Review – Airboy #4 (Image Comics)

Click to enlarge,

Click to enlarge,

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Greg Hinkle
Release Date: 11th November, 2015

So, after three hilarious and hugely enjoyable episodes of the car crash that is James Robinson’s quest to write a reboot of Airboy, we hit the final chapter of the story. It’s always a challenge to give a story a satisfactory conclusion, more so when that story is as incredibly meta as this one has been. Airboy has never really been the story about Airboy, rather it has been the vehicle for James’ reflection on his life and what he deems his failures as he tries to start anew. Airboy, in a way, is a very public showing of step 4 in the 12 step program: ‘Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ [Yes I did just google that.]

There are still some great lines in the issue, like when James is talking to Black Angel about how bad the script for LXG was and she says, “LXG? Is that a code for a rocket?” To which James comes back with, ‘No. A bomb.’ I’ll confess: I shed a few tears of laughter at that.

Issue 4 is about Greg and James being sent on a mission to destroy a bridge held by Nazi’s for Airboy, a mission that clearly symbolises the final trail for James and his story, but the bulk of the issue is more about James coming to terms with that, and surrendering his habit of only thinking of himself. Sure, this internal reflection has been a theme running through the story, and it never really bothered me as much as it has some other reviewers that I have read, but I do feel that it was perhaps a little over-indulgent in the final issue, but then again I’m not sure if the story would have continued in such a satisfactory way without it.

As usual Greg’s artwork is excellent. Each review of Airboy that I have written sings his praise and this issue is no different. I’ve reviewed several titles recently where the artist has been solely responsible for the content (i.e. no colourist or letterer was hired), and in many ways I believe this gives the comic and final vision a more cohesive and pure form. On the back of this I’m sure Greg will be going places, and I’ll be looking out for his name on future titles as I know it’ll guarantee that the art will be a winner.

Airboy number 4 is a great conclusion to the mini-series. The end may be a rehash of a tried and tested conclusion, but James has engineered it in a manner that has enough sparks of originality that you don’t feel let down. There isn’t as much of the balls-to-the-wall crazy humour to this issue, but there are several really clever little jokes throughout that I found very, very funny. I also found it quite a poignant climax that, for all the raucous drug taking, sex, and debauchery from the start of the run to the penultimate act, the conclusion itself is quite innocent and raw. In the end Airboy does manage to save James from himself, and there is something quite beautiful about the payoff that I was not expecting. Robinson, throughout Airboy, has been highly critical of the past work he has done but, James, as a comic book reader and fan I think you can be proud of this. I loved it.

Rating: 4.5/5.

The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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