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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #361

Today’s featured comic might jump out at you. Or something. Gosh, my intro gags are getting lamer and lamer. Oh well. Today’s star definitely isn’t lame! Except when he is on purpose. (Archive.)

12/27/07

361. Ambush Bug

Ambush Bug 1.jpg

(Well, it’s still the holiday season, so why not?)

Ambush Bug is a character– and title– that celebrates the ludicrous nature of the DC Universe and comic books in general. Created by Keith Giffen, he first appeared as a foil to Superman in DC Comics Presents, making subsequent appearances throughout the Super-titles. At last, he was gifted with his own mini-series, plotted and penciled by Giffen, scripted by Robert Loren Fleming, and inked by the great Bob Oksner. And boy, was it ridiculously brilliant.

The mini’s and one-shots the Bug starred in more or less tried to have something resembling a plot, but mostly dealt in the gag trade, from one-page riffs on old humor strips to silly Who’s Who fact files to guest appearances by pretty much every ridiculously obscure DC character. Heck, they even made jokes about the Green Team and Mr. A. It’s a comic book nerd’s wet dream and worst nightmare at the same time. Eventually, most of these solo runs completely destroyed the comics form. The name of the game was absurdism.

Ambush Bug 2.JPGAmbush Bug 3.JPG

But oh, the characters that showed up! Cheeks, the Toy Wonder! Jonni DC, Continuity Cop! Quantis, the koala that walked like a man! Argh!Yle, Evilest of Socks! Mitsubishi, the pint-sized Japanese version of Ambush Bug! Even the creative team wasn’t safe from its own mayhem– Giffen and Fleming and even editor Julie Schwartz all got continuously roped into appearing. The fourth wall just didn’t exist in Ambush Bug; it punched holes in all corners of comics.

My favorite running gag? Combat Cheeks: Frontline Medic, in the vein of old EC Comics:

Ambush Bug 4.JPG

I also really dig Julie Schwartz’s Floating Head:

Ambush Bug 5.JPG

And the art? Amazing. Giffen utilized a wide variety of styles to tell the same joke over and over again (I kid, I kid); anime, Kirby, Atari, Golden Age comics, little kids’ art, old advertistments– everything. It’s probably Giffen’s best artistic work– totally a tour-de-force, though more likely a tour-de-farce.

I feel like I’m doing a woeful job of explaining Ambush Bug– but then, in its way, Ambush Bug is inexplicable. It’s simply the most insane comic book ever produced, and, at times, it’s a work of genius. The Bug hasn’t had a starring role in quite a while, but he’s made several cameos and a couple guest appearances over the last 15 years. If the rumors are true, Mr. Giffen may be returning to Ambush Bug next year! I hope so.

Yes, Virginia, there is an Ambush Bug! You can read up on his appearances at the Ambush Bug Archive and view this excellent discussion of the Bug as a postmodern metaphysical force in comics.

19 Comments

I would love to read this. Any collections? All I know of the Bug is his appearance in 52 (Loved his t-shirt on the cover).

I own every issue of Ambush Bug, plus most of his other appearances, and I love them all to pieces. One of my favorite characters ever.

I should read that whole series again.

Brilliant.

There should be an omnibus.

Some sort of collection is essential.

Make it so, DC.

Preferably timed to coincide with that much rumored Ambush Bug revival.

Man, I would buy that in a heartbeat.

Possibly Giffen’s masterpiece, and considering all the amazing work the man has done, that’s saying a lot. I’ve read most of the miniseries and one-shots, and it really is some of the most absurd and surreal stuff ever published in comic book form. I love Cheeks, the Toy Wonder, but for sheer insanity you can’t beat Darkseid working at McDonalds (I loved those cliffhangers to the original Bug mini; every issue ended with the sudden appearance of Darkseid, which was never followed up at all in the next issue).

Julius Schwartz (RIP ) was proud and delighted to edit those comics. I have the Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer signed by him in 5 places. He asked where I wanted him to sign it, and I said it was his choice. He explained to me the places that fans often asked him to sign it, signing it in each place.

A comic that will never leave my collection…

I’ve never read any Ambush Bug, and I’ve heard so many good things about it. I’d love it if DC released some sort of omnibus.

I’ve nothing much clever or pertinent to add but I want to say something about how great Ambush Bug is. How about…Ambush Bug is great. I’m Agent #16 @ the Ambush Bug Archive (changed my name here because there were too many Dans running about).

Obviously it’s a style choice but I was never happy with Giffen’s propensity to shadow out people’s whole faces.

In 1986 Giffen & Fleming did March Hare a B&W book for Eternity/Lodestone Publishing about a hitman with a “Harvey”-like companion driving him crazy (literally); the advertising tag line was something along the line of: Compared to Ambush Bug, March Hare isn’t even potty trained. BOOM! advertised that they were going to do a color reprint but I’ve never seen it.

Incredible it may seem, but there’s a heroclix Ambush Bug miniature!

Pretty cool … not a heroclix guy myself, but I’d buy the crap out of an Ambush Bug action figure. Cheeks, of course, would have to be included.

Great post, and I think I’ll pull out my AB’s and re-read ‘em.

Argh!Yle, Evilest of Socks!

No matter how many times I see that, it still causes me to swoon with utter nerdy delight.

Sorry to keep posting, but AB talk gets my nipples all a twitter … if — nay, when — they do an omnibus, they should add an Argh-gyle bookmark.

David, Salt Lake City, Utah

December 28, 2007 at 12:13 pm

I have every issue he appeared in, just got done re-reading Son of Ambush Bug a few weeks ago actually. My favorite by far is the DC Comics Presents with the Legion of Substitute Super-Heroes. On the cover is Superman groaning with this head in his hand – says it all. With the success of the Showcase titles, I could see this being collected.

Great choice!

My favorite AB moment was when Clark Kent came into Bug’s detective agency, and AB immediately saw through his disguise.

Starting by pulling his cape out of the back of his pants, AB took apart the disguise, finishing up by licking his finger and doing Superman’s spit-curl, and then rolled on the floor laughing, “I can’t believe anyone falls for that stupid disguise!”

Or when AB complained that Superman was constantly going “WHOOSH.”

“Hey, letterer, don’t you know any other sound effects besides ‘WHOOSH’?”

Followed by Superman saying, “That’s funny. I’ve never gone “BOING” before.”

I said

Compared to Ambush Bug, March Hare isn’t even potty trained.

I meant “housebroken,” not potty trained.

Ambush Bug was one of my favorite comic books as a kid. It flipped the comic book on its head by letting its main character KNOW he was in a COMIC BOOK. That was pretty meta-heavy for a 5th grader to read! Any funny!

Yay ambush bug! he was always a lovable loser, too, getting the crap beat out of him. I think I have an ambush bug where Scott McCloud wrote a letter to the editor in the back.

I’m from the future, and I’m here to say, “don’t worry!” Most of the Ambush Bug stuff WILL be collected in a black and white DC Showcase volume! Enjoy!

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