Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Ambush Bug Nothing Special, which was published by DC and is cover dated September 1992. Enjoy!
Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, Al Gordon, Anthony Tollin, and John Costanza’s one-shot from 1992 is hilarious on almost every page, and even though this page doesn’t feature a lot of Giffen’s idiosyncratic artwork, it’s a very clever way to introduce the theme of the book – namely, that Ambush Bug is looking for a job. I don’t really have much to say about this page. We might not get right away that “Irwin Schwab” is, in fact, Ambush Bug, but it’s not really all that necessary. Giffen implies that Bug is looking for a job with the résumé sign behind him, but we really don’t start to understand the joke until Page 2. This page is just for Fleming and Giffen to have some fun with the creators, who read Bug’s book about getting a job (the “lessons” from the book are listed throughout the book for comedic effect) and used its pointers to get jobs in … the comics industry. Well done, gentlemen! The bottom joke is at Julius Schwartz’s expense, as Schwartz had retired from DC at this point but was still a “Goodwill Ambassador” for the company. Schwartz – or his head, more specifically – is the villain of this book, hence his introduction.
If you’re not familiar with Giffen’s work, his drawing of A.B. is a good introduction. He makes his characters very angular, and he often crinkles up their faces like that to express sadness or displeasure. He always packs his panels with details, so even though Bug dominates this one, we still see the graffiti in the lower left, for instance. He also uses a lot of blacks, which makes Gordon’s inks thicker and adds more heft to the drawings. Giffen’s drawings always seem heavy, for lack of a better word – his artwork is always sturdy, even with today’s digital inking and coloring that often makes artwork more ethereal. Tollin obviously has to balance Bug’s green skin with some jaunty yellow and red, and so he does. Ambush Bug himself is looking toward the next page, so we’re off on his adventures with him!
I do wish this was a more exciting page, but that’s the way it is sometimes. The comic itself is hilarious, as Giffen takes shots at DC itself (a favorite target of Ambush Bug comics) and various popular culture scenes (Schwartz is Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs on one page). This first page gives you some idea of the kind of humor contained within, which isn’t a bad thing at all. (Here’s part of a page I posted on the old blog back in the day, just to give you an idea of what goes on inside. “The thing is done” kills me every time!)
Next: By sheer coincidence, it’s another very funny comic! If you want serious stuff, I guess you’ll have to check out the archives!
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