Comics Time: Remake

Remake

Lamar Abrams, writer/artist

AdHouse, May 2009

144 pages

$12.95

Buy it from AdHouse for the low low price of $5.95

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Look at that cover! Oh man, striking, isn’t it? As a package–with its bold cover image and tight title font and friendly digest size and Powr Mastrs-style bendy cover and Helvetica-heavy title pages–Remake is somethin’ special. As a comic? Mmmm, I’m not quite there with it. What you’ve got here is a gentle superhero parody in the vein of Jeffrey Brown’s Bighead books–or maybe Bighead crossed with Be a Man, since author Lamar Abrams’s target here seems to be the superhero’s propensity for narcissism, destructiveness, and pique. His “hero,” the diminutive boy-robot Max Guy (he’s not named Remake, much to my surprise; hey, why is this book called Remake anyway?) is a blustery, shallow, self-absorbed asshole. He’s prone to sulking, bragging, talking shit, salting game, pigging out, playing video games, befriending his enemies and alienating his allies, breaking the fourth wall, vomiting, and so on. It sounds fun, if that’s the sort of thing you go for. And Abrams’s art helps, though I prefer the uniform line weight, rigid grid, and simplistic designs of the earlier comics collected here to the looser, more Scott Pilgrim-y work toward the back of the book; the earlier material feels like an experiment in staging dramatic, dynamic action and poses while deliberately underselling them with the tools at your disposal, like an 8-bit cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But here’s the thing: It sounds like more fun than it is. Maybe I just got off on the wrong foot with the book, since its first three strips center on homophobia and animal cruelty gags (I know it’s the character, not the author, but still), but I just didn’t laugh a lot at this. There was a funny bit toward the end where Max Guy comes rocketing down from the stratosphere in the middle of a fight to smack his opponent with a pie to the face, and when he’s asked where the pie came from he said that he bought it from a guy selling them on a cloud, and then there’s a jump cut to a little guy with a mustache on a cloud with a stack of pies who says “I’m practically giving them away!”–that made me laugh. The rest, a borderline meh. It’s energetic cartooning, no doubt, and generally importing video-game influences to create something more free-form than conventional action-adventure comics plotting would allow is a good look, but for me it just didn’t cohere into a whole as winning as some of its parts.

4 Responses to Comics Time: Remake

  1. Chris Pitzer says:

    Sean -

    I realize that every book we publish won’t appeal to every reader. I typically just let the “negative” reviews remain out there and not comment on them.

    That said, I think when you say “since its first three strips center on homophobia and animal cruelty gags” is a strong unfair blanket statement.

    In the first instance, as Max Guy is leaving, he confuses being called “nice robot” for “gay robot”. He then comes back, blasts the police chief and reveals the him to be an alien who leaves in his UFO.

    In the second, I’m a little confused with the animal cruelty. Was it when he turns the woman’s dog into shoes? Or when his vomit becomes a cat-monster that they battle?

    Anyway, I just felt your wrong foot reasoning came off a bit strong without descriptive explanation.

  2. Hey Chris–Well, he only accidentally reveals that the police chief’s an impostor. He came back to kick his ass for calling him gay. As for the animal cruelty, yeah, I meant the dog he “kills” by turning him into shoes and the little kitties he doesn’t give a hoot about eating in the cereal. Like I said, he’s clearly supposed to be a jerk, it’s in character–these just aren’t things I find funny, more so now than ever because of specific recent events in my life. (I sorta flipped out when Damian called the Flamingo “gay” in Batman & Robin #6 too.)

  3. Argh, forgot to write my actual point, which is that I’m very sensitive to these things and while I stand by what I said because I’m honestly describing my interpretation of those comics and my reaction to them, these are indeed very personal concerns.

  4. Chris Pitzer says:

    Sean -

    Thanks for clearing this up a bit. I think every reader, critic, what have you, will bring personal concerns to what they talk about, and that’s fair. What I wanted to discuss in your review were the specifics of the labels (homophobia/animal cruelty) you chose to use, since they are rather strong (in my opinion) and weren’t really clarified.

    I tried Batman & Robin for three or four issues and couldn’t get into it.

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