Writers & Artists: Bruce Timm, Adam Warren, Tom Scioli, Ryan Ottley, Erik Larsen, Andy Kuhn
Release Date: September 3, 2014
Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories has nothing to do with religion, and it includes little-to-no actual Kung Fu. So if you’re desperate to read about Jesus messing serious shit up with Katanas, skip this and reread Tim Seeley’s Loaded Bible. If a kitschy anthology of unrelated tales spanning multiple genres gathered in a literal giant-sized mag sounds more like your thing, Giant-Sized Kung Fu Bible Stories makes a worthy investment. The greater-than-usual proportions present a spiffy tribute to jumbo editions from the ‘70s — Gerry Conway’s Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, for instance. Though this review is based on a preview PDF (a handful of pages would probably look far less garbled if they were four times the size of a laptop screen as the creators intended), Paste wanted to review the book for its untethered concept and talented roster. This review also rates each story individually along with a (non-average) overall score.
“Secret Crisis on Ultimate Earth” by Bruce Timm
A psychotically-bloated, winking “crossover event” that asks, “What if the minds behind Looney Tunes got unbelievably high and imagined their own version of a DC vs. Marvel-style implosion?” Highlights: a copyright-safe incarnation of Doctor Strange known as Dr. Omar Outre announces, “One tiny spark now could set off a chain-reaction that would blow all the universes to Kingdom Come!” In the background, facsimiles of Norman McCay and the The Spectre sigh, “Been There”/“Done that.” Later, a character dubbed Nightfang gets squished by a Hulk parody. Although Nightfang’s costume most closely resembles Batman, his threatening pre-squishing tirade and apparent romantic bond with a Superman stand-in all scream “Midnighter!” which makes Nightfang a lawsuit-proof rip-off of a lawsuit-proof rip-off. As was previously demonstrated by Gilmore Girls, Secret Crisis shows us that while one inside joke or reference might be alienating, a rapid-fire deluge of inside jokes and references guarantees everyone in the audience will understand and appreciate at least one of them.
“Empowered: Feel The Uberburn” by Adam Warren
Full Disclosure: I’m writing this a couple days after the big, creepy celebrity nude photo robbery of August 2014, so it’s kind of difficult to sit back and enjoy a story about two hyper-sexualized female superheroes talking about each other’s boobs and butts without wondering how much stuff like this perpetuates the culture of misogyny…even if it’s intended as irony and cultural commentary.
“Astronomus/8-Opus: Destroyer of Worlds” by Tom Scioli
Tom Scioli’s contributions to Kung Fu Bible Stories show us that composing a complete, satisfying sci-fi adventure in a mere few pages is pretty darn difficult. With “Astronomus,” he doesn’t pull it off. A space gargoyle disintegrates a spaceman’s crew, then the spaceman stabs the gargoyle with the Washington Monument, the gargoyle turns into a skeleton, and the background is yellow for some reason? So they’re not in space anymore? Or they never were to begin with? I have no idea what’s going on in “Astronomus.” But “8-Opus” effectively squeezes a romance, betrayal, reconciliation, and an Armageddon spider into four pages without confusing the bejesus out of me, which is no minor feat.
“Snowman Slaughter” by Ryan Ottley
We can all relate to the homicidal fury that arises when, upon waking up to a brisk winter morning, we discover some malicious ruffian has decimated a snowman lovingly crafted the previous day. But most of us are too rational, or too cowardly, to act on our utterly justified thirst for vengeance. In “Snowman Slaughter”, one brave, nameless protagonist seeks retribution for his fallen, frozen friends. It’s a heartwarming, violent tale of friendship, heat lasers, ski resort security personnel who can erase memories and just the bossest-looking ice giants.
“Jack Champion” by Erik Larsen
This one’s pretty much every superhero cartoon aimed at the 7- 13-year-old demographic, wherein a relatable teenage shlub stumbles into superpowers and heads off on adventures with a liiiiitle bit of Doctor Who mixed in for flavor. It’s pretty keen! Outside of the pinups, the art’s the closest thing to realistic-ish in the collection, but loses points for an action sequence where the titular Jack throws on his new power-enhancing Champion costume too quickly for plausibility. Also, no one under 30 is going to understand the Addams Family reference on the second page.
“Frankenstein of Mars” by Andy Kuhn
Grant Morrison wrote a Frankenstein-Goes-to-Mars thing for Seven Soldiers back in 2005. Then again, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster came out in 1965, and although Frankenstein himself mysteriously fails to appear in that film, it shows “Frankenstein fighting Martians” wasn’t that novel of a concept when Morrison did it, either. The minimalistic pictures and limited coloring in “Frankenstein of Mars” effectively convey’s the Red Planet’s desolation, but it can’t make up for the uninspired premise, lazy dialog, or hacky plot that sinks the closing chapter of Kung Fu Bible Stories.