Ambush Bug: Year None #1
Written by keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming
Art by Keith Giffen & Al Milgrom
Published by DC Comics

I can’t actually believe it’s been 15 years since we last had an actual Ambush Comic on the shelves. Barring a few minor cameos the last comic fully dedicated to Irwin Schwab was 1992′s Ambush Bug: Nothing Special. The best thing about this new mini, is that Giffen & co. have picked up exactly where things were left. Same supporting cast (Cheeks! Argh!yle! Jonni DC), same relentless punning and bad gags, same irreverence for the DCU at large (the best joke involves literal women-in-refidgerators, and gives DC editorial a rightly deserved kick to the balls).

Giffen’s art is relatively unchanged – slightly looser perhaps, which might in part be due to the fact that he’s spent the last decade doing breakdowns for other artists. But it’s a joy to see him on full art duties, and the Bug brings out the best in him. Also Robert Loren Fleming is back on dialogue. Where did he go? Do you think he left comics in pursuit of *shudder* artistic credibility? Well this should put the kibosh on that…

It’s refreshing to read a funny superhero comic really. There should be more actual humour comics on the stands alongside all the faux-grit and posturing (I miss The Heckler). The wonderful Bizarro anthologies proved there was plenty of mileage in different takes on the super-comic. Evan Dorkin should be doing a Metal Men comic right now for example. So Ambush Bug: Year None is refreshingly funny stuff, and the perfect tonic to the increasingly rapey-stabby DCU.

For sure Ambush Bug is probably going to leave newbie readers, or people unfamiliar with the DCU, a little non-plussed. But y’know, so what. That’s not me, so there. So from me this comic gets an undeniable:

Thanks guys!

Black Summer #’s 6 & 7
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Juan Jose Ryp
Published by Avatar

And so another Warren Ellis mini-series comes to an end…

I kind of enjoyed the first couple of issues of this. I’m a sucker for lovingly detailed ultra-violence, and Ellis is always happy to oblige in that department. That said, it went nowhere fast. Starting with the murder of the US President it failed to deliver on anything other than big explosions and the usual techy info-dumps.

Ellis is one of the most frustrating big gun writers; he is capable of well written sci-fi comics like ‘Desolation Jones’, and extremely enjoyable superhero comics such as NextWAVE (probably the best Marvel comic of the decade) or trashy fun like Thunderbolts. Yet he’s also lazy, half-baked and uncommitted. He regularly keeps readers waiting for absurdly long periods of time between issues, and his series drop off the radar with alarming regularity. Plus, he’s guilty of some of the most aggravating ‘writing-for-trade’ habits in the industry, regularly stretching prologue scenes into entire issues.

So Black Summer trawled along for seven issues looking pretty, saying nothing particularly new or interesting about the genre, despite it’s posturing. Ryp does his best Darrow approximation, but lacks the storytelling capabilities of the latter. Sometimes the hyper-detailed panels looked confusing and cluttered, and strangely flat. Oh sure it’s always nice to see carnage depicted in such loving detail, but it got tedious fast. For such an ‘epic’ story it all felt strangely small. So I’m afraid this gets a big:

That’s all for now folks…

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5 Responses to “A quickie with the beast…reviews from 26/07/08”

  1. Thrilltone Says:

    Shit! Desolation Jones! I’d totally forgotten all about that. It was a genuinely good comic. Did that post-JH Williams storyline aboot Philip K. Dick and gritty black ops stuff ever finish? I guess not.

    I am intrigued by Ambush Bug. I have never read it before, I was a Marvel-only schlub growing up, due to newsagents never having any DC.

    Is it genuinely funny, then? I know this is all subjective, but I worry, as my current impression of so-called ‘funny’ superhero comics is embarassing sub-Buffy cringeballs with the occasional line that raises a vague smirk (X-Factor?).

    Actually, I think the last superhero thing I genuinely laughed at was Nextwave. But then, I am poor and probably don’t buy as many comics as I should, or something.

  2. Papers Says:

    The earlier Ambush Bug comics were much funnier — while I liked the vicious streak that ran through this one, in the end I don’t think I’m going to ever read it again, it felt thinner than the old BUGs, and it didn’t grip me as much as the older ones did. I don’t know, maybe you can’t go home again, all that.

    That said, your points about humour comics needing to return is definitely seconded.

  3. Jog Says:

    No, the Danijel Zezelj run on Desolation Jones never made it past its second issue, I believe. It’s supposed to be still in production, to see the light of day one of these months… too bad. The Williams storyline was probably my favorite Warren Ellis comic, aside from Ministry of Space…

  4. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » July 28, 2008: If Brad Meltzer can win an Eisner, anyone can… Says:

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  5. Mattyoung Says:

    I was complaining about the abortion of Desolation Jones (ironically, the hold up was originally justified by Ellis as a brief gap so the faster-than-Williams Zezelj could bring it from bi-monthly to monthly. I think that was… two, three years ago?) on scans_daily, and Ellis popped up to say that the book would, sometime later this year, finally resume production.


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