Monday 3 October 2016

Showcase Presents Ambush Bug, by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and friends (DC Comics) | review

A 488pp black and white collection of comics, mostly from the mid-eighties. The bulk of it comes from two mini-series, Ambush Bug (1985) and Son of Ambush Bug (1986), plus a couple of specials, his story from Secret Origins, and earlier guest appearances in Superman titles. Ambush Bug is the costumed identity of Irwin Schwab, who knows he’s in a comic, talks to his writers and artists, and doesn’t necessarily go from one page to the next in the usually accepted order. His best friend and adopted child is Cheeks the Toy Wonder, a stuffed toy, and his greatest foes are the Interferer, who messes with comics continuity because he can, and Argh-Yle, a sock from a spaceship that got squashed by a radioactive space-spider, came to life and became a supervillain, and now tries to conquer the world with living socks from a chest of drawers (The Bureau) orbiting the planet. Reading that back, it’s hard to understand why I didn’t like it very much. It sounds like a lot of fun, and Deadpool has had great success with a similar shtick. But I laughed only three or four times in the course of all these pages (the best being when Keith Giffen’s famous nine-panel layouts are said to be inspired by Celebrity Squares). Maybe it’s the lack of colour in this edition, which makes all the busy, busy pages a bit hard to read, or that there’s so much frantically packed in, which might have worked better taken in single issue doses. A lot of the humour is aimed at comics and controversies in the field from the mid-eighties, and though I’ve read enough of those to get the gist, I didn’t find them funny. Maybe the clue is in the panel five pages from the end where Ambush Bug declares “I hate British humour”. Though I do appreciate the cleverness there of spelling it with a U. Stephen Theaker **

No comments:

Post a Comment