Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Another Review of CLiNT #2


Well, well, well. Look what got folded in half by the postman and shoved through my letterbox last week – it’s CLiNT #2 by Mark Millar and his celebrity chums! Yes, after slagging off CLiNT #1 quite a bit in my review of that issue, I went ahead and subscribed, mainly because I wanted to read the rest of Turf, Nemesis, and Kick Ass 2, and £3.00 per issue, the price subscribers pay, was more attractive than the price of the relevant US imports. I may be a hypocrite but at least I’ve got an eye for a bargain!

This issue is similar to the last in that it’s an ill-fitting mix of comic strips (the majority of which are written by Millar) and weak, mildly offensive articles that have very little to do with comics (the majority of which appear to have been written by a chimpanzee). Again, the interior of the comic is about 80% comics to 20% crappy articles, while the cover is 5% comics to 95% celebrity photos. The casual reader would never know this was (mostly) a comic if they saw it in a branch of WHSmith, but I can’t imagine that many people browse the shelves in WHSmith looking for comics these days anyway (I think it’s just me, isn’t it?).

The first issue of CLiNT contained over 40 pages of comics that I had already read (Turf #1 and Nemesis #1) but that is not the case this time. The only thing I had already read in this second issue was Turf #2, and we only get 14 pages of that. To be honest, I think I preferred both instalments of Turf more the first time I read them but Tommy Lee Edwards’ art is great and the story is still okay. Turf #2 isn’t anywhere near as wordy as #1, either, so Jonathan Ross is clearly learning to write ‘on the job’.

I still have no idea what I think of Frankie Boyle’s strip, Rex Royd. The art is okay but the story just washed over me and made little sense. It starts with Rex (a Lex Luthor type) confronting someone called Von Bausen (a Doctor Doom type) and eventually moves on to a scene in which God rapes Eve in the Garden of Eden and gets lynched. Then Jesus turns up, dragging a cross behind him, complains that God raped him, too, and runs God through with the cross. All of which just seemed designed to provoke controversy. It also seemed like an odd thing to see in a magazine edited by a practising Catholic (I may be wrong but I understand that Millar is a practising Catholic). I’m an atheist and even I found this quite offensive!

We get three Mark Millar strips this time: all of Nemesis #2, another eight pages from Kick Ass 2 and ten pages of American Jesus. Again, Nemesis was my favourite thing in the mag. It’s just a big, dumb action movie in comic form but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Plus this instalment is mercifully short on bad Millar dialogue and big on Steve McNiven action scenes. The eight pages from Kick Ass 2 are less successful, but then I didn’t like Kick Ass 1 that much (even though I liked the film). Millar’s dialogue really grates with me sometimes, particularly the way his characters just seem to spout dated pop-culture references all the time. And even the comics references in this instalment seem dated to me, with references to the various Spider-Man movies and Kick Ass comparing a girl he likes to ‘Wanda Maximoff as drawn by Adam Hughes’. Plus Hit Girl isn’t in this instalment, and she is the best thing about Kick Ass by about a mile.

American Jesus is also not that great. The art looks amateurish and the story didn’t do much for me at all, but we only get to see ten pages so it may get better as it goes on. Isn’t this quite an old Millar strip? However, probably worst strip in the mag, once again, was Space Oddities, this time allegedly presented by the Duke of Edinburgh. Again, this was a three page story in the vein of one of Tharg’s Future Shocks, but without the shocks. The art was nice but the story, if you can call it a story, was just about someone in a space ship making an emergency landing so that they could have a wee. I’m afraid the writer of this strip wasn’t even trying.

The non-comics features in this issue have an advantage over the non-comics features in the last issue in that there were actually two features I quite liked this time. However, there was no Hot TV Mums feature, and nor was I approached to write any equivalent Hot TV Girls feature, even though I offered, which was very disappointing.

The first non-comics feature that I liked was the interview with Charlie Brooker. I like Brooker but don’t know much about him and if I had read this a month ago I would have been genuinely surprised to find out that he started out drawing comics for Oink! in the 1990s. As it is, though, someone already told me this a few weeks ago. The only real problem I had with this interview is that the interviewer neglected to ask Brooker how he managed to get a beaut like Konnie Huq to agree to marry him, which I’m sure would have been of interest to many readers of this comic-cum-lads mag.

Even better was the ‘Diary of a Hit Girl: Chloë Moretz’ bit, which replaces last issue’s diabolical ‘Diary of a Celebrity Pot Head’ (or whatever it was called) feature on the last page. What I particularly liked about this feature is that it read like the diary of a fairly ordinary young girl, excited about her new-found fame, rather than the diary of a foul-mouthed, school-age vigilante, which I guess is what most readers will be hoping for. Moretz excitedly tells us that she has had a haircut and got to see Pink, Lilly Allen and Jay-Z in Hyde Park (yippee!), which I’m sure all the lads reading this mag really wanted to know, and she even fills the spaces between paragraphs with cute love hearts. And I’m not being sarcastic here, by the way. I really did like this feature, because unlike pretty much every other feature in the magazine, it was genuine and sweet and it made me smile. I’m such a softy.

Most of the other features were just rotten, if I’m being honest. There’s a feature called ‘When Stunts Go Wrong’ (about stunts going wrong), a feature about midgets (helpfully, the writer tells us that the world’s shortest man is about the same length as a giraffe’s tongue – something that everyone can easily imagine), a feature where a CLiNT ‘journalist’ hangs out with a bunch of mentally ill New Yorkers who think they are superheroes (they confront some drug dealers but run away when they see a gun), an interview with celebrity mates Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (apparently, they really like each other), a ‘Make Your Own iPad’ page (absolutely pathetic), and a feature where they change the names of various films to include animals (you know you’re a witless fuck when the best titles you can come up with for a feature like this are ‘Room With A Shrew’ and ‘You’ve Got Snails’). Basically, these are features that would not even be amusing to the average ‘Nuts’ reader.

However, the feature I have decided to single out for particular attention this time is the ‘Sexy Chavs’ pin up, which is this issue’s equivalent of a feature I neglected to mention from the last issue called ‘Deeply Moral Babes’. ‘Deeply Moral Babes’ was a parody of a pin-up in an adult mag and showed ‘fair trade campaigner’ ‘Judith Watson’ sitting in a chair, fully dressed, with her legs open. This was a very slightly amusing feature but would have been more amusing if it wasn’t obvious just looking at her that ‘Judith Watson’ (probably) wasn’t a fair trade campaigner at all but a glamour model dressed in jeans and a Parka jacket. At the very least, ‘Judith Watson’ wasn’t ‘Judith Watson’, as the model’s real name was printed at the bottom of the page.

This issue’s ‘Sexy Chavs’ pin up shows ‘shoplifters’ ‘Chantelle’ and ‘Kylie’ sitting on a sofa surrounded by junk food and booze, wearing ‘sports casual’ gear. This time the illusion is not completely ruined by having the models’ real names printed at the bottom of the page but it’s still obvious that these girls aren’t chavs and that Millar, or whatever middle class Titan employee put this feature together, has never seen a chav in his (or her) life. For a start, to quote Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, ‘they look too damn good’. Not too much make-up, no spots, both slim, and at least one of these girls looks like a glamour model (not that I’d know what a glamour model looks like, of course). Furthermore, chav girls don’t drink little bottles of Budweiser and red wine – middle class comic writers and journalists drink little bottles of Budweiser and red wine! To be honest, this wouldn’t even be funny if these girls were chavs, and I realise that I am taking this way too seriously, but it kind of sums up most of the other non-comics features in CLiNT in that it’s just lazy, obvious and mildly objectionable. (Note: For those who don’t read the Daily Mail, ‘chav’ is a slang term for poor, working class people – a subset of the population that it is perfectly acceptable to mock these days.)

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I don’t like Mark Millar’s work very much and am way too old and stuffy to enjoy any of the other features in this mag. In fact, I probably shouldn’t be buying this magazine at all, as it just seems to set me off. I do like a good moan, though, and for a mere £3.00 per issue, CLiNT provides exceptionally good moaning value. Plus I am quite enjoying Nemesis and will probably get into Turf again once they start reprinting stuff I haven’t already read (#3 onwards).

4 comments:

  1. Rob, it's like we agree but came to oposing conclusions.

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  2. I think I'd like CLiNT more if they just dropped all the non-comics features and cut the price by a quid or so, or at the very least improved the features. As it is, the non-comics features just seem to really wind me up and end up turning me against the whole magazine. Although I don't think that Mark Millar is a brilliant writer, I do often find myself wanting to read his comics, and sometimes quite enjoy them. I would happily continue to buy this if they just reprinted his stuff and Turf and dropped everything else. It's a shame that they probably won't be able to reprint Millar's Ultimate Avengers comics, as I would quite like to read those.

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  3. I enjoyed your review far more than I'd ever enjoy this mag.

    I'm really hoping it's cancelled in 6 months.

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  4. Thanks, Rol. I won't mind if it gets cancelled in six months as long as they've finished reprinting Nemesis and Turf by then, which they probably won't have done. Mind you, after the goings on in that Frankie Boyle strip this month, it'll be lucky to make it to #3.

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