Airboy is a strange beast. It’s a comic about the creators writing the comic you’re reading, in what is, at times, some truly inspired comic book writing. The use of colour in the comic is also fantastic, and the series was on the verge of being one of the most recommended comics over at Graphic Policy, until about midway through the second issue.
To say that Airboy had a bit of controversy behind it would be an understatement. You can read more about that here, with James Robinson’s seemingly heartfelt response here. Elana summed up the events surrounding the second issue of Airboy better than I could a few months ago with her article here.
I’m not going to bring it all up again, except to say that Robinson’s apology read as heartfelt and sincere to me. He appeared as a man who was genuinely sorry for his portrayal of transgender women in the second issue, and admitted that in his depiction of himself in the worse possible light he inadvertently caused harm to others.
I decided to read the remainder of the series, because the above offensive portrayal aside, the first two issues were an amazingly crafted piece of meta fiction, and I was interested in seeing how Robinson would close out the series.
With James Robinson’s reputation of being the guy who brings Golden Age heroes into the modern times, Airboy has shone a light on the writers creative process with James Robinson writing both himself and artist Greg Hinkle into the comic in some utterly unflattering depictions of both men. Robinson’s self destructive behaviour depicted in the comic may not be entirely autobiographical, but it is reflective of a darker time in the writers life before he sobered up, and even as the series has progressed you get a sense of the man’s open confession that this period of his life wasn’t exactly a highlight.
The final two issues of Airboy, focus less on the debauched night the two fictionalized versions of Robinson and Hinkle, and more on their sheer cowardice concerning their new found participation in the Second World War. The fourth issue has a very self deprecating sense of humour to it that, at times, is wonderfully dry.
Greg Hinkle’s art work throughout the series has been brilliant, capturing the expressions of the fictional versions of himself and Robinson spectacularly well. I also really enjoyed the use of colour to highlight the difference between the real world and the world of Airboy. Utilizing a grey scale colour scheme for the real world elements of the comic for much of the series, seeing the fictional world of Airboy in vibrant colours is fantastic.
Airboy is a comic about James Robinson hitting rock bottom, both professionally and personally, just as much as it is about the character of Airboy himself. If you’re not reading the series because of the contents of issue #2, I’m not going to try and dissuade you from your decision. What I will say, however, is don’t judge Robinson’s future work on an acknowledged mistake.
Writer: James Robinson Artist: Greg Hinkle
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Good question.
Image provided a FREE copy for review
Also posted on Graphic Policy.