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Supermodel Behavior

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If the Diamond shipping list posted last week is correct, then a legendary name is making his return to comics tomorrow. Normally, this would be cause for unabashed celebration. But when your name is Dave Sim, your legend is couched in controversy.

Back in 1977, Cerebus the Aardvark first hit the stands. It was a parody of the Barry Windsor Smith era of Conan the Barbarian that Sim published himself through his Aardvark-Vanaheim imprint. But what started out as a fuzzy aardvark pretending to be Conan soon evolved into something more.

Satire came in and wrestled parody into the background. The humor became more serious and began to examine subjects such as religion and politics. And as Sim’s writing matured, so did his artwork. He, along with co-artist Gerhard from #65 on, expanded the boundaries of what a black and white comic could be.

And when you take into account that certain creative teams can’t go two issues without needing a fill-in or temporary replacement, Sim being the main creative force behind all 300 issues of Cerebus is a truly, truly amazing feat.

Once Cerebus hit its stride, it went from being some small press comedy book to one of the shining lights of independent publishing.

As Cerebus garnered more and more attention, Sim’s became the face and voice of self-publishing. He also became one of the most vociferous supporters of it as well. He used Cerebus to run previews of such legendary indie books as Jim Valentino’s Normalman, William Messner-Loebs’ Journey, Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot, Colleen Doran’s A Distant Soil, Jeff Smith’s Bone, Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise and many, many more. Devoting page space to these books gave them a wider exposure and certainly increased readership on those titles.

However, while Sim was an outspoken proponent of self-publishing, he was also outspoken in other areas, too. His battle of wills with the Comics Journal, which started over the issue of self-publishing, is the stuff of legend.  That war of words was waged in the pages of both Cerebus and Comics Journal for years.

But perhaps the most divisive viewpoints expressed by Sim revolve around women. In Cerebus #186, Sim, speaking through a character named Vicktor Davis, writes a manifesto stating that women are “Devouring Rapacious…Voids” who wish to consume the “Male Light”. In other words, the emotional-based female is a parasite who leaches logic and intelligence from the reason-based male.

Sim’s opinions were further fleshed out in an essay in Cerebus #265 called “Tangent”. In it, he speaks about why he is anti-feminist, saying that feminism has no intellectual footing and any downturn in society can be blamed on kowtowing to feminists.

His inflammatory views rose ire even while promoting glamourpuss. Sim went on a 100-Hour “virtual publicity tour” of various comic book message boards. A visit to the Sequential Tart boards led to a spirited back and forth between Sim and Gail Simone about his opinions about women, and that dialogue warranted commentary from other notable female comic commentators such as Valerie D’Orazio and Heidi MacDonald.

One of the reoccurring themes raised in several of the above examples is, “should we separate the art from the artist?”  Dave Sim is a great talent—a gifted comic artist and a brilliant comic writer. But his personal beliefs are abrasive and off putting.

The art for glamourpuss is gorgeous. And on the surface, the plot reads like a witty satire on the world of female fashion (with a history of photorealistic art thrown in at no extra charge). However, is it really that? Taking into account Sim’s personal statements and opinions, is this just another way to promote his anti-feminist agenda?

This is the dilemma many of you will have when faced with glamourpuss. Will you be able to separate the man from his work? Will anybody? The answer comes tomorrow.

Also out this week:

Countdown to Final Crisis #1:

The countdown to Final Crisis has finally come to an end (stop cheering). And last week’s issue might have raised more questions than this issue could possibly answer. Is the person who died really dead? Is the person who killed him really alive? And how will this all play into Final Crisis?

This weekly series has received a lot of criticism from fans, much of it well deserved. Paull Dini & co. tried to write the weekly series as if it were episodic television. Plots developed slowly and led up to what they hoped was a gigantic series finale. But that type of writing doesn’t pay off too well in comics, especially a weekly one, where fans want a payoff for their investment right then and there, especially if it’s costing them $12 a month. Hopefully, DC will learn from this and correct this for Trinity.

Paul Dini (W), Scott Kolins (A), DC Comics, $2.99.   Final Issue.

Mighty Avengers #12:

If Secret Invasion #1 has created an unstoppable desire to find out more about the Skrull infiltration, and you just can’t wait four weeks until the next issue, don’t forget the storyline will be playing out in the Avengers titles, too. This week’s Mighty Avengers fulfills your Secret Invasion fix with some tasty plot developments.

How tasty? How about the return of Nick Fury for starters? He’s been away and has been gathering clues about the invasion. The Skrulls aren’t going to like that and want to put him underground—permanently! And if that wasn’t enough, another Marvel superstar will be revealed as a Skrull in this very issue. And if you’re still not satisfied, well, I guess you’ll have to wait until things continue on to next week’s New Avengers or pick up this week’s Ms. Marvel #26.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), Alex Maleev (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Checkmate #25:

Greg Rucka’s tenure on Checkmate—and at DC—ends with a bang. Kobra’s all-out offensive has pushed Checkmate to the edge. Now, if the team is to stave off Armageddon in the personage of Kali Yuga, they are going to have to use their last chess pieces, The Rooks!

This series was on our “New Year’s Resolutions” list, the list of books that were low in sales and high in chances of cancellation. Greg Rucka’s leaving places this title in further jeopardy. Sure, Bruce Jones is set to take over the writing chores starting next issue, but DC has used new writers to wrap up loose ends before titles were cancelled (Dwayne McDuffie on Firestorm, Rick Remender on All-New Atom). Could the same be happening here?

Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann (W), Joe Bennett (A), DC Comics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

Sheena: Trail Of The Mapinguari:

The success of any movie is when it enters the Hollywood lexicon as part of the pitch process. Die Hard is one such movie. Speed was described as “Die Hard on a bus”. Under Siege was described as “Die Hard on a boat”. Now, the writer of that movie, Steven E. De Souza, comes to comics for this one-shot.

The death of an academic in the jungle raises a lot of questions, was he murdered or did he fall victim to the dreaded jungle spirit called the Mapinguari. Sheena must find out what really happened before any more lives are lost. But her efforts put her in conflict with an investigatory expedition. Will this group be a help, a hindrance, or more victims for the Mapinguari?  

Steven E. De Souza (W), Anthony Castrillo (A), Devil’s Due Publications, $5.50. One-Shot.

Star Wars: Dark Times #10:

Star Wars, as any fan can tell you, takes place “A long time ago…”. Well, this issue was solicited a long time ago—it was supposed to come out the day after Christmas.

This issue wraps up the “Parallels” storyline. The fight Jedi Master K’Kruhk and Bomo Greenbark have been fighting since the series began is in its endgame. But that doesn’t mean the worst is over. K’Kruhk must fight more savagely than he ever has if his charges are to be saved, and Bomo must unleash all of his anger on the captors of his friends if they are to be free and he is to have his revenge.

The lateness of this series must be concerning for Dark Horse, who is running the year long “Vector” storyline through all of its Star Wars books. If the schedule isn’t tightened up, the year long event might take two years to complete.

Mick Harrison (W), Dave Ross (A), Dark HorseComics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

Hulk Vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide:

Hulk and Hercules might have been on the same side during the World War Hulk storyline, but that wasn’t always the case. As a matter of fact, they have been foes more often than they have been friends. And since they are two of the most powerful heroes the Marvel universe has the offer, when they fight, only one thing is guaranteed—smashing, and lots of it.

This one-shot special brings you an all-new tale of superhuman combat and incidental property damage, with a greatest hits package of some of Herc and Hulk’s greatest battles. And it’s written by regular Incredible Hercules team of Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak. How can fans of rampant, senseless violence go wrong?

Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (W), Leonard Kirk (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Death of the New Gods #8:

Countdown to Final Crisis #2 showed that all the deaths in Kirby’s Fourth World were not limited to this series. But the final fates of all the various and sundry characters will be revealed here. Will any other characters join the New Gods in their eternal slumber? Will the dead New Gods stay dead? Or will there be a mass resurrection and the start of the fifth world?

The New Gods might have seen better times, but they are a unique part of comic history. They were the characters Jack Kirby created at DC after leaving Marvel, after all. And while these characters might just have been mercilessly slaughtered, at least fans are talking about them again. This will suit them well when they inevitably return.

Jim Starlin (W/A), DC Comics, $3.50.  Final Issue.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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