Review: ‘Ayre Force’
The past few years have seen all sorts of graphic novels hit the market, but here’s a new one: Wealthy owner of online poker site commissions comic adventure starring souped-up incarnations of himself and his employees in a battle against deranged foes hell-bent on torturing animals.
The wealthy owner in this case is Calvin Ayre, founder of Bodog. And Ayre Force ($19.95) is the book, essentially an opportunity for Ayre to unleash his fantasies in illustrated form.
See muscle-bound Calvin battle his enemies, guns a-blazin’. See Calvin outsmart his foes. See Calvin walk around shirtless, showing off his chiseled features. (Ayre’s real-employees-turned-heroes get similar glamourous treatment.)
There’s a point when the villain confronts Calvin and says, “Look who’s talking, living out your fantasies and delusions of self-importance,” and he seems to be speaking as much to the real Calvin as the fictional one.
It’s a preposterous endeavor on its face, but that’s not to say there are no redeeming qualities. Ayre hired a quality crew to work on this book, including former Batman editor Joseph Phillip Illidge and artist Shawn Martinbrough. Their efforts are solid, if not quite enough to transcend the concept.
One seemingly bizarre inclusion is the involvement of the villains in “bear bile farming,” which sounds like something too absurd even for Doctor Evil. Turns out, it’s an actual practice, and bear bile is used for medicinal purposes (to the bear’s great discomfort). Ayre is putting the book’s profit toward ending that farming, so at least the book has good intentions behind it, even if it reads like a celebration of ego.