Man, remember when the idea of Frank Miller writing Batman seemed awesome? Those days are gone forever.
Well, once again I’ve dropped the ball. I’ve considered just turning Atop the Fourth Wall into a general comics blog site to encourage myself to post more, but I fear that defeats the point of a site designed to make fun of bad comics. Besides, I don’t read as many books as others.
In any case, here we find ourselves once again to another issue of All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. Thanks to Jim Lee’s timely efforts to get a few issues in the can before they’re released, we now have a few issues that have been released every month or so for the past few months. Mind you, most of them seem to be most two-page spreads, but hey a book is a book. And a bad book is still a bad book.
Frank Miller has been laying the groundwork for several issues now of just saying “screw the Batman and Robin angle; I’m doing the whole friggin’ DC Universe!” and this issue is no different, as we see Black Canary return after her 14-page stint back in issue 3 as well as bringing in yet another supporting character from the bat family. Ah well, once more unto the breach, I guess...
Ah, nothing like a good Jim Lee cover featuring two characters that aren’t even integral to a book titled Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder, eh? While beautifully drawn, I do have to mention that Batgirl’s head seems a tad on the large side. However, I would just like to reinforce Jim Lee’s talents here with the fact that he can take a Miller drawing and just do it in his own style instead of reinventing the entire costume. In this case, he does it with the Miller-style Batman logo and the... interesting costume for Batgirl. While I applaud Miller for a lack of exposed cleavage, I do wonder why about the functionality of lots of dangly bits on a superhero costume. Sure, she’s a teenager, but come on, where did she get all the little metal bats?
Anyway, we now return to the comic that keeps on giving us a crazy guy we call BINO. “Sometimes I wonder why I never sleep anymore. But not TONIGHT.” Considering the messed-up timeline we’ve got for how long ago you kidnapped Dick Grayson, Age Twelve, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he doesn’t sleep. “It’s been the kind of night that DREAMS are made of. The kind of night I was BORN for.” Yeah, I dream of kidnapping young children to put them on a war against crime and then beat up criminals, too. What, don’t you? Anyway, all of this BINO narration is coming on a one-page spread of BINO’s head. I see they’ve reduced the time it takes for Jim Lee to do pencils but just having huge spreads of small parts of the body so we don’t need as much detailing.
Flip the page and now a two-page spread! Admittedly, this one’s got more detailing on it, but still... Anyway, it’s a two-page spread of Irish Canary, who apparently has been driving around lost for six months until she finally made it here from issue 3. Actually, when we consider comic book time vs. real time here, considering the lengthy gaps between issues, it’s probably plausible that the events of her book took place six months ago.
BINO’s internal monologue continues: “Just what I NEED. Some damn AMATEUR showing up out of NOWHERE.” With a roaring lion between her legs, too! “Crazy kid. She’ll get herself KILLED, here. She’ll get herself KILLED.” Maybe if I go ride a motorcycle and wear fishnets I can get killed, too? “Where the hell are all these damn wannabes COMING from?” Ask the writer, BINO, since apparently Frank Miller didn’t understand that a book called All-Star Batman and Robin should be about Batman and Robin.
We cut to “Three hours ago.” Now, let’s go to the flowchart here of timelines – apparently, fifteen hours before he’s kidnapped, Dick Grayson, Age Twelve’s picture appears on a milk carton in Metropolis, causing Superman to get angry and smash it (or possibly he’s lactose intolerant and is sick of Lois picking on him for it). Then we have five hours ago, where we had the man-obsessed Wonder Woman in her pointless high heels talk about killing Batman with other members of the Justice League before inadvertently kissing Superman, who finally says something other than “Damn!” And now we’re at three hours ago. Based on the timescale seen here, BINO has constructed an entire plot around kidnapping this poor, frightened child, and sent clues to everyone else ahead of time for no particular reason. And now trying to think about all this has made my head hurt.
In any case, we cut to some new narration captions which seem to be a combination of the pretentious narrator from Thunderstrike and the voice of Coleman Francis from The Beast of Yucca Flats. “The human spirit is indomitable. Even here--in the rain-soaked, blood-caked canyons of Gotham City--Even in Gotham, there is youthful joy.” Well, I’m glad somebody is happy. Me, I just feel bored. Barbara Gordon runs up a flight of stairs, looking just as psychotic as the woman from the previous issue of ASBAR. “Barbara Gordon. Age Fifteen. Listening to her Dad.” Frank Miller. Physical age Fifty. Writing-style age Thirteen. Driving us insane.
To my utter sadness, it seems Jim Gordon has now entered the foray. And since all the characters in ASBAR can be summed up in pretty much with a few words each time we see them, his defining characteristic is “talkative.” Due to the sheer amount of words we see him speaking here, I’ll save some space here and just tell you the gist of it: he reads to his kid and is worried that his son will probably end up like “some kind of artist type with a ring through his lip.” Nice to see he’s so open-minded in this book. The ever-helpful narrator returns: “Human nature is indomitable.” Wait, I thought it was Human Spirit? “But Life is complex.” I can’t wait for Frank Miller’s philosophy book to come out – Life and its Goddamn Complexities.
“She’s listening to her Dad. Who’s just happening to be talking on the phone to the woman of his dreams while his wife sits in the next room texting somebody.” Along with this emphasizing of random words, Frank Miller will teach you about how to laugh while fighting off criminals and having affairs in his book. Barbara comes into the room and kisses her dad, swearing it up while Jim Gordon talks with Sarah Essen, who would later become his wife in the comics and was featured in Batman: Year One where she had an affair with Gordon. Apparently, like all women in Frank Miller’s universe, she’s just another whore.
Gordon doesn’t believe that Batman would kidnap a little kid (tell me about it) and here we see Gordon’s wife come in, grab some booze, and then leave again. I want to make a joke about Frank Miller’s feminism here, but I just remembered I already made that joke in another ASBAR book. Seriously, everything wrong with these books just gets repeated over and over each issue and it’s harder to find new material to work with since it’s all just a one-note joke that can be explained thusly: FRANK MILLER CAN’T WRITE BATMAN ANYMORE.
Anywho, Gordon mentions how he’s not upset that BINO’s smacking cops around, but that “The goddamn Batman has become a goddamn urban legend.” Hmm... “I’m the goddamn urban legend!” doesn’t really inspire the same effect, does it? “And he’s inspiring copycats. Some of them are just girls.” Oh n0ez! They might get into our secret ‘boys only’ clubhouse! “Some of them are young enough to be my own daughter. Really. It’s that bad.” And in a ‘humorous twist’ we see Barbara playing around with a grappling hook as she prepares to become the Goddamn Batgirl. Seriously, Frank, stop it. Leave non-Batman and Robin characters alone. The book is called All-Star Batman and Robin, not Former Comics All-Star Screwing around with the DC Universe however freaking way he wants!
“Youth. Hope. Inspiration.” Hot momma. Hot mamma. Hot mamma. Oh, and of course, this oh-so useful page featuring those three individual caption boxes shows a couple Batman posters and little parts of Barbara’s room, which are completely useless and superfluous and we see a shadow her putting on the costume, but it took me a minute to realize there was a shadow there at all, since the room’s so dark to begin with. Barbara puts on her costume and now her narrating voice is added to the schizophrenia of narrators in this book. “DAD would KILL me if he knew about this. But only if he KNEW. And he’ll never KNOW. I’m REALLY GOOD at BULL(Censored with a bar, sic)ING my DAD. And I LOOK AWESOME.” And then back to the other faceless narrator: “Youth. Hope. Inspiration. Purpose... and mischief.” Frank, you’re not Scott Beatty and you’re sure as hell not Geoff Johns and this isn’t All-Star Batgirl! CUT IT OUT.
Erg, sorry there, it’s just this book is really starting to get to me. I mean, it’s not like it can really get worse than- oh, no. Now it’s “Five hours ago.” Where’s Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine when you need it? We’ve gone back in time five hours to a hospital where, get this, a Superman supporting character has decided to introduce himself into this mess. Frank really had no bloody idea what he was supposed to be writing, did he? “Olsen just got a message from Vicki Vale. Vicki Vale. He can’t believe she even knew his name. Vicki Vale.” It’s a lot more interesting to read these narrations like they were being read by that guy who does advertisements for monster truck rallies – ‘SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! Sunday at the Metrodome - it’s Vicki Vale!’
Jimmy comes running in with some flowers and a laptop, but upon noticing that someone else already has filled the room with flowers, he quickly disposes of the roses and just plugs in the laptop. Vicki asks him if he was able to get what she needed. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve downloaded everything we’ve got on the Flying Graysons, Dick Grayson, and the Bat-Man. It’s all here.” “Thank you, Mr. Olsen. My column just got a reason to exist.” I thought your column was Comparative Superhero Batches? Our narrator once again makes our heads hurts as he chirps in: “He should tell her to just call him “Jimmy.” Everybody else does. But he really gets off on the breathy was she says “Mr. Olsen”...” I get off on the various ways I can think of to destroy this comic.
And man-oh-man do I wish we could have another script copy of this comic, because we now have another comic that features Vicki Vale’s buttocks talking to us. “He tries to take his eyes off her. He really tries.” the narrator says as we get a little homage to the Graduate with Vicki Vale’s leg propped up as she gets out of bed with a nervous-looking Jimmy Olsen behind it. She tells him to fetch her clothes as somehow her hospital gown has suddenly become so tight and changed into some sort of glass-like material that causes her rear to be outlined against it. As she starts to strip right in front of Jimmy (hurray for male gaze, I suppose) and the narrator informs us: “He gets her clothes for her. He doesn’t watch as she slithers out of her hospital gown. He doesn’t watch as she gets dressed. Really. He doesn’t.” Frank Miller doesn’t write bad comics. Really. He doesn’t.
And I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that in this comic I have eight pages of ads by Mad Magazine and Ball Park (Hot dog company, for those unaware) that depict human beings with arms coming out of their stomachs to grab food and eat it and these advertisements are actually less disturbing than all of the ASBAR pages I’ve had to read.
We cut to “Meanwhile... Back On The Docks...” We of course don’t know if this is still five hours ago or we’re three days ahead or, as the excellent Booster Gold series has stated, time is just broken. The Irish Ninja Black Canary has confronted a couple of... well, I don’t know who they are. I’m sure they were supposed to be criminals, but it’s a bunch of criminals who are apparently standing around the docks doing nothing at all, since we get no indication if they were planning on stealing something or shipping drugs or what. All of a sudden, Black Canary is as chatty as Jim Gordon back a few scenes from three hours ago- I’m sorry, I was trying to make sense of the timeline again, wasn’t I?
She speaks generic Irish stuff like “lads” and “colleen” and “saloon” (I’m actually not sure if that’s an Irish term or not, but frankly I don’t think Frank Miller does, either). More or less she talks about some guy who used to brag at her old job about how he was a fence and how there was a particular stretch of shoreline where someone could sell anything. One of the guys she’s talking to points out she sounds “like a goddamn Leprechaun” and tells her to leave or else there’ll be trouble. Then Black Canary demands that they give her all their money [!!] and finally they get sick of it and decide to shoot her, but not before they call her the trademark name she despised back in issue three – love chunks. In a panel that I’m sure was supposed to show intense anger and concentration (but instead only seems to indicate pouty and flirtatious annoyance), she asks “What did you just call me?”
And now we have, you guessed it, another two-page spread! “All that training-- all those years-- it finally counts for something.” Yeah, all those years waiting for ASBAR issues to come out gave us a fantastic ipecac. In this case, the two-page spread is of Black Canary wielding some kind of triple nunchaku that’s supposed to look badass, with one bar between the two other bars and linked together by chains. She slams it across the face of a guy in a Mohawk while another guy pulls a gun out of the front of his pants [!]. She dispatches that guy with the same weapon, crushing his forearm in what looks like very twisted, Rob Liefeld-esque anatomy before she swings the weapon over her head and slams it down on the guy.
Following that, she quickly searches the criminal and pulls out a wad of 20-dollar bills. “No harm in playing a little ROBIN HOOD, now is there?” she asks in a narration caption. Oh, I’m sure. So, which charity will you be donating that drug money to, ma’am? Anywho, a bunch of people suddenly pulls guns on her and tell her to drop the sticks. Suddenly we cut to *Groan* five minutes ago. Look Frank, if you can’t decide what time your comic takes place in, just give it up, okay? We’re back with BINO, who’s down at the docks himself watching a cop car drive in as he notes that Jocko-Boy (Dick Grayson, Age Twelve’s murderer) is free:
“With TWO WADS of STEEL-JACKETED LEAD, he turned a wide-eyed TWELVE-YEAR-OLD into an ORPHAN. I’ve got a real PROBLEM with things like that.” 132 pages of paper-jacketed ink, Frank Miller has turned a book about all-star creators doing a fresh take on popular characters into “What if the DC Universe really, really, really sucked?” BINO continues: “And here he comes, escorted to FREEDOM by one of GOTHAM’S FINEST...” We see that Jocko is still suffering from the snake poison BINO pumped into him back in issue 1 as he’s hallucinating, seeing the cop as having worms coming out of his nose and mouth while a cobra slithers around his head.
Ah, another two-page spread! Now we’re back on track. BINO kicks through the window right into the cop’s face while proclaiming, “Eat glass, lawman!” While I could point out the problem of physics with this picture, frankly my brain has shut down three times thinking about this whole thing and I think it’s best to just move on. Oh, and BINO’s five o’clock shadow has now officially turned into a full-force twenty-five o’clock shadow with as thick as it is here. “Sometimes a fellow just can’t HELP himself.” Ah, the Frank Miller motto.
BINO pulls Jocko-Boy from the car, who proclaims quite soundly: “Blagg”. BINO seems confused by this guttural moan. ““Blagg”? What’s with “Blagg”? I’ll give you some talking to do, Jocko-Boy--” He’ll give him some talking to do? You’d think with both an editor and an assistant editor on this title that someone would point out the grammatical problems with that sentence... Anyway, BINO suddenly hears gunfire and realizes that Black Canary has gotten into some trouble. “That AMATEUR. It’s GOT to be that AMATEUR. Getting herself in DEEP.” BINO knocks out Jocko-Boy, promising to come back for him later. He proclaims proudly, “Blegg!” Oh, I get it! Jocko-Boy speaks the alien language from Red vs. Blue! Hey, Frank Miller - Blarg Blarg honk. Yeah, I said it. I won’t unsay it, either.
Black Canary manages to evade the bullets being fired by automatic weapons as she uses her magic triple nunchaku to choke one guy. “She’s got SKILL, this one. She’s QUICK. And she’s RUTHLESS. KILL a man soon as LOOK at him. None of which will keep her LIVING for too awfully long.” Oh, I don’t know, killing them will prevent them from shooting more bullets and- oh, right. Trying to find sense in an issue of ASBAR. Gotcha. Black Canary ducks down behind some boxes and yells, “Damn your eyes!” And your nose, too! Oh, and your ears! I find your ears really damnable! BINO jumps down and tells her to keep her head down and he’ll take care of things. As BINO leaps into the fray, Black Canary swoons as any woman in Frank Miller’s universe would and yells, “Oh sweet Jesus. It’s the Goddamn Batman!”
And with that, the issue ends once again at a stupid point. Oh, look! An advertisement for Booster Gold to the left of this page! Man, I wish I was reading Booster Gold instead of this. In fact, I’m going to go do that. Hopefully it won’t be six months until the next review!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
The comic that makes the movie Glitter look like-
Nah, I take it back. Glitter is still worse than this.
“Say, remember that one guy who used to have a blog making fun of bad comics?”
“Boy, do I ever. What ever happened to that guy?”
More or less what happened to that guy is that he became focused on his other projects, like his webcomic and the comic he’s working on submitting to Image. As such, sorry for the delay between this review and the last one. If people want to send guest reviews (as long as they provide their own scans) I’d be happy to put them up. To make up for it, this one’s a nice long 48-page comic!
The character of Nightcat only appeared in this one issue and it’s easy to see why. Created in 1991 as a tie-in to a singer of the same name... but I’m sorry to say that I can’t find much more information on it than that. But of course, I’m sure others know more about her than that, right? After all, as the cover below tells us, this is America’s hottest singing sensation! I mean, remember when she did that one concert at that one place at that one time?
Yeah, I got nothing.
Anyway, the comic was interestingly enough written by Stan Lee, which you’d think is something they’d want to advertise to the comic-buying populace right on the cover. Ah, well, maybe they figured the great popularity of Nightcat’s singing in... um... whatever genre she sang in would entice buyers enough. I mean, she’s just got such a wide and diverse talent that appeals to so many different people, donchaknow?
To tie-in with the release, a woman named Jacqueline Tavarez was the physical model for Nightcat and appeared at conventions in a Nightcat costume, featured here. She was fired by Marvel after she appeared in a music video and later turned up in Playboy and the Troma movie studios Z-flick Tromeo and Juliet.
Our cover of course is beautifully drawn, but it really does look more like an album cover than something for a comic book. I mean, sure, there’s the fact that Nightcat’s costume is essentially a corset, shoulder tassels, and Eddie Van Halen hair (okay, that’s not as superheroic), but it tells us nothing about the character except for the fact that she has three cats that hang around with her, she has some sort of bo staff that resembles a giant metal corndog as her weapon, and that she’s a singing sensation that’s a new superhero. The photorealistic painting style used for the cover is sadly wasted here.
We open to a full-page reveal of Nightcat (who in the book is referred to as Night Cat for reasons that elude me) as she runs at the reader with her corn dog stick in hand and looks like she’s about to either kick the reader or leap off the building. It’s not exactly clear. The ever-helpful narrator starts us up: “The female of the species. Beautiful. Passionate. Sensuous.” And yours for $29.99! “And deadly.” Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten three, then...
We cut from that vague pin-up beginning to “Ten years ago,” according to the narration boxes. A little girl is reading comics on her bed (hooray!) as her policeman father enters the room. “I told you to put those comics away and go to sleep, kitten.” Oh, don’t you just love foreshadowing – “kitten,” indeed! “You’re just like your mom -- always doing what you want!” Gee, thanks for encouraging independence and free will there, dad. After some goading the future Nightcat goes to bed, but obviously can’t sleep. Officer Dad goes downstairs and sees his wife getting ready to go out.
“You’re not going out again, Beth?” Why do that when you can hang around the house and do the dishes like wimmenfolk should do? “I have to, dear! They’re holding a new audition at the Rock Candy Lounge!” I’m so tempted to make a Daddy-O joke here, but I’ll spare you all the obscure movie trivia. Fascist Father points out that she’s hasn’t been well lately thanks to stress and all the drinking she’s been doing. “Please, Lou! You know how much singing means to me!” And apparently that means end of conversation, since the very next panel is the door slamming and the eponymous “Lou” gone, confusing even Beth. “Lou--? Why can’t you understand?” I’d like to understand why he left without even another comment of some kind.
Cut to apparently a few seconds later where Beth is boozing it up in preparation for that sacred audition at the Rock Candy Lounge. The future Nightcat comes down to her and asks her to sing a song before she leaves. She sings a song with the lyrics: “Don’t change. Don’t change! Stay that way. You’re okay. Don’t change. Don’t change! No one else could ever be the same! You’re quite all right by me this way. So don’t change!” Wow, I can’t imagine how she could ever fail an audition with music that invokes so much imagery like that! By the by, anyone else predicting what’s going to happen to mommy dearest in just two panels?
Thaaat’s right! After Beth leaves, we cut to the narration box informing us, “But that was the last time Jacqueline Tavarez saw her mother alive.” They actually named the character after the model she was based on? Talk about Mary Sue-ing it up and- oh, wait. I’m guilty of that in my books. Umm... Okay, let’s just move on to the tragic loss of the world’s next Alanis Morissette. Father and daughter are in a hospital room over the dead body of Beth. The fine fascist father points out, “When she failed the audition, she drank more than ever. I- I couldn’t stop her.” The doctor responds, “You mustn’t blame yourself. Failing as a singer, she lost the will to live.” What, did the doctor read the backstory already?
But good ol’ Dad had this medical diagnosis, instead: “It was the music that killed her! The pressure, the disappointment!” Well, that and the cirrhosis of the liver, methinks. He looks to his daughter and proclaims, “It must never happen to you! I won’t let show business kill you, too!” Seems to me her lack of show business is what did her in, but then again I’m not as skilled a doctor and detective as Officer Lou is. Onto the next page, which skips ahead a few years. Our intrepid heroine has moved on and is now with a garage band operating out of their local high school. It seems she’s even inherited her mother’s singing skills:
“’Cause if you love me we’ll be together, we’ll build a love like never before. And boy if you love me and love is forever our love will lat forever more.” Yeah, I can see Britney Spears quaking in her boots. One of her bandmates (and speaking of which, one of them is quite clearly smoking a cigarette within a high school room) comments, “That sizzles, Jackie! Totally celestial!” Now if we can only get you to sing like Enya, you could be too, Jackie! Our heroine comments for no particular reason, “Then it’s a wrap. Dad’s waiting at home. He thinks I’m at the library!” Thanks for providing exposition, Jackie! That’s totally celestial of you!
We cut back to- jeez, this comic’s pacing really needs to slow down for a minute. I know people don’t tend to like decompressed storyline, but there is such a thing as moving too fast, you know... Anyway, we cut back to her home where she gives good old dad her report card. Dad for some reason is drawn with a shirt that I can only imagine was designed by Rob Liefelds of Hollywood, since it’s really huge on him, to the point where the arms of the shirt are practically falling off of him and the shirt’s back shoots out from where he tucked it into his jeans. Dad congratulates her on the good report card and wishes her mother could’ve been around to see it.
Jackie goes upstairs on the pretense of getting ready for a date and the phone rings. Dad picks it up and right away the voice on the other line is, “Jackie, did you rehearse the new song you wrote? You’ll be a smash! Jackie? Hello, Jackie?” So, did the idiot on the other line even bother to wait to confirm it was her (especially since Jackie hasn’t seemed to make it a secret that her father disapproves of her singing)? Or does Officer Lou there just have such a womany voice that it’s easily mistaken for Jackie’s? Maybe that’s why we saw such roots of misogyny earlier – I’d be bitter if I was mistaken for a woman because of my voice during my life, probably getting ridiculed relentlessly by both men and women alike.
Dad goes upstairs and tells her once again that he forbids her to sing and that she’s grounded. Oddly enough, the shading on it makes him look like he’s wearing a Nazi uniform and has a Hitler moustache. He reiterates that it supposedly destroyed her mother’s life and that he won’t allow it to happen to her. “No singing! No music! Nothing!” So I guess I-Pods are out of the question for birthday gifts, then? Jackie calls up her friends and informs them that she can’t sing and that they’ll have to use someone else. They inform her that they’ll have to use Melissa and, low and behold, the next day we see Melissa talking to Jackie. For some reason, Melissa seems to be suffering from Youngblood’s Disease since her eyes are non-existent for two panels and closed in another panel. See what happens when you let bad comics get produced, kids?
Melissa gloats, “They finally wised up, Jackie! Now I can prove I’m better than you! But don’t worry, sweetie. You won’t lose track of me. You’ll see my records on sale all over!” Man is she going to be disappointed when she walks into a Sam Goody and asks what the heck all the tiny discs are and where the records are supposed to be. Immediately Jackie runs into the friend she spoke to on the phone and berates him, “Thanks a ton, Johnny! It sure didn’t take you long to replace me!” Lady, you TOLD them you weren’t going to be able to do it and he said right there he’d ask Melissa!
The next page skips ahead a few years so she’s in college and apparently studying criminology. After class, a guy puts the moves on her with all the smoothness of the Fonz: “Never knew anyone so pretty could be so smart! How about a movie?” Yes, welcome to O. Fencive University, where pretty = dumb. She accepts the date (for reasons that elude this writer) but warns him not to try anything funny in the dark since her father’s a cop. But, enough of that scene! We then go to the next day, where Jackie and a friend of hers go to a music store. Shockingly, it’s all records [!!]. Okay, Stan Lee couldn’t have been THAT out of the loop. This comic was released in 1991 and CDs had been on the market for nine years at that point. Her friend mentions a singing contest and, after seeing that Melissa has actually made it big in the music industry, decides to go for it.
Jackie gets home and thinks, “It’s early and Dad won’t be home yet. Just as well, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do!” And by thinking, she means speaking out loud to herself, which is what she does for the entire rest of the page (and throughout the comic). She comes to the conclusion that she’s an adult and has her own life, but she doesn’t want to hurt her father. “I don’t want to break my promise not to sing – but music is my life! I’ve got to try!” Promise to her father? What promise? She got ordered by her father not to pursue a singing career. “I know Mom would have understood!” Or she would’ve passed out on the couch with a bottle of gin in her hand, but I digress.
“My favorite comic book characters never have this problem!” Besides for, you know, all the ones that do have that sort of problem. Or maybe it’s just that her favorite comic book characters are the three featured behind her – “Catlass,” “Superfeline,” and “The Night Meow.” Yeeeeaaaah. Anyway, she realizes that “Comic book characters all have secret identities! All I need is a needle and thread!” And a design idea, and some cloth, and sewing skills (which weren’t exactly something we’ve heard about her possessing before), and the time necessary to devote to that creation.
And our ever-helpful narrator tells us: “And so the Night Cat is born!” And what does she make with just “a needle and thread?” It’s an all-leather ensemble with a cleavage-exposing V-line down her front that’s laced together as well as HUGE shoulder-pads, a black headband, tassels coming down from the shoulder pads, black electrical tape around her arms (or is that supposed to be cloth?), thigh-high high-heeled boots, and what I presume to be a black wig. Oh, and no mask. You know, I can suspend my disbelief with the Law of Flimsy Incognition only so much before this just becomes silly...
After singing what I can only presume to be a Pop song about love that totally does not match up to the black leather, laser light shows, and etc. that we see in the above picture, Nightcat somehow manages to win the competition. Some oily record executives meet her after the show to have her sign the contract when she realizes she can’t use her own name. And of course, her reasoning is flawless: “Dad always calls me ‘Kitten,’ and my costume is dark, dark as night!” Not exactly “I must spread terror in the hearts of criminals, so I shall become a bat,” is it? The oily executive loves her suggestion of Night Cat, saying, “We’ll bill you as a singing super heroine! With your voice and our promos, you’ll be a sensation!”
Our narrator informs us, “In the music world, things move at lightning speed!” Is that anything like Ludicrous speed? “The Night Cat becomes the singing sensation of the nation!” She’s bigger then Jesus! After a montage of her showing up on the cover of Rolling Stone, Time, and on MTV (remember when MTV actually talked about music?), her agent assures her, “You’re a natural, Jacqueline! You’ve got beauty, talent, warmth!” And a nice pair of breasts that you let everyone stare at to forget your terrible singing! Jackie goes home, thinking about how she feels bad that she has to keep secrets from her father. When she comes in, her father informs her he’s going deep undercover – “Top secret cops and robbers stuff!” Gee willickers, I hope he gets to stop those naughty people who are hepped up on the drugs, boy golly!
It also turns out that her dad’s never even heard of Nightcat, so I guess it doesn’t really matter that she tries to conceal her identity. Jackie realizes that it’s getting to be too risky and that she needs to get a place of her own (probably a good idea since you’re like 26 from the looks of you). Also a note on the artwork – apparently someone was having fun with their photoshop airbrush, since every other time we see her, she’s got pink blushing on her, even in places she really shouldn’t have any blushing, like her lower arm or her cleavage [!].
Cut to the next page (jeez, THIS COMIC moves at lightning speed!), where she buys her own building, apparently [!!]. She talks to her agent about it, who tells her they’ll install a recording studio in it. “It’s -- too good to be true!” And then it turns out it’s all a dream and we can move on with our lives. No, we’re not that lucky. Folks, we’re only on page twelve here. “Why do I have this sudden feeling of danger ahead?” Because you’ve got a Spider-sense? Nah... Oh! Because you’re The Pumaman? Nah... Oh, I know! Because your music career’s going to fall over faster than Destiny’s Child? Yeah, that’s it.
The next day (I am getting so damn tired of typing that...) Jackie is at the recording studio thinking about how much she wants her own recording studio ready (it’s only been one day, calm down!). She spots a rather grim-looking man walking down a hallway and he has quite the noticeable scar down his face (as well as being distinct in suffering from the aforementioned Youngblood’s Disease). She realizes that she’s seen him before from his picture in the paper and follows him, realizing he was a criminal in a drug bust.
Using her non-existent stealth skills, she waits until the guy goes to make a long distance call from a payphone (a payphone inside of a recording studio?) and decides that she has to see what’s inside of the metal case he’s carrying around. Somehow she reasons that the call will take him awhile to make and goes into a nearby office and opens it up, revealing that (GASP!) it’s filled with packets of cocaine! “This whole studio must be a headquarters for drug pushers!” Seems like quite a bit of a leap in logic, but then again I imagine if I didn’t have a recording studio in my apartment I’d probably make up crap, too. “But it can’t be! The building is owned by Amanda Gideon, the famous Millionairess!” Okay, first of all “Millionairess” is not a word. Second, cocaine use in the music industry?! It just can’t be true! My whole world has gone topsy-turvy!
All of a sudden, a metallic hand grasps her neck from behind and lifts her into the air (is everybody a ninja in this studio or something?)! It turns out to be a huge bald black guy who proclaims, “You’re a snoop! Miss Gideon don’t like snoops!” I wonder if, like Tim Drake, she doesn’t like country music. The scarred guy comes in and bald black guy with metal hand scolds him for almost losing the drugs. Somehow during this Nightcat fell unconscious and they carry her out back to a truck. Does this seem like a wise move? It seems to me that to avoid culpability they could just claim the guy was acting alone when he was carrying the drugs around and not try to drag a financial asset like Nightcat around. But then again I’m not an eeeeeevil recording studio that peddles drugs on the side.
Going across town, the narration caption tells us about Miss Amanda Gideon: “Heiress, real estate tycoon, night club owner! One of the wealthiest people in New York!” If that’s the case, then why in the hell is she a drug dealer? If she’s really that wealthy, she can pretty much get away with whatever she- oh, right. This is a comic book, so obviously being a rich capitalist makes her eeeeevil. Anyway, some of her goons are carrying boxes around and one points out that it isn’t healthy to wonder what Amanda Gideon does in her laboratories and, of course, we cut right into said laboratory, where a rather stereotypical-looking Doctor (with the light on his head and everything) is standing over an unconscious blonde man next to the aforementioned Miss Gideon. Oh, and this has got to be the worst laboratory in history, since apparently it consists of an operating table, a couple of various “scientific” looking doohickeys around it, as well as several cages filled with rabbits[!!!] stacked against a wall. Yes, because when you’re performing operations on the human body, it’s important to have live rodents nearby that no doubt engage in their business in their cages to make the place nice and sterilized.
Amanda (Miss Gideon if you’re nasty) asks, “Is the subject ready for his injection, Dr. Ecstasy?” Dr. Ecstasy?! This was written by the guy who invented Spider-Man, right? Herr Doctor Ecstasy says he’s ready to inject him and we cut back to the goons, one of whom resembles Walter Matthau. The other goon (probably Jack Lemmon) points out that there’s more than just drugs going on in the place and of course, the Matthau goon tells him to shut up since people who ask questions are there end up dead. Cue Odd Couple music!
Back to the lab, where Dr. Ecstasy now looks like he’s had a seizure, since he’s grinning insanely and has one eye opened wide while the other’s closed. Miss Gideon tells him to inject the “gorilla serum” into the patient, and he does so. The man on the operating table immediately gives an expression as if he just got pinched on his butt and leaps off of the operating table. Dr. Ecstasy says, “Perfect! He thinks he’s an anthropoid ape!” And you know this simply because he jumped off a table? Hell, I’d be doing that if I was in a room with a guy called “Dr. Ecstasy.” “See his agility, his strength, his balance!” See his naughty bits, since he’s completely naked! Well okay, we don’t see them since it’s shadowed out, but I’m trying to understand how one gets “strength, agility, and balance” from a guy who just leaps twice. Oh, and then he falls over dead.
Miss Gideon points out it’s just like all the others, but Dr. Ecstasy says they’re getting closer since this was the best test. Miss Gideon tells him to keep trying and that she doesn’t care how many die. Miss Gideon walks out with the two goons in tow, who she tells not to “bandy my name around, fool!” But the Doctor was just calling you it and everyone knows who you- ah, forget it. Anyway, bald black guy with a metal hand, now identified as Krak by Miss Gideon, brings in the unconscious Nightcat. Miss Gideon recognizes her and says it’s unfortunate she had to find out, but that, “She’ll be a perfect subject for Professor Ecstasy!” Okay, now it’s Professor Ecstasy? Make up your mind, lady!
The Jack Lemmon stand-in remarks how she looks like Jackie- hey, he’s supposed to be Nightcat’s dad! I get it now! Wow, that’s a great twist! Krak starts carrying her away and Miss Gideon remarks, “Lucky girl! Her records may sell better than ever, once she’s dead!” Great, this is going to be Eddie and the Cruisers all over again, isn’t it? Dr. Ecstasy straps Nightcat to his operating table and decides to provide some exposition about his magical serums: “I’m creating a new designer drug, you see! It gives the user the same traits as the donor animal!” He explains this while he draws some blood from a cat and then extracts some more chemicals using the same syringe in a beaker with a skull and crossbones on it. “Mix the cat’s blood with other chemicals.” Other chemicals?! My God, Doctor, you’re mad!
He then injects Nightcat with all of this. The dad thinks about how he can’t leave Nightcat alone in the lab with Dr. Ecstasy and realizes there’s only one possible excuse: “Look, I’m sorry -- gotta go to the bathroom! I’ll be right back!” I can’t imagine why this never made it to series. He returns to the lab and pulls out his gun. “Drop it, Mister. This is a bust!” You can say that again. Just as he starts to read him his Miranda rights, the good Dr. Ecstasy interrupts with a monologue that would’ve made me shoot him four times, but then again I’m not a policeman. “My, my! A noble minion of the law in our midst! Surely you wouldn’t interrupt a surgeon in the middle of a delicate operation. Especially when that operation -- will be on you!”
Dr. Ecstasy grabs a scalpel and leaps right at Officer Dad, who subsequently shoots him dead. In a moment worthy of James Bond, Lou the Cop quips, “I had to do it. I don’t have Medicare!” See, folks? This is what happens you have government-funded health care. He helps Nightcat off the table, once again thinking that she looks like his daughter. The rest of the goons suddenly break in and open fire, shooting him at least seven times through the torso. Nightcat cries out with a dull expression, “Dad!” and holds him in her arms. He recognizes her as his daughter and she says she’ll spend her life making it up to him. Miss Gideon rolls her eyes and comments, “The female is beginning to bore me!” You’re not the only one.
She orders the goons to kill her, but with Churchillian determination, Nightcat’s nails suddenly spring out red claws and- wait, what the hell? Yes, they even make a “Snik!” sound, as if this was freaking Wolverine we were talking about. Stan’s narrator goes into full swing here: “And what had been a mere show-biz name... is now for real!” For r3alz?! w0wzers! “No longer is Jacqueline Tavarez a frail and vulnerable female!” Thanks, Stan. Thanks a whole bunch. “The injection of Dr. Ecstasy has finally been successful! And a snarling, hissing, clawing Night Cat strikes with the speed of a cougar!” Or the speed of a common house cat, since that’s where the serum came from...
Let’s not forget some useful fight dialogue from the goons: “She fights like she’s got nine lives!” Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, how witty and ironic. “Stop ‘er! She can’t--” decide whether you should live or die? Oh, you’ll probably go to heaven, please don’t hang your head and cry; no wonder why my heart feels dead inside, it’s- hrmm? Oh, sorry, thought we were singing now. “Wrong! The Night Cat can!” Can what? For all she knows, he was going to say, “She can’t sing!”
Anyway, to make a long story short (too late), Nightcat beats up all the goons as Miss Gideon and Krak walk away to a nearby helicopter. While Nightcat’s simply amazed in her newfound abilities, Miss Gideon is unconcerned about losing her goon squad: “She’s saving me the expense of having to pay those bumblers!” Way to look on the bright side, lady. Nightcat just tries to grab hold of the helicopter as it takes off, but it’s too far out of reach. Suddenly remembering that her father has been shot repeatedly, she runs back to him.
And so Nightcat and her father have a tearful (actually, no tears seem to be shed on either side and both have their eyes closed throughout the whole thing) goodbye as he dies. “I never wanted to disobey you! I love you, Dad!” “Hush-- Kitten -- I understand. You mustn’t -- cry. You -- had to follow your destiny... follow -- your heart.” What is this, The Long Goodbye? You’ve got over half a dozen bullets in your chest; you should be gargling blood at this point! “We all must do -- what we -- have to do. I’m -- proud of you... kitten.” Welcome to the William Shatner dialogue class... “Prouder -- than you’ll ever -- know...” Wow, this is really moving – in that I want to move away from the comic as quickly as I can.
The police soon arrive and in only one line of throwaway dialogue do they wonder what the officer’s daughter was doing there or how she knows that Miss Gideon is behind the drug ring. Jackie adopts the cat from the lab, naming it Midnight while the police tell her not to worry and that they’ll handle things. Later, they call her and say they’ve closed the case since there’s only evidence against the deceased Dr. Ecstasy and not Miss Gideon. Stan Lee apparently decided to take a Creative Writing class, since at the funeral we get this skillful narration: “The sky was bleak and overcast. The air damp, the chill wind sharp and stinging. A good cop had died. Nature herself seemed to be mourning.” Jeez, not since the pretentious narrator from Thunderstrike have I been so irritated by narration boxes.
After the funeral (which lasted all of two panels), Jackie goes back to her Dad’s home and speaks to herself: “I’ll move everything into my own apartment now. There’s nothing to keep me here anymore. How carefree I was when we took this photo! Who could have guessed how it would all end up?” Are we in a Shakespeare play now? Quit the soliloquy! “But why am I being so morbid?” Umm... Because your dad died? “This isn’t the end! It’s a new beginning! I’ll have the career Mom always wished for!” In your face, Mom! “Somewhere, somehow, I know she’ll be pleased. And Dad went out a hero, just as he would have wanted!” I think he would’ve wanted to live and catch the criminals, but that’s just me.
And thus follows a brief montage of Jackie preparing herself to be a crime fighter by buying computers, new cars, working out, and taking a shower. Oh, and on the next page we learn she still attends classes, too. Riiiiight... She’s also discarding her friends like mad in favor of her new night life, telling the friend from the record store that she can’t go to a party and the blonde moron who admired her intelligence and prettiness that she can’t do anything with him. Following that happy sequence, we see she’s back in the recording studio making songs[!!!]! How in the hell is she still working?! Amanda Gideon owned the studio, thus also owning Nightcat’s contract! And the brilliant Jackie already blabbed her real name to a studio exec, so she must know who she is already!
Her agent walks in and tells her it’s time for her to start going on a concert tour. “No! I can’t! If I tour, Amanda Gideon will always know where to find me! That mustn’t happen – until I’m ready for her!” Always know where you are?! You’re going into her recording studio and making songs through her company! She ALREADY knows where you are! You have in fact done NOTHING to conceal yourself! But the scary thing is this isn’t even the most completely implausibly stupid thing in this comic. Oh no, behold:
It’s at this moment that STAN LEE WALKS INTO THE ROOM[!?!?]. Yes, true believers, you read that correctly. Stan Lee actually walks in and says he likes her style and wants to make her into a superhero. You know, I like to joke around that DC’s Identity Crisis is the best piece of fanfiction that I’ve ever read, but this is just... I don’t usually mind a story where an author injects themselves as the main protagonist in the story (I’m guilty of it myself in order to do a story commenting on Mary Sue fiction), but this is just... Wow. I’ll let the panels speak for themselves:
In the next panel, Stan actually has the gall to write this: “Hey! Talk about dangerous precedents! After this, the whole blushin’ bullpen will wanna see themselves in every future Nightcat story! -- Sneaky Stan.” Words fail me. Suddenly I understand the real reason why this thing was only one issue long. Anyway, back to, you know, the story – Nightcat apparently knows some local arms manufacturer since she has them build some sort of special weapons for her. Oh, and she even uses her own name while in the Nightcat costume! “I created these weapons as you requested, Miss Tavarez. But I don’t know why--?” “The reasons are my own!” she responds. Yeah, that’ll put down any suspicions.
Back at her apartment, Nightcat grumpily states, “I’ve got the most sophisticated computers money can buy. And I’ve fed them everything I know about Amanda Gideon’s operations! But I still can’t get a handle on what she’s doing -- or where she’s doing it!” Lady, just because you type in “Amanda Gideon is a mean drug-dealing criminal who kind of shot my dad and gave me superpowers” into a text box on Windows 3.1 doesn’t mean it’s going to give you all the answers! “Could be I’m trying too hard.” Or you’re not trying at all and expecting some computer to just work things out for you. She turns on the TV, giving us some poor exposition:
“--and, due to the pollution problem, the garbage scow has been floating from port to port -- with no city willing to accept the trash!” This has been Plot Convenience News, providing you with relevant plot information since Thunderstrike #1! And by the by, this little piece of news is probably referencing the Mobro 4000, a garbage scow that had been famously shipped from harbor to harbor by a few idiots in the 1980s who thought they could make a quick buck by selling the trash to another city to take it off their hands. But the fact of the matter is that no one seemed to understand, it wasn’t a pollution problem, it was that no one wants to buy or take other people’s garbage.
Anyway, this somehow makes Nightcat have this rather large leap of logic: “A garbage scow! Wouldn’t that be a perfect place for Amanda Gideon to hide her drugs!” Erm, seems like a terrible place to hide drugs, but then I’m not an eeeeevil rich drug-dealer. Nightcat, somehow possessing the hacking skills later utilized by Oracle in the DC Universe, hacks into the garbage company’s files and discovers that Gideon owns the company. So, wait, if the garbage scow going from port to port was owned by Gideon and being used for her drug operations, then why was she trying to unload the thing to other cities?
A narration caption that reads “And so...*” leads to a box where Stan happily writes: “Wouldja believe we get paid for writing captions like that?!! -- Incredulous Stan.” Excuse me for a moment, I have to go hit myself repeatedly in the head with a tire iron. ... Okay, I’m back now. Nightcat arrives at the port and spots where a group of goons are loading drugs into a truck. She now apparently is sporting a Minbari fighting pike and she leaps down with it and takes out the driver, deciding at that moment to change the radio station[!]. She then takes out the lights and the goons go for their guns.
Nightcat promptly starts beating up all the goons and one of them opens fire on her. Apparently, the powers of a housecat allow her to spin her weapons around really fast and deflect bullets with the staff[!!]. Mindmistress, eat your heart out. One of the goons tries to run away, but Nightcat unveils her next great weapon she got from the arms dealer – A FLASHLIGHT! Well, okay, it’s apparently some big blinding light that confuses the runner, but it looks like a tiny handheld flashlight. With the goons defeated, Nightcat decides it’s time for her to talk to herself again: “Claws! Night vision! Feline agility!” Heart! “This Night Cat bit isn’t too shabby! I was right -- a truckful of drugs! Lucky I came prepared for a little encore!” I can just imagine the embarrassment that would’ve followed if it turned out these guys were from the Coast Guard and were just getting some medical supplies off the boat.
But instead of turning them in to the police, Nightcat decides to just load up the truck full of drugs up with explosives and sends it careening off the dock and into the garbage scow, blowing them both up. Well, thanks for polluting up the New York harbor even more, Nightcat! And now we get to see Nightcat’s glorious vehicle – the Cat-illac! Yes, it’s seriously spelled like that. And the car looks nothing like a cat or a Cadillac, instead looking like this hideous blue thing with green headlights, fins along the front of it and huge monster-truck wheels. All I want to know is if it can slice a cop car in half. “If I say so, myself, I wasn’t half bad for a rookie superhero!” Yeah, you blew up all the evidence and left a dozen suspects unconscious on a peer. You’re doing real well there, Nightcat.
Over to Miss Gideon, who spends an entire day hearing about how Nightcat keeps screwing up her life, from learning about her drug shipment getting messed up while she fights off three heavily-muscled men to going to a book signing and hearing about her courier getting knocked out and then having her chauffer get tied up while at a casino. So Nightcat just spends her whole day attacking people who probably didn’t do anything wrong just to piss off Miss Gideon? And what does Amanda Gideon have to say about it? “Amanda Gideon will not be taunted by a nowhere pop star!” THEN FIRE HER! Your company owns her contract, you idiot!
Apparently her agent knows about her double-life as a superhero, since Jackie gets an RSVP invitation for Nightcat to play at Miss Gideon’s casino and he states, “Jacqueline, it could be a trap!” “Of course it is! That’s why nothing could stop me from going.” I- huh?! And if that made sense to you, in the next panel she’s driving in her cat-illac (Man, what would’ve happened if Dick Grayson, Age Twelve had been kidnapped by Nightcat?) and she proclaims, “Lucky my four ninja-style dancers were available.”
Ninja...style...dancers. Wow. Over at the stage, said Ninja-style Dancers (*Snickers*) have been roped up by... real ninjas! Yes, they’re all wearing the same black outfits and masks that cover up everything but their eyes and they proudly say, “It was thoughtful of Nightcat to send you to us!” “But we felt that real ninjas would make the act more authentic.” Is there no honor among ninjas and ninja-style dancers?! Such a feud could likely result in an alliance between pirates and ninja-style dancers! I’m sorry, but I frankly think the phrase “Ninja-style Dancers” is up there among greatest comic book lines in all of history. Anyway, the real ninjas exposit that they’re going to kill Nightcat at the end of her show.
Sadly, instead of seeing the epic battle that could’ve resulted with Hip Hop Aikido to the tune of the Ninja Rap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, we have to once again be subjected to Nightcat’s singing. “Timeless and precious / The moments we share / In a world where love’s so rare!/ It seemed like forever / I’ve waited for you / But now that you’re here / I know that it’s true.” Well, it hardly seems worth it, but… BOOOOO! At the finale, Nightcat realizes that something’s odd about her Ninja-style Dancers. “Strange! My dancers seem so heavy!” What, did she lift them up or something before the show?
One of the ninjas suddenly attacks her with his sword and she realizes that this is the trap that Miss Gideon had planned for her. And so, we have a brief fight scene of Nightcat facing off against the ninjas. As cameoin’ Stan narrates, “The ninjas are skillful, deadly. But they’ve never fought a fearless feline before!” Yeah, that dedication and training to being a ninja is nothing when you go up against a mediocre singer who’s been injected with cat blood and had a training montage. Nightcat claims that “The audience is eating it up!” However, no one seems to be clapping or cheering or anything. They in fact look pretty bored by Nightcat smacking around ninjas. She decides she might as well keep singing (NOOOO!), and thus does so as she takes out the last few ninjas.
Nightcat returns to her dressing room, where Krak is waiting for her. There’s a brief exchange of banter about how Miss Gideon wants her eliminated and blah, blah... You know, I’d pay good money for a comic about some Ninja-style dancers at this moment. Krak attacks Nightcat, who easily dodges the brick of a guy with a metal hand. We also get a pointless panty shot between her legs, which with the coloring makes her look like a blow-up doll. Krak finally manages to stab a knife into Nightcat’s leg, stopping her for the moment. Oh, and get this, to finish her off, he decides to replace his metal hand with a drill attachment. Folks, we’re starting to get into ASBAR levels of ridiculous with this.
Nightcat pulls the dagger from her leg and tosses it at Klak, hitting him square in the chest. However, much to her surprise, Klak is still coming and she realizes she can use the drill to her advantage. She grabs his drill arm and shoves it into a power outlet, electrocuting him. I’ve got to say, this scene actually played out pretty well, but then again I was imagining that Klak was the villain Black Mask and that Nightcat was Stephanie Brown, which made it richly satisfying. On the next page, she runs into the hallway where more goons await her. After another pointless panty-shot, she leaps over them and towards an elevator. What’s confusing about this is that the door was clearly closed when she leapt over the goons, but then the next panel shows the doors closing again. We had not only an editor but an assistant editor as well and no one caught this?
The goons warn the people on the top floor that she’s on her way up, but when the elevator doors open there, all that’s in the elevator car is a gas bomb. Cutting to the next panel, we discover Nightcat has somehow gotten outside and is scaling the building with just her claws[!!!]. She thinks to herself, “My new cat’s instinct warns me of danger on the roof!” Okay, so not only do we get a blatant recycling of Spider-Man’s wall-crawling, but his spider-sense, too?! Look, Stan, you’re not a one-note writer, so stop rehashing your successes!
Nightcat reaches the roof, where Miss Gideon is waiting for her, proclaiming that she’ll finally be rid of her forever. Nightcat replies, “I dunno, for a modern, happening chick, you sure sound like a dork!” Oh, I get it – Stan’s gone senile, so he thinks he’s back in the 1960s writing Spider-Man. Gideon leaps at Nightcat and I’ll spare you the rant I could be making about the fact that Nightcat is fighting off this woman while wearing high heels or that Gideon’s basically fighting in her underwear. Gideon goes for the knife wound in her leg (which has apparently stopped bleeding. It must be that relative healing power of a housecat or something).
Nightcat manages to fight back, calling Gideon out on her drug-dealing. Gideon balks in return, “Don’t speak to me of scruples! Some of us are above any moral law!” Nightcat calls back, “Wrong adjective, sweetie! You’re further below than a belly-crawling slug!” Boy, you really read the riot act to her, Nightcat. Ouch. Nightcat then pulls out her flashlight and shines it irritatingly in her eyes. “Oh no, light that’s slightly brighter than the city we’re around!” she cries out. Okay, no she doesn’t, but frankly that would’ve been more interesting to hear than Nightcat’s thought balloon of, “Now! I’ll blind her with my cat’s eye light!” Look, you’re an embarrassment to singers and superheroes and singing superheroes!
And then she... Actually, I have no idea what the hell she does. It looks like she just headbutted Miss Gideon by bringing her head down really fast, which somehow made Miss Gideon turn upside down and tumble away from her. Miss Gideon grabs hold of Nightcat’s hair, holding it for support as she goes over the edge. This also seems to reveal that this was her real hair the whole time[!!]. Miss Gideon proclaims that she’ll never let go, but Nightcat just cuts off the strand she’s holding onto with her claws, sending her to her death. Nightcat quips, “My act is strictly solo!”
And so we come to our last page and- erg... More singing. She dedicates the song to her mother and father and screeches, “Don’t change, don’t change! Stay that way. You’re okay.” BRING ON DAZZLER! “Don’t change, don’t change! No one else could ever be the same!” After the show, Nightcat walks out of the back of whatever seedy bar she was singing at, where appropriately there’s only one reporter and cameraman waiting for her. He asks, “The Gideon drug ring is smashed thanks to you! Any comment?” How did she smash it? Was it when she heroically sang while fighting ninjas? Maybe when she courageously blew up evidence? Or was it when she bravely electrocuted a guy with a metal hand? Or perhaps it was when she chivalrously let a woman fall to her death?
Nightcat responds, “Just one. To all the human jackals who prey on helpless, innocent victims -- the cat has just begun to prowl!” And there you have it, folks, the life and high point of America’s Hottest Singing Sensation. Be sure to stay tuned in for a very special episode of VH1’s Behind the Music where we learn how Nightcat’s career tragically ended that very night when she was arrested for several murders as well as driving a cat-illac that didn’t have proper documentation.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The series no one demanded! Well, except perhaps the American Dental Association...
I think at this point we can abandon the prospect of this coming out weekly during the summer. Maybe back in the fall again, but otherwise expect it more on a monthly basis. Hey, just like a good comic is supposed to come out!
I had considered running another Liefeld story at the one-year anniversary of the site, but what the hell, I wanted a non-DC or Marvel story for this one and I found a copy of this at my local comic store.
Badrock is the solo series of one of our zeroes from Youngblood and from what I hear the only decent character that came out of the lot. You wouldn’t think so from reading this book, though. Dark, poorly-drawn, and filled with confusing internal continuity throughout, it’s just another tale brought to us by our old pal Rob Liefeld.
Strangely enough, this story is marked with issue #1A. I saw #1B at the shop, too, with a different cover featuring our titular hero and a thinly-sculpted (though not in the chestular region) woman holding a huge gun along with him. I can only presume this to be a variant cover with them deciding that people would get confused with two covers on the same book, but it’s possible I’m wrong and they just made a comic that feels like it’s lasting forever stretch out into two issues marked #1.
You know, I’ve got to wonder who first came up with the idea of the ‘person(s) running at the reader with their mouths open’ cover, because honestly it is one of the most boring and static images I consistently seen in comics. Come on, give us something artsy or heroic, not something you expect to receive at a convention from an artist who’s drawn the same thing over and over to give away. In any case, as we can see, our hero Badrock, with Hulk-like proportions and a big strap over his shoulder with a button that just screams ‘I love Brian K. Vaughan!’ is running at the reader. What’s got my eyebrow raised, though, is the signature of both Liefeld and McFarlane [!] at the bottom, yet there’s nothing in the credits to indicate Todd McFarlane had anything to do with this comic or even the cover.
We open to a close-up shot of Badrock glaring out at the viewer. Get used to this shot folks – Rob really likes the close-ups in this one. There’s a web of red lines hanging out of his mouth and on his teeth that I’m sure was supposed to be blood, but just ends up looking like Badrock accidentally popped his gum and its hanging out of his mouth. “Y’know, there’s this scene in just about every action movie where the hero says to himself--” Boy, I need a new agent? ““How did I ever get myself into this mess?” As clichés go, it’s a pretty common one. But y’know what? If I was in one of those movies right now, this would be that scene...” And we’d all be asking for refunds. “And, even though I tend to pride myself on my originality--” Unlike Greg Land. “That would be my line.”
As we turn the page, get to see our old friend the double-page spread that you have to turn the book on its side to see properly. The establishing shot, tucked away in a corner, is of a tall building with a nice chunk missing out of the top of it with the moon behind it looking positively HUGE. The rest of the page features Badrock standing in rubble in a pose as if he just hit something while standing behind two people, a man and a woman, who both have their legs spread reeeeaaally wide. The woman has odd metallic wrappings around her arms and legs while she wears a cleavage-exposing bathing suit and a huge gun in her hand. The man has inexplicably muscular legs with brown pants that seem rather skin tight. Oh, and it looks like he’s checking his pulse. In front of the three are two huge muscular guys (one sporting a purple Doctor Doom-esque outfit) and a bunch of goons who, of course, all wear the same outfit (I wonder if there’s a contractor for these guys who supply the equipment and clothes?).
“I knew from the minute I set foot in Chicago this wasn’t gonna be easy.” Yeah, the Cubs’ failure tends to just infect everything else in that city. “I mean, it’s not like I came here lookin’ for trouble. All I wanted was to get my Pop home in one piece. Brought Gunner here along for the ride, figured it’d be a piece of cake.” So I’m assuming the woman with the big gun is Gunner, then. Mr. Liefeld’s talent for character names never ceases to amaze me. “Unfortunately, the Fates -- and just about every last member of the Chicago underworld -- were conspirin’ against me. Uglier situations, I had definitely yet to see in my young life.” Passive sentences, I’m thanking you for that, Rob. Yoda-like, it is.
“Y’see, my Dad’s too cool to be kidnapped by just your ordinary run-of-the-mill criminals. Nope, he had to get himself heisted by the most powerful criminal organization in Chicago, a bunch of sweethearts better known to the world at large as the Vicious Circle. The creep in the tin suit is their leader and he calls himself the Overlord. Not much of an ego there, huh?” I wouldn’t think so, what with the bolded names for both himself and his criminal organization. I wonder how they manage to speak in bold like that? I mean, it couldn’t be that Rob bolded them himself, since there’d be no need to emphasize the names by the way the narration is speaking...
“The loser to his left is a professional killer who goes by the name of Girth.” Girth is sporting a serious Joker smile. I mean, his cheeks are all clenched back and we can see every one of his teeth. “For, like, the hundredth time, though, he’s tellin’ us that he took this job for free. Can you believe it?” That you’re still getting work? Nope, I still can’t believe it. “Hey, if it’s good enough for Hollywood, it’s good enough for me.” Uhhh... Badrock, maybe you want to rethink that statement. ““How did I ever get myself into this mess?”” Well, I could point out that you just explained to the reader exactly how you got into the mess – you went to Chicago to bring your father home but for some unknown reason, possibly due to him being as you mentioned before, “too cool,” a criminal organization called the Vicious Circle are trying to take him.
As if our close-up of Badrock’s face wasn’t enough, we now have a close-up of Girth’s face and surprisingly, he too appears to have issues with candy since his mouth is covered with some sort of red webbing. To make matters more interesting, he didn’t have this ‘blood’ there in the previous page, nor was he smoking a cigar as he is now. “Betcher feelin’ pretty stupid right about now, huh, little buddy? Should o’ listened when I told you t’ keep your distance.” Wait a second; isn’t this supposed to be the first issue of this series? Was there an issue #0A and #0B where all this happened? “Yer impaired hearing notwithstanding, you’re due for some serious damage now!”
And now as if he was channeling the spirit of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, Badrock happily retorts, “What-ever!” And now I get this really funny picture in my head of a seven foot tall grey superhero with muscles that make the Hulk look like Elijah Wood in terms of buffness in a blonde wig cocking his hips to the side while rolling his eyes. “I’ve had it up to my neck with freaks like you tellin’ me how you’re gonna mop this place up with my sorry butt before wringin’ me out to dry. I didn’t come here to hassle you, Girth-- But if it’s a hassle you want-- FINE. Just keep in mind, when I’m shashin’ that pin head of yours into the ground, that you’re doin’ it for free--!” Okay, I’ll admit, that’s a good line. I will say, however, that with the way Rob draws, Badrock shouldn’t exactly be proud of his own cranium-to-body ratio.
Badrock somehow leaps into the air and slams down on Girth, a surprising feat, I must say, considering the sheer size and muscle mass shown on Badrock must make him like a thousand pounds. Of course, Rob Liefeld’s penchant for wormholes during a fight scene also takes effect (see Youngblood #1), since on one page we see Badrock falling down towards Girth, right at him, before we flip to the next page and see him suddenly charging from a side angle towards him. Even Liefeld acknowledges the odd physics of Badrock’s body: “Even though he’s way bigger’n me, I can tell just what he’s thinking as I bear down on him. “How can anything that big move that fast?!!””
Girth apparently has the superpower of shifting bodymass, since on the page where Badrock is falling down on him he appears to have a HUGE body but a cone-shaped, teensy head not unlike Dr. Robotnik, but then on the next page when Badrock hits him, his body’s still huge, but his head is round and a more reasonable size. “At that point, I’d be lyin if I toldja I wasn’t thinking the same thing about him. I mean, lookit him go! Have you ever seen anything that big move that fast?!! HA! I kill me.” Do it faster.
“If I’m gonna be killing anybody, I’d rather it be him than me and-- YEEEOW!” Hey, Girth shut up his narration boxes by hitting him! Now I’ve got someone to root for! In an ironic twist of fate, Badrock is bleeding again in the same web pattern as shown earlier, only now it matches the bizarre veins in his neck! “If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was linin’ his gloves with solid rock. Not that it should matter all that much, I suppose-- to a kid whose entire body is composed of solid rock!” Thanks for the exposition there, ki- wait a second, Badrock’s a kid?! Jeez, no wonder he’s such a momma’s boy. Girth yells out, “This isn’t over yet, you punk ass--!” “Yeah, I know it isn’t-- I was kinda savin’ the grand finale up until about NOW!” And... what? It looks like Badrock grabs one of Girth’s huge pectorals (which are so round that I think they qualify as man-boobs) and... I really don’t know. I think he throws him, but I really can’t tell.
One of the real problems with this book is that every panel seems so damn dark. Seriously, I’m holding this up to a light and even the white areas look like they’ve been put through a filter. Maybe it’s the age of the comic itself showing, or it’s simply that they used a really cheep printing process. As such, it’s really hard to tell what the heck is going on. Maybe it’s just that the coloring has consisted completely of reds, oranges, yellows, blacks, and dark blues. By the by, while Badrock and Girth were having their little slug-fest, what exactly were the goons, Overlord, and Gunner all doing?
Anywho, Badrock grabs Gunner and his father and runs off the edge of the building. I’d make a joke about the comic ending early, but who am I kidding? Since he’s falling about eighty stories, Badrock takes the opportunity to bore the reader by talking about how awesome he is and then doing a comparative analysis of roller coasters to life, giving us this pearl of wisdom: “One unfortunate difference between roller coasters and “real life”, though, is that it’s a lot easier to stop one than it is the other.” Oh, I don’t know, one good crash tends to stop one as well as the other.
Anyway, as predicted with his body made of rock, Badrock slams into the ground below with Gunner and his dad in his arms and survives the fall. Now, as I’ve stated before, I’m not a scientist, but I think the two humans are probably still going to feel that one even if Badrock was holding them... probably in particular because he was holding them since, as he said, he’s made of ROCKS. “Hold on tight, folks! Jumpin’ outta buildings may be a little on the scarey(sic) side-- but landing SUCKS!!” Seems like both really SUCK!!, but what do I know?
The three start running with Gunner leading them into an L Train station. All of a sudden though, Wolverine suddenly leaps onto Badrock’s back! Well, okay, I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be Wolverine, but frankly how can you mistake that hair for anyone else? Not-Wolverine comments, “Overlord’s got a blank check for the freak who bring’s your head in on a platter, rock boy-- and you can bet your sweet patootie ol’ Lowblow is gonna be the one cashin’ it!” Okay, first of all – Badrock must be chewing gum or something because he’s got the weird lines in his mouth again like webs. Secondly – “bet your sweet patootie?!” Did this suddenly become an episode of Laugh-In?
Cut to the next page and... well, I’m sure what was supposed to happen was that Badrock was supposed to throw him, but really it looks more like he’s standing right behind Badrock and looking up at the sky. Then, in a really bizarre choice of art, we see Gunner holding her weapon while she pushes out her breasts and ass and her legs just kind of hang in front of her and curve back down with the feet pulled back, as if she was leaping through the air in a really bizarre pose. She apparently shoots him three times and tells the others they should get out of there.
They continue running and a train shows up. Badrock comments on the good timing of it. His father comments, “I, for one, would certainly prefer that our timing centered less around these violent exchanges than is currently the case. I don’t know how much more of this I can take..!” Your son is that huge and made of rock and you didn’t imagine there’d probably be some stuff going on with your life? Badrock tells him he’s doing fine, to which Gunner replies, “You’re a real piece of work, Badrock. One minute you’re frightened to death that your dad’s in danger-- the next you’re acting like this is some kind of joy ride!” Ummm... Did I miss about three comics in between and around this one? The only emotions he’s been displaying so far have been anger, irritation, and smugness. Oh and then while our busty, rather thin-waisted lady is standing at a peculiar angle, a knife suddenly flies out from somewhere and lands right in her shoulder.
Further proving my point that Badrock has the emotional range of “pissed off” to “yelling angrily,” Badrock demands to know who’s attacking them this time. Both are less-than imaginative, the first calling himself “Cutthroat” (Yarr!) and sporting a huge ass razorblade on his arm that apparently has the same red silly-string that’s been getting onto everyone’s mouths. Of course, where the ‘blood’ came from I’m not really sure since all he did was throw a knife (he’s sporting knives all over his chest). His companion is “Hellrazor” (Damn you, Clive Barker!) and is holding a bo staff behind his leg for some reason while sporting Squirrel Girl-like eyes and a Shi’ar hairdo. Oh, he also has a rather visible cup. *Snickers*
I will admit that Badrock actually has a talent for banter as he tells them, “If you wanna make it off this train in one piece, grab a seat and enjoy the ride. Me, I’m curious if your boss has you jerks on a health plan that covers he kind of beatin’ I’m gonna dish out if you don’t.” Of course, his intimidation factor might be a little higher if he didn’t have what I’m sure was meant to be drool coming out of his mouth in the same web pattern we’ve seen with the ‘blood.’
Hellrazor leaps at Badrock (making me wonder what two guys whose shtick seems to be that they have really big, sharp knives are supposed to do against a guy made of stone), his bo staff mysteriously vanishing. Badrock just grabs him by the wrist and holds him away at arm’s length, making me chuckle and wonder what the plan of these two losers was supposed to be. ‘Here, let’s attack him under the cover of a brightly-lit, closed-quarter environment where we can’t maneuver and then jump at him! That’ll work!’
Badrock practically growls at Hellrazor: “I’ve got just about ZERO tolerance for creeps like you in the first place... But you and Superfly over there are fuelin’ me up with all sorts of reasons to go BALLISTIC like you wouldn’t even understand!” Ron O’Neal IS Cutthroat in Badrock 1A: This time he’s going ballistic like you wouldn’t even understand. “Or, to put it in terms even you can comprehend... I’m really pissed.” And this is of course accompanied by a shot of Badrock’s teeth, once again stained with red liquid in inexplicable patterns. Seriously, is he biting his tongue or something every few minutes?
And apparently Cutthroat has been standing off to the back just watching all of this, because suddenly he leaps into the fray while Badrock punches Hellrazor away. However, Gunner, apparently feeling all better from her shoulder wound, gives a high-kick to him. “Y’said the name was Cutthroat, right? Well, allow me to introduce myself--” I’m a man of wealth and taste. “I’m pretty. I’m bad. And, providing I love long enough to settle down and raise a family one day-- I’m potentially a “mutha.”” With that waist? Frankly I’d be afraid of a pregnancy splitting you in two, Gunner and- OH DEAR GOD, YOUR SPINE!
Gunner stands triumphant over Cutthroat, her hips making a 90-degree angle from her upper body. I really don’t expect her to have any kids now. In any case, they decide to get off the train before any more of Overlord’s bladed idiots try to attack them. Gunner states, “I know exactly where to go if we get off here--!” A chiropractor? Badrock expositions about Gunner in his narration boxes, talking about how she grew up on the mean streets of Chicago after her parents abandoned her (probably wouldn’t let her grow up to be a contortionist). He then talks about how his parents are the most important thing in his life and we get a close-up on his eye, which I’m sure was supposed to lead into a flashback, but it’s not framed very well.
And so we flash back to Badrock living in his house and cooking dinner with his dad. They talk about some pictures in the paper where Badrock was apparently hanging out with some woman (as established in Youngblood, superheroes are akin to celebrities... and just as irritating). “From the pictures I saw, she looked like a very pretty girl. And your mother said she was an actress.” Oh, Maryl Streep. Badrock replies, “Uh, Dad, not that you’d know or anything, but I don’t really think what that chick does qualifies as acting. I mean, all she’s gotta do to get in character is take off her clothes and--” Oh, so Elizabeth Berkley, then.
Badrock goes out to a store to get some food. However, on the way back, he sees that his house has burned to the ground. Girth appears on the scene, explaining that the Overlord had some business with his father and that he’d better stay out of it if he wants him to stay in one piece. This does make me wonder why he even bothered to tell Badrock, since it would’ve just remained a mystery up until Girth revealed his presence. By the way, this comes up on ANOTHER two-page spread that needs to be turned on its side and was really unnecessary. We turn the page again and- wow. Badrock has apparently come down with a serious case of mouth spiders considering the webbing that’s hanging all over his teeth.
For some stupid reason, Girth tells Badrock that if he wants his father, he can come get him (of course, he never specifies where he’s supposed to go to). Why? This is why: “Figured we could settle the issue o’ how tough you really are, once and for all!” Ummm... One, you two hadn’t met before this point. Badrock admitted that when he first sees your fat ass. Two, why didn’t you just attack him to begin with instead of making him jump through hoops and huge buildings? Three, for God’s sakes, just get on the Slim-Fast Plan already!
Badrock tries to attack him, but it turns out it’s just a hologram. And thus the flashback ends, providing no real answers to anything and in fact making things more confusing. The three dash around a corner as Badrock narrates: “I’ve come too far to let some stupid city stand in my way of gettin’ Dad outta trouble!” Um... Look, I know for someone like you, turns on a sidewalk can be difficult, but don’t blame the city for that... Anyway, they round the corner and see someone. To their shock and amazement it’s...
ANOTHER double-page spread that you need to turn on its side! Oh, and what was so necessary for this final two-page spread of stupidity? Why, it’s Savage Dragon! Wait, that exists in the same universe as Youngblood? “I need you to slow down, back up-- and tell me just what the hell is going on here-- or you’re coming to blows with one SAVAGE DRAGON!” And thus our story ends-
Well, okay, it doesn’t so much as end as just stop completely in its tracks with us scratching our heads. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go brush my teeth.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Frank Miller once again proving that just because you CAN write doesn't mean you SHOULD write.
(Just want to apologize again for the lack of updates lately. My other projects have been keeping me busy. Plus, in a way, it kind of parallels Frank Miller’s own delay on this title, wouldn’t you say?)
This’ll be the shortest lead time from a comic’s release to the time I review it, but considering the subject matter, it’s understandable. Yes, to the surprise of everyone on the planet, Frank Miller managed to churn out Issue 5 of All-Star Batman and Robin. I’m not going to link to the previous ones because honestly, if you’re reading THIS review, you must have some idea of what to expect from this title. Every single one of them has been cut from sheer, raw insanity as the classic idea of Batman has been pumped and purged, replaced with some foul creature we like to refer to as BINO (Batman in Name Only) around here.
Also, while I don’t want to provide so much material for my readers as to go insane, a poster at Girl-Wonder.org posted an essay they had wrote on their livejournal account about Frank Miller’s worldview. It’s available here, and it does provide a fascinating examination of the writer and provides us with a new way to look at ASBAR – in that we know it’s not a deliberate satire, but really the product of a really, really messed up brain.
While I have the Jim Lee version, which features a static, dull shot of batman looking insane with blood splattered everywhere (no doubt from the policeman he just beat to death), I decided to show the sexist Frank Miller-drawn cover, instead. Not only is it a pointless ass-shot of Wonder Woman, it’s an inaccurate pointless ass-shot of Wonder Woman. One, she does not wear a skirt, not in any previous incarnation (even her very first appearances were a kind of shorts whose name escapes me at the moment). Two, the girdle does not lace up. It is a solid piece. Three, the top is not a corset, and particularly not one that exposes her stomach. While Wonder Woman’s outfit may be rather flawed in the sense that it’s essentially a bathing suit, it’s still a one-piece outfit. Heck, that doesn’t even look like the top of the Wonder Woman outfit! The real kicker is the way it’s poorly drawn, though. Her rib cage is apparently a prism, because the angle at which this is shot shows quite a sharp turn. And, of course, it’s turned so we can see her breast, as well, because sexualizing her ass for our enjoyment wasn’t enough for the good Mr. Miller.
We open to “Five Hours Ago...” Five hours ago from what? From when I actually had joy in my life since I was done reading this comic? The shot is of Wonder Woman walking down a dark street holding a newspaper (don’t worry; this is NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL). The real surprise here with the art is two-fold: one, her tiara has been modified so it has a nose guard. I admit, I actually like this change since it makes her look more like a warrior and not so much a Princess to be coddled. The second surprise is the fact that she’s wearing a trench coat. The only reason I can think of for wearing the trench coat would be to conceal her outfit, but if that’s the reason then she does a pretty crappy job of it, since wide areas of her costume are perfectly viewable if you just look at her (plus the tiara is a dead giveaway).
Anyway, Wonder Woman is walking down a street and a drunken guy asks her to marry him, but instead of rightfully shoving the guy out of the way, instead she speaks to the terrified-looking businessman holding a briefcase on her other side. And as such, never in the annuls of history has one book produced so many internet memes – Goddamn Batman, Dick Grayson, Age Twelve; and now we behold Frank Miller’s masterful new phrase to us: “Out of my way, sperm bank.” I think I’m going to start yelling that to people who are annoying me; it sounds like fun.
And of course, it wouldn’t be an issue of ASBAR without the frantic narration that only Frank Miller can produce with a straight face. “Metropolis. The city of dreams. Men’s dreams.” And, you know, the few hundred-thousand women who probably live in it, too. “It stinks of men. Of doorways abandoned, obsolete phone booths used as urinals.” Oh, Frank, you really know how to paint a picture. “It leaves a bad taste, this world of men. Men.” I’m sorry, are you talking about women? “They can’t do anything right.” So, what are you doing in Man’s World, then, if you hate it so much?
Wonder Woman slams through a chained door and proclaims in her narration, “Men always make a mess out of everything.” Hey, lady, you’re the one who’s smashing up property when there was a perfectly good side entrance. Inexplicably, Wonder Woman takes off her coat like she’s strutting down a hallway in a lingerie commercial and continues rambling to herself about how men suck and Bat-Man is the worst of them. While I certainly agree that BINO needs to be dealt with somehow, what exactly is it that’s upsetting you? You’re not exactly helping your case for wanting to bring in the murderous Bat-Man (by the by, why does everyone else call him by the hyphenated name?) when you talk about killing him, yourself.
Further making this reader roll his eyes is the fact that Wonder Woman is sporting like the biggest freaking heels on the planet. They make little tank tank noises as she walks and I imagine they can’t be comfortable, especially for someone who’s supposed to be a warrior (albeit it makes a slightly better amount of sense considering she’s got super strength and all, but still...). She walks into a room where Superman, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man are all located and arguing about BINO.
“I told you, Diana. I told you all. From the first moment I heard of that maniac, I knew his methods would make us all look like monsters.” Superman went to a program to learn how to emphasize his words. “And now he’s kidnapped a little boy. He’ll be the excuse they’ve been looking for -- to destroy us.” Yes, because when the little boy has been kidnapped by the psychotic murderer, it’s your reputation as a superhero that you should be worrying about, you dick. Shouldn’t you be saying “Damn!” or something?
Green Lantern tries to act rationally since they don’t know for certain that BINO kidnapped anybody while Plastic Man states: “I vote we bring him on board. I think the B-Man is cool. He’d make us look edgier.” He even starts flirting with Wonder Woman and actually, I’ve got to say, Miller seems to get Plastic Man’s zany personality down, even if he is using it in such a bloody stupid fashion. Wonder Woman, since she seems to be some sort of bizarre parody of a Feminist, promptly says, “Shut up. You call yourselves men?” So, wait, you were the one who was going on and on about how men suck and are weak and blah blah blah, yet you have an expectation of men to be strong and correct or something?
Wonder Woman continues to berate the others for wanting to be so ‘nice’ about it, obviously Millar’s way of trying to pave the way for his future Dark Knight Strikes Again story by putting herself and the others on the level of Gods. Wonder Woman makes Green Lantern her bitch by ordering him to make himself useful and take her coat, which he of course does right away. Superman keeps playing it cool, trying to make it seem like she needs to calm down when it’s obvious he wants to play ‘Burn the front page of the newspaper’ with her. Wonder Woman responds:
“You want cooler, farm boy? I’ll give you cooler. I’ll give you cold. Cold and simple. We hunt down this Bat-Man (Again with the hyphens!) like a rabid dog. We kill him. We chop off his head and plant it on a stake and present it to your “authorities” -- as their first gift from the Justice League.” Yeah, that’ll make ‘em trust you.
All of a sudden the entire prose style changes as Miller tries to wax philosophical and compare these guys with the Greek Gods. Superman gets all pissy and punches a metal column as the narration box reads: “It starts with a bellow worthy of Zeus. Then a wind that Boreas might envy.” I’m sorry, what was that about boring me? “She’s a fragile twig -- a blade of grass -- tossed aside in the wake of an angry God.” And she doesn’t even know how to order coffee or use a credit card!
“Damn you, Diana! Damn you and your Amazon arrogance!” Damn it all to hell, you damn dirty apes! You blew it up! “This is my world. These are my people. These are my rules. If you commit murder on my land -- you’ll pay for it with your own precious Amazon blood!” So, wait, if she kills someone on his land (from California to the New York Island), he’ll kill her back? Way to really take the moral high ground there, Supes.
Plastic Man, obviously mistaking himself to be in Grant Morrison’s JLA, suddenly shouts out for no reason, “Eat floor, Queen Bee.” Wonder Woman shouts back, “You bastard! You bastard. I hate your guts. your guts. You make me sick. You make me sick.” Aaaah, there’s that Torgo-like repetition that I’ve been missing! Now we’re in full Miller mode, folks! Abandon all sanity, ye who enters here!
Oh, and then Superman and Wonder Woman kiss. Yeah. “Then Zeus stabs the world of man with thunderbolts (Curse you, Eric Masterson!) and somewhere Poseidon roars with laughter. The thunderbolts. They stab them both.” Zee thunderbolts, zey do notheeng! After that completely nonsensical sequence, Wonder Woman leaves and says that if they fail, she’ll handle it herself. Green Lantern just stares at Superman in a ‘Dude, what the hell was THAT’ look as Superman replies, “She’s really a very nice girl.” Oh, Frank Miller, you kill me. Seriously. Ow.
But enough of that totally unnecessary stuff! Now it’s back to the Goddamn Batman! How do we know it’s him? Well, he’s laughing in satanic glee and his narration caption is, “I love being the goddamn BATMAN.” Folks, we have some good old-fashioned nightmare fuel here. BINO’s running across a rooftop in a completely wasted two-page spread as Frank Miller gets to spout off his insane, disjointed writing. I’ll spare you most of it except for the opening lines, which continue to make us wonder if any of DC’s editorial staff is keeping track of how much time this series is supposed to be going through:
“I should be EXHAUSTED. I haven’t slept in DAYS. But I CAN’T GET TIRED. No matter how hard I TRY. Not on a night like THIS. Not with my PULSE pounding my EARS and dear GOTHAM calling to me like a sultry SIREN.” Okay - one, you haven’t slept in DAYS?! You went out to the circus as Bruce Wayne without ever having slept?! Two – it doesn’t matter how much natural adrenaline he’s got pumping into him. We now know why BINO’s so flippin’ nuts: without sleep, anyone’ll be bonkers. Three – a sultry siren?! For the love of Pete, you were the one who compared her to Edgar Allen Poe’s Lenore!
“A woman screams. What the HELL.” Flag on the moon. How did it get there? “I give with the LAUGH. That ALWAYS works.” Oh, well that explains it – Frank doesn’t realize he’s writing Batman, he think he’s writing the Creeper! Creeper’s the one who laughs insanely to scare criminals while being totally friggin’ nuts. Batman’s the one who uses darkness to terrify criminals. BINO leaps down towards a group of thugs assaulting a woman with HUGE knives in their hands. I’m talking Crocodile Dundee “THIS is a knife!”-sized knives. BINO beats the snot out of the would-be rapists, even giving a compound fracture to one guy.
Now, one would assume I’d be chalking this up to more psychotic behavior on BINO’s part, but considering he murdered a bunch of police officers in previous issues, this is pretty tame by his standards. Also, it doesn’t help that I really don’t feel extensive damage like that to criminals is that bad as long as they’re still alive. Of course, then BINO starts pounding away on one guy who keeps asking “What?” in confusion as the woman who was going to be a victim watches and then gets as manic a grin as BINO has in the previous issues. ““What”? You’re asking me “What”?” “What?” “What? This.” No, no, no – what’s on second, you idiot! THIRD BASE!
This woman, also wearing high heels (albeit more sensible ones than the superhero), walks over to one of her injured rapists, who asks for help. The woman just kicks him in the groin and says, “I’ve got Batman watching after me.” No, you’ve got some very pale imitation of Batman watching over you. Oh, look! There’s an ad on the left for a Darwyn Cooke Batman series! That must be what she means, since it’s above her and watching down in her general direction.
BINO tells her to, “Go home, now. Catch a cab on Novick. It’s well lit. Call your shrink, if you’ve got one. But don’t call any cops about all this. They’re useless. They’re worse than useless.” And of course, since this is a woman in a Frank Miller story, she suddenly gets all submissive and obedient, saying, “Y-Yes, sir.” And why would she need a shrink, exactly? She seemed to get herself together pretty quickly and developed a real taste for blood there. Or maybe she needs a shrink because she survived an encounter with you. BINO swings away and the woman says, “Thank you. I love you.” To which our intrepid hero thinks in his narration boxes, “Nobody loves anybody, my darling. We just survive.” DEEP.
BINO continues to swing away as his narration boxes once again make us all collectively tilt our heads. “The WIND goes BERSERK. ELECTRICITY tingles my SKIN and rattles my WHISKERS.” ...The hell? “Another STORM. Cool.” BATMAN DOES NOT SAY COOL, FRANK! “A perfect night. A hunter’s night.” Well, since I’ve seen the words used no less than half a dozen times in this comic already, I think they bear repeating here: Shut up!
Swing back to Wayne Manor and our old pal Alfred Pennyworth and- Oh my lord. He’s punching a punching bag and looking all muscular! Okay, I can sort of believe that he’d want to stay in good shape, but give me a break here – the guy’s in his sixties at least and I think he’d be doing other exercises besides a punching bag. And furthermore, isn’t he a butler? Doesn’t he have things to clean or, say, a frightened twelve year-old in the basement of his psychotic employer to take care of? Oh, boy, the narration boxes don’t make this scene any better, folks. It’s all the creepier:
“How many a day -- how many hundreds, THOUSANDS a time -- day or night, did my black-eyed angel come home from his frolics in the WOOD -- BLOOD streaming his smiling, fearless face?” His “black-eyed angel?!” You know, I know I joked about him being a pervert in the last issue, but seriously... “He was always an ADVENTURER, Bruce was. Always JUMPING and RUNNING and giving himself a proper BANGING.” Oh, sweet merciful GOD! This comic has provided like six different explanations why BINO is so insane, but really it’s probably ALL of them!
“And now my DEMON -- my black-eyed, brilliant, willful ANGEL -- has grown to MANHOOD.” Don’t you ever say manhood again, you maniac. “I pray this child will SURVIVE this.” I think I’m going to go throw up all over myself now.
Meanwhile, we can check in on Dick Grayson, Age Twelve. “BATMAN works out of a REALLY BIG CAVE. It’s full of STUFF.” BINO really knows how to pick the sharp ones to be his sidekicks, doesn’t he? “It’s like a MUSEUM would be IF a MUSEUM could BREATHE.” Quick, someone call Ben Stiller! “It’s full of STUFF.” So, wait, is it full of stuff? “And all the STUFF is CLEAN and SHARPENED and POLISHED and ready to USE.” So, what does Dick immediately do? He reaches for the sharp, bladed edge of an axe. And thus the issue that we waited a whole year for ends on Dick Grayson, Age Twelve picking up a huge freakin’ battle axe and saying “Cool.” Folks, I can’t make this stuff up if I wanted to.
And there you have it. Was it worth the wait, both on my end and from Frankie-boy? I don’t know, I just know I’m a little more stupid from having to read this.