Review: The Flintstones #3

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.

flint_cv3_dsInstead, 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


Review: The Flintstones #2

This issue is all about consumerism and religion. The Flintstones and the Rubbles deal with the need to buy more than they need, finances, and choosing which animal god to worship. Seriously, this needs to be the next take on the cartoon. The main plot focuses on the need to buy things, or “crap” as the first ever televised newsman announces. Most of the “crap” is actually animals who serve as various appliances. Like in the original cartoon, they all can talk, but thankfully none of them turn to the camera and make bad puns. The best appliance of them all is the Powergoat 3000, a goat who is a weedwacker who also loves to yell powergoat. I would so buy one of these and will happily shill for them once they enter the marketplace. “Powergoat biznitch!”

But the consumer plotline is a backdrop for the best part, the Flintstones take on religion. The first issue briefly mentions the god Morp, who is actually just a pelican the nomadic people who eventually inhabited Bedrock saw a few times and proclaimed not only an omen, but a god. At church, they bring out Morp, who then shows off his record playing prowess and plays the newest pop single. This causes a lot of the church goers to lose heart in Morp. Not because Morp is a record player, but because no one seems to be a fan of the song.

FLINT_cv2_dsSo what is a church to do? Why show up with a new god! Meet Peaches, the pink elephant who just wants people to get along and have a fun time. Everyone cheers and is happy. Then they realized that Peaches is just an elephant vacuum they can find down the street. What follows is the one of the best analysis of faith and church ever. The priest quickly proclaims he rushed to find a new god and made a mishap but what matters is the good the church has done, not who they worship. The people just want a god they can believe in, one that can’t be bought at the mall. The god created by the priest in the end is absolutely perfect and I shall not even try to spoil it.

In between the wonderful religion story, we have Fred and Barney and their first job that isn’t working on at the quarry, another staple of the old show. This time they shill vitamins door to door. Somehow this very typical troupe just works, even though it starts with Fred doing door to door salesmen gags.

We also get the first real appearances of Bam Bam and Pebbles. Both are older, around teen/pre-teen age, and have personalities that fit the cartoon. Bam Bam is still insanely strong and Pebbles is a little hip, into the newest music. Hopefully both will get some more screen time soon. The same goes for Barney and Betty. Barney gets more pages in this issue than before but still feels like a complete add-on. I want to know the neighbors some more. Really, the lack of knowing who anyone is beyond Fred and Wilma would be my only complaint about this book, which is very minor. At this point I feel like I fully know this version of Fred and Wilma is pretty fleshed out. I so badly want an issue focusing solely on her though with Fred just making a smaller appearance, not because Fred is a bad character, I just want to know more about Wilma who seems to have more intelligence and true depth as a person.

Really, I just want more of this book. It is fantastic. Praise Morp for its existence.

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The Flintstones #2 Writer: Mark Russel Artist: Steve Pugh Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Review: Future Quest #3

Issue three takes the story back prior to the events of issue two.  Birdman encounters Omnikron for the first time, and he gets some help from secret agent Deva Sumadi.  She’s a saving grace for the avian hero.  The second half shifts to an exposition of the Herculoids and their human friends’ world.  From Zandor’s tale, readers get the origins of the menacing Omnikron. The success of the first two books came from two critical areas: one, the heroes worked together as a team or in pairings, and, two, the heroes revealed themselves as the action progressed forward.  While the shift back in narrative does aid the story, the explication grinds the plot and slows down the momentum developed in the first two books.

Future Quest 3Issue three feels like it would be a zero issue or a preview comic used to build hype for the series.  The action does entertain and the story revelations have interesting, grave impact on the story.  But this is just one of those issues that’s a necessity for storytelling purposes yet a drag as far as the delivery of the overall plot is concerned.

As one familiar with some of the artistic styling of 70's Silver Age comics, I am pleased with the illustrations in Future Quest.  Steve Rude’s dedication to the character designs complements the presentation of the framing in the panels and narrative boxes.  I did find myself staring at some pages and marveling how they fool the eye in thinking one is reading a vintage comic.

Jeff Parker did an outstanding job with this issue, but this is one of those chapters that fills in back story.  I know there’s a better way to tell the tale.  My scoring on this issue does not mean I have lost favor with the crossover; instead, I merely hate this technicality in story crafting that breaks momentum for the sake of issue 3.

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Future Quest #3 Writer: Jeff Parker Artist: Steve Rude Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Review: Wacky Raceland #2

New issue, new racetrack, and a the same group of talking cars with batshit crazy owners behind their respective wheels, all of them racing to get a chance at paradise. The gang is in San Francisco, while the rest are trying like crazy to get first place and not to die, Dick Dastardly gives himself a pitstop to revisit some of the ghost that haunt his past life. It’s Wacky Raceland #2: The Wackening.

Some of the problems plaguing the first issue, are fixed just by reducing the amount of voices and timelines happening at the same time. And by problems I mean it was a jumbled mess, whereas Wacky Raceland #2 was easier to follow. There was a clear reason for the flashback, unfortunately their geographical location was the only reason for it.

WRAC_Cv2_dsI sort of understand the idea behind making all the characters completely out for themselves, it worked for the show because most of those characters were the exact caricatures you saw on the screen, there was no grounding element needed when a laughing dog tried to trip the car containing two cavemen. This doesn’t translate when transforming the characters and injecting them with more reality than we’re used to seeing them. Then we do need something to relate to these humans trying to survive a post-apocalyptic wasteland by racing. But it’s not there, I searched and found nothing to grasp onto and care about these characters, they’re all bastards. As this issue focused on Dick Dastardly all I saw was a Dick move after another from this racer I’m supposed to be interested in. While everyone else s racing for their life, he stops at the old San Francisco Opera House, which triggers a flashback that shows the kind of life he had before the wasteland. All I saw was that he was a bastard then, and continues to be a bastard. I find it hard to believe any of the other characters will be any different. There is more semblance of Trans representation in this issue, but I don’t think having Sergeant Blast show up so a neo-nazi can continuously yell bigotry at her is the right way to do it.

The art is busy, sometimes too busy. There are missed moments on each panels that forced me to go back and catch up when the dialogue was assuming I had seen a small bit that happened during an incredibly busy action sequence. I love the depictions of the cars. The details that Manco has for his inks work very well with such complex Mad Max-like machines, the angles sometimes work against them, one too many closeups on a car and you’re as confused as watching a fight scene between two robots in a Michael Bay Transformers flick. Less quantity and more substance is the game to play. It is okay to not have all of the cars at each other’s throats all the time.

Wacky Raceland takes the look from Mad Max and the concept from Death Race, it strips them of their personality and human factors, drops the caricatures from the Hanna-Barbera show in the middle of it and really wants you to care, when we just don’t.

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Wacky Raceland #2
Writer: Ken Pontac
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Colorist: Mariana Sanzone
Publisher: DC Comics
Price $3.99
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital



Review: The Flintstones #1

There are at least five panels in this comic that are either super poignant, horribly truths about society, or are otherwise perfect individual capsules. They will be online this week because they are these perfect moments delivered in a comic about the Flintstones. If you are reading this you should just get ahead of the curve and buy this book now so you can see them first and in context. Flintstones #1 is the least high concept of the Hanna Barbara books. It is really just the Flintstones story with more perspective and intelligence. This issue has Fred meet and schmooze three Neanderthals who are to be joining not only the work force but also the civilization known as Slate’s Quarry (what we know to be Bedrock from the television show). It is mostly through these three we see the differences of Slate’s Quarry and the cast who lives there and the Bedrock’s residents we knew.

FLINT_Cv1_dsAll the relationships are the same, but Fred and Barney are also veterans of the Paleolithic Wars, and attend a meeting where we get the briefest glimpses of what the war was like. Fred is also more self-aware and intelligent then in the cartoon, able to see some of the irony of his life as it comes about.

Wilma is a burgeoning artist, doing hand paintings that lands her in a local art show. How she is treated at the show not only is an interesting tale of artistic community snobbery, but also gives Wilma a great character defining flashback, which ends in the most beautiful, sweetest moment the two characters have had in any previous incarnation of the characters.

Mr. Slate is somehow an even bigger asshole then in the cartoon. Which makes sense as the town has his name on it. He abuses Fred, tries to pay off the Neanderthals to do humiliating acts for his amusement, and is just a giant prick over all.

I’m doing what I can to avoid any specific spoilers of this comic. Because it is so damn great I don’t want anything ruined. It is a well written, well characterized comic. There are call backs and call forwards in this single issue that I didn’t catch until the second reading. There’s so much depth here and the story is so well done that my review is just go read it.

The art is much more realistic then you would expect. Don’t worry, by the fourth or fifth page you have just adapted and get to enjoy the work. There are details everywhere including in backgrounds that increases the depth of the story. Yet even with the realism you still can pick each character out immediately, their defining essence is still there.

I can’t recommend this book enough, this could be the lone issue and would be worth the entire Hanna Barbara reboot. It definitely validates dealing with Scooby Apocalypse for me.

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The Flintstones #1
Writer: Mark Russel
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital