You know what people rarely try for anymore? Zaniness. Back in the Silver and Bronze Age of comics, stories could actually be zany from time to time. Creators often totally eschewed realism or even believability in favor of over-the-top bombast, insane concepts and goofy comedy at a breakneck pace. And like the issues that preceded it, Bug! – The Adventures of Forager #3 totally embraces zany, and we’re all the better for it, as we’re treated to a fun, mind-blowing and gorgeous issue that works despite never coming close to realism.
Writer Lee Allred and artists Michael and Laura Allred send Bug, little Kuzuko, and the Teddy Bear known as Hu Li Jing to a new reality, trying to keep a man named Chagra from obtaining a shard of Orichalcum. Unfortunately, Chagra is currently traveling with an occasionally heroic but mostly chaotic indestructible bruiser named Atlas the Great (another Kirby creation), which complicates their mission.
If none of that seems to make a lot of sense to you, well, just sit back and relax. This isn’t a title for those looking for tight, logical, grounded narratives, packed with realistic takes on the emotional turmoil of its characters. But there are lots of books for that. But there aren’t many books actively trying to recreate the boundless,a anything goes, big canvass types of adventures of the Silver and Bronze Ages. Kirby himself was a amaze row this kind of storytelling that focused on outside people on outsized quests spouting slightly cheesy dialogue. Each issue tried to give a reader some kind of concept or setting or visual they had never seen before, and that, more than staying within the bounds of believability, was the primary goal.
The Allreds have made Bug! into a title that celebrates and glorifies that kind of the over the top storytelling, and if you can give yourself over to its tone, it is a ton of fun. Forager is that rare character that manages to be relatable and engaging even as he is a complete and utter nutter. The sparky and funny byplay between him and the Teddy Bear is always charming, and the characterization of Atlas is funny, albeit in a completely different way. The adventure they go on is weird and rambunctious, to be sure, but even if you’re constantly being confronted with touches that are just bonkers, the whole issue makes sense and tells a story with a beginning, middle and end, and with actual twists and turns that land and complicate the story.
I do think that the voyages through different realities might start getting a bit tired if the creative team doesn’t change the format of storytelling from “Boom tube to a new place, look for a crystal,” but I’ve got faith in the Allreds to serve up complications that will give the story some variety. But when the formula allows for this kind of loopy originality, maybe it’s not so bad to see the format go on and on.
The art is, of course, incredible. Michael and Laura Allred always deliver at least three jaw-dropping pages per issue, with the rest of their work in Bug! – The Adventures of Forager #3 being “merely” gorgeous and charming. They might be the best tin the industry at combining classicism with a completely contemporary approach. Their work here never loses a timeless comic book flavor, but also never feels like homage or tired pastiche. It feels innovative even as it evokes a distinct style.
Bug! – The Adventures of Forager #3 continues to prove that this book, out of all the Kirby tributes happening during this 100th anniversary of his birth, comes the closes to capturing the elements of Kirby that made him the King. 8.5/10