GrimJack: "Night of the Killer Bunnies"
Welcome again to my weekly recaps of GrimJack, the best comic book ever. Sorry for missing last week's update. I was too busy throwing up everything I ever ate in my life. Stomach flu is unpleasant.
This week sees a bit of a right angle in the progression of the character of John Gaunt. Thus far we've seen writer John Ostrander and artist Timothy Truman go dark, then darker, then a little bit darker after that. Grime, graphic violence, and emotional and psychological devastation: this is what we've already come to expect from GrimJack. GrimJack invented "grim and gritty."
So where do we go from there? Why, talking animals, of course! From Starslayer #17, I give you the one-part, ten page back-up story: "Night of the Killer Bunnies."
And so begins the silliest, most hilarious GrimJack adventure this side of bowling with Judah the Hammer. (Who's Judah the Hammer? If you don't already know: never mind. That's getting way, way ahead of ourselves.)
John Gaunt has been hired by Gen'l Arn R. Khee, an adorable talking dog from the planet Ch'ukee, to help his people defend themselves from the lupoos -- or, as Gaunt translates for Gordon, "killer rabbits."
Gaunt's having second thoughts, perhaps prompted by the cutesy, Pogoesque malapropisms to which Arn R. Khee is prone ("GrimGaunt," "abominaboble," "excellentpertise"). The animals beg him to reconsider in the most pathetically obnoxious way possible:
That panel cracks me up every time, especially the line, "An' two hard-boiled eggs!" -- a sly if random tribute to the Marx Brothers and the famous stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera.
(Fast-forward to 4:21 for the hard-boiled eggs line.)
Gaunt takes the case, and rockets off to Ch'ukee, where he discovers, much to his chagrin, that everything there talks -- the trees, the flowers, even the sun, which is named Poot.
Gaunt disarms the Ch'ukee troops of their squirt guns, snowballs, and pillows, and begins training them in the use of real weapons. There are mishaps, naturally.
Gaunt has only a few days for training before the lupoos arrive. He leads his troops on an ambush, with one last piece of advice:
Unfortunately, the lupoos are nothing like the cute Ch'ukants. They are a bunch of savage thugs and killers. With pointy ears.
They kind of remind me of Jaxxon, from Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin's classic Star Wars comics:
When Gaunt sees what he and his gang of incompetents are up against, he signals the retreat. But of course it's not that easy.
The lupoos attack, and Gaunt and his team barely escape. Gaunt decides he needs reinforcements, and sends Bob back to Munden's via temporary dimensional portal (don't leave home without it!) to fetch help.
Remember what I said in my first GrimJack recap, about John Ostrander having a penchant for putting the word "Black" in the names of new black characters?
Blacjac is one of Gaunt's oldest and closest friends, and will come to be the most important member of GrimJack's supporting cast. He's a bit of a caricature here in his introduction, and never really sheds that jive accent, but trust me, he's a total badass, and a great character.
Gaunt briefs Blacjac on the situation:
Gaunt threatens to tell Goddess, Blacjac's girl, that he's been stepping out on her, so Blacjac reluctantly stays. Though he just can't get over the whole "bunnies" thing. Not without reason:
When the lupoos return, Gaunt, Blacjac, and the rest of the crew are prepared to meet them, and the fight begins with one last battle cry:
Of course, it wouldn't be GrimJack without some ultra-violence, so here is a picture of talking animals killing each other.
In the middle of all the carnage, Blacjac still can't get over the whole "bunnies" thing.
At last, the shooting is over, and the bunnies are all dead. Gaunt and his crew are victorious. It's time for Gen'l Arn R. Khee to settle up. Perhaps you can tell where this is going:
Yes, even the money talks on Ch'ukee. And it's very clingy. And completely worthless. All Gaunt can do is hitch a ride back to Cynosure with Blacjac, having learned a very important, very expensive lesson: never work with talking animals.
Two interesting announcements about GrimJack's near future are found in this issue. First, on the back cover:
GrimJack gets his own comic! Huzzah!
And announcement #2 comes at the close of the "Killer Bunnies" story:
Yes, GrimJack is about to crossover with Starslayer. What are the odds that a back-up feature written by John Ostrander and drawn by Timothy Truman would cross over with a main feature written by John Ostrander and drawn by Timothy Truman? Uh... pretty good, actually.
There are a couple of tidbits throughout the Starslayer story in this issue laying the groundwork for Gaunt's impending appearance. First we have Crayne, who is basically a con artist and a weasel, getting a warning from Tamara, captain of the Jolly Roger spaceship.
His name was... what? Oh, I wonder. If only she had completed that sentence.
Next, Crayne tells about how he accidentally on purpose led Torin MacQuillon (hero of the series) into a trap in the Pit.
Which one guy? Oh, if only they would complete their thoughts!
All this culminates with that one guy finally locating Crayne, in a big last page reveal.
Next week: we'll see how that turns out.