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March 2021 Books Read Standouts: The Way Of The Househusband, Vol. 1/The Scumbag, Vol. 1: Cocainefinger

 The Way Of The Househusband, Vol.1

    Aw yeah, dis one’s da real deal.
    If you’re anywhere in the orbit of real-time comics discussion you’ve doubtless heard of TWOTH this past year, or maybe you saw an advert for the confusingly-described animated Netflix adaptation, or if your nerd-credit is way better than mine maybe you watched the live-action Japanese series that I’m having a really hard time finding through legitimate internet-channels. (Seriously, if you have a line on that hit me up.) Maybe you heard about it after the fact somewhere cool like Mangasplaining, which I just recently discovered and which has been a fucking disaster for my wallet, I don’t mind telling you.

    The Way of the Househusband has a simple premise: an average husband has a criminal past unknown to his wife, and he keeps running into people from his organized crime days. It’s also a crowning example of one of my very favorite styles of storytelling: an entirely ridiculous thing taken 10,000% seriously. Or maybe a serious thing taken ridiculously? Maybe a couple layers of each? Maybe there’s no difference?
    Tatsu–known in a former life as The Immortal Dragon–walks around all day in badass shades and a Yakuza-style suit under an adorable apron, and if you didn’t know better you’d think criminal stereotypes acted like him instead of the other way around: testing da new guy to see if he can handle the doity woik that comes with the job (programming his Roomba), teaching actual mob guys how to survive a real cutthroat battleground (yoinking the sweater-and-glove set his wife wants from swarming housewives at a sale), and making sure his connection has da goods and that they’ll be up to to da boss‘s standards (a blu-ray box-set of his wife’s favorite magical-girl anime). That’s it. That’s the joke, over and over, and it works every time, because the tone is consistently warm and wholesome, the comedic timing and tension are perfect, and the art is shockingly good for a title’s first volume. Also? At the end of the volume you get his kittycat having bonus adventures.
    Comedy is highly subjective and hit-or-miss, but dis is one marksman who always hits his target and completes da mission (remembers his coupons and discount-club card at the grocery ’cause it’s 👏double👏points👏day).

Score: 9/10 Goddamn Terrified Door-To-Door Knife Salesmen

The Scumbag, Vol. 1: Cocainefinger

    HA, this one’s gross.
    Okay, so let’s say there’s a potion, a serum, an infusion that would imbue one with, basically, all the best powers: flight, laser-splodo-eyebeams, invulnerability, x-ray vision, supra-strength, and all you have to do to activate them is summon genuine benevolence and goodwill for your fellow humans and a desire to protect them from all harm. Now imagine that this wonder-sauce has been stolen by and crammed into the veins of the single worst person walking the face of the Earth. Not an evil man! No, evil men have goals, evil men are convinced they are the good guys and are working for a better world, evil men, generally, have any goddamn idea what they’re doing. None of these descriptors–the good or the bad–apply, in even the broadest sense, to Ernie. What applies to Ernie is an all-encompassing, nonspecific lust for hedonic sacraments: booze, vintage Mötley Crüe concert-tour t-shirts, cash, sick-ass belt buckles, every drug known to man and some heretofore known only to the most depraved ape, and all the reasonably-priced affection that any of the above can be traded for. And he’s going to need a lot of all of it, on the government’s dime, if he’s going to play his part in their web of international espionage and intrigue.
    The Scumbag isn’t a feel-good book; it’s no Lumberjanes or, pardon me while I genuflect, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. But it’s a hell of a fun book, and while it may be extra gross and hyperviolent and offend every sensibility you’ve got and also a few it invents just for that purpose, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re actively becoming a worse person for reading it, like The Boys. Also I don’t typically enjoy spy-fiction, even super-spies, so it must’ve been doing something right to keep me turning the pages. Does it have a moral, or a flawed protagonist who grows and learns from his mistakes? Hell no it does not, citizen; what it has is a rocket-car, a morally ambiguous government agency forced to work with an idiot over whom they have no leverage, and a sex-bot who understands the concept of consent and will not give it, but will give a five-fingered stainless-steel salad to anyone who doesn’t understand it.
    In short, I did not feel great about reading this book, but I laughed, marveled at some truly gnarly art by Rick Remender and Eric Powell (of The friggin’ Goon, so you KNOW it’s messed up), and I slammed pre-order on the Volume 2 trade as soon as it came up on ComiXology, so make of that what you will. 

Score: 7.75/10 Balloons Full Of You-Know-What Pulled Outta You-Don’t-Wanna-Know-Where

some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class

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