Straight Shooter 

Obviously, very few people are reading comics these days. When the press discovered that two bloggers hired by John Edwards’s campaign had made semi-offensive remarks about the Catholic church, it was a national news story. When Garth Ennis, one of the biggest names in comics, writes a book in which the Antichrist throws back a few beers with a black, dreadlocked Jesus before sodomizing Joan of Arc, nobody says a word. Maybe Republicans only read Peanuts and Family Circus. If so, it’s a shame. I’d love to see somebody like Pat Robertson flip through this book. I can only assume his face would melt like Major Toht’s in Raiders of the Lost Ark before he even got to the part about the whale sperm.

The story here is familiar to anyone who’s seen The Omen: A woman raped by a jackal delivers the Antichrist, who then terrorizes his powerful adopted parents and eventually becomes the president of the United States. (I’m fighting the urge to make a smug liberal comparison here.) Ennis, being Ennis, has taken the story and awesomed it up a bunch. Instead of president, protagonist Danny Wormwood is (of course) a cable-network executive and an all-around decent guy, considering the whole Antichrist thing. This issue is definitely a must-buy. Between the perverted gags too gloriously effed-up to ruin here and the writer’s signature near-suicidal levels of religious criticism, it might just melt your face with its brilliance. Shit, man, maybe Ennis is the Antichrist.



As if daring the Religious Right to push for a Comics-Code reinstatement weren’t enough, Ennis is apparently gunning for a spot on the illustrious NAACP shit list with Barracuda. Either that, or he’s just proving his balls are bigger than mine. If that’s the case, then well-played, Mr. Ennis. Barracuda’s filled with enough hack racial stereotypes to make Carlos Mencia blush, from gang-bangin’ black guys who use “mothafucka” as a conjunction to neckless Italian mobsters to an actual caricature of Christopher Walken. God — and probably a civil-rights attorney somewhere — knows how many times the mother of all forbidden-to-white-people words gets used in this single issue. Any lesser writer (read: basically any other writer) would probably botch this story of a grinning black sociopath who ends sentences with “Knowumsayin’” to, like, hate-crime proportions. For all his talent, old Garth can barely keep the no-doubt-customized 22-inch wheels on this thing. The story — Walken look-alike Big Chris hires erstwhile Punisher baddie Barracuda (think Mike Tyson pumped full of PCP and rabies) to escort hemophiliac son Oswald to kill (for some reason) a Latin-American kingpin — is off to a good start, but let’s hope future issues will end up proving some kind of socially sensitive point with these stereotypes, or I’m going to end up feeling like kind of a dick for recommending this. (NB: The Punisher, despite his producer cred, appears only in speech bubbles.)



At first, a seven-issue series-comic adaptation of the Dark Tower franchise seemed like a great idea. If anyone would benefit from having his shit whittled down into comic-panel form, it would be King. But alack, dost it annoyest thou when I proceed to speak in a manner half-assedly force-breeding medieval English and old prospector sayin’s; then surely thou wilst be heavin’ this here volume down ye olde nearest shitter. Seriously, this is the way the entire book reads. Someone at Marvel made the bad decision to try to keep every freakin’ detail from the book in the comic, so we’re left with this annoying narrator constantly  summarizing the story for us. When the story’s allowed to move on its own, the book is enjoyable, so if the narrator shuts up for an issue or two this could live up to its potential. Otherwise, stick with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon pop-up book. 

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