Rating: 4/5 – An All Ages Comic Bringing Back Madballs!
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Although I didn’t have many, I loved the Madballs toys when I was a kid. In the mid 1980s these rubber and foam balls capitalized on the gross including snots, scars and skulls. I had Horn Head when I was a kid which was part of the original lineup, but they also had a second series that added eight more characters and even a few extra large “Super Madballs”. In 1986 Madballs starred in their first comic series as part of Marvel’s Star Comics imprint, so the disgusting circular characters are not new to the world of comics.
Although I never read the series from Star Comics, I was pleasantly surprised to have seen the property picked up by Roar Comics, an imprint of Lion Forge Comics. Roar Comics has published digital comics like “Saved by the Bell” and “Punky Brewster” so they’re no stranger to publishing comics for a younger audience. Madballs is intentionally catering to a younger fan and in that attempt it succeeds. A more mature reader may find that the stories within are juvenile, but they’re supposed to be. Madballs shouldn’t be long form storytelling. Writer Brad McGinty tells us a few stories that touch on sports in “Bizarro Bowl”, horror in “Night of the Purple Putty Cat” and I guess you can say history in “Ye Olde-Tymer’s Game”. What’s found throughout each story is humor and plenty of it. The stories weren’t all that memorable, but I had fun with a feeling of nostalgia while reading about Screaming Meemie or Skull Face that made me smile on multiple occasions.
The art is impressive throughout and I loved the book’s multiple art styles from artists Scarecrowoven, Dan Zettwoch and Brian Smith. The book is bright and colorful and each of the Madballs is represented quite well in the art. Each of the artists have embraced the grossness, like in a panel where Screamin Meemie is licking the brain out of Bash Brain, or in the second story as Scarecrowoven draws a blob of Madballs together that form a walking and talking monster that looks like it would shine under a blacklight.
Madballs number didn’t deliver powerful or memorable storytelling, but it did succeed in making the most out of a disgustingly cool toy concept from the 1980s. If I had this book when I was younger I’d have loved it. Although the writing didn’t connect with me that same way as an adult, I still loved it. The real test will come when I give it to my seven and four year old to try…
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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