The town of Weeville California has been overrun by giant bugs for over fifty years. They infect the town’s underground through their dug tunnels. Weeville’s solution: send a bunch of kids small enough to fit into the tunnels to kill them. They are called Juice Squeezers, a group of children trained as giant bug exterminators. There are currently six members of the Juice Squeezers: Lizzie, Morko, Buddy, Charlie, Patton and their team leader, Eric. When a new family, the Farnburgers, moves into town, the Juice Squeezers are charged with protecting them from bug attacks. With the Juice Squeezers working so closely to his family, it is only a matter of time before Billy is thrust into the Juice Squeezers’ world.
Previously in Juice Squeezers: Billy Farnsburger and his father have moved into Valley May Farms. Unbeknown to them, the farm is a well-known hot spot for giant bugs. The Juice Sqeezers’ mentor Kettleborne orders them to protect the Farnsburger family from harm in secret. However, after the bug tunnel they occupy collapses, three of the Juice Squeezers are discovered by Billy. They lie, saying they are explorers of tunnels underneath the town. While in school the Juice Squeezers try their best to make little contact with Billy as possible. Meanwhile, Billy rigs an old elevator into a cage and captures one of the giant bugs. Lizzie befriends Billy and together, they discover a large, seemingly endless hole in the farm. Billy decides to explore it using his elevator.
BILLY FARNSBURGER’S TRAINING DAY
David Lapham continues his four-part miniseries with Juice Squeezers #3. Billy officially joins the Juice Squeezers, much to the chagrin of some members. David Lapham does an excellent job conveying each character’s motivations in this issue. For example, Eric feels threatened by Billy’s arrival due to his affections toward Lizzie. As team leader, he does everything in his power to discourage Billy’s membership, like hazing him and putting him through vigorous training. Meanwhile, Billy is trying to fit into his new home. As an engineering whiz, his constructions serve as an outlet to deal with his loneliness. When he joins the Juice Squeezers, he feels betrayed by Lizzie, who has kept her membership a secret until now. One problem in this issue is the side story regarding Charlie’s parentage. It is a funny interlude but it has nothing to do with the main storyline and feels like a filler piece. Other than this minor detail, the overall comic has a solid narrative supported by a rich and in-depth back story. David Lapham keeps this cast of young characters in line by focusing his attention on the main protagonists while still involving secondary characters in the overall plot.
A CLASSIC COMIC BOOK STYLE
Not only does David Lapham write for his comic, he also provides artwork for Juice Squeezers. Although it is a simplistic art style, Lapham’s characters are distinctively designed. Each character has their own unique look, style and appearance, making them easily recognizable to the reader. However, the best panels are the ones with the giant bugs. Their design is noticeably realistic even when there are swarms of them attacking the Juice Squeezers. Although not as menacing as some bugs, it is still pretty frightening, empathized by the expressions of the Juice Squeezers in these scenes.
BOTTOM LINE: A GREAT MINI-SERIES
David Lapham has created a fascinating world with his Juice Squeezers mini-series. Backed by great original concept, this ragtag bunch of youthful misfits are both lovable and entertaining in every issue. Lapham’s artwork is also masterful in art design, helping support the overall work. I wish this comic was more than a mini-series since I would probably follow a Juice Squeezers ongoing comic.