Ayre Force Written by Adam Slutsky,
Joseph Phillip Illidge
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
Color by Andrew Dalhouse, Felix Serrano
Letters by Marshall Dillon Bodog
Cover price: $19.95; Available now
I’d like to start of this review by saying that this graphic novel is somewhat critic-proof because the whole purpose of its existence is to raise money in the fight against bear bile farming.
“What in the holy hell is bear bile farming,” I can already hear you asking. Well, I’m glad you asked because I had no idea that this was an issue myself. It seems that in many Asian countries bear bile is harvested for medicinal purposes. Of course, the bears just don’t hand over their bile, so, as you can imagine, this harvesting isn’t accomplished by the most humanitarian of means.
That’s where the titular Ayre Force comes in. Ayre Force is kind of like a cross between Captain Planet and the Planeteers and the A-Team, but nowhere near as cool”¦as the A-Team, at least, because Captain Planet blew diseased goats in my humble opinion.
The fictional Ayre Force is headed up by one Calvin Ayre, who in real life is the billionaire president of Bodog Entertainment, which started out as an online gambling operation but has now branched out into other areas of entertainment (music, mixed martial arts, etc.). The rest of the Ayre Force is comprised of “celebrities” (Bif Naked, David Williams, Jorge Masvidal”¦if you know who any of these people are you, my friend, you get a cookie”¦) from the Bodog stable.
This original graphic novel casts these regular people in the role of covert, para-military strike force (I shit you not”¦), fighting the good fight for their boss across the globe. The main enemies presented here are one Janus Winter, a genetically enhanced, evil corporate magnate, and his gaggle of genetically altered children, who appear to be refugees from The Island of Dr. Moreau.” Basically, Winter and his creepy kids (not to be confused with Eddie Izzard’s famous “creeping kid” routine) are doing bad things, like running bear bile farms and kidnapping other Ayre Force members, and the Ayre Force has to stop them and liberate their comrades. That’s it. That’s the extent of the plot here.
Technically speaking, Ayre Force is handsomely presented with high production values and printing. The art, by Shawn Martinbrough, has a nice noir, Mignola-esque feel to it and that’s always a good thing in my book. The writing, by Adam Slutsky and Joe Illidge, is capable and well-presented, if you can get past the ludicrous simplicity of the overall plot, that is. And I’m not sure why it would take two people to write this basic story? As I mentioned, it’s not exactly a densely plotted Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman extravaganza.
Ultimately, I admire what Calvin Ayre and Bodog are trying to do with Ayre Force — raising money for noble causes is always a good thing, no matter how obscure they may be. Next time, just tell a more involving story in doing so because style over substance only gets you so far in this world, no matter what your causes are.