Thursday, May 23, 2019

New Titans #111

The mystery is who thought sending Arsenal into space was a good idea and also who shit his pants?

If your superhero team needs spacesuits to survive in space, maybe send a different team of heroes on the space mission. It just makes more sense to leave Batman and Aquaman on Earth while Superman and Supergirl solve all of the space crime. I couldn't think of any other heroes that could survive in space. Hell, I'm not even sure if we're currently in an era where Superman is allowed to survive in space. Remember when DC thought it would be a good idea to reduce his powers so that even Superman had to wear oxygen when in space? Although even a Superman who can survive in the vacuum of space retains considerable plot problems. Sure, he can survive in space if he's within range of a yellow sun because that's how he gets his powers. Or was it simply that he lost his powers under a red sun and was just fine under any other sun? The 1986 Who's Who doesn't clear things up as it just says that Superman's Kryptonian cells act like solar batteries under a yellow sun. It doesn't distinctly say that the red sun weakens him so I guess he just grows weaker away from a yellow sun as his cell battery drains. Then again, I'm sure things changed after The Man of Steel series. And then again after Millennium. And then again after Zero Year. And then again after Infinite Crisis. And then again after The New 52. And then again after Rebirth. And then again after Doomsday Clock. And then again after whatever the fuck Bendis is doing.

Why the fuck am I talking about Superman?! I'm not even sure he knows the New Titans exist!

As I begin reading the first page of this comic book that shows Kory once again dressed in fraying threads, I remember that I already ranted about sending the Titans into space! In comic books, sometimes your last hope truly is the last hope. Nobody in the 90s wanted to have to rely on the Titans to rescue them.

The Terraist's satellite blasts the Brazilian rain forest as a means to get Brazil to stop razing their rain forests. I suppose it's a pretty good plan because if the forests are burned to the ground, Brazil won't be able to burn the forests to the ground. Reporters all over the world are asking the tough question: "Will governments give in to the Terraist's demands that they stop destroying the Earth before the Terraist destroys the Earth?!" My guess is that they won't because the Terraist's plan is fucking ridiculous. I wonder if the Terraist is also a landlord? "If you won't put up smoke detectors, I'm going to burn the fucking house to the ground. You have three hours!"

To save the world, the New Not-So-Teen-Anymore Titans have all crowded aboard some kind of space rocket.

The way Erlich is gripping that throttle and reaching for a wedge of cheese on the dash makes me horny.

You might have noticed Gar sitting in the back thinking while everybody else crowds around the controls in what I'm assuming violates several safety regulations. Gar's grieving his boring friend Cyborg. Red Star notices because Gar has made sure to do the contemplative hand on the chin while looking at an unfixed point in the distance pose. Nobody else notices because, I'm assuming, they're capitalists. It's a touching scene of a friend mourning the loss of another friend that isn't actually touching at all. But it does highlight Gar's mullet!

I'm not making fun of Gar's mullet at all. There was a time when we, as a society, accepted the mullet as a valid hair style. But then enough people began making fun of it that everybody had to back off and pretend that it wasn't a valid aesthetic. Maybe it had just too broad a base of people who generally wore the hairstyle. I mean, if you saw somebody with a mullet from afar, how were you supposed to know whether they were a working class butt rocker, a hockey player, or a lesbian?

Red Star brings up how the Titans have lost many friends.

Those friends are Terra (not a friend but a mole), Dick Grayson (not lost), and Starfire (also not lost). Would it have killed him to actually think about Jericho, Raven, and Danny Chase?!

Marv Wolfman intrudes on the fiction, musing about how this comic book is still fucking selling, with the line, "Sometimes I wonder why we're still even here." Me too, Marv! I was 22 and still buying this shit! Although there really was a time in my life where one of my main existential dreads was dying before seeing how different comic book stories ended. Imagine being so naive as to think any of these fucking things would ever have an actual ending!

Red Star says, "If we gave up, then our friends will have died in vain," without ever once thinking about one of their actual dead friends. Also without acknowledging that their friends died in vain. Maybe they wouldn't have died in vain if the Titans looked at their deaths and thought, "You know what? We aren't fucking helping anybody! Jericho was killed not saving the world but battling his father. Raven was killed not saving the world but being consumed by her familial darkness. Maybe we should stop fooling ourselves into thinking we're helping the world rather than harming it and just hang up our capes! That would be a fitting tribute to our dead friends!"

Garth interrupts the emotional stuff by pointing out that the Terraist's space station just launched a missile at them. I'm glad Garth, the undersea hero, is pulling his weight up in space by observing shit.

The scene shifts to the Terraist's satellite where I discover I'm not entirely sure if the bad guy is named The Terraist or Teraizer. What I am sure of is that his right-hand man is named "James." The Terraist states that public reaction is still on their side and I have no idea how that's possible. He's burning the fucking rain forests in an effort to save the rain forests. How the hell is anybody supporting this...oh fuck. I just remembered Donald Trump is president and the Republicans are burning this entire country to the ground in order to line their own pockets. Never mind. I totally buy it.

While Starfire flies toward the space station, she philosophizes about freedom. She's all, "It's ain't free, bitches! Some motherfuckers are going to have to die!" I'm not sure what this story has to do with freedom. It's more about saving the world from the most wrong-minded ecoterrorists to ever threaten to chop down the tree they're hugging. Maybe she's still hung up on her relationship with Dick and how she was never free while with him because he of his constant moralizing.

Meanwhile back in the burning rain forest, Dick Grayson comes to terms with his father/son relationship with Batman. Is this the exact moment Dick Grayson began to become a compelling character? Is this when he truly becomes Batman's equal? Instead of the whining brat trying to distance himself from Batman, he finally embraces what Batman represents and what Bruce taught him, both as a son and sidekick. I fucking hated Dick Grayson for so long because of this comic book, because Marv Wolfman needed to concentrate on the drama of teens rebelling against their parents and/or parental figures. But this might be the moment Dick matures. Which didn't mean I was ready to like the ungrateful turd. But I can see this as the experience needed before I could begin to change my mind about him.

Also, it probably helped when Dick began being written by writers other than Marv Wolfman.

The Terraist blasts Starfire into unconsciousness so it's up to Red Star to save her. Mostly because none of the other Titans have any real helpful super powers. I mean, Garth might try to summon a dolphin, or Roy might shoot an arrow with a rope tied to it, or Gar might transform into a space bunny rabbit. But mostly that shit would just waste time.

Look. I don't need my comic books to absolutely adhere to believable scientific standards, but what the fuck is Kory breathing?

The Titans invade the space station and defeat The Terraist as he inevitably winds up revealing that he's not interested in saving the world at all. He just wants cash. And since most of the world supported his terrible scheme, Starfire uses his camera link to the world to scold everybody on Earth. That probably won't help the Titans' reputation. Although she scolds them while practically naked, so my guess is not many people turned off the broadcast.

New Titans #111 Rating: D. The Terraist concocted this entire plan to make money. Why couldn't he be happy with the billions of dollars he apparently already had?! I'm fairly certain you can't build a space station of death while employing dozens of trained killers without having a pretty hefty bank account. It would make more sense if he did care about the environment even if his plan was completely contrary to helping the environment. Anyway, I hope the Titans decide to take care of his cat. That cat didn't choose to be owned by a huge dickhead.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Team Titans #20

Is it sexist to point out cameltoe?

It's been about two weeks since I read a Team Titans comic book so I can't remember what was happening, which is probably a good thing. It's nice to see that my brain apparently has some kind of organic Roomba that cleans up after I've soiled my mind with terrible media choices. Revamping my old Patreon page has kept me away from re-reading terrible old comic books. If you enjoy my take on comic books perhaps you'll enjoy my take on The Bible? Or if you don't like reading astoundingly insightful and probably pretty funny commentary on The Bible if it costs you as little as one dollar per month, you can still bookmark the site because you'll get three free song reviews each week too! But if you want me to review a particular song, you'll have to give me money. I don't give my wisdom away for free! I mean, I do! But only in certain circumstances.

I think what was happening in this comic book was a right-wing corporate and media conglomerate asshole (much like Rupert Murdoch) was preparing to time travel into the future where he could take the place of Lord Chaos and rule the world. It's the kind of plan only an idiotic super villain in a comic book could come up with. Any real life super villain would think, "I have so much money and power right now in a world I recognize, why should I risk everything by traveling into an unknown future where my biggest enemies await? Better to just buy a private island in the present and look at porn all day." But for some reason, comic book super villains are never satisfied. They never think, "I could retire with the amount of money it's going to cost me to create this death satellite!" The always think, "Man, having lots of money really kills your ambition. Maybe I should use it to endanger my freedom and possibly my life?" Idiots!

Based on these silhouettes, one of Lord Murdoch's henchman is just a gigantic sentient penis.

The Team Titans leader for the future narrates the big battle so maybe we'll soon find out who the mysterious leader really is! I think I've been guessing Terry Long throughout most of this re-read because who else could it be? Unless Terry's kid has one of those comic book experiences that ages him quickly, he probably won't be leading the team as a nine year old. Although I can't think why I'm ruling that out when I easily accepted Nightwing once driving a motorcycle straight up a skyscraper and Starfire falling in love with Wolfman-written Nightwing.

A few pages into the battle, a bunch of Team Titans members (not from the titular and most important team!) begin to die. First killed is Gunsmoke. You might not remember Gunsmoke because Gunsmoke was a terrible name and Gunsmoke never did anything except help provide some context on the plot. We learned from Gunsmoke that the Team Titans were spread out all across history because the Team Titans leader created a truly inept time machine. Gunsmoke's last words (aside from "Arrrggghhhhh!") are "Great. Don't tell me y'all saved my butt in the Old West just so I can get it kicked in 1994." I guess in 1994, creating a character that's simply a guy dressed like a cowboy didn't cut the editor's mustard.

The second character to die is Monsieur Poniard of Judge and Jury. He should thank his terrible name for cutting his comic book career short. "Mister Dagger," even in French, just isn't going to inspire the kind of terror that a super villain should inspire. And, yes, I'm aware of how many terribly mundane and crappy names exist within the DC Universe! I'm just saying, "One less is a good start."

The third Team Titan to die is a nameless Titan in the background of Monsieur Poniard's death. She (or he) has orange hair and wears a purple costume so I think we can all agree why he (or she) had to die. You know, because Starfire already had claims on that terrible color combination.

After Lazarium (Lord Murdoch's super villain name) takes down the main Team Titans in one blast, he jokes, "I love the smell of ozone in the morning." I know that's supposed to be a joke because he says, "Heh heh," immediately after. Earlier, Blue (unless it was Green or Purple or Yellow. Remember, the colorist of this current story arc is an idiot) quipped, "Yeah, and monkeys might fly outta my -- OOOOF!" So we have all the evidence we need that Jeff Jensen's main writing crutch is movie and television quotes.

The fourth Team Titans to die is Two Gallon Hat.

I often come up with characters for my stories that I know are stupid but I insert them into it anyway simply so that other characters can call them stupid.

While all of the other Titans from throughout history are being slaughtered by Lazarium's henchmen (where did he get henchmen who put such effort into henchmanning?! I bet he pays a living wage, offers great health care choices, and provides a hefty pension), Mirage remains stuck in traffic on the streets below.

If only Mirage could easily do something to keep from being recognized!

I don't know what she did with Deathwing but I hope it involved a hedge clipper and a blender.

Mirage steps out of the cab to find Cokie Walters staring at the corpse of Two Gallon Hat. Cokie apologizes for some reason which leads to Mirage threatening Cokie if she doesn't help Mirage save the Titans. Now how the hell is a bubble gum gossip reporter supposed to help with that?! "Mister Lazarium! Mister Lazarium! Is it true you pee through the gate instead of over the fence?!"

Realizing that the Titans have met their match, Terra resorts to pleading her case: "Lazarium! No! Please — you can't just kill us like this!" Lazarium, who is a super villain who has really thought out his plan and understands the power of a truly great one-liner, replies smartly: "Oh, yes, I can, Terra — especially you!" I just got goosebumps reading that! Although after the Wayne's World and Apocalypse Now lines from earlier, maybe Jensen stole this retort from a movie too. Wasn't this the great line from the end of Die Hard 2: Dying Ain't My Thing when Bruce Willis sets the airplane fuel alight?

Five hundred and thirty Titans got there asses handed to them by Lazarium and his goons. But not to worry because Prester Jon, Redwing, Battalion, Donna Troy, and just-out-of-a-coma Nightrider have arrived to save the day! And don't think they're going to do it silently! Battalion has a new battle cry that I can't believe didn't catch on with the youth of 1994.

How was this not one of the best selling DC posters of 1994?

Battalion goes down in one shot. Most of the characters will probably go down in one shot because Killowat will probably need to prove himself. Will saving the world from Lazarium be enough to make Mirage forget he's a racist jerk? Hopefully not!

The first person to nearly put Lazarium down is called Liquid Joe. Being that he's called Liquid Joe, you know he's not going to wind up being the hero. His blast of slime doesn't even faze Lazarium. Time for Cokie and Mirage to save Killowat so Killowat can save the day! Cokie knows where Killowat has been restrained because she's a tabloid journalist. This was the era where we all believed Geraldo was going to discover the secret of the universe. Now we know Geraldo's only goal was to uplift Geraldo. That fucker will say anything for praise and a paycheck. I suppose you can say that about anybody who appears on Fox News though.

After losing dozens of Titans, I have to admit that my plan would be to give Lazarium the time travel device so we could be rid of him. If he time travels into the future, he's not our problem anymore! Heck, he probably won't ever be our problem! The future no longer contains Lord Chaos so who knows what he's going to find in 2001. If in 1994 I were told that 2001 would be the beginning of some truly inspiring xenophobic bullshit masquerading as patriotism, I would have been all, "Yeah, I can buy that." Maybe that wasn't a good example.

Killowat defeats all of Lazarium's henchmen with one push of a button. Then he goes after Lazarium. Lazarium believes he'll win for the same reason all bad guys (and Deathstork (who is a bad guy but sometimes people begin to think maybe he's a good guy who was never actually convicted of statutory rape so is it really rape? (Yes. The answer is yes. I'm answering on behalf of a large percentage of male Americans who would get the answer to this question wrong))) believe they'll win.

Technically it's not rape if you say, "Here! Take it!" I'm just judging by American legal standards which have an even lower bar than that to declare something isn't rape.

Killowat gives Lazarium a bunch of his power which causes Lazarium to overload and explode into a smoking scorch mark on the roof. But we can't believe Killowat has just killed somebody (even though his name depends on the idea that he kills) so he makes sure to think, "The overload couldn't have killed him. His corporeal form must be around here somewhere." Well, wherever Lazarium went, it's clear that this story is winding down, so he's technically defeated. But he would have been back if this comic book hadn't been cancelled in a few more issues!

Oh wait! He's back a few pages later so Nightrider can feast on his blood. Now nobody has to worry about Lazarium anymore and nobody cares if Dagon murdered him because what's a vampire supposed to do? Not eat people?!

Anyway, the time machine simply opens a black hole in the sky which consumes hundreds of the poorly named Team Titans. Preser Jon shuts it down and now the Titans have to deal with being part of 1994 forever. I mean, at least until the end of the year when they'll have to deal with being a part of 1995 forever. Or for a year, anyway.

The final page of this issue reveals the leader and it's definitely not the leader anybody working on this comic book had planned it to be. Instead, it's Monarch because — guess what, motherfuckers?! — it's Zero Hour time!

Team Titans #20 Rating: A-. I'm only giving it a high grade because this issue was the start of Zero Hour. Not that Zero Hour isn't a completely flawed premise that was just another gimmick to allow DC's editors to fix shit that the fangenders kept haranguing them on. But it is interesting that this terrible little Titans off-shoot comic book is where DC decided to begin the entire Zero Hour premise. My other favorite part of this is how we find out that Monarch is the Leader. My supposition is that Zero Hour was thought up long after The Leader was already a mysterious presence in this book. I'm sure the writers and editors of this book had an idea about who The Leader should be. Maybe it was Dick Grayson, or Terry Long, or Starfire, or a reintegrated Danny Chase. But it certainly wasn't Monarch which meant they changed the goal line as the story proceeded. Which is a microcosm of what happens during the Zero Hour event! It was obvious throughout much of Zero Hour that Captain Atom was going to wind up being Monarch. But since so many fans had guessed it and expected it, DC decided that instead of continuing with a plot and character arc that made sense, they would simply reveal that Monarch was Hawk. Sure, it was a surprise! But it didn't make any fucking sense. Fucking comic books!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

New Titans #110

DC has been "unleashing" characters for over twenty-five years!

Twitter might be a smoking rectum of a filth and despair but let me tell you what it's given to me. I signed up to Twitter nearly ten years ago, mostly to secure the name Grunion Guy. I think my first tweet was "Why are they called Sixlets when there are only five colors?" Fucking insightful stuff, that. Anyway, at some point, a junior high school girl from Missouri followed me on Twitter. I followed her back and she lost her fucking mind because Grunion Guy started following her. It turned out, her and two of her best friends loved A Really Scary Story and some of Grunion Guy's other stories that were online (I say "Grunion Guy's other stories" and not "my other stories" because some of them (some of the best of them and certainly the first of them!) were not written by me. I just sort of took over the persona). Apparently the stories had been something fun they shared and they were excited to be acknowledged by Grunion Guy. They were funny and clever and I enjoyed reading their tweets and following their lives. Since then, I've watched them grow into compassionate, hilarious college students. I'm proud of them like I would be proud of my actual nieces if they were the kind of people to make me proud (ha ha! Just kidding, actual nieces! Whatever your names are!).

But there's a dark side to this other aspect of Twitter, this allowing instant access between writers and their audience. For the most part, it's what makes Twitter truly terrible. But long before Twitter, fans already felt entitled to the stories they expected. But if they didn't get them, they actually had to write a letter that would almost certainly only be read by some person whose job was to act as a firewall to the creator. Now when Tom King writes Batman stories where Batman actually has to deal with the existential ramifications of taking on the role as sole arbiter of justice to the universe, Batman fans can tweet directly at him saying, "You suck! Batman is about punching things, idiot!" I would like to believe that most creators ignore what the audience claims they want and just continue to express what they feel they need to express. Art isn't about feeding the masses what they want; obviously it's about stroking one's ego as if it were a massive cock that just needed orgasmic release. Mostly when people scream at me for writing shit they don't agree with, it doesn't bother me. On the other hand, there's a part of me that feels proud that when those three young kids from Missouri found something they enjoyed in my writing and subsequently followed me on Twitter, they were able to find that the person behind those stories was somebody they actually enjoyed interacting with, somebody whose beliefs they could respect and agree with. I can't imagine how disappointing it must be for, say, a Dilbert fan to get online and follow the douche that does that comic book only to be greeted by his terrible politics and inane philosophies. Actually, I can't even imagine somebody being a Dilbert fan so that was probably a poor analogy.

Ultimately I know that who I am doesn't matter when somebody reads A Really Scary Story (a story which, might I add, was once read out loud (by Daniel Heath Justice, no less!) before an audience that contained Connie Willis. So I'm practically a Hugo Award winner myself!). But I'd rather be seen as a somewhat enlightened, mostly compassionate moron than a selfish asshole who thinks they're the smartest fucker in the room.

While I'm rambling on about Twitter, here's a little free advice for debating online: only respond to the person angrily responding to something you've written if your response makes you laugh. And never respond more than twice (only once if at all possible. I just say twice for a little bit of latitude). I generally don't engage in "discussion" on the Internet. I "write" posts. If somebody responds angrily, I'll either ignore it, say something whimsically stupid in response, or will clarify once and leave it at that. Most people having debates on the Internet seem to think that they're arguing their side and that they really have to make sure their point is understood. But that's a huge mistake! Because nearly 100% of the time, the angry respondent has intentionally misunderstood what you've written, and will continue to believe that what they said you said is what you said. So even one clarification is probably too much but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Very occasionally, the misunderstanding isn't intentional and we can part on good terms.

Anyway, Dick is traveling through the rain forest looking for Kory this issue.

Dick seems shocked by the acrobatic oral sex customs of these indigenous peoples.

Dick finds Kory in the jungle telling stories of her homeworld to this Amazonian tribe. If Dick doesn't stop her, Starfire's stories will soon usurp the stories of the native tribe, being that they're far more exciting and filled with more aliens and space lasers. She's going to destroy this entire culture nearly as fast as a white Christian missionary!

Before Starfire can supplant the basis of the village's cultural understanding of their place in the universe by telling space operas, the stars of one of her space operas attacks the village! And just as the story begins to get exciting, the scene changes to the bureaucracy of Checkmate running the Titans.

Now that the Titans need the government's help to battle lawsuits brought against them for their familial disputes causing citywide destruction (which the Titans deny but, I mean, have they been reading their own comic book? Eighty percent of their battles are against family members and the other twenty percent are against villains who have a grudge against the Titans themselves), they're being given political missions by the government. On one hand, it's despicable that they're going to be used as pawns for political and corporate interests. On the other hand, there's at least a 50% chance they'll actually be helping to make the world a better place for once.

What a surprise. There first mission is against a guy who wants to make the world a better place by saving the environment! I wonder if the Titans uniforms will have Shell, Mobile, and Exxon patches added to them.

How do I not remember this guy? That was a rhetorical question that means "I love this guy! Why didn't I have a shirt with him on it?! Why did I spill so much semen over Lobo when this guy existed?!" What I really meant to say was "Terraist? No wonder nobody remembers this guy!" You know when something clever goes a bit too far into clever so that it becomes fucking idiotic instead? That's the name "Terraist." But he's cradling a cat and a rose and he's battling for the environment! How is this guy the bad guy?! Just because he lives in Zandia? Fucking racist, man.

Oh wait. Maybe I should have listened to the rest of The Terraist's rant. He plans on destroying the world quickly unless government's stop all pollution immediately. That doesn't seem insane and unreasonable at all! But I don't think his cat is into it. The cat just wants a few nice chin scritches and a plate of fancy food.

The lasers that hit the rain forest were part of The Terraist's attack to save the world by destroying it. Maybe I was wrong about judging the people of Zandia. Maybe they are all fucking assholes.

"We know you can't get into space but we need the Titans to stop Terraist and his death satellite!" "You know there are heroes that can fly into space?" "WE NEED YOU!"

Red Planet declares that they will help and Arsenal is all, "Are you fucking nuts?! I don't have a rocket arrow!" But Flash is all, "I used to hate you because you were a Communist and Russian, Leonid. I just wanted you to know!" Fucking Wally. Although in Wally's defense, I once said this same kind of bullshit. I once told Mistina La Fave of The Prids how I didn't really like their music the first time I heard them but that I loved the show I had just watched before saying that horrible thing to her. Now in my defense during Wally's defense, the first time I saw The Prids (way back in like 2000 or 2001, I think? Yeesh), I also saw The Faint for the first time (touring for Danse Macabre) and I can't be responsible for comparing everything else poorly in relation to that glorious spectacle. But I still suck for saying that thing.

The Titans decide to accept help from Alexander Luthor since he's the only private citizen with a ship that can get them into space so they can stop an eco-terrorist from saving the environment in completely the wrong way. This was twenty five years ago. It's like nothing ever changes! Why does anything we do matter if we're just repeating the same shit over and over again?! Oh God, I'm so tired!

New Titans #110 Rating: B-. If you were paying attention to the cover, you might be wondering when Baby unleashed his beest. It happened over one panel where he attacked Steve Dayton but Dayton instantly downed him with some neuro-laser. I'm not sure why Checkmate didn't hire Steve Dayton to take down The Terraist since, using the transitive property, if Dayton can defeat the Titans, he should also be able to defeat The Terraist. Also, he probably has a ship that he's not letting the Titans use because he's tired of being used by them. Also he might still be insane seeing as how he's working on another Mento Helmet. Maybe going insane is the cure for being insane? So a second Mento Helmet is the cure for a first Mento Helmet! Man, no wonder I'm not a genius. When I break my arm, I rarely ever think the cure is breaking it again! But then, I know I've heard doctors talking about rebreaking arms to help fix broken arms! So I really am stupider than I thought!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Team Titans #19

Team Titans is an anagram of Steam Taint.

I never learned the proper use of prepositions, or what they even are, because it's the most unlistenable to Schoolhouse Rock song.

Hmm, that was more of a tweet than the opening line to (of?) a review of (for?) a comic book from (in?) 1994. But then again, it's also a good example of how my reviews work. A thought strikes me based on something I just read or wrote, I have six thoughts more as the pinball in my brain bounces off of several bumpers, until I finally get control of the ball by resting it on an upraised flipper. Then I aim the ball and shoot it up the "Schoolhouse Rock Song" ramp and score the jackpot. I'm left feeling satisfied while everybody who just walked in and missed all the bumper action that lit up the jackpot are left thinking, "What the fuck is this asshole talking about?"

From now on, I'm only going to speak in pinball analogies. Or is the lesson actually, "Write more of your process, dumbie!"? Schoolhouse Rock also never did a song about punctuation inside and outside quotation marks so I'm never going to be any good that that shit either.

Avengers: Endgame has a good example of how I just write stuff that makes me happy without explaining why I'm writing that stuff. Without actually spoiling anything, there's a scene where some Avengers go to pick up Thor at his house in New Asgard. Taika Waititi's alien character lives with him and he's playing Fortnite. He begins to complain that some guy named SlutBanger called him a dick or something. At that moment, being a huge fan of Liz Lemon's terrible ex-boyfriend Dennis Duffy whose Xbox username is SlutBanger on 30 Rock, I now can't not think of 30 Rock as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So instead of going on Twitter and explaining my theory on how 30 Rock has been incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and providing the SlutBanger evidence, I simply began tweeting things based on the assumption that everybody now understands it to be true. I could probably benefit from making my process more transparent.

War Devil's secret identity is Ward Evil.

Getting around to the comic book, a Team Titans team called Spectrum have arrived from the future to return the central-to-the-plot Team Titans back to 2001. I hate them immediately. One of them is all, "You deserve answers! But let's start with introductions!" Then instead of introducing herself as a person would when they say something like, "Let's start with introductions," she tells Terra that she's Terra, and Prester Jon that he's Prester Jon. And then when Terry is all, "Wait a second! That's not how introductions are done! What's your name?", she's all, "I don't have a name — I'm a color!" Well how about I just call refer to you as Fuck Off, You Stupid Puke Green Piece of Shit? Not that Terry Long would ever say anything like that! He's a wuss! Remember an issue or two ago when he was crushed by a grandfather clock? Hilarious!

Later, one of the Spectrum refers to one of the other Spectrum as "Green." So I think they indeed have names! Jerks.

I don't want to embarrass anybody who worked on this comic book but one of the creative team might be an idiot.

Spectrum have been traveling through time collecting all of the members of the Team Titans (that's like thousands and thousands of characters!). Now, to prove that they're not lying about working for the mysterious leader, they need to bring all of the Team Titans together. Hopefully these characters will be more creative than what the writers of Bloodlines came up with. Let's see, there's Carpet Boy, Lapidus, Wonder Boy, The Enforcer, Murder Master, and Hero X. So, um, nope. No more creative.

All of the Titans from throughout time head off to battle Lazarium, Lord Chaos's spy who has become the DC Universe's version of Rupert Murdoch. He's kidnapped Killowat to steal some of his power so that he can time travel back to 2001 and take over Lord Chaos's throne.

This whole Lazarium plot exemplifies why I can rarely identify with the bad guy (unless it's Lobo because I was also super cool and had long hair and looked hot in jeans and wanted to kill my entire species. Representation matters!). Lazarium's ambition has garnered him a life full of money and power. He could just build an evil lair and retire to play video games when he's not getting adult massages from in-house professionals. Instead, he's created this life so that he can accomplish some other stupid fucking thing that doesn't seem any better than the life he currently has. Why would he want to take over Lord Chaos's role in a future where everybody rebels against Lord Chaos? Who are these people who need to constantly introduce more drama into their lives? You're living the life, Lazarium! Take it fucking down a notch now and enjoy it!

Lazarium explains his plans like a good villain while Battalion, Redwing, Donna, and a comatose Nightrider have been detained by the government. It's a good thing Prestor Jon and his nearly infinite new powers is coming to rescue them.

Prestor Jon has spent every panel since he returned exclaiming how he needs to find his sister, Redwing. He loves her so much and he wants to make sure she's safe and he'd do anything for her and he'll destroy anybody who gets in his way! It's all been so touching and he's been so passionate and it's all been one big fucking batch of twaddle.

"Ew! Your ears and fingernails got pointy! Gross! Get away from me!"

Prestor Jon has an elastic body that's actually disgusting and he's over here judging Redwing's cute new affectations? Hell, even if he wasn't elastic, he'd be a hypocrite for finding Carrie gross now. He does realize he's a ginger in his new body, right?!

I should apologize to people with red hair and fair complexions but right now I'm drunk with the power of judging people on superficial differences! Is this what it feels like to be an incel online?! "Oh, nobody will fuck me, hunh?! Well, I wouldn't fuck you! Even if I had the choice! Which I don't! It's right their in my embraced nomenclature: involuntary celibate! But that's beside the point! People who are good looking enough to get fucked are shallow garbage monsters! What must it feel like to be just the other side of totally disgusting?! If only I were marginally less repugnant than I am! But it's impossible! In this society, there's no way a 1 or a 2 can pretty themselves up to a slightly fuckable 3! And don't encourage me to fuck other 1s and 2s! Gross!"

Hmm. Maybe I need to apologize to both incels and gingers now. Although my mocking incel rant was just encouragement! Don't accept being unfuckable! Do something about it! And that something isn't read a book about how you need to trick women into sleeping with you! That something is doing the best you can at cleaning up, dressing, acting like a civilized person, and just enjoying things you enjoy around other people. You also have to, in some way, prove that you're a responsible person who has something to offer. I once flirted with a woman all weekend at a party in some remote location without anything more than friendly banter. Then on the way home, the car I was driving home (a friend's girlfriend's car because she probably knew it was a deathtrap!) got a flat and we wound up stranded on 580 all night (because she had a spare in the car but no jack). In the morning, I got out of the car with the tire and flagged down a helpful man. His jack was the kind you slide under and the car was a low Camaro that it wouldn't fit under. The guy explained he had to get to work but since he was the only person to stop, I was all, "Please! We'll get this!" I then got my other friend there to lift one side of the front of the car as I lifted the other and we were able to get the jack under. I then preceded to change the tire in a few minutes and we were on our way. My friend said X (the woman I'd been flirting with!) didn't take her eyes off me the rest of the drive home. I dropped her off first and she practically forced her phone number on me. That's what impresses people you might want to impress: doing things that aren't meant to impress them. You just have to prove you're a capable human being who can get shit done when that shit needs getting done. She probably thought, "Look at the way he took control of the situation! Look at how he lifted up that car's front end and changed the tire so smoothly and quickly! I bet he fucks!"

I mean, she was wrong. I was terrible at fucking then! Really, really terrible! But that's a story I don't want to talk about! Even though it's a really short story.

Team Titans #19 Rating:: C-. It got boring again!

The final page of this comic book has a TV Guide mock-up for DC Comics if they were shows. Here are the actors the editors at DC thought should be playing their characters in 1994:

Aquaman: Keifer Sutherland
Atom: Michael Madsen
Blue Beetle: Jason Patric
Nightshade: Madeline Stowe
Batman: Brad Pitt or Cary Elwes or Peter Horton
Joker: Aidan Quinn
Lobo: Bill Paxton
Guy Gardner: Christian Slater
Ice: Meg Ryan
Hal Jordan: Dennis Quaid
Sinestro: Raul Julia
Kilowog: John Goodman
Ganthet: Paul Williams
Kyle Rayner: Andrew Shue

Friday, May 3, 2019

Team Titans #18

The original cover had Mirage holding Deathwing's torn off cock in her upraised hand.

The casual use of the phrase "Payback is a bitch" in 1994 causes me to suspect this cover is problematic. Also, Team Titans is an anagram of "A mint taste," so does that help prove my point? Anyway, it's not like Mirage hasn't not been written to seem like a terrible person. Yes, she's strong and confident and probably threatens some people's masculinity (like Terry Long, for sure!). But she's also kind of hateful and mean-spirited and takes the piss out of people just because she didn't get enough sleep. Also she raped Nightwing. I keep forgetting that not only is she a victim of rape but she's also a rapist! I suppose one doesn't forgive the other but I also suppose I would feel more empathy for her if she hadn't raped Nightwing. In fact, I'm beginning to think this whole Deathwing rapes Mirage plotwas way more thought out than just another writer using rape as a casual means for a character's emotional journey! Maybe the whole Deathwing plot was a convoluted A Christmas Carol haunting to show Mirage the error of her ways! So this cover is basically Ebenezer Scrooge leaning out of his window on Christmas morning to ask some urchin to have a turkey delivered to him for a half a crown! As if anybody in town would trust Scrooge to pay them for their services! If A Christmas Carol wanted to be more realistic, it would have the kid throw up two fingers at Scrooge and call him a cunt. Also it would have less ghosts.

My new favorite comic book panel: Terry Long defeated by a baby.

Prester Jon has arrived back on Earth in his new body. I'm not sure if the body came this way or if it was changed by his time traveling through space on his roundabout way home but Prester Jon has become the fifth member of the Elastic Four (the other members are Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Jimmy Olsen on his stretch serum, and some other chump). The ability to stretch his body into any shape translates into the power to defeat four powerful elementals. Elementals who are just trying to save the Earth, by the way. Terra's introduction into the current timeline has wreaked havoc with nature, and so she must be dealt with. But just like all heroes who can never allow for the possibility that maybe their very existence is the worst threat to the universe, Prester Jon decides to fight them. Just like when Superman learned Earth was the cause for all the trouble in the universe and he just shrugged and was all, "But it's my home, motherfuckers!"

I'm sure I'm remembering that Superman story correctly.

The elementals are defeated by a white panel with the word "blink" in it. Maybe Zero Hour just happened and it fixed Terra's time anomaly? I have no idea. Anyway, this is a good example of deus ex machina, nerds. It's not Arya Stark going on a multi-year journey learning how to be a deadly assassin that can wear the faces of other people and get around silently amazingly being the one that nobody at all expected to kill the Night King. And by nobody at all, I mean everybody who wasn't watching Game of Thrones and/or people who love to talk about how the book was so much better than the movie (mostly to prove that they're not as illiterate as they sound).

Redwing discovers that she's growing claws to match her wings and she freaks the fuck out. Before she can maul Donna, the US Government arrives to restore order. That means they shoot her with a tranq dart and threaten to shoot everybody else with far worse. No wonder NRA members are so scared of the government! They must read comic books!

Also, I mean, sure, the government can be corrupt and scary. But the people who claim they need their guns to defend against the government also seem to be the ones who don't mind that police use extreme force and who also worship the military no matter how many times it's used for illegal and immoral purposes around the world. Just, you know, as long as the people getting shot don't look like they do, or the bombs don't fall in their backyards. But if those bombs did begin falling, look out! They've got a fucking ArmaLite to protect them!

Donna, Battalion, Redwing, and Nightrider are all taken into custody. The government doesn't like any of their answers to their questions (even the true ones!), so they'll probably wind up in federal prison. Also there's one of those white "blink" panels. That probably means they'll be okay somehow. Like maybe they all now fit in the timeline and the government will be able to check up on their pasts.

Meanwhile, Mirage has chosen to run away from her life but Detective Dick Deathwing is on her trail!

The hat and the trench coat don't make Deathwing less conspicuous.

Deathwing follows Mirage onto a train headed toward Miami. Once the train enters a tunnel (I think that's more rape subtext!), Deathwing attacks Mirage! At the same time, the artist's eight year old takes over art duties.

The tongue hanging out of Deathwing's mouth is the chef's finger kiss of this inspired scene.

Mirage locks the unconscious Deathwing in a bathroom and shoves some used toilet paper in his mouth before taking on his identity. Conveniently, she also intercepts a communication to Nightwing telling her exactly where the bad guy's base is! Because whenever I phone somebody about meeting me at my place, and I know that person has been to my place many times, I always still ask them if they'll soon be at 1990 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050 USA.

Hopefully the next scene involving Mirage will be when she gets her nipple pierced. You know, to really nail down the Deathwing disguise! Although, will future panels showing Mirage as Deathwing make such flagrant use of nipple shots? Where does the Comics Code Authority stand on female shape-shifted nipples? I mean, they're still female, right?! If they are allowed in subsequent scenes, I can't wait to see if I'm aroused by them!

Back at the Long Family Farm, a bunch of rainbow people appear to tell Terra that the Team Titans will be going home soon. Are these another Titans Team? Or are they Zero Hour precursors?!

Deathwing's boss, Lazarium, steals Killowat's powers while he waits for Deathwing to arrive with Mirage. I wonder if he also stole Killowat's racism?

Team Titans #18 Rating: C. This was as average as a comic book could get. When the pencils and inks seemed unrushed, the art still seemed rushed. When the pencils and inks seemed rushed, the art was fucking terrible. And I'm a terrible artist, so I can say that.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

New Titans #109

"I wish she'd go back to sleep!"

According to the cover, Kynasf'rr is a reverse skin moisturizing ritual.

It was this cover that began my theory that Tamaraneans evolved from insects. It's not a very complicated theory; I pretty much stated the whole thing in this paragraph's opening sentence. And maybe I didn't think up the theory when I first saw this cover but when I just pulled it out of the stack two minutes ago and screamed. This cover is so traumatic that I actually remember buying it on the stands and thinking, "Why am I still buying this series?" That's a pretty serious critique seeing as how I was in my early twenties and could probably jerk off over nearly anything in a bikini.

I probably didn't need to add "in a bikini." Loose shorts and a nice breeze was a good time at that age.

Not that I ever bought New Titans because I was attracted to the characters. That was a joke! I bought New Titans because I'd purchased the first twenty or so and they just kept putting more and more issues out. What was I supposed to do? Stop collecting them?! Fucking nonsense, mate!

Also, did you ever see Jericho's ass? Me-ow!

The issue begins with Starfire describing Kynasf'rr and I'm beginning to suspect it's anal: "The Initiator led me down through tunnels black as the great dark hole just before our solar system's rim. I had no idea where I was. None who have submitted to Kynasf'rr speaks of it to those who have not. It's very mystery made it all that more alluring to Komand'r. And foreboding to me."

Komand'r is my kind of princess!

Ugh. No wonder 90s Batman didn't respect Nightwing!

That isn't really Dick saying those pathetic things. It's actually worse! It's Starfire hallucinating what she feels lame-ass Dick Grayson would say to her! She doesn't want to hear this sappy shit! She wants you to tell her how your thick dick is going to ruin her mighty Tamaranean vagina!

While Dick continues to mewl about how much he needs Kory, a hallucination of Komand'r appears to tell Starfire that anal fucking rocks. But Kory is all, "I don't want to be with a weak jerk that can't give it to me hard the way I imagine Bruce Wayne could give it to me, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for the dirty deed!" Komand'r makes some pretty solid arguments and I'm not just saying that because I think Kory should take it in the ass. Komand'r has historical evidence on her side! Their grandfather was bold enough to be rammed up the shit chute, so he fought off the Gordanians when they wanted his son. But his son was like Nightwing! He was all, "That's not the proper way to fuck! That's an exit only hole!" And because he wasn't strong and powerful, Starfire suffered. And now she's weak too!

I can't believe Cyborg is too dead to enjoy this!

A website must exist that's simply out of context panels of DC characters yelling, "DICK!"

X'hal and her son, Auron, appear to Starfire as she accepts herself and finally completes the ritual of Kynasf'rr! It's not as graphic as I thought it would be. It might not have even been anal! But then the images could have just been metaphor, seeing as how this isn't an x-rated comic book. I mean, this kind of looks like it could be a visual, non-sexual representation of anal, right?

I'm so aroused right now!

Starfire declares she is now a Shaman of Tamaran walking the Way of the Warrior! Oh yeah baby! Me too!

New Titans #109 Rating: A solid B. The best part was how it left out all of the terrible characters, like Red Sun and Wildebeest and Changeling and Pantha and Danny Chase and probably a few others that are so boring that I forgot about them. Oh, Arsenal! The most important thematic element of this issue was that a person shouldn't blame themselves for being raped. That's a pretty tough thing to come to grips with. But what's even tougher is learning that even when you overcome that feeling, you still realize that a stupidly large percentage of the population will continue to blame you for the rape. Assholes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Team Titans #17

Team Titans is an anagram of Fuck Donald Trump.

The joke in the caption relies on regular readers knowing that I keep doing anagrams of the title except this time the anagram isn't an anagram at all! I know some people probably didn't even have to double check, especially the really observant ones who instinctively knew that "Team Titans" did not contain an "F". But the other point of that caption is to make readers who both enjoy Donald Trump and the stupid shit I write about comic books suddenly realize that they don't like what I write at all. In half a second, they'll realize how stupidly wrong they were about their opinions of this blog. In a half second after that, they'll admit that they've always thought I was a dumb asshole who has never written anything clever in his entire life. A few seconds after that, they'll probably be jerking off to another Hillary Clinton rant by Sean Hannity.

We all have to face the consequences of our beliefs and actions. One of the consequences of supporting the modern GOP lampreys attached to the tits and ass fat of Donald Trump is that you don't get to enjoy myriad entertainments. Pretty much all you've got is Last Man Standing and reruns of Home Improvement. Of course, you could try to ignore what you've now learned because I probably won't mention it again for quite some time. But it's also possible I might pull at your victim status trigger again by the next paragraph!

Speaking of triggers, the NRA can eat their own filthy asshole. Unless they like doing that! They seem like the kind of organization that would like doing that! And I don't mind kink-shaming people who love to eat their own filthy assholes because the Venn Diagram of people who can eat their own assholes and people who love to eat filthy assholes is nonexistent.

This whole nineties Teen Titans thing went off the rails a tiny bit when they introduced a rapist version of Nightwing with a nipple ring.

Is it weird that I have an unrepentant love for Lobo and a slightly repentant love for Deathstork but I feel like I'd be crossing a line having any kind of love for Deathwing? I get why people love Lobo because he's over the top and his space jeans craft a nice package in his nether area. Plus the chains! So penis stiffening! And Deathstork was cool enough to have gotten an underage girl he fucked killed without the entire comic book community feeling disgusted by him. I think his old age helped. Deathstork is like a beloved grandfather who tells such incredible stories from his youth that nobody minds that 23% of them are racist. But if somebody told me Deathwing was their favorite character, I'd be frightened. Although I guess they could mitigate that fright by explaining they like the Rebirth Deathwing and then I'd just be, "Oh, sorry. I didn't know you were gay. Cool!"

That probably came across as me using gay as a synonym for lame but it was meant to express my feelings that Rebirth Deathwing should be a gay icon, if he isn't already. Like the Babadook.

In that picture above, Deathwing is coming out of a clockmaker's closet (so maybe he's a gay icon too?), probably to rape the clockmaker (Oh yeah! He's totally rapey, so probably not a gay icon!). Now I'm wondering why Superman doesn't stop more rapes? Or why he doesn't commit himself to stopping all rapes? He could end rape forever with his powers! I guess he just doesn't have the commitment to end rape. You know how fast rape would have been stopped if Bruce Wayne's parents had been raped in that alley? Considering how many murders still happen in Gotham City even though Batman has dedicated his life to stopping injustice, I'm guessing it wouldn't have been fast at all. Batman is a huge failure.

Meanwhile back at the Long Ranch, Nightrider (as opposed to Deathrider, his rapey twin), recovers from being shot by the neighbor. Granted, the neighbor also tracked down the wounded vampire to rescue him. He didn't realize he was shooting a living, feeling creature. He just thought he was killing a stupid bat!

I hope no bats read this blog! They might think I'm being insensitive to bats! And, I mean, I am! But I don't want them to know that! They might start sending me memes of their creepy little faces saying things like, "Bats have rights too!" and "Bats cry more than most human males!" and "Today is the worst day of the rest of your terrible life, motherfucker!" That last one would make a good motivational poster for the lunchroom at most offices.

Wait. Is "vampire" a derogatory term?!

I just watched a Kids React video on YouTube about whether or not "hell" was a curse word. Sydney took the opportunity to say as many near curse words as she thought she could get away with. I'm pretty sure if I were young or hip or with it (which I obviously am not as noted by my usage of "hip" and "with it"), I would now use the word stan somehow.

Why is there a Kids React for "How to Cure a Hangover"? What the fuck is wrong with the Fine Brothers?! Here are some more great ideas for your dumb Internet show:

"Kids React to Joe Pesci's Death Scene in Goodfellas"
"Kids React to Satanic Rituals"
"Kids React to Seeing Their Parents Murdered"
"Kids React to Goat Testicles"
"Kids React to Their First Blow Job"

I should stop listing these because I could do it all day and also I think some of them would actually work.

The "How to Cure a Hangover" video isn't actually a Kids React; it's an advice episode featuring all ages of reactors. The first question they must give advice for is "How do I get someone to kiss me on New Year's Eve?" According to a lot of the answers, nobody seemed to give much of a shit about consent in 2016. Although my stan Sydney is all, "Get your parents to kiss you!" Oh my God she owns the world.

The next question Sydney answers is "How do I touch a rainbow?" She says to get the biggest ladder in the world so she might be kind of dumb. I mean, a ladder doesn't have to be that big to touch a rainbow! Although she is just a kid so I'll let her slide on this answer. I suppose it's more important that she gives a cute answer than a correct one.

For "How do I cure a hangover?", Sydney says, "Why are you asking me this question?" After which, I'm assuming, she walked off camera and kicked both Fine Brothers in the balls at the same time.

Okay, back to Team Titans!

The neighbor tries to apologize by explaining that he wouldn't have tried to murder the bat if he'd known it wasn't a disgusting bat. Terry Long, the worst character in a comic book full of terrible characters (and I'm including Deathwing here!), blames the victim and Terra's angst meter tops out. She goes into a blind Tumblr rage without any regard to the neighbor's apology, explaining how Nightrider was only acting on his true nature. The row disturbs Donna's baby which becomes the worst issue of the night.

"Whith"? I've never noticed Donna's weird accent before this issue! I also love how she thrusts her baby at the others to show that they've upset it.

While the majority of the team take Nightrider to STAR Labs for treatment (can't they just let him suck the baby a little bit?), Mirage and Terra stay behind to protect Terry and the baby. Well, Terra stays behind to protect them. Mirage still suffers from the trauma of being raped while none of the others seem to give a shit. She's decided to run away and have her baby somewhere else. Hopefully she won't have the baby in the town where Deathwing grew up because you know what that would mean, right?! Ugh, I can't even type it!

Mirage was raped by her own time traveling son! Okay, it wasn't that hard to type after all.

Out in the yard, four elementals are approaching to kill Terra: an elemental of glaciers, an elemental of shit, an elemental of men's farts, and an elemental of lady's farts.

Over at STAR Labs, Doctor Velcro determines Nightrider's life can't be saved because he's already dead. He's a vampire! And Doctor Velcro knows because he's a not just a vampire specialist but a vampire himself! He's one of the Creature Commandos! His prescription to keep Nightrider alive is human blood. At this declaration, the rest of the Team Titans begin acting like Nightrider is a goner. So their first thought is that he's going to die if he doesn't drink human blood? Not one of them is all, "Drink from my veins, buddy! As much as you need! Well, maybe not too much! You know, just a taste! But there are like eight of us, so you can probably get your fill by sampling us all!" Fucking jerks.

The 90s had some pretty fucking nihilistic AIDS public service adverts.

As Terra protects New York as a Team Titan by defending herself against elementals that want to kill her, the rest of the Team Titans defend New York by battling a bunch of electric beings in thongs that want to kidnap Killowat. I laugh in your face, Councilwoman Alderman! Look at all the good these Titans are doing for the city!

The energy beings easily kidnap Killowat because he only had the majority of the Team Titans and Battalion defending him. Terra, all alone, just barely manages not to die in her battle right before a newly human Prester Jon (back from the Terminus Agenda!) manages to save her.

This might be my favorite panel from 1994. In case you couldn't tell by his idiotic hands or his stupid baby, that's Terry Long under the clock.

The person who kidnapped Killowat turns out to be the clockmaker's old beau, the one that taught her to work on futuristic Titans' communicators. He was a member of the Team Titans named Lazarium but he seems to have been a spy working for Lord Chaos. The leader of the Team Titans (identity still unknown!) sent him and his team back in time to die. But he survived and now he owns a good chunk of the media world. His name might as well be Rupert Murdoch because he has a media empire that's trying to turn the world against heroes and he has his own sexual harassment problems in his organization, seeing as how Deathwing works for him.

Team Titans #17 Rating: It took seventeen issues but I'm finally interested in this comic book! The Lazarium story arc has momentum and ties in to the overall history of the team, hopefully finally separating them from the Titans book for a bit. I know it still relies on garbage time travel theories but it also threatens to expose Killowat as a huge racist piece of shit! That should be exciting! It's also slightly heavy on implied rape which I didn't mean to add as one of the reasons I'm enjoying the book but just as a simple fact to say, "Look. This was a comic book from 1994! Rape was an important plot point to raise tension and pull on the emotional heartstrings of an audience that didn't quite understand how writers were just using rape as a lazy way of creating drama and emotional tenstion!" What I'm trying to say is: B+! Good work, everybody!

Friday, April 26, 2019

New Titans #108

I can't believe we had to wait 108 issues for Marv Wolfman's take on the trauma of rape!

The advertisement on the inside front cover is for the movie Blue Chips and I've never hated past everybody more. Shaquille O'Neal starring in a movie directed by William Friedkin with the tagline, "In your face." Maybe I'm judging this movie too harshly simply because my first thought was, "What fucking world were we living in where we decided Shaq needed a movie career?" But then, he's playing a basketball player in this movie so he probably nailed the role. I'm sure there's no difference between the way he performed his role and the way he answered press questions after a game. And I guess he was kind of funny and charming, so what Hollywood bigwig wasn't getting on the horn and yelling at casting directors, "Get me Shaq! I've got a script here for a basketball movie and he'd be perfect! Also maybe throw this genie script at him!"

Anyway, the Internet and Roger Ebert seem to think this movie wasn't too bad so maybe this isn't a hill I should die on. Not that I haven't died on a whole slew of hills that weren't worth dying on. Maybe not as many as Deathstork fans but I've still had my share. I don't remember any of those hills because I purge my memory of all the times I acted foolish so that I can continue to believe I'm the epitome of the perfect human being.

Also, maybe I shouldn't trust Roger Ebert's judgment as much as I do seeing as he began his review with this word: "Alot". Unless that indicates he despised editors too in which case I'm back to being his #130,503,227th biggest fan!

The issue begins with Starfire visiting Councilwoman Alderman in an insane asylum. Kory is dressed in torn rags because fuck you. You don't deserve a comic book that makes sense if you stuck with New Titans this long! My first thought was, "Is this a nightmare?" But I skipped ahead a few pages so that I wouldn't write a bunch of shit that didn't matter when it was revealed to be a dream and I don't think it is a nightmare. My second thought was that Kory broke in to confront Alderman but Kory mentions things the guard said to her, and references waiting for the guards to open the door leading to Alderman's cell. So she went through the proper channels for a visit and nobody seemed to care she was barefoot and wearing a torn sheet that was skimpier than her superhero costume. But then I remember this is a comic book from 1994 and even when a hot female character is dealing with the trauma of rape, the artist still must cater to the male gaze. You know how many comic book drawings of dead female heroes I've jerked off to?! I mean, obviously it's zero! That was meant to be hyperbolic and satirical!

So sexily satirical!

Comic book fans think they have it rough now, what with Tom King portraying Batman as a man who might actually have to deal with the psychological trauma of his entire life in ways other than beating criminals nearly to death. Back in 1994, we had to deal with poor misunderstood and tormented Raven turning into a rape monster just like her father! It was a hard lesson! Thankfully, the only people who had to learn it were the assholes who still kept buying The New Titans after the Wildebeest story arc.

Nightwing arrives to save Starfire from more trauma induced by Alderman's ranting. He appears in full costume because men are allowed to be dignified. Although, technically, with the way artists draw characters in spandex, Nightwing looks more naked than Starfire.

Starfire yells "Kynasf'rr!" and blasts through the wall, leaving Nightwing free to think about how Alderman said he was always second to Batman. I mean, Kory's pain is terrible and Alderman taunting her about a possible Trigon pregnancy is terrifying but second to Batman?! Below the belt, crazy lady!

Phantasm makes an appearance to say, "Trigon's seed has returned to Earth!" So now I'm thinking about Trigon's ejaculate, so thanks for that, Marv Wolfman! You dirty pervert!

Based on these two articles on the front page, I'm guessing nobody at the Globe knows what "landslide" means.

Beast Boy and Dr. Sarah Charles have a grieving session while packing up Victor's things in whatever space Victor kept his things. Garfield decides to remember things so that Marv Wolfman can show that Garfield has learned a lesson about inspiration and hope from Cyborg. Gar says, "Only [Cyborg] never complained. He just kept going on, even after what happened to Sarah Simms. Even after he realized he was going to die. He just took things as they were and changed what he could and accepted what he couldn't." Maybe I'm the one remembering things wrong but I felt like Cyborg was constantly complaining! He was constantly angry at his dad for turning him into a machine. He was constantly upset at his robot life because it didn't allow him to fuck his romantic partners. He was always saying "Booyah!" because what else is there to say when your body is a constant and painful reminder that you'll never again be human and you're bound to live a life of loneliness? I mean, I could be remembering wrong. And anyway, this plays much better. You want the dead guy to have left some kind of meaning filling the void his presence has left. Also, Garfield needed this moment to grow the fuck up.

It reveals too much about my inner character so I won't discuss the scene where I identify too strongly with Pantha's grousing about the Beast Boy/Dr. Charles scene just before Red Star almost beats the shit out of her. Those two are definitely about to fuck, right?

Roy Harper discovers that his bosses at Checkmate have found a non-Dayton Industries corporation to begin design Titan weapons systems and that corporation is run by Alexander Luthor. Not Lex Luthor! Alexander! The one with red hair and the beard. The one that was fucking Supergirl. But not the real Supergirl! The Supergirl made out of slime or computer data or something. I don't have a real clear memory of these post-Death-of-Superman Superman family histories!

And finally, Starfire travels to South America — the Tamaran of Earth, I guess? — to undergo Kynasf'rr. I don't know what that is but I bet it's sexy.

New Titans #108 Rating: B-. I almost gave this issue a C+ which is worse than a B- but feels more positive because our perceptions of things, as humans, can be fucking stupid. I was hoping for Marv to really plumb the deaths of Starfire's tragedy but instead he just scripted a few pages of Starfire nearly naked while Alderman tries to convince her to let Raven rape her again. Marv doesn't even spend much time on the Titan's grief over Cyborg since he had to deal with a bunch of Titans' bureaucracy over their current leadership and membership problems. This seemed like an issue where Marv could have really flexed some emotional writing muscle but he spent only a few pages superficially glossing over the Titans' grief and pain.

The Letters Pages!

Jeff DeMos of New York, NY, gave me a good laugh when he wrote, "Why is there a periodic need to overhaul a character that will 'change (them) forever?' Has Cyborg really become so boring and dated? Has he exhausted all possible storylines?" Why, yes and yes, Jeff! Thanks for asking the truly important rhetorical questions!

The editor's response to those obviously rhetorical questions was another good laugh: "Cyborg never became 'boring or dated.'" Ha ha! I suppose that statement is true if you consider Cyborg has always been boring and dated which means he could never become those things!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New Titans #107

Can you imagine a team superhero series making it to Issue #107 and believing this is the line-up that will get them to another hundred issues?

I know you're all judging me for that caption. Not because you can't agree with it completely (unless you're somehow, shamefully, a Cyborg or a Beast Boy or a Roy Harper fan) but because I didn't mention Cyborg's weird new cybernetic baby legs. The cover is by Nick Napolitano who seems to be mostly a letterer now (for — forgive me — obvious reasons)? Maybe it's not the same person. I'd hate to imply that a respected letterer in the industry today once drew Cyborg with fountain pen feet and fairly decent breasts.

Although the letterer on this issue is Christine Napolitano, so maybe he stole his wife's job when DC fired him as a penciller?

Oh, excuse me! I shouldn't assume Nick was fired as an artist because of the way he drew Cyborg on this cover. I should probably assume he was offered more money to work at Image.

In my commentary on Team Titans #16, I speculated that the series could have received a huge sales boost by having Lobo as a guest star. If my memory served, I thought it might have been at peak Lobo saturation at DC. According to the ad on the inside cover, I may have been spot on.

Every successful pitch at DC in the early to mid nineties began "Picture this: Lobo [rest of pitch interrupted by sounds of editors jizzing and creaming their pants]."

The issue begins with Roy Harper enclosed in a metal box in space while he tries to explain claustrophobia to sentient software. He describes his reaction as his "sweat glands doing a world-class impersonation of Niagara Falls." The next few pages do not include Roy Harper explaining what Niagara Falls is nor does it include the sentient software saying, "Slowly I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch." If you're young and you don't understand any of that meant, just let it go. Let the old people have their moment to nod and smile nostalgically!

The sentient software haven't had an upgrade in eons ("since Noah was a pup," according to Roy Harper) so they need to copy and paste Cyborg's soul into their code. I know it sounds ridiculous but just remember that this was written in 1994 when people still believed in souls.

If I had a body for the first time in decades, due to the sudden rush of sensations, I would not want it to be in a skintight leotard.

Prester Jon's argument for mortality is that "knowing life is finite is what gives us our drive." You know what I would trade for immortality? My drive! It's barely extant anyway! I know I only have a limited time to write my Horatio Algeresque sex adventure novel, Slags to Bitches, and I still can't be bothered!

The sentient software decides to give Prester Jon his mortal body even though "it is not within [their] programming." What good is software that performs tasks it isn't programmed to perform?! It's like having a toaster thatt can suck your dick.

Hmm. Shark Tank, here I come!

Sarah's low bar for love is inspirational!

Prester Jon reveals his new body and, I believe, Baby Wildebeest reveals that he's gay.

Baby smash!

While Technis begins to destroy the Earth, Phantasm freezes up in a moment of existential crisis. He wonders if he saves people for their sake or if he's saving them because he finds pain delicious. Either way leads to the same thing: Phantasm helping people in pain to be close to their pain. So I'm not sure what the crisis is really about. The only way I see this moment making sense is if the drive is sexual so he's going into a shame spiral.

Speaking of a sexy shame spiral, I'll be right back!

Meanwhile in New York, Councilman Quirk decides to hold a press conference as the Earth is being destroyed. He's decided to lay the blame on the Titans (and just because it is the Titans' fault, he shouldn't know that!). Who does he think will see this broadcast?! Everybody in New York is being turned into digital data or running around trying not to be turned into digital data. This is the worst attempt to garner votes that I've ever seen!

The Titans manage to save the world but in so doing, everybody learns that Cyborg wants to kill himself. Booyah! That's the best idea he's ever had!

I probably shouldn't make light of suicide, and normally I wouldn't. But have you read a comic book with Cyborg in it?! They're all so boring! At least if he attempted suicide, there might be some drama or tension!

I don't think Pantha has ever seen The Wizard of Oz.

Cyborg reveals that he can no longer exist off of Technis because they've completely drained his battery. Remember, this was 1994! If some piece of technology broke down, we figured the battery had died and we threw the whole thing away. So the Titans are forced to throw Cyborg away. He's incorporated into Technis and it flies off into the universe. And Cyborg was never seen again!

New Titans #107 Rating: A+ in 1994 because it left me with the hope that Cyborg was gone for good. F- in 2019 because what the fuck, DC?! How is he a major member of the Justice League?! Oh, don't point to Aquaman as if having one boring member justifies a second!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Team Titans #16

I'm fairly certain that this is some of that 3-D art that was popular at the time. I'm also fairly certain it's a dick.

In our new ultra-modern time, it's popular to not criticize art that you think is terrible. To simply say, "It was not for me," has become the popular trend. So let me begin my critique by saying, "This was not for me!" Now all the people who believe that shitting on somebody else's hard work is in poor taste should probably head on over to a more polite website, like ... well, fuck me. This being the Internet, I don't actually know of any. I guess any that have comments locked? Or maybe Neopets?

Heck, I haven't even read this issue yet! Maybe I'll love it and then I'll have to say, "It was totally for me! Especially the cover where the disembodied face sucked the huge three dimensional cock!" I have to admit that liking this issue is a possibility although it's not a probability. You know what I'm saying!

I forgot to do my anagram of the title: "'t' Santa Time!" That's "It's Santa Time!" but abbreviated in the way a cockney lad would probably say it just before he cleans out your chimney.

Please remember not to criticize my anagrams. I'd prefer it if you just said, "It wasn't for me," and moved along. My fragile ego thanks you!

Before I even read this, I'm wondering why nobody thought to introduce Lobo to this comic book to make it better. It was 1994! I'm pretty sure Lobo was still popular and yet not so wildly popular that fans would begrudge him showing up in a shitty book like this.

This issue begins in 1885 in the American West where a posse of lawmen pursue a lost in time member of the Team Titans. This member of the Team Titans is named Gunsmoke because the Team Titans time machine must send members of the Titans to the place and time where their name fits best. That's why Metallik wound up in the early nineties. Oh, sure, they would have been better off arriving in the eighties but maybe the time machine's artificial intelligence knew that a metal band wouldn't get a record deal in the early nineties which would leave Metallik more time to pretend they're making the world a better place while really just fighting evil Team Titans teams like Judge and Jury.

"Oh no! My horse was shot straight up the asshole!"

Image Comics changed the face of the comic book industry in many ways that smarter people than me actually know about. But one of the ways that people don't talk about as much (unless they do. I don't have time to actually read about comics or research them or interact with other comic book fans in any way except to make a disgusted face when they try to speak with me!) is how, immediately following Image Comics push for creator's rights, DC decided to create and trademark characters by every name they could think of. "Here are a bunch of characters created by committee that we can get our writers to use instead of creating their own and then expecting royalties on those stupid characters we own and don't legally have to pay extra for, you Goddamned vampires! Fucking Image Comics! Suck our dicks!" Team Titans had to be a reaction to this new mindset. The premise of this terrible comic book was that thousands of superheroes from the future were sent back in time to save their future. And most of those characters had terrible names, like Redwing and Gunsmoke and Battalion and Sparkle Boy. Evidence from the letters pages suggests that this comic book was expected to last long enough that audiences would see what happened to hundreds of these teams.

About the same time this series was hitting the shelves, DC put out their summer blockbustr, Bloodlines, which was just a blatant attempt to create as many new heroes as they could come up with before writers began expecting created by paychecks. I'm not sure how well it worked though since Hitman is probably the only hero created at that time that anybody could now name. And also, maybe Garth Ennis gets a created by paycheck for him? I don't know! How should I know?! Remember that part about how I don't do research?!

In conclusion, Team Titans can be criticized harshly because it was never meant to be a work of art or a coherent story or entertaining at all. It was just a repository for new characters that DC editors could later mention to new writers when they came on board. "Oh, you don't want to create your own character that you would really be into and thus probably write a terrific story about which would help make DC a lot of money even if we had to pay you creator's rights on it! Maybe you'd rather write a story about Loose Cannon or Joe Public or Cardinal Sin?!" Years later, that editor might be wind up looking at the top selling comics of the month to discover the writer who they drove away was writing a hit comic book with Image Comics because it was the story they wanted to tell but didn't know how to tell it using Loose Cannon as the main character.

Meanwhile, Terry and Donna had a baby that didn't grow up to be an evil narcissistic time traveling world conqueror. I sort of forgot about that.

"Stop being hysterical, Donna! Listen to me, a failed history professor, when I downplay our child's potential illness!" -- Terry Long, typical man.

I can't wait until Donna's child's skin sloughs off and he's revealed to be a mutant lizard monster. Then Donna can be all, "I told you something was wrong!" And Terry can be all, "You just live for these moments, don't you?! Wonder Girl! Always right! Can't do anything wrong! Won't let her husband live it down that he failed to write his book on mythology that would have given him a tenured position at NYU!" And Donna would be all, "I never bring that up! You need to let that shit go, you stupid bastard!" And then Terry can be all, "Our child is a lizard because you probably fucked some mythological creature during those months I couldn't get an erection because I felt like such a failure!" And then Donna can be all, "Why are you still even in these comic books?!" And then my writing teacher can be all, "Is this really how you want to write dialogue? With all the 'so-and-so can be all's?!"

Oh look! I was right about Lobo still being used to increase sales. I think this was right around when Lobo was being used on any series that wanted to prove that their hero could beat the unbeatable Lobo, thus turning Lobo into a punching bag and a loser. Which maybe he always was but look at how cool he looks! And at least he's only a genocidal monster and not a pedophile like Deathstork!

The rest of the comic book seems to be Jeff Jensen's attempt at art. That's my guess because he's doing something different and that means it must be art! The final nineteen pages are narrated by Nightrider, the vampire, as he's shot by a neighbor, crawls off to die, and then infiltrates the dreams of the other members of the Team Titans. That's not the artsy part though! That's regular comic book stuff. The artsy part is that Jensen tells the narrated story through the second person point of view. I always think of it as the Choose Your Own Adventure perspective. Maybe Jensen thought the reader would actually give a shit about Nightrider if they were put in Nightrider's bloody shoes? It's a decent attempt since if Nightrider were telling the story through the first person, I would read it while constantly thinking, "Is his name really Nightrider? Did I misread that? I should go back and check where Terry says his name. Let's see. Yep! It's really Nightrider. What a terrible name! Although I'd read a comic book where he teams up with Gunsmoke, sort of like Iron Fist and Luke Cage." But since the story is told in the second person, I completely forgot to think about Nightrider's dumb name because I was distracted by the use of the second person. Instead, my thoughts were these: "What the fuck is Jensen doing?! This is so awkward! It's like when my cousin began writing essays and stories at Mission College and he wrote them all in the second person because I'm pretty sure the only books he ever read were The Cave of Time and The Mystery of Chimney Rock!"

So congratulations, Jeff Jensen, on completely succeeding at taking my mind of Nightrider's name which, I guess, means I cared a little more about his story? Not that this story where he crawls into a cave to die concentrates on him and his pain anyway. It's more a storytelling trick to catch up the reader on all of the angst and pain and turmoil the other Titans are suffering through. Poor Nightrider! He's not even interesting enough to carry the story when he's dying!

Yeesh. Mirage dreams she "gives birth" (quotes because I don't think this portrays normal birth!) to her baby, conceived when Deathwing raped her, after which her baby threatens to rape her.

After a bunch of mysterious images and bits of story that make the reader believe they've seen some clues as to the future direction of this comic book (but actually haven't seeing as how none of the dreams mentioned how they'd be cancelled in nine more issues), the neighbor who shot Nightrider clambers into the cave and cradles him in his arms. "I won't let you die," he screams to the Gods! "Even if I have to let you suck my dick!" He glances around furtively. "That's probably how your life will be saved, right?" he says as he unzips his jeans.

Team Titans #16 Rating: A+ because it was artists making an effort, I guess. But this comic book wasn't for me.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Movie Review: Rings

Rings: A Critical Review
(Full of spoilers because how do you actually discuss a movie without actually discussing anything pertinent to the plot?!)

This movie isn’t the movie it should have been. David Loucka and Jacob Estes conceived this movie by thinking, “Hey! Imagine if the video from The Ring were released digitally! Holy cow! It would be like a computer virus!” Ignoring that the entire premise of Kôji Suzuki’s novel is that the video is akin to a biological virus and already, technically, makes that point (I said technically because Suzuki’s virus is obviously not digital! Duh! But it’s still the same concept: technology as a virus that infects biology!), Loucka and Estes never actually make that movie anyway. Instead they simply remake The Ring but bookend it with two other films that would have been much better and more appropriate to the silly sequel title, Rings. Granted, there’s no way they could have made Kôji Suzuki’s follow-up, Spiral, into a movie. I mean, they could have if they wanted to lose millions of dollars asking viewers to believe that the video tape didn’t just kill people after seven days, but it also impregnates them so that they give birth to the nerd that died in the first book. At least I think that’s what happened. It was fucking weird and I read it over a year ago. Too bad I’ve yet to find a copy of Loop because I bet that thing is super batshit insane.

The movie begins with a guy on a plane about to time out of his seven days. He’s super scared because, I guess, nobody watches the tape and thinks, “That was fucking crazy. And a weird robocall that just said ‘Seven days’ immediately after? I’m hungry!” Apparently everybody watches it and thinks, “Oh shit! Does ‘seven days’ mean I’m going to die in seven days?! I bet it does because what else could that video have been about?!” You might be thinking, “Why would you assume everybody gets scared after seeing the video when just the one guy has freaked out so far?” Well, doubter who obviously hasn’t seen the movie yet: a woman on the plane also says, frightened, “I saw that video too!” And since the plane crashes and everybody on it probably dies, I guess they all watched the video at the same time one week prior?

I understand the flaws in my assumption, you jerk! You don’t have to “Actually!” me during my review! The guy who watched the video probably died of scared-to-death face while the other people on the plane just died from sudden impact face. Anyway, the opening scene doesn’t matter. It was probably tacked on because test audiences were all, “You know, there isn’t really any action in this movie? Maybe more high-speed action and less fighting blind guys in the dark?” Then some other audience member was probably all, “Oh! I know! What about a scene where somebody is looking through a keyhole and then — BOOM! — suddenly there’s a scary eye on the other side of the keyhole!” I’m pretending that’s how that scene wound up in the movie to help Loucka and Estes save face as writers. Maybe the third writer credited on the screenplay (but not on “story by”), Akiva Goldsman, was that audience member.

You know what? Stop actuallying me! Fine, the opening scene was needed to explain the entire premise of the death video.  The man explains that if you watch this scary videotape, you die in seven days. The woman who also saw it was there to explain that you survive the curse by making a tape and showing it to some other sucker! So, yeah, I guess the stupid first scene carried some water. It was repetitive, Scott Lobdellian water but I guess every Ring movie is somebody’s first Ring movie!

As I was saying about the opening scene before other more important things that needed to be said cropped up, it’s most important purpose was to give the VCR that Johnny Galecki buys one scene and two years later a back story. He’s all, “I’m going to buy this old technology for some reason!” Aimee Teegarden, his student (you can tell she’s his student because she’s young and hot and he’s Johnny Galecki), says, “Whatever, dude! This movie is PG-13 and was also shot in the 21st century so don’t expect me to whip my tits out even though that’s what my character would do at some point during this movie if it had been filmed in the 80s.” Johnny shrugs, takes the VCR home, hooks it up to some old ass television that still uses AV cables, and watches the tape that’s still in the VCR. That’s totally believable because when I die, somebody is going to wind up with a Laserdisc player with Heathers stuck inside of it.

By the time the next part of the story takes place (a few months, maybe?), Johnny has survived watching the video, completely researched the hell out of it, and published a book with the subtitle “the Samara Effect” (or something like that. I only watched it once and I’m not too concerned with going back to check). So he’s a quick worker, ain’t he?! I guess all that time spent not being able to fuck his students wasn’t simply wasted with masturbation.

I’m not going to get into the main character Julia (played by Matilda Lutz) yet because she’s only really important to The Ring remake that comprises the middle section of the movie. This aside was for everybody who has seen the movie who might be thinking, “When are you going to get into discussing Julia and whether it was okay to get a boner during the scene where she’s in her underwear because she’s probably portraying an eighteen year old and not a seventeen year old, right? I mean, yeah, maybe it’s creepy but you saw that butt, right? Also the actress is probably an old person! Whew! I’m not a creep at all! Suck it, mom!” Also, I hope you saw those quotation marks because that indicates that somebody else said that thing and not me. I only transcribed it!

The first third of the movie should concentrate on Galecki’s extra-curricular biology experiment. He’s taking students, showing them the film, and seeing how their lives become completely fucked up from terror over the course of seven days before finding another guinea pig to watch their copy of the film and save them from scared-to-death face. A much better movie than the one F. Javier Gutiérrez chose for audiences would have involved an ensemble cast caught up in Galecki’s experiment. Maybe everything seems to be going okay for a bit until some student dismisses the whole thing and heads back home for a long weekend before being able to get somebody to view his copy. He winds up with scared-to-death face and everybody begins freaking out. The rumors fly all over the school and now nobody can find anybody to watch their film. You now have five or six main characters all trying to find a way not to die. Maybe one of them, suddenly realizing this shit is real, understands the terrible ethical decision and refuses to find somebody to take on their curse. Maybe one of them (probably the frat guy) forces somebody to watch their video without their consent. Maybe one of them (the hot looking, muscular nerd with the glasses) hacks the on-campus televisions and spreads the video across the whole school. Maybe the camgirl creates some clickbait headline about a great video showing her butthole but links to the video and spreads Samara’s video across the entire Internet (this crosses into the other possible movie Gutiérrez might have made but, in the end, it’s what Rings should have been all about anyway, right?) thus saving her life but putting millions at risk.

But no! What you actually get is dozens of students participating in this scary ass project but, in the end, leaving only Julia’s boyfriend at risk once Teegarden dies of scared-to-death face. What could have been a meaningful reason for using the plural of ring for a title winds up being a movie about a single ring: Julia’s boyfriend. And since his time is about up, Julia watches the video to save his life. This brings us to the middle section of the movie: The RIng Redux.

Either I haven’t seen The Ring 2 or I just don’t remember it. Hell, I probably don’t rightly remember the movie, The Ring, as much as I remember Suzuki’s novel. But I feel fairly certain the first movie and the novel retain the same basic plot structure. People watch this video. They die in seven days. Some other person who watched the video realizes the curse and must research it to figure out how to break it. In doing so, they save themselves almost immediately without knowing it when they enlist the help of a friend, making a copy and showing it to them. When they survive but their friend dies, it helps them to make the logical leap needed to understand how to break the curse. In the book, the main characters figure that to break the curse, they have to put Samara’s body to rest. So they go to the cabin, enter the well, get the corpse, take it back to her hometown, and give it a proper burial. Based on Rings, I’m guessing all of that took place one of the previous films. Which is why the middle part of Rings is just a retelling of that story.

Julia and her boyfriend head to Samara’s hometown, learn more about her than even Galecki discovered, learn her terrible secret, find her corpse, and give her, not a proper burial, but a proper cremation. That should do the trick, right?!

Well, no. Because the big twist is that Samara was trying to be reborn and Julia fell for it! Ha ha! Dumb dumb! If she’d only read Suzuki’s follow-up to Ring (no article on the book title!), Spiral, she’d have learned that the big twist was the whole being reborn thing! Also since Spiral was published in 1995, the big twist at the end of that wasn’t that the video would wind up on the Internet to infect everybody in the world. The big twist was that the main character’s published work was going to be turned into a movie which was now the real infection source for Samara’s virus. Millions of movie-goers would be infected! Ha ha! Dumb dumbs!

I wonder how often Roger Ebert wrote “Ha ha! Dumb dumbs”? Probably not enough! That’s why he’s no longer successful!

In trying to be a good and faithful protagonist, Julia just winds up setting Samara loose on the world. That’s a pretty good twist, right?! What the audience realizes if they think about this movie for any amount of time after exiting the theater instead of just saying, “That was a stupid waste of ten bucks!”, is that the real protagonist was the blind ex-priest who kidnapped a young woman and impregnated her many years ago, giving birth to pure evil. This ex-priest then proceeded to murder all eleven or so people who came before Julia, also trying to free Samara. That pervert murderer was the real champion! I knew I like him for more than creepily taking Julia’s hand and doing that weird finger thing on her palm that perverted old people do. I mean, he must have done that or else he wouldn’t have been able to read Samara’s Braille message she burned into Julia’s palm!

Although, I mean, why the fuck did Samara burn “rebirth” in Braille on Julia’s palm anyway? Why would Samara know Braille? Why would she leave a clue to her ultimate goal? Maybe it’s some kind of rule from the afterlife. You have to give the people you’re manipulating a fair chance at defeating your evil plans!

The final twist of the movie is that once Samara is reborn in Julia, Julia’s electronics begin sending copies of the movie to all of her online contacts. Julia’s boyfriend sees it happening and tries to stop it by unplugging the laptop’s power cord and online connection, somehow forgetting that laptops have batteries and WiFi connections. And thus the entire world is doomed to be infected. Of course, how many die from this infection? Maybe half the population of the online world? It doesn’t seem like the best way to kill everybody if the person is infected and saved in one online session. “Hey! A weird video! Let’s watch it. Fuck, that was crazy shit. Let me send it to my friends!” I guess since once person can spread the virus to more than one person, it’ll be harder and harder for people to find a non-infected person to watch their copy of the video. And maybe the point isn’t about death anyway? I think the point in Spiral was that watching the video actually changed the person’s DNA in a way that made them part Samara, or made her more powerful, or something. Anyway, it was less about killing and more about just infecting everybody.

The problem with this ending is that it’s the fucking ending. You’d think the whole point of a movie titled Rings is that it would be about huge numbers of people being infected by the video. Instead, only one person winds up endangered in most of this movie. The real movie only begins when this one ends. Estes, and Loucka should have realized this and thrown out the first draft of the movie. But since they didn’t, audiences were treated to an uninspired remake of the first film but with even more plot holes.

Like how this movie follows the adventures of — apparently — the only two young people who don’t constantly check their phones. Julia’s boyfriend disappears for six days after watching the video because...well, I don’t know why! He just leaves his phone under his bed in his dorm and fucks off on a ski trip or something. Nobody knows where to find him. Why? I don’t know! Nobody else participating in the experiment disappears. They all just seem to hang out in the lab — or is it a rave?! — with all the other participants in a hedonistic display of, well, college youthfulness!

Julia’s boyfriend’s excuse for not talking to her is that he didn’t want her mixed up in this experiment. Although the experiment wasn’t even scary yet. Nobody had died of scared-to-death face but somehow Julia’s boyfriend was taking it seriously from the start? And he thought not being in constant contact with his girlfriend would keep her safe? He definitely wasn’t smart because he was surprised to find out that she was worried about him, enough to seek him out at his college.

But that’s just the tip of his stupid iceberg. He also never checks his phone while searching for Samara, thus missing Galecki’s warning that Julia’s hand has Braille on it (not that this message would have helped because Julia and her boyfriend were stupid jerks). Plus when Boyfriend discovers that the blind guy was the priest somehow involved with Samara, he doesn’t call Julia to warn her. He races back to their bed and breakfast to warn her. When he doesn’t find her there, he doesn’t call her to warn her. He races to the priest’s house to save Julia. Now, maybe I missed Julia leaving her phone in the room. But even if I did miss that and that was the reason Boyfriend couldn’t call her, what fucking young person leaves their phone in their room? I mean aside from Boyfriend when he disappears for six days doing fuck knows what.

In the end, this movie missed out on everything that would have made The Ring modern and updated. I can’t fathom why somebody thought The Ring should simply be revisited as another version of the same movie. Somebody actually thought the twist computer virus at the end was enough of a great idea to greenlight the rest of this turd. How do you make a huge Hollywood movie like this with nobody along the way saying, “This ending here. That’s the movie. What’s with all this other stuff that we’ve already seen before?” I guess people instead read the script and gave helpful advice like “How about a scene where a woman pulls a long strand of hair out of her throat? That’s gross, right? Do that!” and “Did you write a scene where the female lead hops around in bed in panties that go right up her ass so that you can see everything? If not, add that! I’d say show her tits too but this is the age of Maxim, not the age of Playboy! And make sure wardrobe only uses tops that keep any signs of nipples from showing! This isn’t your father’s horror movie! No sir!” and “You took the advice of test audience member Akiva Goldsman and got that keyhole jump scare in, right?! Fuck yeah!”

Ugh. You know what I need to do? Go check with Movie Madness and see if they have Rasen, the Japanese film adaptation of Spiral. That shit will probably be insane!