A review a day: <i>Lava-Roid</i> #1

Hey! I'm back with some reviews of some comics a bit off the center of the radar screen. I had fun doing it in a "review-a-day" format, so let's do that again, shall we? I wasn't planning on reviewing single issues when I do these, but what the hell. For the next few days I'll do that and then move on to the thicker slabs o' comics. Let's get to it!

Lava-Roid #1 is written by Kevin Conn and Stephen Lindsay, drawn by Leanne Hannah, and colored by Paul Little. It costs $3.

The creator of Lava-Roid, Kevin Conn, sent me an e-mail asking me if I'd review his self-published book. I said of course - I'm always willing to review pretty much anything, especially if the writer is nice enough to ask me to and to send me a copy.

I was a little leery about his description of it being a cross between The Tick and South Park, because while I've enjoyed The Tick in the past, I'm so not a fan of South Park, and I was hoping it was more like the former and very much less like the latter.

Well, it's more like the former, which makes me happy. Sure, the hero has hemorrhoids, which means he's able to shoot lava out of his ass, but he doesn't in this issue, and that's about it for the puerile humor. Mainly, this is just a fairly goofy introduction to our hero, who's trying to find the murderer of his brother. It's a "prequel," so it's only fifteen pages long, but Conn manages to get quite a lot in it. We get a first page with some humorous overwrought narration, and then we get a full-page shot of Lava-Roid himself. He's asking a couple of punks who killed Lance Manchester, but they've hired the Villainous Destructors! Oh dear. Conn gives us a bunch of goofy bad guys - I think my favorite is "The Dad" - with the powering of weakening you with self-doubt - whom he has to fight. As he fights them, he narrates his "origin" - he was once a cop who of course is kicked off the force (by the chief, but let's just say he's an angry police captain, shall we?) and then, a week later, his brother (Lance, of course) was murdered.

Lance was killed for trying to keep his community center open because "somebody didn't want the local kids to break dance anymore." Phil (our hero) did "the only thing anybody else would do" - go see their best friend/ex-ninja/scientist and get injected with his super serum, which reacted with his hemorrhoids, making his skin rock hard and giving him the ability to shoot fire out of his hands and any orifice. With the origin out of the way, Phil kicks some ass, gets the name of the killer out of one of the bad guys, and then metafictionally ruminates on his future plans ("If only my tale could be told in a 10-part web series chronicling this amazing yet dangerous never before seen adventure"). Then he's off!

As an introduction to the character and the series, this is pretty good. Conn zips along, gives us a big ol' fight, and establishes everything we could want to know in the series. His humor isn't perfect, but it goes a long way because he treats it less as humor and more matter-of-factly - my favorite line in the book is about going to see his best friend/ex-ninja/scientist, because of course we all have one of those, right? Conn is aware of the silliness of the genre, not only in terms of the how superheroes becomes superheroes but also that they all seem to know such odd and interesting people. As I mentioned, I was worried that the book would be endless hemorrhoid jokes, but Conn resists that, and I appreciate that. I'm sure there will be hemorrhoid jokes, but as long as Conn doesn't go too overboard with them, I can live with it.

But that's just me. Maybe you love hemorrhoid jokes.

Hannah's art is very nice. She has a very clean style, full of energy and action, and I love that our hero himself is a bit portly. I'm sure that's Conn's idea, but Hannah does a great job making him a bit bigger than your average hero but not morbidly obese. She also pulls off the sight gag of Lava-Roid flipping out of the way of bullets quite nicely (he was once a semi-professional break dancer). It's ridiculous but not unbelievable. And Hannah has a lot of fun with the villains, too. It's a bright, colorful, slightly silly comic, which fits with the tone of Conn's writing (even with the murder of his brother and the semi-gruesome fate of some of the villains).

Conn is using the comic to lead into the live-action web series, as he writes in the back matter. You can check out the link above to find out more about the comic and the series. Lava-Roid is a bit flimsy for three dollars, but it's a fun read. I love that Conn is working on different media to tell this story. And this is a good place to start.

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