REVIEW: Garfield #1

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Or – “Admit It.  You’re Hearing Lorenzo Music In Your Head Right Now…”

I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to read the comic book adventures of the world’s fattest kitty cat, until I heard about the creative team…  That’s why they call it KABOOM!

GARFIELD #1
Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Gary Barker
Cover Artist(s): Gary Barker/Jim Davis
Colorist: Braden Lamb
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Kaboom!
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Garfield:  After several years of unsuccessfully trying to make his fortune with a comic strip called “Gnorm Gnat,” Jim Davis turned his attentions to a new character, a fat cat who hates Mondays but loves lasagna, and always has something to say about the ridiculousness of the world.  Nearly 35 years later, Garfield is a multimedia phenomenon, successful in ways that most of us can never imagine (especially the piles and piles of money that he generates.)  In some ways, it’s strange that Garfield, Jon and the rest have never made it into comics, but that’s all about to change…

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO META?

This issue opens with a pretty funny parody of superhero comics, wherein Garfield is faced with the evil Lasagnanator, who wants to combine all the lasagna in the world into one giant lasagna… for… some reason.  It’s a cute take on superhero tropes, well-drawn in a faux-Kirby style, and strongly written by Mark Evanier (the head writer of the TV version of Garfield.)  The tale ends up being about a rare comic book, with some not-entirely-gentle shots at the collector’s mentality, about slabbing, and ends with a clever joke that turns the whole thing on it’s head.  I’m most entertained by how well the thing holds together, and the art is really phenomenal and dynamic, especially a sequence where Garfield kicks Nermal the kitten across the street, using the “camera” view and perspective to hammer home the joke.  Evanier has long been a writer I enjoy but never get to read anymore, and even though it’s aimed at kids, there’s plenty of parental bonus here for older readers.

A GOOD GRASP OF THE CHARACTERS…

The second story initially feels a bit like an episode of Tom & Jerry, featuring Squeak the mouse, but it works entirely on character beats and dialogue, as anther mouse tries to show Squeak how cats are awful and will eat him, while Garfield tries to do as little as possible, all the while reminding us that he eats lasagna.  For all the times that people have complained that Garfield isn’t funny, the cat has his moments, and both stories are enjoyable and just gorgeously drawn and colored.  No one is ever particularly off-model, Odie gets a few lines (even though he doesn’t talk, which is funny) and this ends up being a comic that I will enjoy handing to my daughter for her collection.

THE VERDICT:  PRETTY NEAT.

There are at least two laugh-out-loud moments in the book, which I didn’t expect, and some amusement to be had throughout, some of it at the expense of the comic book industry, which I am always down for.  Kaboom has had some really well-done all-ages comic books, and I’m very happy to see the quality continuing even after the loss of the properties from the Mouse House.  I can’t help but think that this is a book that Evanier has wanted to write for some time, and it clearly shows in the work.  Garfield #1 surprised me in a very good way, knocking one out of the park for a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It reminds me of the kids funnybooks that no one makes anymore, updating them to prove that you can still make them awesome…

Rating: ★★★★½