“Ambush Bug: Year None” is unlike anything else published by DC since, well, Ambush Bug himself popped up in a 1990s one-shot. It’s not just that Giffen’s penciling style is so different from the trapped-by-the-Neal-Adams-by-way-of-Jim-Lee-influence that has dominated DC superhero titles for the past fifteen years, but rather because this series doesn’t take anything seriously, even itself. That goes without saying, I guess, but even with Giffen’s last couple of “Super-Buddies” stories or his “Defenders” work, the characters themselves seemed to think they were somewhat serious, even if we could see the absurdity of their situations.
But in “Ambush Bug: Year None” everything is a gag, from the opening recap page (which has been turned to mock the DC production department) to the next issue blurb which takes a whack at our text message culture. And in between, Giffen and Fleming yuck it up by bouncing from visual joke to verbal gag and back again.
This time, the focus of the humor is “52,” a series in which Giffen was intimately involved.
Issue #4 isn’t just a parody of “52” — although it is that — but it’s a joke-filled attack on the DiDio reign, and/or the fan perception of it. Comic book fans are certainly not spared Giffen and Fleming’s wrath, although it’s certainly a blunt-edged wrath, kind of like getting punched in the face by a giant Ambush Bug-embroidered pillow. It’s all in good fun, and because of Giffen’s willingness to offend everyone, he gets away with it.
Since the focus of this issue is “52,” Giffen and Fleming show us a world without its greatest heroes. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman are all missing. And so is, gasp, Ambush Bug. At least for most of the issue. It turns out that he was just off delivering a eulogy at Dan DiDio’s funeral.
We get jabs at Renee Montoya, Supernova, and Egg-Fu. We get bits of randomness with the Legion of Super-Scrutinizers (Caustic Boy, Leering Lad, and Sarcasm Girl) and a swamp monster who seems to suffer from a bout of “Vertigo.” We get the Ambush Bug Revenge Squad, whose obsession with trivia and continuity eventually causes their own downfall. It’s page after page of stuff like that. And if you’ve been reading DC comics since at least “52,” it’s funny stuff.
I doubt anyone who’s not intimately familiar with the past two or three years of DC comics would be able to make any sense out of this comic, but the same could be said for a lot of superhero comics these days. And at least this one is intentionally funny.