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Here’s your rodent-based Miami Vice parody for the day – The Miami Mice Comic #1

June 3, 2012

Was there a more ’80s television show than Miami Vice? With all-due respect to long running behemoths like Dallas and Dynasty, they really don’t keep up with Florida’s high-octane Testarossa. If you were putting together a time capsule to be buried until the year 2212 or thereabouts, and wanted our cyborg descendants to have an idea of what television circa 1986 was like, and there was only room for one DVD box set, you couldn’t go wrong with a season of Vice. Once they figured how to play the damn things, they’d probably be as fascinated the show’s its opening credits sequence as anything else, since it so masterfully fused palm trees, flamingos, windsurfing, breasts and jai alai in its jumpy first seconds:

The underworld South Beach adventures of Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Rico Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) were ratings gold for NBC. I was too young to watch Vice during its original run, but I tried. It aired on Friday nights, and not being a school night, I was allowed to make a valiant effort to stay awake as long as I could. To cross into those mythical, magical hours where only adults dwelled. But the 10:00 PM airtime was usually too much, and I’d often doze to the dreary monotone of Edward James Olmos before getting hustled off to bed. (To this day Olmos’ voice is like an elephant tranquilizer to me.) My drowsiness notwithstanding, the neon, the pastels, the fast cars, the faster women, and  — most importantly — the white jackets with the sleeves rolled up, all defined a decade, for better or for worse. And I’m convinced the show was one of the reasons that Lebron James took his talents to South Beach. HE PUT SONNY CROCKETT IN A NIKE COMMERCIAL FOR CHRISSAKES.

The show’s success and its violent, in your face look at drugs and prostitution made it ripe for satire, as ripe as any other IP we’ve ever seen. ENTER MIAMI MICE. The brainchild of Mark Bodé, perhaps most known to comic audiences for his work on The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mice was and is a delicious send-up. (Hamster Vice was a contemporaneous rodent Vice comic. Another post for another time.) Most parodies of this sort lose their steam within minutes. You see the comedic HAHA versions of the characters you know (in this case, Rocket and Stubo), you go through a nutty situation or two, and then it’s “So, what’s on TV…” There’s some of that here, but every page or two you get a panel like this one:

I’m not going to delve into the fact that a cat is the boss of the mice. Obviously Bodé didn’t follow the Maus species schism. But that there’s an Edward James Olmos cat with dark, world-weary eyes should fill us all with untold delight. And yes, cheese is the cocaine proxy in the Mice universe. IT IS VERY EASY TO LOVE THIS COMIC.

Some more art hors d’oeuvres… It wouldn’t be Miami Vice/Mice without a speedboat, now would it:

Remember what I said about something always coming around to re-capture your interest? Case in point:

THESE MICE MEAN BUSINESS. Before cobbling this post together I did a little background reading and saw that Bodé is a tattoo artist. It’ll probably be a cold day in Hell/Hades/Perdition/Whatever before I get a tattoo, but if I ever do, I think I’d like to have that panel etched across my back. And then I’d DARE chicks to try to resist my charms.

The stories within, taken in the abstract, aren’t much to hang your hat on. The first has Rocket and Stubo taking down (bloodily) a cheese ring, and the second is a comically violent version of the last standoff in Scarface. Not much meat. But deep ruminations on the meaning of life weren’t what audiences sought when picking up this mag, nor (obviously) were they intended. This was meant to be stupid fun, and it’s stupid fun.

What might be the greatest indicator of the love the series shows to the source material — always a sign of healthy parody, as opposed to outright and mean-spirited mockery — is the following one-page short. Sonny Crockett lived on a boat and had a pet alligator. Rocket lives on a boat and has a pet roach:

At the very worst, Miami Mice — which only lasted a handful of issues — is visually arresting (no pun intended). There’s more than enough to keep the reader interested, elevating this above kindred parodies and lesser independent books, and placing it on par with the better entries of the latter. If, like I did, you run across a copy or two in a quarter bin, it’s hard to go wrong.

To end this post in the most insufferable way I can: Loving this comic is no vice.

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