Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DC Universe Presents #17: Speedy

Since Scott Lobdell won't be writing this whole thing from Arsenal's point of view, I might actually enjoy it. Man. The next time Lobdell does a Red Hood and the Outlaws book narrated by Speedy, I'm not going to read any of the boxes. I'm just going to get the neighbor boy to fill them all in with a marker before I read the comic book.

The issue begins with Joe Keatinge trying to mimic Lobdell's take on Jason Todd and Starfire. Except he's awful at it. Because this first page was decent! At least when Adrian Nathan Edmondson was writing Grifter he captured Brandon Choi's flare for writing the shittiest shit he could possibly come up with.

This page also stars Bolt! I don't know who the other guy is. Probably someone whose name goes with Bolt somehow. Nut?

But Keatinge nails Roy Harper's Narration Boxes! I wonder if the neighbor would mind me knocking on the door at 3:45 AM to see if little Alex is awake to color in my comic book? I guess I should read all of the boxes to see if they improve. I can't fault Joe Keatinge's (is it pronounced KEY-TINGE? or KEY-TEEN?!) choice to write Roy Harper the only way he's been portrayed so far in The New 52. In much the same way Nathan Edmondson continued making Grifter spout profound nonsense in the vein of Brandon Choi, Joe Keatinge makes every Narration Box of Arsenal's feel like electrodes on my brain.

Although they do quickly begin to get better! Maybe these first few were an homage to Scott Lobdell's penchant for inducing migraines in his readership.

I'm tempted to ask, "Who thinks like this?" but fuck it if my own thought processes don't come perilously close to this garbage. Maybe that's why I hate it so much! I hate my stupid brain. Which means my brain hates itself! It's a self-loathing organ.

His Narration Boxes don't actually get much better. Tolerable, maybe? No, not even tolerable. Simply annoying. But they don't add anything to the story. So they really might as well have been left out. Or marked over! Stupid sleeping neighbor kid.

Arsenal has been captured by some guys known as the Triad. I think the Triad is actually a conglomerate of Hong Kong gangs. They're a bit pissed off about what Red Hood and the Outlaws did to Suzie Su. Jason Todd killed a lot of Hong Kong gang members so maybe The Triad is simply one of the gangs and maybe Suzie Su led them. Whatever the case, Roy Harper is going to be killed out of revenge for Suzie Su's murder.

As noted on the cover, Killer Croc is also here and he's with the Triad. Although apparently against his will.

Does this mean Killer Croc survives getting all of his Hydra heads chopped off by Wonder Woman over in Batwoman?

Killer Croc is actually Roy's reason for being in Hong Kong. Since Killer Croc helped Roy get into AA (or NA, I guess) to kick his heroin addiction, Roy decided to help Killer Croc when Roy heard he was being held against his will in Hong Kong. I guess Roy didn't mind Medusa using Croc since sponsoring a guy for AA isn't the kind of favor you pay back by battling Medusa and a bunch of Urban Legends. But traveling to Hong Kong to shoot some arrows into street gangs? No problem!

Did you know Arsenal's name is Arsenal because he can use anything as a weapon? I didn't know that! Maybe that's because I always refer to this jerk as Speedy. And that nickname didn't fucking mean anything so I figured Arsenal didn't really mean anything. Unless this is a new twist on the New 52 Arsenal since there have been 17 issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws and I don't think this ever came up. He just shoots his arrows and smarts off. And when I say "smarts off", I don't mean to imply that anything that comes out of his mouth is the least bit smart or witty. He's just one of those assholes that loves the sound of his own voice and believes if something is coming out of his mouth, it's funny. Except everybody else either gives a polite and awkward golf laugh or just rolls their eyes and pretends they were busy doing something other than listening to him.

Here are some of the things he says up to and during his escape:

Speedy: "Sucks to be me."
Speedy: "Holy crap, dude! You learned Chinese?!"
Speedy: "Do you guys offer some sort of special Triad Chinese Tutor?"
Speedy: "Word was you started holding international criminals against their will, but no one mentioned the educational component."
Speedy: "What's your health care plan like?"
Speedy: "A whole 'skyscraper's worth'? Really? Oh, wow. That's a lot of new faces."
Speedy: "Seeeee yoooooou soooooon...!"
Speedy: "And knock it off with the guns! They're so lame!"
Speedy: "Murdering's for wimps."

Speedy says the murdering is for wimps line after he impales this man like so:

See? All the way in!

with this screwdriver:

Yeah. I'm pretty sure he just pierced that asshole's heart.

Speedy finally "disables" a skyscraper's worth of henchmen and arrives at the Boss Room. Inside is the leader of the Triad and the thing Speedy thought was Killer Croc. It's not. It's some Chinese Dragon version of him. Speedy has simply wasted his time. And mine! Thanks a lot, DC, for blowing another issue of DC Universe Presents on a character from one of the shittiest comics of the New 52.

You know what? Speedy mentioned the "murdering is for wimps" thing a few pages ago. Does that mean he's against killing and guns in Red Hood and the Outlaws? So he's against Jason Todd's entire method of fighting crime and yet he backs him up? What the fuck is the difference, Roy Harper? You might as well be killing people too (and he may have in Red Hood but I don't specifically remember him killing anyone, so I'm going to assume he hasn't because this comic book shows he thinks murdering is for wimps).

So we come to the part where Roy Harper fights Chinese Killer Dragon.

This panel may be a joke but it exemplifies everything I hate about Narration Boxing. Obviously the Narration Box isn't needed here. That's maybe the intended joke. Or the intended joke is that when a character is being punched in the face, "Oof" is definitely all they should be thinking about. They shouldn't be going over shopping lists or thinking about how Chinese Killer Dragon was a little off-balance when throwing that punch. Whatever this panel actually intends, it's really quite the argument for why Narration Boxes suck. It's also totally meta!

Joe Keatinge obviously didn't mean for that last panel to be commentary on how stupid it is to have characters thinking complex and smart ass thoughts while getting pummeled in the face repeatedly because that is exactly what Roy goes on to do in the subsequent panels. It does show that if I'd had the neighbor boy mark out all the boxes, I wouldn't be fucking missing a thing.

Here's what goes through Speedy's mind as Chinese Killer Dragon punches him bloody and throws him through a window!

Speedy: "This certainly stopped going well."
Speedy: "I'm pretty sure this window had bulletproof glass."
Speedy: "It sure felt like bulletproof glass."
Speedy: "All of my insides are in all kinds of pain."
Speedy: "But let's give a round of applause to balconies, am I right?"
Speedy: "Sure beats falling to my death."
Speedy: "My squishy, squishy death."

Roy manages to destroy the inhibiting collar on Chinese Killer Dragon and gains an ally.

Speedy decides to go all Wolverine on his adversaries.

After the fight, Wolverine discovers that the Chinese Killer Dragon is named Fin Fang Foom or something. When did I start reading Marvel Comics?

Roy makes friends with Fangfengfoom and leaves him with some words of wisdom that could have been uttered by Christ himself.

"Do better, douchebags. Do better."

DC Universe Presents #17: Speedy Rating: -1 Ranking. I'm simply giving this comic book a negative ranking because I can't stand Arsenal and his Narration Boxes. I have a feeling the comic would be better without the Narration Boxes. Just a second.

Yep! I just read it without the boxes and it was much improved. They added nothing to the comic book! These things are like training wheels. If a writer relies on them too much, that writer will never be able to get on without them. I think they can be used adequately if used sparingly. But mostly it just seems like the writer thinks they need to be shoving words in panels that don't need words. It's a lack of confidence as much as it is lazy writing. Maybe if characters said really interesting things in their Narration Boxes, I wouldn't mind so much. I generally didn't mind it when Shade thought stuff in that way. Whatever. No use continuing to complain (although I will!). I guess I'm stuck with them!

1 comment:

  1. You poor bastard:( All hail Lizard, the patron saint of reading unnecessary narration boxes;)

    Again rather you waste your money on this crap I wouldn't even let my cat dump on, then I;)