I enjoy Schlock Mercenary more than any other comic. Even in its early days it had great stories that were both humorous and interesting. That being said, however, it is fun to see how much Howard Taylor has grown as a writer over the phenomenal length of this comic. The early comics feel haphazard and thrown together. The art is barely good enough to not hurt the eyes, the writing is barely good enough not to feel awkward. The saving grace is the fact that the characters are entertaining, likeable, and hilarious.
In The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance I start to catch a glimmer of the story teller that Howard Taylor will become. His current comic is in the middle of the only interesting zombie story I’ve ever read and his ability to tell a story has grown exponentially since those first comics. This book shows us a sort of transition phase on his path to become the storyteller that he is now.
But it’s still just a glimmer. It’s somewhere in between that crazy time of just flinging comic strips about in a sort of controlled chaos and his current method of tightly plotted character dramas (with guns, action, and humor… in every strip).
Because of that the story feels weak. It lacks that intensity of craziness that early Schlock has and it hasn’t yet gained the depth and character that later Schlock has.
However, a weak Schlock is still stronger than most everything else. I enjoyed this book — especially the bonus story in which Schlock basically condenses the entirety of economics into a three page comic strip, with hilarious results. I would even recommend this book.
Which brings me to the next ‘problem’ I have with these comics. When I tell people that the main character is an animated pile of peat they seem to lose interest right away — this is what actually made me start reading the comics. If this fact concerns you please note that there is only one animated pile of peat and many humans (and other aliens).
If you read Schlock Mercenary sooner or later it will make you laugh and then, if you stick around long enough, it might even make you cry.