In an irregular series, i.e., when he feels like it. Luke takes a look at Maestro Carlos Ezquerra’s work that may have been overlooked by Squaxx.
Bob The Galactic Bum
By Alan Grant, John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Dan Brown and digital Chameleon
Review by Luke Williams
During the late eighties and nineties Wagner and Grant were a writing machine, pumping out the goods for IPC, they had crossed the Atlantic and were delivering for DC as well.
Most famously, they worked on “Batman”, and theirown creations like “Outcasts”. After their partnership split, Grant stuck with DC working on “The Demon”, “Bats” and “Lobo”, Wagner worked on “Chain Gang War”, “History of Violence“. But occasionally, still reunited for the odd project, like this one.
Bob is our W.C Fields / J. Wellington Wimpy alike would be writer of a galactic guide and full time con man and hobo. Pretentious and self aggrandising. A serial loser, with pretentions to aggrandisement, a self styled philosopher and man of letters and analyser of the human condition. Loquacious, rambling garrulous, and downright irritating with a constantly empty stomach. Set adrift in the middle of space, with his monosyllabic accomplice Buck Fifty and an unsympathetic vending machine.
Bob and Buck’s luck seems to have changed when they are rescued by a passing star liner, on board our heroes become a multi sensual nuisance: noise, smell and panhandling. Bob and Buck come across a humbly dressed and very naive blue skinned alien called Chazza and his minder Hamlock. Chazza is intrigued by the shifty and unscrupulous Bob, whereas Bob is rude and downright dismissive of Chazza.
However, things can’t be that simple. Having an unerring ability to find trouble, Bob’s ride is intercepted by a ship loads of “Khund” (how did that get past editorial?) pirates, one of the DC Universes resident antisocial alien races.
Boarding the liner from the “The Rotten Khund “(again – what?), they make mincemeat of the passengers. Wily and with a great survival instinct, Bob leads Buck with Chazza in to to the bowels of the ship
Reluctantly Bob allows the divorced from reality Chazza to accompany he and Buck in an escape pod, little realising that Chazza is indeed royalty as he claims, and heir to the throne of the planet Gazza.
In the meantime – L.E.G.I.O.N – the DC universe’s then resident intergalactic superhero team of space cops (or at least one of them) sets two of their best off to find him, Stealth and the Main Man, Lobo.
See, if Chazza isn’t found his ambitious and warlike brother Rando takes the throne and looks to bloodily carve a galactic empire. This is clearly quite appealing to Rondo.
In the meantime Buck, Bob and Chazza and head to the planet Gnulp, home of his Guru and source of guidance oblivious to the machinations of the Gazza royal family.
The ties to the Galaxy’s Greatest don’t end with the creative team. Over ten years after its publication as a 4 part mini in the mid nineties, the series was reprinted in Judge Dredd Megazine 266-273 in the (much missed by me anyway) creator owned spot. All references to the DC universe were removed, there was some pretty ham fisted re-lettering and characters appearances and names were altered : Stealth was renamed D’Amour, Vril Dox was renamed Doc, and Lobo gained breasts had a haircut and became a bounty hunter called ….Asbo.
Oddly for the Meg, they actually toned down some of the (mild) language, although the Khunds arguably went from bad to worse.
The tone for both versions is on the wackier end of the “Strontium Dog” story spectrum. Think “The Royal Affair”, or the funny bits of “The Killing”. This is cartoony Carlos, big bold, exaggerated and comic. Wagner and Grant’s script is witty, peppered with toilet humour and slapstick. In the DC version Lobo looms far too large, but he’s the draw. DC saw him as the reasons fans would pay the entrance fee. If it wasn’t for him the series probably would never have been published. His replacement in the Meg version seems cruder, but maybe because I’m a middle aged prude.
I haven’t read this for years. It hardly rocked my world when I picked it up 25 years ago, but now I find it fun and charming. Definitely worth picking up from back issue boxes or Fleabay if you are a fan of Wagner, Grant and the Maestro.