“Muscle Faction” #0

When justice is perverted, when history is forgotten and when all who stand for good in the world are crushed under the heel of military capitalists, who you gonna call?

Muscle Faction!

Just, please, put on some pants. Eventually.

Creators: Morgan Hickman & Ian Chachere
Publisher: World’s Strongest Comics

Dicks out for liberal victory! “Muscle Faction” is a funny and incisive comic, with explosive art and themes. It’s hard to do political commentary that means anything, much less entertains. Hickman and Chachere nail the ‘80s action flick vibe they’re going for without sacrificing a defined story to too many hyper-masculine send-ups. 

Come for the uber-masculine subversion, stay for the details. The art is what makes “Muscle Faction” pop – from the juiced-up mutant designs to the little things, like the cigar cherry coming to life as Muscle Faction thaws out, or when one of our heroes chops off a mutant’s gun-totin’ hands and uses the hands to fire the weapons. These moments show a keen grasp of absurdity and a damn fine sense of humor. The entire battle takes place with our heroes naked, and the line is marker-thick, anatomically exaggerated and balanced the further we go into the book. There are one too many details on the page during some of the more explosive action – a few panels feature multiple sound effects and big movements, but the overall balance is superb. And, the 6-panel structure gives way to some interesting layouts, like the strips with tiny panels featuring the pitter-patter of little jack-booted feet as our heroes thaw out.

From skull eyes to “Destroy!” sound effects, everything’s considered in “Muscle Faction,” and the book’s only issue is, as stated above, occasional overload. Even the hand lettering suits, and the limited color palette is a smart choice given the level of artistic detail on the page. Thick panel borders help contain everything – until they don’t – and the book makes good use of dramatic shadows and a few more realistic panels of Hawk and Dutch toward the end. Profiles are moody and ridiculous, beer cans are lovingly rendered and booty shorts abound as, at last, our heroes put on some pants and retreat to the woods for some much-needed rest.

This moment grounds the book and helps “Muscle Faction” avoid taking itself too seriously as a parody. Is that even possible, you ask? Absolutely! Icy distance and removal from what you’re sending up doesn’t make for a good story, and there are subtle pokes at liberal failings here, too. We’re all ridiculous in “Muscle Faction,” and our heroes awaken to carry on an epic ass-kicking that’s as visually satisfying as it is page-turning. This book is clearly born from a genuine love of the genre it lampoons, and nothing’s more satisfying than a good story that honors its roots.

The Verdict: 9/10 – “Muscle Faction” is fun and superficially dumb in the best possible way, with precise social commentary and excellent style to back up its premise.

Find Morgan on Twitter and Ian on Instagram for more muscle-flexin’ fun times.

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