, sometimes written as GEAR
, is the first graphic novel by Doug TenNapel
, originally published by Image Comics
and Fireman Press Ltd. in black and white, running six issues from 1998 to 1999. It was reprinted as a trade paperback in 1999, and then again in full color in 2007.
The plot revolves around an animal war
between the South Plate Insects, the North Plate Cats, the Dogtown Dogs and the Newton Cats. The four states do battle with ancient giant battle robots
known as Guardians. Having only one Guardian so old it barely functions, Newton sends four less-than-competent misfit cat brothers
known as Gordon, Simon, Waffle and Mr. Black to hijack a new one from their enemies.
Meanwhile, the Newton cat Elder and a dog named Dr. Pilk must protect the Forbidden Mechanism, a legendary holy artifact of incredible power, from the evil forces of North Plate cat Emperor Pago and dog mob boss Big Tomato. Oh, and it's really bloody, violent, full of swearing, death and religious allegories
Was very, very, VERY
loosely adapted into a much Lighter and Softer
short-lived Nicktoon called Catscratch
in 2005. The only remnant of the original comic was the three main cats, Gordon, Waffle and Mr. Black (whose name was changed to Mr. Blik for political correctness) as the focus, although it was originally planned just to be a more Nickelodeon-audience-friendly adaptation of the comic
. Though some people remember Catscratch, the source material is practically unknown outside TenNapel fans, and thus Gear Needs More Love
to the extreme.
Provides Examples Of:
- Animal Jingoism
- Animesque: While the art is about as far from the typical Japanese cartoon as you can get, the story itself is a spot-on pastiche of a late '90s Humongous Mecha anime. Giant battle robots? Check. Grim war story mixed with incongruous cute elements? Check. Weird religious references? Check and mate.
- Anyone Can Die: Simon's death within the first 20 pages is just the tip of the iceberg...
- Artifact of Doom: The Forbidden Mechanism, but only really in the hands of evil.
- Back from the Dead: Neat little subversion. Gear performs a miracle by temporarily pulling Chee's and Waffle's souls down from Heaven and back to their now-Guardian bodies to help fight Emperor Pago.
- Being Evil Sucks: Bob will ultimately obey orders no matter what, but that doesn't stop him from feeling conflicted about them.
- Big Bad: Emperor Pago of the North Plate Cats.
- Bilingual Dialogue: A funny subversion; Waffle the cat and Chee the insect seem to converse in spite of their language barrier, and Waffle even has a change of heart immediately after one of Chee's comments. Then, as he turns to leave, Waffle adds, "By the way, I haven't understood a thing you've said."
- Body Horror: See Unwilling Roboticisation below.
- And then there's Gear, after he's shoved into the Guardian's heart by Pago....
- Bittersweet Ending
- Calling the Old Man Out: Mr. Black to the Elder, after discovering that the Elder was responsible for Waffle's transformation into a Guardian.
- Cats Are Mean: More like Cats Are Bad Ass for most of the cast, but played straight with Emperor Pago.
- Constructed World
- Cool Old Guy: The Newton Elder.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Gear and Waffle.
- Cult: The F.M. Cult, a group of ninja-like cats who hunt the Forbidden Mechanism.
- Darker and Edgier: Ridiculously compared to Catscratch. There's plenty of people who have trouble believing this was its source material.
- Death by Irony: Big Tomato's Death. "He's gonna squash him like a...!"
- Demoted to Extra: Mr. Black in the later chapters
- Died Happily Ever After: Horribly, horribly averted.
- Disc One Final Boss: Big Tomato. Pago is the real Big Bad.
- Deus Est Machina: Gear, who can revive the dead, at least temporarily, give a Guardian ultimate power, and open up the GATES OF HELL.
- Distant Finale
- The Dragon: Bob to Big Tomato
- The Dreaded: Big Tomato.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Good God, where to start?
- Five-Man Band
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven
- Friend to All Living Things: Waffle. He talks to guppies!
- Genre Roulette: Switches back-and-forth between the Film Noir-influenced flashbacks and the main plot's Humongous Mecha war-story.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The two in the final chapter are total Crowning Moments of Sadness, Gear uses Gordon's knife to stab himself in the heart, killing himself but destroying Pago's Super-Guardian and opening up the Pits of Hell. Pago nearly escapes, but Gordon pushes him down into the pits with him, screaming "You killed my pal... I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL!"
- Humongous Mecha: The Guardians.
- Idiot Hero: Both Gear and Waffle again. Not surprising, since Doug TenNapel loves this trope.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold / Good Is Not Nice: Gordon. He's hard on Waffle, but he has the decency to admit it and apologize for it.
- Jerk Ass: Emperor Pago.
- Knife Nut: Gordon is a heroic example of this.
- The Messiah: Gear, who is literally quoted by Doug as a "mechanical Christ figure".
- The Mole: A Newton cat soldier secretly working for the F.M. Cult, who tries to poison the Elder and steal the Forbidden Mechanism.
- As well as Jimmy, a colleague of Dr. Pilk, who was really an informant for Big Tomato. However, he has a Heel-Face Turn, realizing nobody should have the Forbidden Mechanism, which results in him being killed by one of Big Tomato's goons in the opening scene.
- One Scene, Two Monologues: See Bilingual Dialogue above.
- One-Winged Angel: Pago and his Guardian in the final chapter, thanks to Gear.
- Papa Wolf: Dr. Pilk
- Posthumous Character: Simon and Waffle later on, who remain important characters even after they technically die.
- Posthumous Narration: Simon
- President Evil: Pago, despite being an emperor falls more under this trope, since he's a Villain with Good Publicity.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The four (or rather three after chapter 1) main hero cats.
- The Ditz / Too Dumb to Live: Gear, at first. "He's not a hero, he's dumb!" "No, he's retarded!" "Worse... he's dumb-tarded."
- R-Rated Opening: Despite using a Gory Discretion Shot, the opening still made it clear that this wasn't a kid's comic.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Simon. He meets his end very early. We don't even know anything about his personality until after he's dead
- Secondary Character Title: Gear doesn't show up until the second-to-last chapter, after all. The word "gear" isn't even mentioned until then either.
- See You in Hell: Gordon says this to Pago, while literally pushing him off a cliff and into Hell's opening.
- Smug Snake: Big Tomato
- Sole Survivor: Out of the four main cats, only Mr. Black makes it to the end of the story.
- The Straight Man: Dr. Pilk.
- Talking Animal
- Took a Level in Badass:
- The Catscratch Gordon can break rocks with his bare hands, and beat Krakens and even vicious ducklings in hand-to-hand combat - but somehow, it's all done for laughs. The Gear Gordon will sneak up behind you with a knife in his mouth, slit open your neck and steal your giant robot.
- Waffle after he gets turned into a Guardian.
- The Unintelligible: Chee and the insects just talk in "Chk chk"s, so their dialogue is conveniently subtitled.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: What happens to Waffle and Chee due to the effects of Geno-Metal, may be a subversion because they die, but their bodies stay behind and become Guardians.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Jimmy and Simon.