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How the Fabricated ‘A.V. Club’ Review Messed It Up For the Rest Of Us

Back in November, the Onion’s A.V. Club ran a review of Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell’s Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, a hardcover from IDW about the legendary artist and animator, calling it “handsome, beautifully designed, and lengthy” and giving it a solid A. Not bad, except that at the time the review came out, the book in question was not only unreleased, but had yet to even be finished.

This, of course, presented a problem, as the A.V. Club is the one branch of the Onion that’s not supposed to make stuff up.

When they discovered that the review was fabricated, the A.V. Club did the right thing, rescinding the review and issuing a formal apology to their readers, assuring them that they were severing all ties with the offending writer. Still, the whole affair is a pretty rough scene that’s left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, mine included. So to the writer of the fabricated review, I can only say one thing:

Way to go, pal. Now you’ve screwed it up for all of us.

Seriously, you guys have no idea how hard it is to sit around reading comics all day so that I can shoot my mouth off about them on the Internet, especially during the Holidays, when all the good video games come out. It’s a nightmare, and now that editors are going to be on the lookout for this stuff, it’s going to make it a lot harder for me to pass off my own reviews of comics that may or may not actually exist.See, the trick is to just go with what you can already assume to be true — I’ve got enough of IDW hardcovers to know that they’re generally “handsome” and “lengthy,” although those are normally words I reserve for my OKCupid profile — and just pad it out with things you can probably assume, like the fact that an Alex Toth biography will probably include biographical information on Alex Toth.

I do it all the time, and now, thanks to this jerk, I’m never going to be able to pass these reviews off to editors, in the event that these famously unpublished projects ever actually do meander their way to shelves:

Holy Terror, Batman! #1: When it was first announced that Frank Miller would be writing and illustrating a story that saw Batman taking on real-life villain Osama Bin Laden, the reaction from readers was polarized to say the least, and now that it’s come out, that hasn’t changed. While many readers are applauding Miller for what they see as an over-the-top satire of the comics industry’s reaction to 9/11 and the false “maturity” that comes with tackling real-world issues, others (myself included), see this as a completely earnest take on the character. But is that really a bad thing? After all, as Miller himself has said, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon didn’t put a generic Nazi on the cover of Captain America #1, they had their hero punching out real-life super-villain Adolf Hitler. Despite the garish colors and laughably lurid dialogue — especially Bin Laden’s stilted, scenery-chewing bad guy speeches — there’s an honesty to it that underscores the fact that Frank Miller makes comics for Frank Miller and nobody else that’s actually sort of refreshing. Unfortunately, honesty and quality aren’t always the same thing. C+

The Twelve #12: Considering the misinformed takes and desire to needless complicate things with his signature Serious Drama™, I haven’t been a fan of J. Michael Straczynski’s take on Marvel’s Golden Age characters. It wasn’t until the end of the story, though, that things went completely off the rails, with Straczynski seemingly grasping at the straws he’s created with multiple attempts to twist the plot into something even remotely interesting. To be fair, artist Chris Weston turns in his usual superb performance, but there’s only so much he can do with a story this nonsensical. I’m sure this ending was satisfactory to someone — though I’m willing to entertain the possibilty that that “someone” is limited to JMS and his most die-hard fans — but for me, the only way this could be more insulting is if this comic was abandoned and never finished at all. F

See? If you didn’t know those comics never came out, you’d… well, you’d never know those comics never came out! But now, thanks to the honesty of the A.V. Club in the face of a one of their writers trying to pull a fast one, I’m never going to be able to turn those in. All those hours I spent working on reviews of 1963 1/2 and that Rick Veitch issue where Swamp Thing meets Jesus are right down the drain.

Thanks a lot, pal. Thanks a whole lot.

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