The Allure Of “Lure”


“There is another world. There is a better world. Well, there must be.”

Or so The Smiths — and, a few years later, Grant Morrison — would have us believe, but if there’s one thing the billionaire space race has taught us, it’s that these assholes are looking to commodify everything, Earthbound and otherwise, in their dick-measuring contest writ large. One of the most remarkable things about Lane Milburn’s new full-length hardback graphic novel, Lure (Fantagraphics, 2021), though, is that he started work on it some five years ago, long before Bezos, Branson, Musk, and their ilk decided the stars were their destination.

Okay, there’s one wrinkle in that it is Earth’s fictitious twin planet of Lure (hence the title) that the story’s Amazon stand-in has set its sights on for capitalist exploitation, but other than that you’ve gotta say that this is an eerily predictive slice of sci-fi, in addition to being a thoughtfully-written and gorgeously-rendered one. Our main protagonist, Jo, and her friends/co-workers are very much like people you and I know (if you’ll forgive the assumption that your social circle isn’t entirely dissimilar to my own) in that they’re artists making ends meet by voluntarily conscripting their creativity in service of “The Man,” but the stakes here are higher than than those attendant with, say, building a sculpture garden on a Silicon Valley corporate “campus”: if their 3-D holographic show goes off as planned, the world’s business and political leaders will be “all in” on a plan to let the Earth go to rot and kick off a new era of economic imperialism all over again under the unsullied (for now, at any rate) skies of our largely-aquatic neighbor world. So, yeah — it’s fair to say Milburn’s cosmic playground is equal parts eminently relatable and decidedly less so.

As you’ve no doubt picked up on, the allegorical value of this book is in no way subtle, but Milburn eschews heavy-handedness by making it a character study first and foremost — in fact, if there’s one (admittedly minor) criticism I’d level here it’s that the fluidity and ease with which he draws us into these people’s lives is almost too successful for its own good. The pacing is naturalistic, unhurried, even bordering on the lyrical for the first 95% of the story and then, bam! We get an out-of-left-field ending that’s admittedly effective, but nevertheless both sudden and open to all kinds of interpretation. I’ll be the first to admit that the more I thought about the story’s final act the more I liked it — and the less rushed it seemed in retrospect — but at the same time, I could’ve happily spent another hundred pages (at least) immersed in the various trials, travails, and tribulations of Jo and her friends.

Still, it’s always better to leave readers wanting than it is to overstay one’s welcome, and Milbun is first and foremost a highly intuitive artist : he knew when he’d said all that he had to say with these characters and proceeded to give his narrative a jarring, but entirely apropos, finale rather than belabor any of the points he was making. I respect the hell out of that even if it means a more concise book than I might have wanted personally — but seriously, how many readers other than myself are going to consider 192 pages to be “too short” in the first place? I don’t know much, it’s true, but I know when I’m standing alone.

One thing everybody is going to love about this comic, though, is the art. As lush, rich, and expansive as the planet upon which it takes place, Milburn’s illustrations are absorbing enough to lose yourself in for hours, and likewise add a layer of intrigue to the proceedings in that there are instances in which he deliberately obfuscates or even omits certain facial features for reasons that are known only to him, but offer fertile grounds for speculation for us. Again, repeated explorations of the material offer some clues — I would advise readers to pay special attention to the mythological backstory of the planet’s creation — but when it comes to firm answers, both narratively and visually, it’s going to be on you to divine a number of them for yourself. Fortunately, the art is so gorgeous that you’re not going to feel like putting the book down, anyway.
Also worthy of note is Milburn’s decided lack of cynicism, which is remarkable when dealing with subject matter that offers so damn much to be cynical about. The triumph of, as my friend Aaron Lange recently put it, “Starbucks neoliberalism” is a depressing enough prospect to be staring in the face, as is the grim political reality that rabid, conspiratorial, racist and fascist nationalism is being widely embraced as the most viable pseudo-“response” to it, but Milburn seems to hold out hope that people can still throw a wrench in the works and prevent, to one extent or another the “Alternative 3” (speaking of conspiracies)-style future the captains of industry are planning. I don’t know if I share such an outlook myself, but Milburn made me believe in its possibility, if not probability, for at least a moment, and shit — in these dark times, that’s a solid achievement in and of itself.

As is Lure on the whole. As we make our way inexorably toward the end of another calendar year and the onslaught of “Top 10” lists come part and parcel with it, you can expect to see this book near the top of many of them.

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Lure is available for $29.99 directly from Fantagraphics (fuck Amazon) at https://www.fantagraphics.com/products/lure?_pos=1&_psq=lur&_ss=e&_v=1.0

Also, this review is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the world of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

Music Video of the Day: Only The Strong Survive by REO Speedwagon (1980, directed by ????)


On August 1st, 1981, MTV premiered. Over the course of 24 hours, 116 unique music videos were played on MTV.  Yes, there was a time when the M actually did stand for music.

The 111th video to air on MTV was the video for Only The Strong Survive by REO Speedwagon.  Like all of the Speedwagon’s videos on that day, it was a performance clip.  The video above has been edited slightly, specifically to include the song’s name and to point out that Gary Richrath is on guitar.  This, however, is the only version of the video that I could find on YouTube.  It’ll do.

Enjoy!

The First Videos Shown on MTV:

  1. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles
  2. You Better Run by Pat Benatar
  3. She Won’t Dance With Me by Rod Stewart
  4. You Better You Bet By The Who
  5. Little Suzi’s On The Up by PH.D
  6. We Don’t Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard
  7. Brass in Pocket by Pretenders
  8. Time Heals by Todd Rundgren
  9. Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon
  10. Rockin’ in Paradise by Styx
  11. When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
  12. History Never Repeats by Split Enz
  13. Hold On Loosely by .38 Special
  14. Just Between You And Me by April Wine
  15. Sailing by Rod Stewart
  16. Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden
  17. Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon
  18. Better Than Blue by Michael Johnson
  19. Message of Love by The Pretenders
  20. Mr. Briefcase by Lee Ritenour
  21. Double Life by The Cars
  22. In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins
  23. Looking for Clues by Robert Palmer
  24. Too Late by Shoes
  25. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  26. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  27. Surface Tension by Rupert Hine
  28. One Step Ahead by Split Enz
  29. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
  30. I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar
  31. Savannah Nights by Tom Johnston
  32. Lucille by Rockestra
  33. The Best of Times by Styx
  34. Vengeance by Carly Simon
  35. Wrathchild by Iron Maiden
  36. I Wanna Be a Lifeguard by Blotto
  37. Passion by Rod Stewart
  38. Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello
  39. Don’t Let Me Go by REO Speedwagon
  40. Remote Control and Illegal by The Silencers
  41. Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton
  42. Little Sister by Rockpile with Robert Plant
  43. Hold On To The Night by Bootcamp
  44. Dreamin’ by Cliff Richard
  45. Is It You? by Lee Ritenour 
  46. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
  47. He Can’t Love You by Michael Stanley Band
  48. Tough Guys by REO Speedwagon
  49. Rapture by Blondie
  50. Don’t Let Go The Coat by The Who
  51. Ain’t Love A Bitch by Rod Stewart
  52. Talk of the Town by The Pretenders
  53. Can’t Happen Here by Rainbow
  54. Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold
  55. Bring It All Home by Gerry Rafferty
  56. Sign of the Gypsy Queen by April Wine
  57. The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Kate Bush
  58. All Night Long by Raindow
  59. Boys Keep Swinging by David Bowie
  60. Rat Race by The Specials
  61. Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
  62. Victim by Bootcamp
  63. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna be Alright) by Rod Stewart
  64. Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe
  65. A Little In Love by Cliff Richard
  66. Wild-Eyed Southern Boys by 38 Special
  67. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
  68. Celebrate The Bullet by The Selecter
  69. More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer
  70. A Message To You, Rudy by The Specials
  71. Heart of Glass by Blondie
  72. Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight by Rod Stewart
  73. Kid by The Pretenders
  74. Come What May by Lani Hall & Herb Alpert
  75. I Got You by Split Enz
  76. Sister Disco by The Who
  77. Fashion by David Bowie
  78. Love Stinks by J. Geils Band
  79. Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer
  80. Tomorrow by Shoes
  81. Prime Time by The Tubes
  82. Cruel You by Shoes
  83. Calling All Girls by Hilly Michaels
  84. I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart
  85. Let’s Go by The Cars
  86. Do You Remember Rock’N’Roll Radio by The Ramones
  87. Ridin’ The Storm Out by REO Speedwagon
  88. You’re In My Heart by Rod Stewart
  89. So Long by Fischer Z
  90. I Don’t Want To Know by Robin Lane and the Chartbusters
  91. Go Back Home Again by Andrew Gold
  92. Time For Me To Fly by REO Speedwagon
  93. Rough Boys by Pete Townshend
  94. Dangrous Type by The Cars
  95. Turn It On Again by Genesis
  96. We’re So Close by Carly Simon
  97. Kid Blue by Louise Goffin
  98. Vienna by Ultravox
  99. (What’s Son Funny Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding by Elvis Costello
  100. I Won’t Let You Down by Ph.D
  101. Holiday by Nazareth
  102. In My Arms Again by Shoes
  103. Passing Strangers by Ultravox
  104. Turning Japanese by The Vapors
  105. Roll With The Changes by REO Speedwagon
  106. I Hope I Never by Split Enz
  107. Blondes (Have More Fun) by Rod Stewart
  108. Never Let Her Slip Away by Andrew Gold
  109. Tattooed Love Boys by The Pretenders
  110. Peter Gunn Theme and Remote Control by The Silencers