It's hard to believe that on a day when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely hit the stands with the highly-anticipated "Batman and Robin" #1, another comic was even better. Yet, here's "Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye" #3, doing everything a comic should do while providing almost nothing that you'd expect.
The art by Cameron Stewart (with color by the best in the business, Dave Stewart) is brilliant, and though there's nothing particularly flashy about the look of this comic, penciller/inker Stewart is a master of visual storytelling. I love the thick holding lines he uses on this comic, but his real genius is in providing an emotional foundation upon which to construct the absurdity. Take the last panel on page 12, for example. Stewart gives us an image of Seaguy removing his low-grade amusement park fortune teller costume, as a tiny birthday candle flames atop a fallen crumb in the foreground, while a giant tuna with a cigar and a red army cap floats behind Seaguy. And that doesn't even include the background details. Now I'm sure any professional could draw such a panel, but it's the rare artist who can give Seaguy the precise amount of anger, frustration, hopelessness, and brave resolve. Stewart pulls it off with style.
And that's just a single panel. He also gives us the impressively heroic moment as Seaguy and Chubby stand tall against a backdrop of princess castles and fireworks right before the (equally impressive) battle with the forces of Three Guy and the Mickey Eye Minions. Stewart also draws some wonderful moments between Seadog and She-Beard, mixing up a potent concoction of sexuality, oppression, indignity, and innocence. It's just a great-looking comic from the first page to the last.
And what of Grant Morrison's contribution to issue #3? What of the plot and the script?
As a satire of the corporate superhero structure, it's spot-on, mocking the ever-renewing status quo while showing the change that can occur within it -- even if the change brings about a new status quo that's the same as the old. It's a paradox this dream-like comic embraces. As a superhero romance -- in every sense of both of those words -- it's a lot of fun, with good guys and bad guys, heroes redeeming themselves, stuffed-shirt villains falling prey to their own arrogance and selfishness, the underdog defeating impossible odds, and, of course, love. Yet even the gloriously happy -- too happy, but appropriately so -- ending comes with the knowledge that Seaguy is now in the same position Seadog was earlier in the story. He's defeated the conformist establishment and become the leader of a new kind of conformist establishment. Nothing has changed, but it's the struggle that matters, the comic seems to say. And that philosophy applies to more than just the superhero marketplace.
This comic may be full of symbols and signs, and it may seem absurd to some who would want to merely skim through its contents, but the symbols and signs are primal ones that connect to us immediately -- there's no need to hit Wikipedia to figure out what Mickey Eye represents, especially when Spaceship Earth and Cinderella's castle loom in the background -- and the absurdity is of an organic sort, fully reasonable within the confines of this series.
After all the words I've spent on describing "Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye" #3, it can all be boiled down to a simple sentence: this is the best single issue of a comic book so far this year.