Saturday, October 27, 2012

All Star Western #13

I don't like the art on the cover although Jonah looks more hideous here than he usually does. Which is a good thing.

A new drug has come to the shores of America! It's Dr. Jekyll's Calming and Restorative Tonic! Guaranteed to make clowns less depressing and circus jugglers less annoying! Hate walking to work amidst streets full of shit? Take a liberal sip of Dr. Jekyll's Calming and Restorative Tonic! It'll soothe your mood and make you forget you're living in the 1800s! Warning: May cause severe disfigurement and homicidal outbursts.

Not recommended for use during church services.

I think the next standard line is, "The Lord can't protect you now!" Or something.

Why even bother saying, "Protect me, Lord." If the Lord works in mysterious ways, what is pleading with him going to do? If everything has a reason, then who are you to ask for something possibly not destined to happen? If God has the ability to change the outcome of things that are already going to happen, does he know he's going to change the outcome? Does he see you getting murdered in church but when he hears the plea, "Protect me, Lord," he suddenly decides to intervene and change what he was going to allow to happen?

What I'm trying to say is this: isn't praying arrogance?

God: "Ah! Time to watch my creations even though I already know what they're going to do and how I'm going to react to what I see."
Scared Priest: "Huff! Huff!"
Murderer: "Ha ha ha! I'm going to kill you! Ha ha ha!"
God: "Oh! Here is where that Gotham Priest gets killed just like I planned because his murder will get the ball rolling an a cure for cancer 250 years into the future. This should be interesting."
Scared Priest: "Protect me, Lord."
God: "Oh fuck. Well, he did ask. And he does believe in Me. I guess I'll save him! Too bad though! My mysterious ways will have to wait and I guess that'll change the timetable on a cancer cure to...let's see...650,000 years. But he's praying and he's faithful! What can I do? You may live, Priest!"

Of course I don't think this priest is going to live at all! But how dare he ask for some kind of special compensation. His prayer really should just be, "Do Thy will, Lord, for Ye work in mysterious ways that no man shall ever know but I am sure they are for the greater good of Your supreme creation! Amen!"

Turns out the priest being chased inside his church is even funnier than I first suspected!

Is this a Death of the Family tie-in?

Gotham doesn't need to fear though! Even though a psychotic clown is terrorizing the city one hundred years earlier than expected, the police have their brightest minds on the case!

I think the sheriff's dying wish was to allow Arkham and Hex free in/out privileges to every murder scene in Gotham.

Isn't there always a circus in town? A very particular circus? Yeah, Haly's is in town yet again. And it looks like Hex, Arkham, and Black are not the only ones looking for answers there.

It's the Barbary Ghost!

Aha! Yanmei Tsen's back-up story ended with her and her grandfather finding out that her mother was still alive but had been sold to a circus as a prostitute. Circuses back then were amazing! I guess while mom took the kids to get popcorn and see the animals, dad went around back and spent a full week's pay. I did watch Carnivale, so I shouldn't be so surprised. Perhaps I just thought that particular circus had prostitutes. I wonder if every event back then where a man would take his entire family had prostitutes to keep the man from getting too bored having to spend time with his rotten kids.

Anyway, I wonder if The Barbary Ghost's mother has become the Court of Owls' Talon? I have to say I'm pretty impressed the way that back-up story is coming together with the main story. All Star Western has better world building than all of the other New 52 comics put together!

Asking questions about her mother quickly gets Yanmei in trouble with The Golden Dragons. I suppose they constantly hide in the rigging of the Big Top waiting to start a fight with anybody asking the wrong kind of questions.

What happens next has become a staple of this comic book: the beautiful woman in gorgeous boots and sexy clothes flipping and high-kicking the shit out of a bunch of men without shirts. It's really become one of my favorite parts of the book, especially because I've become a super fan of Moritat's art. I think Moritat's art is extremely creative and, yes, cute. It hits that sweet spot in me between realism and comic book art. He knows the craft of drawing bodies. Describe a scene and he'll draw it as you describe it instead of reinterpreting it to make it easier to draw. And the smaller he does his stuff, the cuter I find it!

Two more pages like this follow. All worth it.

How can I analyze what I love about All Star Western's fight scenes versus so many other comic book's fight scenes? One thing I know I like: no fucking Narration Boxes. Why do so many comic book writers feel the need to have their manipulation of words appear on every page. It makes little sense to have the kinds of complex thoughts going through a person's head when they're executing their martial craft and fighting to stay alive. But I also like that Moritat and the creative team use panels. Eighteen panels in the three pages where Yanmei is fighting alone. The average before I gave up counting panels per page a long time ago was right around four. And action scenes are often worse because the creative team often feels a splash page needs to be thrown in for emphasis. And I mentioned his poses earlier. He doesn't just stick with a few standard fight stances. He never poses anybody with their chests sticking out and chin up ready to fight. Everything is natural and fluid. I just love this shit.

That may be as close as I come to a fanboy rant. But I figure since I'm a literature guy, I tend to focus on the words. When I find art that truly makes me happy to look at, I should be saying a lot more about it in these commentaries. But I figure since I scan so much of the book as I read, people can see the art for themselves and make a decision too.

At the end of this fight, the Golden Dragons finally get the drop on Yanmei. But Hex and Black arrive just in time to even the odds and defeat the Golden Dragons. But Yanmei slips out before they can speak with her.

Since The Jonah Hex Gang weren't there to speak with this mysterious woman, they simply let it slip their minds as they go to speak with Mister Haly. Haly gives them a list of other missing Circus Folk and, of course, it's a list of perfect Gotham villain types! Besides the clown, there is a knife thrower, an animal trainer, and a sideshow performer who's tattooed and pierced all over. It's a list of crazies that would make Batman jizz in his pants.

Outside, the formula (I'm assuming!) is being distributed in classic barker style.

"It's a panacea for everything!" -- Local Portland Newscaster

But then all hell breaks loose as Jingles the Clown and the Animal Trainer return! Clowns and tigers begin attacking the crowd although Hex blows the clowns brains out almost immediately. The animal trainer is immediately eaten by one of the tigers he frees. I think this is commentary about wild animals always being wild animals or something! Tallulah kills one tiger and Jonah kills the other. Except I guess there were three, so one runs free while Haly worries about his Circus's reputation. I don't think he needs to worry! He'll always have funding as long as he continuously produces Talons.

While everyone cleans up and Arkham, Haly, and the police go to speak with the Snake Oil Guy, Reginald (the guy who hired Hex's crew to stop the spread of the formula) has gone to the train station to pick up an old friend.

So Dr. Jekyll wants to become an Eclipso'd Mr. Hyde? Maybe he can find a Blue Beetle to fuse to his spine as well? And maybe chug some Gingold while he's at it!

The back-up story is about Manifest Destiny and how the great warrior Tomahawk foolishly tried to stop it! Haven't you heard, Tomahawk? The white man has declared that the white God has declared that this land belongs to the white man. So put down your weapons and get to stepping! Sheesh. It's not like the white man wants to kick you off the land. But God! God said it belongs to him! You want the white man to deny God?!

Lots of Native Americans are killed, including Tomahawk's family, and now Tomahawk is going to war. And it's a good thing since the white man has been going to war all over you for a long fucking time now. Oh! I just thought up a knock knock joke!

Knock Knock!
Who's There?
The White Man!
The White Man who?
Get out of my fucking house!

All Star Western #13 Rating: +1 Ranking. Really? I'm going to drive this comic further up the charts? Yeah, I guess I am. It's fun and looks terrific. Highly recommended.

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