by Andy Wolverton
Originally published in digital format through Thrillbent — a digital comics site created by Mark Waid and John Rogers — Aw Yeah Comics! And… Action! (Dark Horse Comics) is a kid-friendly all-ages comic featuring crime fighters Action Cat and Adventure Bug. Of course every superhero needs an alter ego, and these guys may have the best set-up going: Cornelius (the cat) and Alowicious (the bug) work in a comic book store in Skokie, Illinois, called Aw Yeah Comics, a store owned by a bear named Hammond, who may just have some superpowers of his own. (And there really is a comics shop in Skokie called Aw Yeah Comics. I don’t think Cornelius, Alowicious, and Hammond work there, but ya never know.)
Always on the alert to squelch dangerous criminal activity, Action Cat and Adventure Bug are on the lookout for the always-deadly Evil Cat, who plans to “stomp the City of Skokie with a giant pancake!” This initial story is colorful, crazy, hilarious, and just plain fun, which is exactly what an all-ages comic should be. And this is just the first story!
While Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans, Young Justice, Itty Bitty Hellboy, Superman Family Adventures) and Franco Aureliani (Superman Family Adventures, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, NinjaTown) write and draw the longer main stories in this collection, several other creators contribute a number of one- and two-page stories that take place in the Action Cat/Adventure Bug universe. Those creators are Arthee, Jim Anderson, Nicolas Aureliani, Audrey Baltazar, Denver Brubaker, Jamie Cosley, Jeff Couturier, Chad Derdowski, Haas, Marc Hammond, Scoot McMahon, Brad and Theo Meltzer, Aaron Pittman, Polito, Alejandro Rosado, Chris Zod Smits, Kurt Wood, and Zac. The writing and art styles of these stories are similar enough to those of Baltazar and Franco that most young readers probably won’t notice much of a difference. Even if they do, they’ll undoubtedly be having so much fun, it won’t matter.
Aw Yeah Comics! And… Action! (collecting issues #1-4) certainly contains plenty of fun and games, puns and gags, but it also does many other things well, such as poking fun at our fascination with cell phones, video game culture, and superheroes, sidekicks, and villains in general. But perhaps the most impressive part of the book is its handling of gender issues in comics. When Action Cat and Adventure Bug join forces with Adorable Cat and Shelly Bug, the result is both clever and funny, yet reveals a lot about how we think of male and female superheroes.
I don’t think it’s possible to have a bad time reading Aw Yeah Comics! And… Action! regardless of your age. It’s clear that Baltazar, Franco, and friends have put a lot of thought into creating a fun all-ages comic that parents, teachers, and librarians should celebrate. In fact, the only thing you should fear from Aw Yeah Comics! And… Action! might be giant pancakes in the Skokie area.
Get Aw Yeah Comics! And…Action! as well as other works by Art and Franco: