“I Ain't Never...Made Nothin' My Whole Life.” COMICS! Sometimes I React Quite Badly To The Tiresomely Derivative Violent Fantasies Of The Middle-Aged White Male. Tough Titty.

So, hey, you know all the Goodwill I've built up with y'all. Let's douse all that in kerosene and flick a lit match at it. Because, damn, this comic sure rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes I'm like a mad dog. A sexy mad dog. You've been warned. WOOF! WOOF!  photo Bang04B_zps9lrzh3ax.jpg MEN OF WRATH by Garney, Aaron, Milla & Fletcher

Anyway, this... MEN OF WRATH Art by Ron “Through The Jungle” Garney Written by Jason “Star Wars” Aaron Coloured by Matt “Killer” Milla Lettered by Jared K. (“-Bar”) Fletcher Marvel, $3.50 each MEN OF WRATH created by Ron Garney & Jason Aaron

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And all the others Running 'round so hot and bothered Anything to give their lives some meaning In the evening Running around with guns and Said they would act in self-defence With violence

Violence - The Pet Shop Boys

I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine! I’m a Killing Machine!

In The Neck – Revolting Cocks

Hey, Buddy! Yeah, you! How bad is your ass? No matter how bad your ass is I bet it’s not as bad as the bad asses in this comic and that’s allowing for a high level of badness when it comes to your ass. Man, the asses in this book are all bad. Because they are all (mostly) men's asses. And all men are violent. All the time. I’m being violent right now. And manly. Hell, I piss oxtail soup and fart raw lumber. Imagine an ambulatory hickory-smoked cock constantly emitting milky explosions of violence and that’s me, Padre. Straight up! I didn’t grow this beard, I was born with it! Chafed my Ma so bad on the way out that during the delivery (in a clapboard shack with a roof o’ tin) she tore an intern’s throat out like The Swayze in Charles Dickens’ immortal classic ROAD HOUSE. Shitfire and molasses! Get out of my sight! Get out of my way! Rubber Duck to Teddy Bear, we got ourselves a convoy! A Convoy of Violence! Yeah, my chapped lips to your cauliflower ears, I thought this comic was just great, if a little dainty for a giant violent hickory-smoked bearded cock like my bad ass self. No word of a lie, this comic displays all the nuance and insight into male violence you would expect of a comic called MEN OF WRATH which is about some men called Rath who are angry. And that’s some smart stuff right there, Cochise, because, see, wrath is a synonym for angry and, get this, wrath rhymes with Rath (largely in fact due to it being the same word except the “w” has gone), but not only that, but, and I don’t want to tell tales out of school or anything, but men are renowned for being violent, and violence is often a physical embodiment of anger, or, brace yourself - wrath. MEN OF WRATH! Geddit! Yeah, that stain on the wall is your mind, baby. Because like a sailor on shore leave, it just got blown. And that’s just the title. Comics aren’t just for kids anymore! They are for big kids! Big kids who enjoy the literary equivalent of staring into the gummily cycloptic eye of their own boner.

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MEN OF WRATH by Garney, Aaron, Milla & Fletcher

MEN OF WRATH has many things to tell us about the human condition and some of these things are about men growing old. And revenge. And  religion. And animals. The religion bit is easy – religion is rubbish. A white collar won't stop a bullet. And nor will God. Controversial stuff there; knocking Christianity being as tough as mocking Perry Como in this the year of Our Lord 2015. There's a lot of sheep and horses in it so I guess the idea is to suggest people are just like animals, they just pretend otherwise because, uh, that sounds like a really badass thing to say. In fact, people can indeed act like animals when under extreme duress, or following lengthy periods of systematic abuse or when there are soup makers with 33% off RRP on Black Friday. Mostly though people act like people. I'm not sure about the animal thing, MEN OF WRATH might not be that complex, but I'm committed to this train of thought so we'll carry on - I suspect people are not actually just like animals because I’ve yet to hear of a chicken tiling a bathroom or a capybara performing chanson. Although, true, quite a few barnyard animals do seem to be elected to political office. Actually it's probably not saying anything about animals. What about men and age? I bet it's replete with wisdom on that score. Oh yeah, as men get older, MEN OF WRATH tell us, they might get cancer but that's okay because they'll just spit blood, or maybe run out of puff during a gunfight, or occasionally clutch their side and grimace like they are trying to keep a fugitive poo in. Cancer, MEN OF WRATH assures us, much like renal failure or pulmonary embolisms, can be pushed back by sheer force of will, a crinkling of the forehead and a manly hiss of “Not now, old man. Not yet.” Old men, cancerous or no, MEN OF WRATH reveals, can be shot and burned with little immediate impact, although MEN OF WRATH is fast to point out that they will suddenly fall over and black out at a moment of high emotional impact in the narrative. This is because, and I'm reaching here, maybe, old thoughts don’t travel as fast as young thoughts so it takes time for the news of their injuries to reach their aged brain. Like dinosaurs. Sometimes old men can be referred to as dinosaurs because dinosaurs died off; the fact that humanity will have to stick around for several millennia more before they equal the dinosaurs’ tenure never gets mentioned. Or maybe it’s because old men are scaly and have a tendency to stumble around roaring with no pants on. I don't know. Mostly, though, MEN OF WRATH is telling us about sons and fathers. What it tells us about sons and fathers is fuck all. It starts off telling us that a cycle of violence began when Papyrus Wrath stabbed a dude over sheep, but then it realises that it isn't the 1970s and everyone with more sense than a doughnut now knows all that “bred in the bone” shit is just a weak ass refusal to take responsibility for one's own actions. This means it kind of stumbles about all confused and bellyflops into a truly poor end reveal which is both pandering and maybe a wee bit sexist. Because ladies? Not violent. Ever. Hey, Jason Aaron - meet my mum. Yeah, you better run, boy. Stop when you hit the sea. Anyway, MEN OF WRATH has many things to tell us about many things, I'm not sure what they are but I am sure all of the things it has to tell us are dumb. This is because everything MEN OF WRATH tells us is based on a bunch of movies and books that have already told us all these things better. On reflection I suspect MEN OF WRATH doesn't tell anyone anything, because MEN OF WRATH is five issues of macho posing and as a consequence any message within has all the strength of a sick man's piss. MEN OF WRATH is a book apparently written by someone who doesn’t get that the truest thing movies like TAXI DRIVER and ROLLING THUNDER tell us is that Paul Schrader was a very unhappy young man.

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MEN OF WRATH by Garney, Aaron, Milla & Fletcher

Oh yeah, MEN OF WRATH has a lot of violence in it and this violence is extraordinarily effective in solving everyone's problems. True dat. Now, sure, some people will tell you violence solves nothing. Probably some guy who goes to work in an office and wears glasses and loves his wife like he’s some puling castrato or something. Personally speaking,  I’ve yet to find a problem violence can’t solve. See as a for instance, a couple of years back we were calculating our return for the Tax Credits and it turned out some sums had gone awry and we’d been claiming more than we should. We’d been claiming it for a full year, so we had to make the choice of whether to ‘fess up and pay the not inconsiderable sum back, or just sail right on ahead living with the possibility that at any moment  the black helicopters would descend and there’d be knock at the door. Please understand, it wasn’t that we didn’t want to pay it back. After all I’m big on paying taxes because I have this dumb idea I’m a part of a wider society to which we should all contribute so that we can raise each other up (also, hospitals, prisons, schools and roads - quite useful!) No, the issue was whether we’d get into trouble; it was an honest mistake, but you know maybe They wouldn’t see it like that. I don’t know about anywhere else but in the UK the last person you go toe to toe with is the Tax Man. You’ve got more chance of getting away with fiddling with kids than with fiddling your taxes. So, we talked about it for a few days and it all got a bit stressful and in the end I just went out and murdered someone. That solved the whole Tax Credits problem right quick, don’t tell me it didn’t. You can visit me on Wednesdays. Bring cigarettes.

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MEN OF WRATH by Garney, Aaron, Milla & Fletcher

Look, it's not that Jason “Star Wars” Aaron can't write and can't write well but, seriously, this is some tired path he's treading. It's certainly very fucken' far from Cormac McCarthy. Because, hey, didn't you hear, Jason “Star Wars” Aaron is Comics’ Cormac McCarthy. You know, like Brian Michael Bendis is Comics’ David Mamet, Ed Brubaker is Comics’ Raymond Chandler and Matt Fraction is Comics’ Rip Taylor. Throw all that stuff on your rhubarb to make it grow. Jason “Star Wars” Aaron can write, but MEN OF WRATH is refried junk. Oh, hey, since my pills are overdue and I'm going all Scorched Earth have you heard the one where comics writers equate themselves with Charles Dickens? Have you not heard that one? It’s great. Honestly, I’ve seen at least one do it in a public comments section, and given comics writers are herd creatures you can bet the concept’s got some traction with a few of ‘em. Modest folk that they are. Anyway, it seems to run like this: Charles Dickens produced popular fictional entertainments in a serialised format which were later collected between two covers for posterity. So do they. Thus, comic book writers are like Charles Dickens. QED.  If any comic book writers think that, I want them to know that I have two step ladders in my garage and they are more than welcome to borrow one to try and get over themselves. Because, yes, clearly it was the format in which Dickens’ work was published that makes it great rather than, you know, the genius of Charles Dickens. See, you start out complimenting a writer and before you know it we’re in a place in which Frank Tieri is comparable to Charles Dickens. A hot place with imps and cackling. Look, the last thing I want to do is rub poo in anyone’s eyes here, but if the writing was the most important thing about comics there wouldn’t be any pictures in ‘em. Writing is the most important thing in prose - fancy your chances in that arena, comic book writers? Yeah, thought not. Go back to hiding behind Frank Quitely’s skirt. No offense, like. Look, short version: If Charles Dickens was alive today I doubt very fucking much if he’d be writing comics about C-3PO’s arm or Han Solo’s sassy wife. Check and mate. Cormac McCarthy, my arse. More like Charlie fucking McCarthy. Gottle a geer!  Gottle a geer!

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Also, I made the mistake of starting to read the back matter until I hit the usual ride-a-cock-horse about how the story has a profoundly personal aspect, which comes across about as sincere as Wayne Newton telling us Peace Frog holds a very special place in his heart before clicking his fingers and getting stuck in on the Trocadero Main Stage, during a poorly attended Thursday matinee. Apparently one of Jason “Star Wars” Aaron’s kin done gone killed some fella back yonder  times over some sheep or some such, hence the inspiration for this timeless paper classic; one which will be ranked by posterity somewhere under that FRIDAY THE  13th comic Jason “Star Wars” Aaron did.  I think I’m supposed to be impressed by the honesty of Jason “Star Wars” Aaron’s facing of the familial sins of the past full on and the colossal internal strength he draws on to use it as a spur to create art (i.e. money). And had the ancestral Aaron touched kids I probably would be suitably impressed. But Festus Aaron killed someone, which is still a manly and butch crime; the kind of crime you can walk tall behind, and so we just got another comic about how violence is, oh, so very, very bad but still manages to force itself  to roll around in it like a dog in fox shit.

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What? Maybe I'm just not the audience for this? Maybe it's a bit too raw for my fluffy pink liberal palate? Seriously, you have no idea who you are dealing with here. Circque du Soleil would gasp at the contortions my Electric-Pink Liberal Conscience can make just so I can enjoy my Hot Strong Man Boner Action. DIRTY HARRY? The balls, man, Just the balls. I can recite that thing; don’t test me, it’ll end badly for you. And yet, as my regular readers will attest I’m all, hey, why don’t we all look after each other, and, like forgive although we can never forget, and bad things are real bad, yeah, and you use roads, you were born in hospital, so  pay your taxes and all that, ugh, nasty, nasty, wispy beard, cork sandaled, recycling, folk listenin’, home-made preserves shit. Listen to this, and you best believe you better be bracing yourself like nobody’s business because here it comes: I’m the guy who thinks Harry Callaghan throws his badge away at the end of DIRTY HARRY because he has failed The System! That’s right! The System hasn’t failed Dirty Harry, Dirty Harry has failed The System. He no longer believes he is fit to carry the badge. (Well, he isn’t is he? I mean, there’s crossing a line and then there’s being silly about it. He endangers about twelve little kids at the end; not cool, Harry.) Why then, John, is he back in MAGNUM FORCE and also, John, not only is he in MAGNUM FORCE but he is such a plainly unapologetic fascistic bastard they have to set up a bunch of bike cops including David “Black Bean Soup” Soul and that guy from Vega$ as a kind of Central American Death Squad, whose only Real Crime the movie seems to be saying is offing a luckless cop. Why, John? Because John Milius is why. Also, it’s a fucking cartoon. The first movie is a proper film; Don Siegel made proper movies - word to that. And the rest of the Harrys? Fuck those. That Cagney & Lacey one is so badly directed it’s a good job the human charmball Bradford Dillman’s in it, and THE DEAD POOL has a remote control car chasing Harry Callaghan about like it’s some kind of R-Rated Hot Wheels movie or something. A remote controlled car! That movie is for goofballs and Liam Neeson/Jim Carrey completists. The only half way decent one (other than MAGNUM FORCE; I like fascist cartoons! TWIST!) is that one that keeps forgetting it’s a Dirty Harry movie and thinks it’s Sondra Locke in DEATHWISH. (N.B. DEATHWISH is a piece of crap.) And SUDDEN IMPACT’s only good because it would take a sleepy chimp indeed to come away from that one feeling revenge was any fucking good at all. A chimp, or John Milius. I mean, I’ve checked my pants and I’m a man; I have a weakness for dumb aviator shaded, cigar chompin’ shit like the stuff John Milius sprays like musk, but the important thing to remember is that stuff’s a fucking cartoon.  Yeah, I know he’s dead. It should be sprayed not sprays. Fuck tenses. Grammar ain’t manly, pal. Except Powers Boothe’s Gramma. Ma Boothe cures her own pork, you hear me! Skiddlyupyah! But, y’know, you can step the Hell back if you’re even thinking of telling me RED DAWN says anything about the human condition. My point? Like John Vernon said in Josey Wales, “Don’t piss down my neck and tell me it’s raining, Senator.”  Capiche, cochise?

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MEN OF WRATH by Garney, Aaron, Milla & Fletcher

Someone out there is going to go, yeah, yeah, you big limey mincer, but have you read SOUTHERN BASTARDS - that’s great! And because I was raised right  I am going to ignore the fact that this site is fully searchable and you can find out fairly easily that I have read SOUTHERN BASTARDS and, no, in the world in which I am cursed to live, it is not great. SOUTHERN BASTARDS took five issues of “stellar character work” to tell us nothing about said character or the mise en scène (yeah, some ooh-la-la parlez vous francais there. Bite me, tough guy!) that couldn’t have been covered in one issue. He’s old, he’s sad, his dad was bad and Americans react to seeing dogs shitting like someone was murdering a baby. (Of course he’s been in ‘Nam. Of course he had. Did you know ‘Nam backwards is Man? There goes your mind again!) Anyway, five issues of repetitive dithering. Five issues of it. Five fucking issues of packing boxes, hitting people with sticks and being sad. Fucking interminable stuff.  And all so that the end of issue 5 would come as some big surprise. Which it did, because who had “Jason Aaron is just wasting everyone’s time” in the raffle? You, sir or madam, are a winner! Tickets to that raffle cost $14.95 approx. You’re welcome. And ugh. That last page. Where the non-Caucasian non-male character is revealed on the page turn like she’s Darkseid or something; a move shocking only in its humungous smuggery. Who the hell in their right mind went – it’s a coloured lady! A POC! OMG! Why the blue fuck wouldn’t it be? Even better - she’s in the Army! Talk about mixed messages. Either all the suspense just dropped out of the arse of this book because, really, who will win between a drug dealing sports teacher and his shit-thick hicks, and a government trained killing machine with revenge on her mind? Dur. Lemme think. In Michael Bay’s documentary CON-AIR Cameron Poe (Nic Cage with seaweed on his head) is dealt with more harshly than other mortals by The System because his awesome military training makes him unlike other men – he is become like unto a Living Weapon, he has become War. It’s not much of a contest is it? Lady Cameron Poe versus Craig T. Nelson's COACH? Or maybe it means Jason “Star Wars” Aaron thinks the US Military is so shit its soldiers would have trouble dealing with a drug dealing sports teacher and his shit-thick hicks. I very much doubt that was his intention, Americans being pretty well disposed on the whole toward their boys in uniform. There are even a couple of movies about it and everything. You could say I didn’t give it long enough; how long is long enough? Perhaps I should have waited to find out that the drug dealing sports teacher had a Bad Dad and got his knee shot off so he could never play football. Or whatever, I didn’t give it that long, did I? Sure, I can see someone turning to crime because they can’t play their favourite sport in a professional capacity. My heart bleeds. I never got to be Howard Victor Chaykin’s pool boy but you don’t see me peddling drugs and exhibiting singularly poor recruitment choices. Maybe the lady character will allow Jason “Star Wars” Aaron to bring to bear some “stellar character work”.  Perhaps when she’s strapping some C-5 under a pickup with a Confederate flag on its plates she’ll pause wistfully as a baby in a pushchair is wheeled past. Because: nuance. Jason Latour’s art was spectacular, mind you. It had a lovely autumnal pallet all russet and  dusty and what a goddamn waste. Which reminds me, Ron Garney illustrates MEN OF WRATH and his art, inconsistent as it is, is wasted on this cowflop. They say you should talk about the art so there you go. That much I did right. MEN OF WRATH is CRAP!

You can't choose your family but you can choose – COMICS!!!

"DO NOT Get In The Car." COMICS! Sometimes I Just Want To Hug Scotland.

Yeah, thanks Scotland. We're stronger together and all that. But no time to shilly shally lets get on with kicking the Tories out. In the meantine I read some comics and then wrote some words about them. I wouldn't grace them with the term reviews but, you know, it's content.  photo NWHeader_zpsceb13cc1.jpg NIGHTWORLD by Leandri & McGovern

Anyway, this... THE FIELD #1 Art by Simon Roy Written and Lettered by Ed Brisson Coloured by Simon Gough Image, $3.50 (2014) THE FIELD created by Simon Roy & Ed Brisson

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What with THE FIELD, TREES and THE WOODS it’s like orange is just so over, darlings, and vegetation is the new black. Maybe there’s something other than autumn in the air, knowing my luck it’s probably paraquat. Or is this the dawn of a new age of agri-comics embodying mankind’s unconscious mass rejection of the cities and profound yearning for a return to Mother Nature’s embrace? As this would involve no Wi-Fi and a significantly truncated lifespan probably not. More likely it’s a complete coincidence not worth the bother of mentioning; so I won’t. Simon Roy sold this book to me as surely as if he’d knocked on my door selling sponges and dish clothes (it’s shocking how little of the proceeds goes back to those people; I believe the returns can be quite bad for door to door salesmen too. BOOM! BOOM!) I’d previously encountered Simon Roy’s talents within the pages of Prophet where the strength of his style (a little grubbiness; a lot of ungainliness) stood out even amongst the insectile swarm of other talents embroiled in visualising Brandon Graham’s entertaining body-horror-meets-Roger-Dean-album-covers-space-fest. In THE FIELD Ed Brisson’s script brings Roy’s art out of the heavens and solidly down to earth. Which is what fields are largely composed of; earth. Clever word play there, cheers. As though regretting giving the comic a title so plain it verges on the unmemorable (Pop Quiz, Hotshot, is it called TREES, THE FIELD or THE WOODS?) the first issue of Roy & Brisson’s four part mini goes hell for leather to leave an impression in your mind; like a boot in freshly tilled dirt.

 photo FieldCar_zps9050f9a2.jpg THE FIELD by Roy & Brisson

Unlike most fields this one really moves, which is good because it’s also pretty slight, I guess, in that it’s all set up, momentum and promises. But then that’s what comics like this are all about; comics where amnesiac men wake up in fields and are suddenly swamped by threats and enigmas such as a phone which TXTs warnings, an unhappy biker gang, flashbacks to science, and a bible salesman whose decorum desert him utterly in a diner. I liked the weird dynamic to the scenes in the car which suggested familiarity with long road trips in the company of an angry parent, and the fact that there’s a Christian guy whose Christian name is Christian. Hopefully other cast members will be similarly named; Muslim O’Rourke, Seventh-day Adventist Jones, Scientologist Gaiman etc etc. Mostly though I enjoyed the energy of it and the fun of the thing was augmented by the residual pleasure of rolling the ideas and potential developments around like some kind of boiled sweets of the mind. If it’s a pitch for a movie it’s a good one, because it’s a good comic first. I could see this being one of those calling card movies new directors make where energy and invention rooted by a flamboyant central performance distract from budgetary restraints. You know, Fall Time and Mickey Rourke, like that. And like that THE FIELD is GOOD!


SOUTHERN BASTARDS #3 Art & Colour by Jason Latour Written by Jason Aaron Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher Image Comics, $3.50 (2014) SOUTHERN BASTARDS created by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour

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Jason Latour deserves better than this. It's EH!


NIGHTWORLD #1 Art by Paolo Leandri Written by Adam McGovern Coloured by Dominic Regan Lettered by Paolo Leandri Image Comics, $3.50 (2014) NIGHTWORLD created by Paolo Leandri

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Boy, these guys really dig Steve Ditko, am I right? That isn't funny but if it was it would be because this book is an unapologetic homage to the work of Jack "King" Kirby. It's not much more than that, mind, but maybe that's enough anyway. Leandri's got the page layouts down pat but his line lacks the chunk of prime-time King Kirby. He's plumped for a Dithering D Bruce Berry line rather than a Mighty Mike Royer line. This leaches some of the impact off but there's still power enough on every page to sense the pleasure of the phantom presence of The King. It's still good stuff; if he'd chosen Colletta we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Leandri respects his source enough to add some of himself to the mix. There's a lovely four panel zoom in on our hero sipping a cup of tea all unaware as demonic dangers mass progressively behind him. Leandri's ladies are more svelte than Kirby's solid sirens and their faces are far more his than the King's. Unfortunately these faces tend towards looking like plastic surgery disasters at worst and Phoebe from Friends at best.

 photo NWFace_zps5044fa60.png NIGHTWORLD by Leandri & McGovern

Adam McGovern does a nice job of writing a comic that reads like people think Jack Kirby comics read rather than the way Jack Kirby comics actually read. He's got the "out there" ideas, the comical explanations which serve only to confuse, the intrusion of a slightly dated view of modernity (cable reception? "Bwoy"?) in the form of the villain and a, cough, unique approach to language. But there's a fundamental loss of energy which can't but occur when someone is doing an impression of someone being excited rather than actually being excited. NIGHTWORLD is all very nice and all very KOIBY! and I hope the creators had a lot of fun making it, but homage only gets you GOOD!

THE MULTIVERSITY #1 Pencilled by Ivan Reis Inked by Joe Prado Written by Grant Morrison Coloured by Nei Ruffino Lettered by Todd Klein Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster DC Comics, $4.99 (2014)

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Slip on your Fiction Knickers once more as the Shaman of Solipsistic Sorcery conjures up (yet) another post meta scrying into the nature of the folk who are super with this, the first issue of the series no one is calling LIVER TITS YUM. It works okay too and that’s not be sneezed at but, honestly, it was all a bit frictionless and underwhelming. I preferred the hot mess of the very similar Final Crisis (to which VIRILE SMUTTY is a sort of sequel) because, I guess, failure is more interesting (except mine; although I never fail so that’s purely theoretical, obviously). Weirdly it’s to LIME IVY STRUT’s detriment that it works so well because I’m free to consider the end result and I remain convinced that LEVITY TRUISM is (like much of the output of the sigil slinging Scotsman since Zenith) basically the end of The Kree-Skrull War with some modernism slapped on top. Only an assassin of fun would not find Precocious 6th Former Roy Thomas a pretty entertaining approach for a cape comic but I fear I still never mistook RIVET MUSTILY for having my mind turned inside out.

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THE MULTIVERSITY by Reis, Prado & Morrison

Most of the enjoyment inhibiting came via the teeth on tin foil effect of all that shaky shit throughout TRITELY VIM US about how the Real Enemies of Cape Comics are Bad Readers and Critics. (But only when Critics are pointing out the shaky shit; when they are mindlessly cheerleading they’re also part of The Elect, I guess.) Clearly, I’m biased but I have a slight suspicion that in reality the Real Enemies of Cape Comics are Bad Writers. When that bleating quieted VEIL ITS MY RUT was pretty good; being as entertaining, fast paced and inventive as a good cape comic should be. There were still weird dead areas though. On Earth-Marbles Locum Loom has plenty of time to shellac Rood Ripples because all the other heroes are stood a hundred yards away arguing with the new arrivals instead of helping; there are panels where people say stuff about how bad it’s all getting and we just have to take their word for it (luckily, we do because, comics) and there's the almost ultrasonic whining I mentioned earlier. But we can see these are part and parcel of Morrison’s work now since they never bloody go away. So none of the failings can really, as is frequently the case, be laid at the foot of the artist (this being one Ivan Reis whose tendency towards visual literalism grounds everything nicely. Hopefully he’s aware that since VILE MIST YURT is a Grant Morrison comic (and he isn’t Frank Quitely) his contribution will only ever be considered parenthetically). VERILY IT MUST works well enough and cleverly enough but it doesn’t work well enough or cleverly enough to be better than GOOD! (There’s nothing wrong with GOOD!)

And now a change to our regular programming as I realise Christmas is coming and things are a bit tight (we had to let the nanny go;only four holidays this year) and decide to use this place to try and drum up some funds:

Dear Image


Alright, Image Comics, yeah? Good day, good day, my rosy red arse. I’m a busy man and I’m sure we’ve both got places to be, so let’s pretend all that how y’all doing soft soap shit is up here at the top, okay. We both like comics but we both like money too, so let’s make some comics and some money together. Yeah, it’s your lucky day ‘cos I’m thinking of doing a comic. Fingers on buzzers and knees up Mother Brown!

I’ll be calling it COCKNEY WANKERS. That’s not negotiable. It’ll be about some geezer called Terry Chiswick coming back to Cheapside after forty years or so Oop The Soft North. Old fella but fit like a butcher’s dog. He’ll have come back to clear out his dead Dad’s digs. His dead Dad’ll have been a bent copper, a local legend; a bit quick with his fists and slow to hug his son. Dickhead of Dock Green, you feeling me. His signature move will have been smacking folk about with some pool balls in a sock. Yeah, a la “The Daddy” Ray Winstone. If we go TV (which has only just occurred to me, honest guv) Winnie might be well up for, you know, essaying, Tel’s Dad and that. And Tel’s Dad’ll have had a nickname like C***y Chiswick , or Chiswick The C***, or maybe, if we go blunt, just The C***. Don’t worry about the swears we’ll rip off the asterisks in print, it’ll give us playground cachet, you know look all grown up and that. Oh, got a blinder on the slow burn, see, Tel’s Dad’ll have had problems with Terry being all (redacted) like, but we’ll hold that back a bit to surprise the punters. In flagrant contravention of Health & Safety as it may be, not to mention common fucking sense, The C***’ll have been buried in his old house’s garden. See, then we can have Tel blubbing his guts up on dear old Dad’s grave. Oh, don’t worry I’ve been watching them out there and they do so love that Daddy didn’t love me stuff. Every Dad’s a Bad Dad, yeah, no worries, whatever. Look out, almost got some personal responsibility on you! Calm down, winding you up, son. Smile, you won’t break anything.

 photo CockBorisB_zps90ef9779.jpg A Cockney with a Wanker

This next bit is just blinding because, see, Tel’s old Dad’s old pool cue’ll be stuck in Tel’s old Dad’s old grave and one day, while old Tel’s knelt there with the old waterworks on, we’ll have the wind pick up a bit, startle a cat, knock some bins over and, bish bosh, the pool cue takes a tumble too. This’ll bounce off Tel’s noggin. Tel’s going to be a bit thick so the daft sod’ll see this as a sign and set out to clean his Dad’s old manor up. He’ll do this mostly by hitting people with the very same stick. Cards on the table, I can’t see this doing much to solve any of his problems but we need some violence or they get bored out there. Yeah, you know it, and so I’m lining up some good kickings in a KFC. I’m thinking we can spin this as a statement about violence. Stop ‘em dwelling on how thick you’d have to be to think you can eliminate organised crime by hitting each individual member of it with a stick.

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Tell you straight, folk over here are crackers about the football so we’ll tap into that too, see Terry will have been a dab hand at the football when he was a nipper but not no more he won’t be. Strikes me now we might have to call it the soccer, you know, for you yanks. Bless ‘em, innit. But, still on the football, right, we stick that in with the crime and it’s twofer time. I’m not wrong. Yeah, Tel’ll return to his roots and find the local crime boss is also the P.E. Teacher at the local school, All Saints Primary & Infants (Ofsted Rating 4 (inadequate)). He’ll be Barry Bass by birth, but, I know, nickname, right? Simpatico, son. We are totes simpatico, see. Same page and everything. So, nickname it is and it’s Bad Baz, I’m thinking. Or, better, The Bitter. Yeah, you’ve got it. Like the beer, the ale, like we have in this neck of the woods. Yeah, yeah, we drink it warm. This country’s fucking cold enough, pal. When The Bitter’s not doing Parents’ Evenings, marking homework, filling in a shit-ton of paperwork, having his tea or making the team run laps before Eastenders then he’ll be up to all kinds of shady shit and maybe a robbery, yeah, probably a robbery. So, yeah, Tel and The Bitter it is; the immoveable object and the unstoppable force; a berk with a stick and a sports teacher with too much time on his hands; legends come out of less. When they met it was murder, Lionel Stander in the house there and all that malarkey. So yeah, anyway it kicks off. Right fucking palaver. Proper chimps tea party all round. We’ll round it out with recipes (eels and mash, pie and mash, gin and mash; the pukka stuff) have football chants, readers’ fantasies about the Queen, rose tinted horse and trap about The Sarf (how the Krays were okay because they loved their Mum; at least you knew where you were in them days; you could leave your back door open; dream on, eh), maybe get a quote from that tirelessly entertaining buffoon Morrissey; he don’t ‘alf love The Sarf he don’t. Yeah, COCKNEY WANKERS will be the full English all right.

 photo MorrisseyBondB_zpsc49b678c.jpg “No one’s keener/Than a Window cleaner…!”

COCKNEY WANKERS will be all about its setting and the people in it, a real place filled with real people; a raw and real portrait of a truly unique place and state of mind. The very last thing COCKNEY WANKERS will be is generic. And that’s what they call a punchline.

Get back to me sharpish, alright or I’m going to Avatar with it.

Don’t be a stranger now!

John K(UK)

Yeah, I know. Don't give up the day job, John. Stick to just reading – COMICS!!!!

"HER AG-GRES-SIVE-NESS DOES NOT/COM-PRO-MISE HER FEM-I-NIN-ITY" COMICS! Sometimes Everyone Was Robot Fighting (Those Kicks Were Fast As Lightning)!

America! How's that 4th of July Weekend thing going for you? Man, Canada just touches itself for one day but you lot take a whole weekend! Always fireworks on the4th of July as Max Cady said. Hope you all had a truly lovely time even though you are basically breaking our balls over here. No hard feelings! Here's some words about comics. Hey, Magnus, can you guess which I liked best?  photo MagGuess_zps4f47797b.jpg

Nope. Anyway, this... MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER #1 thru 3 Art by Cory Smith Written by Fed Van Lente Coloured by Mauricio Wallace Lettered by Marshall Dillon Magnus Robot Fighter created by Russ Manning Dynamite, $3.99 (2014) (After a couple of weeks it's $1.99 on the Dark Horse Digital App)

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It’s the man in the skirt who lays down the hurt! It’s Magnus: Robot Fighter! Apparently this is one of a number of old Gold Key properties Dynamite are slapping on the table, applying the creative juice to and then stepping back and yelling “CLEAR!” to see if enough folk give a chuff in the 21st Century; which is where we live now, apparently. Boy, you just blink and there go two decades. Anyway, as you have guessed I only bought this because I am old and cannot cope with modern comics and ceaselessly seek succour via nostalgia.  Yeah, guess again, Pop Tarts; I don’t know anything about Gold Key properties because we never saw them in my neck of the woods. Back then depending on where you were in England you got different American comics. The seaside had the best stuff, or different stuff (and when you’re a kid the stuff you can’t normally get is the best stuff). I don’t know where the Gold Key stuff went, Sidcup perhaps. I’ve never been to Sidcup. Or me. So, yes, comics, John; in your own time now. I just bought this, um,  because at my age buying a comic sight unseen is the height of profligate recklessness. I didn’t know what I was going to get so I wasn’t expecting much, just some dude called Magnus and some robot fighting and, yea verily, I got that but I got a chunk more besides. And that’s why I went back for the next issue. And the next.

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Sure, the first issue was just(!) solid; sure the first issue went exactly where you instinctively knew it would as soon as you saw the snow globe on the first page; sure younger readers would have been thinking of The Matrix and older readers would have been thinking of Philip K Dick and some would even have thought of Plato’s Cave, but they would have been dead for centuries so I don’t know what they’d be doing buying comics in the 21st Century. With the initial issue it was easy to take the writing for granted and just be bewitched by the  lovely art and colours. Yes, I actually appreciated Mauricio Wallace's colours, although they were so clearly appealing you’d have to actually exert energy to avoid appreciating them. Lovely, lovely colours all soft and alluring where needed and harsh when required but never, never settling for that uniformly gloss glare so common now.  And the art by Corey Smith is just aces (technical term). Absolutely gorgeous work which like the colours never sticks to a one note approach but varies the register of its approach as the mutable contents it depicts require. Corey Smith is playing a blinder here, and it's a shame because I bet a lot of eyes aren't pointing in this direction. Well, your eyes lose then!

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Like I rambled already there’s not a lot that leaps out and throttles you in the first issue; it sets out the premise smoothly and succinctly with a twist or two for spice, and you think the series' tone has largely been set. And you're...wrong, in an entirely pleasing way. Because bewilderingly, but not unpleasantly so, the second issue decides to be a buddy comedy with a particularly pointed kick at the slightly ethnic sidekick trope to boot. Magnus picks up a robo-sidekick who's personality is an explicitly terrible example of the movie comedic sidekick who is also a Gentleman of Colour, as my late Grandma said. (This is different to a Colourful Gentleman who would be a man who likes other men in a romantic way.) In the third issue the team up the ante so hard your uncle slaps her right there at the family dinner table and  you can hear a pin drop. This was my favourite of the three issues since it just draws a big old clown face on all those pandertastic comics featuring damaged ladies who become strong and which believe women are only of interest if they are kick boxing lumps of scar tissue with nice hair who have sexytimes on their own terms. Yes, some ladies like that and that’s great but, c’mon, the real appeal is to the boys. When I show my own Prisoner of Misogyny these Ladyspy and Sad Killer comics the first thing she asks even before her eyes stop rolling is, “Is she damaged? Oh please, let her be damaged!”  And the answer is yes, the answer is always: yes she’s damaged.  With all the change-ups and change-overs in just three issues if I were a high-faluting type I'd maybe say the comic was a bit meta, a bit post modern, but I don't think anyone uses those words with enough rigour for them to mean much these days, so let's say Magnus: Robot Fighter is playful and leave it at that. Sure, there is a downside to all this creative flexibility and that comes in the form of a lack of focus and a kind of failure to define Magnus himself. I don’t really know what Magnus is after, he just sort of wanders about fighting robots and looking pensive. But there's time yet and I'd rather applaud the display of creative facility than prate about a lack of character depth in a man who fights robots.

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I liked this, I liked every issue and with each issue I liked it more. For a few pennies I found a satisfyingly weird and beautifully illustrated comic which, yes, seems to be less about robot fighting than Lazy Comic Trope Fighting. And, perhaps, clichés are more dangerous to Comics than robots. Perhaps Magnus has a point after all. C'mon! Magnus: Cliché Fighter! How can that not be GOOD!

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #1 and 2 Art by Jason Latour Written by Jason Aaron Colour by Jason Latour Lettered by Jared K Fletcher Southern Bastards created Aaron & Latour Image $3.50 (2014)

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I thought this book was beautiful, let's get that out there before things go South. Latour's subdued sepia palette of largely orange and khaki with the odd pop of a more violent hue is just a real deep fried delight. And then that's laid softly over some truly solid gnarliness giving everything a real sense of weight and wear and tear, and the whole thing hovers a gnat's pube from caricature. But the thing itself? I mean, shit, I guess what we have her is...a failure to communicate. Because I didn't cotton none to this at all. I mean, Jesus, really? That’s what we’ve got now? East Bound And Down played straight. Hell, look at you out there; chances are you think you’re special but no matter how special you reckon you are you ain’t Southern Special because that’s a whole ‘nother level of Special right there,  “boy”. Golly, The South sure is special! I’ve never been anywhere near close to The South and all the moth eaten tropes on these pages are as familiar to me as the back of my Dad’s hand (ow! Yes, there are Daddy Issues in this comic). This comic is The South as Theme Park. The South as Postcard Punk. If that's the The Southern Truth then that's plain Southern Sad.

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Slightly after the ostentatiously provocative title (Oooh! A doity woid!) the book opens with a double page splash of a dog slipping a turd out which I guess is supposed to shock or something. The South! A place so hard that dogs poop in public! Look, The South, I don’t want to deflate your ballsy balloon but If you look out my front window ten minutes after Eastenders finishes you’ll see a middle aged man with grey hair walk his dog out onto the bit of land out front of my window. And regular as clockwork a big old turd slides out of that beast’s ass and, no, standing with your back to your dog while it does its business doesn’t convince me you don’t know what’s going on, Mr. Man From Round The Corner. So, illegal dog drops ain’t just a Southern thang, I assure you. Interestingly there’s also a tree on that patch of regularly befouled grass but I don’t think it’s growing out of anyone’s ass like the one in this book. (His Daddy's ass! Yes, there are Daddy issues by the pound here) A crueller man than I might say there’s a case to be made that his book is growing out of somebody’s ass.

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Oh, technically it’s fine, I guess, if fine means very much a screenplay first and a comic script second which these days is very much what fine means. It’s very televisual. It just sort of lollops about like an ex-pro with a bum knee trying to get to the likker store before it shuts. And you know that while on the screen none of these scenes would outstay their welcome (not so much because of the scintillating script but because Southern actors are always entertaining in the flesh) but on the page they can verge on the interminable. The centrepiece of issue two is a Football game, sorry, an American Football game (why is it called American Football when they barely ever touch the ball with their feet? American Carryball more like it) and it just flounders about like everyone should just naturally give a shit rather than actually making anyone give a shit. Sure, there's Craft here in the writing but there's Art in the colours and, uh, art. It's an uneven mix.

It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs all round if you're reaching for the Mythic and finding a battered VHS of Walking Tall in your mitt. This book is just a clueless monument to swaggering self pity of a particularly male stripe. And I've seen it before and I've read it before and the only reason I'm reading it this time is because of Jason Latour. If it wasn't for Jason Latour this would just be that Trace Adkins Luke McBain comic all over again and no would give one rich shit. Sorry and all, but I don't buy for one hot second that The South is stuck in 1974 like a dino in a tar pit. No, I don't know The South from a hole in the ground but I do credit it with more than that. More than just another comic about men behaving badly but feeling bad about it so boo hoo them. Beat me with a hosepipe if I'm wrong but I think, maybe, to show The South Today I reckon this book need a bit less Walking Tall and a bit more Looking Harder. Basically, if it wasn't for Jason Latour this comic would be two levels down from GOOD! Harsh words maybe, but they can take it; they're Southern Tough!

And remember: Any man playing grab ass or fightin' in the building spends the night reading - COMICS!!!