“Trolls : 1 Trip 2 Many” May — Or May Not — Be Exactly That

Hmmm — this is a strange situation. Usually I’ll let you know if you should buy and/or read a comic or not, but when it comes to Michael Aushenker’s latest self-published number, Trolls : 1 Trip 2 Many — the third installment of his ongoing Trolls series (just look, the numbers in the title even add up!) — I might just have to give it a grade of “I” for incomplete.

I think, at any rate. It’s hard to say. And how successful this particular comic may be really does depend on what happens next — or not. Are you confused yet? Because there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t be.

Let me try to break it down — this comic starts off with our erstwhile protagonists, lovable fuck-ups Edward and Mayward, in a typically ridiculous situation : they’re being rocketed to Mars on the “Spaced X” probe owned by billionaire walrus Elong Tusk (it doesn’t get much more obvious than that, which rather the point), but then things go bad : they crash land on the lifeless red rock, only to find it’s not so lifeless after all, since a stereotypical “gray” alien (who has also crashed on the way to wherever the hell he’s going from wherever the hell he’s from) is there, too. The not-Martian first points a ray gun at our less-than-dynamic duo, but then they all start feeling the heat through their damaged spacesuits (even though Mars is cold) and spend the final 3/4 of the issue suffocating and starving, presumably to death.

If this is the end for Trolls, it’s certainly an unexpected and uncharacteristic one given the parade of hijinks it’s been up to this point — and if it’s not, then Aushenker’s really going to have to pull something interesting out of his hat that not only saves his characters and their newfound “friend,” but is also paced in such a way that their long, slow, painful demise-that-won’t-really-be-a-demise makes sense within the larger scheme of his overall story. I give Aushenker style points for loosening up his already-loose line even further as his characters lose consciousness, and for employing a really impressive color scheme throughout that transitions from vibrant and euphoric to dark and ominous along with the narrative tone, but right now I honestly can’t say whether or not this is reason enough to recommend the comic.

So, yeah, I dunno — either in terms of where we stand, or in terms of where Aushenker is going. If anywhere. Maybe this is one of those things like Twin Peaks : The Return where a bunch of people were like “that can’t be it — can it?,” only to find that maybe they’re cool with things if it is, after all. It could be. Or it couldn’t. I guess I’d be surprised — hell, very surprised — if this proves to be the end, but if there’s one thing that Aushenker’s always excelled at, it’s delivering on the unexpected, although it’s usually in service of a quick and effective gag or a plot twist. This could certainly be the latter, I suppose, but if so, he’s employed one lengthy set-up to get there.

So, yeah, an “I” for incomplete is what I’m forced to go with here. I’ll certainly be interested to see what Aushenker comes up with next, but whether or not that’s another chapter in the Trolls saga remains to be seen. And if this is the end of the road for Edward and Mayward, it’s going to be some time before I’m able to decide whether or not I think it was a truly effective one.

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Trolls : 1 Trip 2 Many is available for $4.00 by getting in touch with Michael Aushenker via his “Cartoon Flophouse” Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CartoonFlophouse/

Review wrist check – playing with a new combination here today, my Tsao Baltimore “Torsk Diver” in emerald green riding an Ocean Crawler orange and black NATO strap.

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