[7 May 2014]
This issue was a trip. A blast from the not too distant past. And most importantly it had pogs. Remember those? No? You’re too young. But that’s ok, because Regular Show is unapologetically retro. It speaks to my generation using decidedly non-relevant references and allows us 90’s kids to laugh at how lame we were in hindsight. And that’s cool.
Rigby, obsessed with the past, has been possessed by the Spirit of the 90’s (natch) which, despite our best efforts, refuses to die and it’s up to his ragtag co-workers to free him by besting the apparition at a game of pogs (what else?). It’s these types of scenarios in which Regular Show excels and sets itself apart from the pack. Something as ordinary as a pog match is given the depth of an epic battle with major stakes. It’s pure Regular Show.
Writer KC Green takes a simple concept that could have easily been a scrapped episode idea and turns it into a fun ride. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it stays true to the characters and wraps up fittingly which is the least you can ask for from a licensed title. Does it offer fans something you can’t get from watching the show in terms of story? Not really, but then why would a fan want to pick up the comic if it didn’t feel like an extension of the cartoon? If the goal here is to offer Regular Show viewers a comic that matches the tone and spirit of its animated counterpart, then on that level it succeeds.
Where the comic really breaks away and does its own thing is the art. The characters are all unmistakable as interpreted by artist Allison Strejlau, but unlike your average licensed comic, which adheres to a strict character model, Strejlau infuses her own style into the mix. It’s not as polished as the animation, nor should it be, because this is a comic, and just how Batman appears distinctive reflecting each artist’s style who’s drawing him, the same can be said here. Most impressive is how she manages to bring the static images to life, most prominently in the climax of the pog battle sequence. It’s this kind of experimentation that is a welcome approach for a licensed series to take, offering fans something different while not straying too far from the source material. The variant covers for this series are the perfect avenue where artists can really go nuts with their unique versions and that’s the way it should be.
In true Regular Show fashion, we are treated to a second story. This one felt more like a backup to me as it diverges from the usual format and instead stars supporting character Benson, Mordecai and Rigby’s temperamental boss and a personal favorite of mine. Ordinarily this would be worth the price of admission alone, but the story, while featuring another unique artistic interpretation of the cast, was a bit underwhelming. It’s difficult to say if it’s that Benson just can’t carry a story on his own or what but this one didn’t quite connect. What was severely lacking here was any head butting with Mordecai and Rigby, which always brings out the worst (translation: best) in him. Without that interaction, something is clearly missing and it felt like a missed opportunity to tell a great Benson story. Based on this, Benson is unlikely to follow Skips in receiving his own solo mini-series anytime soon.
The real question is, if you’re a already watching the show but you’re itching for more, is it worth it to plunk down an additional #3.99 to experience it in comic form? It’s definitely worth sampling as it’s a solid companion piece to the cartoon series and a natural progression of the madcap adventures we’ve come to expect from this collection of characters. Major bonus if you once owned a pog collection (in fact, where are our Regular Show pogs? Something to think about, licensing reps).
While over at IDW they’re banking on nostalgia to sell its line of Cartoon Network revivals, the currently airing Regular Show ironically relies on the same demographic to move units as it appeals to our 90’s sensibilities. Here’s hoping that in a couple decades from now, we’ll all be reliving our present day lives via a future re-launch of Regular Show comics, taking us all the way back to good ol’ 2014. “Regular Show? What’s that?” our kids will ask. “You’re too young,” we’ll reply.