Or – “A Week Late And A Dollar Short…  Appropriate For The Bug.”

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Once again, I stand before you as “The Old Dude,” relating stories of things that happened long before most of you were cognizant of comics, before some of ya’s were born.  My friend Becky has been known to remark that any story that starts with “Well, what had happened was…” or “There we were…” lets you know that you’re about to hear a bunch of lies.  So, there we were, in the Summer of ’84, and what had happened was this: The comics world was in chaos.  The DC Universe was in the throes of a universal crisis, and every issue caused huge outcries from the reading populace…  just like now.  The Marvel Universe, on the other hand, was under siege by a menace from beyond which captured and spirited away it’s greatest heroes…  just like now.  And in the midst of the chaos came, a costume!  Green it was, with antennae out t’ here, and an absurd “POP” power signature.  And comics were never the same.  Again.

Previously, on Ambush Bug – Year None:  Brum-El of the planet Schwab knew that his world was AB1.jpgdoomed.  The tectonic plates were shifting, and the cosmic axes aligning, even the flux capacitor was… fluxing.  But Brum-El knew that catastrophe was imminent, and created a rocket ship to save his beloved ones.  No, not his family.  His WARDROBE!  Among the items sent away was his stylish green leisure suit with the antlers, but the ship was intercepted and bitten by a giant radioactive space spider, leaving only the suit (and one sole argyle sock) behind.  Irwin J. Schwab discovered the suit, but when he put it on, found that he couldn’t take it off, (The zipper was rusted shut) but was pleased to find that he was able to teleport himself at will while wearing it.  Several battles with Superman ensued before the Bug realized that being a hero was more fun.  He made his way about the DCU for several glorious years before fading off into the sunset with Binky, Bat-Mite, and the Glop.  But, as a wise man once said, “If Egg Fu can make a comeback, anybody can!”  That man…  grew up to be Senator Edward Kennedy.  And now you know… the REST of the STORY!

No, not really.  The story begins “somewhere in the Fourth World.”  We see the Source Wall (identified as “a plot device”) as it calls out for your attention, before seguing off into a funny side trip about how “that Jackson Five kid” stole the glowing glove that used to write on the wall and made a fortune off it.  We cut immediately (get used to that) to a murder scene, where Jonni DC (the former company mascot from back in the 60’s) lies in a pool of her own blood, dying due to a mysterious attack.  She attempts to leave a message for someone, but remembers that “comics are primarily a visual medium.”  Heh.  She is glad, in her dying moments that the DC Universe is full of detectives, but “only one of them knows anything about old comic books!”

We cut immediately (see?) to ol’ Ambush himself, searching for a new appliance, but horrified that all the fridges come with dead girlfriends inside.  “Female characters are being killed in great numbers across the DC Universe!,” thinks the Bug, and wonders what’s going on.  He quickly ends up in the morgue in Chicago, checking out the body of Jonni DC, but teleports home to throw up.  He checks in with his darling baby boy (Cheeks, the Toy Wonder) and realizes that with Jonni dead, the DC Universe won’t be making any sense any more.  He finds that the Batcave, the Hall of Justice, the Watchtower and the Fortress of Solitude empty.  “There must be a company-wide crossover going on today.”  After raiding the JLA’s fridge, he makes a quick call to Jean Loring where he accidentally lets slip a few unflattering things that Sue Dibny said, sending Jean off in a murderous rage…

Meanwhile, in space, the orbiting spaceship known as The Bureau hovers, filled with lost socks moving in their mysterious paths (you always wondered where they went when they escaped the dryer?  This is it.)  Their leader, the metal-masked Argh!Yle! monologues his origin, and we cut back to a graveyard in the Cayman Islands.  (One of the headstones reads “Thought Balloons.”  Heh…)  The Bug tries to get to the bottom of the murders, but all he finds are piles of dead bodies and a series of characters more obscure than even the Bug himself.  Abdul Smith…  Yankee Poodle…  The original Egg-Fu…  Even ‘Mazing Man give shim no clues, but The Glop gives him a clue, leading to Go-Go Chex, man of mystery, who teleports him to Earth-Six (where it’s always, like, the Swinging Sixties, maaaan!)  Luckily, it’s all a dream, but the Bug wakes up to see the skies filling with go-go checks, just like DC’s old comics!  Suddenly, Betty Kane, the original Batgirl arrives, and starts kicking him in the face for his part in the death of Sue Dibny, when the Kirby Sandman pulls him out of the line of fire.  “If anyone asks whether you saw me,” he says, holding up a picture of the Neil Gaiman Morpheus, “THIS is what I looked like.”  The Bug is left alone with his thoughts, contemplating something or other, as Jonni DC may or may not be actually dead…

This issue was a non-stop series of comic book in-jokes, slowed only by commentary on the current DC Universe, served with a side of snark.  If that’s your bag, as it is mine, you should enjoy this series.  Writer Giffen is joined by Robert Loren Fleming for the first time in over a decade, and the proud parents bring back the Bug in style.  There’s more narrative than the last couple of times we’ve seen Ambush Bug (though his cameo in 52 was pretty awesome) and I suspect that the series may have a narrative through-line, even if I (and Ambush Bug) miss the thought balloons.  I suspect it’s not an easy series to jump on to, as Giffen’s art is more normal than his esoteric Trencher days, or the original A.B. series where he was aping Jose Munoz, but it’s still not your average comic pictures.  I’ll tell you this:  I loved it, and I think with an open mind (and Wikipedia) you can love it, too.  Ambush Bug: Year None #1 earns an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, and I hope that I’ve been able to keep my nostalgic bias out of the mix.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. Carswell
    August 12, 2008 at 6:07 pm — Reply

    There is nothing………..i repeat…..NOTHING……..that can go wrong about any book that has The Bug in it.

  2. ~wyntermute~
    August 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm — Reply

    I agree with the “LOVED IT” part, and I hardly even needed wikipedia to do so — the open mind was enough. I loves me a good in-joke, and this had so many jokes that were so far in they were back out. I can also report not having the nostalgic bias, because I only remember Ambush Bug as “that funny looking thing in Superman comic ads sometimes”. If you’ve got a good sense of silly, then you’re down with me (and apparently Matthew) and the A.B.

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