Zeb Larson reviews Airboy #3…
The drug, booze and sex fueled actions of JAMES ROBINSON and GREG HINKLE have pushed Airboy to the brink. And, in order to straighten these two degenerates out, he’s taken them to his world: a steampunk arena of Allies vs. Nazis. But will the experience change James and Greg for the better? Will they finally see the light? Or will they corrupt this world too?
I’m starting to think that Airboy is just trying to be a different comic every issue, but it falls a little flat this time. If the first issue was offensively funny and the second was just offensive, this was comes across as kinda lifeless. This is all the stranger because it most definitely should not be, given that Robinson and Hinkle have just been transported into a comic book retelling of WWII. Yet it lacks some of the insightful punch that the previous issues had. The last two had something to say about art, but if there’s a message here I’m afraid it’s lost. I will be discussing spoilers in this review, so consider yourself forewarned.
After a few moments of disbelief, desperately hoping that what they’re seeing is just the result of drugs, Hinkle and Robinson accept the fact that they’re somehow fighting steampunk Nazis. Airboy leads them back to his team’s hideout after Hinkle soils himself, where they meet his various companions as well as his love interest, Valkyrie. That goes predictably cockeyed when Robinson leaves Hinkle alone with her for five minutes, which really sets off Airboy. He tells the pair that they’re going to lead the assault on a Nazi-controlled bridge.
Hinkle’s artwork is great here as he deftly jumps back and forth between the 21st century style of the first two issues and the Golden Age aesthetic of Airboy’s world. While this issue is nice to look at, the humor isn’t quite as strong as the past two issues. Even discounting every bad joke that came at the expense of the transgender community in the last issue, there were plenty of zingers keeping it funny. We get another sex scene in this issue and another joke about Hinkle’s enormous penis, but shocking humor tends to wear thin when it’s repeated.
Truth be told, I was expecting some commentary and comparison between the world of comics and the real-world. Airboy’s world might be exciting to look at, but isn’t it sort of flat in its own way? They’re still fighting the Nazis after all these years to apparently no effect. They’re surrounded by people who have died (including Robinson’s alternate reality persona), but is this just another example of a bunch of redshirts having to bite the bullet? Airboy’s life is just a bunch of combat, surrounded by other people’s death and misfortune, and perpetual bickering with his girlfriend Valkyrie. Comic books are always stuck in their own second act, never moving to resolution. If our reality is ultimately flat and boring, then Airboy’s is circular and limiting in its own way.
Perhaps we’ll get some more of this meta-commentary in the next issue. Or perhaps the purpose of this is to jumpstart Robinson’s interest in writing again, breaking the figurative constipation of the first issue (it worked for Hinkle). Here’s hoping.