Tuesday, 13 December 2011

‘Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth’ – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle (Dark Horse Comics)

It’s embarrassing to admit but I am a comic book seller’s dream customer. If I’m going to buy a story it will inevitably be in trade format. Not only does it save me a few pounds but they look so much nicer on the bookshelf (well, more like in my cupboard at the moment; Hope is not getting her hands on my comic books!) I save it saves me money but... Every now and then I can’t resist getting the single issues as well, especially if I’ve really enjoyed a story and want to know what happens. I’m particularly weak here when it comes to ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Goon’.

This was the case way back in March this year (seems like so long ago now...) when I couldn’t help but pick up the first issue of the ‘Axe Cop’ mini-series ‘Bad Guy Earth’. Have a quick read of the review that I posted and you’ll see that both my wife and I were giggling like a couple of school kids, all the way home on the bus, as we read it. Me being me (and my daughter being, well, a hyperactive attention demanding toddler) I never picked up the other two issues and that March review looked to be in danger of becoming an unfinished tale. Luckily for me (and you ‘Axe Cop’ loving blog readers) the trade came out a couple of months ago and, once I realised it was on the shelves, I didn’t hang around picking it up.

‘Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth’ is written by a seven year old boy so attempting to summarise the plot is an impossible task at best. And why would you want to? Ethan and Malachai Nicolle clearly revel in the surreal world of Axe Cop and are more than happy to just go with the flow and see where the story takes them. That seems to be the way ‘Axe Cop’ is written (and I just know that we can all remember playing games like that when we were little, don’t pretend you didn’t) and it’s certainly the best way to read it. Just go with the flow; accept that there will be dinosaurs that can breathe fire and have gatling guns for arms, accept that entire planets can be destroyed with a tiny ‘Planet Shocker’ (it has a ‘giant’ button) and accept that Dinosaur Soldier can’t help but transform into something else whenever he comes into contact with blood (President Zombie Bear Cop? Yep...) If you still really want to know what the plot is, Axe Cop and his team must stop two psychic brothers (from outer space) turning our planet into ‘Bad Guy Earth’. I still think you’re missing the point though.

‘Bad Guy Earth’ is your chance to take a little trip back in time and be six or seven years old again, playing games in your back garden on a sunny August afternoon. Malachai Nicolle and his imagination are your hosts for the ride and you are in good hands. You might not be able to play games, like you did when you were a kid, but Malachai’s sheer joy and exuberance more than make up for it. No monster is too big and no explosion is too big either. Malachai throws Axe Cop at the most hideous dangers with the kind of joyous confidence that only a six year boy can have in his heroic creation. It’s no surprise then that Axe Cop always wins, the story just wouldn’t work otherwise (and it definitely won’t work if you approach it with an adult mindset, just relax and suspend that disbelief a little). The outcome is never in any doubt but it’s the journey there that counts, a journey that is crammed full of awesome :o)

What a story like this needs is an artist that completely gets the vision of the writer and if you’re the writer’s big brother then that is never going to be a problem. It’s clear, just by looking at each page, that only Ethan Nicolle could draw Axe Cop. He’s the guy with the insight into Malachai’s imagination and it shows with pages jammed full of monsters, explosions and a law enforcement who will chop your head off if you’re a bad guy. There’s no beating around the bush here, Ethan Nicolle absolutely nails the artwork to the extent where I found myself wondering what the point of the ‘Guest Artist Gallery’ was...

‘Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth’ is a superb read and the most fun I’ve had since I read the last ‘Axe Cop’ book. Comic books just don’t get any more fun than this.
Nine and a Half out of Ten

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