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Classic Comic Compendium: BUG! THE ADVENTURES OF FORAGER

“Great. Figments of my own imagination are humoring me.”

Sometimes Jack Kirby tributes come in the strangest ways. As a grand architect of the universe in Fantastic Four. A jam session in Captain Victory. Or a series about a character who had been dead for decades. Granted, a character that Kirby created, but still dead since Cosmic Odyssey. Which makes bringing him back a very interesting part of the story being laid out in Bug! The Adventures of Forager by Lee Allred, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, and Nate Piekos.

The story in Bug! is suitably weird. Forager wakes up from essentially the nightmare of his death in Cosmic Odyssey into a stranger dream, bursting from a cocoon. He’s greeted by a creepy goth kid and her talking teddy bear, some dominoes, and eventually Kirby’s version of Sandman along with Brute and Glob. Then it gets weirder as Forager goes on a quest against General Electric, a cross-section of the history of the DC Universe, and the oddball section of Kirby’s DC work like The Losers, Atlas, OMAC, the Forever People, and more of the Fourth World. There’s a wonderful sense of humour and strangeness that permeates the tale that I find incredibly captivating. It helps make this more than just a nostalgia piece and fits the overall offbeat nature of the Young Animal imprint.

The inventiveness and anything goes nature of the story is intrinsic to Mike Allred’s artwork. It starts with a unique interplay of art panels versus Nate Piekos’ lettering panels on the opening page, pitting imagery of Forager’s death and last memories of Cosmic Odyssey with thoughts in darkness, and it just gets more interesting from there. The layouts include numerous montages, an incorporation of a film real, and shattered shards of reality, just to keep things interesting. There’s always a sense of fun in Mike’s art that really comes out here, elevating the story even further.

Laura Allred’s colouring here is interesting. To call it simple would do it a disservice, as it kind of straddles the feel of the old comics that the characters and story are drawing inspiration from and more modern colouring techniques. It’s only “simple” in that we’ve largely got solid, almost flat, colouring for our characters in old school superhero fashion. There’s also a broader background colour palette of purples and beiges helping the characters stand out against it.

Little touches of character come out in Piekos’ lettering as well, like the teddy bear’s purple text and word balloons and the ghostly goth girl’s balloon-less speech, that shine through nicely.

(As an aside, many of the broader 1st Issue Special characters are currently appearing in Tom King and Jorge Fornés’ Danger Street. It makes me wonder what King and the Allreds could do with a straight-up Kirby joint. Like say, The Demon. Just putting that out there.)

Overall, Bug! The Adventures of Forager by Allred, Allred, Allred, and Piekos is an entertaining adventure through some of the more oddball areas of the DC Universe, and a fitting tribute to Jack Kirby.

Classic Comic Compendium: BUG! THE ADVENTURES OF FORAGER

Bug! The Adventures of Forager
Storytellers: Lee Allred & Michael Allred
Colourist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: DC Comics – Young Animal
Release Date: April 25, 2018

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!

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