Sunday, June 28, 2020

Darkstars #7

The "A"s in the logo have genitals.

In the 90s, comic book readers accepted that professional artists were now drawing like every kid in the 2nd grade. Not exactly, of course! I wouldn't want to be taken literal by everybody on the Internet who doesn't understand exaggeration and hyperbole. Unless the do understand it but they understand wanting to sound smarter than everybody else on the Internet so much that they can't understand whimsy and mockery. So the figures are drawn better than I could have done in 2nd grade. But I know every single time I drew something in 2nd grade, I'd misjudge perspective and depth. So after drawing the first guy (who I decided was standing in mist because I didn't want to draw his feet in that foreshortened way that feet need to be drawn but which is difficult to pull off), I'd begin drawing the second character. But at some point, I'd realize I'd gotten their proportions wrong and so I'd wind up making them stand in a hole in the ground. Then the third guy would look like he was floating so I'd draw a mound of dirt for him to stand on (and not stand on in the way we would see a person standing on dirt but standing directly on top of the horizontal line that was the top of the mound of dirt). Then I'd think, "Should they be standing in a city or a forest or a battle scene full of corpses?" But that thought would only lead to the thought, "No, that's too much work," and then I'd just sketch some lines for clouds or air movement or something and call it done.

So, you know, just like this. Maybe I should have realized at the time that my 2nd grade style was the popular style because it is the only time I've ever had a work of art hung in a museum (the Triton Museum in Santa Clara)! Fuck, I missed my calling! I could have helped found Image Comics!

This issue begins with an alien wearing a fart collector on his head.

The only reason you haven't seen me on Shark Tank with my Fart Collector is because I know what a fucking scam it is. Sure, you have to pay back loans if your business fails while investor money is free. But if your business is successful, the loan is eventually paid off while the investors stick around sucking off your profits until the day you die.

How do you know if you're good at poetry? Poems are like farts. Most people leave the room in order to avoid yours but they can't get enough of their own.

The fart loving alien is some despot whose people have finally turned against him and hired an assassin to kill him. It's 1993 and Darkstars could sure use a bump in sales with a Lobo guest spot but I'm guessing it won't be Lobo because I'd fucking remember that. The poor despot. He's a terrible ruler who treats a certain segment of his population as not worthy of life and he longs for their love anyway. That's exactly the kind of leader who should be assassinated. I am now winking and nudging you with my elbow.

This is the exact face of every protagonist in every comic during Image's first year in business (except for the ones that were demons from Hell or had one mechanical eye).

Darkstar and Hawkman become best friends and promise to team up again in the future. Then he fucks off to go do whatever Hawkman did in Hawkworld. Fuck if I ever read that. Have I mentioned how much I don't like Hawkman? Or Green Arrow?! Or Hal Jordan? Or Superman? Maybe I should just list the DC heroes I like: Halo and Blue Devil.

The fart-sucking despot faces his assassin and of course it's not Lobo. Judging by the 90s Image look, his name is probably DeathDie or Crushblow or DeadBlast or PunchAbort.

Did all 90s artists design new villains using the same standard template?

The assassin's name is K'lassh. Yeah, two S's instead of two A's. It's an alien tongue. It probably means "He Who Sucks The Entrails Out of a Rabbit's Asshole and Fucks the Corpse."

Now it's time for more art because holy fuck is it terrible. But it's terrible in that exactly specific way that comic book readers were blind to in the 90s. In the 90s, this art was fucking radical, dude.

Part of me gets it. Part of me thinks, "Whoa! That art is fucking dynamic and bad ass!" But that's also the part of me that smells my finger after it breaks through the toilet paper while wiping my ass.

Flint quits his job as deputy Darkstar before Darkstar can even yell at him. Then he's all, "I'm just like you!" And Darkstar flies off thinking, "Yeah! He is just like me! I bet we'll be good friends in a few more issues!" The next issue is the last one I own so I hope I never see that asshole cop again. Sorry to be redundant.

The story of K'lassh killing alien Trump was told so that by the end of this story, when the drug runners bring K'lassh to Earth to battle Darkstar, we, the readers, will be shitting in our pants thinking, "Oh no! That guy is really powerful! Darkstar is in trouble now!" Or we laughed at loud at the stupid costume and name and stopped buying the comic book forever.

Darkstars #7 Rating: C. I think seven issues of any mediocre comic book is just too many to read without another series to break up the space monotony. And I've still got one more! But after this, I'll be done with this box of old comic books! I don't know how long I've been re-reading my old comic books but I think it's been a few years now. And I've just finished the first box. Granted it wasn't a long box or a short box; it was a big old fruit box. So there were a lot of comic books in it! I can't wait to see what comic books await me in the next box I open! But whatever series winds up being in that box, I think I need to alternate titles to keep myself interested. I'll figure it out when I get there.

In the meantime, how about buying my Role Playing Game, Places & Predators? I know Amazon sucks. If you're ideals mean more to you than buying my hilarious and fun game, you can always Venmo $3.00 to GrunionGuy and I'll send you a PDF.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Darkstars #6

Art directors were suffering from some weird brain parasite in the early 90s.

In the 90s, the way you could tell the difference between men and women in comic books was that men's faces had full of lines to express tension and rage and determination while women's faces were smooth blank canvasses to express their beauty and their lack of a nose. No wonder I hardly date in the 90s. A woman would start flirting with me and I'd think, "Ugh! She's got too much nose!"

People think 90s comic art was all about lots of pouches and big guns. But it was just as equally about lines all over men's faces, gritting teeth, clenched fists, adult women who look no more than fifteen, and characters that had one weird eye because drawing symmetrical eyes is hard.

The issue begins with Darkstar and Homeless Mo flying off to help Flint stop the space sex slave traders. Homeless Mo can tell something's bothering Darkstar because he has even more lines on his face than normal. Homeless Mo says, "You look way more like a male character than usual. Is something bothering you?" And Darkstar is all, "Let me tell you the story of the day everything went wrong and I lost my innocence about the job and I became a cynical bastard who flaunts the rules because the rules can't save anybody!"

Darkstar's origin is that his planet was destroyed by a race raiding it for resources. He was one of the few survivors and was approached by a Darkstar to join the force. He did because what else was left for him? Also maybe he could help some other poor planet. When he finally got his chance to help out, he screwed up and everybody on the planet under his protection died. So now he's bitter and angry and guilt-ridden. But he's still got a job to do so he's going to stop pitying himself and do it. Plus he'll probably need to beat whomever he suspects of doing anything wrong and maybe kill them because playing by the rules just didn't cut it for the people on Jenuwyne.

Zack Morris could be jerking off into Steve Urkel's mouth while the Spice Girls girl powered each other's buttholes and it would be less 90s than this page of art. Not?

Hawkman and Hawkwoman stumbled upon the space sex slave traders when they tried to kidnap a friend of theirs. Apparently she and Carla White are the only two women worth missing on a massive rocket ship filled to the brim with kidnapped women. Also, did Hawkman lose Superman's number? He could have just called him to stop the ship and then...oh wait. Never mind. I forgot Superman is dead. Loser.

Oh man. I'm so sexist. I mean, oh woman. I'm so sexist. I assumed only women were being taken as space sex slaves but there are male humans in shackles aboard the ship too. That seems weird because why kidnap men when you could just tell them, "Hey, you want to have tons of sex with strange and exotic space women?" And then before they heard you mumble "and space men too," they'd have already been shouting, "Yee-haw! I'mma gonna get my dick space wet! Whoopee!" If that reaction doesn't ring true as a universal way of pre-celebrating the coming loss of your virginity, forget I even said it.

Somebody needs explain Earth slang to Colos and also the term "Phrasing!"

Hawkman slips into a hatch on the slaver ship before it closes. Weird to still be closing hatches in the middle of a space launch but since I don't work for NASA or Space X, I can't say if that's all that improbable. I'm sure it's totally fine. Darkstar and his sidekick follow close behind Hawkman but since the hatch is closed, they have to smash through it. That also doesn't interfere with the launch. I'm glad I know nothing about the incredible frictional forces and heat build up produced by launching a large metal ship out of Earth's atmosphere or I might now be stroking my chin and shaking my head while mumbling, "Oh, come on!"

Also it's a fucking comic book so who cares? As long as some people get masered and Hawkwoman shows more ass and cleavage, the audience is going to come back for more.

Hawkman is crying because another man saved his life. On Thanagar, that means you're now Hawkwoman.

That last caption may have sounded like a sexist joke but it was commentary about the hyper-masculinity of Hawkman. He probably also said, "No homo," after being saved and then punched holes in five different walls.

Meanwhile, Hawkwoman and Detective Jamón-Face continue fighting the space sex slavers on Earth.

Here's half of what the audience is clamoring for.

Even Hawkwoman must be tired of Hawkman's toxic masculinity or else why would she call him half-cocked? What an insult!

Darkstar Flint and Hawkwoman stop Pappas and his alien crew. Flint takes off to leave the clean-up to Hawkwoman and the cops. But before he leaves, he shoots his maser at people so the audience can get the other half of what they want out of this book. Is "Darkstars" an anagram of "tits and masers"? Close though, right?

This was the most practiced pose in 90s super hero comics.

What were we fucking smoking in the 90s?! I only say "we" metaphorically; I fucking hated this style of art even back then. There's a reason I don't own Wild C.A.T.S. #1 or any of the other debut Image books. I didn't even pick them up for investment purposes! Don't think I didn't buy my share of crap though! I kept buying The New Titans well past issue #100; it's just that I didn't buy crap simply because everybody was raving about the new kinetic art style by a bunch of young up and coming artists who probably had high school year book quotes like "Why would I study anatomy?" and "Thigh legs are as thick as torsos, right?"

I just discovered, six issues in, that Homeless Mo's name is Douglas. How did I get it so wrong?! That's the most rhetorical of rhetorical questions. I could go back through the issues to see why I thought his name was Mo but that feels like work. Also, I probably just forgot his name and made up Homeless Mo subsequently fooling myself into believing that was his real name.

What the fuck?! Darkstar just called him Douglas in the previous panel!

Well, I guess that solves the mystery. His name must be Mo Douglas and he's homeless. Grandmaster comic book reader?

As Darkstar and Mo and Hawkman break into the slave pen, Carla White rallies the other prisoners to pick up the fallen guards weapons and fight back. They respond by throwing their fists in the air and yelling, "Yeah! We can fight too!" But things don't work out too well for them because they aren't established characters.

If I ever wind up in a battle for my life and I'm killed, please do not chastise me for giving up.

With the help of Carla White, Darkstar, Mo, and Hawkman take control of the slave ship and turn it back towards Earth. Darkstar stares at Carla and begins calculating how much gold he brought with him to see if his budget can afford another deputy. Although judging by the next issue's cover, Carla will just be taking over Detective Flint's job.

Darkstars #6 Rating: B. Was this the type of guest appearances that go us comic book readers so fucking excited back in the day?! Hawkman and Hawkwoman could have been any character at all based on the level of interaction they had with the other characters. I guess all we comic book fans need to be happy is somebody in our favorite character's costume and we'll dish out the cover price of books we'd otherwise not read. On one hand, I think it's poor form for DC to use Hawkman and Hawkwoman so shallowly just to get fans to buy this book. But on the other hand, I hate Hawkman so fuck his fans.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Darkstars #5

What happens when two guys clash, each thinking they're the ultimate authority for good and each believes violence is the best solution to a problem? We'll find out this issue!

I didn't know hawks were angry assholes but I'm assuming Hawkman is the personification of a hawk's personality so it must be true. I also didn't know spiders were mild-mannered. Or guys were misogynist, short-tempered jerk-offs (you know, like Guy Gardner). I've learned a lot from comic books!

I just looked over the cover again and I think it might be on my Top Ten Sexiest Comic Book Covers of All Time. Mostly it's due to the way Detective Crumbstache and Hawkman look like they're furiously trying to jerk each other off and the way Hawkwoman double grips that crossbow the way she'd not have to double grip my cock.

How come I never read Modesty Blaise? It was about two whole things, one of which I really enjoy!

The cover of this issue just got even sexier if you consider the inside advert as part of the cover which I do because look at the way Modesty is sucking off that gun. I bet I was planning on buying Modesty Blaise but then I jerked off over this advert, fell immediately asleep on top of the comic, and woke up later having forgotten all about it. It's the exact same reason I never read Warlord.

Now I want to make this advert into a sign to protest the police. It should really confuse them!

This issue is called "Slaves and Other Prisoners." If one of the "R"s in "prisoners" was a "B", it would be an anagram for pissboner. A better writer probably would have written about the problematic casual use of the word slaves in the American vernacular. "Vernacular" is an anagram for "anal curver."

A couple of aliens have arrived in Earth's orbit to pick up Evil Star and his Starlings and transport them to Galactic Prison. They treat Evil Star like shit and Darkstar is all, "Whoa, my dudes! Chill out, man! Don't make me have to raise my voice! We're all cool here. No need for negative vibes!" Man, I really misjudged Darkstar Colos when I began reading this comic book. He's actually a decent cop. But then again, his story is the exact story of any cop that tries to be decent in a corrupt system that fetishizes violence, power, and respect. He's been shoved off to a backwater planet that's so far out of the Controller's sphere of influence that they've already questioned the leader of the Darkstars as to the need for space cops so far afield. Colos was trouble and he was acting better than the other cops so he got sent off to where he can't cause any problems. Weird to think that the phrase "can't cause any problems" in police lingo actually means "improves the system and works toward justice and accountability."

Detective Chicago-head gets put on the Carla White kidnapping case. The cops don't actually know she's been kidnapped but they suspect Pappas, the Loco kingpin, took her against her will. But Detective Two-Sausages-One-Bun pretends he's been on a drinking jag and isn't in his right mind to lead a raid on Pappas's warehouse. That's because he wants to raid the place himself in his Darkstars Sidekick outfit. Once again, he's proving that he's a terrible cop (aka a status quo, regular, run-of-the-mill police).

Detective Two-Sizes-Too-Big-Head had better hurry with the rescue mission because Carla White is currently being sold into the space sex slave trade. I was going to make a joke earlier about her being sold into the alien sex slave trade but then I thought better of it, realizing that just putting "space" in front of "sex slave trade" didn't rise to an appropriate level of satire that would justify making light of sex slavery. I did add the word "space" to sex slave trade at the beginning of this paragraph but it wasn't for a joke; it was just stating the facts of this comic book. Look, we all read the title! We all knew where this story was headed but I wasn't brave enough to broach the subject earlier. I just said that stupid thing about an nearly correct anagram and moved on.

Oh, by the way, when Carla White hears she's going to be sold into sex slavery, she's all, "I'm not going to be the property of some Middle East sheikh!" Seems a little racist to me. I bet she felt dumb (and racist) when she found out she was being sold to aliens and not Arabs.

Is this why conservatives don't have any morals or ethics? Because they think if they acted on those things, they'd get sold into the space sex slave trade?

Since I've added "space" to the phrase "sex slave trade," I can probably call it hyperbole and satire when I write something like, "Boy! I sure wish all conservatives would get sold into the space sex slave trade!"

Actually, yes, Detective Mustached-Rumproast, that's exactly what you were supposed to do.

It's not the cop's job to become judge and jury because they don't trust the judge and jury will do their job. If that's why cops kill people then I think it means citizens are allowed to kill cops if we don't believe they'll do their job? Am I using logic correctly? I'm just a stupid libturd so I wouldn't know logic if it constantly @ed me on Twitter demanding that I debate it.

Flint (that's the name of Detective Sausage-fingers. I learned his name because I've run out of different types of meat to compare his fat head to) breaks into Pappas's space sex slave trade warehouse where the ship is nearly fully loaded with slaves for space sex. But instead of battling the space sex slave traders and saving the day, he starts a fight with Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Where rock has this guy's pink, salty ham-head been stuck under his entire life? He doesn't recognize the good heroes of the DC Universe?!

I wonder if Stan Lee had ever considered a law suit against every comic book that had two different heroes mistakenly battle each other before they realized their error and teamed up? It's so recognizably a Marvel idea that I would have awarded Stan Lee all the money. Unless the idea is actually from The Bible? I mean Cain and Abel almost pulled that trick except Abel just wound up being too much of a loser to survive to the team up part.

During the confusion of the violent good guys fighting the other violent good guys, the rocket with the space sex slaves takes off. Hopefully Hawkman and Detective Flint will learn a lesson from this incident. Maybe suss out the situation before beating everybody you see to a bloody pulp.

Darkstars #5 Rating: B. The Hawklovers were only in this issue for a couple of pages which is fine by me but probably not ideal for all the Hawklover fans who purchased this book because they were on the cover. I'm sure the next issue will feature more Hawklover action. I'm also sort of hoping that Carla White has now been launched into space and won't be rescued. She'll just turn up in a spin-off series called Space Sex Slave Traders. Obviously that never happened but now that I put the idea out there, maybe it did happen in another, better, sexier timeline.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Darkstars #4

Hey hey! It's the Nineties!

I sometimes wonder how people into fashion and fashion history can look at some item of clothing and know exactly when it was created. Same with experts on music and visual art and poetry. But then I realize that even though I'm hardly an expert, I could probably do a fairly decent job of looking at comic book art and guessing what era it was from. I'm sure if I studied a bit, I'd be excellent at it considering I've done so much pre-course work due to my comic book hobby. The only really difficult part would be guessing art from artists who have really long careers and their style doesn't change a great deal. Like maybe somebody like Curt Swan, you'd be able to guess when he started and maybe a decade or so after as his form improved. But at some point, Curt Swan is just fucking Curt Swan for, like, decades! So I'd probably be terrible at recognizing the minutia that would be the fingerprint of the decade he was working in at the time.

What I'm saying is, "This cover looks like if The 90s ate some bad oysters and wound up shitting and vomiting at the same time but got caught in the rotation so neither The 90s mouth or butthole were facing the toilet and the sick just sprayed out of both ends and landed on the cover of Darkstars #4." And that was one of my less tortured metaphors!

According to this cover, somebody is still trying to make "The Darkstars" happen. According to next issue's cover, it didn't happen. I knew I was on the right side of history when I refused to use the article!

This is the title of this issue:

Imagine how much more exciting George Lucas's movie franchise would have been had he chosen to put an exclamation point at the end of the title. What a tragic loss!

I want my legacy to be, "He wrote a thing that was as good as Lucille Bluth's 'Here's some money. Go see a Star War.'"

Evil Star begins destroying a city because he's evil. The star part of his name must be vestigial because he doesn't act like a star. Unless he doesn't mean the astronomical star but the Hollywood star. I guess the tantrum he's throwing because Green Lantern hasn't welcomed him to Earth is quite star-like. I take it back about the "Star" being vestigial but mostly because I was probably using vestigial wrong. And if I was, just know I was using it metaphorically which means you can't criticize me for using it wrong.

Evil Star calls Green Lantern "the green coward." In the last three issues, no character has actually said "Green Lantern." It's like when a star on a game show is from a show on another network, they don't mention the network because it's their rival. Although they do sometimes. I think it was probably a certain time where nobody would mention the competitors. Probably the 80s. And since I don't know as much as I thought I knew before I started typing this crap, maybe I should have stuck with the analogy of how Marvel and DC always refer to each other as "the competitor." Unless it's another word that's a synonym for competitor. See, I don't know much about that either!

The Eee! Tess Ate Chai Guarantee: "I might sound like I know everything but I'll readily admit to you when I absolutely know nothing (but only if called on it and can't deflect the accusation)."

Some cops pull up to stop Evil Star and one cop is all, "I'll show you power, jerko!" And the other cop is all, "No, don't!" Not because he's against lethal force but because he realizes Evil Star has even more lethaler force, a lesson the cop learns for himself rather quickly.

I'm not saying I cheered at this panel because that would open me up to a bunch of criticism from online jerks who don't understand fiction, satire, or hyperbole.

So with the cops dead, it's up to Darkstar and his sidekicks (one of which is a cop) to stop Evil Star! Unless Green Lantern suddenly appears but I think he's not allowed to show his face in this comic book and/or he's busy becoming Parallax.

So there's this big comic book fight and it's a lot like every other comic book fight you've ever read. Which really makes you wonder why some comic book fans only want to read comic books where there are big fights. Why would you want to read the same thing over and over again?! Some people just like to look at the different outfits, I guess. Anyway, I'm not going to describe the fight blow-by-blow. Y'all know how these things work! The good guys get beat up for awhile and maybe defeated after which the bad guy flees instead of killing them. Or the good guys get beat up for awhile before digging deep and defeating the bad guy. It all depends on how many issues the story is set to run. And since I think this story is over this issue, the fight will be of the latter sort.

I'm not saying, after looking at this panel, I subsequently wrote a fan-fic story that went into way too much detail describing Colos's cock and how Detective Beer-Guzzles' mustache felt rubbing against the thick, pink skin because that would open me up to a bunch of fan-fic writers who would try to befriend me so we could swap dirty stories.

Meanwhile, Carla White learns that you can't quit family. Or mob bosses.

He's from America. Another thing you learn in America: if somebody doesn't respond to you being polite, you have every right to become a violent asshole. It's the major defense on Judge Judy. "Yes, your Honor, I smashed up her car. But she wouldn't move it when I asked her politely to move it for no reason at all except that I wanted to park there!"

Evil Star retreats to a junk yard to engage in an existential crisis. Why is he evil? Why does he do bad things? Why does everything have to die? I mean, on a metaphorical level and not on an evolutionary level where death drives evolution, creating room for offspring more and more capable than the parent of living in specific environments through the recombining of different genes and sometimes through lucky mutations. Darkstar feels like it's a good time to wait and see what Evil Star winds up doing but Detective Mustardstache has a better idea: beat the living crap out of him and maybe kill him if he gives him any fucking excuse at all!

Detective Darkstar gets his ass kicked by the Starlings and Darkstar has to rush in to save him. They then retreat to observe Evil Star.

Every right winger on Twitter who thinks they're the greatest debater since some famous person who could debate well. Napoleon, maybe?

Detective Pork-chops-as-an-appetizer apologizes for getting carried away. Notice how Homeless Mo didn't get carried away and try to kill the perp even though he hasn't had nearly as much training as the cop?

Carla was kidnapped by her ex-client, the guy being used by the aliens to run the Loco drug ring. Kidnapping a lawyer seems like a bad idea. I mean, kidnapping anybody seems like a bad idea but kidnapping a lawyer seems like it would have extra consequences. I used to do cabinet work for my cousin's cousin David. He was a train wreck of a human being but he did good cabinet work. At one point in his life, he had a lawyer working on his DUI case to try to get it dropped and he was juggling his bills. His solution was to bounce a check to the lawyer. I don't know how that all worked out because I tried not to work with him too much (only enough to pay for comic books, really) but I'm assuming his lawyer decided not to argue the charge down and David wound up in jail.

This is the argument of everybody who has ever kept the world from becoming a better place.

Carla refuses to keep working for the mob boss so now he probably has to kill her or else he's facing kidnapping charges which are as bad as murder charges. Which seems like a bit of a mistake, in my opinion. I mean, sure, you want kidnapping to have a steep punishment. But if kidnapping is equal to murder, every kidnapper is just going to murder the person they kidnapped because it does away with the main witness. I guess the point is that people that wouldn't murder won't kidnap either because the penalty is so great. But if somebody is kidnapping somebody and the penalty were only a year in prison, they'd still probably murder that person in the hopes of getting away with it and not having to spend a year in prison.

Darkstar, using his super computer on his ship orbiting Earth, learns that Evil Star's mind shackle that keeps him from turning into Evil Star is on the fritz. So he's occasionally feeling like a genocidal maniac while mostly just feeling scared and guilty about his terrible thoughts. To stop him, Darkstar inundates him with images of all the people he killed on his home planet. I guess Evil Star was the original Lobo, committing planet-wide genocide.

Earlier I mentioned how he laughed while his wife and son died not because I'd read ahead but because, probably like the author of this story, I read the Who's Who entry on Evil Star.

Evil Star collapses from the guilt and Darkstar takes him into custody. He encases the Starlings in scrap metal and, I don't know, sells them at a yard sale. Carla gets extra-kidnapped by the mob boss whose name I probably should have learned four issues in.

Darkstars #4 Rating: B+. This issue was better than the previous three but I can't explain why. Maybe because there was a super villain and most probably not because some cops died and the other cop got harshly reprimanded for immediately resorting to violence. The Darkstar Colos has turned out to be far more diplomatic than I was expecting. I wouldn't have guessed that Hal Jordan was more temperamental than some testicle-headed alien in a 90s costume called Darkstar.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Darkstars #3

Oh, so now I'm supposed to refer to this comic book as "The Darkstars"? I don't think so.

There's an ad for Passenger 57 on the back of this comic book and even though it's been decades since I've seen that movie, I still think it's the worst movie I've ever seen. I should probably rewatch it to make sure my opinion is still valid because since then, I have seen The Boondock Saints. If I remember correctly, in Passenger 57, Wesley Snipes is suffering from PTSD because he got his wife and/or some bystanders killed while trying to be a hero. Later in the movie, he's on a plane that's being hijacked and he gets a bunch of people killed while trying to be a hero. But this time it's different because he wasn't sleeping with them, maybe? That's not the worst part! The worst part is so bad that I must be misremembering it! It's how the plane lands at a fair so that Snipes can chase the bad guy on a Ferris Wheel and then they go back to the plane and it takes off again. That can't be right, can it?!

This issue begins with a great example of 90s art.

Maybe I'm wrong and this is good art because legs are actually that long compared to the torso. I'm not really a pictures critic; I'm a words critic!

I couldn't remember the title of The Boondock Saints so I Googled "terrible movie Saints" and Google was all, "Oh, you mean The Boondock Saints. Here is the IMDB link and a selection of every streaming service that is actually a toilet."

The Lawyer, White, hears a news report that says the jerk she got acquitted was the crime boss behind the Loco drug ring and I can't tell if she's devastated because she really didn't know he was a major criminal or she's devastated that everybody else now knows he was a major criminal. I'm pretty sure it's the second one. And also, she's not that devastated because she's still going to get paid for helping him avoid a murder charge. She'll make a great Darkstar.

The frantic and paranoid guy in space tries to contact some Darkstars for help but they don't listen to his pleas to simply take him at his word and use deadly force on the aliens pursuing him. It makes me think maybe the Darkstars aren't the terrible fascist police I thought they were. They're actually acting rational and diplomatic!

I don't know if that Darkstar has a tiny head because of his alien physiognomy or because of 90s art.

Anyway, the Darkstars are killed because they didn't beat first and ask questions later. I guess this scene was just to get the audience to approve of future uses of excessive force. "The guys who didn't murder the possible criminals were killed! So of course these guys were just defending themselves when they slaughtered that bus full of schoolchildren headed nearly directly at them!"

The space guy shrugs and remembers that there's that green guy from Earth that could possibly help him. So I'm still guessing this guy is Evil Star. You might have wondered why I might guess that last issue. Now that you've seen the cover to this issue, you know why I guessed that.

Darkstar Colos explains to his new sidekicks, Homeless Mo and Detective Beer-and-Pretzels, that he's a member of an Intergalactic police force run by the Controllers. It's not that the Controllers care about a universe full of law and order; it's just that the Controllers don't want crime and poverty leaking into their section of space. So the Darkstars are like increased police patrols in inner city neighborhoods. If you didn't take that for the criticism it was and instead nodded your head thinking, "That makes sense," maybe this isn't the comic book blog for you.

Darkstar Colos extends his offer of sidekicking to his new Earth buddies and it's the best offer I've ever heard. Sure, they have to wear the terrible suits that I probably thought were cool in 1992 but they also get paid once a month in gold! Seriously! I don't think any other heroes get paid! Except for maybe Booster Gold in advertising revenue. I'm assuming they also get palm-masers so at least one of the is going to blow their junk off while jerking it.

Colos gets a call from his commanding officer alerting him to the approach of Evil Star and his Starling robot henchmen to Earth. Since the Green Lanterns were having issues in 1992, it's up to the Darkstars to apprehend Evil Star. They don't realize he has no idea who he is or what's going on and is being chased by his diminutive little robot monsters.

Lawyer Carla White has an attack of morality and quits her job. She acts like she didn't know all the unethical crap their family law firm was doing in defending their clients but I think it's all bullshit. She's just trying to save face after getting caught lying about some criminal piece of shit to reporters the previous day. Getting humiliated like that can sometimes be the best motivation.

Okay fine. She's probably actually a good person but she was just a bit naive. If she was being naive on purpose by simply ignoring it so that she could enjoy her family's money, can you blame her? At least now she's going to always do the right thing which includes never voting Republican again.

The guy who would be Evil Star crashes on Earth. While the Darkstars fight his little robot henchmen, he decides it was better to be a powerful immortal monster with a star on his face than a scared prisoner who once laughed at his wife and son dying of old age. He throws on his stupid star face and gets to work being evil or conquering the world or maybe just being immortal, I guess? I'm not too clear on his motivations.

Darkstars #3 Rating: B. Reading Darkstars has made me appreciate Green Lantern more. This series seems more like a cop procedural on Network television. Too many scenes with lawyers and crime bosses and not enough scenes with magic rings battling aliens. Hopefully that will change next issue now that Evil Star has arrived to really comic book up the plot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Darkstars #2

Darkstars had adult coloring book covers before it was cool to be an adult who colors.

Funny how we're lots of years of continuity into the DC Universe by 1992 and nobody ever mentioned the Darkstars before now. You'd think Hal Jordan would have, at least once, mumbled, "Fucking Darkstar sons of bitches." But no! Never! At least as far as I know. Maybe Hal talked about the Darkstars all the time! It's not like I ever read more than a few dozen Green Lantern comic books prior to 1992! One of them was the one where Guy Gardner gets fucked up by using Hal's lantern, sent to the Phantom Zone, and later winds up with brain damage.

Speaking of Guy's brain damage, every fucking character in the DC Universe who ever called Guy an arrogant prick was an ableist asshole. The guy was dealing with a traumatic brain injury! And eventually Batman punches him directly in the brain injury causing him to develop a completely different personality and everybody is all, "This is okay because Guy is nice now." What a bunch of fucking assholes!

At the end of the last issue, Detective Chicago-head was thrown out of a window by a huge alien. This issue begins exactly where that one left off which might be surprising to people used to reading comic books by Scott Lobdell. They're probably thinking, "What is linearity?! How do time go?! Is Superboy really a living weapon developed by N.O.W.H.E.R.E? I've only been told that 27 times so who can know for sure?"

I guess in Colos's language, "Whoooa!" means "You catch meaty men like a drunk St. Bernard!"

Detective Ketchup-on-a-hot-dog-is-a-crime-head tells the Darkstar that there's an alien distributing drugs in the warehouse. That leads to another scene with somebody going through a window and Colos mistranslating another exclamation.

The Schoolhouse Rock song, "Interjections," must be like an ancient Middle-English epic to this guy.

Colos sees the Chicago-headed cop begin beating the shit out of one of the warehouse workers and just stares at him. At first I thought, "Oh, Colos is pretty brutal but he's incandescent with rage at the brutality of this cop!" And then the logic gears in my brain suddenly caught some traction and stopped spinning uselessly (they've become stripped from years of trying to rationalize the thoughts of Ayn Rand and C.S. Lewis lovers) which caused me to blink and gasp out loud, "Oh no! He's admiring the brutality!" After that, I was so incensed by the idea that people are still supporting cops after all the brutalities they've committed against protesters protesting police brutality that I went on Facebook and defriended four friends who just seemed like the types of asshole that would find any excuse to defend a cop for murdering a suspect during an arrest. You gotta just despise these jack-offs who demand we wait for all the evidence and maybe a trial before judging the cops because everybody is innocent until proven guilty but they don't fucking give a damn that the cops just killed a person who was innocent until proven guilty and never got a trial.

Now I'm super mad at this comic book! I think all shows about cops should have to draw a new genre out of a hat for their next season. Keep all the same character but now instead of Brooklyn 99 taking place in a police station, have it take place in a library. Or now every NCIS takes place at the mall at a Hot Dog On A Stick. Fuck all cop shows forever.

The number one thought of every cop: "Just let me get my hands on this gun!" Also notice they're friends now that Colos saw how well he brutalizes perps? And also, they're "palm-masers." Whew. That's a lot to take in over just a few panels! Especially the "palm-masers."

That fat guy from the cover of Issue #1? I don't think I really talked about him in the last review. He's a big gangster who was cleared of all charges of gangstering by a hot shot lawyer named White. She's one of those ruthless lawyers who gets the job done no matter how unethical the job is because she's awesome. I mean, that's what people who think they're good at arguing think of themselves. They're awesome! But really they're just selfish assholes that don't care what burns as long as they get big bucks and a ton of prestige. Here's a simple way to know if you're one of these asshole types: if you've ever said, "It's not personal; it's just business." Boom. Asshole.

So far Paul is my favorite character in this comic. If you don't speak up and tell your asshole friends that they're being an asshole, you are also an asshole.

Although some of us aren't great at confrontation so to keep from being an asshole yourself, I'll also accept simply ghosting your asshole friend and passively aggressively shining them off whenever they want to get together. That's what I've been doing with my dad because I don't have the emotional wherewithal to confront him about his terrible politics and shitty jokes without also coming completely unhinged about his near total absence throughout my youth and the problems that caused in mine and my sister's relationship with our mother. Fuck that coward. Even as an adult when he thought he could be friends, he proved to be deficient in his ethics and his compassion.

White pulls all the "Everybody needs a defender!" crap that might be true but she still knows what she's doing is making the world a worse place. And if she doesn't do it, somebody else will, so why shouldn't she get her piece of that pie? Besides, maybe a different defense attorney would be even more evil than she is! They might not do any good at all! Paul winds up apologizing to her because he's not as awesome as I thought he was. But he's still better than everybody else so far, aside from Mo. Mo might be all right. It's too early to tell.

You might be thinking, "If it's too early to tell if you like Mo, how can you hate all of those other characters?" Easy! I start off every comic book hating every fucking character. You can't properly review a comic book if you give every aspect of it the benefit of the doubt like those terrible reviewers at the Weird Science blog! I hesitate to even call them reviewers! They're more like synopsisers who don't understand punctuation.

Meanwhile in space, some guy in a ship is being chased by some other mysterious guys and he's having a full blown paranoia attack. I think he's probably Evil Star.

Back on Earth, Darkstar Colos and his new friends stop the Loco drug ring and save the day. Being a comic book, that one sentence lasts for about ten pages of lasers and stupid one-liners. After the battle, Colos takes his buddies to his ship so they can be there when he tells his boss that he solved the case with their help. The boss is all, "Welp, I guess you're Earth's Darkstar then!" And Colos slaps his hand to his face and everybody laughs as the credits roll.

Darkstars #2 Rating: B. The best thing I can say about this comic book so far is that the protagonists actually stop some crime. That's actually high praise from me because too many superhero comic books simply have the hero defending themselves from bad guys set on hurting the hero. You'd think it wouldn't be that hard to write stories about heroes actually doing good and making the world a better place but I've got over one hundred issues of The New Titans that prove it's actually really difficult!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Darkstars #1

Of all the thousands of comic books I own, this is probably the most 90est of them.

I don't remember too much about this comic book but I'm pretty sure the pitch was this: "Imagine Green Lantern but with more police brutality and drawn by one of those Image boys!" Then four guys in suits dropped their pants and began jerking off into their briefcases full of money.

Just look at this gorgeous artifact of 90s comicdom! A super hero with a testicle for a head, full of gritty, sketched-in shade lines. His fists don't attach to his arms because that kind of perspective is difficult. Better to have flaring blasts of power or big wrist cuffs on their gloves! His thigh is nearly as thick as his chest. There's a huge fat guy that is just drawn in that Kingpin fat guy Tweedle-Dum style because actually drawing obese people isn't something 90s artists practiced. Although I'm not sure how much they practiced actual anatomy either and that didn't stop them from drawing and inventing all sorts of musculature. Anyway, I'm sure I picked up this issue not because the art blew me away but because it was 1992 and there was a "Sensational 1st Issue!" blurb on the cover. It was an investment! And judging conservatively by the fine price of this comic book at Mile High Comics, I've made more than double my money!

This series was written by Michael Jan Friedman whose name first made me think, "Wait. It was written by the Renegade guy?" But that was Michael-Jan Vincent. My next thought was, "Didn't this guy write Babylon 5 too?" But that was J. Michael Straczynski. This is just some guy who wrote a bunch of Star Trek novels. The artist is Larry Stroman whom I didn't recognize by name but judging by this cover, I wasn't surprised to see he worked on X-Factor for awhile.

The issue begins with the testicle-headed Darkstar on space patrol trying to pull over some low level criminals. Why were we all so obsessed with stories about space cops? Not that I was! I just bought this for investment purposes! Besides, I've always been critical of the role the Green Lanterns play in the universe. If they were a space EMT force, I would hardly have any problems with them. But when they're portrayed as space cops trying to keep some kind of intergalactic Guardian law, they just seem like a bunch of fascist dicks. Especially when one of the human Green Lanterns uses lethal force simply because the criminal is non-human. I'm pretty sure that's something that happened and I commented on it in a past review and not just a strawman I made up to justify hating on the Green Lantern Corps. Do I really need rational reasons to hate on space cops? I hope not because I'm really getting excited to hate on the Darkstars!

Aha! So he's a disenfranchised Darkstar who's going to need to be reminded why what he does is important. Or maybe he'll just be a gruff asshole to his young new partner I'm sure he'll be getting soon.

Apparently this Darkstar had a case go bad on some planet called Jenuwyne. So now the job has lost its shine and he's not even sure what he does helps in the slightest. It probably doesn't! Who needs any kind of police force that oversees so many different cultures across such vast distances in space?! How do they keep all the laws straight?! You know they occasionally get confused and beat some guy for not signalling and later find out that signalling is a huge insult to that race. I mean, I get the appeal of a pitch for an adventure comic book about space cops. But ultimately, it seems to just expose the fascism behind forcing people to follow arbitrary modes of behavior. At least in the Star Trek universe, the laws are decided by a federation of civilizations that have willingly joined the community. In Green Lantern (and presumably Darkstars though I admit I don't quite remember what kind of space cops they are), the laws have been decided by a group of little blue men who think they know better than everybody else. I'm pretty sure, with the exception of a few of the adjectives, that describes fascism.

There are three huge differences between the Darkstars and the Green Lanterns. The Green Lanterns are mostly green while the Darkstars are mostly red. The Green Lanterns use a ring on their fingers and the Darkstars use rings on their entire hands. The Green Lanterns create constructs out of emotional light energy while the Darkstars just blast shit with an orange beam that goes "VEEEEEP!" There might be more differences but I'm only on page 3.

I'm not going to cynically decide, on page 5, that Colus is exactly like Hal Jordan. I mean, Hal Jordan's head doesn't look like a testicle so that's one big difference between them.

Now that Colus has cracked the case of the hijacked medicine, he's being put on the next case: investigate Earth! He probably has to look into the concept of "love" and find out why these humans, with all their emotions, are so special.

Meanwhile on Earth, some cop with the head of a typical Chicagoan totally wants to rough up the person he's talking to for information but she's a nun so he's all, "Fuck. Can I get away with that? I can probably get away with it, right? But, I mean, I guess I believe in God and that slim belief is really all that's keeping me from doing whatever the fuck I want. I mean, the law ain't gonna stop me from beating this nun senseless for information. Last I checked, the District Attorney liked the police being cooperative and is smart enough to know that sending a police brutality case to a grand jury would mean a lot of cops are going to suddenly stop helping the District Attorney's win percentage. So I could probably beat this nun but there's that possible God and heaven thing. I guess I just have to let her disrespect me this one time. Just this one fucking time." Then he goes off to intimidate some homeless people because who's going to advocate for them, you know?!

I feel like I remember this Chicago-headed Dallas cop becoming a Darkstar. He's investigating the same case as Darkstar Colos: an alien drug called Loco or Loku being sold on Earth.

Colos arrives on Earth to discover the homeless guy who was intimidated into being an informant to Detective Chicago Head, Mo, trying to save some other homeless people from being attacked by people on Loco. Colos intimidates him into being his Earth informant as well. Hopefully Mo will get his own Darkstars band too.

The Dallas cop raids the warehouse where Mo told him the Loco was being distributed. What he finds is a huge alien creature and a brush with death. Or maybe death since the issue ends with the creature attacking him. But I'm pretty sure the guy becomes a Darkstar himself. I don't think I'd have an image of a Chicago-looking cop with a thick mustache and thicker head in a Darkstars uniform in my head otherwise and I'm not laughing at your perverse alternative reason for it.

Darkstars #1 Rating: B-. It's just a cops in space comic book but more so than Green Lantern. I'm revising my pitch to this: "So if the Green Lanterns are sort of space cops, imagine Green Lanterns that are even more space copier! They'll be so much like cops that they'll hire an Earth cop immediately!" I think this was before John Stewart was known as a marine and Guy Gardner was known as a cop (or son of a cop? I'm so bad at remembering the DC history I should remember. I blame my brain having to react to all the retcons and crises). So having a legitimate cop on the space force would have been a novel idea. Oh, also, it was a mediocre cops in space comic book.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Invisibles #5

It says "Crash the bus" on the back cover and I fucking get it so hard.

My inherent nihilism doesn't show often because, ultimately, I believe in a humanitarian morality based around kindness and compassion, built upon the foundational belief that nothing exists beyond our short lifespans and any act of wanton cruelty which makes any part of that short and challenging life more difficult for another person is the only true evil in the universe. But I feel the statement, "Crash the bus," deep down in my bones sometimes. Maybe it stems from a carefree and flirtatious relationship with suicidal ideation that allows me to embrace the idea of burning it all down. Most people want safety and comfort and will bargain with the devil to keep as much of that safety and comfort as possible, no matter how illusory it may be (because we have to face the fact that a good illusion may as well be reality). We're living in a Jenga tower where we refuse to restablilize the base even though it's teetering on just three misplaced blocks. And because of that, the amount of true reform that can be applied to this system is limited to what shapes can stand upon those three blocks. Most people are willing to work in that paradigm because they're afraid of starting completely over and losing their current safety and comfort, or because they think those three blocks are too sacred to remove. But imagine if you kicked out those three blocks, or, to sort of get back to the original analogy, crashed the bus into them and brought the whole tower down. Imagine the stable structure you could build if you started from a foundation that was built to support a better, kinder, more just system rather than trying to build that better system on a foundation not meant to support anything like it. Just because a structure has stood for over two hundred years doesn't mean it's still worth living in today, or maintaining its upkeep simply because we've always maintained its upkeep. I often dream of crashing the bus. And believe me, I don't fantasize about it because I think I'll survive the crash. I fantasize about it because I don't think I'll survive the ride.

On the inside cover of this issue, there's a brief description of who and what The Invisibles are. "An organization dedicated to subversive activity in all its forms...the only rule of the organization is disobedience." In an earlier The Invisibles review, I believe I equated this organization to the Upright Citizens Brigade (specifically the show and not the comedy troupe). It's probably why I understood this comic book from page one. My intro or about page on Facebook has simply said this for however long I've been on the cursed site: "My only enemy is the status quo. My only friend is chaos" (that's stolen from the Upright Citizens Brigade intro, just to be clear). So I really can't remember why I stopped reading this comic book. It was right up my alley, even at twenty-three! I highly suspect I just lost track of it because I was a terribly disorganized comic book collector.

I just realized King Mob is Grant Morrison's Mary Sue, isn't he? I had an image of him in my head but I just checked the Internet to makes sure he did look just like King Mob and, well, the Internet confirmed my suspicions. Also while scanning Morrison's Wikipedia entry, I noticed a short paragraph about Morriosn noting the similarities between The Invisibles and The Matrix. You know, like I noticed as well! Me! I noticed it too!

Try to remember that these reviews are really just reviews about me and no the comic books I'm pretending to read but really just looking at the pictures.

Morrison just puts the pieces of the puzzle on the table and you're supposed to put them together. But who does fucking puzzles?! Boring!

In my 30s, I planned on reading every holy book and writing copious amounts of commentary from a person who wasn't taught the dogma behind the words and was simply trying to understand the book with the words that were there. I made it about forty pages through Genesis with nearly three hundred pages of commentary and then the project just sort of petered out. I suppose I'm still alive so I can always restart this project. But sometimes life has a way of kicking you in the brain by distracting you and suddenly eighteen years have gone by and you're all, "What's the fucking point?" The Mahabharata was going to be one of those books. I read part of it in college but damned if I can remember any of it. Hell, I was even going to read Dianetics! I was going to save the Quran for last just in case I invoked the rage of some fundamentalist psycho for interpreting something in the book literally as opposed to the way it's been taught according to centuries of dogma (I was pretty sure I was going to offend Christians as well but Christian fundamentalists are mostly lazy, selfish bastards who wouldn't dare take any risks to disrupt their Earthly life for their spiritual beliefs). The few bits I've read from the Quran that line up with Genesis were far more interesting in the way they sort of held a dialogue with The Bible. Like when Abraham apparently went to sacrifice his only son in The Bible and the book claims it was Isaac. And yet the only time Abraham had an only son was before Isaac was born and his only son was Ishmael. So, you know, it sounds pretty much like The Bible is lying about what happened while the Quran is just telling it like it is (although I'm not sure the Quran ever names the child so that's another part of the mystery! Maybe it was Isaac and somehow Ishmael just didn't count as a true son for reasons. You know the reasons. Maid's sons don't count is the reason).

After teaching about Indian puppetry, Morrison gives the reader a lengthy scene of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley discussing their roles as poets in the betterment of the world. With all these conversations of dead artists who died young, I wonder if Grant Morrison is bitter that he's lived so long? Anyway, George and Percy have some interesting things to say but this isn't a synopsis but a review. Also I don't like to comment on things I don't understand, like intelligent dialogue and beautiful poetry and earnest compassion.

Meanwhile, Jack Frost learns that the most important part of being an Invisible is being more paranoid than the next guy.

King Mob has to get back to England after his Indian puppet show and a visit to a Ganesh statue but he hates flying. So instead, he takes a shortcut through the future where the world has been ravaged by a great war and the Berlin Wall was rebuilt but bigger. Probably not to keep people on either side of it (the world seems mostly devastated) but probably just because the few fascist assholes still alive felt building a monument to being controlling dicks was the right thing to do to celebrate.

Some mysterious guy without a face takes the face of some kids' father in a park somewhere at some point. It's hard to tell if this story has a place in time that can be considered the "now" being that King Mob is in a ravaged future and Byron and Shelley are in a long gone past and Jack Frost is in the present. Oh, that's probably the now! And the guy who stole the face of the other guy is probably in Jack's now time.

King Mob returns to his Invisibles cell with information about their next mission. He also lets everybody know that Orlando is currently in London. I think it was Orlando who stole the face of the guy in the park. But that's just supposed to raise the tension because the Invisibles are going to leave their bodies behind in present day London as they time travel to the French Revolution. If we didn't know about Orlando, we would just be all, "Okay, cool! I guess they're time traveling and leaving their bodies so it'll be safe. Not because there are no threats from long-lived assassins without their own faces but because it's fucking time travel and I imagine they can return to their bodies the exact moment in which they left them!" Although the idea that the amount of time they spend in the past is equal to the amount of time their bodies sit unguarded makes a lot more sense than having somebody from the future tell Bill and Ted in his past that their clock is always ticking no matter where they are in time. I mean, it just doesn't make any sense! Especially when they break the rules later and will probably shit all over the time travel rules of their own established universe in the upcoming movie. Anyway, I like the idea that their spirits leave their bodies in the present in this time travel and that the spirits are away exactly as long as they spend in the past. That actually makes sense to me!

The Invisibles #5 Rating: B+. Well, thanks a lot, twenty-three year old asshole me from the past! You just had to stop buying this comic book, didn't you?! And now I have to suffer not knowing what happens! Although I suppose you also suffered that and you seemed to have been fine. Aside from having no ambition and never finishing any writing projects and killing all of your dreams to play more video games. You know. Aside from that, you did just fine. Yeah. Real fine. Idiot.

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Invisibles #4

Is this how idiotic social beliefs are purged from assholes?

I don't understand the people who want less politics in comic books. We need more politics in comic books! Except what I don't really understand is using the word "politics" when they're actually angry about discussing social ills. Except I really do understand what they mean when they refer to social issues as politics. Certain people refer to being compassionate and kind and inclusive as "political correctness" because they can't imagine being compassionate or kind or inclusive until the cost of not being those things adversely affects them. So they think people only believe in being that way if it confers some kind of selfish advantage, usually in the political arena. And thus actually being a compassionate human being becomes political to them.

Also, can we just stop arguing about how comic books used to be when they've always been about making the world a better place and there have always been comic book fans who found that political because they were terrible people? A terrible person reading a comic book where Batman stops some bank robbers can feel good about the story because they know they'll never rob a bank. But when Batman deals with some social ill, the terrible reader might see themselves reflected back at them in the villain of the story. Suddenly, to them, the story has become political. How dare the comic book company choose the other side which is just a political difference and not a basic human decency issue! And they never think, "Maybe, like Batman, I should also try to do better?" No, instead they send a letter to the publisher demanding that the publisher change the stories they tell so that they don't have to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Ideas are political. If you think a story about Batman breaking the bones of The Joker's henchmen because The Joker is robbing banks isn't political, you're kidding yourself. You're just not looking deeply enough into the story and the systemic problems in Gotham that creates a demand for henchmen that are desperate enough to work for a maniac who could murder them at any moment while also having to worry about a man in a bat suit nearly killing them for working for the maniac. How is a billionaire going out at night dressed as a flying rodent to beat up poor and mentally ill people not political? How is any Superman story not political when it's about an immigrant to America embracing his new country and trying to make it a better place for everybody? If you actually think you want comic books to not be political, you're telling on yourself. You're just saying that you're the type of person who doesn't want to read criticism's about our world that might make you feel guilty about your selfish attitude.

The Invisibles is an old comic book which came out 26 years ago and it couldn't be more political. But then it's dealing with magic and the irreality of reality, so if you're dumb enough, you can probably pretend it's not political at all.

This issue begins with a Books of Magic trading card.

At the end of the last issue, Tom told Dane they were going to climb to the top of the skyscraper with the magic pyramid on top and leap off. It was going to teach Dane about the finality of life and not really kill him. But when this issue begins, they seem to have put that off for the moment. Instead, they've stolen a sports car, driven it out to some sleepy little UK pasture, and begun a game of catch with a Frisbee. Tom starts rambling on about how his time is up and he's going to die because he's a warrior sorcerer and his time is up and he can see the shape of his life and it's super small and everything sucks but it also doesn't, you know? Dane barely listens to him because he's now full of life again and he just wants to do the things people who feel alive do. I don't know what those things are because I just sit in barely lit rooms reading terrible books from my youth and finding reasons not to begin writing my second module for my role playing game, Places & Predators.

I should take a break and call my mother!

I'm back! I also ate and watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and an episode of Community and lay on the couch with Gravy.

Gravy's head is behind mine and not inside mine because we don't own a teleportation device and, if we did, we wouldn't be so careless with it.

The next day, Tom and Dane head off to jump off of a skyscraper. Tom will presumably be doing it for real because he's tired and he's done his part and he thinks Dylan Thomas is a fucking asshole who can't just let a person die in peace when they're ready to go. I mean, lay off me, Dylan! I'm fucking dying here! This isn't about you and your fear of death (which, ironically, is probably why you drink so much and why you'll be dead at 39). Dane smokes some blue mold which will probably allow him to fly or bounce or something.

Sometimes I think about the angst of youth and then I think about how optimistic and embracing Quiet Riot was of the youth and youth culture and it just makes me fucking smile, man. That wasn't supposed to be a non sequitur. That was just a reaction I had to Tom telling some bystanders witnessing Dane's drug induced realizations, "It's drugs. Dope. They're all on it nowadays. With their computer games and violent videos and swear words. We had The Bible and a nice apple when I was his age." Tom is being smarmy and telling the adults what they want to hear. And, especially with reference to their video games, it made me think of Quiet Riot who didn't care what adults wanted to hear. They knew what the kids needed to hear. And it wasn't just "Being a teenager sucks and we get it and the world is garbage!" Their message was often "We see how things are different for you and how you cope differently than we did and we fucking get it man and we approve and you're going to be all right. Your doing good, kids." Most of you probably only know "Metal Health" and "Cum on Feel the Noize" so you're thinking, "What the fuck are you talking about?" But some of you also know "Winners Take All" and "The Wild and the Young" so you fucking know what I'm talking about.

This reminds me of The Last Temptation of Christ.

The problem with books that revolve around Jesus is that I truly can't tell if they're making a statement about secular life or if they're truly reinforcing the opinion that Jesus was the son of God and the only truth you need to know about Jesus is that he was resurrected. Was Jesus preaching about being good on Earth because it was the salvation of your soul and your way into heaven? Or was Jesus literally trying to tell everybody to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's because this shit don't matter, bro. Fuck Earth and Earthly conceits. Should every action taken on Earth be concerned with your spiritual self and your relationship with God and getting into heaven? Because I'm tempted to see The Last Temptation of Christ as a parable for secular life. Are we all Christ in the desert being tempted by the devil away from our true calling? But if all the regular trappings of society are illusions and lures away from whatever it is we should do, what is there really? What would a person do if they didn't have a career? Or a spouse? Or a mortgage? Or a child? Not falling for those temptations isn't enough, right? So what's the next step? Sacrificing your own desires for the common good of the world? But what common good would that be if people aren't supposed to fall for any material temptations?! What are we striving for if we aren't striving for everybody to equally fall for the same societal illusions?! What is the magic asking of us?! To just burn it all down to prove that we weren't fooled by any of it?! How is waking up outside of The Matrix better than living within it?! Show me my fucking cards before you ask me to jump off the top of a skyscraper is what I'm saying!

You know what? I think that's what Jesus asked God the night of the Last Supper!

Jumping off of a skyscraper to get Dane to pierce the illusion of reality and see what lies beneath is way better than giving him a red or blue pill. The Matrix pussed out, even though it had this scene from The Invisibles as a perfect example of what it was doing.

Dane survives the leap and finds himself in a four color comic sci-fi pulp novel cover. The world has changed and he's not sure what to do. So he goes to the address of the Invisible College that Tom gave him. He's finally ready to report for duty.

Dane meets the other Invisibles: King Mob, Ragged Robin, Boy, and Lord Fanny (which would have gone right over my head in 1994 and possibly only made it into the comic book because the editors didn't know quite enough British slang). As far as drag names go, Lord Fanny is proper good.

Meanwhile, some shadowy guy answers a phone call from Orlando (probably exactly the Orlando you're thinking of because why not? He/she was good enough for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). They discuss raiding an Invisibles safe house they've discovered. But the non-Orlando guy on the phone can't direct it because he's got British politics to do.

Back in 1994, I also wouldn't have understood what this door with the 10 on it was telling me about the person on the phone.

Dane decides to stick with The Invisibles as Jack Frost and they make their getaway before Orlando and the Prime Minister's Myrmidons break into the safe house. All they find is a chalkboard that reads, "Big Brother is watching you. Learn to become invisible," and a pink grenade with the word "smile" printed on it in ransom letter letters. And that's the end of the first story arc.

The Invisibles #4 Rating: A. I'm seriously getting angry at my 23 year old self for not continuing to purchase this series. It's hard to remember exactly where I was at that time in my life that caused me to stop reading it. I'm sure I liked it. Maybe I just had trouble remembering it from month to month. Or maybe I just missed Issue #6 at the comic book store (I never had anything put on hold. I'd just show up on Wednesdays (unless it was Thursday back then? I can't even remember that!) and pick up my books (I didn't even ask the store to hold a copy of the Death of Superman for me. The clerk, Jeff, just happened to hold one for me anyway. He probably thought I was super cool or something)) and so just forgot about the series. Maybe I'll pick up the collected edition whenever my local comic book store reopens. Although if I show my face in there, they may try to get me to buy comics that were placed in my pull box after I cancelled my pull box. See, they weren't getting comics from Diamond for over a month and I just decided it was as good a time as any to stop buying new comics. So I cancelled my pull box. But what if, in their mind, I was still on the hook to buy all the comics for the weeks that Diamond didn't ship?! That would be fucked up and, knowing me, I'd instantly cave and say, "Oh yeah! Okay! Sorry! Sorry! I'll purchase all of this shit I don't want anymore just so we don't continue this awkward conversation!"

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Invisibles #3

This is exactly what taking drugs isn't.

Our world is composed of geniuses and not-geniuses. That's the kind of statement a not-genius makes because it's so fucking obvious. Do you ever have to say anything that pretty much says "All of the people on the world are either this or that"? Anyway, the point I was making wasn't that I'm one of the not-geniuses even though it's the point I accidentally made. The point was that in the non-genius camp, we have those who are smart enough to recognize genius and those who sit grumpily in their pee-puddles whining about how the high-falutin' elites are trying to make things different. Different, in this case, generally means better but if you're a non-genius who can't recognize geniuses, you're just mad that somebody said french fries might not be the most nutritional side dish (even though you could still live in a world where you acknowledge that french fries are both not even close to nutritional and also the best food on the planet. I mean, you have that choice. But I guess the pee-puddle you're sitting in (which is slowly leaking into your gun cabinet) has probably distracted you from rational thought). Again, that wasn't the point I was going to make (about the french fries!) but I have a problem staying on topic. Partly it's because I've never been able to stay on topic (you should read some of my college essays which I'm not going to release to the public so even though I suggested you should read them, you won't be reading them. Ever) and partly it's because of another reason that I forgot while typing the college paper parenthetical statement.

My point might have been that you can recognize a genius because they can state plain what other people are obfuscating in their pronouncements. If you're not smart enough to recognize the genius, you might think the genius is spreading propaganda, mostly because you really want to believe the thing that isn't true because it shields you from guilt or blame or repercussions stemming from following your own selfish desires at any cost. The genius is reviled by people who can't recognize genius and viled by people who can. Or unviled? Previled? Maybe I should have just gone with lauded.

You might think I'm saying all of this in regards to Grant Morrison but you'd be wrong. I'm actually saying this about A.R. Moxon, the author of The Revisionaries, whose Twitter handle is @JuliusGoat. He did not pay me to point out that he's a genius although he probably should have. I suppose it's not too late. Being that he's a genius and knows the smart thing to do, I'm sure he'll buy my RPG when he Googles his name and/or Twitter handle and finds me sticking my tongue way up his asshole in this post. I mean, I'm basically saying he's smarter than Grant Morrison!

Getting back to Grant Morrison, is he really a genius? I'm not so sure. I think maybe he's just a libertine who did a lot of drugs and traveled to a lot of sort-of-spiritual places (not to be more spiritual but to get his hot genius take on spirituality in a place that smells of burning corpses and goat semen while he shits his guts out back at the hotel high on hashish). Sometimes when you've done acid and other illicit substances, you feel the need to think you've risen above the flock by doing a thing most people will never consider doing. Maybe Grant doesn't exactly feel this way but some of his stuff sometimes comes across as that. I mean, sure, if you've ever done LSD or the like, you've definitely experienced a sort of melding of yourself with the profound and the mundane and the timeless in a way that usually only schizophrenics experience. You have done something that has changed you from the person you were before. But thinking that it has somehow made you different or better than those who haven't done it just means that you've never talked to people who went to high school in the flyover states. I've known some really boring and backwards people who did a lot of acid simply because there wasn't anything else to do out in the cornfields. It really did surprise me, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, to discover how prevalent psychoactive drugs were in the Midwest and Plains states. I thought that was just the hippies and children of hippies! What I didn't think, though, was that it made me a non-sheep (like the guy in my San Jose State creative writing class who once wrote a story about how he had broken from the flock because he dared to try LSD. The teacher loved his take and luckily for me, she was blind so she didn't see me rolling my eyes and making jerk-off motions from the back of the class. I mean, wow, dude. You dared to try LSD. I was probably on LSD while listening to the teacher read that stupid ass story!).

Okay, maybe my whole take on "Grant Morrison thinks he's better than everybody else" stems from my envy of the idiot jock who wrote a stupid story that the teacher loved while she mostly just reacted to my stuff with "WTF? I guess I see how nostalgia can seem like a dream and the pop culture death of Superman can sometimes be more powerful than the death of a close family member but why did you choose to make none of this linear and what the hell do your Star Wars figures have to do with your future death? Also, the baseball game between Heaven and Hell where Heaven wins because Hitler snarls 'Jew' and then beans Jesus with the pitch to push in the last run was decent."

Now that we've resolved some of my issues (I mean, maybe not "resolved" but at the very least "put out there in the open so you know where my biases are coming from"), let's get on with The Invisibles #3.

When we last left our homophobic pouting white suburban "my mother doesn't hug me enough" anarchist protagonist, he was about to be hunted to death by a mystical group of human fox hunters in the secret London hidden beneath the one everybody thinks of as the "real London." I sort of hope the kid gets murdered. But then we won't get to see him learn his lesson which allows viewers to also maybe a learn a lesson. It's sometimes why you need characters like Mrs. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie. Although it was kind of enough to have Laura Ingalls who was a selfish devil child who was always learning lessons from humble and righteous Pa (who probably only killed one or two Native Americans, making him a stalwart saint of the frontier). I suppose the audience didn't need an over-the-top scurrilous villain like Mrs. Oleson. Although without Mrs. Oleson, how could the show have glorified the true saint of the frontier, Nells Oleson? The patience and kindness of that man were a testament to, um, patience and kindness!

I'm assuming Dane spends the next twenty pages snot-crying into a used coffee filter.

Dane continues to hang out with Tom of Bedlam because Dane can't survive on the street on his own and he knows it. He's not hard at all. He's a little wanna-be suburban gangster who read half of a book on anarchy and now thinks he's better than the slack-eyed populace going about their normal day-to-day bullshit. But he also thinks he still needs money and a place to live. He's not really great at the anarchy thing. But maybe if he listens to Tom, he'll learn a little bit about life and his heart will grow three sizes. Not because he suddenly cares more about everybody; it'll be a side-effect from learning the Dark Arts.

Tom casts a spell so that Dane can look through the eyes of a pigeon as it flies about London. While Dane is seeing the hidden, creepy monsters lurking behind reality that pigeons can see (just as Pigeons can enter the afterlife in Moore's Jerusalem. I'm sure there are other urban horror stories that tell of the magic of pigeon vision. Did Lovecraft ever right any pigeon poems?), Tom tells Dane the secret history of cities. They're a virus that has propelled man from small villages which barely change across the centuries into huge population centers that use up the life force of the hosts as they build more and more and more, bigger and bigger, until, one day, they can build a rocket to propel the city virus into space and onto a new planet. Tom has seen, in visions, other planets affected by the virus, dead planets where the buildings stand as gravestones for the previous used-up races that contracted the virus. It's all very Lovecraftian. Not in the racist way but in the visions of other realities that change the nature of your own reality once you realize their existence. Hmm, that can actually kind of describe racism. I suppose Lovecraft's xenophobia was what made his stories about strange, unknown terrors so compelling.

After teaching him loads of magic, Tom decides to teach Dane the most important lesson:

It's a really good lesson but also it's just Tom's attempt to get Jack Frost to appear.

Tom teaches Dane not to be a sheep or, in Tom's words, a robot. It's one of those weird lessons that everybody thinks they learn but nobody really learns it. Like when people read just that one Frost stanza on some poster in their English Lit class from "The Road Not Taken". Everybody gasps in air as the profundity of that single stanza (extracted from the context of the larger poem, much to the detriment of all of us) washes over them and they suddenly believe they've seen what life really is. Life isn't doing the thing you're supposed to do! Life is living to the fullest! Carpe diem! But the feeling of that moment erodes. It is eroded by the path we all take as we pretend we've taken the other path. We stop seeing that their weren't just two paths but many. And we get a job and we get a spouse and we get a house and we get a child and we occasionally think of Frost's single stanza and we decide, "You know what? I'm going to find the time to jump out of a plane!" or "I'm going to climb Everest!" or "I'm going to sleep with somebody of my same sex because I've always wanted to and hopefully my wife won't find out!" And sometimes we do and sometimes we don't; it doesn't really matter. Because the thing about taking the path less traveled is that it's still a path and it still represents the path you took and, you know what, there's that other path over there that I never got to experience and it's just shitting all over the path I'm currently on. Some people somehow block out the phantom possibilities and they're the lucky ones. The ones you can claim they have no regrets and maybe they're speaking truth when they say it. But mostly they just try not to think about it. Because once you start peeling at the wallpaper of your current life because the wallpaper, which others upon first glimpsing might think is beautiful and extraordinary, but which you've looked at every day for thirty years, you're done for. And you don't do it to find the beauty of what's underneath; you simply do it to see something different. And the new thing hasn't been scrutinized and deconstructed and critiqued; there's been no time to obsess over it. It's imaginary and if you happen to be like most people, imaginary must be better because why imagine the worst?! Okay, okay. I've just outed myself as not an anxious or depressive person! But I also don't go peeling at the wallpaper, so who knows? Maybe I do imagine the path less traveled was an intense tragedy?!

The Invisibles #3 Rating: A. It's still pretty good and I'm still upset that I only have a few issues. Recently, I was thinking of writing an essay about how the worst thing about growing up is how you stop feeling things. Not that you stop feeling anything at all! Just that you stop feeling feelings that were once overwhelming and all-important. Like the crush you had in junior high. Can you imagine if, at forty, you still felt those feelings so intensely (among all the other ones you've felt across your life)? I understand that feelings must abate over time or we'd all be fucked up from not being able to get over our first crush while simultaneously not moving past the death of our closest grandparents. I get it. And some would say it's a mercy. But lately I've been wondering, "Is it?" Maybe I want to still feel those seemingly inexhaustible passions. I was reminded of wanting to discuss this because Tom says in this issue, "They made you forget how to feel, eh? Remember it now? Like everything new and the sun itself spinning behind your ribs, filling you up with silver. Like the way it was before they made robots of us, sentenced to a life behind bars we're trained to set in place ourselves."

Now, that Tom speech was more about the whole "we're the shepherd of our own sheepdom" thing but in a robot and prison analogy. But the other thing about feelings made me remember how I was recently lamenting not feeling all of the things I once felt. Like the basket case from The Breakfast Club says, "When you grow up, your heart dies." And while you can argue whether that's true in the sense that you just stop caring about things, I think it's absolutely true in that it just slowly winds down and isn't capable of feeling how it used to. It's like a rechargeable battery that can no longer keep a charge. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, every single one of my friends, at one time or another, wound up weeping in my basement apartment about something in their lives (usually a woman!). I can't even fucking imagine that now. Maybe they'd be a bit upset or hurt or depressed but hardly disconsolate. I thought I would never get over the sadness at the loss of my grandfather or (and this might sound ridiculous to some but others will understand) the loss of my first cat as an adult, my precious little Judas. And while I obviously won't ever "get over" them (my eyes tear as I write this), I am no longer destroyed by the mere thought of their non-existence. A week after my Judas died, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy in the theater. Judas was always my Raccoon Boy so I almost broke down near the end when one of the characters put their arm around Rocket to console him. I made it out of the theater before absolutely losing it and snot-crying all the way back to the car. And so I can see how retaining that level of feeling over anything would be counterproductive to actually living, I absolutely miss it. I profoundly miss it. I want to be kicked in the stomach until I can't breathe by my feelings. I want this every day even if I know it's the cursed wish of a Monkey's Paw. How can anybody feel everything so palpably for their entire lives? And yet, how can we not?!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Invisibles #2

This cover isn't as catchy as the pop hand grenade.

It's probably appropriate that I'm reading a comic book about a rebellious group throwing as many wrenches as they can into the machinery of the status quo right now. Also I would have said spanners instead of wrenches but I don't want to confuse the people who don't watch thousands of hours of British panel shows on YouTube.

For no one particular reason but maybe a whole lot of them, I have an anecdote about the Santa Clara police. I've already told the story in my review of Batgirl #10 from July 2012 but I'll reprint it exactly as I did then because it's pertinent to understanding that cops are violent jerks.

"About fifteen years ago [twenty-three years ago now!], my friends Paul and Tony were coming home from a club. As Paul was dropping Tony off at his house, they noticed some kids breaking into Tony's car. Tony called the police and Paul gave chase tackling one of the kids. They were probably around fourteen or fifteen. Paul didn't do anything but hold the kid until the cops showed up. When the police did show, they told Paul that they'll take the kid in but guaranteed almost nothing would come of this. They even suggested that if Paul had roughed him up a bit, it might not have been so bad. So yeah, Batgirl. You're doing the work the police would love to do but can't because they'd lose their jobs. Rough up the car thieves, put them in the hospital, and they might decide crime has too high a price to pay. I'm not saying I agree with the violence that the cops are willing to overlook. But I am saying you're a tool of the system."

When I told it back in 2012, I got one small detail wrong: the hilarious assumption that the cops would lose their jobs if they did the violence themselves. Oh, I was so naive eight years ago! I mean, I still knew it was bullshit that the cops were suggesting one citizen do violence to another one! And I was also pretty facetious in my take because I was speaking directly to Batgirl for some reason! But I was encouraging her not to be violent like the cops! Don't do their immoral dirty work for them and also probably for that bastard Batman!

Imagine that the job description most commonly associated with your job is "to serve and protect" and you think it's okay to tell an adult male to beat up some kids? Just fucking imagine what kind of an asshole you'd have to be. Now imagine that you weren't the only asshole; everybody you worked with felt the same way. Or, at the extremely very least, felt like they couldn't reprimand you or disagree with your methods because it would be a risk to their lives.

Here's another thing to imagine! Imagine having a job and believing without a fucking doubt that everybody who has the same job as you should never be criticized for not simply doing a bad job but for murdering people while on the job. Just fucking imagine.

Here's one last thing to imagine: imagine purchasing my cribbage-based RPG. I know it's only available on Amazon but try to ignore that they're capitalist monsters this one time and support my first uneasy footsteps into the world of publishing. I promise I'll figure out a better way at some point. It's just I hate all the marketing and distribution and graphic design and business bullshit; I just want to write the fucking thing and somehow get it in the hands of people who might enjoy it.

Remember the good old days before Fox News when we thought mind control propaganda would have to be subliminal?!

Obviously the guy speaking is schizophrenic. His description of anxious, terrifying thoughts having to come from another source rather than your own mind is pure schizophrenia. It's why they're always obsessed with mind shielding or satellites on the moon or neighbors beaming microwaves into their living rooms. I can't imagine how terrifying it must be to be detached from your own thoughts, unable to recognize that it's your own internal monologue whispering terrible insults to you on a constant basis. At least when I hear a voice in my head say, "You're fat," I know it's my own mind reaching the conclusion that maybe I shouldn't have eaten the whole pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Having escaped from the young dystopian novel of a school system last issue, Dane McGowan is now living on the streets with herpes. It isn't long before he teams up with Mad Tom 'o Bedlam, an old homeless man who acts crazy and maybe is crazy but not as crazy as he acts, if you get what I'm saying. Do you? I sometimes don't get what I'm saying at all. But I keep saying things because sometimes I'll say something that makes me think, "Hey! You're not as stupid as your mother screamed you were every single day!"

Remember the good old days when the protagonist of a story could have multiple flaws and be really unlikeable without immediately calling into question the beliefs of the author?

Seriously though, this kid is a fucking cock. He's all bluster and anti-establishment and violent and homophobic and all because his mother withholds love and his dad is absent. He's trying so hard to be above the status quo and be this unique anarchic individual who does what he pleases and yet he's simply another lousy stereotype.

Tom and Dane see a young woman chased through the streets of London by some guys blowing trumpets and dressed as if they're on a fox hunt. Tom grabs Dane and they make a run for it because Tom knows all about the secret hazards of the hidden side of London. The huntsmen capture the young woman and presumably kill her since one of them also says to cut her breasts off. That's some of that old ultra-violence that we knew would have to show up in this book. It's sort of a cultural call back to the works that probably helped inspire this story.

Tom and Dane wind up in the secret catacombs of old London where they scrape some blue mold off of a wall and smoke it. Tom also gives some of that history you expect from Morrison, like how he made sure Gotham was understood to be the "Village of Goats." Man, that was the best thing he ever did for Batman continuity.

Dane believes he hallucinates a word on the wall — Barbelith — and some aliens coming for him. He passes out and regains consciousness above the streets back in London. But now he has a scar on the back of his head and he sees airships in the sky that weren't there before. Being that I spent my formative years watching The X-Files, I understand when somebody has been abducted and implanted with a chip that allows them to see the secret strings turning reality into some Other thing's puppet theater.

Tom shows Dane a few more magic tricks and Dane finally realizes the man is nuts in a way that makes a lot of sense to him. So he finally agrees to be an Invisible. That's when he wakes up with the Fox Hunters ready to give chase. But that's for next issue.

The Invisibles #2 Rating: A. This issue was better than the last issue which was already a good issue. You might have realized that because I gave last issue a "B" and this one an "A". That's sort of how the grades work. I don't really care about grading or rating the comic books I read. I just want a history of my thoughts on them so that when I'm 80, I have some way to entertain myself (assuming the Internet and electricity and leisure time are still extant things). And it's not like this is a review that would help sell this comic book anyway! Who's going to rush out and find old copies of The Invisibles just because I said I liked them? The most disappointing part of this whole project is that I don't have every issue of this series. I'm so fucking annoyed with 23 year old me right now.