By Dustin Cabeal
Having read creator Michael Aushenker’s Trolls and being pleasantly surprised, I was more than willing to check out his latest one-shot The War on Dental. They are vastly different in the end, but you can see Aushenker stretching his artistic and storytelling muscles as he moves from a character driven story to one with a sweeping narrative.
The War on Dental is strange in that every story beat seems to be ripped from the headlines. The familiar setup of a dentist going to another country and killing a beloved animal was a huge story last year. Aushenker has taken that headline and changed it from Lion to a Dragon. The remaining Dragons go on the offense and begin taking apart the Dentist’s life and killing and burning down everything he’s ever been associated with. Very mafia style.
There are some entertaining moments for sure, but the overall narrative jumps around too much, and there is not that one character to follow and lead the reader through the story. Instead, it’s like a Royal Rumble match with different characters showing up and getting their shit in before being tossed over the ropes and their feet hitting the ground. It’s not bad by any means, but it didn’t resonate with me or leave me satisfied. If there were a sequel, A) I don’t know how that would happen and B) I don’t think I’d be interested.
The dialogue is successful throughout the comic, but it is not the driving force. It’s a shame because the dialogue is much stronger than the narrative and seems to play towards Aushenker’s strengths more. The only other drawback is the pacing; the story continues to escalate to the point that it doesn’t have anywhere to go leaving the ending weakened by everything that proceeded it.
Aushenker’s artwork continues to be a chaotic mess of delight. I usually shy away from books that look like The War on Dental because I’m not big on the psychedelic coloring, but there’s something about it that works with the stories that Aushenker is telling.
Overall, its tasters choice, which is true of all forms of entertainment. There’s going to be someone that loves the shit out of this story and likes all the small comedic elements and social commentary. There will be other people that won’t “get it” either. I fall somewhere in-between.
The War on Dental
Creator: Michael Aushenker
Publisher: Cartoon Flophouse Comics