Cartoonist: John Patrick Green
Publisher: First Second
In InvestiGators: Off the Hook by John Patrick Green, S.U.I.T. InvestiGators Mango and Brash are back and facing a villainous team-up!
Bring on the jokes!
Puns are intrinsic to InvestiGators, beginning with the title and present at every turn. One of the villains Mango and Brash face off against is what’s left of Bill Pungerman, A.K.A. Hookline and Slinker, a plumber and snake who were combined with both each other and a drain snake – look, the details of their origin story aren’t really important, what is important is how much fun it is to say “Hookline and Slinker.”
And there’s plenty of meta fictional humor that will lead readers to confront the fact that they are reading a comic book: there’s several lines of dialogue that makes reference to page numbers, references to a character’s propensity for narration, and plenty of other jokes that lean on the fourth wall.
On top of the smirk-worthy puns and hilarious food jokes, of which there are also many, there’s even a Star Trek reference (simulated en media res, thy name is Holodeck).
Additional dossier information
Throughout InvestiGators: Off the Hook, the story relies on both superhero and superspy tropes. There is a serious affection for acronyms throughout, with several comments on the acronyms that seem incongruous on redundant.
Tango and Brash are facing a villainous team, and each member has their own comics-inspired origin story. The previously mentioned Hookline and Slinker has some laugh out loud parallels to Doctor Octopus, particularly the incarnation portrayed by Alfred Molina in 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (hint: you never really know with a trench coat).
But while the comic may pull from superhero fare, it always keeps things fun and silly. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than with Crackerdile, a former S.U.I.T. InvestiGator turned irradiated cracker. If this weren’t already funny enough, at a certain point in the narrative, Crackerdile undergoes a transformation far too hilarious to spoil for readers – but suffice to say that his new evolution is equally hilarious in both name and form.
Off the Hook has plenty of great, funny art, which includes simple, appealing character and lots of story hints in the background details, which will be ideal for eagle-eyed observers. The colors are bright throughout, and its always clear what’s going on in the action and which way the panels flow.
Like Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge, the newest InvestiGators graphic novel features plenty of funny jokes about social media. But while Lois Lane had a focus on YouTube stardom, Off the Hook takes aim at Twitter. From trending hashtags to the seemingly universal popularity of social media, there are plenty of one-off jokes (and even plot points) related to “that bird app.” Perhaps my favorite one of the lot is a panel that will send enterprising young readers on an odyssey to find a punchline planted during the summer of 2020:
— CameraBoy64 (@CameraBoy64) June 18, 2020
And InvestiGators: Off the Hook also has great back matter, with a guide to drawing one of the characters and some cute activities.
Take the Plunge with Hookline and Slinker
While I haven’t had a chance to read the previous two entries in the InvestiGators series, thanks to dialogue referring to their earlier adventures and plenty of helpful asterisks to explain acronyms, most readers will be able to fill in the blanks without much difficulty (doubly so if they’re well versed enough in genre to be unsurprised when a villain turns out to be a former ally turned to the dark side).
Will you be grabbing your vest and heading out to grab a copy of InvestiGators: Off the Hook? Let The Beat know in the comments or on social media @comicsbeat!
InvestiGators: Off the Hook is available beginning today from your local bookstore or public library.