The Onion‘s A.V. Club is one of the best reads on the internet. Featuring reviews and recaps of music, movies, TV shows, books and video games, as well as interviews, it’s a thoughtful, well-measured site that complements the satirical anarchy of The Onion. The site also featured Metal Box, a monthly recap of the best metal releases by critic Leonard Pierce. Earlier this week, the column featured Pierce’s picks for metal albums of the year, a list that’s hard to disagree with. However that might have been among Pierce’s last work for the site, as he’s apparently been fired over a book review.
Last month, Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth was reviewed by the site for its Comics Panel section. The book got a great review, stating that it was “handsome, beautifully designed, and lengthy.” The only problem was that the book won’t be out until March. When this was pointed out on a comics blog, the A.V. Club editor contacted the writer, who admitted he hadn’t read the book. According to the editor, who quickly made a public apology, the writer in question was summarily fired. While the author of the fictitious review wasn’t named, Pierce had said he was reviewing the book on his own blog. And Pierce’s last Twitter update in part, reads “on the road again.” The review of the book has since been removed from the site.
Metal Box was always a highlight of the A.V. Club. Written from Pierce’s biased point of view, his taste was esoteric enough for him to champion little-known international black metal bands, yet mainstream enough to count albums by The Sword and Iron Maiden among the year’s best. And there was always a lively discussion in the comments section, where it seemed like a lot of listeners got turned on to bands by his and other users’ recommendations. There’s no word on whether the A.V. Club will continue having a metal section, but Pierce will be missed. That said, fabricating a book review is a pretty serious offense, and as shitty as it is for the site to lose a talented writer, what Pierce did was pretty inexcusable.