Thursday, April 17, 2003

PS238 #1 - A Review

Written by: Aaron Williams
Penciled by: Aaron Williams
Inked by: Aaron Williams
Colored by: N/A
Lettered by: Aaron Williams
Editor: Aaron Williams
Publisher: Dorkstorm Press

I’ve been following all the books published by Dorkstorm Press for a while now and been impressed with most of them. PS238 is the latest in their line and it is done by Aaron Williams, most famous for his work on Nodwick, a humorous parody of fantasy comics. Like Nodwick, PS238 is a parody book; a superhero parody to be specific.

The book takes place in a public school, run by the government and a number of superheroic teachers underneath a real elementary school. Special technologies are used to hide the abilities of the “metaprodigy” charges as the superkids are give a basic education as well as training in the use of their powers. In other words, it’s the same basic concept behind the original X-Men but played for laughs.

Obviously this book will appeal mostly to the superhero loving crowd, since many of the characters and concepts parodied are taken from the major archtypes of that genre. There is Mo-Ron, son of this world’s Superman, who is afraid to fly and has the unlikely name of Captain Clarinet. There is Bernard, who looks like a younger and more hyper Incredible Hulk. There is the unusually pale Murphy, who claims to be a fragment of the psyche of an extra mentional being who rules the dream realms. (Awww… lil’ Dream all grown up to 10 years old!) And then there is Zodon, an evil genius in a mechanical flight chair whose chronic swearing is kept in check only by a “Barry Ween” chip that changes all his profanities to harmless friendly words and causes him to sing showtunes when he gets REALLY angry.

This kind of strict parody humor could get tiresome very quickly. Thankfully, the humor lies not only in the in-jokes for the fanboys but in the witty dialogue as well as some playing with how a school for younger superbeings might really function. To say nothing of the real humanism to the parents and children and how little superpowers really changes things. For example, Mo-Ron’s mom makes him a cape to grow into and he has a childish panic attack at the thought of having to tell her that he lost it.

The artwork by Williams is reminiscent of his style on Nodwick The characters are all distinctive and sport unique looks despite their costumes, so there is never any difficulty in telling who is who like in SOME superheroic books. My one complaint is that even though this book could really stand to be displayed in color. Some of the scenes just scream for some lush colors to bring them to life, such as all the scenes after “Ron” finally does conquer his fear of flying and plays his instrument in the clouds.

Still, this is one of the funniest reads I have had in recent memory and I have no quibbles with it aside from thinking it could be even better in full color. Pick a copy up, if only for the collectors value. This is one to watch, kids.

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