Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family) #1
Creator: David Moses Lenoir
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Jim Allegro
Okay, so maybe Jack Kirby wasn’t THAT great. David Lenoir and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou take a sly jab at our adoration for the comic idol in Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family) #1. Released in mid-April, and available on gumroad.com, this 13-page indie sci-fi book about a dysfunctional family of aliens who run an intergalactic salvage yard is also a dark and humorous comment on the hero worship that we fans sometimes engage in when it comes to the comic book industry’s most prolific writer and artist.
Don’t worry; this satire about the way we read comics has a healthy dose of respect for the debt we all owe to Kirby, the co-creator of Marvel’s most seminal characters. And, rightly so, for Lenoir’s beautiful black-and-white homage to sci-fi classics like DC’s Fourth World reminds us why it is vital to keep uttering names like Kirby, Wood, and Priest, so that we remember who was truly responsible for the wonderful characters that populate the films through which most people now interact with comics. The paneling, shading, and narration evoke the feel of a Kirby space epic, including a nod to Kirby’s ability to alternate between heady rhetoric and common prose. The highest compliment that I can pay to Otsmane-Elhaou is that his lettering style takes us back to that Bronze Age moment in which the genre flourished.
Mind you, Lenoir is careful not to overdo the tribute. The book is filled with gags and contradictions that poke clever fun at the high-minded nature of Kirby’s work and legacy. The comic’s title suggests that the characters run a simple junk yard, and yet the characters themselves seem to think they are engaged in retrieving valuable artifacts for presenting to a Supreme Being. And, while Kirby’s take on family and kinship was near-Biblical in tone, Lenoir’s family unit consists of an easily dismissed bunch of squabbling siblings and overbearing parents. The hook at the end of the first issue of the comic book contains a villain team that does not live up to its name. Nothing is as it seems in this Kirby-inspired universe.
The result is a form of ‘cringe humor’ familiar to TV shows like Arrested Development and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But, rather than recoil at the clueless egotism of the main characters – the George Bluths and Michael Scotts of the galactic junk yard business – we find ourselves flinching at the very premise of a Kirby tribute, at our indestructible loyalty to this writer-artist. Maybe Kirby’s dialogue was a bit stilted, we realize, and maybe his characters were overwrought at times. Maybe we are taking this all just a bit too seriously. The humbling point made by this thoughtful comic reminds us why indie books matter. They can go to those critical and risky places where mainstream comics refuse to tread.
Verdict: Buy It.
Lenoir’s job now is to focus on story and characterization. What makes Arrested Development so much fun is that we wind up caring about the characters and situations that make us cringe. Now that the writer has laid out the book’s premise in Galactic Junk Squad (Well, More Like Family) #1, he needs to go beyond the satirical frame to make us care about the family that runs the junk yard in this space comedy/Kirby tribute. If so, the comic will remain a BUY.