Comics Load: Got Venom?

Lots o’ comics to read this week! From the epic to the “eh,” the Comics Load brings you our unique take on the week in sequential art storytelling. But we can’t do it alone! Be sure to let us (and the world) know what you’re reading and recommending in the comments section below. Now, sit back, relax, open a cold one and enjoy the Load!

Chance‘s Load image

image Batman and Robin #25

Jason Todd has been naked a lot lately. A couple of issues back, he was parading around prison in a tiny little state-issued prison towel. This month, he’s forced to strip naked and make jokes about enjoying cavity searches. Ordinarily, I would just chalk this up to the ever-present homoerotic subtext in American comics. This time, though, I think there’s more at work here. Jason is, of course, the anti-Dick. As much as Bruce tried to mold him in Dick’s image, Jason just couldn’t be Dick-washed. He holds grudges. He kills people. He gets naked. Sexualizing him makes him dangerous. Dick may have the hottest ass in comics, but that doesn’t mean it sees any action in the bedroom. Naked Jason is unpredictable, bold and confident in a way that sets him apart from his Bat brother. Smart writers would explore this further, maybe see Dick try to emulate Jason’s swagger a little more. Or they could just throw all that potential away and start over with new #1 issues of everything.
image Secret Six #35

Um…why is Bane going after Batman? Are we to believe it’s because he’s on the juice again? Otherwise, I can’t imagine why we’re backtracking here. This is apparently the next-to-last issue of Secret Six, so I guess they wanted to go out with a bang, but still. I need more explanation on this one, and “Hell made me do it” isn’t working.
image Flashpoint #3

The latest issue of DC’s sort-of event series dares to ask the question: “What if Superman had been a lonely emo kid who just wanted some mascara?” Thank the fates Geoff Johns is in charge now, or we might never have known. On a side note, what good is the Flash anyway? So he can run fast. He can catch stuff or people who are also running fast. In this issue, we find out he can sew a Flash costume really fast, and given enough time, can change the color of existing costumes. He should do more of that. Personally, I’m tired of costumers telling me it’s going to take 6-8 months to make me a costume, only to take my money and disappear. Flash should do something about that.
image Superboy #9

Oh, Lori and Simon. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been in a bizarre love triangle with a hunky, charismatic “super” boy and a trailer trash floozy, I’d have enough money to start my own website and review comics every week. Lori and ambiguously gay Simon are about to learn the hard way that these triangles rarely end well. Haven’t they seen Threesome? Here’s what happens, and I speak from way too much experience. Conner will have one too many brews at the frat house, then will stumble over to Simon’s to, I don’t know, play video games or something. Video games will quickly devolve into wrestling, and then before you can say “faster than a speeding bullet,” the deed will be done. The next day, though, Conner will start to freak out a little, so he’ll give Lori a call, just to, you know, prove to himself that he’s not queer or anything. But sleeping with Lori only complicates their relationship. Plus, it only reminds him of what he did with Simon, so pretty soon, he’s not returning either of their calls or texts. Stay away from those superboys, Simon. You’re just asking for trouble.
image Fear Itself #4

Can’t we just skip to the end of this? Oscillating back and forth between tediously slow and logically inexplicable, this book has nothing at stake, no matter how many interviews Matt Fraction does, assuring us it’s the very definition of epic. I just resent that they’re not keeping it self-contained, instead letting it meander aimlessly through all the other titles. Let’s just skip to the end, where everything turns out okay and get on with Schism or Chasm or whatever it’s called.
image Uncanny X-Men #540

I appreciate comics that make me think. For instance, this issue made me spend a few hours pondering over what I would do if Namor climbed in my window and demanded sex. I wonder if he’d smell like sunscreen and sweat, like a surfer, or if he’d just smell like a fish. Emma is faced with this envious dilemma, but all the “outrage” she can muster is a tepid “inappropriate” scolding of Mr. King of the Fishies. She’s only thinking of Scott. Well, I’m going to think of Scott now, too. And Namor. And let’s throw Colossus in there just for fun.
image X-23 #12

I feel for X, I really do. Like X, I also fly into a psychotic rage when I encounter a trigger scent. In my case, it’s Polo. A department store fragrance model once spritzed me with it, and when I woke up, 200 fellow shoppers were dead…on Christmas eve. There were some elves and a Santa in the body count, too. So, you know, I get X. I’ve never jumped off the Eiffel Tower just to feel alive, but I did once whip my d*ck out on a balcony in New Orleans. You can blame that one on Drakkar Noir.
image Titans Annual

After reading this book, I can’t wait for September. Really, if I have to lose the DCU I know and love just to get rid of Roy and his problems for a while, I consider it a small sacrifice. I will miss Starman, though. Instead of thinning their LGBTQ characters, DC should just round them all up and put them in one camp. Wait, did I just advocate the capture and segregation of my fellow gays? Trust me, they’ll just be happy to get the hell away from Roy.

Brian‘s Load image

image Ultimate Comics X #5

Now, I have to say that I’m quite possibly the biggest Arthur Adams lover in history. (I have his fabulous Asgardian-Mohawk Storm design tattooed on my fanny.) But as fan-freaking-tastic as his artwork is, I’m not sure it’s worth a five-month (or was it longer?) wait. Two months? Sure. Three months? Maybe. Five plus months to wrap up a story makes it a little tough for me to maintain my excitement for a book. I just don’t know if I can justify my devotion, tattoo and all. Despite this (bitchy) gripe of mine, I actually enjoyed this series. It was wacky, crazy, and Marvel clearly let the creators do anything they wanted with the characters and story, and I mean anything. Case(s) in point: a grey Hulk is now part of this new X-Force-ish team; Jean Grey gets all leader-y with her “I’m serious” black hair; Wolverine’s blond son pops up with bone claws that automatically turn all metal-y and pretty and shiny; Rogue is a florist (funny, I thought she’d be a body piercer or something); the Blob’s illegitimate son joins the dark side (I hope he doesn’t have a craving for winged superheroines like his dad—Blob senior ate the Wasp!); and the “shocking” reveal at the end of the comic with the Game of Thrones-ish brother/sister Ultimate Universe incest lovers, the Scarlet Witch (with lots of floating red bubbles adorning her head like a Lady Gaga costume) and Quicksilver, together again, is just the icing on the already super zany cake. So, if you like a massive heaping of insanity in your comics, with really beautiful art, then this book is for you!
image Empowered: Ten Questions for the Maidman

I’ve never read an Empowered comic before, but I’ve always been aware of it. It’s one of those comics I see around the comic book store shelves and convention halls, but just never actually invested the time and energy in picking up. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t inspired to invest in the comic, but that all changed with this one-shot. I just needed a pinch more cross-dressing super-men running around, like the Maidman, to entice my comic spending ways. Yeah, you read that right: the Maidman. It seems there’s this Batman-like hero in the Empowered Universe (and Empowered is this big-lipped lady hero whose outfit always gets ripped up in naughty ways) who has no powers but battles bad guys in a French Maid get-up. Hot! This book was actually pretty darn entertaining. The colored pages with Maidman and his interview with crop-top wearing Blitzcraig is pretty darn homoerotic. So, yeah, run pick this up! It’s fun and funny and seeing Maidman all gussied up like a lady-maid is kind of a turn on. Uh oh. What does that say about me? Guess I know what to get my boyfriend for our anniversary.
image Fear Itself #4

Is it me or does this book seem to be moving at a snail’s pace? It’s like there’s lots and lots of padding, almost like they’re stretching the story to make it to the seventh issue. Take for instance the three pages with the little boy seeing all the dead Atlanteans floating in the sea like a bunch of goldfish who just got flushed down the toilet. Padding. What the frack do I care about some stupid kid? Let’s move things along, yeah? I do still love me some Stuart Immonen art, though. Vibrant, interesting, awesome. Much like myself! (At least that’s what my old Manhunt profile used to say).
image Flashpoint #3

Now this is more like it. This is how an “event” comic should go. Fast, gripping, always moving from one surprise and one plot point to another, keeping the reader wondering what the eff is gonna happen next. To bad I just don’t really care about any of it. It’s a whole new universe, so like, who cares what happens to any of the characters? And, aside from the alternate world crapola, the whole DCU is getting a massive relaunch, so again, who cares? I did, however, have an affinity for the Mary-Kate Olsen-looking Superman. I used to be that skinny and dorky and socially awkward and sheltered in high school. But then I slowly realized I was a dirty-minded gay dude with a drive to meet like-minded queers and an unquenchable hunger for cake, cookies and pie. So, yeah, I’m not so sheltered and skinny anymore. Sadly, I’m still very much a dork.
image Secret Six #35

Despite the fact that nothing in this comic is going to matter in a few short months, it’s another stellar tale by the delightfully depraved mind of one Gail Simone. Anyone who still believes that comics are for kids should read this naughty little comic, ‘cause it’s filled with glorious amounts of kitchen sex, lesbian bed romps and more blood and moral ambiguity than you can shake 10 Casey Anthony’s at. Aside from all this horrible fun, the cover alone got my attention, because the exact same thing happened to me last Saturday night. Except, the bright green liquid shooting out of my mouth and down my neck was more of a milky, ivory, cream color. And I wasn’t screaming when it happened. I was, however, wearing a full face mask.
image Spider-Girl #8

After eight issues of hating this comic because Spider-Girl doesn’t have any actual spider-based powers, and after it had been announced that this book was getting cancelled after this issue, Spider-Girl goes and finally gets her some spider-related abilities. WTF! After all this time, the girl finally gets her shiz-nit together, suddenly can shoot webs and blend into the shadows, and she gets axed. How’s that for irony? Bummer for her. Is it sad that now I don’t have any book to focus all my fanboy vitriol on? Thankfully, I have a good feeling one of those new DCU books will be able to fill this void.
image X-23 #12

Now, this is how you tell a fantastic story about a young female version of a male character. X-23 actually has Wolverine’s powers and then some. She has awesome toe claws, two hand claws and that super healing thing. Plus, a whole crate full of issues and character flaws and demons and crap, thanks to her great, emotionally grabbing back story. (She’s a cloned assassin who never had a childhood.) With writing by the always thoughtful and prose-y Marjorie Liu, and often filled with great guest stars like Vamp Jubilee, this is a terrific book. I love Liu’s writing so much that I wish she’d go all Chaz Bono and become a FTM, so I can marry her and we can live forever and ever together. That way I can wrap her smart, powerful writing around us like a down comforter every night. Aw, that would be heaven.
image Uncanny X-Men #540

Hey, has anyone noticed that all the blonde women in the X-Men look the same? For a while now, Emma Frost has been totally interchangeable with Dazzler, and in this issue, Magik also seems to be horning in on this new, weird, uniform blond trend all the ladies have been adapting. When did Emma, Dazz and Magik suddenly decide to go to the same hair and make-up artist? And shouldn’t they fire that person for making all three look exactly alike? I mean, even the Kardashians—who all have the same, super long, dark brown hair and “natural” make-up—at least have different body types and sizes so we can tell who’s who. But here, all three X-ladies could be cloned sisters. Get it together, gals, and branch out! Also, since when do Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost proudly sport ride-up-their-asses thongs? In public even? Privately, we all enjoy a little thong action, right? (Right?) But when wearing a superhero uniform, super-thongs are just tres gauche.
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