Disposable Razors #3

Disposable Razors #3

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A few months back we reviewed Disposable Razors #2, a book produced by local Chicago trio Unshaven Comics (individually Marc Fishman, Kyle Gnepper and Matt Wright). The lads in Unshaven happened to be our guests on this week’s podcast, and they gave me a copy of their newest book to review. This book premieres officially at the Chicago Comic-Con, starting today and running through Sunday. You can both support local art and chat up the Unshaven guys by visiting booth #3714 in Artist’s Alley.

Like the previous two entries into the Disposable Razors anthology series, this issue gives most of its pages over to a main story but is framed on either side by “The White,” an ongoing metafictional piece that’s linked all installments of Razors so far. In “The White,” an unnamed middle-class slacker explores the realms of fiction — and his potential to manipulate them — with the help of a Jambi the Genie-style character named Vox. As story, “The White’s” not especially interesting; it’s mostly an excuse for characters to get catty with each other. I like the central idea behind it — that all types of fictional worlds are open for this everyman-style character to explore — but I feel like it tries just a little too hard to be funny. However, Matt Wrights’ art in these segments never disappoints; these pages provide a great place for him to play with lots of different designs and character types. Marc Fishman’s coloring here is also pretty cool, mostly because of its ample use of, well, white space (the segment has its name for a reason). I should point out that I’m not really sure what to make of how “The White” ends here. This is the last Disposable Razors issue and presumably the last we’ll see of this segment, and I’m kind of confused by its abrupt and unpleasant conclusion.

The real joy of Disposable Razors, though, is in their main story segments, and issue #3 delivers the best one yet. It’s entitled “The All-New Samurnauts,” and it’s a ’90s Saturday morning live action-style tale about a group of samurai astronaut warriors and their monkey master. Does that sound ridiculous? It is, certainly, but “Samurnauts” does a tremendous job of towing the line between paying corny homage and being legitimately engaging. To be sure, lots of Power Rangers tropes abound here, including color-coded fashion, characters defined by basically one or two personality traits and cheesy battle scenes. Despite (or because of) that, “Samurnauts” is pretty damn cool. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the shows it’s lampooning, but I unironically enjoy a group of warrior-astronauts beating the shit out of human-dinosaur hybrids. I mean, that’s good comics, right?

Another nice aspect of “Samurnauts” is that it lets Disposable Razors #3 go one step farther with its stories-within-stories. About a third of the main segment is dedicated to a flashback, very well-written by Kyle Gnepper, that tells the origin of our heroes’ monkey sensei. As it happens, he’s one of the apes launched into space by NASA in the 1950s. Something went wrong with his mission, and he ended up crashing in Japan, where he learned the ways of the ninja from a clan there. I feel like this is legitimately good science fiction; it’s certainly as valid a story as whatever shitty Planet of the Apes movie’s being currently pushed on us (note: our own movie guru didn’t think it was shitty, but I can’t get over those awful trailers). Additionally, these monkey-centric flashback pages have been fully painted by Matt Wright. Without a doubt this is the best art in the book; I can almost guarantee that anyone flipping through the comic at the Chicago convention will be most drawn to these pages, and with good reason. I’d really like to see Matt explore this painted style more, because it’s tremendous.

That said, all of the art in Disposable Razors #3, from both Fishman and Wright, is pretty solid; they’ve definitely improved since their first book a few years ago (and that wasn’t bad). The story, too, is a whole lot of fun; I’d love to see more of the Samurnauts, and I’m going to get my wish, because as these guys announced on our podcast, their next project is a full graphic novel of monkey/astronaut adventure.

No doubt the imagination and drive behind the Disposable Razors anthology is impressive, and the fact that their next project’s already planned out speaks very highly of these guys’ ambition to make comics. For that reason if nothing else, Unshaven Comics is an art studio worth knowing, and I’m sure that even if you pass on this book you’ll hear from them again soon. That said, if you’re at the convention, I recommend stopping by their booth and giving this book your time.

tags: disposable razors, unshaven comics

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