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Ambush Bug: Year None #5

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2008
By: Jon Judy

Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming
Keith Giffen & Al Milgrom
DC Comics
Dan DiDio has ruined Ambush Bug.

Now I donít mean that in any literal sense. First, the book hasnít been ruined, but it is certainly several notches below the masterpieces that were its predecessors. Itís the character of Dan DiDio who appears in the pages of Ambush Bug that I object to, and even then it isnít the character of DiDio that ruins the comic book but rather the fundamental flaw in this series which that character represents.

But, you know, ďThe use of Dan DiDio as a character is symptomatic of a flaw that makes this book lesser than its predecessorsĒ just doesnít have the zing of ďDan DiDio has ruined Ambush Bug

OK, letís start by turning back the clock, because thatís sort of what I do. I live in the past because it was such a marvelous time, a time when I had hope for the future rather than longing for the past. Plus the comic books were cheaper. And Ambush Bug was funnier.

Now I didnít always get the jokes, but in a way that added to the experience. It made me aware of this whole gigantic DCU that was out there. The absence of laughter was like the silence after dropping a rock down a deep well -- the fact that the sound didnít make it back to me just told me how deep the DC well was.

Streaky and Egg Fu and Wonder Tot and Inferior Five and Julie Schwartz -- I just had to know more about all that wonderful weirdness. All those strange, inexplicable punchlines were like snippets of transmissions from some other universe where the comic books were similar to the ones on my drug storeís stands and yet so different at the same time.

Sure, Ambush Bug and Son of Ambush Bug and Stocking Stuffer and Nothing Special all lampooned the DCU as it was at the time, mocking current events, so to speak. So Atari Force and Thriller and Starfire all passed through those pages, but they werenít the focus of the humor. In fact, there really was no focus. Ambush Bug was like buck shot, hitting targets far and wide.

Year None, on the other hand, hits a little to the left and right, but mostly in the middle, focusing on parodying DC comic books currently on the stands. So, yes, we get jokes about that inexplicable checkerboard design that graced the covers of DC comics in the '60s, about the Inferior Five, about Sugar and Spike and so on. But for the most part the jokes are focused on contemporary targets. In this issue alone we see DiDio as the Source Wall, a Monitor, a hazed frat boy, Lex Luthor, Darkseid, a chick in a bar, a universe conquering despot, and Cheeks the Toy Wonder.

Yeah, OK. We get it. DiDio is a jerk and heís trashing all the joy in DC Comics.

But this lacks the bit of any real satire, not that one expects that of Ambush Bug. Itís like Rupert Murdoch jokes on The Simpsons -- itís kind of hard to see them as genuinely satirical when they make money for their target.

So if all these references to the unending Crises and DiDio arenít genuinely satirical, they need to be truly hilarious if this book is to have any value. And, yes, it is a funny book. Itís really amusing, and youíll chuckle several times.

But as antagonists go, DiDio lacks the import and the gravitas of a Julie Schwartz, and so jokes about him are just less amusing. And as canvases go, a parody of Interminable Crisis simply lacks the vastness of parodying the entire history of DC as a company and as a universe.

This is a good read, a funny read, but a disposable read. It will not leave anyone clamoring for more Ambush Bug in twenty years. In fact, they wonít even remember it a month from now.



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