Welcome to The Third Panel. Every other week, Alex dispels the myth that comics are only about superheroes by sharing comics books, graphic novels, and webcomics that are off the beaten path.
Longshot is a Marvel comics character created by Ann Nocenti and Art Adams in 1985. Much like all characters developed during the eighties, he looks like a nightmare fusion of David Bowie’s character from Labyrinth and Rod Stewart. He’s a genetically engineered super-being from the Mojoverse, a dimension where everyone is fat and gross and addicted to televised gladiator games created by this guy. His name is Mojo and the people he ruled over were called (wait for it) the “Spineless Ones.” This was considered very cutting social commentary back in the 80s.
But enough about that! What can Longshot do? He’s got superhuman agility, psychometry (the ability to remember things about an object you’ve never seen before just by touching it) and healing factor, which is an industry word for explaining how superheroes get banged up all the time without it affecting their ability to fight. But his most important ability is that he’s got incredibly good luck—the result of a magic ritual he performed in the Mojoverse while trying to lead a slave rebellion. However! If he tries to use his luck selfishly, it backfires on him in comically destructive ways!
Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe is a one-shot written by Chris Hastings (who writes The Adventures Of Dr. McNinja, one of the first web comics I ever read), and drawn by Jacopo Camagni.
The basic story is this: The In-Betweener, who makes sure the balance of the universe stays intact, is hunting down people catching lucky breaks in New York. Specifically, he’s looking for Longshot, whose chronic good luck is upsetting the balance of the universe. Meanwhile Longshot, hungry and broke, uses his good luck to wish for some cash so he can buy a taco from a Park Slope food truck, and accidentally blows up the top floor of someone’s house. This leads the In-Betweener right to his location. However thanks to his luck, Longshot finds himself in possession of a cosmic cube (any resemblance to the Tesseract from The Avengers movie is purely coincidental) and simply wishes that the In-Betweener “gets lost,” which allows reality to rewrite itself around Longshot. However! There’s a problem: in this new reality, the In-Betweener has been split into two personalities—law and chaos. And law is hell-bent on utilizing his new position as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s anti-magic division to destroy any and all unauthorized magic users in the world—and that includes Longshot!
One of the things I love about Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe is that it’s the perfect one-two punch of fantastic art and phenomenal writing coming together. Longshot reminds me so much of the kid we all hated in high school because he seemed too perfect to be real, but Hastings makes it so we can’t help but root for him—he’s got the perfect sense of self-deprecation and earnest desire to fix the things that he screws up that you can’t help but root for him in the end. Plus I’ve always been a fan of Hastings’s ability to break the fourth wall without it seeming affected, like when Longshot explains who he is to the woman who’s top floor he accidentally made explode with his luck.
Along with that, Jacopo Camagni’s art is phenomenal. His attention to detail on minor characters of this story is crazy. I was sold as soon as I saw “sassy hipster Park Slope barbers” on page three of the first issue, and his redesign of the In-Betweener makes a weird, sort of dumb-looking villain look instead really sinister.
The only caveat I have to say about this book is that it rewards those who remember small details: such as when Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) try to drive the cosmic cube on a ferry to Staten Island, because Tony read (incorrectly) in New York Magazine that the Staten Island Ferry was capable of transporting a big rig truck. This comes back a few pages later when a construction worker tells Stark and Richards that the Red Hook entrance to the Queens expressway is under construction and that they’ll have to take a different route. When chided by his superior for giving incorrect information, the construction worker explains that he just lost his job at New York Magazine and needs the job. If you lack the patience for such gags, the story might wear on you after a while, but for me, that’s all part of the payoff in a Chris Hastings story. Plus any story that has a Reed Richards/Tony Stark bromance subplot is worth reading in my book.
Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe 1-3 are out now, both online and at your local comic stores. It’s a fun read and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see all the big hitters of the Marvel universe appear in a supporting role. Every time you think you know where it’s going, well…I’ll let Longshot say it for me.