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JohnMcMahon

Fuckbiscuitshitangels (Warren Ellis)

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The X Axis somewhat more charitably says:

The stereotypical Warren Ellis comic stars a chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, drug-blitzed Brit whose hard cynical exterior conceals a passionate underlying idealism. His villains will be genuine out-and-out cynics whose self-centred schemes frustrate those ideals. Ideally, there will be grotesque body modification, grotesque sexual perversion, underground sub-cultures and a pervasive air of scabrous black humour, combined with a starry-eyed enthusiasm for new technology, particularly if it involves the anarchic free flow of information, or an excuse to talk about mobile phones. This stuff crops up, to one degree of another, in a remarkable amount of his work.

 

At first glance, Desolation Jones looks like an absolutely standard example of the formula. Looking closer, it ticks slightly fewer of the boxes than it might first seem.

 

And Popcultureshock said, "But it would be a disservice to immediately dismiss this as a simple retread instead of a revisiting of some of his better ideas." Apparently a retread is bad, but a revisit is legit. Mmm.

 

It also duplicates shitloads of hoary old PI cliches:

 

-The rich cripple who wants the PI to find a missing object or person, but secretly has an ulterior motive.

-The daddy's girl gone bad.

-The PI being beaten up for something only because a third party has misunderstood his connection to the case.

 

And so on. It's a fun comic, but you'd be a fool to think that it's anything more than a mash-up of other, better works.

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Guest spiderlegs

I'm liking this second series much more than the first one, which I still enjoyed.

 

The first series was kind of cliché, with a few added elements, but this new series (even though we're only two issues deep) seems a bit different. OK, it does have the "detective investigating his long lost friend's murder" (plot device of many an hour-long detective TV series), but the Philip K. Dick development is cool. Then there's Chas showing up as cabdriver (or is it kneejerk of me to assume that--Chas certainly wasn't well-read, but did annoy JC like this one annoys Jones).

 

Some of the characters are unique and original, too. Like the smelly goth spider woman. Never seen her before anywhere (except maybe in real life...). The redheaded porn girl was interesting and realistically presented.

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Desolation Jones is damn fine stuff, a fond reminded that the man can still write good comics on Occassion.

 

Hurm, to be fair he's had a good year of it with Jones, Fell (wonder if we'll be graced with an issue in 2007) and Nextwave.

 

From January 9, I will be writing Second Life Sketches on a weekly basis exclusively for Reuters. All information here in this link.

 

I’m actually getting paid to write about the future in relation to the Second Life system. I tell you, this has been a weird month for me…

I await, with much eagerness, the comedy that will no doubt flow from such a nonsense column.

 

Second Life is not only the biggest digital art installation in the world, but potentially the most radical shift yet in the way communities are formed online, and possibly also the germ of the next great operating system

Comedy. Nonsense. Flowing.

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Does anybody else think that Ellis might conceivably write a few more comics if he cut down a bit on the reams of self aggrandising stuff he smears all over the internet?

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Check out this brilliant opener to the issue 1 review from The Fourth Rail:

A cynical, highly intelligent and highly damaged person (along with his sexy female assistant) investigates mysteries of the weird all the while talking about obscure social theories and theoretical technology. Quick, which Warren Ellis book did I just describe?

Zing! :biggrin:

 

I'm pretty sure I made exactly the same joke somewhere around these parts back when Jones was first starting. I don't usually read The Fourth Rail either, so it's possible I wasn't just nicking it from that guy.

 

I enjoyed Desolation Jones more than most latterday Ellis, although there were a few points where his usual tics overwhelmed the story - that'd be less of a problem if I didn't subscribe to Bad Signal, a mailing service which does a marvellous job of rendering its author entirely beyond parody, simply by doing all the hard work for you. It's the best thing he's written in quite a while, I think, but it suffered badly from slow pacing in the original (bi-) monthly format, which is why I'm waiting for the trade of the second arc.

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Guest spiderlegs

He does seem to need at least 3 clones of himself to make ends meet.

 

That Second Life thing...World of Warcraft but without the game? What's the feckin' point?

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Half of the latest Nextwave is made up of double-splash pages, they're alright but the comic feels like an even quicker read than usual for an Ellis effort.

How many issues did that last in total? They've solicited a bind up of the first six, it seems.

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There's already a trade of the first six issues - the final issue is going to be #12, which is supposed to come out next month. It might even do so, at that - Nextwave's been pretty consistently close to on-time throughout its run.

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Vol. 2 is out in May, according to Amazon.

 

I really enjoyed the first couple of issues of Nextwave, but the joke wore thin for me after that, so I didn't bother reading it after the second two-parter. I checked out the last two issues, though, and he seemed to have written a few new gags, so I'll probably pick up the trades when I can afford it.

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I thought it was a great concept with the first story, but its shelf life lasted the first two issues for me. Would've worked much better as a mini-series, if you ask me.

NextWave seemed to be the only book Ellis actually decided to work on. "Planetary? Fuck that! I'm writing my next issue of NextWave!". "Oh god, people are whining about the final issue of Planetary not coming out. sigh. I'll write up a script really quick while I'm watching TV tonite, then get to work on NextWave!"

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Vol. 2 is out in May, according to Amazon.

 

I really enjoyed the first couple of issues of Nextwave, but the joke wore thin for me after that. I checked out the last two issues, though, and he seemed to have written a few new gags, so I'll probably pick up the trades when I can afford it.

 

Dunno, I've been downloading them with a view to getting the trades if the whole thing satisfies me and... well, they're not really very good. Some half-decent jokes, but the majority of it is Ellis on autopilot with the usual compound words and self-conscious dialogue. Really, it's the art that's making the whole thing seem better than it is. The only issue that stood out was #10, which featured a gorgeous-looking Mignola pastiche and a bit inside RobotBloke's mind that was so perfectly drawn (in a Daniel Clowes stylee) I was tempted to buy the comic purely for that.

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I'd agree that a lot of the appeal of the series is Immonen's superb art, but there was some really good stuff in the first story. Perhaps it's just the fact that I find the notion of a gigantic green dinosaur in purple underpants every bit as awesome/hilarious as Ellis does, but that first two-parter really did it for me. I felt the same way as you did about the subsequent story, though, so dropped it (well, stopped downloading it, anyway) after issue #4. As I said, I checked in again lately, and issue #10 was the one which made me consider picking it up in trade. The art was, as you say, stunning, and I loved the lame superhero teams made up of long-forgotten Marvel characters. I suspect you'd need more familiarity with '60s-era Marvel than you have to fully appreciate the hilarity inherent in bringing Forbush-Man (god-damn Forbush-Man! Christ, Ellis is such a colossal fucking nerd) into a modern comic, for example.

 

I'm quite prepared to believe that most of the issues I haven't read were just as lazy as you say they were, though, since that was the impression I was getting when I decided to stop reading it in the first place.

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I think I started downloading at issue three or four, actually. Something to do with killing broccoli men growing in fields.

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I'd agree that a lot of the appeal of the series is Immonen's superb art, but there was some really good stuff in the first story. Perhaps it's just the fact that I find the notion of a gigantic green dinosaur in purple underpants every bit as awesome/hilarious as Ellis does, but that first two-parter really did it for me. I felt the same way as you did about the subsequent story, though, so dropped it (well, stopped downloading it, anyway) after issue #4. As I said, I checked in again lately, and issue #10 was the one which made me consider picking it up in trade. The art was, as you say, stunning, and I loved the lame superhero teams made up of long-forgotten Marvel characters. I suspect you'd need more familiarity with '60s-era Marvel than you have to fully appreciate the hilarity inherent in bringing Forbush-Man (god-damn Forbush-Man! Christ, Ellis is such a colossal fucking nerd) into a modern comic, for example.

 

I'm quite prepared to believe that most of the issues I haven't read were just as lazy as you say they were, though, since that was the impression I was getting when I decided to stop reading it in the first place.

 

I might end up buying the Trades after reading that synopsis.

I love those old Defenders issues that were pure parody, playing up such wonderful Marvel creations as Tagak the Leopard Lord.

Ellis was talking about how he spent a day reading through the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and referred to it as the Bible for people taking LSD. He was raving about Black Talon, a human dressed as a chicken who practiced voodoo, and saying it was the absolute trippiest thing he's ever seen.

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Can't remember if it's already been posted here or not, but the cover to Nextwave #11 is possibly my favourite comic cover this year.

 

Nextwave_issue_11.jpg

 

The concept is good, but it's the details which really make it shine - the pretend-crease down the left-hand side, the plaid background, the facial expressions of all the characters, the really-rather-clever play on pre-computerised lettering separation issues in the "licks goats" sign (which I can't believe he managed to get past editorial censorship, by the way)...it's all gold.

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I love it.

 

For the most part, it's pure quality, I'm kinda bummed to see it go - after some of the early flashback panels, I had high hopes that we might see some kind of longer story along with the laughs'n'explosions.

 

Ultimate Galactus and Iron Man were Ellis going through the motions, he's clearly a lot more interested here.

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Christ, that Iron Man run was awful. It felt like someone doing a parody of Ellis - absolutely everything which people mock about his work (awkwardly shoehorning pre-existing characters into Ellisian stock characters, the mobile phone fetish, explosive decompression, "look-what-I-was-just-reading-about-in-New-Scientist" techno-wank...) was present and correct to an absurd degree. Given how obsessed he is with his online following, you'd think he'd have picked up on some of that stuff by now, but apparently not - or, more likely, he doesn't care, since his superhero books still sell gangbusters.

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I suppose Ellis's Iron Man could be looked at in that way, but wherever he got his material from, I think Ellis is the only recent writer to have gotten Tony Stark right. Otherwise, almost all I ever see is a one-dimensional caricature of Bruce Wayne.

 

I've wanted to like Iron Man but Ellis's run is the only one that's given me a version of the character with any substance (other than perhaps Straczynski's Iron Man in Amazing Spider-Man).

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Except Tony actually, you know, runs a corporation, unlike Bruce Wayne....

I've been a big fan of Tony Stark over the years, although a lot of time his characterization does come to "I'm a multi-billionaire head of a multi-national corporation with a heart of gold!".

He was originally created as a pro-Capitalism propaganda character in the Cold War.

 

I don't remember much of the characterization of the Kurt Busiek run, although that was the last time I enjoyed reading an Iron Man comic (way back at issue #25 of the 3rd series, circa around 1998). I think it just featured a lot of continuity, which was why I enjoyed it.

Let's see....Len Kaminiski did some good stories with Iron Man, dealing with the fact that his parents died while he was young and that he was an atheist who believed in the rationality of science and the hope technology offered for humanity's future. The end of his run was also about Tony Stark dealing with aging. That was a really good story-line, until it turned into "Kang has been controlling Stark's mind since the 1960s!".

The original Armour Wars story-line was really good, as it showed how ruthless Tony Stark could be. Iron Man was always written as one of more questionable of the Marvel superheroes, in his actions, in that he'd cross a line other superheroes at Marvel really wouldn't if he thought it meant the greater good.

I love the Denny O'Neil run on Iron Man, which dealt with Tony Stark's alcoholism, and he lost his fortune and corporation. A much more humanized Tony Stark.

In the 1970s, Tony Stark visited Vietnam and realized the harm his weapons had done, and gave up munitions manufacturing. He ended up running afould of SHIELD (the American government) because of this. Of course, the Liberal Tony Stark didn't last long and everything went back to the status quo before long.

 

Unfortunately, none of these stories are Traded.

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I suppose Ellis's Iron Man could be looked at in that way, but wherever he got his material from, I think Ellis is the only recent writer to have gotten Tony Stark right. Otherwise, almost all I ever see is a one-dimensional caricature of Bruce Wayne.

 

I can understand that response to the series, although it's very different from my own - it probably boils down to the fact that we were approaching it from different pespectives. I've never had any real interest in Iron Man as a character, so I was approaching it as just another entry in Ellis' body of work - in which context, an awful lot of the themes, tonal elements and story-telling tics were terribly familiar to me. If I'd been approaching it from the perspective of someone with more familiarity with previous Iron Man stories, that may well have contextualised it very differently for me, and resulted in a somewhat more favourable reaction to the series.

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