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Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth (Oni Press, 2016; #1-6)

Jeff Steinberg.jpeg

When aliens arrive and demand a champion to defend Earth, one man rises to the challenge:  Jeff Steinberg!  Okay, he doesn’t rise so much as find himself with no choice; apparently, in their love of the Green Lantern movie, these aliens have decided that Earth’s champion should possess the greatest willpower on the planet.  And they happen to scan for this willpower right as Jeff conquers some Elmer’s glue-induced constipation.  Jeff is literally caught with his pants down and must set aside his personal drama to prevent the eradication of the human race.

It’s pretty fair of everyone to assume it’s the end of the world.

Jeff Steinberg is hilarious.  I’m not normally a fan of the kind of jokes that the book trades in—poop jokes, gags about Jeff’s small penis, everyone seeming to know that Jeff’s girlfriend is cheating on him—but Fialkov and Fleecs make it work here.  Part of it comes down to execution; the book moves quickly, so the goofs are quick and matter-of-fact.  The rest of it comes down to Jeff not just being a doofus, but a human doofus.  While he may seem clueless, he has a heart, and that makes it easy to identify with and root for him.  And laugh with him instead of at him.  It's also not all dumb jokes—there's a lot of nerdy, pop culture type humor in there too.

Fleecs and Anderson’s art is energetic and expressive, and it gives the book a playful look.  That playfulness helps to wear down any meanness that comes with some of its humor—like jokes about Jeff being poorly endowed.  It feels like a Saturday morning cartoon.

I feel like I shouldn’t find Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth as funny as I do.  But that’s to its credit.  If you’re looking for a laugh, this book will deliver.

Collected in

  • Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth (#1-6)

Credits

Writers: Joshua Hale Fialkov & Tony Fleecs | Artist: Tony Fleecs | Colorist: Luigi Anderson | Letterer: Simon Bowland | Designers: Shannon Forrey with Kate Z. Stone | Editors: James Lucas Jones and Bess Pallares

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