Unfunnies #1 Review

Reviewer: William Cooling
Title: Moe the Crow ~ “A pound of flesh”

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Anthony Williams
Letterer: N/A
Editor: N/A
Editor-in-Chief: William Christensen
Creative Director: Mark Seifert
Publisher: Millarworld/Avatar

When I heard that Mark Millar was doing a comic book with Disney-esque cartoon characters I was delighted, as I love animation and was fascinated to see what he would do with the various conventions. When it was announced that he was intending to tackle child abuse I was again approving, not only because I felt that it would be interesting to see animation tackle a dark story but also as child abuse and the resulting hysteria is an issue most in need of exploration.

Then I read this piece of sh*t!

Let’s ignore the morals and concentrate on the “writing.” With his dialogue, Millar is undoubtedly trying to ape various cartoon clichés such as breaking the fourth wall, catch phrases and slight naffness but the results are just banal and amateurish. This robs him of what has always been one of his strongest points namely his rough, edgy dialogue. In addition his characterisation is appalling and is a mixture of typical socialist snobbery towards the lower middle class, sexism, homophobia and complete mind numbing idiocy.

The story is puerile; it doesn’t concentrate on exploring the issue of child abuse (which in light of the subtly of the issue is a relief) instead focusing on the wife’s attempts to restart her life after her husband goes to jail. The situations she is placed in, with one real stand out example, are utterly unbelievable, not only in how they arise, but also in how she responds to them. Indeed that goes for all characters, who with their various responses, become progressively more the basis for jokes than actual characters. Also the broad strokes, and shock-jock tone of writing that Millar developed with The Authority is broadly repeated here, which given the context of the story is truly monstrous.

But hey I’ve read The Authority Volume 2 and Dead Men Walking, poor writing is not something I’m new to, or likely to go off on one about (okay there was once but nobody’s perfect). What makes this comic so without-merit is the sheer mind numbing perversion of it. I’m sorry to say but this does not explore the issues around child molestation, nor satirise the hysteria that surrounds it. Instead, it uses this most emotive and serious a subject as the basis of jokes of the most smutty and brainless kind. However, it’s not only the subject that he uses to make amoral jokes on, oh no we have some on prison male rape, prostitution and murder. This is a comic without merit save the passable art of Anthony Williams, which divorced from a lot of its content, is a pleasant pastiche of classic animation—although nothing Kyle Baker couldn’t do with his eyes closed. Outside of that, this is a comic that is despicable beyond words and a poor advert for the art form that I’m sure we all feel passionately for. It’s a crying shame that in all probability it will be this, not books like A Tale of One Bad Rat or even this month’s Human Target and Gotham Central that will force itself into the pages of the press.

Finally, please don’t dismiss this review as a rant from some Conservative hanger and flogger, as I am not someone to casually dismiss things out of hand. For example, I will passionately defend Clockwork Orange (which Millar rips off in a deplorable Scary Movie manner) as a cinematic tour de force and Chris Morris’ Brass Eye special on the subject as a genuine attempt to address issues surrounding child abuse. This on the other hand, isn’t, it’s not even a good comic. Millar’s writing is shorn of all the qualities that have made his superhero work a must-read, as he tries to shoehorn his writing into both the gutter and cartoon conventions. Unfortunately he succeeds in the former not the latter.