Review: Former X-Men writer Scott Lobdell spoofs a classic graphic novel with Whatmen?!

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

You know that friend of yours who isn't very funny but thinks he is? The one who helpfully follows every unfunny joke with "ha-ha," thus identifying the punchlines for you so you'll know when to laugh? Except that you're not going to?

Whatmen?! (IDW, $3.99), written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Alejandro Figueroa, is that guy—in comic book form.

A parody of the classic Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel Watchmen, produced just in time for the release of the movie, it compresses the 12 issues of that series into one comic-book-sized story, complete with panels designed to mirror moments from the original and dialogue designed to punch holes in its pretensions.

Except that any parody of something should be funnier than that thing, and while Watchmen itself has any number of memorable jokes, this thing's idea of wit is calling the Rorschach parody "Nutsack." (Ha-ha.) Very little of this is genuinely funny. It's pretty much just there.

But since Lobdell is a veteran comics writer whose career includes stints on such Marvel mainstays as Uncanny X-Men and Alpha Flight, respect compels mention of a couple of moments that sort of, kind of, work, if you're grading on the curve and don't feel like kicking something that already has barely enough life to move. Watchmen's aborted sex scene between Silk Spectre and Doctor Manhattan comes to a completely different, and somewhat amusing, conclusion here. And the Doctor Manhattan parody, Doc NYC, does have one nice self-reflexive moment when he notes, "I am just a spoof of a comic character based on an iconic comic character based on a low-rent knock-off of another comic character."

Now, that ain't bad, but it's the absolute best you'll find, and it's not good enough to qualify as the one shining moment that redeems the lameness everywhere else. It's not even good enough to merit a ha-ha.