When the latest ‘CLiNT Magazine’ came sliding across my e-desk, I was a little confused. I’m a comics guy — my monthly subscriptions include ‘Crossed,’ Ferals,’ some ‘New 52′ stuff — but unlike film, I don’t religiously follow any particular writers or artists. I didn’t quite know what to expect of a magazine handled by ‘Kick-Ass’ creator, Mark Millar. Would it be a lot of ego-stroking fluff? I just didn’t know. To my delight, it’s more comics than anything.
Intermixed with the comics are things that I, being a film journalist of sorts, thoroughly enjoyed reading: news on the ‘American Jesus’ and ‘Supercrooks’ adaptations, among other things. It’s not my place to copy and paste the interviews here. What I will do is give my thoughts on the handful of comics published in the magazine, starting with the debut issue of the quirky ‘Supercrooks.’
Of everything I read in the magazine, ‘Supercrooks’ is what I enjoyed the most. The concept of a band of supervillains exiling themselves to Spain, a foil-less land of criminal opportunity is absolutely silly. You might think, “Why wouldn’t Spain have superheroes if America does?” Well, this doesn’t seem like the kind of work to get too literal or in depth with; rather, it’s a cute little jab at America (and I suppose, Britain) being the source of most of the world’s published superheroes. Very few people care about the ‘Captain Canuck’ comics. I’m assuming his arch-nemesis was a moose who took to causing fatalities by crossing the road at night.
What ‘Supercrooks’ already has after one issue is a hook. That and some eye-catching artwork featuring a busty blonde. Everybody loves those. In the interviews in the magazine, Millar said that when he was pitching the idea for it, he said it’s “‘Ocean’s 11′ meets ‘X-Men.’” Good descriptor. Already, the villains — the guys you’d want to see behind bars in real life — are likable, as planned. The main guy is Johnny Bolt, whose alleged electric powers are no match for a well-placed punch of one of America’s many superheroes. He has that “Ah, he’s harmless” feel to him; that conman charisma that you can’t help but like. The guy I took to was Carmine, an old fellow who used to rob banks with a mask and ray gun. That image alone was enough for me. He uses another supervillain to try to swindle a casino. He, like Johnny, has that harmless feel to him — but more in the way of a crooked grandpa who gave you your first sip of beer and tussled your hair a bit.
Concepts are great, but the most important thing in any form of story are characters. ‘Supercrooks’ has them. I really didn’t think I’d be digging this one, but the vibe’s right. I already want to pick up the next issue.
Rex Royd (Kid Detective)
I haven’t the foggiest idea of what’s going on in ‘Rex Royd.’ This certainly isn’t issue #1 presented in the magazine, so unless you’re already a fan (or unnaturally perceptive), there’s not much to go on here. At best, if you’re a fan of extremely abstract storytelling, this could motivate you to run through the prior issues.
To give you an example of the madness, within only a few panels, there is a guy who looks like the Cobra Commander from ‘G.I. Joe’ banging another man’s wife simply because he can, a rapidly aging gentleman spiraling through a sort of depression, and a smattering of seemingly random stomach and head-bursting gore. ‘Rex Royd’ is to my adulthood what ‘Cow and Chicken’ was to my childhood: I didn’t know what was going on then, and I don’t know what’s going on now.
I won’t pretend to know anything about ‘Lenore,’ a strip about a little dead girl’s misadventures. It’s celebrating 20 years of publication, and I guess my lack of age is showing, because I’ve never heard of it. My living in Northern Canada probably has a lot to do with this.
I will say, however that after reading through the latest, I can see why, with its cutesy goth art, it has had such longevity. I personally dig dark humor, so the tale of a mystical — apparently time-travelling — pork chop’s terrible demise just hit me the right way. I know it may seem a little hypocritical to enjoy the randomness of ‘Lenore’ and not ‘Rex Royd,’ but the difference is that ‘Lenore’ was coherent, whereas ‘Royd’ was like what I would assume a really bad mushroom trip is like.
The Secret Service #1
For whatever reason, I really give a hard time to anything spy-related. I’m not a ‘James Bond’ guy; I’m not into secret agents and espionage — whatever that is. So, when I come across something that’s in the spy theme that I actually enjoy, I know it’s something special.
‘The Secret Service’ starts hilariously with a gaggle of stereotypical terrorists casually chatting with Mark Hamill of ‘Star Wars’ fame. They’ve abducted him as a part of some unknown scheme involving the gathering of several sci-fi icons. A member of the “Secret Service” breaks up their soirée, with some humorous results.
Fast forward, you’re introduced to a youth, Gary, who lives with his social security-collecting mother and whichever guy she’s decided to shack up with. He’s a rowdy boy, likes to commit crimes and count on his Uncle Jack, a Secret Service member, to bail him out. But Jack’s getting fed up with Gary as he gets older and keeps on being a delinquent, so he comes up with an idea.
Like ‘Supercrooks,’ ‘The Secret Service’ has that hook. The characters are immediately charming; the humor’s on point; and the art’s fitting. Dave Gibbons sure knows how to draw common. There’s one living room setting that absolutely nails what would be going on in a low-income, low-class household. This was definitely my second favorite comic of the magazine. I don’t know if I’ll go out and subscribe immediately, but that might just be my spy bias creeping back up.
Death Sentence #1
To build upon what I’ve been saying, a hook is an absolute necessity for a comic. But in the case of ‘Death Sentence,’ the hook isn’t really a hook at all — it’s forced. The comic just feels too short. You’re introduced to three characters at a rapid pace: a tatted up lady, who begins her campaign on life after hearing that she only has so much time to live; an oversexed male musician of sorts, who finds himself in the wrong bed; and another arrogant, sexed up guy on a talk show. The end, which wants to be a hook, is halfway intriguing, but this is definitely the weakest showing of ‘CLiNT’ after ‘Royd’ — and the only reason I’m not feeling the latter is because of how incomprehensible I found it. Perhaps if I had read its prior issues, I’d be singing a different tune.
On a positive note, I like the gritty artwork of ‘Death Sentence.’ It just exudes sexiness, depravity — all the things you generally want in a comic that’s reaching for an adult audience. And I will say, reviewing a single issue of a comic, whether it be the first or not, is a difficult task. It’s like watching the first 10 minutes of a movie. ‘Gotham City Sirens,’ for example — I found that didn’t really get going for at least 3-4 issues. That could be the case with ‘Death Sentence.’ Maybe the hook comes next month, or the one after.
Now that I know what ‘CLiNT’ is all about, I can see why it has a following. I’m a traditionalist. I want to collect each separate issue of a comic. I don’t want to wait for the compilation graphic novel, or anything similar. So obviously, ‘CLiNT’ isn’t really meant for a bit of an obsessive guy like myself. But it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t have any strange hangups like that, and just wants to read a few solid comics. The side-features are interesting as well. I see no reason not to pick this up and become a subscriber.