Whenever there’s a new AHOY book hitting shelves it’s hard not to feel 12 again. No publisher has quite had such a consistent run in recent years, certainly not any new publisher. So when you see the cover to Justice Warriors #1, which is provocative enough in itself, but then you spot the names in the credits, well it’s hard not to just beam with excitement. This new satire comes from Ben Clarkson whose illustrations and animations have featured in just about everything from Adult Swim to Vice, as well as Matt Bors whose political cartoons we can be virtually guaranteed you’ve seen. These are the kinds of names that make comics fresh and AHOY has its finger on the pulse yet again.
Where to even begin. This is a buddy cop comic for the culture wars generation. Despite the fact one is literally the poo emoji, these are highly unlikeable people. Think Murtaugh and Riggs but played straight in a post BLM world. Combine that with the aesthetics of Clarkson and Bors and you’ve got a hit.
It’s hard not to think of Adult Swim with the art style, which isn’t entirely surprising given the creators. But the satire is so deadpan it’s actually reminiscent of British humor. The book feels like an uncanny mix of 2000AD with Adult Swim, Judge Dredd meets Aqua Teen Hunger Force. To be perfectly honest this review doesn’t have to continue after a line like that, you’ll have made your mind up, but it will continue regardless. It’s the type of thing your mom will see and say “those guys need to stop taking drugs.”
Despite the ‘wacky’ character designs, from sunflower people to Starro-style starfish drugs, the book never ventures into the insufferable ‘lol so randumb’ genre of humor. The art itself with its character designs is frankly stunning. It’ll be interesting to see how the two creators keep the pace of a monthly comic because at the moment it does feel like a collection of fine illustrations. Beyond being a good comic book, it’s the type of coffee table book you’d leave open on any page just so your friend can see “what’s that?” and you’ll have a chance to explain.
As an AHOY book, it stands out to an extent amongst their lineup. It sort of occupies a place between adult animation and comics. The story doesn’t feel overtly comic-booky, while the backups are dedicated to more Matt Bors illustrations (never a bad thing). It’s more a testament to AHOY’s variety than anything else but this book really showcases how graphic fiction can branch out of the expected norm.
Some people may see humanoid characters with cartoon flowers for faces, cops with the poo emoji for a head, or music executives that are literal rats, and be put off. Justice Warriors #1 follows that child drawing aesthetic that’s made shows like Smiling Friends so popular, but it’s not for everyone. Those wanting the next great Brubaker crime story won’t find it here. Although if you expected that from the cover then you should seek help. It’s just important to note that while this book is great it’s not without its niche.
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