SPOILERS BELOW –
Today we take a look at a volume from IDW Publishing and Diamond Book Distributors wherein the writers combine characters from several Cartoon Network shows in to one story line for their own version of Secret Wars .
The shows? –
My synopsis bad guys capture good guys from several dimensions and take them to yet another dimension. Bad guys plan to steal hero ‘brains’/essence and put that essence in to super powered robots. Good guys escape captivity and start destroying robots. Bad guys try to coerce good guys by threatening to blow up planet from one of the dimensions. One of the bad guys does not want his planet blown up because he wants to rule it. He assumes it’s his planet that is targeted so he turns tail. Many robots are blown up yadda yadda yadda, good guys win.
At first look (the cover), I’m thinking – “This is pretty cool. We have a lot of promise here. I watched most of these shows and my kids watch many of them now so, it’ll be pretty neat to watch the story play out.”
The first question I had about the book was – “why is Ben 10 included?” Most of the shows were from the late 90s to early 2000s but Ben 10 came toward the latter 200os. Why not include Foster’s Home for Imaginary Kids or the kids from Codename: Kids Next Door? The only thing I can come up with is they needed a more powerful and recognizable villain like Vilgax from Ben 10 to pair up with Samurai Jack’s nemesis Aku. Plus, it’s secret wars, so they can pretty much do what they want but from a theme and timeline perspective, Ben 10 was not a great fit. The other villains are MoJo JoJo from Powerpuff Girls and Mandark from Dexter’s Lab. These both seemed to fit “OK” and it was plausible that Mandark was basically an apprentice to Aku. Sort of. I never really felt like Mandark was pure evil from the shows. I mean, he hated Dexter but I did not envision him as a world destroyer (at least not his own, we learn).
Then there’s this squirrel that comes in on about p32. The squirrel does not speak English and does not seem to add anything to the plot. No chewing through wires, no helping anyone other than trying to obscure a camera to hide our heroes. He’s just a few translated comments and really seems to be simply a way to link other books to this one. At his/her introduction, the reader is directed to see a Johnny Bravo 1 shot (sold separately) so, I’m left wondering … why??? Still wondering.
Visually, the book has some good features. It seems the art MOSTLY tried to stay true to the style of the cartoons for each of the characters. This is especially evident when you compare the lines around Ed, Edd n Eddy vs those around Dexter and the Powerpuff Girls. These latter 2 were generally characterized by bold, black generally straight lines where as Ed and crew were much looser with variation in line straightness and thickness. See illustration.
We have some inconsistency though. One of the things I always thought was cool about Samuari Jack TV show was the LACK of black outlines. In this comic, even when he is back in his own world, he’s outlined in black so what I assume was an intent to mimic the art of the cartoons was not carried do the comic for poor Jack. The use of several different font styles and colors, which I assume is meant to differentiate the speakers made many of the pages tough on my eyes. Aku’s speech was white writing on black text; all the humans had normal black on white text; the robots had graduated color back grounds with black text in a more blocky font. When several characters were speaking on the same page, it just seemed messy.
Finally, I wish there was some more originality in the plot – the whole “Mojo Jojo becomes good to save his planet” has already been done (See the “Forced Kin” episode of Powerpuff Girls). Is this ‘staying in character’ or re-use of ideas? Perhaps a little of both but I found myself wanting more originality.
The retail price of the volume is $19.99 and this volume will be released Jan 27, 2015.