Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Flintstones #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

Prehistoric Ennui

Written By: Mark Russell
Art By: Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry
Lettered By: Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: August 10, 2016


If the Flintstones was really just a take-off from the Honeymooners, then wouldn’t a proper “reboot” of the franchise rightly take-off from some decade-old sitcom as well? For instance, a Flintstones today might be based on 30 Rock—heck, it’s already got “rock” in the name! It would be the story of television producer Liz Limestone, who works for Jack Diplodocus and wrangles temperamental actors Jenna Mastoney and Tracy Morgranite, to create a live weekly comedy show that people watch on shale televisions or whatever. Look, I never claimed to be a creative genius, I just plant the idea seeds. Another good idea is to rip-off Seinfeld. Call it Stonefeld. Did I earn a paycheck yet? Kramer as a pterodactyl. Boom. Why don’t we look at issue number 2 of the Flintstones while I wait for Burbank to come knocking on my door.

Explain It!

One great mystery of prehistoric mankind is whether and how they worshipped. There are remains of what appear to be spaces that were sacred to pre-Sumerian cultures, indications of a belief in some kind of force—perhaps an elemental force, like weather or volcanoes—that required or at least deserved homage. Well, the Flintstones has answered our nagging questions about ancient cultures: they worshipped a flamingo named Morp down at the First Church of Animism. Meh, good enough.

Our story really begins, however, over at the Rubbles’ (pronounced “Rubbleses”) where Barney has installed a brand new television. It’s so new, that he and Betty are tuning into the first ever broadcast. So that’s weird…they have cellular phones made of oyster shells but no TV. As we saw last issue, the town of Bedrock has like six night clubs, so I suppose they stay well entertained. Fred pops over as the Rubbles take in their new boob tube (which, I must point out, is a chiseled flat screen and not a simulation of the old vacuum tube sets of the 1940s and 50s) and is frightened, at first, by the talking man. Then they are all enticed by a promotion for the brand new Bedrock Mall, where you can buy a new lifestyle that is defined by the accruing of items known as “crap.” Reading this series, you may have wondered if Bam Bam and Pebbles are involved. Well, Bam Bam makes a cameo during this scene, and we see Pebbles later, so the answer is yes.
The next day, everyone’s down at the Bedrock Mall buying lots and lots of “crap,” which can also be defined as “household appliances,” which can also be defined as “animals made to do menial labor.” This is an old Flintstones trope, and I’m surprised that it wasn’t already embedded into this world. They buy a bunch of “crap,” including an automatic dishwasher that is actually an octopus and a weed whacker that is actually a goat strapped to a handle. The weed whacker is known as the “Powergoat 3000,” and the goat in question keeps exclaiming “Powergoat!” which is actually more impressive than its natural grass-eating capabilities. At the mall, Pebbles also hangs out in a record store with actual vinyl records, something that might have been more anachronistic ten years ago but is today a pretty robust boutique business. So don’t shy away from using contemporary cultural touch points, comic book writers! Everything old will one day be new again!

That Sunday at the First Church of Animism, the whole town (except for the fern worshippers, who go to their church on Saturday) is in attendance to gawk at Morp, but the high priest has some bad news: the holy Morp is being used as a tonearm and stylus for record players down at Bedrock Mall! This sort of takes away its cache, and people stop taking Morp seriously despite the fact that flamingoes look ridiculous whether they are being implemented as record players or not. At the veterans’ club, Fred tells Barney that he’s having trouble staying solvent, what with the buying of all this “crap,” and some nosy asshole butts in and suggests that they sell his Shamrock Vitamins door-to-door for extra scratch. The allusion to Flintstones chewable vitamins is not lost on me, and I thought back to young Reggie, and how staid and resolute I was not to have ever grabbed a bottle of Flintstones and popped the whole bottle like a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Good job, young Reggie. The following Sunday, at the now Reformed Church of Animism (really? A whole week has elapsed already?), the high priest now has a new animal for worship: a cute little purple Proboscidea that he’s calling Peaches. Everyone loves Peaches, and loves the Church again, until that post-church trip to Bedrock Mall where Wilma sees that there are several Peaches for sale, as vacuum cleaners. Back at the Reformed Church…or is it the following Sunday? Did people go to church every day in the prehistoric era? Back at the Church, Fred calls out the high priest for using a vacuum cleaner as a god, and the priest literally says the equivalent of what’s the diff, it’s just something to give your empty lives a semblance of meaning.

The night, the priest and, uh, other religious guy in funny headgear are trying to think up a new animal to worship, but they’re all being used as appliances or construction equipment. That’s when one guy holds up a blank sheet of paper and says let’s worship this! The power of negative space! Just kidding, it’s actually a conceptual rather than physical presentation of God, which seems to go over well with people at…another session of church?! This whole issue took place over a month and all we did is go to church! There’s a montage of Fred trying to sell vitamins door-to-door, he doesn’t do too well except when he encounters a drug addict. Cut to Barney, who is using his son Bam Bam’s unusual strength to sell vitamins, like some kind of snake oil salesman or motivational speaker. Later, Barney and Fred go to settle up with the vitamin supplier, and after deductions he gives Fred one pebble (pointing out that Fred did sell only one bottle.) After an office-shattering tantrum, Fred despairs and confides in Barney that he doesn’t want to appear inadequate in front of Wilma. It’s a pretty touching scene that, honestly, seems out of place considering the non-stop hijinks that preceded it. That evening, Fred tells Wilma he can’t afford to keep the place stocked with time-saving animals, and she tells him it’s okay because the comic book has to end sometime. At the very end, Fred is returning all of their purchases, but can only get store credit on the damaged dishwashing octopus, so he selects a companion dinosaur that is totally and definitely going to be Dino!

By virtue of sticking to the formula of the classic Flintstones cartoon, we get another issue of the comic that works pretty well. There are some weird story issues—like how they seem to be going to the Church of Animism every day, or why television is brand new and yet they’ve got triceratops quarrying rock, but then you realize that the Flintstones is one of those properties that unravels quickly if you scrutinize it for too long. This issue is a fun goof with a few chuckles and some spectacular artwork. Unless you’re like some crazy Flintstones purist that doesn’t accept even the color cartoons, you could do worse than to give this a look.

Bits and Pieces:

If you feel like there weren't enough episodes of the classic Flintstones cartoon, well you're in luck because this is the next best thing. It's practically the same thing, in fact, considering it satirizes American culture from ten or fifteen years ago, and the Flintstones cartoons I watched as a kid were about ten or fifteen years past relevance at that time. The art is really great in this comic book, a semi-realistic take on the town of Bedrock that grows on you as you go along. So there are really no big problems with this comic book, except for the likelihood that you may feel there are enough episodes of the Flintstones cartoon, after all. 


1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that Fred Flintstone didn't loose his shit until the vitamin incident. I remember him being a lot more angry in the cartoon. Not that it takes away from this Fred, I really like this version.

    I have fun reading this comic. I don't have to take anything seriously and the pacing is just right