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Friday, 27 September 2019

Review Round-Up: Rick and Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons, Chapter Two - Painscape #1; Battlepug #1; Spider-Man #1

Rick and Morty vs Dungeons & Dragons, Chapter Two - Painscape #1:  Two great flavours, one great taste.

Genius writer Jim Zub perfectly captures both the voice of the Rick and Morty show and the essence of freewheeling Dungeons & Dragons fun in this hilarious new chapter in the lives of our crass protagonists.

The world is obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons (woo-hoo!). It's everywhere, across all media, infusing every aspect of everyday life.

But only Rick remembers it wasn't like this yesterday.

He realises this is some viral infection from an alternate dimension, and so drags his grandson off to investigate.

Their investigations take them somewhere that seems familiar to Rick, but then he meets the apparent instigators of the virus... and their connection to his youthful dabblings in Dungeons & Dragons become clear.

Zub's wit is spot-on, a loving send-up of the game - and more broadly, the hobby - that means so much to so many of us.

This certainly isn't a comic for non-gamers, as it's heavy with both overt references to the rules and deep dives into the history of hobby (just look at that variant cover with a 5e character sheet for Wizard Rick), nor is it a mindless piss-take of RPGs.

The final page alone cements how much of an homage to the "olden days" of the hobby this title is going to be.

If you enjoy both Rick and Morty and Dungeons & Dragons you really need to be reading this comic.

Battlepug #1: Mike Norton's Battlepug is my new favourite thing.

The new series, which launched this month, follows on from previous stories - collected in the Compugdium - which I now have to read,.

However a a smart reader can easily pick up who is who, what's going on etc from the information provided in this glorious first issue.

The cover alone tells you all you need to know before tucking in.

The story revolves around a Conan-esque barbarian (the last Kinmundian) who rides a giant pug - and, now, has a small gang of fellow, quirky, adventurers with him.

Norton manages to balance political satire, comedy, and genuine swords-and-sorcery to tell an engaging, if light-hearted, fantasy story.

The supporting characters are rich and memorable (I'm already a huge fan of young, potty-mouthed, druid Bryony) and I'm intrigued to learn more about the world.

The stylised, almost cartoonish, colourful art - by Allen Passalaqua and crank! - suits the subject matter perfectly.

Battlepug certainly isn't just another Clonan title, but it's also not a piss-take of the genre. This is a very loving, intelligently written, fantasy that has taken an outlandish idea and run with it.

And long may it run!

Spider-Man #1: I'll admit I approached this title with some caution.

Despite my entrenched dislike of 'stunt hiring' celebrity writers from outside the world of comic books, I'll confess the presence of JJ Abrams' name in the credits certainly caught my attention.

However, I wasn't entirely sure of the validity of his son, Henry, being there as well, sharing the top billing.

How many other 20-year-olds get their first ever comic book writing gig working on Marvel's most famous character?

But petty jealousy aside, the comic itself - issue one in a five-issue mini-series - is surprisingly entertaining.

Having avoided plot spoilers - and that's the best way to come at this story - it wasn't at all what I was expecting.

But then again, as an Abrams' family project I guess I should have expected the unexpected.

It's from the "What If..."/"Elseworlds" stable, positing a scenario a dozen years after a tragic encounter with the villain Cadaverous, and his xenomorph-like agents, seemingly puts Peter Parker out of the heroing game for good.

Setting the story outside the canon of the main Spider-Man titles (which I had to recently drop... for financial reasons) means all bets are off, this could go anywhere and I'm intrigued enough by this set-up issue to stick around.

2 comments:

  1. I'm reading the first Rick and Morty D&D crossover now. Battle Pug sounds fantastic. I love Spidey, but rarely actually read his books. He's one of those characters that seems to have a million books and tie-ins and if I read one, I want to have them all, because I'm ocd like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This Spidey title is very self-contained, by its nature, so you don't need to read anything else ;)

      Battlepug is sublime, I cannot recommend it highly enough to you - knowing what I know of your tastes, I don't believe you'll be disappointed!

      Delete

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