Monday, August 27, 2012

Rant-Reviews--The Victories, AVX #10, and the End of Butcher Baker

Let's discuss the first issue of a comic, a series nearing its end (thank God), and one that has now just finished with some drama behind the scenes.

The Meat of The Article
The Victories #1
This series has billed itself as being the raunchiest super-heroes since, "The Boys," started up. I mean, there are sex puns and dirty jokes, but I wouldn't say this was particularly raunchy as much as it was kind of juvenile. The plot is a basic one about a hero (Faustus) who doesn't kill, fighting an anti-hero/villain (The Jackal) who does. The two saving graces of the comic seem to be:

1. When we see Faustus out of costume and learn how much he hates himself which is slightly interesting--plus he is aware his jokes are terrible and he does them more as a way to guard his true feelings (paging Spider-Man). 
2. Michael Avon Oeming makes art that sure is pretty to look at. Seriously, his style of presentation is both at once cartoony and gritty with a dash of real creepiness.

Too much of the comic is spent with Faustus fighting the Jackal and engaging in the standard, "You don't go far enough/Shut up I don't kill," banter before things start to get more interesting at the end. Oeming's stuff is just so pretty that I may give this another issue, however.
3 out of 5 stars (2 for the plot and 4 for the art makes 3).

Avengers Versus X-Men #10
Annnnd my complaints I discussed in a previous post are reinforced by this issue. We now are down to two heroes with the power of the Phoenix (Scott Summers AKA Cyclops and Emma Frost AKA That Chick With Psychic Powers Who Can Turn Into Diamond) and they are pretty much just pure villains. Cyclops outright says he is willing to be a monster if it means saving the mutant race and Emma has gotten to a point where she makes the X-Men kneel before her and think thoughts of, "adoration," lest they suffer her wrath. 

Also, Hope gets the ability to fight the Phoenix-powered baddies by absorbing the powers of a non-mutant somehow because...well, because the plot pretty much demands that by now we get a turning point where The Avengers start a comeback (and pretty much outright announce this is a turning point in the story, natch). The art still looks good thanks to Adam Kubert (whom interestingly I recently learned is a very unpleasant person, unlike his brother Andy and sadly-recently-passed father, Joe), but the story is just getting worse and worse. I'm in too deep now to drop the comic and kind of want to see how they wrap this monstrosity up, but lord knows I'm not enjoying myself that much reading this.
1.5 out of 5 stars.

Butcher Baker, The Righetous Maker #8
Well, apparently this series is done as of this new issue, the eighth. Whether the main reason is it was always planned that way or has happened because writer Joe Casey and artist Mike Huddleston now apparently really don't care for each other is up to interpretation. The comic itself and its end-matter paint a picture of this series having been intended to conclude with this issue, but who knows if that was always the plan...or became the format once the long delays occurred for the comic. Whatever the case I doubt we will be seeing any collaborations between the two gentlemen in the foreseeable future. Which is a shame as I have genuinely enjoyed this series.

Yes, this is over-the-top in the extreme--it is for sure, "audacious," as Casey says in the back-matter. Plus, the artwork by Huddleston is just so gorgeous that Casey could have written something miserable and I still would have enjoyed this. Instead we get a strange super-hero tale of a man who is washed-up but fighting off his last opponents because all he pretty much knows how to do is fight. It's a funny and absurd series that ends in a way that is quite fitting for our protagonist. Butcher Baker has been like a surreal trip into a world where the hero is the epitome of manliness and the villains are not just violent, they are monstrous. Yes, here everything is cranked to 11 and the crazy-art compliments the insanity quite well.

This has been a comic that didn't disappoint--which is what I expected from someone as consistently pleasing-to-my-tastes as Casey. Between his great writing and amazing art by Huddleston I can say I was glad I was there to read Butcher Baker from its strange start to its equally crazy end. It's just too bad we won't be getting any more.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

One comic had great art but a subpar story, another had quite good art with a terrible story, and the last had stellar art with a very enjoyable story. Sometimes with comics you get wonderful writing with terrible art--heck, that's usually what happens--but in this case it's the art that's good and the writing that sometimes suffers. It's an interesting world we live in.

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