Fame & Fortune #1 Serves Up a Satirical One-Shot

Ahoy Comics’ flagship hero/anti-hero duo are back and kick-starting another run of reality-spanning adventures. The Wrong Earth: Fame & Fortune #1 is penned by prolific GLAAD award-winning writer Mark Russell, with art by longtime Ahoy collaborator Michael Montenat and colors and letters by celebrated industry veterans Andy Troy and Rob Steen, respectively. This all-star team is serving up a scathingly satirical one-shot adventure in the ongoing line of Wrong Earth titles.

Wrong Earth: Fame & Fortune #one is an anthology comic split into two stories that work around similar themes. Both are dedicated to comparing and contrasting the parallel worlds of Earth-Alpha and Earth-Omega. Earth-Alpha is a fluffy corporatist “utopia,” whereas Earth-Omega is an ultraviolent society blighted by corruption, but both are inhabited by Richard Fame, billionaire and crime-fighter.

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Richard Fame (Alpha-Earth) and Richard Fame (Omega-Earth)
Richard Fame (Alpha-Earth) and Richard Fame (Omega-Earth)

In “The Wrong Earth,” two Richard Fames pitch a new city stadium to their mayor across the two realities, mirroring each other in ironic and darkly comedic ways. Fame’s alter-ego — Dragonflyman on Earth-Alpha and simply Dragonfly on Earth-Omega — utilize their respective talents of browbeating diplomacy and callous cruelty to achieve their ends, all for their dream of opening the Fame Financial Field. “Buddy System” is a much more compact story that operates within the same lines, this time focusing on Dragonflyman/Dragonfly’s sidekick Stinger. Nestled between the two stories is hilariously absurd Editor’s Note, penned by David Hyde and illustrated by Marco Finnegan, which includes an FAQ, lurid claims of grandeur, and several cocktail recipes.

Russell’s writing is the stand-out factor that makes the whole comic tick. His powerful use of juxtaposition and irony allow him to write stories that are biting and cynical, delivered through a medium of hysterically funny whiplash. The issue bounces between Dragonflyman saccharinely forcing his boot into the mouths of those less fortunate and Dragonfly coldheartedly carrying out the same actions with direct violence. By occasionally uniting the two realities through Fame’s speech, with both versions of him uttering the exact same words, the underlying point is reinforced that this is the same character, nurtured by a different environment.

Both characters are anti-heroes in the sense that they are literal villains, so readers who prefer a more optimistic sense of humor or more high-minded fantasy in their comics will find the whole affair off-putting and probably quite depressing. Russell manages to make a cutting and comedic commentary about the nature of corporatism, privilege, and violence purely through devices of irony and contrast, without reading as preachy or didactic.

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Throughout the comic, Montenat’s art is powerful and consistent, masterfully depicting action scenes with precision and brutality. Although the style is not especially unique, it possesses an admirable clarity that suits the subject well, imbuing it with a certain muscularity that speaks to the different characterizations of Earth. Earth-Alpha’s overly sanitized idealism and Earth-Omega’s darkness and brutality are explored through excellent style, lighting, and framing choices that are similarly reflected in the character design.

The colors by Troy are exceptionally well-handled and are absolutely essential for setting the contrasting tones of Earth-Alpha and Earth-Omega. On another, more practical level, the colors allow the reader to easily distinguish the parallel narratives. Steen shines on letters, elevating the writing and sound effects to an impressive extent. Steen teases out all the punchiness and wit inherent in the dialogue by varying the emphasis in his letters from her, giving the characters real voices as well as a great sense of comic timing.

The Wrong Earth: Fame & Fortune #one is not a comic for the faint of heart or anybody lacking a wicked sense of humor. However, just like Richard Fame himself, it has an undeniable charisma. Crackling with tension throughout, no small feat in an anthology comic, The Wrong Earth is a bizarre and brilliant experience that serves as a great introduction to the acerbic style of Ahoy Comics as a whole.

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