4 out of 5
“The “goo” as you refer to it — is actually a heavy semi-liquid compound that is a highly effective and efficient fuel, ideal for spaceship propulsion.” – this is a line uttered by Zaso, one member of the alien superhero team ‘The Wallops,’ who’re based in Box City, as the team sifts through the debris of a crashed, giant-worm-powered spaceship. Jim Lawson, going way back to early days on Bade Biker and the like, has always dropped awesome lines and concepts like this, which aren’t exactly world-building, as he’s not cribbing from some lore handbook, but they’re also far from the gobbledy-gook nonsense some comic writers will add in to make their fictional words seem more imaginative than they are… Rather, the types of additions come across as instinctual: casual, offhand observations or thoughts from a character that completely make sense for them to say in a casual, offhand manner. Are we going to get more details? Are we going to revisit this? Is it a teaser for something great? Nope, nope, and no: Zaso’s just talking about fuel before his team goes on an acid trip due to worm fumes.
Box City Wallops is packed with this kind of stuff, maybe even moreso than any Lawson project before it, with its already high-level concept of some kind of city-by-city organization of superhero teams made up of various aliens and power-mutated humans given continual flashes of inspiration via the weird technology that Zaso creates, or flashbacks to a war in which the sword-wielding Nola apparently was a blood-thirsty killer, or the monocular Wayne’s hatred for the scheming ‘Mos Eiko’ from a neighboring hero team / city… not to mention the plotlines that drive every two or three issues, which are page-turningly exciting while remaining fully accessible (you can almost drop in on any issue and just start reading), and also – another Jim talent – can be fun and silly while maintaining an undercurrent of seriousness and subtle complexities. The fast-paced flow of ideas maybe goes too far around the bend, here, as Lawson comes up with some really intriguing storylines that just kinda end after a couple of issues and then aren’t really picked up again. Because there’s always the possibility of more Wallops stuff in the future, perhaps we’ll see these things come back around one day, but it’s initially a little weird when something ends on a cliffhanger and then isn’t spoken about thereafter.
The colors of this collected edition, from Dmitry Bobrovnik, are very punchy, with some nice blurring effects here and there. The trade also includes several pinups.