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I Can See Your House From Here, v 2.29
Editorial and Inflammatory Comments by Kenn McCracken
© Kenn McCracken

Surely we all remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf. In the story, the little boy continued to alert his guardian that there was a wolf threatening him, when in fact there was none. Finally, when there really was a wolf, the guardian didn't believe the boy, leaving him to the creature's mercies. The moral, as you might recall, was that lying about something repeatedly will get you torn apart and eaten by wild animals who are especially fond of obnoxious but oh-so-tender children.

At least, that's how I'm going to tell it to my kids one day.

That's assuming, of course, that I ever get a chance to have children. Listening to Dubya and Ashcroft, you'd think that every other week, there's a new and imminent terrorist threat looming over the United States; statistically, I've got a pretty reasonable chance, it seems, of becoming the next victim (actually, that's not entirely true -- being in Birmingham, Alabama, seems to me to be damned effective protection against ever being at the center of anything notable). You'll note that there are never specifics mentioned in these alerts, just credible intelligence gathered from mysterious sources that seems to indicate activity.

I don't want to say flatly that these alerts are bad. It's likely that they've done some good, in fact. There are probably plenty of incidents -- major and minor, terrorist and vanilla criminal -- that have been averted, prevented, or foiled because of the heightened sensitivity that these alerts invariably bring about. When you've got security personnel, law enforcement, and common citizens bordering on paranoia, odds are you're going to spot suspicious behavior more quickly than normal. And of course, there's the fact that the terrorists are probably aware of this, and so stay inside on those post-alert days, catching up on Days of Our Lives, practicing cryptography, and rescheduling their suicide bombings.

The problem is that Americans, as a society, became complacent for too long. We were the country that no one would mess with because we have nuclear weapons and Charlton Heston and cable access porn. Then along came the 1990s, with Timothy McVeigh and the World Trade Center bombing -- but the 90s also brought us the Tom Green show and the Macarena, so we can hardly be blamed for trying to forget all that. Unfortunately, forgetting meant reclaiming the misconception that we were invulnerable here in our steel castles and iron chariots, leaving us wide open to and completely overwhelmed by the events of September 11.

Now, rather than encouraging its citizens to become a little more vigilant on a day-to-day basis, the US government puts out these alerts. We are no better off than we were on September 10, except that now we get to be paranoid for a few hours out of every month, followed by a day or two of increased newswatching to see if anything has come of the threats. To wit: Ashcroft announced on Monday night that we should be on the state of highest alert; on Tuesday, life went on as normal, with the Olympics, Mardi Gras, and Starbucks everywhere doing business as normal.

Kinda makes you wonder if we've heard "Wolf" too often lately, hunh?


Speaking of crying wolf, there's always Rob Liefeld to use a great example. "This time, my book will really ship when I say it will!"

Wow. From national security and human tragedy to a punchline in the comic book industry. How do I do it? Note that never once do my hands leave my wrists...

Rob Liefeld was one of the Hot Artist types in the late 80s and early 90s. He came to the spotlight with his work on The New Mutants and X-Force, and went on to become one of the founding members of Image comics. It was at Image that he created Youngblood, and began building a reputation that would carrying him through the next decade (and then some). The reputation was one of blantant artistic thefts (referred to kindly as swipes, or inexcusably as homages), less than enjoyable writing, and persistent lateness. The swipes I've touched on in a recent column. The bad writing -- well, it's my experience that four out of five artists should stick to art, avoiding dialogue and plotting. Rob would often solicit a book early in the winter, and it might appear six months later than promised, if retailers and readers were fortunate (and note that that is a subjective use of the word lucky).

And now Rob is back. Well, back is misleading -- it's not really like he ever went away. Not unlike herpes, he just went under the radar for a while. He'll be returning to local comic shops everywhere this summer with Youngblood: Bloodsport (Liefeld also ruined comics with "Blood" in the title like heavy metal did band names with "White"). On the plus side, Mark Millar (who has done some mind-bending work on The Authority and The Ultimates) will be writing the title, so it should be bloodsoaked and irreverent.

The downside -- well, it doesn't really matter what the downside it, does it? Because, no matter how much the fanboys over at Comicon race to the message boards to talk about how much Liefeld sucks, about how he ruined comics, about how he is the second coming of Hitler, they'll be buying the book. Probably in multiples. And then they'll hop onto the boards again to bitch about the awful art or the weak characters. And then they'll go back the next month and buy the next issue.

The good thing about being a reviewer for a website like RevolutionSF is that I have no choice about buying comics. It doesn't matter how much it sucks,or how much I would rather be reading something else -- the more hype there is, the more likely I need to review it.

The lesson: learn to cover your morbid curiousity with the garb of professional responsibility.

Wolf! Wolf! Help! There's a wolf in my pants!

logo ©2002 John Muth

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