Lamar Abrams, writer/artist
AdHouse, May 2009
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.