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Color is the first thing which came to my mind as I began reading through the first issue of Airboy. Every scene has it’s own unique set of colors. Each one picked to convey a different mood. Sometimes the colors are oppressive, sometimes cloudy, and some times down right gross. Every tint used in the books spectrum is picked for a reason, it can be head ache inducing but it’s only the beginning of a fun mature read. Spoilers abound so you have been warned.
Airboy is written by James Robinson, with art by Greg Hinkle, and they are also the main characters of this feature. The basic premise is as follows: what if instead of children going on an adventure with a superhero it were two unlikable men? The writer doesn’t get around to the adventuring part in this initial issue and the two men do not come across as likable. The book’s version of James Robinson (inserted into the story by the writer himself) is a self-hating drug addict that has writers block. Greg Hinkle’s metaitextual stand-in is an easily pushed around artist with no backbone. Together, these two get nothing accomplished.
It’s hard to root for Robinson, and that’s intentional. This is the perfect example of why the color works so well. The oppressive blue hue given to him gave me a bit of a headache, which was annoying and made me like him even less. He is surrounded by good people who treat him better than he treats himself. The self-pity sets up what is bound to be an interesting character arc. Robinson freely admits at one point that he is a sad shell of a man, despite his short comings it’s hard not to appreciate that kind of honesty.
Hinkle on the other hand is more laid back goes with the flow and is easily persuaded. However, he seems to have one piece of plot information vital to their adventure. It’s a little nugget but keep an eye out for it.
This book manages to be tongue-in-cheek while being strangely earnest at the same time. It plays with the concept of redoing a public domain character and having a whole lot of fun. That type of fun is why the book has a mature rating. From frequent profanity to rampant drug use, and a bit too much nudity, this is a book you’ll want to keep away from the kiddies. There’s even a multi-panel discussion about Hinkle’s “anaconda.” While it might be nice for the artist of the book it must be nice to embellish a few things, though I’d prefer to not see those particular types of decoration myself.
Airboy is not perfect. I have personally never been a fan of stories which are overly meta. Perhaps it’s because I refuse to pay six dollars for coffee or stretch out my ear lobes, I’m not sure. It’s definitly not for everyone. Yet, I find myself interested. It has a rock-solid cliffhanger ending. The characters are strong ones whom you will either root for or against, but not find yourself in between. The art style itself is cartoonish but very detailed.
To be honest, I could use a little more color in my life, which is why I still give the book a solid 8/10.