Sunday, August 01, 2010

Jada Pinkett Smith's Menace II Comics

Back when my wife was still just my girlfriend, she talked me into buying Jada Pinkett Smith's Menace for her. I think she saw an ad for it in an issue of Supreme, and wanted to see what kind of comic Jada would cook up. I, being wary of celebrity vanity comics, and more especially of Rob Liefeld product, agreed to order Menace for my dear, with the caveat that she not get her hopes set too high regarding quality or quantity. She, in turn, accused me of being a "comic snob". Me!

How about this guy's CROWN HAIR? How does he get away with crown hair while Dill, the ostensible boss, has relatively unremarkable dreads? It smacks of insubordination.

The finished product was mean-spirited, dark and ugly, and she didn't much like it. Which is how I ended up with a copy of the one and only published issue of "Menace" in my collection, despite all odds. Riding in at the near-death of the Direct market and amid the "Bad Girl" comics craze, Menace was published after two years of planning and finagling with the actress, according to the text page. I remember how Rob Liefeld spent much of the 90's crowing about how he was this close to inking various major movie and comic deals with Will Smith. I'm pretty sure Menace was the biggest "real" thing that ever came out of all of that talk and scheming.

Drawn by Dan "still answers Rob's phone calls" Fraga, Menace takes about three minutes to read, yet leaves you regretting those minutes for days afterward.

Three scantily clad Bad Girls are snorting coke inside a Humvee, we know this, because there are little pictures of cocaine piles, vials, and razor blades decorating the borders for no particular reason. The year is 1998, and this is an AWESOME comic, folks.

"Crystal, Taffy... Let's do this." Everybody in this comic has only one, "thug" name, by the way. Spiked heels hit the asphalt, and the three proceed via double page spread to Club Styles, where they meet "Dill" an unsavory fellow indeed. Menace sells a suitcase of cocaine to Dill, then offers herself to Dill, then kills Dill, stealing back the money and the cocaine in some sort of underworld retribution thing. Then the three girls escape with both drugs and cash. Then their boss, "Black", has Menace killed in a drive-by, because he's evil and drugs is why.

The EMTs  do their best to save her, taking care to avoid covering her taut, heaving breasts with bandages, or medical equipment, but to no avail. She is dying, but not before a leather-clad angel rises from between her pert busoms, promising redemption. 

Then, she dies, and immediately wakes up her own grave! No cliche is left unturned in Menace. Having been conveniently buried in wicked kewl fetish gear, Menace is reborn as an avenging angel of mercy, revenge or healing or some combination of the three, per Liefeld's babbling in the text page. She shall seek redemption for her evil ways, despite having in no way expressed remorse for her actions at any point in the course of this story. At least she would have sought redemption, had Liefeld not spotted something shiny over there in the grass, and scampered off to see what it was. Or maybe Jada lost interest when it failed to be immediately profitable. Celebrity vanity comics often vanish abruptly when Hollywood big fish realize what a very small pond the comics industry really is. As it was, Menace only ever saw the one issue published, and the titular Bad Girl will never begin, let alone finish, her vaguely defined quest. And we'll never see that crown-hair guy again either.

PS: Everyone should watch Jada Pinkett Smith's HawthoRNe on TNT!
Please don't sue me! I have no money!!



coco67 said...

huh, huh, you said titular.

J.R. LeMar said...

Wow. I recall hearing about this back in the day, and seeing ads for it in other comics, but I didn't think any issues ever actually were published.

I'm going to have to look this up now, just for the novelty of it.

Lillybelle said...

I'd have to agree completely but with one exception.