Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Flintstones #5 Review and **SPOILERS**



War! What is it Good For?

Writer: Mark Russell 
Artist: Steve Pugh 
Colorist: Chris Chuckry 
Letterer: Dave Sharpe 
Cover Artists: Lee Weeks and Laura Martin 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: November 2, 2016

**NON SPOILERS AND SCORE AT THE BOTTOM**

Just think folks, one week from today the United States Presidential Election will be decided and, according to my social media feeds, the country will descend into an irrevocable firearm-fueled civil war regardless of which side wins. Isn’t that nice? What the hell has happened to people in this country and world? I feel like any nation where the majority of its citizens can still line up for the McRib every other year doesn’t deserve an armed revolt. And the thing is I’m not even pining for a day in my lifetime that politics wasn’t a crooked game of nepotism and backdoor deals—that day never existed as far as I know. I just want people to get back to being distracted by tech toys and reality television and stop threatening to shoot each other. They didn’t have that problem in the Town of Bedrock, namely because they didn’t have gunpowder or bullets. That doesn’t mean their election seasons went smoothly, though, as you’ll find if you read my review of the Flintstones #5!
Explain It!

You might think that the hierarchies of prehistoric societies were determined by force and displays of might, but you’d be wrong. Turns out they had the same broken semi-democratic system we enjoy here in the United States. Indeed, tomorrow is Election Day in the Town of Bedrock, and the candidates are the incumbent, milquetoast mayor and a massive guy in a creepy mask made from bark named Clod the Destroyer. A simultaneous election is being held at Bedrock Middle School, where bully Ralph runs under the slogan “Vote for me or I’ll punch you in the beef.” Now there’s a cause I can rally behind. Clod the Destroyer promises to eradicate the lizard people that threaten the peace of Bedrock, and this makes Fred reminisce with Barney about their days in the military. When they committed a genocide.
Hey, Fred said it, not me. This is a level of self-awareness you don’t really expect from a comic book character, much less one of the characters from the Flintstones. We flash back to the days that the Flintstones and the Rubbles were young married couples, and Wilma was pregnant with Pebbles. Barney and Betty are trying to get pregnant, with no luck—even after visiting a witch doctor. Meanwhile, Mr. Slate, before he became the Quarrying mogul we know today, promotes the extermination of Tree People inhabiting the area that will come to be known as the Town of Bedrock. He’s employed Mordok the Destroyer—father to Clod the Destroyer—to assemble an army that will eradicate the Tree People, which does seem like a crash course in the history of civilization. Mordok, incidentally, looks about five times more bad-ass, with a mask made from a skull and horns and a codpiece that looks to be made from the skull of Dino. Fred is caught up in the hype and enlists to murder the Tree People—and tells Barney he has to as well, despite his misgivings, to protect their families. See people? This is what I’ve always said: the enemy of polite society is family.
In the present, uh, past, Ralph the Bully is campaigning for middle school president by doing what he does best: bullying. He tries it on Bam Bam, and learns that it’s the quickest way to find yourself chucked up on the roof. Later, he’s having lunch with Pebbles—Bam Bam looks to be eating the leg of a wildebeest—and Pebbles makes it known that she doesn’t think much of that bully. Returning to the flashback, Wilma and Betty recoil at the new hats offered by Modok’s army—the familiar hats from Fred and Barney’s Veteran’s Club—and they aren’t happy about their husbands traipsing off into danger and uncertainty. Boot Camp for this army turns out to be humiliating and soul-crushing, like all film Boot Camps, and the actual fighting of Tree People proves difficult and deadly. They determine to launch an all-out offensive after getting word of a Tree People invasion and fairly well burn down the forest, killing every Tree Person. Afterwards, Fred feels much remorse, but Barney finds a Tree Baby that he takes home to raise as his own freakishly strong child, Bam Bam! Oh, and uh, at Bedrock Middle School Pebbles takes the school presidency from Ralph after Bam Bam kicks his ass. You had to be there.
So…this gave me some weird feelings. There were some very adult moments in this comic book that I didn’t even get into because they were sort of complicated and rather beautiful, in a literary sense, and should be appreciated as read and not as recapped. The complicated nature of progress, the horrors of war, the uncertainty and self-doubt that can plague relationships…these are the themes being explored in a Flintstones comic book? While I wasn’t paying attention, this book became a thought-provoking, interesting piece of work that needs to be digested rather than consumed. The art has always been great, after you get past the relatively small hurdle of Fred’s and Barney’s noses not looking like turnips, and some fairly heavy emotions are well-rendered, adding to (or eliciting) the pathos. Uh, so yeah. Check out the Flintstones. It might make you cry.

Bits and Pieces:

While everyone was clamoring for better writing and representation in a Binky and His Buddies comic book, the Flintstones have quietly become one of the more interesting and relevant comics in the mainstream market. The artwork has been phenomenal and consistent throughout the series, but these characters have changed from reasonably-updated versions of the cartoon originals to complex and fascinating fictional persons, more than just vehicles for the applicable social commentary. Up 'til now, I've been saying that fans of the Flintstones TV show should enjoy this comic because it's more of the same thing. But now I will eat those words. This comic book is different–very different–and should be seen by everyone.

9/10
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