Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Ruff and Reddy Show #2 Review and Spoilers

Almost Ready?

Written by: Howard Chaykin
Art by: Mac Rey
Letters by: Ken Bruzenak
Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 22, 2017

You know, everyone has regrets: that girl or guy you wanted to ask out but never quite mustered up the courage to go and talk to; those winning lottery numbers you should have put on, but somehow forgot; the ultra-rare foil cover, poly-bagged edition of that 90s comic you bought seven copies of in the hope they’d actually be worth something at some unspecified point in the future. You know what I’m talking about. In the grand scheme of things, agreeing to review The Ruff and Reddy Show for this website isn’t exactly a huge regret, but that bitter-sweet pang when I think back to the enthusiasm with which I told Jim I’d gladly review this weirdest of the already bizarre crop of Hanna-Barbera titles just won’t go away. I wonder if DC regrets commissioning the thing. Who knows? Maybe they know something I don’t. Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?

Last issue was very much an introduction to our titular characters – a potted history of their careers from their late 50s heyday and the inevitable estrangement and decline that followed. Given that function, the issue was inevitably fragmentary and somewhat alienating for the reader. The good news is that this issue has a more coherent story focus. We start with Pamela, the newly-promoted talent scout discussing Ruff and Reddy with her boss, who, a little like the reader, is wondering just why she’s bothering with the pair in the first place. There are some nice touches here, to be fair, but almost all of them are to do with Mac Rey’s art, which is, on the whole, just as impressive as it was last time around. 

Pamela’s boss is a haughty polar bear in a business suit and Pamela herself is the plucky newcomer whose look of persuasive determination in the last panel of one page is mirrored precisely in the first panel of the next one when she’s making her pitch to Ruff and Reddy.
There is, unfortunately, a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing from the pair until circumstances and Pamela’s persistence finally settle the matter. Things don’t really take off for Ruff and Reddy’s revived career until an undignified confrontation with some rival comics at a comic convention is spun by Pamela into a positive story that hails the pair as authentic comic legends and their antagonists as failed has-beens. Finally, at the end of the book, the pair agree to work together, although the precise nature of their renewed partnership remains unclear.

I said last time that I’m not sure who this book is for and I still don’t know. Chaykin’s script is an odd mix of hard-bitten nostalgia for an era whose gloss is seen over and over again to be artificial and a sardonic satire on the entertainment industry which, as real life Hollywood continues to immolate itself in sleaze and scandal, seems almost inappropriately gentle.

This remains, then, an exceedingly odd title. While there is admittedly a much more coherent story on display here, it is still one that meanders and wanders a little too much for my liking. That’s not to say that those excursions aren’t entertaining – or, in the case of the Happy Days joke on page 8, groan-inducing. But, Chaykin, entertaining though his writing is, is telling a story here that, two issues in, has yet to really get going. While Mac Rey’s artwork remains a delight – and there are very few artists I can think of who can lend dignity to an overweight alcoholic dog or self-satisfied smugness to a lecherous parrot quite as well as he can – and the writing is engaging enough, the feeling of narrative listlessness is hard to shake off.

Bits and Pieces:

Although an improvement on last month, this issue’s languorous story means that, despite Rey’s fabulous artwork and the odd humorous moment, I can’t really recommend it. For a comic based on a cartoon, there’s just an awful lot of talking going on here and, despite the arch wit on display, there’s simply not enough incident to liven things up.


1 comment:

  1. there is a lot of spoilers, oh no, i can't stop reading! 123helpme