Warren Ellis has taken five marvel z-list heroes that no one remembers, along with some villains too, and made a hilarious, irreverent team book. It’s like Planetary (and it is like Planetary) but for toddlers, or the mentally deficient.
The art has that web-comic kind of feel and reminds me very much of Disney’s Kim Possible – light on detail, big on colour, lots of frenetic action. There is loads of action too, and as there are no weighty concepts or emotional soul searching to rush back to it is a joy kick back and watch Death Bears, Combat Pterodactyls, Robot Samurai and Broccoli Men get carved up by our heroes. And have you ever seen an issue with six double-page spreads… in a row!
It is cheap and puerile elevated to its highest possible level. There are some quite harsh digs at big Marvel heroes and the Marvel Universe in general but in a witty and intelligent way. It does get more serious than you thought at the end causing you to pause for a moment before making your sides split. This being Warren Ellis there must be some political stabbery; and there is. But it is done in such an in-your-face, Technicolor way that you never stop smiling.
There are wacky and even zany ideas bubbling forth reminiscent of camp 60’s Batman and the anarchic Prisoner TV show. Watch for the upside down panels that make your brain itch. There are no expletives in this book at all just the same four skull and crossbones symbols that regularly appear allowing you to fill in your own language. Ellis does everything he can to break your immersion, with letters pages full of made up letters, editors commentary, statements directly to the reader and so on, yet all of these things endear you to the story and characters more.
There is nothing like this book. It feels so casual and light-hearted and yet is a masterpiece in construction and execution. A true joy to read. Double Thumbs UP!
Tomorrow: The Last Winter – Larry Fessenden