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Jennifer Lopez, Brendan McCarthy, and David Bowman Walk Into An Alien Bar...
Bowman 2016 (Hic and Hoc Publications): Let me go ahead and pull the curtain back and just reveal a personal desire here… I imagine that this is what having sex with Jennifer Lopez must be like. It is so overwhelmingly enjoyable that I can hardly articulate the emotion I’m feeling at this moment. It’s touched me in a deep and primal place that I’m not even ready to discuss. If Rufus Dayglo, Brendan McCarthy, Gary Panter, and Jack Kirby had some type of acid trip homoerotic circle jerk, the primordial (seminal?) sludge that resulted from that sweaty barnburner would be what these creations evolved from. Let me put it yet another way; if you’ve been enjoying the more mainstream critical darling called Prophet at Image Comics by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, and Farel Dalrymple, then this is the hyper-indie mini-comics equivalent. Bowman 2016 is the second part in a trilogy from Pat Aulisio, that witnesses the titular David Bowman as a lost astronaut journeying through a post-pop psychedelic alien wasteland. Aulisio’s claustrophobic scraggly line is really something to behold. The best examples are probably the shots of the bustling city, where he has the bravery to generously fill every nook and cranny of every panel with life and detail, providing depth, texture, and vibrating potential. It’s not mindless manic, though, he perfectly controls the reader’s eye in calculcated fashion, pushing you in and out, in and out, zooming in for close-ups, and pulling out to widescreen shots, in and out, in and out, in an almost sexualized hypnotic experience. At times, there’s an unabashed pop culture glee to the whole thing too; Bowman almost looks like a guy wearing a Skeletor mask riding an emaciated Garfield. Let me repeat that; it’s Skeletor riding Garfield. On top of that, it’s hard not to enjoy the unrestrained enthusiasm for the form that Aulisio seems to be reveling in, with lines like “I am David fucking Bowman.” It’s fun sci-fi adventure with heaps of attitude. There’s one small typo, “gawdy” vs. “gaudy,” but you should ignore that and pay attention to the main character’s willingness to embrace xenophobic tropes as a means to fuel the storytelling tension. He’s briefly imprisoned by these “dumb bastard” aliens, so that we can get one immaculate prison break sequence (with the aid of his new mysterious weapon), that takes us further down the rabbit hole. It’s some sort of wormhole/teleportation/crude volcanic Boom Tube thing, which culminates with the arrival of what looks like SpaceGod reality cops. YES. Even when Bowman is getting his ass kicked, he admits in adrenalized self-aware glory that “this is the coolest beat down I have ever seen,” which is exactly what the audience must be thinking with this transformative reading experience. This book is totally ape shit in all the right ways, not for the sake of just being an obtuse and reckless bout of storytelling, but for the sake of a creator tapping his unbridled imagination and capturing it on paper, which just happens to allow us to be taken along for the wild ride. Well, folks, I’m spent, out of breath, and ready for that satisfied post-coital smoke. So, thanks to JLo, thanks to Pat Aulisio, and thanks to Matt Moses at Hic and Hoc Publications. In a bid for total world domination, this dangerous new boutique publisher is now 3 for 3. So, watch out world, here they come. Their comics are the bizness, what are you making? Yeah, more like this, please. Grade A+.