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Dare to Know

I bought Rex Libris because it seemed so rare to find a comic with a truly funny pun in its title. I should have read the fine print.

Rose Vess pointed out much of what I would have said about the labored whimsy of the story and its annoying commentary track. (I’m still sort of weirded out and excited that the comics blogosphere is big enough to sustain two Roses.) I mean, even “Rex Libris” stops being a funny name when it’s the name of an actual Roman. Steven didn’t make it through the parody letter from the editor section on the inside front cover because he was so annoyed by the inconsistencies and bad punctuation. I would have written that off as characterization or part of the joke except that it’s pretty clearly not.

And then there’s the front cover, from which I derive my title. See, this is a comic so portentous it even has an epigraph: Sapare Aude. And I looked at that and said, “Wait, shouldn’t that be Sapere?” and then didn’t trust myself because my Latin was inadequate well before it got rusty, so I went on with life. But it nagged at me and I googled it and sure enough you get some hits with their spelling, but that’s why using a dictionary is a good idea, because there’s plenty of information about the meaning and derivation of Sapere aude, “dare to know.”

And I know this is a rant I’ve gone into many times before, but I still think it’s sort of insulting to be expected to appreciate something on an intellectual level if the writers can’t bother to learn how to use commas. Why have a Latin motto if it’s not even in Latin? But more importantly, who’s in charge? I assume Slave Labor can’t afford to have someone proofread the comics before the script gets matched up with the art for the final project or even in large text areas like the “Barry’s Brain” segment. Despite the library focus of the title, it’s not clear that the creator wanted to spend too much time in real libraries or with real librarians in creating it. So here I am left frustrated again that there isn’t any expectation of quality or consistency in even the mechanics of writing. Sure, Brian Michael Bendis got to wherever he is on the current hot writers list without being able to string more than two sentences together coherently and without drastic misspellings, but at least Marvel can offer him an effective spellchecker. I don’t think I would have liked the story in Rex Libris any more had James Turner had this luxury, but it certainly would have made me less annoyed and bitter than I am now.