Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grifter #11

"The Hipsters don’t know what to do when I draw feet. It confuses them." -- Rob Liefeld

I've always thought Liefeld's inability to draw feet was the least of his problems. He usually does draw some weird, tiny, pointy things but mostly I always felt he just tried to hide them because it was easier. I also didn't realize that one of the definitions of Hipster was "making fun of Liefeld's inability to draw feet." Rob, if I may take on the mantle of Hipster for a second since I do live in Portland and the only beer in my fridge is Hamms, let me point out the things the Hipsters can make fun of when you actually do draw feet.

1. Pouches. Lots and lots of pouches. Oh, but look here! You've toned down the amount and made them smaller! I'm not sure what to do?!
2. Wrist guards. Everybody owns a pair. Even characters that never wore them before in their lives like Lobo. Although if you had the ability to draw a chain and a hook, you could have hidden one of Lobo's wrists in a canonical way! Oh, and if you point out you drew a wrist, I'll point out that the hand on the end of any wrist you draw will have pointy fingers and a misshapen hand.
3. The potatoes skewered on Niko's swords. Was she in the kitchen preparing a meal when Synge attacked? And look at the way the blade in her left hand is off-center.
4. Faces that rarely have two eyes. Liefeld creates a character? You can bet he'll have a mask or an eyepatch or one laser eye or one smoking eye or one cyborg eye. And when you do draw two eyes like on Niko here, one always kind of wanders away from symmetry.
5. Guns. Your guns are always squared off and rectangular. Oh! Except here you've made one somewhat round! Good for you!
6. The awkward way everybody holds their weapons. There's always something so unnatural about your angles and handholds. I'm never surprised when you add a guard to the hilt of a blade to hide the way the hand holds the weapon. Look at Grifter's sword hand. It's as if you drew a template to guide you on perspective but then just used that perspective for the hand and dagger and said "Fuck all" to how it relates to the arm and the rest of the cover.

Some of these things I normally wouldn't complain about. You've actually done a far better job on the things I complain about here on this cover than other recent work you've done (interior of Deathstroke #11!). Also, I really don't mind your feet. They're the least of your worries, buddy.
On with the comic!

So, remember how at the end of the last issue, Synge broke through the wall and exploded the room and knocked out everyone?

Okay, maybe Grifter is a little bit conscious!

As I open this issue, I get the feeling that never actually happened.

You realize, Liefeld and company, if these issues are collected in a trade, that transition is going to be glaringly awful.

Look at Synge in the panel above. Is that a goofy overbite or merely his bottom teeth? I, of course, would like to believe it's an overbite.

"Hey, guyph! I'm Phynge! You phuckerph are fucked! And by phuckerph I mean phuckerphs. As in phomeone who phuckphs phomophing. Like a lollipop!"

By the way, the name of this issue is, "Forgive us our Synge." No, no, don't groan. It's not even worth that.

I just looked at Liefeld's Twitter feed because I was considering following him. And I did for a few seconds before I realized he's just going to spoil any comic he's writing by posting pictures featuring teaser art from upcoming story lines. In one of his more current Tweets he says, "I consume mature entertainment...HBO, Starz, Showtime, basically indie tv. Need to pour that into mature comics". I think by pour he means plagiarize but Twitter has that pesky character limit so he had to find a short synonym.

Grifter is a pretty awful comic (and I say pretty too often!) and it was before Liefeld ever put his golden touch on it. It really makes me want to talk about so many other things besides the story within its pages. It definitely makes me think about the way artists and writers put a comic book together. Take Page Four of Grifter #11 here:

I'm going to ignore the amazing dialogue for now.

The first panel shows Grifter dropping from the ceiling while shooting at Synge and telling jokes. Well, he tells one joke. But then he gets fucking serious, dudes. Straight up. I'm only guessing that Grifter climbed the wall and got in the rafters so he could drop down on Synge. The other option is that Grifter just did a flip about six feet over Synge's eight foot tall frame. Or maybe he's using is Telekinesis to float himself over Synge. That's actually a good explanation but I don't want to be accused of defending this comic at any cost! And I shouldn't be helping fanboys defend this shit either! Anyway, that's the least of my visual problems with this page.

The second panel shows Deathblow knocked to the ground while firing on Synge at point blank range. Which leads directly to the third panel where everything is completely different! Now Deathblow is standing behind Grifter and luckily not blowing Grifter's brains out.

Then the third and fourth panels which are the worst offenders. Grifter and Deathblow are knocked about the room in panel three. Deathblow has lost is footing and I submit there is not way to not end up on his ass from that position in panel three. And Grifter is obviously not flying in an arc that would lead to panel four. I get it, Marat Mychaels. Who wants to be bogged down by realistic physics and motion in a comic book fight? Fuck good storyboarding. That shit is bananas.

On second thought, I'm not going to bother talking about the dialogue. You can read. I think.

At some point during the battle, they end up outside of the cabin. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when this happens since Marat Mychaels avoids drawing backgrounds whenever he can. Instead he just likes to smear color around to imply nothing. I think they end up outside in panel four of that last page I scanned. See how the background becomes bluish? Although if they're outside there, then they're outside here in this panel as well:

Maybe the brown background represents the broken cabin.

It's soon established that the reason Grifter and Deathblow cannot harm Synge is their bullets cannot penetrate his energy field. Grifter also tries throwing rocks and trees and snow at him using his telekinetic powers.

As you can see, part of Liefeld's mature and indie tv watching experience involves lots and lots of Return of the Jedi.

That leads to Niko ghost riding a motorcycle with a leaking gas tank into Synge to blow him up. Of course it doesn't work because of that energy field. And I'm sorely tempted to scan in the three different panels showing the trajectory of the bike because it flies more like a metal boomerang flying about an industrial strength magnet. I don't mind comic books about super heroes being unrealistic. But I would like some care and attention paid to the layout of the comic book so it doesn't look like a motorcycle coming in at one angle doesn't somehow flip both vertically and horizontally as it's coming down from a jump and then mysteriously spin about yet again to nail Synge in the chest head-on before it explodes.

Perhaps if the dialogue were blowing me away, I wouldn't notice the apathy which fills Marat's artwork.

And I don't mean to get too picky, but what the fuck happeend to Buck, the black guy? Did they go through all the trouble of rescuing from the burning wreck last issue to forget about him this issue? Did he run off with the mysteriously missing Batman of Justice League International #11? Is this a new trend in creator apathy? "Which characters were in last issue?" "How the fuck should I know? You actually want me to peel the tape off the baggie and remove the comic from its protective sleeve to check? Fuck that. I'm pretty sure it was just Grifter, Deathblow, and Niko."

A hell of a lot sooner! A couple thousand years trying to conquer Earth isn't so bad, right?

No matter how hard DC tries to do their "world building" experiment where they make sure every reader, no matter how many titles that person reads, feels like each comic is taking place in the same universe as every other comic, the previous panel shows why it ultimately fails. Cole Cash is not the best this world has to offer. Stormwatch is the real threat to the Daemonites. Just like how Justice League International kept insisting that the world needed them when it obviously didn't, words like this don't ring true when you know Superman and Stormwatch and the Green Lantern Corps can step in at any time and help defeat this guy. I'm not sure what's supposed to make Grifter such a bad-ass. Except that ability where he can fire a dozen guns at once! Look out!

Grifter ends up burying Synge beneath a pile of mountains and forests to put an end to the battle. But even that doesn't end up working because Synge has that energy field that protected him from being touched by anything. So he ends up coming back after the big super surprise reveal that their is a mole in their ranks!

Cunt? Bitch? Skeez? Skoont? Dumpleshiv? Pringlestork? Belly Tambourine?

Niko shoots Grifter and Deathblow and puts them down. Maybe she was using tranquilizer bullets. Synge comes back and they cart the two captives off to Helspont's hideaway. Which could be anywhere at this point.

"Oooh. Getting shot in the chest sure gives me a pounding headache."

And still no sign of Buck. I guess he was just left to die out in the cold. Or maybe he died when Synge broke into the house like the Kool Aid Man. Or he was burnt to death when Niko exploded the motorcycle. Whatever the case, he has no part to play in the prophecy of the Chosen One who will destroy Helspont.

Grifter #11 Rating: -1 Ranking. The dialogue was cheesy. The story boarding incomprehensible. The art was bad and, at times, awful. And the story was anything but "mature." I feel bad for any Grifter fans who have to be put through this bullshit. I feel even worse for the fans who defend this tripe because they just can't let accept Grifter in a shitty comic.

P.S. I'm giving Grifter another -1 to the rankings for discarding the character Buck without mention. How many more disappearing characters are you going to give us, DC?

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