The DC’s Young Animal enters the realm of Jack Kirby and his New Gods in Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1. Forager is a Bug aka the bottom of the bottom of New Genesis’ caste system, but he’s saved the universe, met Batman, and might be a New God himself. However, Bug #1 is less cosmic space epic than twisted dream logic in comic book form as storytellers Lee Allred and Mike Allred and colorist Laura Allred immediately question the nature of Forager’s reality as he dies and comes back to life multiple times, encounters the Jack Kirby Sandman (Laura Allred nails his garish red and yellow costume.), and talks to a teddy bear about Albert Camus.
Above all, Mike Allred channels the pure energy of the King of Comics’ pencils in Bug #1 with Forager bounding, punching, and vaulting his way through the issue. His poses are athletic and pop off the page as Forager is in constant discomfort and trying to come to grips with the reality around him. When the enigmatic enemies of the comic show up in the last third, Allred gets playful with his layouts arranging them in spirals as Forager dips and dodges. Most of the comic takes place in Forager’s dream, but there is something very solid about his art. Solid doesn’t mean though as Allred uses pop art spirals to make superheroes punching each other fresh again before he and Lee Allred joke about how tacky they are. This also connects to Sandman’s ability to make dreams “real”. (But what is reality.) However, Allred uses some forced perspective tricks early on that remind me of his work on the underrated Vertigo series Art Ops, and his use of archetypical imagery like dominoes and creepy insects contribute to the surreal feel of the comic before the not-so-Goth Dream King shows up.
However, Bug #1 isn’t just a showcase for great art and colors. Lee and Mike Allred have a very playful writing style with puns, wordplay, and slapdash references to literature, DC Comics, and Jack Kirby lore. The protagonist of the comic may be a corpse, but Bug #1 is loaded with some quirky humor like Forager making fun of the overseriousness of the New God Metron or thinking about milking a camel when the teddy bear mentions Albert Camus. Even though they mention the restrictiveness of New Genesis culture and the nature of free will and existence, the Allreds don’t take themselves too seriously throughout Bug #1. I mean there’s a reference to Brute and Glob, er, Pinky and the Brain buried in here somewhere.
Even though it’s a lot like digging through fragments of someone else’s dream, Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1 is an excellent tribute to Jack Kirby’s vibrant imagination by the talented family trio of Lee Allred, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred. Mike Allred’s figures bounce off the page, yet have a human beauty to them, and there is something primal, almost Pixar-esque about his and Lee Allred’s plotting as Forager/Bug tries to make sense of his place in the world. Is he an insect servant of Highfather, an adventurer, a god, or just a dead guy? The next five issues should hopefully unravel this colorful existential crisis.
Story: Lee Allred and Mike Allred Art: Mike Allred Colors: Laura Allred
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review