PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

The Pro

Ryan Paul

The truth, as Ennis sees it, is that these superheroes, and the escapist mentality they represent, are obsolete.

The Pro

Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 56 Pages
Price: $5.95
Item Type: Comic
Publication Date: 2002-07
Amazon

Laughing For a Change

When faced with crisis and tragedy, people generally have two options: to fly into naïve escapism, or to look at the situation as it really is and deal with it head-on. Since 9/11, the entertainment industry has been tasked with trying to gauge the mood of the American people.

At first, extreme sensitivity was the rule. Any images that might upset our fragile psyché were quickly purged from entertainment outlets. As time went by, more and more violent imagery worked its way back into pop culture, colored with a new realistic evaluation of the consequences of such actions. Ultimately, the avoidance of disturbing images became, to the viewing public, as unsatisfying as the confrontation of those images. Now we seem to have come to a new crossroads, one not far from the point we were on September 10, 2001. All the explosions and special effects remain, but the critical awareness of what it all means is becoming dim once again. Many have gone from a naïve hope that if they didn't see it, it wouldn't be real, to head-on confrontation, and then back to fantastic escapism every bit as violent as reality -- but without all the messy unpleasantness.

The comics world has been no different than any other segment of the entertainment industry in this regard, and Garth Ennis is hopping mad about it. Creator of the acclaimed Hitman and Preacher series, as well as current scribe for The Punisher, Ennis has a penchant for barbecuing any and all sacred cows unlucky enough to draw his ire. In the original graphic novel The Pro, published by Image Comics, he turns his attention to that holiest of comic book bovines: The Superhero.

Satirizing the superhero genre isn't a particularly difficult enterprise, nor is it something that hasn't been done before by many other writers -- Ennis himself included. When one thinks about it, people prancing about in Technicolor Spandex, saving the world from space aliens, and cavorting with prepubescent sidekicks are a pretty ridiculous concept to begin with. And Ennis' story of a street prostitute that is granted superpowers isn't particularly subtle about its point, either. It makes all the obvious crude jokes and sight gags one could imagine(including super-speed fellatio, super-powered male orgasms, and revenge against a non-paying customer, administered in a rather painful anal manner), skewering just about every beloved superhero icon and convention in the process. What makes this book work then is not some high-concept subtly and wittily delivered, but the sheer tenacity and unabashed guts with which Ennis attacks his prey.

The truth, as Ennis sees it, is that these superheroes, and the escapist mentality they represent, are obsolete. In a world of terrorists, rapists, and murderers, it is time to grow up and put aside the silly models of "good vs. evil" and deal with what is really going on. This may mean dealing with uncomfortable and disturbing facts about ourselves and the world we live in, but Ennis believes it is the only way things will ever hope to improve.

In the past, some of Ennis' work has become bogged down in a rather juvenile sense of humor, such as the mini-series Fury for Marvel's adult-oriented MAX imprint. And while that same sense of humor is present in this book, it is more Voltaire than Andrew Dice Clay. There is plenty of crudeness to amuse, but behind it, there is substance which serves to shock the system.

It is almost unimaginable that comics would ever drop the superheroes altogether. They are the genre's bread and butter. The genre is, in many ways, very different from the simplistic portrayal in this review, but the criticism still stands. It is time to wake up, grow up, and face life as an adult. This is a lesson that the comics world should take to heart, both creators and readers, before the world passes them by, leaving them irrelevant and forgotten.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.