Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Flintstones #4 Review and ** SPOILERS**

Marriage Lets You Annoy One Special Person for the Rest of Your Life

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Colorist: Chris Chuckry
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: October 5, 2016


As faithful listeners to the podcast already know, I am married. Eric is not married, but he is in a soul-crushing relationship so it’s practically the same thing. And Jim was born married, and had his first child at age eleven and has been having another one, all boys, exactly nine months after each is born. He has fifty-six children, and the oldest of them is collecting Social Security. Jim aside, it turns out that my generation and the one after it (you cuddly Millennials) are getting married a lot later than our parents did, and this sort of changes the dynamic of marriage from being two young bumblers doubling the effect of their early life mistakes to two older bumblers that know how to mitigate the damage their stupidity causes. All joking aside, being married is pretty cool, unless you don’t want to be married, in which case I don’t recommend it. Instead, check out my review of the Flintstones #4, they’d never have an issue about marriage! Would they?

Explain It!

It turns out that the societies of Paleolithic Man were very relevant to current events. For instance, did you know they had their own disagreements about marriage? But it was about the institution itself, not which people should be allowed to do it. Seems marriage is a relatively new thing to the Town of Bedrock, with the previous generation preferring the traditional Sex Cave to propagate the species. Fred and Wilma Flinstone, one of the aforementioned married couples, are going to embark on a marriage retreat, so they’ve dumped Pebbles off at the Rubbles’ for the weekend. On the way out of town, Fred bumps into a couple of fellas—that are a couple—he’s known since childhood. He bids them cordialities and the Flinstones are on their way.

The marriage retreat, unsurprisingly, is run by a goofball in a stupid hat with a prehistoric guitar and features zip-lining. Married couples are arranged in a semicircle around Dumb Hat as he asks them about their relationships. One couple has been married for thirty years and have adopted a decidedly Henny Youngman approach to the thing. Another young couple aren’t married yet, and they’re looking to find out if it’s a good idea to give it a whirl. And then there’s the Flintstones, who are theoretically the happy couple, though Fred, in an uncharacteristically dark moment, admits that marriage offers the false sense of security that Wilma will stay with him, even after she stops loving him. Did I mention this thing has zip-lining?

Later, at school, Pebbles and Bam Bam get a visit from Professor Sargon from the Science Cave, who will explain how the Universe came to be: everything, from atoms to single-celled structures to people come together due to an inherent sense of loneliness. Gee, the Flintstones has gotten rather existential, hasn’t it? At Town Hall, old fogies are protesting marriage as being indecent, when the Sex Cave has worked plenty well to this point. The Mayor says the matter is less important than literally every other matter, so the citizens decide to take matters into their own hands and storm the marriage retreat! There, Captain Foolish Chapeau is arguing with the attendees about the importance of marriage—it’s to continue the species by making babies that can be raised by loving couples! He then says that marriage makes men the boss over their child-raising wives, and when Fred’s gay friends from childhood show up for no particular reason, Chief Moronic Cap says it is wrong for them to marry because they can’t sire children. This, combined with the arrival of the protestors, makes everything fall apart, so the Flintstones go back home and the book ends like death by a sniper: very abruptly but needing no further clarification.

This is probably the best issue of the Flintstones yet, given its social commentary and genuinely funny moments that I didn’t mention. I also didn’t bring up the B-plot, which concerns the domesticated animals that act as appliances for Bedrock’s populace. It was pretty funny as well. The art has always been good, and worked well in every setting throughout the comic book. The only thing I didn’t get is why Pebbles and Bam Bam were involved at all, or why Pebbles staying with the Rubbles’ went nowhere, but it didn’t really bring down the issue. This was a good time, and for once I think folks that aren’t slavishly adherent to the original Flintstones series might find it a fun read. Of course, I’d expect you to know who the Flintstones are, but if you don’t then you are clearly some kind of sleeper agent planted by an enemy of the state or even a space alien.

Bits and Pieces:

A commentary on marriage laws and domestication turns out to be more enjoyable than expected, with some interesting turns and fun moments that add up to an entertaining read. Some characters seem to be inserted to comment on the scenery, but in all it's a complete story where even incidental moments are relevant to the comic book's theme. The art is always great, and if you still can't deal with it at issue #4, then you should probably pass this comic by. For my part, I'm totally sold on it. It looks great.


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