One Punch Reviews #74: Ends ‘N’ Means
When reading Barry R. Hoare’s Ends ‘N’ Means, I can’t stop thinking of the phrase, “Hey, Lois, remember the time…” I have no idea why. What Lois am I thinking of? Lois Lane? Lois Maxwell? Lois from work who does database management? Why am I asking her to remember anything? I don’t even work on the same floor.
Our comic stars a bunch of guys who sit on couches a lot and don’t do much else. The main character is a black haired dude who’s name is Sean, I think. He’s surly and says inappropriate things. He’s usually greeted with shocked faces despite, you know, having some incredibly lame punch lines. Some scenes really all for an eye roll or bemusement. Nope! Horrified shock. That’s what we’re going with. He’s also a flop with women. That’s OK, though, because all his dates are horrible shrews. Women. Amirite, guys?
Sean has two human friends, one blonde guy and one hoodie guy. They are usually involved in the most odious gags in the strip. For example, there one where the blond guy says that he ran over a gremlin. Oooookay. The hoodie guy asks for a better description. “Short, green, pointy ears, robe, walking stick.” The hoodie guy panics and says, “Jack, you fool! You’ve killed Yoda!” No, seriously. That’s the punchline.
Ends ‘N’ Means also includes a couple of comic relief characters in the form of
an overly literate baby and a drunk dog a swishy alien and a talking goldfish two talking animals, one who is a fat drunken bunny and the other who is a misanthropic lizard. See, it is funny because talking animals are usually cute and here they are surly louts who swear and are violent and horny. Hey, Lois, remember the time they fought like Pokemon? (Wait, that was out of line. If anything, that last strip was ripping off The Simpsons. It is not the only one.) There’s also a chameleon who says “Me Hungy!” all the time. These are the jokes, people.
My main problem with Ends ‘N’ Means is that it’s aware of the elements that go into telling a joke. You know, add a vain mugger here, a cheesy line there. Put a jump cut nonsequitur here, throw a cheap visual gag there. And yet everything’s so robotic and antisceptic. The jokes are lame and they fall flat spectacularly.
Overanalyzing a joke is pretty much a losing battle, but I’ll attempt to pull apart just why one strip doesn’t work. Putting two guys in an unfamiliar situation? Sure, could be funny. Subverting expectations, where fun times turn into terror? Horror and comedy beats are intertwined, sure. Movie references? It could work if used right. But ending your strip with the line, “The first rule of rape club is you don’t talk about rape club”? Good lord, is that ever desperate. In fact, just going with a straight up “fight club” reference would’ve worked better. Throwing “rape” in there is basically saying, “I’m edgy, and everyone’s going to laugh just because I said, ‘rape’.” Ummmm… no. (And I’m not talking about being politically correct here. Even the shadowy figure at end saying, “Y’all gonna get raped!” would’ve actually been funnier. Tasteless, but funnier.)
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).