Drugs. Bald men with mustaches. The naked buttocks of masked vigilantes. Frying pan shots to the nuts. What do all of these things have in common? Nope, it’s nothing to do with either the Village People or that dream I’m not comfortable talking about. The answer is, of course, The Answer! Dark Horse’s batty little break-neck bastard of a book is back for its penultimate chorus of caped caper calamity, following the story of a super hero in a way that is in no way a super hero story. It’s contextually weird, thematically nutty and definitely one of my firmest reading pleasures here at Comic Bastards.
In this issue, we meet up once again with Devin McKenzie, the once librarian / hobbyist codebreaker who has been abducted and subsequently hired by a clandestine group of eggheads known as The Brain Trust, for reasons still unknown. As Devin settles into her new position more easily than she thought (thanks to the benefits of free pop-tart breakfasts and high-tech environs), she again starts feeling the creeps ... which I don’t mean to sound like some kind of psychotic heavy petting zoo.
These heebie-jeebies come this time by way of some very enthusiastic Brain Trust employees, who have clearly been swigging the Cultberry Kool-Aid. Shortly thereafter, Devin is drugged with only slightly less aplomb than that parody episode of The Simpsons, wherein Homer gets dosed with an ice-cream sundae sprinkled with syringes, and we are treated to a peek into one of her childhood memories, which oddly includes our hero, The Answer!
Mollified by a shot of something called a “synaptic accelerator,” which is totally what I call my junk, Devin is given a solid brain boost and once again begins singing the praises of The Brain Trust ... until she meets up with a disgruntled, ever-so-slightly insane fellow employee named Kara, who darkly hints at a deeper ongoing conspiracy.
Meanwhile, The Answer! busies himself with escape from a subbasement mental institution within the Brain Trust complex, armed only with his mask, a backless hospital gown and a head full of mentally-debilitating nanites. Meeting up with a group of clearly mad scientists named Sam, Petey, Charlotte and Keith, respectively, quippy crusader implements a “crayon plan” of escape, which will hopefully lead him toward both freedom and his charge, Devin.
I’m not entirely sure who the gun-wielding, wig-wearing, spotlight-stealing mental patient is at the end of the issue, but something tells me he will be the one to finally enlighten us as to the antics behind The Answer!, which are bound to come furiously next time. Interestingly, the chaos-worshipping guru Chip Carney and his shady self-help corporation, Apeiron, were both conspicuous by their absences this issue
One of the best things about this book is that you don’t have to think about it too much. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot going on; in fact, there’s budding mystery at every turn, with nary a look back most of the time, but this is such an outright fun read with such snappy writing and great pacing, you don’t even realize that you’re getting closer to the core of its questions, where, of course, The Answer! lies. It does feel like everything is building to a crescendo, however, which is a good thing, since this is the mini-series’ penultimate affair.
Saying that, even though we’re getting down to the ... well ... the final exclamation point of The Answer!, I’m pretty confident that the team of Hopeless and Norton will wrap everything up pretty sharpish and packed in a tight little bow ... at least until Dark Horse expands it, with the rest of its superhero titles, into an ongoing series.
I continue to love the absolute hell out of this book, and can’t wait to see what happens next time at its end. Speaking of endings, there’s a wicked little pinup of The Answer! by Francesco Francavilla after this story, which provides the icing on an already delicious cake.
Writers: Dennis Hopeless & Mike Norton
Artist: Mike Norton
Colorist: Mark Englert
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 3/27/13