Heroes & Villains: Once More Into the Askewniverse with “Quick Stops #1”

Well. This is different.

Yes, it’s the first Heroes & Villains column in a spell and while I’m not back-back, I figured now would be as good a time as any to check in. For anyone that’s been at least half paying attention you’ll already be aware that I’ve been keeping busy with my Figure Friday column so it’s not like I quiet quit myself off Biff Bam Pop! entirely.

I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want to do with Heroes & Villains and, honestly, it’s a lot of work so it’s taking longer than I anticipated. This is me checking in to let you know I’m totally hard at work over here. We’re currently at the part of the movie that gets edited down to a 30-to-45 second montage where an indeterminate amount of time has passed. If there’s anyone out there who would like to intern for me or be my assistant, please reach out.   

And now…comics.

Quick Stops #1

Kevin Smith (W)

Jeremy Simser (A)

Dark Horse Comics

I had the chance to take a look at Kevin Smith’s new offering Quick Stops from Dark Horse Comics and it was pretty much just what I expected. On its face that sounds fairly damning but that wasn’t the intention. True, I could have swapped out “what I expected” with “what I hoped for” but I’m carrying with me decades of Kevin Smith knowledge that informs my opinions on the book.

To look at me, one would probably imagine “yeah, they’ve seen some Kevin Smith movies in their day” and that’s absolutely the case. I’m not the ride or die Smith fan I was 25 years ago, but Clerks and its heavy rotation on the IFC network is partially to blame for that. It’s a curious entry point into the world of independent film, but I think Clerks got a lot of comic book and Star Wars fans to pay attention to a world they otherwise would not have. Post-Clerks, I began to voraciously consume whatever IFC had to offer, occasionally venturing out to a nearby city that had an independent theater that only showed Oscar bait flicks and other films that would never make it to the local multiplex. In a sad postscript to that anecdote, the aforementioned theater is now a parking lot…in front of a multiplex.

So there we were, thick as proverbial thieves. Kevin Smith was releasing movies I was seeing, I was buying his t-shirts, screenplays, VHS tapes, and finally…comics. Prior to my devastating basement flood that I’m clearly still not over, I had autographed copies of Smith’s first Oni Double Feature and Clerks: The Comic Book that I had signed at the Wizard World Chicago conventions way back when. 

Comics were, to me, always a logical choice for Smith and his Askewniverse characters since they were able to exist free of budgetary restrictions as well as the MPAA. Clerks as a comic and the associated titles were giving us all what we wanted which was more profane, hyper verbose, and reference heavy humor that we had come to expect from Smith. If memory serves, the tale outlined in the Oni Double Feature expands upon a throwaway line from one of the preceding films (the tale of Walt Flanagan’s Dog).

Maybe its because of our shared history as Marvel and DC readers but Smith doing a “connected universe” two decades before they came into Hollywood vogue always made sense. It’s important to remember that when Smith was waxing philosophic about the morality of independent contractors working on the Death Star, Star Wars was largely a dormant property. There were a handful of novels, some tabletop games, along with the Dark Horse produced comics, all of which I immediately collected because it was an indisputable fact at the time that we were never getting any new Star Wars. Jumping ahead to 2016 and Rogue One’s take on the moral gray areas of working on an Imperial super weapon…I’m surprised Smith didn’t get a partial “story by” credit.

That finally brings us to Quick Stops #1 which puts us solidly in Tales From Jabba’s Palace territory to belabor the point I was making above. Here’s the blurb:

Enter the Askewniverse when pop culture nuisance Kevin Smith’s brand-new anthology series opens for business, telling tall tales from the Jersey world of his classic comedies!

In this premiere issue, Chronic-Con guest of honor Holden McNeil tells Alyssa Jones and a packed podcast audience his story of going green with legendary loiterers Jay and Silent Bob in the Quick Stop cooler, and how it directly led to the birth of his Bluntman and Chronic comic books!

Admittedly, it did take me a minute to pick up that the story told in the first issue of Quick Stops was taking place just off screen during the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot movie, but it expands upon Alyssa Jones and Holden McNeil’s brief cameos. If you’ve ever wondered “what happened to Greedo’s body after Han shot first?” (and also know the answer to that question), then Quick Stops is probably for you. It’s a nice and canonical addition to the Askew lore for those who’ve wondered. 

It’s easy to see McNeil as Smith’s proxy throughout this comic but its carrying on a long tradition of Smith-penned protagonists articulating the director’s views to his audience. That’s always been Smith’s appeal, I suppose…he’s one of us and he’s speaking directly to us and if one of his characters is espousing a point of view, you can be sure it’s been passed through Smith’s personal filter first. Not to get too far into the weeds but there is a line of dialog in the comic that kind of smooths down some of Chasing Amy’s most problematic elements. The more jaded among us may view it as a retcon while the more forgiving would choose to view it as a sign or evolution or growth on the part of the writer. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

So there you have it. Quick Stops #1 may either be what you expected or what you hoped for, depending on your point of view. Profane and humorous, the book is sure to delight Smith’s faithful fans and maybe even those who have a passing familiarity with his work.

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