Comics on the Can: Axiom Man issue #1

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Comics on the Can

 Axiom Man #1

Writer – Cayti Elle Bourquin

Illustrator – Judd Abinuman

Featuring guest artist – Pitbull!

No, I mean Primadork!

 

 (From the personal notes of super villain therapist Michael Colbert)

  “Ok, is this thing on? Sure it is. Today is my third therapy session with the super villain “Emperor Killalot-or” originally from the planet “Glurpvigninnew” but banished here when his subjects revolted, overthrew his reign of terror, and exiled him to a planet that they didn’t give a wet slap about. Because kicking some dude named “Emperor Killalot-or”, who has laser beam eyes, enough strength of crush a mountain with his thighs and can melt tanks with his breath to Earth makes it “Not Glurpvigninew’s problem” Thanks fuckers!

 Sorry, getting off track. This is his third therapy session since being defeated by the combined might of Captain Awesome, The Planet Patrol and Mosquito Hawk Man and imprisoned here in Ulta-Jail. I think we’re making great progress!

  Here he comes now, being wheeled into my office sealed up in a microscopic blackhole designed by The Cyber Monk himself to contain the unimaginable destructive power Killalot-or has. I can’t look at him directly because his gaze would drive me insane and melt my brain, just not necessarily in that order. So I communicate with him through a classic nintendo gameboy psychically wired to a bluetooth speaker.

  Though it is still too early to make a decision, my hope is rehabilitation of this god-like space tyrant into a productive citizen of the Solar Alliance.”

 

  “Good morning, Mr. Killalot-or.”

  “That’s EMPEROR to you, worm!”

  “Now we’ve discussed this; your title of Emperor was stripped from you when you were overthrown.”

  “And those maggots will pay for that betrayal by drowning in oceans of their own blood! Soon I will escape from this pathetic cell and visit my wrath upon both planets! The whole galaxy will cry out in anguish and pain! Begging for mercy, or at least a quick death, but none shall receive such a boon from EMPEROR Killalot-or!”

  “Ok, we’ll just put a pin in that for now. How are you feeling today? Have you meditated? Worked on the empathy exercises I printed up for you?”

  “I only meditate on your inevitable demise at my hand! I vaporized the exercise notes with a single thought! Other than that, I’m feeling a little… down.”

  “Care to share?”

  “Well… the Name ‘EMPEROR Killalot-or’ was spoken with outright terror from the Galactic core to the space lanes of the Truefalli to the homeworld of the Tepid Mauve Knights who swore to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy! But…”

  “But what?”

  “But I don’t think any sentient creature actually KNEW me! Ya’know… took the time to actually get to know me.”

  “Well, you vaporized most of them.”

  “AND THEY DESERVED IT FOR INCURRING THE WRATH OF THE FEARSOME EMPEROR KILLALOT-OR! MISERABLE, PUNY WEAKLINGS! ALL SHALL TREMBLE BEFORE MY MIGHT!”

 “Do you think that kind of attitude is inviting for people to get to know the real you?”

  “I guess not.”

  “Is laying waste to all people hold dear and crushing them beneath the iron boot of your will… friendly behavior?”

  “Not really.”

  “Remember, you get back what you put out into the world. If you put out murderous, oppressive vibes and/or a bottomless thirst for conquest… What do you get back?

  “Scared people… people who only know terror and fear when my name passes their lips or mandibles or whatever talking hole they have! People that quake in fear at the very THOUGHT OF EMPEROR KILLALOT-OR! FEAR THAT THEY WILL SOON FEEL THE MERCILESS GRIP OF MY GAUNTLET AROUND THEIR SCRAWNY THROATS! FACING THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY DRAW BREATH SOLELY AT MY WHIM! THAT THEIR PUNY LIVES CAN BE EXTINGUISHED IN THE BLINK OF MY FEARSOME EYE!”

  After a momentary pause “Oh, look, I’m afraid that’s all the time we have for today! I think you need to consider your attitude as a factor in how people react to you. See you Thursday.”

  “FEAR! YES, FEAR! TREMBLE IN FEAR AT THE THOUGHT OF MY WRATH! FOR SOON IT SHALL BE VISITED UPON YOU WITH FULL, IMMUTABLE FORCE!”

 Killalot-or’s cell is wheeled back out of the office and banished to the pocket “Dimension Null’ that contains his fearsome power and keeps his endless ranting from upsetting the other prisoners. 

  “Hurt people, hurt people” Michael mutters to himself. Then he retires to the bathroom to read a comic book in peace before his session with “Mega Abacus” the super intelligent counting machine bent on world domination.

 

 So, 9 times out of 10 Superheroes resolve conflict with grit, courage, a few well placed quips and VIOLENCE! Punching a super villain through a wall is SOP for any hero. HItting a space monster over the head with a city bus is pretty much the definition of “Male power fantasy” that is the bread and butter of most superhero comics. It’s cool, right? Comics would be pretty boring if heroes got a bank robbing villain to confess that they’re stealing the money because they’re upset about the effects late stage capitalism has on the mental well being of the underprivileged and they seek to remedy that. Then the heroes acknowledge the villain’s concern but suggest less destructive ways to address such economic imbalance. Perhaps some literature could be read? 

  More mature, grown up, but not fun, pulpy and testosterone pumping.

The idea that Batman does more harm than good by battling the Joker, Condiment Man and Clayface instead of bringing Wayne enterprises’ considerable resources to bear on the economic injustice pushing most of those purple and green dressed henchmen into a life of crime has been brought up on more than one occasion.

  It ain’t sexy though.

  Sure, there is always the occasional mutant dinosaur rampaging through the retail district or hyper dimensional Nazis menacing world freedom to contend with but “Crime fighting”, especially in a world with gray morality obvious in even the simplest narratives is a little outmoded and regressive.

  For example: I was one of the 12 people that saw “Shazam: Fury of the Gods.” and I liked it. But I couldn’t help thinking that if The Shazam fam had actually talked it out with the sisters, defined what their grievances were and worked together, a peaceful, mutually beneficial resolution could’ve been reached. Fucking cyclopses didn’t have to eat people in Philidelphia like so many delicious cheesesteaks. Lucy Liu’s character could’ve even got more bad guy points for saying “Fuck that, I want revenge too!” and the plot would’ve gone on the same arc.

  Being an adult, with an adult understanding of the world and the complexities that exist, undercuts that binary Good vs Evil outlook. I guess I’m just tired of the tropes most superhero comic books succumb to.

  Bourquin and Co seem to feel the same way.

  Right out of the gate they seem intent on kicking the legs out from such tropes. The main character, Alec Benton AKA AXIOM MAN, claims he has no dark origin story, no tragic past… he’s just “A nerd that was given the chance to make a difference.” He is also philosophical about the subjective nature of reality: “We all live in our own worlds, bubbles of our own making…” Then apologizes for getting too heavy.

  It should be noted that Bourquin is aware of the tropes and seems to set them up to subvert them. Axiom Man lives and fights crime in “Cityopolis” which is the name a Starbucks executive would come up with for a city. He foils a bank robber that goes by the moniker “Maxidrone Override”. They have a page a half chase where Override sics her bug like drones on AM. But that isn’t what this book is about. When she is captured, Axiom Man gives back the remaining drone and compliments Override on her work. Yeah, she’s arrested and taken to a facility named “The Zero Yard” but it’s a building that negates technology and superpowers not some empty negative universe or underwater prison.   

  Axiom Man connects Override to a device that allows him to enter her “inner world”, a post apocalyptic candyland/amusement park (illustrated by guest artist Primadork) and he teams up with a cyber child fairy version of Override. Because this is the kind of bizzaro stuff you can only really do in comics. They fight drone-like machines called “Grinders” and AM figures out the trauma that has been defining Override’s motives. She had been targeting companies that wouldn’t look at her tech work. Override’s sense of rejection was pushing her to steal, for attention.   

  Remember how the book opened on him musing about people living in their own bubbles? This whole sequence, taking up the lionshare of the book, dovetails nicely by restating the idea, and apparently the theme, of the story. Override has to serve her time but Axiom Man, by understanding where Override is coming from and addressing it in a responsible fashion, now has an ally and someone to help repair his equipment. Override finally feels like her skills and tech are valued. It may be a little rose colored and/or pat but damned if I wasn’t impressed with the “out of the box” approach to solving the problem presented here. Telling AND showing the ideas at play works spectacularly well, right down to the guest artist having their own little subjective spin through the book.

  Looking at the cover “Axiom Man” seemed pretty rote, that’s why I chose it from a pile of 5 for $1 comics one comic book day. I figured I’d have some decent cannon fodder for my snark. But having something akin to super villain therapy via guest artists and comic book science is a hell of an idea! It being well executed is a bonus on top of a surprise.

  Most indy comics are clumsy labors of love (see the link connected to Mosquito hawk man above), that’s a statement which is regarded as being self evident. “Axiom Man” goes with the more mathematical definition: A statement on which an abstract structure is based. Well done.

 

Points tangential to the main work but I couldn’t fit in organically

 

  Superhero therapists aren’t a NEW idea; the green haired Doc Sampson has been both punching and “working with” the Hulk and other heroes for decades. But you don’t see it as much as one might think.

  I heaped tons of praise on Ryan North’s “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” because she consistently overcame super villains by listening to them! I still use her convincing Kraven the Hunter to hunt giant squid in the ocean depths as a worthy challenge equal to hunting Spider Man as a classic example.

  Same with Mark Millar’s bit on “The Authority ” where the superhero team stopped a mad scientist and his dangerous creations by offering him a job! Genius!

Mosquito Hawk Man and the Tepid Mauve Knights were taken from my review of Black Jack Comics (see link above). Those comics illustrate how to do indy comics WRONG!

Mosquito Hawk Man and Tepid Mauve knights were my creations, not Black Jack Comics.

  A search for Cayti Elle Bourquin revealed “Paradox Girl” from 2019 as the only other comic work. If anybody knows this person tell them about this review.

  I guess Primadork is a fairly well known illustrator. He certainly plants his flag with that professional name.

My house is flooded with mosquito hawks! Though basically harmless, they are annoying just hanging around the bathroom, not finding mosquitoes, randomly losing limbs.

 So it’s only been 7 months since my last “Comics on the can”. I enjoyed this one for its surprise quality and the sheer craziness of my opening bit. Expect more sooner.

  Maybe.

 

Till then see ya in the funnybooks!

Anytime Costumes

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