Want to know the real reason Sue Dibney had to die?
Care to find out what event shook the earth and caused the true Infinite Crisis?
Wonder what Final Crisis would look like through the eyes of a super-powered, all-seeing-but-rarely-comprehending man in a bug suit?
Look no further, DC fans. Ambush Bug has returned, and this time, he and his talking argyle sock are taking aim at all the recent (and upcoming) Crises in the DCU.
As Newsarama reported back in January, Dan DiDio and Coordinating Editor Jann Jones talked Keith Giffen into returning to Ambush Bug, the comical character he created back in the early 1980s, for a six-issue mini-series titled Ambush Bug: Year None. Giffen will both plot and pencil the comic, and will again get assistance on the character from writer Robert Loren Fleming, who will add dialogue. The first issue will feature a cover by J.H. Williams III, with a variant cover by Giffen himself, and word is that future issues will feature other top name aritsts who are anxious to help out with the return of the Bug.
According to Giffen, the editors agreed with him that comic books take themselves "too seriously" lately, and it's time to bring back the bug for a little healthy spoofing. And word is that the comic is sometimes getting away with proverbial murder, going after not only the more obvious flubs and flukes of the recent DCU, but sometimes poking fun at things in a way that will probably not only elicit laughs, but also a resounding, "I can't believe they did that."
Since the first issue has been solicited for July and several issues have been penciled, Newsarama asked DC to share some art from the comic, and we invited Giffen back to talk a little about what it feels like to return to both the Ambush Bug character and the process of penciling interiors.
Newsarama: Now that you're pretty well into this series, how does it feel to get your hands back on the Bug?
Keith Giffen: Well, it feels great now. When DC first called me -- and yes, this was DC's idea, not mine -- when I first accepted the project, and Bob Fleming came on board, and now [Allen] Milgrom on the inks and everything like that -- I was kind of nervous. It had been 15 years since I had drawn any kind of Ambush Bug project. There was that concern, can we pull it off again? Or will we be sort of embarrassed by comparison to our older work?
But it was really like slipping on a pair of old comfortable slippers. Once I put pencil to the page, it just kept getting easier and easier and easier and easier. Working with Bob, it was almost like we picked up where we left off. We're having a ball.
NRAMA: You had said before that you were going to poke fun at all the Crises, right?
KG: Yeah. The basic premise of the six issues is Ambush Bug romps through DC's six big events -- the current big events -- Identity Crisis, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown to Final Crisis, and Final Crisis. But as with most Ambush Bug stories, that's just a really loose structure. So we have very loose themes for these issues, but you can enjoy the Ambush Bug stories without having the slightest idea what went on in Identity Crisis, or what went on in any of these crossovers because one of the rules we're operating by is that if you have to have read the source material to get the joke, it doesn't work and you have to throw it out.
It's the same concern with Ambush Bug that I had when we did Formerly Known as the Justice League and I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League. Can you catch lightning in a bottle twice? And with Ambush Bug, it's up to the fans to decide, but we're just having more fun than we should be allowed to have.
NRAMA: For somebody who's never read Ambush Bug before, who is he? Or do you ever explain who he is?
KG: Every time we tell Ambush Bug's origin, we tell a different origin. But I've always looked at it as Ambush Bug is sort of the character who's aware that he's in a comic book, and is aware of comic book absurdities. He's kind of the innocent abroad. I think part of Ambush Bug's appeal is he's not cruel, he's not mean. He's kind of innocent and oblivious to things going on around him. Most of the humor is generated from that. And I'll say right up front, that heart and that innocence of the character comes directly from Bob Fleming, because if I did Ambush Bug solo, I know he'd be a darker character.
It's kind of difficult to describe a character like this. We've worked on the character so much and we've told so many stories with the character, but I'm still not 100 percent sure I can put my finger on exactly what the appeal is of the character. I know what the appeal is to me. It's a chance to goof around, and peel up the carpet and point out the stuff that was swept under it. I think if you ask five different people, "Who is Ambush Bug?," you'll get five different answers. And I kind of like it like that.
NRAMA: How is it getting back to penciling?
KG: Had I not had those two years of doing all the breakdowns for 52 and Countdown, I think it would have been agony. But that kind of reminded my hand how to draw. With all the other books that I'm handling, when I actually sit down and focus on Ambush Bug, it's easier than I thought it would be. It's never a full day's work. It's like 3 to 6 or 7, if I'm lucky. When I work on Ambush Bug, I average a page a day. So I don't want to hear crap from any artist saying, "I can't make it, man!" No, no, no, no, no. And I'm going out of my way to make Ambush Bug look as good as any book on the market. In other words: no, it's not going to be a deliberately cartoony style; no, it's not going to be this odd book that visually stands out from the other books or art that is an acquired taste. I'm very deliberately trying to do a book that the art is right up there with some of the best DC books. Whether I succeeded or not is up to the fans.
NRAMA: And DC is OK with you spoofing all these comics?
KG: This is DC backing Ambush Bug completely. Other times when we've done Ambush Bug, it was kind of like guerilla warfare.
NRAMA: It's surprising that there's no negative reaction from DC here, because you're attacking the top stories, including Final Crisis. They haven't said there were any characters or stories that were off limits?
KG: The entire DCU is open to us. I've taken advantage of that. I've handed in pages and held my breath and wondered, OK, can I go too far? And so far the stuff is just sailing through. The huge amount of support we're getting from DC proper in just being allowed rampage through the DC Universe is kind of stunning. It's nice that they have that much faith in this, but it's also scary that they have that much faith in us.
NRAMA: And you're getting to play with some of the bigger characters if they're letting Ambush Bug dance through the big events, aren't you?
KG: Oh yeah! Everything! Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Darkseid. We're going to be going after Final Crisis while Final Crisis is going on. And people have just been really wonderfully cooperative. I think I've had to call two people and run stuff past them.
NRAMA: Can you share who that was?
KG: Not at this point. Not without giving away story points. But in both cases, they were like, "Absolutely!" Sometimes I think Ambush Bug is becoming like that Jimmy Kimmel video. You know? It's kind of a weird left-handed honor to have something of yours involved in it. I don't know... maybe Ambush Bug is like being insulted by Don Rickles when you're sitting in the audience? You don't really take it too seriously, and you're kind of pleased that he chose you.
NRAMA: You got noticed.
KG: Yeah! You got noticed. So there is that. But nobody has come back to us and said, "Oh no! You'll diminish my character!" or "Oh no! I've got big plans for the character and you'll marginalize him!" There hasn't been any of that. The support has been overwhelming. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. But that's just me.
I think I'll just wait for this mini to start off. I'm kind of in an all Avengers, all the time mode for back issues. I got accustomed to New and Mighty and forgot how much better they used to be before.