Friday, November 16, 2018

Batman: Secret Files #1


Most of the files are about masturbation.



Secret File #1: Superman gets sexually aggressive after just one margarita.



Secret File #2: Ever since Batman discovered Gotham had been fucking the Court of Owls, he wonders if Alfred has also become dissatisfied with him.



Secret File #3: Batman writes aphorisms and tries them out on his rogue's gallery's victims. Later, he sends them comment cards to find out how effective they were. This one scored particularly low.


Secret File #4: Batman doesn't help poor people and profits off of weapons of war. Oh wait. That one wasn't a secret at all!



Secret File #5: Gotham has snow-topped mountains.

Secret File #6: Batman sometimes feels alone (even though he totally doesn't) and he shoots dangerous weapons into the dark without knowing what he's shooting at (even though he totally doesn't) and when he kills a deer, he simply covers it with snow and hopes nobody notices (okay, I totally by he does that. Hell, he just did it to KGBeast in Batman #57!).

Secret File #7: Jordie Bellaire tells a Batman story the way Cullen Bunn tells an Aquaman story (meaning, sure, they told a coherent story about a person doing a thing but that person in no way resembled Batman (or Aquaman!)).



Secret File #8: Tom Taylor has the best name for a Batman/Detective Chimp team-up.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Witching Hour #1


Can somebody please hypnotize me to stop buying these crossover specials?

Remember that time Wonder Woman was raped by the priestesses of Hecate when she was a young girl and infused with tremendous magic power? Of course you don't because it's the latest and greatest retcon from Scott Snyder! I mean James Tynion IV! Maybe both of them since this whole deal where Wonder Woman needed to be pregnant with magic so one of DC's greatest heroes could fit on Justice League Dark without fangenders asking a lot of pointed questions began in that Justice League mini-series that broke the Source Wall. You know the series! It's the one I can't remember the name of right now. It starred Lobo? If that didn't jog your memory, I don't know what will. Who doesn't have a list of Lobo appearances somewhere on their person at all times just in case you stumble upon some cheap comic books for sale in some dingy estate sale.

So now that we've come to terms with Wonder Woman being one of DC's magic characters (yes we have!), let's discuss how much I dislike the way the magic characters have been written since The New 52. John Constantine can't cast one lousy spell without fifteen narration boxes explaining to the reader how the costs of magic are high. Not that we ever really see the cost in terms of story. No, it's good enough to remind the reader that it costs a lot so don't expect Constantine to solve all of his problems with spell after spell. It's like how Green Lantern's ring is always nearly out of charge. If Hal Jordan were to go into battle with a ring at 100% charge, there wouldn't be any dramatic tension! We know he can defeat anything he faces since the Green Lantern ring is the most powerful weapon in the universe. And since it lost the flaw where it can't affect yellow, it made Green Lantern's life too easy. So the ring suddenly had to be a pain in the ass to charge. And to do that, DC needed to tell that story about the exploited planet where the batteries were kept safe in interdimensional storage.

This is what's known as the Superman Problem. Or it's what will eventually be known as the Superman Problem after I write this. When a writer is given a character that has the ability to do anything they can imagine (like say a magic user or a Green Lantern or, apparently, Martian Manhunter. Who came up with the list of his powers? "Let's see...strength. Flight. Psionics. Intangibility. Um, you know what? How about everything? Just give him everything!"), the writer then needs to come up with a fairly easy way to limit that ability (like a high cost or a shitty battery or kryptonite or fire and an addiction to Oreos). Eventually that limiting plot device gets used to the point of ridiculousness and most writers, finally, realize that using the device is too easy. But if Superman stops having to deal with kryptonite as much, how do you challenge him? You simply escalate the danger. And to do that against Superman, you simply make him face more powerful enemies each time. So Superman comes on the scene and tells some weird alien to knock it off. Then the alien punches Superman and Superman thinks, "That actually hurt!" Cue the dramatic tension in the reader! Same with Green Lantern. Alien punches him in the face and he thinks, "I only have 3% charge on my ring! I hope I can defeat it in time!" Same with Martian Manhunter. The alien punches him and J'onn thinks, "Mmm, Oreos!" And that's how the magic characters of the DC Universe have been written lately. The alien...sorry...demon punches Constantine and he thinks, "I know a spell to defeat this monster but it's too high a cost! Let me smoke a cigarette and hold off casting the spell until I really need to cast it, all the time reminding the readers the high cost (which I'll never actually have to pay at the end (because it doesn't exist!))."

So then why am I reading this? Fuck you! I'll do what I want!


No! NO! Why didn't I listen to myself? Why must I always do what I want?!

Grade: D+. This grade doesn't reflect how other people might enjoy this comic book. It only reflects my own enjoyment of it. And since most of my time spent reading it was drowned out by my brain saying things like "Is it over yet?" and "Does magic cost more than freedom?" and "I'm glad that barn owl Madame Xanadu only had one small scene!", I found I didn't enjoy it much at all. Half of this issue was non-evil Hecate explaining the story to Wonder Woman so that the previous issues made sense. That allowed Wonder Woman to win the day using hugs. Not that Hecate accepts a hug from Wonder Woman which forces Wonder Woman to send the Upside Down Man to hug Hecate and eat her. I guess getting a god cannibalized by another god was the terrible cost of Zatanna's magic? That doesn't seem so bad.

Oh, I should also add that this story also contains the best comic book trope of all: the way everything played out was planned all along by the real evil villain: Circe! Ha ha ha ha! I mean, bwa ha ha!

If you don't know what's wrong with Zatanna's speech, we can't be friends.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Action Comics #1004


"Hey Kal! Stop fucking with the ducks and come rub my feet!" Superman's wife was reported to have said. -- Lois Lane, Daily Planet Op-Ed: "The World Would Be a Safer Place if Superman Rubbed His Wife's Feet More," 08-08-18.

Grade: A. This is my kind of Superman comic book! A comic book where nothing happens. I mean, some things happen. But they're the kinds of things that most people think of as nothing because they don't involve Superman punching an alien menace in the face for twelve pages. This issue does a Superman story perfectly. The problems Superman has trouble dealing with must always be problems that he can't beat into unconsciousness. That's the simple trick of writing good Superman drama. Because he's fucking Superman, we all know he can defeat any criminal at any time without any problem (except Lex Luthor. We easily accept that exception). That's why he had to be killed by Doomsday, a complete unknown. Because fans would have picked apart anybody else killing him (except, again, if it had been Lex. Why couldn't it have been Lex?! It should have been Lex. Now I'm feeling sympathetic for that poor evil fat bastard (and, yes, my canonical Lex Luthor is fat). In this issue, Superman deals with family troubles and some work issues. During those real problems, he stops an escape at Iron Heights Prison which is portrayed as a two page splash afterthought. Also he has sex with Lois twice. Now that's a Superman comic book I can wank off to! I mean I can appreciate! Which I guess are kind of the same thing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Justice League Odyssey #2


Scanners have trouble with reflective surfaces. I wonder what would happen if I scanned a mirror?

Well, that's it for me! I scanned a mirror and the result was terrifying. I now owe Bloody Mary twenty dollars and am having the Candyman's baby. I'll see you all in Hell!

Ooh! Maybe I've accidentally transported myself into a mirror universe where I enjoy Joshua Williamson's writing! Although would that be a universe worth living in? It's not like I'd have become a different person where I had always enjoyed his work. I still have the memory of knowing he's a terrible comic book writer (even if he's not as terrible as Scott Lobdell, J.T. Krul, or Ann Nocenti. Although, in a way, he's worse because at least they're so bad that they're entertaining. Joshua Williamson's writing is as satisfying as cotton candy is to a raccoon). And if I'm reading Williamson's writing and thinking "This is enjoyable!" while also thinking "He's a terrible writer," I'm going to quickly begin hating myself (I'm assuming that in this mirror universe, I now totally love myself and don't think about death constantly). I guess there's no way to know if I've been transported into a mirror universe until I begin reading this comic book!

Ugh. This is, apparently, the same old universe. I still can't stand Jessica Cruz whose only personality traits are that she's a novice and suffers from anxiety. I also still can't stand Cyborg who's been around for nearly forty years and has yet to be given half the personality of a Jessica Cruz. And Azrael. I can't get started on how much I despise Azrael. Even if Knightfall had been the greatest comic book story arc to ever exist (which it is, by the way¹), I would still hate it because it gave us Jean Paul Valley, a character who is basically just a combination of Scrappy Doo and Cousin Oliver.

I think the main reason I'm reading this comic book that's written by a writer whose plots don't excite me and stars three characters I can't stand is that I forgot to drop it from my pull list.

Grade: C-. I suppose once you've read enough comic books, you've read all the comic books. This isn't a fault of the reader, of course! It's the fault of the lack of imagination of the writer! So here, once again, we have a villain (Darkseid) telling the heroes that they need to work with him to save existence. The heroes, being heroes, recognize the villain and attack him instantly. That's what makes a good hero, you know: a rush to a physical altercation! After Darkseid leaves because he told them what they needed to get the plot started, the heroes bicker because they're heroes that don't really get along. That allows for easy drama throughout the story! After that, they learn a little bit more so that the reader is left feeling like maybe they didn't waste four dollars on this bit of story even though they probably could skip every other issue and still follow along. And finally, the story ends with one of the heroes suddenly turning against the others.

This comic book is a good example of why ancient storytellers used "in media res." Because this is all boring set up. These first two issues were like going to a play and having to sit and watch them build the sets before being able to watch the show. We get it! There's no real reason for these four heroes to be working together, let alone for Darkseid. So Williamson has to spend a bunch of pages convincing the readers that they should buy into the conceit. Also, comic book readers are easily confused. If you begin a story in the middle of the story and don't immediately flash back to the beginning on page two to tell pages and pages of story that could have been guessed at had the story continued from page one, they'll go online and tweet about how shit your comic book is because it doesn't make any sense. None of us are very sophisticated readers! And my purchasing two issues of this comic book is proof of that!

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¹ By the way, it isn't.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Batman #57


Who are the editorial geniuses who chose not to rebrand KGBeast as iBeast? And Microsoft Windows 10 Demon?

Tom King wrote this issue so should I grade it before even reading it? Very well, I will: Grade: A+! That should give the anti-Tom King fanatics conniptions!

One of the dumbest complaints I've gotten from people who love my blog so much that they can't stop calling me an idiot is that I'm biased. As if that's some kind of insult! As if other comic book reviewers online are somehow so above bias that they can actually read a Scott Lobdell comic book without needing the number to a suicide prevention hotline on-hand. Yes, I'm biased! I'm biased toward writers that can tell good stories. If Tom King wanted to change DC canon by revealing Batman has Down Syndrome, I wouldn't fucking care as long as it worked in the story. Also, can we get a superhero with Down Syndrome? Maybe the next Robin?

For the record, my reviews aren't as biased as critics say they are. If I want to point out that 80s post-Omega Men Lobo is the greatest character DC ever came up with, that isn't me being biased. That's me being gay. I want Lobo to fuck me. Can you imagine how beautiful his cock is? Unless that's the only body part of his that isn't exactly like a human. He could have a spork down there for all I know. But believe me, I wouldn't be disappointed. Who could be disappointed by a surprise spork? Especially when it's also a cock?!

Tom King's fifty-six previous issues of Batman haven't all been gems. But most of them have been so well written that when I see the unbiased Internet critics shitting all over them, I realize that some fans don't understand the difference between "unbiased" and "incredibly fucking stupid."

This issue begins with KGBeast's father telling him a story about animals heading to St. Petersburg to worship God. King leaves the story hanging as he gets back to the Batman bit that everybody purchased this comic book to read. Just like he left us hanging about Dick Grayson being shot in the head. What's going on with that?! Is he dead? Was he wearing a Kevlar wig? Fans who can't get past ever single aspect of a story being immediately explained and then justified as to how it fits into the overall DC Universe and decades worth of canon stories are going fucking nuts!


This is a good example of why bad guys with guns don't work in comics and action movies. Because I need to believe that the hero wins out through their skill and ingenuity. Being shot at by dozens and dozens of men (or one man dozens of times as in this Bat-example) and not getting killed means the hero wins out through mere luck. Nobody can argue Batman avoided these bullets through skill and training. Batman got lucky this time.

Meanwhile in the children's story, the God-loving animals leap into a pit because they're stupid. Or maybe they each had faith they could leap the pit even after watching the previous animals plummet to the bottom. In either case (faith or stupidity), they wind up in a worse position than animals that rely on evidence and science-based reasoning. Which probably means they're going to have to eat each other.


To be fair and balanced on the critique of weapons in action movies and Batman comics, I can't see how Batman's batarang is any better. Unless that thing was laced with Ketamine, what the fuck was it supposed to accomplish?

The hare and squirrel are eaten first after the fox proposes a singing contest to determine who would become dinner. This is probably some sort of commentary on Fox news, right? I bet next, the fox challenges everybody to a debate on Venezuela to decide who's next. Which is basically what happens. Lastly, the fox pretends to eat himself so that his viewers think, "Oh! That's a great idea!" And so the pig dies too. I guess the moral should be coming up in a few pages. I bet it's something like "The Batman always gets his man."

The twist at the end of the tale is not that the reader never finds out what happened to the fox after he ate the pig. The twist is that Bruce Wayne also like having that story read to him! Who would have thought?! Another example of Batman and his enemy being two sides of the same whatever! "I never get tired of that," I said as I was well past being tired of it.

The fight between KGBeast and Batman ends with Batman firing his grapple gun into KGBeast's chin and breaking his neck. Batman leaves him to die in the snow exactly like how he left him to die that time he took off his arm. So I guess when KGBeast next returns, he'll have a prosthetic head?

Actual Grade: C. Maybe if I thought about the animal story and how it relates to the battle between Batman and KGBeast, I'd understand this story better and it would get a better grade. But sometimes you just don't have the energy to expend on analyzing a piece of literature. Mostly I don't see myself having that kind of energy for another three and a half years, thanks to Twin Peaks: The Return. Anyway, I guess we'll find out why Nightwing was shot in the face and how he survived it next issue? Maybe a starving bluebird took the bullet for him because a fox dared it to!

Justice League #10


This is obviously going to be a terrible issue.

I'm not exactly sure why I continue to read all of the Justice League books. I suppose I still retain a small part of the comic book fan I used to be. The one that wanted to believe all of the hype surrounding every big change in the DC Universe, as if it were part of a larger story that would somehow, eventually, resolve into a coherent plot. It's like when you believe life means something because how could it not? Experiencing the beauty and tragedy of this world practically forces a person into thinking it must all be for some reason. But eventually, if you're paying any sort of attention and haven't been completely brainwashed and deluded by outside sources that want to control and manipulate your every action (or, simply, by your own selfish ego that insists on eternal existence), you see the truth and you say, "Fuck you, Keats! Truth is not beauty at all! What the fuck were you talking about?! Truth is a dark pit of despair washing away all hope and wonder and screaming in your face, 'Sentience is an accident that will ultimately betray you!'" And that's how I've felt about Scott Snyder since the end of "Death of the Family." The good shit he wrote was an accident and he, ultimately, betrayed me. Sometimes I'm thankful when he ditches a project to let James Tynion IV take over. At least then I get to write speculative conversations about what Tynion did to become Snyder's lackey.

This issue is the prelude to Aquaman Month. It's not a coincidence that Aquaman Month is taking place in No Nut November (which, by the way, I refuse to believe is a real thing since isn't everything now just the creation of some wayward posting on 4chan or Reddit? The dark monsters posting there have become our true gods now). And now that I've mentioned not nutting, I'm suddenly not interested in Aquaman! Not that I was ever interested in Aquaman. That statement itself is not a wild proclamation. It probably ever needs to be written. In any description of anybody ever (like say an About the Author blurb or a Grindr profile), I automatically, in my head, append "Not a fan of Aquaman." Being a fan of Aquaman is the kind of thing you have to state and then restate after the person listening to you finally hears something you're saying and says, "What the fuck did you just admit to?" Also, they weren't listening to you up until that point because I'm assuming that if you're an Aquaman fan, you're boring as shit.

Oh, don't get me wrong about my dislike of Aquaman! I hate being on the same side of a debate as the people who make fun of Aquaman because they know you're supposed to make fun of Aquaman. Everybody knows he's the joke character of the Justice League and it's okay to make fun of him. I am the kind of Aquaman hater that Aquaman lovers despise. I am a well-informed Aquaman hater. I was there during his four issue miniseries where he got the blue waves costume and everybody thought Aquaman was going to be the next big thing in comics. It is true that series was worth a lot of money for the length of time it took everybody to read all four issues. But it didn't do anything for Aquaman. He still sucked. Now he just sucked even worse because he starred in a series that was basically a therapy session that he mostly just weeps in. I was also there for Peter David's attempt to make him angsty by giving him long hair and a hook. I would explain how well that changed Aquaman's standing if I could actually remember any of the series. In any case, he's just one of those things that keeps on sucking, no matter how many memes show him commanding sharks to jump out of the water to eat parademons.

Oh, sorry! I was going to speak about not nutting when I was rudely interrupted by my lack of reverence for Aquaman. Apparently people think not nutting helps a person to retain their chi and, thus, have more energy to accomplish things. I think that line of argument is true but in a way that nobody talks about. Refraining from jerking off while also not being able to get laid does not mean you suddenly have more energy stored up to accomplish greater things. But it's not about the saved energy at all. It's more about the distraction. If you want to jerk off, you think about jerking off until you've jerked off. Once you jerk off, your mind is clear. The desire has been satiated and you can move on without distraction. No Nutters live in a constant state of distraction. They constantly think about jerking off because they won't jerk off. And to keep themselves from jerking off, they need to distract themselves even further. So they do things that aren't jerking off while thinking, "Holy shit do I want to bust a load." I'd rather interact with people who have freshly jerked off (one reason I'm against shaking hands, by the way) or gotten laid because I know that whatever we're talking about, it's what they actually want to talk about. But if you're dealing with a No Nutter, you're dealing with somebody who is thinking about busting a nut the entire time you're interacting with them. It's disgusting. Go fucking jerk off, you gross withholder of self-gratification.

Anyway, enough about jerking off! Let's discuss the jerk-off, Aquaman!

In the prologue to Drowned Earth, Aquaman learns that evil water heroes that have also been rejected by their planets exist throughout the universe. They're angry at people thinking they're useless, especially when it comes to space travel and interstellar conflicts, and they're going to teach every person on Earth that water-based hero aren't jokes! Will Aquaman side with them or we will swallow his dignity and help those who can't stop cracking talks with fish jokes?!

Grade: C. Sometimes I wonder why expect this comic book to be about the relationships between the greatest heroes on Earth instead of realizing it's just about making them fight threats to the entire world (if not the entire universe). Sometimes I wonder if I spend money on this book because, deep down, I truly fucking despise myself. Whatever's going on, you can be assured that I'll be reading entire Drowned Earth story!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lucifer #1


Lucifer's interpretation of "Dick in a Box."

This will probably be the only issue of Lucifer I purchase. That isn't a judgment on this comic book since I haven't even read it yet. It's just that I gave The Dreaming two issues and decided I didn't want to spend four dollars on the third issue. And I gave House of Whispers two issues but that's only because I bought the second issue before having read the first, after which I decided I was sorry I'd bought the second issue. And I didn't even purchase Books of Magic #1 because I hated Tim Hunter the first time he appeared. I'd rather have a series starring the Dead Boy Detectives.

Did anybody watch the television series, Lucifer? It mostly focused on what's wrong with television networks and the idiot executives who work for them. Somebody pitched a show about the Ruler of Hell abdicating his throne and moving to Los Angeles to run a club and somebody else said, "Can you make it more like Bones or CSI or, for you older assholes, exactly like Moonlighting?" What's worse, everybody nodded their heads enthusiastically and agreed that that would make it better. I suppose somebody had a lot of old Columbo scripts lying around that they wanted to get their money out of. So they passed them around to the jerks in the writer's room and said, "Update these with cell phones and today's modern language standards for more swears. You can probably cut a few minutes out of each episode because Lucifer won't be doing that thing where he says, 'One more question.' Fill in those spaces with some Hell stuff that will retain the interest of people seeking material about the actual premise of this show." Then a bunch of soulless writers (who were only now discovering how soulless they were) went to work turning a good idea into more dreary pap.

But enough about a terrible television show that, admittedly, had a pretty fucking charming Lucifer. Let's talk about how wrong I was about not purchasing the second issue of this series.

Oh, um, that was it. That was my talking about it. That was my positive review of this comic book. I'll write it more directly in the summation.

Grade: A. Writers of comic books don't generally know how to pace a story so that it causes intrigue. Rarely are the times I finish reading a comic book and think to myself while also speaking out loud to anybody within hearing range, "I can't fucking wait to find out what happens next issue, you stupid fuckers!" Mostly, I think either "This writer is trying to interest me in a second issue by not revealing anything at all," or "This writer just spelled out the entire theme of the series in an abundance of narration boxes and meticulous explication." Or I write online, "Scott Lobdell has no idea where this story is going." I remember when I was younger, I would often worry that I might die before the end of a story resolved in some comic book or another (as if I could somehow, post death, regret not experiencing the terminal issue). I can recall several story arcs in Hitman that affected me past the few minutes it took to read the comic. But that doesn't happen anymore. I can blame writers all I want but I have to reasonably assume most of the cause of my disinterest and lack of enthusiasm results from the death of wonder and the crushing wait of ennui that nestles softly over the aging person's face like a cat looking for warmth suffocating a newborn. And, likewise, I should assume that Dan Watters hasn't merely written something so grand and eloquent that I can't help but be infatuated by it. More likely, he has hit notes in the themes that resonate on my soul (which I must profess, using that term, that I don't believe exists but we writers use turns of phrase not because they're true but because, as I mentioned, they resonate). This is a story about Lucifer and there is suffering from the beginning. The suffering continues through to the middle. And the suffering races toward the end to proclaim, "Want more suffering? Pick up the next issue!" One might think that it's the most logical choice in the world, to write a thematic story about suffering around the character of Lucifer. But one might also forget that Ann Nocenti once wrote Catwoman for a few years without ever touching upon the theme of cats. So you might see how easily impressed I can be when a writer makes an obvious choice.

Of course, the choice isn't the main reason I'm impressed. Dan works the them in three separate stories: two involve Lucifer (one before he finds himself trapped in his own repeating Hell) and one about a detective whose wife is dying from a brain tumor. Being a story about Lucifer, Dan also makes sure to work in the conflict between fathers and sons. Since that's Lucifer's big chip on his shoulder, Dan has decided to explore the kind of father Lucifer became. And — big shock — it seems he's abandoned his son.

This is the paragraph of the review that speaks to the art, coloring, inking, and lettering. You can fill it out yourself. I'll just say none of it was so bad that it will keep me from purchasing the second issue. Although that's a really fucking low bar because I kept reading The Walking Dead years after Adlard came on board to draw characters that you could only differentiate by facial hair or sheriff hats. And I got all twelve issues of Michael Cray even though I'm fairly certain that artist was drawing during severe bouts of intense diarrhea.