As part of last year’s Comixology Originals, Elephantmen creator Richard Starkings and artist Abigail Jill Harding created Ask For Mercy, a World War II fantasy horror story following the time-traveling adventures of monster hunters who battle some Nazis throughout its six-issue narrative. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, the story is overly ambitious with time travel, otherworldly fantasy and Indiana Jones-esque Nazism.
Out of all the stunningly designed monsters, the standout has to be Budgie — despite his monstrous look, he’s oddly adorable and might as well be the Chewbacca of this title. In fact, due to readers’ demand for more Budgie, the two creators have listened and have done a one-shot issue about this fan favorite just in time for the release of the first volume. Following the events of The Key To Forever, Budgie is called upon by Alizarine, who is left in the Void after the battle with the Kroach. Budgie is assigned to go shopping at an Earth-based store for Alizarine, whilst preparing Mercy who is still coming to terms with the power she possesses.
If you are not familiar with Ask For Mercy, you will have a hard time with this issue that somewhat continues the story as well as setting up where it could go in the next season. However, Starkings is not interested in expanding the extravagant world-building here — Ask For Budgie is more about showing a day in the life of a monster who seems to have a penchant for collecting silverware. You’ll want a whole series about this character, who is presented not as a bad-ass monster, but a bumbling outsider who may have the ability to shapeshift and always feels out of place among the humans.
As funny as it is, this book also features a lot of heart as some questions are answered, such as the origins of Budgie himself as well as his relationship with Alizarine. They may not be huge revelations, but they seal the deal as to why there is an innocence towards the eponymous monster and will always help those in need. After all, just ask for Budgie.
Like I said before, this issue doesn’t showcase the otherworldly nature as much as the main series, but that is not to say that Abigail Jill Harding doesn’t bring her A-game here. There are pages that will leave you breathless and they often feature Budgie showing his shapeshifting skills, whether it is him creating a conservatory in the endless void or hilariously turning his hands into a trolley when he is shopping. Harding’s strength when creating monsters is to not always stick with the same design as Budgie is always changing in almost every page — his pointy face can offer many expressions.
Taking place in between seasons, this one-shot is a funny and touching character study about an innocent monster who is an instant favorite.