Thursday, July 30, 2020

Justice Society of America #9 (1993)

I bet Guy Gardner makes a "Wood is your biggest weakness!" joke.

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, there were two stories that every single DC comic book had to tell: the protagonist battles and defeats Lobo and the protagonist puts Guy Gardner in his place. The first one proved that the protagonist could beat the toughest bastich in the DC Universe. The second was just satisfying to a lot of customers. I hated every single one of these stories. Except maybe the Hitman story where they defeat Lobo by taking pictures of Bueno Excellente ass-fucking the unconscious Lobo. I don't think that's using rape in an offensive way because Lobo was a murderous, genocidal psychopath and Bueno Excellente loved to fuck things in the ass.

I suppose my love of Lobo and Guy Gardner in my teens and twenties says something unpleasant about me. But you can't deny that Lobo was the character every DC fan most wanted to fuck. And I mean every DC fan. I still find it weird that somebody could create a character that was both super sexy and also looked like a clown. And I just felt sympathy for Guy Gardner. These were the days before you had to account for mental illness and traumatic brain injury when assessing somebody's personality and attitude. But I was there for you, Guy! I knew what you'd been through and how unfairly everybody treated you! If only Harley Quinn could have been around to tell everybody to stop being so hard on Guy because he was suffering from severe brain trauma and couldn't help flying into rages on a near constant basis. Instead we just had Batman to lay Guy out in one punch and "fix" his personality until he was hit on the head again like some amnesiac Fred Flintstone.

When we last left the Justice Society of America, the people of Earth were being driven toward hatred due to the unearthing of Kulak by Hawkman and Hawkwoman. It reminds me of something that happened in 2016 but I just can't quite put my finger on it.

I suppose if comic book artists can't help making corpses sexy, I shouldn't be surprised that they're making me think about fucking a seventy year old.

I know Joan Garrick is just a fictional drawing but at least I'm honest about when fictional drawings of old people and corpses give me a boner.

"One cop's nightmare." Yeesh. I'm afraid to ask how this movie ends.

Doctor Mid-Nite relaxes at home listening to the radio while coming up with old man takes to impress his young assistant.

Just wait until he gets a load of Twitter and Internet memes!

Thunderbolt and his dull friend work out that some kind of sorcery is affecting the Justice Society members, causing everybody to despise them. But it doesn't seem super important so Johnny Thunder decides to leave it for morning. I can't blame him for not knowing the whole world can burn down in that time; he isn't outside the story like I am so he can't perceive the whole of it all. Normally I would blame him and call him an idiot but I'm feeling charitable tonight.

Thunderbolt does rush off to investigate because he senses something familiar. So at least the Hex Bolt is being cautious instead of lazy. And maybe Johnny isn't being lazy but have you seen the way he's drawn? It's not like he's in a hurry for anything except maybe a nap.

Meanwhile, a new program has popped up: Current Affairs Spotlight. It's basically the Kulak version of Fox News, reporting questions that they don't really want to answer but by simply asking them causes their audience to distrust the subject of the questions. On a related note, Sean Hannity is a huge piece of shit.

I mean, they do have "society" in their name. They were just asking for the socialist accusation.

Alan Scott smashes the television and flies off in a rage. I guess I know who else was watching that program and believed every bit of it because his traumatic brain injury causes problems with his ability to assess the validity of facts over propaganda! It seems like I know a lot of people like that these days.

I forgot Alan Scott runs a television station until he starts complaining about the propaganda airing on his station. He says, "I don't think that Molly should be censoring programming, but the station should have some standards. And she knows that report is sensational nonsense." Welcome to modern media, Alan! It's no longer up to the standards of the station to decide what bullshit should be shoveled onto the viewing public! Now it's just about how much money can be made on advertising while espousing some kind of freedom of speech fair exchange of ideas nonsense! It's exactly the problem that has been exploited by people who actually want less free speech. You muddy and obfuscate the truth by putting out whatever outlandish bullshit you can come up with and then if a station refuses to air it, you claim they're biased toward the side of the political spectrum you're trying to fuck over with your bullshit. I mean, that's Fox News. The other stations are the ones that have been cowed by Fox News into being horrible both sides news vehicles.

Guy Gardner attacks Alan on the way to the television station because Guy was watching the show, of course. Remember, random television news broadcasts was once how super heroes got all of their breaking news alerts! How could they fight crime otherwise?!

A man with a traumatic brain injury has the same general understanding of fascism and political theory as the average Fox News viewer.

Guy Gardner doesn't make a wood weakness joke because he doesn't know about Alan Scott. Len's idea for this battle was probably, "Guy can only beat Green Lanterns because he's cheating using that yellow ring! But now let's see him fight a fair fight against a Green Lantern!" Which is exactly what happens! Alan Scott gives Guy a lesson on how to be a Green Lantern. I'm sure later, when Guy isn't being manipulated by Kulak, he'll process the information and accept it as wise words and valued experience from an old timer. Or he'll just vent and fume and look for an occasion to get even with him.

After defeating Guy, all of the normal people on the street begin attacking the Justice Society and calling them fascists and commies. I'll accept their gullibility because it was caused by sorcery. Otherwise I'd be rolling my eyes at, once again, every regular citizen of the DC Universe being bamboozled by some demagogue.

Hawkman drives up to save the day but instead just drives everybody right into Kulak's clutches.

I am surprised that Thunderbolt being driven on a stake through his asshole made it into a Comics Code Authority book.

Justice Society of America #9 Rating: B+. Sure Guy Gardner got his ass kicked like usual but at least Guy Gardner was in the comic book! That totally made it worth it to me! Except for how he was portrayed and the lines they gave him and the assumption that everybody thinks he's stupid and the idea that his only redeeming quality is being tough. But he looked like Guy and they called him Guy and he made some yellow rockets with his ring! So cool!

Cerebus #10

The return of Cerebus refusing to have sex!

I just became really disturbed by the realization that the first time Cerebus has sex in this comic book is when he rapes Astoria. Am I remembering that correctly? And just to be clear: I'm disturbed the rape and not the beastiality. Cerebus may be an aardvark but everything about him is human. If I knew a lady cat who was as human as Cerebus, I'm pretty sure I'd be interested. Also, that would never happen so don't think I'm out here wanting to have sex with cats. I'm just pointing out how a cat shaped mostly like a lady who didn't wear any pants would probably be super sexy! Stop trying to portray me as a pervert! If you don't sometimes imagine yourself in fictional settings trying to pretend they're real thinking about what you would do and how you would act, I don't know how you spend 85% of your time!

In "A Note from the Publisher," Deni suggests the reader just read the comic book already. That seems like really good advice seeing as how her "A Note from the Publisher" has been increasing in its uselessness issue after issue. I suppose she does give people notice about conventions at which Dave will be appearing. It's just not so helpful in 2020.

Dave Sim admitting to using specious reasoning. We'll use this as evidence to attack all of his ultra-logical and super-duper rational essays in future issues.

I know what you're thinking: "It's unfair to use something Dave Sim said about his reasons for bringing back his sexiest character when he's just being honest! Maybe it's better to use this as an example of how honest Dave Sim is!" Or maybe you weren't thinking that and I was just thinking, "What will people on the Internet earnestly be upset about by my joke caption?" The Internet has rotted my brain until all I see is antagonism around every corner! The real point is Dave Sim is being honest about the reasons here. That doesn't mean later he'll be honest about his reasons behind any particular essay nor does it mean I should use his possible penchant for specious reasons against him! But, I mean, it could be funny if I did! I'll have to assess the entire situation again when I get to Issue #186.

Dave also comments on this being the last time Red Sophia would make an appearance (at least at the time of his essay. Does she ever appear again at all? I don't remember! Maybe during those moments when The Judge or Dave are explaining all the weird stuff that manifests in Cerebus' vicinity. She was probably one of those things) because Dave agreed with everybody else that Red Sonja was a terribly problematic character. Also, she was just kind of Elrod with tits. And Elrod didn't have the whole "I will only sleep with a man who can overpower me!" rape vibe. Dave also reminded me that Wendy Pini was popular on the convention circuit for her portrayal of Red Sonja. I don't think I'd remembered that fact post-Internet so now I can actually see what that looked like!

I'd give credit to the photographer but, you know, the Internet.

Comic book creators I've had conversations with even if they were incredibly short and nobody was dressed like Red Sonja: Wendy and Richard Pini, Dave Sim, Terry Moore, Gail Simone (and her husband), and Scott Lobdell. I really don't remember much of any of them except for when Gail Simone's husband began telling me how my negative comic book reviews about Scott Lobdell were pretty much spot on and Gail Simone looked at him like she was trying to tear his vocal cords out with her mind. Anyway, half of them have some kind of tie to Red Sonja is the point. Maybe more if we include Richard Pini since he did the lighting or something on Wendy Pini and Frank Thorne's Red Sonja convention play. You see, he worked at a planetarium so light shows were his specialty!

That must be some merchant to deserve an exclamation point just for mentioning his occupation and place of residence.

The story begins some time after Cerebus left Imesh. His ribs aren't quite healed and he's been wandering through a blizzard for a week. He's running out of food and doesn't have any pants. He probably won't last another day without sustenance when he runs into Red Sophia. She also doesn't have any pants but she does have a rabbit for dinner. Also, not having any pants doesn't seem to bother her. An elegant fur shawl is all she needs. Probably because she's an imaginary creation of Cerebus's mind and mystic aardvark powers. She probably only materializes when he's horny. Not so Cerebus can get laid but so Cerebus can get so annoyed that he stops being horny. I'm sure Elrod materializes for some other reason, like maybe Cerebus is getting too proud of himself and he needs to be humbled a bit by constantly getting talked down to.

Cerebus wants to ditch Red Sophia even though it means he will probably die. But then she mentions an intact Black Blossom Lotus and Cerebus decides he should probably listen to what Red Sophia has to say. In other words, the Black Blossom Lotus is either a priceless treasure or a keg of whisky.

Okay, so it's a priceless treasure. But Cerebus will probably sell it for a keg of whisky.

The size of the above picture is about 150 pixels too big for my blog but it was too hard to read at a proper size. Also it might still be too hard to read at this size. It's just some dumb history of the Black Blossom Lotus to make it seem more mysterious and valuable.

Red Sophia will only reveal what she knows about the Black Blossom Notice if Cerebus lets her rub her body all over him. Cerebus doesn't fall for her temptation so she tries a more direct tactic which leads to one of Sim's classic jokes.

Was Dave Sim the first person to make "lady armor built for tits and ass and male gazes is idiotic" comments? Probably not but maybe the first in such a prominent place.

The third party in their heist is the son of the jeweler who prized the Black Blossom Lotus. When he died, it was auctioned off before the son realized what it was. Now he wants it back and Sophia promised him sex if he allows her to help steal it for a part of the share. Or something. I don't know. You'd think he'd let her help for part of the share and she wouldn't have to offer him sex at all. It's not like he's doing her a favor letting her steal the Lotus!

I wonder if this is where Richard Garfield got the idea of the Black Lotus. It truly is a valuable item!

Miergen (the jeweler's son) and Cerebus head off to scout the merchant's caravan. While surveying the scene, one of the guards, a twenty year Tcapmin border guard veteran (which impresses even Cerebus so it must mean something) catches them and aims his crossbow at them. Cerebus seems to respect the crossbow as a deadly weapon that even he can't magically defeat. It's not as good as a catapult and I suppose you only get one shot with it but it's better than a short sword when there's twenty feet between the two. Miergen, a total coward, whispers his new plan to Cerebus: blame it all on Red Sophia! Red Sophia has ears as big as her tits so she hears his treachery. This causes her to immediately shout to th Tcapmin that they're planning on stealing the Lotus. But she also offers to cut him in for ten gold pieces.

Wow. Ten whole gold pieces! I guess the economy of Cerebus' world isn't anything like the Dungeons & Dragons economy. I wonder if "gold pieces" are different from "gold crowns"? At first, you'd think they must be the same. But a gold crown is probably like a fifty pence coin and a gold coin is like, well, you know, gold! Like a doubloon! Anyway, the guard is currently only being paid eight copper coins (so I guess maybe the economy isn't that much different from Dungeons & Dragons). He agrees to help them steal the Black Blossom Lotus.

Shouldn't it be the Black Lotus Blossom? Typing it the other way around is really beginning to annoy me.

This brings up a good point: what did Wendy Pini do with her chainmail bikini?

The plan is to destroy a bridge as the merchant's caravan crosses it. So the group head out to find a bridge. But before that happens, the Tcapmin gets horny and decides part of his payment should be sex with Red Sophia. He asks if Cerebus or Miergen have a problem with it. He doesn't ask if Red Sophia has a problem with it because he's a man. I mean, because he's a man in a sword and sorcery fantasy world where women are no different than 10 gold pieces or a Black Blossom Lotus. They're just another thing to be won or stolen or rubbed against your genitals. Anyway, we all know that if he can beat Red Sophia in combat, she'll agree to the deal. It's not because she's been psychologically traumatized by events in her youth; it's just that the character she was based on, Red Sonja, was poorly written.

Miergen decides to defend Red Sophia which leads to some more classic Dave Sim humor.

Dave Sim sums up his work best in the essay at the beginning of this issue when he explains that he's a writer who draws and not an artist who writes. Although he draws quite well. Eventually, he's simply both and doing both jobs incredibly well.

Red Sophia has willingly given herself to the Tcapmin. He didn't have to beat her in battle but everybody knows he can beat them all in battle (and he just proved it to Miergen) so I guess that's as good as beating the shit out of her. Cerebus decides to leave the group at the base of the bridge and comes up with some nonsense for why he's got to go off on his own. None of them sense a double cross because they're all narcissists who think they're in control (aside from Miergen who is too busy trying to keep his insides from falling out of his sphincter).

Cerebus runs into the merchant's caravan pretending to be the Tcapmin guard transformed by sorcerers. He sends them off to the bridge while he remains to guard the camp. After they're gone, he robs the merchant and wanders off to drink the profits of his eventual sale of the Black Blossom Lotus. Maybe Red Sophia was murdered by the Tcapmin guards and that's why she never returns. Or maybe she just lived happily ever after with Throgo?

Tim A. Cooper did The Single Page this issue and I quite liked it!

I was a little bored by this until the last panel and then I thought, "Sublime! Superb! Well done!"

Cerebus #10 Rating: A. Any comic book that puts two different jokes into my head to stick there for the rest of my life probably deserves an A rating (the tits that would heal and the "What I have to do is..." "Get your face punched?" bit). Dave Sim explains how much more free his art and writing has begun to take off in this and the previous couple of issues now that he allowed himself to stop treating Cerebus as a Frank Thorne sword and sorcery parody. It's becoming its own thing and Sim's art and writing are truly starting to shine. An amazing feat to pull off in ten issues. Although Elfquest had to do it immediately because by ten issues, the story was half over! I'm not saying Elfquest was better than Cerebus even though it was. I was just pointing out that maybe ten issues wasn't as amazing a feat as I first thought it was. I really like to doubt my declarations. It makes for a humble wreck of a person.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Justice Society of America #8 (1993)

Oh no! Hate! It must be stopped!

That caption sounded sarcastic, didn't it? It sort of sounds like a centrist arguing against somebody saying something that nobody should be on the other side of. "Of course Black Lives Matter! Nobody is saying they don't! Why even bother bringing it up?! You're just causing trouble!" is the kind of thing that has made me hate people who identify as "non-political" or "centrist" or "libertarian" or "Proud Husband. Father. Christian." Nobody needs to hear from you if the only thing you have to say is that nobody needs to be fighting for the things they need to be fighting for! "If it's already a crime, why do we need more stringent laws for punishing crimes motivated by hate. Aren't all criminal acts hateful?" says the person ignoring reality for their own selfish interests of which I can't even begin to guess.

Enough about people who have chosen to be non-people. Let's discuss a comic book from 1993 that probably takes a stronger stance against fascism than a frightening large number of Americans today.

This advert on the inside front cover would be better if the picture over "very rare" was a cow. I mean, it wouldn't work for baseball cards but I would like it better.

I think the best part about actually living in a world where superheroes are real is that day in 5th Grade when Hawkman and Hawkwoman visit your class to talk about Egyptian archaeology.

The issue begins by catching up with Hawkman and Hawkwoman as they continue their quest to steal Egyptian cultural artifacts. You have to give them a pass on this though! In 1993, people just believed archaeology was a thrilling way to bring treasures into museums for everybody to share! It's not like we had hundreds of years to reflect on how terrible this practice was. You have to do some cultural math by subtracting the number of years Western culture believed whatever it did was right and just from, I don't, negative 100? Do you think we'll have learned some humbleness and respect in one hundred years? Most kids who grew up in the 70s wanted to be boring ass truck drivers but by the 80s, thanks to Indiana Jones, they wanted to be boring ass archaeologists. Kids aren't the greatest at determining what a fun adult job might be.

Did you know there are people who get angry at the supposition that digging up and taking cultural artifacts and treasures from other countries to bring back to your own might be theft? Generally they're the same type of people who believe that all advances to civilization were brought about by white culture. They hold this opinion through absolutely no evidence at all. How do I know they don't have any evidence? Because if they looked for evidence, they'd wind up reading history and realize their claim was too ludicrous to continue defending.

You might think Hawkgirl is commenting on the gigantic sarcophagus the native archaeologists are opening but I know she's making an innuendo about Hawkman's cock because she's doing that thing with her hat where she lifts it up and down and waggles her eyebrows.

It's not really much of a joke though because nobody expects Hawkman's penis to be as large as a fifty foot long sarcophagus. I mean, I'm sure it's big but it's not going to be unwieldy! It's probably almost exactly the same size and shape as his mace.

Interlude: here are some Facebook posts I made on several different July 26thes because I guess I think of it as a holiday to entertain my future self every July 26th? Whatever the case, I love Past Me more than Future Me and possibly even more than Present Me.

Because of the Hays Code, Alfred Fatcock had to change his name to keep making films.

How patriotic would you consider a person who got a flag pregnant?

War Games is my favorite movie because it taught me that trying is pointless.

The first item on my bucket list is to buy a bucket.

End of Interlude.

Can you tell I'm stalling because maybe eight issues of this comic book was too much?

Here's an adult riddle: What's twenty-five feet long, wrapped in bandages, and has an eye in the middle of its head?

This guy's penis!

I don't recognize the guy with three eyes but I'm sure he's some immortal wizard named Amn Thoth or something.

While the Carters discover ancient mummy curses, Johnny Quick tries to convince Rex that his hour of strength doesn't come from a drug at all but deep inside him. He doesn't need to pop pills to be a superhero; he just needs to balance his chakras and figure out his mantra. Then he'll tap into some deep spiritual part of himself that is probably just a meta(l)gene and whammo! Hourman is back and straight edge! But Rex doesn't buy it. Especially since learning his mantra isn't going to cure his son's cancer (which he got from taking Miraclo).

Also in the hospital is Wesley Dodd who is doing therapy to recover from his stroke. Plus his friend Bishop Tumutuu who was some guy who fought against Apartheid. And because the Bishop is in the hospital, the white supremacists are gathering outside to not wish him well.

Shouldn't they hear what they have to say and debate them to better strengthen their own side of the argument on why all people should have equal opportunity with all rights and freedoms promised by this country?

I'm absolutely for freedom of all speech. But the problem that the American media and a lot of people on the Internet have fallen into is the idea that all speech needs to be discussed and debated equally. That's the whole "freedom of speech" trap. Whenever somebody on Twitter wants to debate some terrible topic that nearly all kind and forward thinking people realize is a monstrous and terrible idea and you simply mock them for their terrible beliefs or tell them to shut up, they think you're clamping down on their free speech. No, sir. You were able to say the stupid thing you wanted to say. What you actually want is for a Constitutional Amendment that forces me tor respect what you said and debate it as if the matter has yet to be resolved. The media does this all the time by allowing both sides of an opinion to debate which only legitimizes the side with the terrible take. Sure, we should allow racists to go on CNN and declare their stance on race relations. But the people on the other side shouldn't be debating that topic with them. They should just laugh at them and point and tell them how terrible they are. Maybe get some of that slime from You Can't Do That on Television for rebuttals. Freedom of speech needs way more mockery and far less debate if it's going to recover.

Hourman responds to the white supremacists with a "None of my business!" because he's a terrible centrist who believes that if the status quo isn't making his life rough, why rock the boat? Also his son is dying of cancer so maybe he's a bit distracted. I shouldn't be so hard on him when he's wracked with the guilt of probably killing his son with his drugs.

The white supremacists begin making trouble so it's time for the JSA to put an end to hate! Or will hate win out? I mean, this comic book was written in 1993 and I don't feel like hate has backed down.

Sure, he's against metahumans now. But just wait until one of them decides to wear on of those stupid hats and silly robes!

Watching the speedsters begin to get pummeled by the huge mass of white supremacists, Hourman accidentally balances his chakras! He's suddenly powerful without the drugs or the black lights or the Doctor Fate deep muscle massages! Now if he can convince his son that the power of Miraclo has been inside him all along, his son will have the strength to battle the cancer! Why did I use an exclamation point on that previous sentence when I don't really fucking care about Rex Tyler and his son!

Hourman crashes out of the hospital window to save Johnny Quick. He lets Jesse do her own thing because he's heard about women's lib and also she's not an old man whose powers have significantly dwindled over time.

My adrenal gland just got bigger too!

In the end, the Bishop is saved and even Wesley Dodd joins the fight! Or he just absentmindedly shot off his sandman gun and coincidentally put the Bishop's assassin to sleep. It's hard to tell since he's still suffering from his retirement party stroke.

The issue ends with Green Lantern surfing the television when he comes upon Carter Hall's interview program where he's interviewing the mummy they dug up, a man named Edmund Kulak. Since Green Lantern recognizes him, I guess he's one of the JSA's foes. According to the Who's Who, Kulak can use his third eye to cause everybody on Earth to hate each other. I guess that's why the white supremacists were acting up (and also wearing eyes on their hats and robes). Having a magical reason for racism is always a better comic book story than acknowledging a lot of people are racist of their own free will. Imagine all the angry letters that the pre-Comicsgate generation would have had to write in! "I'm not racist but I don't think you should portray all white people as racist because that is racist! Logic for the win!"

That might seem like I created a 1993 Strawman but have you read the letters reacting to the Tales of the Teen Titans Spotlight on Starfire about Apartheid? My pretend letter was practically verbatim of one or two of the letters Mike Gold had to respond to on that series!

Justice Society of America #8 Rating: B-. I think I've read enough old stories about old people fighting immortals. The whole mortality angle is really bringing me down!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Monster Manual With Dicks

Troll with dick
Frequency: Uncommon. Thank God.
No. Appearing: One is too many
Armor Class: 4 (-3 penis)
Move: 12" (not a penis joke)
Hit Dice: 6 + 6
% in Lair: 40% (which means 60% of the time, this bastard is out flashing people)
Treasure Type: D (Hee hee. It really is!)
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 5-8/5-8/2-12
Special Attacks: See below (Content warning!)
Special Defenses: Regeneration (yes, everything regenerates)
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Chaotic Gross
Size: Grower not a shower
Psionic Ability: Nobody uses this shit. Seriously.

Trolls are horrid carnivores found in nearly every clime and neighborhood. They are feared by most creatures, as a troll knows no fear, attacks unceasingly, and doesn't wear pants. Their sense of smell is very acute because their penis acts as a second nose. Their infravision is superior which is a statement that only makes sense to nerds. And their strength is very great because whoever first wrote this description of Trolls in the Monster Manual couldn't bother to look up synonyms for "very great," such as tremendous or super-diddly-duper.

A troll attacks with its clawed forelimbs and its great teeth and not its penis. A troll is able to fight 3 different opponents at once because most opponents can't stop gagging at its very tremendous penis stink. 3 melee rounds (as opposed to "Three melee rounds" because the original writer of this description I'm bastardizing was a dumb-dumb) after being damaged, a troll will begin to regenerate. Regeneration repairs damage at 3 hit points per round; the regeneration includes the rebonding of severed members (that's the original text! I didn't change limbs to members as unsubtle innuendo! It was just lying there waiting for me! Like a flaccid penis!). The loathsome members of a troll have the ability to fight on even if severed from the body which is an image you can't now get out of your head. A hand can claw or strangle, the head bite, the leg kick, the penis fuck, etc. Total dismemberment will not slay a troll, for its parts will slither and scuttle together, rejoin, and the troll will arise whole and ready to continue the combat as the party of adventurers watch in disbelief for what I'm assuming is the forty to fifty minutes this takes to accomplish. Mostly this happens because the priest will be all, "I'm not fucking touching that thing's cock!" and the paladin will be all, "My alignment might drop if I touch a penis!" and the magic-user is all, "Um, err, I'm memorizing some more spells!" and the thief will be all, "What? My hand wasn't in the priest's backpack at all!" By that time, the troll is all, "I'm back, baby!" To kill a troll, the monster must be burned or immersed in acid (and some players wonder why they need to pay for that hireling that lugs around the barrel of acid! Some people just don't prepare well for a lengthy dungeon crawl), any separate pieces being treated in the same fashion or they create a whole again in 3-18 melee rounds.

Wait. If each piece of a troll can become a new troll, why then do the pieces of the troll need to rebond? It would seem that, if each piece began to regenerate into a new troll three rounds after being damaged, that they'd be incapable of bonding by the time they scuttled up to the rest of the body! The penis would arrive at the lower torso having grown a pelvic region while the troll's lower torso would have already begun to grow a new Linus. It would be like trying to fit two puzzle pieces from different sets! Although now that I write that thought out, I bet it isn't that difficult to find pieces from two different puzzles that fit.

Description: Troll hide is a nauseating moss green, mottled green and gray, or putrid gray. It's penis is bright pink. The writhing hair-like growth upon a troll's head and testicles is greenish black or iron gray. The eyes of a troll are dull black. Like a doll's or a great white shark's!


Beholder with dick
Frequency: Very rare, you lucky bastard
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 0/2/7/-8 (penis)
Move: 3"
Hit Dice: 45-75 hit points
% in Lair: 80% (Still not as high as my own % in Lair)
Treasure Type: I, S, T
No. of Attacks: 1 (because eyes looking at a character and instantly killing them doesn't count as an attack)
Damage/Attack: 2-8 (Oh? Is that all? This creature must be a pushover!)
Special Attacks: Magic. Lots and lots and lots of magic
Special Defenses: Anti-magic ray
Magic Resistance: Special
Intelligence: Exceptional and fueled by contrarian resentment
Alignment: Lawful evil. Which, I guess, means it'll use the crosswalk but it'll really take its time getting across the street
Size: Long but narrow
Psionic Ability: Enough with this shit already. Nobody understands it!

The beholder (eye tyrant, sphere of many eyes, "that weird dick monster") is most frequently found underground, although it infrequently will lair in desolate wildernesses where nobody cares about its dick hanging out. The globular body of this monster is supported by levitation, and it floats slowly about as it wills, penis dangling and swinging beneath it. Atop the sphere are 10 eyestalks, while in its central area are a great eleventh eye and a large mouth filled with pointed teeth. And below that, the penis. The body is protected by a hard chitinous covering. The creature's eyestalks and eyes are also protected, although less well (thus the armor classes of 2 and 7 respectively). The penis retracts when the creature engages in combat (thus the armor class of -8). Although if the beholder is shown anything round, its penis will become engorged, making it much easier to hit (armor class 10). Because of its particular nature, the beholder is able to withstand the loss of its eyestalks, these members are not computed as part of its hit point damage potential, and lost eyestalks will eventually grow back (1 week per lost member). The same can not be said for the beholder's penis. If cut off or destroyed by anything other than fire, the beholder will begin to lose hit points at a rate of four per melee round. If the beholder can speak common, it will begin saying things like, "Why'd you have to go and cut off my penis for?" or "That was a low blow, pun not intended (if in fact that was a pun. I'm panicking here! I just lost my penis!)."

Eyes: The various eyes of a beholder (get it?! This whole stupid creature is a pun!) each have a different function. Typically only the central eye, erect penis, and 1-4 eyes on stalks, are able to function considering that the attack is coming from an arc 90 degrees before the monster. If attacks come from other directions, do the stupid math yourself. Now I see why so many people made so many house rules in their Dungeons and Dragons games. Gary Gygax must have thought everybody playing this game was a huge idiot so he wrote out every possibility in every scenario. No wonder these rule books are so thick!

Each eye is a beautiful bright blue that anybody with a wisdom of 14 or less must spend the first round of combat commenting on.

Functions of the eyes and penis are:
1. Charm person spell. If a person is charmed, the penis will become erect and functional.
2. Charm monster spell. Beholders will fuck anything so, again, the penis will become erect and functional.
3. Sleep spell. Beholders are creepy fucks so if anything falls asleep, you know. Penis. Erect. Functional.
4. Telekinese 2,500 gold piece weight. The beholder will use this to draw a creature to its penis. To fuck.
5. Flesh-stone ray (3" range) I have no idea what that means in D&D gaming distances. Three inches on the gaming table? Three inches in actual scale? Three feet because Gygax uses a different system where the feet and inches notations are opposite?! I was always confused by these numbers. Probably because I never read all the rules. There are so many of them!
6. Disintegrate ray (2" range)
7. Fear (as an 8th level giant penis floating in front of your face attached to a great big mouth monster with spaghetti eyes)
8. Slow spell (the spell isn't slow. It makes things slow. At regular speed)
9. Cause serious wound (5" range)
10. Death ray (4" range. This is the one to fear!)
11. Anti-magic ray (14" range)
Penis: Web (as a 12th level magic-user) (range: 3 feet in conic spray). The beholder will use this power five to twelve melee turns after its penis becomes erect. It must then make a saving throw versus sleep. If it fails, it loses the use of the eleventh eye and two to nine of the smaller eyes. Oh, and its penis for at least forty minutes. Unless something really round appears and begins rubbing up on it and maybe putting its flaccid penis in its mouth while making eye contact with two to seven eyes)

Nature: The beholder is hateful, aggressive, avaricious, problematic, and gross. They typically punch down with their humor, having a vast knowledge of racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes. They will usually attack immediately, claiming that they were being attacked by politically correct know-it-alls who forced them into taking a terrible philosophical stance. If confronted by a particularly powerful party or Sarah Silverman, there is a 50% chance they will listen to reason — either to be bribed not to attack or pay a ransom not to be attacked, depending on how many Twitter followers they stand to lose. They can speak their own language as well as that tongue known to all lawful evil gamergaters.


Bubear with dick
Frequency: More common than you'd like
No. Appearing: 6-36, depending on how popular the Reddit account that stirred them up
Armor Class: Depends on the cartoon vest sans pants outfit they chose that morning
Move: 9" (faster if their mom is really fucking yelling at them through the cellar window about the garbage cans)
Hit Dice: 3 + 1
% in Lair: 150%
Treasure Type: Pop Culture statues, polybagged comic books, that issue of Penthouse with underage Traci Lords
No. of Attacks: 1 stale talking point
Damage/Attack: 2-8 or by social media platform
Special Attacks: Surprise caused by confusion as to what the bugbear is angry about
Special Defenses: "Can't you take a joke, snowflake?"
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low to Average (low (really low (like, "Whoa, how do they even function?!" low)))
Alignment: Chaotic 4chan
Size: L (I'm not fat shaming! I'm just regurgitating what's in the Monster Manual!)
Psionic Ability: Anime

Bugbears live in loose bands, and are typically found on the same websites as goblins. Unlike their smaller cousins, however, these hairy giant fedora wearing goblins operate equally well in bright daylight or great darkness (well, maybe not daylight, exactly. But they're okay with fluorescent lighting), so they are as likely to choose a habitation above ground (like an attic in their parents' garage) as they are to select a subterranean abode (like the basement of their parents' house).

If 12 or more bugbears are encountered, there will be a leader with 22-25 alt-Twitter accounts (armor class 4, attacks as a 4 hit dice monster, gets +1 on damage caused). If 24 or more are encountered, there will be the following additional bugbears: one that tells you to "Go kill yourself," one that calls you a cunt, one that insists you debate him because are you against free speech or what?!, and one that doxes you. If encountered in their lair (which they definitely will be unless they're at a Magic the Gathering tournament), there will always be an empty box of Chicken in a Biscuit, at least three pizza boxes full of discarded crusts, dozens of empty cans of Coke or Monster energy drink, a purple velvet Crown Royal bag filled with dice, a crusty pair of his sister's underwear, and a stack of old Scrye magazines.

The arms carried by bugbears range the gamut of available weapons — from Lord of the Rings collector swords to PVC clubs with Styrofoam spikes set in them (nerd morning star for his Society of Creative Anachronism costume). A fair number of rhetorical talking points are carried by these monsters, and they tend to use them, along with name calling, strawmen, and circular logic. As bugbears are weak, they will hurl insults from the comfort of anonymity and never confront anybody in real life.

Although bugbears are clumsy looking and walk with a shambling gait, they are actually able to move very quickly and with great stealth. At least that's what they tell themselves. "Walk on the sides of your feet," they'll point out as they lumber out of their hotel at midnight and down the convention hallway to the snack bar, "It's much quieter!"

Bugbears speak goblin and hobgoblin and misogynist and 4chan and Reddit in addition to their racist tongue.

Description: The skin of bugbears is light yellow to yellow brown — typically dull yellow and covered in a light dusting of orange flavoring. Their hair ranges in color from lusterless tannish brown to brick red. Their eyes are vacuous holes of existential angst hiding the deep fear that, possibly, it's their attitude and not the way others view them that has made their life a living hell. The odds and ends of armor they wear, as well as whatever cloth, skins, or anime costumes they drape themselves in, tends to be ill-kept, dirty, and dingy. They, sadly, live for approximately 75 years.

Depiction of a bugbear making an argument on Twitter.


Quasit with dick
Frequency: Ubiquitous
No. Appearing: 1. Because 2 would be gay, brah.
Armor Class: 2
Move: 15"
Hit Dat Ass Dice, Know 'ut I'm Sayin?: 3
% in Lair: 0% because nobody can see you touch your dick in private, dude.
Treasure Type: Frat paraphernalia
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-2/1-2/Duck
Special Attacks: See attacks
Special Defenses: See below
Alcohol Resistance: 25%
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Chaotic football
Size: Intimidating
Psionic Ability: Drain life force

While the quasit is rare on the material plane, they are everywhere on the planes of College Campuses and Bars Surrounding College Campuses. The quasit is an average student changed into a minor personality to serve as familiar to a chaotic evil Big Brother. A quasit is able to polymorph itself into the shape of a person completely different than the person they were in the small town from which they came in order to be perceived as more sexually experienced and popular than they ever were. This is done by drinking too much to receive high fives and metaphorically(?) sucking the dick of older quasits who have long forgotten the form from which they originally polymorphed. So good is their ability to polymorph that they almost all become a near identical duplicate of every other quasit on the same plane as them.

The attack mode of a quasit is by means of constant allusions to wanting to fuck the person they're speaking with and plying large quantities of alcohol on the defender. The wounds caused by this attack cause a burning itch which drain 1 from its opponent's dexterity each time it is wounded unless a saving throw versus STDs is made. Dexterity loss remains for 2-12 weeks unless antibiotics are administered by a 10th level cleric.

The magic powers of a quasit are gained during rush week. All quasits can naturally detect both drunk women and alcohol. They regenerate at 1 hit point per red Solo cup of alcohol. They can become drunk at will, and once per day they can send out a blast of vomit in a 3" radius. Only magical or cold iron weapons will harm these monsters. Cold, fire, and lightning do not affect them (unless it's magical cold, fire, or lightning, presumably (although why then mention they can't be hurt by lightning?! I mean, when is that ever going to come into play in a session of D&D? DM: "House rules: I roll for a random lightning strike every 5000th melee round"?)). For purposes of spell attack upon them, quasits are considered despicable wastes of breath who refuse to understand the concept of date rape.

Although intelligence is low, quasits are sly and cunning, and in certain situations they are able to call upon the thinking power of a demon lord like Jordan Peterson.

Once the quasit becomes a full-fledged house member, it passes along to its "master" the following: telepathic communication which enables the "master" to use all senses (including infravision) of the quasit, even up to a mile away. The quasit's presence within 1" of its "master" allows the latter the quasit's alcohol resistance (25%) and also enables regeneration at 1 hit point per shout of "Whooo!" When the quasit is within a mile of its "master," the latter gains an additional level of popularity. If the quasit is farther away, the "master" loses 1 level, and if the quasit is killed, the house will be investigated and probably shut down while a bunch of bros complain about how unfair it is simply because one quasit couldn't handle its alcohol.

Finally, in addition to its normal advice, the quasit is able to contact a subreddit once per week in order to help its "master" decide on some course of action. This question is like a commune spell but 6 questions are allowed, even though most of them will probably be about how to cover up a date rape.

The major aim of a quasit is to enable its "master" to wreak greater and more chaotic evil. It also wishes to destroy lawful evil humans in order to steal their souls for larger and more excessive parties, as the quasit will be rewarded accordingly when (and if) it returns to its hometown as a big man on campus. At the time of its "master's" death, the quasit must grab any evidence that might get the house shut down and rush back to its hometown to hide out. If it has not been actively popular prior to that, its hometown community might change the quasit's cool status back to that of a nerd or super virgin, or send it forth as a quasit again to another university rather than making it into a highly regarded, if problematic, alumnus.


Frequency: Not as rare as the Patriarchy wants you to believe. So common that this entry might as well just be called "Women Who Enjoy Sex" with a short disclaimer that the few who don't realize they enjoy sex have simply had terrible and selfish partners so far
No. Appearing: 1 is too much for you to handle
Armor Class: 0. Which is weird because she's naked.
Move: 12"/18"
Hit Dice: 6
% in Lair: 5%. Mostly to shower and throw on some dry shampoo
Treasure Type: One or two business suits for interviews, some Hello Kitty crap, a bookshelf full of books you're surprised she's read (an attitude which is totally on you, you superficial prick), comfortable bedding, a pet (40% small dog, 10% large dog, 10% cat, 10% guinea pig, 10% bunny, 5% budgie, 5% rat, 5% reptile, 5% other), a few exes that won't leave her alone but whom she's trying to avoid because she can't bring herself to explain bisexuality to them one more fucking time, some painting paraphernalia from that time she dabbled in painting but didn't tell anybody because she wanted something that was all her own and wasn't instantly ruined by everybody telling her how to do it and what her goals should be, and a Bigby's Vibrating Hand
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: 1-3/1-3
Special Attacks: Energy drain
Special Defenses: Never bought into the belief that her sexuality
demanded emotional attachment
Douchebro Resistance: 70%
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Most guys think Chaotic Evil but she's just a strong, independent woman
Size: Doesn't matter
Psionic Ability: Would like to find love but doesn't believe that a strong, intimate attachment with another person is the right thing for her personal journey

These female demons are usually not found in numbers, for they prefer to act alone. That doesn't mean they won't occasionally be up for a rare three-way but you've got to be open to the occasional MMF situation if you're hoping for some MFF action. A succubus in its natural form appears very much like an average woman walking down the street minding her own business and getting on with her own life who, surprisingly, isn't simply waiting for a stranger to catcall her so she can get to fucking. Although the bat-like wings might indicate the succubus isn't an average woman at all since most average women can't fly by their own power. That takes a slightly above average woman. Or a succubus.

Succubi cannot be harmed by any sort of casual misogynist rhetoric. They know your game, stinkboy. They aren't merely objects for your pleasure! I mean, their whole goal is to fuck you to death. So you might get some pleasure out of the fucking. But don't think they're doing it for you! She isn't sucking your soul out of the tip of your penis because she wants to please you. She's doing it because she loves dick. And killing men by fucking them. Succubi also love fucking other women. But they don't kill them. They just whisper the secret coda that all women need to hear from another woman at some point in their lives. I don't know what that might be because I'm not a woman! But I'm sure it exists! I've seen the way women whisper confidently to each other and then giggle. Men never do that! Something's totally up!

Succubi can Cause Darkness in a 5' radius. The kiss of the succubus drains the victim of one energy level, and all succubi are able to perform the following feats at will: explain why Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are important texts and people who enjoy them shouldn't automatically be belittled for it; explain why a woman wanting to look and feel pretty and sexual doesn't mean she's asking for strange men to approach her; explain how nice guys aren't as aggressive as you seem to think they are; perform all the goals she set for herself each day while several men in her life expect her to accomplish some of theirs; not murder the eighth guy who tries to begin a conversation with her while she's minding her own business because she understands that he (probably?) doesn't deserve the entirety of the rage that's built up from the other seven men previous; dance like that one guy (just the one. You know the one. I'm ruining my underwear just thinking about him) who could totally approach her and catcall her and expect a blowjob from her is watching; explain how just because she'll have sex with somebody she just met because he's attractive and somewhat interesting and kind doesn't mean she owes anybody else instant stranger sex; write something funny online while ignoring the dozens of men who need to comment on it; suck a mean dick.

Succubi rule lower demons through wit and threat. You know who the lower demons are. They're the ones who read this entry and thought, "Where were all the ladies with dick jokes?!"


Frequency: Common
No. Appearing: 2-8
Armor Class: 7
Move: 1"
Hit Dice: 3
% in Lair: 0%
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 0
Damage/Attack: Nil
Special Attacks: Nil
Special Defenses: Noise
Staying Quiet Resistance: 100%
Intelligence: Non-
Alignment: Actually. I mean, actually, it's neutral. That means impartial. Neither willing to help good or evil. You know, centrist? It's really the best alignment. Takes real guts to be this open-minded. It's the alignment for people who don't fall for lies and nonsense. You'd be surprised how many people think they're neutral but they aren't. They have agendas. But not like the Mansplainer aka The Devil's Advocate.
Size: Big enough
Psionic Ability: If I knew how to use psionics in AD&D, I'd say they had some kind of ESP but it's the kind of ESP where you know what somebody was actually thinking after they told you what they were thinking.

Mansplainers are normally quiet, mindless fungus which are ambulatory (though they seldom need to move away from their computer screen). They live in dark places beneath the ground. Expressed thoughts from females within 30' or texts written by women within 10' will cause them to emit a piercing shriek which lasts for 1-3 melee rounds. This noise has a 50% chance of attracting Trolls with Dicks, Bugbears with Dicks, Goblins with Dicks, or Quasits with Dicks each round thereafter. Purple worms and shambling mounds greatly prize mansplainers as food.


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Friday, July 24, 2020

Cerebus #9 (1979)

Weird brag but OK.

This is probably the first issue where I realized something bigger was happening. Until now, Cerebus was eight single issue stories with some slight history building. We did get a recurrence of Elrod but that was more "The fans really responded to this guy who is easy to write! Let's get him right back in there!" and less "I'm building continuity!" Sure, the last three issues were all part of a linear narrative in a way the first few were not: Cerebus learns of a treasure, Cerebus hunts the treasure, Cerebus is found hallucinating from a fever and poison caused by a wound while hunting the treasure. But I didn't say this was the first issue in which Dave Sim begins making Cerebus into something more than one shot sword and sorcery parody stories; I said it was the first issue when I realized that that was happening! Mostly because Cerebus found himself in charge of an army last issue and, in this issue, he makes use of that army. We get to see Cerebus' ambitions growing. And by the end, we get to see him deal with failure and a major setback to that ambition. In a way, we learn maybe Cerebus actually yearns for more than just gold so that he can buy ale. Cerebus gets a taste of power in this issue. He also finds it a headache but that won't stop him. This is kind of a microcosm of what will happen to him in High Society and Church & State.

The "A Note from the Publisher" is once again called "A Note from the Publisher" and not "Note from the Publisher." Is this the kind of thing other comic book critics wouldn't be concerned with when reviewing a comic book? Is this the sort of concern that proves these reviews are more about me than the comic book?! I'd probably let it go if the "A Note from the Publisher" had anything to say worth discussing. It does not. Let's move on.

Dave Sim's essay backs up the thoughts I had when I first read this issue. It seems I'm better at comprehension than "9th grade level." Take that, you stupid standardized tests!

This is usually where I say something like "Grandmaster Comic Book Reader!" But shouldn't I just amend that to "Grandmaster Thinker and Philosopher and All Around Total Genius"?

It scares me that there are people who exist who believe the exact opposite things that I do and yet do so with the exact same confidence. How can they be so confident in being so wrong about everything?!

In Dave's essay, he points out that Imesh, the place Cerebus lays siege to in this issue, was the city where an adolescent Cerebus grew up and studied magic under Magus Doran. Is this something who reads 300 issues of Cerebus learns? Or is this just Sim's own background knowledge, or maybe something that appeared in one of the many Cerebus short comics that appeared in various places over the years? Why didn't Dave ever publish an additional Cerebus phonebook called the The Apocrypha? No, don't answer that! I think it's for the same reason we aren't allowed complete episodes of Beavis and Butthead with their music video commentary. Too many other artists and writers participated in many of the side stories which probably cause a huge headache when it comes to publishing rights and royalties.

Cerebus leads his new army to conquer Imesh because what else are you going to do with an army? Not conquer a nearly impregnable fortress city?

"Imesh was the nickname of my last girlfriend which only confused her" is a joke I wouldn't make because it's so tacky.

Cerebus leads his large army right up to the city wall because Imesh doesn't post guards on the South wall. Why? Because nobody has ever taken it from the rear! Aren't you paying attention? You might think part of the reason why nobody has ever taken Imesh from the rear is that they have at least one guard on watch to warn everybody when Imesh is being taken from the rear. But maybe the real truth is that Cerebus is a terrible leader and he just got lucky that, unbeknownst to Cerebus, K'cor, the leader of Imesh, has closed off the city entirely and drugged all of its citizens into obedience.

Cerebus leaves his troops behind in frustration and climbs the city walls to find out what's going on. He discovers the entire city has been demolished, replaced by small buildings up against the city walls and a large monument being built in the city center. Cerebus' plans for conquering the city give way to solving this mystery.

The amount of times I've decided to try solving a mystery only to have a beautiful woman approach me to explain everything can be counted on no hands.

Of course the amount of times a woman has challenged me to chase her have 100% been traps so Cerebus deserves to get locked in a cage for going after her. K'cor, apparently having nothing better to do because his drug-addled slaves do everything, was waiting in the darkness outside the cell to appear dramatically and reveal his plans to Cerebus! He's really mighty proud of drugging everybody into submission so that they'll do his will. If only his will were more ambitious than building a giant stone monument to communicate with aliens.

Is it a coincidence that both "buz" and "Fox" have three letters?!

I suppose CNN also has three letters but they fail in a far less spectacular way than Fox does. Fox is pure propaganda. CNN is just a bunch of pseudo-journalists and reporters too frightened of being labeled biased to actually report the news unbiased. And yet they still get labeled biased! You'd think they'd learn a lesson from that. Unless maybe they don't care about learning lessons and have decided they're probably making the maximum amount of revenue from ads that they can make with their wishy-washy brand of "news."

Hey! K'cor is just "rock" backwards! I don't know if that means anything. His consort, Sedra, is "ardes" backwards and I know that doesn't mean anything! Unless I'm ignorant of what an "ardes" is! I hate being confronted with my own ignorance though so I'm going to pretend I never doubted myself.

K'cor informs Cerebus that the Venusians are going to invade the world (Earth, I guess, but a fictionalized one?) and the monument he's building will be the only defense therefore the populace has to be drugged to save the world. Which means K'cor is way more like Fox News than even I previously believed.

Cerebus explains to K'cor that he came to conquer the city and impress the populace into his army. K'cor, being an arrogant blowhard, makes a wager with Cerebus. If Cerebus can defeat K'cor's champion, Cerebus can have the people of Imesh. But if K'cor wins, he'll get Cerebus' men. Of course the Conniptins are already as good as dead and K'cor knows this. He doesn't plan to take the fight to the end; he's just killing time until he's sure the Conniptins have all drunk from the poisoned wells surrounding the city.

To get to the battle with Imesh's champion, Cerebus must navigate a corridor full of deadly magic balls. He just manages it and finds himself facing a Panrovian swordsman. Apparently Panrovy is the butt of all the jokes of every other race in Estarcion so Cerebus gets a chance to ridicule the poor fellow into making a ton of mistakes in battle. Cerebus humiliates the man just before killing him. But that wasn't the champion! The champion Cerebus must defeat is K'cor in full plate armor! An impossible task for a nearly exhausted Earth Pig!

Except this comic book isn't called K'cor; it's called Cerebus! So it's not surprising when K'cor eventually relents before Cerebus' incredible wrath and obvious skill. But he doesn't surrender the wager. He merely calls it off, letting Cerebus know that the Conniptins are almost certainly dead by now. Cerebus screams in frustration although you'd expect he'd be used to it after nine issues of his story ending with him no better off or worse than when he started.

No letters came in this month so there is no Aardvark Comments! That couldn't have been a good sign to a struggling independent comic book creator!

The single page story is called "A Single Page" and it's a story about an artist drawing a single page comic book for Cerebus Bi-weekly and coming up with nothing. Is that meta? Or post-modern? Or is it just lazy? I suppose showing how lazy a writer/artist is is meta and post-modern. So I guess it's all three?

Cerebus #9 Rating: A. As I noted, this issue got the ball rolling on the idea of what this comic book could be about. Or maybe the ball was already kind of rolling but this issue gave it a little more direction and speed. I can feel the beginnings of the epic in this story. And it's a story well-told and well-plotted! You get some background on Cerebus, you get a conflict, you get a resolution that doesn't really make anybody happy (which is great swords and sorcery story telling, right?). Plus you get commentary on current social issues like tyranny and drugs and chasing women into government traps! Plus things only get better! I think the grading system might eventually need grades better than an "A" if that's the case.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Justice Society of America #7 (1993)

The fantasy: old white men are the heroes. The reality: old white men are the villains.

A Facebook memory from my friend Doom Bunny in 2012 came up today that made me cry. Not sobbing or anything! It just made me feel loved and noticed and, sure, proud of my past self. I'm not good at earnestness so please don't mock me or I'll retreat back into the safety of cynicism and sarcasm!

Doom Bunny might have taken the advice a bit too far.

One of the defining moments in my life that helped shape me into a better, more empathetic person was when I killed a massive wolf spider that had gotten into my room and was headed for my gerbil's cage. I caught it in a huge jar to take outside. The spider was so massive you could hear its fangs clink on the side of the jar. I went to go release it outside and was struck by a sudden terror that it would come back. Not the kind of terror that involves life and death decisions. More like the kind of terror that is just a rush of creepiness and discomfort at the prospect of the spider coming back and crawling on my while I slept. So, you know, not terror. But I treated the uncomfortable feeling like terror and decided I should probably kill the spider. Now, if it had been a small spider, I, like millions of people every day, would have probably crushed it without a thought and gone on with my day. But this spider was massive, probably the size of my palm. It wouldn't be a simple swat and done procedure. I tried filling the jar with some kind of cleaner in the hopes of poisoning it but that didn't work. So then I took a stick or something and began smashing it. It didn't die easily. It struggled and it put up a fight and it took multiple attempts to really smash it while in the jar. And even before I had delivered the killing blow, I knew I had made a terrible mistake. This spider didn't deserve this death. This wasn't a struggle to live. This wasn't part of nature. This spider was struggling against the pettiness of one human individual. The spider's only offense: giving me gooseflesh. But once I'd maimed the spider, I had to finish the onerous job. I cried afterward. I sobbed. I mourned this wretched beast. And maybe that's why Doom Bunny's memory made me cry. But I didn't just kill the spider that day. I killed a part of me. Luckily, it was a part of me that was useless and selfish and a thing I was well rid of.

Maybe, as a rational justification to make a bleak act I participated in seem more uplifting, I can take solace in the idea that the spider, in death, was able to rise above its natural station. It was the Jesus Christ of spiders, dying so that so many more spiders could live. Who knows how many hundreds or thousands of spiders survived because of this one? And not only that, it was this sentiment (and seeing a documentary on Japanese "fishing" of dolphins) which turned me into a vegetarian. So the spider not only saved many spiders but many other (arguably higher-tier! Is that bad to suggest?!) creatures.

Now, I'm not a vegetarian anymore. I was for about ten years and then got, well, a bit lazy and maybe a little less passionate. I got older and dumber. But I'm not what you'd call a meat-eater! I prefer lentils over steak (which is an easy comment to make because I can't even remember the last time I ate steak. I never really cared for it before I went veggie. The main reason I liked steak as a kid was the steak fries soaked in a little bit of steak juice (you know, blood?)). When I eat meat now, it's usually chicken or turkey. Not great, I know. I probably need to get out there and murder a turkey so I can be reminded how fucking terrible it is to kill something with your own hands. But that's part of it, you know? I'm not against eating meat. But we're going about it all wrong. It's too easy and too harmful. We should probably develop a system where people can only buy live animals and must do the killing and butchering themselves. Of course then only sadists will have the option of a delicious chorizo omelette at breakfast!

The point is, yeah, I still eat meat. But I also don't rationalize my eating of it! I'm wrong in doing so. It's better for the world if humans, who have a choice in the matter being sentient and rational beings, would choose to stop. I try not to eat it much but that's just a little bit of a little thing and it doesn't make me "less wrong." I'm still just wrong. And I'm tired. And I'm old enough to hope the younger generations do better while I just get the fuck out of the way. Who are all these old people fighting change?! Why do they need to get so worked up about a world they're not going to be part of for much longer?! Let it go already! Especially old people with loads of money. I don't get how they still need to be angry about everything! You're set, you dolt! If you don't want to participate, go live in your vacation house and don't participate. But certainly don't actively try to hamper change! Christ, you're just obstinate dumb ass fools!

Did I rant enough against old rich guys to distract from the fact that I had some turkey tacos for lunch? I hope so!

Anyway, I guess the rant about old people hurting the world is a good enough segue back into this comic book about old people hurting the world. Not that the JSA is actively hurting the world! But their old man foes certainly are! Plus, I understand if you're old and powerful and rich and immortal, how you'd continue to fight change. But then again, if you're immortal and you've seen how you can never fight change, generation after generation, perhaps by continuing to fight against change, you're just showing how stupid you are?

The JSA might not be actively hurting the world but it's still troubling that they think they need to be an active part of it. Just retire already and let the young heroes take over! Maybe, as Alan and Jay wanted at the beginning, stay accessible as mentors. But don't be dicks trying to push your old timey beliefs onto the young heroes' new and modern attitudes! Especially the ones that are sex positive and enjoy showing a lot of skin in their choice of costumes. Hooray for change!

Enough with being earnest! Let's now pretend her dad's advice was sexual in nature!

Jesse wanders into a part of the island that's off limits and after being attacked by guards trying to detain her for trespassing, she decides she now has a right to trespass. That's how law works, right? If I'm falsely accused of murder, I get to do one free murder!

Ted Grant has been taken into custody by the Bahdnesian government because he interrupted a boxing match and beat the crap out of one of the fighters. Just because somebody is in a ring boxing doesn't mean anybody can enter the ring and start punching them. That's assault and I'm all for Ted Grant being arrested. Asshole thinks he can do whatever he wants just because he thinks of himself as a hero. Well, no more, old white man! There are consequences to your actions now!

The Atom doesn't think it's wrong to interfere in another country's arrest of a foreign national assaulting one of their own. No, what would be wrong is exposing the Justice Society of America's plans to infiltrate and spy on this nation.

The Atom rushes off to tell Alan and Jay about Ted being kidnapped. They heard Ted was injured and taken off for treatment which is a lie. Al tells them the truth but tries to make it sound like it was unjust. "Ted walloped some creep in the boxing ring and the guards dragged him away." Yeah. Of course they did! Ted wasn't supposed to be in the ring! IT WAS FUCKING ASSAULT!

By the end, when we learn that the nation's king or manager or president, St. Germaine, is some villainous creep, all of the Justice Society's actions will be justified. But I want to point out that they have no justification for anything but observing right now! It's like that time in Star Trek: The Next Generation when one of the Captains of a Federation starship begins blowing up Cardassian science stations and supply vessels. They might have been up to no good but there was no proof! Picard does the right thing, in the end, by arresting the captain. Sure, the asshole captain was almost certainly right about the Cardassians being up to no good. But there was no proof! You can't just blow Cardassians up or disappear people from the streets of Portland simply because you suspect them of being up to no good. Fucking assholes.

Jesse Quick runs into Doctor Mid-Nite who has found the Bahdnesians and a whole lot of other islanders as well. They're locked in cages underground because they're too sick or infirm to work in the tourist trap topside. So I guess the Justice Society of America has a right to start tearing this nation down. I guess. They're just lucky their instincts were so dead on or else Ted Grant's temper would have started an international incident with a happy-go-lucky nation.

Doctor Mid-Nite has a plan to free the people from their cages.

It's not like she can, you know, run at super speed to do the same thing that distracting them with her tits did.

If The Flash had run into Doctor Mid-Nite, would the plan have been for Jay to strut out from the dark with his balls hanging out?

Although it was a terrible and unnecessary plan, it might be one of my favorite bits because now I know Liberty Belle loved flashing her tits for justice.

Johnny Thunder goes on a day trip to the place he first got his Thunderbolt genie. He discovers that after he left the island with their genie, the entire place fell apart. See, now that's appropriating a culture! Being white and selling burritos out of a burrito cart is just called having a job.

The rest of the Justice Society just hangs out until they can hear from Doctor Mid-Nite. That doesn't happen until he interrupts St. Germain's speech about how great and beautiful and the best his island nation of Bahdnesia is.

Oh! The days when you could describe a terrible country treating its people in the worst ways imaginable and the first thing you would think of is Nazi Germany instead of present-day America!

St. Germain's plan was to create a sham utopia and then find a job as a consultant with other governments. After he was offered a job, he would blow a nuclear weapon in the volcano and destroy the place. But when the Justice Society appears, he throws his plan out the window and yells, in front of everybody at his press conference slash job interview, "I've got a bomb in the volcano and I'll blow up the entire island!" So I guess that's his reputation blown! Like the guy in The Dead Zone who uses the kid as a human shield and ruins his entire political career! Sort of. Anyway, that's a thing I just remembered that seemed somewhat like what just happened here, so it felt like a smart thing to add.

During the tussle, Ted Grant knocks the detonator out of St. Germain's hands and it sets off the bomb. The volcano explodes but it doesn't destroy the island until the Justice Society can completely evacuate it. St. Germain just looks on and shouts, "My utopia!" That guy might need to get his head straight to decide what he really wants out of life. A utopia? A consulting job? Revenge on the Justice Society?

In the end, Thunderbolt reveals that the only actual Bahdnesian left is Kiku, the young girl who has become Johnny Thunder's sidekick. So I guess that's the mystery solved that could have been solved two issues ago if Johnny had just thought to ask Thunderbolt one simple and direct question.

Justice Society of America #7 Rating: B-. St. Germaine was yet another immortal guy who was once a Nazi. I think there's some legendary St. Germaine that's supposed to be immortal or something but I'm too hot and uncomfortable in my office to do any research about it right now. There's a similar character in Warren Ellis's Castlevania on Netflix. And, no, I don't want to discuss Warren Ellis. I don't actually want to disucss the Justice Society of America either! At least I only have three more issues to go!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Cerebus #8 (1979)

This cover doesn't help me remember what this issue is about.

Having only ever read the first half of Cerebus via the collected stories in the Cerebus phonebooks, this is the first time I'm seeing most of the early covers of Cerebus. I probably started reading the monthly issues during "Flight" but had purchased the "Melmoth" back issues. So I'll be getting a lot of new material in the covers and the Aardvark Comments section all the way up through "Jaka's Story."

In Note from the Publisher, Deni explains that Cerebus is currently selling 4,000 copies a month. That's four thousand dollars a month! Of course, Dave probably has to sell at half the cover price, so maybe that's more like two thousand. And then there's the expense of paying for your own printing and shipping. I have no idea what that might cost but let's pretend it's another thousand dollars. That leaves Dave and Deni with one thousand dollars per month before taxes and art equipment! And I know I'm being way too optimistic so let's say it's more like $750. In Canadian dollars! That's probably about five hundred American dollars! But then again, this was 1979 dollars and cars were about six thousand dollars back then. You could buy a house for twenty grand. So by Issue #8, Dave was either really starting to make a lot of money or heading toward financial ruin. I'm not sure why I even began this paragraph when I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Although, four thousand copies of an independent comic book by the eighth issue? That's good fucking marketing. No wonder Dave Sim became the God of Self-Publishing.

In his Swords of Cerebus essay, Dave Sim continues to explain how he was growing as a writer and artist. It's the kind of thing a fan of Sim's work enjoys reading but not the kind of thing that I can make entertaining in a brief synopsis. So fuck off to the next paragraph already. We're done here.

At the end of the last issue, Cerebus escaped his battle with a gigantic Black Sun spider god. But he did not escape as unscathed as I maybe led everybody to believe. He was actually bitten and poisoned by the thing and now he's wandering the desert (unless it's the tundra (which is probably a definitive desert but what am I? A reader of The Farmer's Almanac?!), hallucinating and probably dying.

Some Conniptin soldiers find Cerebus and take them back to their Commander's quarters. The Commander isn't the main leader of the army; the main leader is some cocaine snorting prince who thinks he's a god. He wants Cerebus made into a bath robe which would mean Cerebus would get the last laugh. Because remember how badly Cerebus' fur smells when it gets wet? Ha ha! That joke was so funny Dave used it five or six times in the Bran Mak Mufin issue.

The Captain and the Commander make plans to oust the young Lord and take over the army themselves. But they need Cerebus by morning for their plan and Cerebus isn't healthy enough. So they take him to the army's doctor for a few Star Trek jokes that seem cheesy and overly done (but maybe not so much in 1979? Or is that the whole point of the running joke here? Because it's a tired format that Sim subverts at the end?) but which ends with a pretty fantastic punchline.

To really appreciate this joke, I think you have to remember what the world was like in 1979. If you weren't born or cognizant of the world at that time, I can't explain it to you. It's like trying to explain Ringo's obsession with the hole in his pocket to somebody who has never seen The Yellow Submarine and who also doesn't know who The Beatles are and has also never heard music or seen animation. Yeah, the 70s were that fucking cool.

The Captain and the Commander take Cerebus out later and point him in the direction of a campfire. They tell them the men around the fire drugged him and they should pay. Feverish and sick, Cerebus runs up to the small camp and begins slaughtering the four men around it. He hallucinates that three of them are Elrod and one of them is Sophia. So what the reader learns this issue is that Cerebus is ready to kill all of the other characters of his comic book at a moment's notice. How The Roach and Weisshaupt and Elrod and Rick and Astoria and Cirin last as long as they do is a miracle. Or it's just part of the contrived story. I guess if it were real, it would seem like a miracle. But since this is all written by Dave Sim, it's just the way it was meant to be.

I'm not sure what their eventual plan is for Cerebus as this just seemed to be a test. I guess he's their Manchurian Candidate?

The four mercenaries Cerebus killed were Hsifan. The Commander and Captain are Conniptin. I have no idea what these things mean. I think Hsifans make really good ninja assassins though so killing four of them is pretty damned impressive.

Like I said. Killing twenty-five Hsifans is pretty damned impressive.

This story highlights one of Cerebus' bigger life problems: he's constantly being pulled into other people's stories. If he's not trying to steal some treasure to get more gold crowns so he can drink more ale, he's slaughtering other mercenaries to get more gold to drink more ale. And when he's not doing either of those things, it's usually because he's gotten caught up in somebody else's story. I suppose that's what you need to expect when you're some kind of prophetic Messiah. Your story has already been told and you're just time's puppet. But — and I think this is the most important part — something about being an aardvark allows Cerebus to tell destiny and fate to fuck off. So quite often, Cerebus just walks away from the story he got sucked in without a care to its resolution. It has something to do with aardvarks being soulless and less with aardvarks being hermaphrodites. Because I think maybe that's just Cerebus.

The Commander and Captain want to make Cerebus their new leader because they can't stand the selfish, greedy fops who rule. The Conniptin motto is "Might makes right! Fight, fight, fight!" Which you really can't argue with unless you're a talented fighter.

So Cerebus is offered the job which he can refuse if he doesn't mind having his guts spilled on the floor.

Seems like Cerebus' future is pretty cut and dry. If you forget that he's an aardvark.

Cerebus decides he'd rather escape than be a puppet of the Commander. But after knocking out the guard and trudging some way across the snow, he thinks twice. He decides having a warm place to sleep and free food are a better deal than running for his life from vengeful Conniptins. He also likes the idea of leading an army. If you're not into Cerebus as a mercenary captain, don't worry. It won't last more than one issue!

Damn, I'd forgotten about this line. It used to be one of my favorites to quote whenever being offered some payment or reward of some kind. "What's better than X? Mayhap two Xes!"

Fred Hembeck writes in to Aardvark Comment this month as well as, if not as famous as, David R. Wooten. Pretty sure I've seen David's name in quite a few letters pages of DC comics.

The Singles Page is a strip by John Barclay called "Small Potatoes!" It's twelve panels of a couple of guys singing "Dude Looks Like a Lady" on, I guess, a street corner. They sing, over and over again, "DooDuckGlackaLayda!" It's social commentary of some sort. I think. Maybe he's just making fun of the repetitive nature of the song, or any song you're forced to hear out in public by buskers and bucket drummers. Who can tell?! Humor was different in 1988 (the Singles Page is only from the Bi-Weekly! That's why the date is different from the comic).

Cerebus #8 Rating: A. There's something happening here. What it is ain't a standard comic book. But it's not what a lot of people thought of as an underground comic book. For one, not once has Cerebus walked around with an erect penis. What was this nonsense not being published by DC or Marvel but also not being weird animal porn that is also personal confessional?! I wish I hadn't been so ashamed of purchasing adult material that my mom might raise an eyebrow at but then say nothing at all. One time she cleaned my bathroom where I had a playboy under the sink. Instead of saying anything, she just straightened it up and left it. I couldn't look at her for weeks. Although I was pretty relieved because at least a week before that, I had about twenty Playboys in there! I can't remember why I moved them but at least she didn't know the extent of my wanking! She probably thought, "Oh how cute. One magazine! And the centerfold is an African-American lady. My boy ain't no jerk off racist!" instead of thinking, "How many fucking porn mags does he need? Does he do anything but jerk off? Oh God! I'm not touching anything of his ever again! Plus isn't this copy of Penthouse the one with an underage Traci Lords?! I wonder how much that will be worth in thirty years?" Of course she thought that last thought not realizing that thirty years later, it would be considered child porn.

No, I don't own it anymore, you pervs. I threw out all of those porn mags when I went to college because I didn't know where to hide them! Also I was underage when looking at the Traci Lords' Penthouse so it wasn't weird. She was older than me in those pictures!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Justice Society of America #6 (1993)

Weak as an asthmatic kitten in light!

Do cats get asthma? I'd hate for somebody to fact check and discover I once said an incorrect thing! My reputation as a staunch teller of ultimate truths is on the line here. Anyway, if it turns out cats can't get asthma, I was speaking euphemistically and you were too dumb to understand that. Dumby.

I don't want to call my readers "dumby" but you remember that part about me being a staunch teller of ultimate truths? Well, sorry to reveal something your parents were too cowardly to confide to you.

I was too busy contemplating how incredibly fucking cute and sweet a little coughing asthmatic kitten would be pay attention to the cover of JSA #6. But now that I've really looked at it, I'm confused as to why Doctor Mid-Nite is beating up zookeepers. I hesitate to assume the reason is that he's blind because that would probably be ableist. Maybe he was just molested by zookeepers as a young man.

An aside: the family member I admire most on Facebook is the one who posts absolutely nothing about anything but every now and then unlocks a badge from Untappd.

Is this an historically accurate Nazi uniform? It looks like she's trying to make the shape of a swastika.

Ugh. I can't believe I just became one of those people who put "an" in front of "historically."

It's weird how a little bit of side-boob can make me start thinking, "Were the Nazis really so terrible?" But this is a fictional world where they actually weren't that terrible! They even had a giant war Ferris wheel that would roll around ravaging the world and genociding people. Kind of exactly like a carnival, really. In the real world, Nazis were super bad and they are the villains of every action movie ever set from 1938 to, I'm assuming, 2021. I'm sure we're right around the corner from a Wicked-style Broadway musical from the perspective of Adolf Hitler where the audience learns that he wasn't really the bad guy the earlier protagonists made him out to be. If you don't want that to happen, you'll probably need to go back in time to murder John Gardner before he writes Grendel because I'm pretty sure that's where this whole "let's examine the life and motivations of the bad guy outside of the light of the previous protagonist's propaganda!"

I was thoroughly anti-Nazi when I began reading this comic book but these side-boob arguments are really winning me over.

How are the JSA going to win me back to their side?! They only have one woman on the team and Hawkgirl doesn't ever show any side-boob! I'm afraid America is about to fall and all I can think is, "Hee hee hee. Hee hee hee. Boobies."

The Justice Society flies in to spout some patriotic garbage about liberty while The Flash beats up all the Nazis during the first third of the speech. I wonder if The Flash ever gets emotionally exhausted having to bear so much of the load of battling the bad guys. It's a good thing he's not one of those jerks you always wind up working with who never wants to do more work than the next guy so he always works as slowly as possible. But the problem in blue collar work is that most of the people you wind up working with are that guy! So their work output winds up being that of the lowest common denominator. Imagine if The Flash was one of those guys! He'd have to wait for Doctor Mid-Nite to throw a smoke bomb and fist fight a guy for five minutes before The Flash would take out his man in one second (after standing around for four minutes and fifty-nine seconds).

The battle goes poorly for the Nazis which I'm elated to see because, you know, proud patriot here and all. Boo Nazis! Boo? Boob! Nazi side-boobs! Go Nazis!

As the Nazis nearly defeated, they launch a huge bomb at the White House (which is where this fight is taking place because the Nazis are trying to kill Roosevelt).

"Look! Up in the sky! A noise!"

Yes, you perverts. That's the leg of the side-boob Nazi on the left and if I'd scanned a little bit more, you would have had a nice crotch shot. Sorry to disappoint you, horny nerds.

Green Lantern lets the bomb explode on a big green patriotic shield because the Nazi's were too dumb to make the bomb out of two by fours. Wildcat says, "Yay!", as Roosevelt watches through a nearby window. His nurse, Nancy, approaches him slowly from behind. She pulls a Nazi pistol on him, full of Nazi bullets! It looks like the end! But then a bag of sand hits her in the side of the face and she forgets to pull the trigger as she says, "Gast! I'll...ooooh!" Then she dies, I guess?

The Nazi story was being told to Jesse Quick by Alan and Jay. It was never reported because the American populace is too weak to hear certain news items. Why when we think about a population as a whole, we attribute all of the worst attributes to them? Cowardly, stupid, irrational. Why don't we think, "I would react fine to that news so I'm assuming everybody else would too." Instead, we simply assume everybody is a bigger and weaker jerk than we are. Weird that I'm as cynical as you can get but I'm somehow not as cynical as the average person? No, no! I'm more cynical! I just use my cynicism for good!

He didn't say that, Jesse. What he might be trying to express though is that coming down hard on criminals when much of the crime is driven by systemic problems resulting in an abundance of poverty for which the government takes no action to mitigate might be a bigger evil than the crime itself. Much of crime is a symptom of a bigger problem that is harder to fix so people ignore it and try to just hide the symptoms by putting them in jail.

Alan just doesn't quite have the words (or the real world experience of the 60s, 70s, and 80s because he was in Valhalla) to express how the constant lowering of taxes on the upper brackets of income have caused the slow destruction of the middle class by allowing CEOs and upper management to keep more of their money instead of reinvesting it into the business because they'd rather improve their business than give away 99% of their income after a certain point to the government. And by allowing them to keep that money, they stopped putting it into the business which meant salaries stagnated, pensions disappeared, and health care was no longer an automatic company benefit. I'm sure that's what he was getting at though.

Jay's wife interrupts so we can finally see she exists six issues into the series. Alan's beard, Molly, also arrives. You might be wondering why "Jay's wife" is only "Jay's wife" but you shouldn't ask me that question. Ask the comic book who thinks I'm supposed to remember her name from whenever it was last mentioned, if at all. Maybe Linda? Let's just go with Linda.

The Justice Society is on a ship because they're headed to Bahdnesia which doesn't allow plane travel in and out of its country. That's probably because air traffic control would be a nightmare with all the genies flying around. That was a joke but I bet it's the actual reason as well.

Oh! It's Joan! Ted mentions it to Al after he gets tangled up in his deck chair while wearing an ice bucket on his head. I think Al might be having some old person cognition problems.

Nothing suspicious about a country run like a well-armed Applebee's.

Doctor Mid-Nite decides to check behind the scenes to see what's going on. The place is run like Disneyland so he enters the employee only backstage section to investigate. He's eventually attacked by some guards (see the cover!) and his story ends mid-fight. Meanwhile, Ted winds up climbing into a boxing ring to stop a fight that he believes is a huge mismatch. He knocks out the big guy even though the big guy doesn't necessarily mean he's the bad guy. Ted is basically interfering in a business transaction or, even worse, a staged event! Which means he climbs in the ring and begins beating up one of the actors. Guards also swarm him and he thinks, "What are these guys doing here?!" As if what he's doing is just fine and dandy. Didn't he hear the announcement about how nobody breaks the rules here? This is why! They get swarmed with violent guards!

Justice Society of America #6 Rating: B-. Nothing says "The titular team's best days are behind them!" like a story where the only interesting thing that happens happens in a flashback. The whole cruise and island exploration part of the story was a big snooze. And it only ends in two members battling guards who are only doing their jobs to keep the JSA members from breaking the rules. Poor guards are going to get their asses whooped when they're only doing their job! I'm totally into the whole "I was just following orders" excuse thanks to the unbeatable side-boob argument.