Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Comics Review: RICHIE RICH: RICH RESCUE #4 (September 2011, Ape Entertainment)

You... ah... darn dirty Ape! After surprising and pleasing me with the thoroughly enjoyable RR:RR #3, and getting me excited about seeing the plot threads of what can now only laughably be called a "miniseries" neatly tied up in this final issue, you give me... a thoroughly blah, occasionally nonsensical yetis-poachers-and-ninjas tale that could have been chucked into any old stand-alone issue. I honestly feel as if I've been had. What grade can I possibly give for the four-issue "arc-that-wasn't" but an "Incomplete -- See the Instructor"?

I'm only mildly disappointed that Marcelo Ferreira, rather than James Silvani, was tasked with drawing "Yen for a Yeti." I would still prefer that Silvani handle the lead stories in issues of the continuing series -- and he does pen one of the backup stories here, which come with their own set of nits ripe for the picking -- but the real problem here isn't Ferreira's manga-ish artwork, it's a Jason M. Burns and Nathaniel Sharir script that forces me to dig back into my stash of out-of-date vocabulary and label "lame-o." How else could you describe a story that includes Reggie confusing the words "sherbet" and "sherpa" and the lead bad guy gloating, "We like our endangered species the same way we like our eggs... poached!" At least Gloria only used the line "Are we there yeti?" as a gag at the end. Logic takes a holiday as we are asked to believe that Mrs. Rich (who is said to be off on her own "mission" with Mr. Rich, whatever that means) sent Rich Rescue on a wild-goose chase after a nonexistent "artifact" just knowing that the team would run into a mission (saving a yeti from the poachers) that would remind them of the overarching importance of showing "compassion." As if the gang hasn't already displayed such commitment when they have had the opportunity to do so. But a bigger gaffe than any of these is the cynical refusal to perform the hard work of pulling the threads together and completing a satisfyingly whole narrative. I certainly think that a miniseries should accomplish THAT, if nothing else. Both newbie RICHIE readers and "old-school" sorts like myself would agree on that point.

Kevin Freeman and James Silvani's "Give a Dog a Bone" continues the book's "Uk-wuk?!" tone by giving us a story co-starring Dollar and... Buck. Buck Showalter? Buck Rogers? Bucky Beaver? Nope, a hitherto-unseen (at least, to MY knowledge -- Mark Arnold may know better) member of the Rich family K-9 Corps. The diamond collar certainly suggests as much. I'd like to believe that "Buck" is a reference to Dollar's original name, which dates back to the Dollarmatian's late-60s origin story, but that may be giving Freeman too much credit. I must admit that the byplay between the dogs is rather amusing; Buck is a little more "cartoony" and enthusiastic, while Dollar generally plays it deadpan. Perhaps Dollar was conserving his strength because of all the computerized bone-finding gear that he has stored in his collar. I mean, that stuff must weigh at least a hundred pounds. No doubt the origins of Buck, like the ultimate plans of The Condor, will be revealed in the continuing series... at least, I would like to think so. Otherwise, we're back to this famous scenario, which is not a place where Ape wants to be. (Oh, the plot... the dogs dig up a dinosaur skeleton. THAT, at least, I have seen before.)

"Unhappy... uh, Happy Birthday" brings back Ernie Colon and Sid Jacobson... and the original Irona, Bascomb, Chef Pierre, Gloria, Mr. and Mrs. Rich, I'm happy to say. Amazingly, we also get another (apparently) new pet, in this case a white cat with cent signs rather than Dollar's dollars. The brief plot doesn't really work unless you buy Richie as being REALLY STUPID, and Colon's figure drawing is a little stiff, but I do like the backgrounds, and the coloring is quite nice. As a sort of lead-in to the RICHIE GEMS reprint title -- which perhaps should have been advertised at the end of the story, somehow -- this was not a bad idea, though the execution is only so-so.

Even the usually reliable "Keenbean's Corner" gag falls a bit short here, as Irona (whose abilities the Prof is showing off) suddenly acquires the ability to multiply at will (or by magic, whichever you prefer). So I'm heading into the continuing-series era with mixed feelings, in the end. I've gotten more enjoyment out of this title than I had expected, but the missteps and oversights in #4 have made me a little more nervous about how the book is being managed and guided. Ape will get a fair chance to put my doubts at ease, though.

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