I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved Ambush Bug. In my personal comic book collection, I have just about his every appearance. He brought me great joy in my teen years, the ’80s, during the good old days of comics. A couple of decades later, he comes across like the kid too smart for the room, many of the gags funnier in thought than in execution. Here’s the thing though: it’s fun. Stupid fun, but fun.
Taking aim at the “dark” and “gritty” writing done in the name of relevance, Ambush Bug: Year None mines grins from its non-stop parade of odd cameos and its complete irreverence for any of the sacred cows in comics. It serves as a meta commentary on the DC Universe and the state of comics in general from the writing style (contrived plot devices, omniscient narrators, 22-page limit, thought balloons) to company-wide crossovers (Final Crisis says what?).
“If you want to ‘find your bliss’ and ‘explore your true nature,’ then knock yourself out!” –Rama Kushna… in Groucho nose and glasses.
In issue one, we find the bug investigating the death of Jonni DC, continuity cop. During the course of his “investigation” he checks in on some of the other little known/remembered DC characters (’Mazing Man, Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, Space Cabby) and ends up causing one of the events (Identity Crisis) and at the same time points to the elephant in the room: the fair amount of women in jeopardy/abused in the name of event comics and the inherent misogyny that drives the plots.
Ambush Bug is simply an idiot stumbling through life, leaving a trail of inadvertent chaos and destruction in his wake. He doesn’t know any better. He’s a sheep in need of a shepherd, without identity of his own, happily living through others.
“Help me, Rama Kushna, to rediscover my true inner self.” –Ambush Bug
We put on masks, masks that become part of us, ones we wear in order to interact with others and the world. Before too long, we become trapped by these false ideas of ourselves. We must strip away anything that hinders us from being the people we were meant to be. We must always be growing, be “becoming,” in order to get to our true selves. But with Ambush Bug, it’s not even a case of true self vs. false self, but true self vs. no self.
Yes, Ambush Bug: Year None is a non-stop series of comic book in-jokes. Replete with punny-named villains like Argh!Yle!! (his abandoned sock) and Don Gayle Apparel (his… I have no idea), either you’re in on the joke or this book will annoy you to no end.