Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Now you’re all going to laugh at me in a minute, but stick with me on this one. DC’s Hanna Barbera reboots haven’t interested me too much so far, I’m not as emotionally connected to the properties as some others, and outside of Future Quest, the directions of the books haven’t looked too appealing to me. The Flinstones however looked interesting, as from the cover it looked like a modern update of the property without any need for crazy crimebusting technology or Mad Max style antics (though wouldn’t a Flinstones/Mad Max crossover be great?) so I was curious to see what DC did with the property. If you’d have told me that The Flinstones would end up being a social commentary on the 1% while mixing in elements of existentialist dread… well to be honest that’s probably what I would’ve expected. If you’d told me it’d actually work though and I’d end up really enjoying it though, that’s another story. Thankfully, I did really enjoy it, in a bizarre fascinated type way.
The story is set 100,000 years ago in the town of Bedrock, as Fred Flinstone is tasked by his boss Slate to introduce three Neanderthals to the new “work for a living” system. Fred therefore takes the three on a tour of Bedrock, ending in a lavish house party thrown by Slate. The story of course serves largely as an introduction to the town for the reader and could therefore be written off as introductory fluff, but what really struck me was the surprising amount of depth to the characters and world. The comic sticks closest out of any of the books to the original show, though adds some interesting folds that, while seeming cringey on the surface, work surprisingly well in the story. For example, Fred is now a war veteran, having drove the original natives of Bedrock off the land. He also seems to be very dissatisfied with his current place in life, making him a very sympathetic and easy to root for lead character.
Some of these changes do come in rather blunt with the social commentary (you can probably already tell what they’re aiming for) but they still caught me off guard, and feel like a good way to modernize the series without compromising any of the original spirit. It also grounds Fred’s struggles in a very easily relateable situation, I’m pretty sure everyone has struggled with some level of doubt and uncertainty, so these feels definitely generate a level of interest far beyond what I expected from the book. For anyone worried though, yes there are still tons and tons of rock related puns and other such things. Some hit more than others, especially since some feel like very obvious and low gags, but when the comic reaches to hit on bigger and more relevant modern themes then it really does succeed. There are still some growing pains to be found, like how some characters flick between moods so fast I thought they were bipolar, and some of the more heavy handed elements of the narrative, but there’s great room for growth in the narrative and the ability to tell a really good story. Something I really didn’t expect from this comic.
In terms of art, Steve Pugh ends up being a great choice for the book and nails that feeling that I feel the script is going for, and again gets closer than any of the other books to the original cartoon. There’s a very bouncy and cartoony style to Bedrock which is great. It’s very colorful and upbeat while still feeling like an inhabited world. It contrasts nicely with the characters, who feel surprisingly real and human. The designs look fantastic at harkening back to the original show designs and keeping them nicely simplistic (thankfully Fred isn’t given unnecessary armor lines and a chin strap) while still allowing for very real human emotion and gentle moments. Everything about the book looks inventive and fresh and feels like an absolutely perfect modernization of a classic.
The Flinstones is a reboot of the best kind, it manages to capture entirely the spirit of the original show while managing to also be fresh and compelling in its own right. There’s still some room for improvement and some getting used to in regards to the new take, but this first issue has provided a solid start to a series that could be really special. There’s far more on offer here than what I was expecting, so I’m happy to give this an easy recommendation.