Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Teen Titans #22

I'm a pacifist and I want to blacken the eyes of whoever designed The New 52 Raven's costume. The only good thing about it here is that it's distracting me from Wonder Girl's derpy eyes.

In Issue #20, Trigon attacked New York. But then he had a sudden attack of Demon Diarrhea and had to head back to Azathoth Azarath. So he sent his sons in to take over for him until he could crap and shower and return to the battle at the end of Issue #21. So now Trigon is attacking New York for real this time! I hope he doesn't kill any more soldiers or else the whole world is going to hate the Teen Titans!

This issue begins with Beast Boy lying about what previously happened.

Don't believe him! It was totally the diarrhea thing I mentioned!

I don't believe a young monkey would know anything about the A-team. I think he would have been more likely to compare the Teen Titans to The Wonder Pets. I wonder if Red Robin is going to be reborn yet or if the Teen Titans will be wanted? If those things never happen, should I just cut the covers off of the previous issues and throw them away? I also have doubts that Scott Lobdell is ever going to explain what the fuck was going on with Red Robin when he was banging everybody on the team. Was that a Raven thing? I suppose that will be explained when Solstice tells Kid Flash that she's not interested because Red Robin stuck his cigar in her ashtray.

Tony Bedard doesn't have a writing credit on this thing, so who's writing Beast Boy? He's finally acting like the Beast Boy I like and he actually made me smile with his "Pattern 666" suggestion to Red Robin. Can't be Scott Lobdell writing him. Although he did shove in that A-team reference and that is very much like Lobdell (and Liefeld!) to pepper dialogue with old pop culture references. You know, the ones that mean something to him but really shouldn't mean much to a bunch of kids barely born into the last century.

The beginning of the battle is mostly big splash pages and battle poses. But then Superboy begins taking it to Raven.

No it doesn't! Stop trying to be smart and use logic, you moronic infant. I've seen you answering questions in school and you're not the least chromosomally damaged clone in the lab. You just got lucky that your telekinesis worked on Raven's hell-magic soul-self.

While one of Raven's other soul-selves battles Kid Flash, she tricks him into giving away a bit of his future-past that we all know Scott Lobdell hasn't given any more thought to than this one throw away line:

I take it I'm supposed to be intrigued by this now. "Oooh! How many sheep did he fuck to save his parents?!"

All of the action takes place in big, over-the-top panels as Raven psychoanalyzes one member of the Teen Titans after another. And Beast Boy is simply finally acting like Beast Boy! I'm so happy he's being a silly, whimsical little shit. Although I'm not happy that I have to thank Scott Lobdell for bringing him back to his roots.

Red Robin shoves his Inertrite Wings into Trigon's face which I really wish would have killed him. Instead it just causes him to philosophize about safety and freedom and lessons parents teach their kids. Ugh. Shut up, you stupid demon! Why do you have to make everybody miserable before you kill them?

For yet another unknown reason, Trigon departs. It's not like the wings through his face were the cause since he speaks exactly 100 words after being wounded. He just speechifies and speechifies and then decides he'd rather spit on Red Robin's grave after Red Robin dies of natural causes than kill Red Robin this day. The rest of the Teen Titans recover and Raven is finally safe. Raven makes a big fuss about what could go wrong if any part of Trigon's power is still within one of the Titans but Red Robin convinces her everybody is okay. But Trigon mentioned he attacked Red Robin first, so I suspect when Red Robin was acting weird a few issues ago and sexing up the other Titans, he was being manipulated by Trigon. Which means some of Trigon's darkness is probably still within him! I bet it grows and grows and grows until it overpowers Tim Drake and he becomes Harvest!

So then the woman that I thought was Amanda Waller last issue because why the fuck would the artist draw a completely new character that looks like Amanda Waller and is bossing around a bunch of people and is trying to manipulate the Teen Titans? Why would I ever have even considered that this was a new character?! She claims to be from a pan-dimensional sci-fi club that owes Tim Drake a favor. But she says she'd better never meet him again or it will be the end of Omnithing! She must know him from the Tim Drake turning into Harvest timeline that will probably never happen. She may even be Tim Drake's daughter from the future since those are the only kind of plots that Scott Lobdell can come up with. Plots that develop organically? Too fucking hard! Plots that deal with prophecy and time travel? Easy peasy!

And then Raven joins the team! Hopefully somebody will take her shopping for a new look. If the comic had ended with this moment, it would have been pretty good. But Scott Lobdell just can't help himself. He can't help looking at the book and thinking, "Everybody is getting along great and I didn't put too many comic book cliches in it! So I guess I'm not finished!"

Then Scott Lobdell uses the end of the Trigon story to make sense of all of the previous nonsense going on in the book.

And even though they were just controlled by Trigon, and Raven points out that Trigon was controlling Tim, everybody gets pissed at him. Lobdell, you are a fucking hack.

Because Scott Lobdell couldn't leave the group to be nice and happy and drama free and working as a team for more than one single fucking panel, he blows his narrative apart with this stupid bullshit. I'm supposed to believe that they're all going to be angry at Red Robin for being possessed by Trigon? Right after they've experienced the same thing? And they couldn't break the spell but Tim did? Fuck them all if I'm supposed to believe they're this petty and shallow.

And I never for once bought Kid Flash's "love" for Solstice since it's composed of about two panels in 23 comic books, so his being angry doesn't sit well at all. And even if I do buy into their relationship, he should be angry at Solstice! She wasn't possessed when she fucked Tim! I suppose Kid Flash is just mad at himself for having missed his opportunity with Solstice by moving too slow. +1 Speed Force Point!

But wait! This anger and resentment and teen angst drama bullshit isn't all you get! You also get the biggest fucking cliche in comic books: Raven is actually still working with her father and it was all about getting her to infiltrate the Teen Titans! All that is yours for just $2.99!

Oh, well maybe I spoke too soon about the Kid Flash and Solstice thing.

I still don't buy into their love!

And then Bar Tor is pulled into the future to pay for his crime of Sheep Lovin'.

Teen Titans #22 Rating: +1 Ranking. I didn't want to give it any rise in the rankings after the way it ended but it's making a lot more fucking sense than Lobdell's Superman, so it might as well be higher in the rankings than that piece of Krypto shit. I would have actually thought this was a pretty decent issue if it had ended with Raven joining the team. Lobdell didn't even need to explicitly spell out that Trigon was possessing Red Robin earlier. After Trigon's line of attacking Tim first, it made sense. But then he piled on all the other bullshit as being because of Trigon, like the attack on Belle Reve. It still doesn't make any fucking sense! Raven says Trigon did it to make an enemy of Amanda Waller. But that isn't what happened at all! They actually struck up some sort of secret deal! But even then, maybe the issue would have ended okay. But no! All the idiot teenagers had to hate on Tim for things he did while possessed. Bunch of whiny brats. And I guess since the toilet was already overflowing, Lobdell decided to pull the handle a few more times and really get that shit pouring over the rim by making Raven a mole for Trigon. I guess Lobdell just can't help but completely Lobdell himself. Why can't he have a team that's happy to work together? Fuck all the contrived drama. You know what also works with a super hero team? When they have fun together and like each other! What a disappointment.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Green Team #3

Well Green Team! I'd like to say it was nice knowing you but fuck you rich, spoiled rotten bastards. I hope Deathstroke eats your rectums!

I cannot stand when a character in a story I'm consuming (this includes characters on reality television as well!) blames another character's actions on jealousy. It's not even Psychology 101. It's Psychology Pre-School After Nap Time Fun-Fun Activity Fun. But that caption I just wrote up there under the title? Purely based on jealousy. Who wouldn't want to be born with a silver spoon up their nose? And that's me saying that with the understanding that my personality and my strength of character would probably be diminished by about 65% (I did the maths!) due to easy living in a rich person's bubble and not totally understanding how hard the world can be. I'm willing to give up 65% of what makes me me just to have an easier life! I am such a shallow piece of shit. Ugh! That's another benefit! If I were rich, I would never even have considered that what I just considered makes me a shallow piece of shit! It's not fair!

Oh! Back to the "You're just jealous!" thing! Whenever a character says that, I instantly hate that character forever with no chance at redemption! I usually scream out something clever at the movie screen like, "Well, you're just stupid!" And then I try to get the person sitting in front of me to high five me. Unless the person in front of me is five or under, I'm usually left hanging. Screw you, adults! When someone offers up a high five, it's your job to awkwardly and embarrassingly and half-heartedly return that fucker! Unless you're at a sports game and then that shit becomes ritualistic. I bet the high five is the single biggest thing to blame for me hating sports. Also the way fans speak of their team in the first person plural. I didn't realize cracking peanuts and swigging beer was such an important part of the team dynamic! Congratulations on taking care of your part! High five?

Meanwhile in the comic book where there is less anger but more turning into robots, Celia was having issues with the cut on her arm. It seems to be infected and getting worse. Except first...DEATHSTORK! Shit. I mean...DEATHSTROKE!

All of Deathstroke's business meetings are working meetings.

I'm still pretty bitter about Deathstroke's comic book being so shitty. I'd like to know why Higgins was taken off of it to give to Rob Liefeld? Who buys a comic simply because it has Liefeld's name on it? This is how I know DC Comics doesn't know how to run a comic book company: they fucking hired Rob Liefeld. Look, assholes. Stop dreaming about the masturbation-filled halcyon days of the nineties where fans must have been fucked up continuously on ecstasy and whippits! He and his Image buddies may have become rockstars for who knows what the fuck reasons (seriously, I'm pretty sure I was the only sane person reading comic books in the 90s) but think it through a little bit. Those were the days when comic book companies began believing that the job of Writer was redundant. "Who needs a fucking writer when an artist can draw panel after panel of grim faced people from the future?" I don't know what the phrase "the tail wagging the dog" means but I think it might possibly describe the 90s comic business model. Maybe the phrase I'm actually looking for is "like a dog eating his own shit." Is that a phrase?

Wow. I'm not sure that paragraph actually went anywhere or had a coherent point but, fuck, I forgot how good it felt to blast Rob Liefeld and "90s style" comic books! I think "90s style" describes men drawn with lots of lines on their faces, women in poses only people that didn't learn to draw nude models in college would think were realistic, pouches, Rob Liefeld and 1000 characters with one eye because drawing symmetry is fucking hard, guns, grit, and Wall Street style speculation. There may have been barrels full of cash involved as well. And since all those went to Image, I can proudly say that not one dollar of mine was added to any of those fucking barrels. I know some people actually take pride in their accomplishments but I have to be proud of myself in whatever minor ways I can find since most of my memories are filled with disappointment, failure, and buckets of my own semen.

Masturbation was one thing I was good at! Don't take that away from me!

You know what amazes me more than people reading the comic books of Image in the 90s (Image has published a lot of terrific shit. So you don't have to email me defending them now!)? People reading my fucking commentaries. Y'all are weird.

Director's Cut Technical Commentary: "I've read one page of The Green Team #3 so far. And look at that TL;DR mess! Now keep your eyes open at the end of this commentary because you won't want to miss how I write one tiny paragraph to summarize the last ten pages!"

Some time in-between Issue #2 and Issue #3, Commodore 64 and Mo drove down to Miami in the Batmobile to meet with Deathstroke and see if he'd be willing to kill Riot for them. Even though these kids can pay some major money, Deathstroke seems adverse to killing Riot and would actually like to kill the rich kids instead. I'm not sure who Deathstroke is shooting at during this meeting. Probably like I said earlier: he just takes his business meetings during work hours.

Back in New York, J.P. and Cecilia have been besieged by Paparazzi. They're trapped in the hotel because Cecilia can't be seen in public with her new pink robot arm. Although it seems to me that people will see it and just think she's setting trends. Nobody would think it's a real cyborg arm! They'd just buy it as some new fashion trend and then all the teeny boppers will suddenly be roaming the malls with robot arms. And then Cliff Steele will be trying to get an interview on Old Fogey Radio to claim that he was wearing robot arms way back before it was cool! But before they can make any decisions on what to do, J.P. notices Riot watching them from a roof across the street.

I was so worried about Bubbles!

Apparently everybody knows where J.P. and Cecilia are hiding out because Cecilia sent the concierge to pick up Bubbles across town. Totally worth it.

Back in Miami, Commodore 64 speaks to Deathstroke as if Commodore 64 doesn't give a shit about what the weather will be like tomorrow. Luckily Mo's bodyguard, Abisha, seems to have a relationship with Deathstroke (not that kind! (well, maybe that kind! I shouldn't jump to conclusions!)) so Deathstroke is willing to keep from killing these kids and possibly take the job to kill Riot. Maybe. Possibly. Depending on how much money he can earn.

In the few pages he's appeared, Deathstroke has really redeemed himself! I'm beginning to respect the character again!

Mo and Commodore tag along with Deathstroke as he chases down Manfredi, the man he's been paid to capture.

This is the best issue of Deathstroke yet!

I should mention now that we're way past the error I'm going to discuss about Mo wearing one of Robin's old capes from out of the Batmobile. But while Deathstroke was asking about it, the colorist was smoking some really awesome hashish and just decided to make the cape suit colored. So between the messed up color and the sudden location change to Miami and Deathstroke shooting at who the fuck knew?, I was a little bit confused. And because I'm an established Writer (with a Big "W"! The biggest!), I can punctuate shit however the fuck I please.

Hmm, maybe after typing that last sentence, I should send a written apology to Howard Mackie. No, no. He was a shitty writer with a little, teeny, tiny "w". He did make a lot of money though! So if money is the proof of a great writer, he fucking wins that round!

Then I turn the page and see that fucking advert for the Annuals again. I really wish DC would just give me the fifth Wednesday of the month off!

And then the meeting ends successfully on a number of accounts!

That bugs the shit out of me when the comic book lies unevenly on the scanner! Look at that tilt! Look at it! Despise it! UGH!

Oh, and I seem to have forgotten to mention that Cecilia and J.P. escape when the entire hotel is airlifted away by Commodore's helicopters. And since the entire thing involved an actress at the center of it, everybody just shrugs it off as a publicity stunt. Hopefully, since Commodore had purchased the hotel earlier in the day, the Green Team didn't just kidnap a bunch of tourists.

The next day, everybody meets up in Monaco to battle Riot! That's because Riot's boss (who is probably the main Riot) lives there! I don't know how they figured it out. Maybe Deathstroke did the research. But when Riot attacks and J.P. tries to use Commodore's disc, he finds out that the discs attune themselves to the first person who uses them. So Commodore will always be Green. And Cecilia must always use J.P.'s disc now which is Gold. I bet that means J.P. will be the Pink Green Team Ranger #3! Mo winds up being the Powder Blue Green Team Ranger That Might Actually Be A Slightly Tinted White.

But Deathstroke arrives and does all the work capturing the various Riots anyway. Which is good because he's the only one getting paid.

Riot arrived in Harley Quinn's vagina?

Deathstroke is the one that traced the head Riot to Monaco but after capturing one for The Green Team to question, he takes his money and leaves. So Commodore unmasks Riot. He and J.P. are shocked to recognize the person under the mask as somebody they believed was dead. The reader never gets to see Riot's face though. And I don't remember them talking about a dead friend in one of the earlier issues but that doesn't mean they didn't. That just means I can't remember anything. Maybe it's Damian Wayne!

The Green Team #3 Rating: +1 Ranking. This was a terrific issue of Deathstroke. I wish the character I just read had been the one that starred in his own series! Then it might actually been entertaining and made some kind of sense.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Red Hood and the Outlaws #22

I never look forward to reading this book.

Scott Lobdell shit so much shit all over Red Hood and the Outlaws that they've been tainted forever. Now James Tynion has been sent in to clean them up but that cleaning process is boring the fuck out of me. Apparently I sort of liked last issue although I can't be certain that I wasn't on some kind of medication when I wrote the last commentary because I am not excited to begin reading this issue. No, I am more than not excited. I am loath -- LOATH! -- to read it.

Doom Bunny said I should suggest a new team-up to fight crime under the mantle of Red Hood and the Outlaws because I'm sort of hoping that Tynion kills off Jason Todd, Starfire, and Roy Harper. Not that I hate the characters! But I can barely look at them after what Lobdell did to them. I know it's not their fault! I'm acting like a person whose dog was just sexually molested by a raccoon and he just can't bare to look his dog in the eye anymore. "Are you kidding, dog? You couldn't stop that from happening?" Obviously I chose a dog and a raccoon instead of human examples because it's easier to accept me blaming the victim if it's a stupid dog that was victimized! But I know I shouldn't blame Jason Todd and Roy Harper and Starfire. But I do. I DO! Anyway, you can't judge me for blaming them because judging people is wrong on Tumblr. So fuck off, Judgy!

Oh! My new Red Hood and the Outlaws cast! First we need somebody to take over for Red Hood since we can't change the name of the comic book. I think The Red Hood should be female this time. I think it should be Jinx but not the normal DC Comics version; I'd like to see the Teen Titans cartoon version of Jinx as The Red Hood. Instead of Starfire, I'd replace her with Windfall from The Masters of Disaster (and Suicide Squad until she died. Jerks!). But this is The New 52, so she can come back and join this team. Lastly we need a guy that's not very useful and kind of annoying but thinks he's funny. I kind of like the idea of having Beast Boy on the team instead of over on the Teen Titans. And these three characters make more sense being on a team with "Outlaws" in the name than the current roster of Speedy and Starfire. Obviously Red Hood fits the Outlaw title but he's the Red Hood part of the title! So that's my hastily put together dream team for this comic book. It would probably change quite a bit if I actually thought much about it.

Currently Roy Harper is building shit for The Untitled to help them get into the City of Assassins, kill all of the assassins, and free Jason Todd. Kori ran off with Essence to try to save Jason Todd a different way. And the League of Assassins are convincing Jason Todd that his friends are assholes that will only get him killed. It's interesting that Jason Todd decided the people claiming to love him and hide the truth about his past (which Jason obviously wanted to hide himself! Jesus, Todd. Use some fucking logic) are his enemies while a woman running about poisoning everything, a weretiger named Ben, and a fancy magician called December are his best buddies in all the world.

Whoa! Calm down there, Tony!

Starfire is back on her Island Headquarters fiddling with a machine that scoops Essence out of the air and drops her at Starfire's feet. Starfire believes that doing this and then yelling "Wait! Listen!" will stop the hero on hero violence. She's pretty naive! Now I really do believe she's from another planet! Except she's from a planet that's far more violent than this one. So maybe that's why she thought it would work! Humans (or, um, human smoke monsters?) are more reasonable than Tamaraneans! I don't know if I spelled that right and I'm too lazy to look it up.

Anyway, Essence and Starfire decide to waste a few pages blasting each other with their Star Bolts and Shadow Darts. Starfire eventually beats the information she was seeking out of Essence. It turns out that breaking the seals on the Assassin's city to let in The Untitled is a "very, very bad" idea. It will make them unstoppable.

Hey Essence! I've got a tip for you to use in the future. When you have vital information that could stop the end of the world from happening, like say, keeping someone from eating a cookie that will unleash a world killing demon, you shouldn't just appear to somebody and say, "Don't eat that cookie." You've got to tell them what the consequences of their actions will be because Godfuckingdammit I'm going to eat that cookie! Just like Roy Harper decided to help the Untitled to save Jason because you weren't explicit! But you didn't have time to explain! Although now that Starfire pulled you out of thin air, you have all the time in the world to throw punches and eventually explain.

I have a feeling I shouldn't be reading comic books if I'm not willing to put in the time to buy into all the comic book tropes that hold everything together!

Meanwhile in Al'fons'hel'breath, Jason Todd is getting the tour of the city. There is a market full of things that kill people, Cheshire having sex with and killing people, Lady Shiva killing Man-bats, killing, killing, more killing, some other killing, and a little extra downtime killing. They must have a steady influx of immigrants to maintain this level of killing.

We get it. You can look like a tiger. Can you change the fuck back now? Or at least show us your tiger cock. Unless somebody made a virility soup out of it?

Jason and his assassin buddies are securing the city so that the Untitled can't destroy it. But Roy Harper is busy building a weapon capable of destroying it! And Essence is busy telling Starfire the history of The Untitled and Ra's al Ghul and the Well of Sins and how all of this shit fits together. Even before reading her story, the puzzle is beginning to take shape. Wells, Pits, Jason Todd, League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul. So how do the pieces fit together?

The Untitled were created by The Well of Sins. The Lazarus Pits are runoff from the Well. The Well created The Untitled. Ra's al Ghul wanted to learn more about the pits and discovered the All Caste. He learned about the Well and took charge of it building his City of Assassins around it to guard it from anybody using it. The Untitled, the All Caste, and Ra's al Ghul all held to the deal and nobody used the power of the Well of Sins. But now the Untitled want it for themselves. And Jason, being a product of the Lazarus Pit, must be the Chosen One to stop them because he's so closely connected to it. So Roy Harper must be stopped from destroying the seal that protects the fountain. It looks like the Assassins may be on the right side!

Now Roy and Starfire and Jason are all set to go head to head to head for the fate of something. The world, maybe? Although Starfire and Jason are kind of on the same side. And Roy will jump ship when he finally smartens up. I think if the Untitled were all killed in this story line, it'd be good enough for me. Tynion doesn't have to kill the main characters.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #22: No change. For many, many months, I felt the most apathy towards Batwing. But Red Hood and the Outlaws, now that I don't completely hate it due to Lobdell's writing, has taken Batwing's place as the most uninteresting comic book of The New 52! As you can tell, my rankings depend a lot on how much fun I have writing the commentary. This book is a snoozefest. Also, I'm not a fan of Julius Gopez at all. It's amazing the difference between his solo pages and the pages inked by Ray McCarthy. They're not my favorite pages either but you can tell Gopez's work is getting a big lift from Ray's inks.

Catwoman #22

No, he's standing.

I should do a review where I think up the worst or most obvious jokes I can. My cousin-in-common-law, Neal, writes and draws editorial cartoons for the San Diego Reader, the Lincoln Journal Star, and The Reader (Omaha). He's got a sharp mind and a keen ability to suss out the truth in political situations rather than just making the obvious jokes or trying to tug at the reader's emotions. Having been an editorial cartoonist since College, he's experienced with business as usual among a lot of the more famous cartoonists that are, plain and simply, hacks. One of my favorite things he does is predict a cartoon that will be repeated by various papers and by different artists after any major event. One year around Christmas, we were gathered at my Non-Certified Spouse's grandmother's house in rural Nebraska while he was trying to come up with some cartoon ideas. What we realized that day was that I was probably his target audience if the stupid editors weren't in the way trying to keep out all of the comic book references! The Non-Certified Spouse came up with an idea he used for a paper that day and now she's resting on her laurels about that one time she wrote something that ended up in an Omaha Newspaper! And now she wants a writing credit for my cover caption for Superman #22 which I haven't gotten to yet! Boy, she's really acting like a big shot!

Anyway, I mentioned Neal because of his ability to guess the most obvious cartoon for major events. I loved that he would tell us what the cartoon was probably going to be and then find example after example of different artists coming up with that exact same cartoon all over the country. I wonder if I can manage that myself? I might have to take some bipolar medication first to rein in my idiocy. You might want to have a few drinks before reading this commentary so your brain power will be functioning closer to the average citizen's. You know who I'm talking about! The ones that still enjoy comedies with laugh tracks and think making fun of Dwarves in Fantasy movies is the height of entertainment! Fucking dirtbag Elven lobby have the ears of Hollywood producers! Dwarves should be respected, dammit! Stop making a mockery out of them by filling their beards with leftover food and making them ride tiny horses!

I'm already off on the wrong foot! The average person just flicked a booger across the room and thought, "Who the fuck cares about dwarfs and elfs?" And then they high fived each other and whooped like mad men to prove they were living life to the fullest. But I know my readers are above average! Way above average! We're like a super secret sexy cult of smart! We should have some kind of secret sign that we can flash at each other as we walk about amid the narcissistic fashion monkeys that dwell all around us. We need a sign that says, "I get you. And you get me. Now lets go eat some tater tots." But I don't know what that sign should be. Maybe I should sell shirts with one big fucking tater tot on it. Somebody design that and we'll sell it on this site for 50/50 profits!

The Penguin has been bombing the shit out of an area of Gotham infested with Rat-tails. Mayor Hady has been in favor of letting a mob boss turn a good chunk of Gotham into a burning, crater-filled, corpse-strewn park because he's corrupt and probably on The Penguin's payroll. But what about Batman? Where the fuck has Batman been? It's not like he's busy in his own comic book since those are currently running flashbacks. Am I supposed to believe that Batman has just been ignoring the way Titus has been hiding behind the toilet from the sounds of explosions outside? Umbrellacopters are dropping bombs all over Gotham and Batman doesn't care! He and Catwoman must be having a tiff and Batman is sitting in his study pouting. "Fuckin' she can deal with it herself. Tell me I'm unemotional and distant."

As I was typing that last paragraph, I realized that this is an Ann Nocenti comic book and there's no way in hell I'm going to sit idly by and make stupid, obvious jokes as she rams word icepicks into my eyes.

This is Volt. His name was Volt before he received Volt powers.

Catwoman has decided to make everything right, she will go down into Gotham's under-realm where the Goblin Folk are partying like it's 1199. Her plan? To save Johnny Rat-Tail. Or whatever the fuck his name was. Apparently he was a major character! Catwoman was not only befriending him but she was beginning to crush on him as well. Nocenti likes to have her female character's motivations driven by the males in her life. I guess it's time to find another rook statue that leads down into the Gotham Faerie Kingdom! Catwoman can't enter through the bomb crater sinkhole because the Gotham Police Department is filling it with cement. Oh man. I bet the fucking Gotham Gas and Waterworks guys are going to be pissed when they get to the scene to repair all of the infrastructure only to find it all blocked up with cement! Looks like the people of the Badlands are going to enjoy a bunch of sewage overflows into their apartments this year! If everything doesn't blow up from all the gas leaks first!

First Catwoman goes to get a bunch of spelunking gear from her new best friend in all the world, Alice Tesla.

You do realize she'll be test driving it while trying to save her friend that could be bleeding out right now, right? She doesn't have time for your stupid heist, Alice Tesla!

You might think that Alice Tesla was named to show that she's a great inventor with a touch of madness and a keen association with holes in the ground. But you'd be wrong. Her mother was an 80s rock groupie who really loved Alice Cooper and Tesla. Alice's father is probably Kane Roberts. She was conceived on stage during a performance of "Roses on White Lace."

Apparently Catwoman has to run the heist first. Hang in there, Rat-Tail! You may be bleeding to death but it'll turn out okay! Mind over matter! If you don't mind dying, it doesn't matter! Ha ha ha!

Catwoman needs to break into a funeral home to find some technology that turns dead people into diamonds. My guess is that the owner has a Kryptonian locked up in the basement creating the gems. Catwoman decides to forgo going through a window and instead drops down the gritty cremation chimney. Gross! And then she meets a new friend!

Even in a simple brawl, Nocenti can't write dialogue that works.

Let's pretend that a "survivalist getup" and a headlamp keep a person's guard up for now. Catwoman's response to the guy not letting his guard down? "Another paranoid anti-government nut job?" What? Where the fuck did that come from? "The headlamp exposes the truth! And the gas mask keeps me safe from Project Cloverleaf's chem-trails! The splint mail protects me from exposure to the infertility radiation beamed out from the local news reports every evening!" Hey Catwoman? You live in fucking Gotham! Might the reason for the "survivalist getup" be to, you know, survive?! But I suppose you can't stop Ann Nocenti from non-sequitoring into a subject she wants to go on and on about! Well, I'm not listening today because I've run out of farm animals to draw for Ann Nocenti's Funtime Super Happy Knowledge Farm. Or whatever the fuck I was calling it. God, I'm an idiot.

At least I setup bullshit segues to maintain some semblance of structure to my insane ramblings!

The only line you missed was after Catwoman's "nut job" comment, Nut Job says, "Is it paranoid to know all the facts? And take charge?" So Catwoman sees a guy in a particular getup, decides he's an anti-government nut job, and then makes the leap that he's also an end-timer. Now, I won't argue that those things often go hand-in-hand since my father is a perfect example of the intersection of these kinds of crazy (and hell, who isn't at least 50% anti-government at all times anyway?!), but it just irks me that her intuition is so crazy good! She reads people better than Johnny Crane!

Speaking of end-timers, I had a conversation with my father on the Fourth of July about where the world may be headed. I think he's been watching reruns of The Twilight Zone because he believes that the continuing loss of jobs is due to robots taking people's jobs. I think Fox News's arguments against Corporations being at fault for the loss of jobs in this country due to outsourcing is pointing off screen and yelling, "ROBOTS!" While it can't be denied that many manufacturing jobs, at one point, were made redundant due to automated techniques, and that computers can take over positions as well, those were jobs that were lost long before the sudden lack of jobs that had helped the middle class remain staunchly in the middle class. Those jobs are going overseas. Hell, the manufacturing jobs have all been going overseas. Our fucking robots are now losing jobs to humans! My dad's vision of the future is Road Warrior while I'm a bit more optimistic and see Star Trek: The Next Generation as being where we'll, many, many years from now, eventually be. I think we may both end up being right. The Americas will turn into a Road Warrior wasteland and become the cautionary tale for Europe, Asia, and Africa who will all buck up and go into the future Star Trek style.

Catwoman gets a Human Diamond from this guy who just works security but had enough personality so that Ann Nocenti could briefly discuss end times, and she heads back to get her underground gear from Alice.

As an aside, I really love doing commentaries on Ann Nocenti's comics because they are all over the place. They really give me a nice forum to vomit words into the aether. But as an enjoyable comic book reading experience? She's not very good. See that sentence? That was me being kind!

Ann Nocenti is doing something right! I love Ugly Cat! Although I don't know what makes Ugly Cat so ugly. Hey Rafa! You are reading the script, right?!

Catwoman and Ugly Cat stumble upon something bad which winds up being a bunch of stretchy arms capturing Selina.

Meanwhile Trip and Gwen are going to team up to find Catwoman even though Trip wants to beat on Gwen for betraying Catwoman. Catwoman has some really top-notch associates! I can't believe Rat-tail may be the most upstanding person she knows. And that includes Batman.

Double Meanwhile with a cherry on top, Doctor Phosphorous is telling his daughter Tinderbox that she'll never be completely fulfilled because he won't let her marry a man. Dude, if she wants to be out from under your patriarchal thumb so that she can find a completely different patriarchal thumb to be mashed under, who are you to stop her? He just doesn't want her leaving Charneltown because she has to help with the family business of making dead people into gems and then sending them topside through a system of pneumatic tubes. Doctor Phosphorous doesn't mind living underground because he has everything he needs stuffed into the top of his hookah. But Tinderbox wants to be topside! It's at this point that I would begin singing that Little Mermaid song where she shows off her forks and tries to remember topsider words but instead my brain just keeps shoving in the tune of Veruca Salt's "I Want It Now." Not the band, dumb dumb. The character the band was named after.

Nocenti loves writing strong female characters!

Catwoman is the person that has been caught. It's Catwoman. If you were wondering how that guy was going to finish his sentence.

Catwoman decides she doesn't like being manhandled even if there is a chance to marry one of these Charneltowners. So she fights back, scratching Doctor Phosphorous in the face and trying to string him up with her whip.

This might be the most disgusting super power in The New 52. "Why is he putting his finger in his...OH MY GOD I'M BURNING!"

Doctor Phosphorous subdues Catwoman so now she has to marry him. Or at the very least, work for him. Now she has to be his spy to see if some jerks called The Warhogs are violating the terms of the two tribes' treaty by entering The Underground Neutral Zone. I bet Rat-Tail has been found by the Warhogs and he's going to become their spy!

Catwoman finds out that the Neutral Zone is a place where Obsidian blocks are made since it's a place where lave touches water. I suppose both tribes want enough blocks to make a portal to the Nether Realms, especially since Alice Tesla mentioned a place in Gotham that was flooded that used to be called The Nethers. Was Nocenti watching her kid play Minecraft when she thought up this fucking story?

Nocenti may also have been reading The Bible.

Catwoman and Tinderbox mount up on horses and ride off to meet with the Warhogs. Of course, Ugly Cat goes with them. When did this fucking comic book become a Swords and Sorcery tale?! Fuck it! I'm up for it! This might be the best idea Ann Nocenti has ever had! I think that little Goblin from Catwoman #19 was right! This underground is going to be a lot of fun!

Catwoman #22 Rating: +1 Ranking. Look, this isn't a great comic book. But here's why I'm giving it a +1 Ranking! It was more enjoyable than every other Catwoman book written by Nocenti. Ugly Cat was introduced. And this is now DC Canon: THERE IS A SWORD AND SORCERY WORLD LYING UNDERNEATH GOTHAM! Nope! Can't change it! Nocenti has made it so! Get over it!

And now a new Catwoman feature in which I end every commentary of Catwoman with a picture of one of my cats! Yay!

The little kitten in the middle is my dear Pelafina (named after the mother in House of Leaves). This was about eleven or twelve years ago when she stayed with the neighbors for a week while we were out of town. She apparently made great friends with Toast (the washed out ginger) and Moose. This picture kills the life out of me every time I look at it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Batman Loves Superman #2

Sometimes super heroes fight each other. Sometimes super heroes fight themselves.

At times writing these commentaries, I feel like a midwife that has hung around a bit too long. My righteous anger and withering indignation was desperately needed during the formative years when DC wasn't totally sure what they were doing and Scott Lobdell was writing four different titles. But as the quality of the books steadily improves, I have less and less to be angry about and it gets harder and harder to find things to rant about. Writing commentaries on comic books I'm actually enjoying isn't much fun. For anybody!

Me!: "Scott Snyder didn't have a good handle on Swamp Thing but Charles Soule can handle my 'swamp thing' any day of the week! Except for Wednesdays because that's when Solomon Grundy gets me to himself. Isn't that how the poem goes? 'Solomon Grundy, anilingus on Wednesday'? I mean, Charles could join us if he wants because he's fucking rocking the swamp socks off Swamp Thing! So good. Did I mention it was good? Loving how good it is. Really good. It might be the best writing I've ever read when compared to Scott Lobdell. Although I think there are only two tiers of writing. Scott Lobdell's writing and everything else as the best writing when compared to Scott Lobdell."

Hmm. That actually entertained me! Maybe I can do decent commentaries about books I enjoy reading! Tinkerbell, come spray some of your twinkling pee on me because I'm ready to fucking fly!

Last issue of Batman Trying Desperately Not to Shank Superman, the two heroes had been BOOOM tubed to an alternate reality where Pa Kent was still alive and Superman and Batman were already best pals. They became best friends in this alternate reality because Jimmy Olsen was stillborn so Clark needed a best friend. And Batman's heart hadn't withered to a tiny, rock-hard little peach pit, so he had room for a friend in his life. They met at an Overeater's Anonymous meeting because they were looking for Green Lantern who had once mentioned he worked at some place called OA. They didn't realize that the Green Lantern they met was from an alternate universe as well since their alternate universe won't have a Green Lantern until they're dead and he won't have anything to do with OA. Unless that's a shorthand in personals columns for "ORAL/ANAL".

Superman was BOOOOOOM Tubed into a field in Smallville last issue. This issue begins with Batman appearing at Earth 2's Wayne Manor where he's got a nasty albeit sexy surprise in store for him. Why didn't I just use "although"? Maybe I'm being unduly influenced by Earth 2's stupidities. I'm using "stupidities" here as a judgmental term for "differences" because I have Earth Prime Pride, bitches! Fuck y'all over there on Earth 2! Subhumans!

Alfred has a night off? Earth Two is weird.

Batman, being a detective, quickly realizes he's in an alternate reality when he sees a wedding photo of Bruce and Selina after Catwoman calls him husband but mostly because of Alfred taking a night off. Who is Alfred hanging out with? He has friends on Earth Two? Is he dating somebody?

Back in Smallville, Superman might be discovering the same thing as Pa Kent approaches him. "But Pa Kent is least in my world!" That was a play on the way Batman made his realization at the end of the last scene. Who thinks like that? "This is all very strange and different so it must not be MY WORLD!" I'm going to begin pretending I'm a comic book character and react to all of my future encounters in comic book style. How long before I'm thrown in a mental ward, diagnosed with Schizophrenia and delusions of superherodom?

Although I found Batman's reaction to his Catwife strange, I find Superman's reaction to his father even stranger.

Pa Kent didn't die in hospice! He died at home! Where you took him, Clark! You can't even remember the death of your father correctly!

Superman isn't a detective so he doesn't think in terms of "alternate realities" and "not my worlds" and other stuff master detectives would quickly realize is the only improbable possibility after having ruled out all of the other possibilities. But Earth Two Batman begins to suspect he knows what's going on (because he's a detective too!) so The Trickster, Kaiyo, BOOOM Tubes him away. Perhaps she'll send him back to the Batcave so he can see his wife cheating on him with himself.

Oh, and Pa and Ma Kent weren't too thrilled by this "superman" beating the living shit out of his best friend. Pa realizes this isn't his boy at all! He's a monster from another world. Which he totally is. And then the monster from this world appears to defend his parents! Earth Prime Superman is in big trouble because he's probably still weak from the Kryptonite and if Earth Two Superman simply sees another person in Kryptonian Lingerie, he probably won't be pulling any punches.

Back at the Batcave, Batman does arrive to find Batman has his wife tied to a chair.

It's almost like a Batman on Batman sex tape.

But before he discovers the tryst, he also manages to see the incorporeal being that is behind it all. And he's deduced that these doubles might be from a different world as well. The fucking Batmen are so fucking smart. Although Earth Two Batman may have already traveled to another world in his career. He may be quite familiar with Earth Six or something. Maybe it was his traveling between Earths that piqued Darkseid's interests.

Batman's Reverse Dragon Punch (which he learned from a fifty's restaurant owner that forced him to give his dragons Brazilians) is easily countered by Batman. But since Batman (and the old Japanese man) were the only people in the world to know the Reverse Dragon Punch, Batman (and Batman!) begins suspecting some weird shenanigans. He tries out a few other moves that only he knows, like Flaccid Knobbed Bunny Kick and Kitten Fight Monkey Truck. But Batman is able to block those moves as well! It's a mystery to discover and these are the detectives to discover it! Once they realize they know all the same moves, Batman asks Batman a question only Batman can answer: At what age did we begin masturbating? And when Batman knows the answer, they call a truce.

Why doesn't anybody vote clones? Oh yeah. Because this isn't Marvel.

Back at the farm, I'm realizing I'm not a big fan of Earth Two Superman and his holier than thou folks. Not using curse words should not automatically equate to home cookin' and down to earth values. There's a certain point where social etiquette and traditional manners simply become overbearing rules for rules sake and do not express the quality of the person. Actually, Clark's folks seem okay to me in that they tsk tsk both Supermen for their behaviour. But this following panel kind of pisses me off.

"I were raised to not make use of them bad words but if'n you yell at my face, yous gonna gets it!"

I'm really trying my hardest to fill my commentary with some sort of righteous indignation but I just can't do it. I actually like this moment. Especially since, from Superman's position in that last panel, it looks like Superman may have just put his hand up to keep Superman from getting too close. And because Superman is still very weak from Batman's Kryptonite, he ends up knocked on his ass. And I don't think it's so much as using bad language as the language Superman chooses to use. Saying "hell" might be a bit of a blasphemy on the Kents' land. And then when he's about to call Superman a "son of a bitch," well, now you're attacking Ma and Ma ain't too fucking happy about that one. Especially since Superman is basically calling his own dead mother a bitch in the same sentence!

And leave it to Ma to work out the trouble between what is essentially a pair of siblings.

Now I wish my parents were dead so I could experience a hug from my mother from another world!

I don't know why it just hit me that Superman and Batman have both lost their parents to tragic events now. I've been so used to The Kents being alive for nearly all of my comic book reading that I just haven't given it much thought that Superman and Batman now have this connection, thanks to Mr. Mxyzptlk. I mean Vyndktvx! Oh, they're probably the same person anyway, stupid fifth dimensional beings. I find it hard to believe that Ma and Pa Kent were even allowed to die in The Silver Age! I suppose they had to die at some point in the Superboy comic book since they were always dead in Superman's adult life. But I wasn't reading DC until Crisis on Infinite Earths, so Ma and Pa Kent were pretty much resurrected for the time I was reading.

I couldn't remember in what wacky way the Kents died in the Silver Age (I just remembered it was wacky!), so I asked Lord Google about it. When I did, I found a forum with fanboys (one in particular. Isn't that always the way? The worst are full of passionate intensity, amirite?) picking apart Morrison's portrayal of Pa Kent's death as being plagiarized from Spiderman's origin with the death of Uncle Ben. First off, those idiots need to know more history than the shallow fucking shit they can interpret with their scrawny little fish brains. If you're going to blame anybody for ripping off Spiderman (and I'm not agreeing at all that Pa's death scene is a ripoff of Spiderman! Just going with it for now!), don't blame Morrison. Blame whoever wrote the Superboy story where the Kents die of some tropical disease since Morrison basically revamped Pa's death in that for The New 52 story. Instead of making sarcastic remarks that every DC story is stolen from Marvel, actually debate the point logically and provide examples!

One of the things I liked about Pa's death in Morrison's run was how Superman actually had the option to bring his parents back to life. He had one last wish which he could have used to return everything to "the way it should have been." But he's grown and he's mourned and he has not based his life around their death and his inability to save them. It happened and he was sad and he wished he could have saved them with his powers but he can't save everyone. It's a lesson Superman needs to learn with his heart and not just know with his penis brain. He chooses to save a young boy he promised to save and couldn't within the Vyndktvx strange ass time frame. It changes less and it lets Superman keep a promise he desperately needed to keep. The difference with Spiderman is that he had the opportunity to stop the thief that killed his Uncle at a later time. He had powers and he had a moment and he shrugged it off as not his problem. That situation can fuck with your head. Peter Parker should have serious issues about guilt when he is, because of his great powers, greatly responsible for his Uncle's death. Not directly, of course! But through his general apathy, he learns a huge fucking lesson. Superman doesn't have any of that baggage about his father's death. Although they did die because Superman makes an enemy that he never actually knows about until defeating him upon first meeting him! But that gets into some really weird metaphysical time-traveling alternate dimensional weirdnesses that nobody can fault Superman for! Maybe Morrison. But not Superman!

If that last paragraph was too convoluted and confusing, blame it on Mr. Mxyzptlk. He probably changed it or something because I assure you it was coherent when I wrote it.

I think I was saying something about Batman and Superman having something in common besides a fat cock. Although Alfred has to take care of Bruce's since he grew up in the city. At least Clark has the knowledge needed to raise chickens himself.

Back to the comic book, everyone has stopped fighting. The Batmen take a tour of Gotham where Batman gets to see firsthand Gotham's cryo-prison where horrible monsters like The Joker and Aquawoman are locked up for good.

And the new Arkham Asylum with its insane roller coasters and crazy games.

Meanwhile Superman flies to Metropolis with Superman leap-frogging along beside him. I suppose Superman eventually learns to fly once he's soaked up enough solar radiation. Or maybe he needs to fix an inner ear problem. They're in the big city so that Clark can meet Clark's wife, Lois Lane. They also meet up with Wonder Woman.

Who promptly pins Lois to the ground with her spear.

That's because Lois is currently possessed by The Trickster! Darn. I thought there was going to be some drama between Clark's wife and his mistress.

Batman Loves Superman #2 Rating: +4 Ranking. This book is a top-notch comic book. I am happy.

Larfleeze #2

I'm expecting to laugh here, Giffen! Don't you fucking disappoint me!

Issue #1 of Larfleeze wasn't as good as the back-up stories had been but I'm hoping it was due to the constraints of being a first issue. Does that make sense? The first issue needed to establish Larfleeze in some small manner for newer readers. The book seemed to take a lot of shit from reviewers for not being very funny. I have a feeling a lot of comic book reviewers wouldn't know funny if it married their mom and began beating her and telling the reviewers that their mom wished they'd never been born and to stop being a parasite and get out of the fucking house and take that kaiser blade with them. We all live in this space of pseudo-intellectual bullshit where we hope people will read our pop cultural references and our Shakespeare quotes and think, "This guy is fucking smart!" Meanwhile we're just apes like everybody else, occasionally scratching our heads and sniffing our fingers while sitting in a cloud of rancid ass air and discarded candy wrappers.

I say "we" even though I don't technically write comic book reviews. I simply say "we" so that I don't appear to think I'm better than my peers! I don't even read any other comic reviews except on very rare occasions like when I wanted to see what people thought of Larfleeze #1. And that's when I noticed whimsy didn't seem to be something very many reviewers like to see in their comic books. But I love that shit! I remember catching the last half of the first episode of Xena back when it first aired. I marveled at the fight scene where Xena and her enemy were battling on poles and then posts and then, finally, on people's heads. It was just so campy and I loved every second of it. The next day, I asked a couple of friends if they'd seen this show (which I still didn't know the name of) and they had! They told me it was Xena and that it was incredibly stupid. And then I told them it was glorious! I told everybody I knew about it! And eventually a lot of people came to see that I knew what the fuck I was talking about.

I see you assholes shaking your heads in disagreement! Don't you fucking disrespect Xena like that, bitches! I'll cut you!

Speaking of segues, I think it's time to speak of segues so that I can say, "Speaking of segues, it's time to read Larfleeze!"

I don't know if it "works" but it never stopped Tott Dedell from repeating his first page Narration Boxes across every fucking issue.

This commenting on their own work is probably just going to grate on most reviewer's nerves, exposed from years of their mom looking at family photos of distant cousins and proclaiming, "Oh, they were like the children I never had!" It's not serious enough for modern comics! You can't do a joke like that because you aren't taking this comic book shit seriously! Colorful images of men and women in skimpy outfits flying through the air and blasting buildings with eyeball lasers should be imbued with the expected gravitas and dignity of the comic book medium!

My main problem with it is that it wasn't really that funny. But it sets the stage for the reader. Now the reader knows that this comic book is not going to take itself very seriously even though the first image is of a raging orange space monster. Hmm, maybe the fact that the first page is of a raving orange space monster is enough proof that it shouldn't be taken seriously?

One should really try not to include a panel like this which the angry reviewers could use against oneself.

As you can see by the above panel, Larfleeze's encounter with Laord of the Hunt has turned to violence. It might have been because Larfleeze killed Laord's doggy or because Larfleeze attacked Laord or because Larfleeze has mentioned multiple times that Laord's stuff is now his. Or, if you want to see it from Larfleeze's point of view, this jerk has prestolen Larfleeze's things and now Larfleeze is only demanding righteous justice and adequate compensation for having been thus victimized.

Meanwhile Butler Stargrave gets to know Laord's last remaining dog whose name happens to be Lou. He learns a bit about Laord and his servants and where they all came from.

Another universe?! Two Universes in one dimension? Or is Creation Point a portal to another dimension? How does this fit in with "The New 52" paradigm? What exactly are the 52 worlds? Other universes in other dimensions nearly identical to ours? But if this is two universes in one of the 52 dimensions, then it would be completely different and not a near copy of Earth Prime's current universe! I think this is all too confusing already! Somebody begin preparations for a Crisis!

One of Laord's lackeys named Herb (who likes to smoke, if you get my meaning (although in his universe, herb is actually toxic blue gelatin)) joins in the conversation and Stargrave learns a whole mess of disastrous shit. Laord's five siblings have also made their way into Earth Prime's Universe and they've got a bit more chromosomal damage than Laord has, so they're far crazier and far worse threats. They've already destroyed one Universe and now they've come to destroy Stargrave's! I think it's up to him to stop the end of Omnithing!

Is it meaningful to the universe that "nicest" is an anagram for "incest"?

The conversation between Lou and Herb and Stargrave is the most interesting part of the book. The battle between Laord and Larfleeze simply boils down to a debate on who owns everything. It's a bit like a battle between two three year olds. Except that these two are three billion year olds. It takes so long to reach maturity when one is immortal.

And just like that, it's over.

When Larfleeze comes around, he's not going to be too happy about Laord stealing his butler. That's a statement that anybody reading this comic book could have done without, seeing as how throughout it, Larfleeze mainly just screams, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" He's got a few issues with his things being in his saddle. That's one of those intellectual pop culture references you're supposed to catch and nod your head at my astounding knowledge of poetry while in truth, it's only one of about five poems I've ever read. But if you drop the near quotes (and they must always be "near quotes" to show how cool and cavalier you are with your knowledge, and you're not too desperate to show off your capacity for memorization) in the right context, you sound like you know a lot more than you do!

Stargrave is taken by Laord and made his manservant in charge of taxidermy. His new job is to skin and stuff and sew and pose creatures from all across the Universe for Laord's Shoe Box Diorama. At the bottom of the heap of creatures, Stargrave discovers Larfleeze still wrapped in plastic plasma. And then Stargrave's Guardian Angel appears.

Larfleeze has the most disgusting tongue in the universe.

Larfleeze #2 Rating: No change. I want to keep defending this comic book because no other comic in The New 52 is really dedicated to whimsical chicanery. But the quality isn't quite up to my humor standards. I love the look of it though. It's bright and cartoony and full of interesting looking characters. But so far Stargrave continually resorts to whining and mewling while Larfleeze just runs around screaming like a spoiled child. There were a couple of moments I liked which is why I didn't give the issue a negative rating, like the phrase "anal ache" and "the House of Tuath-Dan's so inbred, it's hard t'tell exactly how they're all related." I like that Larfleeze's enemies are a bunch of incestuous dirtbags crazed from genetically recessive, damaging traits. Here's to hoping this thing winds up being as funny as when it was a back-up story.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Constantine #5

After I did the preview scan of this cover, I had to take it out of the scanner to look at the colors to make sure my scanner wasn't set to grayscale with trace amounts of red. That is so a setting!

This issue begins after this panel, one of the creepiest panels so far in The New 52:

It's creepy if you look at it in the right way!

A strange man in a trench coat lures a young boy away into the dark with vague promises? Come on! That's disturbing! It's really going to color the way I read this issue. Constantine wants something from this boy and he's going to take it no matter what the cost. I think this might be one of those analogies or cautionary tales for young, rebellious boys.

John leads Shazam out of the House of Mystery and into a bar in New York, a fitting place to corrupt a minor. John manages to convince Billy Batson to take off his uniform and then John shows him his monkey. He then handcuffs Billy to the bar and takes what he came for.

Remember, kids! If a strange man tells you that your family is in danger, don't believe him! Also, you probably shouldn't be reading this if you're a kid. I say things like "cunt" and "fuck" a lot and I wouldn't want to be thought of as a corrupter of the youth! Except if you are a kid and you are reading this, how is it my fault? Your parents should be keeping a better eye on you. Hey, kids! You want to learn some things about your parents that they probably don't want you to know? Go through their things the next time they leave you alone in the house! Don't worry about getting caught as long as you put everything back where it was! Parents develop this kind of mental block where they forget that their children are individuals with their own wants and desires. They think that telling you to stay out of their shit actually means something. It doesn't! They only say that because they went through their parents stuff too! They know at a visceral level that you're going to go through their things. But they convince themselves that you won't because they so desperately need to believe that you'll respect their privacy. Which is also the reason why they won't be getting rid of any of the stuff that might reveal they're someone other than who they show you! My mother had joints that were probably over a decade old in her jewelry box and my grandfather had some of the filthiest magazines I'd ever seen!

This is a very short story you may not want to read if you're at all squeamish. My friend Paul was dating a girl named Rachel who was still living with her mother. One night when he was over at her place and her mom was out, she took him into her mother's bedroom closet and showed him his mother's sex toys. My friend Paul grabbed her vibrator out of the box and licked it. I'm surprised Rachel didn't break up with him right there. No, she waited a bit longer when the fucking idiot began cheating on her with her boss.

Was that story squeam-inducing? It's hard to tell what other people might think of things. I'm the kind of person that eats as many free cookies as I can when the bank leaves some out instead of politely just taking one, so I'm not always sure how to react to things. I found the story hilarious. Not the cheating part of it! That was sophomoric and immature. But that other part with the licking! Ha ha! Good one!

Where was I? Oh yeah! Don't listen to strangers, kids!

Meanwhile the guy that was in the bar when Constantine arrived is tattling to the Cold Flame. He gets directions to say a magic word and then to go kill Constantine and Billy Batson and the barkeep.

This Runespeak is upside down and makes no sense. Although it seems to be related to Abra Cadabra! Just more gibberishy.

The magic word might be crap but it causes a demon to burst out of the thug's chest. I don't get the point of being a henchman to super villains or evil groups in comic books. Are they all convinced that some day they'll gain great power just like their leaders? Hmm, that sounds fucking familiar. Hey henchman! Not everyone can be a super magic cult leader! Stop giving up your lives for them! They're just manipulating you so they can gain more and more power! Stop voting them into Congress and allowing them to take more and more government benefits out of the hands of the people simply because you believe you can one day be super rich too and God forbid you have to pay taxes on that future hypothetical money! Or maybe you just don't give a shit because your only concern with which cult you join and which leader you follow is their public stance on abortion and/or child sacrifice.

When the demon thug breaks into the bar and attacks, Constantine is forced to use Billy Batson's magic word. That word doesn't make any sense either but at least we're all familiar with it. I mean, it makes more sense than "abraoac lvcfs lvcfj acabra" in that it's an acronym for a bunch of Gods' names.

Moon Prism Power!

This isn't Constantine's usual tactic but I guess he didn't have much choice. He usually likes to stand by smoking a cigarette with his trap already laid out and his enemy already well inside of it. He's not a blatant power guy! He likes subtlety and misdirection. This Shazam shit might be a bit too much for him. Luckily Billy Batson gets loose. Maybe he'll realize he should probably destroy John's Voodoo Monkey to get his voice and his power back.

Constantine manages to pull the head off of the demon and then Billy Batson pulls the head off of the Voodoo Monkey. Billy says Shazam and gets his power back. And everybody lived happily ever after.

Or they might. Constantine warns Shazam not to touch Pandora's Box or it'll be the end of the world. But why would Billy listen to him now? Why would Billy listen to him ever?! Billy is a little prick. He's going to do whatever the fuck he wants, end of the world or not. Especially since he has so much power! So what if the world ends? He'll be okay!

And John doesn't exactly live happily ever after either since he had a hole poked in him by the demon. So he's lying on the floor of the bar bleeding out when he's visited by the ghost of his good buddy Chris. You know, the guy he sacrificed at the end of the first issue? So that should make for a fun reunion next month.

Constantine #5 Rating: -1 Ranking. I'm giving this a negative ranking because I haven't been giving many comic books negative rankings lately and I think I'm getting a little soft. So I'm going to put on my harsh hat and give Constantine what-for due to the really not very good art and the not so exciting "Trinity War Tie-In"! I might have enjoyed seeing Constantine's version of Shazam but the art was horribly sketchy and the bodies malformed and the color palette was miserable. I think his cape was basically his trench coat but it was hard to tell!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Justice League Dark #22

Why is Frank choking The Flash? Frank owes The Flash his life! Twice! Stupid cover not making sense within the confines of Justice League Dark Continuity.

I hope The Trinity War sets a precedent for crossovers. I like the format of a six issue crossover that ends in two months because it's across three titles. And they've spaced the issues out so that I'm not completely forgetting what was happening between each issue. I also like the extra smooth Before Watchmen type glossy magazine covers! I'm easy to please!

At the end of the last issue of The Trinity War, Wonder Woman had gone off in search of Magic to save the world from Pandora. Batman was going to rely on science like an idiot (doesn't he know he's in a comic book?!). And Superman was going to use questions or something. I don't know what Superman was going to do. Research, maybe? Kill another hero? Threaten Scott Lobdell with legal action?

This issue begins with a shocker: Madame Xanadu was not killed in the explosion in Part One! Yeah! Go figure! And it's not like she saw the explosion coming with her extraordinary prognostication abilities! Oh no! She was rescued and kidnapped by The Purple People Leader! I wonder what he needs her for? Maybe he needs a Purple People Leader Queen! She loves purple!

I knew she was a fraud! If she can see the future, why does she need to ask him his plans? And don't say because she doesn't know who he is because she can see the future! That's proof that I'm right somehow!

Meanwhile Firestorm is making Kryptonite for Amanda Waller. That won't end well! Batman will be pissed that somebody else has Kryptonite. But right now, Batman is sitting in on the autopsy of Doctor Light which is the weirdest autopsy ever because they're keeping him in uniform as they perform it! Maybe Cyborg is using Apokoliptian Ultrasound technology. The Phantom Stranger interrupts the autopsy because there aren't enough players in this thing already. I think he just wants to feel included.

Nobody has any idea what's going on, so they just assume that The Phantom Stranger knows what he's talking about. They must stop Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark from going after Pandora and her box. Steve Trevor relates the story of the shitty comic book he was in and how it ended when Pandora's Box killed all of Team 7. Except for most of them.

Holy shit. Superman is looking super fucked up.

For some reason, The Question isn't keeping to speaking entirely in questions. Way to fuck up the gimmick, asshole. The Question gives Superman a piece of paper that should help him figure out who actually killed Doctor Light. I'm just going to assume this really is The Question because he's helping Superman while The Phantom Stranger is helping Batman and Wonder Woman is going after Pandora. That's why it's called The Trinity War! I'm like Sherlock Hemlock and shit. I don't even need no fucking Prairie Dawn to help me solve the case!

Whatever the note said, it makes Superman angry enough to almost kill Cyborg and the ARGUS soldiers guarding his cell. He explodes out of captivity and rushes off to kill Batman. Or something. I don't really know where he's going. But my guess is Wonder Woman is trying to stop Superman by getting the Box and uncorrupting him. Batman is trying to stop Wonder Woman from getting the Box and ending the world. So Superman must be trying to stop Batman from stopping Wonder Woman from getting the box so that she can stop him. Or something.

Wonder Woman has found the Justice League Dark and they've agreed to help her. But first they'll have to get through Batman and his crew.

I don't know why Shazam or Catwoman are here helping out. I figured they'd just bugger out to their own lives by now.

I suppose Zatanna brought them to The House of Mystery. Constantine should have barred her from the House once she left the group. He's too sentimental!

I love that Batman opens with a threat. It's not good enough to appear and say, "Hey! You should really stop this because it's dangerous. Let's research what's going on and we'll eventually get to the bottom of this. How about some coffee?" Instead, he appears with a small army behind him with an ultimatum! These super heroes really piss me off sometimes. Stop taking every opportunity you can find to get in a fight with other heroes. Maybe if Wonder Woman were about to pick up Pandora's Box, Batman would be justified in escalating the violence since he's not sure that opening the Box won't end the world. But they don't even know where Pandora is yet! Everybody just calm the fuck down!

Back at ARGUS, Superman's rush to destroy everything to get out is all because The Question gave him a clipping from Khandaq showing Doctor Psycho had been in town. Oh shit! Well fuck! No wonder he destroyed millions of dollars of ARGUS equipment and almost killed half a dozen men! He had a newspaper clipping! Now I'm really pissed off! Somebody go call fucking Uncle Ben over to this universe to explain about power and responsibility! I can fucking wait because Superman is acting like a spoiled child. And now Amanda Waller is getting into it by threatening Superman with a bunch of ARGUS guards! Why don't the ARGUS guards simply say, "Fuck that! That's Superman! You deal with it!" Oh, that's right. Because the "you" is Amanda Waller. I guess I wouldn't be talking back either.

Green Arrow takes control and does the right thing. No, he doesn't throw a garbage can through a pizzeria window. But close enough. He deescalates the situation by providing some smoke cover so they can all get away and go find Doctor Psycho.

I like Green Arrow's actions here because he quickly decides they should help Superman and not fight. So smoke screen it is! Except there will probably still be a big brawl since they're in the subbasement of ARGUS and Amanda is blocking the way out.

Back in the House of Mystery, John Constantine makes off with Shazam because Shazam didn't really want to be there in the first place. Which is what I thought. Which makes me wonder why the fuck he went with Batman? I suppose anywhere was better than ARGUS. The rest of the crew divvy up teams so that they can fight each other because the people Batman brought with him really didn't have their hearts in the idea of beating up Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman's crew teleport away thanks to Zatanna while Batman's crew is left wondering where Constantine and Shazam went.

Shazam is wondering the same thing!

Back at ARGUS, nobody wants to play with Amanda Waller. Maybe that'll make her think twice next time she shoves a nanobomb into somebody's neck. You're not making friends, lady. Everybody else heads off into different comic books while The Purple People Leader tells Madame Xanadu something she'd already know if she could actually see the future: he has a mole in the Justice League! I bet that mole is The Question that isn't the Question because The Question wasn't asking questions the whole time! I bet it's Clayface or some other shape shifter.

Justice League Dark #22 Rating: No change. The Purple People Leader believes he's already won although I don't know why he believes that. Is it just the usual super villain arrogance? Or has he, himself, seen the future? And what's going to happen to the Justice League of America when this is all over? Amanda Waller is going to be hell to live with.