By Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon
Finally, a little respect. Just saved the entire flippin planet is all, you know, NBD. Check out that huge badass statue! Damn straight. Top of the heap General now, son! Respect. Things are good now. Yes sir, things are good. Definitely better. Yep, totally effin’ rad, noooo doubt. *sigh* Depends who you’re trying to convince. D4VE is back and like a rush to the head, it’s a dizzying semi-high of robotic insanity, inanity, and insecurity. D4VE2 #1 is like going home again, provided your home is full of fucking swear words and Ferrier and Ramon will remind you just how clever they are under that finely polished veneer of irreverence.
Okay, things actually are better for D4VE since his triumphant feats of awesomeness in the first volume (an All-Comic favorite), but that doesn’t mean things are all rosy. S4LLY’s transistors deep in some other dude’s banana hammock, Scotty’s still jerking it at a thousand faps a second, there’s some giant worm hole thing just straight up chilling overhead ominously, and the traffic is still balls awful. Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon cleverly crafted a book with unimaginable heart the first time around, telling the story of a dude (robot) who was stuck and imprisoned in the monotony of life well removed from his former glories. This time around, Ferrier deftly reintroduces D4VE as someone stuck in a different place in life. He’s absolutely earned recognition from his heroic exploits, but in this thoroughly modern world that so aptly reflects our own, attention spans wane and appreciation evaporates quickly. Sweet new position or not, D4VE’s still rocking his beat up old car and living in the same house and as Ferrier brings us up to speed via the narrative captions, it’s clear D4VE is trying just as hard to convince himself that everything is as perfect as he’s selling it. Thankfully, he does have actual purpose in this world as opposed to feeling like a dead hamster in a spinning wheel and that’s what Ferrier is instilling into this reentry right off the bat: finding the real rewards in life through the next generation. Even if they can’t stop wanking it.
Ferrier absolutely kills it this issue with Scotty and his friend BR4D and their travels through self-discovery. Scotty’s as snotty as ever, the rebellious teenager of a broken home with the added hilarious caveat that he’s a robot who will literally never not be the teenager he was programmed as. His buddy and fellow cadet under General D4VE, BR4D, is that classic “I think your dad is actually cool” more sensible counterbalance to the constant bile spewing menace. Ferrier’s clearly having fun this go round with Scotty and seeing where he goes with it is primarily hilarious and has legitimate potential to hit some heartstrings.
Obviously, the key to success with D4VE is the over-the-top presentation rife with expletives and the absurd that serves as a reflection as both the characters’ outer facades and works to make the real heart shine through all the more. Often, being self-aware and embracing of the more adolescent qualities to a work are an excuse that essentially still just lets one be obnoxious under the veil of being totally in on it, but that’s not really the case here. For one thing, Ferrier is actually making up new swears at this point, so that’s impressive in its way, and more importantly it’s all about having those presentations get upended and buoyed by what’s really bubbling underneath the surface. It’s contrast in the ridiculousness and every eye roll is rewarded with a knowing wink of nuanced character work. Look, they’re butthorns, but they’re butthorns with feeeelings.
Valentin Ramon hasn’t lost a step and once again excels at creating a world that feels lived in and populated by beings that literally have no faces to easily convey of expression. A truly skilled cartoonist, Ramon is laying down an education on comedic storytelling via his pinpoint anatomy and sharp pacing; just as he did the first time around. It’s all dependent on body language and Ramon is clearly fluent in it. Unsure and slumped crossed arms transition to ‘gee shucks’ back of the head scratching give way to the curled-finger wrath of being stuck in traffic. There’s even a new dog (robot dog) introduced that’s got a great design and mugs as well as anyone. Beyond just the foreground and its animated figures, there’s dozens of things at work in the backgrounds that add depth and credence to this being a believable world. There’s a subplot of Hillary running for reelection playing out, there’s vandals at play, there’s robotic flashers, and all manners of vehicles and advertisements, and it all informs the rules of this world and how it operates. Plus, they’re jokes; gotta have those jokes.
Thanks to a smartly balanced color palette, Ramon ensures this world feels simultaneously dingy and technologically fresh. It’s a lived-in world thanks to the sponged textures found within and the grime and rust found applied to even some of the brightest areas. Richly saturated, but never garish, the glow of the future is carefully paired with the stark reality of how shitty people can be with it.
The layouts aren’t radical in structure or arrangement, but they don’t need to be in order to keep the comedic rhythm. Ramon mostly utilizes moment-to-moment transitions that leave ample room for awkward silences for maximum laughs and the aforementioned Scotty/BR4D scene is laid out absolutely perfectly, finishing with a borderless close-up that hilariously delivers the magnitude of the realization. A card game between soldiers makes solid use of overlaid panels to play with perspective and the passage of time in relation to the more traditional panels they’re atop of as well. It’s killer storytelling paired with skilled rendering and a bright and textured color palette.
Banana-pants mcfuck-buttons, D4VE is back! Not content to rest on the laurels of the much acclaimed first volume, D4VE2 #1 is a promising start and clever foray into new familiar problems with the same enthusiasm and care. Ferrier and Ramon turn the spotlight on change and on showing that you’re never really done figuring things out. It’s not about getting out of a rut or about glory days or even about renewed sense of self-worth through alien ass-kicking; it’s about what comes next. And masturbating robots. ZOMGLOL.