The first two pages of this RED 5 book show a unique twist on a couple of Batman and Robin homages, going even further in the following pages with more in-jokes than you can shake a Mylar bag at. And that’s a good thing, because the writer of this adventure is the creator of the grand daddy of all fan films, TROOPS, which also means Kevin Rubio has instant nerd appeal for the rest of his life. His twist on the classic teen hero tale in Abyss proudly displays his ode to, and parody of, superheroes. With TROOPS and his work on Dark Horses’ Star Wars: Tag and Bink Were Here showing equal parts adoration and good hearted mocking for the SW universe, Rubio moves onto our most beloved of all pop culture creations – spandex escapades.
Young Eric Hoffman is going through the motions of his life now that his famous father is dead. With his military uncle showing him what his Dad left him, comprising mainly of lots of hi-tech toys and international organizations, Eric seems less and less enchanted. Then he sees his Dad standing before him AND at the same time, realises he was the infamous Abyss, notorious super villain. Suddenly Eric’s interested, not in continuing his father’s legacy, but in creating a new, heroic one.
Dad’s lair includes nice touches, such as amass of kryptonite, and a signed photo of Ozymandias from Watchmen, contained in what looks like a cross between the Batcave and a Bond villain’s hideout. Eric’s quest to save his father’s latest evil scheme is noble in intention, but full of mistakes in execution. He eventually convinces the heroic Green Arrow-like Arrow and his new partner, the young female Quiver (whom Eric promptly asks out on a date) that he’s not at all like his pop. A reluctant team-up, a kidnapping, another reluctant team-up (on both sides of the conflict), fake deaths and good humoured jabs at Comic-Con, Kingdom Come, superhero transport, the jobs of Supes and Bats alter egos and more abound for the rest of the story as the battle draws near.
Long time comics readers will definitely get more out of this than those less familiar with the history of The Big Two, but that shouldn’t dissuade newcomers. Funny is funny, no matter how full your noggin is with geeky knowledge, and Rubio is wise enough to put just enough jokes in to satisfy a wide audience. Case in point, when Eric asks Arrow how he makes his money to pay for all his gadgets, the archer replies, “the old fashioned way – merchandising!” Nice. With lines like that, and great facial expressions (thanks to Tag and Bink artist Lucas Marangon) and timing that could make this duo the next Giffen/ DeMatteis/Maguire (1980s Justice League) this is an entertaining, brisk read.
Certain sequences brought back fond memories of Sergio Aragone’s classic Mad magazine margin gags, or the humourous background action in most of the Zuckers/ Abrahams (Hot Shots, Naked Gun) films, especially the clever “scrolling” news headlines scene. With all this from the original four ish mini, some great looking costumes, a healthy dose of wit, the series original covers which reference famous classics, plus an intro by Blair Butler (TV’s Fresh Ink) and Rubio, this is a well rounded entertaining little number. Abyss reminds us that it’s good when nerds can laugh at themselves, I mean – ourselves.
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