Jeremy Whitley of Action Lab Comics describes the SubCulture Omnibus perfectly as a story that follows “the exploits of several nerds (like us) doing nerdy things (like we do) and going through hilarious adventures.” Existing just one step further in the real world than Kevin Smith’s adventures of Jay and Silent Bob, SubCulture touches nearly every corner in Geekdom, including comics, conventions, roleplaying games, collectible card games, video games, and much, much more. In addition, the cast of characters in SubCulture also struggles with a number of universal issues facing today’s geeky crowd, like the perils of dating and the struggle to find a decent place of employment in a world of dead-end jobs. Freeman states in the book’s intro that while some have criticized the characters as “stereotypes of fans,” his mission was to create archetypes instead and, for the most part, he succeeds in the endeavor by making sure every character gets a moment or two to shine and also by allowing his characters to grow (and learn!) throughout the overarching plot of the book. Yan’s art is cartoony and expressive, without becoming unrealistic, and gives SubCulture a friendly and welcoming feeling to the reader. Yan and Freeman also manage to throw in a ton of geek-worthy references and easter eggs, and they even provide an index (and commentary) for these nerdy nods, so that you don’t have to miss a single one!
Honestly, I only have one minor gripe regarding SubCulture, and that’s my feelings surrounding the character of Noel, the strong-willed, confident, and snarky female lead of the book. Noel doesn’t sound that bad in a bite-sized description, but, despite the fact that she has established herself as an indie comic book fan, during her first trip to SuperCon (think San Diego Comic-Con) with her new boyfriend (and geeky everyman) Jason, Noel spends the entire Con using her wit to verbally tear apart the event and the people around her with a sadistic glee. Understandably, this behavior weighs on Jason, and the couple eventually ends up in a fight that tears apart their relationship and almost their friendship. Eventually, after a few weeks of not talking to each other, Jason caves and tells Noel, “I was an a-- at SuperCon. I should’ve let you enjoy yourself.” Now, maybe I’m a little less forgiving than Jason, but I fail to see where he was ever in the wrong. Most fanboys and fangirls experience being mocked by others at one time or another during their lives, and one of the most illogical and enraging things I have witnessed in Geekdom is the mocking or isolation of one type of geek by another member of their geek brethren. Given that we’ve all experienced that pain and shame, I have no concept of why we would want to deliver it on those who share our love and passion for comics, cosplay, and other geeky endeavors and perpetuate a cycle of, essentially, bullying that we’ve all been a victim of. Now, in all fairness, Noel eventually learns to be less hurtful and discovers ways in which she can bond with the other geeks she encounters (instead of mocking them), and her judgmental streak is a character flaw that the writer intends to use as part of Noel’s “redemption” arc, but I still never really got over the fact that Jason had to apologize to her after she got angry at him for calling her out on being someone who needs to use her wit to eviscerate others in order to have fun.
That said, comic book sniffers, I still highly recommend you get you hands on SubCulture Omnibus! You may not love every depiction or character, but, for the most part, SubCulture is spot on and proves that both Freeman and Yan have earned their geek cred on the very “battlefields” their cast of characters inhabit. Don’t miss this one! This book is chock-full of bonus content, and it will surely take you right back to the good, ol’ days hanging at your local comic book store!
For more information about SubCulture and a free preview of the book, be sure to check out the official SubCulture website, as well as the Action Lab Comics website. You can also find Action Lab on Facebook.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers. And, remember . . . be excellent to each other.
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer