There are quite a few reasons why I will no longer be reading or reviewing Apocalypse Al after this issue, but I’m going to keep this brief because honestly, I want to wash my hands entirely of this title. For the sake of due diligence, here’s a short recap of what happens this issue: after meeting up with a demon known as the Ultimate Darkness, the titular Alison “Al” Carter continues her now hell-sanctioned quest to recover the Book of Keys, an artifact capable of bringing about the End of Days, which has been stolen, we are told ad nauseam, by someone named Francis Walther from Secaucus, New Jersey.
To do this, Al enlists the help of a techno-wizard acquaintance named Ronnie, who sends her into “the Supernet” (supernatural + internet) to do battle with “cyberdemons” (you can probably get that one yourself) and pump the ghosts of dead loved ones for intel. When that’s all finished up, she gets out and embarks on a deadly car chase with imps. The end.
The only discernible positive about this book I can see is in the hyper-PR characterization of the silver-tongued, gilded-skinned character known as Ultimate Darkness. It’s clear Straczynski is having a lot of fun not just in painting him as a somewhat affable business-minded tycoon, but also in the dynamic he stirs up between Al, U.D. and his repetitive little minion.
The rest of this book isn’t just cheesecake, in that Al rocks deep cleavage and we get a gratuitous upskirt during her preview of the apocalypse, it’s downright offensive. On three or four separate occasions, our main character makes off-handed, self-referential jokes essentially trivializing her own past and present sexual assault with a wink and a smirk.
In one scene, for example, Al is strapped down to a chair with her mind sent tumbling into a laughably cliched version of “cyberspace” while her stereotypically horny computer hacker chum has his way with her body, something we are told he has already done by stopping time and removing her underwear. Luckily for us all, despite the sound and fury of jokey protestation, she seems to be generally okay with this, completely accepting it as a typical business hazard. And you, dear reader, are expected to do the same.
Lo and behold, when she gets finished with her mundane adventure, her bra has been taken off and her body thus violated. But hey, that’s okay, because she starts to kick the shit out of him ... before then saving his life. Wow. Way to completely devalue and defame a blatantly transparent “Strong Female Character.” This whole thing was nothing short of unacceptable, and far from entertaining.
Sid Kotian’s artwork, while often focusing on Al’s more pronounced sections of anatomy, is actually quite good; sometimes inconsistent (particularly in Al’s facial expressions), but intricate and grand when it needs to be. I just hope Kotian is allowed to break away from obvious shlock like this and do solid work elsewhere in future; he’s clearly capable of it.
Boring, trite, dangerously cheesecake, shamefully sexist and just plain terrible, the only reason I’m giving Apocalypse Al #2 anything above zero is because it fulfills the bare minimum of being a comic book. Avoid it like the apocalypse.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Sid Kotian Publisher: Image/ Joe’s Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 3/5/14