With the ability to teleport anywhere, and the knowledge that he exists within a comic book, who is DC’s ridiculous villain-turned-hero Ambush Bug?
There are few characters stranger than Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug, also known as DC Comics’ version of Deadpool. His existence within DC’s roster of heroes is a testament to the variety of voices who have contributed to the DCU since its inception. With a Jack Kirby-esque suit that gives Irwin Schwab the powers of teleportation and nigh invulnerability, Ambush Bug is perhaps best known as one of the first comic book characters to know they are in a comic book. While definitely a deep-cut character, Ambush Bug has developed a cult following, but who is this character, and where does he come from?
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In an interview with Michael Eury for the book The Krypton Chronicles, Keith Giffen described his pitch of Ambush Bug to editor Julius Schwartz as, “Bugs Bunny if he was a Supervillain,” and this “in-on-the-joke” sense of humor permeates the stories Ambush Bug finds himself in. First appearing in DC Comics Presents #52 written by Paul Kupperberg and penciled by Giffen, Ambush Bug was a villainous comedic pest played to great comedic effect against Superman, who Giffen referred to as “The Ultimate Straight Man.” After a few initial appearances as a villain, Ambush Bug turned a new leaf and began to pursue the heroic path.
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Ambush Bug quickly became a fan favorite comedy character, reappearing in multiple Superman comics as a self-proclaimed sidekick, often causing a headache for the Man of Steel before starring in a miniseries of his own. Ambush Bug would receive more mini-series and one-shots with Giffen’s involvement before he would end his tenure with the character by having him join the Doom Patrol midway through his 2009 run. While largely appearing in works written and/or drawn by Giffen, Ambush Bug has made a resurgence in recent years, appearing as the host of DC’s digital series Let Them Live! Unpublished Tales from the DC Vault, and recently joining the roster of the infamous Suicide Squad.
The true limit of Ambush Bug’s powers has never been revealed, and aside from teleportation Ambush Bug seemingly has the unconscious ability to warp reality like a Looney Tunes character. Ambush Bug also has a strong attachment to a doll he calls Cheeks the Toy Wonder, and even though the doll is not alive, Ambush Bug treats him like he is. Ambush Bug’s childlike, meta and unhinged outlook combined with his irreverent sense of humor makes him a prototype for Deadpool, appearing almost a decade ahead of Liefeld’s Merc with a Mouth. Despite Ambush Bug’s wacky nature, his powers are no laughing matter. Unlike many other teleporters, there is no apparent limit to where Ambush Bug can go, including other dimensions in the multiverse, and anywhere in any galaxy. Giffen also described Ambush Bug as having the power of “Dumb Luck,” which would also put Ambush Bug almost a decade ahead of another Liefeld creation, Domino.
Keith Giffen is also the creator of the immensely popular Lobo, a similarly humorous character often used as a vehicle to lampoon the comic medium, and similar to the cult status of DC’s intergalactic bounty hunter, Ambush Bug is growing a fanbase. Now that fans are starting to rediscover the character as other creators make use of him in their stories and with his incredible teleportation ability, Ambush Bug is likely to show up again to surprise fans when they least expect it even recently joking about getting his own movie. With the rise in Ambush Bug’s popularity and increasingly frequent appearances in the DCU, hopefully, we will see a new Ambush Bug series from DC Comics and his creator Keith Giffen.
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Source: The Krypton Chronicle edited by Michael Eury
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Jeff is an independent cartoonist, and when he isn’t found reading or writing about comics, he is found making them.
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