Sunday, December 18, 2016

Deathstork #8

Shit, Adeline really got to Supes!

I was disappointed with Batman's guest appearance a few issues ago because he just ignored Deathstork being in his city. I suppose that's the smart thing to do, really. If Batman isn't going to arrest Slade (and he never does!), why bother getting into a tussle with him? It'll just end with a whole bunch of broken walls and windows and skylights. Which, come to think of it, is exactly why Batman should bother! Wayne Wall, Window, and Skylight Repair would make a fortune!

I don't think I'm going to be disappointed with this confrontation though. Superman has a history of solving all of his problems by punching them in the face. Okay, so Batman does as well. But there's no way Priest can pull that "the hero acts reasonably and responsibly" bullshit twice in one story arc! Fans would riot! And Deathstork fans are the worst! They riot whenever somebody points out that Slade Wilson is an unethical, morally repugnant pedophile!

Slade decides to give up without a fight. But that doesn't mean he has to shut up.

Oh my god! He's a bigger nag than Adeline!

Adeline and Slade are really making Superman look like a lazy chump. But Superman just has to put up with it. He knows the crap Slade Wilson has done because Batman probably whines incessantly about Deathstork sometimes being called the Batman Who Kills. But what is he supposed to do about Alisante? Take Deathstork's word for it? Bring Alisante in without any evidence as to why? At least Adeline had warrants on Slade and evidence of his misdeeds. Superman can't just grab anybody off the street (or the ocean) and drop them off with the cops with a note saying, "Bad person. Do something about it." Although on pages two and three of the last issue, Superman was hauling the entire aircraft carrier to land. So maybe he'll use his x-ray vision to see all of the drugs inside the ship. Does Superman need a search warrant or can he use his x-ray vision for probable cause? Not that Superman has to follow the same procedures as police officers do. But I'm sure he probably tries to, for his own peace of mind.

Luckily for me and my need to see Deathstork beat up Superman, Slade fires a shot into Superman's face as he pretends to give up. Superman then begins to do that thing that makes all of his battles last so long. He hits Deathstork as hard as he thinks he can hit him without putting his fist clean through him. It's not hard enough because of Slade's Ikon Suit. So Superman recalculates and tries a little harder. And then a little harder. And then a little harder than that. See? This is why all of Superman's fights aren't just one punch and done. If Superman knew exactly how hard he could hit an opponent without killing them, then his fights would be short. But he has to be extra careful or else the next time he sees Batman, Batman will be all, "Everybody who hasn't killed anybody can sit by me!"

Pounding on Deathstork's Gravity Armor gives Superman a nosebleed from the shock waves bouncing back at him after each punch. Superman just got rope-a-doped! If you don't know what a rope-a-dope is, you should read Catwoman #15 where Ann Nocenti explains it to the idiots reading her garbage.

Meanwhile, Rose learns that Etienne, Joseph's fiance, works for HIVE. Just like Grant! Just like Adeline! Just like maybe not those two and maybe not HIVE but probably! Nobody is who anybody thinks they are in this thing! Even Superman isn't really Superman since he's Preboot Superman!

Apparently, the Ikon Suit isn't Adeline speaking to him. It's just the stupid suit talking. But it sounds like Wintergreen so that maybe Slade will finally let the real Wintergreen retire. Superman is given an earpiece to listen to Ikon Wintergreen because he's even better at philosophical bullshit and making a person feel guilty than both Adeline and Slade combined! He's all, "So what is justice? What laws do you follow? When do you punch a guy in the face and when do you kick him in the nuts? Who told you you could police the world and what Goddamned rulebook do you follow?!"

Through a bunch of legerdemain and distracting balderdash, Deathstork manages to kill his target while Superman flails around like a Magic the Gathering player trying to take off a bra. Sure, I'm assuming the Magic the Gathering player here is a male but I'm not clarifying whether the bra is on himself or a woman he's about to see naked. You know which one is most plausible.

It's as if Priest were given Deathstork to write and told, "Give people a reason to root for him other than the disgusting bloodlust of enjoying seeing baddies sent to Hell!" And he was like, "Sure! No problem! Easy peasy! Why has everybody found this so hard to do?"

In the DC Universe, if you want to show that your character is a huge bad-ass not to be trifled with, you have them kick Lobo's ass. If you want to show that your character has a conscious and possibly a heart and is actually trying to do the right thing even if maybe they go about it in a blood-soaked manner, you have them engage in a conversation with Superman. Deathstork understands that just because something is a law, it doesn't make it lawful. Sure, his morality also offers a chance to put a significant amount of money into his bank account but maybe there's a reason Batman didn't pursue him while he was in Gotham. Batman operates on the same assumption that sometimes doing things legally isn't enough to get the job done. It's just that Deathstork doesn't mind going whole hog into that line of reasoning. I've liked the character of Deathstork for a long time (it's why I have so many of his comic books!) but I've never really liked the way he's been written. There have been the rare exceptions and this series is one of those.

Also, can you imagine if Red Hood and Batman had basically this same kind of conversation? It would go a long way to fixing Red Hood and cementing why he does things the way he does, and why Batman allows him to. I know some people might have a problem with using the word "allow," but, come on! It's Batman! He's the fascist dictator of Gotham ruling from the shadows! What happens in Gotham only happens because he allows it to happen!

Superman brought along Jericho to help stop Deathstork and to convince himself that he's washed the blood from his hands over whatever the hell situation he got himself involved in. It's all Jericho's clusterfuck now! But in the end, Supes does get the satisfaction of punching Deathstork in the face and knocking him out. Clark and Bruce will later probably swap tales of beating up Deathstork over a beer.

In the end, Superman embarrasses the United States by exposing their ties to the drug lord Deathstork just assassinated right under Superman's nose. He does it to show Adeline and everybody else in the government who wants to keep using them to fight their ideological battles that he's not on anybody's side and he won't be manipulated. He's on the side of his own ideology which is, according to Superman, totally the right one. According to Batman, it's totally an infantile one! But hey, like Deathstork or Rose or somebody said earlier in this story arc, "Tomato, tomato."

Superman places Deathstork in the custody of the Coast Guard so that Slade will be able to free himself by next issue. And, finally, Rose Wilson leaves her dad in the present while she heads off to investigate her Hmong past. Also she's being followed by some white guy! Epilogue!

The Ranking!
No change. Isn't it nice to have a Deathstork comic book that's well done, Deathstork fans? Now you don't have to send me angry messages over the Internet every time I bash your precious anti-hero. You see, it's never been my goal to attack Deathstork. I don't have any personal vendetta against any character in popular fiction. What kind of an insane garbage hound do you think I am?! My goal is, to be precise, to attack horrible writing and terrible art! We might disagree on what those are but know that if we do, you're almost certainly wrong. Mostly because the majority of people can't get past their own internal desires that color the world with their bias, and so they defend awful and terrible things simply because they support their cuckoo world view. But I have a secret and it is this: I don't give a shit about anything except being entertained so that I can, for whatever length of time it gives me, be blissfully ignorant and unaware of my eventual descent into the grave. Just be fucking good and entertaining and, maybe on occasion, terribly, terribly smart and witty and so clever my envy will burn as fiery and hot as the interior of a thousand suns. If you're none of those things, my wrath and disgust will burn even hotter.

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