The Webcomic Overlook #86: Boss Noodle
Back in the early days of this site, I once ran afoul of Dave Cheung fans. The drama stemmed from a small comment I made about John Solomon’s return:
I just finished reading his “Chugworth” review, and … what can I say? The webcomic deserved John Solomon.
This managed to touch off some colorful replies from the creator and his fans. Words were said. Tears were shed. Yet, in the end, I finally conceded a tiny point. I hadn’t read all of Chugworth Academy.
Really, I’d only read the 20+ pages on the review after all (written by Solomon associate Lilith Esther), and, while it seemed like a good sample, those few incompetent, atrocious, and borderline racist panels might not be representative of the 300+ pages that Mr. Cheung put out. Who knows? Perhaps those 280 other pages dealt with Mr’s Cheung’s personal relationship with his Lord and Savior. I have no idea! I’d be a blind fool to left a few unspeakably awful panels color my entire opinion.
Still, I vowed that one day, some day, I would review Chugworth Academy in vengeance. That day will most likely never come. Chugworth stopped updating last year, and I don’t typically review out-of-date comics. Instead I’m reviewing Dave Cheung’s brand spanking new webcomic, Boss Noodle.
Incidentally, there’s a very good chance that you’ve run into Mr. Cheung’s work before. Dave Cheung is the same guy who drew a whiny webcomic featuring Jade Raymond* giving a blowjob to nerds in a ridiculous case of impotent nerd rage. A total class act, this guy!
Hilariously, Something Awful got caught up in the legal backlash. While I’m not a fan of such a frivolous lawsuit, I have to wonder why they didn’t just go after Dave Cheung instead. Strangely, it may have been this very lawsuit that caught the attention of the YWIBAYSFB people (SA forum goons all), which is why Lilith Esther railed on Chugworth Academy. Which lead to me reviewing Boss Noodle. As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I’m a far bigger chicken than Lowtax, so I’ll not be posting a link to the offending comic here. However, if you want to see said comic (for educational purposes, of course): go to Google, click on the image search, turn Safesearch off, and type “jade raymond blowjob.”
I realize I’m being particularly salty today, so I’m going to say something nice about Mr. Cheung: I do like his art. Above all, I like how he colors. The shading, which suits the sturdy character designs, makes everything seem more solid and rounded than your typical manga-style webcomic. Adding to the aesthetic are how muted the colors are, which don’t go many gradients beyond the skintones. The body proportions are held in check, though the smooth textures do remind you that this is still a cartoon you’re looking at. His character designs, unimaginative and derivative as they may be, are still very eye-catching.
The story is basically Kill Bill lite for the Gurren Lagann crowd. The first scene shows two pals watching Maury (which I had no idea was still running), having a jolly good time. They’re trading quite the witty banter with lines like “I ain’t indulging in yo whacked out fantasies!” Jolly good! (I don’t want to be too critical here, but doesn’t that sound suspiciously like what old people think kinds these days sound like?)
When, hello, some short skirted strumpet with no sense of personal space has barged into their fine viewing party! Seriously, though, if you were going to go around delivering dropkicks to people you don’t like, is a plaid miniskirt the most sensible choice of apparel? I know a lot of folks have a Go Go Yubari fetish, but it was Beatrix Kiddo in her nifty Bruce Lee tracksuit that was decapitating heads, taking names, and generally owning the Crazy 88 (one of whom being the aforementioned Go Go Yubari).
Robin, incidentally, looks far more like a White Stripes-listening hipster girl than an assassin. For some reason, she seems to be rolling her eyes and smirking at all times, like she just heard someone say that Nickelback was the world’s greatest band or something. That’s a master of disguise for you!
Our katana-wielding warrior throws some weak punches, which somehow causes her enemies to contort into uncomfortable shapes. She says she’s looking for someone. Perhaps somebody who gunned her down on her wedding day? Robin also works with some guy who’s the standard anime loner. You know, the kind that stands around on street corners, lights a cigarette, and mutters a single, solitary word (like “cold“) while swooning fangirls draw yaoi fanfiction about him and Spike Spiegel.
Later, we meet Melody, who looks like that redhead from RahXephon and ten times as annoying. She’s accosted by two mealy-mouthed malcontents with poison in their hearts and rape on their minds. Most attempted rape sequences in comic books have always, always struck me as totally gratuitous. Creators excuse these scenes by claiming, “Well, this is what happens in real life. We’re just art imitating life.” BS. I don’t deny such things happen, but if you wanted to be real, heroes in ridiculous circus outfits don’t swoop in just in time to save the girl, either. After which said girl — all hormonally charged, emotionally vulnerable and eternally grateful — throw herself all over our hero. But that’s what happens in comic books, especially when written by early Image Comic writers and, particularly, Frank Miller. No matter how you cut it, it’s shameless and slightly creepy male fantasy, pure and simple.
Cheung spices the scenario up a little bit by having our bare-legged female hero save the day. (Does having a sexy female hero make the “rescue from rape” scenario more sexy or less sexy? Discuss.) She dispatches the rapists with roughly the same efficiency as when she owned the daytime talk show fans. Predictably, Melody is so grateful that she invites Robin to her home for some hot coffee. (“I meant actual coffee. Not… you know…. I’m not like that! I’m a good girl!” she adds. Yeah, right.)
So the two girls go home and they proceed to have sweet, sweet intercourse. Verbal intercourse. About beverages. Ah yes, Melody isn’t only a good girl, but she’s also a Chatty Cathy. Her diatribe about coffee is in theory both annoying and endearing, yet it gets the former in spades while zero of the latter. Not even attempted rape can keep down Melody’s imdomitable bubbliness! If you’ve ever felt your skin crawl anytime someone’s ever typed “SQUEEE!” online, then Melody will totally flay you with her incessant squealing. It’s like talking to a newborn piglet.
Anyway, Melody asks who Robin is looking for, Robin gets all cagey, and Chapter Three comes to a close. Yup, despite being three chapters long, Boss Noodle is less than thirty pages. It qualifies as a single issue comic book, but three chapters? That’s stretching the definition of “chapter” just a teeny bit. The webcomic leaves many unanswered questions: why is it called Boss Noodle? Is it a brand of ramen? One that preferably comes in the Chili Shrimp flavor? And why does Hartford (population 124,512, second largest city in Connecticut next to Bridgeport) look like Gotham City? I know things haven’t been the same since the Whalers left, but come on!
In the end, Boss Noodle is surprisingly not terrible. Oh, it’s not transcendent, or good, or even adequate (which disqualifies it from my 5, 4, or 3 stars). But it’s not terrible. I do respect what Cheung’s trying to do here. He’s going for a fresh new start. A new set of characters, a new world, and a different narrative technique (drama vs. comedy). Get past the fact that most of the dialogue is unreadable (mainly the parts coming out of Melody’s mouth), and there’s a glimmer of a story. Now, for a samurai adventure comic, there’s far too little action and far too much sitting around. But hey, it’s early yet, and there are still a lot of players to disembowel. As an additional bonus, so far there are no images of Jade Raymond getting a facial from nerds. A vast improvement, in my opinion!
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)
* – Jade Raymond also volunteers at LOVE, “one of the leading not-for-profit youth violence prevention organizations in Canada.” Just in case you think all she does is shamelessly shill videogames or appear in stupid Dave Cheung comics.
Posted on June 30, 2009, in 2 Stars, action webcomic, adventure webcomic, anime, fanservice, manga style webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged Boss Noodle. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.