Black Summer was a seemingly simple comic book that became very, very complex by the end. At least, that's the way I read it, but I've been a little out of sorts lately with a general pessimism and outright hatred of many comics. I've had posts begin in high spirits and positive motives only to devolve into ugly rants and time spent curled up under the cold shower spray mumbling unbloggble things. So maybe I've got it all wrong and this is really a seemingly complex comic book that became very, very simple by the end. Who knows. But, I know this much: this is a worthwhile comic for pages 18 and 19 in which Tom Noir, presumed dead, turns to his old friend John Horus, killer of an American president, veep, advisors and SS agents, and says the words I've been waiting for these past weeks--the words that needed said:
THE INCREDIBLE THING WE DID TO OURSELVES, THESE ABILITIES BEYOND EVOLUTIONARY CAPACITY -- AND YOU USED THEM ON A HIT?
YOU COULDN'T THINK OF ANOTHER WAY TO DO IT?
I'M ONLY THIS ANGRY WITH YOU BECAUSE I'M SO FUCKING DISAPPOINTED, JOHN. YOU FUCKED IT UP.
YOU COULD NOT THINK OF A SMARTER WAY TO CHANGE THE WAY THIS COUNTRY DOES BUSINESS THAN JUST KILLING THE VILLAIN?
YOU CAN WATCH THE WORLD LIKE GOD AND BUILD PLACES OUT OF MUD WITH THOSE DAMNED EYES OF YOURS AND THAT IS THE SMARTEST IDEA YOU HAD?
YOU FUCKING SICKEN ME.
I mean, wow. That says it all, doesn't it? Well, no, it doesn't as I plan to ramble on quite a bit more...
But, I mentioned that this struck me as an attack on the post-Authority superhero (it actually extends further back, of course), and that it always comes down to hitting. It always comes down to killing and punching and it's just sad by now. Particularly in books where the characters don't just claimed to be more advanced than regular people, but actually are. It's not a question of superpowers, but of imagination and intelligence. Here, John Horus is a genius driven to make the world better and to fight injustice... but he can't escape hitting things. It never occurs to him that there are other ways of doing things. That was my biggest complaint against Morrison's All-Star Superman, Millar's Ultimate X-Men and Fraction's Invincible Iron Man--books featuring characters that are smarter than us, more creative than us... and it always comes down to punching the "bad guy" in the face. Not only are the characters better than that, shouldn't the writers be?
I've said that stuff a lot lately, so I won't hammer away at it too much anymore. What also impressed me about this issue was the self-awareness of the three women Seven Guns and Tom Noir. The women come to understand that they are, really, just violent people who protect a city and fight small-scale levels of crime. They're not cut out to work on a larger scale. Tom, on the other hand, also realises the same thing, and acts accordingly by killing John and Frank Blacksmith, the so-called "Eighth Gun" and traitor. He isn't better than violence and hitting things. Neither are the women.
Not the end that I expected for this book, but one of the best I've read in a while.