Friday, 2 September 2016

All-Star Section Eight Review (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)

All-Star Section Eight is the funniest comic I’ve read all year. It’s Garth Ennis and John McCrea once more gleefully pissing on superheroes and I laughed all the way through!

Spinning off from Hitman, Sixpack is somehow still alive and the only surviving member of Section Eight. But a new threat is coming and only they can stop it - Section Eight Assemble! Meet the new Dogwelder (a lunatic who welds dogs to things), Powertool (a prat with a drill in his face), Bueno Excellente (the world’s biggest pervert), Guts (supposedly a female whose guts are on the outside), Baytor (a thing that yells I AM BAYTOR!), and The Grapplah (The Grapplah!). Except together they are only seven - who will be the eighth in the new Section Eight?

This book is partly a fuck-you to superheroes though it’s mostly a bawdy comedy which is a genre you wouldn’t necessarily equate with Ennis but it’s one he does really well. Right away the piss-take begins with the title: All-Star, usually reserved for top tier characters like Superman and Batman, gets slapped onto this band of fuck-ups! The term “Section 8” is also used when someone is mentally unfit to serve in the military, so this is a book starring nutters! 

The main storyline is Sixpack - an overweight alcoholic whose catchphrase is “Damn this spastic colon!” - trying to recruit members of the Justice League to be the eighth in Section Eight, leading to Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman getting smeared with the shitstick. J’onn gets the worst of it when he sees Bueno and Guts going at it in the Ladies’ bathroom! 

The others have some utterly bizarre moments that are really funny. Dogwelder’s mask is possessed, The Grapplah jumps into random scenes to yell his line “The Grapplah!”, and Bueno has to battle a giant tapeworm in an Arthurian setting for Guts’ affections - everything about this is gross and hilarious. Bueno is sick, Guts is even worse, and praise Jeebus McCrea never once showed us what those two porking each other looked like! 

Ennis breaks the fourth wall with commentary on comics writers/readers/reviewers, but the most notable moment is when Sixpack watches The Phantom Stranger and Etrigan do a battle rap demanding DC publish a collected edition of Ennis/McCrea’s mid ‘90s run on The Demon (and it worked)! 

Superman is the one character who escapes untarnished as Ennis ends Sixpack’s deranged odyssey on a surprisingly poignant note. It is a largely chaotic story but there is a clear arc once you reach the end and it’s to Ennis’ credit that he can do something this bananas and still have it not just make sense but also seem arty too. 

All-Star Section Eight is a filthy, genuinely hilarious comic that you probably shouldn’t read and might even offend a few people. I thought it was an absolute riot though and I’m glad DC has enough of a sense of humour about itself and its characters to allow Ennis/McCrea to do something like this. 

In being as over-the-top gross and silly as possible, Garth Ennis and John McCrea have inadvertently also continued the quality associated with the All-Star title in All-Star Section Eight. If you decide to read this, pace yourself - read a couple issues a day rather than gobble it up in one go otherwise the filth might overwhelm you! I had an absolute blast with this one - recommended to everyone who loves toilet humour and superhero parodies!

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