Optimous Douche Hijacks Spoiler Alert Podcast: DARK GODS, SOUTHERN BASTARDS, RASPUTIN, FUTURES END 27
I am Rob Patey. I am also Optimous Douche of Ain’t It Cool News. I am not proud of either fact most days of the week. I have taken your Spoiler Alert Comic Book Podcast, Ain’t It Cool News and Poptards Go.
Here is what I cover:
Fan Tweet – No mistake on the singular folks, that’s the tech savvy of our audience and production staff. Dan Day answers this week’s question, “What other things do you collect than comics?’ I tell Dan why his life is meaningless.
DARK GODS: Justin Jordan | German Erramouspe | Avatar Press
SOUTHERN BASTARDS: Jason Aaron | Jason Latour | Image Comics
RASPUTIN: Alex Grecian | Riley Rossmo
FUTURES END 27: Brian Azzarello | Everyone | DC Comics
NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION: Who is your favorite DC character? What is your favorite multiverse earth? What story would you write with that character on that earth?
Writer: Scott Snyder
Reviewer: Rob Patey
Before DETECTIVE and BATMAN, this upstart writing professor from NY (which even though I’m form Jersey I have never held against him), was entrenched in horror with a little title called AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Here’s a snippet from one of my reviews of issue 3:
“I originally came for King, but I have stayed for Snyder. As much as I will always love the master of macabre, his ability to bloat a word balloon is not the best fit for a visual medium. Snyder though, I think this guy has legs. Let’s see what happens when the King training wheels are taken off.”
So there it is folks, hate Optimous if you don’t like Snyder, I gave him his golden ticket (No, I’m not this arrogant, but I also predicted in 2008 Johns was headed for editorial leadership, just sayin).
Horror with heart was Scott’s introduction to comics, and WYTCHES has brought him home. Thank God DC squashed exclusivity last year, because after reading issue one of WYTCHES Scott is about to give some gravitas to the “Hocus Pocus” idea of Salem’s daughters and this time he can actually own the friggin property thanks to the lean Image corporate structure.
Of course, points and IPs are not the concern of us regular readers, so let me say that from a story perspective: Scott is building a mystery, he strengthens the true meaning of witches before Hollywood makes it more flaccid with insipid “Secret Circle” like shows, and delivers it all through the package of human experience as a young girl realizes just how dangerous she can be.
WYTCHES will be nothing you expect; yet somehow everything you have been asking for in this mythos. I loved last season of “American Horror Story: Coven,” but I realize now how pretty and sanitary the proceedings actually were. For Snyder’s WYTCHES, the wills of the earth are power, not confidence or how may times you get banged by the Sax man.
The one staple Scott missed in this issue is his deep reverence for history, and making the time or place of the story as vibrant a character as any carbon based life forms, or perhaps he has simply made it different this time around knowing that Jock is just as formidable with pictures as Scott is with words. While we don’t get any new history for Gotham or an exploration of the century we just lived, there is a primal introduction on page one as a woman is devoured by a tree. As Jock makes us more afraid of wood than a straight guy in a revival of “Anything Goes,” I believe Scott may be scratching under new surfaces of setting and letting his well-accomplished artist do the heavy lifting.
Because after this moment we shift back to normality, with a normal family on any normal weekday, waiting for the school bus to arrive. As middle aged Dad and teenage daughter play the last wisps of games from childhood (like kill the Hippogryph), Snyder and Jock both convey the underpinning of a great horror that casts a dark pall beyond the simple separation of young womanhood blossoming before a befuddled Father who now has a young woman instead of his tomboy buddy.
We find that the dark pall was the fact this young lady, Sailor Rooks, was the one who brought the lady eating tree to life.
And there’s the mystery folks: Sailor remembers the tree and bringing to life to thwart an attacker, Mom and Dad say it was a delusion (but are most likely lying) and let us not forget the freaky bald guy who has come back from helping Wesley Crusher explore the galaxy to now fuck with the Rooks in some very primal and disgusting ways.
With Jock and Snyder, quality is expected. With Image though, we all know that longevity is a never a guarantee. Not to open the comic Kimono too wide, but Image books get one arc to prove themselves on sales numbers, if they don’t make the mark than hope you weren’t too attached to that story. Of course with this baller marquee on the cover, I believe WYTCHES will have the current staying power of SAGA with the long draw editorial is letting Snyder play. He is letting points breathe instead of spewing them out en masse. This is not a critique; it’s a compliment to see what a creator who I admire and respect can truly accomplish when untethered from continuity shackles, family friendly mandates and larger story support structure.
The question of do you like it Optimous is moot and I still refuse to answer it point blank, so please stop asking folks. I love this book, but that’s an opinion and opinions are like assholes in that they usually stink and are utterly invaluable. Make your own decision. Are you ready for an old look at a new favorite in the horror genre? Do you have room for one more book on your pull list? Do you want staying power of story and the slow doling out of story versus flashes of character moments? If yes, than get up on WYTCHES bytches.
I find it hard to believe it’s been 4 years since I was first contacted by a lone Eastern Europeanish immigrant named Jim Zubkavich. Traveling by steamer ship from the same piece of shit country as Balki from Perfect Strangers, I received his telegraph requesting coverage of his book SKULL KICKERS, which would be his indentured servitude golden ticket to America.
Now he’s a shining example of the American Dream and how indentured servitude is really a great piece of currency, the kavich has left the building and Jim Zub delivers another comic problem solver with WAYWARD 1.
That’s right, a comic problem solver. Anyone can write a story or lasso words around editorial edicts, but the ones worth remembering always stand at the ready to fill a void or vacuum.
Back then, with SKULL KICKERS Kavich showed us that comics could be fun as his nameless D&D characters pretty much kicked a bunch of skulls inside the story wrappers of every fantasy trope imaginable. 2010 was a bummer fucking year as the Big 2 put their current universes in neutral and took all the top talent to the board room to usher in the Meticulously Measured Metrics Age of comics. Kavich said, no silly Americans, do not be sad the beetle blues has been shot by the Lord of Foldgers, laugh at my silly dwarf man instead.
Today, Zub fixes a problem that has been screaming at comics since the first bra was burned and yet amidst that screeching there is still so little problem solving – that’s right, I’m talking about some lady protagonisting. Not only does Zub go lady, he actually goes teenage lady, and I’ll tell you that it definitely works.
Rori Lane is not only about to undergo a fantastic journey filled with comic bookey stuff, but she’s also on a journey of discovery as a stranger in a strange land that I already find equally if not more intriguing than the fantasy. Her half Irish, half Japanese decent only lasted until her parents divorce. Mom gets Rori, so Rori gets to move to Tokyo.
Zub paints the perfect balance of wonderment and fear in Rori as she navigates a land that many foreigners will never quite “get,” until they actually experience it. However, the land of the rising sun also activates something in Rori that I can only best describe as Splinter Cell vision. Rori begins to see pathways, or when put to good use, a strategic line to overcome any point A to point B obstacle.
Now, where most assholes would simply use this ability to YouTube X-Treme Parkor, Rori’s mettle is actually tested her first afternoon in town by Turtles in a half shell with big ass slobbering teeth and ironically bird flu (OK I made up the last part). Until a girl with an uncanny ability to summon felines and become cat like herself mysteriously saves Rori and then quickly abandons her. Not before getting some strange milk from a vending machine to solidify once more how strange Eastern culture is to us Western world folks.
What this review is missing is how well Zub paints these moments. Rori’s journey, the loss of her parent’s love for each other, how bat shit crazy Japan is for first timers, because he does it all in masterful and authentic detail. Steve Cummings is simply a new God of comic drawing, my jaw continued to lower to the floor page after beautiful page.
Sorry to tease WAYWARD so far ahead of release, but that’s comics folks. Retailers must order now, they believe they are people too, and so they sometimes need a little help stocking the shelves before you consumer types start navigating them. There are a deluge of titles coming from every corner of comics and Image is certainly one of the most massive #1 producers in recent memory. Out of all those so many books of genesis I’ve enjoyed, WAYWARD is one of the first that I feel is as much needed as it is entertaining.
DREAM POLICE 2
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image / Joe’s Comics
Reviewer: @robpatey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I don’t review enough second issues, and companies like Image truly need this sort of PR given their deluge of new titles cropping up. See, there’s this dirty little numbers game with comics, issue ones get so much PR love they sell like gangbusters, you can then watch subsequent issues drop in attention and sales quicker than Justin Bieber’s career.
In many cases this drop off is warranted, since it seems the muse du jour is to develop a tits concept that can be used as a TV or movie pitch, while letting the true intricacies of creating a long lasting serial come secondary (or even lower on the list). This is where I truly appreciate the Image sub-brands like Joe’s Comics and Skybound, it’s an extra hallmark that tells us the exec producers and/or writers are imbedded and dedicated to the comics’ medium as opposed to “get less poor” huckster one and dones.
DREAM POLICE is a title that does not deserve a drop off, and quite frankly warrants a second glance even if you found fault with the first issue. JMS’ exploration of detectives who patrol the land of dreams became far more fleshed out this issue, swapping out cute clichés about naptime, for some true world building, exploration and seeds of distress for our protagonist, Joe Thursday.
That’s right, Joe Thursday, a play on Dragnets Joe Friday. Here is one of those bugaboos purists had with the first issue. This type of word play along with when Joe was flipping through the jukebox in a diner where all of the titles were laden with the word dream really kicked up some vitriol amongst the review and reader community. Personally, if this land is a construct of where we humans go at night when our frontal lobe is on REM overdrive, I think this embodiment of the zeitgeist makes sense. So, fuck you other reviewers for not liking it, and suck on the story goodness I got out of issue 2 as reward for not being an elitist snob.
We learned in issue 1, that while this dream city might look like New York it is only a facsimile. Like other famous fabrications of real world places like Disney World, it takes a swarm of serfdom to keep the wheels in motion so the guests never lose their aesthetic distance. This issue is JMS’ chance to build his classes that consist of: our main cop characters Joe and Katie, who respond when dreams go south; the builders who meticulously craft our real-world settings and then immediately deconstruct them once we wake up (kind of like doozers without the Fraggles); the mighty morphing characters of our dreams or who play us in 3rd person dreams; and of course nightmares. There are others, but these are the big ones for now.
Also introduced in this issue is the high concept that the workers of this world were never once human, nor have they simply always “just been.” Essentially every being is “born” as a wisp and then sort of chooses its role when ready. They are functionally useless, but naïve and scamp-like enough to amuse the denizens of dream land so that they want to protect them. The mystery of this issue arises when one of these wisps is wiped out by a dreamer who can’t control his shit…literally. Junkie dreamers are dangerous, so dangerous in fact it brings out the middlemen between the dreamers and well…God.
I know it’s a lot for one issue and my play-by-play comes across as quite clinical. To balance characterization with creation, Joe Thursday is more than a simple beat cop pastiche; he carries a secret that could tear this and ultimately our word asunder. It’s the heart behind the high concept I frankly demand from a JMS title.
If you’re coming back for Kotian, you won’t be disappointed, he gets noir meets supernatural perfectly. The dans are square-jawed, the dames are delectable and the dreams are out there. If you felt wandering after issue one, this follow-up is your map. If you felt you needed more meat on the bone, then strap on your bib.
TODD: THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH VOL. 2
Writer: Ken Kristensen
Artist: M.K. Perker
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
This second volume of TODD goes on easier than a used condom for old and new readers alike. The lambasting of the horrific world around us will resonate immediately for any and all carbon based life forms. However, if this is your first time with Todd, you should know a few things to avoid comic shock. I hope these warnings will also keep Kristensen out of jail or from being involuntarily committed for at least 24 hours after the book is placed on the shelves.
1) Todd the character isn’t the ugliest kid on earth; we actually don’t know what this 8-year-old embodiment of innocence actually looks like because he has worn a paper bag on his head since issue 1. Plus, I truly believe there is no child more heinous than Honey Boo Boo in aesthetic or aura.
2) TODD the book is an exercise in wrong. You will feel wrong for laughing at the misery subjected upon Todd from his image obsessed Mother, Bush II Fan Club President Father, bastard half-sister, Charlie Rose (yes, that one) and pretty much every other being that crosses Todd’s path. You will also need a Silkwood shower of the soul for laughing at the perpetual misfortune Todd suffers for our enjoyment.
3) Remember the moral here, always remember the moral. Kristensen pushes every taboo hot button imaginable, but there is always the donkey punch-line glorifying the stupidity of those around Todd. On the flip side, the few times things go well for Todd are always the result of his paper bag shielding him from becoming one of the horrible people. Todd always does right, and that’s the true point of this book.
80% of TODD could be called a slice-of-life book, which is a travesty given the moral repugnance of every character except Todd. However, I can not tell a lie, I meet a lot more people like the shitbags I mentioned earlier than purely innocent people like Todd. The other 20% is all comic book and that’s not simply because the book takes us to comic-con. This time around, Todd also traverses several planes of hell.
Why Comic Con? As John Belushi once said, “Burp…why not?” Actually it’s to solidify that Todd’s father is a moron. Because only a moron would pay an entrance admission and 300% mark-up for an item worn by some actor who was in a TV show that lasted for a season. I also believe we start at SDCC so Kristensen can perform a catharsisgasm all over famed comic book cluster fucks like: Quesada announcing MARVEL OLD, as the house of mouse gives up on getting kids to read comic books. Turning the wheelchair of a certain uber geek, who runs a site that rhymes with…taint shits fool jews…into a mecha of massive destruction. And…well there’s more, but to avoid ending up on a TSA watch list I’ll leave you with just the tame examples. So blatant and hilariously cruel are Kristensen’s jabs, it’s certain he’ll never work for another comic company.
While Todd’s Dad gets the jock strap he’s looking for from some Bruce Willis like character, he also procures the table of Charlie Rose. As we all know Charlie, PBS and that fucking interview table are all byproducts of Satan. Kristensen is merely reporting the news if you think about it. While we all know these truths, what is unbeknownst to us is that the table actually serves as a monorail between here and hell, presumably so PBS always has enough telephone operators for telethons.
Unfortunately for Todd, but fortunate for comedy, his half-sister is sucked inside the table and sent straight to the realm of the dark lord himself. To be specific, she ends up in Satan’s son’s bedroom, where Satan sends all virgins who enter hell in hopes the lad will give up his dreams of becoming a priest.
Things get worse from here, so I’ll end the official review part of this article by saying that Perker is the perfect pencil pusher to propagate the perpetual pummeling Todd receives from life. I generally find comedy books fall short on the art, but Perker has a way of bringing deadpan to life without ever making the page lifeless.
Since TODD finds a way to revel in the art of wrong across every panel, I can say without reservation or fear of pull-quote repurposing, I love TODD so much my dick is covered in paper cuts. If you don’t fear for the fate of your soul, go get your own Costco size bottle of Neosporin and join the fun.
DREAM POLICE 1 (Preview Orders NOW, In stores April)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image (Joe’s Comics)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
If DREAM POLICE seems familiar, give your brain an extra special treat tonight for remembering a title from nine years ago. I was pretty impressed at myself for remembering that far back. In addition to comics I write and read a few ten thousand other words each week while on the clock for “The Man.” There’s a reason my memory was able to conjure this title, the publisher, the year and hell even the cover when I closed my eyes without the aid of Google; it was an awesome comic implosion. Not an explosion, that leaves behind marks and shrapnel – evidence it existed. DREAM POLICE before it vaporized in one issue like a nuclear blast showed us a take on the world of the nocturnal that’s the antithesis of the standard set by SANDMAN.
I had to know if I was right, so I went back to my email from whence this preview came and scribed the following…
Is this in any way related to the Icon story from like 10 years ago?
We did a one-shot at Marvel Icon, which didn’t get very much promotion, I think it was marketed to about ten people, and thus died on the vine.
I always wanted to revisit that universe and revive that book because I think it’s a lot of fun and I liked the characters. It had kind of a Dragnet in the Dreamscape vibe to it that appealed to me enormously. So one of the first things I wanted to do with Joe’s Comics was to revert the book back to us and reboot it once we’d established the line as its own thing.
I also fell in love with Sid’s work and wanted to bring him in on this before anyone else could grab him once Apocalypse Al comes out.
Point being, it’s a fresh start, a reboot and new beginning, and a great place for folks to jump in.
Not only did Joe answer my question with the same hyper yet easily digestible detail he puts into his work, he also just half wrote the review.
However, I don’t think Joe’s analogy can stand on it’s own. Let me clarify and translate for the younger generation. Dragnet was a detective drama from the 1960s, it starred Colonel Potter from M-A-S-H and television’s first character suffering from Asperger’s, Joe Friday. Joe Thursday, one of our two stalwart detectives of DREAM POLICE, is not suffering from crippling deadpan nor stuffed into a seersucker suit. Likewise his partner is not Col. Potter, yet the much hipper and constant deliverer of snappy dialog, Frank Stafford. There’s a sadism to these two characters that comes from policing the denizens of dream land. If I had to equate them to two other cops, I’m going with the characters from the American version of Life on Mars.
Dreamscape is was a movie from the 80s where psychics were popped into people’s dreams to consciously control the outcome. I’ll half buy this in the sense that Joe and Frank are certainly in control, but I think the comparison marginalizes the complex world and set of rules Joe (the writer) has set for the book. In Dreamscape dreams are but a vapor – a place conjured by the dreamer that disappears when the dreamer awakens. In DREAM POLICE this world exists separate from the Dreamer. See, we aren’t the true denizens of this dream land, but rather mere transients killing time until morning. The true inhabitants that Joe and Frank need to keep in line are the makers of our dreams. If anything I would compare this landscape to Albert Brook’s Defending Your Life where angels are the worker bees of purgatory, a place that feels very much like home. DREAM POLICE’S landscape is just as familiar; it’s an amalgam of all American cities replete with appropriate landmarks. The makers of our dreams are trollish craftsman that build the scenes, shape changers who play the part of our desires and of course Johnny Law who keeps them all in line.
I found this all fascinating as the two went on calls, made supernatural collars and even had a run in with the top hat wearing toothy maw gentleman nightmares. Then Joe goes and throws a twist at the end. I don’t need to spoil it here, but it adds a third level to the book that makes you question whether you were just dreaming.
On the art, Joe’s right, Kotian does an amazing job. However, I can not tell a lie, I did not get the full effect. No one’s fault…well…except the archaic nature of the comic retail model. See for a book to make it to store shelves it must be issued in Previews. Previews comes out 3 months before the books are published. Previews gives shit details on what the book is about, so retailers have no means to separate the wheat from the chafe and ordering becomes a game of Russian Roulette, especially with #1s. So, it’s up to reviewers like myself to look at books while they are still in production so retailer’s decisions can ultimately benefit you when you walk into he shop. On one hand it’s awesome, we get to see liner notes, editor cut sheets and other behind the scenes detail usually reserved fro deluxe compilations. There are a few times, my review of the rough cut even swayed the final direction, as was the case with Diggle & jock’s, SNAPSHOT. I, and my review cohorts gushed so much over the black and whites the boys just skipped the coloring. On the other hand, I don’t get to see cool stuff like…color and rich fine Corinthian inks. So, yes, from what I saw of Kotian’s work in skeletal form made me beyond intrigued to see how much richer the details of this world become once the finish and polish is applied.
Joe’s Comics continues to be a welcome beacon for new comic fans. It’s separatist view of titles keeps constraining continuity off the table while an eclectic mix of themes can satiate the thirst of most readers’ favorite genres. I will say though, the universe has a gap. All of the protagonists in this universe are maudlin solitary sufferers. I’d like to present a challenge, I want to see a family book. Not the dysfunctional families of SIDEKICK or PROTECTOR’S INK, I mean a true family, an intricate lattice of inseparable personalities nor matter how dystopian their trials and tribulations become. Or don’t, I’ll still pick up every damn issue until Joe stops writing them.
THE ADVENTURES OF APOCALYPSE AL 1 (Release February)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image – Joe’s Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
As much as I love JMS’ writing, there’s something that else that compels me to play a megaphone heralding his work – candor. Joe is one of the last strongholds of no bullshit, he tells it like it is even when it comes to his own foibles. Our steady stream of bitching about delays (THE TWELVE), boredom (SUPERMAN walking) and continuity cataclysm (totem SPIDERMAN) are all subjects Joe will gladly bend your ear on for hours and never place scapegoat shields in front of him. It’s important to understand this fact when reading APOCALYPSE AL because Joe is once again taking a no bullshit approach to correcting a common comic book cluster fuck – retailer ordering.
Not to belabor the point, but I think a bit of context is in order. Retailers must order books months ahead of time from a little book called Previews in most cases. Previews offers not a morsel of actual information about books, each title is articulated with 50 words of pure Public Relations pabulum. To leave retailers and ultimately readers further in the dark, publishers place gag orders on folks like yours truly so we can’t open the kimono on pieces until release date in stores. A few publishers, OK one, Titan Comics, has broken this model by at least giving reviewers open speaking rights about books when they are about to come out in Previews. And you know what, it’s worked. They’ve gone from 0 to some big sellers in a short time through this open information sharing. Now, Joe’s Comics is taking the same approach, but expanding it several thousand fold. Not only has Joe thrown reviewers worldwide an issue of APOCALYPSE AL, but retailers will also be getting a copy this Wednesday BEFORE they have to submit their February Previews’ order. Everybody loves free shit, I predict the simple good will of this gesture alone will help Joe’s Comics move more copies than any of the other #1’s from the imprint released this year.
All right, I’ll get off my soapbox, let’s talk about the actual book. When last we left Joe’s Comics I had reviewed my NYCC copy of PROTECTORS INC. Not a bad book, but parts and purpose left me scratching my head. Again, I say “not a bad book,” but that’s a relative statement. Other Joe’s imprints like TEN GRAND and SIDEKICKS are spectacular books, so PROTECTORS had a very high benchmark to live up to. Even though, I only went through a B&W version of APOCALYPSE AL, I’m putting it up on the spectacular shelf.
I’ll skip the PR blurb, because when you read it you’ll have a hard time discerning between APOCALYPSE AL and TEN GRAND. Both deal with the mystical and things that go bump in the night. Annnd…right there is where we end the comparisons. Superficially, Al is a woman (aka Allison) where our hero of TEN GRAND is a dude. Dig a little deeper, Al is a late twenty-something serving an ancient family legacy to keep the world safe from demons. Joe, the hero of TEN GRAND is serving the world to meet his own ends of salvation for him and his deceased ladylove. Plus Joe is a dude in his late thirties/early forties. Anyone with enough time on this earth knows the difference of mindset a twenty-year age gap brings, even if we’re too fucking stupid to realize it when it comes to second marriages. Salty versus sweet would be the culinary description between the two protagonists.
There’s also a geographical shift between APOCALYPSE AL and TEN GRAND. TEN GRAND is all New York, a dark and gritty land suffocated by grittier people who bathe in a brutal honesty with one another and life itself. Al is all L.A. baby; the demons have all the permanence of a back-lot set and are as equally three dimensional. Al is fully realized, but she’s leagues of happy happy joy joy above Joe. There’s something about constantly being exposed to the sun that makes people infinitely happier and far more optimistic about life even though Al mainly deals with and in death.
Quirky side characters make for better main players. It’s for this reason I beg for character parts versus leading man roles in my annual trip back to the footlights of community theater. Bit parts have the best lines and are often remembered long after the main characters fade into the memory ether. Al has a whole host of these friends that help her on her way to uncovering the absconding of an apocalyptic set of keys that will tarnish Tinsel Town and eventually the rest of the world (kind of like the Kardashians have already). A dead LAPD cop feeds Al intel, and is the voicebox for the shadow organization that has been feeding her father and his father before him jobs against the paranormal. She has a homeless seer with no filter on his prognosticating so Al gets ten times more mundane information than actual leads or clues.
I think (hope) I’ve said enough to entreat retailers into stocking the shelves with the next Joe’s Comics creation. If not, let me say that JMS has given us a strong yet still feminine protagonist. She is as equally cavalier as serious, and is just as conscious of her style as her character. As a man married to a shoe connoisseur, I’ll give JMS uncanny accuracy as Allison gets lost in a dream where she’s a temp forever stuck in sensible footwear. Kotian does a great job with expressions in this book. JMS deals on many emotional planes when he writes so getting the facial structure to deliver snark coupled sincerity is no small feat, especially when some of the faces are half rotted or from a nether realm.
I’m saddened by the fact this is only going to be a 4 issue miniseries. Apparently this book was in line with some special partnership for MTV Geek. Don’t know, don’t care – I barely knew MTV Geek existed before it went away. I’m really pissed because there could be a great intertwining between this book and TEN GRAND, the yin and yang of demon hunting would give a nice waft of cohesion in drawing the Joe’s Comics universe together.
Sorry, I’m not an editor, just a reviewer. BUY THIS BOOK, you’ll love Al instantly and will be totally on board with the ultimate antagonist that appears in the final panel.
For the first time in three years, I am ashamed to be an Apple user. While I love my iMac, Mac Air, iPad, Apple TV and the iTunes experience (the inception point for the Apple device switch from Windows), I am beyond livid on the Good Taste Gestapo’s choice to omit SEX CRIMINALS from the purchase lineup.
Sure, if one just looked at the title, you would expect a tour of the pedo bear picnic, or the secret diary of Rapey McRaperson. Thank goodness Fraction and Zdarsky put pictures, words and other details inside this book like a plot that has nothing to do with our traditional definition of sex crimes after the cover.
If someone on the modern-day Warren commission decided to take a look inside in the book what they would find is one of the most honest and touching explorations of human sexuality slathered with the trappings of great sci fi, mystery and adventure. SEX CRIMINALS is an honest and engaging delight that can titillate traditional comic fans while bringing in a slew of new readers (i.e. women) if people simply get past the puritanical prickly sensation we get from the association of the words sex and criminal.
I didn’t know what to make of issue 1. Here I was, reading about a young woman describing the sexual awakening of her even younger self. Young men hold the female species at arm’s length because we find them to be so very different from us. Society doesn’t help in this regard, teaching women repression while teaching men reckless abandon with our naughty bits. Fraction dispels the rumor that female desire doesn’t exist, but does regale the truism that women are far more reserved when it comes to discussing the most holy of holes. I laughed as our protagonist Suzy fumbled through first crushes, first touches and first blushes. I was then flabbergasted when Fraction made the climax of these explorations her super power. When Suzy cums, the rest of the world stops. There was a movie back in 1980 starring Pam Dawber and Robert Hays called “The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything,” where Hays stops time to do bawdy nonsense like Scott Baio did in “Zapped.” SEX CRIMINALS is the reality of this power, but also packs in true and not just insipid humor. As Suzy tries to learn about sex from friends, and thinks her experience is normal, we realize just how alone she actually is in the world. That’s when the laughter stops and the heart of this title kicks into full gear.
Then Suzy met Jon, a man suffering from the same “affliction.” Issue 2 explored Jon’s experience with this wonderful gift. Here is where we see how men and women process puberty differently. Suzy was amazed by this time-stopped world, imbibing the color and sound, simply content to just be inside in her rapture of what she dubbed The Quiet. Jon called it Cumworld and used it as an excuse to get his hands on as much porn as possible at the local smut shop.
The story is not told in the same linear fashion as my synopsis. All of the exploration and our two protagonists falling in love only happens after a scene in the present, when the two enter a bank bathroom, get their freak on, and then decide to make Cumworld their personal ATM. Issue 3 reveals, though, that these two are Robin Hoods, not robber barons. They are trying to get together enough scratch to save the library Suzy works at. Jon is also using this as an excuse for a little comeuppance against this institution that has made his workday a living hell for so many years.
Issue 3 reveals more about Suzy and Jon’s relationship while unveiling the impetus for the plan we’ve been watching in action for the past two issues. The big reveal, though, is that Cumworld is not Blue Lagoon; there are others on the island that are more organized, brutal and really pissed off that Cumworld has multiple denizens.
I guess if I was a complete moron who believed society is comprised of other morons who need to be told what to do I could rationalize Apple’s decision not to carry this book. After all, if you just look at the title and read the first page of issue #1 this is pretty salacious stuff. Sure, SEX CRIMINALS is not as salacious as the thousands of movies that simulate fucking available on iTunes, not as salacious as the millions of pages of porn one can access from their Safari browser, and not as salacious as the Blu-Ray cum bonanza one can upload to iCloud, but it still pretty risqué for a comic. Oh wait, I’m sorry – I forgot about books like CROSSED or anything written by Alan Moore ever that can be easily accessed via Apple digital. Never mind–Apple is simply kowtowing to public frenzy versus making an informed decision.
As a staunch libertarian I find all censorship deplorable, but as a man entering my parenting years I understand how digital items can be easily accessed by children. I ask Apple, though, to focus on areas where kids are actually playing in the digital playground. As I watch my godson look for Minecraft videos and receive a plethora of suggested Minecum videos, I wonder if we should be looking at other places in the Wild West of the World Wide Web that kids are actually inhabiting, instead of places primarily occupied by the middle-aged. Look to places where smut is free with no gatekeepers versus areas that require purchase passwords, and parents should be policing to begin with. I ask them to look, truly look, before they leap with the banhammer ready to strike.
If you missed my first Con Report from this years’ New York Comic Con follow this link here and then come back and read this second chapter in my trek! Day One ruined my feet; this is what happens when one dresses for style versus comfort. I applaud the Cosplay girls (and I guess some of the guys) who hit this thing in seven inch fuck me pumps. Though to be fair, they spend most of the day posturing and posing whereas I moved across the entire center between Artist Alley and the Main Floor to talk to as many creators as I could before the closing bell.
Given the fact my pinky toes were bleeding into my shoes (literally), I took a slightly more relaxed approach to this day. Spending a little more time with creators, banging out a scheduled interview, and actually sitting in on a panel.
First stop though was the main floor while I had some energy!
KILL SHAKESPEARE – I have a personal history with this title. As a theater major in college I grew to abhor the bard, so I have dickishly avoided all requests to review this book that is actually wildly successful and well praised. I asked the guys how they would sway a naysayer like myself to imbibe the three volumes already available, they kindly said, “it’s an awesome action adventure if you like books like FABLES. If you hate the bard, look at your 8th grade teacher and shake you your fist at them for making you that way.” I retorted I’ll bite my thumb in protest or throw a cabbage. Nerd laughter ensues. Pictured are creators Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery.
Ryan Browne – Ryan was signing some MANHATTAN PROJECTS issues and hocking his new title GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS from Image. This time around Ryan is taking on writing and art duties to tell the tale of super powered narcissist who are charged with policing barn storming farmers who keep trying to launch themselves into now commoditized space. There’s also talking bears and other crazy shit. Originally a Web comic, this hard cover collects the entire series with some surprise guest artists thrown in for good measure. If you’re too cheap to buy the book you can read it online.
David Schulner – Author of CLONE from Image about a protagonist who is part of a government cloning conspiracy. With eleven issues under its belt, the book was just picked up by NBC for a series with David and Robert Kirkman at the helm.
Monty Nero – DEATH SENTENCE is Monty’s brainchild from Titan Comics. The book explores a world where an AIDS like virus gives you superpowers for 6 months before you shuffle off your mortal coil. What would you do with that precious time and who would try to stop your before your 6 months are up?
Smoke, 2 Tanqueray & Tonics break so shit can get real down in artist alley where no PR wonks are around to keep things moving.
Ben Templesmith – I loved Templesmith’s work on TEN GRAND, but he’s no longer on that anymore. A big to-do amongst con chatter by the way. Here’s Ben doing some great technique with blood work on the page for a commission. He basically spits it through a straw for a true splatter effect. Get a commission, get some Ben DNA. I also like this picture because I feel like I genuinely made him laugh and spit some blood on the table.
Peter Tomasi – Peter worked his career in reverse from editor to writer and frankly I couldn’t be happier. Damian Wayne basically lived in two books in the New 52, BATMAN INC and BATMAN & ROBIN. All along though, BATMAN & ROBIN stood shoulders above for the heart and trueness of a little boy fighting against his gruesome nurture. I tried to get Peter to spill the beans on when the BATMAN & INSERT SOMEONE ELSE HERE would be ending and he said soon. When I asked him if it would be Carrie Kelly, he laughed at me and mimed zipping his lips. You won today Tomasi.
BAD KARMA – Kickstarter done good. This 200 page hardcover is the culmination of four creators bringing together their ideas in one beautifully rendered trade. The guys were mum on the overall plot, but I did peruse some of the art and it is beautiful. Pictured are Alex Grecian, Jeremy Haun, B. Clay Moore, and Seth Peck.
J. Michael Straczynski Panel – My devotion to JMS stories is no secret. We’ve done about 6 interviews together and I always pester him personally when I know a new book is on the way. Here’s the thing though, instead of ignoring me, he actually responds. Granted if it’s a book like EARTH 1 we need to vet things through proper PR channels, but when it comes to creator owned stuff like JOE’S COMICS, the man is a machine of deep and honest responses to even my most ridiculous of questions.
I abhor panels and I hate lines even more. Thankfully they put JMS in a big enough hall there was no line and secondly once the door shut, this was a conversation not some PT Barnum like spectacle like the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY screening (and screaming happening next door).
As much as I’ve “hung” with Joe and read his work, I realize I am but balls deep in one of Joe’s many genres. When he finally opened up the floor for questions the Babylon 5 flood gates opened wide, along with a shit ton of movie questions. There was also some Dutch kid that kept trying to make him eat cookies. I would say I wish I were tripping if it I didn’t feel like I already was. Joe ended the, hell let’s call it what it is, the discussion, with some very uplifting words about following one’s dreams and handing out copies of the newest Joe’s Comics title, PROTECTORS INC #1.
With the panel over and an hour to kill before my Scott Snyder interview soon…
Back to Artists’ Alley I go!
Glen Brunswick – I love talking to creators who offer me a copy of a their book and my quote is already on the cover. To be fair though, I only read issue 1 of Brunswick’s NON HUMANS. We still had a good laugh though. I rectified my 1/5 review and gave the full TPB the review treatment last week. I love the concept of dolls coming to life spurred by humanity’s imagination so I was happy to see the tale come to a close. In addition to volume 2 of NON HUMANS coming out in April, Glen also recently wrote REALITY CHECK, the story of a creator’s super hero coming to life and not having a freaking clue what to do.
Daniel Corey – Author of MORIARTY from Image was selling the recently dropped trade. In Corey’s world, Moriarty wins at the falls and must find meaning without his greatest nemesis. For anyone who read the first two volumes and enjoyed them, help Daniel out by contributing to the volume 3 Kickstarter campaign.
Peter David – I simply love this man, he hits all the East coast cons and hasn’t seemed to age a day in the 7 years I’ve been pestering him for Ain’t It Cool (An even more remarkable feat at this con giving the recent stroke nonsense. Personally, I don’t buy it, he was Peter through and through) The coolest thing about Peter is that he talks all original properties at his table despite having written one of the best X-titles of all time, X-FACTOR. At this show Peter was all about SIR APROPOS OF NOTHING, the tale of an amoral knight thrust into destiny despite his best efforts to simply make a galleon. IDW has released the graphic novel version or you can read some of those non picture books to learn more about this less than chivalrous knight.
James Tynion IV – It would almost be easier to list what isn’t Scott Snyder’s protégé doing right now for DC? Starting as a back-up writer for one of the best runs DETECTIVE Comics has ever seen, he has now moved into the big chair in RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS and the recently announced BATMAN ETERNAL (for more on B.E. read my interview with Scott Snyder). In Artist Alley though, the guys like to talk pet projects; James’ is a web series called THE EIGHTH SEAL where politics is infested by things that go bump in the night.
Ironically I now had to run across the building (make that hobble) for my 3:15 with Tynion’s Obi-Wan, Scott Snyder. I’m not retyping the full interview, just go here to read it.
I’ve been to enough cons now to know when the shift times flip. After my interview with Scott I knew I had an hour to kill before there would be new folks to talk to in Artist Alley. I hunkered down in the press room with my cohorts Ambush Bug and Matt Adler to plan the evening’s shenanigans.
Drunk, I’m now drunk. Fuck you, Ambush Bug. And fuck you Matt Adler for laughing at the lushes. My feet feeling fine at this point I stumble to artist alley in hopes of some last few coherent conversations. All of you have my deepest apologies from this point forward.
Ed Brisson – While best known for his new Image book called SHELTERED, a tale of the pre post apocalypse gone wrong, Brisson was also at the con showing off some of his pre-discovery titles like MURDER BOOK and COMEBACK.
Brian Clevinger – ATOMIC ROBO is the name of the book and it is already 8 volumes strong. I know a ton of people who are fans of this little indie that could which is an amalgam of every 80s adventure you could imagine all wrapped into…a robot, so this is shot is for you folks.
UNMASKED – Mike Sarro and John Broglia. Another Kickstarter team done good. UNMASKED is about a young journalist going around unmasking new heroes who have no problem with killing. She does it all in hopes for a return to the true golden age of heroes. Get volume 1 now from Arch Enemy Entertainment before volume 2 launches.
Joe Harris – Last, but certainly not least Joe Harris showed off his Image series GREAT PACIFIC, his IDW X-FILES project and GHOST PROJECT from Oni Press. GHOST PROJECT was intriguing not only for the fact it is being courted for TV, but also it’s just a cool concept about weaponized supernatural beings built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Flash-forward to today and the cadre is unleashed on the world by a few bumbling thieves.
And with that the closing bell rang and I hobbled back to my hotel to recharge for an evening of parties and glad-handing. NY Comic Con 2013 I thank you for an experience I will never forget.
PROTECTORS INC 1 (In Stores November)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Gordon Purcell
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)
PROTECTORS INC at the high level is Joe’s Comics answer to the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Naturally though, it has the JMS flourish of cynicism and truth powering the masks. There’s nothing idealistic here. Just like SIDEKICK and TEN GRAND, PROTECTORS INC. takes the traditional superhero tropes and indicts the bullshit black and white moralities that tend to permeate the capes and spandex site.
I received my copy of PROTECTORS INC during New York Comic Con last weekend. Actually everyone who decided to attend JMS panel on writing and well…anything that came into Joe’s head, received a copy as well. Joe didn’t do a hell of a lot plugging of the book, in fact he did a very cursory overview of the entire Joe’s Comics line. That’s a compliment, not a slight. Between advice and frivolity he made the panel about us and our questions. He left the panel by giving all of us a copy to let us go off and draw our own conclusions.
Now, I’ve interviewed Joe about six times over the years, the man is a bastion of candor and honesty. As a fellow Jersey boy, I can’t handle pretense either. If you’re going to say something, just fucking say it. So here it goes. I’m confused. There are many streams feeding into the tributary of the story about people disappearing amidst strange lightning storms and the first superhero The Patriot.
In the world of PROTECTORS INC., capes arrived on the front lines of WWII in 1944. After kicking some kraut ass The Patriot comes home and the next seventy years see the rise of 50 other powered individuals like the beautiful Angel, the machismo endowed Huntsman and a host of others. They don’t get a lot of play in the book, merely serving as exposition fodder for our narrator detective lamenting his very laisez-faire feelings towards the whole lot. In this world there are no caped bad guys, everyone with a power is good (or at least we’re supposed to believe they are) and the heroes serve as more celebrity in the skies than thwarting any real danger. Joe is definitely sending a message here about the corporatization of American ideals (like Times Square), but it might be too early for that. I think we needed a few less characters and a little more why we should care about these fifty fuckbags filling the skies.
I’m not an overly obtuse person, so I think part of my confusion stems from Purcell’s artwork. There’s a CIA agent in the beginning of the book, looks like a middle-aged blonde white guy. His human cargo disappears by lightening. That’s the last we see of the guy. Now he may very well be The Patriot who simply disappeared ten years ago, but I’m not sure. Next is our detective who looks a lot like The Patriot both in and out of garb and the CIA dude (again assuming they aren’t the same person).
Despite my grimacing on the overarching plot, the book is rife with Joe’s natural dialog and flair for humor. This means I’m definitely in for the first arc. I have a feeling that will give enough time to crystalize why I should care about these incorporated protectors.