Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroz #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

Nice to See You, Nice to Know That You’re There

Written By: Garth Ennis
Art By: Russ Braun, John Kalisz
Lettered By: Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: August 24, 2016


While everyone has been waiting for Rebirth: The Newsboy Legion #1 and that Monster Mensch crossover about to happen in the Bat-titles, I have been anticipating the return of beloved grossbuckets Section Eight in Hard Travelin’ Heroz—a miniseries this site announced exclusively way back on May 13! Now that it is finally here, I must admit, I’m a little worried…when you’ve got a prized turd like last year’s All-Star Section Eight floating in your bowl, it’s almost a shame to flush it away, for there is no guarantee that the next nugget will be as magnificent. But flush it away we must; we don’t put plops on pedestals (except for those weird people that, y’know, actually do display dooks), instead we trust in our abilities to make another mentionable brown snake. And so it is with our snot-encrusted flithbags, Section Eight: while we venerate their past exploits, we must allow them to exploit us again, and so it with great pleasure and solemn fart salute that I present to you my review of Hard-Travelin’ Heroz #1!

Explain It!

The story picks up exactly where the last issue of All-Star Section Eight left off, so go ahead and read that miniseries if you haven’t already. It was collected in a trade so you should be able to bang through it in under an hour, if you don’t linger over the phlegm and stank too long. Okay, so remember in that last issue, how Dogwelder’s wife and kids came to Noonan’s Bar, and then they went for a walk where she plead with him to leave his life as Dogwelder and return to his family? And then remember how, off-panel it was suggested that Dogwelder welded a dog to one of his kids’ faces? Well, it turns out that he didn’t weld a canine to one of his kids’ faces. He stuck one apiece to both of their faces, as evidenced by big, diamond-shaped scars on the sides of their faces that can be seen from Dogwelder’s point of view, looking forlornly from outside their house. It seems his wife has moved on, and gotten a new beau—I thought this was her father, but I won’t judge the relationship—and he provides her kids with expensive sneakers and tries to ease their pain and suffering, which in all honesty I expect must be quite extensive. Papa offers to get the kids a dog, but Dogwelder’s ex-wife flips out and insists that he must never get the family a dog, and he must never ask her to explain why. Even if he did, would it make any sense? “My ex-husband compulsively welded dogs to people, and welded dogs to our children’s faces.” And as silly as that sounds, when Dogwelder shuffled away from the happy home, visor cast downward and arms hanging limply at his side…I got a little depressed. Like, damn man…why can’t you stop welding dogs to people??? Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something. The introduction to this issue left me feeling a little sad.

Luckily we cut over to Noonan’s Bar, where Sixpack is holding drunken court with a bottle of Dan Jackal’s No. 2 Whiskey! in his right hand and a trade paperback collection of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, complete with the familiar cover (of both the original collection and the newer omnibus, to boot!), in his left hand, sputtering his worldview to his hitman friend Hacken while Baytor serves drinks to the crowd behind them. Or he’s picking up dirty glasses. In a place like this, it’s hard to tell. “Racism is bad! And superheroes are the answer!*” proclaims Sixpack, causing Harken to raise an eyebrow and pause reading a copy of My Struggle by Mel Gibson. Sixpack says he’d love to lead Section Eight on a crusade against racism, or for AIDS awareness, or maybe vice versa…it’s tough to tell. Hacken points out that the team pales in comparison to other teams of do-gooders, like the Justice League or the Teen Titans, and offers as evidence some bungled jobs; I find “Sandman: The Buenomancer” most intriguing myself. And the root of this mismanagement, says Hacken, is Sixpack himself, who has failed to notice that his teammate Bueno Excelente has cheated on his wife Guts with a compost dumpster. You did read the previous series, right?
*Translated from drunken slurred speech

Right there at Noonan’s, Guts shares a table with Power Girl, Catwoman and Starfire for fuck’s sake! And they’re telling her to drop that zero (Bueno Excelente) and get with a hero (literally any living person besides Bueno Excelente)! Some comics would make a big deal about featuring this DC Universe lady trinity, but not Hard Travelin’ Heroz…more than likely, they forgot this scene even happened. Catwoman flirts it up with Baytor, which is now canon and must be referenced in the Bat-titles, while Starfire yammers some H.P. Lovecraftian prophecy type stuff that honestly isn’t too far off from her usual dialogue. While Power Girl tells Guts to kick that no-good dog to the curb, Sixpack pukes some particularly chunky bile and agrees with Hacken: it’s time to pull the team together! Before Guts can confront her husband Bueno Excelente about his infidelity, Sixpack calls a meeting of the greatest superhero team ever assembled: Section Eight! Meanwhile, some kind of whirling, green portal grows ever larger and brighter right outside the bar.

Dogwelder is forlorn, roaming the streets. He sees some kind of flying craft zip by overhead and chuck a cigarette butt moments before the portal opens outside of Noonan’s, and then comes upon a certain trenchcoat-wearing, silk cut cigarette-smoking British bloke in an alleyway who advises him that perhaps his powers don’t end at welding dogs to people…perhaps he can use them to talk! John Const…I mean the shadowed British fella says he can teach Dogwelder how to do it, but then he would have to forgo welding a dog to him. Sort of a deal-breaker. Back at Noonan’s, the team sits around to hash out their shitty situation. For one thing, they operate in secret, due to some factoid pointed out in an old comic book you’ll probably never read anyway. For another thing, Sixpack is the only one that can actually talk. While they consider their lot, the glowing portal seems to encompass everything outside, covering the area in a bright green fog. Eventually Section Eight runs outside to address the, uh, smoke, and it speaks! It turns out to be the obscured form of a gigantic and pissed-off Spectre! What!? The Spectre is in this too? They’re all over here, folks! Come get your DC superheroes! Anyway Spectre says one of them is a fugitive from divine justice, and we’ll find out who next issue.

Let me tell you: this issue is fucking awesome. It begins exactly from the ending of the All-Star Section Eight miniseries, and doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, I’d say it’s a little funnier than I remember, though that could just be my excitement for the issue. Sixpack’s back-and-forth with Hacken about AIDS awareness is some deliciously raunchy Abbott & Costello shit. I loved John McCrea’s artwork on the last miniseries, but I think I like Russ Braun’s art even more. It’s more polished and really expressive, and like McCrea’s art before it, works perfectly for this kind of wacky, pukey book. If you didn’t like All-Star Section Eight, well guess what dummy, you’re not going to like this either. But if you enjoyed it, or miss the days when MAD Magazine seemed like something subversive, you will like this for sure.

Bits and Pieces:

Some DCU cameos and a surprise character introduction aren't even the selling points of this comic book, which are mainly that it is completely inappropriate and nauseating. Fans of the last series will be glad to see that this picks up precisely where it left off, though this isn't new reader unfriendly...but you will know at a glance if you intend to be one of those new readers. The artwork is impeccable and fits this kind of slobbering comedy very well. Pick this up, unless you're one of those people who delude themselves into thinking they have standards.

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  1. Felt bad for this book two pages in... how could they possibly follow up that last series. Somehow this issue was even better and they barely step out of noonan's bar! Starfire's dark apocalyptic talking made me so very happy.

    1. I was laughing from the title page on, I do think this series is funnier than the last, at first glance!


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