All Star Section Eight #3: “I Would Do Anything for Love”
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by John McCrea
Colors by John Kalisz
Letters by Pat Brosseau
I’m trying guys, I really am.
To say I haven’t been enjoying this book is an understatement, made worse by the fact that I was genuinely looking forward to it. From the beginning, though, this has been a lewd, disappointing mess.
This month, I was hoping for a turnaround. After all, J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, takes center stage, and he’s always a beacon of heart and humility. The fact that he even joins Section Eight willingly so as to provide assistance to the team speaks volumes and surely hints at a much more enjoyable read, right?
Considering the book opens with this…
Normally we try to write at least five hundred words in our reviews, but I don’t know if I have five hundred words to devote to this. Unless they’re all variations of vomiting noises, but even that would be pushing it.
I’ll focus on the positives, of which there are two: there was one panel that had a sight gag that was so bizarre that I laughed in spite of myself, and J’onn J’onzz gives Six Pack some sage advice that, while it lasts, is a pretty nice scene.
Then he goes on a profanity-laden tirade that’s completely out of character and totally ruins the moment.
Ignoring the outright disgusting nature of some of the jokes in this book for just a moment, this is above all the root of the problem with this book: I have no idea what Ennis is actually trying to do. If he’s trying to send up superheroes in general, the writing lacks any amount of subtlety and, even worse, wit. Putting Batman in a crazy situation can yield comedic results. Putting Batman in a crazy situation and having him respond with one of his basic traits in an exaggerated manner can be funny. Putting Batman in a crazy situation and having him react in a way that isn’t identifiable as Batman at all? That’s just bad writing.
I know Garth can be a good writer, and can make these characters work. A guy who wields dogs to people’s faces? That’s weird, but it worked and was hilarious. Six Pack’s delusions of heroism? He had the most definable arc of anyone on the team and, because of that, one of the more touching send-offs in comics. Bueno Excellente? …well, ok, even that’s pushing it, but still. I touched on it before in the other reviews, but these characters worked best in the background. There’s no need to put the focus on them, because they worked for the purpose they were created for and didn’t overstay their welcome.
Then there’s the gross-out “humor.” It isn’t funny. It’s shocking and lurid for its own sake. There’s no finesse, no wit, and it’s just gross for shock value. This entire issue pretty much revolves around a fart joke at J’onn’s expense and a… “perv-off” between Bueno and that tapeworm. That’s it. It’s disgusting, vile, and not funny in the least, and it pretty much broke me. If nothing else, McCrea’s artwork is fittingly unsettling to look at, which if that’s what they’re going for good on them, but it just makes matters worse.
I don’t know why this book exists, I don’t know what Ennis is trying to say, and frankly, I don’t want to find out.
Note: For those reasons, and because this book has nothing at all to do with Batman anymore (save for a single, almost off panel joke that calls back to the first issue, so yay continuity I guess), we’re dropping this from our rotation. The only reason I even wrote a review is because it was in the Upcoming Comics update so it’s expected, but even then I thought really hard about not doing it. Sorry if you like this book, but it isn’t even enjoyably bad.
Overall: Just… see above. I can’t do it anymore. What little is good is completely undone by literally everything around it.