Windell Superhero Showcase – kicking your favourite superheroes in the face for laughs.
Written by Garret Shanley. Art by Cathal Duggan.
A forty page superhero piss-take, that manages to be funny and pretty interesting at the same time. It sets itself out Viz style, as a complete package, mimicing the style of old Marvel comics, with a very tongue in cheek letters column & introduction from the editor at the front before plowing on into some particular black comedy that mercilessly takes the superhero ideal out the back and kicks it in the face a few times.
And if the key with comedy is how many times it got a laugh out of me then Windel’s Superhero Showcase isn’t that bad at all – sure, a lot of the comedy comes from dumb gags, ridiculous violence and plain nastiness, but that’s still funny sometimes.
Take this one: The Metal Avenger – exactly what you’d expect to happen if you dressed up in a stupid metal suit and were dumb enough to start patrolling the local inner city – it’s a nasty strip, but admit it, you felt a little mean spirited smirk forming didn’t you?
(This sort of shite never happened to Iron Man now did it? The Metal Avenger meets his match. Moron.)
The other strips are similarly stupid/nasty/funny as well. In “The Cryptic Bastard” we have a crimefighter who comes down from the skies to confuse his opponents into submission – typical dialogue: “Who is me? Who is you? Who is when how? Hee ha hoo!!!” Or Captain Smash – secretly mild mannered young Willy Watson, bullied mercilessly at school – who has to decide whether to battle evil Professor Len Lomax or just beat the shit out of his bullies. No prizes for guessing where this particularly nasty and graphic strip goes.
But at some point in the comic we start to go a little more surreal, and it gets considerably more interesting than just another strip giving the superhero concept a kicking. Take the tale of EnormousMan – starting off attempting to grow large enough to rescue some child playing in the road and ending up: “Becoming one with the cosmos. A unified whole. Infinite. Endless. Nothing seems to matter anymore. Someone else’ll have to save that dumb kid.” Still worth a giggle, but nice concept adds something.
And then there’s This Monster, This Mystery, where superteam The Continuum get rather caught up in their own history, so complicated and ridiculously cross-referenced that it becomes necessary for them to call a halt to any fight and try to wade through the continuity. And eventually the very explanation, in a breaking the third wall moment becomes the enemy and massacres the team. Very nicely done stuff.
(Beware complicated multi-reality, pan-dimensional, overly-complex continuity explanations – you never know when one day they’ll turn against you.)
And at the very end we see The Living Proton come up against the Dekonstrucktorr and watch as the entire Wendell reality comes crashing down in some post Crisis On Infinite Earths / Infinite Crisis pastiche complete with a Care Bear regurgitating reality. How’s that for deliberately surreal?
(Can the Living Proton defeat the Dekonstrucktorr? – looking somewhat familiar to comic fans.)
All in all I’m not completely sold on Superhero Showcase. It’s enjoyable enough, it’s funny enough, it’s certainly dark enough. And the reality bending stuff is very cleverly done – very nicely pastiched. But…. and it’s a big but, I’m not even sure this sort of thing is really needed right now. Hasn’t it all been done before? Hating superheroes and being deliberately vile and violently humiliating them – Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill were doing that many years ago in Marshal Law. And the whole mickey taking of comicbook reality has been done to near death over the years.
However, although I didn’t necessarily find Windell Superhero Showcase the best funnybook I’ve read this year, I did find it enjoyable and funny enough. Like I said, it gave me a fair few laughs and I did enjoy the breaking the third wall resolution to the Continuum story. So pretty good stuff, just not entirely brilliant.
Windell Comics Superhero Showcase is available at the Windell website. There’s also a You Tube preview of the comic. But I do have one request for the folks behind Windell – please turn off the spinning effect on the website. I can’t watch for more than 2 minutes. Feeling sick. Got to go.