'The Great British Bump-Off' Continues to Avoid a Soggy Bottom
We review the second issue in the new Dark Horse Comics series from Star Bakers John Allison and Max Sarin.
Inside Shauna Wickle, there are two wolves. There's the baker, striving to rise above the competition and slaughter her opponents during a dastardly blind bake. Then, there's the sleuth, scanning her fellow contestants with a vicious gaze, hoping to suss out the murderer amongst their ranks. The Great British Bump-Off is some of the most fun I've had with a comic all year, and we're only two issues deep.
Creators John Allison and Max Sarin devilishly tear into the baking competition show they're so clearly homaging, poking fun at the various characters that have populated its many seasons without ever falling into pure mockery. They're baking with love, and it penetrates every page and panel. And the greatest compliment I could give The Great British Bump-Off is that it has me itching to watch the original program, no matter how upset it will make me as they callously rotate through new hosts. Of course, I could never stay too mad as each host eventually grows on you with time. Noel, never leave.
After the deadly events of the last issue, The Great British Bump-Off #2 cranks the oven to eleven. Shauna makes herself a scourge under the tent, going "full Poirot mode." Everyone around her is a suspect. Each contestant, judge, and host seemingly reveals clues that could indicate them as folks capable of eradicating a pest. However, as Shauna calculates the murderer's row in front of the cameras, she lets her detective work get in the way of her bake work. With an extremely complicated coffee and walnut Battenberg blind cake bake to accomplish, she lets her skills slip.
In addition, Shauna is seen to be acting more than a little funny before the others. Suspicions increase, and Shauna puts a target on her back. A target that will undoubtedly attract the attention of the killer. First things first, though. Shauna must succeed just enough in her bake to avoid the soggy bottom. If she goes home, the psycho baker gets off scot-free.
While one of the comic's great pleasures is all the various wink-wink moments for longtime fans of the British baking competition series, John Allison's writing resists wandering into referential repetition. Shauna and the rest of the cast are three-dimensional delights, and after two issues, I'm profoundly invested in her ability to capture the evil-doer and win this televised contest. The character work is top-tier, matching the comic's comedy heights. The Great British Bump-Off succeeds in its multiple genres, never failing one to help the other.
Of course, the savory and decadent characterization thrives in Max Sarin's illustration. The Giant Days artist stuns with every expression, refusing to cheat a moment of its drama or slapstick. At least two sequential bits erupted shocking laughter (see below for one of them), and their slightly more surreal, expressionistic elements elevate the humor while equally perpetuating the tension. No claggy cartooning here.
We're halfway through The Great British Bump-Off, and it's time to start a petition demanding more from Dark Horse Comics. There's little worry that Allison and Sarin will carry Shauna through the Showstopper challenge, but she and we deserve a few more seasons. How about a spin-off focusing on judges Fanny and Pete? What the heck do they get up to when they're not under the tent anyway? Maybe they're the carnage culprits? If so, that's an even more enticing spin-off concept. Lol. Whatever the case, I'm here for seconds.
Quickie Review: The Great British Bump-Off is a wickedly delicious showstopper. John Allison and Max Sarin continuously prove themselves as a dynamite pair within the comics industry. Whether viewed as a biting homage or a straightforward whodunit, their comic marks them as forever Star Bakers.
Image Credit: © 2023 Dark Horse Comics
The Great British Bump-Off #2
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Colorist: Sammy Borras
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Designer: David Nestelle
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale: 5/10/23
Synopsis: As Shauna Wickle continues to try to solve the mysterious poisoning amongst her fellow baking contestants, she decides to go full Poirot-mode just in time for the deadly technical baking challenge!