The Weekly Pull (3/27/13) – HONEY BADGER VS. THE WORLD #1

honey-badger_vs_the-world-coverNo1

…yes, as a matter of fact it did get a sequel. I call only respond: what? It’s HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD #1, from our friends at Antarctic Press.

Long-time readers of Sequential Smart will recall that a year ago, I did a First Impressions on Antarctic Press’ Honey Badger comic. I did this because, despite Antarctic Press never being on my radar most of the time, I had to do it. God in heaven dared me to do it by calling Honey Badger #1 to my attention the very day after I found out what this meme was. And I will maintain to my dying day that this purchase was worth it for that very reason.

I’m going to fully review that thing one of these days, I swear. For now, I find out it’s got a sequel.

Yes, apparently the original comic was popular enough to warrant a second one-shot. I say one-shot because, much to my irritation, the first book never got an issue two despite being labeled issue one. Is it too much to ask for a publisher to mark a comic as being a one-shot? Then again this is Antarctic Press, the publisher who – regardless of whether their comics are any good – has a website more poorly designed and unintuitive than IDW.

When you’re making IDW’s site look helpful by comparison, you are doing it wrong!

Anyway, HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD #1 (which I can almost guarantee will be another one-shot) continues the story of the nastyass Honey Badger…why having almost nothing to do with the original comic. No events are referred to that happened in the previous comic (such that it was, being basically a direct adaptation of the meme video, but with plot added). This is a good thing, because even last year I commented on the fact that after that one issue, what more was there to be done with that format? The meme itself is built on a very specific joke, and the comic mined it for all its worth.

As such, HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD takes it in a different direction. While the original was set in a forest and had a semi-realistic tone, with the titular animal vying against other animals for food, this comic decides it would rather be a battle comic. And I mean that in the sense that the Honey Badger has gone from a regular animal who doesn’t give a shit, to a anthropamorphized combination of Sonic the Hedgehog and every shonen action protagonist ever…who doesn’t give a shit.

The context? Well, forces deliberately left vague host an arena show (that I think is a reference to Ask A Ninja) that takes suggestions for who should fight in it. The Honey Badger – infamous for his fighting prowess and inability to care – is suggested, and is promptly captured off panel so he can fight for the world’s amusement. Who does the Honey Badger fight?

Everyone. Absolutely everyone.

Think of every nerdy/geeky thing you can that would be put into a fight, and they showed up to do it in this comic. One of the covers (like the original comic, this book has two on each side) depicts HB squaring off against a lion, a soldier, an astronaut, and ninja, and a facsimile of Leonidas from 300. And while only some of these appear in the comic (as far as I can see, as I’ll explain in a minute), this is the kind of thing you can expect. Everyone from super heroes to robots to dinosaurs to the undead show up or are recruited to fight the Honey Badger. All at the same time.

I can’t tell if this is really trite or really awesome. I’ll meet you in the middle, Antarctic Press, and call it tritesome.

Let me share a bit of my personal experience of reading this comic with you. I’m frequently out and about during any given week (made more so by the fact that comics come out on Wednesdays), so I tend to read much of them for the first time while waiting for a class or what have you. My experience with HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD was had while sitting in my car, and while there I just so happened to be listening to a mix CD of mashups (mostly of rap/pop and anime slammed together). The one that came on as I read this comic was this mashup of Moves Like Jagger and Gangnum Style.

The experience was, simply put, amazingly appropriate to the fact that this is a high-action fight comic. You’re welcome for the music by the way.

Back to the comic itself, which was certainly different from what I usually read to say the least. Say what you want about superhero comics having a lot of gratuitous fights (especially when conflicts could just as easily be resolved with talking), but at least there’s context to a fight between Superman and a giant robot, etc. This comic nearly dispenses with context and just gets down to the fighting. Sometimes, this is enough. Especially when I want to see the Honey Badger fighting zombies. And while the first comic felt like an adaptation of the original video (because it was), this one felt more like a black and white indie comic from about ten years ago.

Because it was. Minus the ten years ago thing. This is also fine, because I don’t read nearly enough of the really obscure indie stuff. Even the likes of Gold Digger is probably too mainstream. I assume, I’ve still yet to read any of it.

But with the indie-ness of it comes also the indie art style. While the dramatic shots are competent enough, it’s the action shots and the group shots that things start to…blur. There are a lot of characters in this comic, an entire army of assorted archetypes trying to flatten our nastyass anti-hero. There’s an art, however, to creating huge groups in comic books. George Perez, for example, is a master of creating huge battles with each individual member being rendered with detail and clarity. Which is good, because Perez was the guy who penciled Crisis on Infinite Earths, where every character owned by DC at the time made an appearance in some form.

This artist, while not incompetent by any means, was clearly not up to the task of drawing every one of the combatants, and so most of them appear as an amorphous mass. It doesn’t help that most of the detail shots were devoted to a handful of specific characters (some ninjas, some robots, a couple Superman expies, and a guy with an afro). Oh, and a T-Rex, and that’s because he’s the biggest combatant there. It would have helped if the opportunity had be capitalized on by making each panel have a different set of generic fighters, a possibility that is the golden advantage of this story idea. Where’s the cowboys? The samurai? The blatant references to media? I assume they are there, but gosh if I never get to see most of them. It’s a shame.

Also, I love speed lines as much as the next guy. They make this comic look really dynamic. This is good. What’s not so good is how it also makes things start to blur together.

Like the My Little Pony comic (and the show in general), this book is filled with references to pop culture, although many are tongue-in-cheek or straight up lifted lines. Like the fact that characters refer to the Honey Badger as being rendered in the style of Sonic the Hedgehog. Or quoting verbatum from Spaceballs.

But how can I really complain? It’s obvious this comic doesn’t take itself seriously. Why should it? HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD is a comic sequel to an adaptation of an internet meme. Complaining about the satirical tone would be like complaining about a movie based on advice animals. Plus, if there’s any medium in the world where such ludicrous work is suited, it’s comic books. I haven’t seen high concept schlock like this comic since Sky Ape.

And that was about a talking gorilla with a jetpack fighting crime. God I love comics.

What the hell, buy HONEY BADGER VS THE WORLD #1. I can assure you no other comic in the universe will be quite like it. Not even the original Honey Badger comic. It’s a bizarre confluence of ideas, the result of a straight adaptation mutating into something entirely different and unique. No where else will I be able to see a small furry creature shrug off the effects of a nuclear blast.

It’s the little things in life. Like being able to say the above statement and not come off as a raving lunatic. Maybe I will give Antarctic Press another go. Just so long as they fix their website already.

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