Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #104: The Pro by Ennis, Conner, & Palmiotti

Superhero comics long passed the point when they could be parodied -- they turned into their own parodies some time in the early '90s, all belts and asymmetrical hairstyles and pouches and accessories larger than characters' heads. (For men: guns. For women: breasts.) But superhero writers and artists still wanted to parody that work, even if the stuff they did ostensibly straight worked well enough as parody all by itself.

Eventually, the race to be ever more "extreme" and "transgressive" led here: to The Pro, the story of the world's first hooker/superhero, written by professional rabble-rouser Garth Ennis, drawn by the game Amanda Conner, and inked by her regular collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti. And it's...a pretty standard superhero story, hitting all of the required story beats, with all sex kept discrete and jokey, all penises safely tucked off-panel. If DC or Marvel decided, in their infinite wisdom, that they wanted a whore hero, this is pretty much the way it would have gone -- same story beats, same pretty and glossy art, and probably just about the same tough dialogue. If it were "Marvel Max," they could have even kept all of the profanity in.

Ennis tries to contrast the Pro with the regular superheroes, but he never messes them up -- the worst thing he can think to say about them is that they're good-natured meatheads, Boy Scouts past their sell-by date. Marshal Law was vastly nastier than that, twenty years earlier, and there's still plenty of ways to slam Superduperman and his ilk. But Ennis doesn't: he's content here to lazily elevate the Pro as something vaguely more "authentic" -- or maybe just funnier. This is, after all, pretty short: 56 pages of main story, a medium-length album; just enough space to introduce the idea, run through the obvious jokes, and give her the big send-off every super-person needs.

The Pro is funny, and Conner's art, like always, is bright and appealing and sells the idea as well as it can possibly be sold. And if you've marinated in superhero comics, and nothing else, for thirty or forty years, it will probably look surprising and exciting and different. But that only says something about you, and your literary horizons.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

No comments:

Post a Comment