In case I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, I’m a pretty huge fan of Axe Cop, the totally off-the-wall bonkers web (and occasionally print) comic by “written” by Malachai Nicolle (age 10) and illustrated by Ethan Nicolle (age 33). Oh, and it’s colored by Dirk Schulz (age unknown). Their latest release, American Choppers, is the print-exclusive story of how Axe Cop gets together his all new team, the titular American Choppers. Is it good?
Axe Cop: American Choppers #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Let’s take a moment to consider the fact that Malachai Nicolle is now twice as old as he was when he co-created one of the greatest comics of our time (I say that in jest, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it might actually be true). All things considered, Axe Cop hasn’t changed much in the five years of its existence, despite the simple fact that ten-year-old boys are very different than five-year-old boys. I mean, sure, plenty has happened to Axe Cop—he’s become President of the World, gotten married, and even got his own animated television series—but the heart and soul of Axe Cop remains remarkably consistent. It’s still a refreshingly innocent yet hilariously (and bloodlessly) violent peek into the mind of a child.
If you haven’t experienced Axe Cop yet, American Choppers is as good a place as any to hop on board, despite the series’ deep and often convoluted continuity. I couldn’t recommend catching up on the entire series more highly, but there’s a number 1 on the cover of this issue, so it reads appropriately like a first issue should. No longer interested in being President of the World, Axe Cop relegated that title to his wife, the Water Queen, while Axe Cop takes on the new mantle of President of Karate. And from there, the issue goes delightfully bananas.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that American Choppers is the funniest that Axe Cop has been in a long time (which is not to say that it’s been unfunny lately, either). The humor has changed a little, though. It’s no longer just funny by virtue of the fact that it translates a child’s ideas onto paper, and little kids are inherently hilarious. Malachai actually seems like he’s trying to be funny now, and surprisingly, it works. Granted, Ethan surely has a lot to do with it in terms of pacing and editing, but still, it’s clear that Malachai’s efforts are evolving.
As for the art, Ethan’s pencils and inks are as dynamic and imaginative as ever, though he’s also a talented letterer, adding even more to the tone and energy of the comic. Similarly effective are the colors by Dirk Schulz, who has become something of the black sheep of the Axe Cop family, since the series started out in black and white, but his colors are nonetheless a welcome addition.
Is it Good?
If a comic’s greatness can be judged purely on the virtue of its entertainment value (which, in most cases, should probably be the case), then Axe Cop is one of the greatest comics ever conceived.