The Pick of the Brown Bag
October 1, 2013
This week in Pick of the Brown Bag, I review Action Comics, Batwing, Detective Comics, Earth 2, Forever Evil and Swamp Thing, but first my thoughts on the government shutdown and other diarrhea of the mouth.
I've never had any use for the elected representatives of the Republican Party. I've always considered them to be racist, misogynist, classist bastards, and they've done nothing to make me reconsider that position, but we're not getting rid of these monsters any time soon. So, I have a proposal. Let's pay the Russians to be our enemy again.
The Cold War kept Republicans out of trouble. I'm not saying they were good at fighting the Cold War. They weren't, but ever since detente, Republicans have been looking for an enemy. The Middle East is too complex an area for the Republicans to figure out. You need an erudite, born peacemaker to deal with the shades of gray there.
Republicans however are intrinsically antagonistic. No wonder they like to fellate the National Rifle Association so much. Like spoiled bullies, they need something to fight. Their paranoid delusions were far safer than the megalomaniacal ones they now hold dear.
The crackers in the Republican party hate the very idea that a black man could have been popular enough to be elected let alone re-elected, especially over their Ayn Rand approved Rombot. Worst of all, every one of the President's policies attempts to promote tolerance and help the poor and middle class. The Republicans of today abominate women, the LGBT community, minorities and of course everybody else that's not a Republican. Republicans in short are inimical to tolerance.
Speaker of the House John Boehner weeps that he's just as upset about the government shutdown as you. That's what's called a lie. He could end the shutdown in a heartbeat just by stop being a prima donna and suck up his egregious idiocy. He just needs to declare this whole ploy insane, promise no reprisals for any Republican who sides with the Democrats to bring a clean bill to President Obama's desk, ally with the Democrats himself and apologize for being a horse's ass. This won't happen.
In the end, the Republicans stick together no matter how lunatic the policy. They should change their symbol from elephant to lemming. Like the myth, they're all willing to commit mass suicide just because one particularly stupid lemming decides it's a good idea.
Dumbest Canadian on the Planet
Despite the GOP collectively possessing the intelligence of a below average ficus plant, the Tiara of Sphincterhood doesn't go to anybody in the higher echelons of government. No, we must turn local in order to award this uncoveted noisome prize to...
Old One-Term himself...Governor Tom Corbett, who compared gay marriage to marriage between brother and sister.
What a dick.
Now onward to the comics...
Last week, "Villain's Month" put the kibosh on most of the selections. I picked up Wonder Woman because it seemed necessary for continuity. Brian Azzarello revealed the secret of the First Born. Turns out, he's Hyena-Tarzan. Zeus abandons his son on the plains of Africa where he's found by a mama Hyena, instead of Kala the she-ape. I expected a little more imagination.
Since the First Born's a god, he can screw hyenas. Yeah, just go with it. The Hyena-Men plaguing Wonder Woman are his descendants. Yuck. Even factoring in the disgust, the revelation was pretty small potatoes considering the build up, and during this process Apollo, the celestial Stuntman Mike, wastes three women he turns into oracles. This was death for no good reason.
Polar bears played a part in last week's Captain Midnight. To even the score with Midnight, Fury Shark threatened Charlotte, the granddaughter of the Captain's former assistant, with polar bears. Fury Shark's father fell victim to World War II polar bears, and Fury Shark blames Captain Midnight for not rescuing her father. Captain Midnight was a decently written issue with the usual excellent artwork, but nothing to write home about. About the only thing we learned is that Fury Shark's father held unrequited respect for Captain Midnight because he too was an inventor. Also a Nazi. So tough.
The Wake was basically Gill-Men gone amok. It wasn't scintillating, and strangely unmoving. I think that's because I don't believe that the humans should have gone into the Gill-Men's habitat in the first place. In Aquaman's "The Trench," the Piranha Men are the invaders. In The Wake we are.
The best book of last week was Bart Simpson. The comic consisted of three stories, all of which were hilarious. In John Zakour's "Treehouse of Monkeys" Professor Frink's enhanced simians wage a war against Bart and Milhouse over Bart's treehouse.
Slapstick comedy ensues along with a superb guest appearance by Homer J. Simpson, livening up the story by just being himself. He has the same effect in television episodes that do not focus on his antics. So good job, Mr. Zakour for replicating the time honored formula. Zakour includes another guest from The Simpsons cast, and he amps the tale by catalyzing the violence. During his scene, colorist Art Villanueva accents John Delaney's and Andrew Pepoy's depiction of action with visual effect. The stand-out moment compliments the smooth Simpsons modeling present in the whole banana.
In the final tale by Max Davison, Bart uses Milhouse as his guinea pig in a quest to gain superpowers. A lot of the things that Bart tries would have killed the young Dutchman in real life, but this comic book plays by The Simpsons rules. So survival ties into the relative toughness of cartoon characters. Artists Nina Matsumoto and Pepoy relish the opportunity to demonstrate screwball send ups of well known superhero origins.
This week ephemeral soon-to-be-found in the quarter box "Villain's Month" ends. The lenticular cover fever passes, and DC creates a nettlesome theme with Forever Evil. Don't misread, Forever Evil is still better than nearly anything from the post-Crisis, but it relies on the idea of the Justice League being eliminated from the equation. That means the other titles offered this month take place in the past.
Forever Evil already put an end to the inconsequential storylines running in Nightwing and Batgirl, but rather than start fresh, DC is allowing the writers to finish up what we already know. Fortunately, Action Comics and Detective Comics both entice with something new for the reader, despite their stars being incapacitated or missing, with respect to Forever Evil.
Forever Evil answers the question about one of the Justice League's whereabouts, and it makes for an exciting cliffhanger. Before that though, writer Geoff Johns demonstrates just how evil the Crime Syndicate can be, in addition to the shades of their evil. No, not 50 shades.
Johnny Quick and Atomica are just psychotics. They remind me of the way Beatniks were portrayed in 1950 Republican films. These sort of hedonistic teenagers digging poetry and bongos that for no reason at all pull out switchblades and threaten a self-made business man in a suit and tie. Republicans hate young people. They see youths as threats.
Owlman wants to rule the earth and as such demands the cities and the government to be taken over not dismantled. It's easier to be a cuckoo in somebody else's nest. Johns also establishes a goofy triangle between Owlman, Superwoman and Ultraman that is kind of the goofy triangle that DC attempted to suggest between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, in their marketing. Different kind of Trinity.
Our homeland antagonists start establishing opposition. Lex Luthor dons some familiar duds and releases an even more familiar weapon. Johns however anticipates the possibility that you just might root for the villain and orchestrates a nasty end for another character with ties to the Superman mythology.
If we're going to cheer for any villain in these books it's likely to be the Flash Rogues, who as I suspected intend to step up to combat the chaos. They're organized bank robbers, and that's all they want to be. Steal money to buy stuff. Live within a code of conduct while doing it. They're not as amiable as Charlie's Crew from The Italian Job, but they're the ones closest to sharing the same sensibilities as the heroes, who suffer even more this issue.
Superman combats the Psycho Pirate in Scott Lobdell's Action Comics. This is largely a by the numbers altered reality story. Superman experiences his memories twisted by the villain in episodic fashion. Lobdell doesn't dwell on these fragments, but it's still tiresome. However, he rewards the reader with one helluva cliffhanger. I wonder if Ron Frenz got paid for that.
Jon Layman's and Justin Fabok's Detective Comics is exciting from page one to the near finish. It almost reads like a giant monster movie with Batman taking the role of Godzilla or Gamera, and the Wraith positioning himself at the opposite end of the versus.
Like the stars I just mentioned, the Dark Knight displays little difficulty when beating the crap out of the villain. That's how it should be. This issue is also the crux in which the Gotham City police, and not just Commissioner Gordon, accept Batman wholly. If not for an epilogue which promises the return of the adle-minded creation Emperor Penguin, this would have been a perfect issue. Still, it's impressive.
When last we left Batwing the neophyte hero was falling to his death, courtesy of assassin Lady Vic. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray explore the many facets of Lucas Fox's life as he ups the game against his enemy. Along the way, Gray and Palmiotti produce spectacular characterization for Batman during his cameo and conceive cool new toys for the Batwing arsenal.
Batman probably wouldn't have employed such tools. He doesn't need any help when instilling fear, but Batwing isn't a figure of fright. Instead, he's a young, techno adventurer given style through Eduardo Pansica's and Julio Ferreira's artwork. Paul Mounts colors really pop when Batwing drops in on the ladies, and they humorously don't take too kindly to the invasion of their belfry.
Another perennial Batman foe makes his new 52 debut in Charles Soule's Swamp Thing. Alec Holland protects new interest Capucine, the immortal French fighter who previously encountered the various Green's avatar, from the Seeder. The Seeder previously created havoc with Whiskey Tree, and he also broke Capucine's arm. That tale was weird. This beginning of a new story is actually comedic.
The leafy Parliament reveal some unsavory facts about the Seeder and hedge their bets to generate some really funny moments as Alec realizes what's been happening.
The finale allows illustrators Andrei Bressan and Matt Wilson to firmly root the most riotous moment in Swamp Thing's entire history, not just the new 52.
Finally, James Robinson's Earth 2 runs like clockwork going through the motions of Nicola and Trevor Scott's lovely artwork and Peter Pantazis' iridescence. The wonders of the parallel world band together to save lives, except Alan Scott, the Green Lantern who consumed with revenge for his lover Sam takes on the evil New Gods by himself. Things happen as you expect, and then Robinson reveals who lies behind the Baron Karza mask leaving you completely flabbergasted.
That's all for now. Tune back next week for fresh reviews. I'll also be sharing my Comic-Con photos. Right now, here's my autographed picture of lovely person Daphne Ashbrook, in her Doctor Who 1996 opera dress. She's inadvertently sitting in seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy's chair.