As part of the #Kirby100 celebration here at Biff Bam Pop! I’ve opted to take a closer look at Bug! The Adventures of Forager from DC’s Young Animal imprint. Beyond Jack Kirby being a legendary titan of comics industry I freely admit that I don’t have too deep of a knowledge of his work. That reason is precisely what brought me to Bug! More after the jump!
Bug! The Adventures of Forager by Lee Allred, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred is, simply put, a Kirby delivery system in the best possible sense. When I first started reading comics in the 1980s Jack Kirby was already largely absent from the industry but his work was the foundation that everything from Marvel and DC was built on. A casual fan only needs to utter the words “the Fourth World” to a Kirby fanatic and they’ll be treated to a sermon about just how important his work was and still is.
As loath as I am to use the phrase “Next Level” Kirby’s work was just that. The characters and worlds he created are still evergreen properties for both Marvel and DC. Fantastic Four was never better than when Kirby did it. DC can’t go more than five years before they have another hot take on his Fourth World characters.
That brings us to Bug!
Michael Allred, the artist on Bug! is, without a doubt, the best artist to be helming a series featuring one of Kirby’s characters. Allred got his start in the small press scene of the 1990’s with his own title Madman. The title featured reanimated do-gooder Frank Einstein (say it out loud) going on far out adventures in a pop art style so sweet Lichtenstein would have ripped it off.
The style of art stood in sharp contrast to the Lees, Liefelds, and McFarlanes of the day and instantly hooked me as a high schooler. It was just… FUN! Kinetic without being too busy, comic book-y without being too cartoon-y, and surreal without being alienating.
In the 20-plus years I’ve been following the Allred’s work (his wife, Laura, is his colorist) there has never been a drop off in quality. It’s almost a bit unsettling. They’ve done work for both Marvel and DC (Madman even crossed over with Superman at one point) and while it’s all been varying degrees of fantastic they’re never more at home when they’re given a broad, blank canvas to work with.
Now we can get into Bug!
With his older brother Lee Allred on scripting duties, the Allreds weave a tale that gives Forager his due. In my research into the character of Forager, I found that Kirby didn’t really do much more than introduce him… and not much else. Later DC unceremoniously killed him off (while he was saving Batman, so not a bad way to go). This series picks up with Forager being mysteriously resurrected and tasked with saving the multiverse itself. Easy stuff.
While Forager bops his way across dimensions he crosses paths with other characters created by Kirby superheroes and New Gods alike. While the nods to Kirby’s work aren’t explicit the deep and unwavering appreciation the Allreds have for his work is apparent. That is to say, it doesn’t feel like a really well produced cover song. It’s more like some artists that were the next logical progression in a genre that Kirby helped to pioneer.
Here’s where you come in: Bug! The Adventures of Forager issues 1-3 are available now. Issues 4-6 have been pushed back a little, so you have plenty of time to catch up before the second half of this mini series hits shelves. This book is a surreal pop adventure and it’s not one to be missed.