Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crooked Little Vein Review

This should appear in the next issue of the University of Windsor Lance:

Crooked Little Vein
By: Warren Ellis
William Morrow
280 pgs., $27.95

Crooked Little Vein begins with the best line you’ll read this year: “I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug.” It’s brash, aggressive and practically dares you not to keep on reading.

Crooked Little Vein is famed comic book writer Warren Ellis’ long-awaited first novel and it falls in line with his comic work like Transmetropolitan, Fell and Desolation Jones. The novel begins with private detective Michael McGill waking up in his office (where he now lives) to find the president’s heroin-shooting chief of staff wants to hire him to find the Secret Constitution of the United States, which Richard Nixon traded for sexual favours in the 1950s.

This case launches McGill on a cross-country search where he encounters “people who want to fuck Godzilla,” men who like to inject salt water into their testicles and rich lawyers who host orgies with teenage virgins and then bet on which will end up with HIV.

Oh, this book may not be appropriate for more sensitive readers. Just so you know.

Accompanying McGill on his journey is Trix, a grad student doing her thesis on extremes of self-inflicted human experience. She is McGill’s guide into this so-called sexual underground and also becomes his girlfriend, sort of.

While extreme in some parts, McGill shares the presumed sensibilities of the reader and is as freaked out by almost everything he encounters. However, Ellis is careful not to take sides himself, giving opposing views equal time and equal weight. While some may think it’s weird and perverted to masturbate to giant rubber lizards that doesn’t make it so.

The entire search becomes a question of what is mainstream America anymore. Are these people sick freaks or are they normal? Why is a TV show with only a few million viewers considered mainstream while internet sites, which can reach everyone in the world considered the fringe? McGill is asked this again and again without any way to answer.

The Secret Constitution raises the stakes as the White House wants to use it to restore “morality” to America, bringing it back to the sensibilities of the 1950s before gay marriage and pop stars who dress like porn stars and, well, everything the supposed mainstream hates. For someone like Trix, the concept is horrifying, but McGill is torn between finishing the job and what he possibly thinks is right.

Ellis’ style is brisk and very, very funny. He creates a diverse cast of characters, all realistic in their various insanities and never seems to judge. He leaves all judgements to the characters, including McGill, our narrator. The use of first-person narration is a smart choice because it creates an easier access point for readers, especially those not used to this type of material.

One of Ellis’ best techniques is using short chapters for comedic purposes, like chapter three:

“An hour later, I walked into some freak bar on Bleecker Street and yelled, ‘I’m buying a hundred drinks--for me!’

“Oh, they beat the shit out of me.”

That’s the entire chapter, but its length adds to the humour and breaks up the action well. Ellis is smart to only do this once in a while, so it never gets overused.

Crooked Little Vein manages to take the Chandler-esque private detective and update him for the twenty-first century in this weird trip through the America you didn’t know existed. It’s a fantastic debut for Warren Ellis and one of the most entertaining book you’ll read this year.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Magic Eight Ball Mondays: "Well, fuck."

Another week, another Q&A session with the magic eight ball. Before I get started, just a reminder that you can still pledge money for my blogging 24 hours this past Saturday/Sunday until tomorrow night at 11:59 pm EST by clicking the sheep on the right. The money goes to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. And there's also an index of all of my Blogathon posts below. Lots of stuff about Joe Casey-written comics. And Led Zeppelin.

Now, let's get on with this . . .

Me: Hey, magic eight ball. Ready to answer some questions about DC's Countdown?

8: My Sources Say No

Me: Well, fuck.

I guess I'll have to try again next week. Damn magic eight ball.

By the way, if you have any yes/no questions for the magic eight ball, just submit them via comments or e-mail us.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogathon 2007 Archive Post

Well, went to sleep at nine, woke up at 2:30, which is decent. I wanted to wake up mid-afternoon so my sleep schedule doesn't get too fucked up.

So, was that fun or was that fun?

Here is a collection of links of all the posts:

Blogathon 01: Good God, The Sun Rises In The East?
Blogathon 02: Mr. Majestic #1
Blogathon 03: Mr. Majestic #2
Blogathon 04: Mr. Majestic #3
Blogathon 05: Mr. Majestic #4
Blogathon 06: Mr. Majestic #5
Blogathon 07: Mr. Majestic #6
Blogathon 08: And now for a word from our sponsors
Blogathon 09: Mr. Majestic #7
Blogathon 10: Mr. Majestic #8
Blogathon 11: Mr. Majestic #9
Blogathon 12: Oh to be at Comic-Con now that summer is here
Blogathon 13: Uncanny X-Men #394
Blogathon 14: Uncanny X-Men #395
Blogathon 15: Uncanny X-Men #396
Blogathon 16: Uncanny X-Men #397
Blogathon 17: Uncanny X-Men #398
Blogathon 18: Uncanny X-Men #399
Blogathon 19: Uncanny X-Men #400
Blogathon 20: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Blogathon 21: Uncanny X-Men #401
Blogathon 22: Uncanny X-Men #402
Blogathon 23: Uncanny X-Men #403
Blogathon 24: Uncanny X-Men #404
Blogathon 25: Uncanny X-Men #405
Blogathon 26: Uncanny X-Men #406
Blogathon 27: Uncanny X-Men #407
Blogathon 28: Uncanny X-Men Annual 2001
Blogathon 29: Uncanny X-Men #408
Blogathon 30: Uncanny X-Men #409
Blogathon 31: Magic Eight Ball Midnights Part One
Blogathon 32: Magic Eight Ball Midnights Part Two
Blogathon 33: Adventures of Superman #612
Blogathon 34: Adventures of Superman #613
Blogathon 35: Adventures of Superman #614
Blogathon 36: Adventures of Superman #615
Blogathon 37: Adventures of Superman #616
Blogathon 38: Adventures of Superman #617
Blogathon 39: Adventures of Superman #618
Blogathon 40: Adventures of Superman #619
Blogathon 41: Adventures of Superman #620
Blogathon 42: Adventures of Superman #621
Blogathon 43: Adventures of Superman #622
Blogathon 44: Adventures of Superman #623
Blogathon 45: Three Joe Casey Books
Blogathon 46: Writing v. Brainstorming
Blogathon 47: All-Nighters
Blogathon 48: Three Joe Casey Books Part Two
Blogathon 49: "So goodnight, Hollywood Blvd., goodnight"

And remember, you can still pledge. Click on the sheep, all money goes to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

Blogathon 49: "So goodnight, Hollywood Blvd., goodnight"

Well, that does it. 24 hours, 49 posts and a shitload of comics. It's been fun. Thanks again for people's support.

I'd like to remind you that you can still pledge money by clicking on the sheep to your right up until 11:59 pm EST Tuesday night. The pledges go to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, which is a good cause.

It was a fun time. I'm pretty tired now.

This concludes our broadcast day. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Blogathon 48: Three Joe Casey Books Part Two

I've always been the type of person who follows a writer, not an artist. But, I wonder, were the Mr. Majestic and Adventures of Superman runs better because of the art? Ed McGuinness followed by Eric Cante and Toby Cypress on the former, Derec Aucoin and Charlie Adlard on the latter. Uncanny X-Men, on the other hand, had Ian Churchill, Sean Phillips, Ashley Wood, and a bunch of other people. Would it have been a better comic with a single artistic vision?

Or what of the use of narration? In both Mr. Majestic and Adventures of Superman narrative captions are used, while not in Uncanny X-Men. Did that have an impact? Or storylines? At the time of Uncanny's release, Marvel was shifting to storyarc-based books, "writing for the trade" as it were, while the other two books tended towards shorter, more self-contained stories. Even the five-issue art in Superman was three mostly self-contained issues and then a two-parter. Every other story either a single issue or two-parter.

I really do wonder if editorial was at fault for Uncanny X-Men just because the general quality level is SO much lower than what Casey usually produces. I mean, what are the odds that his one really shitty book is an X-book and the X-offices were known for editorial bullshit that fucked up stories, but not this time?

Some day, I may do a more extensive and cohesive piece on Uncanny X-Men, because I think it's interesting. A look at Superman as a pacifist could work, too.

Just so you know, I read nearly every comic I discussed ahead of time, from Wednesday onward. The last three Adventures of Superman issues were read tonight before I wrote about them. I never wrote anything in advance, maybe pondered a little, but even that's stretching it. Mostly, I came in without much thought and just wrote what came to me.

See you in 30 for the end.

Blogathon 47: All-Nighters

Ah, the final hour. I've stayed up all night a few times. At least twice because I was writing papers for school.

I remember doing that in second year. I think it was a poli-sci paper (I did a combined honors BA in English and poli-sci--and yeah, I always say the full thing because it's much more impressive that way). I had a 9:00 political theory class and then Canadian literature at 11:00. The poli-sci class was only an hour and I nearly fell asleep in it. The Can lit one was an hour-and-a-half and I nearly fell asleep in it. I've never actually fallen asleep in class.

I came close in first year when I had a bad cold, so I bought some medication and failed to notice the "may cause drowsiness" warning. Sure, it doesn't help my cold symptoms but it nearly knocks me out cold. Typical.

One thing I've found when I stay all night is that at the 36-hour mark, I throw up. Now, I have no intention of staying up that long this time. After that 9 am post, I'm going to bed. I was up at 8:30 yesterday morning, so that's only a bit over 24 hours. Not even close to throw up time.

When I did all-nighters for papers I drank juice boxes a lot. I wish I'd thought to get some for this. Some nice fruit punch could do me nicely right about now.

I find it funny how the tiredness comes in waves. There are half-hours where you could fall down and be unconscious before hitting the floor that are then followed by total and complete alertness.

Last summer, I ended up doing an all-nighter simply because I wouldn't fall asleep. That really sucked. I mean, what the fuck was that all about? It was the summer, I had no worries or anything.

Oh god, I could fall asleep right now. Knowing my luck, when nine hits, I'll be wide awake. My body hates me. It and the magic eight ball. Bastards.

Blogathon 46: Writing v. Brainstorming

To keep me awake, I've stuck Big Shiny Tunes 2 in the discman. Details can be found here.

Last week, I spent way too much time listening to all five parts of the most recent Bendis Tapes podcast from Word Balloon and sometime during the whole thing I realised what's wrong with comics and creators promoting upcoming projects: all the creators know are the ideas.

The creators go to these retreats and think up all sorts of cool shit and get pumped, and then the comics come out and people go "Well, shit, dude, that sucks" and everyone is baffled when the answer is simple:


And this is the point where everyone goes "No shit," but it has to be said. Any writer worth anything will tell you that ideas are nothing, but that's what is constantly being hyped in comics: ideas, not writing. We hear about these upcoming storylines that are going to blow our minds, except they're not actually written yet, so how do you know?

Look at Civil War: fantastic ideas, shit execution. I'm serious, the writing on that mini-series was some of the worst garbage I've ever seen. And if you want to know why, go read Tom Brevoort's blog post of Millar's initial ideas. He doesn't construct a story, he lines up a bunch of fanboy orgasm moments, which Millar admits is his strategy. Now, that is one way to write a story--a really shitty way to write a story. And yeah, the book sold huge, but try reading it as a complete story. I did that and THAT IS SOMETHING I CAN NEVER FORGET! "You can't unread what you've read!"

That's why I don't believe any hype at this point. You haven't seen a script? Your opinion is worthless. Cool ideas don't make a good comic and I wish creators would stop talking to us like they thought they do. And, honestly, anyone who places the idea above the actual writing? Hack. Total fucking hack. It's not too hard to spot them, either. Sadly, they tend to sell a lot of books when all people need to realise is that if all that's there is ideas, you can get just as much enjoyment from reading a message board post the day after it's released. Which is one of the reason why Civil War is so horrible to read: once you know the fanboy orgasm moments, there's nothing there. The wad is blown.

Blogathon 45: Three Joe Casey Books

Okay, so I looked at Mr. Majestic #1-9, Uncanny X-Men #394-409 (including the 2001 annual) and Adventures of Superman #612-623: what do these three works have in common besides the fact that Joe wrote (or co-wrote) them?

The main idea that seems to run through them all is evolution. Mr. Majestic evolves, the X-Men are products of evolution and Superman evolves beyond his traditonal self. But, that excludes a lot of stuff, I think. The Majestic evolution only happens at the end, the X-Men don't actually evolve during their run and Superman's evolution is subtle and mostly ignored.

Are they all failures in the sense that each had little or no lasting impact? Despite the fact that I find Mr. Majestic and Adventures of Superman to be fantastic reads, are they both just as flawed as Uncanny X-Men? Obviously, they're more entertaining, but artistically--or is Uncanny X-Men the artistic masterpiece, while the other two are fluff entertainment?

Whatever, I still consider making Superman a pacifist to be one of the most forward-thinking, revolutionary things done in comics in the past decade. At least in the mainstream. The fact that it didn't last beyond those twelve issues is a shame and shows just how fucking spineless the company, editors and creators are. A real chance to move the character forward and seek new challenges thrown away because SUPERMAN MUST HIT THINGS! DERRR!

And Mr. Majestic put back as that fucking Superman rip-off when stories of him on that cosmic guardian level would have been fifty times more interesting.

Nothing from Uncanny X-Men was ignored that should have been used. Maybe pushing Chamber's telepathy a bit, but otherwise, nothing of note.

Maybe the only thing they have in common is Casey.

Blogathon 44: Adventures of Superman #623

In the final issue of the 2003 run of Adventures of Superman, Superman takes Lois around the world and tells her a few stories of his adventures. The details don't matter, all are goofy, but all also involve something happening and Superman using the symptoms of the problem as a way to find the source.

As well, he's struggling with the conflict between being Superman and being a good husband. He claims that he wants Lois more than anything, but at the end, he drops her off and flies away. It's ambiguous what it means because he has to fly away or expose his identity. But, the way Lois says bye also hints that it's the end of their relationship.

Wanting Lois is selfish of Superman, especially when it puts his role as guardian and protector of the planet at risk. If there's tension there, will he be able to do his job as well?

In a sense, the end of this issue mirrors the end of Mr. Majestic as both characters give up their old lives for a greater good. That is, if you choose to read this as Lois and Superman splitting up. The goodbye could also represent Casey and Aucoin saying goodbye.

There's an odd bit at the end where we get three panels of a fireman, an EMT and a doctor all doing their jobs in black-and-white (well, blue/grey-and-white), but with red Superman S symbols somewhere on them. Superman does say that everyone who does their best to make the world better is like him, but this always struck me as kind of lame.

This issue has me puzzled, honestly, which I think is the goal. It's obviously meant to have various readings or it would be clearer. Now, obviously Lois and Clark didn't split up, but they could have here anyway. The end of Casey's run on the book, it can end that way, especially these days where creators are more important to some (like me) than characters. I didn't read the next issue of the series, because Casey left the book. I've read one issue of Superman since then and that was a Kurt Busiek issue this past fall to review (oh, and I see the "One Year Later" story since I got it in trade--and Azzarello's run in trade). For all intents and purposes, this was the end of my Superman experience in a way, so why not read it as Superman choosing Superman over Lois?

In 30 minutes, I'll try and tie the three books I looked at today together. I'll probably fail.

Blogathon 43: Adventures of Superman #622

Superman and Minuteman fight against the Anti-Angelica, the weird things from another dimension who have turned all of the kids under five into bugs so they can mate or something.

The origin of Minuteman: New Age bullshit!

I'm pretty sure Superman attempts violence, but is prevented when the Anti-Angelica trap him in a bubble.

That is until one of the children turns six and returns to normal, fucking everything up for the Anti-Angelica. Which gets Casey rolling with Minuteman singing "Birthday" by the Beatles and Superman breaking free to say, "There. We now return to our regularly scheduled adventure, already in progress..."

Then Minuteman fucks up by lifting up his shirt, which opens a gateway to sent the Anti-Angelica back to their dimension, except he doesn't actually look first and zaps Superman, too.

The other dimension is in cool negative and the Anti-Angelica tell us that they can't breed in their dimension, so they go to Superman's and now that they're home, they're so going to beat on Supes. Except Superman can open their transdimensional gateway because he's married. On his way back, he crosses paths with Minute man who is going to stand guard and protect the DCU from the Anti-Angelica.

At the end of the issue, Clark tells Lois that they need to talk. That's never good.

Because Superman is protector, you would assume he would stand guard at the dimensional gateway, but Superman guards humanity on a larger level. Minuteman, being a minor superhero, is "given" the task. He aspires to be Superman, in a way, so he performs a similar function as Superman, but on a smaller scale. Because Superman guards also through inspiration, not just action.

In 30 minutes, we conclude our look at Adventures of Superman.

Blogathon 42: Adventures of Superman #621

Some dude beats the shit out of Copperhead.

Jimmy Olsen trashes President Luthor.

Every child under five in Metropolis turns into a bug.

Superman meets Minuteman.

Superman realises Minuteman is the new mail guy at the Daily Planet.

Beings from another dimension are responsible for turning the kids into bugs because they need them to be like that so they can have their honeymoon in this reality.

That's this issue. Minuteman is the typical "lone hero trained for some crisis that will happen." Superman is out of his element. The Jimmy scene just seems like veiled criticism of the Bush government.

Superman here is the guardian. He guards the children, he guards the idea of being a superhero, he guards the superhero. He watches over everyone.

Cool scene where the kid-bugs crawl all over Superman. These are bugs the size of kids. Giant slug-like ones.

Nice moment when Superman confronts Minuteman in his secret identity and comments about how Minuteman has the personality schism down. No one would ever suspect mild-mannered what's his name is Minuteman. Although, his secret identity is basically Clark Kent, just he works in the mailroom. Same deal, though.

Blogathon 41: Adventures of Superman #620

Derec Aucoin does something interesting with the art in this issue: he leaves a white space around the entire border of every page and then, in most cases, even leaves a white border inside that border as well. Makes the whole issue stand out.

The story is basic: Superman stops a creature from eating the sun after trying to warn the Candidate about the assassination attempt. Lois attends an event where Assassin Lad shows up and tries to kill the Candidate. The Candidate seems determined to die while everyone else does their best to save him. Eventually, Superman returns and Assassin Lad reveals he set the sun-eater loose to distract Superman and then blows himself up.

The Candidate hired Assassin Lad himself, viewing assassination as the apex of his political career, where he would be transformed from just another guy on the stump into a legend.

Again, Superman is life here. He tries to warn the Candidate about the assassination attempt. He defeats the sun-eater and then heats up the earth because of loss of the sun's warmth while the sun-eater was feeding. And then he stops Assassin Lad, a killer. Every action he does in this issue is in the service of life.

I'll miss Assassin Lad. I loved that guy.

Blogathon 40: Adventures of Superman #619

And so we begin the final ten posts of Blogathon. Five issues left of Adventures of Superman to discuss and then I don't know. We'll see what happens, I guess.

There's a new guy running for president and he's simply called "The Candidate." He doesn't do press and his rallies are more like rock concerts, but his popularity growing. So, Lois and Clark are in a good ol' fashioned race to the story.

Except Lois does have the advantage in that all she has to do is her job, while Clark has to fly to Egypt and defeat the Hand of Osiris through sheer force of will. In this issue, Superman is the personification of life (which makes pacifism fit more).

Best line of the issue said by a drunk journalist to Lois and Clark: "Married journalists on the campaign trail, competing for a story... We're betting which'll come first... the election or the divorce."

Lois later sneaks in to the Candidate's HQ, steals his campaign manager's blackberry and has a hacker hack into it where they discover that someone has put a contract out on the Candidate.

Which brings us to the greatest character ever: Assassin Lad. He shows up with the Bad News Bible in some spacebar and he has landed on earth. Rock and roll. Seriously, Assassin Lad. I love it.

Blogathon 39: Adventures of Superman #618

Four am . . . where has the time gone?

When last we checked in on the man of tomorrow, the Mxy twins had taken away the earth's gravity. How will Superman save the day?

By having the Green Lanterns help hold the planet together while he takes a white dwarf star to the centre of the planet and heats and cools it so it contracts, producting a temporary solution. Then he buys a set of encyclopdias and the Mxy twins return everything to normal, promising that next time, they won't hit the reset button.

An action-packed issue as Superman races against time to make sure the planet dosn't fall apart. A great moment is where Casey ties up a loose end from a year or so previous by having the Mxy twins retcon it. More of that metafictional stuff Casey likes.

The question is: who is Superman in this story? Actually, I think these two issues are the weakest of the 12 because there is no clear idea of who Superman is. He doesn't represent anything here. He's faced with an enemy he can't hit, so his pacifism is not an issue. If anything, this is the most "classic" Superman story of this run as Supeman faces his old enemy who he always defeated in a battle of wits. Nothing's changed except the stakes are raised.

In a way, it's a story that reassures readers that Superman didn't always use his fists. Against Mr. Mxyzptlk, he was always a pacifist essentially because of the nature of the villain. This story shows that Superman's evolution is in line with his tradition, at least in part.

Shit, I talked myself into liking these issues more. I love it when that happens. That's what happens when you just wing it, I guess.

Blogathon 38: Adventures of Superman #617

After last issue's groundbreaking revelation, where does Casey go?

He brings us the Mxy twins, the newest incarnation of Mr. Mxyzptlk and their quest to sell encyclopedias. When we meet them, they're trying to get Perry White to buy a set. At the same time, Superman saves the world from colliding with the ghost of a parallel earth. That's big action right there.

Apparently, the Mxy twins tried to sell encyclopedias all over the world and universe before getting to Perry. When he tells them to get lost, they fuck up his brain and he winds up in the hospital.

The Mxy twins show up at Lois and Clark's apartment and the four have dinner under the sea or something. Superman shows them that he's not defenceless against them. As a result, they take away earth's gravity.

Superman chooses to fight the Mxy twins with his brain. When they telepathically assault him, he turns it around on them. He tries to discuss things with them, but that doesn't work.

I'm actually having a hard time figuring out what Casey's goal with the Mxy twins is. Why twins? Why sell encyclopedias? Is it meant to just be absurd?

My favourite part of the issue is how on the first page, it gives the location of Metropolis, but then in brackets says "Where else?"

Charlie Adlard's art is decent, but just isn't suited to this title. He tells the story well enough, I just miss Derec Aucoin's work.

Blogathon 37: Adventures of Superman #616

Okay, first the plot stuff: Kid Scout brings Ben Conrad who begins to write a new final chapter of the book on the typewriter he used to write the novel back in 1960. Superman confronts the Hollow Men, allowing them to attack him again, hoping that he can beat their hopelessness with his idealism.

The experience is, well, pretty bad. All of the colour is drained from him. We see him on a farm with Lois, just sitting on the porch, never doing anything because why bother. And then he's chained to a table as Lex Luthor cuts him open, Lois as Luthor's sexy nurse. But, Lois is the key as she is what inspires Superman. He manages to break the Hollow Men's assault, returning everyone they've attacked to normal and leaving them empty ghosts. Conrad finishes the chapter and the Hollow Men are destroyed.

The issue ends with the phrase "This is the way the world begins," echoing the introduction of the Hollow Men in 612.

But, this issue has Superman say something monumental: "No violence. I won't resort to that. I'm a pacifist, Dr. Welbourne."

Superman is a pacifist in these twelve issues. He doesn't throw a single punch. He uses his will and his brain to overcome the challenges he must face.

Now, Superman as a pacifist goes against almost 70 years of history. He's Superman! He punches out the bad guys to save the day, but Casey takes a 21st-century to the next logical step: if he is the representative of hope and life and goodness, how can he raise his fists in anger? How can he physically assault another being? How can he inspire humanity to rise above its violent nature when he won't?

Casey said in interviews that he regrets having Superman say this explicitly, that it was going too far. He could have had Superman be a pacifist without saying it and no one would have noticed, but the point is to draw attention to it.

Superman is a pacifist.

My god, the enormity of that idea--it's probably the biggest leap forward for the character in decades. A leap that doesn't just challenge the character, but the creators and the fans. Could people read a comic where Superman doesn't hit anything?

Some people were upset by the idea of Superman as a pacifist, arguing that it goes against the character and so on. It just seems like the logical progression of the character to me. In 612, Casey had Superman confront what is basically the Golden Age version of himself, a version whose first instinct is violence, who is hand's on, who is old-fashioned.

Casey's Superman is a 21st-century thinker, someone who is not burdened by antiquated conceptions of masculinity or heroism. A child's first instinct is to hit, but Superman must be above that. He has to be the most mature and advanced being on the planet, the man of tomorrow, a harbinger of humanity's potential.

Joe Casey made Superman relevant.

Blogathon 36: Adventures of Superman #615

You know what, I haven't thanked my sponsors yet. So, thank you, Matt "Doc" Martin, mom and Melissa for pledging a total of $40. You are giving what you can and I really appreciate it. Forty bucks is fantastic as far as I'm concerned as it's forty dollars more than the Alzheimer Society of Canada would have got otherwise.

Superman is consulting with the doctor in charge of treating the heroes who have fallen at the hands of the Hollow Men when a child in costume is rushed in and Superman recognises him from Heroville.

Cut to: Heroville and completely drained heroes. Superman and scientists arrive, ready to help. Superman finds Dr. Camel in the middle of town, in a costume and using some sort of energy gun to keep the Hollow Men at bay. But, Superman makes the mistake of landing in the middle of it all and the Hollow Men attack in a triangle formation. He screams/whispers/whimpers "No hope... Pointless... Why aspire to--?" before Camel rescues him using the energy gun.

Superman, still shaken from the experience decides to stay and stop the Hollow Men, first by finding the only other normal superhero in Heroville, a young boy called Kid Scout.

After rescuing Kid Scout, we get a flashback about how Ben Conrad wrote the book. It was a response to the government banning superheroes and he had to include his next three non-fiction books in the deal. It received middling reviews and low sales. Clark read it in high school after a teacher showed it to him. He connects the book and the incident with the mystery strongman from issue 612 and sends Kid Scout to find Conrad and bring him here so he can destroy his creations.

We don't get a complete picture of who Superman is here because this is a two-part story (well, really it's parts four and five of a story, but the other issues stood on their own, for the most part) and we've only got half the picture. But, he's the guy who draws the line in the sand. He doesn't give up and he knows good will triumph over evil. Hope will beat hopelessness.

In 30 minutes, the issue that changed everything. Casey has Superman say something that is brilliant and goes against everything we know.

Blogathon 35: Adventures of Superman #614

A family discovers a portal in the basement of a house they just moved into. The portal leads to a town where everyone is a superhero, straight up Silver Age style. President Luthor sent in a team that never came out, so Superman investigates. It turns out the town was a programme begun post-WW2, but went underground because of the senat hearings in the late '50s. The scientist in charge destroyed all of the evidence and is the town doctor. Superman gets the agents out of the town and promises that it will be left alone. At the end, the Hollow Men arrive outside of the house that contains the entrance to the tesseract where Heroville is.

A seemingly done-in-one that has a lot of cool moments. Like Batman waking Superman up with a holographic projection and learning that Luthor does the same thing as he knows Supes' secret identity. You want to understand the difference between Superman and Batman?

Superman (about Luthor): He hates me. I don't hate him.

Batman: I'll pretend I didn't hear that.

Batman totally called Superman a pussy.

The Heroville stuff is great as the citizens all discuss superhero stuff the way we discuss the weather. Like one guy saying how he's thinking of cutting his hair short so his skull-cap fits better. Or a woman asking if Superman's cape is 100% cotton.

Or how the doctor's wife reacts to the government agents in their armour: she's terrified of them in that black, plastic-looking, bug-like shit. So, they have to dress up in costumes.

Or how the portal back to the regular world is in an abandoned porn shop because no one will ever go in there.

Superman here is the bridge between the old and the new. He has the ability to be Silver Age and modern at the same time. He tells the agents when walking (Abbey Road style) down the street in costume, "Hold your heads high, people. Wear your colours proudly." He understands an ironic, postmodern world, he just doesn't think like he's a part of one.

In 30 minutes, the Hollow Men invade Heroville and Superman learns what it is to feel no hope.

Blogathon 34: Adventures of Superman #613

I forgot to mention Casey's artist for this run, Derec Aucoin. He does the art for ten of the issues (Charlie Adlard does the other two) and he nails it. He's got a good eye for detail and realism, but also knows when to just use simple lines. If Toby Cypress on Mr. Majestic was a darker, sketchier Eric Cante, then Aucoin is a darker version of Ed McGuinness. I'm horrible at describing art. Trust me, when the run by Casey and Aucoin ended, I was looking through every solicitation to see his name pop up. He should be a superstar.

Now, this issue is a fun one. It has another little bit about the superheroes being drained of all colour and life, but mostly it deals with Lois Lane handling Funky Flashman, the former manager of Mister Miracle. He just opened up a store selling Superman merchandise since in the DCU, Superman's image is public domain--or, he figures Superman won't do anything about it. This then expands to all of the superheroes, but then Lois hints at him to also include supervillain merchandise, which causes Captain Cold to pay Flashman a visit.

There's also a subplot about Lois and Clark, including them re-enacting the first Superman/Lois interview. The issue ends with them spending Valentine's Day together in bed sleeping, which is a rare treat.

A nice little story. It's interesting to see how even when other heroes' merchandise is sold that Superman outsells everything else. Superman is the hero, even to the general public. Flashman makes a strangely convincing argument that selling this stuff is a good thing because it helps people feel closer to Superman, a man they owe their lives to several times over. Of course, that's just a justification for his own greed, but it's a solid point nonetheless.

In 30 minutes . . . welcome to Heroville, population: you!

Blogathon 33: Adventures of Superman #612

I've been a fan of Joe Casey's work since Cable #51. I was reading the book when he took over and, man, he did some great work there. My subscription ran out before he and Ladronn finished their run, so I should probably complete it sometime, eh? Ever since then, I'll usually give whatever he does a look.

It took until issue 612 of Adventures of Superman to check out his run. He had been working on the title since issue 587. It took this cover by Kevin Nowlan to make me pick up the book:

How can you not pick up a book with a cover like that?

Little did I know at the time that it would begin a twelve-issue run that would have me telling anyone I could to buy Adventures of Superman because it's just that damn good. Hell, in his interview for Astonishing X-Men: Second Stage, Warren Ellis mentions Casey's final year on the book briefly (which made me wonder about Ellis reading it--I assume if he did, it was research, quite possibly for his JLA Classified story or maybe he just heard about) because it did something very interesting, but I'll get to that when it actually comes up.

For now, #612 . . .

The issue begin narration about a hero called Major Victory whose house has been trashed and we find him curled up in bed, his entire body drained of colour. Outside, three similarly white men stand. We are told "THEY ARE THE HOLLOW MEN. AND THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS."

Cut to: a prisoner being prepped for execution, he insists he's innocent and then the wall is smashed in and there stands a man in a red cape with a red S in a triangle on his chest. He tells them that they've got the wrong man. We never see this man completely, but his outfit is blue, his hair is dark and cut short, and he's got the real murderer, a signed confession and the governor. He's saved an innocent man.

Clark Kent attends a lecture by Ben Conrad, an elderly man who was a journalist and apparently inspired Clark to be one as well. Conrad is writing a new novel, his first since 1960 and it's called "Champion of the Oppressed."

Our mystery stongman prevents a man from beating his wife. He stops the police from beating protestors. Conrad seems somber about the news, but also righteous in a way until he gets a visit from Clark who is told that Superman is the inspiration for the novel, but a version of Superman that fights for the everyman, who doesn't wrestle with aliens and take meetings on the moon. Someone who'll protect the little folks.

And our mystery strongman appears from the sky, attacking police officers who are brutally abusing a man in handcuffs. This is spliced with Clark and Conrad as Clark tells him he has to do something about the situation before it goes beyond his control.

Th army gets involved and so does Superman, who kicks up a cloud of dust just as Conrad deletes his manuscript and his strongman disappears. He tries to tell Superman that he has to fight against the injustice, to make the world better and Superman tells him that their job is to inspire, not judge them.

The issue ends with Conrad accepting that he can't write fiction, but we get a look at the cover of his first book: "The Hollow Men."

Now, if this issue isn't a giant statement on modern superheroes, specifically Superman, I don't know what is. The wonderful pun title, "Authorised" invokes Ben Conrad's abilities, but also the Authority. The way Superman originally acted is very much in line with how the Authority acts. In a way, Casey reminds readers that what those character do is nothing new, Superman did it first, but he also moved beyond those types of actions and took a more mature, long-term view to how he deals with the world. Now, I don't necessarily agree with that methodology, but Casey prevents it in a convincing manner, especially when the two are juxtaposed.

This is just the beginning of Casey exploring what Superman means at the beginning of the 21st century. What role does this hero from the 1930s have in the modern world? The answers may surprise you; they sure as hell surprised me.

Blogathon 32: Magic Eight Ball Midnights Part Two

Let's do it, magic eight ball.

Me: You ready?

8: It Is Decidedly So

Me: Going to answer some comic questions?

8: Don't Count On It

Me: Son of a bitch! Do you have to be so difficult?

8: Reply Hazy Try Again

Me: I hate you. I really hate you. If I could kill you, I would. Will you just cooperate for once? Please?

8: Concentrate And Ask Again

Me: . . .


Me: Will you please cooperate?

8: Better Not Tell You Now


8: My Reply Is No

Me: Then must you act this way?

8: It Is Decidedly So

Me: I'm going to ask my questions anyway. Will Final Crisis be good?

8: Outlook Not So Good

Me: Astonshing X-Men: Second Stage?

8: As I See It Yes

Me: Amazing Spider-Man times three?

8: Cannot Predict Now

Me: Titans East?

8: It Is Certain

Me: How about Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's OGN for Minx?

8: Outlook Not So Good

Me: Are you fucking with me still?

8: My Reply Is No

Me: Really?

8: Yes Definitely

Me: Uh . . . I have no idea if I can trust you. Does that amuse you?

8: Better Not Tell You Now

Me: I really hate you, you know?

8: Outlook Good

Me: Isn't "Rocktopia Part 8 of 5" the coolest issue title ever?

8: Without A Doubt

Me: Fuckin' a. Will the Watchmen movie be good?

8: It Is Certain

Me: How about the next Bat-flick?

8: Concentrate And Ask Again


8: Without A Doubt

Me: Rock and roll. You want to keep going?

8: My Sources Say No

Me: Alright. Thanks for cooperating a bit more this time. Was that so hard?

8: My Sources Say No

Me: Great.

And that ends that. In 30 minutes, I'll begin my look at Joe Casey's final year on Adventures of Superman as it is one of the best runs on a Superman book I've ever read.

Blogathon 31: Magic Eight Ball Midnights Part One

This past Monday, I began a new weekly feature here at GraphiContent called Magic Eight Ball Mondays where I ask a magic eight ball questions. In our first edition, I questioned it about the Skrull invasion currently going on in the Marvel universe and which heroes are actually Skrulls in disguise. As always, anything that's positive is a yes ("outlook good," for example could be ambiguous depending on whether you're asking about a bad thing or not, you know) and anything negative is a no. If it says to ask later, we do that, etc.

Me: Magic eight ball, you ready?

8: It Is Decidedly So

Me: Rock and roll. Do you think the Blogathon is going well?

8: Without A Doubt

Me: How about my stuff?

8: Cannot Predict Now

Me: Will more people pledge some money to help fight alzheimer's?

8: Yes Definitely

Me: Excellent! Now, you want to do some comic questions?

8: My Reply Is No

Me: Um . . . no?

8: My Reply Is No

Me: This is a comic blog! You should be answering some comic book questions, don't you think so?

8: My Reply Is No

Me: Will you do some comic questions at 12:30?

8: Reply Hazy Try Again

Me: Will you do some comic questions at 12:30?

8: Better Not Tell You Now

Me: You're a fucking asshole, magic eight ball. A real smug bastard. Did you know that?

8: Yes

Me: And you're okay with that?

8: Concentrate And Ask Again


8: It Is Decidedly So

Me: Goddammit. If you won't answer comic questions then I don't know what to ask. Um, do the Hives kick ass?

8: Yes Definitely

Me: I knew that already. Uh . . . will I make it to 9 am?

8: Better Not Tell You Now

Me: . . . fuck you?

8: Cannot Predict Now

Me: Always with the smart comebacks. Will you at least answer one comic question? One about the title of Casey's last issue of Uncanny X-Men?

8: Cannot Predict Now

Me: You goddamn asshole. You love toying with me, don't you?

8: Don't Count On It

Me: . . . you're fucking with me right now, aren't you?

8: It Is Decidedly So

Me: I knew it! I fucking knew it! Motherfucker! Do you want to keep going?

8: My Sources Say No

Okay, we'll leave it at that for this round of questions. Do you see what I mean about the magic eight ball being a total dick? I mean, Christ. (And no, I am not changing any answers for the purposes of being funny. I am using the magic eight ball program here and copying and pasting the responses. The magic eight ball really is a smug bastard.)

In 30 minutes, we'll continue our little dance and hopefully get some answers about stuff related to comics. But who knows with this bastard.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blogathon 30: Uncanny X-Men #409

The great title of a comic ever:


Comics should just stop having titles for individual issues, because no one's topping that for sheer coolness. Joe Casey owns your ass.

The issue begins with Warren and Logan arguing about how to handle the Vanisher, which leads Jono to ask if they have a problem that he's not aware of--and Warren responds, "No problem. We just don't like each other." I love that.

Stacy goes see the Vanisher and plants the idea that maybe he wants to expand his business empire to include the X-Ranch.

Nightcrawler discovers that a cardinal is a junkie for that mutant drug. The funniest damn part of the whole issue is when the cardinal mutates into a Thing-like being and yells "BEGONE, DEMON! at Nightcrawler. What a dumb asshole.

The Church of Humanity show up, kill the cardinal and then leave Nightcrawler alone because the Supreme Pontiff has plans for him. Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNN!

Meanwhile, Stacy is working her voodoo on the Vanisher and two weeks pass in total bliss. She tells him to go meet Worthington. At the meeting, Worthington informs the Vanisher that he's bought him out. He doubled the pay of everyone in the Vanisher's employ and has dismantled the supply of the mutant drug. The Vanisher tries to vanish and Iceman freezes him mid-vanish, which is pretty harsh.

And then, for some reason, two waiters at the restaurant shoot up on the mutant drug and cause some damage until Iceman freezes everyone.

The issue ends with Wolverine and Nightcrawler discussing how shit's gone down the past while with eyes to the future.

A strange conclusion to a strange run. Casey here shows his skills by having the X-Men out-think their opponent and use their various skills to get the job done. They are harsh, but fuck it, their enemy is a drug-dealing murdering scumbucket. The world is better off. Mutant justice and all that.

The final three issues (including the annual) don't fit into the larger run, which I still think is purposefully mediocre as Casey makes a grand statement about the X-books. Instead of attempting change when change will not be allowed (why change what sells?), he mocks the entire thing. And gets paid to do it. That's right, Marvel paid him good money to lay out in 14 issues (17 minus the three good ones) everything that is wrong with the X-books and then did three issues of quality stuff to show where they could go, how they could be more adult, mature and still be all-ages fun. (Although hookers and drug dealers all-ages?) The whole thing is a spectacular failure, but a purposeful one.

The ultimate irony about the X-books is that the core concept is evolution and they never change. Joe Casey got that.

Next up: an hour of Magic Eight Ball Midnight, a spin-off from Magic Eight Ball Mondays, which began this past week and got the site our second mention on Blog@Newsarama's "Meanwhile" feature (we've also been quoted on their quotes of the week feature). Remember, any and all yes/no questions will be asked if sent to me.

And pledge money for the Alzheimer Society of Canada via the sheep on the right.

Blogathon 29: Uncanny X-Men #408

I just flipped through the annual and noticed that Nick Fury is smoking. Ashley Wood is subtle about it, but Nick Fury is totally smoking. After Marvel said no more smoking. Ashley Wood and Nick Fury don't care, though. Ashley Wood and Nick Fury say kiss their asses, no smoking, fuck you, they'll do what they want, when they want, they don't need no damn Marvel telling them shit.

(Seriously, should I be swearing this much when I'm blogging for charity? I've been thinking about that all day. Society is weird.)

More mutant drug stuff. Nightcrawler acts for the press and then tells Warren that he should run for president. Warren thinks he's crazy. Stacy tells Warren that she's going out to see a "client" and Warren is all "You whore!" and she gets pissed off until Wolverine tells her that if she doesn't want people thinking she's a whore, she should probably stop acting like one.

It turns out that Stacy's client is actually a mutant who ages fast and is immune to medicine. He's dying and wants her to take the pain away, so she puts him in a bliss coma, the X-Men show up, say that because the guy is a mutant, it's their business and tell her that she did good work.

Nightcrawler discovers mutant drug use near a church. And they get ready to take the Vanisher down.

See, this is the Joe Casey that should have wrote the rest of the run. Screw that "pop eats itself" theory of mine, this is some good reading. The plot is new and interesting, characters actually grow a little and do interesting things. Basically, the opposite of the rest of the run. I wonder if it's a case of editorial not caring or Casey not caring. You hit the end of the run, people are just waiting out the clock, maybe he was able to actually write the comics the way he wanted all along. Casey has talked only briefly about his run on this book and I would love to know the full story.

In 30 minutes, we conclude Joe Casey's Uncanny X-Men run with the coolest titled comic book ever.

And don't forget, in an hour's time, I'm going to do Magic Eight Ball Midnight. At the 12:00 am and 12:30 am posts, I'm going mano-a-ballo and asking the tough questions. If you have any questions for that smug bastard, just tell me and I'll make sure they get asked.

Blogathon 28: Uncanny X-Men Annual 2001

You know what comics need? Brash arrogance ala the Hives. Go to your record collection and grab your copy of their first LP, Barely Legal (and fuck you if you don't own it, you suck and I will never have sex with you). Got it? Good, look at the back. We have the songs on the album and then reviews of the album by the Daily Planet, and the Globe and Howlin' Pelle, the lead singer of the band. I want to see comics where the writer praises the book and that quote is on the fucking cover. Ever see a Hives show? Brash arrogance! I love it.

Yes, I am your new favourite blogger and you love what I write more than anyone else.

(See what music does to me sometimes? And people wonder why I don't drink or do mind-altering drugs.)

Back to comics, we present Uncanny X-Men Annual 2001 by Joe Casey and Ashley Wood, presented in fabulous Marvel widescreen technology! That's right! A widescreen comic! Long horizontally, short vertically, all kinds of fun! And the cover looks like the poster for Apocalypse Now.

The basic plot of the book is this: kids are getting high on a drug that turns them into mutants for a little while and the X-Men want it stopped. Chamber and Stacy hit a local club to see what's what while Wolverine and Iceman go to Cuba where the supply is coming from. Turns out the man in charge is the Vanisher and he's getting the necessary X-genes from his mutant cousin who is a giant and he's got living off the coast in the ocean, pretty much dead.

This issue has Wood go between clear styles and his unclear stuff, but it all works. Casey writes a great story, has an interesting idea about the mutant drug (which Bendis later used in his Daredevil run--and yes, Casey came up with it first as it didn't show up in Bendis' book until 2003--not that I'm saying Bendis ripped off Casey-in the recent "Bendis tapes" podcast, someone asked if Bendis was ripping off Morrison's kick drug and he said no, thought up his drug on his own, but I call the poster who asked that question a moron since kick was a totally different drug, whereas Casey and Bendis' drugs are identical). Using the Vanisher was also inspired.


This is where we first really see Casey's interest in the mixing of the superhero and business worlds, which will continue in the next (and final) two issues of his run. See you in 30 for more of the greatest blog in the world.

Blogathon 27: Uncanny X-Men #407

While at the store, I picked up a little container of Dibs, these little bite-sized candies. They're vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate. Very tasty. They please me.

We continue on to an issue that doesn't actually make sense, but looks damn good because of Sean Phillips' art. The issue begins with a gorgeous art crawl. If you lined the first four pages up, they'd form one big picture. The first three side-by-side, the fourth undernearth the third. Nightcrawler has a mix of memories and hallucinations.

When last we saw Nightcrawler and Chamber, they were apparently blown up inside the plane. Well, apparently Nightcrawler did a blind teleport and they landed atop a mountain where an old friend from Nightcrawler's circus days lives. And apparently Nightcrawler didn't know that. And apparently we're all dumb readers.

Anyway . . .

Nightcrawler is all broody and Chamber wants to go home, but Nightcrawler won't call for help. So, Chamber uses his telepathy to contact Stacy who gets all freaked out that someone was inside her head and no one believes her because she's a hooker. Crazy hookers making up stories all the time! But then Jean contacts Warren and says where they are and Stacy is all "Told you so!" and Warren is "Shut up, I hate you."

So, they go get Nightcrawler and Chamber. Lots of character stuff that isn't actually as deep as you'd like.

This is another reused idea. How many times has an X-Man had their mind messed with and then wanted to spend some time in the middle of nowhere? Wolverine does it every nine months. And like all of those other times, nothing meaningful happens, no lessons learned, no personal growth. Except this time, Casey uses some German. And I did some google translations and none of it is that important, so don't feel like you're missing out.

But, this all gears up for the final three issues, which aren't that shitty. In fact, they are prologue to Wildcats Version 3.0, beginning with the 2001 annual (which wasn't released between #407 and 408, but I stick there for story reasons and the fact that sticking it when it DID come out would make little sense).

See you in 30. And don't forget, if you want to pledge some money to help the Alzheimer Society of Canada, click the sheep on the right and do what they tell you. You don't give money now, that comes when this is all done. I know you can spare five bucks, so make yourself feel a little bit better and donate it, okay? You'll thank yourself.

Blogathon 26: Uncanny X-Men #406

Starting this post a little early, so I'll have time to walk to the store and back. Not writing it all ahead of time, though.

In this issue, Aaron Lopresti does the art and it kind of sucks.

Apparently Mystique and Lady Mastermind are half sisters. I didn't know that. And they're bitches. Total bitches. I knew that. But, they're also dumb because they leave Banshee alive, assuming that stabbing him through the throat will kill him. Fools!

The X-Men/X-Corps fight against the evil forces in Paris while Multiple Man absorbs his rogue duplicates. Archangel gets to fire his big gun. He always uses a gun. And, oops, te Eiffel Tower is destroyed.

At the X-Corps HQ, Jubilee, Husk and Stacy fight the Blob, who likes to beat up women.

Banshee releases Abyss, Paris is saved, Stacy blisses Blob out and then Abyss sucks up Mystique into himself. Banshee lives, but can't speak. And there's a page of people going "Shit, that sucked."

More thoughts when I return from the store . . .


Back from the store. So, the X-Corps storyline began with a lot of promise: an alternate group that has the same ultimate goal as the X-Men, but different methods. And instead of fostering this original idea, Joe Casey wrote a hack job. Why? Because he had to, because that's what the book is all about. Think of all of the great musicians, filmmakers and writers who began like they were going to do something new, something original, and then did bullshit that was just like something else. Pop eats itself. Everything is recycled. That is the message of Casey's Uncanny X-Men. He had to seem like he was going somewhere original only to do the same old, same old. To do otherwise would have been artistically wrong. There's entertainment and then there's art--and Casey sacrificed all entertainment value for the higher cause here.

Don't I sound like a total academic whackjob? I know some professors who would be so proud.

Blogathon 25: Uncanny X-Men #405

Half-way mark. Whoo. Twelve hours down, twelve more to go.

I think the next music I'll listen to will be the Hives. If that isn't music to get you excited and ready to post some shit, I don't know what is.

In part five of the X-Corps storyline, the X-Trio force Banshee to tell them about Lady Mastermind and get all judgemental about it. Like the X-Men have never kidnapped a telepath, stuck it in a container of liquid and forced it to mind-control people. Oh wait, they haven't! Hey, the X-Trio actually have some moral high ground!

Stacy is using her pheramone powers on Corbo, who has a force field around him, except the bad guys show up, kill him and then the Blob beats on her. Why does the Blob like to beat women? Because it makes him feel like a big man, that's why.

And someone is attacking Paris using X-Corps helicopters that . . . Multiple Man is flying. Everything is falling apart because the bad guys, they're going to kill Paris. The X-Men put aside their objections and join forces with Banshee to get the problem solve.

Nightcrawler finds Chamber unconscious in the Blackbird and then it blows up. Warren is convinced they survived and gets himself a gun so he can kill him some evil mutants. Stacy wakes up and is pissed off. And Multiple Man turns into Mystique, who stabs Banshee in the throat. Apparently Mystique was the evil influence inside the X-Corps.

This issue honestly isn't that bad, because by this point, all of the potential has already been killed and there's nothing left to do except see this shit out.

Although, the plane blowing up while the heroes are inside and Mystique turning out to be the evil influence? Cliches! Recycled ideas! And the Mystique one will never actually make any sense! Because villains don't need motives!

In 30, the end of the X-Corps storyline. Thank god.

And weirdly enough, the second BBC Sessions disc ended just now. See, gotta love Zeppelin. They had excellent timing.

Blogathon 24: Uncanny X-Men #404

Thinking after the second disc of BBC Sessions ends, I'll stop with the Zeppelin. Although, everyone saw the news of the new two-disc "best of" set plus rereleases of The Song Remains the Same (film and soundtrack), right? The "best of" seems unnecessary in the sense that they already released a two-disc "best of" a few years back. Only they released it one disc at a time and then offered them together. And, strangely enough, the track listing isn't THAT different. But I'll buy it anyway, because I'm a sucker. Same with The Song Remains the Same (film and soundtrack), mostly because my CD copy is old and the sound isn't good, plus BONUS songs! I love me the bonus songs.

On with the comic: part four of the X-Corp storyline and we've got Sean Phillips on art and this issue reads better than any other issue of the run. Gee, wonder why. I remember Casey saying post-Uncanny X-Men how he kept fighting to get Phillips on as permanent artist because they'd developed a good relationship over on Wildcats. Remember what I said about the X-editors before?

Chamber goes around in Lady Mastermind's mind and she rambles on in weird ways, which makes sense because it is inside her head. She does tell Chamber to develop his telepathic skills more, which makes sense as he does communicate via telepathy. He probably never thought about that.

Archangel questions Sunpyre, a mutant scientist working for the X-Corps, about Abyss, a mutant currently being contained. He's all "Are you holding him against his will?" as if the X-Men never do that to mutants who may be uable to control their powers. Seriously, these guys are just assholes the entire story.

The leader of those bigots claims he killed Surge on TV, which doesn't jive with Surge killing the whole lot of them last issue. What's going on?

Banshee sends the girls to take the bigots down and it turns into an all-out brawl with the girls and Multiple Man (all however many dozen of him) on one side and the bigots on the other. Not a tough fight. But, the X-Men freak out when Banshee is a little rough on one of the bigots and screams at him in his Banshee voice. I mean, the X-Men never get too rough with people do they? It's not like they let Wolverine just take one of those priests from the Church of Humanity out to his cabin with the excuse "Best not to think about it," right?

I think what frustrates me the most about this story is that the X-Trio act like total hypocrites the entire story and then they get to be right. That's just shitty storytelling.

Anyway, Sunpyre is killed, Chamber overhears Lady Mastermind talking to some woman and, at the end, the mind-controlled bad guys are free and ready to kill people. Oh, and Surge is alive.

Me, I wonder why they'd want to be evil. I mean, Banshee is supposedly paying them some good money (unless that was a lie). Why not do good and earn some cash instead of being a dick and going to jail? Criminals are stupid, I guess.

Blogathon 23: Uncanny X-Men #403

First thing's first, if you're just randomly checking this blog and are wondering what's going on, I'm participating in Blogathon where you blog for 24 hours, posting every 30 minutes, all for charity. I began at 9 am this morning, so it's been 11 hours now. I am blogging for the Alzheimer Society of Canada and you can sponsor me by clicking on the sheep over to your right there.

And now, we return to our issue-by-issue look at Joe Casey's Uncanny X-Men run already in progress . . .

Archangel and Stacy are flying through Germany or something and see a mutant getting the shit kicked out of them, and land and try to sort things out. They find a lovely group of mutant-hating humans and try to talk to them, which doesn't seem to be working too well. A bunch of X-Corps people show up and solve the problem, but Archangel is all ready to throw down. That's right, he wants to talk to the bigots beating up the mutant, but is ready to beat the shit out of Multiple Man and company for daring to solve the situation. Archangel is a fucking moron, people.

Meanwhile, Banshee shows Chamber (a former student of his) around and we learn that M, Jubilee and Husk from Generation X are X-Corps members, too. Chamber is still all paranoid like the other X-Men.

Then, Iceman walks into a bar and begins calling Avalanche, Blog and Surge names because they're evil and Iceman is good and blah blah blah. It ends with the "bad guys" taking the high road and Iceman looking like a jackass, which he is.

Kurt and Banshee talk. Kurt and Chamber talk. Surge kills the bigots from before. Chamber finds Lady Mastermind in the basement in a tank of fluid and is sucked into her head telephically.

Goddamn, this is a frustrating issue, because the first half seems to do everything is can to show that the X-Men are assholes, while the X-Corps are doing a good job, while the last half just shows it's the same old story of too good to be true, ends justify the means, and who cares what else.

I'm kind of tired. Usually happens around now every day. Most days I find it funny that at eight or nine, I'm tired as hell, but at two am, I'm wide awake. Doing this won't even phase me. I'm going into my sixth year of university; I've pulled all-nighters without even trying to. Just the usual early evening slugishness. In an hour or so, I'll go get another slushy and the walk plus high amounts of sugar and, well, liquid will keep me alert. Am getting a little sick of sitting here, though.

Back to the issue, yeah, what the fuck? Why must a great idea become so bad? And it gets worse, people. By the end of this story, you'll have forgotten the fact that it ever SEEMED like it could have been good. But, it does fit into the larger picture of Casey's run: pop will eat itself. This story is just like every other than came before it.

Blogathon 22: Uncanny X-Men #402

Banshee has set up his X-Corps in France as a way to police mutant-related activities in Europe. Our X-Men are there so Archangel can speak to the G8 and to demand some goddamn answers! Who does Banshee think he is just forming a group and acting like vigilantes? Charles Xavier? That fucking lunatic? Is Banshee out of his mind?

Not only has he started the X-Corps, he's got . . . *gasp!* former villains on the team! The X-Men cannot stand for former villains being affiliated with anything that has an X in the name! Oh wait, didn't Magneto use to teach at the school?

Of course, Banshee doesn't actually make any logical arguments like that. He just keeps going "Ach, ye jess wait'n see wha' we're doin' heer an' ye'll ahproov nah doot!"

This story had so much potential and it's all wasted. No intelligent discussions, immediately jump to something is rotten in the state of Denmark bullshit. Why, oh why, does Banshee have to use Lady Mastermind to control the villains? Why couldn't his group actually work out? Why must the goddamn X-Men be the only benevolent mutant organisation?

When this story first came out, I didn't blame Casey for the problems. I assumed Casey wanted to tell the cooler, more original story and editorial held him back. It was the X-office, most famous for being the shittiest, dumbest editors working in comics. But, now, I am convinced this is the story Casey wanted to tell, because it's so riddled with cliches and unoriginal bullshit that it fits the pattern of his run. Of course there's something wrong with the X-Corps! Just like there's always something wrong with groups that aren't directly affiliated with the X-Men!

Oh, and more strange moralising by the X-Trio. I still don't see what the problem they have is besides the fact that Banshee runs his group with a professional attitude and military precision. Are they jealous? Is that it? Are the X-Trio jealous because Banshee is obviously better at this than every other mutant?

Two parts down, four to go. And things don't get better.

Blogathon 21: Uncanny X-Men #401

I've said the whole "'Nuff Said" gimmick by Marvel in early 2002 was really fucking dumb a few times before, but I'll say it again here as we get the first part of the X-Corps storyline, but without any words. Basically, Banshee does some stuff, Lady Mastermind does some stuff before being kidnapped by Multiple Man, Stacy has sex with Bill Clinton (although, if I remember from the full script when it was online, Casey wanted Rudy Giuliani, but post-9/11 can't mess with "America's mayor") until Wolverine breaks into the house and fights her and then Banshee screams at the Blob. Who fucking cares. The art by Ron Garney is passable.

In other news, the new Amazing Spider-Man creators have been announced and I'm left feeling underwhelmed. The artists are all big names, but the writers leave me cold. But, I was one of the people holding out hope Matt Fraction would be among the creators. My own fault there.

Finished the studio albums by Zeppelin (skipped Coda, though). Now on the first disc of BBC Sessions, which includes three version of "Communication Breakdown," all different and all great. Is that what Casey was going for in his run? Doing cover versions of old stories? Being a musician, it's not outside the realm of possibility, I guess. Warren Ellis talked about the Ultimate line in terms of covers and remixes, so it would make sense. But, is the problem that narrative forms of art don't work that way? Is that why the books failed? Or should Casey have done more pure covers, doing stories exactly as done before? Food for thought.

Blogathon 20: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Some pictures of me taken moments ago while eating:

And in 30, we resume the Uncanny X-Men stuff without a break until we've done all of Casey's issues. That will take up to midnight, at which time I'll be doing a magic eight ball Q&A session called Magic Eight Ball Midnight. So, if you've got any yes/no questions you want asked, just tell me them and they'll get asked.

Blogathon 19: Uncanny X-Men #400

In his review of Uncanny X-Men #400, Paul O'Brien says, "UNCANNY X-MEN #400 is a damned odd book. This being an anniversary issue, it's doublesized. But of course, the book has no regular artist at the moment, so instead we get the 'What the fuck are they doing on the X-Men?' players, sharing the art chores." And he's right.

On art we have Cully Hamner, Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido and Sean Phillips. Hamner and Phillips provide clear art that fits, Pulido does a flashback scene where his similarity to Steve Rude brings to mind Casey and Rude's X-Men: Children of the Atom mini-series that dealt with the early days of the X-Men (before the first issue). Even Campbell's art, which is used to deal with the origin of the issue's villain works. But Wood . . . I have no idea what Wood is doing here. I like Wood's art normally, but this was from his "good luck figuring this shit out!" phase. It would probably work on its own (as it does in the 2001 Uncanny X-Men annual, which will get discussed later), but with the other artists, it's horrible to look at.

The story is pretty shit. The X-Men fight the Church of Humanity. Stacy gets kidnapped via teleportation with the annoying bit of dialogue where she begins to say "OH SH--" but on arrival, it's finished "--IVA!" That's bullshit. I know it's Marvel and all, but Shiva? She was clearly saying "OH SHIT," assholes. If you don't want to do that, don't begin to do it.

Anyway, Wolverine questions a captured member of the Church and learns the origin of their leader, the Supreme Pontiff and it's all kinds of lame. Basically, his mom fucked a blue bull, so he hates mutants. The X-Men arrive to save Stacy and Nightcrawler's head is fucked with. Everyone goes home and nothing is really accomplished.

But, there is a moment of interest when Stacy recounts how she joined the X-Men by stealing the typical mutant story: popular in school, mutation, outcast, kicked out, found by Professor X, one of the first students, dates Cyclops, sent to X-Ranch undercover. At least here Casey is reusing an old story for a fun and entertaining purpose.

The origin of the Supreme Pontiff also seems reused somehow, but I don't know where. Maybe just the "ordinary man becomes prophet" story is what's old.

The Church of Humanity is the same sort of group of bigots the X-Men always face.

Really, this is an issue of old ideas, only one of which is used in an interesting fashion. The Stacy stuff makes me wonder how much of that is here fucking with the Church and how much is a secret desire to have been Jean Grey, in a way, as she takes Grey's place in the story, basically. By this point, Grey is a public figure in New X-Men, a vocal representative of the X-Men, whereas Stacy is a former (well, not really) hooker.

O'Brien was certainly right in wondering what anyone was thinking using this as an anniversary issue. But, it's been my experience that anniversary issues tend to be shitty like this. They're usuallly double-sized, tie in with the current story and no one realises that the current story sucks. Another recycled idea? A purposefully bad anniversary issue in traditional X-fashion?

Blogathon 18: Uncanny X-Men #399

Warren Worthington (Archangel) figures out that his company, Worthington Industries has invested in a mutant brothel in Nevada called the X-Ranch. Perfectly legal, but somehow, this gets him all upset. I understand Nightcrawler being agap, because he's a priest, but playboy millionaire? What a fucking prude!

Cut to: Nevada where some rich dude shows up at the X-Ranch and discovers his hooker is a 500-pound woman and kind of freaks out, but she assures him he'll love what she does and she uses telepathy to go to town on him, blowing his mind literally.

Bobby Drake goes undercover, because Worthington can't just show and say, "Yeah, I own this place, let me see what's what." I'm still not sure what the problem is. So, a bunch of mutants opened up a brothel in Nevada where it's legal. Problem?

Anyway, Drake gets into a room with a girl, the soon-to-be-X-Man Stacy-X (originally meant to be called XStacy, but apparently that was bad or something). He opens up the door to the balcony so Archangel can come in and ask if he can talk to Stacy, so she attacks him.

And then members of the Church of Humanity (who backed Mr. Clean) show up and kill people before running away from the X-Men. Stacy joins the team and has all kinds of attitude.

The X-Men continue to act as the moral mutant authorities, seeing something involving mutants that they don't like and jumping in whether they have cause or not. The X-Ranch is a cool idea that never really goes anywhere. And Stacy fits perfectly into reusing old ideas as once again, the X-Men squad we're following has a member with a questionable past and bad attitude. Nothing is really done with her here.

I wonder, by having the X-Trio act as moral mutant authorities, was Casey playing with the idea of these guys being the old generation that feels they have to tell the younger mutants what to do? Is Casey playing with the same theme as Morrison in making mutation a metaphor for youth?

In "Poptopia," they tell Chamber not to fuck a pop star. Here, they tell women not to use their powers to get men off even though not actual sex is had--but is that better or worse). In the X-Corps arc, they'll tell Banshee to do it their way or there's the highway. Kind of presumptuous lot, eh?

Blogathon 17: Uncanny X-Men #398

In my third year of undergrad, I took a special topics course on James Joyce's Ulysses. However, it was only one semester. Most of the classes at UWO, in English and poli-sci at leat, were full-year courses (aka two semesters). So taking a one-semester course was a little weird for me, especially when it came to scheduling my second semester for that year. So, I ended up taking the special topics course offered that semester since it was at the same time, on the same days and in the same room as the Ulysses class. It was on Arthurian legend and it bored the fuck out of me most of the time.

There were only two things that made it interesting for me:

1. Thinking about the narrative concepts at work and how they apply to comics.

2. Doing readings while listening to "Achilles' Last Stand" by Led Zeppelin. I wrote in one of my journal reports (lame assignment) that having that song on while reading about a battle made the whole thing work twenty times better.

But, I bring up this class because of the first point. One of the interesting things about Arthurian texts and medieval readers was that the goal wasn't to create something new, but to retell the same stories with slight changes. The fun of these stories was hearing what you've heard before only slightly different. Tell me that doesn't fit exactly in line with comics and, well, Casey's Uncanny X-Men run.

"Poptopia" wraps up with Chamber getting dumped, Wolverine killing Mr. Clean and everyone returning to the US all fine and dandy.

Apparently rumours that Sugar Kane is pregnant with a mutant bady pushes things a little too far, so her manager arranges for her to be kidnapped by government agents so she can be "checked out" and publicly declared mutie free.

The Sugar Kane plot ends with a very interesting speech she gives Jono (Chamber's real name) in a parking garage where she talks about how she had to evolve or die, career-wise. When Casey was promoting this book, he discussed the idea of evolving quite a bit, but he ended up doing what Kane did: replaying old cliches. Nothing Kane does to evolve is actually new: she finds an outcast and dates him, giving herself a "bad girl" image, while Casey recycles old plots. Again, the fact that it works for Kane and not Casey illustrates the difference between music and comics.

Ashley Wood provides the art here and it's about as easy-to-follow as his art's ever been. Maybe Sean Phillips doing layouts helped.

All in all, this story accomplished very little. Reused plots that went nowhere; characters with no growth; mis-mashed art. But, I always got the feeling like it SHOULD be a great arc, like Casey was going for something cool, he just failed.

In 30 minutes, we take a trip to the X-Ranch, which is one of the two coolest ideas that Casey throws out in this run.

Blogathon 16: Uncanny X-Men #397

"Poptopia" part three keeps on walking the same road as the previous two parts. The relationship between Chamber and Sugar Kane becomes more involved, but OH NOES(!) her road crew and manager hate him because he's a mutant. Wolverine shows up and talks to him, basically does a low key version of Nightcrawler's lecture and then kicks the crap out of a roadie who calls him "boy." We also discover that some of the tunnel dwellers survived and that Mr. Clean is apparently working for a church. The X-Trio (I'm going to call them that now) fight some neo-Nazi youth at a subway stop. The issue ends with a tabloid saying Sugar Kane is pregnant with a mutant baby and Nightcrawler BAMFing in front of the tunnel dwellers and is all "We're the X-Men, we're here to help."

If you know how next issue goes, you realise just how much of a bitch Sugar Kane is here. She's using Chamber, but at the same time doing everything she can to convince him that she cares about him.

The art is lacklustre. Apparently Sean Phillips provided layouts or thumbnails or something, but the person who finished it is horrid.

There's an inane scene where Sugar Kane and Chamber go to some freak party where this fat dude is all "you're disgusting to look at, which is just the coolest thing ever." Ugly is the new black, apparently.

This is probably the weakest issue yet as it doesn't even contribute reused ideas. It's completely and utterly without merit. (I use the word "utterly" a lot.)

Blogathon 15: Uncanny X-Men #396

Another crap issue, but look at this cover:

That's a sweet looking cover.

As for the actual story: Chamber hooking up with Sugar Kane is all the tabloid rage. The X-Men discover the mutant tunnel dwellers are dead. Then they lecture Chamber on how he's being an idiot and any mutant not working Xavier is a fucking idiot (an idea that will come up again). Chamber tells them to fuck off. Mr. Clean beats up the X-Men and Wolverine arrives, ready to do some ass kicking.

Still nothing new. Although, Casey is amping up the idea that Sugar Kane is with Chamber for media attention. The lamest part of the issue is Nightcrawler lecturing Chamber. The best part has to be Chamber going "Bobby Drake?" at Iceman, reminding us that these people don't really know each other, which makes the lecture come off even lamer. That whole "You're a mutant, we're mutants, hang with us" thing seems kind of dumb, you know? That could be the point.

This is the last isse Churchill does art for and thank god for that. The problem is that the art doesn't get much better and the title never settles on a permanent artist.

Blogathon 14: Uncanny X-Men #395

And now we begin Casey's run proper with part one of the four-part "Poptopia."

The biggest question you should ask while reading this issue is "Wait, a Welsh pop star?" That's right. Casey kicks things off with Sugar Kane, a Welsh pop star who looks more in the Britney Spears mould than anything else, and her run-in with Chamber, the former member of Generation X, whose face and chest are nothing but glowing energy. I knew when Casey was announced that Chamber would show up because Casey had mentioned in one of those Wizard specials on the X-books that he thinks Chamber is the shit.

Meanwhile, Iceman, Nightcrawler and Archangel are also in London because Cerebra picked up some large mutant signal, which turns out to be a bunch of ugly mutants living in tunnels. Nightcrawler delivers a baby and the X-Men get chased away by a one-eyed mutant named Cyclops (probably the only clever thing in the issue).

Sugar Kane has her people track down Chamber and, suddenly, he's partying with a pop princess.

The issue ends with a really lame villain called Mr. Clean using a flamethrower to kill the London tunnel dwellers.

So, let's see, we've got the Cannonball/Lila Cheney romance, the Morlocks, the typical "hates mutants because they're abominations" villain and not much else. None of it handled with any originality, none of it new.

As long as you haven't read it before. The problem with Casey purposefully reusing these plots is that, unlike other forms of popculture, kids don't read comics. The only people reading Uncanny X-Men have been doing so for years, so there's no chance to reuse old elements and "put one over on the ignorant little shits," because there are none. I mean, yeah, reusing old stuff works great in music, but not in comics. That's why this run failed I think (I'm sure I'll keep finding a new "reason why this run failed" every issue, though).

Oh, and the art by Ian Churchill in this issue and the previous one sucks. Awful.

Blogathon 13: Uncanny X-Men #394

I may be the person who's read Joe Casey's run on Uncanny X-Men the most. I've read it at least four times. I'm betting that's got to be a record. (Okay, it almost certainly isn't, but roll with me, people.) To understand why this mediocre run is seen as such a failure, you have to think back to 2001 when it was announced that Grant Morrison and Joe Casey were taking over the X-books. I mean, holy shit, Grant Morrison and Joe Casey. The guy who brought JLA back from the dead and the hot rising star, both of which ooze coolness the way the rest of us sweat. That right there is why a simply mediocre run is now looked upon as utter shit. Casey had to compete with Morrison and it seemed like once he realised this, he didn't even bother to try, knowing he would lose.

#394 is an interesting book in that it was the first issue of the relaunch to come out and doesn't actually feature the cast of Casey's X-Men squad really. The issue has Cyclops (Morrison), Jean Grey (Morrison), Wolverine (Morrison and Casey) and Archangel (Casey). Therefore, it's a little "pump you up" issue that doesn't do that, because it sucks all kinds of ass.

Some tattooed, newly-turned-18 mutant named Warp Savant attacks Cape Citadel, the same military base Magneto attacked in (Uncanny) X-Men #1. Why? Because he's young, dumb and ready to come alive, motherfuckers! WHOO!

His mutant power is to absorb things into his mind, which he does to Wolverine and Jean, while Cyclops and Archangel kick his ass until he decides to absorb himself or something. Oh, and Wolverine and Jean kiss.

That's about it. Pretty stupid, eh?

Wrong, it's brilliant, but flawed. This is the beginning Casey's major theme for his run: pop eats itself. Casey will reuse old ideas over and over again and do nothing with them, because why bother? He writes the X-book that X-fans clearly want: one with the same stories, the same characters, the same everything, nothing new, nothing interesting, just blah blah blah. Morrison did a similar riff, but also did a lot of a cool, original stuff. Not Casey. And that's why his run is a brilliant falure. Not much fun to read, but a hoot--no, a hoot-and-a-half--to talk about.

In this issue, we have our Magneto stand-in do what Magneto did: attack humans for no good reason. The look of Warp Savant is even a play on Magneto's look at the tattoo on Savant's face, an "M" (for Magneto and mutant) also looks like the image of Magneto's helmet. Archangel shows up with a big gun, just like he looks on the cover of (Uncanny) X-Men #1. Jean has telekinesis again, because that's how she began. It's all utterly mediocre the way that (Uncanny) X-Men #1 was.

Cyclops' first line is "SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE." While Morrison's New X-Men run begins with Cyclops telling Wolverine to stop beating on a Sentinel, representing that he can stop being that character that he's always been, indicating change, forward-thinking, all that kewl stuff, Casey tells us that nothing revolutionary will happen.

And he keeps his promise.

(I love how "Houses of the Holy" appears on Physical Graffiti and not Houses of the Holy.)

Blogathon 12: Oh to be at Comic-Con now that summer is here

Well, Comic-Con is upon us once again and while there is a shitload of news coming out of it, how much of it interesting?

Not much.

I don't think anything from the first day really interested me and the only thing that had me going "Really? Cool!" from yesterday was the news that Warren Ellis will be writing Astonishing X-Men: Second Stage and even that didn't really wow me. Although, the interview with Ellis is pretty entertaining. Simone Bianchi on art is an added bonus. Although, as they mention, this is the first major franchise Ellis has worked on in a direct way--aka not a mini or an offshoot title that doesn't count or a fill-in--and part of me thinks that this is one of the two major franchises I could see him doing well on for an extended period of time. The other is Batman. Any of the others, he could probably do an arc, but beyond that, it would fall apart. Although, after his JLA Classified story, I would love to see him take on Superma just for the Clark/Lois stuff.

I found the whole Dark Knight viral campaign stuff interesting in that I don't actually see the point. Does anyone really think that this movie is NOT going to do insanely well at the box-office? We're talking about a sequel to one of the best-received superhero movies. Hell, I liked Batman Begins, which is saying a lot. It seems like a lot of time and energy spent on something that doesn't need it. But, hey, not my time or energy, so what do I care?

I am a little disappointed to learn that Jude Law won't be Ozymandis in Watchmen. I'm not the biggest Law fan, but he would have knocked that out of the park. The fact that the woman playing the Silk Spectre's only notable role is of the woman in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle who's married to the ugly redneck and offers to fuck the guys also has me shaking my head. But, hey, I could be wrong.

Grant Morrison and JG Jones are handling Final Crisis, which actually makes it sound almost interesting. I'm getting Marvel Boy chills over those two reuniting. It's a shame that all interest may be killed by the time the Countdown finishes. I wonder if getting Morrison to write it was a response to the general hatred of everything Countdown. Since Paul Dini is masterminding Countdown, wouldn't you think he'd handle Final Crisis?

Mark Waid is editor-in-chief of Boom! Studios. Ever since CrossGen, it was pretty obvious that Waid wanted to be in a position where he could do what he wants and not have to answer to anyone. Good for him.

Darwyn Cooke leaving The Spirit a year earlier than planned is interesting from an observor/intellectual stand-point for me. It would probably mean more if I liked the guy's work (I do like his art, but his writing leaves me cold). But, always fun to see a creator leave a book because of editorial bullshit.

I gather that today we'll get some good news. There's already been mention of Jeph Loeb's Ultimate universe crossover, "Ultimatum," but I'm hoping for some Amazing Spider-Man news. Or will that be saved for Chicago, do you think?

(Everybody, do "The Crunge!" Zeppelin at its funkiest! I think this would be one of the funnest Zeppelin songs to sing karaoke to. "The Immigrant Song" would be fun for the little scream you get to do. The Spoke, an eatery/pub at UWO, where I did my undergrad, has karaoke and looking at the list, they have four Zeppelin songs: "D'yer Mak'er," "Heartbreaker/Livin Lovin Maid," "Kashmir" and "When the Levee Breaks." Wow, those last two are just horrible karaoke songs, aren't they? They're looooooong and involve lots of non-singing time "D'yer Mak'er" could be good, though.)

Blogathon 11: Mr. Majestic #9

And so it ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The final three-part story of Mr. Majestic is interesting because it doesn't do anything you expect. When last we read the comic, the universe was about to be unmade and an evil Mr. Majestic was fucking shit up on Earth. Fight time, right?


The cosmic group deals with Xonstructacles in a manner outside of Majestic's ability to understand. Majestic is powered up and absorbs the evil Majestic back inside and becomes the cosmic guardian he was always meant to be, leaving Earth behind forever (or, until this was all retconned and forgotten).

And you know what? I love that more than any fight Casey could have delivered (as Holguin didn't co-write this issue). The way the cosmic group deals with Xonstructacles is fantastic in its scope and the fact that when it's done, they tell Majestic that he may think what they did was cruel, but he doesn't understand since they're so far advanced. In a typical comic, the story would have become a fucking morality lecture or something, but Majestic know they're right. They are way beyond his limited views of morality and he's not fit to judge them. I've always hated comics that have our heroes confront these infinitely advanced beings and pressume to talk down to them. It's fucking stupid is what it is and it just plays upon the most loathesome of human characteristics.

As for the Majestic/Evil Majestic "fight," our hero just does the logical thing. The funny thing is that the entire issue is narrated by Gabereality to a child that is very similar to αΩ Major. Here an exchange between the two when we get to the "fight":


Gabereality: Calm yourself, child. You presume TOO MUCH. There will be no fists hammering down in THIS instance...


Gabereality: Ridiculous. How many pages do you think we have LEFT here...?


Gabereality: Remember, the hero is NOT what he WAS... There is an EXPECTATION that comes with one who would don a cape... wrap himself in the RESPONSIBLITIES of heroism as MOST would understand it. Let's call them... GENRE CONVENTIONS... The point being... Majestros's metamorphosis has taken him FAR ABOVE such concerns... perhaps beyond the archetypes that spawned him...


Gabereality: Fear not... for a while this outcome may not follow the so-called TRADITIONAL path of the "final showdown" that these legends trace time after laborious time... there s JUSTICE to be administered. JUDGMENT and DECISION...

I love that and it makes me even more mad that the book ends here. Casey pushes Majestic into an area beyond typical superhero comics (an area he will push characters time and time again--most notably Superman, which we'll also get to MUCH later--like after midnight later). Majestic is not longer the Superman rip-off, he's above that shit now. He throws away the cape and heads to the stars to take on a role much larger than his previous one.

And that's where it ends. There is no statisfaction here, because the new point of interest concludes. In a way, you can see this as commentary on how comics don't really want new and interesting, but the first six issues of the series delivered the same old, same old (albeit in a very well-done fashion) and people didn't buy it. So, what gives?

The sad truth is, Mr. Majestic failed because it wasn't a Superman book. If you took everything that happened in those first six issues and altered it so it happened to Superman, you would have had every person who reads superhero comics talking about how Superman was back, it was the best superhero comic around, etc. But, it was Mr. Majestic, so who cares?

The art in this isse was handled by Eric Cante and Toby Cypress. Cypress' work is a bit sketchier than Cante's, but works well with it. What happened to him and why is this the only comic I remember him drawing?

In 30 minutes, I'll discuss some of the news that's come out of San Diego the past few days and then, in one hour's time, we'll begin the long trek through Joe Casey's run on Uncanny X-Men. That's 17 issues of, mostly, utter crap--but interesting utter crap.

And remember, to sponsor me in this 24-hour blogathon, click on the sheep and all money goes to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.