Image Comics is wishing everyone a happy 4/20 this week with the comedic and somewhat historical The Secret History of the War on Weed. The one-shot is by Deadpool collaborators Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn with art by Scott Koblish. It’s a series you can get more insight on if you listen to AIPT Comics podcast’s exclusive interview with Posehn and Koblish. It’s an extra-sized issue that blends ultraviolence with the stupidity of the government crackdown on drugs.
The story is set in 1983 and focuses on Nancy Reagan’s desire to eliminate Northern California cannabis farms. She sends an agro Arnold Swarzenegger type named Scotch McTiernan to burn up the crops and send the farmers’ lives into disarray. At the start, Scotch is disgusted by these criminals, but after being captured and forced to get high things to change for him. He realizes the herb isn’t bad at all. It’s way over the top and a good time.
Early on you’ll get Deadpool vibes thanks to the captions which break the fourth wall and reflect on the action in the moment. They also poke fun at the intentionally bad one-liners by Scotch. Unfortunately for the comedy side of things, the creative team clearly had to scale back the violence. Scotch is our hero, after all, so killing the farmers wouldn’t have worked, but it ends up making some of the violence less gratuitous.
Koblish positively nails the weed scene. It’s straight out of a glow-in-the-dark poster with trippy weirdness exemplifying Scotch getting high. In fact, some of the imagery will make you want a Swamp Thing book drawn by Koblish. Hi-Fi colors the entire book and it looks as good as anything on the shelf. The colors in the trippy scene are also great. Koblish’s action is perfectly over the top and it’s a fun ride from beginning to end.
While the first half is a straight-from-the-’80s action frenzy, the second half opens up into more of a superhero action fest. Scotch takes the fight to the United States government, and while he’s still as American as they come, he must vanquish the evil that opposes God’s great herb. The super-types Scotch must fight are fun and eclectic. Koblish does a great job designing all of them which helps make the story feel fantastical.
All that being said, this one-shot would probably be far funnier if you were high. It certainly has funny moments–who doesn’t like a Nancy Reagan blowjob joke?–but a lot of the hilarity leans on over-the-top moments that require a specific type of mood.
To add to the fun quotient, there are some activity pages to close out the book. The joke is of course this isn’t a comic for kids, but after understanding the messaging, maybe it should be? The overall nature of stopping unnecessary wars is one we should be passing down to children.
If the messaging wasn’t clear enough, this is a political sort of comic. Note that portions of the proceeds will be going to charities working to free cannabis prisoners. It’s an incredible gesture, especially in a country that continues to open up cannabis sales seemingly daily. Charities include Last Prisoner Project, NDICA, Freedom Grow, and Americans for Safe Access. If this comic resonates with you, consider donating to these causes.
It’s not every day New Comic Book Day falls on 4/20, so it’s likely in your best interest to pick up The Secret History of the War on Weed. Not only because it helps good causes, but it shows off the genius minds that know how to pull off over-the-top comedy and sharply drawn action. This is a rare comics experience that you don’t often get, which is why it’s an easy recommendation to add it to your read pile.
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