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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Look, up in the sky! 

Imagine, if you will, four panels on a page, one in each corner, of equal size to the others. In the top left panel we see a distant shot of a complex of ancient Egyptian temples and monuments and gateways, and much smoke is blowing. A man dressed as a Big Bird facsimile is punching a guy in a stovepipe hat in the face.

In the top right panel, we see the entrance to a sacred temple, and a gorilla wearing shoulder armor, goggles, and a utility belt is being helped out by a woman in fox-hunting gear, who has a cybernetic arm.

Bottom left panel: A pirate has his fist reared back to punch his captor, a man dressed like a pharoah by way of the Kiss army. Both look off-panel, stunned, presumably at the gorilla and the woman with the cybernetic arm.

Bottom right panel: Close up on the gorilla and the woman. The gorilla is giving a thumbs up, because hey, why not, right?

And that, right there, is Sky Ape: Waiting For Crime. A zany and (dare I say?) madcap comic book that, at least in this installment, hits about as often as it misses. You get the impression that the writing team behind this concoction were trying just a wee bit too hard to be zany and madcap.

Let's back up: I confess I have not read the first Sky Ape collection, but this is a fairly self-contained volume, and any background information we need can be inferred or is supplied to us (such as the origin of the woman-in-riding-gear-with-cybernetic-arm, Francis.

The breakdown? Skyape is a gorilla-accountant by day, gorilla-with-jetpack by night. He can talk. He has his secret identity. He has his buddy Francis, who he secretly lusts for, and a companion (friend? ally?) and mad scientist Peyton Fenway. The problem? Rather unusual installments are showing up in ancient city structures: a spa in a pyramid, vinyl siding on the pueblos of the Anasazi, baseboard heating in the ancient cities of Peru -- someone is going back in time and installing cheap crap on ancient monuments!

I would not dream of telling you who's doing it, or why. Suffice to say the reasoning and methodology are right on par, sanity-wise, with the Kissy army pharoah.

I'm really on the fence here. A lot of the humor relies on wacky non sequitors and pop culture references, and those don't hold a lot of weight with me unless they're done really, really, really well (and sparingly). Examples:

Maintenance man: You called, sir? We're here to spray for Ted Nugent.

See? Funny. I'll be using that line for ages.

Owen Dangertooth: Sorry we're late, buddy! I was busy wiping my ass on Fred Durst!

Eh, not so much. Don't get me wrong, wiping my ass on Fred Durst is a long-held fantasy of mine, but I doubt that joke will pack any punch in three years' time. Ted Nugent, on the other hand, is immortal.

I guess the final verdict comes down to this: If I had not received this for free, I probably would not have bought it, even though it's only $6.95. Then again, perhaps this just isn't prime Sky Ape territory. My local DM store has a copy of the first TPB, so maybe I'll pick that up, see what it does for me...

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