Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This Comic Is Good - Bulleteer #1

This comic is quite remarkable, I think, because Grant Morrison here manages to portray very cynical events in a way that still allows the book to be optimistic. That is hard to do, and I cannot think of many writers who could pull off such a feat. Lucky for us, Grant Morrison is one of them. Add to the mix very appropriate for the book artwork by Yanick Paquette, and you have the recipe for an entertaining individual issue that provides a fine setup for a good mini-series.

The gist of the issue is as follows: Alix Harrower's husband is developing something called a "smart skin," which can cover people from head to toe with this metallic stuff that both A. Perserves their appearance as it is when the metal hits them and B. Makes them pretty much impervious to harm and pain and makes them essentially a living bullet (as they can pound through things). He uses Bullet Man and Bullet Girl as his influences, and he designs costumes for himself and his wife, Alix, to wear as crimefighters. He tests the metal out, but it does not work right for him and he dies, but the metal DOES bond on Alix, and she survives to become the Bulleteer.

That is the GIST, but the REAL cynical stuff happens due to WHY he is doing this. You see, he is a sick, sick dude. He is obsessed with superheroes, and trying to become one, which we learn from a doctor in the comic is a somewhat common thing, and it pisses doctors off, to see people ingesting strange herbs or exposing themselves to radiation, etc. Meanwhile, he is also obssessed with perserving his and his wife's appearance, as well all know, superheroes always stay looking good (a little meta fiction nod). At one point, Alix walks in when he is looking at porn. We learn that it is SUPERHERO porn. This guy is MESSED up. In addition, he was really planning on leaving Alix to be partners with a superhero that he has been corresponding with (as he gets off on pictures of bullets bouncing off her skin).

This brings us to Yanick Paquette's depiction of Alix. She is the prototypical superhero heroine in appearance. Tiny waist and huge breasts. However, that is the POINT. Her husband gets off on just that sort of thing, and the point of the experiment was to PRESERVE her looking just like that. Messed up, huh? Of course, there IS a bit of a Cousin Larry trick to it all (could someone please find for me the entry where I define Cousin Larry trick? I can't seem to find it on this site), as while Morrison is commenting on her appearance, she still HAS the big breasts and tiny waist and perfect figure. But that is not a big deal.

In any event, with such a cynical background, Morrison does a great job in giving us Alix Harrower, who is just the kind victim of her husband's creepiness. By writing the husband out of the series quickly, Morrison is able to divorce himself of the (albeit interesting) cynicism and embrace the optimism that comes from the forming of a new superhero.

Yanick Paquette's clear and bright artwork helps getting this optimism across really well. He was a really good pick for this project by Morrison.

All in all, this was a fun issue and I look forward to seeing Alix Harrower for years to come (as she really seems to be set up well for future appearances in other comics).

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Daniel apodaca said...

Wait, they're both named Alix?

11/02/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Thanks, Dan, I left a word out!

11/02/2005 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

I thought this was an excellent first issue. Very moving yet hopeful.

11/02/2005 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Apodaca said...

Ah, now I get it. I got a chance to flip through this at the shop, I'll definitely be picking it up tomorrow when I have the moolah.

11/02/2005 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

Uncle Brian vs. Cousin Larry...the first is the best on-site definition I could find:

1!

2!

3!

last one from the CBR boards.

11/02/2005 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Isn't that hilarious, Eli?

That all that searching, and you couldn't find it, even though it was here on the blog.

http://goodcomics.blogspot.com/2005/02/comic-dictionary-cousin-larry-trick.html

There, I found it there.

But that DIDN'T show up on a google search?

What the heck?

11/02/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

I felt kind of stupid for just posting the ones that could be found by a basic googling, but they helped me, at least, so I thought they might save a second or two of people's time.

11/02/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Eli said...

My favorite thing about 7S, by the way, is that we get to have so many different Grant Morrisons all telling one story without watering each other down. We've had the balls-out trippy cosmic stuff in Zatanna and (it appears) we'll have more in Mr. Miracle - and we got the impossible information overload from Shining Knight. But we've also had very down-to-earth Morrison in Klarion, Guardian, and Bulleteer.

11/02/2005 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bully said...

Say, speaking of Seven Soliders, did ZATANNA #4 ever come out? Did I just miss it, or is it not-yet-published?

11/03/2005 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"I felt kind of stupid for just posting the ones that could be found by a basic googling, but they helped me, at least, so I thought they might save a second or two of people's time."

That's the thing, I don't think you could have found it PERIOD.

It just didn't show up in any search.

I had to just go back to the blog archives and search for it manually.

I have no idea why that is.

11/03/2005 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

And agreed, Eli, it is great that Morrison is mixing things up like this.

11/03/2005 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

No Zatanna #4 yet, Bully!

11/03/2005 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

apparently Z is undergoing rewrites

11/03/2005 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

At one point, Alix walks in when he is looking at porn. We learn that it is SUPERHERO porn. This guy is MESSED up. In addition, he was really planning on leaving Alix to be partners with a superhero that he has been corresponding with (as he gets off on pictures of bullets bouncing off her skin).

That's brilliant. I love subversion. That's one of the thing that made The Intimates so great. Maybe this is stating the obvious, but Morrison seems to be poking fun at his own (superhero comic) readers, most of whom "get off" on seeing bullets bounce off of chests although perhaps not in as extreme of a way as Harrower.

11/03/2005 07:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Eli said...

On the sexual aspect: I think this was an amazing companion piece to Flex Mentallo #3. FM #3 was basically "what superhero comics do to you sexually" as told from the inside, while this was "what superhero comics do to you sexually," as told from the perspective of the people around you whom you hurt.

So Morrison may be mocking and condemning people, but I think he has a lot of sympathy for them as well. In Flex Mentallo, the superporn phase itself didn't seem like it was being condemned - what was being condemned was failing to grow out of it.

Zatanna seems like it's been rewritten at every stage. First it was going to be about a reality show, then it wasn't. Then Ali Ka Zoom was supposed to be in issue 2, but he wasn't. Now issue 4 is delayed. I wonder what the deal is.

11/03/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jog said...

Flex Mentallo was one of the first things I thought of when reading this too...

I got the feeling that a lot of the drive of Paquette's art (which seems even more cheesecake-driven than usual here) was to kind of force us into the creepy husband's viewpoint, to see things as sexualized as he does, and to play off of such reactions by looking at their logical consequences in the DCU... it was a good idea, and I liked the book a lot...

11/03/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Bully said...

Thanks for the info, guys. As the one member of the Soldiers Seven who's actually a kinda mainstream character of the DC, I wonder if Zatanna's mini has been subject to more editorial control than the other ones have? After all, she's running around Cartoon Network...

11/03/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous RAB said...

I have a slightly different take on the issue: it's a very accurate depiction of a failing marriage in which one partner has a pronounced sexual fetish he has not disclosed to his spouse. You can see this exact scenario played out thousands of times in online fetish discussion groups. Lance Harrower's fixation is not really all that different from the people in real life who need spanking or bondage or wearing diapers in order to have sexual release. Sure, other people's kinks always seem sick and perverse to the rest of us...but remember, your preferences might seem equally off-putting to other people. The best touches in the story, IMHO, are the apparently offhand comments he makes to Alix which seem to be dropping hints; he's desperately hoping she'll respond with enthusiasm and participate in his fetish, and obviously disappointed when she doesn't. The guy is a classic fetishist and there are a million people just like him.

Her looks aren't really a "Cousin Larry trick" if I understand the definition of the term. Alix matching the superhero type in looks and physique -- as her husband notes in the story -- is presumably a big factor in why her superhero-fixated husband married her. (Is that so much weirder than other men basing their concept of female physical beauty on the likes of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, both of whom I find really creepy and unattractive? By the same token, I've heard other guys describe Kate Bush as ugly, when she's clearly the most beautiful woman on the planet. But I digress.) Her face and figure are an integral part of the story: this is the tragedy of a messed-up guy who had an unbelievably stunning wife and was simply incapable of appreciating her.

11/04/2005 01:44:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

But Lance is about to leave his wife for the superhero girl, RAB. I think that is supposed to be a negative. In fact, as my pal John Lombard has pointed out, it is his very unfaithfulness that ends up KILLING him.

Had he been faithful to his wife, and kept his wedding band on when he applied the smart skin, he'd still be alive.

Because he took it off, he died.

As for the "Cousin Larry" trick, the applicable "Couisn Larry" trick is the ol' "Make a statement about big breasted women while having a big breasted woman, so if people like the statement, then cool. If they don't get the statement, though, then hey, big breasted woman."

11/04/2005 03:07:00 AM  
Anonymous RAB said...

I agree totally with what you just said, Brian. My point is simply that the bad marriage in the story is a superhero-ized version of relationships which are sadly common in real life...and that Lance Harrower is presented as a figure to be pitied as much as condemned.

What you're talking about here is the element that makes it a classic tragedy: he dies, and his wife has her life shattered, because of his failings. Morrison's understanding of what drove him doesn't make his actions positive or more sympathetic!

11/04/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Coolness, RAB.

I get what you're saying now.\

Well observed.

11/04/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Thanks for the info, guys. As the one member of the Soldiers Seven who's actually a kinda mainstream character of the DC, I wonder if Zatanna's mini has been subject to more editorial control than the other ones have? After all, she's running around Cartoon Network...
Well, they were all supposed to be essentially forgotten characters that Morrison was revamping for the 21st century, weren't they? I get the feeling that someone in editorial wasn't paying attention to Zatanna, and we get a left hand/right hand situation in which Morrison is revamping her in 7S, while she's also turning up in a major role in the DCU proper. They probably let Brad Meltzer and Morrison each go off and do their own thing, and didn't consider that they'd both make use of the same character in different ways.

My guess is the rewrites are due to Morrison and/or DC trying to fix that. Since the whole Crisis2 situation is bigger than 7S, I'd suspect Morrison is having to hammer his Zatanna to fit.

11/07/2005 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I didn't notice this until I started reading the issue itself, but her surname is HARROWER.

"The Sheeda are here to harrow the world, my darlings."

That has to be deliberate.

11/07/2005 04:36:00 PM  

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