Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) 
Benjamin Marra
Traditional Comics

Sometimes I think I'm tired of Ben Marra's gimmick, and then I'll crack open a book like Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and I'll realize that apparently that's not true.  His comics are a lot like Danny McBride's comedy in that regard.  Danny McBride is playing pretty much the same character in almost every movie he does, and when you think about it it's pretty tiresome seeing this same macho, vulgar, fat guy swearing at James Franco or whoever, but what sets Danny McBride aside from the TJ Millers of the world is that Danny McBride is so fucking good at being that guy.  He's so good at it that his repetition becomes less a point against him, and more something you can depend on.

Same with Ben Marra comics.  You know the gimmick: that late-night Skinemax vibe, the aggressive patriotism, crudeness, ridiculous violence, 80's action movie VHS excess, and those ugly little hands tightly grasping switchblades and uzis.  Granted, Marra is a fairly accomplished, classically trained artist, so these comics look the way they do because of an aesthetic choice, and not because of an amateurish necessity, but this aesthetic choice has remained in play for almost all of his comics work.  I think it's understandable that one would experience a sort of fatigue after reading comic after comic after comic after comic full of this.

Maybe it's just because I hadn't read a Ben Marra comic in a while.  I missed out on Sacred Prism's Blades & Lazers, and I think the last one of his I'd read was Ripper & Friends, which I think was more down with conceptually than I was with actually reading it.  I think taking a long break from reading Marra's comics played a part in me enjoying Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), but that's definitely not the only thing that got me to enjoy this one.What I like most about Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) is how it feels like watching a kid reenact a shitty 80's action movie from a video store's leftover pile.  I like how much joy Marra seems to be getting from drawing this comic, as if each panel was drawn just to make him laugh.  Publishing this comic seems like letting us in on his joke.  And while the joke is pretty similar to the joke in his other comics, it's still a lot of fun, and nobody does that joke better right now.

There's this thing that he does where he has characters in panels tersely describing exactly what is happening in that panel.  It's a funny throwback to older comic book storytelling, but he just keeps doing it over and over for page after page, and it never stops being funny.  The more it happens, the funnier it seems to get, and maybe it's this sort of irreverence that had me feeling like this was one of the freshest Ben Marra comics I'd read in years.  I think my fatigue with his comics happened because I just got tired of that exploitation vibe that he creates with his comics.  I get that the exploitative tone is a specific part of the style of story he's telling and poking fun at, but again, I feel like too much can wear thin on a person's tolerance for that sort of thing.  I think the fact that Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)'s focus seems to be more on irreverence and absurdity rather than edgy subversiveness is what makes this feel like a fresh Ben Marra comic.  Those exploitative aspects still remain, but they never really seem to be the focus, which allows more of the humor to shine through.

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