Saturday, August 13, 2016
I picked up the Ambush Bug Showcase volume on a whim and promptly set it aside. The artwork by Keith Giffen and Bob Oksner really looked choice and I wanted to savor it a bit. I never read any of these comics (save possibly for the DC Comics Presents issues) when they first appeared, so I came to the Ambush Bug character largely ignorant of its style and content. I knew it was supposed to be funny, but that's about all I knew. I was very impressed.
Now truth told, when Ambush Bug first appeared as a low-level villain in a few issues of Superman's team-up comic he was cleverly written but hardly transformative.
He seemed to be a character in the vein of many of the classic Bat-villains, a killer with a morbid sense of humor. And if he'd stayed like that I suspect he'd be mostly forgotten by now.
But in a trio of appearances in Action Comics, the character blossomed into the antic fourth-wall breaking roustabout who went on to scratch out a few limited series in some of DC's brightest days.
If you haven't read these "adventures" then it's difficult to describe. Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming have so deconstructed the superhero comic book adventure in these stories so as to undermine any attempt by a reader to extract enjoyment on that level. The only thing I can compare these Ambush Bug stories to is Monty Python's Flying Circus. The pacing felt the same and the unpredictability of page after page seemed more than anything to mimic the antic pacing of that classic comedy show.
In the first limited series we meet Ambush Bug's partner Cheeks the Toy Wonder (a plush toy and nominal inspiration for one of the earliest and most entertaining websites devoted to comics that I ever chanced upon) and having him meet up with the likes of Scabbard (from Thriller), Jonni DC (made into a chick--sort of) and most hilariously Darkseid.
What follows in the subsequent specials and limited series is more of the same, more or less. With DC, and superheroes in general getting the satirical crap beat out of them in fine form.
I found Ambush Bug a fun fun read, but for comics fanboys only I suspect.