“Chills and Spills and Fairy Cakes!”
Writer: Jim Massey
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Publisher: Oni Press
While some of the recent issues of this janitor/mad scientist-based comedy series seemed to lose some of the charm in favor of focusing on continuity, this issue gets back on track, with our heroes Doug and Manny battling a sort of coffee monster that keeps devouring Terromax’s employees.
For those who are unfamiliar with the series, it’s about the adventures of two maintenance men at a company that does research for super-villains, employing many mad scientists to create all manner of monsters, creatures, and doomsday devices. The fun thing about the series is that we get a low-level view of the workings of the company, with our heroes often having to clean up the messes made when experiments go wrong. This issue is a good example of the series’ regular combination of the fantastic and the mundane, with a scene in which a human resources person gathers all the scientists for one of those interminable morale-improvement meetings that any office worker is familiar with. Luckily, there are cupcakes (referred to here as “fairy cakes”, betraying writer Jim Massey’s British origins). Unluckily, the coffee monster crashes the meeting, endangering all the employees. Hilarity ensues, with lines like “What kind of godless horror hates cake?!”
Strangely, Robbi Rodriguez’s art seems a bit messier than usual in this issue, with characters seeming kind of lumpy. The creature and the other characters are often defined with scribbly lines that occasionally seem somewhat indistinct. But the vast majority of the issue is still quite appealing; Rodriguez’s cartoony characters are really enjoyable to watch as they face a ridiculous threat, and he makes the monster look pretty cool, like a flowing glob of goopy liquid. It’s not the best art I’ve seen from him, but it’s still really nice. And the book is still full of little comedy bits and callbacks to previous issues, with appearances from the caveman scientist (whose latest project is a grilled cheese sandwich), the zombie kitten, and the African-American guy who keeps trying to develop a peanut-based army to conquer the white race. It’s a book that keeps building on its varied cast in humorous ways, and it’s fun to see Massey and Rodriguez bounce them off each other.
So, I highly recommend checking this series out if you haven’t already. The first volume, collecting the first three issues is out, and a collection of issues #4 - 6 should be coming out soon. It’s tons of fun and could probably use more readers. Don’t pass it up!
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