Review – Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth #5 (Oni Press)

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Publisher: Oni Press
Writer(s): Joshua Hale Fialkov, Tony Fleecs
Artist: Tony Fleecs
Release Date: 18th January, 2015

As we reach the penultimate issue of Joshua Hale Fialkov and Tony Fleecs’ slacker sci-fi comedy series (that’s a genre, right?), it’s finally time for our reluctant planetary saviour Jeff Steinberg to do his best to actually save the world.  Unfortunately, with the format of his trial being ‘gladiatorial giant robot combat to the death’ (a field he’s, let’s be honest, not particularly skilled in), things aren’t exactly looking great for the Earth’s seven billion or so inhabitants.

Once again, Fleecs and Fialkov keep the gags coming thick and fast, although things are a little more reserved than usual here due to the relative gravitas of the situation.  This latest issue is made up of two chapters, the first featuring Jeff’s last minute preparations, and the second featuring the robo-combat in all its quote-unquote “glory”.

What I’m loving about the series is the fact that it isn’t one of those clichéd ‘regular nobody taps into his inner heroism and realises he was special after along’ type deals.  Instead, Jeff’s is still every bit as unremarkable as he was in the first issue, and is still primarily concerned with his relationship with his disinterested (ex)girlfriend rather than, y’know, the fate of Earth.  That said, the final pages hint at a new level of resolve from Jeff, suggesting that the very mindset that got him into this mess in the first place is also likely to be his best chance of getting out of it.

The artwork is cartoony as always, with an extra tip of the hat going to colourist Luigi Anderson for keeping things bright, lively and suitably Saturday morning cartoony throughout.  Oh, and Fleecs proves here that he’s just as comfortable with giant robot carnage as he is with dirty hobo sex, which I’m pretty sure is the highest accolade that any artist can hope for.

While it’s probably about as far removed from ‘highbrow’ as you could possibly expect a comic to be, Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth once again succeeds in what I’m assuming is its primary aim – making the reader laugh.  Broad slacker jokes mixed with subtler gags and lively artwork make this a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I honestly can’t wait to see how the story wraps up next month.  Oh, and as a side note, Rolo needs a spin-off.  Rolo – Champion of Earth’s Best Friend.  Hell, it practically writes itself.

Rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out more about Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth, make sure to check out our interview with co-creators Joshua Hale Fialkov and Tony Fleecs by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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