Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bugs Bunny's Dangerous Venture

Comic books can be a great source of humor, but some kinds of humor--such as the anarchistic slapstick of the Looney Tunes--simply don't translate effectively to that medium. So, as I've mentioned before whenever I've reviewed a Looney Tunes comic book, Bugs Bunny and his friends are often dropped into stories with more coherent plots than we normally saw in the cartoons.

Four Color #123 (October 1946) is perhaps the most vivid example of this that I've talked about so far. (See HERE & HERE for previous Looney Tunes comic book reviews.) Bugs and Porky open a messenger service, promising to deliver anything to anywhere. They don't stop to consider that this might mean a trip to a remote area of Tibet.

But a deal is a deal. Besides, when they discover that the package they are delivering contains a huge diamond, they figure there's likely to be a nice fee involved.

So its off to Tibet, traveling for weeks by ship, horse, camel and foot before reaching their goal.

Along the way, we are reminded several times that Bugs and Porky have brought along a small stove into which you add small pills that generate heat. Never has a Chekov's Gun been more obviously hinted at--but that's okay. Despite the fun sense of real adventure the uncredited writer gives the story, it is still a comedy. Telling the story in broad strokes is perfectly appropriate.

The two friends discover that the diamond had originally been stolen from the city. After some tense moments in which they are accused of being in league with the thieves, they convince the High Lama of their innocence. They are even rewarded by getting to spend a week as Assistant Lamas and told that they can keep the valuable ruby necklaces they were given even after their term as Lamas ends.

It is NOT immediately explained to them that the term of Assistant Lama is ended by freezing the office holders in ice for all eternity. Boy, it's lucky Bugs had a few of those heating pills in his pocket. It's also lucky that this is one of the few times Bugs happens to be wearing clothes and even has pockets.

A fast escape and the need to hide with some tourists who are traveling the Gobi Desert follows. When Bugs and Porky return home, they make sure the "Anywhere" on their messenger service sign is followed by "within the city limits." Though one would presume the ruby necklaces they escaped with brought them a pretty nice fee for the job.

Tom McKimson's art is crisp, clear and fun to look at, while the story works effectively as both an adventure story and a comedy. As I've said before, the comic book Looney Tunes universe is very different from the cartoon universe, but it is still a worthwhile place to visit.

Next week, we'll leave Tibet and travel to the times of King Arthur to take a river trip with one of Arthur's favorite knights.

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