Reading Pile: Unfabulous Five HC
Updated: Aug 5
This is one of those European reprints that falls into the category of "I think I technically own this somehow, and I don't know if this printing has stuff I missed or whatever so I'm just gunna pick it up". Y'know, like how Skydoll English editions were reprinted by four different publishers in various styles which are all nice, and I'm too lazy to just catch up on my reading and compare the editions so I kinda have all of them. This might just very much be a me type of problem.......
Anywho, the point is I finally caught up to reading this edition from 2014 which I've been sitting on since at least 2016 because I thought I probably read some or all of it in the old American release of the Métal Hurlant anthology series post 2002. And as it turns out I did read the entire story somehow at some point in history, just not in this nice format so I thought it would be worth chatting about finally. Especially because it features a rockabilly gang named The Creatures of the Black Leather Lagoon and that's just magical.
The series revolves around a group of down-on-their-luck masked wrestlers who fancy themselves as protectors of LA. They are but one of many gangs that infest the city, crossing paths with werewolf carjackers, French wannabe crime fighters, mini-kaiju, surfer gangs, and more. The stories follow loose plots and are more of a framework to hang the meandering nature of the worldbuilding on. Stuff does tend to lead towards a resolution, but that resolution doesn't feel like it matters when placed against the surreal nature of this world.
For example, our team of heroes initially pull together because of the return of werewolf criminals who steal car stereos and poop on the seats. That plot point immediately takes a back seat as a kaiju appears at the same time as a pair of alien cosmonauts, who are kidnapped by a villain known as Elveze (a mini-mutant Elvis impersonator). Then a group of French crimefighters/gang members jump into the plot as they also seek to save the city from Elveze, who unleashed the Kaiju, and is holding the aliens hostage for...some reason. And when our heroes finally learn of the nefarious Elveze's involvement, one of their reactions is simply, " Well, on the other hand, it isn't that surprising, It's always Elveze..." All of these paranormal gangs are so used to each other that our heroes have a regular parking space at the villain's secret lair. That's great.
That very laid back nature to the scripting and plotting in itself feels like it's all in service to the artist's (known only as Bill) frenetic and distinct style. While each of the five main characters does have their own distinct personality, that personality is more informed by Bill's crisp artistic flair and sense of emoting and body language. It's a joy to take in, and honestly it's more than a little odd that this was never optioned for an animated series via Adult Swim. The compact nature of each story block and the visual strengths of this type of action lends itself to at least a series of mini-shorts.
This edition is a nice 152pg HC that matches the (generally) standard size of Humanoids hardcovers so it compliments the rest of that bookshelf well. While this edition is apparently out of print, it's not too tough to find as I'm seeing plenty of new and used copies on Amazon. It originally clocked in at $24.99 and most of the prices I'm seeing are going for less, so it's not a bad time to check it out.
The series is very much a popcorn action comedy, a brightly realized quick read that doesn't really offer a lot of depth but fills you up on fun ideas and dynamic art. And sometimes that's exactly what I need, so I'm happy to have a nice complete edition that offers up the entire course in a handsome serving.