Review: Doctor Muscles – Journal Two

I’m well past the point of this review being relevant, but I couldn’t in good conscience pass on reviewing the second volume/journal of Doctor Muscles. While I have a ton of valid excuses for why it took me so long to read and review this trade, that’s not why you’re bothering to read the review so let’s just dive into it. I do recall that the ending of the first volume of Doctor Muscles was messy and convenient. It felt like a rush to the finish, and some of that carries over to the beginning of this volume. The first story finds our trio picking up a space hitchhiker, but the catch is that they can afford to stop to pick him up. After a daring rescue, they land at a mining colony. The colony is interesting in the way that it functions. Shit goes south though as Mickey’s gems turn out to be eggs and the creatures are less than friendly. From here, Mickey and the Doctor head out together leaving the other two on the station.

dmj2_cover_scanWe’re then introduced to another side of the story as a bounty hunter that eats people is sent after Muscles and has been undoing all the good deeds he’s done. Muscles and Mickey eventually get captured by the bounty hunter and his talking robotic hawk and the journey leads us the Ultra-Lord.

Or does it? Because that’s the thing about Doctor Muscles. If we went with the surface level story, it’s about the smartest man in Philadelphia that’s dropped through time and space and ended up in another dimension. He’s strong as hell, and he uses his brains and muscles to solve his problems, he’s the opposite of Superman in that way. The journey is crazy, entertaining, and strange. You could even argue that Doctor Muscles is a modern age Doc Savage. To feel this way, you would need to ignore that we’re given glimpses of Doctor’s life running all throughout the story.

Now you might wonder why I didn’t say “flashback” and that’s because I’m not entirely sure if they are. Some of them definitely could be, but overall I’m lead to believe that this entire journey could just be something that Arthur has created as a way of escaping the loss of his father. I suppose the third option could be a combination of the two which is what I’m hoping for given the ending to this volume.

Austin Tinius and Robert Salinas have created a complex, interesting and classic sci-fi feeling world. It’s part old school Heavy Metal, but then the other half is just complex sci-fi world building. The character development is rich, but far from spoon fed. You as the reader must pay attention and dive into the story. If you don’t give it the opportunity to get its hooks into you, then you’ll never find yourself emerged. If you do, you’ll breeze through this story quickly.

The art is the only weakness for the volume. It changes a bit too much and always as you’re becoming comfortable with a particular style. Ignacio Vega is the artist on the first tale, which is the longest, and he’s the reason I’m not reviewing Holli Hoxxx vol. 2, because I have nothing positive to say about his artwork. His is the weakest visual storytelling and seems to focus more on style than anything else. After his stint on the book, the art improves dramatically, but again, appears to switch too much leaving the books without a consistent look. Simply put, the writers did a hell of a job with the script they gave the illustrators.

I hope there’s more Doctor Muscles. I have admittedly not kept up with Bogus Books as well as I should have, but then there’s just so much to keep track of, and I am just one man. I’m just incredibly glad that Doctor Muscles exists, and I hope that it will continue to be in print or digital so that future generations can find it and be inspired by it. As long as they stick the landing, that is. If not, then it’s all for not.

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Doctor Muscles – Journal Two Writers: Austin Tinius, Robert Salinas Artists: Various Publisher: Bogus Books Price: $14.95 Format: TPB; Print