Thursday, April 30, 2015

Monthly Dose: April 2015

Monthly Dose is a semi-regular column where I read one issue each month of long-completed series. 

100 Bullets #30: This story was quite the dud. Nothing changes except that a relatively minor new character dies, and other new characters of varying importance kinda-sorta become better people for it, at least for a minute. Wylie is a drag and an immovable asshole, Shepherd's cryptic nonsense has gone on so long even Dizzy is openly complaining about it, and this time around we get Angelina, and offensive caricature of sexuality who's mostly there as a prop for Dizzy and Wylie to talk about. Also, the reveal where the contraband wasn't drugs or guns or anything like that but exotic animals was weak, unoriginal, and pointless. It didn't work as a joke, it didn't teach us anything new about this story except for the simple fact of what Wylie had in the truck, and the only real purpose it served was so Hopper could scare the birds with gunshots when he freaks out about Doctor Dan dying. He could just as easily have destroyed more run-of-the-mill illegal goods, so the birds felt like a fake-out for the sake of it, like the real point was just to make it hard for the reader to guess what was in the truck. I didn't even care about what was in the truck, to be honest, and like Wylie, I would've been fine never knowing. It might even have been preferable. This arc seemed most interested in introducing Wylie, but it did that pretty well in like the first couple scenes three issues ago, so much of what follows is water-treading, a series of random and often dull interactions between Wylie and Dizzy, Dizzy and Shperherd, and Wylie and various criminals, strung together into a narrative just to fill the space or pass the time. One of the nice things about 100 Bullets is that whole new locations, situations, and groups of characters can show up at any time, so I'm still excited for whatever comes next, but this last storyline was, in the end, a waste.

Automatic Kafka #6: Why does the only female superhero in the $tranger$ have to get her powers from sex? It just seems too easy, and it's a tendency of Joe Casey's writing I don't like. Not that all his characters have sex-based powers, but that when he writes women there's frequently something aggressively sexual about them, their personalities or their histories or the way other characters see/treat them or any combination of those things. I guess there's aggressive sexuality from both genders in Casey's writing, and I'm just as unenthusiastic about it either way, as evidenced by how little I enjoyed Sex. There were other huge problems in that book, too, and there's nothing wrong with graphic sex in a comicbook in and of itself. On the contrary, there is most certainly value is this kind of head-on, intense, comically in-your-face sex, but it's not as compelling for me as the main themes of Automatic Kafka, the discussions of celebrity and washed up superheroes trying to find their place in the world. That's all here, but it gets overshadowed by the sex, and the fact that this sudden erotic supercharge arrives at the same time the first major female character is introduced is gross and sexist and lame. Come to think of it, all the women in this book so far have been hyper-sexualized, from Death to the NSA agent who tries to seduce Kafka to the Bill of Rights to Helen of Troy here. Maybe I take back when I said about both genders before; I've read other comics by Casey where men and women are on more equal sexual footing, but this is not one of them, and this issue is such a loud, long reminder of it that it's more frustrating than anything else. I dug the flashback sequence because it had more to do with superheroing than fucking, and it hinted at the origins of the baby bombs that seem mysteriously central to this series. But beyond that and the awesome look and soothing blue speech bubbles of the character who shows up at the end, this was mostly superhero porn, which is all well and good, but I've seen lots of porn and I'd much rather read comics that give me something I can't get other places.

X-Force (vol. 1) #30: The first caption on the first page of this issue says, "This is all either of these two young men have ever wanted." Then there are 5 captions worth of explaining who the men are (Shatterstar and Adam-X) and that they've been forced to fight each other by Arcade. Then you turn the page, and the first caption of the second page says, "It is not what either of them want." Ummmmm...what? You literally just told me it was all they've ever wanted. One page ago. So yeah, I think I'm done with X-Force. As I'm sure everyone remembers, back in my first ever Monthly Dose, I mentioned that I wasn't necessarily going to read every issue of this comic. At the time I owned the first 24, and then several months ago I bought #25-30 just to keep this project going. No more. I know that, years from now, if I keep at it, I'm going to get to some really good stuff in this book. Someday, I'd still like to read that. But I'm not interested at all in the comic in the state it's in right here, at issue #30. The art, no matter who's drawing it, is way too bulky and 90's and cramped, and the story is so all over the place with such uninteresting characters that I can't hang on long enough to get into anything. Enough is enough of that. I understand the action-packed, in-your-face-jam appeal of this title, but it's not targeted at me, and I can't possibly justify spending any more money on it just to keep bashing it on my blog.

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