Some people hate George Bush for leading American troops into a war that’s killed hundreds of thousands of innocents. Some people hate Democrats and liberals for thinking that may not have been that good an idea. I hate Jonathan Adams for making me laugh at some of the darker elements of the Iraqi imbroglio with the thinly-veiled allegory of Truth Serum: The Lonely Parade. Unlike, say, Superfuckers (a tiny bit more on that later) and other books that embrace the more surreal aspects of superheroics, the new Truth Serum uses the idiom in combination with an utter banality that’s closer to reality than most fans of the genre would like. Along the way, it creates a comedic tone that hits some of the same spots that Wes Anderson or Todd Solondz manage to tickle. Adams’s deadpan dialogue frequently reduced me to laughter, especially in scenes involving the blackest of relevant humor:
Orifist: Okay, so it turns out that some photos were taken of our people torturing the prisoners and then, somehow, those photos were released to the media.
Ameriman: Yikes. That’s no good. Was I in the photos? I wasn’t, was I?
Orifist: No, why? Were you there?
Ameriman: Nope. Say, what kind of torture exactly?
Orifist: Some electrocution, waterboarding and sodomy. Run-of-the-mill torture. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Ameriman: Alright, now I really need some more good news so I can get back to sleep. Give me something inspiring, with maybe a touch of eroticism to it. Just for fun.
Ameriman: C’mon. I said I wanted the bad news cushioned.
Orifish: Um… Well, they successfully remove that tumor from my mom’s breast yesterday.
Ameriman: Close enough.
Originally published on the Dark Horse website, the best analogy for the majority of pages here is something like a New Yorker-style gag panel with extended dialogue. A panel is presented and the dialogue for the scene is offered on opposite page. After a while, the experience is akin to reading a copiously illustrated screenplay that uses the art to actually provide setting and direction. It’s a daring, interesting approach that suits the dialogue-drive comedy very well, especially when combined with Adams’s stark snapshots of seemingly minor moments. I thought the first Truth Serum collection was funny. I’m very close to declaring that the second is brilliant.
This is why I love Superfuckers:
No, I’ve never worn pink “man-frills” before. Honest.