Another month, another issue of The Ruff and Reddy Show, a comic book whose very existence continues to baffle and bemuse me. Last issue saw the titular pair do the dirty on their agent, Pamela, and take up the offer of industry veteran Aldo “Crafty” Schrafft. Will this issue be as predictable as it is beautiful (Mac Rey’s art continues to be the one shining point of the series)? There’s only one way to find out, doncha know? And here it is…
The move from Pamela to Crafty is, for a brief moment, the talk of the town, as evidenced by a number of talking heads presented on TV screens, smart phone screens and PC screens in the first couple of pages. Much of this issue is concerned with Pamela’s attempts to exact her revenge on her erstwhile clients and sees her settle for the relatively innocuous (one would have thought) tactic of using Ruff and Reddy’s email accounts to send unflattering comments about their partners to gossip outlets. Whatever sympathy we may have had for her is rather quickly drained away at this point and, when Schrafft shows how it’s really done and retaliates in a much more devastating way, it’s hard not to conclude that she’s getting what she deserves. The issue ends with her taking a mysterious phone call from someone who has clearly got some kind of dirt on the pair, but, in a move that is somehow entirely appropriate for this series, we have no idea who the person might be or what the dirt might be and, given what we’ve seen about the pair already in the last four issues, we have no reason to care.
This is not to say that there aren’t funny moments in this comic book. There are. The game show section is amusing, not least because Mac Rey draws the facial expressions of cartoon anthropomorphic characters getting dumped on by unspecified gunk remarkably well. But the comic’s flabby narrative and dearth of likeable characters mean there’s very little to engage the reader here. Cameos like Detective Chimp and Roy Raymond seem to be flung into the mix for no purpose whatsoever and the resolution to the Raymond investigation of the scheme that suckered Ruff takes place off-panel. While Sexx’s crimes are exposed live on air, precisely how Raymond and the Chimp brought her down is unclear, simply not important enough to be shared with the reader.
The overall effect is of a comic book afflicted with ADHD, too distracted by jokes, one-liners and thinly-disguised references to real-world celebrities to tell a coherently plotted story. Mac Rey’s art remains fabulous and, in the sense that we are actually getting a story, this issue is an improvement on earlier ones, but it’s still an uninvolving, largely charmless, sprawling mess of a series. Approach with caution.