The top paragraph of the copyright page of the Method Man graphic novel ensures that, “This book is a work of fiction. The dialogue and every scene and situation are fictitious. All characters who appear in this book are inventions, and not intended to resemble any real person or event.” And for the most part, the entire paragraph is absolutely true, even if the name of the novel sounds exactly like the name of an emcee from the Wu-Tang Clan that you may have heard of.
Rather than go through the laborious task of actually showing the origin of its protagonist, Method Man begins with a string of blocks serving as the “prologue.” The first paragraph gives us the physical description of Peerless Poe, a private investigator whose, “clothes need ironingâ€¦ breath reeks of booze and his office stinks of marijuana.” Remind you of anyone? Someone who likes to smoke weed enough to name three albums after a slang term for the drug? An emcee from the Wu-Tang Clan, perhaps? (It’s Method Man.)
From there, the backstory turns unexpectedly Biblical. Seems our boy Poe is a “direct descendant of Cain, the world’s first murderer.” (Aren’t we all?) Poe, however, belongs to the specific line that, “bear[s] the mark of Cain, a birthmark that attracts supernatural phenomena.” I’m only halfway through page one and I already find myself staring down a double barrel of awesome that is kung-fu ghostbusting.
Poe and the other descendants of Cain are forced to spend their time hunting down a bunch of unsightlies known as the Abhorents, as well as “anything else that comes their way,” a caveat that technically covers everything else on the planet. To make the fighting a little more evenhanded, the descendents of Cain posses a skill called “a berserker rage”, an ability that can best be explained by this mathematical formula: BR = Incredible Hulk(Wolverine – Freddy Krueger).
The descendents of Cain formed a group called “the Order of the Sacred Method” in order to hunt down the aforementioned monsters. Figure out the reference yet? No? Don’t worry, the very next line explains: “The Method Men (Get it now?) are a near-fanatical religious elite order of disciplined murder-priestsâ€¦” what the hell? OK, so we’re moving slightly askew of the kung-fu ghostbustingâ€¦
We meet our hero on a clichÃ©d “one bad night” in the hilariously-cliched “one bad ghetto, USA” as he’s searching for a “big red alligator” that has allegedly eaten some neighborhood children. (Maybe there’s something to the “This book is a work of fiction” claim from earlier on.) After stumbling across a pile of dead kids, Poe is caught off guard by some bug-looking creature biting the head off its next victim, a sight to which Poe exclaims, “S–T!” Honestly, dashes and everything. So for the record, supporting genocide on the Batman Forever soundtrack? Acceptable. Swearing in a comic book that’s already smell-dropped “booze” and “marijuana”? Crosses the line. It’s good that moral ambiguities such as these are sorted out early on.
Poe takes off, shotgun in hand, while the what-looks-like-a-mutant-parrot-for-the-next-few-frames chases him around. During his fending off the buggy/birdie/reptilian menace, Poe makes a point to explain to the readers that he had every intention of spending his life defending mankind but for that pesky vow of celibacy. Can’t say I disagree with him. What’s the point of being a buggy/birdie/reptilian-ass kicking ninja priest ghostbuster if you can’t cash it all in with the ladies every once in a while? Perhaps, then, Method Man is actually a veiled critique of the Roman Catholic Church.
In a move lacking sense but sustaining plot, Grand Occisor John Albeit, Poe’s former boss and co-Method member, happens to be trolling around the same sewer. He tosses Peerless a laser shotgun ax and the two waste some of the aforementioned monster’s brood before heading back to Poe’s office to finalize the proprietor’s newly-minted mercenary role in the Order. Albeit tells Poe about the threat of Lilith, whose origin practically rewrites the second chapter of Genesis. Nothing like a little religious revisionism to get the story rolling. Perhaps, then, Method Man is a veiled critique written by the Roman Catholic Church.
Later on, Poe meets Albeit on a wind-swept dock where they’re picked up by a spaceship that takes them to motherfucking Stonehenge. (Really?) Here we meet the next member of the Sons of Cain, Occisor Arilion Despite, whom Poe repeatedly berates for being a card carrying member of the A.C. Green fan club. The now-threesome hops back into the space shuttle and zips over to Noah’s Ark. If you had Mount Ararat, Turkey in your “Where is Noah’s Ark currently located raffle,” you get no credit for picking chalk.
But feel free to reward yourself. In fact, fix yourself a sandwich. And while you’re up, take a long nap. Because this story isn’t about to start making sense.
For the next stop on the sacrilegious world tour, the Order set off to get the “Spear of Destiny”, the only weapon that can kill the evil Lilith for good. Before anyone can retrieve the spear from its resting place, however, they must “look upon the face of himself.” In other words, it’s “Meth vs. Chef”, except minus one Chef (and plus another Meth). Peerless gets himself to the threshold of the spear, but before he can take it, he’s confronted by the spear’s guardian. Fortunately for Poe, it’s a lady he used to sex up. Unfortunately for Poe, taking the spear means the building collapses on your head and the Abominable Snowman eats you alive. No worries: Poe’ll simply blast his way out of the building, then out of the Abominable Snowman’s belly, and then out of the building’s rubble. Before that last blast, there’s actually some bona fide symbolism, with the slight silhouette of a cross visible on Poe’s would-be grave.
From there, the now-foursome goes after Lilith in a sequence that involves, among other things: riding ATVs across a desert, hiding in the skins of some creatures not too unlike Luke Skywalker in a ton-ton, getting chained-up in prison, stabbing Lilith while the Wu-bat logo flashes across the panel, more ATV riding underneath the ghostly images of a bunch of dudes who are no way the other members of the Wu-Tang Clan, a bazooka firing, a new tattooing and back safely to the spaceship for a happy ending. Almost in that order, too.
A young Clifford Smith was torn during freshman English; he loved “the Raven” but sided with the antagonist of Beowulf. As for your reading enjoyment, I wouldn’t recommend this comic if your idea of a graphic novel involves overt references to Psych 101. Neither will this book appeal of those of you who fancy comics starting with the letter “X”. But if you’ve re-read the liner notes to Wu-Tang Forever a bazillion times, rank “Triumph” as the best hip-hop video ever because of its plot, and like to pretend that you’re a member of the Clan so often that you’ve already picked out your first three nicknames, then have I got the comic book for you. As for the rest of us, let’s just hope that the scheduled GZA and Ghostface attempts turn out better.
Wu-Tang Clan – “Triumph”
OK, so that’s pretty awesome.
Method Man, Sanford Greene & David Atchison. Method Man. Grand Central Publishing; Hachette Book Group. New York, NY: 2008.