Thursday, June 6, 2002

Howard Chaykin & David Tischman American Century: Scars and Stripes (Vertigo/DC, 2001) - A complete misfire. Like in so much other recent hard-boiled fiction (comics or prose), the writers seem to think the whole point is how "shocking" they can be. There's the usual bed-hopping suburbanites, racist bosses, corrupt CIA agents, Latin American smugglers & incompetent politicians, etc. About the only "good" people are the blank protagonist, his cobbler pal and a black woman who appears for a few panels so the protagonist can defend her and show what a nice guy he is. Except for her, the women are all sex-crazed cheats even more than the genre's usual misogyny. As predictable as this all may be Chaykin & Tischman don't even appear to have much faith in their material as, say, Garth Ennis or Stephen Hunter do. They're running purely on automatic (why else would a major plot element--how a death was faked--be completely omitted?) which may or may not make the end result more cynically sleazy but certainly makes it quite dull. The final nail is wax-work stiff art by Marc Laming who may someday practice enough that he might be admitted to art school.