Have A Good One, Everyone!

Season's Greetings to one and all! Had a busy week what with all that festive malarkey and whatnot. Oh yeah, got you a "secret handshake" for Christmas, alright. Self indulgence beyond mortal comprehension follows after the break.

So I noticed this interesting piece by Barry Norman in the 1979 Radio And TV Times Christmas Edition about a film I didn't realise existed:

JACK KIRBY'S THE NEW GODS (Amicus Productions (UK/USA),1975) Directed  by Kevin Connor Screenplay by Harold Pinter Based on the DC Comics creations of Jack Kirby

Cast: Richard Burton (Darkseid) Robert Shaw (Orion) Michael York (Light Ray) Doug McClure (Scott Free) Raquel Welch  (Big Barda) Superman (Robert Mitchum) Caroline Munro (Beautiful Dreamer) Malcolm McDowell (Glorious Godfrey) Peter Cushing (DeSaad) Christopher Lee (Metron) Rod Steiger (Terrible Turpin) Billy Dee Williams (Shilo Norman) Woody Strode (The Black Racer) Peter Cook  (Funky Flashman) Dudley Moore  (House Roy) Peter Ustinov (High Father) Jim Dale (Jimmy Olsen)

Produced by Milton Subotsky & Samuel Z. Arkoff Original Music by Roy Budd Special Effects by Roger Dicken & Derek Meddings

Did You Know? Scott Free was originally to be played by Melvyn Hayes. The hand turning the pages in the latter part of the film belongs to Ridley Scott who only stopped to ask for directions. Richard Burton's scenes were all filmed in front of a backdrop in his local pub while he waited for his pint of Guinness to settle. In order to perfect his Method Rod Steiger had himself blown up. Twice. To this day Malcolm McDowell pretends he wasn't in this film. And he's in Mr. MAGOO.

Goofs. In his introductory scene Darkseid can clearly be seen with a Silk Cut in his hand. Jim Dale's ginger wig moves position from shot to shot. The camera often forgets to move away from Caroline Munro even though the other actors are doing stuff and talking and everything.

About The Film. Almost lost in the tides of history the Amicus production of JACK KIRBY’S THE NEW GODS will “blow” your mind!!! In 1974 Milton Subotsky was approached by Carmine Infantino to bring Jack Kirby’s creations to the silver screen. The kids were wild, crazy and lovin’ in the streets and Infantino thought if he could capture that audience then, perhaps, money might fall from the sky like a rain of dead birds whose hearts had mysteriously all stopped at once.

Most of the talent involved in JK'sNG was British. The British are generally just glad of the chance to get out of the house and are eternally surprised that people pay them for something they’d probably be doing anyway. They tend to work for buttons, basically. This appealed to the budget conscious Subotsky but later bit him on the tailpipe when Pinter left the production in a huff after a contretemps regarding the proper pronunciation of “patronising”. When informed that his name would be removed from the film and that he would receive no payment he remarked, “And I could punch you in the lungs so hard they will fill with your own shit.” Pinter was paid in cash thirty seconds later. In the absence of a screenwriter and a rapidly evaporating budget the decision was made to film Kirby’s tale as it was on the page. Literally.

After the live action conclusion of New Gods #3 the rest of the film consists of the camera panning over actual comic pages in the direction of the action. Nothing is omitted and the only addition is a 20 minute scene in which Big Barda and Beautiful Dreamer wrestle in a rainstorm. “That was for the foreign markets. Yes, um, that’s why that happened.” said Kevin Connor looking a bit shifty. A soundtrack of Roy Budd's characteristically captivating funky warbling and a smattering of Northern Soul songs were added with the dialogue being spoken by the actors as though they were in a radio play. Sound effects were largely provided by a man with an empty sweet tin, some sand and a hammer.This won the film its only Oscar nomination.

The cast themselves had a grand old time by all accounts. Peter Cushing recalled that, "I just can’t speak highly enough of my fellow actors, Dear-heart! They were the very epitome of professionalism! The only real damper on the whole thing was when that scamp Robert Shaw was declared legally dead on three separate occasions due to his love of the grape. And the grain. Oh, and the catering was lovely! Such buns!” Christopher Lee admitted, “It wasn't as bad as when my dog died.” Even Richard Burton effusively praised the film saying, "It paid my Tax Bill for that year and I had some left over for some gaspers, so I did, Boyo! Where's Liz? I feel another marriage coming on!"

Interestingly no one who had ever worked for Marvel Comics was allowed to view the film and this impediment remains in place to this day. This was the result of Jack Kirby suddenly appearing on set like a distressed fireplug in high waisters, he was clearly discombobulated and professed to have received a vision of the future. A vision in which after Kirby's death Stan Lee claimed under oath that Jack Kirby had not created anything and that he, Stan Lee, was merely humouring him all along. Also, that in this bizarre vision Marvel were not paying Kirby or his estate any form of acknowledgement for the creations upon which a multi-billion company was based. Although no one at the time could barely credit such outlandish moral vacuity so intense was Kirby’s belief that Subotsky agreed to his bizarre demand. “He was so upset he almost stopped drawing. We thought the poor guy was going to pop a vein, so we caved.” remembered someone who was probably there at the time.

Critical reception was less than warm to say the least with Alexander Walker declaring in The London Evening Standard, “Oh, for f****’s sake!” while Pauline Kael’s New Yorker review consisted simply of the phrase, "I resented the gift of sight.” Audiences of the time also rejected the film preferring instead some daft film about a rubber shark which eats Robert Shaw. JK'sNG has since found a new life on DVD/Blu-Ray which thanks to technological advances makes it look and sound even worse than ever. This kind of ironic jackassery appeals to hip young people more than you would credit. Trust me, I know. The film was financed primarily by one Janek Noh; about whom nothing is known beyond the fact that he embarked on two later, and even more disastrous, cinematic endeavours; SHAKO! (1985) which led to the Children’s Film Foundation being shut down by the Police and CHAYKIN!: THE MUSICAL! (1993) which was successfully prosecuted for obscenity in Texas. Noh is believed by some to be writing idiocies on other people's web sites, which some might call abusing their hospitality somewhat.


So I guess that was a bit like that time your husband turned up drunk  on Christmas Eve and thrust some flowers from the all-night garage at you. And you remembered: it's the thought that counts!

Merry Christmas or what have you!

"Now, Tanned, Rested, Ready And Fully Equipped With Brazilians..." Comics! Sometimes They Are Kind of New(ish)!

A couple of posts down from this rubbish there is a quite extraordinary thing occurring. People are discussing Digital comics and no one has been killed! It's a Christmas miracle, by Jove! Photobucket

Why not go have a looksee, this rot isn't going anywhere. I read these comics. There was no force on earth strong enough to stop me.

BATWOMAN #3 By J.H. Williams III(a), J.H. Williams III/W. Haden Blackman(w),Dave Stewart(c) and Todd Klein(l) (DC Comics, $2.99)

It’s perfectly fine story wise but I can’t lie I probably wouldn't be reading it were it not for J H Williams III’s stellar performance on every page. I guess having art like this on something so meat and taters might seem a little like a bit of a waste, like having Einstein fix your toaster, but there’s two things I bear in mind when I read BATWOMAN: Thing the first is that J H Williams III is co-writing it so it’s not as if he’s been hoodwinked into this and so if he’s happy doing this and it looks this good I’m not going to carp and pule. It’s preferable to him wasting himself illustrating some other guy’s awesome movie-pitch-cum-graphic-novel about an ex-alcoholic shark that goes back in time to try and kill Pia Zadora’s chiropodist. In space. Thing the second is that there’s just something great about seeing someone talented do that talented thing even if you aren't that enamoured of the arena in which they express themselves. Boxing? No. Muhammad Ali? Oh, yes.


Also it’s totally neaty keen-o that the sapphism of the lead just results in exactly the same scenes between partners we used to get when everyone, everywhere was straight.  It’s an important lesson more people should heed: what you choose to do with your genitals doesn't make you any more interesting as a human being. Really, trust me on this. Particularly if you are considering telling me about what you like to do with your genitals. You would be amazed how many people think telling me about what they get up to with their genitals is an acceptable substitute for a personality. Even though it hardly keeps me awake at night with its narrative twists and turns Batwoman certainly amuses my eyes to the extent that I would call it VERY GOOD!

WONDER WOMAN #3 By Cliff Chiang(a), Brian Azzarello(w), Matthew Wilson(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l) (DC Comics, $2.99)


Well, I guess we can all agree that among all Wonder Woman’s many powers the greatest of these must be her Divine Unflappability. I know if my Mother was standing there in public talking about her needs and how Zeus answered them by breaking upon her shores in  a great salty foam of satisfaction I’d be blushing like my cheeks were slapped and making a high keening noise like a fox with its paw in a trap. Not Wondy, she just goes and belts some husky lass and burns some corpses. I am greatly enjoying Azzarello’s writing here as it’s brisk, eventful and he’s reigning in his word games to good effect. Cliff Chiang is dreamy as well. Truth to tell he makes it such a smooth read I probably don’t actually appreciate the level of skill he’s applying. Also, while I did make mock of Hera’s randy reminiscence it was more in light of the effect on Wondy than the actual scene which is handled with taste and subtlety, which I guess goes to show that mature matters can be depicted without making your brain burn with shame for the people involved, y’know, if approached maturely. Who knew a Wonder Woman comic could be VERY GOOD!?

O.M.A.C #3 By Keith Giffen & Dan Didio (a/w), Scott Koblish(i), Hi-Fi(c) and Travis Lanham(l) (DC Comics, $2.99)


Okay, it’s true that Kevin Cho’s only personality trait is “befuddled”, his girlfriend is as accurate a portrait of 21st Century womanhood as Dame Barbara Cartland (she spent “all morning cooking” in 2011? Really? I rather think not and I’m hardly Franky Feminist), there’s a hell of a lot more momentum than meaning and it feels almost indecent to be complementing Dan Didio on anything except turning a panicked line-wide shell game into a massive (length of term to be decided) success. But having said all that…having said all that…you get to see Keith Giffen enjoying himself in the only legal and publicly permissible manner he still has available, the microwave intensity of Hi-Fi’s colours still burns with the flare of The Future (so much so that I suspect that in 2024 there will be a sudden outbreak of people collapsing with great tumours blossoming from their eyesockets like fatal clouds. Every one of whom will be found to have read OMAC.), Max Lord not only has that Kirby Dapper Dan parting but he also smokes, there’s a character called Little Knipper and there is a man with Mind Powers who appears to have a salmon fillet draped over his head. Bearing all that in mind I think you have little option than to agree that it is game, set and match to OMAC, which by the way is still VERY GOOD!

AVENGERS 1959 #3 By Mister Howard Victor Chaykin (w/a), Jesus Arbutov(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l) (Marvel Comics, $2.99)


Howard Victor Chaykin must have been told the sales figures for this series when he was halfway through the issue because he suddenly just seems to say "Aw, nertz to youse bums! Allayez!" and starts writing the story he obviously wanted to write in the first place. Since this story is basically Nick Fury in a Dr. No-era Bond Flick with a sly sideways dig at Howard Victor Chaykin's own CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN SERIES and is peppered with salty humour and ridiculously entertaining action I know I'm okay with that. Yet another issue of intriguing skullduggery set in a convincing simulacra of the '50s and containing all the man-tastic magic of the Master Of The Mai Tai his own bad self, Mister Howard Victor Chaykin. Who else could quote both Papa Hemingway and Dezi Arnaz, from I love Lucy, on the same page? Exactly! No, no one is buying it but that doesn't stop it being VERY GOOD!


MUDMAN #1 By Paul Grist(w/a) and Bill Crabtree(c) (Image Comics, $3.50)

Now this? This is some fine comics. Mister Paul Grist bringing it big style. He’s got a thing he does and he’s doing that thing here which is good because it’s a good thing Mister Paul Grist does. Alex Toth once wrote a blurb commending Paul Grist’s work. Alex Toth. Grist’s clearly influenced by Toth at the very least to the extent that his pages are very design orientated and the contents of said pages contain the minimal amount of ink in order to achieve the maximal amount of information. Grist mixes in a good dose of Kirby chunkiness into his Toth which makes the result a lot lighter and boppier than the sometimes airless Toth and of course the Toth grounds it more in reality than Kirby’s work could manage. That could all be horseshit as I have no idea what I’m on about but I am pretty sure Grist is like Toth in at least one respect: all the thinking’s been done before he puts the first line on the page. And every page here is a joy either as a pure comic experience or as an example of pure comic craft.


Mudman is a new series so anyone intimidated by the continuity of JACK STAFF (which included nods to continuity in old English comics even I’ve barely any acquaintance with. Lion? Victor? You could totally enjoy JACK STAFF without getting any of it BTW, it’s right gradley, tha knows. This interruption is too long to go in brackets but I’m sure no one will notice) should put their fears to one side. It’s a totally new start given the impression of some kind of back-story weight thanks to Grist’s penchant for temporal narrative zig zagging. It’s fun, funny and the execution is funnybooks in excelsis. If you aren’t reading MUDMAN you must be mad, man! (in my imagination we all clubbed together and promised Brian Hibbs that we’d get him a SavCrit cover blurb for Christmas. That’s my attempt. Cheers!) So, yeah, MUDMAN#1 is VERY GOOD!

SCALPED #54 By R.M. Guera(a), Jason Aaron(w), Giulia Brusco(c) and Sal Cipriano(l) (Vertigo/DC Comics, $2.99)


Although this series barely manages to avoid crumpling under the sheer weight of its genre clichés and the author’s ‘70s movie memories it remains a decently entertaining read. Some of this is due to the author who manages to pull the rug out from under you often enough that you’re never entirely complacent. Most of it is the storytelling which, yes, I guess Jason Aaron has a hand in but let’s face facts R.M. Guera’s got his whole arm in it up to his elbow. R. M. Guera is astonishing. I won’t go on about it but let’s just say that, for example, R. M. Guera knows that there’s a difference between visually basing one of your characters on Warren Oates and straight up tracing pictures of Warren Oates. The former is an act of skill and the latter lazy pish. R. M. Guera doesn't do lazy pish. When SCALPED ends with issue 60 I look forward to seeing genre comics take full advantage of Guera’s inventive and invigorating skills by assigning him to a Wolverine comic. SCALPED is VERY GOOD! but R.M. Guera is EXCELLENT! And I don’t tell him that enough so I did it here in front of y’all because I am not ashamed of my love. My love is beautiful!

THE GOON #36 By Eric Powell(w/a) and Dave Stewart(c) (Dark Horse, $3.50)


Hey, I laughed a couple of times, longest and hardest at the vagina joke. Oh, yes that’s the level we’re operating on with this one. And that’s okay. Like I said I laughed a couple of times at the story inside but I laughed most at the interview with Roxi DLite where the bounteous burlesque babe is at great pains to stress that burlesque isn't “just stripping in vintage lingerie”. It certainly isn’t! And those men in the front row with their hands kneading their groins like they’re digging for gold are “applauding”. Hey, whatever you want to tell yourself, people. Whatever it takes. A word of advice to the erotically adventurous: before you go to town on the centrespread of Roxi Dlite – take out the staples first. Casualty Departments are busy enough as it is, guys.

THE INFINITE VACATION #3 By Christian Ward(a/w) and Nick Spencer(w) with design stuff by Kendall Bruns and Tim Daniels (Image, $3.50)


I’m not Sally Scientist but reading the exposition in this I can’t help thinking that somewhere along the way someone confused science with semantics. Still, even on that basis it’s still quite fun, I mean I’m all for messing about with words, so, okay. I’m less keen on the sudden immersion in full on sordid torture of the sensationalistic stripe. I mean, really INFINITE VACATION #3, you spend all that time and skill using words, pictures and even design in a pretty entertaining use of the comics form and then just expect me to be slack jawed with awe because you've seen Hostel. Nope, you could have been something, INFINITE VACATION #3 but you let us all down with your antics, and you let down no one more than yourself. Go to your room and think about how you are just OKAY!

THE MIGHTY THOR #5 By Olivier Coipel/Khoi Pham(a), Matt Fraction(w), Laura Martin(c) and Joe Sabino(l) (Marvel Comics, $3.99)


This comic contains a preview of NEW AVENGERS. This is important because you may wonder why this comic which is usually EH! Is now AWFUL! despite it being exactly the same level of vacuous failure as every previous issue. It’s that NEW AVENGERS effect in full effect! I could go through this comic and tell you why it is so dispiriting an experience but no one cares least of all, for all their tiresome whining, the victimised creators so just take my word for it and save yourself $3.99 because MIGHTY THOR#5 is AWFUL!

Despite being broken and bad MIGHTY THOR did remind me of something on TV. Do you have those Adopt-A-Sad-Donkey commercials over there? Because MIGHTY THOR and NEW AVENGERS seem to be indicating that Comics are headed in that direction. So about March or so next year you can expect your episode of Chowder  to be interrupted by footage of some guy in a fluffy jumper strolling soulfully around a Mall while John Hurt’s smoky tones cough up the following:


“This is “Dave”. “Dave” wants nice things but tragically the world won’t just throw them at him. Times are hard for everyone and “Dave” has to earn a living. “Dave used to be able to write. You may fondly remember some of the things he wrote. “Dave” is quite happy to trade on this nostalgic fondness if you’ll just send him some money. Sadly “Dave” is old now, in his thirties, and his best days are behind him. If enough of you pledge just $3.99 a month “Dave” will receive the sales figures he so desperately needs in order to feel validated, sales figures that will result in a contract enabling him to eat brand name burgers and fart around flea markets with other needy creators looking for Female Prison films on Betamax while taking pictures of each other on Hi-tech gadgets. For just $3.99 a month “Dave” will send you a Tweet at least once a week. When he has a new comic out “Dave” will Tweet you hourly. When “Dave’s” comic gets optioned it may even require the intervention of a Law Enforcement Agency in order to stop “Dave” Tweeting you. If you pledge $5.99 a month “Dave” will reveal unfortunate intimate facts about himself and which Sham 69 b-side he was listening to when he wrote his grocery list. The comic? Oh, you don’t need to read the comic. The comic will be awful. This isn't the ‘70s, granddad, the actual comic isn't important. What is important is that “Dave” mentions all your favourite TV Shows in interviews and explains things really s-l-ow-l-y to you in the form of references to children's fantasy films from the '70s and so he must Love you and, if you send him $3.99 a month, “Dave” will ensure it will be like having the Best Friend in the World and all his successes will be your successes and all his money will be your money. So this Christmas give “Dave” the gift he needs most – money. And also unquestioning loyalty.”

And like the concept of “modesty” – I’m GONE!

Have a dandy weekend, all!


"Assholes, Assemble!" Comics! Barbed Wire Laffs Inside!

Before I start blabbing about a guy who hunts heroes but hasn't found any yet here’s some advice I know wish I’d had when I was a teenager: Photobucket

Wise words there, kids. Some not so wise ones after the break… You know who hates super-heroes? No, not Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis! Their hatred of super-heroes is more like when you you’re 15 and you see your best mate down the shops with his girlfriend and when she’s looking in a window he rolls his eyes and sticks his tongue out before snapping to attention and putting his arm back around her when she turns round. It’s more like irritation that they have to write these capes things to pay for their more personal masterpieces consisting as they do of New Scientist articles espoused by the same snippy character in a number of different wigs or rape and dismemberment jokes legitimized by industrial levels of sentimentality. No, that’s less like hatred than the low level resentment of any thermo-dynamic miracle who spends their life behind a desk having to actually work for a living. Pat Mills, however, Pat Mills has a hard-on for super-heroes as big as a Riot Squad Cop’s night stick and he knows how to swing that sucker to inflict maximum dental reconstructive surgery. Swing away, Pat Mills. Swing away!


By Kevin O’Neill/Mark A. Nelson (a), Pat Mills (w), Mark Chiarello, Dave Stewart(c), Phil Felix, Bill Oakley & Elli DeVille(l)

(2003,Titan Books, £14.99/£24.95)

Marshal Law was created by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill in 1987 for an Epic (Marvel) Comics series which has been much discussed by many great minds. The character then ping-ponged around various publishers teaming up with various characters retaining its relentless signature mix of super-hero satire, socio-political commentary and good crude fun. The latter volumes don’t get nearly as much attention as it’s generally agreed that they slide into formula and become one-note one-joke (like me!) affairs with decreasing returns. So rather than dissect the first far more seriously intentioned volume I’ll be turning my watery eye on the final collection. Because that’s where I swim, pal, in the shallows. Also, I just happened to pick it up while I was rearranging the deceased goldfishes’ bowl in The Archive. Anyway the good news is there’s still meat on the bone although it does get a bit grey and gristly towards the end. But, hey, maybe that’s to be expected given how ML comics work? Let’s me and you have a looky loo!


MARSHAL LAW TAKES MANHATTAN (1989) has many notable aspects but none, I think, more notable than the fact that it was initially published by the now entirely humourless Marvel Comics. Almost entirely humourless, I guess, since Marvel has given us the joy of the Marvel Architects photoshoot:


"Blue Steel!"

In this one-shot Pat Mills explicitly recasts super-heroes as products of metal illness. Having already steamrollered over the heroes of The Golden Age in the previous volume (SUPER BABYLON, Dark Horse, 1992) this story focuses more on the Silver and Bronze Age heroes. All your Mighty Marvel favourites are here with the dysfunctions and disabilities inherent in their origins made plain. The whole thing has the air of an issue of NOT BRAND ECCH that has spent a traumatic time in borstal and returned to wreak revenge armed with a ball peen hammer and a roll of duct tape.


"But, but whatever can you mean?!?"

Captain America sucks his thumb while holding the flag and conducting interminable monologues before occasionally leaping into action and describing his actions (“Aiee! Now we are going up the stairs!”), Mister Fantastic talks to his invisible wife (who is patently a delusion), Doctor Strange is a hebephrenic and Daredevil wanders about in the background bumping into things. It’s obvious, brutal, funny and all the more obvious, brutal and funny since Pat Mills is also, in his patented Pat Mills-y way making a point.


"Better than the wink at the end of WHTTMOT anyday!"

This Millsian point is embodied by The Persecutor (remarkably similar to The Punisher) who the good Marshal has been dispatched to bring in by his odious boss McGland. A former CIA Specialist in Enhanced Interrogation Techniques The Persecutor is a wholly unsympathetic turd. He’s used by Mills as an example of where the psychosis of super heroes leads a society. Mills argues that the acceptance of such practices is only possible in a society which holds the default position that it is The Good Guy. Because if you are The Good Guy then nothing you do is wrong.


Interestingly, at least to me, Pat Mills maintains that the concept of the super-hero has been absorbed into Western culture in a damaging way as it, along with numerous other factors, allows the West to casts itself as The Good Guy in an internal cartoon narrative that reduces complex and dangerous real world issues into ones of childish simplicity. If only there were some recent examples of that. If only there weren't. If only there were not. And so, for Mr. Mills, super-heroes are fully worthy of the shock treatment he is dispensing.

Which is okay as far as it goes. I mean I’m a long time cape fan so I’m not unaware that the first response to this is that, yeah, but, super heroes embody all the good qualities in humanity, “With great power must come responsibility” and all that trad jazz, dad. Which is true but I think it’s also true that the tendency is to ignore the “responsibility” bit and just focus on the “powers” bit and I think that’s where Mills has a point. But that was a long time ago when people read cape comics in their hundreds of thousands and the heroes actually meant something other than a stepping stone into TV.

Okay. So it kind of yells at you like an angry hobo but it’s a hobo with a point and also a hobo with a killer sick sense of humour and, since the hobo has been designed by the Gaudi of the Grotesque Mr. Kevin O’Neill, the whole thing ends up being diagnosed as VERY GOOD!

The second story collected here is SECRET TRIBUNAL (1993) which basically takes the Legion of Super Heroes and feeds them to the movie Alien while pausing to spit on the excesses of the Nineties. A case of, “In space no one can hear your voice break, dude!”



Now, Pat Mills’ work probably gets called a lot of things but it’s probably rarely called sweet and touching. That’s “touching” in the nice sense, not the one that  involves years of therapy and mental anguish. Despite the body horror, gore, expletives, pouch festooned bosoms, crude innuendo and typical strident delivery SECRET TRIBUNAL manages to actually be both sweet and touching. The focus of the story is Growing Boy who is seeking entry into the League of Heroes but fears that when the time comes he will fail to perform, he will fail to, um, grow. This is really quite a clever way of addressing teenage fears and insecurities while at the same time appearing to mock them. It’s all the cleverer for combining it with the gyno-horror of the Alien movies. Of course you may think this is just stone obvious in which case you are not me, and that, pal, is your reward; not being me. Trust me, that's better than diamonds. There’s also another layer of intelligence since quite early on Growing Boy becomes experienced at the fluttering lips and silky limbs of Super Sensitive Girl.


"Hands above the covers, Paul Levitz! Hands ABOVE the covers!"

He recalls that “I can still see her face now…congested, panting like an animal…making suggestions I never expected to be uttered from female lips” and I’m pretty sure they aren't things like: “Why don’t you go down the pub and have some time to yourself.” so where the beast with two backs is concerned Growing Boy is sorted for “Eee!”s and jizz but still he fears being unable to “perform”. This of course is, I believe, because in cape comics the fight scenes are analogous to the fuck scenes in a porno. And since Growing Boy’s money shot is illustrated by Kevin O’Neill it looks like this:


"Do you remember the first time...?"

Ah, yes, the aliens. Obviously the League of Heroes, being as they are a bunch of peer pressurized hormone crazed teens, are outmatched from the off and even the venerable Marshal might not tip the scales in their favour. Luckily our beleaguered heroes are powered up by the presence of The Secret Tribunal! Oh my, what a lovely distillation of Nineties nonsense they are too. Here are their names: Lichenstein, Anti-Man, Vrilla, Ragnarok, Breathless and Rune! The ridiculousness of the time when people who drew like disturbed 8 year olds ruled the roost is channeled to fine effect by Kevin O’Neill. A more garish collection of pouches, shoulder-pads, wasp-waists, big honkers, cigars and headscarves can rarely have been seen. Well, outside of the original travesties, natch.



The dialogue these badly designed buffoons spout is delightfully stilted. Breathless, who is basically a male sex-fetish with pouches for nipples, delivers the following wonder, “It’s so hard to find men to help me gain my explosive energy. They find me repulsive…”. It’s the seamless combination of these high-impact idiots with the more restrained old school stylings of the League together with the warped and turbulent textures of the Aliens which is Kevin O’Neill’s greatest achievement here. Not once do the differing styles chafe against each other and not once do they lose their distinctiveness. Also the League’s spaceship looks like a cock with four balls. That’s never not funny in fact it’s VERY GOOD!


"Cliches unbound! Well, bound with barbed wire but still cliches!"

Alas, things take a bit of a stumble with THE MASK/MARSHAL LAW (1998) on the second page of which the sweet Marshal declares “I’m just going through the motions.” It’s hard not to take this literally as Mills and O’Neill struggle to bring some of the old magic back in a tale in which the charming Marshal goes on One Lat Mission against his original nemesis The Sleepman who is now ridiculously over-powered due to his wearing The Mask. Oh, it’s fun enough stuff but nowhere near as psychotically entertaining as its predecessors. Mills struggles to make a Mills-y statement with the material falling back on the old stand by of masks allow people to behave without inhibitions which isn't original or terribly interesting but does allow Kevin O’Neill to bust his nuts all over the pages in a series of flagrantly unsettling S/M scenarios.


"It isn't THAT bad!"

The biggest problem for the series is the very nature of the series. Due to its parasitic nature Marshal Law only really works when it has something of substance to nail to a cross. By this time Mills and O’Neill have eviscerated all the old familiar favourites and are having to hunt and peck the sterile ground of modern comics for sustenance. Marshal Law’s catch-phrase is “I’m a hero hunter. I haven’t found any yet.” Judging by the much remarked upon lack of invention and creativity in the modern North American Super-Hero genre he’s got no chance once he hits the noughties. But there is hope in the last page that ML will find cape comics worthy of hating again. When the book ends they aren't even worthy of that. Because they don’t mean anything now, not even anything bad, just…nothing. Even Marshal Law can’t fight nothing. But he tries and God loves a trier (also keen on: sacrifices) so in my book this one was GOOD!


I just love this panel, thats all.

So the scores on the doors seem to indicate that MARSHAL LAW: FEAR ASYLUM is VERY GOOD!



Hey, I’m looking for a few good people. Well, actually I’m looking for about 5000 people with more money than sense and a retailer with no sense of self-preservation. I think that’s doable. I've seen the sales figures for NEW AVENGERS so there’s way more than 5000 people out there drunk in charge of 5 dollar bills. What we do, right, is take up Marvel on their “Order 5,000 copies of this dreadful ULTIMATE FALL-OUT comic we can’t shift and you can have a free advert in a Marvel comic guaranteed not to reach any new customers.” Yup, in times of economic hardship Marvel are always there for the retailers. I’m sure you can see where this is going: we order the copies via our retailer and send in an advert consisting of this:


We might also put some words on it. We could put “Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994). The Original Marvel Architect.” Or “The man who paid for everybody involved in this comic to go to Hooters on expenses.” Or Stan Lee got his, where’s Jack’s?” Or “Those mediocre movies whose box office performance and merchandising revenue you’re all so puffed up about? Totally down to this pipe smoking high-waisters wearing dude. His name’s JACK KIRBY in case you forgot!” I don’t know, we could work on it a bit. What? Oh, what do we do with 5000 bad ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comics? Build a career, baby. Build a career and then go into TV! Sheesh! Tough crowd!


Have a nice weekend all and if you go into your LCS buy some COMICS!!!