Writers: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Artist: Neil Googe
After meeting Simon at a club, Sam wakes up the next morning in his house with his roommates Rufus and Clive only to find that Clive has turned the house into a vessel for interdimensional travel, and she’s now stuck with the three on their adventures through space and time.
I want to start with the positives of Survival Geeks. There’s clearly a lot of passion and heart put into it, and a sense of fun and adventure as each chapter opens on a new dimension with monsters to fight or an apocalypse to prevent. Nothing is taken too seriously, and the sense of fun that the series has is fairly infectious. The main characters aren’t particularly deep or complex, pretty much all of them can be described in a single word, but their relationships with each other are at the center of the book, and they all play off of each other fairly well.
The highlight of the book is the art by Neil Googe, which is consistently colorful, action-packed, expressive, and creates a sense of spectacle. The sheer scale and insanity of a giant bird mech fighting Cthulhu is hard not to marvel at. The creatures and situations of each new world are strange and interesting, and the action is dynamic and fast-paced.
For the part of the writers, while many of the scenarios aren’t exactly original, they do speak to a sense of creativity and imagination. It really does feel like an adventure, even if that adventure does adher pretty rigidly to the tropes of steampunk or a zombie apocalypse or whatever else it may be the gang encounters.
All of this is good stuff, but the problem with Survival Geeks is one within its very foundation. It’s not funny.
Survival Geeks makes the cardinal sin of confusing reference with parody. A reference to Star Wars is not a parody. Saying the lines and having lightsabers isn’t satire, it’s just doing what Star Wars did while rolling your eyes. This is bad enough, but so much of the plot and dialogue is made up of these reference non-jokes that it becomes unbearable. Every single joke in the book lands completely flat one after another, and it just becomes embarrassing.
And while it does try it other areas, that doesn’t forgive its mistakes. Yes, the characters all play well off each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re just “The Smart One”, “The Stoner”, “The Girl”, and “The Protagonist” and have no more depth to them than those one-two word descriptions.
There’s also the fact that a lot of the book is… kind of problematic. In their first adventure, Rufus is singularly focused on finding the “hot battle babes”, and sure enough, there they are, in ridiculous attire and positions, and this is the other thing Survival Geeks doesn’t understand about parody. You have to do more than just copying what the thing you’re supposedly parodying does. You can parody “battle babes” in various sci-fi and fantasy, but you have to do more than just having them in your book while rolling your eyes. This is just parody that, like the rest of the supposed parody in the book, falls flat, but later chapters have a character telling Sam to give Simon a chance seemingly just because he’s The Protagonist, and in general it feels like Sam and other occasional female characters are there for the male characters and the audience to ogle at. Ironically, of course, because it’s a joke you see.
Survival Geeks has some impressive art, and the creators clearly had a lot of passion for the book, but it just completely fails as a parody because it fundamentally doesn’t understand how satire works.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.