Humor comics can be hard to pull off. Okay, they can actually be pretty easy to pull off if you’re looking to make a quick sale and have some cheap laughs. But if you want it to stay funny well beyond its publication, that’s a bit tougher. I think Ambush Bug, probably more than any DC character, pulls this off.
I have covered some Ambush Bug before–back in my humor episode of the Pop Culture Affidavit miniseries “80 Years of DC Comics”, I discussed the Ambush Bug Nothing Special from 1992, which was a lampoon of the then-huge ’90s comics culture. It landed in places and didn’t land in others. Here, I’ve got the character’s four-issue miniseries from 1985, which was written by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming with art by Giffen and Bob Oksner.
This is going to come off sounding like an insult, but it’s not. This series reminds me a lot of Garfield, especially The Unabridged Uncensored Unbelievable Garfield, Garfield: The Truth About Cats, and Garfield: the Me Book. These were not strip collections but rather were specials that were produced to have one-off gags and be parodies of other things, almost as if the obese feline was being written by a few of Mad‘s Usual Gang of Idiots. And when I was 11 or 12, they were comedy gold.
And it’s kind of the same here. Giffen and Fleming kind of give us a plot, but that’s secondary to the various parody and fourth-wall-breaking gags that take place throughout the four issues. Issue #3 is especially funny because it’s a “history of the DC Universe” that looks at random and obscure characters, some of which I think only Grant Morrison has made reference to since their Ambush Bug appearances. There are fake activity book gags, this recurring bit where you think Darkseid is going to make an appearance, and even a villain from Fleming’s Thriller going after our hero only to realize he’s landed in the wrong book. It’s all the type of stuff that would have been gut-bustingly funny when I was a kid; now, it’s still pretty funny even though I am dead inside.
This makes the round in the cheap bins every once in a while, and I happen to have my copy of issue #3 signed by Keith Giffen (it’s my favorite of the four). I’m not sure that I’m going to look for any more Ambush bug beyond this but wouldn’t rule out grabbing one of his later series or specials if I came across it.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?