There’s little surprise that Larfleeze would eventually get to star in his own series seeing as he’s unarguably one of the most popular creations of the Johns era. Spinning out of his feature in Threshold, Keith Giffen is re-teamed with J.M. DeMatteis and artist Scott Kolins to present us with Agent Orange’s continuing adventures. Today’s release of the first issue finds Larfleeze still pining for his lost treasure that he stole from himself in the Threshold series and stepping into a fresh batch of cosmic dog doo doo.
Whether or not you enjoy this issue will depend on how much funny you like in your funny books. As someone who loves comedy and is known to throw around more than my fair share of groan inducing one-liners I surprisingly don’t turn to comic books for a source of laughter. For me it’s pure adventure and escapism with the levity kept to a level that serves the story, not replaces it. That’s where I run into problems with Giffen’s handling of Larfleeze in that everything revolves around a punchline and after a couple of pages it goes from slightly funny to annoying to “I can’t wait for it to be over”. That’s just my opinion and I encourage you to pick up the issue and see if it’s to your liking. For me, it just isn’t.
Gone is the interesting multi-faceted Larfleeze who is a tragic figure who, like Golum from The Lord of the Rings, finds himself a victim of his own personal failings, forever trapped in life that has made him a prisoner to his own lust. What has made Larfleeze one of my favorites was how the humor, which comes from the over the top nature of pure unadulterated greed, is juxtaposed against the irony of how much Larfleeze lost in his pursuit of gain. Giffen’s Larfleeze is the punchline of a relentless wave of humor, lacking the dimension and emotional resonance that for me is so much a part of his charm.
|It’s hard to take Larfleeze as a serious threat amidst the torrent of humor.|
In this issue Larfleeze recounts his origins and there’s no way of knowing how much of this is pure embellishment on his part. We’ve previously been shown that Larfleeze is not his real name and that there is great honest emotion with regard to a family that he has lost. In this installment we are treated to a re-telling that flies in the face of all of what we think we know, and while it’s clear to the experience reader that the vast majority of the story is made up there’s the fact that this is a first issue and for the novice reader this in large part creates the impression that Larfleeze is a one dimensional character who led a miserable life unable to have seen just how deprived it was.
Larfleeze would have us believe that he was birth in a field, dragged along by his umbilical cord by an uncaring mother and hated by his siblings as he failed to see his world for the harshness that it really was. Taken into slavery he somehow knew enough about combat to cause a insurrection against his captors to eventually become a master thief, stealing the map to Okaara from Oa while captive there for the previous crime of stealing Parallax from the Guardians of the Universe.
The whole point of Larfleeze recounting his life’s story to his butler, Stargrave, is simply to pass time while we wait for something to really happen, which it does in the last six pages when a giant cosmic dog attacks and Larfleeze dispatches it only to discover that the dog belonged to the Laord of the Hunt. His convenient arrival gives Larfleeze a reason to go on since he’s lost his power battery and all his possessions.
|Even when there’s a serious moment to be had it is undercut by yet another punchline|
Kolins artwork echoes the lighter tone for the series and the panel layout is very engaging. On the downside when there are moments that might be more dramatic the cartoony style undermines the credibility of those scenes. The combination of the script and Kolins art complement each other however I think in the end it’s makes the book all the more difficult to take seriously.
As a reviewer there’s always going to be those books that don’t click with you and like Threshold before it this is a series that isn’t grabbing me, at least not with this first issue. It’s not really a question of quality per se because this issue isn’t bad, it’s just not what I’m looking for in a Larfleeze series. I have no problem with irreverent characters but to me that’s a part of who Larfleeze is but it’s far from all that he encompasses. I’m not giving up on the book with the first issue, but I can honestly say I’m not looking forward to the next issue with any level of enthusiasm for the series. That’s just my opinion and your mileage may vary depending on your tastes. For me it gets two out of five lanterns.
- ‘Larfleeze’ #1 First Look Gives The Cult Lantern His Moment In The Sun(geek-news.mtv.com)
- Green Lantern #21 Review(blogofoa.com)