Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Like Pretty Woman. With Superpowers. By Garth Ennis.

And if that's not the best way to describe The Pro, I can't think of another. Except maybe "It's 'The Boys' but with a prostitute, no covert ops, and Amanda Conner on art." Still not clear enough? Well, we'll get there soon enough. The Pro is a wonder of Garth Ennis' twisted mind, with Amanda Conner on art, and Jimmy Palmiotti Inks. It's also dedicated to Jim Steranko. Nice. Amazon will sell you the 80 page  2007 printing for $8 US. That includes both the original story, and The Pro Meets The Ho. Seriously. It's called that.

No if you're thinking that comics are for kids, I can only tell you to run far, and run fast, because this book, my friend, is not for you.

Have you gone? Okay, good. The Pro tells the wonderful story of a prostitute, not a very expensive one, who is given super powers by The Viewer (basically a piss-take on Marvel's The Watcher) as a bet with his robot companion. Next morning she wakes up with The League of Honor (a piss-take of the JLA) knocking at her window, inviting her to join. Join she does (there's money in it) ,and proceeds to remove all honor from proceedings (swearing, urinating on enemies, lining up a delinquent john for toturous revenge, punching a would-be robber's jaw off, pleasuring fellow League members, and almost always falling out of her thrown together costume), before sacrificing herself to save people from nuke powered terrorists. The Pro Meets The Ho tells a story in which The Pro encounters another superpowered sex worker (she has 12 hands) who, with her custmers, is pissed at The Pro for giving ultra fast handjobs to local customers. All is resolved peacefully when The Pro lines The Ho up with a job in the animal husbandry wing of the local zoo. While it doesn't last long it's good, if not clean, fun. Those that enjoy The Boys and haven't read The Pro: shell out 8 bucks already.

These covers aren't giving us any nudity!
Makes it easier to sell the book this way though.
Now it's a short book, and I realise that. I also realise that I had a whole week to read the book, and review it. With that in mind I took up another book of similarly adult content. If you darn kids have somehow got this far, and paid for a copy of The Pro using your parent's credit card, grab the thing and order this as well: Scarlett Takes Manhattan (boy does she ever).

Scarlett is another in the adult entertainment industry, however there are no superpowers here, and the time has been dialled back to the 19th century for the John Leavitt penned, Molly Crabapple illustrated story of poor girl whose mother is killed by a randy elephant and goes on to become NewYork's premier burlesque artist. Amazon want $13 US for this 48 page book. Go ahead and fork it over.
The trick with this book is that most everything that happens is by way of accident starting with the death of Scarlett's mother, her becoming a burlesque performer (when she has a complete wardrobe failure during her vaudeville act), to finding out her boss isn't the man she claims, to becoming the talk of the town, and being in the right place at the right time to stop a prohibition law being passed and thus saving her show.

While it's true that the book is laden with nudity and sex, it's not every page, or even every second page, but you will get an eyeful. The art is charmingly simple, the plot is fast paced (it's only 48 pages after all), and it's easy to whip through the entire book in no time at all to be left wondering what exactly that was all about. But read it again, and it's more entertaining as the plot holds water better than you remembered, and you spend more time paying attention to the art, and all the cheekily crude jokes it contains. High art it may not be, but it seems to know its audience (it says right there on the cover that Warren Ellis thought it was 'Disgustingly wonderful.' and that's enough for me), and hits the marks required.

Out of the two books it's hard to pick which I liked more. The Pro is Garth Ennis poking fun at the whole idea of superheroes in the only way he knows how, while Scarlett Takes Manhattan is simply a short (bawdy) story of a poor girl making good illustrated appropriately by Molly Crabapple.

Arguing which is better is like asking a Formula One fan and a Rugby fan which is the better sport out of NASCAR and Soccer: they're both close to what each fan likes, but not quite. In the end I'd call it even, but if you're after something that requires a little more thinking, take Scarlett.

Next week we'll go for something a lot less likely to be optioned by Vivid Entertainment, though it's already in production with AMC.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice once again Westy. The Pro is a good example of what fun can be had outside the mainstream label comics. Ennis pokes fun at the genre in a way that no one else can, and yet somehow he gets you to care about the characters at the same time. I don't know that I'd want to have too close a look inside his brain, but reading his stuff sure is fun! I also love Amanda Conner's art, so this is win-win for me. Great writing as always!