Who's Ambush Bug?

Who's This? The anti-hero who knows he's in a comic. (No, not Deadpool, the original one.)
The facts: Ambush Bug started life a mad pest, but definitely a villain, whose costume allowed him to teleport to the position of his mechanical bees. This Keith Giffen creation, in DC Comics Presents #52 (1992), was introduced as a foe for Superman and the Doom Patrol. He returned in #59 to pester Superman and the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, and in the equally madcap Supergirl #16. Then something happened. He saw beyond the veil and realized he was a comic book character. Giffen gave him some back-up tales in Action Comics filled with gags, appearances by DC staffers, and jokes on popular and obscure DC characters alike. No longer a villain (and no longer needing the bees), this would make Ambush Bug an insane hero/private detective who could annoy people both on and off the page with his undoubtedly non-canon antics. These appearances led to a 4-issue mini-series, then a Christmas special, and finally the 6-issue Son of Ambush Bug in the same irreverant style. Future projects would come in the 90s and 2000s. Let's not forget the Ambush Bug DC Heroes RPG adventure module in the same style.
How you could have heard of him: In addition to getting a lot of play on this here blog (his dedicated label has 45 posts, including this one), Irwin Schwab was also made a member of the Doom Patrol in the 2010s when Giffen was writing it, and in the New52, was one of the TV anchors of DC's promotional pages "Channel 52". Seeing as he first appeared in an issue 52, it makes complete sense.
Example story: Action Comics #565 (March 1985) "$ellout" by Keith Giffen, Robert Lauren Fleming, and Bob Oksner
I read and re-read the Bug's 80s mini-series and specials so much, I know them by heart. But the original Action Comics appearances where his gonzo style was developped, I had to find those in back-issue boxes later, and they don't stick in my memory as well. Time to revisit them! I chose the third of those issues (the others are #560 and 563), and though his strip is #565's second feature, he still gets the cover, sharing it with DC's Big Three. Ok, I'm intrigued.

"$ellout, or Manna from Mando" does what it says on the tin, i.e. sell the idea of the Ambush Bug (mini) series before it comes out (in three months). But first, the Bug needs to secure guest-stars for his first issue. It's all about marketing. Except perhaps his tribute to Superman's Silver Age isn't something the Blue Cheese can bear.
Except maybe Batman can't abide the Ambush Bug except as an answer to a crossword puzzle.
Except maybe Wonder Woman thinks cheap shots about her figure--I mean sales figures--and Buggy's Looney-Tunes fast talk doesn't fly.
No one, but no one wants to be a guest in Ambush Bug, and they don't even need their agents to pass on it. Meanwhile, in DC's dark offices, Giffen in making his pitch for that very page, but Julie Schwartz isn't paying for it. So who does Ambush Bug get finally? Brother Power's available but not exactly a seller. The Teen Titans pass. Since I have Ambush Bug #1 committed to memory, let me answer that question: No one. He fakes Darkseid's participation. That's pretty much it.
As with any given issue of Ambush Bug, this story is interrupted a couple times with bonus material, often in the form of fake covers or ads, like Ambush Bug as a Hulk analog who fights the Reader by busting through the fourth wall...
...and a team book for ol' Buggy, which features characters that might indeed appear in one of his books down the line (most notably the basket-headed ronin from Lone Wolf and Cub, i.e. the Cleaver!
I would read this series. Alas... So that's Ambush Bug, doing what he does best in fewer pages than if I covered an entire issue. If some readers think the joke goes on too long in his own title, I think he works quite well as a short parody strip like this. The humor is strictly for comic book nerds who know the history and the people behind the pages, but I'm sure half the references went way over my head when I first fell in love with the character, so it's not necessary to BE that level of comic book nerd. Indeed, you get more out of it when you reread it at a later stage of your fandom.

Who's Next?
The Princess of Gemworld.



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