Monday, July 7, 2008

The Nearly Infamous Zango: The Best $7 I Spent at HeroesCon

At HeroesCon, I made an effort to step out of my comfort zone and spend some money on independent comics and other stuff I might not normally try (Of course, it should be noted that Scott Pilgrim falls out of my rather narrow comics comfort zone, which, I think, lets you know where I'm coming from). This proved to be a successful strategy, as I got some really good stuff from Jim Rugg, Josh Elder, Rob Ullman, and others.

One of the best comics that I picked up was Rob Osborne's The Nearly Infamous Zango, a very funny series about an incredibly lazy and inept supervillain.

I've read over the three issues of this series a few times now, and it is funny as heck. The first two issues establish the basic concepts of the series: Zango is a second generation supervillain in Metrotown, and his reputation has declined due to the fact that he spends all his time now in his jammies on the couch, eating junk food and watching daytime television. When the local news reports on the activities of the new most fearsome villain in Metrotown--the Iron Ox--Zango becomes angry about his lost status, but he does little more than bloviate in response.

In his "Castle of Cruel and Unusual Occurences," Zango is assisted by his daughter, Nebula; the scientific genius Deacon Dread; and Dread's brutish creation, Von Freako. Deacon Dread is inexplicably sycophantic and works in a laboratory beneath the castle, making creations that he hopes will please Zango, including Z-Gore, a killer gorilla assassin, and killer fruit creatures.
Rob: you had me at "killer gorilla assassin."

One of the things I admire about Osborne's humor is that, while some of the gags are familiar, the book is so good-natured and fun that the familiarity is actually a benefit in making the characters work. Also, Osborne builds running gags throughout the series, as we see in Zango's frequent outbursts demanding food. Perhaps the funniest gag, which I hope continues in future issues, occurs whenever Deacon Dread comes up with a new creation. Control seems to be a problem for Dread, and his creations always turn against him in rather violent ways.

While the first two issues are straight-up funny and do a great job establishing the unique world of the series, Osborne's book really starts to shine in the third issue, which just came out recently.
Here, the world of Zango gets fleshed out more, and Osborne is on the path of creating a series that is much more complex than one would expect from its surface humor. We see that Zango's laziness may be a product of a kind of existential paralysis resulting from his fears of inadequacy in the face of his father's success as a supervillain. The original Lord Zango was a Dr. Doom-style villain who managed to defeat Metrotown's prime superhero--Metro-Man--and subsequently manipulated the media to perpetuate his reign of terror.

We also get to see the Atomic Pilgrim, which is a pretty awesome concept for a superhero: Just so we're clear: The Atomic Pilgrim is the one in the hat.

Rob Osborne's talent lies in drawing humor from these characters in a way that is genuinely and consistently funny. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes. In the letter page for issue 3, Osborne mentions that Zango is moving to another publisher with the next issue, which comes out in October. I hope this switch works for the series' benefit, cuz I'm in for the long haul. If you want to find out more about The Nearly Infamous Zango, including how to order the first three issues, check out the Absolute Tyrant website.

1 comment:

Chris Sims said...

Zango really is good stuff. I've been trying to shy away from the Venture Bros. comparison, because I'm sure Rob Osborne gets that a lot, but it's really comparable in terms of themes and the way he sets up his jokes. More a "read if you like" situation, I guess.