One Punch Reviews #32: Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “El Santo, why don’t you ever review comics about real manly men?” OK, so you’re really not saying that… ‘cuz deep down inside, you’re all girly men! *Grunt* Time to eat your vitamins and say your prayers, kids, because today we’re getting pumped up with Kelly Turnbull’s Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, where the punchline is machismo.

Manly Guys is set in a world where our main dude is named Commander Badass, who runs a firm that helps video game badasses reintegrate into society. It’s a place where America won the Vietnam War, but the US Government sent our hero back in time to retcon things so we could have Rambo movies. In Manly Guys, Marlon Brando of the On the Waterfront era is not just a sex symbol, he is a god. Also, it’s where Canadians are sneaky border-crawlers with lazy Canadianspeak, but to be perfectly honest that’s nothing we didn’t already know. (Send your irate yet polite reader complaints to, eh.) My God, such manliness! There’s so much testosterone in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things that you can practically smell the sweaty gym towels.

Kelly Turnbull also works on Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, and she brings the same dry sense of humor where the surreal (in this case, manly guys of video games) are rendered banal when viewed in the light of the everyday grind. Big Daddy, perhaps due to his name, has to work at the daycare. Pokemon training is seen as an ultimately unfulfilling and violent hobby. Manly Guys feels more grown up than it’s video game comic brethren, as if it were more aimed toward hipsters who still moan the end of Arrested Development than the stereotypical Red Bull chugging, foul mouthed gamer.

While I do appreciate the novel spin on the video game webcomic, the humor is frankly quite hit-and-miss. I chucked when God of War’s Kratos becomes prom queen, but the the joke dragged for too long when it turned into a Carrie parody. And, well, I’m starting to sympathize with people who read webcomics and don’t get the video game references. Today, dear readers, I am one of you. Still, though, the artwork is reason enough to tune in. Can you really live your life not knowing how totally badass Gannon looks in a three-piece suit? Sure … if you can call that living.

Manly Men is strongest when it centers around Commander Badass, who turns out to be more three-dimensional than any character in what’s basically a video game comic has any right to be. The guy exhibits zen coolness despite problems in his personal life (turns out he’s divorced and has a couple of kids) and the craziness going on around him. Despite Kelly’s insistance that he sounds like “like something halfway between The Maxx and Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice,” I really can’t imagine the Commander sounding like anything but Brock Samson. Brock and Badass are very similar, after all: they’re both giant, muscle-bound heavies who may be the most considerate and rational characters in their own stories. The Commander’s soothing presence guarantees that this particular comic isn’t going to descend into an unpleasant Ripping Friends parody of manliness.

Final Grade: 3 stars (out of 5).


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on August 11, 2010, in 3 Stars, comedy webcomic, One Punch Reviews, The Webcomic Overlook, video game webcomic, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Ahaha, thanks, man! I appreciate it.

    It’s okay, I don’t really get that Kain comic either. That was the day I learned I shouldn’t draw comics about things I don’t know about just because people tell me to. Long term goal is probably to wean people off games references and let them forget it was ever for the Escapist contest to begin with, so I can just tell Verhoeven-style stories about time traveling GenMod Navy Seals fighting Space!Commies while they try to keep their home lives in order.

    • Thanks to El Santo for reviewing this, and thanks to Coela for responding. I enjoyed some of the strips linked, while others didn’t quite work as well, but the fact that you responded convinced me to read through the archive, and well, you’ve got a new fan. I love the multi-page stories, especially when they’re more about badassery in general and not focused on specific references (I’m not very familiar with newer games, so while I get Zelda and Pokemon, I’m lost with Resident Evil and… Dragon Age? Is that whats it’s called?) I’ve added the rss to my google reader and I’m looking forward to more stories!

    • Battlezone 1 (1998) would fit right in with this “Space Commie” thing, though there’s no manly men visible there (and no one would know references to it). Just the space commie thing.

      I look forward to this other style of stories.

    • Wait, this was for the Escapist contest? The same Escapist contest that was won by fucking Critical Miss?
      Fucking fuck. How did you lose? I know this thread is like 2 years old but Jesus, this question needs asking!

      • Because Critical Miss starred a girl and girls are like totally something you never see in a webcomic about video games! (Even though it’s written by a guy.) You may think I’m being facetious, but if you dig up my review of Critical Miss, you’ll find that that was one of the reasons the judges gave for selecting it as the winner. Sure, the other reason they gave was because they thought Critical Miss was funny, but I’m going to go ahead and not insult the judges’ intelligence by taking that seriously.

  2. Just so y’all know, Koltreg went and posted a rebuttal on his blog:

    Also, I have no idea what a GenMod Navy Seal is, but it sounds like fun.

  3. If you ask me, this should have won that Escapist contest. Maybe it just wasn’t snooty enough.

  4. I came across this using stumbleupon twice. The first time when it was only 15 pages long, the second after spending a few hours trying to find it again while now remembering the name.

    I agree, very hit and miss, but still its got an original take on the genre.

  5. Big Daddies were engineered for the specific purpose of looking after children. (And killing anyone who touched them, making the joke quite apropos.) And now you know.

  1. Pingback: Manly Guys Doing Manly Things - Your Homework is to go Rewatch Incredibles

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