Action-Plus: Ambush Bug (October, 1984)
Writer – Robert Loren Fleming
Pencils – Keith Giffen
Inks – Bob Oksner
Colors – Antony Tollin
Letters – John Costanza
Edits – Julius Schwartz
From: Action Comics #560
Boy, did yesterdays piece on Joe Kubert’s The Redeemer go over like a lead balloon! I was quite taken aback as to how nobody gave a crap about it. I suppose that’s just another indictment that I really don’t have the foggiest idea what comics enthusiasts might be interested in. Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk (and many, many wasted hours), it’s not like I’m going to “One Punch” y’all a few times a week. Anyhow, let’s head back into Action-Plus.
Interestingly enough, this Ambush Bug back-up actually gets the cover of the issue! That didn’t happen all that often… pretty neat!
Clark Kent enters A. Bug Enterprises, a detective agency in a bad part of town. Inside, he finds Ambush Bug mopping the floor. He thinks to himself how odd it is that Arkham Asylum would ever let this “fruit fly” out.
Ambush Bug dramatically gets into his detective gear… trench coat, fedora, and cigarette! He hops onto his side of the desk… and notices something. There’s something sorta familiar about this Clark Kent. He bears a striking resemblance to… nah, couldn’t be.
Following up on his hunch, he walks behind Clark and gives him the cape approximation of a wedgie… still uncertain, he licks his finger and adjusts Clark’s spit curl. The jig is most definitely up. The Bug laughs at the feeble civilian disguise (perhaps some meta-commentary?) and Superman beats a hasty retreat.
We are then treated to Ambush Bug’s secret origin. Irwin Schwab was just a normal man who was raised by television… it all gets twisted when he visits the Metropolis Library for the first time. He discovers that “real life” is just like a “movie of the week”… and vows to rid the world of social problems.
The next morning, Clark Kent wakes up from an Ambush Bug dream filled night… he just can’t shake the Bug out of his head!
We shift scenes to Arkham Asy… State Hospital. Inside, Schwab’s former clinician (Derwood) is lamenting the release of his most high profile client. Bud Lipschitz, the Director of Arkham promises him some very early 80’s replacement clients to make up for it.
Later that day we watch as Ambush Bug takes the law into his own hands when he “arrests” a Buick whose meters had run out. The day is saved!
We wrap up with Bug visiting Clark at the Galaxy Building while dressed as a Samurai… Clark plays the perfect straight-man here for all of A.B.’s nuttiness. It’s alluded that this is the Bug’s “first episode” and he promises to commit hara-kiri at the end of his sixth.
This back-up story… which, let’s face it… was the selling point for this issue, was pretty neat. It’s amazing to see a character not unlike the contemporary Deadpool in 1980’s DC Comics. I like the idea of Ambush Bug being something of a comedic foil for Superman… I’m not used to seeing Superman (especially of this era) being so bothered/rubbed wrong by somebody. Seeing him in the position of the “straight man” in a comedy duo was really a lot of fun.
When I first put this one together, back in 2016 or so, I was hoping that maybe Ambush Bug would’ve gotten some love in the post-Rebirth DC Universe… which, I don’t think ever happened. To my knowledge, the last time we saw him prior to Rebirth was in was the Convergence: Supergirl/Matrix mini-series, which was decent if I recall correctly… and before that, his stint as a news reporter for the Channel 52 bits that used to clog the back pages of the early New-52 era books.
What’s really sad is, if they had decided to bring him back… fans today would see him as nothing more than a Deadpool-ripoff. Hmm… maybe that’s why they didn’t?