Trolls: 1 Trip 2 Many
There comes a time in the life of every reviewer that you end up not particularly liking a comic from an artist that you generally like quite a bit. Hey, they can’t all be home runs! And reviews are inherently subjective, and nobody should take one review from one person to mean all that much in the grand scheme of things, etc. So with all those caveats out of the way: this one was only so-so. The thing I like about Michael’s other comics is the madcap insanity of it all, how he can make what would otherwise be mundane situations (and situations that are very much not mundane) into surreal adventures. He’s made me think about a few jobs in a whole new light, while making me laugh out loud more than a few times. That being said, this one just kind of petered out. And it got off to such a strong start! Our heroes, after their previous adventures, are basically legit heroes, and are allowed to slack off at their job with no consequences. But then an expendable crew is needed for a mission to Mars, so they get the call. Great set-up, right? Based on his previous comics I was expecting all kinds of hijinx. This is one of those rare occasions where I’ll have to spoil the ending, so feel free to stop reading this now if you’d rather not know. Pick up some of his other books, you’ll probably love them! Anyway, they crash land, run into an alien, and… wait for death. There are still a few good gags in here after that, but the page layout is exactly the same from then on out, with them all crumpled into a slowly dissolving heap together and chatting. I’m talking no movement outside of an occasional gesture. If he was just looking to demonstrate the awfulness of dying in space, kudos, and maybe it’s my fault for expecting wackiness. But it’s a grim end, oddly punctuated with jokes. Of course, they might not be dead, and however they possibly manage to get away from Mars could make this setup worthwhile. But this one could have been half the length without the reader missing out on a whole lot, which is a shame. He sent along other comics, and I’ll be getting to those shortly, because I strongly suspect (based on his past work) that this was a rare dud from the man. But for now, pass on this and check out some of his previous comics. $4
Trolls: Operation Great Wall
This issue is a little less completely insane than the last one I read, but considering the fact that that was about a drunken party in an airport (among other places), there was bound to be at least a slight return to “normal.” Although you can look at the sample image below and see that there’s no such thing as a normal, quiet day in this world. We join our heroes in the Honolulu airport, where they’re casually chatting about Wayward’s girlfriend and what he can possibly see in her. She’s a bit on the dramatic side and comes from a conservative family. After nearly getting into an accident her parents take her to China, the Great Wall specifically (title might have given that away, huh?), and our heroes decide that they have to rescue her. But they’re air traffic controllers, not pilots, so you can probably guess how well that turned out. The rest of the comic has hijinx all over the place, what with the international incident and all. It also has an appearance by a former president, which isn’t the president I would have guessed in a comic with “wall” in the title. The previous issue may have this one beat for pure insanity, but this is quite the enjoyable read too.
So as I was reading this I knew that I had seen this art somewhere before. Michael has been working for years on a variety of projects, but all I could think about was Duplex Planet. And, sure enough, in his bio he mentioned making a story for them years ago. Maybe I just have too many comics taking up space in my brain? Because if this is a skill it surely isn’t lucrative. Oh hi, I’m supposed to be talking about the comic! This is mostly a story about Edward and Wayward, two dopes who are air traffic controllers. Their boss doesn’t like them, one of them is on the run from his pot dealer and his landlord has decided that he’s going to kick him out. Throughout it all neither of them takes anything all that seriously (except for the bit where the pot dealer seems like he’s going to murder Edward), and the whole thing reminded me quite a bit of the old stoner comics of the 70’s. Which was great! Those types of books just aren’t around much anymore, and I’ve always wondered why that’s the case. The two of them end up being forced to work the entire weekend shift as air traffic controllers, and they only have one idea as to how they’re going to stay awake all weekend: throwing a big old party. The rest of their story is nonstop debauchery with more than a little bit of surreality thrown in as the sleep deprivation catches up to them. But wait, there’s more! There’s also two short stories in here, one dealing with two other characters working at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere (that one also turns into a party with the hobos taking over) and two other characters getting invited to a model party and assuming they got the meaning wrong when they show up to see an array of model airplanes and that sort of thing scattered about. So, naturally, they sniff glue to get away from it all… but there’s a twist! Honestly, I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading the other books he was nice enough to send along. Check it out, or just go to his website and pick out some comics. He has a whole lot to choose from! $4