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Abhay Reviews Comic Books For Website; Wishes His Life Had Gone Differently

Abhay Khosla

I’m going to try my very first classic Savage Critic style lightning round– horribly slow and wordy lightning! Excited? Don’t be!

The Chemist: This is the new Image “crime” comic from Jay Boose. Though Boose’s day job is (or was) apparently Pixar animator, the comic reminded me more of a “Youth Restricted” anime from the 1980’s: the cool car, sexually charged bimbo sidekick, amoral and sexually frigid super-professional main character, even the main character’s name (Vance!), all remind more of Riding Bean, say, than Monsters, Inc. The comic starts promising as Vance and his sidekick are at first portrayed as unrepetent drug dealers, which I found quite charming; unfortunately, the comic pulls its punch and while the girl sidekick is still a drug dealer, Vance pussies out on us: “I reverse engineer prescription pharmaceuticals for the ninety percent of Americans who couldn’t afford it otherwise.” What the fuck is that? Apparently the thrill-a-minute world of discount pharmaceuticals is lucrative enough to give him a cool car, an apartment out of Beineix’s Diva, an intimate knowledge of how to handle gunfights with generic mobsters, etc. It feels like the Hollywood choice instead of the story choice, but, like I said, the girl sidekick is a happy-go-lucky drug-abusing dealer so points to Boose for going that far at least. Anyways, it’s not really a crime comic, so much as a light-hearted male fantasy of banging a mentally-retarded pixie. All the drugs are mostly window-dressing for a comic about the bimbo sidekick acting cutesy / quailtarded. I like caper stories enough to have had a good time, and I like that it gives so much space to its characters even if I didn’t enjoy their company as much as Boose does. You know: not great, not horrible, good choices, bad choices– what’s there to say? The art’s accomplished. It has that “frames from a cartoon” feel that certain older Kyle Baker comics once had– the colors are rich and consistent, and the acting is expressive. Unfortunately, a reluctance to cover too much of the art with word baloons often leads to cramped, unpleasant lettering. I hope Boose does more comics; I just wish the main character sold crack.

Fun Home: The lady’s dad turns out to be gay! Very Good.

Drockleberry Book One: Swell art (the easy comparison is to Tony Harris and I’m too lazy to go past the easy comparison) compliments this inscrutable, slow, ambitious, confusing, adjective and jaggedly-paced apocalypse thriller. Early on, the going is rough and the dialogue frequently devolves into sub-Vertigo “look, Ma– I have attitude!” one-liners. For example: “If bad news were x-lax, you and I and this whole fucking planet would be sink’n balls deep at the corner of shit fer luck and go fuck yerself“– do you understand what in the fuck this means? I don’t! Is the author trying to sound like one of those UK writers? Or worse: are they from the UK? Let’s hope not! It’s often more content to show off than clearly present a story– here’s an excerpt of narration to give you an idea: “The weavers, for all their great mystery, were predictable in at least the one sense, that they would suffer nothing which threatened the pristine, if not baffling order of their amaranthine efforts.” So: yeah, it’s pretty amaranthine all up in that mug, but the art is strong enough that it’s not such a terrible thing having to watch this comic show-off, no: Andrew Dimitt’s work is increasingly stylish as the pages go by. It took me around 40 to 50 pages to start to understand the plot, though– Dimitt frequently seems to set up scenes where the plot is about to be explained in clear language, and then cuts around those scenes. But the plot, to the extent I understand it, seems kind of compelling. It’s a bit dismaying how much of the apocalypse Dimitt has happen off-camera, though, but at least that seems like there’s a reasoning behind that choice. At minimum, Book One ends on an interesting note, a strange and promising cliffhanger– I’m under the (possibly mistaken) belief that Dimitt is taking a break from Drockleberry to pursue BENTHIC ANGELS, a project with Dan Goldman(SHOOTING WAR). Anyways: I’m a sucker for comics about the apocalypse and Dimitt provides enough eye candy that I’m willing to indulge him enough time to work out some of the early kinks. And this is the kind of reason I visit the Act-i-vate site: flawed work, yes, but because a talented creator is taking advantage of an opportunity to attempt things he wouldn’t be allowed to elsewhere in comics. How much can I shit on that without looking like an asshole? Less than I have in this review. Be advised, though: the final 20 pages or so seem to only be available at the Act-i-vate site as of the date of this review.

Jeff Smith’s Captain Marvel: How would I know? I’m a grown man.

Jonah Hex #21: Jordi Bernet supplies his typically wonderful art for an exploitation ramble from “Gray & Palmiotti.” The comic opens with comic book bimbos being mercilessly raped, then it cuts to a 100% unrelated story of criminals on the run from Jonah Hex who are instead scalped by a deranged Native American, until winding back to reveal that the bimbos have been raped to death during the comic’s long and pointless digression. Cue: more violence, and hee hee, the end. I don’t read this comic regularly, but if they’re all this empty-headed, oblivious to story, pointless and cheerfully exploitative, I might start. I’d seen a couple of Phil Noto’s issues which were slick and appealing, but I think Bernet is better casting for the book since Bernet seems more comfortable drawing a Wild West with dirt in it. Still: does every issue feature racially-numb-skulled amaranthine imagery and completely pointless gore? I hope so! Let’s find out together! Yet another comic book where I’d have been happier if the main character had sold crack.

Lil Abner: This stretch of strips from March 23 1955 to April 18, 1955 is a pretty good time if you enjoy humor about rural inbreds as much as I do. Lil Abner needs to win a cake-baking contest for his wife, but he’s too embarrassed to admit he cooks to the other men in his town. Cross-dressing capers ensue, and the plot whizzes around hither and dither in a pleasing way. Years later, Al Capp would be accused of sexually harassing Goldie Hawn. But I really like how characters in classic strips like Abner have their own way of speaking– it seems like people in Comic Strip World used to have their own language. Even in comic books, there used to be all sorts of amaranthine expressions that originated in comics: “Great Ceasar’s Ghost” or “Sweet Christmas” or “Holy Human-shit, Batman” or “Blood-Soaked Pubic Hairs!” It’s strange that such a once-popular aspect of cartooning has almost completely dissappeared. Or maybe it hasn’t disappeared and I’m just forgetting a bunch of examples. I don’t really care.

I Killed Adolf Hitler: Scandinavian comic superstar Jason presents another funny-sad funny-animal comic, this time a time travel action adventure story involving professional hitmen, a time machine, and Hitler. I liked how the comic used Hitler: the comic spends a lot of time with people who believe their lives would be better if someone else weren’t around, so including Hitler in the narrative makes a satisfying amount of sense, for obvious reasons. Except there’s something about a Scandinavian dog version of Adolf Hitler that’s both disturbing and funny to me for some reason I can’t quite articulate. The genre horseplay early on wasn’t terribly interesting to me, but eventually it settles down to being about regret and sexual frustration and depression, all that good stuff what was the dance that brought me. I don’t know– it’s a good time. It doesn’t come up in the comic, but many historians believe that Hitler had a fetish for urinating on his girlfriends.

Plain Janes: I read this comic a long time ago, and while I didn’t like it much, I had a few positive things to say at the time since I like Jim Rugg and how he draws so much. But boy, this comic has just festered with me since. Festered! I really just get mad to think about it– it become this thing in my head of … Look: they release a comic– it’s incomplete. It has no third act, no plot resolution, none of the character arcs are resolved– it does not have a proper ending. They wait a while for suckers like me to buy it. Then, they announce a “sequel.” Explain how that’s okay to me! Explain it! The writing and the art are both fine, it’s the product of talented people, super, great, fine, but boy, I just can’t stop being mad about this comic and the culture that produced it. I keep hearing nice things about the other Minx books, but I just don’t trust them. Of course: I’m not a teenage girl, so how worthless is my opinion? Very! Still: anger!

What do you think? Oh, how special you are! Haha, just kidding: you suck– I don’t care what you think.

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