Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Ray #2

For $1.75 a pop, I bought a lot of comic books I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

I'm sure at the time, I was appalled at having to pay $1.75 for a normal comic book. I'll always feel regular newsprint comic books are worth seventy-five cents at best. Anything over $1.25 meant they were printed on Baxter paper without advertisements! Up until they added advertisements. And returned to regular comic book paper because what the fuck is Baxter paper anyway? Also, I realize saying that the $1.75 price allowed me to buy more comics than I otherwise would have seems outrageous when I purchased every comic book in The New 52 for years and they ran three to four dollars a piece! What was I thinking?!

Oh, I remember what I was thinking! I was thinking, "I remember loving comic books. But I don't remember why I stopped loving comic books! Maybe I'll read all of these new DC comic books where they're restarting their universe because I'm sure I'll love them like I did when I was younger!" And then I read them and found some that I did love! But I also found a bunch of them that were as near to experiencing somebody shit directly into your mouth as I can imagine (while also not having requested the shit in the mouth). When my blog began, the voice I used was full of excitement and childlike wonder! People were reading my blog and commenting, "I love this blog because it's so different from the usual edgy asshole critic on the Internet!" In a way, I wished that I could have kept that sense of wonder. But we've all read Robert Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," (or at least heard Ponyboy recite it in The Outsiders). It's nature's hardest hue to hold! Especially when you're trying to hold it and J.T. Krul keeps bumping into you and Ann Nocenti keeps flashing weird smiles at you and Scott Lobdell keeps trying to touch your dick and Howard Mackie keeps asking, "Can you put two periods at the end of a sentence?" and Rob Liefeld reminds everybody that his art isn't bad at all if you compare it to his writing. I was trying my hardest to love comic books again but the real world kept knocking at my door and screaming, "Are you home? Is anybody here? I want to fucking remind you of how terrible it is out here!"

Fucking real world. It can go fuck itself! And I know that sounds like an awesome thing to do because I'm totally imagining myself fucking myself right now but I assure you I meant it in the worst possible way! I mean, not rape because nobody should tell somebody to go get raped. But can you be raped by yourself? I've had some weird wet dreams that I never consented to so maybe?

So in memory of the me that had yet to be groped by Scott Lobdell or shit on by Ann Nocenti (dammit. I think I just developed a new fantasy), I'm going to lose the cynicism and become, once more, a lover of comics! One can do worse than be a lover of comics! Like maybe some old jerk who still thinks fondly on destroying birch trees by swinging on them. Asshole.

Juice. This issue is called "Juice."

I've never had an opinion on the word juice until just now. Who the fuck does it think it is?! Look at the way it's spelled. That's a fucked up word. And just listen to it as it leaves your lips: "JUICE." It's practically a racial slur! I fucking hate it. I hate it so much that if a genie were to give me three wishes, I would wish for a benign brain tumor placed on just the right spot of my brain that would make me forget the word while also not allowing me to hear or read it. Right now, some of you are screaming, "Just wish the word out of existence, you idiot!" But you don't know genies! They're tricky motherfuckers! If I asked one to remove "juice" from existence, I'd probably wind up being responsible for another fucking Holocaust!

If I had an editor, they would probably tell me that I shouldn't keep both of the "juice" and "Jews" "jokes" in the previous paragraph. Maybe they'd even tell me to just forget it altogether while also maybe losing the digression into raping oneself. But that's why I don't have an editor because I'd just tell that editor to go fuck themselves and I'd be back to not having an editor!

Juice. Ugh! I'm grossing myself out now! I can't stop saying it! You can't say it without sounding revolted! Like my taxi driver in Kyoto that time when I pointed out the window by the temple and was all, "Hey! Skateboarders!" and the taxi driver glanced back at me in the rear view mirror and said, full of disgust and vitriol, "Sukatobordo."

Um, so The Ray has just run out of "juice" and it wasn't from fighting Brimstone. No, instead of battling the gigantic monster from Apokolips, the dumby decided to blast the guy helping fight the gigantic monster from Apokolips simply because he was a rude and arrogant teenage rival. Hmm, I get it. I'm 48 and I'm pretty sure I'd punch a teenager acting snarky before some guy murdering a baby within my reach.

At the end of the last issue, the narrator said that Superboy wasn't really dead but that The Ray really was out of power.

Well, the narrator is unreliable so now I'm hoping that Superboy really is dead as well.

Priest relies on some internal monologue so the reader understands what The Ray is going through. The reader needs to be reminded that he's just a teenager with godly powers and no real sense of responsibility except the vague sense that he should have some kind of responsibility. Ray The Ray keeps reminding himself, "I'm a man now!" At this moment, after knocking Brimstone into the ocean with the last of his juice, he reminds himself he's a man now and can't resort to the typical retreat of childhood: vomiting. Yeah, that's right! I said vomiting! I mean, The Ray and Christopher Priest said vomiting! Apparently vomiting is a great way for kids to react to things, according to The Ray (and maybe Priest but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt by distancing the author's beliefs from what the character believes. Although my facial expression as I type this reads as "I just want to sound rational but I know fucking Priest thinks vomiting is some form of childhood escapism").

This isn't the kind of theory you just come up with to fill comic book script pages. This is the kind of seemingly profound observation the writer mentions to other people at cocktail parties thinking they'll nod and say, "Yeah! Yeah. That's right!" Instead, they nod and go back to their friends and say, "You'll never believe what that fucking whack-a-doodle writer said at the party last night!"

It feels like maybe Priest had loads of anxiety and a nervous disorder as a young kid which caused him to puke all the time and he learned that he could get out of difficult situations by spewing. It's as if he views the experience as voluntary! "Hmm, if I just manage to hork all over the floor, I can distract everybody from the dog I just set on fire!" And if the nervous vomiting wasn't something he learned to do on purpose, why would he think he could stop doing it just because he suddenly became a man?! "Oh no! Everything feels so overwhelming that I'm going to spew! But...but...I'm a man now! Have to hold it in!"

Brimstone gets up out of the ocean but instead of killing The Ray, it wanders off to get a beer. I think it's acting weird because in order to bring it to life, the weird little goblin guy from the first episode had to throw a souvenir shop seller into the volcano. For some reason, the Apokolips tech-seeds weren't doing the trick so it needed bolstering with a live sacrifice. But I think the person sacrificed is taking over Brimstone's mind. Probably some glitch in the way the anti-life equation works.

The Ray decides to bury Superboy (or hide his corpse, probably) while thinking about how sad he is for himself for having killed somebody and having disappointed God. He doesn't show any remorse for ending Superboy's existence. I don't know what God would think if It were real but It would probably be just as mad about The Ray not really giving a shit about the victim as It would be about The Ray murdering that victim. Maybe not. Maybe even if some humans can't understand it, an omnipotent God would probably understand that murder is worse than not showing remorse. Maybe.

But in the end, it doesn't really matter because Superboy isn't actually dead so The Ray has no reason to feel remorseful.

A second chance and The Ray didn't even have to vomit!

Superboy says "zooted" and it reminds me that the slang in this comic book is fucked up. This has to be Earth-15. Superboy also uses more conventional 90s slang like "sweating me," "rolled up," and "Holmes." I don't understand a single word he's saying! But I think he's trying to tell The Ray that they probably shouldn't be fighting even if they don't like each other because that part of the comic book where the heroes engage in physical conflict is over. Now they need to work together to stop the actual bad guy!

Maybe I don't hate Superboy so much as I hate the 90s.

The Ray tells Superboy his origin story while they both sit under the stars charging their powers. The Ray's secret origin is that he's the son of The Ray from the Freedom Fighters. That's it! That's his story! He's just a lucky shit who inherited his wealth. Fucker.

Superboy tells his origin story too but it's not recounted in this comic book. There's an editor's note telling the reader if they want to know it, they should buy the Superboy comic book. But I'm reading this 26 years later! I'm not tracking down Superboy's comic book to learn his origin! Luckily, 26 years later, there's the Internet! Also I don't really need the Internet. I know he's a clone based on Superman and Lex Luthor's DNA. It's a pretty boring origin.

After comparing earrings, they head off to stop Brimstone.

My theory about the souvenir person must be wrong. Obviously Brimstone's brain has been infected by a Looney Tunes cartoon.

Brimstone eats The Ray after Superboy smashes an orange juice tanker over Brimstone's head. He doesn't chew The Ray which is always a mistake. You always chew the small, live creature you're ingesting if you don't want it to bust out of your midsection later!

That doesn't happen this time. I mean, it sort of happens! But The Ray busting out of Brimstone isn't what stops him. Superboy douses him with a tanker of liquid nitrogen which turns him into a huge statue. Only then does The Ray come busting out with the Looney Tunes hacked techno-seed. The government takes the seed, The Ray tells Superboy he'll smell him later, and Superboy pouts off to who cares. Later we learn that The Ray isn't a comic book writer or a journalist. He's just writing a letter about his day to Dinah Lance. Hey! That's Black Canary! I just read some of her comics!

The Ray #2 Rating: C. If this comic book is supposed to be about a teenager learning to be a responsible adult while also dealing with god-like powers, I don't get it. So far, he's just done the same thing any superhero would have done. Fought a beast from Apokolips. Teamed up with another hero (after battling each other first). Spoke weird fucking slang. Oh! I see! That's the part that makes him seem like a teenager! He says cool words like Boffo and Zork! The Ray also comes from a religious background so the story is saddled with all of those theological trappings. It would be less annoying if we didn't already live in a world where everybody sees God in everything even though the physical manifestation of this world holds no place in it for paranormal trappings. I don't mind God being in the DC Universe though because it makes sense. But I just got done watching The Outsider on HBO and I'm running low on my "just fucking ignore all the God talk" tank. It would be amusing if it wasn't so infuriating how people always harp on about atheists never shutting up about their atheism when it's actually the other way around. More atheists should be as vocal as religious people just to make things even. I mean fuck. We even have In God We Trust on our fucking money! But then why should I expect anything different from this comic book? It's written by a guy who legally changed his name to Priest!

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