Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire Vol. 2: PSmIth

Written and penciled by Phil Foglio
Inked by Julie Sczesny
80 pages, color
Published by Airship Entertainment

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius; there’s no other way to describe how I feel about a comic where I not only read the online updates three times a week, but then buy the special hardcover collections as well. But there are times when what really makes me the happiest about Girl Genius is not so much that it exists, but rather that that it seems to be financing the reprinting of Phil Foglio’s earlier comics. And having somehow missed out on the second Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire book in the past, trust me when I say that I was particularly excited about finally getting to read it. As it turns out, it really was worth the wait.

Buck Godot is a private eye on the world of New Hong Kong who is always available for work, provided you’re willing to pay his fee. More often than not, you can find him hanging out at Asteroid Al’s, his favorite bar. When Al falls in love, though, it sets off a chain of events including stolen artifacts, an endless army of drunken assassins, and a target who just won’t stay dead no matter how many times he’s shot.

It’s been a decade since Foglio’s last Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire: The Gallimaufry mini-series came to a close, so I suppose that would explain why I was surprised by how much is going on within the pages of Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire: PSmIth. It certainly begins simply enough, but the plot threads continue to multiply and diverge at an astounding rate, here; I’m not sure which I’m more impressed with, how many things are going on at once, or how everything does come back together in the end in a solid stroke of logic. It helps that Buck Godot himself is an awfully fun character; because he’s a big guy from a heavy-gravity world, it might be easy to mistake him for a stereotypical dumb ox of a guy, but that’s anything but the case. He’s really rather savvy in his dealings, making up back-up plans even as he enacts his main ones. Bartender Al gets a lot of focus in this volume too, and it’s fun to not only see a softer side of him, but to learn just how "soft" that side will really be when push comes to shove. By the time the book was over, it made me really hope that an eventual (hopeful) fourth Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire story will have more of Al and his new girlfriend Tal.

Considering the art in this book was originally drawn twenty years ago, it’s almost  a relief to see how well it still holds up. Foglio’s art was strong back then, drawing a number of alien species (as well as humanoids) with great variety and visual interest. Each page flows really smoothly, which is all that much more impressive when you see some of Foglio’s panel layouts. I love that when Al leaps through the air to hit someone on the head, the panel is shaped as a sharp, diagonal shard that draws the reader’s eye down towards the point of impact. There’s a lot of care and thought put into the composition of PSmIth, and it ends up rewarding the reader. About my only complaint with the book is that Foglio and Julie Sczeny’s colors look a little dated and dull, but when you consider the age of the book’s original debut, it’s a small quibble at best.

Hopefully PSmIth‘s release means we’re due for a collection of The Gallimaufry sometime soon; sure, I’ve got the original issues stashed away somewhere, but Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire is such a fun series that I’m desperate for more people to read it. It’s got just that right mixture of comedy and drama that it’s always a lot of fun to read. Until then, though, I’m more than content to re-read the first two volumes. Like MythAdventures, it’s aged quite handsomely.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

2 comments to Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire Vol. 2: PSmIth

  • […] Greg McElhatton on Phil Foglio and Julie Sczesny’s Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire Vol. 2: […]

  • Jim Kosmicki

    There was a collected edition of the Gallimaufry story solicited a few months back in Previews. But then it was cancelled by the publisher. I read that as being too low of orders to justify the printing. I ordered it then, and I’ll order it again if they ever re-solicit. I remember buying the first Buck Godot way back when just because it was a Donning-Starblaze book and I really liked Elfquest. I’ve been a Foglio fan ever since. If you’re a Foglio fan as well and didn’t know that a Gallimaufry edition was solicited, then the problem is probably one of communication/advertising, not lack of demand.