Slapstick #5 Review: Beware The Songs Of Queen Princess


Slapstick and his allies have reached Dimension Ecch to rescue Mike! Yet will the Queen Princess prove to be friend or foe?

Slapstick #5

Writers: Reilly Brown & Fred Van Lente

Artists: Diego Olortegui & Reilly Brown

Colorist: Jim Campbell

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According to one fan poll from 1992, Slapstick was considered more popular than Carnage. While a lot has changed since then, his return to Marvel Comics has been an underrated success. The creative team involved have utilized the full scope of his ludicrous origin rather than change it. Yet with just a few tweaks and tailoring, they have turned his franchise into a running satire on virtually any animated property. It is a serialized MAD magazine spoof in the Marvel Universe as a result.

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The source of Slapstick’s powers along with his recent host of cartoon foes, Dimension Ecch isn’t what it used to be. In an obvious knock on Game of Thrones, it has been broken up into six conflicting sections. The loss of their Overlord threw the realm into chaos, until the Queen Princess came along. She not only filled the power vacuum, but worked around the cartoon society’s lack of “no-no parts” to have children. In addition, she is full of long-winded songs!

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Seems Like They Trusted the Wrong Princess!

Slapstick insists that he’s Dimension Ecch’s “champion,” not his kidnapped friend Mike Peterson. Unfortunately, the various animated citizens of the realm treat him as the opposite. Queen Princess soon dispels the chaos and tasks Harmon and his allies (A.R.M.O.R. agents Teresa Rigotti and Isabel Cabrera, and Taurette) with saving Mike. He’s been captured by the E.V.I.L. cats, enemies of the War D.O.G.S., who’ve teamed up with the wizard Gorgonzola, enemy of Taurette’s people.

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Like most missions Slapstick goes on, the result is madness. Gorgonzola proves to be a more powerful wizard than anyone expected, able to cast spells even without his wand. He’s also united with the Chairbots (riffs on the Transformers) and their greatest warrior, Lay-Zee-Boyee. Gorgonzola also believes Mike is their chosen one, fated to put an end to the realm’s lack of genitalia once and for all. Yet in the end, does the Queen Princess prove to be the true villain?

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Every issue of Slapstick put a lot of thought into the satire, yet this one takes the cake. Set entirely in Dimension Ecch, a reader can spend plenty of time to catch all of the references to Western animation, Japanese anime, and even other comics! Consequently, sharp readers will catch spoofs of the Looney Tunes, Dragon Ball Z, Cyborg 009, Super Mario, Invader Zim and dozens of others! The Queen Princess’ royal guards are a mix between Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena!

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Carefully Constructed Comic Book Comedy!

The Queen Princess herself is a spoof all her own. She is easily a send up of Disney princesses, which is made all the funnier when you remember who owns Marvel. In particular, Queen Princess is a dead ringer for Princess Aurora, the titular Sleeping Beauty from 1959. Quite why the writers chose her is unknown. It could be because she is among the blander princesses with very little personality, acting as a vague stereotype of them all. Her turnaround is a bit predictable, but fun.

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The scripts by Reilly Brown and Fred Van Lente continue to impress. The amount of loving attention to detail given to a D-list franchise like Slapstick is awe-inspiring. I often genuinely wish I saw such focus given to many other franchises, Spider-Man in particular. In fact, this run reminds me of what Immortal Iron Fist did for Danny Rand. By embellishing upon an origin which had its holes, they have created an entire world and cast of characters to make the franchise stronger.

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The banter between the characters is as fun and fast-paced as ever. Steve’s endless flirtations with Teresa, her exasperated replies, and Mike playing the straight man are all highlights. It could be subtext, but I get the feeling that Isabel has far more tolerance for Slapstick than anyone else. Could she actually be fond of him? The two of them get an extended sequence taking on the Chairbot warrior. The sound effects are also hilariously blunt, mocking how comics spell them out.

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Most of All, Can You Spot All of the On-Panel References?

Diego Olortegui and Reilly Brown once again amaze on art. Brown’s storyboards give the action sequences a sense of cinematic flow, and every issue has such a sequence. The pair sneak in no end of Easter eggs for keen readers to find (such as Skratch’s true identity) which encourages multiple reads. The colors by Jim Campbell are as dazzling as a cartoon world should be. Every panel and every design is meticulously crafted, yet it is easy to dismiss because it is all comedic.

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Next: Meet the War D.O.G.S. in #4!

Relaunches of old franchises, even franchises which weren’t successful, are a dime a dozen in comics. Furthermore, a dozen Marvel comics these days would be $47.88. Trying to pick out the gems from the nostalgia trips is a difficult task. It would have been easy to dismiss Slapstick as yet another flash in the pan from the early 90s era. However, the sheer amount of creativity and humor poured into this warrants a look for even the most jaded of Marvel Comics fans.