[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Storytellers: Lee Allred & Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Though not advertised as such, Bug! The Adventures of Forager is as much a tribute to and celebration of the work of Jack Kirby as the recent specials that have been published over the past few months in honor of the King’s 100th birthday. There’s a wackiness and innovative quality to the source material that dovetails nicely with the non-standard approach that the Young Animal comics have become known for. Weaving in Deadman’s story is a fun touch, despite the fact that he’s not a Kirby creation, however, in his time Deadman was a unique character, and with hindsight, a little bit of Young Animal flavoring.
On their shard of reality, Bug and friends are trying to figure out what to do since he’s destroyed the essence of their Mother Box and thus ALL Mother Boxes. He’s able to find the merest ping of existence and unconsciously grows a cocoon for it to recover in. (He didn’t know he could do that!)
They figure out a plan to trap Chagra where he’s going to next, and in order to gain passage, Bug goes to sleep to enter the Sandman’s dream world and find some solutions. Sandman sends Bug back to the land of the waking with the promise of help from a woman named Tatsinda. When he awakes all he has to show for it is a rat-cat. Despite Bug’s complaining, the rat-cat opens a dimensional vortex where it now appears as Tatsinda. Before assisting Bug any further, she requests a favor – save her boyfriend. You guessed it – Deadman – whose spirit happens to be trapped in a robot body from New Genesis and has realized he’s happier as a ghost than as a robot.
This sends Bug and friends to another dimensional shard where they get Deadman out of the robot body, but also find Chagra and another Manhunter – the newest Manhunter (Mark Shaw) and it ties into his first appearance way back in Kirby’s First Issue Special #5 (Aug. 1975). While unable to stop Chagra from gaining the omphalos, Bug has figured out where Chagra is headed next.
It’s a fun adventure ride that continues to homage Kirby through the use of his characters, visual style and anything goes storytelling approach. The folks from Retcon are a humorous play on the propensity for retcons in comics and to see them just leave at the sign of trouble is funny. There’s a lot of other humor as well, especially the translating the auctioneer does for the incomprehensible Dr. Spider (see Simon and Kirby’s The Sandman #2 for first appearance.) Even the serious Sandman brings about a smile as he is frustratingly overwhelmed by Bug’s nonchalant traipse through his dream dimension.
It should come as no surprise that Michael Allred’s stuff looks great. It always looks great, and this issue is no exception. There’s just enough Kirby in there, but there’s no doubt that Michael Allred drew this book.
Don’t let the zaniness of it all get to you! Sit back and just enjoy. Then google the characters you’ve never heard of, they are probably an obscure Kirby creation that have been woven into this tapestry of homage and celebration.
This series continues to be a wonderful wacky and fun homage to Jack Kirby while also finding the commonalities in the King’s work and the Young Animal line. It’s a book designed to be enjoyed and focuses more on fun than message. This issue is no exception as the fun goes to 11!