Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mental Enema

Some years back, I saw this Hong Kong movie called "Ebola Syndrome". It was Anthony Wong at his sickest and most perverse. "Human Pork-Chop Buns" was nothing compared to this classic of cinematic gore and exploitation. It left me shivering. The horror wasn't just limited to the sick acts of one demented individual. The horror was that I was sharing the world with sick fucks like this. Now, before you go sniggering at my naivety, all that was pre-"Hostel", pre-"Saw" and long before I discovered sicker fucks who post pictures of aborted foetuses on their blogs in order to make put forth a moral argument. But that was that. Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was this tiny shit-of-an-excuse-for-a-TPB called "Bad World" by Warren Ellis. During my saner (more sanctified?) days in Ipoh, I discovered the single issues but did not buy them. Yesterday, I browsed through the miscellany handed to La Tey by Pltypus and discovered this buried treasure (or travesty, depending on my state of mind at the moment). Pltypus called it "bits and pieces of a work in progress culminating in Crooked Little Vein". I believed him (although I put forth my usual look suggesting intellectual-skepticism). He was right, as usual (and don't ask for the 80 bucks this time, ok?). "Bad World" was a cheap exercise wherein Ellis dumped in all the stuff that a writers' notebook of research contains with nary a thread to tie them all together into a cohesive narrative. It's not a story so much as it is a shopping list of weirdness. Garth Ennis probably owns the same writers' notebook but he at least bothered to write cohesive storylines with engaging characters around his weird-shit (e.g. "Preacher"). Not so with Ellis. Ellis was running an e-mail self-promotion campaign ("Bad Signal" - another Avatar TPB), an online site (again for self-promotion), writing endless self-promoting essays ("From The Desk Of..." - another Avatar TPB) while flirting shamelessly with the superhero-publishing companies (read: Marvel/DC) that he supposedly abhors. Ellis is, first and foremost, a businessman. And the product that he sells is, simply, himself. He noticed the cult following of other writers like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison and set himself up to be just such a comic-guru. This is not meant to be a criticism. In fact, it's a long tradition in the literary business. Robert Heinlein comes to mind. So does Clive Barker, Robert Ludlum and countless others. Hacks who pattern themselves after greater writers. When speaking to fans of indies, Ellis trumpets his hatred for the superhero-monoliths of Marvel/DC (all the while explaining that the paychecks he receives from them were to finance his forays into indie-publishing). When speaking to fans of the superhero genre, Ellis maintains that he's only trying to take the book/concept further than was previously thought possible and/or writing a homage to great imaginative writers of the past. Don't believe him. It's all about money to buy stuff for his girlfriends so that he'd get to bone them. Once again, nothing inherently wrong or immoral about all that. Back to "Bad World". It's a writer's notebook culled from years of research into manic-obsessive idiots we share the world with (religious nuts, serial killers, cannibals, lizard-fuckers, insane scientists, politicians, etc.) pretending to be a comic. The illustrator of this piece, Jacen Burrows, does all the work illustrating some random notes that Ellis tossed his way. Avatar publishes it and made some money from Ellis' rabid fans. For Ellis, it was free money anyway. He didn't even need to think up this stuff. Throw the notebook to an artist and Avatar will publish it. Avatar publishes anything anyway. It's not as if they're trying to achieve any modicum of respect here. Remember the sex-and-gore shit they published in the 1990s ("Faust", "666", "Razor", etc.)? Heck, they were the ones who made the nude-variant covers into collector's items! Avatar is like the most overused whore working the street corners for scraps under the table. "Bad World" is one such scrap under Warren Ellis' table. Avatar took it, licked it clean, slapped it between two colourful covers and it ends up in my fat, grubby hands. Having said all that, I must admit that it is an intriguing read. It's not exactly a comprehensive conspiracy theory in the David Icke manner but maybe that's why it works. Ellis doesn't try to sell us a system of beliefs about alien reptiles invading earth and disguising themselves as "the powers that be". Nope. He simply gives us snapshots of weird fucks all over the world who tries to clone Jesus from the Turin Shroud, eats their French girlfriends and fucks Godzilla. Then he reminds us that this is OUR world. Not the world that we read about in the news or watch in mainstream movies certainly. But real nevertheless. It's stuff like this that reminds me why I've always hated the naivety of songs like Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World". It's a Bad World. We share this Bad World with these sick fucks. Some of these sick fucks end up as political leaders who blow up dead bodies or are addicted to sodomy. Some end up calling for a war against "evil nations", "evil ideologies" and "evil leaders". Some end up as religious leaders. Some write blogs and post up pictures of aborted foetuses while welcoming the IMF to fuck their nations in the ass. It's a Bad World and maybe Stryfe the Chaos-Bringer was right. Let's blow these motherfuckers to kingdom-come, let God sort them all out and reboot the world. But I digress. In the end, it's only a comic. Intriguing, nonetheless, but still a badly written one published by a whore of a publisher. This is why I prefer reading "Cable And The New Mutants" .....

No comments: