Straight Shooter

Ubu Bubu #1 (of 4)
Words and art by Jamie Smart
$3.50, 24 pages
(Black and White)

Don’t fear the goth kids usually associated with SLG’s other books (Gloomcookie, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac). This too cute tale of a
“daemon”/kitty hybrid whose powers include vomiting dark matter and “chasing kids with goat sex,” might go unappreciated if you prefer your comics characters with capes on ’em, but fans of satanic humor and cutesy drawings of copulating animals will want this book shipped posthaste to whatever institution or halfway house they’re currently being confined to.

Jamie Smart (Bear) is somewhat similar to other SLG artists such as Jhonen Vazquez — the childish artwork, the almost-endearing enthusiasm for death and evil — but his truly weird sense of humor takes the book beyond all that shit in Hot Topic. In addition to simply feeding the unhealthy death obsessions of that sad-eyed boy in gym class, Ubu Bubu manages to be genuinely — sometimes brilliantly — funny. That’s assuming, of course, you’re the kind of person who laughs at the idea of a children’s show about counting genitalia, or a drawing of a corpse being sodomized with a carrot. And much like violating the dead with produce, laughing out loud at this kind of book is sure to alert your court-appointed caregiver that your medication is wearing off, but the experience is well worth that extra shot of Thorazine.

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Gravel #1
Story by Warren Ellis
Words by Mike Wolfer
Art by Raulo Careces
$3.99, 24 pages
(Avatar Press)

Though Ellis (Fell, Transmetropolitan) has his legendary name plastered all over this H.P. Lovecraft/Mike Hammer mash-up, he’s really only credited with writing the story script, the outline. Wolfer — who wrote the actual script and dialogue — is quite obviously not Ellis, of course, and the book suffers from the false expectations caused by the switcheroo. To Wolfer’s credit though, Ellis couldn’t have done much better himself. At first, it’s tempting to blame the artwork — Careces draws like he just finished reading How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, completely wrong for the noir-y creep-out vibe the comic seems to be going after. But the real problem is Ellis’s lack of commitment here. This story of a combat magician looking for a magic parchment or something seems like it took Ellis all of five minutes to come up with. If you’re going to think up a comic featuring a man nursing on an intergalactic alligator’s teat, you’d damn sure better follow through on writing it yourself. Don’t pass it off onto somebody else. Ultimately, the story reads like what it probably is — a throwaway idea Ellis tossed off to Avatar while he was working on something legitimately awesome. The man’s usually reliable, but buying Gravel is like paying Ellis four bucks to give you the finger.

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Urban Monsters #1
Words by Will Wilson and Joanne Moore
Art by tone Rodriguez, Rick Ross, Nei Ruffino, and Bryan Senka
$3.50, 24 pages

A plot summary tells you almost everything you need to know: In a world where monsters and people co-exist, one spunky group of monster friends decides to fight human oppression by heading from New York to Hollywood for a chance at stardom. Still there? Anybody?

As lame as the premise sounds, the book actually has more serious problems than a goofy storyline. Not only are humans oppressive toward monsters, they’ve apparently enacted a set of monster-phobic Jim Crowe laws though apparently white women are inexplicably attracted to the biggest monster.

Add this to the fact that the book is called Urban Monsters and you’ve got some not so subtle liberal racism here, getting preachy about discrimination while comparing minorities to fishmen and zombies. On top of that, the art has the generic feeling of 1990s Saturday-morning cartoons and the already ridiculous concept — wouldn’t starring in monster movies only help to enforce monster stereotypes? — gets way worse when you realize that the group doesn’t get anywhere near LA before the issue ends, suggesting that the focus of the series will be on the journey. Fun fact: If you type the phrase “A group of wacky monsters takes a road-trip across middle America” into a word processing program, your computer’s internal dumb-idea detection software will literally slap you in the face.

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