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    Fous à Masques de Luchador: A Guest Review of “Unfabulous Five” by Dr. Destruction [Review]

    By | September 8th, 2014
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    While we do not get the opportunity to do this as much as we’d like, today we have a very special guest article from our good friend and new crime boss, Dr. Destruction, as he reviews the recent release of “Unfabulous Five” from Humanoids.

    Bonjour, mes inférieurs! It is I, the world’s grandest hero, Dr. Destruction! You may know me for my exceptional work in the field of superheroics with my gang Les Formidables, as we remind the world of the true power of France. Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé!

    What you may not know about me, however, is that I’m also quite a critique littéraire as well — or, how you would say? A blogger. And as such, I’ve taken over the Multiversity of Comics to speak to you today about my great rivals, los Lucha Libre, and the new release of the biography that captures both my charm and their buffoonery.

    Collecting the illustrated work of Jerry Frissen and Bill that was originally published in my patrie magnifique France, “Unfabulous Five” gathers the story of my most famous skirmish with those five overweight, unruly and fairly idiotic luchadores who refer to themselves as ‘the Luchadores 5,’ as well as an extended story in which I am not involved. (Originally I was against its inclusion, but the publisher Humanoids was quite insistent on it and who am I to to turn down a chance to continuously portray these fools in a light so befitting of them, eh? Dr. Destruction is a homme du peuple!) And while the first story is clearly the better of the two, the second — which features the Luchadores repeatedly having their derrière handed to them by some fish men in leather jackets — makes for equally a charming reading.

    What makes this book so endearing, even the portions without me in it, is its continuous send-up of pop culture and the typical norms of what is found in the “superhero genre.” Granted, real life does not match fiction and the exploits of myself and my compatriots are much more grand and alluring than what can be properly captured on the page, of course — but in a time where we are inundated with stories of this variety that lean on the gritty and the sinistre, it is perhaps nice to remember a time when there was more amusement to the whole ordeal. Being a hero can be fun, and it is high time that we are reminiscent of this fact!  The “Unfabulous Five” collection is quite capricieux, or what you might refer to as light-hearted, spotlighting a romp through East LA as heroes and villains clash across different battlefields; but where our story stands apart from others is that our noses are never too stuck up to understand the sheer absurdity that comes along with five grown men in luchador masks fighting werewolves who steal car stereos.

    And, if we have to talk about the things that do not involve myself, it stands worth noting that the portrayal of the ‘Unfabulous Five’ (as the book wonderfully titles itself and this group of imbéciles) is quite funny. Surely it makes sense when portraying “heroes” of this nature to bring to them an honest lens that spotlights their inherent foolishness, but the book does a wonderful job of exposing them as they are, these self-named heroes who know nothing of culture or how to truly save the world like myself. We get a look at their daily lives in addition to when they run out into the night to battle the Creatures of the Black Leather Lagoon, but whether on purpose or not the book focuses on the ha ha of it all, a witty send-up against the types of books I see arriving weekly with men in tights and women in unreasonable positions. While I surely lament that this tome does not feature more of myself and my dashing heroics, one simple fact remains: this book is perhaps one of the best books available for your purchasing pleasure in finer shops everywhere this calendar year.

    This is at least partially down to the work of my biographer Jerry Frissen, who authentically captures my tonality as if it were he giving voice to my charisma. It is a bit difficult to pin down which aspect of Frissen’s writing I am most drawn to, whether it be his heroic portrayal of myself or the clear lampooning of the Lucha Libre, but while he certainly does not measure up to more famous French authors like Shakespeare or JK Rowling, Frissen brings with him a great ear towards the bon mots of it all. Comedy can certainly be difficult at times to appropriately portray, but Frissen makes it look easy; nearly every page comes with its own punch-line, let alone every panel, and the consistent and quite implacable humorous tone is never lost nor wavering throughout.

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    Frissen also writes a story here full of twists and turns. Seemingly impractical at times and entirely unpredictable at others, as the various plots weave together for their finale we’re given the privilege of enjoying this grand adventure in all its glory. These tales are remarkable for how simple they may appear on the surface but how complex they truly are, as any adventure befitting of someone like myself surely must be, and the books inherent deceptiveness remains one of its stand-out attributes. As my biography opens and we’re greeted with a shot of El Gladiador surrounded by bottles in his hovel of a home, and it is easy to make assumptions of the type of book we are about to read — but as we continue to turn the page and dig deeper into this world, the surprises never do quite let up until the final page reveals itself at last.

    Oh, and Bill! How I sing the praises of Bill, this brillant artiste. But what makes Bill’s work so special, especially in how it captures my likeness, is how vibrant the book is. His work is evocative of the comics I see coming from Japan; fairly cartoonish yet not without a certain sense of European animation, of vivacité. We find ourselves popping off the page with kinetic energy, drawing eyes across the pages as if we are the ones truly in control. It is so easy to lose yourself in this bright and plein de bulles portrayal of Los Angeles, a place where anything can happen and seemingly everything does, and it all comes from Bill’s charming renditions and reimaginings of our exploits.

    And what’s more impressive is how much life Bill manages to bring to the characters who appear. While I pride myself on my Fantomas-esque costume and vêtements, it should be worth noting that bringing life to the face of someone who remains covered by a mask throughout their adventures can be quite difficult. Yet Bill takes these masks and brings out from them a life of their own, whether it be from my own sense of attrait or the general comicality of the Lucha Libre, particularly in the second story. The masks we wear become just as much part of our identity and liveliness as the faces that exist underneath, and I would not have any less of someone who attempts to capture my magnificent likeness on the page.

    While these stories of myself and the others are nearly a decade old at this point, they remain never the less pertinent to the world we see today. There is certainly less French culture in your Americas than I deem appropriate, this is certain, but whether we find ourselves recalling the talents of Patrick Swayze or simply enjoy the remembrance of a forgotten pop song, “Unfabulous Five” is not so much a hidden bande dessinée gem as it is a book worth revisiting time and time again in whatever form we may find it. While “Unfabulous Five” makes for quite an amusing read as together we laugh at the feeble antics of los Lucha Libre, those héros pathétiques in the city of Angels, it is also a book that I couldn’t recommend any higher even if I didn’t have a semi-starring role in it.

    Should you find yourself with some time and an edition of the book through which to recall again and again my charming exploits, I’d certainly recommend it — and kudos to Mssrs. Frissen and Bill for their ability to charmingly recreate at least one adventure in the life and times of I, Dr. Destruction.

    Pour l’instant, au revoir.

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."