Monday, January 5, 2004

The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer With Spider-Man #1 - A Review

Written by: Gail Simone
Penciled by: Gurihiru
Inked by: Gurihiru
Colored by: Gurihiru
Lettered by: Rus Wooton
Editor: Teresa Focarille
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I am a man torn.

On the one hand I am happy, for this is one of the few books in recent memory written for a specifically younger audience with the intent of bringing younger readers into the hobby of comic book reading which also manages the neat trick of being just as enjoyable for cynics and other alleged adults like yours truly.

On the other hand, I am sad, because Gail Simone (on who I have gushed more praise than I think anyone is comfortable with) signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics and that likely means that it will be at least a year before I am able to enjoy Gus Beezer’s marvelous adventures again!

In case you missed it the first time, Gus Beezer centers upon Gus Beezer; your average 10 year old comic fan, who has the added advantage of living in the Marvel Universe. He plays pretend in his head and vanishes into his own little world where he fights along-side (or becomes) his favorite heroes, only to have his boyish fantasies come crashing around him as reality sets back in. In other words, it’s Calvin and Hobbes for comic geeks. Still, its not all that bad for Gus who has gotten to meet a lot of his heroes in one way or another. The X-Men stopped by his house (sadly, it turned out his baby sister is the mutant they were looking for), he survived an encounter with The Hulk (who just wanted some pudding) and it turns out that his cousin Peter is really good friends with Spider-Man.

This book continues the trend, with Gus being frustrated over his inability to beat his bratty older sister in a race after managing to win a track meet at school - this being accomplished by his pretending he is Spider-Man and that the other kids are Venom, Electro and company chasing after him. Sent along with cousin Peter to his boring job as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, Gus finds himself duct taped to a chair after he almost mouths off to J. Jonah Jameson following a tirade about "that criminal Spider-Man". Still, things turn out for the best and after a truly priceless scene in which a bound-but-no-longer-gagged Gus gets to say his peace to Jolly Jonah, Peter returns from an errand (ie. Vulture and Green Goblin attack) with an autographed picture of Spidey as well as some heartfelt advice as to the best way to beat a bully.

The artwork is perfectly cartoonish, with Peter and Jonah looking disjointed but not unrecognizable. And as before, the bottom third of each page depicts a childishly-drawn comic book by Gus himself, depicting the adventures of Marvel Boy and Marvel Dog (aka Gus and his dog Zabu).

The only complaint I have about this book is that it is not published more regularly. Much has been said about how more books are needed which are written for a younger audience and yet are not "dumbed down". Much is said, yet few are actually DOING anything about the problem. Still, I hope this book will find the success it deserves and that we will find many more books like Gus Beezer in the coming year.

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