Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth is the greatest comic book ever made. It is better than any dose of ultraliterate Alan Moore intertextuality or neurotic Daniel Clowes self-flagellation. It is better than Maus, Akira and Doom Patrol put together, and that would be a comic where disfigured superheroes fight Japanese psychic mice. And nothing possibly be could be better than that.
Except Axe Cop. Axe Cop is better than that, because it has two dinosaurs. It could have gotten by on just one dinosaur, but it has two just to make sure.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Axe Cop, I’m sorry your life sucks. It is a webcomic, as the cover of this print issue will tell you, that’s “written by a six year-old and drawn by his 30-year-old brother.” Technically, Ethan Nicolle scripts from his little brother’s plot summaries, but the ideas are Malachai’s so he gets the writing credit.
You can tell because Axe Cop has the gleefully manic energy of a kid smashing toys together with minimal concern for connective tissue or storytelling. Malachai’s only six, and probably isn’t thinking about thematic elements and all that. Mostly, it seems, he’s having IDEAS, and there are more ideas in 24 pages of Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth than in entire comic book runs. You’ve got evil planets, villains who turn into scorpions, invisible doors, handcuff-powered superheroes and a machine that turns bad guys into good guys. Axe Cop is, on the surface, about a cop with an axe, but it’s also about how kids think and what crazy shit they can come up with when they’re pretending.
Most importantly, Axe Cop transcends novelty. Axe Cop is, to quote DJ Pauly D, “mad funny.” Because Ethan is mostly working from what Malachai tells him and because Malachai is a little kid, there’s no self-censorship or editing as far as writing off an idea as stupid or nonsensical. Instead, Ethan just makes it happen, creating a hilarious deadpan effect. And you can tell Ethan’s having as much fun as Malachai. When Malachai writes that the villains of the first issue turn into giants and steal the army, Ethan draws the towering villains hunched over a building labeled “United States Army Headquarters,” stuffing handfuls of tiny soldiers into their pockets.
Here’s my favorite part: Axe Cop and his partner Dinosaur Soldier (!) visit Uni-Man, who’s ostensibly supposed to be Axe Cop’s equivalent of Q Branch, but he’s also part unicorn, so he has a magic horn that makes wishes. So, Uni-Man does three tech-y things for Axe Cop: one is a gift Uni-Man got from someone else, one’s a real invention, and one of them comes from a wish. There’s an amazing purity to that kind of storytelling, watching a kid throw out whatever idea comes its way. As an adult writer, it’s almost enviable. We should all write with such youthful abandon.
And it’s so incredibly quotable, to boot:
“Real cops don’t have dinosaurs!”
“You have to go to jail! You broke too many rules!”
“What a dummy. I should be President.”
“The dinosaurs are in trouble! They need our help!” (there’s a lot of dinosaur talk in this comic)
Then there’s “I got it from a rabbit on the beach,” which was all over Twitter the other day.
In conclusion, there is no comic that will ever be better than Axe Cop.