Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wednesday Is Archie For All I Care #142

Action Comics #7 (2012)
Avengers Vs. X-Men #0 (2012)
Kevin Keller #1

Action Comics #7 (DC, 2012, $3.99)
The smartest thing John Byrne did in his Superman reboot was to make him an ex-jock. Enough with the embarrassingly dorky Clark Kent. Besides correcting a lot of cringe-inducing moments in the Donner/Lester films, Byrne remembered the cool, laid-back Kent of the Fleisher cartoons and the George Reeves television series. Anyone interested in the nerd-champion paradigm had long since shifted focus to Peter Parker, who himself had found his hip groove with Jazzy Johnny Romita decades prior. In my experience, the person Superman has appealed to is the average guy of average intelligence and average accomplishments. Not so much a geek as a slacker or settler, perhaps with a sense that they were destined for greater things, living vicariously through the Man of Steel. They never want to see Superman fail, as they do, or even struggle overly much. They want to see him triumph; to dominate; with as little effort as possible. Look good, have fun, stomp ass. He can give speeches and be inspirational, but that's just cornball platitudes for the masses. Superman's better than everyone, and in the readers' dreams, they are Superman.

That said, it's cool to see a less powerful Superman running so fast that his boots rip apart, using a ramp to jump into outer space with only tattered civies and an oxygen tank. Of course he can have a nice little battle with Brainiac #Umpteen-Jillion. Sure, Lex can be on the sidelines, sowing the seeds of doubt in his adversary's abilities. Just don't have him go back to wearing Harry Potter glasses and living in a tenement, because Superman fans don't play with that shit, and it's hackneyed anyway. He's not a 99%er, he's the SuperMan, who's been living well and laying down the law since before our grannies were born. Also, trying to play like Superman's got a big decision over whether to save Metropolis or Kandor City, and citizens chanting his name to swing his vote-- that's amateur. Nobody's falling for that.

By the way, Superman's color changing indestructible armor? Spider-Man did that too, but he went black as midnight. Superman looks like a parody of Superman from an '80s TV show. Put that away.

Finally, there's the back-up, which is a huge "fuck you" to Cyborg being in the JLA. John Henry Irons builds his own armor and saves millions of people while caring for his family, being humble and recognizing the heroism in all those around him. His heart's as big as his brain, which is huge. Vic Stone's all "wah, daddy didn't love me and now I've got a robocock." Go-go gadget prick and shove it up your newfangled boom tube, you eternally whiny bitch nimrod. Steel's what Superman should be, much less Cyborg.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #0 (Marvel, 2012, $3.99)
Frank Cho is better than this. He's a lovely illustrator who wrote a comic strip that brought in new readers and could have potentially helped expand the audience as a whole. Where's his Strangers in Paradise? Where's his Walking Dead? Why is he still drawing random crap like the opening installment of a bullshit crossover whose media-fueled high sales will only lead to crushing disappointment when this isn't even the next Secret Invasion, much less Civil War. This book will continue and accelerate the well-poisoning of the print medium, and Frank Cho will be among the indicted. The only solace is that, like Before Watchmen, there are too many names involved to single any one out when the world court trials begin.

The actual story? After all that hyperbole, these are two short pieces by two writers that belong in an anthology title, which is all this prologue is. Brian Michael Bendis' Scarlet Witch tale reintroduces the woman and her crimes against mutantkind dating back to the House of M crossover. Cho wastes his talent drawing variations on M.O.D.O.K. and the asses of Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel. My favorite part is where Wanda confronts the Avengers, several of whom she indirectly murdered, and the essential result is a stern talking to. Spin them wheels, motherfuckers.

The second story involves not Jean Grey, who has not Rogue powers, because it's not the House of Ideas, anymore. Hope gets a stern talking to from Cyclops (theme!) in a tale by Jason Aaron that proves Alan Moore's dick remains firmly up his nose, but no creative splooge ever got shot across the man's brainpan. It's nothing but "fuck, I'll never be Alan Moore, no matter how vulgarly I cuss at big daddy comic writer Jesus for ignoring my contribution of another goddamned generic Serpent Society yarn to the creative collective." Frank, quit cashing the easy checks and do something worthwhile, before you're as sorry a piece of shit as Bendis and Aaron.

Kevin Keller #1 (Archie, 2012, $2.99)
I didn't buy his first appearance, because I didn't know better. I didn't buy his first #1 because it was really a tarted up Veronica #207, and a thought that was a faggot movie on Archie's part. Don't tease-- go balls deep or just eat a dick. Now that Kevin Keller has finally got an actual, factual debut issue, I decided the support my brotherloving homies and give this a taste. It tastes like, well, Archie. I read these now and again growing up, and liked them better than my personal bottom rungs like Incredible Hulk and Archie super-hero titles, but I didn't actually like them like them. They were resounding mediocrities, unfunny and unengaging, elevated only by not being a total drag and featuring caricatured hotties by Dan DeCarlo. Discovering Cherry Poptart killed what little interest I had, and discovering hentai killed that.

Anyway, Dan Parent draws a cute Veronica in a ridiculously short skirt for a few pages, but this is ultimately a book about pretty, utterly safe and wholesome boys who like boys in a non-tactile manner off-panel. Kev is to queers as Chuck Clayton is to blacks: a strategically non-confrontational, unobjectionable, idealized representative of a vocal minority demanding representation. Of course, Chuck Clayton never got his own series because hello negro, the white girls at the supermarket like their yaoi vanilla flavored. Well, maybe not this vanilla. It's a book length tale (huh-huh-- he said "length") about Kev's historical inability to get any. Amusingly, it reads as much more meaty (heh-heh) than mainstream super-hero titles, ironic given Archie's breezy anthology reputation. It's not like it's any denser than the old stuff, but it sustains a single narrative for twenty-two pages that retains about the same number of words per panel as twenty-two years ago. Without a bunch of silent splash pages, it reminds you that you can still get a satisfying (huh-huh) read out of a normal size one-shot (huh-huh.) Archie is not and never has been my bag, but in today's market, they offer more bang for your buck ("bang!" "buck!")

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