Saturday, September 24, 2016

Green Lanterns #6

The Commentary!
Current mood: I hate everybody. EV.ER.EE.BOD.EE.

Mood Friday Night: Drunk and singing Karaoke. That's pretty much the opposite of how I feel right now. And before you think, "Yeah, I get it, Tess! The world is full of pricks and assholes!", realize that you--the person agreeing with me?--I hate you too. Friday night I was singing "Be My Lover" by Alice Cooper and "Shame on You" by the Indigo Girls and "Eastbound and Down" by Jerry Reed and "Randy Scouse Git" by The Monkees and "Don't Let Me Get Me" by Pink. Tonight? Fuck it all. I'm going back into my shell and just read comic books and try to make some stupid jokes. I apologize beforehand to Sam Humphries since a lot of them will probably be at the expense of the work he did. Although, can it really be called work when you're obviously not doing the job you were paid to do? Exhibit A:

I think Sam mixed up the job descriptions of "Comic Book Writer" and "Novelist".

With all of this first person narration, might I suggest possibly going into a Young Adult Novel career path, Sam? When you were scripting this, you did know an artist was going to be doing some of the work for you, right? This feels like I'm reading the novelization of Green Lanterns #6!

I usually hate spoilers but I'm going to count all of the Narration Boxes in this comic book right now even though that means I'll see some images that might spoil the story. Although, will I? Really? From the looks of this page, the story is all in the words! The art is just parsley to make know what? I actually don't know what parsley on a plate of food is for.

Ninety-one Narration Boxes and seventy panels. That ratio is way, way off. But there's good news too! As I was counting the panels and boxes, I noticed after about ten pages, the Narration Boxes mostly stopped for eight pages. Holy shit! Eight pages of Sam Humphries doing the job he was hired to do! I suppose he was also hired to write Narration Boxes. Some people like that shit! Sometimes, people sit down at a steak restaurant and actually say things like, "I would like a steak well done! I would like you to completely ruin the steak you are about to serve me by drying it out completely and making it extra crunchy and tough to chew! Also, could you sprinkle extra parsley around it?"

So the pictures did spoil the story for me! I haven't read the comic book yet but I know Jessica finally makes a construct, Simon breaks his arm in the fight, the teddy bear present is saved, Jessica's sister is safe, the Bohemian Guardian flashes his new Magenta Ring, and Dex-Starr successfully plants the Rage Seed in the Hell Well. So, you know, do I really need to read the comic book now? I figure all that Narration Boxing probably just makes sure I know that Jess sort of overcomes her anxiety to help Simon and Simon sort of overcomes his manliness to accept help, and they begin to trust each other. Right?

How dare you identify with the term "dork" in an adorable way?! You are no dork. You've never been a dork. You've never dealt with being an actual dork. Actual dorks got wedgies. Actual dorks got swirlies. Actual dorks came home from school with busted lips and black eyes and torn clothing on a constant fucking basis. Stop thinking it's so cute to be "such a nerd!" or "a total dork!" or "like, so geeky!" Fuck you.

Some people might be thinking, "How do you know those things never happened to her, Tess?!" Yeah, I don't. But, you know, she's a fictional character so I'm betting she probably did have those experiences, just so it all makes sense. But the thing that nobody really wants to talk about is that being a dork, or a nerd, or a geek isn't really about your hobbies. It isn't about being ostracized by the popular kids because you play Dungeons and Dragons or read science fiction or bury your face in comic books. It's actually about appearance. You're in elementary school or junior high or high school and you're ugly or fat? You're probably going to be picked on incessantly by assholes. But because you were picked on for shit you couldn't change about yourself (and why should you want to, or be constantly told you should want to change anyway?), you escaped from reality however you could. Back when words like dork, nerd, and geek weren't proud labels to wear on your lapel, they read comic books. They played Dungeons and Dragons. They lost themselves in science fiction. They weren't nerds, dorks, and geeks because they liked those things. They liked those things to get away from being constantly aware that everybody fucking hated them based solely on their looks. Can you maybe understand why some dorks, nerds, and geeks are so angry now that their escapes have gone mainstream and everybody has decided they themselves are dorks, nerds, and geeks now? I don't mean they're mad because other people like the shit they like. I mean they're angry because they still get picked on and still don't fit in because of their appearance. And what's worse? If any of them try to express how they feel, they get ridiculed by holier-than-thou assholes and told that they don't have a reason to be hurt or angry.

The inside cover of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth has a number of heartbreaking bits that get to the essential core of being a nerd. One of the bits is a questionnaire and begins with "1. You are a. male. b. female. If b, you may stop. Put down your booklet. All others continue." The following goes on to describe in painstaking detail the experience of being a male nerd. Does the first question erase the experience of female nerds? Of course not. Get the fuck out of here. But by including that first question, Chris Ware is speaking to the heart of what it felt like to be a male nerd during a time when nerd hobbies were not mainstream and, I think, is a bit of a prophetic sense of what we have seen in things like Gamer Gate and the Manosphere. In some way, male nerds feel that women can never experience what it feels like to be ostracized by others. In some weird partitioned logic, they somehow think women cannot have had the same experiences that they had when younger. But reading through the rest of the questionnaire in the inside cover of Jimmy Corrigan, nothing stands out as being a purely male experience. Without that first question, the list isn't gendered at all. Here are two examples:

"6. The presence of members of the opposite and/or attractive sex makes you feel
a. weird.
b. awful.
c. terrified.
d. hopeless.
e. like killing yourself.

7. The possibility of finding social and/or personal contact with members of the opposite and/or attractive sex is
a. laughable.
b. incomprehensible.
c. all you ever think about.
d. a, b, and c.
e. a, b, c, and d."

These questions are experiences both unpopular and bullied males and females can identify with. And even though the first question asks females to put down the questionnaire, the questions are still posed in a way that doesn't exclude anyone based on gender. Although, I suppose, the "attractive sex" bit means "female"? And it's totally asked in a heteronormative way! But, you know what, ignore that bullshit. This is about specifics and cries of "erasure" only broaden discussion when sometimes (most of the time?) things need to get specific. Which brings me back to the fucked up angry male nerds who believe they're the only ones who have ever felt the way they've felt. So like the beginning of Chris Ware's quiz which seems to state females won't understand this kind of social isolation, they believe they're still being left behind by a culture that has accepted their escapes but still will not accept them.

Generally, I point out that these angry white males arming themselves for war are idiots who are throwing away the greatest privilege of being a white male. As a white male, you are born, from day one, being nothing but the name given to you by your parents. You are an individual. You don't have to fight for rights. You don't have to answer questions about where you're from. You don't have to worry about being a slut or a prude. You're just fucking you, and that's all. When somebody makes fun of white males or attacks white males, most white males don't think, "Fuck you! You're talking about me, aren't you?!" Most white males think "That's right! White males do do that shit!" without ever thinking they're included in the generalization. Because, even if they are, why should they care?! You're not losing anything by being made fun of! The privilege of being born an individual and only an individual can't be taken away by somebody talking about a group of people which--Hey!--you happen to be part of. Angry white males are idiots throwing away the greatest gift they were ever given: the right to not give a shit what anybody says about white males!

Generally, I point out those things. Generally. But sometimes, I empathize with those white males. Sometimes I think it's strange that suddenly white males can't have emotional problems where they express how they've been shit on simply because white males aren't allowed to feel powerless and hurt and upset. At least, not as a group. Which I totally agree with! But when a white male, as an individual, tries to express any of their loneliness or isolation or anger at the way they've been treated--again, as an individual!--they're shit on and ridiculed and told they aren't allowed to feel those things. Because, you know, that's a cool thing to do to a person.

I know, I know. Everybody lacking reading comprehension and wanting to scream about their own issues can just reply "man tears" to this post. Like I fucking care! You think I feel emotions?! Fuck that. Life crushed the emotions out of me by the time I was thirty-five. And, when you get right down to it, I don't actually give a shit how badly white male nerds are treated. I've been to Magic the Gathering Tournaments. Most of those guys are dicks.

Oh! That was a joke with a lot of truth behind it but it sort of makes the point I was going for in a weird way. There was this one guy who I played in a tournament who I knew from a sealed deck league that I used to play in the back of a comic book shop in Campbell, California. I was in my early twenties at the time and he must have been in his forties, maybe older. He was fat, balding, and had a goofy eye that stared in the other direction. He carried a briefcase full of Magic cards. He was the kind of guy who probably would read the inside cover of Jimmy Corrigan and weep uncontrollably. He was a nerd. A dork. A geek. And I fucking loved this guy. He was nice. He was generous. He was fun to play. He was interested when you played combinations he never would have considered. We just happened to draw against each other in the first round at a tournament in San Jose. I beat him with one of my weird, no creature decks and he was polite and cool and wished me luck in the rest of the tournament. He's one of the guys who I empathize with, caught up in what is a predominantly white male nerd outlet full of aggressive, sexist assholes who would cheat in every game they played if given the chance.

Ugh. Anyway. Enough about white males. Fuck those guys, amirite?!

So, back to the Green Lanterns...hey! Look! Jessica Cruz overcomes her anxiety and saves Simon's life! What a surprise!

Good cat! I can't not scan a picture of Dex-Starr being a good cat! Aww! Destroy the world like a good kitty! Who's a big man?! Yes, yes. Who's a big man?!

Jess destroys the Hell Well but not before Dex-Starr plants the rage seed. So Red Dawn will continue as planned as Simon and Jess bond over Jessica's newfound ability to make constructs. I mean, she only made like this flowery thing which any preschooler probably could have made. But it was enough to let the Green Lanterns think they saved the Earth!

Simon and Jessica hug which, I think, means they're forming a cohesive unit now. This is also about the time the Narration Boxes end! Because they don't have to think separate thoughts now. They're united! Let's give Sam Humphries the credit for that being the way the narrative was designed, shall we? Let's not pretend it's just something I observed and made more out of than it actually is. He's a professional writer! This is the kind of thing they do! Okay, yes. I'm more than a professional comic book reader. I'm a Grandmaster! But that doesn't mean what I read into a book is more than what is actually there! That would be insulting to Sam! And I'm not reading comic books to be insulting to Sam Humphries! I read comic books to be insulting to Cullen Bunn!

That would actually be a pretty small pizza.

The part without Narration Boxes? The part where Simon and Jessica become friendly towards each other? I like that part! A lot! I like it as much as I hate the parts that are all Narration! You know what? I think I like it more! That might mean this comic could get a positive ranking before I'm done! As long as Sam Humphries doesn't do something that I'm totally biased against before this ends.

Simon and Jess head back to Simon's sister's place to deliver his nephews present and run into the Bohemain Guardian. This Guardian isn't actually one of the Bohemian Guardians from the last Green Lantern run. This guy is even more bohemian than they were! He's so bohemian he's rogue! He's Rami the Rogue Guardian! You thought the Qwardians were insane?! Well, they've got nothing on Rami! He did what even they couldn't do! What's that?! Um, uh, just a second while I turn the page to find out!

Oh. Is that all? Who fucking cares?!

I still think it would have been better if it were the Magenta Ring and could only be used by little girls. But a ring anybody can use? Is that really so different from every other Spectrum Ring in existence? It doesn't really sound that special. I mean, if G'nort can wield a green ring, who can't wield one?!

The epilogue to "Rage Planet" has Bleez thinking about how she can't let Atrocitus know how much she wants to be free from Red Lanterning while Atrocitus thinks, "There's something different about Bleez!" Because, God forbid, a character ever keep anything secret from another character. It's like taking Stan Lee's theory about fights ending in a draw to its extreme. Bleez needs to fool Atrocitus! But Atrocitus can't be written as being fooled by anybody so he has to show, through Narration Boxing, that he has his doubts about the person lying to him! Ugh.

Meanwhile, a new Red Entity is incubating inside the Earth. When it's time to have a big crossover event, it will be born and Red Dawn will be splashed across the covers of all of the Green Lantern comic books (and maybe more, if the Green Lanterns editor gives out enough handjobs and fingerbangs to the other editors).

The Ranking!
+1. But it's a tentative plus one! That's why I used a period! Oh, and also? I think I'm over hating everybody. Reading comic books for the win!

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