Comics that released in the nineties tend to have a very distinct feel to them, mostly in the fact that the stories are ridiculous, costumes are absurd and the art is the best part of the comic. Towards the end of the decade Dark Horse Comics released a comic entitled Major Bummer from John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke (current Green Lantern artist). Now over a decade later the complete series of Major Bummer is being released in a glorious hard cover edition. The book originally released in 1997 and if you lived in a small town and bought all your comics from the supermarket you probably missed this series like I original had. Of course I’ve heard of how good the series was, but never found a single issue to read for myself and thank god I didn’t.
Hands down this is one of the best comics I have ever read and deserves the entire fan fair that it receives. Writer/Creator John Arcudi states in the forward that he tried to avoid superhero comics like the plague, but ultimately he got sucked in. Thankfully Dark Horse let him do the series his way, a self-aware series that hits on the many elements that make up the superhero genre. The truly amazing thing about Major Bummer and this new collected edition, is that the series holds up to today’s stands of writing and art. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this series and why it stands out from your average nineties comic, the writing is spot on and does everything it can not to place a big time stamp on the material.
The story follows Louis Martin, an average slacker with a knack for electronics and a love for videogames. He receives a mysterious package one weekend that transformers his life forever… eventually. First he spends the entire weekend playing video games with his newly created sound system until finally tearing open the package. The contents mix with his heart and DNA and transform him into the biggest super hunk ever. He grows from five foot nothing into a seven foot giant with a body made of muscles. Louis heads to work as usual, not understanding the transformation that’s occurred to his body. There he discovers that he’s become something of a target for trouble, the problem is… he doesn’t like danger.
There is lies the simplest joy of Major Bummer, a super powered character that has the world at his fingertips but doesn’t want any of the responsibilities. This isn’t to be confused with the “reluctant hero complex” that storytellers rely on, no this is a character that even faced with danger will run away and leave others to fend for themselves. Throughout the series you’ll find yourself waiting for that moment that Louis finally accepts his fate and does the right thing and literally he’s given these opportunities dozens of times. Arcudi does an amazing job of creating an interesting world that is just discovering super powered people and making the world less than thrilled by this. No one throws them a parade or even takes them seriously, but they don’t mock them either. Arcudi finds this perfect balance between satire and realism that is the delight to any comic reader.
It’s been over a decade since the art for the series was touched and really the first thing to pop out would be just how little the art has aged. Mahnke’s pencils are surprisingly good and maintain his detailed style that is still present in the comics he creates today. The second most important aspect of the art is the coloring which looks like it has been re-mastered form the ground up. The coloring makes Mahnke’s art just vibrant and again keeps the book looking like a modern comic.
There’s probably a large portion of comic readers that missed out on this series when it originally released and thankfully Dark Horse is giving everyone a second chance to read the series. I highly recommend you pick up one of the best comics to ever hit the market and worth edition to any comic readers collection.