Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Club: Santa the Barbarian #1

Yeah, I know what's you're thinking. "Book Club? On Shitmas? Wasn't the whole point of Book Club for you to talk about good books?" And you'd be correct, that was the point, but I got tired of waiting to see if Linkara would cover this piece of shit, thus I have decided to take on the task myself. So this will be our first Book Club entry where I delve into something not so good. Something...with Rob Liefeld's stink all over it. Oh yes, he's involved. Of course he's involved, because why wouldn't he be?

Rob's never far from the bat-shit crazy tree. He likes napping under there.

So, a quick history lesson for the people who are new to all things Liefeld. Rob Liefeld was a successful comic book artist in the late 80s/early 90s who gained a following at Marvel while working on New Mutants and X-Force. He, along with several other artists, split off and created their own company in the 90s, known as Image Comics. The books they put out...well, the quality of them is debatable. Liefeld's own books featured overly muscled characters with almost discernible personalities who carried ridiculous looking large guns and women who clearly had broken spine (and possibly no internal organs). Liefeld has become synonymous with bad art and this comic I'm about to talk about reflects that by showing off not only his art but the art of others who aped his style and commonly worked on his books.

His style consisted mostly of adding hundreds of pouches to everyone. So many pouches.
This book contains two stories, which I will now delve into. Our first story is called "The Big Red Slay" and it's seemingly fashioned to resembled a nursery rhyme or storybook, which is just great. Nothing says "sweet dreams" to your kids like reading them a story about a 'roided out Santa who is pissed off. But you better make your peace with that because that's what this book has. Lots and lots of Santa Claus being extremely angry.

"Santa knows you're awake & you're getting your stocking stuffed with rage!"
Santa yells at his elves to "not give him any crap about being overworked" and demands the rest of the nice list so he can go shove some holiday cheer down the throats of everyone. He's informed though that the small index card he has is the entire nice list, so Santa decides it's time to do something about all these naughty people. So, does he come up with a plan to inspire people to be kinder to one another a spread joy? Naaaahhhh, he grabs a bunch of weapons because Santa's going on a killing spree this year.

His muscles in his arms are bigger than his head. His arm also looks like it might pop off at that angle.
He hops in his sleigh, pulled only by Rudolph, because apparently the other reindeer are too busy shitting themselves to death after eating some wicked bad chili. Rudolph farts them into the air and Santa begins his dark business of giving out his "gifts". He breaks down a guy's door, tossing a knife into the back of the fleeing man before finally jamming coal in his mouth, that he then lights on fire. Without really any proper transition he's then slamming his axe deep into another gentleman's head, splitting it open, then jams another piece of coal in there.

I'm not kidding. That's literally what happens.
We then go to a final splash page where he says "Happy Christmas to all...and to all a big knife!" which features some generic guys with different hair styles, and what appears to be Hitler, impaled on Santa's big sword. And if you think that's got all sorts of symbolism, the sword appears to be coming from Santa's groin region, judging by the angle. So yeah, Santa just really liked impaling naughty men with his "big sword". And to think, Liefeld wonders why one of his characters got outed as homosexual years later.

He got rather pissed off about that too. Good to know he's so progressive.
Our next story is also told in a sort of rhyme and, while featuring a similarly hulked-out Santa, actually features some palatable art. It entails how the elves turned against him because, as we saw last time, he's kind of a shitty boss. Maybe he should take them elf bowling? So the elves are on strike and Santa handles this news in the most mature way possible...by beating the living shit out of them. One elf activates a big robot called Tank to attack Santa, which leads to what is sure to be an epic battle...that we're not shown at all. No, instead we see the aftermath as the elves are bandaged up and delivering the toys themselves while Santa sits in a cave on a throne while a girl with a broken spine poses in front of his crotch.

Almost like they're trying to say "We're totally not gay, bro. Look, here's a hot chick!"
My favourite part about that ending is how disinterested Santa looks in the girl. And, of course, the fact that she seems to be reflecting light for some reason. Maybe she just glows out of the back of her body? It'd explain why the glow trails down to an angle where it shouldn't. The book then finishes off with a write up about how the entire thing was inspired by the trading card Rob Liefeld did for Wizard magazine (it's the first picture in this review) and we're told that people who write to Santa the Barbarian will be entered into a special drawing for signed copies of this book. Oh boy. I'm sure Robert Loren Fleming's autograph will be worth countless monies.

SO MANY MONIES!

This book is shit. It could've been a clever and entertaining send-up of barbarian comics, giving us something like Santa fighting Krampus or a very Grinch-like wizard, but instead it's just mindless bullshit that leads to nothing. The art is mostly terrible, with Dan Fraga's art looking like most every single other artist working for Extreme Studios. Pop Mhan's art is good, barring the final page of his story where he draws a woman who suffers the broken spine/no internal organs problem of all of Rob Liefeld's women, but the art can't save a bland story that has no real excitement or entertainment. Hell, it builds up to a fight that we never even see. It's lazy. This book isn't even worth reading for laughs, honestly. If you see this in a discount bin at your local comic shop, pass on it. There are much better things to spend ten cents on. So, until Bill Goldberg jams this comic down Liefeld's throat, I'll be here sifting through the remnants of Christmas' waste in search of something of value. Later days, bleeders.

I need to take something, because I think this book gave me a headache.

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