Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Colorist: Chris Chuckry
Letters: Dave Sharpe
So maybe doing “adult” upgrades to Hanna-Barbera characters isn’t always such a good idea. Future Quest and Wacky Raceland seem to be getting the critics’ approval, and at least this reviewer enjoyed Scooby Apocalypse. It’s DC’s reboot attempt of The Flintstones that’s going to make critics wonder what the company was thinking.
Let’s make clear that very little has been changed in terms of setting. Whereas books like Scooby Apocalypse have radically re-envisioned the story, Flintstones looks more or less exactly like its cartoon counterpart, art style notwithstanding. This is still classic Bedrock in all its punnified glory, with “rock” references aplenty and dinosaurs working as construction vehicles. Fred is still working at the Quarry, working for Mister Slate and palling around with Barney. Steve Pugh’s art is, I suppose, a competent upgrade to the classic style the same way Fiona Staples upgraded Archie.
The problem is with the story, which seems to have lost the idea of how to translate a kid’s cartoon into an adult story and still maintain the essence of what made the junior version work. The original cartoon presented “the modern stone-age family” as a funny, cock-eyed look at life in the 20th century through funny caveman parodies of ourselves. Mostly, the show was about the humor, with Fred and Barney getting themselves into trouble through various schemes and then finding ways to weasel out of it.
Mark Russell’s modern take maintains the approach of reflecting modern society, but it’s lacking the sitcom humor which worked on the original. The opening issues reads as an existential crisis, as Fred has to give some neanderthals a tour of primitive homo sapien society. Fred is also a war veteran who helps other cavemen recover from their traumas; Wilma is an artist struggling to be accepted on her merits. It’s all very introspective and largely not funny. There’s a few stone-age gags scattered throughout the story, but not enough to turn this story into a comedy. Or if this is a comedy, it’s sorely lacking what worked in the source material.
Flintstones may very well be DC’s first significant backfire in the Hanna-Barbera revamp line. There’s not a lot of classic Flinstones still on the market, but they did appear in an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up which may be a more satisfying read.
Rating: Two Yabba Dabbas out of Five.