The Stark, Existential Horror of Tarot #53

Before we get started tonight, a quick word of warning: Tonight’s ISB has what your local cable provider would refer to as “Adult Themes” (and not the good kind), and since I know there are at least a couple of you out there reading while you ought to be working, this might not be the time. In fact, considering that it’s a review of an issue of Tarot you might want to skip it altogether and save yourself some suffering. Seriously, guys: This one’s gonna get bad.

Why not check out Dave Campbell’s new site instead, and then head back here later.

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of ROM: Spaceknight fighting a bear, and I’ll meet the rest of you after the cut:




Still with me? Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #53 is the worst comic book I own.

It’s tempting to say that it’s the worst comic I’ve ever read, but let’s be honest here: It might be in the running, but I read three issues of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood and that Jeph Loeb Buffy comic just last month, so it’s up against some stern competition on that front.

Still, when you look at something like Youngblood, you get the idea that Rob Liefeld just couldn’t do any better. Maybe, if he wasn’t hampered by his (considerable) lack of skill as an artist and (even more considerable) lack of skill as a writer, he could’ve done a better job getting what was in his head onto the page, and maybe–however unlikely–it would’ve been a tiny bit better.

With Tarot, though, there’s a basic level of craftsmanshp that makes it hard to imagine that what you get is anything but exactly what Jim Balent wanted it to be. It’s his exact vision, laid out on the page. He actually meant this to happen.

Point being: This is a very bad comic book. So bad, in fact, that I’ve actually gotten requests from readers to review it, presumably because they enjoy seeing me suffer. But trust me–and I know I’ve said this before–it is the worst issue of Tarot so far. Every time it comes out, I’m convinced that it just can’t get any worse and I’ve always been wrong, but man, there is no way he can top this one.

To start with, Tarot–whose latest exploits involve being out-dueled by her male counterpart, who is so good that he’s able to cut her clothes off during the swordfight, which of course arouses her to no end–isn’t even in this issue. Instead, the focus is on third-stringer Crypt Chick, whose major claim to fame is that she’s the only recurring female character in the series–up to and including Tarot’s mom–who hasn’t appeared naked. This may have something to do with the fact that she’s a ghost, which would make her clothes ectoplasm or… something. Don’t ask me to understand the mind of Jim Balent, folks, I just read ’em. I didn’t build the fucking thing.

In any case, she’s Tarot’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, their relationship having hit something of a snag when she dies in the car accident that gives Jon his alleged “super-power” of being able to talk to ghosts, which in turn led him to become The Skeleton Man: The Worst Super-Hero Ever. And she’s nominally the star of the issue, although this being Tarot–a book lauded by its fans as being “female empowering” that had a recent story arc where its main character was bound and literally milked so that a bad guy could steal her witchity power and eat it on toast–her contributions to the plot are mostly standing around, being duped by the bad guys, and acting as transportation. Another victory for the Sisterhood!

The story–such as it is–gets started when Crypt Chick summons Jon to a suitably spooky crossroads so that he can have a sit-down discussion with a haint of ghosts that CC describes as “evil.” See, she has this feeling, but hey, who among us hasn’t had the urge to send our exes to a gang of poltergeists? Thus, we meet the bad guys:



It’s the night staff of SuicideGirlsâ„¢ Memorial Hospital! And pay attention to the one just to the right of center. I hate to say it but… she’ll be important later.

Shockingly enough, these aren’t the discarnate spirits of a bunch of strippers. They are, in fact, a group of nurses–which means that that’s what Jim Balent thinks nurses look like–who died in an accident when they were carpooling to work, and subsequently had various body parts removed by unscrupulous doctors and used for plastic surgery.

In a better horror book, like Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, this is an idea that might have some legs to it, but, well, this is Tarot, and the only legs you’re going to find here are going to be covered up in tattered stockings and be as far from something resembling plot as possible.

But back to the nurses: They are, of course, Back For Revenge, but in case you were one of Tarot‘s slower readers, Balent goes so far as to spell it right out for you, down to giving the address of the intended targets:



Why do they give him the addresses? Because the story needs Jon to know where to go to keep the plot lumbering along, and having Jon actually, you know, do some detective work or show any signs whatsoever of being competent would take precious time and pages away from the mind-numbingly awful horrorporn.

Thus, the Nurses trundle off into the night and Crypt Chick performs her primary plot function by flying Jon after them in what could best be described as tepid pursuit. A few pages later, she drops him straight down out of the sky at one of the addresses, which makes him crashing through the window sideways in the next panel a pretty mean feat. But let’s be honest: At this point, violations of the laws of physics are the least of our worries.

After all, when Jon gets to scene of the crime, he finds that the ghost has ripped poor Janice’s lips off, and it’s revealed that the ghost nurses bleed constantly from wherever their harvested parts are now. Janice had a collagen injection in her lips, and Samantha underwent “vaginal reconstructive surgery,” and that’s why the one I pointed out above is wandering through the afterlife constantly bleeding from her ghostly vagina (PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK).

So now it’s a race to get to Samantha in time, and while I’m pretty firm in my belief that this is one of the worst comic books I’ve ever read, I honestly can’t decide if what happens next is the worst piece of dialogue in comics history… or the best:


You Have To Get Out Of Here.




I gotta admit, folks: For the first time, I am legitimately envious of Jim Balent as a writer. I mean, I like to think of myself as a pretty creative guy and I’ve come up with a couple of wacky premises in my time, but man. A Haunted Vagina?! You could lock me in a room with nothing to do but come up with the weirdest plots I could imagine, and not in a year would I come up with a man fighting a haunted vagina. And even more, it makes no sense: If her vagina is haunted, where does she have to get out of?! Where is she going to go to escape her own ghost-riddled nether-bits?

And yet, it is beautiful in its purity. It is, in two sentences, everything that Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose is about. It’s why I read the book. Because every now and then, it gets so bad, so unrelentingly stupid, that is somehow loops back around to become brilliant for eleven words.

You have to get out of here. Your vagina is haunted.


Sadly, the brief transcendence to nirvana doesn’t hold, and a couple of pages later, it all comes crashing down with a thunderous noise not unlike the death of all joy.

Shortly after Jon’s warning, the ghost nurses show up, and after smacking him around for a few panels, including a kick to the face that even I couldn’t enjoy, the ghost nurses turn their attention to the increasingly useless Crypt Chick, just in time for one of Tarot‘s more ludicrous affectations to show up: Self-censorship.



This more than anything just blows my mind. I mean, what, seriously?! You can’t say “fuck” in Tarot?! You can have a dead fetish nurse wandering around with a bloody cameltoe, but you can’t say “fuck?!” I mean, what the hell, man, are you worried that it might offend somebody?!

I just.. I can’t… What the..


Sorry, it’s just… Man. That shit doesn’t make a bit of sense. Anyway, Crypt Chick and the Nurses: To keep her from interfering, since she can actually touch them while Jon just waves his arms like the ineffectual lump he is, they start to drain her… Hell, I don’t know. It’s not “life force,” I guess, because she’s dead, but they somehow make her… more dead? Death Force, maybe? Whatever, I don’t care anymore: They do something that starts to turn her into a skeleton instead of a fetish model, and while Jon’s distracted by their shennanigans, they stab him and then use a scalpel to… remove the woman’s vagina.

And this, for the record, is the worst part of the book–which would put it in the running to be the worst part of any comic ever, held in check only by Jeph Loeb’s dialogue–because of the sound effect. And what’s the sound effect of vagina removal?



Of course it is.

So, having proven at this point to be completely unable to stop his enemies, Jon resolves to try to stop his enemies in their future efforts as well. But unfortunately–for him, not us–it doesn’t look like he’s going to get the chance:



Because they won’t tell him where they’re going. Once again, folks, The Skeleton Man: the super-hero who can’t fight crime unless crime phones ahead to let him know where it’s going to be.

Thus, nothing whatsoever is accomplished beyond the eye-searing pain of the alleged plot, and as always, we’re left with more questions than answers. Why focus the story on characters who never do anything useful? Why did they bother to give out the full street addresses of their victims in the first place? Why do some ghosts have the ability to make another ghost more dead? Why do they go after the women who got the surgeries, and not the crooked doctors who harvested their organs? Why “f*ck?!” Why?!

Because this is a terrible, terrible comic book on every conceivable level, that’s why. But if we can learn one thing from it, it is this:

You have to get out of here. Your vagina is haunted.

185 thoughts on “The Stark, Existential Horror of Tarot #53

  1. Um…are the copious veins on the ghost-nurse there to be “spooky,” or is Balent making some bizarre, backwards attempt at anatomic authenticity?

  2. Wow. It’s a wonder why you haven’t hunted down Balent like an animal yet.

    Also, I hate to make light of one of your fave heroes, but that looks more like a “pimp mitten” than a “pimp hand.”

  3. Coming this fall from DC and Broadsword: The Haunted Vagina. J.E.B Stuart’s been reasigned, and his “life” just got a whole lot messier.

  4. Umm… my wife wants to know if you are going to review the next issue so she can find out what happened? She collected the first year of this series, not me!

  5. Searching “for you got to get out of here. YOUR VAGINA IS HAUNTED !” on google brings up 17200 results and only one of them is the isb. Spooky…

  6. Now my brain is haunted! I have to get out of here. Seriously, the only reason for Tarot to exist is to show how bas looks.

  7. I’m delighted…no, delighted isn’t the word exactly…but I’m SOMETHINGED by the thought of closeted perverts furiously wanking to the horrifying image of a blood drenched ghost-nurse vulva, moaning “Oh yeah, you efstarseeking bitch, you know I like it that way!” because they’ve never heard the word before.

    With that said, I’m going to go drink that selfsame image out of my head.

  8. Dear lord that has to be the single most awful comic ever. What in the name of god lives inside Jim Balent’s brain, can it be bottled and sold as some kind of drug?

    Think of the possibilities, inject some of that craziness into Grant Morrison….

  9. Hey, not only is it a bear, but it’s a talking magic bear…

    What? Haunted vagina? WHAT?

    (Just kidding. I did, in fact, read the article.)

  10. I hate this so much that I am actually going to penalize it two “potential band names,” thus giving Tarot #53 an official score of zero PBN – “utterly valueless.”

    It would have received a negative score, but I don’t want Balent to feel like he owes anyone a potential band name, since God only knows what he’d produce then.

    Chris, I don’t want to disturb your psyche right now when it needs its rest, but do you ever worry that maybe the dude’s actual fetish is being the object of public disgust and revulsion, and thus all your efforts are just getting him off somehow?

  11. I should note that as of early this morning, the link to Dave Campbell’s new site opens up a window with this exact same Tarot review…which contains the exact same link to still another window with the Tarot review.

    Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe it’s a “Ha ha good luck finding Dave” kind of thing…but I’m just saying, I think “infinite reviews of Tarot #53” is how Geordi and Data were going to destroy the Borg in that one “Next Generation” episode.

  12. Just a note, the words “You have to get out of here…” actually do seem to make sense.

    Remember who is SAYING these words. The Hero Who Can’t Fight Crime Unless Crime Calls Ahead.

    Naturally, if you weren’t at the correct address, from HIS point of view, you’d be safe as houses.

  13. First, was that Loeb issue of Buffy really the second worst comic of all time? I mean of course it was terrible but Loeb has committed greater atrocities on national television (and oh how I wish I was exaggerating for humorous effect there). He’s the guy who turned what should have been a slam dunk comedic premise of the most ludicrously over the top strongman ever in comics beating up every single people he meets and somehow made it into a depressing mess. A bland rehash of all of the weaker episodes of Buffy just doesn’t rise to his usual level awfulness.

    Second, I think that if you were writing a horror comic mixed with soft-core pornog… er… “women’s empowerment” you’d have to go to the possessed body part sooner or later. I think it’s to Balent’s credit (seriously) that he went with a haunted vagina rather than obvious routes like a possessed penis transplant.

    Not that it excuses anything else there.

  14. Oh man. “Your vagina is haunted” is rocking my morning. Tears rolling down my face.

    But I have to say, the sound of a vagina being removed isn’t “slit”, it’s “cunt”.


  15. Also, I hate to make light of one of your fave heroes, but that looks more like a “pimp mitten” than a “pimp hand.”

    ROM is a sensible spaceknight. When fighting in Siberia, one should wear mittens.

    Haunted Vagina? Man, Laurell K. Hamilton wishes she was that f*cked up. :)

  16. I have to say, I am very glad you warned me about this. I read the ISB at work when it’s slow, and man. I don’t think I could have explained this one if someone had asked me about it.

    Especially when I fell to the floor, laughing my ass off over the haunted vagina.

  17. That “nurse” on the far left, did they take her boobs? Because it looks like she still has some, but they’re also bleeding. How does this whole thing work?

    And Tarot has a male counterpart? I hesitate to ask, but does he wear the same costume?

  18. My eyes! I need my eyes for seeing!

    Seriously, I laughed until I felt like crying. Then I felt bad about laughing. And now I feel bad about contemplating the potential useage of haunted vag in pickup lines…

    “You’ll have to come with me, ma’am, I have reason to believe that your vagina may be haunted.”

    “So word on the streets is that your vagina is haunted, and I’m the only one who can exorcise it…”

  19. “Your vagina is haunted” just makes me think of something the Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle said about the Queen (pretending to speak as her for the Queen’s speech): “I’m now so old, that my pussy is haunted.”

    And this is indeed pretty awful… However I doubt I’ll understand the full scale of its awfulness without A: paying money for it and B: reading the entire, horrible thing.

  20. Upon reading the title of this entry I thought this article would focus on an imagined date with Iron Man and Tarot.

    It was still a great review.

  21. Wow. It’s a wonder why you haven’t hunted down Balent like an animal yet.

    I have nothing against Balent the man. In fact, I’ve consistently heard that he’s one of the nicest and most pleasant comics creators you’ll ever meet, and on one level I have an incredible amount of respect for him as he’s a guy who looks to be making a living doing exactly what he wants, and it’s well within my power to stop reading any time. It’s just that… man. I cannot turn away from this stuff.

    Umm… my wife wants to know if you are going to review the next issue so she can find out what happened?

    Right. Your “wife.” Anyway, the next issue doesn’t continue this story, instead being the one that focuses on the mergina.

  22. “The Drizzle does not handle unscheduled robberies!”

    Seriously, are the nurse-ghosts hunting down organ-donor recipients? Someone had cosmetic sternum surgery?

  23. You know after enduring this whole run-down all I can say is . . .

    Wow. Dude, that bit with Rom and the bear-guy was totally the first ROM issue I ever read.

    The rest I’m going to blot out of my mind. With lots of hard liquor.

  24. I’m not even kidding when I say that if he put that on a shirt, he would make crazy stupid amounts of money.

    Do we dare speculate that Balent’s taste being what it is wouldn’t compel him to put it on a pair of panties instead?


  25. Thank you. Now I don’t have to spend money on this. I will, however, have to go visit my therapist.

  26. Do we dare speculate that Balent’s taste being what it is wouldn’t compel him to put it on a pair of panties instead?

    Absolutely perfect.

  27. Comedian Russell Howard does a bit not EXACTLY like this, but close enough that it reminded me. It’s about the weird stories you get in some tabloids…

    “There’s a ghost in my womb! It flew out of me vulva as I was comin’ down the stair, frightened me half to death! It were Henry the VIII, it were! Henry the bastard VIII!”

    Anyway, back to the actual mind-bending horror of this story…. WHAT THE F*CK?
    I’m usually horrified at your Tarot reviews, but this one… this gets the scepter and the isle, my friend. The King is dead, long live the King.

    I’m now going to go wash my eyes out with bleach.

  28. Having read this issue, I’d like to point out something that – to me anyway – makes it even worse than Chris described.

    The nurse’s body parts weren’t removed by unscrupulous doctors. The nurses had agreed to be organ doners while alive, and just CHANGED THEIR POSTMORTEM MINDS. Because heaven forbid there should be even the slightest bit of moral ambiguity here.

  29. ..

    I’m going to have that panel tattooed on my ass.

    Wait. On my GFs ass.


    Umm….forget it.

    That one panel makes more sense than all of Secret Invasion.


  30. The nurse’s body parts weren’t removed by unscrupulous doctors. The nurses had agreed to be organ doners while alive, and just CHANGED THEIR POSTMORTEM MINDS.

    Yes, that, but there’s something in there about how the doctors are bad because they shouldn’t be using corpse collagen, too. I’d look it up, but I’ve read this issue three times now, and you can’t make me go back.

  31. And Tarot has a male counterpart? I hesitate to ask, but does he wear the same costume?

    No. He is a man, and therefore wears an outfit like an 18th century French dandy. I kid you not.

  32. I would sooo buy a YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE! YOUR VAGINA IS HAUNTED! bumper sticker.

    See, this is why my bed is such a lonely place.

  33. I don’t know if you’ve gone over this before or anything, but I’ve been meaning to ask this for awhile anyway and really can’t pass up the opportunity now; how did you start reading this thing in the first place?

  34. The only thing better/worse than SLIT! as the sound of a vajayjay being removed is the line in the next panel–“Our lips are sealed.” O, DAMN YOU Go-Gos! DAMN YOU TO A HAUNTED VAGINA!

    Seriously, I hurt myself falling out of my chair laughing at this.

  35. I read it again to save you the pain, and you’re right Chris. The unfortunate lady who got her girlparts plumped up says she didn’t know the collagen had come from a corpse. Deadnurse says that’s because it wasn’t a respectable doctor. This does beg the question as to where exactly she did think it had come from…

  36. Is that bear actually Ursa Major, from the Soviet Super Soldiers? Man, my Rom memories are rusty.

  37. so… wait. if there’s no Part 2, does that mean the issue ends with “We’re going to keep killing, and there’s nothing you can do about it”?

    Because that’s what it sounds like.

  38. “that had a recent story arc where its main character was bound and literally milked so that a bad guy could steal her witchity power and eat it on toast”

    This is a joke right?


  39. Excuse me, I think I’m going to go out to the parking lot and blow my brains out. It’s the only way I’m going to get that phrase out of my head.

    Either that, or I’m going to start slipping it into the X- headers of every e-mail I send from now until the day I die. And send it to Warren Ellis.

    “You have to get out of here. Your vagina is haunted.”


  40. Is the stripper-nurse to the left-of-centre really bleeding from her cleavage? Or did she have her sternum transplanted? And do they really transplant nipples?
    So many questions…

  41. how did you start reading this thing in the first place?

    I asked a friend of mine why he read it, and he told me that it was legitimately the worst comic book coming out, and that he felt it was important to read the worst and the best so that you have a sense of Comics as a whole.

    It made sense at the time.

    so… wait. if there’s no Part 2, does that mean the issue ends with “We’re going to keep killing, and there’s nothing you can do about it”?

    Pretty much, unless they show up again as a plot point somewhere down the line, which I suppose is possible.

    This is a joke right?

    Nope. That happened.

  42. At least the mergina didn’t have to be cut out.

    I am so sick from this that I’m never reading this blog again until tomorrow.

  43. I’ve done a horrible, horrible thing.

    You can hand-edit the prefs.js file of Thunderbird to add an arbitrary X- header.

    user_pref(“mail.identity.id1.headers”, “tarot”);
    user_pref(“mail.identity.id1.header.tarot”, “X-You-Have-To-Get-Out-Of-Here:Your-Vagina-Is-Haunted”);

    My brain is now permanantly damaged.

  44. I can’t help but think of this magical, magical phrase as the title of a ’60s/’70s DC horror anthology — you know, the ones that’d have (for instance) “Do you believe in…” across the top in small text, and then underneath in big old letters: GHOSTS! Except this one is more like:

    You have to get out of here!! Your vagina is…

  45. “I asked a friend of mine why he read it, and he told me that it was legitimately the worst comic book coming out, and that he felt it was important to read the worst and the best so that you have a sense of Comics as a whole.”

    That certainly makes sense (or a kind of sense, at least), but I think I’m pretty happy with my incomplete view of the medium. I may feel differently when haunted vaginas become the next big meme.

  46. The Skeleton Man should team up with the Drizzle. The criminals will tell him when they’re going to do their crimes, and then the Drizzle rains them out so they have to plan it for another day. And then Skeleton Man finds out again, and they get rained out again! And so the streets are saved.

  47. Haunted Vagina? Man, Laurell K. Hamilton wishes she was that f*cked up. :)

    I wish Laurell K. Hamilton was that fucked up. You pussies all said she was all that and a weird German/Japanese porno fusion mix dvd . . . but she was just a clipping from Maxim magazine that showed sideboob and had ‘i liek penis boys’ scrawled on it.

    Seriously. I read 11 of those Anita Blake books, and seriously, man, I must’ve got books Bowdlerized up the ass because they weren’t shit.

  48. I’m just writing this comment to keep the post from having 69. Because, you know, sex-magic. Don’t wanna live in a world of haunted v*g*n*s.

    Also, haunted vagina? Way to climb up the google results chart.

  49. I… I want to make a tampon joke…

    But … but after looking at that …

    I don’t know how.

  50. You know, Chris, you’d better live a very saintly life– because if you don’t, karma’s going to reincarnate you as a male secondary character in a Tarot/ Anita Blake crossover book– and you’ll be just intelligent enough to realize how stupid, useless, and badly dressed you are.

  51. Can’t argue against Skeleton Man’s stunning ineffectuality, but its not like any of the cast are actually good for much. Tarot herself, ever since Balent decided he was indeed making a porn comic, can’t get through a fight without ending up naked, bound and humiliated in some ludicrous way. Actually that applies to any of the female characters in the book. Skeleton-Man actually does pretty well, if judged by his capacity to keep his pants on more often.

    I actually started reading Tarot with #1, back when it had something resembling a coherent plot and the sleaze was only mostly implied. Sue me, I liked the heavy-metal goth vibe of it. I gave up when Balent decided his inner muse demanded Tarot become a blatent wankfest, and got rid of all the issues. I kept one though, which happens to be a Tarot-less story about Skeleton Man & Crypt Chick fighting the ghost of a T-Rex. Because it was the only issue of the series that was passably well written; actual plot, character development, tolerable dialogue, even an acceptable conclusion. I had to keep it, it was such an atypical part of the series.

  52. Sadly, Jim Balent was not the first person to have this idea:

    I saw these guys perform at a Halloween party in Brooklyn a couple years ago. They perform an entire semi-coherent rock opera with a plotline that is, well… let’s just say special. I don’t want to ruin it before you click the link.

    The closed analogy I can imagine to watching them perform would be that it’s like being date-raped by Rob Zombie.

  53. After that, I want to take a shower.

    Or, alternatively, watch an outer space cyborg wrestle a talking bear.

  54. If only this had been released a few years ago. I would have slipped it into my marriage vows somehow.

    “In sickness and in health. In vaginal haunting or scrotal possession….”

  55. So we’ve had pirates, ninjas, apes, zombies, etc. Next – haunted vaginas.

    JLHV, anyone?

  56. There are somethings mankind is not meant to see. There are things that can not be unsee. Damn you, Sims.

  57. Oh, wow. It’s kind of like Silent Hill, except more pornified and I can’t decide whether that makes it more horrifying or not. (Maybe we need a cage match.)

    I’m also confused by the sternum-bleeding. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

  58. Is it just me, or does Crypt Chick’s costume have holes cut in it for her nipples to stick out?

  59. Granted, it IS the worst comic book in the everness of ever.

    On the other hand…

    – Balent is married to Holly Golightly.

    – They got married in a Darth Vader and slave Princess Leia outfit.

    – They regularly have the sex.

    Jim Balent, ladies and gentlemen, Jim Balent.

  60. – They got married in a Darth Vader and slave Princess Leia outfit.

    …which, as I’ve mentioned before, means that he got married while pretending to be his wife’s father.

    I’m not saying he’s not Livin’ The Dream, just that his dream is weird.

  61. Dude, you seriously cannot do enough reviews for me… it really should be a regular feature.

  62. So…is anyone else noticing that…the “lip” victim wouldn’t be using transplant lips, as colagen DOESN’T INVOLVE A TRANSPLANT???????

    ‘cept maybe from your own ass. but that’s another story.

    Either way, there’s NO REASON for her to be attacked!

    And…I seriously doubt they even DO vagoo transplants. >:| They rebuild it from back skin or something, srsly.

    Not only does the creator of Tarot absolutely FAIL at making a decent comic, they fail at knowing even the basics of how medicine works…empowering women??? NNGH! TTATT The thought that this is women-empowerment gives me a headache…

    Though…I have to say…if it has nothing else going for it, this issue does have some “hey, lookit this link. :3” friend-internet-pranking potential. And that is all.

  63. Japan of course was ahead of the curve centuries ago:

    “There is also a legend of a demon that hid inside a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.”

  64. I have never in my life wanted to purchase an issue of Tarot. Now I’m strongly considering it because of how absolutely horrendous this comic is. I must have it.
    “You have to get out of here. Your vagina is haunted”. You’re right. it’s so stupid, it’s genius….or is it the other way around.


  65. So. I have to correct you. I just do.

    She was not milked with the milk eaten on crackers.

    She was milked and he drank the milk. And she was masturbated. And the results of THAT were eaten on crackers! FACTS, PEOPLE, FACTS!

    *goes mad*

    If you people want to sear your brains, it’s on Scans_Daily somewhere. *sobs, nurses bleeding brain*

  66. Most excellent review, so good I am tempted to find this thing– no; I am convinced not to get a copy. Very confused, maybe I should just print out the review. Better!

    I must praise you in your estimate of the Worst Comic. I usually tack on By A Mainstream Publisher– then Liefeld’s Youngblood #1 is the warm-up for… Liefeld’s Captain America #1. I would prefer to lower myself into scalding shit rather than look at that again.

    I do have to admire the costume touches, shown in panel scans from your review. Can you imagine how hard it is to apply those, I guess, silk ribbons wrapped around the arm like that? Even if a ghost? Can you use Scotch Tape?

    Does the #53 mean there have been that many of these? Wowee. That is a singular vision, relentlessly pursued. That’s gotta count for something.

  67. THE Eliot Brown reads and posts here?

    That gives me a big smile. And a warm fuzzy feeling.

    Which could be the onset of a stroke, but…

  68. I was going to talk about Philip Jose Farmer’s fucked up horror porn that i ended up reading while browsing paperback books but now i’m stunned that this guy is married to a cute-as alt-country chick and he still writes goth porn
    though i would tottally see ‘Ghost Girl & The Dead Nurses’ play with my local psychobilly bands
    maybe he can give us the White Stripes comic i’ve always wanted

  69. Okay, the whole haunted vagina is awesome, but the self censored “f*ucking” reminded me of a kind of related story….not interested? A story that involves the Wu-Tang Clan…interested now, Mr. Sims?

    I used to work at a porn store and we were allowed to play our own cds. I was Wu obsessed back in the late 90s and they were the only cds I would play during my overnight shifts….every night.

    Soooo, one of the regulars actually complained about the offensive language he had to endure while shopping in a porn store. If you cold have seen the stack of videos in his hands you’d be just as flabbergasted as I was…I mean, really, anything ODB has to say is worse than what was on those tapes? I think not.

    This story is better when I can tell you what he was holding…but I don’t think it would be appropriate to say anal gangbang and anal chiropractor on The ISB.

  70. f*ck*ng br*ll**nt!
    in a perect world I would go to my local comics shop tomorrow and buy this issue AND the Spider-Man Obama issue.
    Amazingly, the only issue of Tarot I own is the milk and toast story you mentioned. Haven’t bought any others, although I do own a Carnal Comics issue drawn by Fauve/Holly. I purchased it at SPX in 1995, at the same show Dave Sim attended.
    Hey! Sim should write an issue like he did for Spawn!
    “Samantha Brown!” is my new exclamation. I feel sorry for all the women with this name… some guy will Google the great woman named Samantha Brown he met at a bar, and see this…

  71. I work at a comic shop and some guy had this on his pull list. I’d been seeing it for a while and just assumed it was some odd hangover and holdover from the death of the 90s Bad Girl craze but never gave it much thought. One day I bothered to flip through it and it was at that point that I, for the first time in my entire history working at that store, decided I would refuse to ever order that book again because it was that terrible and misogynist. I probably could have forgiven one or the other but the combination just made so I couldn’t justify its existence.

  72. “Simultaneously, she began to sob uncontrollably and depilate my butthole.”

    Matt Fraction is the luckiest guy on earth.

  73. Some of you guys are getting it wrong…

    “Your vagina is haunted!” IS funny but it’s the lead-in “You have to get out of here!” that somehow takes it that extra glorious mile.

    Hero: You have to get out of here! Your vagina is haunted!

    [Pan up to see victim’s head explode as she realizes she can not ‘get out of here’ because what’s haunted IS HER OWN VAGINA!!!]


    Also, reading this thread has made me realize the American Dream is not dead. Jim Balent is somehow living it for all of us.

  74. I am too ashamed from having read this to use my real name and such, but my guess about the names and addresses are…

    They are probably the ACTUAL names and addresses of Tarot fans!

    Jim has written his fans into his comics before, remember. That possibility makes this whole thing that much creepier.

  75. Now I wonder if “You have to get out of here! Your vagina is haunted!” is the pickup line Balent introduced himself to his future wife with.

  76. Dude, Uwe Boll is gunning for the movie rights as we type!

    Probably watch it until the magic eleven words and then switch off the movie

  77. Question: is Jim Balent the Andy Kaufman of the comic book world? Is everything that Balent has done — having Vader marry Slave Girl Leia and, uh, everything Chris has ever read for us so we wouldn’t have to — is it all just absurdist comedy so pure to itself that you can only barely recognize it as comedy any more?

    Someone Smart I showed this to threw out the idea, and while my initial reaction was to dismiss it out of hand, it’s actually not that implausible. And also makes Jim Balent’s head a slightly less strange and sticky place to be.

  78. “Ike Iszany Says:
    Who you gonna call?
    What would that logo look like?”

    Nothing I would like to visualize.

    I have nothing to add except: ectoplasmic residue.

    Pleasant dreams!

    Own a piece of comics history with this solid-cast resin reproduction, hand-painted by our skilled craftsmen. Comes in mint or cherry scent (please specify) #PC4U001 $29.99

    Realistic polyfoam glows eerily in blacklight. Astonish your friends. Specify MED, LG or XLG (XLG keeps beer or soda cool for up to 6hr.) #PC4U002 $19.95

  80. “Own a piece of comics history with this solid-cast resin reproduction, hand-painted by our skilled craftsmen. Comes in mint or cherry scent (please specify) #PC4U001 $29.99”

    Keepin’ it classy, Japan!

  81. That thing about Liefeld you wrote?

    At least Liefeld co-created Deadpool.

    This… this… Oh Lord, I saw the bleedin’ vagina picture!!!!!!

  82. I know that being concerned about a technical point like this on top of so much… What is the word that sums up this comic? Anyway, it’s maybe ridiculous to even point this out.

    But Jim Balent *doesn’t know what a vagina is.* I believe he meant vulva.

    Please, folks, if you’re going to do a whole damn comic about it, know what a vagina is.

    It dives! It weaves! You control it! Terrify friends and family with What Lies Beneath!

    One Vagina: #PC4U300 $11.95
    Two Vaginas: #PC4U400 $14.95

  84. I am visiting my gynecologist tommorow just to tell him that my vagina is haunted and ask him what he’s going to do about it.

  85. “i’m stunned that this guy is married to a cute-as alt-country chick and he still writes goth porn”

    Different Holly Golightly. I was so surprised when I saw that I had to check wikipedia. The one he’s married to is a comics artist, which makes A LOT more sense.

  86. I hate to be the one to tell you, but the “haunted vagina” thing was totally a Margaret Cho joke in “The Cho Show” last season.

    Myth of Jim Balent’s creativity: DEBUNKED.

  87. At the same time, “Your vulva is haunted” sounds a little too much like their car is possessed. They could waste valuable time going back and forth trying to figure that out. “Vagina,” while technically inaccurate, at least gets attention focused much closer to the problem.

  88. “Hey! You’ve got ghosts in your snatch!”

    “For the last time, that ain’t ecto-plasma, it’s supposed to do that.”

    “No, not your taint, I mean your vagina is haunted.”

    “But I used a condom!”

    …I’m fired. I’ll clean out my desk right away.

  89. Not to draw attention away from the vagina nurse, but what in the name of hell happened to the two chicks to the left of the middle?? The last one still has her boobs, but she’s bleeding from that general area. What’d they take, her implants?

  90. Sometimes, as an artist, you just have to draw a woman’s genitals gushing blood for reasons other than the obvious.

    APPARENTLY not. At least I certainly hope that no woman would ever choose to have breasts larger than what have been displayed above.

  91. And…I seriously doubt they even DO vagoo transplants. >:| They rebuild it from back skin or something, srsly.

    um, they actually do this kind of surgery. However I don’t think Balent was researching his story that deeply and to be fair my knowledge of the fact comes from either tv or movies, I have no idea which… I was drunk at the time. however Balent should gain our respect he has created a comic into which he can draw and write all his fantasy’s and still go home and have sex with an artificial person who can at least make toast.

    With this issue Tarot hit 53, so I guess some people are buying it, and not just those looking to see a car crash. And also not those looking for something to jerk off to (we have had the internet for many years now and if people are still paying for porn they have even worse problems to deal with then buying a bad comic). I think what is interesting is that this comic has gotten more comments then most of Chris’s other articles. I only commented because my computer is crap and google reader stopped working, so I had to go back to his site and then see people were talking about this

  92. I am a nurse, I don’t play one in comic books.

    Vaginal reconstructive surgery is a fine art. Labial lips can be pumped up with collagen and/or fat removed from liposuction. I think “Nip/Tuck” did a plot line about it.

    Reconstructive surgery usually involves tightening of the vaginal mucscle.

    No donor parts required.

  93. Oh.

    First time reader, and if they are all this funny, I’m definitely coming back for sloppy seconds. I’m amazed that no one has commented on the title of the issue as advertised by the creator’s video.

    “Loose Lips.”

  94. Who the heck thinks this is empowering for women?? I heard the first 4 issues might have been good and then it collapsed. This reminds me of the “Wind from the Abyss” series of books which created a cool, strong female character and then systematically destroyed her. I like Jim’s work on Catwoman but he should NOT have done this. It is garbage. Thanks for the warning. Has anyone suggested he watch a medical drama? Heck even “Scrubs” could teach him something. -_-

  95. The precious tastelessness of it all. You have to get out of here, your vagina is haunted. Not such an uncommon literary theme strangely enough as a quick google of “Haunted vagina”. Grom is quite correct. One even featured the line…”It’s hard to love a girl whose vagina is a portal to the netherworld”. Now that’s a vaginal fart to avoid…

  96. I have no prior knowledge whatsoever of comic books, Skeleton Man, or this blog, but it’s on my favorites list now because you’re so damn funny. Even were you writing about CSPAN, you’d still pwn.

  97. I’d just like to thank not only the author of the original review, but also every single commenter here, for the most entertaining read I have had in a long time.


    That may have to be my new signature in all forums and emails.

  98. Holy shit. This is AWESOME.

    And how has nobody thought of this pick-up line? “You have to get out of those pants. YOUR VAGINA IS HAUNTED.”

  99. Adding: What kind of notes did he send the colorist I wonder? Because if I was said colorist, he would get an e-mail back that stated, mere spoken words do not explain my hatred of you, so I was forced to make a song. Then there would be an .mp3 of me singing how hitler and stalin were evil, vile people but they did not do things like make me color a bleeding vagina. That is bleeding up?

  100. OMDG!! This was almost painful to endure. I have had tea that is thicker than the plot for this comic. However, those 11 words are forever stuck in my head!

    *dies* at the sound used for the vagina removal…slit!! Oh for crying out loud! *bangs head off desk*

  101. In the review, you say that…

    “And she’s nominally the star of the issue, although this being Tarot–a book lauded by its fans as being “female empowering” that had a recent story arc where its main character was bound and literally milked so that a bad guy could steal her witchity power and eat it on toast–her contributions to the plot are mostly standing around, being duped by the bad guys, and acting as transportation.”

    I would wonder, who these supposed “fans” are? For some reason, I doubt that it would include many women …

  102. I’m guessing that the nurse on the left had breast tissue removed for transplantation into some other woman. ‘Cause boob enlargement using silicone is just so, you know, 20th-century.

    Nurse #5: corneal transplant. Nurse #2: heart valve?

  103. H*ly f*ckin’ sh*t! Wikipedia’s Tarot page has a link to this page!

    On an unrelated note, I’ve had Gorean fantasies that were more “empowering” to women. I’d been intrigued by the premise of the book and Balent’s claims about its meaning, but the art I saw always looked too much like something out of a Larry Flint rag, which sounded alarm bells in my head…

    And lo and behold, it’s even more ludicrous than I had ever imagined. Oh, and GL, HIS FREAKIN WIFE’S THE COLORIST. I could not make this shit up if I tried.

    I’d go drown my braincells in gallons of bleach, but my mind’s fortunately much too hardened for that kind of stuff to really befoul it. Plus, it’s already as dark a place as Barad-Dur…

  104. It’s possible this page has the most usage of the word “vagina” in a non-medical or non-porn page.

    Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

    There’s my contribution.

    I’ll be hanging my head in shame now…

  105. I’m surprised you didn’t have a comment for the line “Our lips are sealed,” spoken by murderous ghost women who have just reclaimed their lips and their vagina.

  106. Panties… with that quote…

    You know, I have a zombie party to go to this weekend… I may have to put that onto a pair of panties (of course, with the “SLIT!” on there, too)

    This is so bad, it’s incredible. I might just hafta start reading this insanity. XD

  107. My boyfriend and I wanted you to know that while we were searching through old issues of Tarot at a comic shop a couple of weeks ago, we came across this particular issue. Every other issue in the box was $3.00.

    But not this one.

    Oh no. THIS issue was $19.99.

    I am 100% certain the price of Tarot #53 is entirely the fault of this article.

  108. Thanks for the warning! I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting comix to read, but I’ll be avoiding this thing like the flatulent disease plague that it is. Could someone please deport the creator to North Korea? kthnxbi.

  109. why do I feel that, even with dialog like “you have to get out of here. your vagina is haunted”, Balent hasn’t hit bottom yet? that there are many more horrors to come?


  110. HAHAHA. I laughed so hard I almost pissed myself my Best friend, (being a girl) I told her that she needed to take her pants off because her vagina was haunted, she about slapped me until i showed her this article…. Needless to say she didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day.

  111. The “Vagina is Haunted” line is just plagiarising the famous joke by Frankie Boyle, surely? (Well, it’s famous in the UK/YouTube anyway).

  112. Thanks for reminding me about the one issue of BtVS Season 8 that I haven’t been able to read. Not because I can’t find it, but because the premise is so painfully idiotic that my brain refuses the input. Fortunately it’s a one-off that evidently has nothing to do with the continuity.

    Oh, and thanks for drowning Ultimate Spider-Man. Man, what a dick.

    If Jeph Loeb has ever scripted Rob Liefeld’s art, I don’t want to know about it. That would be a Singularity of Suck.

    Your site, on the other hand, is awesome and hilarious. So there’s that.

  113. Oh

    They did.

    Have you reviewed the Liefeld/Loeb comics? Because I’m certainly not going to read them myself.

    In the name of all that is good, may this awful knowledge be taken from me, that I might again be innocent, and unaware that such horrors lurk in the back issues bins.

    Sweet suffering mother of fuck.

  114. It has been six months since anyone has commented on this, likely the finest bit of comics blogging our generation has or will EVER see, and that is simply not right. Not in MY world.

    Haunted vaginas today. Haunted vaginas tomorrow. HAUNTED VAGINAS FOREVER.

  115. This review has a bookmark on all my devices that connect to the Internet, I’ve shown it to many friends, and visit whenever I’m in a bad mood. Thank you.

  116. Yes, it is right that people should post on this early and often. Certainly my favourite blog post, ever.

  117. I saw an ep of supernatural (wasn’t watching, just waiting for someone and lo and behold TV had CW) and I think one of their writers got a similar idea: a haunted KIDNEY!

  118. Apparently, Balent also ripped this from the plot of the movie “Sick Nurses”. So, he’s even more of a hack than I thought he was. Good job in reaching heretofore unimagined levels of hackery!

  119. I came back and read it again. It’s still just as funny (and sick) as I remembered the first time!