Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wha . . . Huh? #1

Wha . . . Huh? #1, 2005, Marvel Comics
writers: Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, Ed Brubaker, Brian K. Vaughn, Marc Andreyko, Nick Thompson, Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, & Stan Lee
artist: Jim Mahfood
colorist: Shaughn Struble
letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
associate editor: MacKenzie Cadenhead
editor: C.B. Cebulski
EIC: Joe Quesada
publisher: Dan Buckley

That’s it. What . . . Huh? #1 is the most self-indulgent comic book I’ve ever read, and its shameless sense of self-promotion and indulgence, which takes the concept of “comics contributor celebrity” and elevates the industry’s biggest names to unapologetic divas, has turned me off to the medium altogether. That’s right. I’m finished with comics. This blog is officially over.

Happy April Fools.

After some of the garbage I’ve subjected myself (and consequently, you) to over the past year and three months, did you actually think that a little Marvel mayhem would be responsible for my throwing in the towel? Oh, don’t get me wrong -- I meant what I said in my description of this issue, but fortunately the writers retained just enough self-degradation and satire to keep What . . . Huh? just this side of literary decadence. Actually, it’s Jim Mahfood’s art that sweetens this pill, and he’s the reason I picked up this issue in the first place. Only he could pull off what these writers sought to accomplish. After all, Mahfood’s hip hop sensibilities are already engrained with a sense of self-promotion, so a comic book that stars the very writers that dabble in comic books is the perfect project for him (aside from Image’s Felt, which sucked me into his career in the first place).

Uhm, the thing about reviewing Wha . . . Huh? is, there’s no right way to do it. Imagine every train of thought your favorite contemporary comic book writer has ever had, completely derailed into the ditch of Bronze Age Marvel camp. Most of the issue explores such critical inquiries and subsequent alternate realities as “What if Black Panther were actually white?” and “What if the Avengers all had beards?” and “What if M.O.D.O.K. had an itch?” A few of the concepts are interesting, like “What if the Identity Crisis happened in the Marvel Universe?” in which, midway through, many heroes realize they didn’t know the Thing’s Aunt Petunia that well anyway. The most ambitious gag in the whole ish is “What if Stan Lee was the writer of Ultimate Spider-man?” Spoiler alert: What follows is the beginning of a straight Amazing Fantasy #15 reprint. Great gag, man, and indicative of the lack of originality plaguing many mainstream comics today.

Well, if this blog has proven anything, it’s that I’m in this whole comic book thing for the long haul. My girlfriend can attest to that. In the meantime, if your faith in comics ever wavers, find What . . . Huh? It’ll remind you of everything you love to hate.

You’d be a fool to feel any different.

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