Fiction: “Sex Criminals” Vol. 1, by Matt Fraction / Chip Zdarsky

sex-criminals-vol-1I had seen this graphic novel advertised on the interwebs, and I found a used copy at Bull Moose one day. I was familiar with Matt Fraction – he wrote the Hawkeye series I started to read (and have yet to find a library version of the next volume, what the hell, Yarmouth Library), and this series was touted as a comedy with heart.

I should probably explain two things before digging into this. First of all, this book is DEFINITELY Not Safe For Work. Secondly, this book is named “Sex Criminals” because the lead characters are two consenting adults who have sex and then commit crimes. I want to emphasize that this book does not detail sexual crimes.

Finally, I’m writing this while watching the Cubs play the Giants in Game 3 of the NLDS. I want to extend my sympathies to Red Sox Nation, and I’m hoping I can finish this entry before the end of the game. (How mad was I when I found out the game wasn’t scheduled to start until 9:30 EST? SO MAD. I have to go back to work tomorrow, you guys! The good news I have about that is I’ve already put tomorrow’s outfit in the bathroom and my purse and shoes are already by the door – I shouldn’t have any reason why I couldn’t hit the Topsham Starbucks on tomorrow’s commute.)

Okay. So, the graphic novel stars Suzie, who learned when she was a teenager that when she orgasms, time stops. Like, the world is frozen, but she can run around and do stuff, including yell at her mother and pet tigers at the zoo and just really wonder what the hell is going on. She calls it “in the Quiet,” and she’s all alone in the quiet until she meets Jon.

Jon is also able to enter “the Quiet” when he orgasms, except he calls it “Cumworld,” after the porn shop he frequents as a teenager – and when I say “frequent,” I mean “visit the bank across the street from the adult toy store, rub one out in the public restroom, then run across the street to the porn shop undetected.”

Jon works for BankCorp, which is the bank Suzie’s father worked for until he got in the way of another banker on a day the markets crashed. Suzie’s father got caught with a bullet or pushed out a high-story window – either way, he died, and Suzie’s mother was really unable to take care of herself or her daughter. When Suzie started asking normal teenage sex questions, her mother dismisses her curiosity. So Suzie starts doing her own research, and ends up in the library.

Flash-forward to now: Suzie still works at the library, but the bank is going to foreclose on it. (Rutting bastards – how dare you foreclose on a library!) She meets Jon at her Save the Books Party, and their first date lasts almost three full days. They keep hanging out, and then Jon comes up with a brilliant idea – why don’t they use The Quiet to pay off the library’s debt? By having sex in public, and then taking small amounts of money from various banks?

And that works really well — holy Jesus, we’re only in the third inning still?! (I just looked up – I shouldn’t have looked up. This game has gone for almost an hour and a half and we’re just in the third?! Crap. I am going to be One Tired Alaina tomorrow morning.)

ANYWAY, before the Giants scored, I was going to say that Suzie and Jon’s plan works very well – until the Sex Police get wind of what they’re doing, and show up on the day of their big heist.

Because yes, there is a shadowy organization of others who can enter The Quiet, and they’re trying to stop Suzie and Jon from doing what they’re doing. What hasn’t been revealed yet is their motive or reason for being.

Being a graphic novel collection, this was a very quick read for me – although to be honest, I think I started reading it the weekend of my sister’s wedding because I left the book I was reading in my car or something, and I was so tired that week that it still took me a couple of days to read it. Normally, I can read a graphic novel compilation in a night. But dammit, Kid, your wedding wore me out.

I recommend it. The plot is definitely something I’ve never read before, the characters are great, and the art is gorgeous. Just keep in mind that it is truly rated M for Mature and Not Safe For Work – it’s not just words that are dirty, here. Entire chapters of the story take place at a porn store. And it’s a graphic novel. That means visuals.

Grade for Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick: 4 stars

Fiction: “Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon” Vol. 1, by Matt Fraction/David Aja

hawkeye coverSo as I said the last time we were here, this was my other “impulse-borrow” from my trip to the library a couple of weeks ago.  And when I finished reading And Only to Deceive I needed something to read before I went to bed, so I read half of this late Friday night and the other half Saturday morning when I woke up with that fucking OneRepublic song acting as the soundtrack to my dream.

Look, in case you haven’t been following along, the woman who shares an office with me at my job listens to the radio for her entire shift.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem – I like music, I like radio, and unless she’s listening to gangsta rap (which she wouldn’t, she’s in her 50s) or country, I’m gonna be okay.

Oh, how naive I was.  Because here I was, assuming that a radio station that proclaimed itself to have “Maine’s best mix” would actually play more than thirty songs in a day.  Boy, was I wrong.  And the song that I have heard the most is that fucking “Counting Stars” song by OneRepublic.  On Friday, I heard it 5 times.  FIVE.  TIMES.  Every fucking two hours.  If I ever meet a member of OneRepublic, I will punch him right in his stupid little face.

And guys, I may not have mentioned this before, but years ago, “better man” by Pearl Jam would follow me around on multiple radio stations, and I would cringe and hate that song (because weird, odd stuff would always happen when I heard it), but seriously, I would WILLINGLY listen to that song ON REPEAT for an ENTIRE HOUR if that means I would never have to hear that fucking OneRepublic song again.  THAT IS NOT AN IDLE THREAT, MAKE IT HAPPEN VEDDER I’LL DO IT

Needless to say, when I woke up Saturday morning with that fucking song playing in my head for no other reason than my unconscious mind hates me, I needed something to put me back to sleep.  Good news for Hawkeye: I finished it instead and then had to break out my all-time favorite for inducing insomnia: Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed, which supposedly describes the Russian October Revolution in 1919.  I say “supposedly” because I can’t make it past the introduction.

I saw Hawkeye – or this edition of him, anyway – as scans passed through on my tumblr.  The author, Matt Fraction, is apparently a friend of Wil Wheaton, and so he’s got some geek cred going for him.  Previous to the comics, all I knew about Hawkeye was from Thor and The Avengers, so I didn’t really have an idea as to his backstory was: I knew that he was a member of SHIELD before the Avengers were formed, and that he’s super-awesome with a bow and arrow, and that he and Natasha Romanoff have a history.  I was hoping for some Black Widow / Hawkeye friend!adventures, clearing the red in their ledgers, but even though this book didn’t give me that, it didn’t disappoint.

What drew me to the comics was the color scheme: everything is in shades of purple and yellow, which are Hawkeye’s colors.  We meet this Hawkeye (or Clint Barton) after he’s become an Avenger, but we don’t see him being an Avenger in these issues.  We see him being a stand-up guy, going after the bullies who are going after the little guys, and we see him rescuing a stray dog that eventually becomes known as Lucky Dog.

(On his way to breaking up an underground gambling ring, he gives this stray dog a piece of his pizza.  On his way out of the underground gambling ring, being chased by a bunch of gun-toting bad guys, the same stray dog jumps in front of Hawkeye and saves him, then gets hit by a car.  The next frame is Hawkeye laying the dog down on a 24-hour vet clinic saying, “Lady.  Save. This. Dog.”  And I was hooked.)

Anyway, he rescues Lucky Dog, and we also meet his cohort Kate Bishop, who is the Hawkeye in the Young Avengers (apparently).  (Gleaned backstory: at some point Hawkeye was believed to be dead, and Captain America gave Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye’s boy and arrow and the name Hawkeye.  When Clint came back [to life? not sure], he let her keep the name but he wanted his bow back, so now they work together on occasion.)

Their relationship is an amazing platonic, bantery, brother-sister relationship.  It’s kind of adorable.

I don’t really have much to talk about plot-wise: he’s a good guy, he saves the day, he shoots arrows and drives cars (and boats – see later), he likes women but not Kate because she’s the little sister he never had, and also he has a dog.

Have some pictures that truly show Hawkeye:

hawkeye cumberbatch  hawkeye coffee pot

(He’s drinking coffee straight out of the pot.  A man after my own heart.)

And finally – I saw this on tumblr, and I didn’t think it was real until I saw it in the book:

hawkeye great at boysYes you are, Hawkeye.  Yes, you are.

Grade for Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon4 stars

Fiction: “The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I” by John Broome/Gil Kane

So I have a long, torrid history with The Green Lantern. Okay, not very long — maybe about eight years long. And not torrid, either. Actually, everything I just said was a lie. Maybe what I should have said just there was that I’ve always had a fascination with The Green Lantern.

It all started one night at Franklin Pierce College. I had gone down for the weekend to hang out, and we had been drinking (as college kids are wont to do), and Justice League comes on Adult Swim or whatever. And we end up watching it. And it’s the episode where Aquaman gets his hand chopped off, and when he comes back at the end of the episode with A HOOK FOR A HAND, all five of us in the room at the time yell, in unison, “Daaaaaamn, Aquaman!”

That led to a discussion of which member of the Justice League was the lamest. Considering the original members of the Justice League are: Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash, we had some choice. And we ended up choosing the Green Lantern as the winner. Or, rather (and more appropriately), the loser.

In fact, ever since that fateful night, we have been unable to mention the Green Lantern without proclaiming that he is the bitch of the Justice League. Not that he’s bitchy; just that he’s the Justice League’s bitch. Because while Superman and Batman are out having fun, fighting over Wonder Woman, and generally saving the world, Green Lantern’s stuck doing the housework at headquarters. They send him out to pick up the dry cleaning. He follows Aquaman around with a mop. Y’know, that kind of bitchery.

When I was younger and in even lower low-level management, I proclaimed myself the Green Lantern of the department leadership, because they had made me their bitch. It’s gotten better since then, though I have not yet progressed far enough to determine who my Green Lantern is. My potential Green Lanterns keep getting taken away from me.

So this leads me to the movie about Green Lantern coming out. And I fully intend to see it at some point — though, after the short clip they played on Conan the other night, I’m most likely going to wait until it comes out in Redbox format, because it looks super cheesy. Like, Twilight-level of cheese. Which means that if I go to see it in the theatre, I will be sneaking in a flask of some form of alcohol.

Now, all of this blathering does nothing to describe the collection of comics I just finished reading. See, I had decided at the beginning of the summer that one of my Summer Improvement Projects was to find the archives of Green Lantern comics and read from the beginning. I mean, you can do that with Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four, and I’m still working my way through the Fables series (who the hell in the Portland area has Volume 12 of that!?), why couldn’t I do that with Green Lantern? And here’s where I could digress into a discussion of why I picked the Chronicles to read rather than the Showcase editions (number one reason: they’re in color), but I’m not going to.

There’s not a lot of plot involved in these comics. I see a brief glimpse of the epic storytelling that would soon come to dominate comics, both DC and Marvel, but for the most part, the storeis are all one-shots. The main character is Hal Jordan, an ace test pilot for Ferris Aircraft Company. Mr. Ferris has recently taken a two-year-long tour of the world, leaving his daughter Carol in charge of the company. Prior to her father’s leave, Carol had been encouraging Hal in his affections for her; but now that she’s the boss, there will be no fraternization.

And then Hal becomes the Green Lantern. Some dude in a spaceship crash-lands on our planet and searches for a fearless, honest man to take over the work of a Guardian, as the space-dude is dying. He finds Hal, Hal takes the Power Battery (“it looks like a green lantern!”) and the dead man’s clothes, I mean come on, he couldn’t have made his own Super Suit? (And now I’m imagining Edna Mode getting into an argument with Hal over his HOBO SUIT and that there will be absolutely NO CAPES, and that would have IMMEDIATELY raised the rating on this to 10 stars.)

For Hal, the major complication isn’t that he now leads a secret life as the Green Lantern; it’s not even the fact that he has to recharge his Power Ring every 24 hours (what? 24 hours? You don’t have a better battery backup than that?!); and it’s not even the fact that the Green Lantern’s powers are unable to work on anything yellow (don’t get me started); it’s the fact that Carol Ferris has fallen in love with the Green Lantern and wants to marry him, yet keep Hal on the side as a friend.

At this point, I’ve discussed all the plot points I can. So I turn to what I’ve been looking forward to since I began reading this: pictorial evidence of His Lameness.

Let’s begin with this point: apparently, Coast City (the home of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern) is in British Columbia. Why? Well, based on this evidence, the Green Lantern must be Canadian:


There are more pictures, but I don’t want to tie up all your bandwidth, ‘eh?’ [Oh, speaking of: I have a point to make. How do you write the Canadian ‘eh’? It’s ‘eh,’ correct? Not ‘ay’? I’m right. I have to be right.]

Here’s a screenshot of Hal and Carol in Carol’s office, with Hal trying to ask her on a date and failing miserably on more than one level:

And as if he weren’t enough of a hound-dog, how about this view into his thoughts?:


But enough about his bordering-on-assault tendencies (it was the early Sixties, after all — have you guys seen Mad Men? Kinda par for the course). How about this: he’s so lame, he lives at the hangar:


In all two hundred or so pages I read, nowhere does it show Hal in his ‘apartment’ — it’s always “his private dressing room in the hangar.” It’s so sad!

And let’s talk about the lamest of the lame: the fact that he has no power over anything yellow.


I can’t — I can’t even. YELLOW? Not, like, something made out of adamantium or a meteor. No, just everyday, ordinary yellow. And to make things worse, the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott, in the 1940s) was defeatable by wood. Which, in the words of Raj Koothrapalli, that means that both Green Lanterns can be taken out by a #2 Pencil.

Here’s a fun sequence about yellow:


WHY DON’T YOU JUST PICK THE THING UP, DUMBASS? It’s just a yellow dome over your lamp — I BET YOU COULD LIFT IT IF YOU TRIED.

Penultimately, I would be remiss if I didn’t show you this last shot:


THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

And finally, a word from one of our sponsors:

“Oh, Waldorf, don’t look so surprised. Your precious Green Lantern is no match for me, Chuck Bass. As you can see, I can pull off a green suit the likes of which Jordan couldn’t begin to imagine. And in addition to my sartorial finesse, I don’t have any weaknesses. And if I were to have failings, they wouldn’t be as horrifyingly dull as ‘yellow.’ I mean, come on; I look amazing in yellow. Now darling, I must send you back to this season’s prince or whatever; I have important feats of daring-do to attend to, without help from a ring or Guardians of Oa. Nay, my most important task is to rescue us from that most devastating of evil villains: mediocrity.”

Grade for The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I: 1 star

Fiction: “Watchmen” by Alan Moore / Dave Gibbons

watchmen-book-cover-webI don’t think it’s news to any of my readers, new or old, that I’m a geek. When one of my reps was astonished at my ability to name all twelve colors of the Ultra-Absorbent towels without a crib sheet, I was forced to admit that I can name the first one hundred episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in order. It’s a great party trick, but only for people who are fellow geeks.

Anyway. Speaking of Buffy, I’ve been reading the Season 8 comics since they were released. This summer I got into the Fables series by Bill Willingham, and really enjoyed it. I don’t discuss Fables as I read them because the stories are intertwined and even though they’re collections in paperback form, I find it hard to classify them as a book. I read the first collection of Sandman, and honestly, it creeped me out a bit more than I like seeing in a comic.

But since I enjoyed Fables and the graphic novel is a genre I hadn’t really explored, plus, there’s a movie of it now, I picked up Watchmen from the library. Continue reading