Another month in Bedrock, I wonder what modern real world aspects we will satire this issue… wait aliens invade? Yes, aliens show up, and it is still authentic to the world built in the previous issues. The issue is great. It is smart, funny, and biting. The satire you should now expect from an issue of The Flintstones is there. There’s even the obligatory appearance of the Great Gazoo. You should read it. This is the third month in a row I have said The Flintstones is amazing, and you should buy it right now. Don’t worry; this isn’t another long review reiterating the wonderfulness of this comic and cover the various points of satire within.
Instead, I want to talk about Joe. Joe is probably the best character to have ever graced only seven panels in the history of comics. Joe appeared briefly (one panel) in the very first issue. Fred and Barney went to the meeting for the Veterans of Paleolithic Wars, and Joe broke down as he relived the horrors they committed to the tree people they killed to take the land that became Bedrock. It was such a powerful panel thanks to the writing and the art it stuck with me even though it wasn’t even half the page. Joe doesn’t even appear in the second issue.
Jump to this issue (and spoilers time), and another meeting of the veterans. This time, Joe isn’t around. Fred and the guys talk about how society ignored them a week after the war was over, they were old news. We then go to Joe’s house where he is sitting on his bed alone. No dialogue, just him on a bed with slumped shoulders a tip-off all isn’t right. Joe then picks up the phone and asks for help.
But help is just a voice telling Joe to please hold.
Joe never gets any help. Once the aliens fully invade and shit gets bad, Joe is still on the phone. The automated voice has moved to just blatantly calling Joe’s suicide imminent. It is an uncaring message that Joe just sits through and deals with. He doesn’t interact. He just accepts that this modern, civilized life he fought for will help him. That the rules will get him help. Even though he has seen the city doesn’t care. Even though WE have seen in this issue how mistreated the veterans are.
Joe never gets the help he asked for, but he does help Fred. Unlike the society he fought for, Joe helps when asked. Joe joins the other veterans to help fend off the aliens. He also saves Pebbles. Which is his last act before being disintegrated.
That panel made me feel like I was kicked in the teeth.
Rereading those panels, I feel the kick again.
Joe wasn’t special at all. He wasn’t a character from the show. He only appeared in seven panels (if you count the dust he became as an appearance), only talked in four of them. But why does it feel so wrenching? How can I tell my girlfriend about what happened and have her feel bad?
Because Joe is out there right now asking for help and getting an automated response.
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The Flintstones #3 Writer: Mark Russel Artist: Steve Pugh Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital