From a creative point of view, DC’s Young Animal imprint, curated by Gerard Way, has been a mind-bending success. Letting bold and unrestrained creators cut loose in the wider corners of DC’s properties and push concepts to their limits have produced some of the most intriguing books on the shelves. Now, Young Animal is doing their own take on the Jack Kirby tribute in this the 100th anniversary of his birth with Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1, and the result is just a wild, weird, and crazily unrestrained as you’d want for one of Kirby’s New God characters.
This miniseries is the brainchild of that hyper-talented comics family, the Allreds. Brothers Lee and Michael are the storytellers, with Mike’s wife Laura acting as colorist. In terms of dream teams to tackle the adventures of Forager, you can’t really find a better match, and the alludes in no way disappoint. This is a really weird and fun book, sending Bug on a multiverse-spanning mission that brings him back from death into worlds both real and imagined, dream and reality. This opening issue finds Bug reeling from seemingly returning form the dead into a surreal and bizarre world. He meets strange beings including a spectral girl with an eye for New God tech, a talking teddy bear, a war criminal with a mechanical brain, and that Kirby-created guardian of dreams and perpetual weirdo, the Sandman (Not the Gaiman version. Or the Golden Age gas mask guy. Wiki it.)
Like most Young Animal books, Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 has a free-wheeling, creatively unlimited feel. The crazy energy that permeates a lot of the Allreds’ work is all over this issue, and despite the fact that the book is never less than kooky, it’s also consistently fun and never baffling. Michael and Laura Allred make for an incredibly vibrant and inspired art team, as usual, with Laura’s colors accentuating the brilliance of all those old Kirby designs while Michael’s layout remain among the most innovative and well-structured in the biz.
Any Allred book is going to be gorgeous to look at, of course, but it also helps to have a writer who knows how to play to the artist’s strengths and how to match him with an equally kooky story. There’s a wonderful sense of humor to the issue, from Bug’s snakily funny outlook, to the only slightly corny dialogue that evokes Kirby’s bombastic style. Despite the over-the-top approach, the book is never confusing or less than a ton of fun. It feels, frankly, like the kind of crazy high-concept, fast-paced comics that were more common-place in the Bronze Age. It may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy a modern take on old-fashioned Kirby craziness, with some beautiful art to boot, then you can’t miss the slice of fun that is Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1. 9/10