Review: Ayre Force

Everyone wants to be an action hero. We sit in traffic wishing we were chasing after the bad guys in a fast car or daydream about sneaking away from the enemy while we stare at computer screens all day.

Everyone has these fantasies. Apparently even people who start successful media and gambling companies.

Ayre Force puts Calvin Ayre, the founder of Bodog Entertainment, into the role of leader of a special ops team — who are, unsurprisingly, also members of the Bodog Entertainment group. They are pitted in a life and death battle against evil pharmaceutical tycoon Janus Winter and his genetically modified children.

To say this is a vanity project may be an understatement — obviously, it’s designed as a promotional product for Bodog and those the company represents (there are helpful biographies in the back about who everyone is in real life). It felt like an extended advertisement in a magazine to me and not really something I’d buy on its own (I received a copy of this to review).

But once I got past that, this is pretty much fun. This isn’t a work of high art, but it’s as entertaining, if not more so, than any typical action movie. While plenty of other stories have dealt with the duality of being a secret agent, the idea that people who are “famous” also working as special ops is a neat one and works well here. Why not pick people who already know how to fight and are sneaky?

Shawn Martinbourough’s art is slick and commercial and suits the project well. It’s a little generic but screams “comic book” and his fight scenes are surprisingly kinetic. Writers Adam Slutsky and Joseph Phillip Illidge are basically creating a silly action movie but the writing didn’t make me feel stupid. The contributions of color artists Andrew Dalhouse and Felix Serrano actually bring quite a bit to the book, filling scenes with hot reds and oranges for battles and cool blues and greens for more dramatic parts.

Messages against animal exploitation and dangers of genetic engineering do give the book a more “high-minded” purpose. Combined with the fact that proceeds are going to the Calvin Ayre Foundation, this at least strives to be a little bit more than a goofy comic.

Still, the appeal of this is limited. If you’re a fan of these poker players, mixed martial arts fighters or musicians, maybe this is worth reading (Bif Naked was the only one of the bunch I’d heard of, so I will allow that most of the fun of this was lost on me). For most everyone else, though, Ayre Force is probably nothing more than an amusing but ignorable novelty.

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