Ok, so when they asked me to review this, my hopes were not high. One writer (Adam Slutsky) lists rags like Maxim and Stuff as his notable writing credits. The other writer (Joseph Phillip Illidge) has worked for DC, his bio says on some Batman titles, but I’m having trouble turning up which runs specifically. The artist, (Shawn Martinbrough), has worked for both DC and Marvel, most notably on Batman Evolution with Greg Rucka.
The resulting comic is notable only for it’s lack of marked sexism and its decent art. Considering it appears to be mostly a wish-fulfillment platform for a rich guy and his friends/employees, not a bad accomplishment. Seriously, I expected it to stink on ice, and it didn’t.
The premise of Ayre Force is that Calvin Ayre, the president and founder of Bodog Poker, Fights and Music (collectively Bodog Entertainment Group), is actually a mercenary fighting the good fight against animal cruelty, child abuse and the abuse of the environment, predominantly against the evil Wintercorp.
It is not as awful as that synopsis makes it sound. Really.
In fact it isn’t offensively bad at all. It’s ok. I’m sure 12 year old boys will love it, and complain about the lack of TEH BEWBIES. But it’s not bad, and it’s not hugely sexist. I was neither offended by it, nor thrilled by it. Apart from being surprisingly not sexist, the dialogue is pretty lackluster. There’s one or two good zings, and a fairly entertaining “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die” moment. But by and large, there was nothing stellar. And apart from one or two tiny pieces of dialogue and the dubious utility of Bif Naked’s outfit, it never once made me want to throw it across the room in disgust. I’m actually kind of pleased by the lack of sexist bullshit, and may have to take back any nasty comments I have made about Slutsky’s work with Maxim and Stuff… Ok, not really. But I was really happy with how not sexist it is.
The art, not a style of which I am overly fond, is good. For the style it is well executed and fairly dramatic. Martinbrough did a good job of conveying emotion, movement and action. Ayre should be well pleased with his artist on this. He did a good enough job that when you compare the pictures of the actual people the characters are based on with the drawings, they’re recognizable.
Yes, you heard, er read, the other mercenaries are all based on actual people involved with the public face of Bodog.
Again, I say, it is not that bad.
The villians were a bit over the top. At one point I kind of sighed and asked, “Ok, so when does he freebase a kitten?” after the son of the lead villain killed a henchman, apparently for shits and giggles. The lead villain, Janus Winter, is a murderous, evil scientist who apparently is for science uber alles, except for money. But then again I guess since the NIH is not in the business of funding grants for “build a race of evil super-beings and take over the world,” that’s understandable. He is actually NOT Janus Winter, but killed the man to take over his money and do his experiments which include shooting up his kids with animal DNA to build a better mousetra… um, mantrap. After it successfully makes his children “Man plus” he injects himself. We’re talking Father of the Year here. But, they are comic book villains, so what are you gonna do?
Honestly, I don’t know that I would have picked this comic up on my own. I mean, the fact that the profits from it are going to combat animal cruelty, most notably bear bile-farming, might have induced me to pick it up in spite of it not being anything special. But they would need to more broadly advertise that fact. I didn’t realize that was the case until Ayre’s bio at the back of the comic. It is not offensive either in content or badness. It’s actually pretty middle of road for comics of it’s type.