Review: ‘Spacebat and The Fugitives: Tacos @ The End of the World’
Spacebat and The Fugitives: Tacos @ The End of the World
Writer/artist: Chris Sheridan
Top Shelf Productions; $14.99
First of all, don’t confuse Spacebat with Space Bat. The former is the main character in a new all-ages sci-fi adventure comic from Motorcycle Samurai‘s Chris Sheridan. The latter is the bat who was seen clinging to the tank of NASA space shuttle Discovery during a 2009 launch, achieving some degree of Internet fame. Despite their similar names and the fact that they are bats who have adventures in space, they have relatively little else in common.
Sheridan’s Spacebat is a human-sized, humanoid blue bat in a cape and space suit, capable of flying on the little leathery wings in his armpits when he’s shirtless. With big ears, big yellow eyes, and a pronounced underbite, he’s a visually striking character with the rough-hewn, salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar charm of previous comics heroes like The Fantastic Four’s Ben Grimm or Hellboy.
The other half of Sheridan’s title, The Fugitives, are a trio of rebellious genius kids who escaped from the Academy of Science on a stolen spaceship and are on a mission to save the universe from a super-scientist with malicious plans to un-make and then remake all of time and space in his own image. To achieve their goal, they need some muscle, which is why they pick up Spacebat from the lifeless planet Zearth, where he was engaged in battle with robots using his ion-sword.
As for the tacos? One of the fugitives, Felix, really likes tacos, and so they eat some while staking out the villain on planet Mearth.
Sheridan’s comic is a lot of fun, and it is at its most fun when its heroes are engaged in fast-paced set-pieces—robot fights, spaceship chases, Return of the Jedi-like speeder bike chases, a team-up with a talking mountain on an inhospitable planet—or when Sheridan is engaged in what feels like off-the-cuff, almost free-associating world-building, like Spacebat’s back-pack mounted weaponry, his habit of smoking cacao cigarettes, and the ins and outs of travel to and through a planet where nothing organic can survive.
Sheridan has a knack for super-simple design work, and more often than not he chooses a frenetic, semi-sketchy style of rendering his characters and their actions that can devolve into a few jagged strokes and shapes. The resultant work is perhaps a little looser than some young readers might be ready for—visually and verbally, some passages read more like an art comic than a genre one—but his style is incredibly well suited to the fast-paced action scenes and the rather heady ending. That’s where Spacebat and his foe travel through time and space, and the pictures in the panels include atoms and cells splitting, eyes opening and closing, and a giant flying pyramid appearing and disappearing. Plus explosions, speed lines, and waves of energy.
Perhaps there’s something Spacebat and Space Bat have in common. Reading Spacebat and The Fugitives probably feels pretty similar to what hanging on to a gigantic rocket as it blasts off towards space must have felt like to that little bat.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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