Bob, the Galactic Bum #1 (February, 1995)
“The Piker, Chapter 1: And the Maggot Cried ‘Death'”
Writers – Alan Grant & John Wagner
Artist – Carlos Ezquerra
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Dan Brown
Separation – Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor – Peter J. Tomasi
Editor – Dan Raspler
Cover Price: $1.95
Some days we’ll discuss straightforward no nonsense superhero books… some days we’ll discuss some stories from an offbeat corner of the DC Universe… then, there’s days like today. Today we’re discussing a book about an intergalactic bum. I’ve had this book kicking around the collection for quite awhile now… and had yet to sit down and read it. Guess we’re gonna remedy that today.
We open with a shot of what appears to be a train car as it floats through endless space. It’s occupants are the titular Bob the Intergalactic Bum and his bosom buddie Buck Fifty… and they’re hungry. They plot… well, Bob plots… all Buck Fifty seems to be able to say is “What?”… perhaps he is a Stone Cold Steve Austin fan. Anyhoo… Bob plots ways in which to get them fed, finally concluding that they might eat Buck’s coat.
After reading a page from the Galactic Handbook, Bob learns that it would take a full week to properly prepare a coat for consumption. Fearing that by then they will have withered away to nothing, he decides to try sweet talking some snacks from the handy on board Vend-O-Matic machine. The machine doesn’t like the cut of his jib, and feels (feels?) that Bob may not be all that great at paying off his debts, so he is turned down flat.
Moments later, a video screen illuminates to inform the duo that there is a nearby spacecraft approaching. They are engaged by the craft and soon joined by an alien critter with many tentacles hanging from its face. Bob checks the manual again, and informs Buck Fifty that the best way to greet such a creature is to shake it’s tentacles. Well, Buck gets tentacles confused with… well, ya know… and shakes vigorously. This is where there is a bit of a hiccup between the writing and art. The writing makes it preeeetty clear that Buck shook one thing, but the art shows him holding on to a tentacle. Here, you be the judge…
Not long after this encounter do Bob and Buck run into a… sorta-kinda space cruise ship called the S.V. Shimoni. It’s a fairly hoi-poloi craft where the elite travel the spaceways in style. They are allowed on board… and are told they’ll be fed and cared for, just so long as they stay away from their passengers. So, of course… Bob bee-lines it over to start panhandling from all the wealthies on board… and he’s actually quite successful. People fill his hat with cash to make him go away… on a count that he smells… bad… see, the man stinks.
While Buck Fifty inhales a young child’s hamburger, Bob continues harassing the passengers. He comes across a blue-skinned fella wearing something sort of like a fez. He seems to take a liking to Bob, however, he doesn’t have anything vulgar like money on his person. Bob dismisses him, calling him a “piker” (hey, that’s the title of the story!) and walks away.
Bob and Buck are grabbed by the collar by a crew member, and tossed into their quarters for the evening. They fulfill their promise of feeding them, by offering maggot and pickle sandwiches… which is, ya know… kind of vile. What’s worse is the maggots are still alive… and have the ability to speak! Oh well.
The cruise craft is approach by some unfriendly travelers… the Khunds… which is a word ya probably don’t wanna say out loud in mixed company. Initially the baddies just pass by, however, they soon change their minds and lob a torpedo into the S.V. Shimoni.
It doesn’t take the Khunds long to board the vessel, rob its inhabitants blind… and then kill said inhabitants. These guys don’t mess around.
Thinking their job done, the baddies leave. Ya see, Bob and Buck hid out in a ventilation shaft. As luck would have it, bad guys never think to check there. All’s well… however, our pals soon realize that they are not alone. Why, they are joined by the “piker” from earlier! How fortuitous.
The now-trio wanders through the wreckage and carnage of the Shimoni. They happen across the ships escape pods and prepare to jam out. Bob and Buck enter, and tell the Piker to go his own way. In a moment of mercy… Bob agrees to take him along. Here we learn that the Piker is actually the galactic prince Chazza of Gazza.
We begin our wrap up by checking in with Vril Dox and Stealth of the R.E.B.E.L.S. After hearing what has gone down with the Shimoni, they realize they will have to intervene… on a count of Chazza having been on board. Ya see, Chazza of Gazza is the heir apparent to five whole systems… ay yai yai. Now considering the potential difficulty of this task, Dox decides to enlist the aid of… yup, the Main Man himself.
I feel like I’m saying this a lot, but… yeah… pretty decent issue.
The story… what there is of it, flows well… and we get a pretty decent indication of just how big a pest our man Bob can be. He’s very much, and you can tell this by looking at him, in the mold of a W.C. Fields. Just more annoying… if that’s something that’s possible to be.
Of course this is… and we can tell by the cover… ultimately a Lobo story. I’ll plead ignorance in regard to his affiliation or constitution during this time… and I am utterly clueless as to what the R.E.B.E.L.S. were up to at this point in time.
The art here is really quite nice. Kind of evocative of 2000AD. It has that clean-yet-scratchy look to it, which serves this story and these characters quite well… well, all except Lobo, who really doesn’t look all that good in my opinion.
I know when I normally cover a book from the mid-1990’s I often rag the muddy coloring. I think the constant, up to this point, has been Digital Chameleon having a part in it. Here, while still being a Digital Chameleon joint… the coloring looks really quite good, lush even! I guess this just tells me that the muddiness is more to do with the horrendous mid-nineties glossy paper and less to do with the colorist(s) nor separator(s).
Overall… you probably don’t need to seek this one out. I have only seen this once “in the wild” and that was when I bought it. Not saying this would be difficult to find, but I’m not sure it would be easy either… and honestly, it may not be worth the time nor effort. It’s a novelty to be sure, and if you love having weirdo books in your collection (like I do), I suppose you could do far worse.