Revealed at last... This is it... They've done it again...
Something that is more than a comics... Something more than just a story.. Something undefinable... Yes, it's more Ambush Bug comics!
Nobody dreamed of it...in fact, nobody was asking for it...didn't stop Keith Giffen from unleashing the Bug one more time across the DC universe, from hell and back!
Comic title: Son of Ambush Bug
Art by Keith Giffen & Bob Oksner
Story by Keith Giffen & Rob Fleming
Published by DC
Lineup Ambush Bug
Format: Ambush Bug: Stocking Stuffer one shot and Son of Ambush Bug issues #1-6.
A year after his solo-debut, Irwin Schwab was back to terrorizing the fringes of the DC Universe and all that is in-continuity.
This time Keith Giffen was able to expand his creative destruction through more different venues and for a longer time.
As such, this "second arc" of Ambush Bug (as you could call it) wasn't confined to a little mini-series. But whole 6 issues. Plus a Christmas special... released in March 1986, preceding that series. (with the oh-so very clever mention "Caution: Do Not Open Before Dec. 25th!")
This time things would get bloodier for all that is sacred and canon in comic books, this time they were probably knowing what the heck they were doing(?!?).
Ambush Bug (1986), as I would like you to call this one, is composed of two distinct parts.
The "Stocking Stuffer" Christmas special (from March) and its sequel "Son of Ambush Bug".
The first one is mostly about Christmas jokes and parodies, a story of zombie toys taking over the street where the Bug lives, Cheeks joining their camp (or was he?) and the usual comic book shenanigans the Bug is known for.
The later is about an evil force from space, invading the DCU and with its cosmic altering powers, "correcting" errors in the canon and making "sense" of things that don't.
Like fixing the good ol' JonniDC, continuity cop of everything DC Comics, turning her into a comic book "more realistic" cliché bimbo.
Oh, but what about our heroes? Well, Cheeks, the toy wonder, gets transported into a war comic book, while Ambush Bug gets sent to various iteration of comic books and universe, even changed himself into bad imitation of what he actually is. (such as the now classic Amber Butane of the Amber Butane Corps).
Oh and there's also the usual comic book shenanigans.
You'd read a book just about that, right?
Keith Giffen & co seemed to really had fun on this one.
Not bound to any rules or any logic, the Bug can POP! around these various bits of stories, trivia, parodies, splash page, fake ads or games from panel to panel, page to page, without any connection yet still making sense of it.
This time around they're not just mocking DC or superheroes in general.
But the whole comic books industry, the whole medium and genres. And not just American comics, they clearly know about comics from other countries as well.
They're lampooning comics from all sorts of kinds and forms.
Modern (for the 80s) comics, superhero comics, war comics, gritty comics, mangas, handbook comics, etc...
Through Ambush Bug, you'll see useless encyclopedia pages, How to Draw parodies, advertisements...
Desu desu desu desu desu desu desu~
This time around, it seems the series is almost using an actual plot.
There's an on-going plot, about that guy correcting the DCU's various plotholes and nonsensical elements (as serious fanboys of that time, and even today, would dream to do in their comics)
But he just can't get the better on Irwin.
Ambush Bug then ends up in Hell in what turns to be one of my favorite scenes concerning the underworld of the DC universe of all time. (the way he escapes Hell and resurrects is just so... EPIC)
And this series (actually "Stocking Stuffer") introduces what is one of my favorite creations to come out of the Bug, in the persone of Mitsu Bishi, Ambush Bug's japanese counterpart.
The lil' guy seems to be a mashup of funny 80s manga characters (particularly Aralé from Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump)
A great parody and tribute of comics outside the USA (in Japan).
This doesn't actually happen in the book...but whatever, right? I wanted to draw those two.
The art is some of the best from Giffen, with the help of the awesome Bob Oksner.
Keith Giffen & Rob Fleming really played around with the concept of comics, "time travelling" on static comic book pages with some great play between panels, the Ambush Bug gets stuck in some blank pages or some random unrelated comic, they're running out of pages, or trying to end their book in the middle at page 22...when the books' actually 40 pages long so the Bug gets send to some other places to fill-in more content!
It's madcap, mayhem, mischief at its best, with a perfect tongue-in-cheek dialogue. It's a breath of fresh air while everything DC was publishing at the time were Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One and the likes~
Overall, this is a highly recommended read!
They should be easy to find nowadays.
(in any case, eBay!)
Perfect analysis of what make comics tick. And the answer is, a bug!
I hear you screaming now... Why "Son of" Ambush Bug?
The book almost ended up under various other unrelated titles during its production, as they joke in the 1st issue. It could just as easily have been "I, Ambush Bug!", "Ambush Bug II: The Movie" or "The Revenge of Ambush Bug" for that matter. "Son of Ambush Bug" is just as stupid and doesn't have a thing to do with the content of this series. Then again it's quite catchy and if King Kong or Frankenstein ever told us a thing, it's that "Sons of" really end up best selling over the original. (and destroying the legacy of their predecessor)
Anyway, it's a very fun look at comics, from inside the comics themselves, if you like Ambush Bug, comic books, or hate them both, you WILL be interested in reading this.
Or at least, you should do so.
Fun, crazy, artistic even, from front cover to bottom one, even the fanletters require a glimpse at (something that would end up "lost in translation" with a TPB release!)-
I give it: