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  • Odds and Ends

    I just finished the “X-Statix” omnibus. It’s another take on mocking the tropes of colorful costume and cape wearing supes, by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, and it’s terrific. It’s funny, and merciless in its mocking, and yet still leaves you enjoying the characters. Milligan has a lot more affection for the supes than Ennis does. There are about 50 X-Statix issues in the omnibus, everybody dies by the end (well, about five issues before the end), and the best stories are told as it concludes (the Avengers vs. X-Statix crossover event is great, especially the nude fight between Iron Man and Mr. Sensitive, while the Anarchist’s lack of respect for Captain America actually has you rooting for him. The final arc is the Dead Girl/Dr. Strange team-up, and this is the best Dr. Strange story in almost 40 years). I recommend this highly and unreservedly (especially if you buy it like I did, from B&N with a coupon getting the price down to $56).

    We have discussed “Crossed” on this forum before. I like the Ennis issues, and abhor (and avoid) the Lapham ones. He recently finished a “Crossed Badlands” three issue arc, and I thought it was good. The story is simple- a band of survivors try to evade the Crossed, and it…just…doesn’t…end…well.

    ****Spoilers*****

    The main protagonist is Ian, and he has survived by not letting himself be tied down to any persons or groups. In his first Crossed series, Ennis had two points to make- Evil is bubbling below the surface of all of us, and morals are a luxury afforded by civilization, and we can’t keep them when everything goes to hell. Dark, gloomy and depressing, but hey, it’s a philosophy I guess.

    In this series, Ennis does something new. In the second issue, the characters hamstring one of their band, and leave him wounded and alive for the Crossed to play with, in order to buy time (and it does). This isn’t gratuitous, in that you never see what the Crossed do to him (in issue 3 you get a hint). This is an awful, cruel and horrible thing to do, but Ennis spent issue 1 telling the reader not to like this character, so it might pass unnoticed for the atrocity it is that out protagonists are committing. They spend the rest of the issue debating doing something similar to a more sympathetic character, and elect not to.

    It’s clear by the end of the third and final issue (btw, the final page has a nice bit of irony in every member of the original band re-uniting) that Ennis knew exactly what he was doing with the horrible act committed by the band in issue two (the hamstringing). He was making a comment about human kindness, ethics, morality and evil, and how good people justify doing bad things. He did this all without spelling it out, which I always appreciate (except when I don’t because it went over my head).

    I think there is a “The Boys” tie-in that we saw Hughie kill A-Train for participating in Annie’s "initiation" into the Seven. As I posted before, that response is all out of proportion to A-Train’s offense (we don’t execute biker gangs for similar acts, not even in Texas). Maybe he “deserved” it for his accidental killing of Hughie’s girlfriend, but Hughie never got that worked up over that, and we even heard A-Train’s remorse. We also heard A-Train beg Hughie not to kill him, followed by Hughie doing just that.

    I have to think Ennis knows who his characters are, and what he has them doing. I expect Hughie’s murder to be thrown back at him, perhaps by Annie, perhaps by Butcher.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by statsman; 04-17-2012, 12:49 PM.

  • #2
    As long as it ends badly for Hughie I will be happy.

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    • #3
      Well, it's easy to hate Hughie. But that might be the problem. Ennis has repeatedly said that Hughie is supposed to be the human, moral center of the book. And yet we despise him. Because Ennis doesn't really know how to do "human" or "moral". I'm trying to think if Ennis has ever had a single normal human being in any story I've ever read by him, and I'm drawing a blank. The closest he's ever came was probably Auntie Sis, which is sad, because she was a minor joke character in a minor joke arc.

      And I'm not just talking about The Boys. I'm talking about everything he's ever written. I guess Jesse Custer comes close, but you'll notice that in the entire time Jesse had the Word, he never once did anything positive with it. Oh, he robbed banks, committed several murders, and made people defecate themselves, but that was it. And no, I don't count Hoover, because all Jesse did for Hoover was make him forget the horrible thing that Jesse himself had done to Hoover with the Word. Hell, Jesse didn't even remove the physical effects of what he did to Hoover, even though he easily could have. And even though he saw the awful effect that his actions had on Hoover, he didn't hesitate to do the same thing to other people afterwards.

      In Crossed, which as you know, I loathed, Ennis falls for the laziest of horror movie tropes- that a bunch of organized, intelligent normal people can't defeat a mass of stupid, disorganized zombies. And before anyone starts in on "but they weren't stupid or zombies", I retort: that was the problem. The Crossed made no fucking sense whatsoever.

      Did anyone see "Serenity"? The main badguys were basically just like the Crossed- hyperviolent human lunatics who somehow managed to fly starships. And who, for some reason, never turn on each other. And who, despite being rage-fueled cannibal monsters, somehow manage to outwit all the normal, non-lunatics around them.

      Aside from the vile subject matter, that was my main problem with "Crossed". They never could have won. Ever. Under any circumstances. Because a handful of people with their wits about them using modern weaponry will always triumph over a mass of berserkers. A squad of marines with flame throwers and SAWs could take on any given amount of Crossed. And yet, the entire point of the book was to see people degraded and murdered.

      I guess it comes down to the problem I have with almost all modern Horror- it used to be that people watched horror movies for a few cheap scares, and to see the good guys win. But now days, it's all about watching people suffer, and then tack on the most depressing ending the writer can thing of.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
        Well, it's easy to hate Hughie. But that might be the problem. Ennis has repeatedly said that Hughie is supposed to be the human, moral center of the book. And yet we despise him. Because Ennis doesn't really know how to do "human" or "moral". I'm trying to think if Ennis has ever had a single normal human being in any story I've ever read by him, and I'm drawing a blank. The closest he's ever came was probably Auntie Sis, which is sad, because she was a minor joke character in a minor joke arc.
        Am I the only person on this board who DOESN'T hate Hughie? I mean, everyone treats him like the Derpy of the Boys.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
          Ennis has repeatedly said that Hughie is supposed to be the human, moral center of the book.

          Is he?



          I'm trying to think if Ennis has ever had a single normal human being in any story I've ever read by him, and I'm drawing a blank.

          - Sean Noonan from Hitman
          - Amy, the rich friend of Jesse and Tulip
          - Featherstone
          - The activist and social worker from "The Slavers" arc of Punisher
          - Some folks from the Dicks saga (hey, I know people like those!)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
            Because Ennis doesn't really know how to do "human" or "moral". I'm trying to think if Ennis has ever had a single normal human being in any story I've ever read by him, and I'm drawing a blank.
            How about Custer's dad?

            or the young Aussie lietenant in Battlefields: Happy Valley?

            or Butcher's grandfather?

            ...or the guy in the Unknown Soldier story, who would rather die than sign up to be a costumed freak?

            ...all of which had one thing in common- they were soldiers. It's like Ennis is going to keep doing this until we figure out that war comics are what the industry should be making.

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            • #7
              Don't forget Becky

              Don't forget Becky.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MisterS View Post
                Am I the only person on this board who DOESN'T hate Hughie?
                Yes.

                ...and that's all I would have posted, if the board didn't force me to type more than 14 characters. But since I'm typing more... I can't believe that none of my fellow geeks pointed out that Jesse used the Word to force a porn star to take care of an abused child. My bad.

                I don't really count Becky, because it seems rather obvious to me that she's a McGuffin, not a person. She's a plot device, existing for no reason other than to drive forward Butcher's story. From the improbable-to-the-point-of-retardation story about her falling instantly in love with Butcher, (and let's remember, Butcher is, and always has been pure evil) to her refusal to tell anyone she'd been raped because she didn't want to be a bother, Becky is a non-entity. She's a cartoon, meant to counterpoint Butcher's viciousness.

                Now, I'll grant you, I LOVED Featherstone. Out all the women in Preacher, Featherstone is the only one I wanted to bone. Uh, I mean, Featherstone seemed very decent.

                Also, I feel somewhat bad about my constant harping on "Crossed", mainly because Statsman likes it, and I think Statsman is awesome. In fact, if this board were Preacher, Statsman would be Jesse. Boris would be Cassidy. I would be Arseface.
                Last edited by Kamakazi; 04-19-2012, 07:01 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
                  Yes.

                  ...and that's all I would to her refusal to tell anyone she'd been raped because she didn't want to be a bother,

                  That's a little... hmmm. You have heard the oft repeated assertion that most rapes go unreported, right?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No Comic for Simple, Nice Women

                    Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
                    I don't really count Becky, because it seems rather obvious to me that she's a McGuffin, not a person. She's a plot device, existing for no reason other than to drive forward Butcher's story.
                    Okay, despite the huge glossing over of the fact that all of the characters in The Boys are no more than plot devices to drive forward a fictional story ...

                    Becky was certainly decent. Her big failing seems to be that she was completely out of place with the vast majority of the characters in the Boys universe, which is, I believe, exactly the point. No one like her (or Robin, or Terror) was going to last too long after encountering Ennis' version of supes. To borrow from one of the seminal ideas in No Country for Old Men, Becky always had a limited lifespan in the universe of No Comic for Simple, Nice Women.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dustin View Post
                      That's a little... hmmm. You have heard the oft repeated assertion that most rapes go unreported, right?
                      I've heard it, but I don't understand how you can measure something that's not being reported. And Becky was also pregnant- I know Ennis tried to explain this by saying that Supe Babies gestate faster, but damn, just how fast do they gestate?

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                      • #12
                        A few things concerns me about Becky's 'rape' and death

                        1. The diary. Butcher said he didn't remember her having one. Are we certain it wasn't a plant by Mallory? He was able to fake Vogelbaum's suicide, how hard would it be for him to forge a diary?

                        2. That she wouldn't tell Butcher. I know Dustin said that most rapes go unreported, yet she was able to convince Butcher's mom to get a divorce, but couldn't convince herself to tell her husband that she was raped?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kamakazi View Post
                          I've heard it, but I don't understand how you can measure something that's not being reported. And Becky was also pregnant- I know Ennis tried to explain this by saying that Supe Babies gestate faster, but damn, just how fast do they gestate?
                          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...e-7561636.html

                          But the gestation thing was a weird choice, I agree. I think it was simply so that to Butcher it was completely unexpected; it couldn't be that he thought it was his child, Ennis seemed to want it to happen out of the blue.

                          As for Becky not telling anyone, her diary said that she knew Butcher would make a suicide run at the Homelander if she told him.

                          And addressing the diary and how suspicious it is- I like to write. I am plotting a book series, chapter by chapter. The summary alone of the first three is over 80,000 words. And I can attest that there are some moments where you just want to say "Fuck it" and push the easy explanation and solution forward. You try to earn it, but nonetheless sometimes you go with a time saver- like the part in mine where the heroes are collecting magical artifacts- there's no reason for them to be as close together as they are other than the fact they don;t have cars and air transport in this series, but I decided to give a very simple reason for that. And I actually got a lot of mileage out of that. Someone who's constrained by the 24 page format month after month might have a few every now and again as well.

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                          • #14
                            Maybe things are different in England. Maybe it IS just a giant rape-fest. I dunno. Never been there. But I do know this: claiming that ten percent of the female population has been raped is so monumentally dunderheaded that even my prodigious literary skills are incapable of describing it. It's about as rational as claiming that ten percent of men are vampires, but just don't admit it. In fact, I'm going to claim it right now. I interviewed several hundred men, and ten percent of them are marthafocking Nosferatu. But they would only admit it to me. They'd never tell anyone else, because they're afraid of being staked in the heart by bands of roving villagers.

                            Now, from the article: "It means women raped at home do not identify the experience as rape, or report it." Okay then, so who exactly is calling it "rape"? The people doing the survey? How did that go? Was it something like:
                            Interviewer: "Ma'am, have you had a close encounter with a penis recently?"
                            Housewife: "Well, yes, I've had sex."
                            Interviewer: "Are you aware you were raped?"
                            Housewife: "No."
                            Interviewer: "Well, you were."
                            Housewife: "No, I wasn't."
                            Interviewer: "So we'll mark you down as 'Raped, but in denial.' Thanks for your time."

                            Rape isn't "I was tired, but my husband talked me into it anyway". Nor is rape "I was really drunk at the time." I've had my share of sex with both the weary and the inebriated, and it was not, by any definition, rape. I've even had sex where ropes and latex were involved, and that wasn't rape either. Rape is when I tell Boris to leave me alone, and he punches me in the jaw and has sex with me anyway.

                            Rape is too horrible of a thing to cheapen by applying the term to every single instance in which two people have sex, and then one ends up feeling angry or guilty after the fact. I remember seeing a news article about a chick in Israel who sued a guy for rape because he told her he was Jewish when he actually wasn't. Sheese. That's not her being raped, that's her being a bigoted asshole. Imagine if a White Supremacist could sue a sex partner for "rape" because she found out that the guy had a Black grandfather.

                            ...and that's it for my rant.

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                            • #15
                              England + Rapefest=Crossed Badlands

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