The Fix is aptly named for whatever changes need to be made in Image Comics editorial to address how this book got published. I don’t try out everything new that comes out at Image. A lot of it occurs at the intersection of genres I don’t care about, and that’s fine, because not every book is for every person. I’m sure a lot of people will be picking up The Fix because of the Spencer/Lieber team-up from Superior Foes of Spider-Man. I only read a few issues of that acclaimed series and found them enjoyable. I picked up The Fix on a whim, however, because sometimes there’s just enough buzz around a comic or team that you sort of fall ass-backwards into reading it.
The result is the single most condescending, indulgent, and culturally tone-deaf comic of 2016. I have not read much else that had this much contempt for me as a reader, and I studied philosophy for a quarter of my life, where 85% of what’s written is inherently contemptuous of anybody who isn’t a stuffy straight white guy with an IQ of 170 and a dozen sexual assault claims pending against him. But The Fix really wants you to know how hard it tries to be funny. The Fix wants you to know that it isn’t afraid to spend twice the amount of pages on a sequence than is necessary. The Fix wants you to know it isn’t afraid of huge narrative and conversational clichés. The Fix wants you to know how clever it is. The Fix thinks that the impunity of police officers is funny. It’s willing to double-down on this, in fact, by making it the central feature of this work’s identity.
The first issue starts out benign enough, though the reader is left almost no room to breathe between gag after gag. Normally I’m quick to praise visual humor, particularly of the type that can only be achieved in comics and not in other narrative forms. Here, however, the creative team lays the humor on so thick and uniformly that there’s no room for me to step back and find anything clever. Humor, like taste, is something that requires different bites to deliver different intensities of flavor: too much too often overwhelms the senses and blows the whole thing. From the first page on it’s just verbal joke, after meta-narrative joke, after visual gag, after absurd plot point: it’s like a goddamn lasagna where every single layer is made out of cheese. Now, I like cheese, but cheese on cheese on cheese on cheese does not a lasagna make. Of course, some comedy does work like this (I’m thinking of some of Kupperman’s stuff where it just keeps spiraling further into absurdity), but not in a serial that’s at least feigning story.
Any promise the comic has in the first few pages comes to a screeching halt. The story quickly launches into the first of many drawn-out sequences which could have been at least 50% shorter. What’s worse is the sequence is an origin story, a cliché one about a young man who fancies himself too special for the cubicle life. This has been done so many times that I don’t understand why there’s an entire page devoted to explaining it. We’re at a point in the meta-fictional hive-mind where one shot of a guy unhappy in a cubicle gets the point across. It’s just one of several times where this team includes something that nobody needs to see or read to this extent. This all builds until the already sinking quality of the book takes its major lurch straight towards the bottom of the barrel.
The main character, part of a duo of cops who moonlight as thieves and general ne’er-do-wells, decided to become a cop because of the impunity with which cops go about their business, which is shown to us through a scene of a cop shooting a guy and taking joy in it.
Immediately, I recoiled while I was reading this. I live in a world (and you do too, I think!) where the impunity with which some cops use excessive force to put bullets through people’s skulls is not a laughing matter, not even ironically. It’s not even close to mildly amusing that some fictional character would seize on this quality of police officers and come out of it with a comical wild-west attitude. This is not something I’m going to read about and then proceed to enjoy unless I am oblivious, either to society or to the comic itself.
The people in the real world who look at the corrupt and evil things that corrupt and evil police officers do in this country and then think “wow that’s cool!” are Klan members, Trump supporters, and generally monstrous individuals waiting for their opportunity to put their boot on someone’s neck, and probably for no more reason than the color of that person’s skin. For a comic—no, for a story, for any story, to ironically or unironically hang its hat on this as a plot point (let alone as a premise for an entire story) is morally fucking repugnant. Any thought that the comic acknowledges this—that it’s aware of the repugnance of this main character or something—is completely and totally obfuscated by the obnoxiously unrelentingly levity-laden tone of every single aspect of this comic book. Hell, the sequence in which this twisted idol worship is revealed is capped off by a “lol he was fucking my mom” joke.
What’s as bad as the obvious tone-deaf idiocy that makes up the linchpin of this comic’s very existence is the fact that the comic itself is near unreadable, somehow getting even worse after this problematic sequence. Letterer Nic Shaw must have positively shit himself when he found out how many speech bubbles he had to cram into sequences that were already too long for their own good. The Fix is close to forty pages long and I can’t think of a single good reason why that has to be, other than to somehow maximize the amount of jokes they could fit in that used the words “cum” or “taint.” Upon meeting a… I don’t know, sidekick or something, the sequence introducing him and explaining who he is lasts seven entire pages, including one that is entirely dedicated to nothing but a close-up of his eyes in order to make sure the cum joke in progress really lands with its audience. It takes one hell of a joke to justify the cost of printing an entire page, and I assure you there are no such jokes to be found in this book. Maybe if that page is being printed at home and not being published by a major comic company. That might be worth it.
I was going to e-mail my editor and ask if I could give a 0/5, but I guess I can spare a point solely for the fact that pre-teens and frat boys will love this comic. Don’t feel bad if you laugh a few times: there are some genuinely funny moments early in the comic before the creative team pulls back the curtain and lets you know that this comic isn’t a playful buddy-crime romp: it’s a kegger where you’re only allowed to hang if you’re shrugging off police brutality, talking about someone having sex with someone’s mom, and saying the word “jizz” in every-other sentence.
The Fix’s mix of humor and poor topical choices doesn’t curb the harshness of the latter but rather makes everything more condescending. I’m certain that I’ve laughed at more than one joke about police brutality in my life: I know for a fact at least one has to have come from Weekend Update some time in the last couple of years. Those jokes, however, often hinge on my lack of sympathy for the moral bankruptcy of some police departments in this country. Of course, you can argue this is the point: you can argue that I’m rightly horrified by the offending sequence in The Fix and I’m supposed to count the main character among the monsters.
If that’s the case, then the book is even more problematic than I’m suggesting. If I’m supposed to be reviled by the main character to that degree, then The Fix is a series dedicated to humanizing and making light of a guy (a lot of light, mind you; making supernova of the motherfucker) who looks up to murderous cops. It’s one thing to lampoon something. It’s another thing to make a morally damaging aspect of our society the centerpiece of your work only to shrug at it in order move on to twenty pages of what amount to fart jokes juxtaposed with scenes of torture.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="blue" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="nofollow" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 1/5[/button]
The Fix #1 Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Steve Lieber Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/6/16 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital Website