This is what happens when you combined Mad Max with a Starbuck’s
There are many odd things in the crapbox.
I have the distinctly odd pleasure of getting to read each from cover to cover. I get to hold them in my hands and know that no matter how unbelievable it may seem, the bundle of pages and ink in my grasp was actually printed and sold. Someone thought up these story ideas, someone believed in that story enough to diligently draw images from it and most of all, a publisher somewhere invested hard won capital in seeing that vision made into a comic book.
My constant concern when I begin a review about some of these oddities is “will anyone believe this book exists?” Sure I include panels along with the commentary, but text can easily be photoshopped out and new copy put in its place. One might believe I could get away with making up these bizarre stories myself.
On my honor, I’m about to embark on a review that will test my audience’s suspension of disbelief. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! I give you Java!
CommittedComics published three issues of this series before going on hiatus in 2005. Before dropping out of sight, Committed printed a total of nine issues; three each of Java!, Threads and Neo Dawn. The company resurfaced as a publishing house in 2008, with a commitment to producing more series. A handful of one-shots have emerged since then.
Java! itself is the creative property of Kensuke Okabayashi, who acts as writer and penciler of the title. Okabayashi is an active art teacher at the Educational Alliance Art School in New York City. His talents here have produced what can only be described as an oddball story glommed off a night watching post-apocalyptic movies while drinking one too many Venti Breakfast Blends. Non-decaf, of course. I’m just going to dive right in to this one without explanation. It’s better if you experience it without me adding any crème to it.
So this is Java and her partner La-Te. Yes, it’s pronounced latte. Like the coffee drink. Wait. It get’s better. By better, I mean exceedingly weirder.
Java and La-Te are breaking up a bunch of smugglers, so they must be like police. And if the smugglers are carting around beans, those must be coco beans, used to make cocaine. One of these statements will turn out to be false. Can you guess which one? We’ll find out soon enough.
I’m feeling a Tank Girl vibe from these outfits and character designs, yet another series that Okabayashi feels free to borrow from. Oh, and that thing in La-Te’s hand is a hoverboard straight from Back to the Future Part II. Notice the characters use coffee-house slang in their speech. “We got some decaffeinating to do!!” Frankly, I think someone’s lost their stir stick.
Then the cyborg of the group, one Dr. D, discloses some information that has me scratching my head.
Coffee? Those are coffee beans the smugglers are trafficking? What in tarnation kind of book is this? Let’s just go with it and see if they enlighten us later as to why coffee bean smuggling should bother anyone other than Juan Valdez and the CEO at P&G. Java and La-Te kick the smugglers butts after “hoverboarding” into the fray. Java is about to rearrange some attitudes with something called a decaffeinator grenade, when Commander Krang grabs La-Te. Wasn’t Krang a character in the 90’ TMNT cartoon?
Either way, he succeeds in subduing himself by yanking one of those shot glasses off La-Te’s pigtail, which ends up detonating like a small bomb. Why anyone would put those in your hair, is beyond me. Note also that Java throws the “Decaffinator grenade” which I can only assume makes you too tired to care if your getting beaten up by two chicks riding movie props. All this fighting and Java blows it by toasting all the coffee beans she was suppose to be protecting. Maybe that should read “roasting?”
That’s it for our action-packed lead-in, now the story proper starts. And boy is it a doozy. First up is a few panels about why anyone would care about coffee beans in this Folder’s-free future.
Welcome to Neo-Seattle. Get a load of that storyline. Ha-ha-ha! That’s rich! I can smell this story’s aroma from across the room. And what I’m smelling isn’t the bitter-sweet smell of coffee either. I mean there are OTHER drinks that contain caffeine and I’m pretty sure they aren’t derived from coffee beans. Heck, even chocolate has some caffeine in it. But wait, we’re not done yet. Since more than two cups a day is against the law, someone has to police that ole java monkey.
So in this writer’s future we have high-tech cyborgs, exploding shot glasses munitions, hoverboards and ample government funding for a team of law enforcement agents to stop people from downing a fresh pot everyday, yet we don’t have anyone smart enough to make an artificial coffee substitute infused with caffeine from a different source? Huh? I think the writer’s Chock Full of Nuts. Our B.E.A.N. Force members back up this assumption.
And speaking of B.E.A.N. Force, they have a lead on the head of that smuggling ring. The title-holder of those trucks was Sunrise Coffee, a company run by the shady owner Dr. Grind. Java and La Te burst into his office with a clear ax to uh…never mind. They show up demanding answers. Remember that the only evidence and witnesses they had were blown up, which is going to make pinning anything on Dr. Grind a stretch.
Grind isn’t giving anything away, the trucks were reported stolen. And when turning Dr. Grind’s crank a few times doesn’t do the trick, Java and La Te are summarily Yubanned from the building by Grind’s sidekick, the bodybuilder Astronomus. Astronomus even has a nice little procedure book that he lends La Te. Dejected and demoralized, the girls head for their favorite NesCafe.
Seems as though they are in for more decaffination. B.E.A.N. Force’s funding is in danger (maybe someone was listening about my artificial coffee idea) and the whole op might be shut down. B.E.A.N. Force would be hard pressed to get out of that jam. There’s a new head on the supreme council named “Big Joe” who’s running his own missions against the java pirates. Mostly he’s using this fella here, Mickey. Mickey must have great ears because just mentioning his name is like a cue to his arrival.
Java is totally smitten, thinking Mickey’s built like a brick Maxwell House.
She doesn’t think he’s got what it takes until an opportunity to prove himself literally appears out of the crowd. Seems that someone is a bit bitter about Mickey taking in their buddy, so they pull a gun on him. Mickey takes out the guy's gun by SHOOTING IT WHICH EMPTIES OUT ALL THE AMMO. No, I don’t understand that one either. Then he punches the guy’s lights out, further cementing his fresh-roasted status with the fair Java babe.
STOP! WAIT! WTF is up with that arrow tattoo on Java’s stomach. It’s in like every panel and it makes me think horrible, awful sex things. Mainly because her belly button is drawn like a second vagina in most of these and that arrow POINTS RIGHT TO IT. Yew! Futuristic non-caffeinated belly button sex! Noooooooo!
Getting back to what passes for a story in this book, Mickey wants the B.E.A.N Force’s help in taking down Dr. Grind. He looks up to the team and wants them re-instated. Grind is mentioned like he is some kind of crazy to these caff-heads because he doesn’t drink coffee. His preference is a nice herbal tea.
I am NOT looking at thier belly-vaginas. *shudders*
Anyway, Mickey passes Java the info they need to mount a full-scale raid of Dr. Grind’s plant to seize the evidence of his illegal bean trading. Java says a lovelorn “Sanka” you to Mickey then assembles the force. All goes well with the raid until they try to find Grind himself. He appears to have been alerted to their impromptu search and has brewed up an escape plan. When they don’t find Grind percolating in his office, Java hoverboards across the plant to locate him. A move that has her running smack dab into Astronomus without so much as a protective jacket.
‘nomus puts the hurting on Java, swatting the poor girl into a vat of dark roast. She’s in real danger of drowning in her own juices here, when it dawns on me: this is insane. Not the whole “world gone crazy due to the scarcity of coffee” backdrop. No, it’s the giant vat of coffee she’s flung into. Look here:
Tell me what’s wrong with this picture, people who drain a cup of joe every morning. That’s right! No one brews huge vats of coffee. Coffee is brewed by the pot or carafe, but never by the giant chemical drum. Old coffee is worse tasting than fresh coffee. Everyone knows that. That’s why we don’t make huge gallon pitchers of it and store it in the fridge until we’re ready to reheat it. Even Juan Valdez’s donkey knows that. So why in the name of Taster’s Choice would this exist in a world where coffee is a even more precious commodity? It wouldn’t, seriously.