Slapstick #1 Review: A Gloriously Gory 'Toon

Fred Van Lente and Reilly Brown have outright stated that when writing Slapstick, the intention is to have a different tone than the average Deadpool issue. Where Deadpool at least has a plan some of the time, Slapstick is a massive idiot. Deadpool can heal from practically anything you throw at him, but Slapstick just won’t be fazed. Most importantly of all, Slapstick will have dumb humor, perfect for those who “find Deadpool too highbrow.” Right off the back, I can say that they have absolutely succeeded.

The announcement that Slapstick would receive another ongoing series made me incredibly happy. I just love the absurdity of Slapstick’s origin, which was purposely meant to be as bizarre as possible. Due to the actions of maniacal clowns from Dimension X, Steve Harmon was ‘gifted’ with powers that allow him to turn into a living cartoon character. In this guise, he has all the powers of a cartoon character, including being able to grab items out of nowhere and instantaneous costume changes. He also received a little gadget that would allow him to transform from ‘Slapstick’ into his boring human self.

Unfortunately, said device was smashed, leaving him stuck as a cartoon character. Being stuck in the form of a ‘toon has left him in a very precarious mental state, especially because he no longer has a functioning, ahem, ‘dingus.’ Did I mention that he was a teenager when the transformation first occurred? So, basically, we have a nigh-indestructible cartoon character with anger issues and an inability to act on any ‘amorous’ feelings for several years.

All of that being said, the grand return to Slapstick’s solo misadventures is absolutely incredible. It’s a tour de force of ‘dumb’ humor, especially when Slapstick uses his powers. He fights crime in the manner of Bugs Bunny, but he’s not likely to pop up, chomping on carrots and teasing Elmer Fudd. No, Slapstick is much more likely to rip your ear off and use it as a sock puppet or just scream obscenities at you. Like I said, the guy has anger issues. Every single time Slapstick uses his powers to stop criminals, I burst out laughing.

He spits bullets at smugglers, tricks a group of thieves into shooting each other, and uses his beloved mallet to hand out concussions with generosity. You know, I think I can see why Deadpool initially hired him as a member of the Mercs For Money.

On another note, I'm a fan of the sound effects. TEEF! ZWOK! GUN!
Spider-Man guest-stars in the first issue, calling back to his appearance in the initial miniseries and it’s great. Because Slapstick is so conceited, he has no memory of ever meeting Spider-Man. He doesn’t even know that he exists, just seeing him as some weird criminal.

Gerty- BAM!, Gerty- BAM!, Does whatever a Gerty can! See a thief, squash his eyes; just as fun as titanium pies! Look out, here comes the Gerty- BAM!
Apart from that, Quasimodo finally returns to the Marvel world. The Mad Thinker is one of my all-time favorite villains in the Marvel comics and Quasimodo was one of his first artificial intelligence/robotic creations. I like how he’s also portrayed as a loser in his personal life, but still a credible threat to Slapstick.

Slapstick is Marvel's Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Overall, the story arc makes me giddy with excitement. Steve’s life outside of being a misguided merc is entertaining and the implied continuing presence of Quasimodo is promising. Fred and Reilly have proven that they can make not only a laugh-out-loud story but also weave in continuing threads to keep the reader interested. Diego Orlotegui’s art is perfectly tailored to the story. Slapstick’s cartoony nature is exaggerated in comparison to the fairly typical humor characters. It helps to get a sense of what this corner of the Marvel world is like and become more drawn to it.

I’m definitely hooked on the comic and I can’t wait to see what else the creative team has cooked up. In interviews, they said that original cartoon characters that parody various genres would appear. I’m excited to see what they parody. Finally, the comic also has something that I've been missing in comics. Sometimes I'm tired of the same X-Men and Inhumans origins. I feel nostalgic for the old days where heroes got their powers from an accident or cosmic chance, and this fills that need.

Slapstick #1 is written by Fred Van Lente and Reilly Brown and drawn by Diego Orlotegui. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.