The denizens of the night croak in fear.
I’m not entirely proud of that line, but it fits rather well with this cheeky and over-the-top book from across the pond. Ever wish that someone would do a Tick porn parody? Well, you need help. Also, you need this book. The Frogman Trilogy does for depraved indifference, explosive action, and sex-minded losers what Kermit did for numbers and letters. Filled with crass humor – sorry, mates. Humour – that maintains a high level of wit and enough nerd references to put Chris Hardwick into seizures, this is a story told by an idiot, signifying nothing. Wait, no, this is a book that knows what it is and never apologizes for it: a fun, mature-rated romp that reminds me of the “I don’t care. I love it” attitude espoused by films like Shoot ‘em Up (Seriously, if you’ve never seen it, please go check it out. Paul Giamatti is maybe the most fun villain I’ve ever seen.) and toddlers alike.
Mark Lewis and Matt Fitch are the brain trust behind this adolescent dream come true, and may god have mercy on their souls. This book lampoons a lot of the conventions of the Big Two as well as the Comics Code and moral decency. There are a couple of side characters who show up now and again to reinforce this idea, and I have a touch of suspicion that they bear a striking resemblance to the creators. There’s a lot of meta-book gags within that exist without entirely shattering the fourth wall. “Frogman #1” is a mostly straightforward action book with heavy doses of the style of humour that litters this graphic novel. “Frogman Returns” is a whole step up the ladder in the ridiculous department, with Frog Man encountering Man Frog, which is such a callout to the biggest goofy idea in the Batman universe (that has actually become one of my favorite d-list baddies. The Animated Series elevated the very ’50s sci-fi idea to something rather engaging, and The Arkham Knight handled the story with less gravitas but made for some of my favorite moments in that game.), where we are introduced to my favorite character in the entire book who comes back to wreck sh*t in “The Death of Frogman:” a squirrel with a serious attitude issue and the nuts that women want. That’s not dirty, he’s a squirrel. (Okay, for reals, it’s dirty as hell.) We are also treated to our warped tour guide’s vision of the burning hereafter, and though it’s rough on our “hero,” it’s a treat for us reading. I wouldn’t classify Frogman as the typical antihero, he’s just the antithesis of one. Selfish, repugnant, and a sore loser (which happens so often it might as well be a state of being for him), he blunders from one disaster to another where he tends to not help roughly every situation, leading to constant comedy gold.
Each part of the trilogy has a different artist, and the fact is called out in a couple of places to great effect. Creator Matt Fitch takes on the duties in “#1,” with clean lines and dirty intentions, plus the introduction of the wondrous “Froggy Style.” The action is clear and engaging, and the bedroom scenes are . . . imaginative. “Frogman Returns” is drawn by John Aggs, and the style shifts into a more detailed and somehow even more visceral style. The squirrel that I had mentioned above is dainty, cute, and quickly dispatched with abandoned. The action steps up a bit, as a good portion of this issue involves a chase scene and a load of third-act surprises. The final chapter is helmed by Gibson Quarter, and he seems to be the sickest of the bunch. It’s a good thing. Tasked with bringing the underworld to fiery life, he goes above, beyond, and somewhat to the left of the mark and makes it a place I’ve certainly no interest in ever visiting. Our departed micromammal returns and is the instigator of a beautiful, page-length panel that any comic fan will instantly recognize, though with the relative sizes of the players tweaked, it is worth some full-bodied chuckles at the very least.
If you are of sufficient age that “Corruption of a Minor” would not apply, this is a ball and gut-buster that will have you in tears for maybe more than one reason. Froggy style.
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