It sounds like the inside of a seashell.

Astonishing X-Men #8

Ok, now The Truth is skating on thin ice.

You know The Truth. Those ads? The ones with the eyes sewn shut, then the lips (or maybe the other way around)? Well now they’ve really done it: they’ve hit the ears. We’ve got a big colorful two-page spread of some guy with his ear folded over and sewn shut. And you know what? It just isn’t doing it for me anymore. For one thing, I know what’s coming next.

The nose.

And goddamn it, the nose is a danger zone of comedy, a veritable minefield of potential laffs. I find huge close-ups of noses humorous enough already for some reason, but nostrils sewn shut? I'm laughing right here as I type this. Now I’m imagining someone stapling their nose shut; that’s hilarious! Just the image of someone putting their nose in the stapler; that’s vintage, if not immortal comedy. And it’s the only place left to go.

The big problem is that The Truth blew their proverbial load right at the start with the eye and lip business. Injuries to the eye are a classic squirm generator, burnt into the human psyche, and part of any learned comics fan’s extended stock of classic images. And the lips, well, at least sealing the lips has an instant psychological effect. It’s the same as images of a gag over the mouth; an immediate response is triggered as based on simple metaphoric understandings. But the ear… the ear is clunky. You have to fold the whole thing over to one side, and the reader doesn’t even recognize what the image represents for a few seconds; much longer than the instantaneous recognition of the prior two motifs.

And then the nose. Jesus.

Wait, I do recall one nose-related incident that got to me. It was this public-service commercial, with this guy talking. He’d been badly injured, and he was wearing a prosthetic nose, but a very convincingly realistic one, so it initially looked like he didn’t suffer any big injuries. But at the end of the commercial, he casually reached up and removed his nose, right off his face. Now that really hit me. Of course that brings up another problem inherent to this style of public education/service/scare advertising: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE COMMERCIAL WAS ABOUT. I just don’t remember. All I remember was that guy taking his nose off. It must have been some nose-sensitive malady or danger. Cancer awareness? Fire prevention? Smoking at the gas pump? Americans United Against Mean Dogs?

Exactly the same problem here. I mean, I suppose the whole point of the ad is to get you so interested/disgusted/confused that you log on to The Truth’s website and find out that they’re an anti-smoking group. They seem to have TV ads too. I’d have to imagine that they’re setting up a metaphor in regards to people shutting themselves off from The Truth About Smoking as well. You know, gradually cutting off the senses. Oh! But what about touch?! They gonna sew someone’s fingers to their palms? You can still touch things with the rest of your hands, or other parts of your body! Ho ho, painted into a corner aren’t we now, The Truth? Maybe they’ll use that last sense to just break the flow and have a double-page black space with the center bearing the words 'We give up. Now you give up - SMOKING, THAT IS!!!' That would be at least as funny as sealing somebody’s nose shut, although it would be even better if they’d just stop right now.

Anyway, the X-Men fight things this issue. It’s pretty good. Joss Whedon sets up a new mystery along the way, and uses it to string us through the fights, right to the end. He’s seemingly purged himself of the need to nervously drop wooden self-referential one-liners every time he recycles some vintage X-Technique, so that’s a point more in his favor with me. John Cassaday and Laura Martin (can’t forget the colors here) make it all look fine. I loved the all-red display of Cyclops’ full power. There’s some cool little horror images. A pair of supporting cast members pop up to remind us that the main plot is still proceeding. And seeing a giant Sentinel rising, as if from the belly of the Earth itself, and calmly saying “I hear you, lord” is just delightful. I’m not sure I’d go so far as the good fellow on the letters page who beams “This is the comic-book medium elevated to a higher art… This is truly one of the most important serials of any media,” but it’s good superhero fighting stuff.

Ocean #4 (of 6)


Background time. A little more of Inspector Kane’s past. A pinch of the Doors Corporation’s purpose out in space. A dollop of revelation about the thingies under the sea, and a double scoop in regards to their devices. In contrast, a look at how weapons technology is progressing back on Earth And the secret motivations of the sinister Station Manager of Doors’ outpost.

With all this gap-filling, it feels like the plot itself isn’t moving forward very much, but all of the info suggests a pretty clear theme developing. Kane is a weapons inspector. His job is centered around removing weapons from undesirables. He claims that he hates guns. He still has to use them; he’s up on all the latest gun technology, actually. All the better to identify that which he loathes. Humankind (or at least the most powerful, moneyed factions thereof) is constantly in a race to develop newer and better weapons. New guns. ‘Safe’ guns, which means they kill more efficiently, more swiftly. Some people give up quite a lot of themselves in service to such interests, and even their rebellions benefit their masters in the end.

And what’s under the sea. Well, they’ve got 163 words in their language for ‘murder’. They seem to be buried, but they’ve brought their own weapons. Huge weapons, that could blast an arrogant little babe of a civilization such as that of humanity’s straight to dust. Live weapons of dead aggressors, seized by the unfit latecomers. But maybe the point will be that nobody is truly fit. Two more issues left to develop.