suddenly don't think Astoria is as smart as I'd previously believed.

Cerebus, trying not to cause any trouble for Astoria, causes trouble for Astoria. Although it's really just manufactured trouble so that Astoria can belittle him and make him think he needs her. Everything is actually going pretty smoothly for Astoria until Elrod gives her the invitation to Petuniacon in three days which is where Lord Julius plans to announce Elrod as his new Ranking Diplomatic Representative. If Cerebus loses that position, he's useless to Astoria.

"Aardvark Comments" has letters from Steve Englehart (Oakland, CA), Dick Glass (Santa Monica, CA), John Wilcox (Westport, CT), Richard McEnroe (Staten Island, NY), Dennis Summers (East Lansing, MI), Randy Saba (Studio City, CA), and David Stallman (Rocklin, CA). And, yes, it's that Steve Englehart.

Cerebus #34 Rating: A-. I just threw the minus in there to make it look like I'm actually putting effort into the nuance of graded ratings. I'm not, actually. I'm just enjoying reading Cerebus again.