“Perhapanauts: Danger Down Under” #1 by Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau opens with a rant about comics and the impenetrability of their plots and undecipherable characters. Of course that rant comes from Choopie — the resident Chupacabra of “Perhapanauts” — a character that frequently breaks down the fourth wall to engage the reader and provide some comedic relief. Choopie and ghost-gal, Molly, take the first two pages of this issue to set the record straight and pre-empt any similar rants from new (or in my case, lapsed) “Perhapanauts” readers.
Unfortunately, that only leaves fifteen pages for the main narrative of this issue, which is just enough to get up to speed and put the car into drive, only to find a red light twenty feet away. In that span, however, Dezago and Rousseau introduce the reader to an entire world, give the cast some definition, introduce new characters for more seasoned readers and establish the general thrust of this adventure. A security breach leads the Perhapanauts to Australia, where they team up with some local agents to attempt to find those agents’ missing comrades.
That gives Rousseau plenty of time and space to draw up some great interactions, expressions and even some adorable gremlins that pop in to lend a hand in re-establishing the security at BEDLAM headquarters. Rousseau’s work is given pop and sizzle from Mike Thomas’ colors. Thomas’ palette is filled with strong blues, purples and reds, some of which combine in background-defining gradients. The boldness of the color work compliments Rousseau’s cartoony exaggeration nicely and energize this issue.
The backup story features a funny escapade to the gremlin world with art from Lauren Monardo Gramprey and colors by Nate Lovett. That story channels the energy of independent comics with a fun, bouncy contradiction to the mournful expectations one would expect in a tale focused on funeral proceedings. It weighs in at eight pages in length, but certainly brings more fun than just eight pages worth.
The challenge for the Perhapanauts series is that although it has promise and potential, it just doesn’t hit frequently enough to sustain my interest. I’m hoping “Perhapanauts: Danger Down Under” defies that model and manages to provide an adventure that fulfills the potential and brings the fun. This issue is certainly a good start in the right direction.