Friday, September 20, 2019

Scarab #5

Scarab just learned how to use "whomst'd" correctly.

Don't fucking bother me asking how "whomst'd" can ever be used "correctly" because I've never fucking galaxy brained, okay? I live over here in "peaks and valleys on an electroencephalogram so mild that they look like rolling hills." Whomst'd you expect to know how to use "whomst'd"? Me?! Fuck off!

It's only been a week since I read Issue #4 and I've already forgotten everything about this comic book except that it featured an old man named Louis Somethingorother and his dead wife Eleanor's ghost. I also think Scarab might have been a member of the Justice Society but only in the Vertigo version of DC Continuity. It's basically the same continuity as the regular DC Universe except with more female nipples and the occasional use of the word "cunt."

As I begin reading this issue, I start to think, "I'd love to get addicted to fucking opiates." I'm a pretty relaxed person as it is contrary to all the evidence in my comic book reviews that suggest I've had two or three strokes a month since 2011 due to reading comic books by Scott Lobdell and Ann Nocenti and J.T. Krul. But a few times, I took Vicodin after having a root canal. I was at home playing around on the computer the first time so my initial reaction was, "How do people get addicted to this shit? I don't feel any different." But then later that week, I took one at an old 9 to 5 job I used to have and it was fucking glorious. My annoying bosses maniacal cackle was like a gentle cat purring and nuzzling me on the back of the neck. My idiotic coworkers who made me realize that shoving sharpened pencils into my ears might one day be a legitimate option were suddenly silent ghosts passing softly beneath me as I floated about the office on a serene cloud of cotton candy flavored fuck-it-all. And that was just from one lousy Vicodin! From that one single experience, I know why people get addicted to opiates and I don't fucking blame them one bit. It would be so nice to just shuck the world and tend to your own little garden of no shits given.

Now I'm annoyed that I'm not on opiates! You know what would quell that annoyance?! Damn right!

Maybe the sudden need for drugs was due to this character with my name trying to kill himself.

I hadn't actually gotten to the part where the guy notes he's on drugs or that he's surrounded by poppies so I think I just have to give credit to John Smith's writing for setting up a real "I'm fucking overdosing on pain killers" tone. Now I'm also jealous of a fictional nobody. If only I had too many painkillers right now, um, well, I'd probably never hit publish on this blog post and all five of my readers would be wondering, "When the fuck is Grunion Guy (or Tess (or Jeff (or whoever the fuck this asshole is))) ever going to finish reading Scarab?"

According to my Non-Certified Sister-in-law, nutritionists have to report people for suicidal ideation. She told this to me because she's a nutritionist and I said to her one night at karaoke that my current retirement plan was to do whatever the fuck I wanted until my bank account was dry and then kill myself. But she never reported me so I guess she doesn't realize that's actually my retirement plan.

Speaking of karaoke, I knocked another song off of my karaoke bucket list this week: "Like China" by Phil Collins. I fucked that song so hard on stage, some woman high-fived me and some other guy came up to me and thanked me for reminding him that the song exists. He was super drunk. Super drunk guys love me at karaoke. One time this guy whose name I believe was Creepy Kevin asked me, after I'd just sung "Everybody Knows," if I was doing it in the style of Leonard Cohen or Concrete Blonde. I said Concrete Blonde and he said, "Your voice really suits it." Which is when I stabbed him in the throat and tossed him in the dumpster out back with the leftover spring rolls from the night before because how dare he insult Johnette Napolitano! She has the voice of an angel and I have the voice of the person the angel walks on so that they don't have to get their feet dirty at the angel orgy.

I know nobody is reading this and thinking, "What the fuck are you talking about?! What has happened to Scarab this issue?! Has Eleanor found her way home?!" How many people even remember that this comic book ever existed?! I just read four issues of it a week and a half ago and I almost forgot it existed!

This issue is called "Paradise Defiled" which I just read although maybe my subconscious read it earlier (due to the comic being opened to that page and just sitting there on the scanner) which is why I was thinking about angel orgies.

This guy Jeff is somebody Louis knows. An old woman — maybe his mother? — phones Louis to ask if he's seen him. So that's how Scarab gets involved with Jeff's suicidal problem. Meanwhile, Eleanor is sprouting ecotoplasmic rivulets. It's super gross.

But this issue isn't about Scarab and Eleanor! At least I don't think it is. It's about Jeff waking up from his pleasant and relaxing overdose to find himself in an afterlife torture garden sex party. He totally hates it and I understand why. The place is first described as "a literal incarnation of a littoral world" and I have to stop myself from Googling "home lobotomy." The first tortured sex victim he meets is a guy strapped to a wheel with a bunch of knives in him spouting "Vertigo phrases." I explained "Vertigo phrases" in a previous commentary (or all of my previous Vertigo commentaries maybe?) but for those who somehow just stumbled upon this commentary because "every blog post is somebody's first" (although why Scarab #5 would be somebody's first is beyond comprehension), here's a nice example of "Vertigo phrasing."

It doesn't have to mean anything. It just needs to sound weirdly profound while making the reader feel like a real fucking smarty pants.

Jeff is taken to some Herod-like angel named Lord Colouris. He's also a bit like a cross between John Lennon and Jabba the Hutt. Did I just describe David Crosby? Lord Colouris declares he's going to make a new man out of Jeff and I don't think he means it figuratively.

In the middle of the Garden stands the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It bears the fruit of truth and whispers as skulls pile up beneath it from those feeding on its devastating pronouncements. Also, I sort of agree with what it's saying here:

Ninety-eight percent of this blog is me screaming from the anguish of losing the bliss of nonexistence.

Not that I think I'm evil. Nor do I believe in souls. But that whole anguish over the loss of nonexistence? That hits me fucking hard, bro. Look, it even made me call you bro. I'm hurting here, dude. See? I said dude too!

The rest of what the tree says is meaningless gobbledygook. Something about sex tearing the flanks of God and a snake jerking it into a pot of clay like my junior high school classmate Chris Huff beating off in a breadbox. Maybe it makes sense to guilt-ridden Catholics but it's all wasted on me. I'm just wondering if I should do a Google search on a snake ejaculating. I've done it before for bats and let me tell you: there's a great video of a bat at a zoo sucking itself off in front of some kids! Truly a work of art. So privileged to live in this modern age and able to experience such wonders of this world!

Lord Colouris turns Jeff into a monstrosity because he's trying to reform the lost souls that wind up in the Garden of Pain into his image before he fell from Heaven. But he can't do it because everybody who enters the Garden is tainted by their boring and uncreative lives. To finally make a work of art equal to his previous state of being, Lord Colouris releases all of his Frankenstein monsters into the world to hunt down a truly innocent and beautiful person who can provide the raw material for Lord Colouris's sculpture. Jeff is now one of them.

Being uncreative morons, the monsters raid nurseries all over New York. Idiots. How many babies does it take to create an angel? Probably like millions!

Some of the monsters seek out Eleanor because her leaking bodily fluids smell succulent and, I guess, virginal? I don't know. Like I said, she's gross. I hope they take her.

Instead of Eleanor, the monsters accidentally take Scarab back to the Garden where he's quickly defeated by Colouris with a tree grown up through his guts. Then Scarab, like a true super hero, remembers that he can't be defeated if he just summons one last burst of strength and hope to overcome his enemy! Which he totally does by biting Lord Colouris's tongue off (because Lord Colouris was doing naughty things to Scarab. So naughty that I was embarrassed to discuss them). Then he punches Colouris in the throat and he barfs up the keys to all of his monsters' souls. Plus the key to his own soul which Monster Jeff helps Scarab find. Scarab recognizes him and thinks, "Fuck. Okay, I guess I'll just have to tell Jeff's mother he's dead." Then Scarab sticks the key in Colouris's head and the Garden dissolves into an empty room with a ticking metronome. That probably makes really smart people go, "Holy fuck! That's fucking brilliant! What a great reference or theory or idea or intelligent bit of philosophical scat!" And, um, that's totally what I said too. I'm not one of those morons who don't understand Vertigo comic books. Pshaw! Can you even believe uncool losers like that exist?!

Scarab #5 Rating: You know how many things I had to look up on the Internet while reading this comic book? At least two! Maybe more but even two is a lot! Remember, I first read this in 1993 when most people didn't have Internet (and those that did were spending their time in AOL and Prodigy chat rooms with names like "Horoscope Lovers" and "Remember The A-Team?!"). So that's two things I definitely didn't understand when I read it the first time because you can believe that I was too lazy to pick up a dictionary in the middle of reading a comic book. And that's even assuming that I'm the type of person to own a dictionary! Man, stop embarrassing yourself with your lousy assumptions!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Scarab #4

Is this child porn? I hope this isn't child porn. I bet it's not child porn because this is a fetus.

Fuck. I just realized that the above caption will probably cause an auto-block on Tumblr because Tumblr eats shit. You can't even have a rational discussion of child porn without the automatic censors instantly banning your debate about the benefits and drawbacks of child pornography! Can't people in this country even engage in healthy debate?! Sure, the healthy debate on child pornography should look like this:

Pedo: "If you get the child's consent and make sure the pornography only passes through online pseudonyms on the Dark Net, nobody is hurt!"
Anybody Who is Not a Pedo: "Fuck you, you sick bastard. Go to hell!"

But if you're really into free speech and you're not just a namby-pamby pseudo-free-thinker who only thinks moral and upstanding beliefs should be expressed and acted upon, you'd be upset when a pedo couldn't express his love for fetuses! If you don't stand up for the pedos, who will be left standing up for you when I and my army of 8chan incels accuse you of whatever thing you like to do that I can twist into seeming wrong and perverse? Certainly not the pedos! So maybe think twice before you decide not to debate a pedo on Twitter and instead block and report them, you fascist. Whenever you block an intolerant monster on Twitter, you become the intolerant monster! Think about that!

That was me playing the character I just invented "MisterOgynist69". He's a greasy weasel who knows he's smarter than everybody else because he's taken the red pill and he can laugh at gifs on Encyclopedia Dramatica of actual people killing themselves in front of webcams. His catch phrase is "Empathy and sympathy are their weapons of mass control to keep you from enjoying the most graphic and disturbing images and ideas in the world, you fucking sheep. Also, fucking sheep is hilarious!" He's never had sex because he's not conventionally (or non-conventionally) attractive which has given him an excuse to be a total bastard and an unrepentant prick because obviously, even if he were the nice guy he thinks he is, women still wouldn't fuck him. Granted, he's never tried to get to know any women and he treats unattractive women the way he believes he's treated without any awareness of hypocrisy. He would absolutely shoot up a school but, you see, Control just came out and it's really quite genius and then Gears of War 5 is just sitting there and, well, he hasn't got his daily intake of being enraged at losing twenty-five Apex games straight because his fucking suck-ass teammates sucked, well, ass!

I know everybody is wondering, "What happened to Marty at the end of the last issue? Stop fucking writing all this stupid bullshit about an abhorrent person and tell us!" Okay, okay! I'm getting to it in my own time! Let an old man digress every now and then, for Christ's sake. Hmm, just typing "for Christ's sake" now has me doubting the lack of an apostrophe when I, last commentary, I typed "for fucks sake." I guess the "fuck" in that phrase isn't a proper noun and, besides, the fucks doesn't own the sake. It's just an expletive inserted for emphasis, right? Fucking English. Fuck you! Here's a stupid comic book panel:

Apparently this is why Marty was so bloody. He beat an old woman to death. Or to miscarriage.

Marty claims the old woman wouldn't stop screaming so he had to beat her. But why wouldn't she stop screaming? Was Marty raping her? Probably. As I mentioned before, Marty believes the women of this town deserve physical violence. Although he ended last issue screaming, "Look what it did to me," which doesn't make any sense in this context. Maybe he just means Pan drove him crazy by not allowing him to kill himself? So this violence is Pan's fault and not part of Marty's toxic masculinity?

Marty goes on to explain the entire story to Scarab so that the reader isn't confused anymore. All the men in town were castrated by Pan who then pissed in their mouths. And afterward, either due to visions of heavenly glory or the ripest of all embarrassments, they marched into the sea and killed themselves. Except Marty had a broken leg so he didn't get to experience the beauty and wonder of castration followed by ritual suicide. But earlier this evening, he glimpsed Pan and came in his pants. I think the "Look what it did to me" while opening his pants before Scarab was to demonstrate he'd lost his balls. Then he beat the old woman to death because she couldn't stop screaming after seeing his mutilated manhood. So now Scarab feels like he needs to put things to right although it seems like the women of Whitehaven are happy with how things are going. And the men are dead so what do they care if somebody destroys Pan?

I guess this is why I'm not a superhero because my first reaction to seeing dozens of naked women engaged in a passionate orgy is to think, "Things look good here! I guess I'll be off! After staring an inordinately long time. You know, to just top off the wank bank."

Meanwhile, this pornographer happens upon the scene and decides to join in. Little does he realize, it's Pan's fetuses who are in control. He's fucking the fetuses!

Scarab seeps into the ground to confront Pan and to nobody's surprise, Pan threatens to fuck his arse off when they finally meet. This is another reason why I'm not a superhero or Jesus Christ. Because I can't resist temptation.

If I were Jesus Christ, Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ could probably still have been called that. But, just to clarify, it would also have been The First Temptation of Christ. Satan would have been, "Look. Knock this shit off for a handful of Fizz candy and a Snickers bar?" And I would have been all, "Ooh! Fizz!"

Scarab punches Pan and Pan responds by saying, "Hey man! Why so violent?! Sheesh. Let's be civil. Come inside my lair and let's talk. Watch out for the puddles of semen. Don't touch those socks. I apologize for the stench."

Pan reveals his real name and exposes himself for the vanilla sex monster he really is.

Why would Pan joyfully claim he's the missionary position?! At least be "The Beast Whose Penis Looks Like a Backwards Woman So I Can Stare Straight Up Her Butthole as We Fuck!"

It turns out Pan is dying. Probably because he only fucks in one the worst position. Scarab can't convince Pan not to die so Pan dies. Some hero.

After Pan dies, the women of the town begin realizing they don't want to be pregnant with a smell goat god's disgusting progeny so they begin to perform abortions on themselves or scream until they miscarry or simply go insane. Pan told Scarab that Eleanor will be taking care of his children. I don't know if he meant because they're all going to be killed now or because they'll be born into the Net or any number of other stupid reasons I can come up with through my terrible ability to speculate.

The pornographer turns out to be Sidney Sometimes, the Fortean publisher, who I completely forgot about because I read that section of this comic book yesterday. Maybe he'll become the Scarab's lead on weird things to investigate.

The issue ends with one more revelation: the "it" in Marty's "Look what it did to me" was indeed impregnation. I'm not going to rule out the castration as well but that wasn't ever explicit. So Marty wanders off to ignore what's going to happen when he gives birth because it certainly won't be a lot of fun finding out.

Scarab #4 Rating: C. I think Pan fucked up this entire town just to get a few more months of life. I can respect that. People act horrified at the thought of bathing in baby's blood to stay eternally young but, I mean, seriously, if that were an actual option, we'd find out a whole lot of people were way less concerned about the welfare of infants.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Scarab #3

Every time I see a Glenn Fabry cover, I assume I'm about to read about Jesse Custer.

Now that Scarab's alter ego is a fit young man, I'm way more into this book. That doesn't mean I'm excited to read this third issue. It just means I'm less not excited to read it!

The writer, John Smith, was twenty-six when he wrote this comic book so issue #3 begins with some narrator saying shit like, "Remember your childhood?" It's probably in your twenties when you become most nostalgic for the carefree, open-ended days of your childhood. Now in my forties, I just want my twenties back! And look at this guy, wasting them pining for his even younger days! To be fair, I spent my twenties the same way so I might as well still be yearning for my childhood. I remember in college writing poetry about the weight of mortality and the confusion of adulthood and the slow, weary process that is the loss of innocence. How many people have sung "I wish I didn't know now things I didn't know then." Two people, at least!

And, no, I'm not going to post my old poetry in any of my comic book blogs! There are three things I'll never release to the public: my old poetry, the lip sync rock videos I did in the mall with friends when I was a teenager, and my deepest, darkest secret. I hope that doesn't sound like I murdered somebody because it's supposed to be a secret.

The issue begins when all the male humans of a town called Whitehaven walk into the ocean to willfully and joyfully drown themselves (except for one guy named Marty who's laid up in the hospital and fucking pissed that he can't go drown too). Meanwhile, all the female humans decided to throw a festival and judging by the amount of titties being shown, I now understand why the men had to die. Even in a Vertigo comic book, you can't just go around showing cocks. Also, this was 1993 so don't worry about how it dealt with trans folx. Just let it go! If you're going to be ready for our time traveling future where we can go wherever we want in history, you're going to probably need to take some Desensitivity Training Courses. Otherwise, you're going to be flipping the fuck out on some really confused and bewildered people every time you take a trip to the past.

On the other hand, this comic book was written for Vertigo in 1993 and it's entirely possible John Smith will deal with non-binary gender issues within this story. Sometimes, the past surprises you. Just take a walk through Tumblr some time and watch as all the young kids with blown minds post things from 70s sitcoms that are more forward thinking than a lot of shit on television today. Not everybody from the past was a racist, sexist troglodyte! I suppose part of that depends on where you grew up. I grew up in California's Bay Area in the 70s, so for awhile there (right up until Reagan and his cohorts fucked us), I thought all of society's problems were fucking fixed. I was also a kid so I wasn't really aware of things like the systemic racism that formed two worlds between San Francisco and Oakland, or the homophobic hate that passed like an underwater current through America's Gay Mecca.

Whoa whoa! Sometimes when I digress, I get way too far into the weeds of subjects I shouldn't be speaking about! As an ally, you don't want to bring too much attention to yourself because then you're just asking to be critiqued as an ally and — let's face it — not many of us are going to receive a passing grade when thoroughly scrutinized! I'm already losing a ton of points being a white male who thinks his opinion matters so much that he's written about four and a half thousand comic book reviews! Who the fuck does that?! That's a rhetorical question because I know what a narcissist is.

I also know the term "misdirection"! Look at all the titties!

I wanted to say I knew the word "legerdemain" because it's way fancier but it wasn't as specific as I wanted to be. But I still wrote the previous sentence where I say wanted to write a different sentence so that you know the thing I wanted you to be impressed by in the first place.

Meanwhile, Eleanor is still flying around in the Net having profound Vertigo thoughts. If you're speculating, "I bet she thinks about her first kiss and the first time she got her period and her father's funeral and the rain on her wedding day," I'm aghast. How'd you know?! Fucking clever of you, mate.

Two new characters are introduced: Sidney Sometimes and his sidekick (not named! I'm not even sure "Sidney Sometimes" is the other guy's name). They're Fortean dudes publishing a Fortean magazine. But this one is heavy on the sex and mutilation and probably drugs. Sidney's upset that his alien rape story has fallen through and now has to decide if he should run the Manson interview this month or next month alongside the DIY surgery issue. I'm sure these characters will fit into the story later but for now they just seem like a one page dumping ground of John Smith's story ideas.

Sure, every teeaboo knows what a Clanger is now. But back in 1993, American audiences wouldn't know what the fuck this was about.

Speaking of teeaboos, I've got a new idea for a streaming service: I'm the only customer and I'm paying a single British person to upload all the shows I want to watch on a private YouTube channel. Come on, somebody! I need a reliable source for full episodes of Taskmaster!

Marty is the guy watching some Clangers. He's still bitter that all the men drowned themselves without him. Imagine having self-esteem so low that you're hurt and angry that nobody invited you to the mass suicide? I guess he could also be affected by magic but I'd rather think he's got the same kinds of problems that I do. I mean that we all have.

See? He's Everyman!

Scarab arrives in Whitehaven, the town without any men (except for me. I mean Marty). He realizes something bad is happening in Whitehaven because, um, women are running things, I guess? Maybe his subconscious is reacting to an article he forgot he read about how hundreds of dead and bloated men washed up on the shores of nearby towns for weeks. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd forget too readily but remember Scarab was a super old guy for the first two issues. Or maybe Louis is just a Comicsgater at heart. He walks into a town full of women and thinks, "What the fuck is wrong with this comic book I'm in?! Where are all the men? Fucking pandering bullshit!"

It's also possible he senses the magic monster at the center of this mystery. But that's not as much fun to speculate about.

Louis meets Marty who tells him how every woman in town is now four months pregnant and how the matriarch of the town is living with a monster. He's going to take his shotgun and put things right. I don't know how a shotgun does that but then I'm not a fucking cuckoo nutso whackjob who thinks every problem can be solved with physical violence. Scarab probably thinks there's a better answer too. I don't mean to suggest he doesn't also think physical violence will be the answer. This is still a comic book, for fucks sake! He'll probably just concentrate the violence on the monster while I assume Marty is just planning on going around shooting pregnant women.

It turns out the god Pan is fucking everybody in town. He also drove all the men into the sea. But for some reason, he couldn't figure out how to deal with Marty because how do you get a guy with a broken leg to kill himself? It's impossible! The only flaw in an otherwise perfect plan!

Unless Marty wasn't driven to suicide because Marty is trans. It's possible because later that night when Marty goes to shoot Pan in the face, something entirely different happens instead.

Marty was definitely fucked by Pan (raped? Probably! But who knows what happens when you get a whiff of a lustful goat god?!). But what is he trying to show Louis? That he's suddenly pregnant? Or, with his pants open like that, has he lost his cock?

Scarab #3 Rating: C. I'm super confused by this ending. Is the art just not sufficient to portray what Marty is upset about? Is he simply upset that he's all beaten and bloody due to being raped by Pan? Is he holding his pants that way because they were torn off during the violence or because he's trying to show Louis his genital region? Or is he holding his pants that way to show that he's suddenly pregnant? It's possible because the art could be suggesting a swollen stomach. Rarely do I find the art failing me in a comic book to this degree. I suppose the writing is also failing but I only think that's because this final image was supposed to portray whatever the dialogue was leaving out. The good thing is that I don't have to be confused for a full month because I've got the next issue waiting for me in my stack!

Corrections: It was brought to my attention that The Phantom Stranger has more than ten fans. Although no proof was provided other than that The Phantom Stranger has gotten published in more than its initial series. I'm not sure that's enough proof though because I've purchased a lot of comic books about characters I didn't give a shit about and by writers I actively hated. But I will grant that the person providing me with this information was also a fan of The Phantom Stranger. So in my previous commentary, I should have said The Phantom Stranger had eleven fans.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Scarab #2

This looks like the original cover to a Philip K. Dick book where you just knew the editor and publisher had no idea what was happening so they commissioned some artist to just paint some "crazy fantasy shit."

I gave everybody ample opportunity to praise me for my commentary on Scarab #1 and I was met with crickets. Luckily I'm confident enough to realize that it was because nobody cares about this comic book from 1993 and not because my commentary is uncomfortable, childish, and probably less funny than my mother told me it was. Oh, who am I kidding? Even my mother doesn't read this blog!

In the meantime, I began listening to Eaten By A Grue, a podcast where two guys play Infocom games. And because I used to play Infocom games, I decided to try to play the games before listening to the podcast. The first episode was about Zork which everybody of a certain age and geekiness played years ago. So I didn't revisit that one. The next one was Ballyoo but I wanted to listen to it more than I wanted to start playing Infocom games so I didn't play that one either. The third episode was Trinity which is a game I beat without any clues or hints because I'm fucking hard, ladies. The hosts came to the conclusion that it was impossible because they fucking suck at these games. The next episode was Seastalker and that's where I decided to try playing along. But Seastalker is fucking boring and you have to pilot a submarine around an ASCII landscape which I quickly grew bored of doing. So I skipped that game. Now I'm playing Border Zone and writing about it, so that's what I've been doing while waiting for my Pulitzer on my Scarab #1 commentary. If you want to eventually find out what happens with me in Border Zone, you can check out my other blog, Eee! Text Adventure Reviews Daily! Obviously I don't do them daily! How quickly do you think you can you power through a text adventure without cheating, Missus Tough Nuts? Especially if it's an Infocom game!

I'm also trying to whittle down my stack of new comics but I'm far less interested in reading new comics. Probably because I've stopped writing about them. What can I say about Lois Lane #2 except "Fuck you, Lois. Of course everybody is shitting on the media these days because those fuckers won't do their fucking fuck jo-fucking-obs." And I just read Justice League #29 about Jarro which was super cute and gay. You can use gay as a positive adjective, right?

Boredom warning: the protagonist of this comic book is still a super old guy.

Eleanor isn't dead like everybody who read the first issue believed by the end of it. That means about ten people were surprised when they picked up Issue #2 of this series. Logically, I know more than ten people purchased Scarab #2. But if we lived in a world where comic book readers didn't just constantly shrug their shoulders and keep buying every issue of a series simply because they picked up the first issue and actually limited their purchases to comic books that had an entertaining previous issue, my estimate would probably be pretty close to the mark.

Louis has brought Eleanor back into the Labyrinth of Doors to keep her alive because time doesn't work there. I mean, it does work there because people can move around there and movement is a symptom of time. Symptom might be the wrong word but when have I ever cared about my word choices? You either have time or you have stasis. You can't have both! Unless you live in the Phantom Zone and then I don't know what the fuck is going on. Sometimes kids grow up there and other times dogs roam billions of miles unchanged to find their stupid boy. If Louis wanted to be more accurate, he'd point out that life functions seem to slow down to imperceptibility inside the Labyrinth of Doors. If Eleanor seems like she didn't age for fifty years while living there previously, she probably won't bleed out until he can figure out how to work Scarab's super life saving powers on Eleanor, the way he used them after he was thrown out of a second floor window and became an undulating sack of blood and broken bones that somehow wormed his way up two flights of stairs and opened the bottom drawer of a dresser (which is the biggest impossibility. Go lie on your stomach on the floor right now and try to open your dresser drawer. If you were successful, now go belly flop off the roof of the house and try again, smart ass).

Louis admits that Eleanor's soul has left her body so he's really just taking care of a naked empty vessel. The naked part is the most important part of Eleanor's current description. Why else would he want to prolong his grief when he knows she's dead? Now this pervert just gets his kicks off bathing her every twenty minutes.

See? He admits it.

The Phantom Stranger arrives because why not. A writer has to throw something into this thing to attract buyers. Fans of The Phantom Stranger would have been all over this comic book when they saw him on the cover, probably doubling the amount of people who purchased it. Yes, I'm saying there are only ten Phantom Stranger fans.

The Phantom Stranger really is a genius idea for a comic book character. If you call your character a stranger that means you can't divulge too much about that character lest they stop being a stranger. Which means you don't actually have to do any real work building the character, or giving the character motivation, or making any kind of sense at all! You can just have him poke his nose into other people's business every now Maybe not help? Maybe just judge. I don't really know what he does because he's been written so well over the years! I wish I could write a character this popular without ever giving it any defining characteristics or motivation. Oh, excuse me, I suppose The Phantom Stranger does have some defining characteristics. I forgot about the fedora and the trench coat.

Meanwhile, a beam of light that used to be somebody (Eleanor? The Sicari?) flies through God's eye, circles Hell, and winds up coming its brains out in the Internet. I don't know how sexually exciting the Internet was in 1993. It was mostly just AOL chat rooms, bank account draining Neverwinter Nights, and Star Trek bulletin boards. Okay fine. I admit it. Just typing that gave me a boner.

Once DC's Vertigo line was fully up and running with a few major titles leading the way and proclaiming, "This is what Vertigo is!", other titles with newer writers came along and all produced exactly the kind of shit that Vertigo apparently was. I don't know if I can fully articulate what that was, sort of a mash-up of Milligan's weirdness and sensitivity from Shade the Changing Man combined with the stark, metaphysical horrors of Moore's Swamp Thing and the shitty, grim reality and politics of Delano's Hellblazer with a sprinkling of the intellectual topsy-turvy re-tellings of mythic unreality of Gaiman's Sandman. But even unable to really describe it, I fucking know when I read something written to be a Vertigo title rather than written to be a story worthy of being a Vertigo title.

This might as well be a Polaroid of writer John Smith wanking himself off.

The early nineties were full of these kinds of Vertigo titles that just strung together words and phrases trying to invoke some kind of profound weirdness. Even the previous series I discussed, Milligan's The Extremist, came off as one of these books that was just putting on the clothing of Vertigo to make it seem more important. But at least The Extremist used the weird and outlandishly adult story to portray flawed humans considering their lives and how they got to where they were and what the fuck do they do now? There were some really bleak and gut-wrenching moments in The Extremist that I truly loved even if the plot didn't matter much to me. But it was the plot that pulled and pushed the characters to those moments, so who am I to complain? Also there were plenty of titties.

I know, I know! All you high-falutin' comic book nerds don't read comic books to get boners like I do! Well la dee da! Just remember that I'm not judging you for getting your kicks by sticking your genitals in Blue Bonnet ice cream and putting it back in the display case.

Um, anyway, this comic book still has a lot of space so I'm not giving up on it providing me with great moments. And since my tone in this commentary says I'm casually beating the shit out of Smith's writing," I should probably show something I sort of liked. The Phantom Stranger has touched Louis's head to make him relive some of his memories as Scarab. And while it's an easy way to present a bunch of "weird" story fragments that John Smith doesn't have to expound on, I still like this one:

The Non-Certified Spouse tells me "Weltschmerz" means, literally translated, "world pain."

On the left hand, this is just more of that "here's some weird stuff to stick into this magazine to make it Vertigo!" But on the right hand, I'd love for this to actually be a story that Smith thought out and formed into a coherent, deep, and touching two to four issue arc. Maybe Smith jotted it down and thought, "That's really all that needs to be said about that." But isn't that also how pitches start? This is a pitch. The story that could grow from this could be tragic and heartbreaking with all the nihilistic elements to ultimately provide evidence of the uplifting and hopeful nature of mankind. I think maybe this one panel should have been the pitch for Scarab.

Some more of Louis's memories ("Frozen in ice on the dark side of the moon, summoning the Breathing Trees for help" and "Teaming up with Sargon the Sorcerer against the dreaded double menace of Doktor Vortex and The Quote") help establish that the Scarab had weird adventures that, while extruding the essence of Vertigo phrases, also helps ground the Scarab in the Golden Age. Because that's weird shit that you can absolutely see on the cover of comics with huge price tags hanging on the wall behind the counter of any local comic book shop. No difference exists between the two scenarios I just quoted and Batman and Robin battling "The man who saw with his fingers!" Smith is definitely evoking the Golden Age here. And, of course, Vertigo because that Auschwitz thing.

Look at me! Reading into and explicating the evidence of the text when I could have just kept reading ahead and had John Smith say it to me plainly.

The Phantom Stranger tells Louis he needs to become the Scarab again because "the world skin is diseased" and "the wheels of chance are turning too fast" and "disorder corrupts the physical plane." But then when Louis is all, "So that's why all this shit is happening!", The Phantom Stranger says, "Well, I mean, it's hard to tell for sure. But, you know, maybe somebody sent the Sicari. It's a possibility. But then, maybe not. Who knows? But just do what I say, just in case! I'm sure if Madame Xanadu were here, she'd totally agree with me."

Meanwhile, the light that actually is Eleanor isn't in the Internet at all. When it said it had entered "the Net" while orgasming harder than it's ever orgasmed before (take that, Louis!), I simply assumed Smith was being all cutting edge in 1993. But he just meant the "net of life" or whatever. She's just connected to everything now. That's probably a better path for this story since the Internet wouldn't get interesting for another year when Geocities came along and The X-Files fan pages started to proliferate like cancer cells.

Louis's only desire is to find Eleanor again so if becoming Scarab can help do that, he'll take it back and maybe he'll get around to saving the world too. The Phantom Stranger just remains silent because that's what he does best. As if he knows anything! He's totally acting like he knows stuff by not saying stuff but really looking like he knows that stuff while he really don't know any of that stuff. Like knows like, my man, and I see you!

The Phantom Stranger leaves and Louis asks the scarabaeus (that's the thing that turns him into the Scarab which I also probably spelled incorrectly) to make him young again and it works! Issue #3 is going to be more exciting simply because the protagonist isn't an old man anymore! Me and six other people can't wait for it!

Scarab #3 Rating: B. Enh, it wasn't so bad! Sure, I had plenty to criticize. But in the end, it's a story about mortality and longing for the expansive freedom and possibility that fall further and further into a person's past until all they have left is the end of fatigue promised by death! I can totally relate to this shit.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Scarab #1

As I picked this up, I said, "If that's not a Glenn Fabry cover then I'm not a virgin!"

In 1993, I must have been buying any comic book with the word "Vertigo" on the cover. Also every comic book with the word "Scarab" on the cover because I think I have this entire series. Did I read the entire series though? I have no clue! I certainly have no idea what it's about. A scarab, probably?

Judging by the look of the woman on the cover, I probably should have done an anagram of this title. A crabs? Bra sac? A BS car? I came up with three anagrams because it looks like she came three times.

The beginning of this comic book isn't as confusing as you, a dumb comic book reader, probably think it is (had you read it (which you totally didn't. Seriously. I bought this comic book and I don't think I read it. So there's no way you, the worst comic book reader in the history of reading comic books, read it and then understood it)). Some creature called a Sicari (a term which probably has to do with assassins and daggers and maybe Jews (and which I would have no way of referencing the term in 1993 because we were all Internet blind and only knew the things we knew. We barely even knew the things we could discover at the library because the library wasn't the living room and you couldn't access it by remote control. The library was so hard to deal with that I just shrugged and decided I would never answer the riddle in The Legacy of Llylgamyn that began "I am part of the deck of seventy-eight" even though I knew that I probably just had to research tarot cards!)) has just dug the third eye out of a witch underneath an old pier. He's doing his own research and I have to applaud his effort. Although maybe I shouldn't be admiring his ability to get off his ass and do the research he needs to answer his questions. Pulling the blind third eye out of an old woman's skull is probably way easier than dealing with a card catalog.

This chapter is called "All Roads Lead to the Minotaur." That sounds fucking exciting! It's also a reference to the labyrinth which means this story is going to be about life! Stories about life are great! I love them because I get a glimpse at people who aren't wasting theirs! Like that Sicari fellow. Oh to have the ambition to pursue a goal even if it means touching an old woman.

But that Sicari fellow isn't important right now! Instead, we need to meet the protagonist, maybe? He's a 78 year old man so you can understand why I'm not too sure he's the protagonist. Nobody wants to read about an old man. If I were writing a novel about an old man, every fourth sentence would be, "The old man grimaces, shifts his weight to one side, and lets out a strained, musty fart." Maybe I should write that book! I already have 25% of it written!

I just grimaced, shifted my weight to one side, and farted.

Look out! We've got a real barn burner of a tale starting here!

Louis, the old man, gets interesting when he reveals that his wife, Eleanor, has been locked behind a door in his house since 1945. And it's not a normal door! It's a door his father brought home and threatened him with the cutting off of his hands if he ever touched it. He said his father became Bluebeard but I think that was just metaphorical what with the door that nobody can look behind and all. I don't think he really had a bunch of dead wives' heads behind it. Although Louis here now had one wife's head behind it! Probably still attached to her body and possibly not dead, what with the door being magic and all.

According to Louis, even Scarab couldn't get the door open. I guess Scarab is a superhero? And maybe it was Louis's alternate identity? Or maybe Louis knew him. I think I'll discover the answer to that question when I read the next page.

Well, it's not actually the next page. That page describes how Louis's father disappears inside the door for months at a time and returns with strange items and new venereal diseases. It's the page after that page where we learn that Louis became the Scarab by messing with one of his father's treasures.

Fifty percent chance this isn't a superhero outfit but an alien S&M getup.

I'm not good with double negatives and I just got concerned that the initial caption reads wrong. Just make sure you read it to mean I'm totally not a virgin!

Meanwhile, Eleanor lives in the Labyrinth of Doors now. She gets to be eternally young and have grand adventures every day. Sometimes she finds locked doors that can't be opened. Exciting! Other times, she'll find empty rooms behind the doors. Dramatic! Occasionally, she'll discover old appliances and housewares in piles. Swoontacular! How boring is my life that reading about a life where you get to open mystery doors that lead to stupid bullshit gets my heart racing?! Eleanor is living the dream!

When I was a kid, one of my fantasies was that somebody would create a game which was just a neighborhood or city void of people. But their houses were all still there and you could go from house to house snooping at all of their possessions. I was so boring that my fantasy wasn't even about the end of the world where I could do that for real. I only wanted to do it from the safety of my room on my Vic-20! Oh, and how delusional was I that I thought a game like that would run on my Vic-20?! What a stupid jerk I was.

I heard that, you smart ass! Questioning the tense of that sentence!

See? An assassin! Look at me doing actual research instead of just ejaculating my own precious opinions!

After the Sicari's ritual to find the door is over, he relaxes naked under a ceiling of swords while holding back his orgasm (so as not to commit the sin of Onan (which he wouldn't be committing because the sin of Onan is not a sexual sin but a breach of contract. But since religious people are obsessed with sexual desire (having so much pent up inside of them at all times), they've consistently demanded that the Onan story was something the Onan story was not. Just go read it yourself) and "shivering ... with a terrible sexual longing for death." It's too bad the Sicari is the bad guy because he just became my favorite comic book character. I wonder if Vertigo ever sold t-shirts of the Sicari? Can you wear a t-shirt in public that shows some leprous man whose skin is half barbed wire naked and holding in his orgasm? That sounds more dangerous than holding in a sneeze.

While Sicari doesn't come, Louis sits at home thinking about his comic book battles as the Scarab.

I don't remember the time Doctor Fate fought Conjoined Twins Brain Man.

I hope the previous panel is ildchay ornpay! I'm using King Beauregard's suggestion to fool Tumblr's censors! But wouldn't be weird if you couldn't even talk about the negative aspects of ildchay ornpay (which I think are all the aspects, just to be clear!) without Tumblr censoring you? It would almost be like Tumblr didn't want people to be educated on how terrible ildchay ornpay was! Oh, I hope I didn't drive away all of my ildchay ornpay loving readers! Sorry for being critical of you with that whole "it's all negative" take!

Eleanor's next adventure is a room full of electric fans. Can you imagine standing in front of not one fan but dozens?! Oh the heights of excitement she must experience every day of her life! So many fans blowing on you all at once! It's erotic!

Holy crap! This is a Vertigo title! They mentioned the lady's curse!

Remember the good old days when you didn't know what a period was or what the word virgin meant and your only wish was to search through a stranger's sock drawer? Oh to be young and naive again! To not have your body betray you and say, "No! Today you are a woman! Put away your childhood things and bleed!" To not have people at school pointing and laughing and calling you a name you had to look up in the dictionary later that day which led you to think, "Everybody else in seventh grade has fucked?!" To never be burdened by the shame of your first forays into masturbation, splashing loudly in the bathtub in such a way that, looking back, you know your mom totally fucking knew what you were doing in there. To feel the sweet granular relief that it was Chris Huff who got labeled "the breadbox masturbater" in junior high and not you (not that you'd ever even though of jerking off into a bread box. Nor did you think Chris did either but some kid has to become the scapegoat burdened with the rest of the school's masturbatory sins!). To never be so old that you find yourself sitting in a dark room thinking, "How fucking terrible must that burden have been for Chris back then if I can still, thirty-five years later, remember his whole Goddamned name?!"

I never felt more empathy for a person, before or since, then when Chris Huff's name was said at 9th grade graduation and nearly the entire auditorium laughed. I swear I almost cried right there among all my peers. But I held it in lest I get labeled a bread box masturbator sympathizer!

The night Eleanor finds her first window in the Labyrinth of Doors (and thinks about her period) is the night the Sicari finds the door and murders Louis. Or probably tries to murder Louis. He'll probably get his S&M costume on before he dies and it'll heal him because it's magic. I'm only speculating that it's magic because it's created by a scarab and because the Scarab fought alongside Doctor Fate. The Sicari throws Louis out of the second floor window which means I now have to believe that, broken and bleeding, Louis is going to crawl back upstairs to get to the scarab. You know, comic book, it would have been a lot easier on my psyche if you'd just let the Sicari dump Louis by the bottom drawer of the dresser. Sure, I understand it's less dramatic! But realize that just asking me to believe a 78 year old man can survive being dumped on the floor is already straining the limits of my disbelief! You can't also ask me to believe all of his bones didn't shatter after going out the second floor window! My God, I'm already invested in believing in a magic door and an evil being whose brain is composed of conjoined twins! How much more work do you want me to do here?!

No Louis. You're dead and this comic is over.

Being that this is a Vertigo comic book, Justin probably is dead and the rest of this story is just Justin Jacob's Laddering the last few seconds of his life.

The Sicari realizes the door to Alamut (whatever that is. I can't constantly be asked to do research while reading comic books. Somebody expects me to check Wikipedia twice in one sitting?! The nerve! (okay fine! I checked. It's a region in Iran! Happy?)) doesn't exist. And in his rage, he does something that would be unthinkable to non-Comicsgate comic book readers in 2019: he threatens to rape Eleanor's corpse! Man, that Vertigo sure knew how to do horror! He also threatens to shit in the Scarab's heart when the Scarab finally shows up. That's the kind of thing that made a person reading comic books in 1993 think, "Whoa! This is cutting edge adult stuff! I can't wait to tell my first boss that I'm going to shit in his heart!"

Yes, Louis manages to crawl upstairs and open the dresser drawer and put on his sex suit. He then somehow manages to find Eleanor but not in time. She's been killed by The Sicari. So the Scarab tells the Sicari that he's dead and he dies. And as he dies, the Sicari realizes there is no afterlife, no paradise, waiting for him and he loses his death boner and weeps like a baby that's dying. What a fucking wuss.

I don't know why the last scene takes place on a plane but it does. I guess the bathroom door on this flight was a magic bathroom door that led to the Labyrinth of Doors. Maybe all doors sometimes lead there!

The Scarab Rating: I rarely get excited by what I might discover on the other side of a door which seems odd when you realize one of my biggest fantasies as a kid was basically just that. Maybe I've been taking doors for granted? From now on, I'm going to stop expecting the room I've always known to be behind the door to be there. I'm going to hold my breath and hope that it will lead somewhere fascinating, like a room full of hatstands or urinals or electric fans or some other noun writer John Smith could come up with off the top of his head to take the place of something mysterious and exciting. Seriously, John Smith. You could have at least filled Eleanor's rooms with fornicating sloths and newscasters eating shit. But I guess the point was for Eleanor to be lonely so every room had to just have useless, inorganic bullshit. Just like the rooms in my house. Oh my God! I'm Eleanor!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Extremist #4

Extremist is an anagram of Mister Tex.

When a cover doesn't speak to me, I do an anagram! Or if my only caption would have been "There's a high probability the character on the cover is currently having an orgasm." I guess what I'm saying is that most issues of Team Titans had a character on the cover that was in ecstasy.

Too bad DC didn't revive The Extremist for The New 52. Imagine if they'd saved a few slots for barely remembered Vertigo series! I bet a large part of The New 52 was just publishing titles that DC was about to lose to public domain laws. No way they would have reintroduced titles where the writer and artist probably had some kind of creator's royalties. Instead, it was just more economical to reprint comics nobody gave a fuck about anymore, like Men of War and Star Spangled Whatever.

This issue is called "January, Nineteen Ninety-Four." So we're back to the future! Did Judy die? Did Pierre die? Did Pierre turn Judy into a vampire like himself?! Will we, the reader, ever learn the truth?! Probably not because this issue begins by following Tony. And what the fuck does Tony know?! He's just a guy who sat on the stoop and spoke niceties to Jack while ignoring Judy's horrible scowls. The plus side of not learning what happened any time soon is that I probably don't have to describe all of the boring Tony living his life pages!

Part four begins with Tony speaking into a tape recorder in a motel with The Extremist suit lying next to him. I don't think he's jerked off in it yet. He's just recording the story of how he got to this point which is totally what the reader wants to know so they'll probably keep reading.

Tony's life mostly wends its mundane way between working at the bakery and taking care of his daughter and telling his wife everything is okay. But things aren't okay. Tony has begun to obsess over The Extremist because he listened to one of Jack's tapes. Then he broke into the apartment when he stopped seeing Judy and listened to Judy's tapes. Then he found the suit and wondered, "How did it get back? Did Judy die? Did Patrick?" And so now the story is one of growing obsession. Almost exactly like a movie I could probably name if I were better at knowing movies about obsession! Was Blue Velvet one? What about Boxing Helena? Maybe Maid to Order? Or Star Wars! Luke was pretty obsessed with that droid he bought and its magic mystery messages.

If C-3PO were a diplomatic droid, what was R2-D2? I bet he was a sex droid and he just happened to also be able to help pilot starships.

Learning that people exist in the world who don't follow any rules and do whatever they desire causes Tony to think about his mundane life which seems like a dead end. At some point during the previous issues, Patrick told Judy she should either kill or seduce the black guy on the stairs. She mentions this in one of her tapes and so it's all Tony can think about. If Judy is out there, she can still either kill him or seduce him. Either one would free him from the life he views as a prison. Fucking an another woman would break the rule he's always lived by to not cheat on his wife, and free him to begin breaking other rules. And, of course, if she were to kill him, so be it. Contentment and freedom from constant drama are just a dead end and a prison to some people. Maybe it was only learning of this other world that made Tony see his life that way. But whatever the case, he couldn't go back. He was dead the moment he listened to Jack's tape.

And, yes, he does die. He's killed by Judy who accepts Pierre's offer to join him and be completely free from societal constraints. To do whatever she pleases, to whomever she wants. And she wants her costume and tapes back, and she knows Tony wants to die, so she slits his throat and goes back to being The Extremist.

I don't know if there's a moral to this story. Does growing older come with a moral? When we're young, our entire world stretches out before us in a seeming infinite amount of choices. As we get older, we cut ourselves off from many paths, concentrating on fewer and fewer until we're trundling down the last path we're ever going to trundle. It's not a fault of the way you live that you narrow your focus and your possibilities. It's just part of making choices as you get older. Sure, you can refuse to make any choices and just keep all paths open forever. But refusing to make choices is just a different kind of prison. I suppose what Tony learned was that he made a lot of choices that he regretted but lacked the courage to make new choices which would free him (because those new choices would cause a lot of pain to his wife, Janet, and his daughter. But, I mean, his death is going to kind of do that to so...?). And so, once again, the question of a moral: is there one? Is Milligan saying we need to be as brave as Judy in making all of the hard decisions in order to free ourselves of civilization's shackles? Or did Judy just fall into another trap that Jack and Tony both avoided, even at the cost of death?

At one point, Tony asks about Jack and Judy, "What if they'd known how each other really felt? The things they really wanted. Maybe neither of them would have needed The Extremist. And what about Janet and me? What huge, massive gulf full of...of ignorance lay between us?" Which leads us back to the question Judy pondered in the first issue and I pondered after Jim Starlin wrote some terrible Stormwatch comic books. Can we ever truly know each other? And what are the costs we're willing to pay to both hide and ignore the things hidden from and by our most intimate acquaintances? Is Judy happy at the end because she thinks she knows Pierre? She doesn't even know he's a vampire!

The Extremist #4 Rating: A-. The Tony story was a pretty good way to end this thing. It was both boring and intense. It felt like a lot of movies that I can't name right now which is why I named a bunch that maybe it felt like earlier. The kind of story where a character is pulled out of their regular life by some weird obsession that they feel somehow holds the key to happiness or excitement or just some fucking thing that isn't the same thing they experience day after day. I, for one, don't understand the kind of people who need constant drama. My guess is that that kind of life is for people who are easily bored. And I also think people who are easily bored are mostly lost outside themselves. A lot of people need structure and daily routine or they simply don't know what to do with themselves. But structure and daily routine are the direct route to a seeming mundane life. That's probably where cheating on spouses and gambling and drinking and dog fighting come in. Maybe these bored jerks should try blogging! I keep myself entertained just by typing stupid shit into the ether all day long!

Oh yeah, sorry about not scanning any pictures. I just couldn't tear myself away from Tony's story once I started reading it! And he was too pathetic to make stupid jokes about!

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Extremist #3

I'm disappointed that this half picture doesn't match up exactly with the half picture from Issue #2.

Tumblr keeps auto-banning my commentary on The Extremist #2 so I guess I'm not allowed to review adult comic books with adult themes that involve murder by extremists who constantly go on and on about how liberal points of view are destroying their community of fuck-obsessed narcissists! I bet just that sentence alone gets this commentary banned on Tumblr! I guess that's okay. Tumblr lost their cool mojo the day somebody put out a press release that contained the phrase "female presenting nipples." At least Blogger only censors me by not allowing me to monetize with Google ads because I sometimes talk about dildos and where you can put them and what they smell like after putting them in the different places you've put them. Like in a hole in a watermelon. Mmm! Fragrant!

I just reread though my Sheriff of Babylon reviews and I think they're a perfect example of Grunion Guy and this blog. Holy fuck did Past Me just make me laugh a lot. Half of the reviews don't ever get past the blurb on the front cover which leads to Grunion Guy desperately trying to get his own blurb on the cover. And this petty attempt to sate his own ego usurps the reviews of practically every single issue of one of the best series I've read in the time I've been writing this blog. I was reminded of my quest to get blurbed by Tom King tweeting that people are going back and discovering The Sheriff of Babylon because of Mister Miracle. Which let me throw a few of the old blurbs on Twitter for Tom King to appreciate.

It's probably good I didn't post any of the blurbs that tried to bribe him with a handjob in the backroom of the Portland Comic-con.

Anyway, let's see what happened in "July, Nineteen Ninety-Three"! I'll try to baby it up so Tumblr doesn't shit its diapers.

Peter Milligan begins this issue all Peter Milligany.

Remember that this was written in 1993 when Peter Milligan makes mention of how a person could, at some point, be alone in anything. But also imagine now how the death of an intimate would go in 2019. Back in 1993, Judy is surprised to find that she's whisked away from her grief for long interludes by the bureaucratic machinations of a death in a capitalist democracy. This same kind of thing probably still happens except with more texts and emails and less phone conversations and driving to speak to people in person. But also imagine the non-bureaucratic side of death. We probably have far less close intimate contacts in our physical space now than we had in 1993, at least by percentage when compared with all people we would consider contacts (intimates who now live in another part of the world, people we know only from online, friends of friends we've maybe met once but now sometimes interact with over social media). In 1993. it would be phone calls and personal visits with flowers and cake or cookies. In 2019, you probably receive a deluge of crying emojis and people replying "*hugs*" to your post about your world crumbling beneath you as you try to stagger on with your remaining years bereft of the person you thought you could never live without. I suppose there are plenty of apps where people could send you cakes and cookies so I suppose it wouldn't be too terrible. Should I create an app that sends cakes and cookies to people when they've lost a loved one? It wouldn't cost anything. You'd just have to send me a small cake and some cookies with every use of the app! I can't wait to get extraordinarily fat! The journey is going to be so worth it!

Grief is a savory, selfish feast.

Peter Milligan has a way of expressing potent, terrible truths in such a casual manner that most people probably don't even notice them. There's an almost expressible power in believing you're experiencing something that nobody else has or will ever experience. Or just in knowing that you lived a part of your life unknown to your closest friends and family. I cherish, greedily, the moments of my life spent alone and far from those closest to me and I parcel them out as stories in only the most meager of manners. Hell, I've probably told more about myself and my experiences here on this blog exactly because I know my friends and family don't read it.

I might say this every commentary until this series is over but I still don't know if I understand the point of the overall plot. But I do understand that the plot is a way for Peter Milligan to be Peter Milligan. I understand the need for a framework to say things you want to say. Or to just put scenes out there that you don't want to bother encasing in some kind of larger whole that you're less interested in. So here's another scene Peter Milligan had to have thought about and then needed a place to mention it:

Of course people still get horny for their dead partner! But how often does anybody talk about it?! Maybe it's common and I'm just consuming the wrong kinds of media. Alex Trebek never once asked a contestant if they jerk off thinking about their dead spouse!

Netflix's Dead to Me has some pretty frank discussions about the loss of a spouse but while Christina Applegate talks about being horny and wanting to fuck somebody, I don't think she ever says she masturbates thinking about her dead husband.

If the point of this story is about dealing with loss, I'm beginning to get it. And that would completely explain why I missed it at twenty-one.

I'm only three pages into this issue and it's kicking me in the face with existential issues. Was I too dumb at twenty-one to understand any of this or just too sheltered to really feel it? Maybe I was just too fucking young.

Judy finds the key to Jack's Extremist apartment. After looking around the place, she thinks, "It was like having Jack die all over again, but this death seemed more profound. 'I never knew you,' I thought." It's an easy statement to point out that nobody ever really knows anybody. But once, because Jim Starling wrote a terrible run on Stormwatch, I wrote an entire rant about how we all hide our innermost dark secrets from even the greatest loves of our lives. I was essentially asking how can we know anyone if we won't even let those closest to us know our most vulnerable thoughts and terrible crimes (I don't mean crimes in the law and order sense! I just mean like that time you put your finger in your ass and then made sandwiches for your friends and they all got sick and you didn't do it on purpose but you made the connection and nobody must ever fucking know! You know, those kinds of crimes. But not that specific one! I totally just made that one up for effect). So I could repeat myself or just link to the rant or just (and — Spoiler! — this is the choice I'm going with!) move on to page five of this comic book.

Judy discovers an old diary written by The Extremist (but not Jack!). Then she finds some of the tapes he burned and salvages a few. She hears Jack speaking about murder and getting pissed on and, most appallingly, calling her "poor dull dead little Judy." She smashes the place up, finds The Extremist's gimp suit, and tries it on thinking, "What the fuck?! Maybe I'll feel sexy and start speaking in sex metaphors!" Then the phone rings. And I suppose the rest is history! And by history, I mean Issue #1! Except I'm only on page seven so maybe I'm jumping the gun. I guess we need to learn how Judy met Patrick and why she decided her life would be better by going out at night murdering people until she comes hard in a leather suit.

Oh, I hope that last sentence wasn't too adult for Tumblr!

A bunch of pages are taken up by the plot stuff that I apparently paid the most attention to in 1993 and which is the least interesting part of the story (so far!). Patrick "accidentally" runs into Judy and he pretends he doesn't know who killed Jack. He offers to help her find out if she'll pose as The Extremist and do murders and blow jobs for him. Judy is all, "What the hell! Maybe I'll understand Jack a little more! Maybe I'll know why he needed a boring piece of shit like me when he was having such fantastic fuck and murder adventures!" No wait. That's what I would say. Judy just wants to find out who killed Jack and to, maybe, feel a little closer to him. I don't think she's as amped up as I would be about the loads of indiscriminate sex and murdering of the most perverse perverts.

The main story ends with Judy making her first kill. She learns that her problem was that she was always living in the past and the future. So even if she had wanted to kill somebody in the moment before, she'd be all tangled up in the past and whether the person deserved it and maybe some of it was her fault and perhaps she's been too hasty with her murder decision. And she'd also be lost in the future like how the person will stop existing and how she might wind up in prison and how the victim's guts are going to be hell to clean up off the floor. But in the moment, she can just satisfy the need without consequence or conscience! She discovers it's a thrill! Well, I could have told her that! I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was ten! Never worry about what the orc did or if it deserved it or if it has family or if you're actually the asshole raiding its lovely home!

The actual issue ends with Tony, the black guy on the stoop, sitting in The Extremist's apartment listening to Judy's tapes. He's just finished the last one where she says she's going off to kill Patrick and he's completely caught up in the drama. He wants to know who killed who just as badly as, well, not me but I'm sure some readers were on the edge of their seat at this point.

The Extremist #3 Rating: B. I don't find myself caring about the framework. But Peter Milligan has thoughts and those thoughts are well worth the admission price to this story. In a way, this is just an extension of his run on Shade the Changing Man. It's almost the same story if you squint your eyes and unfocus your vision and punch yourself in the genitals. Patrick is the guy on Meta who was pulling the strings to get Shade to go into the Area of Madness and eventually Earth (I forget his name! I bet it was Patrick!) And The Extremist is Shade and Kathy too (they both have similarities to both Judy and Jack, so I don't mean to say either Shade or Kathy is essentially one or the other). The Extremist has crazy missions where they kill and fuck just like Shade and Kathy had! I think. I mean, probably! And Tony is just Lenny in someway that I haven't spent any time thinking about but they were the only characters left!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Extremist #2

The Extremist is Sinéad O'Connor.

Remember that old video where a largish woman manhandles a dude-bro around a McDonald's? Somebody on my Twitter feed (@DesiJed if you're into loads of jokes about eating loads) reposted it recently and I responded, "holy shit she's my hero". Afterward, somebody decided to, I guess, point out why she shouldn't be my hero?

So I replied, being super serious online like I always am:

But Judge Justin wasn't done explaining the situation to me!

Normally, I'd leave it at that. But I had some logic traps of my own!

So, the reason I have a hard "only reply once on the Internet" (okay, sometimes I'll reply twice. But only sometimes! (if I reply more than that, it's because we're having an actual discussion and I like you)) is because of people like Justin who can't stop debating and also can't understand jokes. Because obviously, by my responding, Justin didn't let it drop. And since I was having fun, I broke all of my rules (yes, I had two hot dogs in my anus during this chat).

And just like that, Justin finally realized they were arguing with a dimwit and they tried their hand at a joke.

I don't know what "fries" is a metaphor for in Justin's tweet.

And, just for the record, here's Justin's Twitter profile (because it says so much in so few characters):

Ew! I can't block Justin or else I'm less competent! Foiled by such a simple logic trap!

I highly recommend not reading their Twitter feed because it's exactly the shit show you'd expect from that profile. I mean, the more astute Internet user knew everything about Justin after their first response to me where they wanted to prosecute the woman to the fullest extent of the law without any context.

That was probably a more entertaining story than Extremist #2. Although it certainly will wind up having less titties.

Part two is called "June, Nineteen Ninety-Three." So it takes place in the past! Although gauging time via the cover date on comic books is always difficult sine they're always dated about three months in the future. So this one could be taking place in the present? Or did Vertigo titles actually date their comics correctly since they weren't going to languish on a newsstand for months? It's a mystery that could probably be solved by somebody who didn't have to pee so badly! I'll be right back!

Whew. Okay! When we last left The Extremist, it was December of 1993 and The Extremist was Judy. So try to forget all of that since this happened previously. Or maybe you should read this story in the context of what we know from the previous issue! Oh! I bet that's why Milligan wrote it this way! My first thought was that if I wrote this story this way, it would be because I had forgotten to start at the beginning and just shoved it into the second issue.

The Order's hangout almost certainly smells disgusting.

Patrick has yet to reveal that he's a vampire but he has shown he's a big slut. Whomever he wants to put his dick into gets to be The Extremist. When Patrick calls Jack "the true Extremist," it makes me think there are a bunch of Extremists running around. Probably because there are a bunch of holes Patrick wants to stick his dick inside of. Issues #3 and #4 will probably be about some of Patrick's other gimpy fuck buddies. Unless Issue #4 is Patrick's vampire origin.

Like Judy's tapes, Jack's tapes are all full of sexual imagery. When you're The Extremist, opening a window can only be thought of as sliding your fingers into a vagina. And stabbing somebody with a sword can only be compared to inserting your penis into somebody's heart or liver. And slipping away from the police is like lying on your back while somebody squats over your face to shit in your mouth as they jerk you off. Now I want to be The Extremist for Halloween!

Tony is so totally CIA.

Like I mentioned in the commentary on Issue #1, I'm not sure I ever understood the point of this comic book. Maybe this time I will, reading it all at once instead of one chapter every month. But even if I don't, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe what's important is that Peter Milligan writes heartbreaking scenes of disconnectedness and loneliness.

I love the idea of loving somebody for things that would hurt their feelings if you told them. I don't so much love the idea of thinking of your partner as an anchor. But then Jack is a murderer so that's the least of his flaws.

The next night, Patrick meets up with The Extremist to make sure the murder goes okay. The Extremist mentions the victim is a young woman and Patrick is all, "Whoa, buddy! You know better than to use the m-word and the w-word!" Oh, right! Murder is okay but let's not get all hetero-normative!

I bet the victim stole some of Patrick's fries.

You might have caught that Patrick used the female pronoun there. Well, The Extremist does too! But Patrick has a Peter Milligan and/or Shade the Changing Man response to clear everything up.

Over the years, whenever I was reminded of this comic book, the one thing I always remembered was how much I disliked the art. But now I like it. I guess that makes me a flip-flopper!

The Extremist kills the "woman" because he's fucking extreme, dude! If somebody is a threat to The Order, that somebody must be killed, no matter how many fancy pants liberal snowflake ideas bombard The Extremist's brain trying to convince him not to do it.

The Extremist isn't supposed to have any morals and certainly no rules (except to kill people who endanger The Order! I guess that's a rule?) but Jack has two rules: everybody involved in any act should be doing so of their own volition and no children should be involved. Patrick confesses, after manually making Judy come after drugging her, that he often breaks both rules. Jack quits immediately and Patrick cries. Probably because he knows Jack now has to die.

Which he does at the end of this issue! Before he can even introduce Judy to the wonders of The Order! I guess that'll happen next issue. Peter really got his script pages mixed up, didn't he?!

The Extremist #2 Rating: B+. It's getting better! More individual scenes I really liked that could exist separate from the whole. Plus I guess the story is coming together a bit. Will Patrick ever expose his own weakness? And I don't mean fucking kids would be his weakness. According to Patrick, not fucking kids for pussy liberal ideas of social philosophy would be a weakness! The question isn't what or how many kids would he do but what won't Patrick do?! I bet he wouldn't sit on a sword. No wait. I bet he would. I'm out of ideas!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Extremist #1

If you've ever really wondered how dumb I am and how much of it is an act, just watch how I completely miss the point of this series!

I bought this series because it was written by Peter Milligan who was writing Shade the Changing Man and had just written Enigma. After those two triumphs, how could one not also pick up this? I remember my conservative high school friend Soy Rakelson declaring Enigma to possibly be one of the greatest comic book stories (if not just stories in general!) he had ever read during the early issues. And then Enigma and Michael, the protagonist, fucked and Soy decided it was a mediocre pandering story that had somehow tricked him into thinking it was great. I don't think he ever read a single issue after he discovered it was about a guy wrestling with his sexuality. Although the way it was written, I don't know why Soy didn't completely love it because I'm fairly certain there's an argument to be made about Enigma that it treats sexuality as a choice! Or maybe sexuality is only ever solidified after you fuck your first super hero.

I don't remember what this comic book is about. I think maybe I was confused by it but I don't remember if I was confused because of the story or I was confused because it came out in monthly installments. A simple Lobo story could confuse me when I have to read every chapter one month apart. Let's figure this thing out together, shall we?! Everybody get your copies out and read along! Picture Pages! Pictures Pages! Time to get your Picture Pages! Time to get your crayon and your pencil!

Sorry! I should have put a rape trigger warning before singing the Picture Pages theme.

Part one of this series is called "December, Nineteen Ninety-Three." That means it took place in the future! Let's see what kinds predictions it made and whether or not they came true! It'll be hard to differentiate predictions of December of 1993 and actual things that were already extant a few months before that from our vantage point in 2019 but you should try your best! Don't let such a tough task discourage you from understanding this comic book! We're not even past the title page yet!

The Extremist leaves audio journals detailing their exploits. Just like Captain Kirk!

I wonder if Captain Kirk also felt like his entire body was coming every time he put on his captain's uniform?

The Extremist seems to be the one who punishes members of The Order who perpetrate terrible deeds. And somehow, the suit sexualizes the entire ordeal. So on December 1st, The Extremist punishes the slightly overweight man (who is actually obese because, I guess, Ted McKeever must be fat and he was all, "This guy, being slightly obese, should probably be drawn fatter than me!" That's just speculation. I mean, comic book writers are usually fat. The artists are usually hot fuckbots of raw sexuality) by stabbing him in his fat heart. Apparently people in The Order are allowed to engage in hedonistic pleasures that would be deemed immoral by members of the status quo. But even they have their limits on how far they allow their members to push the envelope. And Mr. Slightly Overweight killed two girls.

So what do we know so far, kids? The Extremist is The Punisher in a gimp suit who constantly gets cum stains on the inside of the leather. The Order is a secret society where people engage in illicit sexual desires. And if you murder two girls, you'll be excommunicated from The Order (meaning you'll be killed). You might be able to get away with killing one girl but that's just speculation!

The Extremist removes the suit to reveal a woman who can't stop making sexual analogies.

Maybe it's different than what you thought sex was because sex absolutely isn't stabbing a naked fat man in the heart. Okay, maybe that's a little bit like sex.

This lady walks away from the scene of the murder thinking, "I felt like The Extremist." So was she The Extremist and she was just worried that she was enjoying filling the role too much? Or is there some other Extremist she's emulating?! This would be so much easier if it were just a connect the dots puzzle. I hope you kids at home are following along. If you're not, you're pretty fucking stupid! This story isn't even complicated yet! It's just a commentary about how life is sex and sex is life and murder is sex but maybe not life and maybe not sex but somehow you'll still come in your pants!

The Extremist mentions how she's doing this for Jack. She mentioned Jack earlier when she said something about him lying on the pavement outside a sushi restaurant while she said, "I dye my hair, Jack." So I guess the main story is about her and Jack. But it's going to be told in tiny snippets between her sex murders. Just like the real story in A Series of Unfortunate Events is the relationship between Lemony Snicket and Beatrice. I hope The Extremist gives us more of the real story per page than Lemony Snicket did. It was hard to remember all of the Beatrice details when he only mentioned her once like every hundred and twenty pages!

Later that same night, The Extremist gets a call from Patrick (who reminds her of Jack) to go out and do some more Extremist work. She wanted to give it a rest because she's worried that the suit is taking control. So I guess it's a symbiote, right? But Patrick is all, "Come right over and don't take a shower! I want you to be all sex stanky in that thing!"

The audio journal entry for that night contains the first words read in the story as a brown person's hand is seen playing one of her tapes but then rewinding it to begin the story on December 1st (as seen in the first scanned panel earlier). So that'll probably be important later!

The Extremist meets with Patrick that night, mostly because he wants to fuck her. But she consents to see him because, as The Extremist, she's looking for Jack's murderer.

She doesn't have a name yet so I can only refer to her as The Extremist. But that's a misnomer when she's out of the suit. Maybe we're not supposed to get to know her outside of the suit since this story is about The Extremist only and that is whoever is in the suit at the time.

She's also racist so I guess the name fits.

Beginning a racist statement with "I'm trying to be honest" doesn't mean you have to be forgiven for your racism. Maybe begin with "I'm trying to be not racist!" Oh, and then don't add a "but"!

Patrick tells The Extremist a story about how Lords in Victorian England used to take in young East End girls living on the street. In return for giving them a home, they expected sexual favors. Patrick's ancestor stood up in the House of Lords to declare that it was the "inalienable right of every British Lord to find amusement among prepubescent working class girls." And then he says this:

In 1993, that may have seemed unlikely. In 2019, we're one speech away from Trump making this exact declaration and the GOP and evangelical Christians falling right in line behind him.

Patrick's point is that his ancestor was making, for the time, a conservative defense against liberal views that poverty stricken children shouldn't be preyed upon. His point is that the "extreme" position varies across time and space due to changing cultural mores. I think the real point is that conservative ideas are always fighting against changes that help to protect those preyed upon by the rich and powerful. Which means conservative ideas and values are always fucking wrong. I said always!

This comic book has a lot of tits and ass. But I don't think I've seen a penis yet. Not that I've been scouring every page with a magnifying glass to find one! That's slander!

When he was alive, Jack was The Extremist's husband and also The Extremist. He was cheating on The Extremist outside of The Order and his being The Extremist which I guess makes his infidelity worse. It's fine if he fucks other people in The Order or even out of The Order as long as he's currently The Extremist. But doing it out of costume and out of The Order? That's a slap in his wife's face except whatever a slap in the face is sexually. I guess sometimes it's just a slap in the face! But more often, it's probably a slap on the fanny.

Yes, I meant the British fanny!

On December 9th, Patrick kills himself in a game of American Roulette. That's Russian Roulette except instead of one gun and bullets added as you take turns, players choose from a pile of guns with one of them loaded with six bullets. I don't know if Peter Milligan just made that up but it's a pretty good joke if he did.

At the American Roulette game, The Extremist discovers Jack's killer. How she did it isn't as good as how Sherlock Holmes solves crimes. It's not even as good as how Matlock solves crimes. It's practically not even good as how Perry Mason solves crimes where he just hounds witnesses until there's just four minutes left in the hour and somebody confesses. She just notices somebody that doesn't look like they want to fuck her and just looks frightened instead and thinks, "A-ha! That's what Patrick said I should look for! Somebody who doesn't want to fuck me!" It's a good thing I don't know anybody who was murdered because I would think that every single person I ever met killed them.

The Extremist heads over to this woman's house, the woman Jack was fucking, and kills her. But first she gets her to confess! That's important because you don't want to get caught in a loop where you keep killing new people because you're unsure if you killed the murderer. That would be like a cut-rate Memento where instead of memory loss, the protagonist just suffers from mild doubt.

Judy (that's her name!) quits and moves to the suburbs. She leaves The Extremist suit and her audio tapes for somebody else to find (which somebody else does! On page one! The black homeless guy, I bet!).

Nope, she goes back for the suit because she's super horny. The black guy probably finds the suit in a later issue. Or maybe he's working for the FBI. After she retrieves the suit, Patrick contacts her. He faked his own death and has become Pierre. I guess he's a vampire or something. Is that too fantastical for a story like this? Up until now, it's been super realistic with the whole sex club for people who need extra drama and sex in their lives. Also how it takes place in San Francisco!

Patrick gives The Extremist a letter to read which is also an offer and/or her next mission. In the letter, Pierre confesses to killing Jack. The other woman was just a shill who wanted to be killed by The Extremist after being blamed for ruining The Extremist's marriage! The Extremist decides to kill Pierre because he ruined her life. The issue ends with her and Pierre about to do battle to the death. The next issue will concentrate on Jack's story, six months previous.

The Extremist #1 Rating: C-. Picture Pages! Picture Pages! Time to get your Picture Pages! Time to get your strap-ons and Rohypnol! So, kids, what did you think of our first sordid tale of sordidity? Pretend this comic book was coming out this year and I didn't know Peter Milligan was writing it. Would I purchase the next issue? Probably not. I probably only bought the second issue in 1993 because there were so many titties in this one. Porn was a lot harder to come by in 1993! Other than the titties, I'm not sure I understand the point of this story yet. Is it about what people will do when they're pushed to the extreme? How far will a mousy wife who was shocked at doing sex on top go when she finds her husband has cheated on her and he's been murdered?!

Or maybe it's about how we are the clothes we wear. Judy only loves to fuck and murder when she's in The Extremist's gimp suit. It's like that scene in Fire Walk With Me when Donna ties Laura's sweater around her waist and then starts fucking guys like crazy. Then Laura notices and is all, "Don't wear my clothes! Never wear my clothes, you dumb slut! Wait, who are you? Are you sure you're Donna? What happened to Lara?!" Sometimes I put a sock on my dick and then I'm all, "I'm a rock star! Look at me, mom!" I mean, I don't actually try to get my mom to look at me! That's just something I've heard people tend to say when they feel proud of themselves.