by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Dense mythologies are both the greatest strength and weakness of modern comics. We could spend ages parsing out how the major companies have approached those mythologies in recent years, but all of those broader approaches are largely irrelevant when talking about Bug! The Adventures of Forager, which continues to march to the beat of its own drum. It’s attitude is deeply reverent of Jack Kirby’s contributions to the DC mythos, systematically touching on each forgotten storyline from his time there, while somehow also taking a completely irreverent “don’t sweat the small stuff” approach to the material. Completist Kirby fans will recognize every situation Forager encounters, but newcomers (like me) are left largely in the shoes of Forager, who mostly sees all of this stuff as kooky weirdness. It’s a balance that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does, somehow knitting all of this kooky weirdness into the dense mythology it always was.
This issue finds Forager without a motherbox, so he’s forced to rely on a little help to get around. His first stop is Sandman’s realm (though, as Brute and Glob remind us, not that Sandman), which he can access via sleep. Sandman is able to hook Forager up with Tatsinda, a trans-dimensional alien who can teleport at will. Of course, she’s only willing to help Forager if he can first help her rescue Deadman from a robot body he’s been trapped in by “space hippies.” This is all new to me, but as far as I can tell, this was an unresolved thread from Kirby’s run on Forever People — a cliffhanger that seemed to leave Deadman stuck for all eternity. The mythology only gets denser from there, folding in old Sandman villains and Fourth World characters, but the Allreds — Lee, Michael, and Laura — never make that their focus. Indeed, their attitudes about the actual mythology seems perfectly encapsulated by these characters fleeing the climactic fight scene:
They resolve to pretend like this whole thing never happened, as though this was an always-true factual part of DC’s history that they simply chose to omit from their records. Heck, the dude’s briefcase even says “retcon,” lest we think anyone is taking this implication too seriously.
It’s off-the-wall stuff, like the Allreds are simply picking up the toys Kirby left out, and figuring out a narrative that explains why they’d all be interacting. I have no idea if this all makes perfect sense to folks well-versed in Kirby’s DC oeuvre, but it reads as such irreverent fun for me, I can’t imagine holding anything against it. It’s a bit of a Kirby-verse inception, but the appeal is clear even to those who don’t recognize anything.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?