HEROES

The Fan Fiction Fanzine

Reviewing Bush43

By • Aug 15th, 2009 • Category: Reviews

BUSH43 http://www.artificecomics.com/archive/bush43.html

#1: “Shock The Monkey”
#2: “Where Oh Where…”
#3: “Sidekick”

My reading BUSH43 and becoming a fan of the series grew out of my painfully brief association with Artifice Comics, a website of original superhero fiction that has a tremendous amount of stories and characters. Some of those stories are so-so. Some are interesting. Some are totally wonderful in scope and sheer storytelling power. But only one is guaranteed to kick you in the nuts every time you read a new issue. And I mean that strictly in a metaphorical way but as you’ll see later on, the main character of BUSH43 literally does that every chance he gets.

Jason Kenney has been writing BUSH43 more or less regularly since 2002. That’s a lot of time to devote to a character. I know. I’ve been writing stories about my favorite character since 1993. So I think I understand the level of involvement and commitment Jason brings to BUSH43. I have no doubt at all he’s had a lot of fun in the writing but I have equally no doubt that he’s had a lot of moments where he wondered if it was worth it. Maybe if we all took a look at what he’s done starting from the beginning we can help him out.

BUSH43 #1 introduces us to the main character of the self narrated story, a nameless (for now) young man who claims that he woke up one morning and found himself possessed of several amazing abilities: super-strength, enhanced agility and total physical invulnerability. No lie. The guy loves to jump off of tall buildings and leave man-shaped depressions in the pavement when he lands. Remember those Road Runner cartoons and what happened when Wile E. Coyote fell off a cliff and hit the ground? It’s just like that.

Our intrepid hero has appointed himself the hero of Pacific City in the absence of it’s greatest champion, Millennium Man. And so he ventures forth into the night, ready to do battle with the forces of evil. Dressed in a business suit and a George W. Bush Halloween mask. Yeah, you read that right. He may be an aspiring superhero but Bush43 (as the young man calls himself) doesn’t exactly play by Queensbury of Marquis rules. In fact, when he prevents an attempted robbery his method of subduing the robber is simple, economical and direct: he kicks the guy right in the nuts.

Right here in this issue we get everything that I think would appeal to you: Jason’s insistence on taking the material seriously in a non-serious way. Bush43 is a superhero, sure, but he’s delightfully irreverent in a way that reminded me of vintage 1960’s Spider-Man or Daredevil. You know what I mean. Back when superheroing was dangerous, sure. But it could also be fun and stopping a mugger in a back alley was as satisfying as saving the world from Doctor Doom. Jason tells the story in a breezy, lighthearted style of prose that encourages you to sit back and enjoy yourself. Bush43 is a refreshingly low-tech hero. He gets around by running across rooftops. He does nightly patrols of the city. And when he’s hungry he stops and gets a snack at an all night diner. And in true 1960’s Marvel fashion, there happens to be a supervillain in the same diner. I’d really like to be able to go into detail about the supervillain Bush43 encounters in this issue but that would deprive you of reading for yourself some really funny stuff.

Jason’s a guy who knows how to write humor. Unlike a lot of writers I could name who think they’re the funniest thing since Chris Rock. Jason is one of those who actually know what is funny and how to use it to enhance the characters. He never makes the joke the point of the scene. The joke is used to give an added layer to what’s going on already. And as the series goes on Jason proves that he knows how to write several types of humor. There’s out-and-out slapstick. There’s screwball. There’s deadpan delivery. There’s wordplay. And there’s juvenile gross-out. But it’s all there for a reason.

#2 has one of the best verbal gags when Bush43 yells at a thief to “Stop by order of The President Of The United States!” which doesn’t sound so funny here but if you read it in the context of the madcap chase scene, I think you’ll get The Funny. And #2 introduces two of my favorite Bush43 villains who will play major pivotal roles later on the series: Happy And Sad. You wanna know how good these guys are? I think they’re villains that Bob Kane would be proud of. The two of them engage Bush43 to find a woman named Victoria Burke who just happens to be the superheroine Mysteria who Our Hero has a mad crush on. And it doesn’t make him feel any better that they apparently know his real name since they call him Mr. Carter. It’s an issue that doesn’t end on a particularly satisfying note.

#3 is total comedy from start to finish as Bush43 takes on a variety of supervillains such as Boombastic who I thought was kinda cool and the super fast purse snatcher Zoom Zoom who Bush43 catches when Zoom Zoom actually trips over his own feet as he busts his ass at super speed velocity. And the issue introduces us to a Bush43 groupie who fancies himself Bush43’s sidekick and who wears…what else? A Dick Cheney mask. He wants to stalk the dangerous night streets like his idol but Bush43 encourages him to direct his energies in other, more productive ways. The issue ends with the wannabe sidekick doing just that but not in a way that Bush43 anticipated.

It’s obvious Jason is having a whole lot of fun with this material and the writing is fresh and active. I think it makes for a quick and zippy read since Jason knows how to use passages of straight dialog to carry the story along and since a lot of readers nowadays don’t seem to want to have to read descriptive passages that’s an added bonus for them. Not that there aren’t any descriptive passages but they tend to come along more and more as the series progresses (we’ll get into that, don’t worry) and for right now, Jason seems content to just introduce you to his hero, his world and let the comedy and action carry things along while he works in the background laying down threads that he’s going to pick up later on in the series.

All of this good felgercarb I’m throwing out doesn’t mean I’m letting Jason off the hook entirely. Not at all. #3 is perhaps the weakest of the three issues since he apparently liked The Human Termite a whole lot more than I did. The issue is played entirely all for comedy which I don’t have a problem with but it’s also the weakest on motivation and descriptive. Jason is content to let the issue get by on one-liners and funny situations but he skimps heavily on character development and description. Which means that we get some good chuckles but the issue feels light and somewhat throwaway. And just because I freely acknowledge that Jason knows how to fall back on dialog to carry a scene doesn’t mean I like it all the time. Not that he doesn’t know how to pull it off. It’s just that I feel he tends to fall back on that particular strength of his maybe a little too much. Some more descriptive passages would give these early issues a more solid feel, add some weight, y’know?

And speaking of throwaway, one of the biggest beefs I have with BUSH43 is that it’s set in a city located in Australia. Not that I have any problem with Australia and in fact I hope to be able to visit it one day. But there’s nothing in the three issues that would lead you to think there’s any reason why this series should be set in Australia. In fact, BUSH43 could be set in any American city if you just went by the description and dialog. The mention that Pacific City is in Australia is tossed in almost as an afterthought. It’s just that I think that if you’re going to have a series set in another country then the writer should devote some wordage to making me as a reader feel as if the story is taking place in another country. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Despite the stones I’ve thrown I like the beginning three issues of BUSH43. Jason introduces his main character and some supporting characters who will become major players (keep an eye on the butler that shows up in #2) and lays down the tone that I like to associate with BUSH43: Fun, light-hearted superheroics with a hint of darkness at the corners. Read, enjoy and next month we’ll take a look at the next three issues. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

is a 32 year old happily married man who loves comics and the characters associated with them so much he writers Fan Fiction based on them. Currently He is the Editor in Chief of Altered Visions, Marvel Reborn, and Ultimate DC.
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