Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
We don’t deserve a comic as good as The Flintstones. It’s absolutely one of the best books on the stands right now, but anytime I recommend it to someone I just get a confused, “they make Flintstones comics?”. It shows not only what you can do with a licensed comic when you put effort in, but also how relevant, insightful, and downright hilarious contemporary comics can be while approaching thorny issues–without being preachy or awkward. While the latest issue isn’t the series best, it’s a solid showing that continues to put other comics to shame.
The newest issue feels brilliantly timed; a meteorite is heading towards Bedrock and the threat of impending doom is upending the nature of civilization as we know it. While no specific links are made with contemporary events, the feeling of sheer chaos and anarchy are quite in line with recent events and make for a funny and cathartic reflection of our modern times. The plot beyond this moves at a pretty breakneck speed, and while I originally thought of this as a negative, I actually think it’s one of the more genius parts of the story. A huge crisis is unveiled, everyone goes nuts, then by the end, everything is back to normal.
It’s a rather subtle (but fun) commentary on how every week a new crisis strikes the world which grips us totally and turns us against one another before not even mattering a week later. It’s the kind of subtly brilliant charm that makes the series work, and like I said, I don’t think it could’ve come at a better time.
The script nicely balances the humor with the more existentially depressing moments, especially with an issue about the end of the world. There’s some surprisingly retrospective characterization of Slate here, softening him from the stereotypical tyrannical boss we’ve seen him portrayed as so far. As easy as it is to dislike him, he’s oddly relatable. I’d say there’s a little bit of Slate in all of us. I think the script may go a bit too far sometimes during the ongoing scenes with Vacuum and Bowling ball though, as the book attempts to tug at your heart strings by making their exploits overly sad. Flintstones is at it’s best when making subtle and relevant jabs about things that hit a little too close to home, rather than showing you sad things and saying you should feel sad.
It’s more of a personal thing, but it just feels a little heavy handed when the book is usually great at subtlety.
I cannot stress enough how crucial I feel Steve Pugh is to why this series works so well. When I first reviewed the series, I felt his art did a good job of translating the cartoony style of the show into something more serious while still retaining it’s charm, but now he’s gotten so good at subtle background details and story structure that I can’t imagine the title without him. Little things like the comparison shot between Fred’s pay and how much Fred worked sound obvious and heavy handed when described (such as right now), but I hardly even noticed it due to the subtle depiction, and it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the issue. This is such an oddball comic and mesh of tones that really shouldn’t work, but Pugh’s art is the foundation that somehow keeps everything stable. It takes serious skill to make a Flintstones comic look like something you should take seriously, and Pugh found a way.
Overall, this issue may not be the series at its best, but for a comic that’s so consistently high that’s by no means a bad thing. Issue #6 is a little more simplistic than the rest have been, but it feels nicely cathartic and reassuring while being both absolutely hilarious and depressing as anything. If you like your laughs existential and full of dread with a slice of satire on the side, there really is no better book than The Flintstones. Words I never thought I’d say.