“I Fail To See What’s So Remarkable About Two Robots Dancing.” COMICS! Sometimes I’ll Need To See Some ID Before You Go Any Further, Sunshine.

This time out I look at 2000AD yet again, but you can tell I’m getting a bit worn down. Not because you’re perceptive, but because I flat out say so. Then in an attempt to pep things up a bit I take a look at  a one man anthology by the one man affront to all that’s rational! Men want to be him, women want to be with him, and the FBI just plain want him! It’s that loveable scamp, the part-time Cher impersonator and full-time living colossus of Comics, Mr. Gilbert “Betty” Hernandez. And this wretched creature on the end of my critical stick is BLUBBER #2.  (Strictly no kids past the MORE…) photo BlubTopB_zpsjcz32qdm.jpg BLUBBER by Gilbert Hernandez

Anyway, this…

2000AD #1967 & #1968 Art by Mark Sexton, Richard Elson, Clint Langley, John Burns, Carlos Ezquerra Written by Michael Carroll, Dan Abnett, Pat Mills, Kek-W, John Wagner Lettered by Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville, Simon Bowland Coloured by Len O’Grady Cover by Clint Langley JUDGE DREDD created by Carlos Ezquerra & John Wagner KINGDOM created by Richard Elson & Dan Abnett ABC WARRIORS created by Kevin O’Neill, Brendan McCarthy, Mick McMahon & Pat Mills THE ORDER created by John Burns & Kek-W STRONTIUM DOG created by Carlos Ezquerra & John Wagner © 2016 Rebellion A/S Rebellion, £2.55 each, weekly (2016)

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What? Again? Already? Stomm, I’m not really feeling it this time out. The problem it turns out is that weekly instalments all end up being a wee bit samey, so it’s a little difficult coming up with something new to say. But we’ll persevere, after all that’s why they pay me the big bucks. In the indicia to Prog 1967 Tharg’s hidden message is that he is very busy and everything is late. By Prog 1968 things seem to have calmed a little and he’s crowing about how only the best Venusian oil will do for his droids, but is considering doing a Kickstarter due to the high costs of importing said oil. (N.B. It is tacitly understood by readers that 2000AD’s editor is a green skinned Betelgeusian and the creators who toil beneath his tyrannical yoke are all characterised as robots who should think themselves lucky. Over in the UK we find this kind of thing amusing.)

 photo DreddB_zpstarw3goh.jpg JUDGE DREDD (Sexton, Carroll, O’Grady & Parkhouse)

In Prog 1968 the not entirely convincing saga of Judge Badger and the Secret Citi-Block of Rogue Judges comes to a somewhat sudden end. Taking the tale as a whole I’d have to say it was a well done enough chunk of fun, but very little had changed by the end. Dredd’s fascistic veneer took another tiny little knock but more importantly, I guess, Carroll laid the groundwork for future stories which won’t trip over John Wagner’s stuff. Mark Sexton was the star of this one with his crisply attired Judges smoothly navigating the slightly scruffy future setting. And either Len O’Grady or Sexton himself did some nice layering with the colours to lend the images depth, which really paid off in the fighting on catwalks scenes. Carroll’s story was sound on the surface but had some worrying chinks in its armour. A scene where one of four chains supporting a craft was shot resulted in the craft plummeting onto the bad guys below, but should really just have resulted in that corner of the craft drooping and bobbling about like Bruce Willis’ penis in the Color of Night pool scene. And no matter how close sisters may be, it’s unlikely a fascistic wingnut with delusions of grandeur is likely to risk decades of covert skulduggery just so they can be together. Now, we’re all God’s children so I’m not saying fascists lack normal human feelings but it is a fact that I’ve never seen a “For Fascists” section in a greeting card shop. But, y’know, the twist involving DeMarco was, however, pretty neat and all my typically minor carps were ultimately outweighed by the strong pacing and the high entertainment quotient. Solid stuff so GOOD!

 photo KingDB_zpsncquwr1f.jpg KINGDOM (Elson, Abnett & DeVille)

Despite the fact that Prog 1966 promised all kinds of hell was about to break loose Prog 1967 has a weirdly truncated fight scene which pisses away the promise of the preceding issue’s double page spread to basically just establish our cast are now in a siege situation. Then someone notices a giant insect mound that they should probably go and pour a giant kettle of hot water down in order to stop the insect horde. So they decide to do that. Come Prog 1968 Gene and Co, are well on their way, and in case you were wondering how they got out of the besieged city then be assured that Abnett makes every effort to make you think he’s explained that, but you’re pretty sure he hasn’t. Or maybe he did, I read this when I was tired (but I don’t think he did explain it). Prog 1968’s episode opens with a couple of humans who previously appeared in the strip during the 8 years I wasn’t reading it. That’s okay, because there’s a little note referring to previous events. They don’t do notes like that in North American comics anymore because everything happens so slowly that drawing attention to it would just be dispiriting to everyone. (“Miles first started cooking these pancakes six issues ago!”, Underutilised Ed!) Accompanying the humans is another dog thing who immediately starts fighting Gene, our hero, in a page snaffling instance of the usual clichéd misunderstanding  so beloved of old timey comics. Efficiency remains the watchword with Abnett’s script and Elson continues to steadfastly draw it all with a crispness that Quentin (*) would envy. OKAY! (*) Quentin Crisp not Quentin Tarantino. C’mon, work with me here.

 photo ABCWB_zpsijxju9et.jpg ABC WARRIORS (Langley, Mills & Parkhouse)

If at any point anyone out there (SMASH CUT to street as seen in Western movies, cue tumbleweed and eerie whistling) is considering berating Pat Mills for the lack of subtlety in his satire you may wish to remind yourself that in PROG 1967 the villainous Howard Quartz draws up a Death List of droids for the chop, and he writes the names on a tablet clearly headed “DEATH LIST”. I don’t think Pat Mills is under any misapprehensions about the level of satire he’s offering up. But you might be. These two episodes are set in Gracie’s Bar and the second features Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein doing a song and dance number gussied up in top hat and tails. It’s a Hell of an image and Langley delivers it as he delivers all his imagery here, with an appropriately messy undercurrent to the technology on show. It was at that point that I started to strongly suspect Mills was actually writing this story within (between) the very earliest Ro-Busters stories, because I know that image of the dancing droids of old; it kind of sticks with you. How very clever, Pat Mills. Of course I can’t tell you how successfully he’s doing it, because I don’t still have those issues, but still a doff of the cap and all that.  What is new (to me) is Mills’ subversive take on the “cakewalk” and how by applying it (retroactively) to Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein’s antics he’s able to bed in his slaves/robots  (sub)text so deep it won’t shift. Satire doesn’t have to be subtle (and it doesn’t even have to be funny) it just needs to ring true. Ding! Ding! VERY GOOD!

 photo OrderB_zpswsuafier.jpg THE ORDER (Burns, Kek-W & De Ville)

Like I said back there, I was tired when I read these comics so in-between all the stuff about consciousness transferring, lovers reunited and my personal confusion over the fact that what I had previously thought was one woman was in fact two women (said confusion despite John Burns attiring one in a memory searing outfit of scarlet leather) I think I recall Francis Bacon being in this. No, the philosopher and statesman, not the painter. It’s set in the 1580s, so come on, play fair now. Anyway, if you look him up on Wikipedia so you can type “the philosopher and statesman, not the painter” like you know what you are talking about, there’s a facsimile of his signature. It’s got his birth date and everything on there as well, which I find a touch dicey given all the palaver about identity theft these days. (“Hello, Mr. Bacon? This is VisaCard, can you confirm the fact that you recently purchased a 97” HD-Ready Television in Portugal yesterday?” “No, no, I did not. I live in Balham and I’m perfectly happy with my current television. Damn, it’s those irresponsible fuckers at Wikipedia again!”)  See, whenever a real life historical figure appears in a comic I am unavoidably reminded of Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s (still uncompleted) SHIELD series. In a clear bid for intellectual cachet this series (the still uncompleted SHIELD one by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver) about Tony Stark’s Dad (Larry Stark) and Reed Richard’s Dad (Trevor Richards) bro-ing about, also had Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci squaring off because comics. Being a modern man I know very little about, and I have very little interest in, anything that does not impinge directly on my life, a remit which some long dead boffins scarcely fill, but I’m pretty sure they were clever fellows. Yet in Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s (still uncompleted) SHIELD series these two had their followers dress in uniforms and run at each other in the street like slightly less boorish football hooligans. It’s this deft handling of real-life historical figures which always comes to mind when another such figure rears its head in a story. Um, I’ve lost track of what I was on about. I usually mention John Burns’ art is a treat for the eyes, did I do that yet? OKAY! 

 photo StrontB_zpstq024i6y.jpg STRONTIUM DOG (Ezquerra, Wagner & Bowland)

STRONTIUM DOG continues to be so reliable as to be easily taken for granted when in fact its very reliability should be the subject of envy throughout the Comics World. Guess which bit I left until last and then ran out of time on. Hey, I’m sorry my review isn’t up to snuff but I want a weekend too! VERY GOOD!


BLUBBER #2 by Gilbert Hernandez Fantagraphics $3.99 (2016) © 2016 Gilbert Hernandez (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339)

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WARNING! BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) is proper nasty. Dirrrrrrrrty, even.

There is a school of thought that BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) is Gilbert Hernandez taking the piss out of the whole Comics Aren’t Just for Kids! horsepuckey by applying to the tropes of childish entertainment: superheroes, zombies, bad girls, monsters etc. a more realistic approximation of the actual recreational thoughts of real-life adults. Sure, everyone pretends adults are forever relaxing with a cheeky red while reading the novels of Stefan Zweig or watching the movies of Shohei Imamura, whereas of course they are mostly getting shitfaced on gassy piss and reading Dan Brown books or watching Star Wars movies. Which they are perfectly entitled to do. And, lest we forget, it’s a white knuckle ride for anyone anticipating sophistication and erudition once they pass through the beaded curtain into the “Adult” section of anywhere at all. So I’m told. Mind you, none of that matters since I am the only person attending that school, and its curriculum reflects so badly on both humanity and myself that its funding has been pulled with a view to it being demolished, the ground salted, and the whole unwise endeavour replaced by a statute of Deadpool miming a slightly risqué joke.

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BLUBBER by Gilbert Hernandez

So, politicians, dog fondlers, Catholic priests, ham radio enthusiasts, bacon fetishists and people with unimpeachable taste in comics rejoice, because YES! it’s the second issue of Gilbert Hernandez’ sanity taunting BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339)! That’s right, kids, the Best Comic of 2016©™® has already arrived! In January yet! And yes I do know it is now February but I’ve been busy; those ritual murders currently baffling the finest minds in law enforcement won’t commit themselves! So, February 2016 and already everyone else in comics can pack up and fuck right off, because here comes BLUBBER #2 (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339)! In this issue of BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) bestiality and mutilation flaunt themselves with gay abandon upon every B&W page. This time out though the familiar menageries of witlessly priapic and savagely violent species are joined by the most witlessly priapic and savagely violent species of all – humanity! Jism drizzled and blood sodden capers ensue. But don’t take my unbiased and wholly reliable word for it; check out the sordid menu yourself:

BLOVIATE! as the order comes from above for “T.A.C. Man” to track down the pollum and “fuck him up!” Can the world’s first Tactical! Advanced! Commando! Man! best his turgid membered and swingingly nippled nemesis? Meanwhile, back at the base bureaucratic thrills galore occur as Mr. Hippy is genitally mutilated and then cruelly defenestrated by Marshman in a  fit of pique! And could all this dark malarkey be the sinister work of the erectly menacing Wild Dicks? The only way to find out is to rub BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) against your face! T.A.C.TASTIC BONUS! Featuring the discharge enhancing debut of the sensational character find of 2016 – Boat Man! More than a man! More than a boat! It’s Boat Man! T.A.C. Man and Boat Man! Orifices on land and sea beware! T.A.C. Man and Boat Man! Action and buoyancy in blissful syncopation! T.A.C. Man and Boat Man! CHUCH MY MUNG, TRUE BELIEVERS!  photo BlubBoatB_zpsclktinlq.jpg

BLUBBER by Gilbert Hernandez

INVEST! as “XXX Superstar Pupusi And Her Pals” degrade and traduce the beauty of the physical act of love with a cheeky wink, a sticky smile and maybe a philosophical bon mot or two! Ooh! Watch out Pupusi and Maximiliano! That creepy peeper, Mr. Hammernuts is at it again! The big shit!

BOONDOGGLE! as Gilbert Hernandez answers the question which has stumped the finest scientific minds since the world first cooled like a big spherical pie on the window ledge of the universe! Go tell your Momma, go tell the Spartans, “Who Fears The Froat?”

COMBUST! As the micro-dicked Grecian buff-cakes of “Sweet” amble about sating their sexual impulses via the slits, vents and cavities of willing fauna such as the Pooso and the Orlat. What does such mindless and crassly loveless debauchery mean? It means, dude, life is “Sweet”! Whoa! SAVOURY BONUS! Discover the untold secret origin of XXX Pupusi’s name!

LACTATE! for all must fall before the wildly flailing fists of THE TAMPERRRRRR! None must be allowed to slow his surly progress! See how he trundles sowing truculent violence in his wake! But wait! Has our tin carapaced malcontent finally met his match in the form of a Junipero Molestat? Can only an unconvincingly proffered claim as to the debilitating effects of a recent heavy cold save face? The answer will leave you UNRUFFLED! All hail the gutless metal bully! THE TAMPERRRRRR!!!!

SPINDLE! as events take a decidedly spiritual turn when “Father Puto”  takes a break from his incessant pud tugging to join Bulto N. Piper and  Bumps the Faun at the Zombie field. Events soon turn sour as Father Pupa’s dislike of Bumps the Faun lures him into expressing his baser nature. A small mind and a closed heart result in an eruption of anal horror and tragic asphyxiation due to ingestion of a bitten off zombie-cock. But wait? Could this all be part of God’s design? Will the chastened cleric get another chance to get it right? Find out in the latest adventure of the priest with the cum stained pants!

T.A.C.GASMIC BONUS! T.A.C. Man and Marshman “cross swords” once more with attendance at the celebration of the Christian Eucharist hanging in the balance!

N.B. BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) is not suitable for children or people with any sense of decorum or shame.

For the rest of us though, BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) is EXCELLENT!

BLUBBER (DIAMOND CODE: SEP151339) - Don’t ask, just weep!

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BLUBBER by Gilbert Hernandez