Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Weekly--Well, haul can't possibly be the right word for just two comics...

Booster Gold #27 (DC Comics) This is the first of the two (2) comic books I bought at the shop. Both were DCU super-comics, and both feature dark gray covers. They make me a little sad to look at. This particular issues is part two of the two-part Blackest Night tie-in, the first half of which apparently did very, very well on account of the incentive of readers getting a little plastic ring with it. I'll be curious to see the eventual sales charts, to see if many of those who checked out an issue of Booster Gold just to get a ring ended up being so intrigued by the story that they hung around for the next part.

It's not really all that compelling a story, unfortunately. While the previous issue featured a lot of character cameos and dealt with an previously unseen bit of recent history (Ted Kord's funeral), this issue is devoted to Booster Gold and company fighting off the Black Lantern Blue Beetle.

If you've read any of Blackest Night or it's tie-ins, then you know the beats of the story—ring reanimates corpse, the zombie hero fucks with the live hero's head, the live hero struggles to remind self this isn't really his or her friend/lover/parent/teammate, and then they temporarily destroy the Black Lantern by means of a light or energy weapon.

How interesting that ends up being depends a lot on the execution and the audience's prior affection for the characters. (I like all of these guys okay, and while Dan Jurgens' writing and art, and the work of Mike Norton and Norm Rapmund within, aren't anything to stand on one's head about, it's not bad, which is sometimes the same as GENIUS! in 2009 super-comics). What separates this Blackest Night tie-in from some of the others I've read are that this is a longer story (The Blue Beetle back-up was excised, and Jamie Reyes brought in to guest-star in the Booster Gold story), and that Black Lantern Blue Beetle was more or less permanently defeated (I guess we'll see if Ivan Reis rememers not to draw him in any crowd scenes in the main series...of course, this does seem to imply that Ted Kord won't be among the Black Lanterns returned to life at the end of the series...on the other hand, there are some hints, including another one this very issue, that Ted Kord may already be back to life via some sort of time travel hoodoo).



Secret Six #16 (DC) Hey, why didn't Secret Six get a Blackest Night tie-in? It sells just as poorly as Booster Gold, REBELS and Doom Patrol, and even though the team has only been around a while, they've still lost a few members who could come back as Black Lanterns. Anyway, this isn't a Blackest Night tie-in, despite all the black in the cover, and the implication that the still-very-alive Deadshot is rising from the grave he's not really in, despite his name being poorly digitally attached to the surface of the grave stone. (Part of me kind of wanted to bury this comic book in a graveyard as soon as I saw the cover).

It's a very, very unpleasant reading experience.

It opens with a page of dialogue in which a chatty a-hole talks about his system for rating women, and we soon find out that he's actually a rapist/killer...and then we find out he's actually a child rapist/killer, and those "women" he was talking about included at least one nine-year-old girl.

That's the first four pages of the comic.

Then Catman and Deadshot "rescue" the child rapist/killer and deliver him to the father of one of his victims. The father intends to torture and kill the killer, and, when he loses his nerve, Catman gives him practical advice on how to torture a human being to death with a knife.

Then they take a teenage girl to a strip club in which the dancers dress in super-skimpy versions of the costumes of unsexy male suprevillains (Ever wanted to see a gal wearing the slutty Halloween costume version of Mr. Mxyzptlk's costume, or Mr. Freeze's? Tough; you can't unsee it!).

Then there's a big fight, in which Black Alice beats the shit out of a bunch of people, including our protagonists.

Then the comic ends, and I have $2.99 less in my wallet and have already been subjected to "escapist" "entertainment" in which child rape is a plot point...hours before Law and Order: Special Victims Unit even starts!

12 comments:

LurkerWithout said...

I like how Black Alice is both crazy and really, really stupid. She has the power to have the power of ANY OTHER MAGIC-USING CHARACTER. And the best way she can come up to make money to help her sick dad is join the Six? Really? Thats the best plan?

*sigh*

At least it had Ragdoll dancing back and forth across the line between creepy and funny like always...

thokstar said...

Secret Six is getting a BN tie-in: it's the arc that stars with the resurrected Suicide Squad issue.

Richard Cook said...

Given the "edgy" depravity in DC/Marvel these days, I'm kinda surprised the guy was *only* a child rapist and murderer. At least there was no necrophilia. Plenty of time for that during the Blackest Night crossover.

John Foley said...

Caleb I'm curious to know what your issue is with the content in Secret Six. I'm sure you didn't buy it just to complain about it, but you must have known what you were getting into. It's a comic about mercenaries and reformed villains. It explores the darker underbelly of the DCU. It's only natural that things like this will come up. Do you think that issues like rape, serial killing, etc. should not be discussed in comics? I'm sure you don't believe that we should go back to a time when all the supervillains were just glorified pranksters, right? Some comics are going to contain darker content. At least Secret Six is in the hands of a competent writer and artist team.
I'm not trying to be contrary; I'm genuinely curious as to what you're looking for. Speaking only for myself, I'd rather read comics that feature serial killers and rapists (all of whom get their comeuppance at some point) than comics where nothing bad happens and nobody dies. It's a matter of personal taste, of course.
I know you like stuff like Tiny Titans, but surely you don't want everything to be like that?

Jacob T. Levy said...

Caleb's said several times that behavior and themes he finds off-putting in comics that are supposed to be about super-*heroes* he finds entertaining and appropriate in SS. (I'm with him on this.) So I'm guessing that this had to be an extra-special unpleasant kind of depraved to inspire this reaction.

Jeremy H said...

What in the world is wrong with the legs of that poor girl on that Secret Six cover?

Caleb said...

She has the power to have the power of ANY OTHER MAGIC-USING CHARACTER. And the best way she can come up to make money to help her sick dad is join the Six? Really? That's the best plan?

Ha! Yeah. Even if she didn't wanna try magically healing her dad, couldn't she just, like, rob banks or something? That's not as "bad" as the sort of stuff she'd be doing with the Six, and since I think this issue might have actually been the only job they ever completed without turning on their customers, she'd make more money.

Secret Six is getting a BN tie-in: it's the arc that stars with the resurrected Suicide Squad issue.

Oh yeah, I knew that and, I guess, totally blocked it out. I think because it will feature J. Calafiore art, and I'm not really interested in reading any more of that.

Caleb said...

John,

Okay, bear with me because this may take a few paragraphs...

No, I don't buy Secret Six just to complain about it. I usually like it; it's not always great, but it's always pretty readable, I like the characters, and Nicola Scott's art is always top-notch (this ish had a fill-in, which stripped it of that particular redeeming quality).

As Jacob mentioned, I do think the title can get away with more of the darker, more brutal, "edgy" stuff. I don't think torturing, killing, gore, rape and such belong in most DCU titles—Cry For Justice is probably the best example from DC right now of a franchise and a level of intensity/"maturity" mismatch—because such doesn't really fit in Superman or Flash or Justice League stories. They're so incompatible that they warp one another, and, more often than not, a serious issue is made ridiculous and characters made to look like ineffectual, morally dubious assholes. (I should note that this might not be the case if it were ever done well, but I don't think I have seen anything like that done well within the confines of the regular DCU, where mature stories are always half-measures--I think DC should stamp 'em "Mature Readers" and go nuts, or quit trying to have it both ways).

That said, Secret Six is a book about a bunch of villains—some of whom are pretty horrible people—usually fighting against even more horrible, depraved villains, so limb-severing and body-ogling doesn't seem so out of place in the title.

In this instance though—and, um, spoiler warning if you haven't read it yet—it didn't add anything to the story, other than unpleasantness.

Personally, I think child rape is just such a horrible, horrible topic that it really shouldn't be brought up in superhero comics...certainly not unless you're going to actually deal with it. Here, it's just color, something brought up and discarded over the course of a few pages before moving on.

I can sort of see how or why Simone arrived at it by reverse-engineering. She wanted to have Black Alice witness the Six do something super-terrible, so she could end on the ominous note of "Wow, this gal's just a kid, and she's already so jaded she wants to hang with us even after she saw what we did."

But because the Six are basically decent horrible villains, they're victim had to be really, really, really terrible, to justify what they do to him that Alice should be shocked by what isn't.

And so she arrived at something super-terrible, like a child rapist/killer.

And then, she wrote a few paragraphs of dialogue from him effectively enough to gross me the hell out and depress me before I even got to the title page.

Does that make sense?

No, I don't think everything should be like Tiny Titans, but I do wish DC had some more titles that were somewhere between Tiny Titans and the Blackest Night/Cry For Justice "mature" comics...well, I know they do have some, but not necessarily ones that are excellent comics.

If you're interested in reading the scene, it's included in the downloadable preview on DC's site here:
http://dccomics.com/dcu/comics/?cm=13625

It's slightly out of order, but the first page is the first page, and man, try reading just that first panel, and remember that it's later revealed he's talking about little girls.

(Oh, and the whole torture scene with Catman? That seemed really out of character...how does he know the proper way to torture men to death?)

LurkerWithout said...

Maybe he was taking notes when the Crime Doctor was torturing them all waaaaaaaay back in Villains United?

John Foley said...

Caleb-
Thanks for the clarification. I just wasn't sure what the objectionable content was for you, plus that issue was sold out at my store so I was doubly in the dark.

Tony said...

Yeah, seriously, what is up with Black Alice's legs on the cover? Did she steal Ragdoll's powers?

John Foley said...

Well, I finally did get that issue of Secret Six, and you were right. The child rapist/murderer thing was too much. It was repulsive. They could have done that better. Strange how Gail Simone does so many things that she would excoriate another writer for doing.