Contrary to what you might think of we, the unwashed comic book-reviewing masses, we don’t always like being “right.” Now, I can’t speak for the entirety of my opinion-laden brethren, but for myself, when it comes to comics at least, I thoroughly enjoy it when I can sit back with a book and say, “I stand corrected.” See, we all want to love comic books; each and every one. That is, after all, why we got into this whole thing in the first place. We want to like them. Desperately. So when a book can come along and over the course of a few issues, go from eliciting ire to downright impressing you, it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. Such is the case with me and Dark Horse Comics’ miniseries, Vandroid.
If you go back and check out my review of Vandroid #1, you’ll see how disappointed I was that an insanely cool concept could fall so frustratingly short of its own ambition. I still maintain that its first issue was not a good start for the series, but its followup attempt in issue two proved that it could conjure both the focus and requisite fun that comes from a comic book adaptation of a fake 1980s cyborg action movie.
Don’t get me wrong, some of this issue is absolutely hokey, and its setting remains fairly ill-defined for a story that is supposedly steeped in the trappings of a notorious decade. However, as opposed to how its run began, its inherent corniness is now actually entertaining. My previously-mentioned problems with the plot and structure (not to mention the titular character’s addiction to perfume) notwithstanding, this issue has quite effectively shut down my more significant gripes by finally having a fucking blast with itself!
In short order, our android replicant of a 1970s van decorateur not only gets into a slugfest with a nature-worshipping gang of motorcycle-equipped street toughs called “The Mighty Oaks,” but also hosts himself yet another rumble with hilariously self-absorbed and quip-heavy tech support nerds WHO HAVE WEAPONIZED PROTRACTORS INTO MOTHER-FUCKING THROWING STARS OMG WTF! Also, fembots!
That’s exactly the flavor of silly-ass fun and completely lighthearted jocularity that a title like this absolutely needs to be successful. Finally, this book has established and indeed nailed its own tone, and it’s pretty darn rad, to steal an archaic (yet thematically-relevant) turn of phrase.
Part of that, of course, is the writing, and with each passing issue, Tommy Lee Edwards and Noah Smith prove to endear themselves more and more to their cause. Is it cliché? Oh, for sure. Is it hackneyed, silly and at times even maudlin? Absolutely, and in all the right ways that have given this misbegotten “genre” such resounding pop-cultural cache.
At the same time, I’ve really fallen for the art on Vandroid. Dan McDaid is finally given the chance to go for broke this issue. Much like the cinematic style the story parodies, his stuff is largely unrefined, but is all the more fun and furious because of it. I still think he’s tapping into a Francavilla-style verve in this book, made all the more apparent thanks to Melissa Edwards’ constantly shifting palette that very effectively gives an oscillating sense of pop-art melodrama. The art in general has been an early strong suit of this miniseries and in its action, commitment to farce and ridiculousness, it continues to show a great sense of range and comedic timing.
So yeah, color me impressed, guys. Far from being hesitant to admit it, I am honestly happy to report that instead of being a massive disappointment, Vandroid is finally proving to be one hell of a comic book hootenanny. I stand corrected!
Writers: Tommy Lee Edwards & Noah Smith Artist: Dan McDaid Colorist: Melissa Edwards Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/30/14