Black History Month 2011: Kyle Baker

February 9th, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

Kyle Baker
Selected Works: Deadpool Max: Nutjob, Nat Turner, Special Forces, Modern Masters Volume 20: Kyle Baker (the Modern Masters volume is really good)

Kyle Baker is mean, man. He’s got a well-deserved rep for being the funniest guy in comics, and his only real competition is Sergio Aragones, I’d say. If you put Baker on a book, he’s going to make you laugh, guaranteed. But at the same time, some of my biggest laughs from his books have been in how he walks that fine line between unbelievable cruelty and amazing comedy.

Take Plastic Man. It was a back-to-basics approach to a goofy character that had been turned fairly serious. Baker took it back to the Jack Cole days, with lots of funny shapes, sight gags, and rapid-fire jokes. At the same time, he slipped in some pretty overt commentary on the state of the general style of DC Comics at the time, which was largely focused around emotional and physical trauma. So Baker took shots at the new Dr. Light, Identity Crisis, Plastic Man being a deadbeat dad, and everything else, while simultaneously having Plastic Man ensure that Abraham Lincoln dies, adopt a goth girl after he killed her vampire dad, work for the FBI, and team up with a fantastic foursome.

Special Forces is a straight up war/action comic, a Bush-era fantasy that’s full of glory, boobs, and great action scenes. The punchline comes when you get to the end of the book and realize that the cast of felons, autistics, and mercenaries are ripped straight from the headlines. That awesome war comic you just finished? That’s social commentary, sucker.

Deadpool MAX with David Lapham is a new level of comedic cruelty. Lapham knows how to inflict emotional trauma (whattup Stray Bullets) and Baker knows how to make it funny. In the end, Baker and Lapham justify Deadpool’s existence by way of a story where he kills Nazi Klan members with guns, swords, and Krav Maga while dressed like a Hasidic Jew.

Baker keeps getting meaner and meaner, and his books just keep getting funnier. I can’t wait to see his next self-published work.

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3 comments to “Black History Month 2011: Kyle Baker”

  1. Baker did great work on Aaron McGruder’s Birth Of A Nation, too.

  2. Big Joe Krash! Yup, Kyle Baker is pretty much only rivaled by Steve Rude, in my opinion…I know it’s a bit like apples and oranges–Baker overreaches himself with daring stylistic experiments whereas Rude kind of just does one thing–incredibly well–but as far as living American cartoonists who draw superhero-type material…I hope you know what I’m trying to say!
    (There’s a George Clinton video with a young Kyle Baker and an even younger-looking Flea but I’ve forgotten the name of the song–help me out please!)

  3. wait, kyle baker is black? holy shit.