As the father of an eight year old and a five year old, I appreciate comics that are fun to read aloud with the family. More than any other comic on the stands right now, “Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers” lends itself to that kind of comic book theater. It’s a blast to play the role of Throg, the Thor-frog, with his verily Shakespearean dialogue, or the frantic Hairball, Speedball’s feline companion, who panics at every turn.
This has been a great audience participation comic since the first issue, a series that begs to be read in funny voices. Issue #3 is no different, taking Lockjaw and company (which counts not only Throg and Hairball among its members, but also Lockheed, Redwing, and the tries-so-hard-to-not-be-pathetic Ms. Lion) into the depths of Namor’s ocean and then, thanks to the magic of teleportation, all the way to the White House.
But it’s not just silly pet-centric fun for the kids, it’s also quite a sharply written (and exceedingly well-drawn) superhero comic for the grown-up Marvel fans as well. It’s certainly a spiritual successor to DC’s “Legion of Super-Pets,” with its sense of absurdity and over-earnestness, but it’s also a very good action/adventure story. The so-called Pet Avengers (not their officially sanctioned title, by the way) are in the midst of a mission to find the Infinity Gems. And where the Infinity Gems are located, Thanos can’t be far behind.
It’s the quest that’s important though, as the Pet Avengers take a tour of the Marvel Universe and bicker with each other along the way. It’s quite a funny comic, but it’s not based on cheap gags or insulting jokes. Instead, Chris Eliopoulos plays these diverse characters off one another, with the regal Redwing sternly emphasizing that he’s pals with the President, while the ferociously reserved Zabu laments what he’s gotten himself into. Throg poses and speechifies with the grandeur of an Asgardian amphibian, and Ms. Lion mostly just acts like an idiot.
Basically, while the characterizations are relatively simplistic, they’re effective and still more nuanced then half the more “adult” superhero comics published today. And even if you don’t have kids, feel free to read the dialogue out loud. I guarantee you’ll have fun doing so. Sure, you might get some weird looks from your roommate, but you’d already be holding a comic featuring a giant teleporting bulldog with a moustache, so I wouldn’t worry about anyone judging you.
You know what this comic is? Delightful. And how often have I said that about a comic book? (Not very often.)