Nothing beats a stroll in cattle country!
On the last issue of Murder, we were privy to the lengthy and detailed process usually undertaken by chickens in order to evolve into their most powerful form: nuggets. During our six-page journey, Emiliano Correa’s art took us on the closest we’ll probably ever be to a firsthand experience of the Rube-Goldberg contraption that allows McDonald’s the world over to sell “the meal option you choose when you don’t have enough money for a burger”. The whole trip was meant to be an eye-opening account of how much poultry suffer for you to ingest their cooked muscles in the form of frozen breaded dinosaurs – and while it was grueling to see, what with the constant thought bubbles depicting many variations of “I don’t wanna die” in chicken-speak, I’m afraid I was not moved by it.
This isn’t a diss on the creative team, however. Far from it. My lack of emotional reaction came about due to the fact I lost the ability to empathize with living creatures when the economy forced me to become a high school teacher. Or, it could’ve been that this scene became a mere catalyst that triggered back the once-suppressed memory of watching Baraka with my father inside a weed-stained cinema in the 90s. But, most likely, it was because I am so far removed from this comic’s target audience that I read last issue whilst eating a burger because I couldn’t put 2 and 2 together upon glancing the cover for the first time.
Or… am I?
Let’s take a peek at the killing floor!
At least that’s the impression issue 1’s content made me believe, that Murder was a comic series focused on making veganism sound cool and edgy – a recruitment pamphlet if you will. But I was confused as to for whom it was written. Was this something meat eaters were supposed to read in order to change sides or was this one of those preaching to the choir deals? After chugging down their sophomore issue, I am not entirely sure they’re vying for the “stop transmogrifying living creatures into dead food” message. I started to feel a sort of “have you ever thought about joining the cult of selective killing based on biased ideas?” vibe running all throughout the digital pages. I’m not sure if I vouch for either of those.
Ever seen those advertisements that feature a line-up of cute baby animals looking directly at your soul through their eyes made of raw charm, only for an aggressive text to be plastered above their faces saying “Where do you draw the line?” in regards to why would you eat a cow but not a cat? They’re trying to force you to look a baby pig directly into its printed shiny eyes and be all like “I would never eat you, buddy, but only because this marketing genius put you right between a cute cat and a not-so-scrumptious-looking-while-alive chicken!” And, presto, millions of farms were closed and the economy, once again, was based entirely on corn produce, all because a company spent thousands of dollars in a campaign of visual pollution.
Yeah, well, this comic seems to be the anonymous 9Gagger that made a meme out of it by labelling the situation in which each and every one of those animals would be edible.
Don’t let the name throw you, Jimmy, it’s not really a floor.
Let me give you an example. Issue 2 straight up opens with a step by step depiction of a crush fetish. This time around, instead of watching a poor day-old chick almost falling into an ocean of metal teeth covered by the pulped up remains of its brethren, we are witnesses to what amounts to a pair of high heels about to pierce through a guinea pig just so an unseen dude can climax in the comfort of his home. In other words, wholesome stuff we wouldn’t really know of if it weren’t for the invention of the internet – given that we stay as far away possible from that one cousin who doesn’t talk that much during family reunions and has what your aunt calls deviant eyes.
And you feel for the rodent. At least I know I did. You see this graphic representation of a guinea pig under a woman’s shoe and your soul does that action that buzzfeed and meme culture have been kind enough to ruin for whoever wants to use a single word to express the feelings of cowering in fear or shrinking due to embarrassment. I felt this fictional animal’s pain. My stomach shrank and coiled with fear. A domestic cavy named Bert made me feel in less comic space everything I assume I was supposed to feel for the chicken of the first issue.
They had me. Pets are off limits. I was all ears, eating up all the “please don’t kill animals” movement this was born from. I even considered – albeit for a brief second – the possibility of leaving meat out of my diet for good. Then it hit me: “wasn’t this the same comic book that portrayed cats as crazy beings of pure evil bent on dominating the Earth and becoming, basically, humans 2.0?” The seed of veganism sprouting in my mind was suddenly poofed away into oblivion. I mean, yeah, cats might be one of those carnivores the media keeps talking about, but very few people have the balls of steel needed to refuse a cat a belly rub when it shows you its stomach.
That or, you know, allergies.
Just ask the scientitian!
But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the cat thing was a fluke, I thought. Some sort of a narrative need, what with every story requiring to have an antagonistic force that makes the machine cog forward, and either the writer or artist had a terrible encounter with a cat being thrown into their faces by a crazy ex-attorney, clawing their eye out as it smooshed into their faces, or something. Weirder things have happened.
Maybe, just maybe, it was but a single evil cat that would either be redeemed in the end or put in its place by cats that actually have the personalities of real-world felines. I mean, How To Train Your Dragon’s dragons were pretty catlike and they milked that franchise for three whole movies.
That was when the brilliant and realistically convoluted dialogue reminded me, once again, the crux of this story. The epic journey that constitutes the backbone of the whole Murder series can be summarized into “two superheroes join forces in order to stop cows all over the world from linking psychically”. Which, admittedly, sounds all epic and cool and all, but, one question regarding the endgame, here:
It’s not like a human being can walk up to a cow and telepathically be all like “can you please not have these very same psychic powers I am taking advantage of right now to tell you to shut them down? It’d mean a lot to human beings!” These people are either going to have to kill some cows, lobotomize the strong ones, put them in cryogenic sleep for eternity or send them into space. There is nary a solution for this that does not include some sort of “being very violent to animals” spice in the equation.
Listen – Taylor wrote knowing full well this would be read and not heard, making the usage of Navi’s catchphrase an unnecessary waste of space – this could very well be my meat-infected brain speaking, but I think I have seen enough high concept pieces to know they are never not solved by intricate means, means that usually include at least one person or institution being destroyed somehow. Ergo, why I saw some glimpses of odd transspecies eugenics going on here, selective killing “for the greater good and all”.
Now, please help yourself to this tripe!
Our heroes want to save animals, they say as much in a panel that neighbours another one where a cat pisses all over a group of chickens just to show its supremacy; a bunch of chickens, mind you, that spent their entire on-panel presence yelling as many censored-up variants of the word “Fuck” as possible. Which is very mixed message if I do say so.
Is it alright if I start to question what sort of universe is all of this happening in? It’s an exciting one – and an exceptionally well-illustrated at that – but I have so many questions, and they’re multiplying with each and every panel. And that’s the single most appealing thing that Murder has going for itself. It is so very unpredictable. And it looks so dang beautiful while doing so.
You can pick up your copy of Murder #2 directly from Collab Creations.