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09 Jan 2013 21:10 - 09 Jan 2013 21:25 #141143 by Dogmatix

dragonstout wrote:

Dogmatix wrote: cocks-and-gore publishing at its most crass--something, by the by, that seems to be a hallmark of Avatar Press on the whole (though I haven't read the new Lady Death series)

When Lady Death is the series that's looking like it might be exception to the crassness rule, you know they've gone too far.

Did your reading include Crossed: Badlands? A comics reviewer I greatly enjoy reading and who usually takes the piss out of Crossed all the time put Crossed: Badlands #1-3 on his Best-of-2012 list and I was shocked.



Yea, actually that single story arc was really solid and it gave me hope that Badlands wouldn't turn into the degenerate mess of everything else I'd read to that point. Alas, it wasn't to be as the subsequent issues were even further off the rails. Jamie Delano's arc around issue 10 was also one of the better reads and not all that out of line with some of his more twisted early Hellblazer stories--particularly the arcs that told the backstory of how Constantine screwed over [or was the proximate cause of the screwing over, anyway] his various friends. Problem is that the whole Crossed concept itself is almost enitrely irredemable--a word that, I gotta say, I rarely use. So, at best, Delano's story was kind of interesting but it wasn't good enough to even rate a "meh", and the 2 after it were just unbelievably bad.

I can still be shocked and horrified, and I enjoy it if it has a larger point. And, hell, I own a fair number of classic 60s underground comix from Crumb, Gilbert, and the like that are nothing but sex and biker violence, so it's not like a bit o' graphic T&A (mindless or not--guys like Crumb sometimes had a point to make beyond just "lookee here at dat azzz!) or heavy-handed cock symbology really gets to me. Problem is that, by the time Ennis made his point at the end of the first Crossed series, it was both obvious and utterly infantile. And getting there was both needlessly graphic and brutal for the point he was shooting for. And the other writers? Delano's short arc aside, the other writers have been, if anything, *worse*. The Family Values run? Straight dreck.

I suspect the newer "Wish You Were Here" books may be an attempt at a series that gives an adult a reason to keep reading anything set in the Crossed universe, but I just haven't had the interest in trying to get into it. After nearly 40 issues of billiantly illustrated sewage, I'm pretty sure I've waded through enough to earn a merit badge, Steam Accomplishment, or some other "I Survived This Crap" award.

I now kind of suspect that the reason Ennis' Preacher and Hellblazer books were so interesting for me was because there was an actual adult standing over his shoulder saying "No Garth, we really don't see a need two 10-man circle-jerks and a strangulation-by-horsecock scene in the Patron Saint of Killer's backstory." Shame as I previously thought the guy rather talented. I suspect now I'll only touch stuff with his name on it if it's put out through a bigger publisher as there's likely to be a certain degree of editorial oversight/adult supervision to rein in the excesses of ol' Garth's imagination...

Edit: Ok, actually, I can see 1 case where Crossed might have been worthwhile: if it was designed from the outset to be a single, standalone graphic novel. There's something about that format or that sort of presentation where I could mentally treat it like a particularly brutal horror film, digest it, and move on like it was I Spit on Your Grave or some such. And maybe that was the vision with the self-contained nature of the unrelated arcs in Badlands or the 2 stand-alone series prior to Wish You Were Here, but I just kept finding myself saying either "it's got to get smarter in the next issue" or "someone shells out $4 every couple of weeks just to get more of this crap?" over and over again. I read the first issue and thought, OK, it's over the top but it's Ennis. It'll get more interesting after he gets all this horror-show crap out of the way." But it just really doesn't...
Last edit: 09 Jan 2013 21:25 by Dogmatix.

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09 Jan 2013 21:44 #141148 by Michael Barnes


I just wrote an article about violence in video games over at NHS, I used this panel...which I think says a lot about stuff like Ennis, Crossed, and the state of "mature" comics.

And that was written in 1990. We were still a couple of years out from some of the more violent, gory, and profane stuff in mainstream books.

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09 Jan 2013 22:30 #141153 by Million Dollar Mimring
I love that scene in Animal Man.

It's the fucked up nature of "maturity" in comics. The fact that Morrison essentially calls out all of this stuff while his story engages in the same thing is nice. On a surface level, Animal Man contains all that stuff, but Morrison really brings into focus what he's ultimately trying to accomplish. With no faint praise, Animal Man really tried to change the conversation of comics. Like you said, everyone seemed to miss that point and instead continued on the grim n' gritty path.

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09 Jan 2013 22:48 #141155 by Michael Barnes
There's an interesting arc there in Animal Man too, leading up to that...where Buddy's family gets killed and he starts on this homicidal quest for revenge...he puts on this old black leather costume and cuts his hair all fucked up. It's such a sharp contrast to the way he's been presented throughout the rest of the book- and his vegetarianism. It's definitely depicted as the wrong way to go.

I just read the new Brian Wood Star Wars book. It's just Star Wars, and it's about the classic characters and settings. But get this. Four page in, Leia gets shot down on this planet, piloting an X-Wing while scouting for a new Rebel homebase post-Yavin 4. She see a TIE Interceptor go down, and follows the trail. The TIE pilot gets out and she shoots him in the chest at point blank range. Next panel, longshot, Leia shooting the pilot in the face. Come the fuck on, was that really necessary? Unless the whole thing is going to be about how Leia is actually a cold-blooded killer or something.

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09 Jan 2013 23:20 - 10 Jan 2013 01:06 #141158 by dragonstout
I dunno, the Star Wars characters are fighting an insurrection against a totalitarian government...historically, such rebels have not been the most squeamish about using whatever means necessary.

I think being hard on Ennis because of Crossed is wrong-headed...first of all, as JonJacob pointed out, it's Avatar Press. The whole publishing company specializes in depicting the most vile, violent things possible, and *no one* does great work for Avatar. Even Alan Moore's Avatar Press series reportedly sucked ass (I think Shellhead reported on it earlier in this thread). The rotating cast of writers for Crossed also tells you: this is not one creator's important personal vision, it's a franchise that's relatively successful for the company so they hire writers to write story arcs for it. From what I heard, Ennis intended it originally to make fun of The Walking Dead.

Most Garth Ennis series are far from the cynical, unkind things described in those Animal Man panels...there is way more kindness and humanity in your average Garth Ennis comic than in, say, The Killing Joke or Miracleman.

Punisher Max is somewhat of a bad example, being I believe the darkest thing he's ever written, but even there the darkness is due to the rage Ennis feels towards the injustice created by the orchestrators of wars and poverty; Punisher himself is treated with sympathy and pity. Most of his other long-form stories are bromance stories focused on a friendship between two men, with great sympathy for both even when they make poor decisions.

BTW, his current Nick Fury comic, Fury: My War Gone By, has been getting more accolades than I ever saw for any of his other comics, including a (probably unwarranted) comparison to Watchmen. As usual, I'm waiting for the fat hardcover, so it's one for the Comixology folks.

Edit: Just read the NoHighScores article, very nice article, I liked it more than any board-game article even in a long time. Way to spoil the ending of Animal Man for like, everyone, though.
Last edit: 10 Jan 2013 01:06 by dragonstout.

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10 Jan 2013 01:24 - 10 Jan 2013 02:02 #141169 by Dogmatix

dragonstout wrote: From what I heard, Ennis intended it originally to make fun of The Walking Dead.

Most Garth Ennis series are far from the cynical, unkind things described in those Animal Man panels...there is way more kindness and humanity in your average Garth Ennis comic than in, say, The Killing Joke or Miracleman.


Now, THAT, I could totally see in the first series. If they'd just left the damned thing in the 9-issue initial run, I could ABSOLUTELY be in-tune with that vibe. It's actually a pretty good piss-take on everything about most "zombie apocalypse" stories--novels, comics, movies, all of it. He actually does a pretty great job at a couple of key points (and, again, the bit about YouTube in the first few panels is so spot-on and basically an updated version of that Animal Man panel Barnes cites) in all the inhumane, idiotic, and inane shit survivors do even though we're supposed to empathize/sympathize with those folks. And it's actually got a bit of an upbeat end, which is more or less par for the course with the genre (though, I gotta say, I fully expected to see the last 2 standing shoot each other in the face in the last panel). But taken together with the other stuff, including Ennis' own return to the series later on, and it felt like a giant game of one-ups-manship among the authors, artists, and audience. I just couldn't really stomach it in the end as it seemed to be shooting for vile for its own sake.

I don't think I was at all familiar with Avatar previously . It's obvious when looking at their other titles that this is their niche...

Perhaps if I'd just walked away at the end of the first series I'd give it a 3 outta 5 score [would that be a "weak 7" in boardgame reviews? I forget my memes and tropes these days...]. It was a half-baked take on the zombie genre that's taken over the world--and he probably could have added a little steampunk in for good measure--and the whole "Zombies meet The Hills Have Eyes" vibe with the infected was needlessly over the top [although I think I'd have to admit also that it's damnedably hard to find a *new* take on The Infected as a plot device]. But taken on the whole, it gets a straight "WTF."

A "Crossed" T-shirt is going to equate to a "I beat off to tentacle porn" bumpersticker in my head for a long, long time...

I know nothing about it at all, but as far as Ennis' Nick Fury run goes, that undoubtedly qualifies under my "Garth has adult supervision" caveat as I can't see anyone letting Nick Fury get too far afield, particularly now that the movies have turned him into a semi-A list character instead of a sort of permanent "Deus Ex Machina" figure that appears at the last minute to dig some hero out of a hole, provide a convenient excuse for a character only appearing to be dead, or serving as the plot device to gather up a bunch of characters that would never otherwise interact.

Funny thing is, in my mind going back 20 years, I've always thought Fury was always the Marvel character most likely to have a horrific case of PTSD. It was one of those things that my other comic-junkie friends would sit around and bullshit about over beers. After talking to a few friends who came back from the '91 Gulf War in various states of just "ate-right-the-fuck-up," I wondered back then if they would use Fury in one of their more allegorical runs to show the way even "good wars" chew up soldiers in bad ways.

It would far more fitting now since the current mess in Southwest Asia has done immense damage to a generation of professional soldiers and a lot of folks can't get past the flag-waving and ribbon-wearing to see it. Is that what they're actually doing now in that Fury run? (Yea, I know, STFU and go google it yourself asshole... ;) )

Since I truly *loved* Preacher and Hellblazer, I'd really like to not shudder whenever I see Ennis' name.

Edit: I was gonna edit this to add some fucking punctuation in a few spots; instead, I'm just going to say "either you do it in your head or just pretend James Joyce came up with a few of those 80 word sentences." :)
Last edit: 10 Jan 2013 02:02 by Dogmatix. Reason: Run-on THIS biatch....

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10 Jan 2013 05:02 #141184 by metalface13

Michael Barnes wrote: I just read the new Brian Wood Star Wars book. It's just Star Wars, and it's about the classic characters and settings. But get this. Four page in, Leia gets shot down on this planet, piloting an X-Wing while scouting for a new Rebel homebase post-Yavin 4. She see a TIE Interceptor go down, and follows the trail. The TIE pilot gets out and she shoots him in the chest at point blank range. Next panel, longshot, Leia shooting the pilot in the face. Come the fuck on, was that really necessary? Unless the whole thing is going to be about how Leia is actually a cold-blooded killer or something.


Say whaaaaaatttt? So this is Star Wars DMZ? Sounds disappointing because I've enjoyed some DMZ and Local by Brian Wood. I know Leia is a rebel and all, but that's not how she's portrayed in the OT flms. But then sympathy is never invoked for any of the Imperial troops. But then again, there's never any scenes of the heroes shooting them in the face. Well OK, she DOES strangle Jabba the Hut.

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10 Jan 2013 05:06 #141185 by Michael Barnes
Andy- "Barnes, that was the best thing you've written in like five years".

Two weeks later...

Andy- "Barnes, that was the best think you've written in like five years". :-P

On the Leia thing- yeah, that's true, but considering that this book is widely touted as bringing back the spirit of the OT, I don't really see that as being very "in the mood" so to speak. Mainly because it's Leia. She's not a brutal antihero type. If it were Han, sure, I'd be like "yep, it's Han."

I get a sense that Wood was trying a little too hard to sell Leia as "one of the boys"...that scene, coupled with her piloting an X-Wing (something not seen in the films or anywhere else, I don't think) are setting her up for a pretty different take. Not that she can't fight- we've seen that before- but it seems like there's an effort to harden her up a bit. The story appears to be going kind of in a black ops/Uncanny X-Force direction.

It's actually pretty good, overall. It's post-ANH, pre-ESB. I'm on board for another issue, I think it may turn out to be one of the better SW comics. If only because it's not about random bullshit Jedi wanglodiggerybatch.

I'mma read those Ennis Fury books, maybe tonight.

Ennis can be really good, I think Justin is right that he may just need adult supervision. I do like PuniMax quite a lot, and like Andy says it is some of his darker, more violent material. His Hellblazer stories are excellent. And there are wide swaths of Preacher that are pretty great, barring any page featuring Arseface. I actually liked his old Hitman stuff, and the Enemy Ace books he did were pretty neat. I just got sort of sick of his "whiskey and cigarettes" shtick, the whole outrageous-for-outrageous sake thing.

I have wanted to read his Judge Dredd stuff...seems like he'd have to be more restrained for that too.

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10 Jan 2013 05:10 #141187 by metalface13

Michael Barnes wrote: It's actually pretty good, overall. It's post-ANH, pre-ESB. I'm on board for another issue, I think it may turn out to be one of the better SW comics. If only because it's not about random bullshit Jedi wanglodiggerybatch.


Alright, keep us informed.

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10 Jan 2013 05:32 #141192 by Ancient_of_MuMu

Michael Barnes wrote: I have wanted to read his Judge Dredd stuff...seems like he'd have to be more restrained for that too.

I think his Dredd stuff is appalling and should be skipped. He just doesn't get the character of Dredd at all. I have a trade paperback which is mostly his stuff which I was slowly working through as it was dull but there was one story I liked so thought he might be OK, but then I checked and it was Wagner or Grant who wrote it and not Ennis.

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10 Jan 2013 08:10 #141197 by dragonstout

Michael Barnes wrote: Andy- "Barnes, that was the best thing you've written in like five years".

Two weeks later...

Andy- "Barnes, that was the best think you've written in like five years". :-P

You're on a roll and my memory is not.

Dang, you just listed a bajillion Ennis comics you like, the truth comes out. I think of Hitman as being on the edge...I like it, but he's definitely being a juvenile goof a lot of the time. I have no idea why Ennis feels the need to satirize superheroes *all the damn time*; talk about your easy targets...that's why I never read The Boys, just looked like an even more crass version of the weakest parts of Hitman, though I'd read it if I could borrow it from somewhere, like the other stuff I'm reading now (The Boys: emphatically *not* at the library).

I don't know the details about the Fury series, other than that I think it's planned to be 14 issues, is set in the same universe as the Ennis Punisher Max series, i.e. no superheroes, and is of course about war.

I did not intend the "Ennis stories have kindness and humanity" to apply to Crossed, as I've always pretty much written off whatever Avatar puts out without a second thought. It's definitely the gorehounds' publisher...Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, and Garth Ennis have all written for them nevertheless, and with some of those even the covers just make me sick to my stomach (one of the Mark Millar ones had a closeup of a funny animal abortion in progress...fuck off).

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10 Jan 2013 16:28 #141218 by metalface13
Just finished reading my latest batch from the library last night included were:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: I really want to read the Annihilation Conquest stuff, but the library doesn't have them. I think reading that would really help set the stage for Guardians better. I was a big fan of the Marvel cosmic superheroes when I was a kid. I loved Infinity Guantlet, Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, Quasar, etc. Most of the cosmic stuff wasn't very good, but I thought it was cool. That aside, the first volume of Guardians was just OK. My biggest gripe is the artwork. It's terribly 1990s generic superhero stuff and really disappointing compared to the amazing cover art. Also not a fan of the "documentary" style mission debriefs. I don't really feel like any of the characters have a distinct voice. I get it's about a team that's trying to gel, but maybe show it instead of tell it a little more? I'll continue checking it out from the library though.

Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 2: There's a lot of good and some bad to this series so far for me. I think the Justin the Shining Knight stuff is really, really awesome. I'm a sucker for stuff based around Camelot and Arthurian legend and stuff that mixes fantasy with science fiction. The Zatanna stuff is really good, too. Klarion the Witchboy is solid, and it does feel a lot like Gaiman (ditto for the subway pirates the Guardian deals with in vol. 1). But I am not enjoying the Manhattan Guardian stuff. I know you guys say Morrison is adept at taking Silver Age silly stuff and flipping the script on it and making it cool/relevant. But I'm not digging it. I just don't like the DC Silver Age stuff. The Guardian also appears to be where Morrison is trying to make statements about the media, gun control, distribution of wealth, etc. but it just feels really muddled and gets in the way of the storytelling.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love: The second Cinderella set. I liked this better than the first volume, setting up Cinderella vs. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as a ruthless assassin working for a Fables Shadowtown network full of Eastern/African/Asian fables. Cool addition to the Fables mythos. I would have liked to see Dorothy fleshed out as a character more. We see killing the Wicked Witch of the East sets her up to be a mercenary/assassin, but that's still a big stretch. But it's unlikely we'll see anymore as Chris Roberson has been essentially banned from DC/Vertigo.

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10 Jan 2013 17:54 #141234 by dragonstout
I finished Batman and Son last night, the first Morrison hardcover. I skipped the text Joker story, it seemed practically unreadably purple.

The first story in the book, introducing Damien: I'd never have guessed it was Morrison at all, just pretty straightforward superheroing. The last half of the book has more metacommentary and is starting to point in the weirder direction we usually get from Morrison.

It was all good, but nothing I'd have read further if not for it being Morrison, getting praise from some quarters, and being at the library. By far the thing I'm most intrigued by is the black casebook full of crazy things that can't have happened.

Next two things I got from the library: Supermen: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 and Joost Swarte's Is That All There Is?

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10 Jan 2013 18:09 #141237 by Michael Barnes
Yeah, the first Damian story isn't terribly crazy...there's all that fun modern art stuff, a big ol' poke at Damien Hirst and whatnot, but it's surprisingly conventional. It's very transitional in that way, setting the reader up for what's to come that is very different than past Batman material. There are definitely hooks there, things you may not notice on a first readthrough...like why is "Zurenarrh" in all the grafitti...

The Black Casebook...so awesome. That could be a spin-off series on its own. The actual Black Casebook is pretty neat, it's all of the older Batman stories that he was inspired by, Rainbow Batman, Batmen of All Nations, Robin Must Die, The Batman of Zurenarrh, and so forth.

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10 Jan 2013 18:25 - 10 Jan 2013 18:27 #141240 by dragonstout
I noticed the Zur-En-Arrh (I think it's written like 10 times in one panel, so how could I not?), and it sounded really familiar but after googling I have no idea why I'd have ever heard of it. I also noticed in the 666 story that some characters are killed there, like Pyg and Flamingo, that Morrison would later create in the Batman & Robin series. Looking forward to the crazy-ass Morrison-style Batman stuff, despite personally feeling that Batman works best played fairly straight. I also love gorillas in superhero comics, Gorilla Grodd second only to the Mirror Master in my love for Flash villains (by far the best DC rogues gallery after Batman and Superman); will we see more of Jackanape? I hope so.
Last edit: 10 Jan 2013 18:27 by dragonstout.

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