Friday, July 16, 2010


Amazing Spider-Man #637

Oh my god it's been so fucking hot for weeks now, I haven't been able to concentrate enough to do jack or shit, let alone both jack and shit at the same time. But there's always comics - dear, sweet, slutty comics, always good for a jerk off in the back of a sweltering Oldsmobile, even when you can barely focus your thoughts through the haze of red heat enough to remember to drink enough fluids to keep from dying.

What's this, again? The culmination of a years' worth of stories and subplots? Really, Marvel? This is your "final answer"? You go to all the trouble of bringing back Kaine - pleasing those folks with misguided fond memories of all things clone - only to fake us out with a really gorey on-panel death. It has all built - towards what? A Julia Carpenter relaunch? OK, I don't mind, I always liked her when she was a West Coast Avenger, even though she hasn't done shit all since then. Maybe someone has an idea for her? Where was the Shroud when all this was happening, or did they break up off-panel?

Here's the deal, it's an old rule from improv class, you should never say "no." Saying "no" closes off possibilities, saying "yes" leads you in unexpected and potentially fruitful directions. Sometimes it reads as if the people who write these comics have a hard time saying "yes" to anything, because every plot ultimately leads towards something much smaller and more banal than anyone expected. It's like, how many story possibilities did they leave on the table by the time Dark Reign wrapped up in Siege? You don't say "no," you say "yes." The Gauntlet seemed at the outset like it was going to be a classic epic slobberknocker - but ultimately, it fizzled out without any real through-line, just a bunch of soft reboots of old villains, all of which were only as good as the responsible creators. There was that pretty great Mysterio story by Dan Slott, a poor Electro story by Mark Waid, an unbelievably crass and sleazy Lizard story by someone I can't even remember. In between somewhere there was a pretty awesome Juggernaut story that they didn't even bother to tie into the Gauntlet even though there was really no reason it was any more or less connected to the overarching "theme" than any of the other pieces. All building up a big wet fart of an anti-climax, where Spider-Man almost CROSSES THE LINE and stabs the man who killed a bunch of people and almost killed him a number of times - but boy, if you cross the line and kill a horrible mass-murderer, it's only one step away from become an outcast pariah murderer so awful that even famed serial murderer Wolverine will personally point the accusing finger of morality at you as they kick you out of the Avengers. Because it's not like Thor hasn't killed probably thousands of people over the centuries just because, you know, he got drunk in Svartalfheim that one time and decided to flood Denmark or something. Point being, all these comics know how to do is to paint themselves into corners and just scream "NO NO NO NO" as loud as they possibly can.

Shadowland #1

Speaking of moral hypocrisy, there's this big fat piece of shit. Pardon my french.

I guess the Heroic Age means that superheroes get to be moral coward hypocrites, now that they're not living in the shadows and being hunted by the government anymore. Has no one at Marvel or DC ever read Lord Jim? I don't mean to harp on this same note, but Jesus H. Christ they keep strumming this same tune over and over again long past the point of it making any sense whatsoever: if you ever find yourself in the position of being able to kill a mass-murderer - even a mass-murderer in the process of carrying out another act of mass-murder - you can't actually kill him without becoming no better than a mass-murderer yourself. Those are The Rules. All of which is just - well, the problem is that the moment they started having villains kill indiscriminately, they kept the heroes arms' tied to the Hoyle's Rulebook. Simple solution: don't have villains kill so much anymore. Be creative. When was the last time a superhero had to bust his ass to stop a jewel heist? Or how abotu kidnapping a foreign dignitary? All good ideas. But no: it's all ninjas and dark murder cults, no wonder the kids don't give a shit. I can barely give a shit and I get off on bad comics for a living.

But this isn't bad fun, like The Room by American Auteur Tommy Wiseau, this is bad boring, like watching some late-night Cinemax original movie - not one of the porn ones that are at least slightly interesting because, hey, is he performing cunnilungus on her belly button, because that angle is really not right - but one of those movies where Tom Berenger's second cousin plays a former cop out for revenge because the mob framed his kid brother for selling dope to crippled Eskimaux. You've seen all the bits before, only this time they don't even bother to try and mask it with something besides frank contempt for their audience. First of all, Daredevil building an Evil Dojo in the heart of Manhattan - OK, I think I already see a problem in your story. Second, and here's the clincher, we're supposed to think that Daredevil has finally CROSSED THE LINE by shanking Bullseye. Come on, I'm sorry - if you had Daredevil killing, I don't know, the Matador or Stilt-Man or something, that would be CROSSING THE LINE. But Bullseye? The same Bullseye who's got a body count somewhere in four or five digits? I'm sorry, folks: if I came across a mass-murderer with that kind of body count walking free on the streets, and I had a sai in my hand . . . look, let's not beat around the bush, let's go right to the heart of the matter. Someone like Bullseye, in these comics, has a body count somewhere in the vicinity of Osama Bin Laden. If you saw Osama walking around downtown New York and you had the opportunity to stab that fucker, wouldn't you? I mean, really - I'm a goddamn pacifist, never thrown a punch in anger in my whole life, but if you had the shot for Osama and you didn't take it, you'd never be able to look yourself in the eye again for the rest of your life. But Daredevil, nope, he can't possibly ever kill someone who up-close-and-personal murdered not one but two "loves of his life." I'm sorry, this is just moronic - if they can't write a story that doesn't insult my common sense so aggressively, then they don't deserve my money, and I'll be damned if being able to buy and read this turd SAME DAY AND DATE on my iPad will make this turd seem any less stinky. (Note: I do not have an iPad.)

The Thanos Imperative #2

One of the problems with living in the internet age is that pretty much every whim can be satisfied immediately. Like, years ago I remember hearing about how the RZA's instrumental soundtrack to the movie Ghost Dog was released only in Japan, and was entirely different from the rap tie-in soundtrack they released in the states. I tucked this info into a distant corner of my brain, thinking I might see the Japanese version used somewhere at some random point in the future, but unable to bring myself to pay who knows what kind of ungodly tariff to order the disc new from across the Pacific Ocean. Fast forward to earlier this week: I've been going through a mini-Wu Tang phase since I rediscovered how awesome Liquid Swords is, so I remembered about that RZA disc I never got the chance to hear back in the day. Short story short, I went online, found a torrent and the complete album was on my hard drive within five minutes. What's the moral? Basically, the album is OK but it's not as great as my mind had imagined for all those years. If I had found a used copy in a dusty record store somewhere in the last decade, would I appreciate it more than now, when I was able to easily find the music for free with no effort whatsoever?

That's a question I can't answer. I can say, however, with no small degree of confidence, that you are unlikely this year or the next to see anything cooler than a giant Lovecraftian centipede starship built out of Galactus' skull. That is exactly what this comic has to offer, it's beautiful, I didn't know I even wanted it but now that I have it I know for certain I've never wanted anything more.

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