Things I Learned in China (or, Oyster Tumors of Wisdom)

Hide your children and avert your eyes! Run for the hills! After almost a month-long stretch of peace and quiet, the prodigal son has returned to reclaim his thrown and crown! Yep, you guessed it; it’s finally time for another installment of Tact is for the Weak, the article that rules over all other articles with an iron fist and a fiberglass billy club!

Withdrawal is a difficult, painful process, and I apologize for the sudden absence of my much-needed wit, humor, and insight. However, I had some overseas business to complete (no joke), and sadly, there was no internet to be had in China (at least none of the uncensored variety). But now I’m back, and am ready to share with you a number of revelations that came to me during my comic-less stay in the Orient. I hope you’re prepared to bend over and take it (as my readers usually are), because I’m gonna hit you hard and fast with some fresh truths! Open wide…

  • Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. I will never again take the First Amendment for granted; while Communist China is far from the Orwellian police state some people think it is, it was still disconcerting to me that people are actively being arrested for crimes such as reading/printing forbidden materials and taking photographs of forbidden buildings. The first thing I did when I got back to the States was read Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke and run naked up and down the streets screaming in tongues. Judging from their reactions to my simple expression of freedom, I think my neighbors might be communists…
  • Chinese people really love Mao. I mean, REALLY love the guy! For a balding, chunky, middle-aged man that habitually “de-flowered” 13-year-old girls every day, he was quite the national hero. Too bad Kevin Smith isn’t given the same recognition for his efforts in those particular areas…
  • Interesting historical tidbit: the new “Mother of Champions” character, one of the new heroes in the Chinese Great Ten superteam in DC Comics’ “52,” is based on more than just a bad acid trip. “Mother’s” ability is that she can give birth to “a litter of 25 super-soldiers” every few days. Back in the mid-1900′s, Chinese women were actively encouraged by the government to have as many children as possible, in order to provide the man-power for future wars. Women that birthed at least 6-8 children were given the title of “Hero-Mothers.” Any mother (especially my own) will attest that anyone who births and raises 6-8 children of her own deserves much more than a f**king title!
  • The “Happy Ending” is no urban myth! If you get a massage, and leave too hefty a tip (generally above five or ten U.S. dollars), the masseuse will just assume that you’re paying in advance for extra service. Then again, if it’s being offerered for five dollars, perhaps you should avoid that particular service-provider.
  • Judd Winick should just drop the whole “disaster zone” bit with Green Arrow’s Star City. While it may seem like poignant political commentary on the New Orleans ordeal, it turns out that (as I suspected) the entire disaster-relief mess was the fault of inept individuals, rather than the expected human response to such a situation. My proof: our group arrived in the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen a day after the recent typhoon hit, and that very next day, the citizens were hard at work cleaning up and restoring the city. And, they managed to so without dumbf**kery such asbuilding a wall to separate the different parts of the city. Maybe Winick just thinks that when it comes to hardship, Americans just suck and would rather bitch and whine than simply hunker down and do what needs to be done.
  • …Then again, that really is what we do, isn’t it? Man, Davy Crocket and Paul Bunyan would kick our asses today.
  • In order to promote accuracy, any future scenes involving comic characters soaring around the skies of developed China (especially the city of Beijing) will need to be gray-scaled and slightly blurred to depict the horrendous air pollution there. Seriously, I worry about the upcoming Beijing Olympics; I will guarantee you all right now that absolutely NO new world records will be achieved in any outdoor events in 2008. You cannot see for even half a mile in any direction due to the poor air quality.
  • When it comes to entertainment, China has definitely got the hookups! Various members of our group brought back DVDs such as The DaVinci Code, Mission: Impossible III, and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (oh, and Brokeback Mountain was being aired on national TV in English with Chinese subtitles). However, I bet even they had to wait five years for the final segment of Daredevil: Father.
  • In most Chinese hotels I stayed in, there was an extra telephone within an arm’s length of the toilet. How convenient! If only I had brought a mini-fridge, a wormlight, and my Grant Morrison collection; I would have never needed to leave the bathroom!

So, what’s the most important lesson I learned in China? Next time, if I want to read any comics, I’m going to have to bring them myself! During my entire trip there, not only did I fail to find any comics; I didn’t see a single Chinese comic, either! However, now I’m back in the U.S., and with a comic book store within comfortable driving distance, I can finally get back to my funnybooks and doing what I do best… handing out this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award!

(what, you thought I’d forget? SHAME on you, my faithless reader! I told you I’d be back in full force!)

This week, the award goes to… DC Comics’s Wonder Woman #1. Naturally, there are SPOILERS WITHIN! The freshly-numbered series kicks off with Wonder Woman getting hassled by terrorists, while Diana Prince is nowhere to be found.

wait, what? That’s right, when the story opens up, former-Teen Titan Donna Troy is sporting the golden-eagle one-piece, bracelets, and tiara of DC’s premier super heroine. However, little miss “I’m the new Harbinger” is subdued by her terrorist assailants (who are probably just mad that the U.S. recently “capped” their home-slice al-Zarqawi). Sure enough, Diana is called in by the end of the issue, with Donna (yet again!) left for dead on the battlefield.

So, why has this book earned the lugubrious Award? DC promised a bold, new direction for the company’s First Lady of Fury, but all they have to show for it is an unceremonious brutalizing of the already-abused Donna Troy, and what appears to be a newer, sexier outfit (along with some obligatory shots that seem to hint at a more substantial rogues gallery). The Amazing Amazon of lore is barely present, but at least things look brighter on the horizon. However, as a single issue, I have no choice but to put this title up on the Tactless Wall of Shame.

And that concludes our regular broadcast day! Once again, let me say that I’m glad to be back in the States, and that spells “trouble” for whoever and whatever finds themselves in my crosshairs! And, as always, I strongly encourage you all to write me comments and e-mails with any issues you feel need to be addressed (don’t make me get back on the Diamond train!). Your concerns are my concerns! Well, some of them; if you’re stuck in your Stormtrooper outfit from the weekend’s comic convention, and it’s Monday morning and you’re late for work, well, I can’t really help you there, fanboy. Other than that, let ‘er rip! Be sure to swing by next week for some more all-real, all-new, all-ignorant ranting here at Tact is for the Weak! West SIDE!

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