Looking back at 2016, the biggest surprise comic of the year was The Flintstones. What was assumed to be, at least on my part, a somewhat less cartoony version of the famous cartoon (maybe breaching into the Honeymooners vein on which the original is based on; was actually a scathing social satire on today’s current events. On top of that, this might be the funniest book on the stands, and every issue has been an absolute treat. There is no better way to bring in the New Year than with another issue of this book.
Each issue of the series was more or less a one-off story, and this issue was no different. What made this stand out was it’s near summation of what the series has been so far. Here, we see Gazoo, who is classically portrayed as a small green alien that floats over Fred’s shoulder in the cartoon, now portrayed in a larger, more humanoid size. With multiple narratives shown in the issue, the overriding theme is Gazoo’s report on human society, and his cutting criticism of its selfishness and blind following of materialism and mundanity. That said, readers are seeing bits of hope, when all the stories somewhat intersect (in a formalist literal sense, not in the story itself) and lives are saved and altruism shines through. This issue is a beautifully touching story that hit where we need to improve as humans today, shown unashamed in this bare bones (no pun intended) caveman society, and how human nature can be inherently good. That said, one of the plot threads here is “The Church of Gerald” becoming behind on bills and allowing monetary payment to absolve sins. This comes to a screeching halt after Mr. Slate, the owner and boss at the Rock Quarry, makes an absolutely reprehensible request. Would the priest actually stop taking the money based on this action, regardless of how horrible it is? The idea of the issue and series trends toward no. I think it works from making this more than just saying “everything sucks”, it was just a surprising move. There’s also a tiny subplot of Wilma trying to submit art to a gallery. It was certainly a funny moment, but seemed a little bit of a throw-away. That said, they could very easily go back to that story, as there’s clearly some humorous material to mine.
Up until this issue, the series has been beautifully rendered by Steve Pugh. When I saw he wasn’t drawing this issue, I was admittedly nervous, and was unsure when I saw Rick Leonardi’s name attached. Having little knowledge of Leonardi, short of his work on Uncanny X-Men in the 80’s (notably the excellent issue 201), I had no idea what to expect. It became immediately clear that Leonardi is a perfect fill-in artist for this book, as he works right in the vein of Pugh before him without it looking aped. Leonardi has the same clean, bold line, that has some inspiration from the Hannah Barbera cartoon – but with a modern and more realistic bend, allowing for funny moments of cartooning and expression while not feeling too ridiculous. The tone of the book is consistent from words to the line work, and, while Steve Pugh has a slight edge, I was not disappointed for a second reading this book. I believe a big factor in the consistency comes in the colors by Chris Chuckry, whose bright and vibrant palette firmly plants us in this Flintstones world, and allows a different penciller to work within it and not feel too different. Chuckry does an excellent job of making this book feel like a classic cartoon without being too over the top.
If you haven’t jumped on board already, I urge you to start buying DC’s The Flintstones, with this issue. To me, this is one of the most important and exciting books on the stands. While Steve Pugh will always be missed if he’s not present on an issue, this was still a great read, and well worth the cover price.
4 Tar Pit Bags out of 5