The Fan Fiction Fanzine

Reviewing Bush43 #2

By • Aug 15th, 2009 • Category: Reviews

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

#4: “I Scream, You Scream…”
#5: “Rainy Day” (Presentation III)
#6: “Welcome To The Nuthouse”

Greetings and salutations and welcome back to the second installment of a series of reviews about the original superhero fiction series BUSH43 which you can find at the address above if you’re so inclined. And if you’re not inclined them I’m sure you find something else that you consider more worthwhile to do. But then you’d have let all my hard work go for naught and we don’t want that, do we? In any case, last time out we looked at the first three issues of Jason Kenney’s series so I’m not going to go into what happened in them. You can always go back and read that review, you lazy git. No, here we believe in always moving onward and forward. So let’s get to it, shall we?

We pick up our hero in #4 where he’s still going about his work as the newest superhero of Pacific City. Bush43 has adopted a lot of the conventions of comic book crimefighters, such as nightly patrolling the city. And Bush43 continues to meet supervillains that fall into two categories: either their played for out-and-out comedy like Flatulence (and I’m positive you can guess what his superpower is) or Teapot, who turns out to be a little bit more than our hero can handle and he needs some help from another of Pacific City’s superheroes. Like the previous issue this one is fairly short and feels lightweight. It reads as if Jason is in a holding pattern while he gets to the stories that he considers more important to the overall story he wants to write. Understand me; I don’t think that every story has to be a massively weighted tome full of deep meaning and symbolism. But #4 has a vibe to it where Jason seems determined to have his cake, eat it and then eat yours as well, dammit. Let me explain: as you know by now BUSH43 is mostly written from the POV of the main character so we’re stuck in his head for much of the issue. But Jason freely jumps into other characters heads or even decides to go Third Person whenever he wants. It all depends on where the story is going.

So in #4 he jumps into Bush43’s head which is played strictly for laughs and then takes us into Teapot’s head which is dark, dangerous and makes a snake pit look like a weekend at Mohegan Sun. It’s interesting to see Jason go back and forth between the two POVs. Matter of fact I think I could make a legitimate argument that the whole issue is an excuse for Jason to see if he can pull it off. How well he does so depends on your tolerance for switching POVs in the middle of a story. Some would say it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Me, I’m a little more tolerant.

Now by the time we get to #5 we begin to see that there’s a pattern or formula to these stories. Some uncharitable souls would come right out and say Jason’s in a rut. I’m a little more generous. These stories were written over a period of time and not one right after another so Jason may not have been aware of what he was doing. Or maybe he was. I don’t know and I didn’t ask him because I didn’t want my reviews to be flavored by discussing them before I wrote them. I just wanted to write them cold, just as I read them and let my impressions dictate the way the reviews should go.

But the formula goes like this: the issue opens with Bush43 on patrol. He runs across a supervillain that either has a funny power or a lethal one. Through sheer luck Bush43 defeats the supervillain. In between we get a whole lot of funny one-liners that make up for a lot of shortcomings in terms in lightness of plot and story. And make no mistake; the plot and story is so light in this one you can see right through it. Bush43 encounters an old enemy in this one but the real threat comes from a robot hunter that shows up near the end of the story. What makes this robot so fearsome is not just its power but the fact that it knows Bush43’s real name and as any real superhero can tell you, the last thing you want is anybody knowing your true identity.

#6 is where things really start to get serious for Our Hero. And for Our Writer as well. Because it seems as if Jason as at last gotten to the story he wanted to tell for some time now. Jason moves the story forward into a darker strain as Bush43 wakes up inside of the fearsome Alhazred Asylum. It’s the sort of place that I imagine was built by the same guys who designed Arkham Asylum. But this time they got it right. In 90 years no one has ever escaped from Alhazred. And it’s specifically built to contain superhuman patients. Such as Jeffery Carter. “Who?” I hear you ask. Jeffery Carter, I reply. That’s the real name of Bush43 and that’s all you’re going to get from me as I wouldn’t deprive you of learning a lot of information about him that is revealed in this issue. It’s almost like a flashback episode of “LOST” where we get to know an awful lot about a character we’ve been following for some time.

Jeffery engages in a sort of verbal wrestling match with the mysterious Dr. Tage who knows everything and I do mean everything about Jeffery and appears determined to ‘cure’ him of whatever emotional/psychological dysfunction that compels him to put on a mask of George W. Bush, of all people and fight crime nightly. One of the things I greatly like about this issue is that Jeffery’s only weapon is his sarcastic tongue and defensive humor which are the only things he has to fight with and as the ‘counseling’ between Jeffery and Tage continues his humor becomes more brittle and his wit more ragged and the ending scene of this issue is truly chilling because Jason has properly invested and engaged us with the struggle between these two men.

It’s an excellent move for Jason to switch up with this issue and take us out of the formula he got into with the previous issues. In terms of mood, length and psychological drama it’s about as far removed from the giddy, gleeful Jack Cole inspired zaniness of the previous five issues and suddenly it’s as if Rod Serling has hijacked the series. It works greatly for me as a change of pace issue and the information we get out Our Hero doesn’t hurt and adds to the charm and mystique about him. During the course of this issue he becomes more than just a wisecracking goof and we get our first hints that there’s something far more about him.

So if you’ve started reading BUSH43 there’s certainly no reason to stop now. The three issues we’ve discussed here are certain to continue your enjoyment of the series. I see that our time is up. If you’ll kindly step into the other room refreshments will be served and yes, I will be signing autographs. Please be sure to come on back next month as we continue our series of discussions on BUSH43.

Doug Bookey
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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