Back when I did my review of An American Carol I determined that there's a difference between a fan and a cheerleader and most ideological art has the latter instead of the former. When I read the comments on An American Carol that said shit like, "I loved it! I'm going back with 12 of my friends!" and nothing more, I determined that these people CANNOT BE FANS because people who are fanatic about something do not bring 12 of their friends to see something, they talk about it so much -- quoting the lines repeatedly, at the very least -- that their friends are sick of hearing about it before they're even dragged in the theater/to the bookstore/wherever. Fans are why the worst thing you can do is see Monty Python and the Holy Grail with someone who can recite all the lines.

That sort of shit is about fun. Cheerleaders are about propping up the philosophy of a certain ideology professed by the work. They are not that interested in fun unless that fun involves beating the other team. I don't know that much about Objectivism beyond what I've picked up through cultural osmosis and some anti-Objectivist essays. (I own a copy of Atlas Shrugged that's remained unread for more than a year.) But from everything I've heard they're not big on this "fun" thing. Usually they scoff at anyone who likes Ayn Rand's novels for anything OTHER than a way bring the philosophy to the masses. Or at least that's what the Hank/Francisco slashers tell me, anyway.

That is not me. I am about fun. And I come to introduce you to the Funnest Objectivist Thing Ever: Mr. A.


Legend has it when prompted if he knew Rorschach from Watchmen, Steve Ditko said, "Ah, Rorschach. He's like Mr. A, except Rorschach is insane." This tells you far more about how Steve Ditko thinks of Mr. A than about the actual characters, but it's a good place to start. Mr. A is TITULAR OBJECTIVIST HERO. He is an uncompromising reporter and uncompromising superhero whose power is his uncompromising commitment to justice. Also, he is a virgin.

This one scan will tell you everything you need to know about Mr. A ... nay, everything about the comic.

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He is one big ball of sunshine, isn't he? In that "In Search of Steve Ditko" documentary, a lot people talked about what a crazy hard-ass he is with the killing people whom he deems as unworthy and stuff. I don't think he's really that tough. I mean, I've only read three of these stories, but so far the only people he's killed are murderers and gangsters and the Punisher does away with five of those before breakfast. Yeah, if you're anti-death penalty that's not so good but it isn't like he's shooting someone who won't let him pass by.

If he's crazy for anything, it's his hilariously huge speeches, which I mostly laugh at because they are SO sincere and yet SO unconvincing. Actually, I laugh at the whole comic for that reason. It's not that this comic is the craziest one ever written or anything, but that it's meant to be a cogent smackdown of liberalism and possibly everything not-Objectivist and yet every character talks and thinks in ways that no liberal, nay, no HUMAN has ever thought ever.

It's like this pretty neat anti-Objectivist essay says, while Rand's Objectivist heroes are flawed, her villains are outright jokes. And, unfortunately, the same is true of Steve Ditko's enemies of Objectivism, as you may have guessed by that guy begging for money down in the last three panels. Nobody talks like that guy.

Then again, I might have sounded like him a little bit when I was looking for this stuff for free before [livejournal.com profile] htbthomas gave me copies of this LOOK I WOULD HAVE PAID FOR IT IF IT WAS NOT $100 OKAY?

Anyway, speaking of crappy villains, let me introduce you to Count Rogue.

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Count Rogue is such a crappy villain he spins around and hits awesome again. His whole schtick is that he busts into swanky rich-people parties, vaguely waves around some smoke and a knife-cane, and then takes all of the rich people's stuff. The rich people are surprisingly okay with this, because as he robs them, he tells them that all rich people's money is stolen and they don't actually deserve and they're all so brainwashed by liberal ideals that they'll just give up their money ... or something. Yes, really. And Count Rogue flatters all the women, so they all give him their jewelry because they think he's hot.

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Well, all women EXCEPT Dagny Roark over there or whomever. But everyone else loves the guy.

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Okay, everyone except Rex Graine, a.k.a. Mr. A, who sees Count Rogue for what he is: a crook. This is supposed to make us sympathize with Mr. A, because he is the only one to have STANDARDS in a world gone mad. It kind of works. I mean, if I lived in a world populated by such total nimrods I might consider myself some sort of superwoman genius by default.

I mean, you know what really gets me about everyone lionizing Count Rogue? Everyone talks about how awesome he is sticking it to the rich, but it's not as if he's some sort of Robin Hood and gives the money to the poor or anything. He just TAKES it. Now this could make him Lina Inverse, which is pretty awesome, but he doesn't even spend it on huge mountains of food. No, he has GREATER MOTIVES AT WORK.

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Count Rogue is really Al. And Al, like Rex Graine, works at The Daily Crusader, which crusades for nothing. This is one of Steve Ditko's ironically-named things in this comic. In the other two stories I read, the villains were named "Angel" and "Purity." Lest you laugh at Mr. Ditko, remember he worked with a guy who named a supervillain team "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants." So honestly, it is something of a step up when you think about it that way.

Anyway, back to Al. Al is the assistant to Syd, who is the society editor. Al really hates Syd and he's jealous of him because they both started work at the same time, but Syd got to be society editor and AL DID NOT. So Al has become Count Rogue for a convoluted revenge scheme, as you can read below. Also, REX IS ON THE CASE!

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Frankly, though, I have to wonder why they BOTH bother. Rex, let some Darwinist instincts take over here. These nimrods clearly don't WANT their money if they're happy to give it away to some jackass in a cape. Also, Al ... WTF? Because you can't be society editor? Now, I don't know exactly what a society editor does, but from this comic it seems like his job involves talking to rich people and listing in the paper when they have their parties. Why is that such a coveted position? I did that sort of shit when I was an intern. He might as well be fighting to be manager of a McDonald's, although a manager at McDonald's may make more money. Heck, you know who makes more money than a society editor? Probably a guy who steals from really stupid rich people.

But Steve Ditko is here to make A POINT and I assure you, the point will be made, no matter how far suspension of disbelief is stretched.

So Al plants his convoluted "Syd will get my tip that the popular Count Rogue will rob this party, and the paper will show up to cover it, but Count Rogue will actually rob ANOTHER PARTY and this will embarrass because then Syd will be WRONG." Meanwhile, Rex continues his crusade for justice that nobody cares about.

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Is it just me or is Rex really fucking adorable when he's hated by everyone? I mean, look at that pout. D'awwww.

But despite the fact that nobody listens to Rex EVER and his co-workers all think he's full of shit, Al still feels the need to try to smear Rex to the publisher.

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I get the feeling they have this conversation every week. In fact, later in the story the publisher says he would fire Graine but his brother only gave him control of the crusader under the condition Graine be hired. This plot point isn't explained further but it amuses me that Mr. Ubermensch Objectivist essentially got his job through nepotism.

By the way, I also do have to wonder how the paper is doing just printing the same type of story again and again and still making boffo money. Is schadenfreude the standard of currency on Planet Nimrod? PLEASE EXPLAIN.

Anyway, I have to make a confession here. I DO like the old Lee/Ditko Spider-Man stories, I do, but I have to admit I find some of the plots, especially near the end of the run, really fucking convoluted and tedious, especially when they involve that gang war stuff and there's at least seven major villains, none of them incredibly interesting, cutting weird, backroom deals that only tangentially involve Spider-Man. Lee said in the "In Search of Steve Ditko" documentary that near the end of their run he was letting Ditko come up with most of the stories and I just have to say reading this comic I KNOW WHERE THE CONVOLUTED TEDIUM CAME FROM.

Introducing ... the OTHER characters ...

The Twilight vampire who is also a news reporter!

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Don't believe me. Look, even the logo to where he works is dazzling!

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Some guy from a 70's movie!

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And Senator "The Gray Fox" Kud. HIS NAME DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING AT ALL!

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Also, the only other decent journalist in the entire book: Dr. Claw.

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But they are boring, so I will instead talk about why I think Mr. A is a virgin. I didn't at first. At first I thought he occasionally had sex, and always with an inflated sense of self-importance. Like the sexual equivalent of this Terry Goodkind scene here. Mr. A had a scene kind of like that where he told a woman it is better to go to the hospital when you're injured and live instead of wasting your time and life saving murderers.

But then I saw this panel, and my opinion totally changed:

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And I got a sense that this scene we are looking at is Rex Graine's ENTIRE LIFE. Like he possibly lives at his workdesk, which is decorated by nothing by a picture of justice scales and ONLY justice scales, like he doesn't even have a picture of his Mom* there or anything, and he spends his entire free time just sitting at his desk reading out loud his genius columns to himself.

This man has never gotten laid and probably never will. Hell, he probably doesn't even have friends, which puts him at a step below Rorschach, who at least had Nite Owl to talk to once in awhile.

(* I'm not sure yet if his mom is a whore, by the way. I need more data.)

Anyway, the plot continues and eventually Rex figures out what we all knew from the second page of this story.

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No, Rex, it really, really doesn't. Also, that speech goes on for two more panels.

Okay, it is fight time FINALLY.

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Or more like, run-away time. Count Rogue eventually runs away to his home, where he finds a burglar who helps him confront THE TRUTH.

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Because this is exactly how burglars talk.

Anyway, Al gets so upset about what the burglar said that he kills him. Which means Mr. A can now kill Al. Cool. But of course he has to make a lulzy speech first. EVEN BETTER!

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Still, I have to admit that before Mr. A said this I didn't quite get that Syd was necessarily good at his job because ... seriously, intern work. Guess you don't have to be John Galt to be respected by Objectivists. Who knew?

Anyway, Graine actually gets hired by Dr. Claw at the end of the comic. Which only makes everyone madder and MORE INTENT ON PLOTTING HIS DESTRUCTION.

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How Every Objectivist Sees the World.

Which I assume happens next issue. w00t!

So, um ... yeah. Look, I'll be fair. I know this comic isn't actually that weird by comic standards, even really good comic standards. What's more ridiculous than a man who can fly and all that? But ... I don't know.

I guess my thing about these comics is that they're meant to be a moral lesson in how everything is "black" and "white" with no "gray," but nobody in the comic ever does ANYTHING that would be defined as doing evil for good ends. Even though I'm sure some of us laugh a little bit when pirates try to rob passing cruise ships, most people recognize robbing rich people makes you a bastard. Killing people makes you a bastard. Selling out your law firm partner to a gangster makes you a bastard. It's not like he robbed rich people to give to poor people. It's not like Angel killed someone in self-defense. It's not like Purity was hard up for the money. It is obvious to anyone they did bad things, and I don't see where you need Objectivism to discern that.

Plus, it stars a Gary Stu who is HATED BY EVERYBODY and yet this is actually increases his Stuishness instead of decreases it. I mean, really.

And now MY speech is over. But yeah, very unconvincing. Still, that's what makes them kind of fun.

Now I'll go curl up on the couch and continue to be sick/feel bad at myself for ripping off Chris Sims' schtick. Oh well.
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