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Action Philosophers #1

Book Released: 6 April 2005
Review posted: 12 April 2005

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Ryan Dunlavey
Publisher: Evil Twin Comics

 4.50 out of 5 Stars

Reviewed by John L. Daniels Jr.


Evil Twin Comics creative team of Ryan Dunlavey (artist) and Fred Van Lente (writer) introduce readers to the philosophical forefathers of our time. They are, respectively: Plato the wrestler; Bodhidharma the Kung-fu master; and the super human Nietzsche.

There are three separate comedic stories (not parodies—see the first inside page of the issue) and factual adventures of the three philosophers.

Plato, the broad shouldered wrestler/philosopher, has taken his schooling from Socrates. Plato fights for his views on poetry and joins a group called the Pythagorean until he finally settles for a utopian world of artistry and perfection, where if you passed gym but flunked math you were sent to the military.

The complexity in the set of panels where Plato compares a movie theater setting to his relationship of forms is somewhat incomprehensible until you make a thorough study of it. The premise of men who live in an underground cavern and the philosophy it portrays is “deep.”

He finally settles for a utopian world of artistry and perfection, where if you passed gym but flunked math you were sent to the military.

Bodhidharma’s story is about a monk from India who travels to China and starts the philosophy of Self. Bodhidharma teaches everything in riddles and paradoxes. For instance, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?” Believe me I could not answer it either, nor did the creative team. It was a running joke throughout the story.

Friedrich Nietzsche is a philosopher of anti-socialism. His view is “equality is a human-created concept, bogus and ultimately corrupting”. The most whimsical panels show him reading his book titled “Unca Friederich’s Bedtime Stories” to the famous Katzenjammer Kids. Also it seems he adores ultra-nationalist composer Richard Wagner. The panels where Nietzsche looks goo-goo eyed at Wagner who is dressed as The Mighty Thor defy description.

All the panels are hilariously drawn and the dialogue is side-splitting funny. The publishers dare you to find a wrong fact or detail regarding the Action Philosophers stories. The underlying dialogue is intellectually funny. I laughed hard at times; it was hard to believe some of the events really happened. If you’ve never taken a philosophy class, this is the perfect comic book to get you “philosophically” introduced. The black and white artwork by Ryan Dunlavy reminds me of the artist Basil Wolverton who drew covers for the comic book PLOP from DC Comics in the 70’s— large expressive characters (overbites, and shocked looks of awe while they are thinking or talking). Dunlavy also reminds me of the great animator and artist Sergio Aragones, who did parodies of people for both Mad and Cracked magazines.

I highly recommend Action Philosophers #1 to any comic book collector or reader for its historical and factual stories and laugh-out-loud satire, all delivered with a fair helping of enlightenment.




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