Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Invisibles #1

If I had to pretend to know anything about art, I'd say this cover represents how pop culture can kill. Or will blow your mind. Or feels dangerous but it's actually pretty safe because the pin is still in the grenade.

What the fuck do I know about art and why the fuck am I assuming this comic book is going to be about art anyway?! Just because Grant Morrison wrote it and I happen to think Grant Morrison has written some pretty smart comic books? Well, I'm pretty sure he's written some huge fucking turds too! It's just that I haven't read any of them that I remember. Apparently I've read a few issues of this but I don't really remember it. I don't like to tell people that I don't remember it when they talk about how great it was because that's admitting that 22 year old me wasn't a discerning critic of his entertainment. At least I also can't remember the truly garbage comic books I was reading in 1994 as well! So it's possible I read this and thought, "I'm so smart because I understand what's happening!" Now I'm terrified to read it because I'm absolutely certain I'll think, "What the hell is going on in this comic book? I'm such a stupid asshole!"

Oh boy. This comic book is forty pages long. Get ready for a review that explicates the first fifteen pages thoroughly while also digressing twelve separate times before quickly summarizing the last twenty-five pages so I can go play some Apex.

I can't say for certain this is a shot at Ann Nocenti but, thankfully, I can say it's definitely not a shot at me!

This guy is Elfayed. He's retrieved a mummified scarab from the desert believing it might be a sign for the mysterious bald man with too many face piercings and the endeavor he's currently on. Which is a mystery because Grant Morrison isn't going to let the reader understand the comic book on the first page! Sheesh!

The second page doesn't help explain things but it does place the word "synchronicity" burning in my brain like a buzzing, blinking neon sign.

Get it? Mummified beetle. Dead Beatles. Boy throwing a Molotov cocktail. Pop culture and violence. I think I intuitively understand this comic book so 70% of the rest of what I say will be dick jokes.

The kid throwing the explosive is one of three members of a gang called the Croxteth Posse. Every youth in Britain joins a gang no matter how stupid and lame they are. It just proves how hard they are even if they never throw one Molotov cocktail or ever even get their genitals touched. The gang members run off into the night, past some "King Mob" graffiti which will be important later, yelling, "We are the boys! We are the boys!" Is that a thing lame youth gangs in London did in the 80s and 90s? Because I remember Lister and his posse saying that shit about being the boys of the Dwarf when they thought they were acting hard on some adventure that probably involved Lister fucking a future version of himself.

The Croxteth gang are from Liverpool because Croxteth is a suburb of Liverpool. It shows how imaginative these youths are. I bet there are at least fifty different Croxteth Posses bumbling about at night destroying things.

The bald guy's name is Gideon (and possibly King Mob. Unless the antagonist is King Mob. I should probably keep reading to find out) and he's both young and old at the same time. He's probably some kind of spirit of the zeitgeist or something, Grant Morrison's Jenny Sparks. He's looking for a new recruit for his own gang since something happened to John-A-Dreams. He might have just died of old age because Gideon's other acquaintance, Edith, is now 95 years old and sulking in her mortality. He wants her to contact somebody named Tom to let him know he thinks he found their new recruit. I think it's probably the anarchist kid because I know how stories work.

I'm starting to think maybe The Invisibles are a bit like the Upright Citizens Brigade. Their only enemy is the status quo. Their only friend is chaos. Except there will be less skits with people wearing giant papier-mâché cat heads and more ultra-violence.

The arsonist kid's name is McGowan and he's smarter than he acts, according to his teacher who gives him the old "you're not fulfilling your potential and your friends are just dragging you down" speech. But what kind of an anarchist would McGowan be if he gave a shit about what his teacher thinks of him? Oh, that's right! He'd be a good anarchist if he really gave a shit and a bad anarchist if he didn't give a shit but he let the teacher's words affect him anyway. That's how anarchy works, right?

The problem with anarchy is that it needs a few rules to make it work well but you can't enforce any rules or else you're not living an anarchic lifestyle. Here's my definition of anarchy from Places & Predators, my roller playing game: a philosophy where anybody can do anything they want without worrying about some stupid guard putting an axe in their head. But they have to worry about everyone else putting an axe in their head all the time because there are no guards.

I should probably read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin instead of all these stupid Han Solo and Lando Calrissian adventure books.

Oh, well McGowan's mother withholds love and affection and blames him for all the ills in her life. I suppose I can now forgive him for torching the school library, right?

McGowan heads out to sit in the cold and watch John Lennon have a conversation with Stuart Sutcliffe. They joke about being dead and it's funny because they are dead. Stuart even says he wants to die young which is doubly funny because he does. Ha ha! McGowan doesn't laugh because maybe he doesn't find gallows humor funny. But some weird creature that speaks some German does laugh. He's all, "Ha ha! They're going to die young! Oh ho ho! Such jolly fun! Now join with me, you dumb kid." He also says some German stuff that I can't make sense of because I don't speak German and I don't want to ask the Non-Certified Spouse what it means. I could use Google but I'm being extra lazy right now.

McGowan tells the weird German tourist to fuck off because he doesn't care about anything. But you know what kind of people actually care a lot about everything? The kind who need to tell everybody that they don't care about anything. Only people whose feelings are super hurt say stuff like that. And maybe serial killers. Later McGowan decides to prove he doesn't care by suggesting he and his friends blow up the school. Not because he cares how they think they know everything and they want him to be just like them and all adults lack affection and sincerity. No, he just wants to blow it up because he doesn't give a shit about nothing, man.

The scene switches to the bald guy who might be King Mob on an LSD trip. It's nothing like taking LSD but I'll pretend it's all metaphor and analogy and spiritual nonsense.

In his trip, he sees a gigantic head of John Lennon. Mostly because the whole trip was to summon this head. It's a double page spread of psychedelic images and nonsense mixed with Beatles lyrics and album titles. Strange that Morrison fails to translate an acid trip involving The Beatles when The Beatles themselves have a song that I think most feels like and describes an acid trip. No, it's not "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"; it's "Strawberry Fields." If I had to state what my favorite Beatles song was right now, I'd say "Strawberry Fields" even though Magical Mystery Tour might be my least favorite (later) album (although now that I type it, I remember it contained "Penny Lane" and "The Fool on the Hill" and "All You Need is Love" and I guess I was wrong about Magical Mystery Tour being my least favorite album). I added the later because their early pop shit doesn't really resonate with me. I don't think I appreciate their music until after they've met Doctor Robert.

Just listened to "Strawberry Fields" and now I'm crying. Fucking great song.

While trying to burn down the school, McGowan is caught by his teacher. He gives his teacher a brutal beating and then answers a question he refused to answer in class, just to show he's both smart and violent.

McGowan's arrested and Hugh Laurie sentences him to hard juvenile labor.

I was speaking of acid earlier and I'd like to recommend the documentary on Netflix called Have a Good Trip, especially to people who have never done acid. It's enlightening. You might think that my favorite part was one of the crazier bits about hallucinations or one of the stories about how something odd always happens when on acid (it totally does) but I think my favorite bit is when the musician from Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna, tells the story about how acid made her realize that you didn't have to cross the street along the legs of the two triangles comprising the square intersection but can just cross along the hypotenuse. It's not that the idea is mind blowing or even close to an "A-ha!" shower thought; it's just that's the kind of mundane thought that seems like a fucking magic revelation when you're on acid. It's the epitome of the acid experience. LSD makes the mundane profound which is way more exciting than you might think. If you've never done acid, you might have fucked off to the comment section just now to point out that the universe is a wonderful and magical and profound place even without acid. And I fucking agree. But LSD makes everything profound. Every single thing you see or think combines with the fabric of the universe and it all becomes staring at the stars and wondering how it all fucking fits together. But you don't need space or infinity or philosophy; you just need LSD, a stapler, a bottle of water, and a Jack Kirby comic book from the early 70s.

Dane McGowan is sentenced to ten weeks in a juvenile facility called Harmony House. It's where violent teenage boys aren't taught to stop being violent; it's where they're taught to use their violence to benefit the government! At least that's my guess. I like to pretend I know what's happening in the comic book as I write the review and then later I delete the wrong assumptions I made and replace them with lies to make me look like a Grandmaster Comic Book Reviewer!

Actually, that last sentence was a lie. Normally if I get something wrong, I just write "Oops!" later and then tell readers to forget the terrible mistake I made.

This is the plot to every young adult dystopian book ever written: "Society says conformity is good. But one young spunky individual with weird hair won't submit and will save the world!"

Sometimes I feel the only people touched by stories about the individual refusing to be a sheep of the status quo are people who tend to be sheep of the status quo. To really identify with the hero in one of these stories, the reader needs to have thought of themselves as part of the status quo and felt the need to participate in some activity that would prove that they weren't. Instead of, you know, just being themselves and never actually giving their place in society a second thought. I find odd people who are inspired by a story that tells the reader to be themselves. How is that inspiring unless you never really knew that was an option? And how could you fucking not know it?! But then again, Heathers is one of my all-time favorite movies and I suppose that's got a similar message about being oneself. But it also has murder and some seriously great lines of dialogue and Christian Slater blowing himself to bits.

Oh, remember where I mentioned this comic book was basically screaming "synchronicity" at me and that I understood it on an instinctual level after page two? Grandmaster Comic Book Reader!

The leader of The Invisibles (man, I wish the comic book would just tell me that the bald guy with piercings is actually King Mob already) decides to infiltrate Harmony House to make sure their soon-to-be new recruit, McGowan, is doing okay. I'm sure he'll find he's fine because he's not buying into the whole "be a soldier of the status quo" bullshit being fed to the young boys at the institution. It's easy to be against a Headmaster who thinks arguments like "Liberals love freedom but do they want people to be so free that they can steal their VCRs." But will he be able to stand up against the techno-brainwashing and the influence of the mystical creature running things from behind the scenes?! Probably but only with help from the Upright Citizens Brigade. I mean The Invisibles.

It's surreal that this is the way we thought of controlling the populace in the 90s: turn them into content sheep without any anger or frustration. And yet the exact opposite of that is true: control them by making them angry and frustrated at as many lies and half-truths as you can.

The big twist reveal isn't that the boys' brains are cut up and messed with; it's that the boys genitals are removed as well. Yeesh! Now I'm angry and frustrated! I'm totally against this Harmony House bullshit. Is this actually happening in red states?! Horrific!

King Mob (yes, they finally reveal that's the bald guy's name) rescues Dane from Harmony House while shooting a bunch of people (including the Headmaster) and blowing the building to bits. It's a good thing we learned the real antagonist was some dick-eating creature called the King of Chains. Dane McGowan isn't ready to join The Invisibles which King Mob was ready for. He had a tarot reading earlier that said the kid was going to have to be put through the wringer first. So he leaves the kid in London and disappears, just so we all know why they're called The Invisibles. I guess Batman is a member?

The Invisibles #1 Rating: B+. This issue was forty pages long and it felt like it used every page to move the story along. It's insane that that's one of the greatest compliments I can give a comic book. Way too many writers just fill their scripts with nonsense because they don't have a real plan for their story. I know everybody espouses the idea that a good comic book story should teach the reader something new about the character. But unless learning that Superman can punch something harder than he previously thought he could, or Batman is super resilient and can take a ton of punishment for five issues before rising to the occasion through pure force of will, most comic book writers really don't put a lot of thought into themes. Sure, sure. This sort of feels like the mystic super hero version of Catcher in the Rye which might be why I stopped purchasing it after six issues. Although it's just as likely that I stopped purchasing it at six issues because my infrequent visits to the comic book store made me miss Issue #7 and I just gave up on it. It's not bad and it's put together well and as a young 48 year old who thinks the man can go fuck himself, I'm totally into it's message about being a unique individual! Anarchy rules!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E8: "The Battle"

Depending on who you ask, the United States public school system is a huge waste of time, a factory to teach kids how to live life as factory workers, free daycare, a temple to learning, or a place to socialize future citizens. But I know what it really is and it's less cynical than you might expect from me. Sure, I could have been super jaded about the public school system but I was lucky and went to a Satanic elementary school (if you're curious, just search the blog for "Haman" or "Satanic elementary school" or "AC/DC"), so I had a love of learning about the Devil from an early age. Anyway, I believe the public school system (and while I can only truly speak to the United States' version, I'm going to assume it's very much the same concept across other nations and cultures) was the easiest solution to keeping civilization advancing. That probably sounds obvious and you're already in the comment section typing up responses such as "Like, DOI!" and "What a stunning reveleation /sarcasm" and "ur trash 1v1 me". (Believe me, the only correct way to end that sentence was with the punctuation outside of the quotes.)

Listen, I get it! It's a simple concept! But in our modern times when it seems like half of the country thinks education corrupts the youth (which, if you went to Haman Elementary in Santa Clara, California, it certainly fucking did. Long live my Lord and Master!), sometimes simple truths need to be beat like a living horse (that's what the phrase "No use in beating a dead horse" means, right? It means there is use in beating a living horse and we should beat them more. Right?). Or did I mean beat like a drum? You know what? Sometimes I wish I learned more than ritual summonings and secret hand gestures.

What I'm trying to say and which I won't make any clearer with this next statement is that the public school system was the best version of throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. In this analogy, "shit" is "knowledge" and "wall" is "children." Because the only way to advance civilization and continue to make things better for everybody is to make sure young people are caught up on the story. Sure, a lot of them (and I should probably say "a lot of us" because look at me as an adult: writing a blog about comic books and Star Trek) won't take up the torch to help advance civilization. But that's the thing. You don't know which kid is going to make the connections to establish the next thing that helps civilization mature. At the very least, you know that if you don't throw shit at children, they're never going to have the opportunity to understand exactly where they are in civilization's timeline and how they can make it better going forward. Also, can we sometimes just throw real shit at children because now that idea is in my head and it's not going anywhere?

If we break this system, we are accepting eventual stagnation and a probable decline in the overall levels of satisfaction with life. And as we can see in our modern times, a growing percentage of unimaginative dullards don't fucking care about progress. Education teaches their kids that their parents were unimaginative dullards and so those unimaginative dullards would rather destroy the educational system than maybe look inward and try not to be an unimaginative dullard. And let's not forget about the people who want to destroy the system simply because it uplifts everybody and not just the people who look like they do.

Obviously the public school system doesn't present enough material to create an adult that will truly help drive humanity's balls through civilization's goalposts (help me. I think I have some kind of sickness that makes me speak in analogies, sort of like Lyme Disease but if I were bitten by a conservative talking head). The public school system is just to fire the curiosity of the children so they'll strive to become more educated on their own. And at one time, college was the perfect way to specialize and really get in-depth on the things which really held the child's interest. But, once again, a certain section of the population viewed higher education as a slippery slope to being a decent person and so they've demonized it. One way to make a higher education less possible was to make it less affordable. Although making college less accessible was probably a backlash to college students protesting the government's participation in certain wars which made the government say, "Where are we going to get all the young dead people we'll need for future wars? I mean, they'll only be dead after! We're not into necromancy. Not everybody went to Haman Elementary." Free or affordable college just gives less privileged young people more options than the ones people who don't want things to change want them to have. After all, job providers aren't really as good at providing jobs as they seem to want everybody to think they are. So they need a system which forces people into debt, or convinces them to saddle themselves with a huge mortgage, or hypnotizes them into thinking children are great things to have in their lives so that they'll always need the shitty job they have to pay for their tiny sentient wells where money is thrown.

I wish I was more coherent and less digressive than I am so I could get my point across. But this sometimes happens after I've read two or three comic books by Ann Nocenti. Let me just take a moment to cleanse my aura and I'll try to be more succinct. "Master Satan, please direct my aggression and blood lust into a fine focal point as sharp as the tip of the Lance of Longinus so that I may do your bidding to corrupt His lost lambs and bring them to the beastly reality of this cum-stained world. Thank you my Father. I count the days until I will be welcomed into your embrace of unholy fornication."

In summation, education can only be attained by stacking one block upon the other. You need a system which both teaches the basics of how we got to where we are and also weeds out those that don't fucking give a shit about climbing the pyramid of blocks that's already there to add more to the top. Some people are meant to simply take care of the foundational blocks. Some people will climb partway up and improve the blocks in the middle. But you need a system to find the people who will craft the blocks for the future top of the pyramid. And as an added benefit, the higher one climbs, the better a person they generally become. Sure, you still have many climbers who only see profit in the journey. But some of them do their part as well (granted, not a lot of them. Most of them just want to find a way to keep all the blocks for themselves and establish a toll gate halfway up the pyramid and then convince everybody that the toll gate has always been there and it was never a free climb at all). And you also have people who consider the education gained as a simple corruption of the soul. But fuck those people. They pretend the pyramid doesn't even exist and only want to tear it down anyway.

Now imagine how big this pyramid must be in the 24th Century! It's so big that it allows people to pursue whatever they want to pursue without being shackled to a daily grind just to pay bills. Fucking imagine that, right?! A civilization so prosperous and educated about the nature of reality that nobody in the system feels compelled to force other people to throw their lives away so those people can earn somebody else another buck. What a healthy civilization! Now imagine that civilization butting heads with our 21st Century reality. Imagine how much we'd despise those 24th Century bastards! Don't they care about making another buck?! What are they thinking?! I bet it would end up in a battle just like "The Battle" in this episode!

Yes, we are the Ferengi. And, yes, I'm probably not going to say much about this episode. Picard gets mind-controlled by capitalism and almost destroys socialism. But he doesn't and the Ferengi learn a lesson about greed sometimes being bad which is a really hard lesson for them to swallow due to their big ears (because when they swallow I imagine their ears pop a lot?).

The main thing I learned from this episode is that every great starship captain in the Federation has a tactical maneuver named after them. If you haven't come up with a new innovation for space battles, you're a piece of shit not worthy to captain a Starfleet vessel. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Kid Eternity #3

In this issue, Kid Eternity fucks a Rastafarian hippo.

This comic book, more than any other comic book, taught me that I don't have to keep buying every issue of a comic book just because it's under the Vertigo imprint. This comic book took me by the hand, led me out of the misty forest of Vertigo's obfuscating nonsense, pushed me out into the bright clarity of presumed reality and said, "Stop coming around here to get your butthole molested, you skanky little perv." After blinking the sunlight out of my eyes for a bit, I gasped and thought, "Sometimes art is art with tits and sometimes art is just tits distracting from nonsense. And it's up to me and G.I. Joe to tell the difference."

This is where I'd post an image of tits to distract you from my nonsense but this isn't a porn site, you skanky little perv.

This issue begins, like all Ann Nocenti issues, with me shaking my head and contemplating self-harm. Also tits and nonsense. So much nonsense. Like more nonsense than a shaking stick could shake another stick at. Usually I appreciate comic books with dense dialogue and a thick, rich story. But the first page has a dialogue between two of the Pope's demon children that's 160 words long. I'm not sure Ann Nocenti completely understands how comic books work. The second page's dialogue contains 199 words (and five tits).

I have a new theory about Ann Nocenti's writing: she was paid by the word and the only way to keep the editor from cutting down her word count was to make the dialogue incomprehensible so the editor didn't know which words to cut.

I'm not counting the amount of words on the third page but I'm pretty sure it's even more than page two.

Page three sort of introduces two new characters (as if this comic book needs any more subplots). I think they're brothers but all we, as readers, are allowed to see are hands and books. One book is The Book of Sin in which the brothers invoke temptation against Kid Eternity. This sends the Pope's devil children to ruin his plans with their vaginas. The other book is The Book of Reflection in which Kid Eternity's own narcissism is used against him. I guess nobody wants the modern Buddha Christ Child to be born? But aren't they all wasting their time? Didn't we discover the magical child was fished out of a garbage can in the dirty alley where the homeless guys constantly discuss the value of women?

This newscast, awash in speculation and false premises, is still more informative than the talking head opinion pieces and non-expert debates that form the bulk of most 24 hour news stations. And look at all those words! This was just two-thirds of one page!

Meanwhile, the FBI agents are still lying around in bed. How they ended up in bed after being shot by Ares' hate arrows isn't information that was deemed necessary for the readers to understand the story. Which is fine because I think Nocenti just wrote them out of the comic book in a scene where the Fates are stitching a quilt and one is all, "What are we doing with these two?" and another one is all, "Forget them! They're lost to entropy! We have so many more stories to knit!" And she's write because I don't think I could even remember all of the character and story arcs from just the first two issues! Let's make a list!

1. The homeless guys philosophizing in the alley.
2. Kid Eternity and his search for the Christ Buddha.
3. Madame Blavatsky's search for snacks and causing time to rewind.
4. The FBI agents looking to help Kid Eternity but somehow winding up in bed not fucking.
5. Hemlock the feminist who could be the Christ Buddha's mother but has become the mother of a computer virus.
6. Dog the gross dude who wants to fuck Hemlock.
7. Keep, Kid Eternity's keeper, who probably isn't exactly into helping Kid Eternity.
8. Beelzebub deciding to go to Earth to be more like Lucifer.
9. Judas, just hanging out with Beelzebub.
10. Jesus getting drunk in a bar.
11. The Malocchio, or Pope's demon children, trying to stop the birth of the Christ Buddha.
12. The Christ Buddha who was found in a trash can but then taken away by some woman who might have been its mother.
13. Cupid, summoned by Kid Eternity to make the FBI agents do it but who arrived late because he was in a coma and shot them with hate arrows anyway so he just decided to get drunk with the homeless guys.
14. Zeus and the other Greek Gods who woke back up when Cupid was summoned.
15. The Catholic church who seem to be Kid Eternity's main atagonist.
16. Freud and Jung, brought in to show how much Ann Nocenti knows about the founders of psychology.

That's all I can remember! I'm sure I've forgotten some story bits and characters. This issue wasted no time introducing even more! Now we have the brothers reading metaphysical books, the Fates, and a transgender sex worker.

Is the point that they won't date women because they're afraid to talk to them? I just thought women didn't want to date them because they're filthy itinerants with no ambition.

Oh! It turns out the "brothers" reading the books about all the other characters are Jesus and Beelzebub! Thank goodness I don't have to remember any new characters! Hopefully the transgender sex worker turns out to be Madame Blavatsky. Double oh! I just realized the transgender sex worker is one of the Malocchio! Whew! I think I'm shaking off the Ann Nocenti Dome of Confusion! I'm beginning to follow and understand her plot!

I mean, really, it's not so hard. Kid Eternity wants to inspire mankind and thinks a new Buddha Christ child is the way to do it. Everybody else wants to stop him because mankind sucks ass. Now add a bunch more words and about thirty random Wikipedia entries to my summation and you'll get Nocenti's version of the plot.

This is a great example of Nocenti's profound nonsense. Sorry but the tits were in the previous panel on the previous page.

I'm worried that I'm going to completely burn out on reading old comics because after this excruciating three issue run of Kid Eternity, I've got about six issues of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. Not that I'm comparing the quality of the two comic books! It's just that I don't understand this comic book but that in no way makes me feel stupid. But when I don't understand The Invisibles, I'm going to feel like a huge idiot.

This issue, which is the final issue in my head canon, ends with Fetish, the Malocchio transgender sex worker, fucking Kid Eternity until he falls in love with her and then leaving him. His heart is broken and now he's ready to be fucked by the other Malocchio. Plus Jesus and Beelzebub are playing some kind of game with Kid Eternity and a mad girl named Christabel who can draw reality. So that's another character and piece of the plot that I never would have kept straight if I'd kept reading this comic book.

Kid Eternity #3 Rating: C-. It's really fucking falling apart at this point. Yes, the basic premise is pretty easy to understand. But it's tiresome trying to keep it all straight when every single one of Nocenti's characters speaks in never ending analogies. So if love is like sailing, you don't just get, "Bright skies and still seas until the storm clouds gather and toss the ship." No, you get "Love is sailing in bright skies on a calm sea with freshly waxed decks and clean billowing sails, a pleasant breeze that stopped over in Manhattan to waft the fresh smell of baking garlic and Margherita pizza into your upraised nostrils as you watch two seagulls playfully dance in the sky until the next instant stormy seas, black skies, flailing ropes, ripped sails, riggings down, the decks awash, and death is licking the back of your neck." That whole last part where the stormy seas start is actually a direct quote. I embellished the first half!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Kid Eternity #2

This cover says, "Don't look at who wrote it! Just look at how interesting these visuals are! Sucker."

In my review of Kid Eternity #1, I threw out a few theories on why Ann Nocenti's writing is so weird. After reading page one of this issue, I've thrown those theories out again but in a different way. That makes complete sense if you understand English idioms and also understand that everything Ann Nocenti writes is basically pre-trash.

This is page one of Kid Eternity #2 and it will probably get this review banned on Tumblr.

I have a new theory: Ann Nocenti asked what a Vertigo comic book should be and editor Tom Peyer probably joked, "They're mostly tits and profound nonsense." So Ann Nocenti's vagina gobbed in her underwear and she squealed with glee. "That's what I do!" she chortled merrily!

I probably shouldn't abuse Ann Nocenti for writing things I don't understand. I have plenty of choices of other people to abuse for it: my elementary school teachers for not calling me out on doing just enough to get by; my junior high school teachers who let me get away with not putting any effort into big year-end projects (In science, we were supposed to make a stone age tool. I rubber glued a carved-to-a-shoddy point stick to another stick (which was worse than my friend Robert who put some pine needles into a split stick, calling the weapon "Ow"); in English, we had one project based on Romeo and Juliet (because all we did that quarter was watch and read various versions of the play) and I refused to do it because the teacher was wasting my time; in Computers, I found Dan Felipe's project, a trivia program, and I just copied it and used it for my own project (changing all the questions and line numbers and other things to make it seem like it wasn't plagiarized but, I mean, come on! In fairness to me, I only did it because the stupid fucking school changed computers halfway through the semester, dropping the TRS-80s for Apples and my project was relying on the Poke images of the TRS-80 to create an animated sequence)); my high school English teacher, Mr. Borror, for reading nearly everything I wrote in front of the class so that I began to think I was the wittiest fucker in Santa Clara High; my college teachers for some reason or another that allows me to not blame my own lack of ability; and probably my parents because if they were any good at their parental jobs, I wouldn't be writing a blog about comic books. In other words, I'm sure Ann Nocenti is a philosophical genius while I'm just a guy who blames everybody else for things I don't understand.

Even if I truly felt Ann Nocenti was an underrated genius whose writings I'm incapable of parsing, I would never ask her to explain what she meant by this first page of Kid Eternity #2. I just wouldn't feel comfortable putting her on the spot like that. It's not up to the artist to explain their art to the foolish audience! Only the Christian Messiah bears that responsibility (and, let's face it, he wouldn't have had to explain every fucking parable if he'd been able to convince smarter people of his bullshit). So if it's up to me to interpret this first page gibber gabber, I suppose I should get to business. Or kill myself. I mean, killing myself would be easier and less painful. And I totally would kill myself before reading more Ann Nocenti comic books except I have plans to cut my toenails in a few months.

Before I begin trying to understand this hogwash, I'd like to point out that if she'd written it as a sonnet, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I'd read it, think, "Yep, that's a sonnet!", nod my head in sage understanding, and then jerk off to the titties. But this is not a sonnet so it is not allowed to be obtuse simply for obtuseness' sake.

So this fucking speech. First off, who is speaking? The serpent trying to fuck the naked lady? Is this the speech the serpent used on Eve to get her to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Although if that's the case, how would talking about Buddha convince Eve of anything? I'll assume the serpent is omniscient (because he may or may not be Satan, depending on what holy men or con artists you believe but certainly isn't Satan if you're simply going by the Book of Genesis. I bet the serpent was God doing one of those Zeus things minus the rape. Zeus loved to trick people so he could get laid; Yahweh tricks people to test their faith). I guess since she had yet to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (come on, God! That name is terrible), she wouldn't know what she doesn't know and can't defend against any nonsense the serpent spews at her.

Let's assume the art goes with the speech and it's the serpent speaking. So why is "God in repair" and what the fuck does that mean? And why is it followed by the statement, "Why not call the wisest man a freak?" Does the snake only speak in non sequiturs? Was that a stupid question since I already know the snake's dialogue is being written by Ann Nocenti? It is kind of refreshing to see that her dialogue style never changed in thirty years. The shit the serpent says on this page could be nonsense spewed by Coil from Nocenti's New 52 Katana.

You know what? I don't have to continue this because, in the end, it's just a carnival barker's pitch to get people to believe in the freaks in his freak show. He's all, "What's the difference between freaks and religion?!" That's not a riddle I have an answer for. The only religious joke I know is "What do Noah's Ark and The Bible have in common?" That might be a joke that was extant before I came up with it but I did come up with it on my own. And I think the answer is so obvious I would be insulting the intelligence of all four people reading this.

Oh, and the snake trying to fuck the lady? It's a tattoo on the Tattooed Lady. The reason the comic begins in a circus freak show? Because Kid Eternity is the newest freak on display!

The opening sideshow scene is just one of Kid Eternity's dreams. The demon angel babies get into Kid Eternity's dream and when he wakes up, they've tied his hair to the floor which totally has him trapped for like three panels. That was a close one!

Kid Eternity decides he can't truly know what he's doing unless he utterly knows himself. So it's time to get his brain probed.

Let me guess: Carl will blather on about synchronicity and dreams while Freud tries to figure out how big Kid Eternity's penis is.

Carl doesn't initially discuss anything. He's just the straight man for Freud saying all the typical things you'd expect Freud to say: penis this, envy that, fuck your mom, kill your dad, more penises, many more penises, everything is penises. But then he comes on fast and furious with his archetypes and collective unconscious and human mythology stuff, all the biggest Carl Jung hits (aside from synchronicity but I'm sure he'll get around to that later. Ann Nocenti isn't going to miss showing the readers all the knowledge nuggets she mined to make her brain big). If only Nocenti would spend as much time writing the story as she spends making sure the readers know she knows a lot of shit then maybe I would have kept reading this comic book.

Meanwhile, Zeus wanders around looking for somebody to trick fuck, Madame Blavatsky hunts down the next best burger before she slips back to the past, Beelzebub and Judas wander through Limbo, Jesus gets drunk and falls off a bar stool, and a phone yells at a woman. That all happens on one page to make sure the reader remembers other things are happening. But why does Ann Nocenti spend two panels of that dense page on Madame Blavatsky when she could have updated the reader on the non-X-File FBI agents who will probably hate fuck each other before the story ends? I also wanted an update on the Buddha Christ Trash Child. But no! Instead Nocenti just moves on to more of her proof that she's read all about Freud and Jung and totally understands the shallow top layer of their theories and philosophies. I don't mean to say I know any more than Ann Nocenti! But I understand how little I know of Freud and everything she's had him say are things everybody knows about Freud from all the dirty jokes about him: ids, supermen, parental relations, and phalli!

Oh, that's why we didn't get an update on the dense update page; Nocenti needed a full page to document the hate/fuck.

My new Ann Nocenti writing theory: Ann Nocenti has never had an original thought. She simply reads things, takes copious notes of bits and quotes she likes, and then shoves them sideways into whatever script she's currently writing. No wait. She does have original thoughts but they're almost not worth having. Like "everything in life is a prison" and then proving it by stating a few things about life that can be cell-like. It's profound in that way that things are profound when you're on acid. If you don't think about it, you can find yourself nodding along going, "Yeah! Yeah! Everything is a prison! Life is a fucking prison!" But if you do stop to think about it, it's like coming down off acid. You start to see how that thought you had about how the number three ties everything else in the universe together because of the way the corners meet didn't wasn't as mind blowing as it was six hours ago. Although the rant you went on about how pressing play on the VCR remote play the show and pressing pause pauses it but then to unpause it you have to hit pause again when you should really hit play was pretty fucking good.

Speaking of acid, I'm two-thirds of the way through the acid documentary on Netflix and it's fucking fantastic. I wasn't really thinking a lot about it but I was nodding along going, "Yeah! Yeah! Everything they're saying about acid is absolutely spot on!" throughout. I actually had to take a break because it was making me too happy listening to all Sting and Carrie Fisher tell their acid stories.

I don't know why I didn't just spend five paragraphs discussing why the FBI agents were playing Scrabble while they fucked. It's probably just one of Sean Phillips' kinks.

Oh, maybe they were just playing Scrabble and not hate-fucking. It's hard to tell because on the next page, Jerry asks Val if they can finally fuck and Val is all, "You're a nerd!" Then she slits his throat. But then in the next panel, his throat isn't slit and he's all, "You feeling better?" And she's all, "Yeah!" So I don't know what the fuck is going on and I don't really care. I've still got like eight pages of this mess to get through and I'd rather just nod along than try to understand it.

And then just like last issue, Ann Nocenti sputters out a bit of writing that I totally agree with because I've said basically the same thing before. About how every day, I fall in love with some person I see on the street because of the smallest of things. And then I love them forever.

My story isn't as good but I once fell in love walking through the airport in Minneapolis. I was passing by an attractive woman and she was gazing off somewhere as I looked at her face. She was coming up on my right and then I glanced down at her breasts and back up at her face. And that was the moment she noticed me, as I glanced from her breasts to her face. And, catching me, she smiled and laughed and kept on walking. And I still love her to this day.

And for this page alone, I forgive all of Ann Nocenti's past (future?) transgressions and find myself eager to read Kid Eternity #3.

Oh wait. I still have a few pages left in this piece of crap.

I read a lot of books in college that I sometimes still say are my favorite books but I should probably just say they stuck with me because I know which books are almost always in my top five and a lot of the ones in college aren't those. But Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence always stuck with me. It's possible that I completely missed the message of the novel but to me, the book was about how true love only exists when it's unrequited. Archer Day-Lewis doesn't love Ellen Pfeifer more than May Ryder for any other reason than that she was the one he didn't marry. It seemed to me that Wharton was trying to portray how hard love is and true, phenomenal love only exists in the imagination. Only a love we can imagine can remain magical. Only when we love an object, or the imaginary person we've placed on a pedestal, can we evade disappointment in the reality and flaws of another actual human being. Being in love with Ellen Pfeifer was easy because she wasn't there for all those years. There were no fights or disappointments or multiple times accidentally walking in on her taking a huge shit. She was pure and beautiful and imaginary.

But then again, maybe that wasn't the point of the book at all. I was young and romantic at the time and I still absolutely loved the women I'd had unrequited crushes on in junior high and high school while my college relationship was slowly circling the drain due to personality conflicts. But not due to sex. The sex was fucking great!

Anyway, Freud and Jung decide Kid Eternity is in denial and they leave. Hemlock and Dog spread some new reality across the world via a computer virus. Madame Blavatsky starts making time go backwards, probably so she can vomit up all the Twinkies she ate and eat them again with their delicious creamy filling. And the devil and Judas wind up in a bar in Limbo with Jesus to make plans for Kid Eternity. There's probably a lot more going on but there'd be too much for me to process even if it wasn't confused by Nocenti's writing style. No wonder I gave up on this book after three issues. There's no way by the third issue I could remember anything that was going on, if I even understood it the month prior.

Kid Eternity #2 Rating: C-. A confusing mess that's about 90% Ann Nocenti just vomiting out things she's read. Even the things that, with the benefit of the doubt, I want to believe sprang from her own philosophical musings, I can't bring myself to absolutely believe it. I feel like every thought and piece of dialogue she's placed in this story just came from piles of notebooks filled with notes she's made while reading other people's works. It's practically a collage of philosophical ideas and moral musings pulled from myriad sources and shoved into a Kid Eternity framework "written" by Ann Nocenti. Which could explain Nocenti's penchant for stilted dialogue. If she were making up all the character's thoughts, the dialogue would flow from one character to the next. But when each character can only respond with some profound thought Nocenti read elsewhere, it comes across like a ransom note, each word cut from the mind of somebody else and pasted as a reply to another bit cut from some other thinker, no relation existing between the two thoughts except the proximity relationship Nocenti has given them.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Star Trek: The Next Generation, S1, E7: "Justice"

For some reason, this episode is the one I remembered most from my last viewing of the series. And I say "for some reason" because I don't want to admit it's due to the skimpy outfits worn by the men and women who run everywhere and constantly ask the crew of the Enterprise if they're ready to fuck. Every time I see this episode, I wonder how many local syndicates refused to air it. "This week on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the crew of the Enterprise take shore leave on an orgy planet where we learn that Klingons choke each other near to death when they fuck."

We don't actually learn what Klingons do when they fuck; we only learn that Worf proclaims that non-Klingons couldn't handle his passion and his huge spiny cock. Okay, we don't learn about Worf's cock either but you know it's terrifying.

If I was initially confused as to why Netflix chose to rate Star Trek: The Next Generation "sex, fear," then the episode "Justice" cleared up that confusion. The orgy planet Edo invites travelers from across the galaxy to come fuck the entirety of its populace because they have no laws and no standards. Well, actually, they have one law and it's a fucking doozy. It's such a doozy that they don't announce it to the people beaming down to their planet with raging boners.

No wait. I got it wrong. The planet Edo has one punishment: death. Apparently they have a whole bunch of fucking laws that nobody breaks because the punishment is death. It's like Singapore in space but with more sex and less Singapore Slings. You would think more people would have stumbled into this death penalty but I guess most visitors to the planet are too busy getting their asses licked to accidentally break any of the planet's laws. Plus the penalty for breaking a law is like the lottery: only random sections of the planet are being monitored at any one time and you're only convicted if you break a law in an area currently being monitored. That's the whole premise for the planet being so peaceful. Nobody does anything wrong because they might be killed. And yet, what's the difference if the entire planet were constantly monitored instead of certain sections? I guess the difference is the amount of person hours needed for surveillance. It's just more economical.

Being that everybody is almost constantly fucking and fucking isn't against the law, nobody breaks any laws. People also run from one place to the next for some reason that I either missed because I was gawping at the barely covered women's asses and the barely covered men's moose knuckles or which is never explained. I suppose I would run everywhere as well if I was going from one place where I just got fucked to another place where I was going to get fucked again.

This would have been the greatest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation if only they'd left Wesley Crusher aboard the Enterprise. But instead they decide to bring a minor to a fuck planet because this is the 24th Century and they've jettisoned all of Earth's ancient prudish beliefs and behaviors. The people of Edo aren't sure how humans react to their youth being fucked by adults so they compensate by sending Wesley off with a coterie of Edo teenagers. But instead of going off and getting a handjob in a bush like any other teenager from any century across Earth's history, Wesley decides to teach the Edo kids how to play catch. It's a fucking travesty! For all the reasons modern viewers despise the character of Wesley Crusher, I never see any of them point to this episode where the idiot would rather play catch than get jerked off by five other young people. I was fine with Wesley as a character until this episode where he puts everybody's lives at risk and forces Picard to break the Prime Directive simply because he was too uncomfortable to get a handy.

I've already explained the best parts of this episode (the constant sex) so there really isn't much more to say. Wesley breaks a law by accidentally falling on some mini-greenhouses. He's sentenced to death and Picard has to beam down to the planet and demand they return Wesley unharmed. The people of Edo are all, "Dude. We can't do that. We have a god that's actually a satellite who will fucking destroy you if you break our one law and/or punishment. Whatever. We were just minding our own business licking buttholes and you've messed it all up!" But Picard, wanting to get fucked by Beverly and not by a bunch of random hot people on Edo, risks everybody's life by declaring he will break the Prime Directive to save the young man. The main problem is that the Francis E. Dec God Satellite is judging Picard by Picard's own beliefs. So if Picard breaks the Prime Directive, the God Satellite will have reason to destroy them for not playing fair. But Picard is willing to take that risk. Luckily, Riker pipes up with some sentimental human nonsense about true justice and the God Satellite decides that it was being unfair. It lets them all go and the only stain left over from the entire experience is how little Jean-Luc Picard respects the Federation's Prime Directive. It's almost as if Edo's one law came into conflict with Starfleet's one law and Picard decided neither were worth upholding.

Not that I'm against Picard's decision! I fucking can't stand the way people decide to base everything they believe on some kind of unchanging foundational belief structure. You can't have true justice without treating every individual situation as exactly that: an individual situation with its own set of variables which make it different from every other situation that is somewhat similar to it. Precedents in court decisions simply exist to make future court decisions easier. But they rarely overlap completely and in such a manner as to completely wipe out possible exemptions and extenuating circumstances. Picard was right to challenge both Edo's law and the Prime Directive in this instance. Wesley could not have known about the planet's law because nobody told it to him. Also, Wesley didn't break any law with any intent or malice. It was an absolute accident and for the entire populace of Edo to just shrug that off because that's the way things are and because they're super horny to get back to fucking was unjust. Just as it would have been unjust for Picard to shrug off saving Wesley due to the Prime Directive demanding he obey every stupid law of every stupid planet on which they're guests. And maybe that's why the name of this episode was "Justice." Because Picard and Riker's speech prove that the only true justice is examining the situation at hand and coming to a conclusion based on the variables presented in that situation alone.

The episode should end with Picard taking a huge shit on a Starfleet manual but it doesn't for some reason. Super disappointing.