By Joss Whedon (writer), Fabio Moon (art)

The Story: Straight from the web comic and onto the pages, the amazing rock band, Sugarshock debuts. They participate in the Intergalactic Battle of the Bands (which may not actually involve “bands”, but definitely involves “battle”), take advantage of groupies, get into a car accident, play The Saddest Song in the World, and generally hate on Vikings.  Not in that order, of course!

What’s Good: “Dude, Gwar fell on your car.”  “It’s a common condition, actually. Called MADNESS!”  “Squirrels have NO SOULS!” These are a few samples of the hilarious dialogue that Joss Whedon dishes out here, and if they sound at all funny to you, imagine how much you’ll laugh when you actually read them in context!  I’ll admit, Whedon’s knack for dialogue doesn’t always work when it comes to comics (such as his Buffy Season 8 series), but it really sings in Sugarshock.  You truly get a sense of the characters whenever they speak; that is, if you can stop laughing for a second.

Fabio Moon has earned a new fan.  His artwork is just as much fun to look at as Whedon’s script is to read, and he really is the perfect artist for this story.  He has a great kinetic, youthful style that manages to be cartoony but never goes over the line into being too cutesy.  There’s a nice look at Moon’s sketches and designs in the back, and they’re a treat to look at.  I’ve never seen his work before, but you can be sure I’ll be seeking out for more of it soon.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this book has the best sound effects this side of Incredible Hercules. Genius!

What’s Not So Good: It’s really difficult to find fault with something this much fun.  If I wanted to nitpick, I would complain that the chapter breaks (This story was originally presented as three separate episodes on MySpace’s Dark Horse Presents web comic, where it won an Eisner award) are a bit awkward when read all at once. This is especially noticeable when the text pokes fun at the readers for having to wait for the next installment, but then you turn the page and, well, there it is.

Conclusion: This book is $3.50.  25 pages of story and 14 pages of extra art. And it’s a blast! Anyone unhappy with the current state of $3.99 for a 22-page comic should really give this a try. Whedon & Moon have created a great roller-coaster ride here, which is equal parts random and whimsical. Fans of Scott Pilgrim who need something to tide them over until next year should definitely pick this up, as well.

Grade: B+

-Joe Lopez