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Here are my top five picks for the best gross, yet compelling, scenes I’ve seen in comics in 2008.
HONORABLE MENTION, of a sort…The Boys has a lot of gross scenes, and I generally enjoy The Boys, but this past year, at least, I don’t think any of the gross scenes really helped the story, at least not in the same way they did in 2007. Nothing this past year was as compelling as, say, Tek-Knight dealing with the sudden compulsion to have sex with everything he sees.
HONORABLE MENTION, of a sort…to Scalped, which had a number of absolutely brutal scenes that I just don’t think I’d categorize as “gross,” most notably the scene where Dashiell decides to start doing heroin (in one of the best endings of any comic of 2008) or the scene where, when given a hamburger, the oldest son (of a bunch of kids) of a prostitute automatically starts splitting the burger up for his siblings until he learns that they are each getting their OWN burger – brutal, right? But probably not “gross.”
Before we move on, yes, Garth Ennis is on this list a lot, but you know what, that’s what Ennis does – he has more or less cornered the market on somehow making gross comics actually compelling.
5. The final FINAL battle between Punisher and Barracuda in The Punisher #54.
This was one explicit fight scene, including some gross violence, like Barracuda’s nose being torn off with a pliers. However, Ennis somehow manages to make the whole thing compelling by intermixing flashbacks from Barracuda’s life along with some excellent observations on the sheer monotony of the Punisher’s effectiveness – “He’s going to kill you. Not over me. You’re going up against him, so he’ll kill you. Because you’re a joke, in spite of it all. And he’s the most dangerous man who ever walked this Earth.”
4. The Crossed “zombies” masturbating on to a pile of bullets in Crossed #2.
I use quotes around zombies because the bad guys in Crossed are not exactly zombies, really. When you get bit by a “Crossed” person, you become insanely violent, often in sexual ways and psychotically sadistic, but you’re not really a zombie, per se. The effect, though, is sort of the same.
In any event, in the last issue of Crossed, one of the survivors we are following gets shot. Later on, the survivors spy a group of the Crossed masturbating in a group. One survivor notes that it is like the game with the biscuit (a group of men masturbate onto a biscuit – cookie in England – and the last one to ejaculate has to eat the biscuit) – only we soon learn that what they are masturbating on to is a bunch of bullets. You see, the bullet that hit the survivor earlier on was coated with semen, and as it turns out, you don’t just need to be bitten – ANY sort of exchange of bodily fluids does it (just not as quickly as simply being bitten), so the wounded survivor is now suddenly a Crossed in their midst!
The whole point of Crossed has been how screwed the survivors are – well, in this issue, Garth Ennis shows they are even MORE screwed that first thought, because the Crossed are apparently able to think strategically.
3. The cops examining a particularly gruesome murder scene in Echo #4.
I believe it is #4.
In any event, at the end of (#3, I guess) we see a conspiracy nut who got too close to the truth get murdered. In #4, though, we see the extent of it, as agents come to the man’s home and see that his body has more or less been exploded and almost fossilized all over the room. Terry Moore’s storytelling here in his artwork is spectacular – he gets across the utter disgusting nature of the crime as well as the effect it has on the people who see it – so creepy and yet so effective, as it sets up the dark villain of the piece (in the latest issue, there’s also a pretty gross fight sequence).
2. A husband and wife being anally raped while their daughter is ripped in two by “zombies” in Crossed #1.
That’s how awesome Garth Ennis is.
Look at the description of that scene – it sounds like the trashiest, vilest, most ridiculously obscene for the sake of obscenity type of scene imaginable – and yet Ennis really makes it work (I think so, at least).
In the first issue of Crossed, we meet our survivors who are just trying to come to terms with what is going on, only the situation is not one that you really CAN come to terms with. Ennis details all of the various survivors’ thoughts and slowly teases out the helplessness of the situation and he tempers it against one character’s seemingly naive idea about what could stop the “zombies.”
When he later tries to use the idea to save his wife and child instead of just taking his child and leaving his injured wife (as she desperately pleads with him to do), the end result is the gruesome scene described above, only adding in the fact that his wife is berating him while it is all taking place.
It’s a gross scene, but one that I think Ennis has “earned” with his set-up work earlier in the issue, making the scene certainly depressing as hell, but compelling enough for it to still work, which is an impressive job by Ennis.
1. Cee Cee saving the arm of her miscarried fetus in Young Liars #10.
Young Liars has a lot of gross scenes, but I dunno how many of them really result in all that compelling stories. I enjoy this series by David Lapham as a whole, but while I do not mind the gross stuff that goes down, rarely do I find it all that much help to the story – it’s more like something I put up with for the other stuff in the comic.
In the latest issue, though, the gross stuff really does help the story, as we get background on one of the supporting cast members, Cee Cee, including the fact that she keeps the arm from her miscarried fetus in her purse.
It is such a disgusting scene, but it also ends up working as a highly effective statement about Cee Cee’s mental state, and leads to an excellently written confrontation between Cee Cee and Danny (the character who is closest to being Young Liars’ “protagonist”).
Young Liars #10 was one of the best issues of the series yet, and the gross scene with the arm is a big part of the effectiveness of the issue.
That’s my Top Five! How about you folks?
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