The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 Review

Posted January 3, 2018 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Mark Russell

Art by: Mike Feehan, Mark Morales, & Paul Mounts

Published by: DC Comics

Mark Russell has built his career at DC Comics off of reimagining old, out-of-vogue properties in a contemporary political climate. First, it was the biting, over the top satire of Prez. Next, it was The Flintstones. Now, Russell has been handed the keys to another classic Hanna-Barberra property: Snagglepuss. Out of this, he has spun The Snagglepuss Chronicles.

This time out, the focus is on the culture wars of McCarthyism. The debut issue prominently features the Rosenberg execution and Lilian Hellman, transplanting Snagglepuss into a close version of our world. The only difference seems to be the anthropomorphic animals roaming about.

On the period piece front, The Snagglepuss Chronicles is successful. The art team of Mike Feehan (pencils), Mark Morales (inks), and Paul Mounts (colors) does a fantastic job of bringing early 1950’s New York to life. Or, at least, a version of 1950’s New York a contemporary audience would recognize as 1950’s New York.

Which gets to my main critique of The Snagglepuss Chronicles. Yes, on a technical level, there’s little the creative team gets wrong. There’s a lot of craft here, even if Russell’s sense of humor may not work for everyone. The problem lies not in the craft, but in the presentation: The book feels sanitized, as if the team is going through the motions of a historical drama. Perhaps I set the bar a bit too high, considering the lengths Prez and The Flintstones were willing to go to. Or perhaps I’m misremembering the boldness of those books.

Regardless, where I remember those books being no-holds-barred political and cultural critiques, The Snagglepuss Chronicles feels toothless. Ultimately, it didn’t matter if you agreed with the points Russell was making–at the very least, he had clear positions and was willing to write comics about them. And somehow, DC let him get away with it. As someone who values the use of artistic mediums as a vehicle for social critique, those books were exciting.

The Snagglepuss Chronicles, rather than going all in, feels like a look backwards time. Of course, herein lies the problem in evaluating serialized storytelling on an issue to issue basis. The debut issue feels annoyingly unwilling to commit to a point beyond “the ‘50’s sure were bad huh?” Perhaps there’s more coming in the future. I’m not omniscient, so I can’t tell you.

But here’s the thing: The audience for this book *knows* the ‘50’s were bad. Actually, I would go so far as to say the general public could explain the dangers of McCarthyism, which seems to be all this book is interested in. And look, my expectations may not necessarily be in line with the creative team’s goals for this book. Perhaps Russell, Feehan, and co are interested solely in crafting a period piece about the downfall of a celebrity in the name of the culture wars.

There’s an easy in here as far as modern critiques go, especially considering Snagglepuss’ sexual orientation (which this issue makes abundantly clear in some of its best moments). But that depth simply isn’t here, at least as far as the first issue is concerned. We’ll see where I stand a few issues in, but for now, I’m nowhere near as excited about the prospects of this series as I was not two hours before sitting down to write about it.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.