Buddy Cops one-shot
Writer: Nate Cosby
Artist/Cover artist: Evan Shaner
Letters: Rus Wooton
Editor: Jim Gibbons
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99 US
This one-shot collects three short stories that ran in Dark Horse Presents #s 14-16, and apparently, I’ve been missing out since I stopped following that title. I stopped reading it regularly because like most anthologies, it tended to be a mixed bag. But apparently, the best features in DHP aren’t just good, they’re great, if these comedic strips are any indication. This over-the-top satire of the buddy-cop genre is peppered with sci-fi elements, making for an experience as surreal as it is silly. And yes, I mean that in a good way. The only truly disappointing thing about this weird and wonderful comic book is a hyphenated term on the cover: “one-shot.” I desperately hope this isn’t the last we see of these oddball, genre cop characters. The dialogue and juxtaposition of so many ludicrous, over-the-top story elements and designs are unrelentingly hilarious. This reprint comic is bound to fly under the radar for many readers, but it’s well worth the effort to seek out a copy. I owe my local comics retailer a big thank you for putting one in my hands.
One’s a sophisticated robot created in the 1970s designed for law enforcement that approaches his job with a by-the-book attitude (as one would expect from a programmed artificial intelligence). The other is an impulsive space cop whose addiction issues led to his demotion to the New York Police Department. They’re partners, and they fight crime. Well, not so much crime as living, breathing natural disasters that happen to be as tall as skyscrapers. They’re not exactly the kinds of cases Riggs and Murtaugh can deal with. They’re Uranus and T.A.Z.E.R., and they’re driving the city’s insurance rates through the roof.
Evan Shaner shares the sort of seemingly simple approach to comic art that’s been in vogue as of late, comparable to the styles of such artists as Paul Azaceta, David Aja, Gabriel Hardman and others. Typically, we see this sort of work on less zany fare, but it works incredibly well nevertheless. His monster designs are as inspired as the demented imagination that directed him to craft them. What really sells the comedy throughout the comic, though, are the characters’ facial expressions. Despite the weird and goofy tone of the concepts here, there’s an oddly realistic approach to much of the material. The protagonists’ anatomy and the cityscapes that serve as the backdrop for the giant-monster action are quite convincing.
This comic book reads like it was written by the bastard love child of K.M. DeGiffeis (not a real dude, but two real dudes — see the 1980s era of Justice League) and Matt Fraction (the one who wrote those Rex Mantooth and Casanova comics, not all that Marvel super-hero epic stuff). Nate Cosby’s humor here is both brainy and bawdy, clever and crude all at once. He tears apart action movies, science fiction and super-heroes all at once. Cosby had me hooked with his comedic writing with the second sentence on the first page: “He got drunk a bunch by putting beer in his mouth.” The odd composition of the sentence struck me as hilarious. “Putting beer in his mouth” seems both like the author was drunk when he wrote it and it conveys the extreme nature of the drunkenness to be featured in the story. It’s not that he drank a lot — he was just PUTTING BEER IN HIS MOUTH. It goes beyond drinking, beyond drunk. I absolutely love it.
The smartest thing Cosby does with the property is limit the length of the stories. Yeah, he would have been limited in part by the format of Dark Horse Presents, but this is the sort of material that works well in short form in that anthology format. The extreme nature of the characters, plots and comedy seems to work well in small doses. Buddy Cops works as a drive-by hooting. 9/10
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