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Review by Andrew Uys
A mega-star rock ’n’ roll band battles against the supernatural with the help of a Mexican wrestling genie, while secretly being controlled by the CIA. Sounds weird, right? Well that is the premise behind The Amazing Joy Buzzards, a comic book series from creators Mark Andrew Smith and Dan Hipp.
It was originally published in two limited series between 2005 and 2006, but the best way to enjoy this zany, over-the-top comic book is the 2008 digest-sized “Director’s Edition” trade paperback that collects the entirety of the series. It’s not exactly an easy find at your local comic store, but ComiXology has it available for download at http://www.comixology.com/The-Amazing-Joy-Buzzards-Vol-1-Here-Come-the-Spiders/digital-comic/MAR082083 for only $9.99, which is a total steal for this much madcap action and rock ’n’ roll adventure!
With more wacky villains than you can shake a guitar at, The Amazing Joy Buzzards pits the members of the eponymous band against the ’60s-counterculture-inspired evil empire of The Spider Syndicate, whose ranks include The Puppeteer, Galesh, Donovan the Devil Mummy Hipster, Madam Ivep, and their army of Killer Vampire Robots. But evil “supernatural mod hipsters” aren’t the band’s only foes, as they are forced to battle against El Chupa (the sworn enemy and evil doppelganger of El Campeon, the band’s luchador genie), and rival bands who covet The Amazing Joy Buzzards’ fame and popularity.
This eclectic roster of villains and malcontents from Mark Andrew Smith’s imagination is equally matched by Dan Hipp’s stunning black-and-white artwork that feels like a Gorillaz music video with its exaggerated dimensions and experimental panelling. Definitely manga-influenced, The Amazing Joy Buzzards really offers Dan Hipp the chance to showcase his creative range, and he doesn’t disappoint. Now normally I’m more of a four-colour comic fan, but Hipp’s stark black-and-white illustrations evoke both a dark mood and a cartoony vibe that really make The Amazing Joy Buzzards a great read.
Smith, creator and writer of The New Brighton Archeological Society and Gladstone's School for World Conquerors, knows how to deliver both laughs and intense action, balancing The Amazing Joy Buzzards’ mood somewhere between horror and slapstick comedy. Not an easy feat, but Smith has a great track record of producing titles that refuse to be easily defined in the genre game that has become all too pervasive in our entertainment discourse.
While I could simply sum up the plot(s) of the Director’ Edition of The Amazing Joy Buzzards, it would never come close to the awesomeness that is this comic. Instead, throw on the Ghostbusters theme music and run in circles flailing your arms. That dizzy, ridiculous feeling that has you grinning like a 5-year-old with a stolen cookie...that is what reading The Amazing Joy Buzzards is like. A comic book that reads like an anime music video filled with monsters and madmen, where the heroes behave like college kids (read: behave like young immature boys) who are living the greatest rock ’n’ roll adventure ever. Now you have a pretty accurate idea of the fun found within the pages of The Amazing Joy Buzzards!