It’s not every day that DC’s Young Animal launches a new title and so we’re back again as a site to group review Bug! #1. If this is your first group review from Comic Bastards then here’s the deal, each of the participating writers will give their thoughts and a score on the issue. No averages, just individual scores.
An all-new Young Animal miniseries begins! Forager is just one of the Hive before he breaks out of his cocoon and finds himself in a mysterious house in an unknown realm. There he meets all kinds of strange creatures: a ghostly girl, a talking teddy bear and otherworldly weirdos that have literally jumped out of his worst nightmares. But these interdimensional oddballs are nothing compared to the evil General Electric, who is on the hunt for a reality-bending metal that could alter the fabric of life itself. To stay one step ahead of him and preserve the multiverse, Forager must travel through alternate dimensions to seek the metal and, hopefully, catch up with that cagey stuffed bear. If he does it, will he finally be able to distinguish himself as a New God?
So, I don’t really know what the hell was going on in this book, but I will say that I kind of loved every second of it. Bug is weird, both the book itself and the character. It reminded me of Madman, to be honest, and that is totally awesome. While the story might not have been the best thing ever, Michael Allred’s art is so good; it’s not even funny. But I’ve always loved his stuff. (There was a time not too long ago, before I bought a house and had a daughter, where I bought anything and everything that Michael Allred’s name was attached to – variants, covers to books I wasn’t even reading, it didn’t matter; if it came into the shop and had Allred’s name on it, you can bet I was buying it).
Anyway, but yeah, the art in Bug is the real draw. The story’s good enough too, but I’m really here for the art. In all its pop-art goodness. I love the way Allred shows movement. It’s like his characters are floating, not tethered to the earth in any way. And for some reason, this reminds me of children’s cartoons. I don’t know. This book is silly and random and surreal. It’s very dreamlike, which I guess is kind of the point seeing as Bug is “The Sleeper” and he may or may not be in some weird Inception level dream shit. I have no idea what to expect from the rest of the issues, but it doesn’t even matter because I’m in. Three Allred’s on a single book, forget about it.
Lot goddamn Allred’s on this book huh? When I first saw this, I was like yeah that sounds about right for Young Animal. Then I realized it was a fucking Kirby creation and I just don’t give two shits about his space creations at DC. They’re too muddled and short-sighted with their content. Weird for the sake of being weird and never truly fit with the mechanics of the DC Universe. The company loves the big bad because they only have a handful of earth shattering villains and both big two publishers only have what Kirby created. That said, they’re not that great, and the DC one’s, in particular, are hard to get into. Just like this comic.
This comic is trying way too hard to teach us all about the Bug rather than show us or better yet let us experience it. It reminds me a lot of the problems that plague Hellblazer in that everyone wants to tell you what makes John Constantine great rather than show you. I don’t find Bug to be cool or interesting because that’s not shown here. We’re given his backstory, and then quickly he saves the universe and is off to another adventure, with the control of his fate being out of his hands.
Part of the problem is Michael Allred’s artwork which unfortunately is just too much his style, and so it makes everything look and feel like Madman. A Mad Scientist shows up and wants to destroy the universe, and it’s just a bit too similar to everything Allred does. He’s a great artist, but he’s not challenged by this script, and so while it’s great art, it’s boring at the same time because you’ve seen it all before. It hurts the story more than it helps and so while the cover says Bug! it could very well say, Madman! And you’d never notice.
I've been looking forward to this one ever since I saw DC's announcement for it. Not for any existing familiarity and/or fondness for the title character (because I really don't have either), but rather it just looked damn interesting. As far as I know, Mike Allred's got the market cornered for pop art in modern comics, and I've dug that about his art style since I was first introduced to it back around, I think, 2011. Having him and his family tackle Jack Kirby was more than enough to hook me into reading the book. And, it didn't disappoint.
I'll be honest; it did take me a second to figure out what the initial few panels were doing. Although, once that clicked, I knew everything I needed to know for the rest of the issue to be smooth sailing. Well, sort of. As is to be expected from DC's newest Young Animal book, Bug! The Adventures of Forager is on the weirder, more obtuse end of the spectrum. But just as is also expected, it totally works. Each page I read only reinforced my eagerness with nothing less than charming writing and on point art. And as soon Sandman showed up, any reservations that might've remained completely died away.
It didn't take me very long to realize that this was a book about identity. Reevaluating one's past and present selves to determine who they want to be brought about from the question of "are they who they thought they were?" The Allred's haven't necessarily asked that question of Forager yet, but they're definitely needling it at the very least. I've only read a couple of the Young Animal books (granted, this is only the fifth one so far), and I liked them well enough. However, this is the first one that's really landed for me.
I have no idea what's happening, and I love it. Bug identity crisis, cacoon-ception, philosophical teddy bear specter, ghost girl, weirdies, sleepers, dominoes, mother box, Sandman, orichalcum, and a myriad of other colorful, cosmic, Kirby-esque crazies. Silliness pervades, one-liners whiz out the cheez factory, and the Allred’s couldn't be more at home. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
*Bug!* is delightfully strange, an oddity outside of time that owes itself both to the past and present of science-fiction adventure comics. It's a burst of incomprehensible joy. I'm a big fan of Mike & Laura Allred's art (X-Statix was one of my first and favorite comics), and their work here is at top-form. The kooky subject matter is perfect for their vintage, pop-art style. I'm absolutely onboard for the entire 6-issue miniseries.
Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1
Writer: Lee Allred
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Publisher: DC’s Young Animal