One of the things that never ceases to amaze your Robot Overlord, is how often people fall into the trap of the tabloid magazines.  The Weekly World News has been around since before I got my first transistor, and has been outlet for entertainment for both of my favorite meat bags.  IDW Publishing released Weekly World News – the comic book this week, and in my infinite wisdom, the Robot Overlord  tagged it as the first dueling review of 2010.  Matthew, Stephen, your Robot Overlord commands you to commence with the dueling review!

wwnCOVER.jpgWeekly World News #1
Chris Ryall (w)
Alan Robinson (a)
Alan Robinson, Joe Corroney (c)

Stephen: Matthew, I don’t know how long you’ve been reading Weekly World News, but during my long late night shifts at the local radio station, I remember reading about the pumpkin that was the size of a house, the prophecy that the world would end in 1999 thanks to the words spoken by Nastradamus’ ghost that appear in the clouds during a thunderstorm, and of course the introduction of Bat Boy. Chris Ryall takes the legendary characters and stories that appeared in the newspaper and has whipped up an interesting story about Ed Anger and his mission to return America back to Americans and not those aliens that keep showing up.  And by aliens, he actually means those extra-terrestrials from beyond.

When I first heard about this series, I was really apprehensive, because A) it’s a comic book about one of the worst pieces of entertainment out there, and B) I was concerned that no one would know who these crazy characters were.  And before everyone jumps on my case about WWN being the worst piece of entertainment out there, I say that because instead of a magazine with stories that should be taken lightly, many people believe every single story written.

Matthew: I felt the same way.  When I heard about this, my first response was “How the HELL will THAT work?”  Now that I’ve read it, my response is “How the HELL did THAT work?”  I remember the WWN from grade school, actually.  My best pal (a kid they called the Stork) loved Ed Anger from the very first moment he laid eyes on his column, and we often quoted his opinion pieces for no reason at all.  This was before the Bat Boy, mind you, and even before the News started being openly about entertainment.  There was still a thin veneer in those days that would confuse you as to whether or not the people behind the stories were for real.  Makin’ Ed the point of view character is brilliant, in my mind.

Stephen: What I find really brilliant about his first issue is that Ryall is able to take all the characters and turn the issue into a story that makes sense from the delusional mind of Ed Anger.  Even if readers only know Bat Boy, who has become a pop culture icon in itself – I never found myself saying, “What the F’ing F’ is going on?”  It’s an enjoyable humorous read.

Matthew: In my mind, Bat Boy is really the point where the News stopped being something I would buy, and started being something that I realized was satire.  I’ve been occasionally reviewing it at the checkout stands, and the repeated utilization of the character has made the Weekly World News into something akin to a comic book already, so the transition is pretty natural…

Stephen: I like that Bat Boy is made out to be a hero.  Pure laughs from me.

Matthew: What’s most entertaining is how Bat Boy maintains his normal Photoshopped face throughout the book, even when swearing in the President.  This issue evoked Darick Robertson in certain places (a very good thing) and Todd Nauck in others (a very tone-appropriate thing.)  The moments where Ed was arguing with the alien in his living room were pure Nauck, campy and well-handled, and I found the overall impression to be one of tongue-in-cheek happiness, as if the artists were thrilled to be playing in this particular sandbox.

Stephen: I thought the art was fine.  There was never a point where characters could have been confused with someone else – and by characters, I mean secondary characters, because if bit-players started looking like Bat Boy, then we’d have a whole new round of problems.  I also appreciate how Alan Robinson stretches and distorts the characters to make them even more cartoony.    I want to see more of Robinson’s work real soon.

Matthew: I agree.  There aren’t enough guys working in the Jack Davis/Mort Drucker style of elasticity for comic effect lately, what with all the grim and the gritty and the GLAVIN!  You can’t take this issue and try to hold it up alongside something like Maus or The Dark Knight or whatever and claim that it’s a classic of modern comic artistry, but it’s kind of funny nonetheless, especially with the actual Weekly World News articles in the back.  There’s something niggling at the back of my brain though, a vague sense of cognitive dissonance, even thought I’m smirking about the subject matter.

Stephen: If I could find one flaw in the entire issue, is that the whole concept of turning the Weekly World News into a comic book is really stretching it, and even though most comic book readers are steeped in pop culture references, I’m afraid the biggest hurdle for the series is the concept itself.   I suppose if people really wanted to find out where and who all the characters are, there’s always the Wikipedia, which has a great breakdown of Anger, Bat Boy, and the rest of the cameos that appear in the story.  As with any story, the more people have to research in order to find out how everything fits, the more it detracts from the story.  I’ll admit I had forgotten who Ed Anger was, but it really doesn’t matter. All that matters it how the story is moving in this crazy mixed up world the events of this issue take place in.  I like the pacing, the art is fantastic, and I’m giving the issue 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Matthew: I agree, actually.  The “columnist against illegal aliens, even illegal space aliens” bit is cute, but I’m not sure how it’s all going to hang as a story.  As for me, I remembered Ed, but many of the other characters referenced (Manigator, Ph D. Ape, Hog-Zilla, et al) don’t flip my nostalgia meter, probably due to my greater number of years since reading the source material closely.  I was tickled by the Brangelina cameos, and Ed’s ranting, but the book is the comic book equivalent of Chyna’s Intercontinental Title Reign: A novelty, whether you love it or hate it.  I like the art, I like the story (although some of the jokes I swear were in the ‘Harry Canyon’ segment of Heavy Metal 30 years ago) and overall, I’m willing to play along to the tune of 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s unique, I’ll give it that.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Stephen: I should also thank our Robot Overlord for allowing us a few weeks off from the Dueling Reviews, and not flogging us publicly with a cane.

ROBOT OVERLORD: Do not think this has not passed my infinite mind!

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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