3 out of 5
Having gotten a warm-up on longer running stories toward the tail end of the strips in volume 1, then going full-bore with Bad Guy Earth, little bro Malachai Nicolle (now 6 and turning 7) and older bro artist Ethan (29) find a groove with the format, working off the oddball cache of characters and powers they’d crafted for a few more nuggets of oddball inspiration. Malachai, leaning into his own penchant for secret poisons and bombs, sticks with his then-fascination with “pranks,” giving stories about babysitting Uni-baby and tracking down Bat Warthog Man’s kidnapped friends a nice get-in-get-out pacing, every panel a yuk or two, and conclusions slapped with The End as soon as possible. Some innocently brilliant snippets are arrived at: Army Chihuahua’s ongoing war; the super scientific explanation of lake versus ocean creatures.
These sublimey Axe Cop-y tales share trade space with further Ask Axe Cops, and some odds and ends: holiday specials of mixed effectiveness, a Dr. McNinja crossover, ‘Axe Cop Presents,’ and guest comics. Ethan comments himself that the McNinja strip feels rather limited, and the guest comics are amusing at best. It’s nice to have all of this stuff collected, but the success of the longer strips makes the scattered ones less effective, while the ‘Axe Cop Presents’ would be cool if there was a sense that there was more to come, but they read somewhat as exercises to reignite the Axe Cop creative partnership. Which, hey, if it works, I’m all for it.
We again get some insight from Ethan before or after each strip, and a nice selection of pinups.