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Maintenance #5

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2007
By: Matt Brady



"Little Help?"

Writer: Jim Massey
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Published by: Oni Press


For anyone unfamiliar with this series, it details the lives of Doug and Manny, two schlubs who do the dirty work at Terromax, a company that employs mad scientists to create weapons and monsters for supervillains. It's a fun look behind the scenes of the crazy schemes we see in superhero and science fiction stories, with the duo embarking on adventures involving time travel, man-sharks, and aliens, employing lots of silly humor and pop-culture references along the way.

I had thought the series took a bit of a dip in quality in the previous couple of issues, straying away from the fast-paced comedy formula and focusing on more dramatic events, like Manny's attempted wooing of Mendy, the office receptionist. But this issue gets back on track, for the most part, continuing the story that began in the previous installment, in which Doug and Manny get shrunk to microscopic size in order to roust a society of "Clogoids" from the drains of Terromax, where a scientist flushed them when they became too independent. Lots of humor ensues, including a recurring bit about the Clogoids hating that name, preferring to be called "Destructomites". This being the sewer system, we also get some potty jokes, such as the Destructomites continued offering of corn-based meals to our heroes. Not everything works perfectly, however; one joke involving a "Happy Birthday" banner and giant ravenous worms took a few reads for me to figure out.

But overall, it's a fun installment of the series, ably illustrated by Rodriguez in his cartoony style. He does a great job of detailing the wrinkled old scientists, the endless corridors of Terromax, and the freaky creatures that Doug and Manny encounter, not to mention the grime that they constantly have to clean up. He also uses greytones to excellent effect to provide nice depth and texture to the black-and-white artwork.

So the writing could still use a little improvement, preferably going in the direction of the first couple of issues, but it's still a fun book, giving readers a humorous look at the life of the little guys in the world of mad science. For those who want to get caught up on the series, Oni has put out one collection containing the first three issues, and a second collection with the next three is due out this fall. I strongly recommend it.



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