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Alien Apocalypse 2006
posted April 4, 2003
Kathy Glass, Spain, Harry S. Robins
If there's any doubt that Spain remains the coolest artist working in comics, check out his and Harry S. Robins' art in the bizarre Alien Apocalypse 2006, the latest offering the Berkeley publisher Frog Ltd. If you're pressed for time, open to page 23, where a confrontation between a group of environmentalists and law enforcement is interrupted by an alien strike force that includes Bigfoot and a woman with a sword riding a giant spotted owl. Now that's how you bend reality. Taken as an opportunity to enjoy a tongue-in-cheek style of storytelling that's been lost to comics in recent years, where a serious point can be made by having aliens, monsters and square-headed corporate peons charge through streets racked by earthquakes and dinosaur attacks, Alien Apocalypse 2006 is a total gas.
Alien Apocalypse 2006 uses its fantasy figures as objects of California myth threatened by a conservative, anti-humanist conspiracy. In seeking to maximize profits, super-national corporations hope to abolish all totems of meaning, no matter how fanciful, and replace them with a system that better serves the bottom economic line. While the story suggests that it's better to live in a world where extra-normal reality intrudes than one that strictly forbids it, specific political lessons are harder to come by. An essay at book's end on the World Trade Center destruction is nearly Rotary Club material with its celebration of American pluralism and indictment of the anti-civilization tenets found in certain terrorist factions. Luckily, the book is amusing enough with its genial hippie protagonists, gently rolling narrative and sublime instances of out-there fantasy that no lesson is necessary for enjoyment's sake. Alien Apocalypse 2006 is little more than an oddity, a pop curiosity from a specific vein of outsider culture that used to be way more prevalent ten years ago. You'd have to be nuts to apply standard measures of literary worth to something this happy-go-lucky and weird, but it's a fine pick-up for those who find late-night talk radio and In Search Of re-runs to be the height of entertainment.