By Dustin Cabeal
This comic would be better served by a different cover. The interior art is far more pleasing than the somewhat realistic figure that you’ll instead be looking at for most of this review. As I said in this week’s podcast, I don’t like anthropomorphic ape stories. It’s a subgenre that I try to avoid because the vast majority of it is the same theme in a different setting. It’s just not particularly interesting to me and never will be.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions that come along and surprise me. I’m not saying that Gung Ho changed my life or how I view this weird subgenre that runs throughout comics almost invariably. However, it did entertain me, which is hard to do.
The story takes place on a world with anthropomorphic animals and also superheroes. The animals are viewed as criminals and mainly treated like dirt by society. You can make some racial comparisons there or course, but it was strange how they were almost treated as aliens, while the world had actual aliens. Gung Ho is a former villain who looked to make the world fair and equal for animals, with violence. Realizing it wasn’t working, he turned on his friend and leader and now is attempting to put animals in the spotlight for positive reasons.
The one-shot is centered around his journey to do so, from rescuing a famous actress to being tricked into helping the villain of the story when he takes down the world’s top hero. He has ups and downs, plenty of one-liners and a reputation that people know.
There are several slow moments in the story. The opening was decent until after the rescue was over and then suddenly it changed gears and got heavy handed on the drama. It finds a better balance towards the end and wraps with a decent conclusion. There could easily be more stories in this universe, but the one-shot is satisfying either way. The dialogue is just like the story, weak in the beginning, but stronger by the end. It has a throwback feel to it, capturing a bygone era, but not in a nauseating way. The world reminded me of Mister X a little in that the style and appearance are golden age Hollywood, but the rest of the world has advanced.
Which brings me to the art, which is the most reliable aspect of the one-shot. The character designs have a cartoonish feel at times but in a European way. It’s detailed but heavily stylized. Instead of there being thick black lines, it’s the contrasts of solid colors that work against each other to show the details. For instance, the actress that’s saved is bright white but is wearing red. She’s contrasted against Gung ho who is all black with red lines of detail. They complement each other in that way. The difference between the story and the art is that the latter is far more consistent throughout the one-shot, which is a great help to the story.
I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more Gung Ho. That’s probably the highest compliment I can give. It’s not a perfect one-shot, but after a shaky opening, it manages to find it’s way and be a solid story that’s entertaining and different from most comics. Yes, the differences mainly come from the art, but for a subgenre that’s seen it all, it manages to add a little freshness to it as well.
Self-Published - Available on Comixology