16 January, 2014

Sex: It's What People Do

Author's Note: It's been pointed out to me that this has a lot of, shall we say, unfinished sentences? While I appreciate the effort I am well aware of my lack of a copy-editor that isn't my cat. The following is a second go at this article.

As discussed in a previously post, I went on a bit of a comic book buying binge. I blame Christmas. And my poor impulse control. And a lot of things.

Speaking of which, one of the comics I bought is Sex.

I don't know that I've ever read a Joe Casey comic before. There was a time when I wanted to pick up Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker, but since that violently imploded, I think I'll take the long way around to checking out that book. From my understanding Mr. Casey is a man who takes superheroes and pits them against situations that are completely opposed to superheroics or situations that are the ultimate conclusion of the superheroing business. (Trade? Practice?)

That's a fine way to go about things. It's also as much a part of the comic landscape as the straight stories about people in capes. He seems far less pleased with his ideas than a guy like Mark Millar does and he also seems far more talented than the kind of "But what if Batman was in real life!?' type of nonsense that pours out of the Preview pages.

Sex's particular take on superheroes is "What if Batman quit being Batman? Also, what if everyone in Gotham City was a sexual maniac? Also, what if costumes were a poorly explored metaphor about sexual dysfunction?" And then it goes from there. Kind of. In its defense it doesn't feel cheap or exploitative. Maybe it's because I'm so jaded and cynical, but I never batted an eye at the sexual content of the book.

Then again maybe that's also a problem. If I'm not batting an eye at the contents of a book that was sold with the tagline "IMAGE WANTS YOU TO BUY SEX" then maybe something has gone wrong somewhere along the lines.

Though, the boners and the tits are there. My reaction is sort of tempered by the fact that they are there and they are sticking up at you. If that's the sort of book you were looking for-- and I thought I was-- then Sex will deliver.

The main problem with the book is that as good looking as it is, it is listless. Appropriately listless considering the theme. Or one of the themes. I'm not sure I care to parse them out. Our main character is primarily defined by the fact that he doesn't do anything. He has a thrilling past and one full of trauma and psychological conclusion, yet we're stuck in the present with this white goofus who seems to have the acting range of an opium addled Keanu Reeves.

Like scenes like this? Well, don't get used to them.
Ennui isn't an emotion that moves stories forward. That's a lesson we never quite learned from the French.

This lack of drive carries over to Sex's world building. In works like Watchmen or The Winter Men or any number of other books in this vein we have fully realized worlds that are as much a part of the story as the characters or the dialogue. Batman has had 70 years to throw a world together, but as readers we know what Gotham City is. It's a place that is alive and that has real weight. As a writer Joe Casey is making an analogue of Gotham City without any of the texture of that city. In Sex we're treated to a lot of men in suits and skyscrapers. Saturn City doesn't feel like a real place and that's important if your main characters aren't exactly leaping off of the page.

As far as Sex's supporting characters, we have the Alpha Brothers (the world's one and only Sebastian O cosplay gang), The Old Man, Keenan, and this world's Catwoman stand in, each weaving in and out of each others' lives, trying to make a living in a world without Batman the Armored Saint. Yet, by the end of the trade the only thing that's changed in any of their lives is that Not Catwoman had to get glasses. Which she thinks makes her look old. Considering that Lisa Ann is the world's most popular porn star and she's known for dressing up like another well known MILF, I can't help but feel that Not Catwoman can't see the forest for the trees. You know. Literally in this case.

Plus the main character has a goatee and what the fuck is that in 2014?

Overall, though, the book is rather humorless. I mean. It's called Sex. I'm not looking for Benny Hill here, but if you're going to have superheroes standing around not being superheroes, at least make me smile. I mean, Lord almighty nobody is having fun in this book. I'll go watch Shame if I wanted that. (I don't.)

All in all I'm excited that Hayao Miyazaki is making comics again. I want to read something nice.


I came out with a comic book myself. It's called  Old College Comics Presents and it's pretty fucking exciting. The cover looks great. The paper stock is solid. Some of the words and drawings together are pretty decent, too. If you're not interested in picking up the new comic, we also have an old one (It's called The Freshman Fifteen. Get it?). Either way, who are you to resist?

(It seems our website hasn't been updated. . . Huh. That'll have to be resolved rather soon. . .)

I do a podcast with my actor friend Cruz Flores. It's called White Guys, Square Glasses. It is a title that is 75% accurate. If you like the kind of nonsense I've written in the above article you might like the kind of nonsense that falls out of my mouth on our show. It's about media and pop culture and rambling on about whatever catches our fancy. In short: It's a podcast. But it's one from me.