Written by: Jerry Frissen
Art by: Bill
Published by: Humanoids Inc
Originally published in French, Unfabulous Five is a graphic novel about five Luchador wrestlers who fight gangs in East Los Angeles. Although, these are not your regular gangs. Instead, the reader is introduced to gangs of werewolves, sea monsters, surfers and a French stereotype Mafia. With elements like this writer, Jerry Frissen and artist Bill have created a fun comic, that is not afraid to be silly, but also has an emotional core to it. The Unfabulous Five hardcover release is actually two stories collected together, with the first story being a outrageous mix of crazy concepts. What starts off with a werewolf gang stealing their car stereos branches out into something much larger with our protagonists having to stop an evil Elvis Impersonator from taking over the city. Although, this story gets even crazier with the inclusion of an alien duo (who argue with each other while speaking in unison), a giant lizard and a French stereotype mafia. While this might sound like a hodge-podge of ideas, all these concepts come nicely together to form a cohesive, yet odd package.
Even though there are all kinds of craziness going there is still the inclusion of human elements. The theme of respect, or lack of it, is important as it humanises the protagonists. This allows for the reader to sympathise with our heroes, even if the general public treat them like they are a joke. The second, longer, story is not quite as outrageous but it does explore the comradery of the group. This all begins when the group is disbanded following the departure of a key member. It isn’t until one of the members goes missing that the remaining members are reunited. Frissien does a good job of giving the characters believable friendships through dialogue, with a series of quieter moments. This allows the reader to look into the relationship between each character and believe they could be part of a team.
When you have a comic with odd ideas there is often humour and Unfabulous Five is no exception. Half the humour is a product of the weird ideas presented in the narrative, with the other half coming from the banter between the team. While the humour might not always be successful, more often than not it produced a chuckle from me.
Bill’s art on Unfabulous Five is wonderful, with slightly loose pencils that are very animated. This animated aesthetic is an obvious pairing for wild ideas, which are packaged in a fun manner. Even though the heroes are masked, Bill manages to make them expressive through their body language, mouth and eyes. His fight scenes, full of bombastic wrestling moves, are frantic. But what I find more impressive is that these scenes give each character equal time, which is achieved through the use of additional panels on the page. Normally I am not a fan of uninked pencils, but Bill has used this to his advantage by using thin and loose line to create shadow – which adds depth and texture.
While I enjoyed Unfabulous Five were two small things that let it down. The first is a small portion of the dialogue, which didn’t quite flow in one or two pages. I am not sure if this is an issue of the original script or the translation into English, but it created a tiny amount of confusion. Although, this was generally rectified by the rest of the dialogue. My other issue with Unfabulous Five is minor, but after reading the first story some people might be a little disappointed with the second story. Not due to quality, but mostly because it is not as outrageous as the first story. Although, I believe this is rectified by being the story with the greater emotional core.
Overall, Unfabulous Five is a big fun release that doesn’t compromise its emotional core. Full of odd and outrageous ideas, this series will definitely put a smile on your face and give plenty of laughs. Bills’ art is wonderful and is well suited to both the bombast and the quieter moments. If you enjoy a bit of craziness in your comics, but still want some substance to your characters, then I recommend Unfabulous Five.
Unfabulous Five is available in a nice hardcover edition in all good comic book stores, as well on the Humanoids online store.
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