There was nothing to do but wait for the next sunset, when the sky would ring like bronze. (Don DeLillo, from White Noise)
September was a tough month for me, not because of anything dire happening in my life, but because I worked a bit more than I had in previous months, and my wife was working hard as usual, so I had to do a bit more with my daughter. I also didn’t sleep particularly well (this has been a fact of life since I moved to the desert lo those many years ago, unfortunately), which seemed worse in September (the monsoon? the slightly “colder” temperatures?), and combined with more work, meant I was really exhausted when I had some time. So I didn’t get the chance to really review the comics I bought in September. Black Widow was fine, and I’ll probably get the trade. Gutter Magic is a pretty good comic, and it would be nice if we could get more mini-series (this is the second one). I’ve always said that Dan Jurgens is the tapioca pudding of comics – he’s bland but inoffensive – but he created Booster Gold, so these two volumes of that book have been like tapioca pudding with cinnamon sprinkled on top – the same as most Jurgens comics, but with the tiniest bit of spice. Breathless is a cool story about pharmaceutical companies doing dastardly things that unfortunately slides a bit too much into a monster story, but it’s still quite good and the art is very nice. The Flash is a nice collection – Guice does more of the art, and his art is good, while Baron is an oddball writer who’s actually not that good, but he comes up with some interesting ideas. Making Wally a HUGE douchebag is one of them, and having him win the lottery is another. Post-Crisis DC writers were really obsessed with how their dudes would make money (Booster Gold, both in his own book and Justice League – with Blue Beetle, of course; Animal, Wally West, and even Green Arrow), and this is an interesting take. Still, I am here for DOUCHEBAG WALLY WEST!!!!! The Immortal Hulk continues to mosey along, with a bizarre tale of Xemnu hypnotizing the planet and a nifty Samuel Sterns story. A Basketful of Heads is fairly predictable once you get past the fact the hero is carrying around a basketful of heads, but it trucks along nicely and Leomacs’s art is terrific. Nobody Is In Control is a conspiracy story, but it’s oddly kind of dull, while Survival Fetish, which is by the same writer, is a book set in slightly in the future in a Honolulu that is divided by gangs and through which a dude runs to make his living as a messenger. You certainly can’t accuse Patrick Kindlon, who wrote both of them, of being in a rut, and while Survival Fetish is a bit better than Nobody Is In Control, it’s also fairly predictable. Garth Ennis and Keith Burns reunite for Out of the Blue, which is a typical Ennis war story, in that it’s quite good although it’s also a bit predictable. Ennis’s predictability is usually better than most’s, though, so it’s fine, and Burns’s art is wonderful as usual. In Catwoman #25, we get three nice stories – the first is gorgeously illustrated by Fernando Blanco, and it’s fine, although why the crooks in Gotham keep looping Selina into their schemes when they know she’ll screw them over is beyond me; the second features beautiful John Paul Leon art and takes Selina back to the neighborhood in which she grew up; and the third also has wonderful art, as Juan Ferreyra draws a story about a cat who doesn’t trust the new cat-like woman in town, Ram V writes all three stories. Detective #1027 is annoying because every story is Batman-centric, even the one about the rookie cop who doesn’t want to take a bribe. I was hoping for a Slam Bradley or Jason Bard story, but sadly, no. There’s a fun Morrison/Burnham story in there, though, and Walt Simonson draws a tale, and it’s definitely not a bad issue, but I wish DC would realize that there have been other detectives in Detective Comics. A fleeting hope, I know. Little Bird features gorgeous Ian Bertram art in service of a fairly bland anti-religion story that features characters who somehow never die despite the multitude of ridiculous wounds they sustain. Bertram’s art makes it worth a look, but the story is just kind of there. Then we get Sweet Heart, which is about weird monsters who pick a person in a small town and simply wait for them to be off-guard, when they eat them. The people know this and take precautions, but one girl decides to stop them once and for all. It’s not bad, although it seems to end too … easily, I guess? Moving on, you can simply never go wrong buying a Steve Mannion-drawn book in which people punch Nazis, and when one of them is Hellboy, it’s a bonus (Mignola draws a couple of pages, but it’s mostly Mannion). Meanwhile, DC dusts off John Constantine for another go, and while Simon Spurrier is a good writer and gives us some creepy and some fun stuff, he twists himself into some knots trying to explain why John is still young even though he’s almost 70, and it’s just a good reason to remember why pegging characters to a certain birthdate or past events is difficult when you never let them go. I’ll probably get the second trade, just because I trust Spurrier, but this was a mixed bag. Curt Pires gives us Olympia, another take on the “fictional person enters the real world,” and while it’s fine, the best part of it is when Pires shows, through his main character’s creator, how comics can break your heart. Yes, they really can. Finally, Bill Williams and Matthew Weldon continue to knock it out of the park with Punchline, which is probably the best superhero book being published right now. The binding on my trade wasn’t great, which is too bad, but that’s really the only bad thing I can say about the comic.
So, how is everyone? I hadn’t started this post for weeks, and then, over the weekend, when I did start it, I thought I’d just write a little about what’s going on in the world. I began it on Saturday, when the “president” was in the hospital, and now he’s out, because he’s such a tough guy. I find it very difficult to begin speaking or writing about him, because I fear I won’t ever stop until my head explodes. This is just the latest in a long line of idiotic things he’s done, and I am hoping so hard for a landslide victory for Biden. I don’t want the rejection of the “president” to be in doubt in any way.
As this pandemic stretches into the foreseeable future, I keep thinking about my situation and why I should be more like my obnoxious conservative friends. This thing hasn’t affected me much at all. Neither my wife nor I has been out of work, and even if I had been out of work, I work only part-time and just for some extra money, so we would have been fine. I’ve mentioned before that the mortgage industry – my wife is an underwriter – is booming, so she’s been working ridiculously hard and making gobs of money. We have more money in our savings than we’ve ever had, and we’ve still been able to get our backyard landscaped and to buy new furniture. The kids were home from school in March for good, and their summer stuff was cancelled, and my younger daughter has been doing on-line school while my older daughter went back to in-person school on 31 August, so that’s been a bit strange but not too awful. I don’t write this to rub anyone’s noses in it if they’ve had struggles (I certainly sympathize, as I’ve been in situations like that), but my point is that a lot of my friends on Facebook – many of whom I knew in high school, so it’s not like I have no idea who they are – seemed to weather this storm pretty well, but they’re really obnoxious about the “fakeness” of the virus and they love our “president.” I haven’t been afflicted with this, and no one I see a lot has been, but I know people who have gotten sick. I know the job situation has hit some people hard – Greg Hatcher most notably, for readers of this blog – and while we’re doing well, I know, because I have a brain, that that’s not the case with many, many people. But I see so many people claiming that everything is fine, and when the “president” reinforces that despite clearly not being well, I get mad, but I also wonder about people.
So many people I know “don’t like politics.” As many of them are white and middle-class, that doesn’t surprise me. I always say that it has literally not mattered who was president for pretty much my entire life because I am white and middle-class, so I sail along perfectly fine (I’m a man, too, but plenty of white women “don’t like politics”). With the exception of the Affordable Care Act, which meant people with pre-existing conditions were covered by insurance, which was a nice codicil but which wasn’t as wonderful as you might think because we could always afford stopgap insurance if my wife lost her job, very little that presidents and even Congress has done has affected me either positively or negatively. There have been modifications to the tax code, sure, but not anything crazy. This extends to the current “president” – he’s dismantling the EPA, which is horrible from an existential viewpoint, but unless I live forever as I’m planning to, his policies won’t affect me too much. I would argue he hasn’t done quite as much horrible as some people say because he’s just that incompetent, but whatever he’s done hasn’t really done much for me, either positively or negatively. And that’s fine. A lot of people probably fall into this camp, but the point is that we’re thinking human beings, so looking simply at your stocks and saying “The ‘president’ is good for me!” is willfully ignoring the vast mass of people that are very much affected by the policies of a president or Congress or the Supreme Court. People are inherently selfish, I get that, and it takes an actual effort to give a shit about others not in your immediate family, but, you know, that’s why we’re adults. I look around and think, “How can people vote for this guy?” Even if you “don’t like politics,” what exactly has he done that is so great for you, personally? Because I bet it’s nothing, if you’re white and middle-class. He probably hasn’t done anything bad for you, but probably nothing good, either. So you look for other reasons to vote for him, and the reasons to vote for him always seem to be about hating someone else. It’s depressing.
Now he’s been sick, and of course he’s the only one in the world to beat it so easily. One of my friends on Facebook went to Walter Reed last weekend to join the rally, and he posted several photos and short videos of himself hanging out, waving at the “president” as he drove by for his unnecessary ego boost. He, naturally, wasn’t wearing a mask. Is it wrong to hope he gets the virus? My second cousin got married a few weeks ago, and her mom posted pictures on Facebook. It was a decent-sized wedding party – eight people, I think – and none of them were wearing masks. That doesn’t matter, because they were wedding pictures and they might have taken them off quickly, but my mom’s cousin is very much a fan of the “president” and her kids like her posts a lot, so I assume they are too, and I can’t believe they were wearing masks at the ceremony. I want them to get infected, too, because it appears that no matter how close this thing comes to some people, they will only take it seriously if they themselves get it. And, as the “president” shows, maybe not even then. This total lack of empathy depresses me. According to my parents, they lack empathy, but they also understand that there are people in this world who are far less fortunate than they are for no fault of their own. I thought that this pandemic might bring that to light for some of the more heinous conservatives I know, the ones who insist they never had any help getting where they are and anyone who isn’t as fortunate as they are is somehow defective. When so many people lost their jobs and insurance for no good reason, I thought it might get through to some people. Alas.
Anyway, the weather is finally changing just slightly here (it’s still hovering around 100 during the hottest parts of the day, but the mornings are glorious and the evenings aren’t too bad), and we can eat outside and actually enjoy it. We haven’t gotten our ballots yet, but I’m planning on voting as soon as I get mine and probably take it to a polling place instead of mailing it. Arizona has had mail-in ballots for years, and there’s never been a problem with it, but I imagine the influx of people voting by mail might strain the system a bit, so I’ll probably just drop it off. I know people are trying to be neutral and just encouraging people to vote, but honestly, if you like the “president,” I’d appreciate it if you didn’t vote. Is Biden the best candidate? Eh, probably not. But he’s certainly light-years ahead of the incompetent, racist, sexist bully we have now. So I really hope he wins in a landslide, because we really need to repudiate this person who tells us the worst parts of ourselves are just fine. No, they’re not.
I’ll try to be back next month with actual reviews. By then the entire atmosphere might be on fire, so who the hell knows? In the meantime, here’s Eddie van Halen doing his thing: