Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Extremist #4

Extremist is an anagram of Mister Tex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Extremist #3

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Milligan begins this issue all Peter Milligany.

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

Grief is a savory, selfish feast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Extremist #2

The Extremist is Sinéad O'Connor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Order's hangout almost certainly smells disgusting.

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

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

Tony is so totally CIA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Extremist #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I meant the British fanny!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 26, 2019

Metamorpho #4

I cannot read "Bad Chemistry" without singing it and adding "Til the day I die!"

I have had a song stuck in my head all morning as I was trying to sleep and now that I want to talk about it, I can't remember what song it was. I'm cured!

Being that this is an old comic book that I own and have read before (in 1993!), I should be able to remember how it ends. But the reality is that I probably read this in the course of five minutes in a public space while people nearby who had previously been thinking, "I want to fuck that guy," now began thinking, "What a disgusting nerd. I want to punch him in the face." Some of you kids probably don't understand that sentence but there was a time in America when being a nerd actually hurt your social life. It was this weird cycle where the nerd didn't fit in and was often teased or bullied so they retreated to other worlds like comic books and role-playing games which just caused them to get teased and bullied even more. That might be a positive feedback loop but since everything about it is negative, I want to say it's a negative feedback loop. Being a nerd doesn't automatically make you smart!

Nowadays, everybody wants to be a nerd. It's fucking nerd culture appropriation, man! Although the types of nerds that nobody likes and who we're all allowed to keep bullying and making fun of still exist! They're called Comicsgate now! See, they saw that their hobbies and interests were now things that all of the popular people like but people still didn't like them for some totally and inexplicable unknown reason. Maybe it was because they were so protective of their hobby that they wound up asking everybody who they didn't think should be part of their hobby gatekeeping questions like "Oh, you like Spider-man so much? Tell me how many times he masturbated in 'Superior Spider-man #72'!" Or maybe it was that they kept using the word pandering whenever a character that wasn't a white male wasn't kept in a supporting role in the way it always had been. Or maybe it was how when they read a statement like the former sentence, they'll be sure to point out how Marvel had Black Panther and DC had Black Lightning so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about and should shut up and die or maybe be SWATted. Or maybe it was just that they were fat and gross and greasy and smelled like an onion rotting in a dirty sock which meant, once again, they were being excluded from the popular people's nerd party. That last one was from their point of view! Nobody wants to believe that people don't like them because of their personality. They'd rather believe they're being unfairly maligned due to not being good looking or fit enough. Maybe that's true but you'd still think they'd understand showers. I mean, I've been to San Diego Comic-con three times (the last time the year X-men came out. Just so you know I was there before it was all about the movies and television! I'm a true nerd! This is exactly the sort of gatekeeping I was talking about earlier! But it's the good kind because I'm doing it to make myself seem more authentic!) and my nose hurt every year. But it actually didn't matter because it was a lot of fun and I mostly stayed out of the Magic the Gathering room.

It's almost as if I wrote that entire previous paragraph to make a whole bunch of people think I'm an asshole! But in reality, I just wrote it all so I could take a dig at Magic the Gathering players! I'll never forgive them for being horrible bastards at competitive gaming! My guess is that half the people who win at Magic tournaments do so by rushing through every turn and ignoring the whole concept of the game wherein the other player gets a chance to react to every move the other player makes. Yeah, some jerk did it to me because I hadn't memorized every fucking card in the sets that I never even had a chance to see so maybe I'm bitter about it! But this was before the Internet and if I'd never seen Feldon's Cane before, how was I supposed to know I should have immediately and quickly shouted that I wanted to counterspell it before being able to read what it does? And by the time I learned what it did, the jerk I was playing (and beating by running his deck out of cards, a specialty of mine!) had already shuffled his graveyard into his library. Fuck that guy. I should have dragged that nerd into the hotel lobby toilet and given him a swirly!

I began this entire thing trying to remember a song that got stuck in my head! No wait! That was just an instant digression. Is that a thing? Can it be called a digression if I hadn't actually started writing about the main thing I'm supposed to be writing about (you know, Metamorpho #4!)? Anyway, I was going to try to guess how this comic book ended before somebody distracted me with all that nerd stuff. Based on my rereading of the first three issues, I don't really know how the book is going to end. Metamorpho will stop Jillian from using the Orb of Ra, save Joey, and probably wind up in Sapphire's thighs. But how will it be accomplished? I bet to stop Jillian from using the Orb of Ra to cure herself (a feat that can only be accomplished once), he'll need to use it on himself. But then he'll need to re-Metamorpho himself by bathing in the meterorite's presence again so that he can save the day. If that's what happens, I only guessed it because I actually do remember how this comic book ends. If that doesn't happen, I'll think, "Man. I'm glad I don't fucking remember how a comic book I read in 1993 ends! Thank you, brain, for not letting that take up space!"

This issue is called "Criminal Element" because it was the last pun on elements that Mark Waid hadn't used yet.

That feeling when you run into an ex after a lengthy period of time and think, "Oh yeah. We're gonna fuck!"

Sapphire and Rex pursue Simon and Jillian who have gone off to the pyramid to get the Orb of Ra back. Remember Mason's claim that archaeologist's can't trust their partners? I bet Simon betrays Jillian! He's really gone daughter-fucking crazy.

When Rex arrives to stop them, Simon Stagg uses the Orb to hurt him while taunting, "Never come between a father and his special daughter!" So is that why Mark Waid pitched this story? Did he grow up reading Metamorpho comic books thinking, "Man, that old guy really wants to fuck his daughter!" Did he actually pitch that story to DC editors?!

Mark: "Pictures this: a four part Metamorpho story where we learn Simon Stagg's entire motivation is getting into his daughter's lady cave!"
DC Editor #1: "Remind me. What's a lady cave?"
Mark: "Virgin!" DC Editors #2-4: "Ha ha! Good one, Mark. Augustyn is totally a virgin! It sounds like a great idea! Are you coming to our party later? Brian isn't invited!"
Mark: "But don't you want to hear about how the Orb of Ra is a metaphor for Simon Stagg's penis?!"

"Touch it, Rex! Just touch it! Feel my cock's power!"

Sapphire falls into her dad's trap and tackles him to stop him from killing Rex. Simon Stagg gets a huge boner. Although he drops the Orb of Ra which is the symbol of his penis so maybe he actually loses his erection when he realizes his daughter has stood up to him. If Sapphire tackled me, my Orb of Ra would only get stronger! And it would probably go off instantly!

While everybody else is distracted, Jillian grabs Stagg's penis and thinks, "The orb's still potent!" See? It's totally a penis metaphor. She runs off to the chamber at the top of the pyramid where the Orb is supposed to be able to cure somebody who has been metamorphosized.

Rex manages to climb back to his feet and he notices some dust on the hieroglyphics that Conway missed. He blows it off and reads the final line of the cure and yells, "It's a cookbook! A COOKBOOK!" He then rushes off to save Jillian for some reason.

Metamorpho gets to Jillian as she's bathed in the Orb's excretions. Apparently the cure wasn't meant to reverse the transformation but to complete it! So that's why Rex and Jillian look so gross. Because they're only half baked.

Jillian turns into a pillar of salt and Rex shrugs his shoulders and goes off to find his son. Joey has made his way to the meteor room because archaeology is in his disgusting, modified blood.

Don't encourage him!

Rex and Sapphire hear Joey laugh in the chambers below and Rex realizes he's with the meteorite. So he and Sapphire run into the chamber to fetch him. Luckily Joey has turned the meteor to lead so Sapphire doesn't have to become Metamorphess. Also, Joey is cured! His skin is normal! He doesn't look like a freak anymore! And his grandfather is going to be pissed that the little brat didn't turn the meteor into gold before losing his powers.

So the Mason's are once again a family and Sapphire plans to turn Stagg in for the murder of Java. But I guess that never happens. Or maybe it does happen but Superboy's punch and/or Mr. Mind's devouring of the DC Universe brought Java back to life and made us all forget that Simon Stagg loves incest. What am I? A scholar in DC Continuity?! Does that even exist?! Nerd!

Metamorpho #4 Rating: B-. It's a decent story if not a little boring. The best part was how Mark Waid had the gall to make Simon Stagg into an incestuous murderer. It's almost as if he realized before the rest of us that evil narcissists expose themselves in their desire to fuck their daughters! It's practically prescient!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Metamorpho #3

The deadliest element is knives!

When we last left Metamorpho, he was waiting to be proud of his son's first murder. See, little Joe has the power to turn anything he touches into any element (like knives!). And Seamus the bad guy had a gun up to little Joe's head. That meant Seamus was in physical contact with little Joe. You can probably work out the rest of what's about to happen yourself. I gave you all of the pertinent details!

Jillian also apparently lied when she said she put out most of the fire last issue. Or she doesn't know the meaning of most. Or she thought too much about oxygen when she was trying to turn into carbon dioxide. What I'm saying is she fucked up because look at all of that fire.

Joey turns the gun into gas and then turns O'Grady's jacket into acid. Not the good kind of acid where you turn on and tune out and beginning wondering why people have so many fingers. It's the kind of acid that we as a society feel teenagers are responsible enough to handle in science class. I don't know how Joey knows about acid though. Metamorpho did say his powers work in reverse. Maybe he has to think about milk to create acid, and poop to create gas. Those are probably the only two things he can create with his powers. Which is too bad for incest pervert Simon Stagg because he wants his grandson to create gold. But what's the opposite of gold? Texas tea?

Rex learns that O'Grady sold the Orb of Ra to Egyptian Emir Abd al-Aziz. He's a collector of artifacts who probably uncollected the Orb of Ra to Ra's al Ghul because this is only four pages into the third issue. Unless Abd is one of those guys who is always forcing people to do favors for him before he does a favor for them. So Metamorpho will probably have to go to Hell to retrieve a rare demon's skull before he can get the orb. Is this that kind of comic book? Does Metamorpho fit in with DC's magic heroes? His origins are sort of mystical.

Nothing so dramatic happens. It seems Mark Waid doesn't understand the extent to which comic book stories can be pushed. Instead, he writes some sensible plot about how the Orb of Ra was switched by some other scheming collector from Casablanca who was authenticating it. And instead of Simon Stagg's dick being cut off by Sapphire as he tries to incest her, it remains between his legs as he flies to Casablanca to get his hands back on the Orb of Ra. And Sapphire stows away on his plane because that's believable. That wasn't sarcastic! That was proof that Mark Waid doesn't realize he's writing comic books! Doesn't he know that Sapphire could have contacted Java's ghost to provide her with passage through the land of the Neanderthal dead where, due to the physical restrictions in the astral plane, she'd have to wear nothing but a bikini made from Woolly Mammoth fur?

I think I just discovered why I think so many comics are terrible! Because I'm judging them by what I think they should be! And if Sapphire Stagg isn't wearing a Woolly Mammoth thong, why the fuck am I even reading this?!

In Casablanca, Rex learns that the Orb was sold to an Egyptian cult who put the Orb of Ra back in the pyramid where it was stolen. But Rex also learns that the Ra can only be used once to reverse the transformation. Jillian was going to use it on herself and leave Rex and Joey in the cold. Although, who even knows if it would work on Joey! Maybe Rex would be better off just buying the kid a ton of gloves.

Jillian and Rex get into a metamorphosis battle on page 18. This is the kind of stuff that I read Metamorpho comic books for and Mark Waid doesn't include it until the comic book is almost over? But he has plenty of time for Rex to visit an Emir's treasure room only to find it was a dead end and then to travel to Casablanca to re-enact a scene from every movie that ever had a scene in a small cafe in Northern Africa before finally getting around to the scene where two people who can transform into anything they want fight! Hopefully Mark Waid has taken some "Better Use of Comic Book Pages" classes since 1993.

I would have enjoyed 24 pages of this with little to no plot advancement.

I know that previous caption probably flies in the face of something I've said in over 3700 other comic book commentaries. But sometimes, as human beings, we contradict ourselves without becoming hypocrites. Only fools live by rules built up from a solid foundation! You have to take every experience and judge it for its own particulars. In this case, I'd rather see two Metamorphos battle for twenty pages than read a coherent plot that relies on all the old international art theft tropes. These last two issues were essentially just filler as Rex Mason chases down leads to find the Orb of Ra. Why couldn't those two issues be all bar brawl and battle of the two metamorphs?! Then when Metamorpho is finally defeated (because that's a comic book rule: the hero must be down and out just before the final issue of the story where they will rise in triumph), the reader can learn that Jillian was working with incestuous corporate devil Simon Stagg all along!

Metamorpho #3 Rating: C+. I guess the story about what a father would do for his child wasn't as emotionally gripping as I was hoping it would be. So far, it's been mostly Metamorpho turning into soft things that his son can fall on while yelling, "Whee!" Maybe my almost certainly non-existent heartstrings will get tugged in the final issue!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Metamorpho #2

Rex remembering the day he decided to fuck that meteorite.

The issue begins with Metamorpho remembering how he turned into Metamorpho. I'm sure most people reading the first issue kept thinking to themselves, "How did this freak turn into such a freak?" And then they were disappointed to never find the answer. Although by the end of last issue if they weren't asking, "How did this freak put his elemental boner into such a hot piece of ass?", it probably meant they weren't sexist jerks. I certainly wasn't thinking that at all! But I was thinking, "Java must have a thick dick." No, I'm kidding! And stop looking at that paper I hid behind my back for a reason! You did not see Java's name at the top of the list next to the crossed out Erin Esurance!

Remember the good old days when you could shoot babies with toy guns on an airplane and not worry about forcing an emergency landing from your behavior? The fucking terrorists took that away from us!

Imagine how much easier stories were to right before cell phones and Homeland Security! Characters couldn't be in constant contact so you could create drama! And you could send a bunch of freaks on an international trip via a commercial flight and not have readers question how the fuck they were allowed on board the plane! Writers had it so easy last century!

While explaining his son's powers to Jillian, Metamorpho teaches me something about his own powers: he can only change into elements or compounds found in the human body! Being that I know next to nothing about the human body because learning about the human body is fucking disgusting and depressing, it doesn't help me to figure out what Metamorpho can and can't become. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the teacher in college biology and not the way Julie's overalls hung on her body so as to allow a glimpse into the darkness that may or may not have hid sexy underwear. Was that too specific? I meant for it to be a general story that everybody could relate to! We've all failed courses because we were distracted by Julie's tits! Metaphorically, of course! Some of you were distracted by Julie's penis! Again, metaphorically!

Back at Stagg's mansion where nobody read any of the embarrassing things I wrote, Simon Stagg shoots Java in the face for practically no reason. Mostly it was because Java was showing free will and disobeying a direct order from Stagg. But I think there were some other reasons too like how Stagg just wanted to shoot a human and how Stagg is an asshole.

Oh, and because he wants to fuck his daughter.

This was probably pretty shocking in 1993 but since Trump has normalized fathers wanting to fuck their daughters, I barely gasped at all while reading it.

Metamorpho, Jillian, and Joey wind up in Ireland in pursuit of the Orb of Ra. He follows his lead to a bar where a bunch of ex-IRA hang out, one of which apparently stole the Orb. When they realize Rex Mason is looking for them, they attack him, inside the bar, with flamethrowers. I wanted to explain how stupid and reckless that is but when did the IRA ever give a fuck about not destroying property and lives? That isn't a rhetorical question! I'm really asking! I'm as bad at history as I am biology and I don't even have Julie's tits to blame this time!

In the commentary on the first issue, I asked how the fuck Metamorpho changes into different elements. In this issue, we get a teeny tiny little bit of an answer that is supposed to make the reader nod and say, "Yep. Totally what I thought. Absolutely reasonable."

That's it! Just think about the element you want to be and poof! You're Julie's underpants! I mean carbon dioxide!

Rex beats up all of the bad guys except the main bad guy. During the brawl, the main bad guy (whose name I don't feel like flipping a few pages back to remember. It was probably Seamus) grabbed little Joe to use as a hostage. I don't know why little Joe came along. I guess because if he were left in the hotel, he would turn all the candy in the mini-fridge into lead.

The gun to the head of little Joe is the big cliffhanger! I was scared and in suspense for about two seconds before I remembered little Joe's super power. That Seamus guy is fucked next issue!

Metamorpho #2 Rating: B. The first issue spent a lot of time working on motivations and relationships between the characters. This issue spent a lot of time on a bar room brawl. Waid also felt he needed to burn four or five pages retelling Metamorpho's origin because every comic is somebody's first! That's what people like to say and I'm just repeating it because people like to say it but I prefer to shit in the mouth of people who say it because what the fuck do I care about those people?! You're wasting my time and money! The best part of this issue was when Simon Stagg admitted he wanted to fuck Sapphire. I know incest is culturally wrong and somebody might convince me that it's morally wrong if they can come up with a great philosophical argument that really wows me (or if they just say, "Would you fuck your mother?" Ugh. Yes, yes. Morally wrong. Absolutely!) and it's almost certainly physically wrong (and not because it would make you throw up but because of the way genetics work) but I can't blame Simon for wanting to fuck his daughter. Did you happen to see the way she was drawn?!

Ha ha! It's funny the way I exaggerate for effect, isn't it?! I have to go do some Google research on Rule 34 now. So long!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Metamorpho #1

I'll be disappointed if this series doesn't contain at least on Francium joke.

This Metamorpho comic book from 1993 costs $1.50. Remember just six years ago when a Teen Titans Spotlight On: comic book cost just seventy-five cents?! How the hell did comic book prices double in just six years?! I guess once they decided to stop raising comic prices by nickels and dimes every time and just opted for a full quarter, the price of comics was destined to sky rocket. This comic book on regular newsprint in 1993 costs as much as the Baxter Paper comics introduced in the eighties! Maybe this paper isn't quite newsprint. It looks and feels like it might be a tiny bit sturdier, the inks look more defined, and the colors look sharper. I don't know how long it took for comic book prices to double again but I know somewhere around 2010 or so, DC marched out their "Drawing the line at $2.99!" marketing shtick. Now I think DC's motto is "We don't know what happened! Somebody moved the line! It's not our fault!"

How does Metamorpho work? Even if one had the power to turn into any element in existence, how do you go about it? Yes, I'm asking more from my comic books than they're prepared to give me! It's just, even if I understood on an instinctual level how to turn my atoms into hydrogen and then combine two of those to make helium and then to do whatever nasty thing helium does to another hydrogen to get lithium (I bet it's butt stuff), how much research would I have to do to know when to stop the process so I can be lead instantaneously?! I bet I'd try to turn into lead to stop bullets from hitting some innocent victim and I'd miscalculate and wind up being mercury. That'd mean one dead innocent victim! I'd never manage it! I mean, I pretty much stalled out on my knowledge of the periodic table of elements when I got to lithium! Sure, I know carbon is like six or something and oxygen is around eight. And I know the noble gases (one of which is krypton!) line up along the right hand side while the soft and impotent metals are all over on the left hand side. And I now there's like a row of unimaginariums or something that doesn't quite fit and has to sit at the bottom of the chart the way Alaska and Hawaii are always depicted in a map of the United States! Plus I know some of the symbols like O and H and N (oh! Isn't Nitrogen like five or something?! Maybe seven! It's like a little row of super important shit!) and Au and Ag and As!

Okay, I'm going to stop showing off now. You get it! I know a lot more about the periodic table than most people's five year olds. Fucking genius, I am!

This issue begins with Rex Mason being proud of his ability to steal and loot from other cultures. He's all, "It was never about the money! I just loved shoving how incompetent their security was in the faces of all those stupid Yeti tribes and indigenous peoples. I mean, if these valuable relics and ancient artifacts were really so important to your people, maybe make your deadly traps more deadly, you big dumbies!" So right off the bat, some readers are going to be, "Boo! Rex Mason is cancelled!" But not me! I just threw my arms in the air and yelled, "You give those dirty nobodies what-for, Rex! Take their beautiful diamond that probably houses the souls of all of their ancestors! Make them pay for not investing in a safety deposit box in an international bank chain! Don't they know how capitalism works?!"

Ha ha! "Donated" by Rex Mason. What a complete and utter dick.

I get how exciting it must have been to be a looter of other countries' treasures. I did play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons as a kid and I never once thought about the poor orc whose home I was invading so I could shove a sword up his ass and steal his precious copper pieces (which I was absolutely disappointed in). Sure, it seems fucked up when you think about it like that. But that's before you remember the alignment system! The orc was automatically the bad guy with his evil alignment! Anything you wanted to do to him was just fine! He was the bad guy! If he didn't want me stealing his copper, maybe he should have made a show of giving up his evil ways and took on the trappings of man and elf! But no! He was content to sit in his dirty hole with his dirty family eking out a dirty living being a rotten, evil monster worth a few lousy experience points. You can't make me care about that stupid orc no matter how many John Gardner wannabes write Grendelesque fan fiction about how the bad person was just a regular ordinary person who got the short end of life's dumb stick! It's fucking propaganda! Wicked, my ass! Don't go making excuses for that witch! She knew what she was doing when she chose a life of flying monkeys and stealing shoes!

"Ha ha! Found. More sherry?"

It's weird to think that Western Civilization has mostly come to the realization that all of these treasures in museums were found at all. Sure, the people in power and the people in charge mostly aren't coming to that conclusion because why would you when you own everything now? But we understand the context of archaeological theft much better. But even as kids watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, how did we not realize Indy was obviously stealing that golden idol right at the beginning? It was in a secure location guarded by traps and after he stole it, the owners tried to chase him down to stop it. And he was as good a guy as you could get in 1981! I guess when one of the greatest tenets of capitalism is "Finders keepers, losers weepers," it's understandable that we all rooted on a terrible thief of cultural artifacts.

Rex Mason has given up his exciting career of liberating treasures from dolts who don't know the value of their sacred religious objects because stealing from primitive people and Yetis who just want to be left alone has become too easy. Also he's full of guilt over having a son. His son must live in quarantine since he can turn whatever he touches into other elements. Sapphire's right breast is now polonium.

I'm not even going to be distracted from reading this comic book by pondering how Metamorpho had a kid. Last I checked, spermatozoa wasn't on the periodic table of elements.

The greatest female archaeologist, Jillian Conway, arrives to tell Rex she's found a cure for his condition (and probably his son's too!). Apparently the Orb of Ra won't kill Metamorpho; it'll cure him if he allows himself to succumb to its power. And she knows this because she was exposed to the meteorite too!

Gross. Can't she make herself hotter by becoming platinum?

Rex agrees to go looking for the Orb of Ra (which was stolen from Stagg) with Jillian. At first, I thought things were going to get romantic. And then I thought things might get alchemic. But then Rex decided the first thing he should do is kidnap his son and bring him on the adventure with them. So I guess this is going to be one of those kinds of stories. A wacky family comedy where dad has to handle the baby all by himself on a trip around the world while the too-disgusting-to-look-at love interest gets ignored.

Rex leaves a note for Sapphire but her father trashes it and just tells her Rex kidnapped their son. Why she might believe him and how she came to marry Java, fuck if I know. This was back when DC actually allowed characters to have involved and intimate relationships that led to weird freak baby children!

I didn't realize it was canon that Sapphire Stagg is the best looking woman in the DC Universe (followed closely by Abigail Arcane).

Metamorpho #1 Rating: A-. Not a bad start to a nice little story about fatherhood, capitalism, and second marriages. It might also be about ugly people because all but one of these characters are hideous freaks. Sure, most characters would be hideous freaks compared to Sapphire Stagg. But even disregarding her ethereal beauty so powerful that I've already struck Erin Esurance from the top of my list of cartoon characters I want to touch in a sexy place, they're all disgusting monsters.

I just made that list up. It doesn't actually exist. Never mind what I'm holding behind my back.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Teen Titans Spotlight #14: Nightwing

So that's why I finally dropped this series: they dropped the "on:".

Obviously I didn't drop this comic book because they dropped the "on:". The first thing I did was rename this comic book so I didn't have to include that stupid shit in the title! But then I was a different person thirty years ago. Maybe thirty years ago, I couldn't abide having a comic book change its title in the middle of its run. No, no. I already disproved that when I bought fifty more issues of The New Teen Titans after it changed its name to The New Titans. Maybe dropping this series after the Nightwing issue is simply proof that I fucking couldn't stand Nightwing for the first forty years of my life (granted I wasn't really reading comic books throughout my thirties. I took a break after Cerebus ended, continuing only by reading collected editions of Fables and The Walking Dead. I restarted again when I turned forty because I hate myself.

That probably sounds like a slam against comic books and it is but in my defense, have you read most comic books? They're fucking garbage. I don't know why so many people are trashing their reputations to join a shadowy white supremacist comic book movement that touts to make comics great again when the majority of comics never were great. I understand that I'm a forty-seven year old cynical jerk who's unwilling to continue to see comics in the same way I did when I was younger. But that's my prerogative, right?! Yes, I loved comic books growing up. I remember a lot of comic books fondly. But I can also admit, upon rereading comic books that helped shape the person bashing comic books that I am today, that a lot of those comic books don't hold up now and they didn't hold up then and only my naive innocent stupidity made them seem as great and inspiring as they were. Sure there were great artists and writers who invented an entire art that captured the imagination of generations of kids! But those people are easier to panegyrize in general terms. Kirby created vast vistas and engaging worlds. Stan Lee brought to life dozens of characters that would remain popular across multiple generations. Neal Adams wrote stark and realistic accounts of daily life but didn't know when to quit. Grant Morrison did something with some Baker and everybody shit their pants or something. Whoops! I started getting too into the particulars there! Anyway, great artists and great writers have simply made it easier to defend all the shit creators who fill the rank and file comic book jobs needed to keep the cash coming in. And yet even the Lobdells and Nocentis have their place because a lot of naive innocent stupid people, like I once was, will always be around to love Jason Todd or Green Arrow or Katana or Arsenal or Catwoman, no matter how fucking terribly they're actually being written.

All of that really doesn't say as much about comics as some people getting ready to send me a expletive-filled response might think. That simply says a lot about me! Why then, if that's my attitude, am I willing to reread all of the comic books in my collection from the last forty years? What kind of a sick, perverse self-hater am I?! Why would I waste my final years of this short and finite life doing this to myself? Come on! That's easy to answer! It's fun! I love writing and I love thinking thoughts and I love putting them on the Internet for sixteen people to enjoy! Oh, sure, I have over a thousand followers on Tumblr but I'm fairly certain most of those accounts were deactivated when Tumblr stopped allowing titties.

You might have forgotten that the biggest gang in Gotham in 1987 were the Jewish Surrealists.

I don't even care how many people don't know what the fuck I'm on about. Did you know this world is on fire?

Batman is busting a cocaine shipment into Gotham in the prologue of this comic book. According to the cover, he's about to be crucified. I guess the Jewish Surrealists are still micro-managed by Caesar's Hand.

Speaking of unbelievable things in comics (this segue works because I believe I was speaking about it fifteen hundred commentaries ago when Nightwing drove a motorcycle up the wall of a building), how does Batman always wind up unconscious and in some form of complicated trap and yet, in all the time it takes to put him there, nobody ever takes the mask off. Not one henchman is curious? Not one henchman binding Batman to the cross ever thinks, "If I knew Batman's identity, I could quit this henchman gig, sell the information, and retire"? I don't believe it. My theory is that thousands of henchmen have tried this plan but Alfred intercepted all of the blackmail notices, hired Jason Bard to find who sent them, and then hired Tommy Monaghan to kill them.

I would just like it on the record that I spelled Tommy's last name correctly before looking it up.

The Jewish Surrealists capture Batman because they had a sniper with a tranquilizer gun on overwatch during the deal. Batman gets drugged, blackjacked, and spit upon before nobody thinks to take off his mask.

At least I hope that's spit.

I guess if that isn't spit, I now understand why nobody took his mask off.

"Are ya kiddin' me, Rudy?! Put yer fuckin' dick away and help me schlep this bastard into tha van! The boss can take tha fuckin' mask off. Ugh."

Alfred calls up Dick Grayson when Bruce doesn't show up for morning stitches. Dick sighs, hangs up the phone, and goes off to do a literally thankless job because Batman thinks expecting people to be there for him is the same thing as gratitude.

I hate complaining about the art because I never complain about the art. So when I finally complain about the art, that means I really fucking think the art sucks. And, well, I'm complaining about the art now.

"Fuck dinosaur references! I got this!" -- Stan Woch

This is some of Woch's earliest work with DC so I shouldn't be too hard on him. Plus he's still alive and he might read this. Although wouldn't it be worse if I were criticizing the work of a dead man? Also, he draws a pretty decent studio apartment and jizz dribble.

Nightwing heads off to save Batman even though he knows Batman doesn't need saving. If Batman seems to need saving, it's only because Batman misses Nightwing and this is the only way he can see him without admitting that he misses him. "Oh no!" says Batman as he tries to remember what it's like to feel sleepy from tranquilizers or to feel concussed from a blackjack to the back of the head. "My legs are all, um, wobbly? I'm, um, falling now, right? OH! I'm helpless! I just peed a little too!" Then he lets the bad guys kidnap him and waits for Alfred to worry way too soon and call for backup. And of course Batman would choose a night when Jason Todd is off in California and Superman is off on Oa and Wonder Woman has her anniversary dinner with Steve Trevor.

Oh, just because he's suddenly half-robot, I'm supposed to believe some high school football star can now design high tech contact lenses?! Fuck you, comic books.

Dick finds a vial of acid left behind as Batman as a clue to who murdered him. I mean kidnapped him, probably! Who would kill Batman when they had the chance? I mean if they actually had a chance and Batman wasn't completely faking and ready to start breaking kneecaps the second somebody tugs at his cowl or tries to put a bullet in his brain. Anyway, the acid vial reminds Dick of that one case which was the only one ever in which Batman used a vial of acid which leads him to Drakkar, a Gotham drug lord. This is less evidence that Batman was in trouble and realized Nightwing would come looking for him and more evidence that Batman wasn't in trouble at all and was expecting Nightwing to come looking for him because Batman misses him.

With all the Batman themed stuff in this picture, that marquee obviously says Debbie Does Batman.

Nightwing threatens to beat up some cowardly punk named Skates who Batman apparently beats up every time he needs information. And even though Skates always gives up the information, he somehow hasn't been killed by any other Gotham criminal. Skates tells Nightwing that Batman is going to be killed at midnight in the graveyard. It's going to be a huge party. But instead of thinking, "I'll go to the graveyard and stop this!", Dick wastes precious time tailing Skates hoping he'll lead him to Batman or Drakkar. When Nightwing loses him due to Nightwing's fandom crowding around him, Nightwing thinks, "Wait. What did Skates say? Oh yeah! He gave me everything I needed to know! But now it's so close to midnight, I might not make it in time! Shoot!"

Drakkar's plan is to auction off the right to unmask Batman and put a bullet in his brain. So, you know, almost the plan I proposed when they first knocked him unconscious! Stupid greedy thugs! Now Drakkar won't be rid of Batman or rich because Nightwing has found him! And he saves Batman in the nick of time! Time for hugs and demonstrations of familial love and intimacy!

Oh Batman!

Nightwing should know Batman cares because he didn't disappear the instant Nightwing looked away. Batman does smile at the end but not until Dick leaves. Only the reader gets to know Batman is capable of the tiniest bit of joy! And that joy probably wasn't due to Nightwing telling Batman that he's proud to have been Robin. The joy was probably in getting away with not thanking somebody for saving him yet again.

Teen Titans Spotlight #14: Nightwing Rating: C+. If I had written this issue, it would have been from Batman's point of view. And all along the way, Batman would be thinking things like, "I'll drop this acid vial which will remind Dick of the Great Dragon caper which will lead him to Drakkar and the subway graveyard where I'm certain Drakkar will take me to kill me!" Then Batman will think, "I bet Dick and Alfred are brainstorming how to find me right now!" And later, as the gun is being put to Batman's head, he'd be all, "The lights should go out just about now! Dick will save me in the nick of time which I'll totally razz him over. Should I say, 'Cutting it pretty close, Boy Wonder' or 'Jason would have been here five minutes sooner'?" Then the final panel of Batman's life will be a bullet passing through his head as he's unmasked. The final page would show Dick Grayson sitting in his apartment listening to Cat's in the Cradle with the phone off the hook.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Teen Titans Spotlight #13: Cyborg

What are the two faces of evil? Cyborg's two halves? The two different houses Cyborg is climbing into at the same time? The gun and not the gun? The two cats in the painting? Probably Two-face?

And so we finally get to the Cyborg issue! Weirdly, it's not my final issue of the series! Does that mean I wasn't bored with it at the time? Or does it mean maybe I just didn't get around to reading it until I purchased the next issue, after which I spat out my Crystal Pepsi and was all, "How can a comic book about a Cyborg be so boring?! Oh, that's why! It was written by J. Michael Stracynski, some jerk who wrote He-man and She-ra scripts. I bet he never gets another writing gig after this garbage!" It's also possible some cool kid from school saw me leaving the comic book store with some Teen Titans books and scoffed, "Do you play D&D too?" And not realizing I was being mocked, I answered, "I sure do! What's your favorite character class?" And he probably said, "I like multi-classing druid/bards!" And I was all, "Right on! Do you want to play in our group at lunch tomorrow in the cafeteria?" And he was all, "That sounds great!" And that's how I made one of my best friends ever! And, um, somehow that made me stop reading Teen Titans Spotlight On.

I never said I was a story teller! I'm a comic book reviewer! Unless I'm an memoirist with essayist tendencies? Maybe I don't fit any mold at all! I'm like a multi-classed druid/bard half-elf!

This issue begins with me yawning. After that, I begin reading it. I bet I yawn at least 22 more times!

The title of this issue is "To Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to (Dammit! I don't know the correct punctuation to get me out of this loop! Where's the infinity key?! Is this it?)...". It's like the first story in John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse. The one where you're supposed to cut it out and make it into a Möbius strip so that it reads "Once upon a time there was a story that began once upon a time there was a story that began once upon a time (oh shit! Here we go again! Infinity dots, don't fail me now!)...".

Would it be fair to review this comic book based solely on the title since I can't ever stop reading it? How did I even start reading it if it goes on forever? Why is it we can start an infinite path but we can't get to the end of an infinite path? Even if you turn around right when you start it, it's infinite so now where you started just streams infinitely behind you! One time my friend Soy Rakelson, in an effort to prove to me that the universe could not have existed forever by utilizing one of his logic traps he learned from C.S. Lewis, said, "Name one thing that's infinite!" And, falling for the trap, I said, "Um, a circle?" And he was all, "Draw a circle!" And I was all, "Okay!", because I didn't realize he was just trying to trick and humiliate me rather than have an actual discussion about philosophy and religion and life. So I drew the circle and he was all, "Aha! It looks infinite once created but see that spot there! That's where you had to start it! It began with you, the creator! Therefore, the matter making up the universe couldn't have existed forever and it had to be created by God!" And instead of punching him in the face, I punched him in the soul and said, "Oh. But it's okay that God is infinite?" And he was all, "Fuck yeah! I can't wait to have sex outside of marriage without a condom because the Pope says birth control is a sin!"

Soy Rakelson once called himself "The Defender of Western Civilization" on my Facebook page and boy do I bet he regrets taking up that mantle now! I wonder if he's a Proud Boy? Also maybe I'm naive that I think he'd regret something so fucking stupid.

Cyborg is in Gotham to accept an award for "combating the terrible fire at Children's Hospital." Where the fuck was Batman? I bet Batman stopped putting out fires at the Children's Hospital because they never gave him token of their appreciation. Or maybe it's the Black Children's Hospital so only black heroes care about it. Batman probably heard about the fires and was all, "Black Lightning will take care of it! I need to smash some skylights! Profits are down at Wayne Skylight Installs and Repairs!"

Oh! I just understood this! I figured the chrome was Cyborg's face and the green was Two-Face's face. I thought maybe the pink was the other half of Two-Face's face but I couldn't figure out the other one until I finally started discussing black super heroes! I blame the lighting in my office and/or the colorist because the Victor "face" just seemed gold to me.

Two-Face sees Cyborg on television recognizes himself on a completely superficial level. But the superficiality is the point! He sees that Cyborg is accepted as a hero while he's seen as a monster. Maybe if Harvey Dent had become half sleek and shiny instead of half gross and disgusting, people would have accepted him and he could have gone on being a district attorney. But then it's also not the point because Two-Face understands that the people see Cyborg's deeds before they see his deformities (I probably would never refer to Cyborg's robotic parts as deformities but when you see some nice alliteration flashing its genitals in your face, you just got to put that shit in your mouth and go with it). And that's sort of the problem. Two-Face saw himself as a monster and thus began acting like one. Cyborg may think of himself as a monster from time to time but he doesn't let it stop him from making the world a better place. Harvey just uses his deformity as an excuse to not give a fuck anymore.

"We need an ad that declares 'Little kids who build our models fuck!"

I know I've suggested a ton of ways I'd use a time machine if I had access to one but I think I just came up with the thing I'd do first. I'd go back in time and tell the MPC model car company to get a different advertiser because I think their current one is a total pedo.

Victor goes on a date with some woman named Cynthia Adams. I'd probably remember who she was if I didn't constantly fall asleep reading Cyborg comic books. I'm fairly certain I've used that line before but it's also possible I've just dreamed it every time I've fallen asleep reading a Cyborg comic. After the date, Victor doesn't score but mostly because Cynthia was being modest and chaste and instead of saying, "Show me that cyber-weenie, you sexy hunk of metal!", she just lets him go while secretly hoping he comes back to ravish her.

If she wasn't so thirsty, she never would have buzzed Two-Face right up!

Two-Face kidnaps Cynthia and uses the threat of her death to make Cyborg do what Harvey wants. Two-Face is all, "They'll see! There's no difference between us! None at all! Except maybe the kidnapping. And the obsessive coin flipping. And all the crimes. The only people hate me is because I'm not hot! But I'm a nice guy to! They'll see! They'll all see!"

Cyborg's first task is to sneak into a woman's room and get his next task on a note under her alarm clock. But when the alarm goes off and she catches him, she calls him a monster! After escaping, Victor Stone doesn't think, "Fucking Two-Face. He made me scare the shit out of that woman by breaking into her house and startling her awake! Of course she was scared and called me a monster! Fuck, at least she didn't call me the n-word!" Instead, Victor thinks, "My name is Victor Stone. I am not a monster." Damn. Two-Face's plan is really going to work, isn't it?!

I'm perplexed as to why Cyborg begins jerking off in this panel.

While arguing with himself, Harvey admits that they first began calling themselves a monster. So the entire experiment is flawed! Two-Face wants to be able to blame his monstrous tendencies on the people who called him a monster because of the way he looked. So he's going to get Victor called a monster multiple times in one night and Victor will obviously snap! Who wouldn't?! I remember when I was called fat in junior high all those times while being fat that I became fat. No wait. Maybe that was somebody else. Nobody made fun of me because I was so fucking disconnected from what was going on around me that I never noticed. There were way better targets in junior high than me! I just went around telling everybody about how awesome Elfquest was. And they were all, "Really, fatty? Can I read your copy?" And I was all, "Sure! See you at the D&D game at lunch!"

I know I'm supposed to be reading this as if it took place in 1987 where you were supposed to think it was the robot half that everybody was afraid of and judging as a criminal. But this is 2019 and, well.

Imagine how short this issue would have been if Cyborg was connected to the Internet or had an internal cell phone. He must have had some internal gadget that could page Nightwing or the Gotham Police that he simply forgot about in the moment. Oh no, of course not. What am I thinking?! This is the era where Cyborg's only attachment was the white noise cannon!

Cyborg finally confronts Two-Face on page 23 because this story is 25 pages long! Wow, I thought I was yawning a lot more than usual, even for a Cyborg story. Anyway, Two-Face declares he killed Cynthia thirty minutes ago because he totally read Watchmen and was all, "Oh fuck. That's a cool line. I am so using it some day!" But even that doesn't convince Cyborg to kill Two-Face. And while it means Two-Face gets to live, it also means Two-Face has to live with himself and the knowledge that maybe he was the real monster all along. Surprise! It wasn't society at all! Even though we all know it actually is society. People are fucking terrible.

Surprise again! Cynthia was in a Two-Face mask and Two-Face was trying to get Cyborg to kill her! What a dumby! Hasn't he learned anything from Batman? If a hero doesn't kill, the hero doesn't kill! Sure, if this was Red Hood, Cynthia would be a fucking bullet sponge right now. But that's because he's expected to kill! How often does a hero who doesn't kill suddenly start killing? If you discount Hal Jordan. And Green Arrow. And Black Lightning. And Wonder Woman. And Black Canary. And Guy Gardner. And Fire. And Starman. And Obsidian. And Dr. Fate. And Black Canary. And, you know what, maybe this is too many ands for my initial premise to remain valid. Never mind.

The issue ends with Two-Face realizing the problem wasn't "Cyborg could have been Two-Face" but that "Two-Face could have been Cyborg." Live with it, asshole.

Teen Titans Spotlight #13: Cyborg Rating: B. I often tout Cyborg as boring because writers always simply do the same things with him. And while this is still another "Am I human?!" story arcs, at least it had a nice twist in that Cyborg plays off of a villain that you wouldn't have expected. Usually the writer brings in another character that's part robotic so that Cyborg can see his own humanity through the flaws of his foe. But has a writer ever thought, "Hey! Cyborg and Two-Face look fairly similar. I bet there's a story there?" Well, at least one did! And I'm happy to say they made a fairly decent go of it. Although wouldn't it have been nice if this story had been the last word on Cyborg's anxiety about how human he is?! Man, what if this was all the therapy he needed and for the next thirty years, DC audiences had been given a healthy Cyborg who would always be, "Oh yeah, I'm part robot! But I'm still all human! Want to fuck, baby?!" I miss that Cyborg that never existed.