Publisher: Ahoy Comics
The Wrong Earth: Tom Peyer, Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Andy Troy, Rob Steen
Not Required Reading: This is Your Brain on Pandemic – Matt Brady, Joe Orsak
A Message from Deathpunch Boy: James Finn Garner, Felipe Sobreiro
Miniature Cattle: Mark Russell, Danny Schwartz
Release Date: 6th January 2020
With apologies from the offset, this is going to be a bit of a spoilery review because I really want you to read this, and I’m not sure if I can get across to you quite how much I enjoyed this issue without oversharing a couple of points. I’m also going to be referring to Batman a lot in this review, so apologies in advance…
“The Wrong Earth” is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek take on the classic superhero multiverse stories, albeit with a darker edge. Imagine that Adam West’s campy Batman (with associated carnival villains) traded places with… well, I was going to say Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, but it may be closer to Snyder and Capullo’s Grim Knight. That’s essentially what we have in this first issue, and as tongue-in-cheek as it undoubtedly is, it’s actually a really good story that I think is going to provide some strong character development and exciting twists and turns over the coming issues.
There are a number of in-jokes and some quite barbed digs at the superhero mentality in this first issue that made me chuckle, but they’re all tinged with some surprising depth. For all his very overtly Jason Todd “Red Hood” influences (right down to the red outfit and AK-47), Stinger-2 (very much the soldier forged in fire and blood) shows some genuine fondness for the somewhat naïve and idealistic Earth-Alpha Dragonfly. Earth-Omega’s Dragonfly is a much more emotionally complex character than his Dudley Do-Right counterpart, and I personally have become a lot more invested in seeing this particular Dragonfly win the day.
Despite being forged in the same blood and fire as Stinger-2, Dragonfly-Omega has found something he didn’t expect, love and family. Of course, the superhero code must override all, and he is suitably angsty about stealing Dragonfly Alpha’s wife, and the inner battle about leaving it all behind to do the right thing and set the universe to rights is on-point.
The artwork in this issue is great. It captures both the ‘50s and ‘60s superhero feel, and mashes it together with the more contemporary Capullo-esque style. What’s perhaps most impressive is that at no point does this feel too silly. Sure, the Earth-Alpha characters are suitably comical and cartoonish, but they’re presented in such a way that doesn’t jar with the grittier feel of the Earth-Omega universe. That said, there is one moment where the cartoon physics of Earth-Alpha being applied to Earth-Omega in an almost “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” moment really made me laugh.
Full disclosure, I am not by anyone’s measuring stick a superhero genre expert. I don’t typically pick up traditional superhero comics (I think my entire collection has maybe one shelf of Batman and assorted Marvel comics), but I do really like the alternate history/universe type of stories, and the superhero comics that I do tend to read are heavily influenced by the likes of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. I’ve got more versions of Saga of The Swamp Thing than I care to admit to, and I regularly revisit titles like Top-10, and Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol or The Invisibles. I’m not saying that Tom Peyer is another Alan Moore, but this is certainly a title that I’d put in that category of superhero stories that are very much my cup of tea.
“Not Required Reading: This is your Brain on Pandemic” is an interesting piece on how our brains work, and why we all need to take the time for a little personal mental health maintenance. Matt Brady sums up quite eloquently and succinctly just how damaging the effects of our forced isolation during this pandemic can be, and the real physiological/neurological changes that take place in the body as a result of prolonged and sustained stress. Even if you feel absolutely fine, and are handling the pandemic like a champ, you might not have noticed (or chosen not to) that you’re shorter tempered, or more withdrawn, and even if you really, truly are unaffected by all this stress, it’s worth reading this to maybe understand how others are reacting. It may ring some bells with you as to why a friend or loved one’s mood/character have changed over the last year, and it may just help you to help them.
“A Message from Deathpunch Boy” is a statement by a recently ousted team member, very much in the vein of a social media statement by an ex boyband or sitcom member. I found this quite funny. It’s one of those statements where you could literally insert any topic without changing anything else and it would still make sense.
“Miniature Cattle” by Mark Russell will most likely leave you scratching your head, but please bear with it because it’s definitely worth it. There is a huge lack of context to the inter-office memos sent by Henry, but that just makes it so much more fascinating to watch it unfold. I don’t even care that this has nothing thematically to do with the rest of the issue, it’s just a fun story, and being a fan of Mark Russell, it was a real treat to see this issue.
On the whole, this is another fine publication from Ahoy Comics and one I’ll definitely be adding to my pull list.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek