[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russ Braun
Inker: John Kalisz
The setting is Noonan’s Sleazy Bar. The members of the worst super group ever, Section 8, are drinking, working in or making their way to the bar. Bad things are happening literally just outside the doors. Guest appearances by: Power Girl, Catwoman, Starfire, the Spectre, and John Constantine. The title of the issue is lifted from Alan Moore’s Watchmen. This is really a who’s who of crazy.
The world is a better place when Garth Ennis writes comic books. Ennis does not want to write about costumed superheroes, but with this book he has decided to love the idea, while pushing it away and giving it a death stare.
The thing about Ennis is that he never pulls a punch. He dares you to dislike everything he creates. There is a character called Dogwelder, who as you might suspect, welds dogs onto people’s faces, including his own children. John Constantine, of all people, dresses Dogwelder down. If Constantine has something bad to say about you, you are most likely a terrible person.
There is a guy called Sixpack, who has a beer gut, drinks Dan Jackal’s #2 Whiskey and reads Green Lantern/ Green Arrow comics upside down. He argues that racism is the real problem and the superheroes are the only answer. OK that sounds sort of noble. Maybe that would work if the guy (Hacken) to whom he makes this claim is not reading a book called My Struggle, written by Mel Gibson. Google translate the words “My Struggle” into German and see what comes up. Get it?
The rest of Section 8 are a bunch of losers too. Bueno cheats on his wife with a garbage can. Of course, his wife is a pile of guts aptly called Guts. A giant purple mouth called Baytor shouts his (its?) name and nothing else while being harassed by Catwoman. He (it) shouts that at other times too, but it is worth noting that Catwoman is smacking his (its) ass while he (it) serves drinks.
How is all of this positive? Well, it is the first issue of six and we can only assume that these Hard Travelin’ Heroz will redeem themselves. Right? That is what Ennis does best. He gives us anti-heroes for whom we can root. He makes them do terrible things so that we can forgive them later.
Artist Russ Braun knocks this right out of the park. There is a lot to do here and he shows us every little detail. From the smoke of Constantine’s cigarette, to bottles of “AGin” booze on the counter, to skin tight Super Heroine costumes, to vomit chunks; Braun brings it all to life. In some panels, the action butts into other panels because there is simply too much to contain. It is really well done.
Except for Braun’s amazing artwork, everything that is mentioned in the positive could be listed as a negative. Garth Ennis is not for everyone. Comic readers like comics for a reason. We pick and choose our favorites based on the personalities of the heroes and a bit based on our own personalities. We like the mythology of it. We accept aliens, Amazons, Atlanteans and everything else because it is real or interesting to us. Ennis punches that mythology in the throat and then kicks in in the crotch. That can rub people the wrong way.
As with all Ennis books, there is a lot of swearing. I would have preferred to let the characters swear instead of bleeping them out. It is a Garth Ennis book. We are not expecting Frog and Toad are Friends.
In order to love things, you need to see their flaws. Ennis makes fun of the things we love about comics, but he does it as a comic. Satire works that way. That is what this is. If you have an open heart, this is for you.